Gun Control: A Failed American Experiment
The United States has had gun control from its founding. And the results have been dreadful.
The United States has had gun control from its founding. And the results have been dreadful.
Georgia's Slavery Act of 1765, for example, explained itself on the rather blatant theory of legalistic oppression that
"Slavery has been introduced and allowed in His Majesty's Colonies in America and * * * Power over such Slaves ought to be settled and limited by positive Laws, so that the Slaves may be kept in due Subjection and Obedience * * * [.]"
The Act went on to provide
"[t]hat it shall not be lawful for any Slave unless in the presence of some White Person to carry and make use of Fire Arms or any offensive Weapon whatsoever Unless such Slave shall have a Tickett or Licence in Writing from his Master, Mistress or Overseer to hunt * * * and that such Licence be renewed once every Month, or unless there be some White Person of the Age of sixteen years or upwards in the Company of such Slave when he is hunting or Shooting, or that such Slave be actually carrying his Master's Arms to or from his Master's Plantation by a special Tickett for that purpose, or unless such Slave be found in the Day time actually keeping off Birds within the Plantation to which such Slave belongs lodging the same Gun at Night within the dwelling-House of his Master, Mistress, or white Overseer. PROVIDED ALSO That no Slave shall have Liberty to carry any Gun, Cutlass, Pistol or other Offensive Weapon abroad at any Time, between Saturday Evening after Sun-set and Monday Morning before Sun rise Notwithstanding a Licence or Tickett for so doing, and in Case any Person shall find any Slave using or carrying fire-Arms or other Offensive Weapon contrary to * * * this Act, such Person may lawfully seize and take away such Offensive Weapon or fire-Arms * * *"
Georgia was hardly alone in this, and the pre-colonial powers were fully aware of the need to disarm slaves. The French Black Code of 1751 banned the possession of weapons by slaves in Louisiana, for instance, authorizing the offending slave be shot on sight.In Virginia Nat Turner's Rebellion of 1831 led to strict gun control laws for slaves and even for free blacks. Tennessee changed its constitution in 1834 limiting the right to keep and bear arms to whites only.In fact, gun control began in 1644 for freed blacks.A 1680 law reads;
"...it shall not be lawfull for any negroe or other slave to carry or arme himselfe with any club, staffe, gunn, sword or any other weapon of defence or offence, nor to goe or depart from of his masters ground without a certificate from his master, mistris or overseer, and such permission not to be granted but upon perticuler and necessary occasions; and every negroe or slave soe offending not haveing a certificate as aforesaid shalbe sent to the next constable, who is hereby enjoyned and required to give the said negroe twenty lashes on his bare back well layd on, and soe sent home to his said master, mistris or overseer. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall presume or lift up his hand in opposition against any christian, shall for every such offence, upon due proofe made thereof by the oath of the party before a magistrate, have and receive thirty lashed on his bare back well laid on. And it is hereby further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any negroe or other slave shall absent himself from his masters service and lye hid and lurking in obscure places, comitting injuries to the inhabitants, and shall resist any person or persons that shalby any lawfull authority be imployed to apprehend and take the said negroe, that then in case of such resistance, it shalbe lawfull for such person or persons to kill the said negroe or slave soe lying out and resisting, and that this law be once every six months published at the respective county courts and parish churches within this colony."
Similar restrictions were put in place over both slave and freedman in Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere.
So why did slavery flourish in the United States? One reason undoubtedly is because the slaves were denied the tools to resist.
John Lott made that very point to the horror of Soledad O'Brien on CNN.
And life as a freedman was perilous, thanks in no small part to the ban on gun ownership by free blacks in many states. Often freedmen were seized by bounty hunters or unscrupulous slaveholders as runaways, and without a means to resist, the free blacks were powerless to stop it.
It is no coincidence that the places with the strictest gun laws today are often the places with the highest crime rates in America -- and with high African-American populations; the vestiges of slavery leads "the Man" to try to disarm the African-American population, and the law is ignored by the criminal element -- just as the law was ignored by criminals in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There were prohibitions against selling firearms to the Indian tribes, too, and yet the Indians were always well armed. They weren't making their own guns, either, but were purchasing them illegally. But the Indians were free to roam while the slaves were kept within a mile or so of the plantation, and the laws restricting guns were quite effective in that instance.
