Friday, August 9, 2019

Commentary: 'If Gun Control Activists Existed in the American Colonies and They Had Their Way, We Would Still Be Under the Rule Of the British' by Robert Wenzel

A long-time contention of mine is that lefties are not very deep thinkers. They react to what is in front of them and do not think of long-term consequences.

We are seeing this peculiarity emerge once again with the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

The lefties want to ban assault weapons, and if they think they could get away with it, they would call for the ban of all guns among the citizenry.

They are once again bringing this ban of assault rifles demand to the forefront because of the recent horrific mass shootings. It's a knee jerk reaction.

They further believe that the only use for guns are for sport hunting and collecting. Thus, they argue that "no individual needs to own an assault rifle." But this fails to appreciate the use of weapons against potential future totalitarian governments. And death by totalitarians should be a much greater concern than the amount of killing a lone nut can do.


In Death By Government, R.J. Rummel reports that in the 20th century (though 1987) 169 million people had been killed by governments.

How can there be any comparison as to which threat is greater?

Government as killer is by far the greatest killer.

A gun, an assault gun, under every man's bed is a very good way to keep a government in check.

Indeed, the American Revolution was started when the British attempted to impose gun controls. If they had succeeded, the revolution would have never occurred.

In a 2011 paper in the Charleston Law Review, How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution, David B. Kopel reports:

The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, had forbidden town meetings from taking place more than once a year. When he dispatched the Redcoats to break up an illegal town meeting in Salem, 3000 armed Americans appeared in response, and the British retreated. Gage's aide John Andrews explained that everyone in the area aged 16 years or older owned a gun and plenty of gunpowder.

Military rule would be difficult to impose on an armed populace. Gage had only 2,000 troops in Boston. There were thousands of armed men in Boston alone, and more in the surrounding area. One response to the problem was to deprive the Americans of gunpowder.

Modern "smokeless" gunpowder is stable under most conditions. The "black powder" of the 18th Century was far more volatile. Accordingly, large quantities of black powder were often stored in a town's "powder house," typically a reinforced brick building. The powder house would hold merchants' reserves, large quantities stored by individuals, as well as powder for use by the local militia...

Before dawn on September 1, 1774, 260 of Gage's Redcoats sailed up the Mystic River and seized hundreds of barrels of powder from the Charlestown powder house.

The "Powder Alarm," as it became known, was a serious provocation. By the end of the day, 20,000 militiamen had mobilized and started marching towards Boston. In Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, rumors quickly spread that the Powder Alarm had actually involved fighting in the streets of Boston. More accurate reports reached the militia companies before that militia reached Boston, and so the war did not begin in September. The message, though, was unmistakable: If the British used violence to seize arms or powder, the Americans would treat that violent seizure as an act of war, and would fight. And that is exactly what happened several months later, on April 19, 1775....

Governor Gage directed the Redcoats to begin general, warrantless searches for arms and ammunition. According to the Boston Gazette, of all General Gage's offenses, "what most irritated the People" was "seizing their Arms and Ammunition."

When the Massachusetts Assembly convened, General Gage declared it illegal, so the representatives reassembled as the "Provincial Congress." On October 26, 1774, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress adopted a resolution condemning military rule, and criticizing Gage for "unlawfully seizing and retaining large quantities of ammunition in the arsenal at Boston." The Provincial Congress urged all militia companies to organize and elect their own officers. At least a quarter of the militia (the famous Minute Men) were directed to "equip and hold themselves in readiness to march at the shortest notice." The Provincial Congress further declared that everyone who did not already have a gun should get one, and start practicing with it diligently....

 King George III and his ministers blocked importation of arms and ammunition to America...

Meanwhile, Benjamin Franklin was masterminding the surreptitious import of arms and ammunition from the Netherlands, France, and Spain.

The patriotic Boston Committee of Correspondence learned of the arms embargo and promptly dispatched Paul Revere to New Hampshire, with the warning that two British ships were headed to Fort William and Mary, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to seize firearms, cannons, and gunpowder. On December 14, 1774, 400 New Hampshire patriots preemptively captured all the material at the fort. A New Hampshire newspaper argued that the capture was prudent and proper, reminding readers that the ancient Carthaginians had consented to "deliver up all their Arms to the Romans" and were decimated by the Romans soon after...

The troubles in New England inflamed the other colonies. Patrick Henry's great speech to the Virginia legislature on March 23, 1775, argued that the British plainly meant to subjugate America by force. Because every attempt by the Americans at peaceful reconciliation had been rebuffed, the only remaining alternatives for the Americans were to accept slavery or to take up arms. If the Americans did not act soon, the British would soon disarm them, and all hope would be lost. "The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us," he promised.

The Convention formed a committee--including Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson--"to prepare a plan for the embodying, arming, and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient" to defend the commonwealth. The Convention urged "that every Man be provided with a good Rifle" and "that every Horseman be provided . . . with Pistols and Holsters, a Carbine, or other Firelock." ...

