So brother Jeff has trod upon the toes of some would-be militia bloggers with his latest Knox Report posting. Good for him. He's right.
Some have gone so far as to insinuate that Jeff has betrayed his heritage. That's nonsense. Jeff's characterization of the militia — the armed populace — as being a deterrent, much like the nuclear deterrrent, comes straight from Dad. And his view comes from Thomas Jefferson. Chapter and verse, which also happens to be a book excerpt, follow.
There's no question, America is headed for a rough patch. The Republicans have for the past eight years presided over an expansion of government that would make LBJ blush, and now they're nationalizing the banks. This while accusing the Democrats of being socialists. Both sides like to "spread the wealth around."
But that doesn't mean that everything has gone down the tubes and the only thing left to do is to start killing people and breaking things.
Here's a piece that Neal Knox wrote in May of 1995. Historical context: NRA had lost on the Clinton gun ban, the 1994 so-called "assault weapons" ban. But they lost honorably. The ILA leadership, backed by a strong pro-Second Amendment Board, fought the ban tooth and nail, resisting tremendous pressure to "accept a compromise in order to head off worse." Consequently, the 103rd Congress and especially the Democrats paid dearly at the polls. A sitting Speaker of the House was turned out of office, something that had not happened since before the Civil War, and the House majority switched to the Republicans for the first time in forty years. The leading political analyst of the day, William Jefferson Clinton, declared that the NRA had made the difference (Cleveland Plain Dealer). Then, the unthinkable happened. On April 19, 1995, two years to the day after the Waco horror, a pair of psychopathic misfits blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. We are still dealing with the fallout of that bit of political theater a decade and a half later. Militia is now a dirty word in the media. So much for hastening the revolution.
A revolution is by definition a mass movement. Our militia blogging friends claim three percent of gun owners are with them. Well if you count loosely, maybe so. Can they get that three percent to the polls? Can they bring a fraction of that three percent, maybe a couple thousand of them of them, out on the streets on a hot day? It's been done. Can they do it? Show some mass action — peaceful mass action — and the militia movement will start gaining some credibility. In other words, let's see some real political action. Until then the three-percenters owe more to Walter Mitty than to Thomas Jefferson.
Mr. Jefferson On Militia
by Neal Knox
May 10, 1995
An armed people – sometimes called a militia – scares big government and the supporters of a big, powerful government.
Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and James Madison and the other architects of this great nation planned it that way.
They based their plan on the teachings of John Locke and Niccolò Machiavelli, implemented in the armed citizenry of Switzerland. (The Swiss experience is the topic of a forthcoming book by British friend Richard Munday, an Oxford man who for several years has been researching governments based on an armed citizenry. The book is aptly entitled Most Armed, Most Free.)
Thomas Jefferson wrote “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms, is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against government tyranny.”
The beauty of the Founding Fathers plan is that an armed people is an insurance policy against tyranny. So long as the right exists, it is never needed.
That is the same reason we build B-1 bombers which we pray will never bomb.
That’s why an armed people – for defense of self, family and the nation – is guaranteed by the Second Amendment and codified by the laws of most states. Also, Section 311 of Title 10, U.S. Code, the rewritten Militia Act of 1792, describes both the organized and unorganized militia, and – by 1903 amendment – a third type of militia, the National Guard.
A militia isn’t necessarily a bunch of overage and overweight folks wheezing through the woods in camouflage. It’s you and me with rifles, shotguns and handguns owned primarily for recreation or personal protection.
Under the laws of most states and Federal law, there is a right to organize a militia, but a citizen gains no additional rights by doing so. We already are the militia – even including some of our anti-gun fellow citizens who have never touched a gun.
As George Mason said, the militia is “the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, wrote an incisive article about the militia movement in the January 30 Chicago Tribune.
He wrote that although many militia groups are quite knowledgeable about the Second Amendment, and are correct that it was intended to preserve an individual right as a protection against tyranny, many don’t understand the Founding Fathers’ careful definition of tyranny – mainly laid out in the Declaration of Independence.
“A government that taxed its citizens without representation was thus no better than an outlaw,” Prof. Reynolds wrote, “But revolting against taxation without representation is not the same thing as revolting against taxation.”
People who have the means of changing government through the ballot box, as was admirably demonstrated last fall, but who engage in armed conflict with government, would be considered mere rebels and insurrectionists by Thomas Jefferson.
Mr. Jefferson would have been outraged by the bombing in Oklahoma City – particularly if it was intended as a cowardly political statement.
This evening a reporter told me he didn’t understand how Oklahoma City had swung around to have something to do with “gun control.” I do.
The disciples of big government are furious about the role of the NRA in last fall’s elections, and fearful about what will happen in 1996.
And that’s why NRA is so hated and reviled, because NRA is so feared.
It’s not because of our guns, and not because of the lawful ways we use our guns, or even because of the unlawful way that they claim NRA members – or militia members who are also gun owners – might misuse guns.
It’s because of the NRA’s determination that all of the Bill of Rights shall be upheld, and that citizens shall remain free – and not the feeders and subjects of an all-powerful government.