Kopel Addresses Pro-Second Banquet
by Ari Armstrong, March 17, 2005
It was 1991 when Dave Kopel, internationally recognized Second-Amendment scholar, addressed the first annual banquet of Grand Junction's Pro-Second Amendment Committee. On March 12, Kopel returned to the Western Slope to speak at the group's fifteenth banquet. The crowd has grown four-fold since its first year, from about 25 to 100. The Committee recognized winners of its essay contest for students.
Dierdra and Dave Kopel attend the Pro-Second Amendment Committee Banquet March 12. See additional photographs below.
Outgoing president Dean Blanck said, "We're an education-oriented group. The banquet is set up to honor the young people who have written the essays."
Blanck said the Committee has also been active offering information at gun shows, participating in the July 4 parade, holding Bill of Rights Day celebrations, and creating library displays. The group is "on the front lines protecting our right to keep and bear arms," Blanck said.
Blanck hopes the model of his organization spreads to other parts of Colorado. He urged members to help the group "grow in numbers and grow in involvement."
Linn Armstrong, an at-large board member and one of the founders of the Committee as well as the Grand Valley Training Club, moderated the event and distributed prizes to the essay winners. (Linn is my father.) Before Kopel's remarks, I offered some comments about state politics. Ed Cole of Boulder also described the work of the Firearms Coalition.
The Committee maintains a Minuteman Award that is passed from its current recipient to a new one every year. This year Bill Feigel gave the award to Matt Healey. Both are involved in a local youth marksmanship program.
"The greatest threats" to the right of self-defense "come from outside," Kopel said. For instance, "There's no place in Denver where you can shoot a gun," and this results in a "diminishment of the ability to exercise rights." Furthermore, many people in Denver "don't have any appreciation of the value of what's going on on the other side" of the issue. This impacts people elsewhere in Colorado.
Kopel noted that, decades ago in New York City, older children with .22 rifles strapped over their shoulders frequently could be seen taking public transportation. Many high schools "had indoor target ranges." Since then, an anti-gun culture has taken root in New York. "They have no familiarity with the good side of the gun culture... People living in New York City never get to see the good side of guns." Instead, mostly the only people with guns there are criminals (and of course the police).
Kopel extended this analysis globally. "If you create a world culture in which gun ownership is wiped out," the right to bear arms and the more fundamental right of self-defense will be more difficult to maintain in the U.S.
Unfortunately, Kopel argued, the United Nations has too often tried to suppress the right of civilians to bear arms internationally, even though this trend is "inconsistent with the ideals of the UN itself." Ideally, Kopel said, the purpose of the UN is "to advance peace and genuine freedom," not bureaucracy and the "false peace of tyranny." The UN's Declaration recognizes the "human right to revolution" as a last resort, Kopel said, and it also recognizes a right to effective remedy. This means that people must have a right to own the tools useful "as a last resort against tyranny." Kopel described the "natural right of resistance and self-preservation." He added, "The right to revolt against oppression is a fundamental human right." Unfortunately, the UN is harming human rights in too many countries, Kopel said.
Kopel urged self-defense supporters to back John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN. Bolton "was the one who made [a previous] U.S. delegation stand firm" on the right to bear arms. Kopel said, "[Senator] Ken Salazar needs to hear from you... He got elected because he said he's pro-gun... This is a critical gun issue... It's essential that [Bolton] be there, leading for us."
As his main example, Kopel discussed the situation in Cambodia. Civilian disarmament is the "first thing the Pol Pot regime did," Kopel reviewed. What came next are death marches and "marches to slave-labor camps." A third of the population was murdered in this "extreme genocide." Later, UN efforts to disarm the populace actually resulted in more gun violence, because the effect was to "take away guns from law-abiding people."
Today, Kopel argued, Cambodia is a major center of the slave sex trade, and "the government is complicit through a network of corruption." Yet the UN disarms Cambodian families. "Without that gun, they have no ability to resist that kidnapping," Kopel said. However, many of "the Cambodian people aren't going along with this" disarmament, and they retain a tool to protect their family and homes.
Kopel invoked the theories of John Locke, who argued the fundamental right is our right in our own bodies. "When Cambodians choose to retain arms... the Cambodian people are in effect choosing to retain their sovereignty."
Kopel discussed the policies of Japan and Great Britain in response to questions. Japan disarms its population, and it has a lower crime rate than the U.S., but Britain also disarms its population, and "England is a much more dangerous country than the U.S.," particularly in terms of "hot" burglaries when residents are home. Kopel described the movement there to restore the right to use defensive force against burglars.
Kopel thanked the audience for "the work you do for human rights in Grand Junction and all over the world."
The Pro-Second Amendment Committee's essay contest is open to Colorado students grades 1-12. For more information, e-mail sbarms**AT**hotmail.com.