Now the Progressive will argue that this proves that "reasonable restrictions" were always part of the American historical context of gun ownership and so makes their case. Nothing could be further from the truth; slaves and Native Americans were not citizens, and the black freedmen were dismissed on the same basis. After the Civil War the Southern states enacted a series of punitive laws known as the Black Codes. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 made it clear that freed blacks were in fact citizens who enjoyed the same Second Amendment protections as whites.
To get around this -- especially after the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1867 -- the gun control advocates created carry permits and fees. Virginia's Law Review championed a "prohibitive tax" on handgun sales to blacks because the:
"...cowardly practice of 'toting' guns has been one of the most fruitful sources of crime ... .Let a negro board a railroad train with a quart of mean whiskey and a pistol in his grip and the chances are that there will be a murder, or at least a row, before he alights." [Comment, Carrying Concealed Weapons, 15 Va L. Reg. 391, 391-92 (1909); George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, "Gun Control and Racism," Stefan Tahmassebi, 1991, p. 75]
What does this tell us? The experiment with gun control has been conducted, and it has largely failed.
But if all guns were banned, then even the criminals would not have guns, right?
I tested that. I found dozens of websites that told me how to make all manner of firearms from easily obtainable materials. These weapons include fully automatic submachine guns, even flamethrowers! Explosives are easy, of course; just a few simple things like ammonia or aluminum and sulfur or iron oxide and you've got yourself a deadly IED. Even poison gas recipes can be found online. (Now for that knock on my door...)
American Thinker's own Jack Kemp had this to say;
"I learned the following while living on Kibbutz Givat Haiim Ichud in the early 1970s.
Jews living in the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s made some of their own firearms before gaining independence as the State of Israel. They would bury them alongside the agricultural sprinkler pipes so it would make it hard for the British to find them during a search with mine (metal) detectors. The weapons were marked as "Made in U.S.A." to further confuse the British, should any of them fall into British hands. The joke was, however, "U.S.A." stood for the Yiddish term "Unser Selber Arbeit" which translates into English as "Our Own Work."
The point is, weapons can be obtained when desired. The slave uprising in Haiti that kicked off the successful Haitian revolution against France was won in no small part because of firearms despite a heavy prohibition against slaves possessing such weapons. The IRA always had a dandy store of them despite the best legal efforts of the British. When I was on my honeymoon in Jamaica many years ago the big story was a raid by police on an illicit firearms factory. (Jamaica, despite one of the strictest gun control laws in the world has some of the highest gun crime rates).
What will start as a "reasonable restriction" will lead to guns in the hands of criminals alone, and will lead to the citizenry giving ever more power to law enforcement, and to legislators who will draft ever more restrictive laws. Eventually laws will be made against disseminating information to make firearms, and the government will get into the business of censoring such information. Also, after the Oklahoma City bombin,g there was talk about restrictions on purchases of materials that could be made into weapons or explosives, and that will be implemented. What is the endgame? Anything that could potentially be used as a weapon will be strictly controlled -- and that means just about everything. Where will that lead? A cashless society? A bar code laser-tattooed on your hand or forehead? Human beings are what we are because our ancestors took a bone and whacked another guy with it; the impulse to do bodily harm is not going to go away because weapons are restricted.
In the end, the Founding Fathers understood the importance of arming the citizenry as both a deterrent to crime and a deterrent to tyranny. The citizens should be able to run a political system that has turned monstrous out by force. The Left instinctively understands this, and so want to disarm the citizenry, figuring that at best weapons that citizens will get will be homemade or none at all. They hope to place us in the position of the slaves and black freedmen, who simply were not capable of resisting.
Considering that the Department of Homeland Security has over 1.2 billion rounds of hollow point bullets depriving Americans of a few Saturday Night Specials seems a bit unfair. But then, nobody ever accused the Left of playing nice.
Tim is a St. Louis based writer. Read more from Tim and friends at www.tbirdnow.mee.nu