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 Jeff Snyder 
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 Post subject: Jeff Snyder
PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:02 pm 
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Location: SE MPLS
Jeff Snyder wrote an essay, 10 years back, called "Nation of Cowards". It's been floating around on the internet, and I quoted a bit from it in another thread.

He wrote a book containing it and some other essays. They get a little repetitive - he's one basic message. But the last chapter, on when exactly it's appropriate to take up arms and start shooting politicians, is something I've always found enlightening.

Frivolous reasons

Since most Americans have renounced the responsibility for which firearms are needed, and shifted this duty entirely to government, they cannot believe, and will not take seriously, claims by others, in the minority, that the firearms are needed for serious purposes. In the view of the majority, those continuing to own firearms do so only for two remaining reasons: either they harbor dangerous, illegitimate intentions (i.e., they intend to commit crimes), or thgey harbor legitimate but utterly frivolous ones: hunting, recreation, competitive shooting, collecting.

Since most Americans have renounced the responsibility for which firearms are needed, they will not presume or believe that those owning firearms are motivated or controlled by considerations of responsibility. They will readily accept, therefore, the necessity of laws to insure that firearms owners will behave and act safely, and do not harbor dangerous intentions.

The rejection of the burdens of self-government - in this case the responsibility to defend our lives and our communities from violent crime and civil unrest - and the attempt to place the principal responsibility for that duty upon the institutions of government, thus leads inexorably to the destruction of those rights which exist only to insure the freedom of those willing to govern themselves. Gun owners are often as guilty of this as those who seek to deprive them of their right to keep arms.

Every time we insist that the answer to violent crime lies in more police, more prisons, no parole, stiffer penalties and longer sentences, or more poverty, drug treatment or Head Start programs, every time, in short, we suggest that with a few needed reforms and programs, our institutions would be fully up to the task of reducing crime to minor levels, so that we citizens need no longer worry about violent crime, we implicitly renounce any personal responsibility for crime in our communities and declare that we lack any serious reason for owning firearms, and thereby drive another nail into the coffin of the Second Amendment.

What is to be done?

Isaac Asimov, in his Foundation trilogy, had a character once say, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." Asimov was a very intelligent man, and perhaps he, or his character, believed that there was no political problem that did not, through the application of superior intelligence, admit of a non-violent solution. Whether this is true may be difficult to say, but it is clear in any event that violence is the first, second, or third refude of the incompetent.

Talk of gun owners engaging in armed insurrection against their government to rescue their Second Amendment rights indicates, at this point, that we have utterly failed to identify the source of our problems. Our forefathers, engaged in building a nation in the wilderness, were a free and independent people, who keenly felt and resented a distant and unrepresentative government's attempts to restrict their liberty and exploit their labors. Modern Americans, in contrast, for the most part are, and crave to be, completely dependent upon government, wanting nothing better than to reform their government and give it enough power so that it will, at last, really work, properly educating their children, protecting them from violent crime, seeing to it that they are provided food, shelter, and health care, a comfotable retirement, et cetera.

There is a line in the sand that distinguishes between legitimate and tyrannical government, and it was drawn by the Founding Fathers. It is called the United States Constitution. It is breached every day, and has been for a long, long time, now. It is and was breached because our legislators and courts have given us - not always, not completely or perfectly, but basically - what we, the American people, have asked for.

Locke teaches us that a tyrannical government will be dissolved only when a long train of abuses makes evident to the people at large its design to reduce them to utter despotism. Since a just government governs only with the consent of the governed, a tyrannical government is not justly dissolved and replaced until a sizable enough percentage of the governed recognize its tyrannical nature, and institute a new government upon principles they believe will secure their liberties.

Gun owners who are serious about preserving their rights must become politically active in the way in which our Founding Fathers were politically active. It is not enough to vote, contact representatives, donate funds, or even to run for office. We must study again the Declaration of independence, our Constitution and teh Federalist Papers, and judge where we are today against where the Founding Fathers hoped we would be. We must read the classics of political philosophy, and question the nature, purpose and limits of government, and consider what principles and institutional structures might best secure liberty, and limit government to the ends for which it is instituted, thinking always of what our Founding Fathers attempted and questioning where they - or we - may have failed.

If we perceive tyranny in our government's attemps to deprive us of the right to arms, then rather than rushing to join Locke's madmen and heady malcontents in an ineffective, suicidal declaration of war on government, we need to do the hard work of educating ourselves and others, and forging relationships with those who perceive the government's "Abuses and Ursurpations" in other arenas. The new Committees of Correspondance may be found on talk radio, the Internet, and in organizations like the Cato Institute and the Federalist Society.

Our efforts will bear fruit, however, only if we proceed on but one basis. If we wish to reclaim our rights, we must begin by reclaiming our responsibilities. If we wish to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, we must begin by declaring that now we will govern ourselves. For with responsibility comes freedom.

- Jeff Snyder

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