Victor Davis Hanson has written a superb article
, ostensibly about skyrocketing firearm sales but that hardly mentions firearms. Instead he brilliantly catalogs the subtle sense of foreboding and incipient dread that liberty-loving Americans feel right now and that is driving them to purchase firearms at an astonishing rate.
I've had enough conversations with people that range from hating guns to just being slightly skeptical of them to have heard the reductio
to which most debates arrive, which is, "it can't happen here". While most rabid anti-2Aers will insist that the second amendment was drafted solely for citizen militias to wield muskets against the forces of monarchical Britain and nothing more, these are mostly a small number of hard-core lefties. Most people with a good sense of the political philosophy of the Founding era, the motivations of the Founding fathers, and the purpose and design of the US Constitution understand that the second amendment is the generalized
free citizen's bulwark against a generalized
governmental tyranny. So most people who want to maintain their skeptical view of firearms but yet have to be intellectually honest about the 2A, arrive at the "it can't happen here" argument, which is the short version, I guess, of saying that America's democratic institutions are so strong that the risk of tyranny is remote. They may well be right, but it's worth seeing history clearly for what it is and my stock rejoinder is that "seventy years ago, in the very heart of Western Civilization
, armed agents of the government went door to door to round up people to send them to their deaths, by the millions." That's the nitty-gritty of the Holocaust. It's not just 'Oh, Hitler was bad and Jews died.' The reality is 1) disarmed population, 2) armed government agents, 3) door to door searches 4) death camps. In the land of Goethe, Kant, Hegel and Schelling. Hell, it's not as if we haven't rounded up citizens en masse here in the US before
. So my basic point is, it can happen anywhere
Now, stop and think of what Americans are seeing and hearing every day. First, their government just concluded a massive and contentious, but ultimately successful, effort to demand that they buy a product which many do not want and/or cannot afford. This is on top of thousands of smaller petty tyrannies, such what lightbulbs one can use, how much water a toilet or washing machine may use, or what processing must be done to the milk you buy
. Then Americans look to some of the policy ideas that get put forth here and there, such as forcing the installation of tracking devices in all automobiles ostensibly so that government can tax you by the mile (good heavens, no, never to track your movements) or taking your retirement nest egg
in return for a government provided annuity. These are serious proposals put forth by credentialed people with access to those in power. Furthermore, just look at the musings of similarly situated credentialed people. These are just some the notions that appear ingrained in the credentialed professoriate:
- Global Warming skeptics are akin to war criminals and should be treated as such
- the entire economy should be under government direction
- the US Constitution should be abandoned
These are not idle musings.
Finally, we see our elected representatives passing laws that no one has read let alone analyzed carefully. Sometimes they do this in contravention of the rules and sometimes even with a sickening pride in bypassing the rules
. We have other officials suggesting the suspension of elections
and there are countless examples were those in power don't seem to want or tolerate the rules applying to them, so we are increasingly living under a set of rules that the elites have exempted themselves from. And I haven't even mentioned what to many is an obviously bloody-minded statist President who no one would ever accuse of valuing modesty in the exercise of power.
This is what Americans see (and not just the denizens
of the Tea Partying Jesusland fever swamps). This is what is swirling around us. In the aggregate, it is hardly subtle. Thus, more and more Americans are not believing the "it can't happen here" line, if they ever believed it. Americans see dark clouds. Thus the stampede.
ADDITIONAL: Yale Law School prof Stephen L. Carter
: “Support for stricter U.S. gun laws hasn’t jumped as fast or as far in
recent weeks as many liberals had hoped and expected. If you’re
wondering why, maybe the reason is the shakiness of the public’s trust
in government itself. . . . We are now approaching four years since the
U.S. Senate enacted a budget. The last was in April 2009. And bear in
mind that federal law requires an annual budget. Imagine the ire of the
senators toward a private firm that treated legal requirements so
casually. Amid such ineptitude, ‘Trust us, we’ll protect you,’ isn’t a
very persuasive case to make to the tens of millions of Americans who
have guns — often very powerful ones — in their homes. And directing
fury at gun owners for their lack of trust isn’t likely to increase
their faith in government.”