(This speech was delivered at the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally, held on the steps of the Vermont State Legislature building in Montpelier on March 9th, 2014.)
Good afternoon. I was asked to speak today because it seems there are certain members of the political class who – despite being unable to present any factual evidence that Vermont’s present disposition with regard to firearms and ammunition is anything less than laudable and worthy of emulation – continue to hold an irrational and obsessive disdain for those of us who choose to own and carry guns. This is unfortunate, but it is also all too typical and predictable of those who also choose to make an enterprise out of controlling and dominating the lives, liberty, and property of others. Psychologists variously call such behavior sociopathy or psychopathy. A more archaic term is moral imbecility. For some reason I like that one best.
The fact of the matter is that, for whatever arbitrary emotional reasons, there are among us those who do not like the concept of individual liberty. There are those who feel that unless all aspects of human behavior and endeavor are under the control of government enforcers, then they are inherently out of control. Nowhere is this attitude more strongly evidenced than when approaching the subject of everyday people owning and carrying arms and munitions. For never, of course, do such condescending self-styled elitists suggest that the police or the military be disarmed — or even similarly restricted. We have only to look at the current examples of Ukraine and Venezuela to bear witness to what the senseless consequences of such state-worshipping invariably leads to. Or, worse yet, the poverty-stricken Marxist prisons of Cuba and North Korea – both prime examples of the philosophy of the total state – and with which, no doubt, many members of the Vermont legislature feel a kinship.
In addition to the abdication of reason and ideologically-based chicanery we have just seen unfold in Burlington – a battle which we must be fully prepared to win next year — we have also had before us two bills – both house and senate versions; H.706 and H.735, along with S.178 and S.277, respectively – crafted by such members of the legislature as I have heretofore described in what I hope is sufficient detail. One concerns the presence of firearms on the grounds of a school. Not, mind you, inside a school building, or on board a school bus, as is already considered a violation, but on any property whatsoever designated to a school. In Vermont, that can mean acres and acres of undeveloped forest. Or, as one Vermont gun owner pointed out in a newspaper editorial I read not long ago, it can mean when you drop your children off at school, while carrying a handgun inside the vehicle for their and your protection. You and I are compelled, under threat of violent force, to pay taxes to support those same schools – whether you, or I, have children attending them, or not. Now, certain politicians would have you thrown into a cage for daring to set foot anywhere on those grounds while exercising a supposedly inalienable liberty.
The next, in cases involving restraining orders, makes confiscation of one’s firearms by law enforcement mandatory, along with monetary storage fees, without due process or any evidence or determination of guilt. If the accused is unable to raise the funds to recoup their guns after having been cleared of any wrongdoing, they forfeit them to the State to be auctioned off with no recompense. If the formerly accused’s property has been damaged while in storage – tough tomatoes. The gun owner cannot expect compensation for his or her loss. There exists a very simple word to describe a proposal such as this, and it is endemic to all governments everywhere. Sometimes it’s called a tax. What it’s most properly called, is theft. Plain and simple thievery.
Now someone might, as many misguided persons often do, try to make the case that these measures are only “common-sense” provisions that seek to maximize “public safety” while imposing minimal infringements on the freedoms of gun owners who are doing nothing wrong. But this is 100% entirely backwards: What constitutes common sense, and what promotes public safety, is an armed populace unhampered by the threat of governmental intrusion into the arena of self-defense – the most fundamental of human liberties, even before freedom of speech, or assembly, or religion. Those things quite rapidly become meaningless, when one’s life is placed in jeopardy – whether by common thugs and thieves, or those of the government variety — who have so often in history made the genocide of unarmed and defenseless people their meat and drink. What promotes common sense and safety is more liberty and fewer government employees.
