This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 17, 2018:
That the essence of freedom is the limitation of government was expressed well by John C. Calhoun: “Governments … must derive their right from the assent … of the governed, and be subject to such limitations as they [the governed] may impose.” The Founders well knew through their study of history the dangers of government slipping its bonds, and sought, as Thomas Jefferson expressed it, to bind the central government down by the chains of the Constitution:
In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but find him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
George Washington, the first president of the American republic, knew the dangers of unlimited government: “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
Delegates from the sovereign states weren’t happy with what they had wrought, and ratification would have failed had it not been for the adoption of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in 1791, now called the Bill of Rights. It should perhaps have been called the Bill of Additional Restrictions on the Central Government, just to be sure that people knew that the bonds put in place would be strengthened by naming them instead of just assuming them.
The Second Amendment was put place behind the First so that citizens would know that the ultimate power is in the hands of the citizen, through his right to keep and bear arms. In celebrating Bill of Rights Day, Alan Gottlieb, serving as the Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), issued a statement on Saturday pointing to the uniqueness of the Bill of Rights and especially the importance of the Second Amendment in securing them:
Despite the efforts of lobbying groups and some politicians, the Second Amendment has retained its position as the cornerstone of our Bill of Rights. The individual citizen’s right to keep and bear arms protects all of the other rights….
Joining Gottlieb’s groups in the announcement was Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO). Gottlieb added, “Our mission is that of any citizen who values the liberty and freedom our nation symbolizes above all other nations in the world. Our Bill of Rights is the envy of every other citizen of every other country.”
Ironically, as Gottlieb was celebrating the Second Amendment, expat citizens from Venezuela were decrying its lack in their former homeland. On Saturday, Fox News published interviews with several former citizens who were now, belatedly, learning the lessons of history the hard way.
Gottlieb could have been speaking directly to two of them who have escaped the Marxist tyranny first installed by Hugo Chavez in 1999 and then expanded by his protégé, Nicolas Maduro, after Chavez died in 2013. Now living outside the grasp of Maduro’s “collectivos” – motorcycle gangs hired, paid, and armed by him to “keep the peace” in the country’s barrios – Javier Vanegas, a former Venezuelan school teacher now exiled in Ecuador, and Omar Adolfo Zares Sanchez, a former mayor of a municipality in Venezuela had their interviews published by Fox.
Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight. [Maduro’s] government security forces … knew they had no real opposition … it was a clear declaration of war against an unarmed population.
Vanegas added that the people were too trusting of their government back in 2012 when the Chavez-controlled Venezuelan National Assembly enacted its “Control of Arms, Munitions, and Disarmament Law” with the explicit purpose of disarming all of his citizens. Said Vanegas:
Venezuelans didn’t care enough about it. The idea of having the means to protect your home was seen as only needed out in the fields. People never would have believed they needed to defend themselves against the government.
Venezuelans … always hoped that our government would be non-tyrannical, a non-violator of human rights….
[But] if guns had been a stronger part of our culture, if there had been a sense of duty for one to protect their individual rights, and as a show of force against a government power – and had legal carry been a common thing – it would have made a huge difference.
Sanchez agreed: “Without a doubt, if there had been a balance of armed defense, we could have stood up and stopped the oppression at the beginning.”
Without such threat from an armed citizenry, Maduro’s tyranny has turned Venezuela from one of the most prosperous and free countries in South America into a virtual concentration camp run by Maduro’s thugs. The murder rate in the country is almost 100 per 100,000 (in the U.S. it is less than 5), and the poverty rate is nearly 80 percent.
David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado, stated the obvious: “Venezuela shows the deadly peril when citizens are deprived of the means of resisting the depredations of a criminal government. The Venezuelan rulers … viewed citizen possession of arms as a potential danger to a permanent communist monopoly of power.”
Kopel was likely referring to famous – infamous – statements by two historical tyrants over that “potential danger.” Said Adolph Hitler: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.”
And from Mao Zedong (aka Mao Tse Tung, aka “Chairman Mao”) who ruled China as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1949 to 1976: “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns. That way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
How many Americans knew that Saturday was Bill of Rights Day? How many know how many amendments were made and approved that fateful day in 1791? How many know that the Second Amendment was deliberately put in place as the anchor, the ultimate security, protecting all the others? How many remember that without those first ten amendments we wouldn’t have a Constitution?
George Santayana wasn’t the only individual warning of the dangers of ignoring or forgetting the lessons of history where governments are concerned. He wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Edmund Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Steve Berry, writing in his The Charlemagne Pursuit (2008), has his protagonist remark to his antagonist, Admiral Ramsey Langford: “It’s been my experience, Langford, that the past always has a way of returning. Those who don’t learn, or can’t remember it, are doomed to repeat it.”
A few informed Americans celebrated Bill of Rights Day on Saturday. A few now-informed Venezuelans lamented its lack in their former country on the same day.