Without formal legal authorization, Americans began to form independent militia, outside the traditional chain of command of the royal governors. In Virginia, George Washington and George Mason organized the Fairfax Independent Militia Company. The Fairfax militiamen pledged that "we will, each of us, constantly keep by us" a firelock, six pounds of gunpowder, and twenty pounds of lead. Other independent militia embodied in Virginia along the same model. Independent militia also formed in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland, and South Carolina, choosing their own officers....

The American War of Independence began on April 19, 1775, when 700 Redcoats under the command of Major John Pitcairn left Boston to seize American arms at Lexington and Concord.

The militia that assembled at the Lexington Green and the Concord Bridge consisted of able-bodied men aged 16 to 60. They supplied their own firearms, although a few poor men had to borrow a gun. Warned by Paul Revere and Samuel Dawes of the British advance, the young women of Lexington assembled cartridges late into the evening of April 18.

At dawn, the British confronted about 200 militiamen at Lexington. "Disperse you Rebels--Damn you, throw down your Arms and disperse!" ordered Major Pitcairn. The Americans were quickly routed.

With a "huzzah" of victory, the Redcoats marched on to Concord, where one of Gage's spies had told him that the largest Patriot reserve of gunpowder was stored. At Concord's North Bridge, the town militia met with some of the British force, and after a battle of two or three minutes, drove off the British.

Notwithstanding the setback at the bridge, the Redcoats had sufficient force to search the town for arms and ammunition. But the main powder stores at Concord had been hauled to safety before the Redcoats arrived.

When the British began to withdraw back to Boston, things got much worse for them. Armed Americans were swarming in from nearby towns. They would soon outnumber the British 2:1. Although some of the Americans cohered in militia units, a great many fought on their own, taking sniper positions wherever opportunity presented itself. Only British reinforcements dispatched from Boston saved the British expedition from annihilation--and the fact that the Americans started running out of ammunition and gun powder.

One British officer reported: "These fellows were generally good marksmen, and many of them used long guns made for Duck-Shooting." On a per-shot basis, the Americans inflicted higher casualties than had the British regulars...

At Lexington and Concord, forcible disarmament had not worked out for the British. So back in Boston, Gage set out to disarm the Bostonians a different way.

On April 23, 1775, Gage offered the Bostonians the opportunity to leave town if they surrendered their arms. The Boston Selectmen voted to accept the offer, and within days, 2,674 guns were deposited, one gun for every two adult male Bostonians.

Gage thought that many Bostonians still had guns, and he refused to allow the Bostonians to leave. Indeed, a large proportion of the surrendered guns were "training arms"--large muskets with bayonets, that would be difficult to hide. After several months, food shortages in Boston convinced Gage to allow easier emigration from the city.

Gage's disarmament program incited other Americans to take up arms. Benjamin Franklin, returning to Philadelphia after an unsuccessful diplomatic trip to London, "was highly pleased to find the Americans arming and preparing for the worst events."...

The events of April 19 convinced many more Americans to arm themselves and to embody independent militia. A report from New York City observed that "the inhabitants there are arming themselves . . . forming companies, and taking every method to defend our rights. The like spirit prevails in the province of New Jersey, where a large and well disciplined militia are now fit for action."

In Virginia, Lord Dunmore observed: "Every County is now Arming a Company of men whom they call an independent Company for the avowed purpose of protecting their Committee, and to be employed against Government if occasion require." North Carolina's Royal Governor Josiah Martin issued a proclamation outlawing independent militia, but it had little effect....

As the war went on, the British always remembered that without gun control, they could never control America. In 1777, with British victory seeming likely, Colonial Undersecretary William Knox drafted a plan entitled "What Is Fit to Be Done with America?" To ensure that there would be no future rebellions, "[t]he Militia Laws should be repealed and none suffered to be re-enacted, & the Arms of all the People should be taken away, . . . nor should any Foundery or manufactuary of Arms, Gunpowder, or Warlike Stores, be ever suffered in America, nor should any Gunpowder, Lead, Arms or Ordnance be imported into it without Licence . . . ."
It would be difficult for lefties to argue that a "gun check"  against a fascist government isn't necessary in modern-day America, since they are the ones claiming that Trump is a fascist and an illegitimate president aided by the Russians. They just never go beyond surface thinking.

But beyond the absurd idea that Trump is under the control of Russia, it is impossible to know when a serious totalitarian could emerge. The New Hamshire newspaper warning in 1774 is as relevant now as it was back then,  the ancient Carthaginians had consented to "deliver up all their Arms to the Romans" and were decimated by the Romans soon after.

As I have pointed out before, a large part of the emergence of these nutjob mass shooters from both the left and the right is the result of their getting juiced up by the class rhetoric of the extremists on both sides. These shooters now see "honor" in shooting.

Trump and the SJWs are both feeding views that oppression is at the hands of some groups. It provides the ideal cover for nutjobs of all kinds be they whites, blacks or Muslims to take out their anger against innocents who are painted as other than innocent by either Trump or SJWs or the government.

It is time to reject the group framing done by Trump, the SJWs and government, and call for individual responsibility for success and a decent life.

The only groups we should fear are the groups doing the framing of society at large and those that want to take our guns away and leave us naked in front of a societal structure, government, that is responsible for hundreds of millions dead.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.

Editor's note: This article was initially run at Target Liberty and has been republished with permission of its author.