Special to JPFO, reprinted
August 1, 2001
Signing himself, "M.D., Ph.D.," a reader I'll call by the initials
D.H. wrote in recently:
"Dear Vin, I have just finished reading your book 'Send in the Waco
Killers'. Congratulations on writing such an interesting and provocative book.
I also enjoy your columns, especially those on U.S. drug policy. You were
right on to castigate the oblivious public for its complicity in shooting down
the missionary and her daughter. The whole drug policy travesty/ scandal is a
major reason why I've moved to Canada.
"I have a couple of questions. In your book, you seemed to sidestep
the question of what the Founding Fathers (may they stop spinning in their
graves) meant by "well-regulated" in relation to militias. Also, if
you permit private citizens to possess heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles as
part of their 2ndA rights, as you suggest, why not nuclear bombs? Isn't it all
a matter of degree? Or do nuclear bombs fit under the 2ndA as well?
"Keep up the great work."
Hi, D.H. --
If you take a double rifle to a British gunsmith -- to this day -- and ask
him to "regulate" it, he will ask not about government restrictions,
but rather for what charge and weight of ball you want those two barrels
"regulated." Those barrels are said to be "regulated" for a
.45 caliber ball ahead of 70 grains of black powder if they will both hit the
same target at a predetermined range (often, 60 yards) with that loading.
A "well-regulated" militia is one which is well enough practiced in
the use of their weapons -- and accustomed to operating together in the field --
to be an effective fighting force.
Far from "sidestepping this question" (the victim disarmament gang
only keep SAYING we ignore it -- it's a rhetorical trick, you see) I define the
term directly at the bottom of page 424: "Well-regulated means well-trained
... in firing volleys, reloading quickly, and blowing things up. What do you
think George Mason and George Washington were up to when they organized meetings
of the Fairfax Country Militia in the mid-1770s -- trading ginger cookie
Nor would the other Founders have told George and George, "You're only
free to exercise your 'collective right' to bear arms by joining the uniformed
mercenaries retained by the crown governor." Quite to the contrary, such
"special militias" -- the 18th century equivalent of today's
"National Guard" -- were a form of armed security the Founders
specifically warned us AGAINST, insisting that the only guarantor of freedom was
that "every man be armed; everyone who is able must have a gun."
(Patrick Henry, who called this "the great object.") No, George and
George did not seek the crown's permission to take up arms and form their
Committees of Correspondence.
More importantly, I continually ask, both in my first book and in my
subsequent writings, "If the other side wants to insist on the relevance of
the non-binding introductory phrase, 'A well- regulated militia being necessary
to the security of a free state ...' let Janet Reno and company explain to me
when and how and where I and my hunting buddies are SUPPOSED to go to practice
our small-unit tactics with M-16s and a Model 58 or Model 60 Squad Automatic
Weapon, the better to BECOME a 'well- regulated militia,' better prepared to
shoot and kill the next tyrant to dispatch tanks against harmless civilians on
American soil. We'll drive as far out into the desert or the woods as they like;
just let them explain to us how we're supposed to legally practice such drills
without being jailed for "conspiracy to violate the National Firearms Act
The answer is that these scum are lying. For us to form "well- regulated
militias," well able to resist federal tyranny or usurpation, is the LAST
thing they want. Are they pestering Congress, asking the delegates to set
sensible performance and readiness standards for the Michigan Militia and the
Ohio Unorganized Militia and Arizona's Viper Militia -- standards which, once
met, will allow these citizen militias to receive cargo planes full of free
surplus Stingers and pack Howitzers from Washington, thus discharging Congress'
duty to "provide for ... arming .. the militia" (Article I Section 8)?
They would shriek in horror at any such proposal. This "You forgot the
militia clause, nyah nyah" mantra is nothing but a totally insincere
Jesuitical posturing designed to get their chorus of bed-wetters nodding in
unison as they were taught in their government youth propaganda camps, chanting
"Right, no guns unless they're part of the militia, which really means the
National Guard" -- that National Guard which the Founders warned us
AGAINST, their warning term at the time being a "special militia,"
comprised of uniformed mercenaries paid by and loyal only to the seat of power.
Do those who insist "Now we have a National Guard so we no longer need a
citizen militia" actually contend the National Guard is there to protect us
FROM the government? Did the Texas National Guard race to the defense of the
harmless and innocent Branch Davidians at Waco ... or did it loan its military
helicopters to the federal killers, happily topping off their tanks and cheering
them on their way?
