My Lai

Interestingly enough, what you who advocate the disarming of American citizens are saying – in short, is that your fellow citizens cannot be trusted with a gun – no matter what kind of gun it is.

It is a line in the sand.

For those who understand that the present debate has little to do with what kind of “arms” you possess or advocate – then what you do understand is that at some point you must decide that the intrusion on your private affairs must be confronted with a “thus far and no further” response – hence the debate over semi-automatic weapons and the number of bullets they will be allowed to consume in a short period of time.

Unlike the US Senator that argued that “magazines” should be limited – and then turned to her colleague and asked, “are those the same magazines I buy at Wal-Mart that have articles about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – I am not so sure we should ban those.”

And then added, “And what is this thing about “clips” – what do beauty salons have to do with this?”

Seriously,

For those of you who plan to limit what kinds of arms you will allow your fellow citizens to possess there are some things that you might want to consider – but before I go on let me share a little story with you.

When I was 8 years old my mother was recently divorced and working nights for $1.80 per hour.  That was minimum wage in 1963 and it was difficult to support her three children on such wages – so much so that she took a night shift at the hospital – what they called “11 to 7” because it paid a bit more.  To supplement our meager resources my brother – about 18 months older than I, and myself, hunted and fished to put food on the table.  Fishing is a non-combatant sport – hunting isn’t.  Hunting involves instruments that are able to kill at a distance.  My brother had a 4:10 gauge shotgun, and I carried a .22 caliber rifle.  We hunted mostly rabbits – but also quail and pheasant.

In order to do so, we often took risks that involved our personal safety.  We walked through woods where we could not see each other – hoping to flush out a rabbit or bird that would become our next meal.  In order to know where the other was during these times we developed a distinctive whistle that let each other know where we were to avoid an accidental shot when a movement appeared – us!

There was one time I remember by the train tracks at the grain silo in Colo that I had the job of kicking through the snow in the ditch to scare up the rabbits which he, standing on the train tracks – shot as they ran out in front of me.  I trusted him to operate that lethal killing instrument to the benefit of our family who needed food – I had no fear that he would turn that weapon on me or somehow accidently shoot me.  He was a pretty good shot.

In fact, I grew up in a family of farmers and hunters – and I can say without reservation that there was not a single one of them that I did not trust with a weapon of any kind.  Had it been a shotgun or a cruise missile it would not have mattered – they conducted themselves with the utmost care when they handled a weapon of any kind.

These people would not have handed me a sharp knife or a pair of scissors without first being sure that there was not any possibility of that instrument causing me any harm. In fact, in the 60 years that I lived among them, there was only one time that I ever saw the standard rifles and shotguns that you find on almost any farm or homestead locked up – and that was when some untrusted juveniles happened to be visiting for a long weekend.

“So!  Aha!” you say, “here lies the problem!  You just can’t put that trust in the average citizen of the United States anymore, especially weapons like the AR15!  That trust belongs in the hands of one group of people and one group of people only – the government, the police and the military!”

There is a raging controversy in this country about the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  I would dare say that most of those involved in the current debate know little of the Constitution of the United States – and have probably never read the 2nd Amendment for themselves.   They probably could not tell you if the Bill of Rights is a separate document.

The 2nd Amendment reads:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Although the current debate would have you believe that the issue is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” this debate is not what the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution is actually about.

The “subject” of the 2nd Amendment is “a free state.”

The key words are “necessary to the security of a free state.”  The basic implications are simple.   The right to bear arms is not allowed in a state or for those subject to a government in which “the people” are not “free.”

The founders of the American Republic stated that in order for a “free state” to exist that “a well regulated militia” was “necessary.”  It is important to know what they were talking about.

First the word “militia” which is a civilian army.  This is a military force composed of civilians and that is not subject to the government or existing military forces.  It is a separate military force, and unlike the Army slogan this really can be “an army of one.”  Each and every citizen has the opportunity to be part of this military force – and they answer to no one but themselves.

This “militia” is “necessary.”  In this case the word necessary is used as an adjective and it means “essential, required to be done, achieved or present.”

Remember that the subject of the 2nd Amendment is “a free state.”  What the Founding Fathers were saying here is that a free state cannot be achieved or present unless there is a “well regulated militia.”

