Last week, I was chatting contentedly with my friends on Facebook (who would ever have thought I’d say that?) about gun politics, when I was interrupted by (ostensibly) a young woman (everybody’s young compared to me these days) who denied that anyone in politics was out to take my guns away and asserted, in essence, that I am some kind of paranoid crank.
I resent that. I do not deny it, but I resent it. But I have my reasons.
I responded that I have been fighting this fight for some 48 years and knew better than she did what was going on. It may be longer than that; I forget how gradual the build-up was to the 1968 Gun Control Act, which inspired my first high-quality gun purchase (a Walther PP .22, which I still have) and a lifetime of firearms rights activism. The first thing I did was write essays—some of which appeared later in my first nonfiction book, Lever Action (You may have seen “Suppose You Were Fond Of Books”, one of my first.) In the days before the Internet, I Xeroxed them onto brightly-colored paper and handed them out at gun shows.
The 1968 law was an example of the leftist policy of never wasting a crisis—in this case the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy—and at the forefront of the effort was Senator Thomas J. Dodd. He began, by all accounts, as a relatively principled defender of freedom. He was basically the Number Two man on the prosecution team at Nuremberg and helped to bring many a Nazi war criminal to justice. But something went badly wrong, after that, He aided Estes Kefauver, a truly villainous figure, to prosecute many individuals guilty only of exercising their First and Ninth Amendment rights, and to intimidate much more. He shared in the responsibility for the mysterious disappearance, for several decades, of famous model Bettie Page.
In 1968, possibly leaning on his experience during the War Crimes Tribunals, Dodd wrote to the Library of Congress, asking for a translation of the Nazi gun laws that had, among other things, disarmed Jews in Germany (I have seen a photo of Dodd’s letter). He turned the translation, with surprisingly few changes, into the 1968 Gun Control Act, under which we all still suffer.
Dodd eventually left the Senate under a cloud of corruption (for which transparent partisans at Wikipedia try to blame the firearms industry), as did his son, Christopher Dodd. We still live with the evil and idiotic 1968 Gun Control Act today, an enormous infringement on the right to keep and bear arms—and a disincentive to women who must enter an often hostile Man Country to purchase a weapon—that must be repealed.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan a Kennedy-era Senator and amiable drunk from Oklahoma, by way of New York City, believed he was being particularly clever when, unable to get rid of the small, concealable weapons that were virtually a fetish with him and other liberals in the Senate (leftists and their media symbiotes called them “Saturday Night Specials”, short for an extremely racist expression which was popular at the time) but which have since reduced the violent crime rate in America by double digits), so he began a campaign to ban the ammunition they required.
He would have outlawed .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 Auto; I’m not sure about small revolver cartridges. His proposals were a laboratory specimen for “progressive” ignorance, shortsightedness, and unintended consequences. As far as I know, the laws he desired would have done nothing about .22 Long Rifle, of which Americans shoot two billion rounds a year. This means that new designs would soon have emerged with 20- or 30-round magazine capacities, to make up for losses in stopping power. And who knows, they may yet.
Nor, wisely or accidentally, would his laws have done anything about 9mm Parabellum, the most popular military and police cartridge in the world. At that time, a typical 9mm pistol was the Browning P35 “High Power”, a largish, 14-shot weapon approximately 3/4 the size of a GI 1911A1 .45. If his laws had passed, they would merely have accelerated a trend already in the works to produce smaller and smaller 9mm pistols (and later on, .45s and the .40s which hadn’t been invented yet). As a result of this legislatively forced evolution, America now has a palm-sized weapon, the Glock 23, ballistic equivalent to a 14-shot .357 Magnum, to keep on its nightstand and carry in its pocket.
In addition, at the time, possibly inspired by Bernard G. Goetz’s adventure on the New York subway, some companies began producing extremely short-barreled revolvers in massively powerful calibers like .45 Colt, .41 and .44 Magnum, another illustration of the Law of Unintended Consequences at work. Where once people carried small “poodle-shooter” auto pistols and revolvers to defend themselves, now, increasing numbers would be carrying concealable weapons capable of stopping a car.
Howard M. Metzenbaum of Ohio was, at one time, the leading light of the victim disarmament movement in the United States Senate. He was also the legal mouthpiece for a pair of communist-front labor groups, one in his home state, and one in Washington, D.C. He was well known for telling reporters “off the record” that he was aware that various gun control measures he proposed and sponsored would do nothing to reduce the crime rate, he just wanted to disarm the middle class.
When I began writing this article, I was unaware that former Chicago Congressman and federal judge Abner J. Mikva had died on last July 4. How appropriate: America is a better, cleaner place without him. This is a man—a mentor to Barack Obama—who detested personal weaponry so much that he wanted to see “a metal detector in every doorway”. Such was his commitment as a scholar and law professor, to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Rule of Law.
And never forget Teddy Kennedy, a walking—no, let’s say “staggering”—advertisement for car control. You may be young enough not to know that he was an alcoholic philanderer who drove off a bridge, drowning the young woman he was … whatever. There was a popular bumper sticker at the time of this “Chappaquiddick” incident: “Teddy’s automobile has killed more people than any of my guns.”
Along the way, there have been many lesser lights, like Mario Biaggi, who, typical of so many gun control advocates (think Adam Clayton Powell, Jesse Jackson. and Al Sharpton), was an utter sleazeball, convicted of numerous crimes and had to resign from Congress. Later on, there were empty-headed specimens like Patricia Schroeder, Diana Degette, and Carolyn McCarthy, who rode her ex- husband’s dead body into Congress.
Last but not least are the comedy stylings of Charles “Chuck” Schumer, the one-time geek who, fulfilling the fondest wishes of his elderly female constituents, will be the Senate Majority leader if Horrible Hillary cheats her way to the White House, and Dianne Feinstein, the Senate’s poster girl for San Francisco Rice-a-Roni insanity. The pair were last seen attempting to blame licensed gun dealers along the Mexican border for the “Fast and Furious” sport-utility weapons transfers forced on them by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and Sex Toys, no doubt under the threat of being forced to get hair plugs like Schumer.
Over the years, those who have desired to render everyday people helpless (usually those who also wanted to tax the people half to death and spend everything they—or their grandchildren—will ever earn) have employed many slogans, memes, fetishes, and hobby-horses to justify stealing the citizen’s means of self-defense, As I said, forty years ago it was “Saturday Night N—–town Specials” (with the “N—–town” deleted, although everybody knew it was there in the subtext; Hillary Clinton isn’t the only liberal who’s an unreconstructed racist). Later on, it was “assault rifles” and “Weapons of War”.
It’s fashionable at present, to assert that the Second Amendment makes some allowance for “reasonable regulation” of the individual right to own and carry weapons, even though the word “regulate” carries a very different meaning today than it did in the 18th century. It does no such thing. Instead, it outlaws any “infringement” of that right, which means sneaking up on it and nibbling it away, a little bit at a time. Regulation is infringement, and no gun law of any kind is tolerable to a free people.
I am convinced, after 48 years, that, although we have lost a battle or two, we still exercise our right to own and carry weapons because, at the drop of a proposal by any of these miscreants and cretins, gun-folk have been ready to fight, ready to put the victim disarmers back on the street. And we still have our mostly-free country, because we retain the means to fight.