As for nuclear weapons, language is important. Look at your own words:
"If you permit private citizens to possess ..."
It is not the business or authority of Vin Suprynowicz to "permit"
private citizens to possess or not possess anything ... and I certainly wouldn't
FORBID them the ownership of anything except stolen property.
So, for starters, you probably mean: "If the federal government permits
private citizens to possess ..."
But here we run into the same problem. All federal lawmaking authority is
vested in the Congress, and is the Congress authorized to permit or ban or allow
or infringe the private ownership of arms? Actually, two provisions apply: In
Article I Section 8, as mentioned, Congress is given power to "provide for
... arming .. the militia." It may give us arms. But may it TAKE away those
arms, or any other arms?
No. The Second Amendment bars any INFRINGEMENT of the right to keep and bear
A "power to allow or not allow"? Not there. Nor anywhere else.
Is it appropriate for the federal government to own nuclear weapons? That is
to say, has any federal official in the military chain of command -- from Harry
Truman on down -- ever been put on trial for merely having control over nuclear
Therefore, shall we surmise the federal government and its agents have some
proper and duly delegated right, power, or authority to possess such things?
If so, where did it or they get that right, power, or authority?
Fortunately, under our system of government, we know what the answer must be:
The government can acquire no right, power or authority except those which are
delegated to it by the people.
Can you delegate a right, power or authority which you do not already
Therefore: The American people, both individually and as a group, have the
right, power and authority to own nuclear weapons. No other condition can apply,
unless you submit that we now live under a form of government where all rights
and powers start with the GOVERNMENT MASTERS, who then bestow upon us (their
peasants and slaves) only those lesser and included rights which our masters
wish US to have.
On page 414 of "Send in the Waco Killers," I cite noted federalist
and friend of Madison Tench Coxe to the effect that "Their swords, and
every other terrible instrument of the soldier, are the birth right of an
American. ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the
federal or the state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain,
in the hands of the people."
It was only upon the receipt of such solemn, written promises as this that
Madison's proposed Constitution was ever ratified.
What does "unlimited power" mean? If I possess "the unlimited
power of the sword," who shall limit it?
Is the nuclear bomb one of the "terrible instruments of the
How seductive is the old siren song: "Come on, prove you're REASONABLE;
admit you don't have any NEED for a nuclear warhead."
But once we start down that road, won't they also wheedle and cajole and nag
us into stipulating that we don't really "need" a tank ... a howitzer
... a shoulder-launched missile ... a machine gun ... a semi-automatic rifle ...
anything, finally, beyond an unloaded black-powder ceremonial flintlock with a
plugged barrel that we're allowed to take out of the police locker only long
enough to carry in the Fourth of July parade?
How would we respond if asked to prove we "need" to go to church or
temple as much as twice a week? Surely once a week is enough, isn't it? How
about every OTHER week? Can you prove you "need" to speak to your God
in prayer more than twice a month?
The only way to win that debate is to refuse to enter into it: Freedom of
religion is my RIGHT, and a right exists without any requirement that I prove to
your satisfaction my pragmatic "need" to exercise it. In even
ATTEMPTING to prove to you that I "need" to be able to go to church
when I please, or to publish any column I care to write ... or to own a nuclear
bomb ... I lose the argument at the outset. "Need" simply doesn't come
"The right of self-defense is founded in the law of nature, and is not,
nor can be, superseded by any law of society," sayeth Sir Michael Foster,
judge of the Court of King's Bench, in the late 18th century. If your enemy or
oppressor has a bomb, then get yourself a bomb. "And he that hath no sword,
let him sell his garment, and buy one," sayeth Jesus the Nazarene (Luke
Have you really read my chapter on "Demonizing the militias"? All
those founding fathers -- re-read pp 412-418, for starters -- reassuring us that
"The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword;
because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior
to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United
States" (Noah Webster)?
Is that the situation that prevails today? Government officials cowering in
fear that if they try to enforce "unjust laws" they'll be shot down by
a civilian populace that's got them thoroughly outgunned? Then why did medical
marijuana patient (and former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate) Steve Kubby
have to flee to Canada with his family just last week to avoid being jailed --
doctors say his adrenal cancer will quickly kill him if he's deprived of his
"illicit" medicine -- YEARS after a clear majority of Californians
voted to OK medical marijuana?
