A couple of the West’s democracies are behaving less and less like the bastions of freedom they claim to be and more like authoritarian regimes rife with little Napoleons who want absolute control over their respective masses.
Our Canadian neighbors have just implemented a nationwide gun registration plan that is already so grossly over budget, heads should roll. The $100 million-turned-$1 billion program to register the nation’s 7.5 million firearms is proceeding apace; violators – rotten criminals that they are – face up to $2,000 in fines and five years in jail if they didn’t register by Jan. 1.
In Britain, meanwhile, police are planning to implement another firearms amnesty, despite the fact that a ban on handgun ownership was implemented in 1997 and 60,000 guns were turned in during the first amnesty a decade earlier. As one analyst put it, when English police didn’t carry guns, there were few gun bans and crime was low. Now that they do, gun bans abound and crime is up. Go figure.
Both of these measures are, as usual, being sold to the public and the world as “crime prevention” policies. Yet crime does not decline appreciably under such strict firearms rules. In fact, such regulations often create whole new classes of victims – victims that, before bans and amnesties, were able to defend themselves more effectively.
That’s not freedom, it’s enslavement. Anything that makes people less dependent upon themselves and more dependent on government is anathema to liberty.
Leaders of truly free countries trust their own citizens to be armed. They trust them because they have no designs on usurping power or becoming dictatorial. They trust them because they rely on them to help police enforce laws, to keep invaders out, and to keep citizens safe.
History has proven that only leaders who fear an armed populace seek to disarm them – see Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and, more recently, Fidel Castro. History has also shown that an armed populace is the people’s best defense against authoritarianism – see the American Revolution, circa 1776.
Gun-control laws are not indicative of the kind of benevolence a government must demonstrate in order to be kind to freedom and individualism.
In the United States, there is a growing absence of this kind of benevolence. Though lawmakers know they cannot ban all guns outright, for example, they enact de facto bans, like the one on handguns in Maryland. As of Jan. 1, all handguns sold in the state must be designed with built-in trigger locks. Gun dealers there say dozens of models won’t qualify and that manufacturers have no intention of building handguns that do qualify. That means, of course, that many will go out of business. Presto – instant pseudo-gun ban.
In many major cities, some guns – mostly handguns – are banned completely, unless you happen to be a police officer or federal agent. Yet there’s still plenty of crime, meaning lots of innocent people would be alive today if they were legally able to possess the means to defend themselves.
That’s another trend here in the U.S. – making gun-control laws apply to ordinary citizens but not to local, state and federal police forces. How anathema to freedom for leaders to disarm “regular folk” while empowering and arming only those who enforce the laws. How comforting for the liberty-minded to know he or she will have no effective defense against criminals and out-of-control government agents and police alike.
Gun control laws serve the state and only the state. They don’t serve liberty and freedom any more than laws against freedom of speech, religion or of the press are conducive to self-determination and independence.
What the government gives the government can also take away, unless a free people determined to fight oppression have the means to do so.