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Monday, April 21, 2014

Imagine the Bundy Ranch Showdown With Well Regulated Militias

Recently, Cliven Bundy and his supporters had a showdown with the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over grazing rights on land claimed by the federal government. They started rounding up Mr. Bundy's cattle but were confronted by armed, liberty-minded people. Fortunately, the feds backed down. (Those needing to get up to speed on this can do so here.) published a great article written by a former federal agent speculating on how the US government will retaliate titled “What’s Next for the Bundys?”. All of this got me thinking about the power the federal government has and why it shouldn't have it.

The useless constitution seems to be clear about what the federal government can and can't do. Article I, Section 8, clause 15 is the only part of the constitution that mentions how the federal government can enforce its laws. It reads “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” [emphasis added] That's it, nowhere else does the constitution mention how to enforce federal law. The 10th Amendment limits the federal government's powers to only those listed. Nowhere does the constitution give the US government the power to create law enforcement agencies. This makes the BLM and the rest of the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies unconstitutional. 
The point of having a well regulated militia is to avoid arming the government in the first place. Informing the Founders on this subject was one of John Trenchard's Cato's Letters, No. 95 Further Reasonings against Standing Armies. In it he warns:

It is certain, that all parts of Europe which are enslaved, have been enslaved by armies; and it is absolutely impossible, that any nation which keeps them amongst themselves can long preserve their liberties; nor can any nation perfectly lose their liberties who are without such guests: And yet, though all men see this, and at times confess it, yet all have joined in their turns, to bring this heavy evil upon themselves and their country.

Modern readers can be forgiven for thinking that we don't have an army among us. In order to get around the people's antipathy to having soldiers on the streets ruling us police forces were introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. Think of the standing army not as literally a military force but as any organized bodies of armed men under the government's control. Today's standing law enforcement establishment functions domestically the way a standing army would. That's exactly what we saw on display at the Bundy ranch. During the debates over the Second Amendment Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts argued:

What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.

Imagine if the government didn't have the BLM and its thugs to bully Cliven Bundy. Imagine if to go after him congress would have had to meet and then vote to call forth the Nevada militia. Does anyone seriously think that a militia composed of Mr. Bundy's neighbors would have even tried to enforce the federal government's tyranny on him? Of course not. If we don't give the government the power to oppress it won't. The only way to secure our rights is to disarm the government while arming and organizing the people.

A note on the “militias” that protected the Bundy ranch. They were brave, determined people that I'm glad succeeded in defending the ranch. What they aren't is militias in the sense meant by the Founders and thinkers like Trenchard. The militias are supposed to be part of the system not groups or individuals outside of it. Explaining the issue from a constitutional point of view Edwin Viera wrote an excellent article on the subject titled “True Vs. False Militia And Why The Difference Matters”. In it he wrote:

As wholly private organizations with no legal authority peculiar to themselves-- for certainly not a single one of them has been empowered by a State statute to participate in the activities they have taken upon themselves -- these "militias" are necessarily not parts of the government of any State or Locality. Indeed, they view themselves as at least potential antagonists and opponents of "the government" in general

Militias” set up outside of the system are revolutionary groups. (I don't want to be misunderstood here. I'm not saying opposing the government is wrong or bad, I'm just trying to set the record straight about what militias really are.) Mr. Viera gets the principle right though his application is wrong. As an anarchist libertarian I'm more anti-government than any “militia” member will ever be. What we need aren't constitutional militias but militias that are part of a stateless system. 

The bottom line is that if the government didn't have a “standing army” in the form of the BLM and the system's enforcers were the very people that tyranny would be inflicted on they couldn't even have tried to do what they did. Imagine that, our liberties would be secure and the Bundy ranch free of federal invaders.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taxes and War Profiteers

One hopes that this sign could be the beginning of pacifists understanding that taxes and war go hand in hand. It was displayed at the Brandywine Peace Community's Good Friday Stations of Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Resistance at Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA (Mainstream media coverage can be read here.)
Knowledge that war depends on taxation is nothing new. During World War II Disney helped with propaganda to encourage submission to the legal plunder that is often referred to as taxation:
Thomas Paine covered the subject of war and taxes well in “The Rights of Man”:
…the portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore on the ground of interest, opposed to both. They account also for the readiness which always appears in such governments for engaging in wars by remarking on the different motives which produced them. In despotic governments wars are the effect of pride; but in those governments in which they become the means of taxation, they acquire thereby a more permanent promptitude.

