Preserve Our Freedoms
by David Kopel, September 14, 2001
The following text introduced the September 14 edition of the Second Amendment Project Newsletter.
Special note from Dave Kopel:
As President Bush leads our nation in the beginning days of a war which will continue for years before final victory, many Americans are wondering exactly who our enemy is. The real enemy is the same one that we fought when we in the hot war against Nazi Germany and in the cold war against Soviet Communism. It is the same enemy that mankind has been fighting for many centuries. Evil may wear different faces, and totalitarianism may find different pretexts, but in the end, the goal is always the same: to crush forever man's sacred capacity for reason, to extinguish the human spirit. The enemy's vision is that that of Big Brother in George Orwell's novel 1984: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stomping on human face... FOREVER."
In the early 1980s, most people thought the Soviet Union would endure for many more decades, perhaps forever. But President Reagan understood the fundamental weakness of a society founded on the supremacy of the state over the individual and the family. In 1981, he called Communism "a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written."
In 1983, he described the USSR as "a society where productive forces are hampered by political ones. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying freedom and human dignity to its citizens. The march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history."
So too will bin Laden and the Taliban and their allies lie in the ash-heap of history. Just as World War II led to the liberation of the Japanese people from military dictatorship, the new war will liberate much of the world from a dictatorial dark age.
As we destroy the enemies of freedom, we must take care not to allow them the victory of destroying our own freedom. They hate us precisely because we are free, because we show the world that freedom works, that man can govern himself. Political opportunists in America are already trying to use the war as a pretext for hustling Americans into surrendering the rights which were won at such great cost at places like Lexington and Saratoga, and defended with so much blood at New Orleans, Normandy, Midway, Inchon and thousands of other battlefields.
The casualties from the first day of bin Laden's war appear to be nearly as large, and perhaps much larger than, total American civilian casualties during World War II. They will not be the last casualties - although there be fewer casualties in the long run because we are fighting now, rather than allowing the forces of darkness to grow stronger.
We must ensure that our sacred, inalienable rights - endowed by our Creator and guaranteed by our Constitution - never become casualties in this war. Our rights are not obstacles to our success in this war; they are the very reason we are fighting. It our duty to ensure that the rights we pass to the next generations of America emerge from this war better protected than ever, rather than sacrificed to panic.
Already, a concerted assault on the Fourth Amendment and privacy has begun. A massive expansion of government surveillance - including authorization for the government to trace a person's web browsing without a warrant - passed the Senate 98-0 with no time for reflection of debate. If it is important to you that Congress and the President protect the Constitution, your elected officials need to hear from you very soon.
You can be sure that before the war is over, there will be similar assaults on the Second Amendment. Now more than ever it is important to defend and exercise your Second Amendment rights.
Even more so than in World War II, the American heartland is at risk of enemy attack. As I detail in the first article in this newsletter, armed American citizens could have saved thousands of lives on Tuesday. The next time that terrorists attempt to strike inside our borders, they must be instantly destroyed by armed American citizens. Not since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791 has the right to keep and bear arms been so important to our national defense.
In 1941-42, armed Americans assisted in guarding the coasts of Hawaii, Virginia, and Maryland. Today, every American state is a potential target, and we know that our enemy's offensive operations will take place primarily in the United States. Be prepared.
Be prepared too to use your First Amendment rights and other political rights to defend the Second Amendment against all who would use the war as a pretext to infringe and eventually destroy it.