ED: The following post originally ran on December 26, 2012, about two weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting. A famous man once wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. We’re re-running this post today because it’s every bit as relevant as it was almost seven years ago.
Two days ago, a man whom I’ve known and respected for over a decade launched into a more than slightly incoherent Facebook rant in which he explicitly blamed the NRA and law-abiding civilian shooters for the Newtown killings.
“Those children died,” he wrote, “so you could have your toys without any reasonable restrictions.” I didn’t know how to respond to the post. After all, none of the “reasonable” restrictions now being proposed would have prevented Adam Lanza’s affluent, well-educated mother from purchasing a gun.
I tried pointing that out to my friend, only to have him dismiss me as a “gun nut.” Although he’s normally a reasonable fellow, since Newtown happened he’s clearly decided to let emotion take the wheel, at least for now.
He’s not the only intelligent person I’ve seen swept away towards irrationality in the past two weeks. Again and again, I’ve heard that “reasonable gun control” is now necessary, even inevitable. In my struggles to understand this, I thought back to World War II and the failure of what was perhaps the first-ever government-sponsored zip gun.
The FP-45 “Liberator” was a throwaway, sheet-steel affair, manufactured in bulk by General Motors in the days when they were the Arsenal of Democracy rather than the Recipient Of Government Assistance. The US Army planned to drop approximately a million of the single-shot, .45 ACP-chambered pistols into occupied Europe.
The stated purpose of the weapon was to enable Resistance fighters to kill soldiers and acquire a rifle or SMG. But the real purpose was to spread a little terror through the German ranks. The FP-45’s concealable nature meant that anybody could be carrying one at any time, so in theory the existence of the Liberators would have vastly increased the stress the occupying troops faced.
During the German Occupation, the Allies managed to convey over 200,000 firearms into Europe, but almost all of those were STEN guns delivered to known Resistance contacts. The Liberator, which would have been air-dropped at random, wound up being melted-down en masse instead. That’s right: the United States simply declined to drop a million pistols that it had already built into Nazi-held territory. Why?
In his book “Blitzkrieg,” historian Len Deighton states that the Liberator program was canceled at the request of Charles de Gaulle, who as the self-appointed representative of the “Free French” had an amazing ability to manipulate the Allies towards his interests despite having virtually no followers and despite the fact that France itself didn’t exactly struggle to throw off the yoke of German occupation.
De Gaulle knew that resistance to the Nazis was mostly imaginary, but that resistance to his triumphant return was likely to be quite real, particularly from leftist elements within France. He therefore convinced the United States to cancel any proposed Liberator drops and in doing so significantly reduced the amount of potentially-armed opposition to his postwar ascension.
The astute reader will note that this decision effectively aided the Nazi ability to resist the Normandy invasions. Some minor percentage of the deaths on that day was no doubt due to the fact that the Germans didn’t have a million zip guns pointed at their backs.
The payoff for that sacrifice? When the country was finally liberated, nearly all the hardware was firmly in the hands of de Gaulle’s chosen people and the transition was no doubt smoothed by this happy coincidence. So what if a few Allied soldiers had to die in the cause?
Charles de Gaulle wasn’t just a brilliant politician; he was an effective myth-maker. The Allies sweated blood to put him into power at the end of World War II because he sold them a story that they wanted to believe, even if it wasn’t true: namely, that there had been a massive French Resistance and he, de Gaulle, had directed its many successful operations. The fiction of “Le Resistance” effectively over-wrote the fact of French cooperation. De Gaulle rode the power myth into a nearly absolute power over France.
The people who want to advance “reasonable” gun control in the United States are myth-makers as well, and they should not be confused with the useful idiots who subscribe to their myths. They know that a ten-round magazine limit or a ban on scary-looking pistol grips wouldn’t have prevented the deaths of those children in Connecticut.
They know that nothing short of a nationwide ban on firearms possession, combined with a thorough and merciless seizure of the 300 million weapons in private hands already, could significantly reduce the chances of another Newtown shooting.
They don’t care. In the phrase “gun control,” control should be emphasized. Control is its own reward. Power, as Orwell noted, is its own reward. It needs no other reason, no other justification.
There’s no reason to seek out the golden heart behind the iron fist of gun control. It doesn’t exist. The armed citizen is not fully under control, even if his “assault weapon” never leaves his closet. There must be control.
And thus we have ridiculous suggestions like taxing ammunition. What level of taxation deters someone who only plans to fire a hundred rounds — or one round — in anger? We know that the purpose of that legislation is to control recreational shooters, to marginalize them, to tax them, not the criminals, out of existence. Control is the only purpose, and the people who want that control will seize on any excuse, any tragedy, to have more of it. They are inexorable and inexhaustible.
I wonder if my friends who are in favor of “reasonable” gun control aren’t suffering from a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. Surrounded by the media which bleats the mantra of “reasonable gun control” twenty-four hours a day, sick of being vilified for owning firearms, tired of explaining that no, the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee your right to join the National Guard.
After a while, it’s easier to identify with the abusers, to go along, to give up something in hopes that they’ll be left alone, that the maw which yawns beneath them to swallow their neighbor’s AR-15 will be satisfied at that and will leave their Mini-14, or their Remington 700, or their Browning Citori, at peace.
Naturally, they’re wrong. No sacrifice will appease their desire for power, for control.
The gun control measures stacked up on the graves of Newtown’s children may start off by being “reasonable,” but that pretense of reason will disappear soon enough. How far will the myth-makers of “reasonable gun control” go? Ask any Frenchman who stood under the open sky in 1943 and wished for a salvation that never came.