War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries. It is the art of conquering at home; the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretense must be made for expenditure. In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes

Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of Governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old Governments

When the left decries the government’s diversion of its resources from human needs to the military it is on to something. War does impoverish us. What the left needs to understand is that a government with the resources to build schools also has the resources to build drones, a government with the resources to build roads also has the resources to build jet fighters, and a government with the power to tax and create money has the resources to pay for the weapons mentioned above and to wage war.

And wage war it will, for as Randolph Bourne wrote "War Is the Health of the State". Giving the state resources only feeds the war machine. Welfare at home and warfare abroad are also just flip sides of the same coin. If the left really wants to see Dr. King’s dream of peace come true they must face the reality that they can not give the government the tools it needs to wage war and expect it not to do so. It’s not enough to advocate that they not buy weapons. We must take away the tools they use to acquire them. This means that we must end the Federal Reserve System, the income tax, the federal government’s social spending, its regulatory role, and its police powers. Peace will only come when the government is powerless to commit evil acts both at home and abroad.
It comes as no surprise to libertarians that when governments use aggression at home to finance their operations they use much of that loot to aggress abroad. To really advocate peace pacifists need to apply their principles consistently. The use of force is either consonant with pacifist principles or it isn't. There is no magic of the collective that excuses the government using force in a way that is immoral for individuals to do so. I have no doubt that none of the members of the Brandywine Peace Community would themselves ever use force, or the threat thereof, to separate anyone from their money. Why then do they advocate that the government do so? Taxation isn't consonant with pacifist principles. It can't be enforced without using force, a violation of everything pacifists claim to stand for. Until they resolve this conflict pacifists may say they want peace but are really the enablers of war and other aggressions. We won't get rid of the scourge of war until we rid ourselves of the scourge of taxation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Professor Roth Says “...Guns Aren't the Problem”

