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Professor Amitai Etzioni:

No Speech, No Guns (Part I)
Mocks And Ridicules The God-Given Right And Duty Of Self-Defense
(Part II)
Wrong On The Supreme Court And The Second Amendment
(Part III)

by Larry Pratt
Executive Director, Gun Owners of America
August 17, 2001

 

Prof. Amitai Etzioni: No Speech, No Guns -- Part I

The suggestion is so stupid, so outrageous, so intellectually dishonest, so off-the-wall, that when I heard about it I didn't believe it. It had to be a joke, a satire, a spoof. But, then I read his proposal. And, sure enough, incredibly, well -- I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, a little background. In recent years, a growing number of Liberal scholars have concluded that the so-called "Standard Model" is correct, that the Second Amendment does, indeed, protect an individual right to keep and bear arms. Among these individuals are: University of Texas Law Professor Sanford Levinson; Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe; William Van Alstyne of Duke University; and Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar.

Needless to say, the hard-core gun-grabbers -- who could not care less about the truth or the Constitution -- are going nuts over this development. And chief among these neo-Know Nothings is Amitai Etzioni, the former President of the American Sociological Association who now teaches sociology at George Washington University.

OK. So, how, exactly, is Prof. Etzioni dealing with his colleagues who have discovered the truth about the Second Amendment and are admitting it publicly? Is he doing his own research and refuting their scholarship? Not at all. Instead he is suggesting -- that they shut up!

In an article on the web site of the Chronicle Of Higher Education (April 6, 2001), titled Are Liberal Scholars Acting Irresponsibly On Gun Control?, Etzioni asks: 

"Are revisionist, liberal legal scholars acting irresponsibly by handing rhetorical ammo to gun proponents? Are these scholars' historical interpretations helping gun advocates take potshots at the Supreme Court's longstanding support of state gun control?"

Referring to some who have noted that the private ownership of guns was advocated by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Mason, Etzioni says: 

"My response is that ours is a government by laws which cannot be trumped by quotations from even the most established patriotic icons." 

In other words: The Founding Fathers be damned! To Etzioni, evidently, the views and intentions of these men who gave us the highest, man-made, positive law of our land -- our Constitution -- don't matter!

Saying that the Liberal scholars who now believe in the "Standard Model" of the Second Amendment are "making the equivalent argument that the earth is flat after all," Etzioni says: 

"But, in the case of gun control, although no one would contest the revisionist scholars' right to engage in such research, I can't help but wonder if they are right to engage in such research.... With so much at stake, should scholars refrain from conducting studies that might have grave unsettling social consequences?"

Proving, with a vengeance, that analogies are not his strong suit, Etzioni says the social consequences of actions cannot be ignored. Thus, he asks: 

"Would my colleagues put on their web site a study demonstrating how to make the Ebola virus in a kitchen sink? Would they publish ways to make nerve gas in one's basement? As I see it, when the results of a publication may well be fatal on a large scale, great weight should be given to social prudence."

Say what?!

Publishing research defending the "Standard Model" of the Second Amendment is like telling folks how to make a deadly virus and nerve gas?! And this Constitutional scholarship could be "fatal on a large scale"? I don't know what Prof. Etzioni has been smoking. But, he definitely inhaled -- many times!

Etzioni concludes his loony-tunes proposal by asking his pro-"Standard Model" colleagues in law schools to 

"consider whether they should devote themselves to an academic pursuit other than undermining the Supreme Court rulings that have rendered gun control possible and legitimate." 

He insists, however, presumably with a straight face, that what he is suggesting 

"gives no offense to the ethos of science or scholarship."

But, this assertion is preposterous. Putting aside the question of how often this is actually been followed, the stated ethos, the essence, of science, scholarship and academic freedom has been that the truth must be vigorously pursued regardless of where the truth leads and whatever the consequences of this truth. Thus, what Prof. Etzioni proposes is as offensive as one can imagine to the ethos of science and scholarship.

And Etzioni's outrageous proposals do not, alas, end here. He is the author of a document titled "The Case For Domestic Disarmament" in which he advocates "legislation to remove guns from private hands." Praising several countries for doing what he favors, Etzioni says:

"Domestic disarmament entails the removal of arms from private hands and, ultimately, from much of the police force. Once guns are hard to obtain and the very possession and sale of them are offenses, the level of violent crime will fall significantly."

Etzioni assures us that domestic disarmament can be "rapidly implemented." But, 

"the initial cost may be high especially if one is to buy out all existing arms manufacturers and arms now in private hands at some publicly set price, rather than confiscate them. This is a one time cost."

Etzioni says he would allow gun collectors to be 

"accommodated by provisions allowing them to keep their collection, but rendering them inoperative (cement in the barrel is my favorite technique)." 

