(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Popular Military)
While the media is calling the Orlando Massacre “the worst mass shooting in US History” and underscoring renewed cries for gun control by an ever-expanding Federal government, it would appear that the times are on the verge of radical change as a result of this monumental “worst mass shooting in American history.”
It would be all well and good if it were true- only, it isn’t.
Depending on how you define “mass shooting”, one could easily play around with the rather malleable Orlando event to point out that it isn’t the worst mass shooting in US history. It isn’t even the worst “terrorist attack”.
Don’t get me wrong, the incident that happened less than three hours from where this article was written is both tragic and appalling. There were many factors involved that led to such a high-casualty situation- from failure of the FBI to stop a known threat, to the fact that the Pulse nightclub was an incredibly soft target and the questionable strategy of the Orlando Police in responding to the incident. There was so much that went wrong here, it was nothing short of a terrible situation all around.
However, again depending on how a person defines “massacre” or “mass shooting”- particularly against a minority group- it would seem near disrespectful to discount incidents that took place in American history that could easily trump Orlando.
In the winter of 1890, a Lakota tribe on a South Dakota Indian reservation were approached by men in blue uniforms under the charge of the US government, who were under orders to keep the peace. The Lakota, naturally distrustful of the entity that slowly took their rights and property away, possessed arms in their encampment to ward off predators of all varieties, including those of their own species. The natives were armed with a variety of small arms, some comparable to cutting-edge military rifles at the time.
The blue-suited agents of the US Government entered the camp, demanding that the tribe surrender their firearms for their own protection. Despite criticism of the policy by those within the government, the order was the result of tense times, fear and desire to maintain control over the Lakota population, who openly expressed their opposition towards the US Government.
During the disarmament process, the troops ran into resistance. According to sources, one deaf Lakota named Black Coyote said that he had paid a lot for his rifle and would not give it up without monetary compensation. During the ensuing scuffle, a shot rang out, piercing the otherwise silent plains.
The silence did not return for some time, however- the US troops fired indiscriminately at the Lakotas, killing anywhere from 150-300 people, 62 of them being innocent women and children.
Today, the federal government is one of the largest and most bureaucracy-choked entities in American history, with even federal law enforcement agencies possessing equipment that puts the militaries and gendarmes of small nations to shame.
Interestingly enough, our Founding Fathers were terrified of standing armies. It is for that very reason that Americans are backed by the Constitution in their birthright to armed revolt with, with equivalent technology to standard arms (the 1790s definition of “well-regulated” translated today as “well-equipped”).
That’s right. You are -from birth or naturalization as a US citizen- entitled to the right of owning small arms that can be used at any time when the will of the people is not met.
For the record, this is not a call for armed revolt. While the American system is a broken and pitiful replica of the Founders’ intent, there is still a collective abundance of peaceful and democratic means to right the ship that is now dangerously close to capsizing. Vote until the ballot is meaningless, write until your pens run dry and scream until your voice becomes hoarse. Only after all those options are exhausted should violence ever be an option.
While the current body of leadership (and possibly future leadership) carefully stacks the deck to push more gun control, we can ill-afford to forget that the very entity that -with friendly face- strips us of our freedoms under the guise of being “for the greater good” is no friend, indeed.
As soldiers and veterans, we swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic against all enemies- foreign and domestic. While there is no current fear of total disarmament (as a large bulk of military and law enforcement would refuse to engage in such a practice), the fear of gradual disarmament is a very real threat. By allowing the door to open even a little, the security of free men is compromised. Just as allowing rats to enter a camp or failing to fix a gas leak in a house, something small can grow into a much larger problem and be easily forgotten until it is too late.
Can you, in good conscience, be the one to explain to your grandchildren that you “used to live in a free country”? While it is easy to forget one’s liberties as we forfeit them to serve our country, the true terror comes from when your term of service ends and you realize you and your countrymen had fewer freedoms than you did before you raised your right hand.
As an American who grew up abroad in countries that had no such liberties, it is difficult to understand why a nation that has such an amazing right would wish to discard it without thought in the name of “feeling safe”. While the Declaration of Independence mentions “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, the right to life or liberty are not simply given to a person. One must safeguard their life through preventative means and defend their liberty. Our founders risked life to buy liberty. It is not something that simply can sustain itself indefinitely and it will vanish if it is not protected.
We swore an oath to protect all rights in the Constitution, not just the ones we agree with. By swearing that oath, we took on a sacred duty- and to quote a “meat tag” tattoo that was emblazoned upon one infantryman’s chest during wartime, “only in death does duty end.”
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