One of many guns carried at a gun rights rally where not one person was shot.
During his presentation Why Is The United States The Most Homicidal Nation In The Affluent World? Professor Randy Roth of Ohio State University speaks for an hour about the causes of murder and why the murder rate fluctuates. What are most conspicuous for their absence is that he doesn't mention guns. They only come up during the question and answer period because of an audience question. Below is a transcript of the question and Professor Roth's answer with the most relevant parts in bold:
CARRIE MULFORD: I’m Carrie Mulford at the National Institute of Justice. I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t mention gun availability, gun laws, anything like that, so I was curious —
ROTH: Because I don’t like being abused and having my life threatened. [audience laughter] Because I’ve had both. I’ve been, you know, my scholarly credentials have been, you know, when I — because guns aren’t the problem. I mean, I say this, and as I say, I went to graduate school, many of us went to graduate school. We had very expensive and rigorous educations to learn that the answer to every important question is yes, no and maybe, right? And the answer to the question, “Are guns responsible for our homicide rate?” Yes, no and maybe. And that’s the truth.
And you try to tell that truth, and you get — I mean from the left and from the right. I mean it’s been more vicious from the right because they’re more vicious, but I’m sure if I said that in the 1960s when the left was more violent than the right, I would have gotten the death threats from them. So, you know, it’s a hard thing to really deal with, but I do talk about it in the book and I think about it extensively. Do you want me to talk about this? Because I know that people will watch this video, and they’ll doctor it. You can look at YouTube at how they’ve chopped things I’ve said to make me look — like one of their favorites was to chop what I said about Democrats and Republicans with what I said about chimpanzees. So they chopped it so I called Republicans chimpanzees, so they started a campaign to get me fired in Ohio. This is the kind of stuff that people will do, and I don’t want to be a coward about it, so I’ll answer your question, but this won’t go well for me if this gets on the Web. They will make sure that I get punished for saying what I’m going to say.
We’ve had, we’ve always had, a high level of gun ownership from, say, the colonial period right down into the 1940s. And at times we’ve been the most violent society in the affluent world, and at times we’ve been the least homicidal, haven’t we? So is it just guns?
When you take a look at the muzzle-loading era, and this is in the book, when it takes you time to load that gun? You know, “I’m mad now, but you’ve got three minutes to run, I suggest you do that.” Did you see, you know, the movie “Lincoln,” did you see that wonderful scene where he shoots and misses, and the guy’s trying to reason with him while he’s trying to reload his derringer, because you only got one shot? And he’s waiting, you know, he gives him about 20 seconds, and then he decides, “Uh oh, it’s time to run.” And he does. That’s how it goes. So when you look at that, what’s interesting is that gun use, the percentage of homicides committed with guns, goes up and down with the murder rate.
When that murder rate is high as it is in the mid- and early 17th century, the majority of homicides among unrelated adults are committed with guns. You look at this low period from the 1690s to the 1760s, only 10 percent of all homicides among unrelated adults are committed with guns. You go back up to the Revolution, it goes up to over half. Up and down in the Embargo crisis, up and down going into the crisis of the 1840s. So what it means is when people are feeling hostile or defensive, they will go to that dispute with their neighbor with their gun loaded. When they’re not feeling hostile or defensive, they go and cuss them out when their cattle come across the line and destroy their crop. They’ll go to the law.
So you’ll see that, you know, they’ll go to property disputes, they’ll go to political disputes with the guns loaded, and they kill each other. And so you have to kind of plan that out. And so what you see is that it goes up and down like that. And one of the experiments I would love to do, I’d love to run American history back to 1857 and dis-invent modern firearms. What do I mean by modern firearms? Those, the great invention of Smith and Wesson when they put everything together in 1857 and the first rimfire handgun that the black powder was totally enclosed within the cartridge, so you could keep your gun loaded all the time. Because if you know, black powder’s hygroscopic, it absorbs water, it corrodes your barrel, you can’t keep it loaded. Why do they always show the gun over the fireplace? Because that’s the warmest, driest place in the house. You’re trying to keep that gun going. So the thing is is when you see that firearm’s gunstock change between 1857 and 1910, it took that long for us to move to the breech-loading guns with self-contained ammunition, reliable manufactured ammunition. You will see the percentage of homicides committed with guns go up and up and up regardless of whether the homicide rate was going up or down.
And what you see, the dramatic thing is all through the colonial period, when you look at intimate partner homicides, family homicides, only 10 percent were committed with guns whether the homicide rate was high or low among unrelated adults. But when you see that modern firearm come in, you’ll see the rate at which intimate partner violence was committed goes up to be the same level as with unrelated violence. And you’ll see who’s most likely to be killed with a handgun in the late 19th century is not an unrelated adult. It’s a woman who rejected her lover. Because now I can take this gun around and I can stalk her. I can go with this gun — concealed if I am suicidal, I can conceal it, I can go talk to her. And very often she wants to be friends, she want to — rejected me, but the family wants to be friends. You go over to her house, he’ll say, “Will you take me back?” She gives the wrong answer, she says, “No, I can’t come back, but I’d like to be friends.” Shoots her, shoots himself, done. Seventy percent of those homicides are being committed with a handgun in the 1850s, ’60s and ’70s because that’s the perfect murder weapon. And because they love you, of course, the guys love you, so they don’t want to shoot you in the face, they don’t want to disfigure you. They love you, they shoot you in the back of the head or through the heart. They want it to be quick, they want it to be relatively painless, and they want to go too.
So in other words, what I would you say is that when you have this gender problem coming up, you can see that throwing guns into that is deadly. And when that homicide rate goes up, having guns there means the completion rate of an assault goes up. So, yeah, I think that when you have that homicide rate go up, having this many guns in the society makes it worse than it would otherwise be. And I say one of the reasons why we probably had a tough time during the 1950s getting down to 1 or 2 per 100,000, why were we stuck at 4 to 5, part of that is the fact that we were so heavily armed, and because we’ll engage in this kind of impulsive violence.
So in other words, what I told you was that guns aren’t the fundamental problem, we’d be killing each other with rolling pins because we hate each other, we hate our country. Europeans have a tough time understanding why Americans hate their government so much. So I say there’s a very elaborate form of self-hatred in a democratic society, isn’t it? But I think that that’s there. So in other words, you can see why everybody hates me by what I say, okay. It’s not an ideological response, and, you know, it’s based on years of research, it’s based on hard work that they don’t respect. I’ll be blunt. [emphasis added]

The entire transcript can be downloaded here.

