The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.
— Thomas Jefferson
Depending on the level of culture and social progress, violence can take different forms in different societies.(1) For example, in the mid-twentieth century, the communist government of dictator Joseph Stalin killed more Soviet citizens through privation, forced labor, and famine than soldiers succumbed while ﬁghting the Germans in World War II on the battleﬁelds of Russia.(2)
In 1994, the Hutu-led Rwandan government massacred between 800,000 and 1.1 million people mostly Tutsis in a genocide carried out largely with machete-wielding government forces. The massacres took place despite the nearby presence of United Nation "peace-keeping" forces armed with automatic weapons who failed to intervene. The Tutsis were not only surprised but also unarmed and helpless.
Civilian disarmament has always preceded genocide in authoritarian and totalitarian states. In the gruesome but monumental book, Lethal Laws, we learn that repressive governments that conducted genocide and mass killings of their own populations have first always disarmed the citizens.(3) The political formula for accomplishing this goal, hallmarks of tyrannical governments, is and remains: public propaganda against ﬁrearms, followed step-by-step by gun registration, banning, conﬁscation, and ﬁnally total civilian disarmament. Enslavement of the people then follows easily with limited resistance.(4) This is what happened in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Red China, Cuba, and other totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. In Part 2, I presented the reader with short introductory vignettes about the ghastly incidents in Poland, Hungary, and Cuba as they relate to civilian disarmament in both war and peacetime.
When presented with these deadly chronicles and the perilous historic sequences, the popular opinion is "it cannot happen here." As to the dangers of licensing of gun owners and registration of ﬁrearms, the same uninformed respondents frequently retort: “If you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t have anything to fear!” Followed by, “I see nothing wrong with gun registration and some restrictions on gun ownership because we have to do something; there are just too many guns out there that fall into the wrong hands.” These naïve attitudes ignore the penchant of governments to accrue power at the expense of the liberties of individuals.(5-8)
Civilian disarmament is not only harmful to one’s freedom and potentially deadly to one’s existence, but also counterproductive in achieving safety. This has been further attested by University of Hawaii Professor, R. J. Rummel, in his book, Death by Government (1994), and by the French scholar Stéphane Courtois and his associates in their monumental volume, The Black Book of Communism (1999). These books make it clear authoritarian governments that limit their citizens’ freedom and proscribe them from owning guns are always dangerous to liberty — and the health of humanity. During the twentieth century, more than 100 million people were exterminated by their own repressive governments — police states bent on destroying liberty and building communism, socialism, collectivism, and other utopias that turn out to be hells on earth! (2,3,6,9,10)
Armed People and the Preservation of Freedom
In debunking the myth that "guns increase violent crime," Richard Poe, the former editor of FrontPage Magazine, has rebutted the false assumption that America is more violent than other nations, again emphasizing that more people during the twentieth century were killed in other countries by their own governments than by war, while reaffirming that gun control laws have almost always preceded genocide or mass murder of the people (democide) by their own governments.(2,3,8)
While the U.S. and Switzerland have more guns per capita than any of the other developed countries, we also have more freedom in general than countries with draconian gun control laws. Even Japan, a country that has embraced democracy and Western mores in many ways, still has a centuries-old tradition of subordination of individualism to the state and the collective. Japanese citizens have less individual freedom than those of Switzerland, where virtually every citizen is armed and individual freedom is paramount.