They stated that this militia was “necessary.”

The men who made the 2nd Amendment part of The Bill of Rights were some of the most profound thinkers that humanity has ever produced.  The Federal Republic that they delivered unto the United States of America is an unequaled form of government – something never conceived or attempted before in the history of man.  They were visionaries who foresaw and made provision for a government that if properly instituted would serve humanity in its best and most desirable circumstances. They knew what they were talking about.

By including the 2nd Amendment in The Bill of Rights they were not only drawing on their most recent experiences with the British Crown – but they were taking into account all empires that had come and gone down through recorded history.  They didn’t mince their words – and in the framing of the Constitution they were so precise and succinct as to defy the intellect of most of their contemporaries – and certainly most of their modern critics.

In the 2nd Amendment they use a word that is just this precise – and it is worth careful consideration.  They stated that the people’s right to bear arms was “necessary.” (essential, required.)

They didn’t tell us whether or not they liked the fact that the citizenry would need to retain this right to bear arms.  They didn’t say they thought it was just somebody’s good idea.  They didn’t laud the qualities of weapons of war.

Finally, they add that in order to have this “necessary” “militia” that the “right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.”  The Second Amendment gives this right to “the people.”  Not to the police, the military, or the National Guard.  Not to private security agencies like Blackwater.  No, this “right” is specifically granted to “the people,” and that it should not be infringed.

The word “infringed” means “to limit or to undermine.”

They stated this in the most unequivocal terms.  They did not leave room for debate on this.  In fact, they raised this idea to the same level of importance for a “free” society as any of the other Amendments that we call The Bill of Rights.

They did not state that they liked guns, or had some kind of “love affair” with guns. They did not extol the virtues of the Brown Bess or the Charleyville.

They did not say that this necessity would result in a completely peaceful and non-violent republic.

For those who are determined to protect the “free state” that the Founding Fathers delivered unto us the right to bear arms establishes the right to resist tyranny,  it is a very simple “thus far and no further.”  An armed militia is essential for the free state to continue to exist – plain and simple.

It is ludicrous to suggest that the framers of The Bill of Rights should have intended that the “right to bear arms” was anything other than what would be considered “equal firepower.”  The M-16 and the AR-15 had not been invented.  The British regulars carried The Brown Bess – a flintlock muzzle loading musket that had a 75 caliber bore and used a 69 caliber ball.  The Colonists had mostly Charleyville French made muskets that had a 69 caliber bore and used a 65 caliber ball.  To suggest that “the right to bear arms” should have, at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights meant that the British should lawfully carry The Brown Bess and the Colonists should lawfully carry pitchforks, knives, and clubs is simply ridiculous – worthy only of ridicule.

But you say, “Things have changed.  I want the police and military to have weapons, but don’t give them to my fellow citizens.”

You might want to reconsider that idea.

On March 16, 1968 Charlie Company was ready.  Company C of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division, arrived in South Vietnam in December 1967. Though their first month in Vietnam passed without any direct enemy contact, by mid-March the company had suffered 28 incidents involving mines or booby-traps which caused numerous injuries and five deaths.” (from Wikipedia)  They had been in Vietnam for a short time – only 3 months, but in that time they had suffered such casualties at the hands of the Viet Cong. The Tet Offensive (as it became known) of January 1968 had just taken place and the VC’s 48th Battalion was “known” to be holed up in a series of hamlets known as My Lai.  During the Tet Offensive the VC had smuggled weapons into civilian areas, including the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon.  Many of these weapons had been buried in caskets during mock funerals and on the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet – the VC had unearthed these weapons for an all-out assault on the ARVAN and the US Forces.  It had been a complete military failure in terms of casualties – but it had been an emotional victory and morale among the US troops was at low ebb.

The word from Intelligence was that the VC and VC sympathizers had a stronghold in My Lai – that pretty much everyone there was either VC or aiding the VC in their recent attacks.  Intelligence reports went on to say that on that Saturday morning all the “friendly” inhabitants would travel to nearby markets – places where VC sympathizers were reluctant to show their faces.  In fact, everyone in the hamlet of My Lai would be Viet Cong.

Charlie Company was “hopped up” and they locked and loaded.  It was a fine morning for revenge.