I don't agree with everything Professor Roth says in his presentation but he does knock down the gun rights haters argument that the problem is guns and that eliminating them will make everything great. In fairness, his words don't completely favor gun rights either but they do support the view that guns aren't the cause of the problem. Thank you, Professor Roth.

It makes me sick to have to say I'm grateful to the government but I must cover myself so here is the required citation:

The International Libertarian gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, for allowing us to reproduce, in part or in whole, the video Why Is The United States The Most Homicidal Nation In The Affluent World?. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

John Lott Destroys Gun Rights Haters in a Debate (video)

What a hidden gem! This is an unlisted video of a gun rights debate. The clowns at UC Berkeley must not have liked that John Lott destroyed the gun grabbers. For anyone going into a debate or discussion of the issue this is must watch!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

PA Gun Rights Haters Show Their Intolerance

A few liberty activists dropped in on a gun rights haters' rally. On a nice Sunday afternoon, March 9, 2014, they had the Team 26 bicycle riders stop at Buckingham, PA near Philadelphia. Here is the reception I received: 
They were angry because the high school where they originally were going to do their rights hating rally at ran them out. They relocated to an out of the way church with no sidewalk on either side of the road. This made a counter-rally impossible. Strangely, they then claimed this constituted our backing down. (See my rebuttal The “Pacifist” Advocates of Violence Lie Again.)

There was no excuse for these people's behavior at the rally. If they had any regard for freedom of speech they wouldn't have interfered with our respectful outreach. Notice how at 0:42 a woman laughs delightedly at the verbal abuse the activist in the red coat is dishing out. It is obvious from the video that many in the crowd agreed with her abusive behavior. Contrast this to the behavior of members of the Brandywine Peace Community when on Good Friday 2011 a libertarian brought a gun to their civil disobedience at Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia, PA. They were outraged but remained civil. Their nonviolence discipline specifically states, "We will observe with co-actors, police, Lockheed Martin employees, and passers-by,
the rules of human courtesy. We will exhibit no violence or hostility - physical or verbal - toward anyone." [emphasis added] The people running the rally can learn from the good folks at the Brandywine Peace Community.

In fairness as I started handing out fliers one woman did say that even though I was on the other side she was glad I was there. She even thanked me for attending. The woman at 2:02 in the video seems puzzled by the spectacle of the red coat insulting me and taking my fliers. Perhaps she wondered, why the intolerance? I ask those of you who oppose gun rights to think about the kind of people you're following. Can you really trust them? Is the behavior you see in the video something you approve of? Don't you think that free speech should be defended rather than attacked? Please don't support these rights destroying groups anymore.

"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.”
-- Judge Louis D. Brandeis

A comment on a recurring theme at these kinds of rallies. We hear speakers say over and over that they respect gun rights and don't want to take away good people's guns. Yet we see signs like the one at the top of this article. Isn't a ban taking away people's guns? It is truly amazing that gun rights haters can't see the hypocrisy.
Police cars at the gun haters rally
Speaking of hypocrisy, notice how the red coat in the video threatens to call security. To my mind this was threatening me with force. (I'm sure there wasn't any security she was just making a pathetic attempt to intimidate.) Off camera she said "the police know you're here". Again, the threat of using force against peaceful outreach. Strange that these gun rights haters claim to be the peaceful ones. They claim to be against guns and violence yet they didn't ask the gun toting police to leave. I'm sure the opposite is true, the police were there at their request. Remember that the police are the ones whose job it is to use force and more often to threaten to do so. It isn't consistent with pacifist principles to want armed men who are legally empowered to use force around.

Sometimes law enforcers come up with a good idea. Such is the case with Law Enforcement Against prohibition (LEAP), a group concerned with the war on drugs and neutral on guns. The text of the flier I was handing out is from a page that was, but is no longer, on LEAP's website. Link to text of the flier:

On a humorous note I can now add "parasite" to "disgusting creepy crawly thing" on my activist resume. Keep the insults coming, haters.

The above hate mail was a reaction to this presentation:

In closing, I once again repeat my challenge to debate the gun rights issue. If the gun rights haters are confident that they're right they'll jump at the chance to do so.