And hunters "might be allowed... to use long guns that cannot be concealed, without sights or powerful bullets, making the event much more 'sporting.'"

As for those Etzioni sneeringly refers to as "super-patriots, who still believe they need their right to bear arms to protect us from the Commies," he says they 

"might be deputized and invited to participate in the National Guard, as long as the weapons with which they are trained are kept in state controlled armories. All this is acceptable, as long as all other guns and bullets are removed from private hands."

Etzioni says that if nationwide domestic disarmament cannot be achieved immediately, the "best way" to proceed 

"is to introduce it in some major part of the country, say, the Northeast.... The rapid fall in violent crime sure to follow will make ever more states demand that domestic disarmament be extended to their region.... If domestic disarmament is ever implemented in some parts, it will soon become an irresistible, natural public policy."

Truly these are the ravings of a dangerous, utopian totalitarian whose views would be more at home in Stalin's Russia than in the United States of America. In the next few columns I will examine more of Etzioni's views, in some detail, based on a lengthy interview we conducted with the "Nutty Professor."

A footnote: At one time Etzioni's "Communitarian Platform" listed among its signers Richard John Neuhaus who is now Editor-In-Chief of First Things magazine. But, in an interview, Neuhaus tells us that Etzioni's call for domestic disarmament "doesn't sound like anything I'd want to be associated with." He says that he once did sign on to this Platform, "but then we had some unpleasantness because a number of other statements were issued... in which he used my name. And I made it very clear this was not acceptable."

 

 

Prof. Amitai Etzioni Mocks And Ridicules The God-Given Right And Duty Of Self-Defense: -- Part II

When we interviewed Prof. Etzioni, and alluded to our God-given right to bear arms and self-defense, he says that if we believe this we are "one of those fanatics, I guess." Mocking our belief, Etzioni asks, sneeringly: "God speaks to you, eh? When did He talk to you last?" He says he believes in God but denies that God has spoken to us:

"God does not speak to you. I don't know what God told you. I know that in this country we live by the law. And God gave us the laws and did not give you arms -- no, He didn't. God is a loving and peaceful creature. He doesn't go around shooting people."

Well, now. It's difficult to imagine a more theologically confused series of statements than these. First, God is not a "creature." He is the Creator! Also, Exodus 15:3 tells us: 

"The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name." 

The Lord Jesus Christ tells us, in Matthew 10:34: 

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." 

And while it's true that Scripture says nothing about God going around "shooting people," He did, at one time, destroy, by a worldwide flood, almost every human being because He 

"saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."

But, back to the question of whether God talks to us about self-defense? Our answer would be a definite yes -- and about the defense of others. Indeed, God speaks to all, in His Word, the Bible. But, He is heard, and obeyed, only by believers.

In Exodus 22:2-3, God tells us: 

"If a thief be found breaking in, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." 

One conclusion which can be drawn here is that a threat to our life is to be met with lethal force.

In Proverbs 25:26, God tells us: 

"A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring." 

Certainly, we would be faltering before the wicked if we choose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who might be threatening our life. In other words, we have no right to hand over our God-given life to the unrighteous.

In the New Testament, in Luke 22:36, we are told this about our Lord Jesus Christ: 

"Then said he unto them, 'But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his script: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.'" 

At that time the sword was the finest offensive weapon available to an individual soldier -- the equivalent then of a military rifle today.

In his excellent new book A Nation Of Cowards (Accurate Press, 2001), Jeff Snyder says: 

"Although difficult for modern man to fathom, it was once widely believed that life was a gift from God, that to not defend that life when offered violence was to hold God's gift in contempt, to be a coward and to breach one's duty to one's community." 

He quotes a sermon given in Philadelphia in 1747 which unequivocally equated the failure to defend oneself with suicide:

"He that suffers his life to be taken from him by one that hath no authority for that purpose, when he might preserve it by defense, incurs the Guilt of self murder since God hath enjoined him to seek the continuance of his life, and Nature itself teaches every creature to defend himself."

Amen!

This same point is made at greater length by the great Puritan commentator on the Bible, Thomas Ridgeley (1667-1734). In his commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism, he, first, quotes the Catechism itself. Question 135 asks: 

"What are the duties required in the Sixth Commandment?" (the Commandment that prohibits killing) 

The Catechism answer is, in part: 

"The duties... are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavours to preserve the life of ourselves, and others... by just defence thereof against violence... succouring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent."

Question 136 asks: "What are the sins forbidden in the Sixth Commandment?" The answer, in part: "The sins forbidden... are... the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life."