The ensuing massacre is difficult to describe and even more difficult to understand.  Charlie Company found no combat aged males – only old men, women and children.  There were no weapons caches.

But the men of Charlie Company had come to settle a score.

Women were raped – some gang raped before they were beaten and shot.  Some of the women had the emblem of Charlie Company cut into their chests while they were being raped.  Villagers were taken to a nearby ditch – lined up and shot.  Anyone trying to run away was deemed a “combatant” and shot.  In all over 500 old men, women and children were massacred. The dead included fifty children 3 or younger.  There were sixty nine children between the ages of 4 and 7.  Twenty seven of those murdered were in their 70’s or 80’s.

You might ask yourself the question of how such an atrocity could take place at the hands of the US military in the “modern age.”  You might even want to consider what you would have done had you been the husband of father of some of these women and children if you had an M-16 with which to shoot back.

The simple answer is that the atrocity took place because the Vietnamese people as a whole had been dehumanized in the eyes of the general public – and most certainly in the eyes of the US soldiers.  They were called “gooks” and “slope heads”.  Killing them was not called “killing” or “murder” but was called “wasting” – so the act of murdering a defenseless child, woman or elderly man was called “wasting a gook.”  It was something almost admirable.

At the height of the madness at My Lai, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Jr. and his helicopter crew – seeing what was taking place on the ground, and observing Capt. Medina kick and then shoot an unarmed woman – and after repeated attempts to call for support; landed their helicopter in a ditch full of bodies.  There Thompson confronted Second Lt. Calley who claimed to “just be following orders” – and unable to stop what was taking place he and his crew returned to the helicopter and took off.

They then saw a group of Vietnamese hiding in a bunker being approached by the marauding soldiers.  Thompson again landed and after coaxing the 12-16 civilians out to his helicopter he ordered his gunner to shoot anyone who tried to harm them.

It could be argued that Warrant Officer Thompson and his crew could not have carried out their heroic acts that day unless they were sufficiently armed. If they had not had “sufficient firepower” at their disposal they would not have been able to protect the people that they did.  It can certainly be argued that weapons such as the M-16 in the wrong hands that day contributed to the massacre – but remember, these weapons were in the hands of trained soldiers fighting in the forces of the greatest superpower the world has ever known who were “just following orders.”

The civilians were defenseless.

Superior firepower has been the holy grail of all military organizations down through history.  In fact, superior weapons as a deterrent are and have been the policy of our own government for at least six decades. It is this very policy that resulted in the nuclear arms race and the Cold war – the escalation of nuclear arms development and the eventual proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In a move that could only be considered the epitome of self-righteousness – the US, France, Russia, China and Great Britain declared themselves to be the only nations that could legally possess nuclear weapons.  This was established in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.  Three more nations, that is, India, Pakistan, and North Korea subsequently announced nuclear capabilities, and an additional five nations have been given nuclear arms through the US policy of “weapons sharing”.  These are Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey.  South Africa once had nuclear weapons but dismantled them before joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.  There is now speculation that Iran is developing a nuclear program that is not sanctioned by the members of the NNP Treaty.  Oddly, there is never a mention of Israel as a nation that possesses nuclear weapons, although that is widely considered to be a fact.

So much for “Non-Proliferation.”

You can argue that one American citizen armed with an AR-15 is no match to the superior firepower of the DHS or Police or a tyrannical government – and you would be correct.  However – there are no tyrants who misunderstand the power of an armed resistance.

Put yourself in the villages of My Lai – and decide if you would stand idly by while the carnage took place.  If I had been a Vietnamese father or husband who had the “arms” to do so, I don’t think I would have.

Disarming your citizens invites tyranny – and a prolonged struggle to regain that basic right to resist – a right granted by the Bill of Rights – a necessity that “shall not be infringed” – that is – if you want to live in a “free state” – if you want to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Ask King George and the British Regulars who crushed the feeble resistance at Concord and Lexington on April 19, 1775.  Ask them how important that failed stand by a poorly armed citizenry was?  Those resistors – willing to make a stand to protect their homes and families against tyranny, and against the intrusion of a superior military force invading their towns and homes, those armed resistors lit a flame that still burns brightly.

It’s a flame we call freedom.

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