Does that sound dire? Perhaps to the point of agitating far outside the parameters of these latest incursions upon individual freedom the people of Vermont are being asked to accept and submit to? Well if you’re inclined to think so, I’d invite you to take a look south, towards Massachusetts, and the tarantula’s web of laws that have been piled on top of laws over the years to the point where legal gun ownership has been rendered all but impossible. Then look at the crime rate. Look west, to New York’s recently passed so-called SAFE Act, about which there is precisely nothing “safe,” and where the slighest infraction of a gauntlet of petty and ridiculous rules – designed specifically to discourage gun ownership of any kind – can instantly and irreversibly turn you into a felon in the eyes of the government bureaucracy. Look to Connecticut, where the threat of actual gun confiscation by the police looms larger every day, as thousands of admirable gun-owning residents, who have committed no actual wrong, have decided to engage in a mass act of civil disobedience against the vicious dictums of those whom they have allowed to govern and rule them, as if they were little more than slaves. The chief of the state police there says he’s just waiting to be given those very orders. We’ll see what happens.
You can even look east to New Hampshire where, although the atmosphere is generally less restrictive than in any of the aforementioned regions, there is still an altogether too reactionary attitude towards guns – most especially with respect to handguns. The license requirements are specifically designed to grant the police and judiciary almost dictatorial control over the bearing of arms, while maintaining a surface appearance of only those “common sense public safety” practices I alluded to earlier. The reality – and I can attest to it at first hand – is that the granting of even this one seemingly innocuous area of control to the police in New Hampshire has long since opened the door to rampant abuse, misinterpretation of the laws as written, arbitrary deprivation of fundamental liberties, judicial misconduct, and unscrupulous power grabs. In short, New Hampshire’s gun laws satisfy in every respect the old adage about, “give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.” Except they’ll take ten miles. Then a hundred. And so on. It never, ever stops. Not when you’re dealing with the nonsensical, self-contradictory institution of government – and the backwards bureaucratic mentality such an idea depends upon for its continued existence. This is true of all who comprise the political class, but none so much perhaps as Linda Waite-Simpson of Essex, and those of her ilk – the arch enemies, not only of human liberty, but of the very foundations of human dignity as well.
We’re being told that today’s Vermont is filled with drug dealers carrying guns, and that it’s “scary.” What’s scary is that the automatic knee-jerk reaction of more control, more laws, and less individual freedom is unquestioningly resorted to as the cure for all ills. It’s an amazingly ignorant, and frankly, sick mentality. If anything, it is the sign of a society that has lost its bearings. An imploding cesspool of collectivist authoritarianism, about which there is precisely nothing “liberal.”
The self-defeating and utterly cynical nature of this stance, and others like it, should be readily apparent, but in case not, Ann Braden, of Gun Sense Vermont, clarifies her position when she refers to “Vermont’s out-of-date, insufficient gun laws.”
Ms. Braden, what is out-of-date is your unassailable belief that one more law will deliver us all from evil. That an automatic deference to the violent compulsory force of government is preferable to human freedom. That the miserable track record of government intervention in every last aspect of human activity is perfectly excusable, so long as an unrealizable outcome is still avidly hoped for, and held forth as a chimera. Correspondingly, the only thing which is insufficient is your intellect, Ms. Braden — and evidently your powers of perception, as well.
Let me be unambiguously clear: My liberty is never out-of-date – no matter what societal changes may take place, whether real or perceived. Freedom has no expiration date. Not today, not on doomsday, not ever. It is non-negotiable. It is indivisible. It is not something to compromised in any capacity. It does not change. It’s all or nothing. Period.
I’ll close by saying that I have very little if any respect for what goes on in this building behind me, or others like it. All that results from such activity are constant assaults upon my life, liberty, and property – and yours. And I correspondingly lend no such enterprise any legitimacy whatsoever. That said, I do not want to see any gun control laws pass, now or ever. I would prefer to avoid in all cases the possibility of government employees using violence against me, or you, simply because of what we may choose to own or possess. But let me say right now, before you all, and in the full light of day, that should any new gun laws be imposed upon us by the living menaces who populate this chamber, I have no intention of complying. Enough is enough.