That facts and rights and truths are inconvenient or
"inconceivable" means no more than to say that to a prisoner of some
dank cell on Devil's Island, running 100 yards in a sunlit field is
"inconceivable." It defines the limits of your perception and your
expectations -- your ability to VISUALIZE LIBERTY -- not the limits of the
Plenty of nuclear weapons ARE possessed by all kinds of people, including the
kind that wear turbans. Government "safeguards" are a joke. Think no
hijacker could get past the Fred & Ethel Mertz Security System down at the
local airport if they really tried? It took Capt. Marcinko only a matter of
minutes to penetrate the supposedly ironclad "security" at the
American embassy in London -- right through to its ultra-secure "code
room." He simply sent a man in a Marine uniform, carrying a clipboard,
walking boldly in the side "smokers' door." Last week, the Justice
Department revealed that the FBI has lost 449 sidearms and submachine guns --
one of which was even used in a homicide. But we're supposed to believe they've
NEVER lost enough plutonium to make a bomb? Noooo. After all, they're not mere
fallible mortals. They're "the government." We can "trust"
The only reason the Soviets didn't nuke Washington is that Washington would
have nuked them back. What is the only reason Washington wouldn't nuke US?
Because they're "really nice guys" who "wouldn't go THAT
far" to hold onto power?
I've said my right to bear arms is not DEPENDENT on demonstrating any
"need." But I'll tell you one group of people that desperately
"needed" a nuclear weapon: The innocent women and children of the
Mount Carmel Church of Waco, Texas. If Uncle Sam spent most of the past 50 years
negotiating with Soviet Russia rather than attacking them in cattle cars, don't
you think Janet Reno's approach to a nuclear-armed David Koresh might have been
a little more calm and polite?
Ditto the Florida relatives of little Cuban refugee Elian Gonzales.
Imagine it: Citizens well enough armed that our federal government would feel
obliged to approach us with respect, ASKING whether we might be willing to help
them out in a spirit of cooperation ... rather than busting down our doors,
shoving German MP-5s up our nostrils, and asking questions later.
That facts and rights and truths are inconvenient is no excuse for turning
our eyes away from them. If I have the skills to build or the money to buy one,
I have a right to own a nuclear weapon, and so do you. How could it be
otherwise? To say otherwise is to say I have no right to make myself a straw hat
just because I have the straw, because the government has declared a monopoly
for itself on hat manufacture, and I must first pay a tax for the privilege.
This is like telling Mr. Gandhi that "making salt" was a British
government monopoly. We all know where that got them.
And of any government which will not trust its own people with these weapons
we need ask, "Then why should we trust YOU with them? Because you promise
never to use them to cow us into servitude ... as you once promised, before
Waco, never to use military tanks and armed helicopters against American
civilians -- women and children -- on American soil? To enforce a mere $200
Has the government in Washington City ever show any reluctance to use weapons
of mass destruction against a civilian populace when it seemed necessary to get
its way? Forget Nagasaki for a moment; Did Grant shell the civilian population
of Vicksburg? Was he punished for wantonly killing those civilians ... or
rewarded with his government's highest office?
No, D.H., it is not "all a matter of degree." Quite the opposite.
Providing only that I don't use them to threaten, intimidate, rob, or murder
other sovereign individuals, in terms of the right of government to infringe
them, my liberties are not subject to being "weighed against the
government's compelling interest in keeping people from smoking marijuana,"
or "weighed against the government's compelling interest in preserving the
endangered sucker fish," or "weighed against the government's
compelling interest in making sure little girls can go to bed at night without
being frightened by the sound of gunfire," or ANYTHING ELSE. They are
And the sound of rifles being sighted in on the 200-yard range is the sound
It does not say "shall not be infringed, unless the weapon in question
is really scary." They're SUPPOSED to be scary. The occupants of Washington
City are supposed to go to bed every night, wondering if anything they've done
today will get them what it got Charles the First in 1649, or Louis XVI in 1793.
To their oaths of office -- unless we decide to sweep those offices away
entirely, as is our right at any time -- should be added, "And if this day
you usurp the rights or liberties of the very least American, be afraid ... be
Somehow, I doubt they're losing much sleep over my deer rifle. Do you think?
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter by sending $72 to Privacy
Alert, 1475 Terminal Way, Suite E for Easy, Reno, NV 89502. His book, "Send
in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998," is
available at 1-800-244-2224, or via web site http://www.thespiritof76.com/wacokillers.html.
Vin Suprynowicz, email@example.com. The
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