During the past few months I have received cards, letters, and emails from readers who believe my stance concerning the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is extreme. These messages have all been polite and sensible, and have come from people who are obviously not the ‘granola’ types found in some parts of the country. In other words, they are not fruits, nuts, and flakes. They are normal folks.
My stance on 2A is that it guarantees the right of every citizen to own fully automatic, military style guns, without the necessity of permits or registration. If 2A does not do that, then it does not serve the purpose our founding fathers said they put it in there for – to protect us from tyranny in government. If we do not have the right to the same personal weapons our military, and every other government military, uses, we won’t be able to defend ourselves if it becomes necessary.
The letters I’ve received have mostly expressed a reluctance to believe we will ever need to protect ourselves from our government. The question in every missive is basically the same, “Why do we need those kinds of guns?” These people are sincere, and deserve an honest, sincere answer.
First of all, whether we need these guns is irrelevant. You don’t need a car that will run 80 miles per hour. Should the government then ban any vehicle that will go that fast? You also don’t need more than one flush toilet, one pair of socks, one fork. Need is not the question, but I submit that there is a definite need for these guns, and a recent incident in El Paso, Texas illustrates my assertion.
Bill (not his real name) moved to El Paso in 1999. He is an FBI agent, working out of the large field office there. Bill owns a fair number of guns, 34 of which he bought at a particular gun store in El Paso. He keeps detailed records on his personal firearms in a notebook, listing when and where he bought each gun, and when and to whom he sold them, if applicable.
Several months ago Bill received a call from Tom (not his real name), an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, asking for information about a particular pistol Bill had owned. Bill told Tom he would be glad to cooperate, and that he had sold the gun in question to a local deputy sheriff some time ago. Tom asked to meet Bill at his home, and Bill agreed.
When Tom showed up at Bill’s house he presented Bill with a search warrant, and proceeded to collect every firearm in Bill’s home. He confiscated all of Bill’s guns and still has them. The ATF had visited the gun store Bill frequented in El Paso, and obtained records on all the guns Bill had bought there. Bill was charged with gun running, and with buying and selling guns without a Federal Firearms License.
It seems the pistol Bill had sold to the deputy sheriff ended up being used, by someone else, to commit a crime. Because of that Bill was determined to be at fault. The fact that Bill had legally bought the gun, and then legally sold it to the deputy sheriff, did not matter to the ATF.
Bill is trying to get his personal guns back, and has obtained assistance from the NRA. Hopefully he will be successful, eventually, but there is no guarantee of that. He may just be out of luck.
Now, if an FBI agent, who had not broken any laws, and who cooperated fully with his ‘brother’ government agency, can have his guns taken from his home and held indefinitely, why is it unreasonable to believe our government may do the same to any of us? Do you still believe we will never have a need to protect ourselves from a tyrannical governmental agency? I might also point out that the guns taken from Bill were not just assault weapons, and none were illegal for any citizen to own.
In nineteenth century America, when fence cutting was a problem, laws were passed prohibiting citizens from carrying wire-cutting pliers on their person. The story goes that a cowboy came to town, and was arrested because he had such pliers sticking out of his back pocket.
The cowboy protested, saying he had not cut any fences. The sheriff replied, “Maybe you haven’t, but you’ve got the equipment for it.”
“In that case,” the cowboy said, “you might as well arrest me for rape. I’ve got the equipment for it.”
Does the average American citizen need military-style assault weapons? Maybe not, right now. The question is, when the time comes that we do need them, will we have them?
The answer depends on you . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who believes protecting the constitution is the responsibility of every citizen. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org