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Jewish World Review March 29, 2000 / 22 Adar II, 5760

Walter Williams

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To keep and bear arms --
WHENEVER THERE'S A TRAGEDY involving gun use, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the gun-control lobby and the news media seize it as another opportunity to exploit the emotions of uninformed American people for political gain.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't have the foggiest notion of why the Framers of the Constitution, through the Second Amendment, guaranteed our right to keep and bear arms. Our leftist establishment would like us to believe the Second Amendment was written to protect our duck- and deer-hunting rights. Don't take my word --- read what was actually said during the constitutional debates.

Thomas Jefferson said: "No man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Tench Coxe, assistant secretary of the treasury (1789), said, "The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in G-d it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Noah Webster said, "The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops."

In Federalist Paper No. 46, James Madison said the Constitution "preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached ... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition. ..."

Numerous sentiments like these were expressed during the constitutional debates. Here's my question to you: Which one of those statements sounds like the Framers had deer- and duck-hunting in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment? The Framers gave us the Second Amendment so we could have at least a last-ditch fighting chance against government encroachment on our liberties.

Who are the people who desperately want to disarm law-abiding Americans?

The answer doesn't require rocket science to figure that one out. The strongest advocates of gun control are the very people who seek greater and greater control over our lives. They're the people who want to take away our rights to property, freedom of speech and religion, and other liberties. They're cowards and want to feel safe doing so. They figure if we're first disarmed they can trample over our liberties with impunity.

If these people had guts and a modicum of respect for the Constitution, they'd seek repeal of the Second Amendment. Instead, they pursue an agenda to repeal it by stealth. The latest attempts are the suits against arms manufacturers for crimes committed with guns.

Last week, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson caved in to this pressure by signing a voluntary gun-control agreement with the Clinton-Gore administration. That "voluntary" agreement seeks to force arms manufacturers to do what today's laws do not require and create an "oversight commission" to ensure compliance..

Arms manufacturers Glock Inc. and Browning refused to sign the agreement. In response, New York's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer told them, "If you do not sign, your bankruptcy lawyers will be knocking at your door." That kind of official threat is an indication of just how bold and emboldened America's tyrants have become in the wake of our acquiescence -- threatening destruction of people who refuse to go along with "voluntary" agreements.

We Americans have set dangerous precedents. We can rest assured that those pushing for gun control have no intention of stopping short of total gun confiscation. At some point, we who cherish liberty must summon the courage of our forefathers and tell America's tyrants, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" The longer we wait, the greater the ultimate bloodshed.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate