Gun Control and Liberal Illusions

By | January 31, 2013 | 2 Comments

Some people live in reality, unpleasant though it sometimes can be. But other people live in a fantasy world, shaped by illusions that are unrealistic and potentially dangerous. Let me give two examples.

● First, take the column Richard Cohen wrote for the Washington Post on Jan. 14. Cohen refers to the idea that if European Jews has been armed, the Holocaust would either not have occurred, or at least would have been more difficult and costly for the Nazis. Cohen calls this idea “laughable.” However, typically for a liberal, he does not explain why he believes the idea to be “laughable,” but merely resorts to name-calling.

Granted, the German armed forces in World War II were among the most effective in world history. Still, of the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust, imagine that just 10% or 600,000 owned guns. If only 10% of these gun owners disobeyed Nazi orders to disarm all Jews, then 60,000 guns would have remained in Jewish hands.

Obviously, these 60,000 armed Jews could not have held out indefinitely against the vastly larger, better trained, better armed Wehrmacht. But how many troops would Hitler have been willing to divert from the front? And if he had weakened his war effort to further the Holocaust, how much sooner would Germany have collapsed – thereby saving the lives of many Jews and non-Jews alike?

How much sooner would Germany have lost the war if it had to contend with 60,000 armed Jews as a resistance movement? We can’t know, but we can guess. As a basis for our estimate, we can use the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

When the Germans took over Eastern Europe, most Jews were rounded up into ghettos. They were crowded into unsanitary conditions, causing many to die of disease. But this was too slow for the Nazis, so they began deporting the Jews to death camps. By 1943 this news leaked out, and the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland decided to rebel – and die on their feet rather than on their knees.

Accounts vary, but the Jews were armed with perhaps 59 handguns and nine bolt-action rifles. In contrast, the Germans were armed with submachine guns and machine guns, as well as mortars and flame throwers. Nevertheless, the Resistance inflicted casualties and forced the Germans to withdraw. Finally they had to call in artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles to reduce the ghetto to rubble.

Clearly, the Germans would rather have used these troops, artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles against the Russians, with whom they were engaged in a death struggle. But at first they couldn’t believe that Jews were defending themselves:

Another eyewitness describes the confusion in the German ranks: “There runs a German soldier shrieking like an insane one, the helmet on his head on fire. Another one shouts madly ‘Juden…Waffen…Juden…Waffen!’” [Jews…weapons!]

Polish sources list German casualties as about 300 killed and 1000 wounded. What is undeniable is that the Germans were delayed by at least a month in clearing the ghetto and deporting the remaining Jews to death camps.

Note what Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister of propaganda, concluded: “It shows what the Jews are capable of when they have weapons in their hands.” As between Goebbels, who was in charge of the vast Nazi propaganda machine at the time, and Cohen, who is in charge of a laptop many years later, I choose Goebbels’ analysis of the situation.

But if quoting one of Hitler’s top associates is too repulsive for you, go to the website of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Check out their thought-provoking publications and DVDs. World War II and the Holocaust were the most costly lessons in history. If we refuse to learn from them, what does that say about us?

● As a second example of liberal illusions, take one of the many anti-gun letters to the editor published by the anti-gun Los Angeles Times. This letter was the featured letter of Jan. 27:

National Rifle Assn. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s defense of “absolutism” on gun rights requires a strong rebuttal. The framers knew that change is a fact of life, and they wrote the Constitution as a living document that could be changed as the future evolved. We ended slavery and granted women the right to vote, for example.

Since LaPierre is a firm believer in absolutism, he should know that one of the Ten Commandments orders us, without exceptions, not to kill, and yet gun owners disobey this commandment frequently.

May I ask why? If the NRA supports absolutism, then why does it support “stand your ground” laws, which encourage people to shoot rather than talk out disagreements? [Emphasis added.]

Let us examine each of the key points in the letter, because they are all erroneous.

The letter states that the Founders wrote the Constitution as a “living document.” This is true, but only in the very narrow sense that the Founders provided that it could be amended, using the laborious procedure they outlined. As the writer notes, slavery was outlawed and women’s suffrage was enacted – but by Constitutional amendments. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress had to agree, and then three-fourths of the state legislatures had to give their approval.

But it is entirely untrue that the Constitution is a “living document” in the sense now used by liberals – that is, it can be changed by a 5-to-4 vote of the Supreme Court. Using this liberal concept, five Supreme Court justices can push through a program that the people can never undo, no matter how unpopular it is. This notion of a “living Constitution” is equivalent to a double-0 license, and a bare majority of the Supreme Court is the equivalent of little James Bonds in black robes – empowered to do whatever they feel necessary to achieve their aims.

Next, the letter writer declares that the Ten Commandments order us “without exceptions not to kill.” This is also entirely untrue. Biblical Hebrew, like English, uses two words – kill and murder. Murder is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. The Commandment states, “Do not murder.”

The Hebrew Bible or Old Testament allows killing in self-defense and just war. It describes how animals should be killed for food. And the only commandment that is repeated in all of the first five books, which make up the Torah, is that murderers should be executed. It is interesting that misinterpretations of the Bible often further the interpreter’s political agenda – in this case, a liberal, pacifist agenda.

Finally, “stand-your-ground” laws do not encourage people to “shoot rather than talk out disagreements.” This also is entirely untrue. These laws allow people, mainly homeowners, to use deadly force to defend themselves and their families from violent attack. The laws say nothing about “disagreements.”

As an example of the difference, take Sarah McKinley. Eighteen-year-old Sarah was home with her three-month-old son. She lived in a rural community, and police response times were often long. Her husband was not with her – he died of cancer a week before.

She saw two men breaking in. She recognized one as a man who had been stalking her since her husband’s funeral, apparently looking for drugs in the cancer victim’s home. She gave the baby his bottle, then retrieved a shotgun and a handgun and barricaded the door. She phoned 911 and was told she could not shoot unless they came through the door.

But the 911 dispatcher, who was a woman, wisely added, “You do what you have to do to protect your baby.”

Sarah was on the phone with 911 for 21 minutes, but the police still had not arrived when the men broke down the door. The first man, the stalker, came at her with a 12-inch hunting knife. She fired the shotgun, killing the man. His companion fled, quite possibly breaking the Olympic 100 meter record.

Would the letter writer have advised Sarah McKinley to “talk out this disagreement”? Does he believe that it was wrong to shoot the attacker before he stuck the 12-inch knife into the young mother and left her baby an orphan – if the child was lucky? Who knows? Perhaps he does believe that. And perhaps Richard Cohen would have advised European Jews to “talk out their differences” with the Nazis.

But fortunately, not everyone puts his head in the sand, where he cannot distinguish friends from enemies or facts from fantasies. Fortunately, not everyone sticks his posterior in the air, where it is vulnerable to any attacker. And fortunately, not everyone is a moral idiot.

Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. Snyder, Louis L., 1994.
The Destruction of the European Jews. Hilberg, Raul, 1961.

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