BAD LAWS, AND OUTLAWS
by Dr. Joanne Eisen and Dr. Paul
Copyright 2000 by Dillon Precision
Reprinted with permission from The Blue Press, January 2000.
All rights reserved.
"...So much for earnest gun lobby talk about [gun-owners
being] law-abiding..." - Simon Chapman
Suppose you're a gun-owner and awaken one morning to find that the government
has declared one of your guns "illegal". Nowadays, that's not just
some hypothetical construct.
You have two choices: you can comply, or you can defy. If you choose
defiance, are you then no longer a "law-abiding" person?
Just what does "law-abiding" really mean? The term appears to be
simple enough: it refers to one who "abides by the law". As a society,
we are conditioned to believe that those who "obey the law" are
"good" people, and that those who "disobey the law" -
outlaws - are "bad" people.
But when Pharaoh of ancient Egypt decreed that all newborn male Israelites be
put to death at birth, were those who obeyed his law good people? Did his
daughter become a criminal when she rescued infant Moses from certain death?
And does the refusal to surrender your gun transform you into a bad person?
That's exactly what Simon Chapman would have us believe. Chapman is an Associate
Professor of Public Health in Sydney, Australia, and an outspoken gun-control
Chapman's account of the Australian gun ban, which followed on the heels of
the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, is contained in his book "Over Our Dead
Bodies". In it, Chapman clearly spelled out the
"good-citizen/bad-citizen" word game scam which he and other
firearm-prohibitionists have begun to employ:
"The gun lobby thus sought to frame...[Australia's new gun ban] as the
Government 'criminalizing' people who had previously possessed guns totally
within the law. It would turn 'ordinary, law-abiding shooters into criminals',
they claimed. But this claim failed to recognize that it would be only those
shooters who deliberately chose to break the law who would become
In equating "law-abiding" with "good", Chapman made an
implicit assumption - namely, that all man-made laws are morally just. He banked
on the failure of non-gun-owners to recognize the fatal flaw in this equation,
and on the failure of Australian gun-owners to handle the emotional conflict of
And he counted on the charge of "Criminal!" to blind the Aussies to
the reality of a higher law: the responsibility we are charged with, and which
no one else can accept - to protect our families from harm.
Chapman's bet paid off, and it's only a matter of time before Sarah Brady
& Company adopt the same ploy here in the States. But will it play in
America as well as it did - and still does - in Australia?
While there are many cultural similarities between Australia and America,
there is one significant difference: Australia was founded in 1788 as a British
penal colony. Australians are understandably sensitive about that aspect of
their history, and the very term "law-abiding" has been the Achilles
heel of Australian gun-owners in the fight to hold onto their firearms.
That attitude is reflected in an August 3, 1999 interview with John Crook,
head of Gun Control Australia, who repeated Chapman's charge:
"...gun owners, for whatever reason, do tend to be not as law abiding
as the shooting fraternity leaders claim they are."
Gary Fleetwood, of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia
(Australia's largest firearm organization), was also party to that interview.
But Fleetwood's response to Crook allowed the firearm-prohibitionists to again
set the rules of engagement:
"...we are law abiding people who had to go through the licensing
process to take possession of what are dangerous items, firearms...those rules
are only as good as the people willing to obey them...[If] any of our members
stray and go outside the law, they're no longer members of this
Association...Anybody that goes outside of that system...will feel the full
brunt of the law, and WE SUPPORT THAT TOTALLY." (emphasis ours)
In contrast to the Australians, we Americans have a robust historical
tradition of rebellion against tyranny and unjust laws. When Rosa Parks refused
to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and move to the rear as
required by city law in 1955, she became a "criminal". But her act of
civil disobedience sparked a social revolution. Today she is revered as an icon
of the civil rights movement, and a catalyst for bringing an end to social
Today, good, peaceable American gun-owners have seen a civil right they
cherish - the lynch-pin of liberty - come under siege.
They have seen "the law" become perverted by those who use
"public safety" or "crime-control" as transparent pretexts
to enact harsh new restrictions on Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. They have
been witness to the brazen double-standard of a litany of crimes committed in
high places going altogether unpunished.
And they have seen themselves transformed into second-class citizens - no
less than Rosa Parks was considered to be, back in 1955 - by those whom they
entrusted with safeguarding their rights.
But many once-"law-abiding" gun-owners recognize a higher law than
those imposed upon good people by corrupt politicians, or by intellectually
bankrupt politicians who adamantly refuse to distinguish between right and
wrong. It's the same higher law which told Rosa Parks she had the right to keep
her seat on that bus in Montgomery. It's the same higher law which Australian
gun-owners have forsaken out of fear of the appearance of
That higher law tells gun-owners they have the absolute right to protect
innocent parties - themselves and their families - against the evil which will
always exist in society. Because of all this, many once-"law-abiding"
gun-owners now opt for Plan "B": defiance of the law.
"No longer law-abiding" gun-owners? Simon Chapman would, of course,
agree with that. But to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it just depends on what one's
definition of "law-abiding" is.
Dr. Paul Gallant practices Optometry in Wesley Hills, New York. Dr. Joanne
Eisen practices dentistry in Old Bethpage, New York. Both are research
associates with the Independence Institute, a civil liberties think tank in
Golden Colorado, http://i2i.org