Brian Baker: Freedom costly in American democracy

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In the wake of the recent horrific Las Vegas massacre, the leftist anti-gun coven has kicked its hair-on-fire hysteria into overdrive. In the immortal words of former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Contrary to their hysterical assertions, gun violence and deaths are in fact at historical lows. For the last 30 years, violent crime rates – including murder – have been decreasing at a rate in direct correlation to the easing of restrictive gun laws, particularly for concealed carry, in those jurisdictions that have enacted such policies.

In contrast, where gun laws are the most restrictive, jurisdictions suffer disproportionately high violent crime rates, including murder. Washington, D.C., Chicago and many other urban areas illustrate that fact.

The actions of the Las Vegas shooter are no different from those who have driven their cars into crowds and committed mass murder, including in 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip when one was killed and 35 injured – but I don’t see anyone talking about banning cars. Why is that? Cars are at least as “dangerous” as guns, with a higher death toll.

I’ll answer my own rhetorical question: it’s because we don’t discuss abridging the rights of the vast mass of law-abiding citizens because of the actions of some lone nut job – unless it involves guns.

Is there an unfortunate price to be paid for people to enjoy those rights? Yes, sadly, there is. But that’s unavoidable in a free society; the only way to avoid it is to eliminate the freedoms themselves.
That’s an unacceptable price. If we’re not willing to do it with cars, why should we do so with guns? Just because leftists don’t use or like them?

But there’s an even more important underlying issue, too. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s there to assure that citizens have the ability to protect themselves if the government fails to do so, either by failing to respond in a crisis or by trying to impose tyranny.

We saw this illustrated most vividly during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots in 1992, when the Korean shop owners protected their businesses, and themselves, with their own weapons – including semi-automatic “assault rifles” – while chaos reigned on L.A. streets for several day. The Koreans were on their own, and if you’re stuck in what is essentially a war zone, you want to be able to bring the most firepower to bear that you can.

But the Founders’ ultimate purpose in the Second Amendment was to make sure that citizens had the ability to prevent their own government from trying to impose tyranny. The only way to do that was to make sure that said government couldn’t outgun them.

Never forget that they’d just fought a successful revolt against their own previous legitimate government, and they weren’t foolish enough to think it couldn’t happen again right here at home.

To realize that potential, it’s important that citizens have the same firepower as the average grunt they could be facing across the firing line. And that’s not some scoped bolt-action hunting rifle.

The “militia” to which the Second Amendment refers is not the active-duty military, which our Founders called the “standing army,” of which they were very leery. In fact, as defined under 10 U.S. Code Section 311, the “militia” is composed of the National Guard (as anti-gunners dutifully note), as well as the “unorganized militia,” which is composed of all law-abiding people of military age “who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States” (which the anti-gunners always manage to conveniently forget). That’s all of us, folks: you, me, and Joe Sixpack.

The AR-15s used by the Vegas madman, contrary to the hoplophobes’ characterizations, aren’t “weapons of mass destruction” or any of the other hyperbolic descriptions. In fact, they’re no different from any other semi-automatic firearm in that they only fire one round per trigger pull. Further, as they’re the most commonly-owned rifle in general circulation, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark case of “D.C. v. Heller” assures their legitimacy.

Calling these guns a “full-on grade military arsenal,” as Gary Horton did earlier this week in his column against guns, is like calling Johnny Depp a real pirate. It makes no sense at all. In fact, if you ever found yourself on an actual battlefield and all you had was an AR-15, your life expectancy could be measured in minutes.

In Vegas, the killer used a “bump stock,” an after-market device that attaches to the rifle to increase the gun’s rate of fire. Frankly, I’d never heard of this device before, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about guns. Whether or not this is an illegal modification of the guns is, I believe, a legitimate topic for discussion.

But other than that, the jihad against AR-15s is a cynical exploitation of this tragic event to piecemeal advance the anti-gunners’ ultimate objective of trying to completely outlaw gun ownership in this country.

To that end, I want to acknowledge and thank U.S. Rep. Steve Knight for his courage and conviction in standing firm for the rights of gun ownership. It’s thanks to people like him that we have any rights left at all.

The reality is that there isn’t any law at all that would have prevented the maniacal Las Vegas shooter from committing his insane act. None. We don’t know why he did it. We probably never will. I don’t think it matters. Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

He wanted to kill a bunch of people. He rented a hotel room and used guns. He could have rented a van and mowed them down. In 2001 Timothy McVeigh rented a van and used fertilizer. The 9/11 jihadists bought airline tickets and used jet aircraft.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy.

Brian Baker is a Saugus resident.

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