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Some people in America today say rights such as those enumerated in
the Second Amendment are no longer necessary in our modern society
because the government will protect us from criminals and our advanced
state of freedom, equal protection under the law and representative
government will safeguard us from abusive and repressive government.

Now I could argue the point. But, instead, let me tell you about an
incident that took place last year in Alturas, Calif.

On Jan. 16, a fireman for the city fired 16 rounds from a .223 rifle
into an occupied bowling center owned by Norm Lakey. Two of the rounds
entered the building in a spot where the owner had been standing just
moments before.

Lakey did what most civilized Americans would do in such a situation.
He called the cops.

The Alturas police investigated the incident and found that the shots
had been fired by fireman Wayne Chester Bethel. But the cops did not
arrest Bethel. Nor was he given a sobriety test, though they were aware
he was intoxicated. Instead, the officers gave their good friend a ride
home and reported to Lakey that a couple of teen-agers had shot up his
bowling center.

Those are the facts as laid out in the Alturas Police Department
report.

Again, Lakey did what any red-blooded, law-abiding, taxpaying citizen
would do at that point. He went to the district attorney. He says he was
told the DA would have to take the case to the state attorney general’s
office because the fireman, a city official, was close friends with the
cops involved and the local judicial officials. That never happened.

Instead, Bethel was charged with a misdemeanor, served no jail time
and even got his gun back. This, by the way, after he demonstrated no
remorse for his shooting spree, which he admitted was one of a series in
which he had participated. He admitted to having a grudge against the
owners of the bowling center and even threatened more serious violence
if he didn’t get his gun back.

Now, I guess you can say this is just an isolated incident in a small
town and is not relevant to the gun-control debate or evidence of
widespread government corruption.

I say it is relevant. I hear about stories like this every day from
my readers. We can’t begin to pass them all along. They only begin to
make sense when you see them in context.

What is the context? The context is that government is no longer a
servant of the people — not at the local level, the state level and
certainly not the federal. It has instead become the master of the
people. Whom you know means everything. Equal justice under the law has
become a joke.

If you think I’m exaggerating, just try shooting 16 rounds into a
government building — perhaps the local police station or maybe an
occupied federal building somewhere. Not only do I feel certain this is
not a crime for which you would get a ride home from the law enforcement
authorities, I doubt very much if you would survive such an attack.

You would very likely be portrayed on the national evening news as
some kind of anti-government, militia nutcase and charged with hate
crimes and terrorism if you were fortunate enough to live through the
day.

And that’s why it is more important than ever for Americans to wake
up to the threat they face from government at all levels today. They are
coming for your guns — your last line of defense. Once you put your
fate in the hands of government, all freedom is lost. Your
self-determination is a distant memory. You are now a ward of the state,
a subject, a serf.

Now I don’t think it would have made any difference to Mr. Lakey that
night whether he was armed. He probably wouldn’t shoot back under the
circumstances anyway. But the fact that government officials — whether
they are drunken firemen or members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms — know they can get away with this kind of behavior
because of their connections illustrates where America is headed in
1999.

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