"It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men." ~ H.L. Mencken
My Opposition to H. 124
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Dear Vermont Legislators:
It becomes increasingly difficult to know just where to begin since, no matter how many times those of you who repeatedly attempt to impinge upon one of the very foundations of human liberty are presented with a surfeit of facts and evidence demonstrating the counterproductive, dangerous, and frankly, arrogant nature of your chosen position, you insist with absolutely blind determination on forging forward in this far less than admirable enterprise. So it is with shaking head and exasperation that I once again outline these truths, if only in an act of purist optimism that you might, after whatever length, be dissuaded from continuing thus:
1.) While such ammunition magazines as are designed to contain more than 10 rounds are not considered suitable for big-game hunting, as already reflected under existing government law, they are frequently used by target-shooters, and are often critical in self-defense situations – particularly when no outside help is available in any ample proximity of time. Almost always, law enforcers arrive once an incident has already transpired, to collect evidence and search for suspects. It is unconscionable that the innocent are to be considered criminal violators in seeking to provide for their own adequate defense.
2.) Yet another provision of this bill seeks to make the passage of a gun-safety course, similar to that which is currently mandatory before asking government permission to hunt game, a prerequisite to the carrying of a concealed firearm. Setting aside entirely for the moment the fact that very few if any incidents of accidental shootings in Vermont occur as a result of improper handling of concealed handguns, let’s show this proposal up for what it is: A de-facto permit system for concealed carry, without having to raise additional tax revenue to implement one. In other words, a raw power-grab.
Vermont is and has long been a model for the rest of America in this regard – where residents and nonresidents alike enjoy the ability to provide for their own personal protection at their own discretion, without government permission or intrusion. So long as no crime is being committed, such individuals are to be left in peace. Yet this bill seeks to make criminals and violators out of the innocent. It seeks to expand the heavy hand and ever-controlling grasp of government into an area that affects only the non-violent – not callous criminals who only view such laws as a big win for their own nefarious purposes. I have personally witnessed and experienced the abuses of power inherent to such licensing schemes. No free person should ever or under any circumstances have to beg permission from government to defend themselves and provide for their own security. There is a reason why Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming – and nominally, Montana and Texas – have chosen to emulate Vermont’s lack of firearms restrictions and “free carry” provisions. And that is because freedom works.
3.) Lastly, while it is certainly true that no mentally unstable individuals, or those with a history of serious violent criminal activity, should be granted access to firearms, it is equally important that background checks not be transmogrified into or in any way connected to gun registries. One glance at history demonstrates to us that gun registration has – in every recorded instance – led to the eventual outlawing and subsequent confiscation of firearms. It should be needless to say that repeating history in this regard is utter folly. No registry of guns or their owners should ever be brought into existence, or even tolerated.
In closing, I am repeatedly thunderstruck by the audacity of those who, for whatever purely emotional reasons, divorced entirely from statistical facts and other demonstrable evidence, continue to view any exercise of personal liberty – other than those they may, in their high-handedness, choose to endorse – as irresponsible licentiousness, and any lack of governmental control, licensing, and regulation as an imminent peril and looming apocalypse.
If Vermont’s violent crime statistics teach us anything, it is that gun control – which is in truth really just consolidation of gun ownership in the hands of government employees – is a self-contradictory measure fueled by irrational ignorance of facts, and bogeymen constructed out of smoke. In turn, if history teaches us anything, it is that once the well-oiled tyrannical killing machine known as government is given license to regulate the natural right of individuals to protect and defend themselves adequately, and in a manner of their own choosing – the only manner consistent with natural rights -- the result is all too often real horror, and on a genocidal scale. Let us not ignore the true and greatest sources of violence and destruction. Those who do not act violently are not criminals. Those who do bear the sole responsibility for those actions and should be the only ones who suffer the consequences. Governments, which are inherently based on coercion and violence, all too often are comprised of such. A bill such as H. 124, does nothing whatever to disprove, or deviate from, this all too familiar, repetitive, and entirely hypocritical pattern.