From My Cold, Dead Hands

Readers of political essays may have noticed arguments about guns are much more heated than discussions about religious liberty and freedom of speech.

There's a reason for the heat.

Argumentation about free speech and religious freedom can become almost purely abstract, separated from physical reality. The gun, however, is a physical and real symbol of individual sovereignty. It is a tangible object, a physical possession that stands between the citizen and predators. Stripping a person of firearms leaves him naked -- vulnerable, practically defenseless and therefore open to predation, not just from individual criminals, but from the State.

Further, stripping away defensive firearms instantly turns the police and armed forces into potential tools of tyranny rather than brothers and fellow citizens standing together against common enemies. There is a reason Americans love the idea of an honorable posse that goes after the horse rustlers. The sheriff, an elected and legitimate agent of governmental authority, is joined by armed citizens who face a common threat and who join in common defense.

When citizens are disarmed, there is no longer any common and universal bond regarding the Law, no clear and distinct division between the good guys and the bad guys. There are only the powerful guys. The Law is instantly completely apart from and above the disarmed citizen. It is no longer wed to common cause, but becomes an exclusive "right" of a few -- a few who can see themselves as punitive avengers rather than as fellow citizens.

For instance, when an armed mob wishing to destroy the societal order starts shooting at innocent, unarmed citizens, the citizens have no recourse should the police or military decide to look the other way or even join in with the thugs.

Case example: Korean store owners in Los Angeles found themselves needing protection against looters after the 1992 Rodney King incident which sparked riots. No police were in sight. Mobs of looters were warded off by the Koreans, who emerged ready for action, some taking vantage points on roof tops, all the better to take aim. A YouTube video, found here, has one priceless declamation from a virtually clueless commentator: "So far, there does not seem to be any looting or burning, at least where they are."


If the store owners had been unarmed, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor would have been at risk. It was only their determination backed up by firepower that saved them from the mobs.

The lessons learned in 1992 remain applicable today. A defenseless, unarmed citizenry would instantly become victims of predatory types, be they armed individuals or a tyrannical government. Most Americans who are realistic about human nature know the nature of predators and believe they have the right to defend themselves from the wolves among us.

That is why so many say, "My gun will only be taken from my cold, dead hands."

-- Fay Voshell may be reached at

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