Japan may have a low crime rate but citizens live in a virtual authoritarian state where the police keep full dossiers on every citizen, and "twice a year, each Japanese homeowner gets a visit from local police to update files" on every aspect of citizen's home life.(7,8)
Switzerland, on the other hand, a small, landlocked country, stood up against the Nazi threat during World War II because each and every male was an armed and free citizen. (The Swiss republic was the "Sister-Republick" that the American Founding Fathers so greatly admired.) Nazi Germany could have overwhelmed Switzerland during World War II, but the price was too steep for the German High Command. Instead, the Nazi juggernaut trampled over Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway and other countries and avoided the armed Swiss nation, the "porcupine," which was prepared for war and its military was ready to die rather than surrender. (8,11)
As to what an armed population, such as those of the original 13 American colonies that later became the United States, did to obtain their independence is a well-known story. Suffice to say, that the shot heard “around the world” on Patriot’s Day (April 19, 1775) was precipitated when the British attempted to seize the arm depots and disarm the American militia at Lexington and Concord in the Colony of Massachusetts.(12,13) As to what an armed population can do to prevent the overthrow of their government by oppressive, communist movements, I recommend Larry Pratt’s excellent little tome, Armed People Victorious (1990). Armed People Victorious vividly recounts stories of how two countries as dissimilar as Guatemala and the Philippines, teetering on the brink of disaster, turned defeat into victory when the governments recognized that allowing and encouraging the people to form armed militias to protect themselves, their families, and their villages from communist insurgents in the 1980s, helped to preserve their freedom.(14)
Governments that trust their citizens with guns are governments that sustain and affirm individual freedom. Governments that do not trust their citizens with firearms tend to be despotic and tyrannical. Let's conclude the final chapter of this essay, with the wise words of another American statesman, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States of America, who warned us, "Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, began at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change in ministries, too plainly proves a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery."(15)
1. Stolinsky DC. America: The most violent nation? Medical Sentinel 2000;5(6):199-201.
2. Rummel RJ. Death by Government. Piscataway, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 1994.
3. Simkin J, Zelman A, Rice A. Lethal Laws. Milwaukee, WI, Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership, 1994. Available from: http://www.jpfo.org.
4. Faria MA Jr. National gun registration — Paving the road to tyranny. NewsMax.com, August 31, 2001. Available from: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/8/31/200747.shtml.
5. Faria MA Jr. Public health and gun control — A review (Part II): Gun violence and constitutional issues. Medical Sentinel 2001;6(1):14-18. Available from: http://www.haciendapublishing.com/medicalsentinel/public-health-and-gun-control-review-part-ii-gun-violence-and-constitutional-issues.
6. Faria MA Jr. The perversion of science and medicine (Part II): Soviet science and gun control. Medical Sentinel 1997;2(2):49-53. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/medicalsentinel/perversion-science-and-medicine-part-ii-soviet-science-and-gun-control.
7. Kopel DB. The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? Buffalo, NY, Prometheus Books, 1992.
8. Poe R. The Seven Myths of Gun Control — The Truth about Guns, Crime, and the Second Amendment. Roseville, CA, Prima Publishing, 2001. Available from: http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/7/9/150556.shtml.
9. Courtois S. Werth N, Panne JL, et al. The Black Book of Communism — Crimes, Terror, Repression. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1999.
10. Faria MA Jr. Cuban psychiatry — The perversion of medicine. Medical Sentinel 2000;5(5):160-162. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/medicalsentinel/cuban-psychiatry-perversion-medicine.
11. Halbrook SP. Target Switzerland — Swiss Armed Neutrality in World Wart II. Boston, MA, Da Capo Press, 1998.
12. Halbrook SP. That Every Man Be Armed — The Evolution of a Constitutional Right. Albuquerque, NM, University of New Mexico Press, 1984.
13. Hardy DT. Origins and Development of the Second Amendment. Chino Valley, AZ, Blacksmith Corporation, 1986.
14. Pratt L. Armed People Victorious. Springfield, VA, Gun Owners Foundation, 1990.
15. Jefferson T. Memoirs, Correspondence, and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1829, Vol 1, p. 110.
Written by Dr. Miguel Faria
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).
This series of articles is based on the two-part essay entitled “America, Guns and Freedom” originally published by Surgical Neurology International (SNI), an on-line, peer review journal for neurosurgeons and neuroscientists. The illustrated essays were published in the October 2012 and November 2012 issues of SNI. They have been edited for an American audience and published in a three part series for readers in The Macon Telegraph on December 9, 2012 and in GOPUSA on December 4, 2012.
Copyright ©2012 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.