Leftist billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg are driving the Orwellian Language of the left on gun issues. This is based on their political alignment to communist dictators like Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin, who disarmed their people, not in promoting the words of Thomas Jefferson or George Washington, who spoke out on the necessity and benefit of having armed citizens.
Bloomberg, and his anti-American cohorts were able to “buy” progressive control of the red state of Virginia in the 2019 elections. What we just saw in Virginia — the mass protests in defense of the 1st and 2nd Amendments — would be replicated across the nation should Bloomberg become president, because his first order of business would be to launch an all-out assault against individual rights and the Constitution.
There are practical reasons for the 2nd Amendment. The Founding Fathers understood that the individual right to bear arms is the foundation for the collective good of preserving the Republic.
Strength in numbers: because the people of the United States have always been so well-armed, no potential adversary has ever considered invading. The Japanese leadership feared any such idea because of the (correct) perception that there was “an American behind every blade of grass with a rifle,” as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto stated.
Constitutional basis: the Federalist Papers extensively document the founders’ intent to establish the right to bear arms as an individual right. The right to self-defense (ambivalent to a weapon or technology) is a natural and necessary right.
Practical commerce: innovation and technology advances are driven by a robust weapons market. Everything from materials to technology (sights, bullet types, and effect) have been driven by the United States. From designs by John Moses Browning to the latest innovations in weapons such as the “modular system” — the U.S. leads the world.
Military superiority: The 2nd Amendment allows America to boast the best equipped, most effective ground force on the planet. General George S. Patton once said the M1 Garand was the “greatest fighting implement” — and we have even better small arms technology today. America drives innovation based on commercial interests that the military could never afford to fund.
For all these reasons, the 2nd Amendment has always been fundamental to America’s military strength and national security.
The answer to today’s problems with violence is not “gun control." The answer is to remove restrictions on law-abiding citizens, educate the public, and encourage innovation and commerce.
Legal gun owners work to enhance skills and technology. It is laughable when the media portray “military-grade” as a “marketing gimmick” or “sought-after feature." Speaking as a combat veteran who used weapons in combat, I do not own a “military-grade” firearm, as that is only a baseline of durability, not a distinction of quality. I upgrade everything, not to make it “military-grade,” but for better functionality and performance.
Common sense gun safety, not control, should be the focus of the left. If Virginia Democrats really want to reduce gun violence, they should follow these common-sense principles:
- Expanded access for law-abiding citizens who live in high-risk communities — the left should encourage minorities to self-protect and be armed.
- Early training and orientation of youth with firearms. Children should be educated on the 2nd Amendment and firearms safety to demystify and teach respect for guns. The Civilian Marksmanship Program, for instance, should be emphasized and expanded so that technical skills and practical understanding of weapons become part of the culture.
- Enhanced training for defense and proper use of guns — “common sense” training of women in self-defense – should be widely available. The women’s movement calls for safe communities, but feminists should realize that the best way to achieve that is by providing weapons access and training for women.
- State-funded programs to subsidize access to firearms for minorities and women. There are all sorts of programs to help the poor and disadvantaged. States should also be helping those people exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. Switzerland makes weapons available to its citizens and hasn’t had a mass shooting in nearly two decades. Equal access to weapons should be a serious policy consideration.
- Access to firearms on military installations and elimination of “gun-free zones.” Most mass shootings happen in “gun-free zones” because criminals and terrorists know they can kill with impunity when their victims are not armed. The Texas church incident showed that one man, legally armed with basic skills, can stop a mass shooting.
- Review of mental health services. The 600 suicides where guns were used were not caused by the guns; they were caused by mental illness. The root cause of mental illness should be the focus. The majority of gun deaths in Virginia (approximately 600 of 1,000 last year) are based on mental illness, not homicidal intent.
- Support the U.S. firearms industrial base to pursue innovation and expansion. The millions of law-abiding gun owners support a robust civilian gun market that benefits the military by keeping America’s firearm technology state-of-the-art. It’s a fallacy to believe the military creates the best arms — rather, it is the commercial market that innovates and drives technology. The 2nd Amendment’s protection of commercial innovation is the key to our military small arms prowess.
We must seek to engage on this issue with facts, not emotion. While working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill, we should also strive to educate children and support law-abiding citizens — especially women and minorities — who wish to defend themselves by exercising the right to bear arms.
When leftist politicians such as Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders try to undermine the 2nd Amendment, it is because they know it is the one amendment that protects all the other rights enjoyed by Americans. Gun control is anathema to our culture and values as Americans — and I hope Ralph Northam and his deep-pocketed allies come to understand the importance of the 2nd Amendment, its legacy, its commercial benefits to the nation and our military, and most importantly, its essential link to our 1st Amendment freedoms.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer and President of the London Center for Policy Research.