In his commentary on Sixth Commandment duties, Ridgeley says: 

"We should use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others [because].... man is the subject of the divine image.... We are also to defend those who are in imminent danger of death.... Moreover, in some instances, a person may kill another in his own defence, without being guilty of the breach of this commandment...."

Ridgeley says that if we cannot disarm an enemy threatening our life, or flee from him, 

"we do not incur the least guilt, or break this commandment, if we take away his life to preserve our own; especially if we were not first in the quarrel, nor gave occasion to it by any injurious or unlawful practices."

So, again, Prof. Etzioni, the answer to your question is a resounding and fervent yes! Though you may mock and ridicule us, there is a God-given right to self-defense and a God-ordered duty to defend ourselves and other innocents. Oh, ye of little faith, sir!

 

 

Prof. Amitai Etzioni: Wrong On The Supreme Court And The Second Amendment -- Part III

Time magazine once referred to Amitai Etzioni as "the everything expert." But, in a lengthy interview we conducted with the George Washington University professor of sociology, he proved to be an expert on nothing and wrong about virtually everything he said.

For openers, regarding the Second Amendment, Etzioni says:

"What I'm saying is that the issue, if we do have the right to bear arms as individuals, came up before the highest court in the land five times over 125 years. In each single case, without exception, the court ruled there is no such right... It's what the highest court in the land ruled again and again and again without exception.

"Now, I know there are people out there who like to pick and choose. If they like what the court says... they say that's fine, that's the ultimate authority. If they don't like it, they say the court is not the one to rule. That's not the way we do things here. There is a rule of law and the Supreme Court is the one who gives the final interpretation. The Court ruled unanimously again and again that there is no individual right to bear arms. Read it any way you want. That is the truth."

But, of course, what Etzioni says is not the truth. The truth is that not even one Supreme Court ruling has said, "unanimously," what the professor here asserts so confidently and categorically.

For example, U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876) involved members of the Ku Klux Klan depriving black victims of their basic rights such as freedom of assembly and to bear arms. The court decided that neither the First nor Second Amendments applied to the states, but were limitations on Congress. Thus the federal government had no power to correct these violations, rather the citizens had to rely on the police power of the states for their protection from private individuals.

This case is often misunderstood or quoted out of context by claiming that it held the Second Amendment does not grant a right to keep and bear arms. However, the court also said this about the First Amendment. The court explained that these rights weren't granted or created by the Constitution; they existed prior to the Constitution.

In Presser v. Illinois (1886) Herman Presser was found guilty of parading a group of armed men with approval of the state of Illinois. He claimed this was unconstitutional and violated his Second Amendment right. Though the court stated Second Amendment issues were not involved, it reaffirmed that it applied as a limitation only on the national government. This ruling expressed the belief that the right to keep and bear arms existed independently of the Second Amendment for "all citizens capable of bearing arms," and the states could not infringe upon this right.

In U.S. v Miller (1939), Frank Layton and Jack Miller were charged with violating the 1934 National Firearms Act, which regulated and taxed the transfer of certain types of firearms, and required the registration of such arms. In the entire text of this ruling there is no mention of the words "state militia" or "National Guard." In fact, this ruling interpreted the Second Amendment to mean one has the right to own militia-type weapons.

In U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1991), the Court observed that the words "the people" are used in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth amendments. Each use refers to an individual, not a collective, right.

Finally, while Etzioni is critical of those who "pick and choose" among court decisions, he, too, picks and chooses. When it is pointed out to him that the courts once also upheld slavery, he says: "That's right."

Q: So, if we were talking back then, would you now be defending slavery because it was upheld by the courts?

A: You're going to pick and choose now because 100 years ago there was a mistaken decision? So, now you're going to dismiss all court decisions?

Hmmmm. A "mistaken decision" eh? Sounds like he is picking and choosing.

But, no, we are not saying all court decisions should be dismissed because some have been wrong. What we are saying is that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, a right that existed prior to the Constitution. And, thus, this individual right cannot, must not, be infringed! Period!

U.S. v. Lopez is certainly a case Etzioni would like to ignore as he picks and chooses. The Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that gun free school zones imposed by Congress were unconstitutional; under the Tenth Amendment, Congress has no authority to legislate gun free zones. Congress certainly thought it O.K. to pick and choose. They reenacted the gun ban the following year.

Pity that of all the goofy Supreme Court decisions from which to pick and choose, Congress took a decision that was constitutional and overrode it. They had the authority to override the Court, even if their law was both in conflict with the Constitution and common sense (criminals are safer in such zones and hardly likely to obey the ban).

The way to resolve conflicts between branches of government is at the polls, not by the elite hiding information that is "not suitable" for the masses as Etzioni argues.

 

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 QUOTES TO REMEMBER
After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. William Burroughs, 1992

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