Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors?
by Tim Kelly
It didn't take long for the megalomaniacs and opportunists in Washington to exploit the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, as a pretext for another attempt to annul the Second Amendment and expand their power.
Never one to let a good crisis go to waste, President Obama signed a series of executive actions expanding federal gun control, all while flanked by children who had written him letters after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. While the event was an excellent photo op for the president, his executive orders are an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution. Executive orders are only intended to direct the staff of the executive branch in the enforcement of current laws, not to create new laws by a stroke of the pen. But Americans have grown accustomed to presidents issuing pharaonic edicts, and although Obama's latest usurpation is indeed an impeachable offense, Congress will do nothing.
Before sitting down to sign his unconstitutional edict, the president said, "This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged."
Now, to keen observers of current events, the colossal hypocrisy of the president who has authorized the murder of scores of children abroad by predator drones then condemning the killing of children at home is obvious. But then again, innocent victims of drone attacks are rarely featured on the evening news. For most Americans, these crimes are out of sight and out of mind.
We have government by crisis, whereby anomalous and isolated events determine our politics. There is no rational cost-benefit analysis, nor is there any consideration for the law, and by law I mean the fundamental law of the Constitution, which is supposed to restrain government officials but has long since become a mere cipher.
So just because one lunatic decides to shoot up a school in one small town, the White House wants to infringe on the right of all law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. Talk about insanity.
There is no law or regulation that can prevent acts of lunacy. If someone is determined to wreak havoc, he will find a way to do it. No law can stop it. While the massacre at Sandy Hook was certainly a tragedy for the victims and their families, statistically it was trivial. Adam Lanza, the alleged shooter, killed 27 people. But more people are murdered every day in the United States. Does the fact that these crimes are dispersed throughout the country make them less of a tragedy?
Anyway, federal data show violent crimes committed with guns -- including murders, aggravated assaults and robberies -- have declined for three years in a row. Yes, the United States has the highest homicide rate among the industrialized countries, but gun crime has been declining as gun ownership has increased. And of course these statistics do not factor in the benefits of private gun ownership, such as crime deterrence and prevention.
And the gun grabbers aren't the only ones overreacting. The National Rifle Association has advocated armed guards in every school. There are calls for tighter security measures, including lockdowns, guard dogs, and metal detectors -- as if public schools don't already resemble medium-security prisons. As usual, Ron Paul is a voice of reason in the midst of all the hysteria. He writes,
We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders. This is the world of government provided "security," a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse. School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America. And we do indeed appear to be descending into an Orwellian nightmare. Consider that just in the past month, President Obama has signed two pieces of legislation -- the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) and the FISA Amendments Act -- that eviscerate the Bill of Rights by reauthorizing sweeping federal police powers.
While the NDAA's provision authorizing the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the military effectively nullifies our Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury, the FISA Amendments Act shreds the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures by giving the executive branch broad powers to spy on Americans.
So what we're seeing here is a simultaneous assault on our civil liberties and our right to keep and bear arms. Does anyone see a pattern here?
The great irony is that the latest assault on the Second Amendment is occurring just when the government at all levels is busy hoarding high-powered, military-grade weaponry. In March 2012, the Department of Homeland Security contracted to purchase up to 450 million hollow-point rounds. At roughly the same time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) ordered 174,000 rounds of hollow-point ammo. Why does the SSA want so much ammunition?
The past two decades have also witnessed the militarization of domestic law enforcement. This has largely been a function of the federal government's unconstitutional War on Drugs, which has been used as a pretext to lavish local police departments with surplus military supplies and weaponry. Since 1997, state and local law-enforcement agencies have acquired $2.6 billion worth of military hardware from the Pentagon. Many police departments now have armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, and grenade launchers in their arsenals.
It shouldn't be surprising that as the police have acquired military hardware, their tactics and demeanor have changed accordingly. All too many police officers now see themselves as occupying soldiers and see the public as hostiles who need to be intimidated, and at times brutalized, into submission.
And to add to this list of horribles is the Obama administration's illegal policy of killing persons, even U.S. citizens, without due process. Last year, it was revealed the White House holds a weekly meeting where the president and national-security advisers peruse a "kill list" and decide who shall die. The administration has refused to share with the public the criteria for their kill orders, citing "national security," of course.
Is it any wonder that many Americans feel threatened by their own government and are now purchasing firearms in record amounts? Rather than being a relic of the past, the Second Amendment is more relevant today than ever.
What we're confronted with today is not a new problem. The Romans had a phrase, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Its English translation is "Who will guard the guards themselves" or "Who watches the watchmen?' This is an age-old dilemma.
R.J. Rummel, a history professor at Hawaii State University, estimates that governments in the 20th centuryalone killed over 200 million of their own people. This "democide," as Professor Rummel calls it, would not have been possible had the victims possessed firearms.
History suggests we keep a sharp eye on our "watchmen" and continue to cling to our guns, lest we suffer the fate of so many others. This is not paranoia, nor is it sedition. It's just common sense.
Tim Kelly is a columnist and policy advisor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia, a correspondent for Radio America's Special Investigator, and a political cartoonist.
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