SANCTION OF THE VICTIM
by Michael Mitchell
of the victim” is a phrase which I first heard while reading
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. The book focuses on Ms. Rand’s
philosophy of Objectivism, which holds that the products
of an individual human mind are the rightful property of
that mind alone, and no other. She draws a distinction between
two classes of people: Thinkers, those responsible for creating
the wealth and prosperity in the world, and looters, those
who raid that wealth by force of law or intimidation. As
is typical of most thieves, the looters offered a steady
stream of justifications such as fairness (it was unfair
for the industrialist to keep the wealth he earned when
there were poor people in the world), nobility (it was selfish
for an industrialist not to destroy his company by giving
away its entire asset base), or the collective good (the
good of the society as a whole was more important than the
good of any individual). For years, this strategy succeeded,
with the thinkers continuing to labor away under increasingly
oppressive policies, policies which made it more and more
difficult for them to operate, while simultaneously being
condemned by the looters at every turn as the cause of all
economic and social woes.
were able to achieve victory over the looters when they
realized that, in order for the looters’ philosophy to succeed,
the cooperation of the thinkers was absolutely required.
The thinkers, led by a man named John Galt, simply withdrew
their support from the society which claimed to hate them,
causing its eventual collapse. In Rand’s words, the success
of the looter philosophy was dependent upon the sanction
of the victim.
The same tactics
are being used against gun owners today. The proponents
of disarmament bombard the American public with a constant
stream of vitriol directed at guns and gun owners. We constantly
hear in the media that gun deaths are out of control, that
children are at risk, and that the “gun culture” is to blame.
The United Methodist Church passed a resolution recently
stating, in part, “No appeals to individual autonomy are
sufficient for the church to ignore the threat of gun violence.”
The large number of guns present in America is juxtaposed
with statistics claiming “13 children a day die from gun
violence.” (Note: That statistic is only true if you include
everyone under age 20 as a “child”.) The National Rifle
Association is depicted as a band of violence-prone kooks,
vigorously defending criminals who commit gun violence.
The city leaders of New York City are in apoplectic fits
over the possibility that NRA might open a shooting sports
store and restaurant in Times Square, while simultaneously
ignoring the violence-peddling WWF restaurant just down
is that the whole of society - including gun owners - accept
that the presence of guns in the society is a contributor
to violence, that the only reason anyone owns a gun is to
commit violence, and that our rights to own property are
secondary to the need to protect the innocent victims of
gun violence. However, the key weakness of this strategy
is this: In order for any disarmament strategy or anti-gun-owner
public relations effort to succeed, the cooperation of gun
owners - in other words, the sanction of the victims - is
absolutely required. We can only be demonized with our cooperation.
Now, you may
object that you have never endorsed or supported any gun
control idea. You may object that you are a member of this
gun rights group or that gun rights group. However, I would
submit that, if you’ve done nothing more active than send
the NRA $35 this year to defend your gun rights, you are
sanctioning their removal. Your sanction is provided in
When you hide
the fact that you are a gun owner, you encourage the perception
that gun owners are a minority.
When you fail
to challenge crime facilitation (i.e. ‘gun control’) editorials
or articles in your local newspaper, you are allowing them
to stand as the truth.
When you fail
to identify and vote for pro-freedom representatives, you
are allowing the anti-freedom forces to win the election.
When you fail
to talk about your hobby and take non-shooting friends with
you to the range, you are allowing the media perception
of gun owners to take the forefront in their minds.
When you fail
to demonstrate yourself as a sane, thinking, peaceable person,
you allow the media’s picture of gun owners as dangerous,
violence-prone individuals to remain in the minds of those
who witness you.
When you fail
to educate yourself about pending legislative or legal attempts
to strip your rights away, you allow those attempts to succeed
When you fail
to publicize the facts about gun ownership among your circle
of friends and acquaintances, you allow the media’s distortions
and lies to stand as truth.
When you say
it’s okay to ban semi-auto rifles or low-cost handguns because
you don’t own one, you are cooperating with the ‘divide
and conquer’ strategy employed by the crime facilitators.
In short, your
inaction as a gun owner provides the enemies of freedom
with all the sanction they require. Their vilification of
peaceable gun owners goes unchallenged, and, therefore,
is accepted as truth by the general uneducated masses.
many gun owners complain that the weight of the mass media
is too great, that the free publicity given to the “evils”
of gun ownership is simply too powerful for us to oppose.
There’s a sense of helplessness or even despair
that the general public can ever be educated in the facts
regarding guns. In other words, we’re doomed. Well, to be
honest, I’ve felt those pangs myself. Then, like Ayn Rand’s
thinkers, I came to a realization: Since the demonization
of gun owners, and the abridgment of gun rights, cannot
succeed without our cooperation, we are the ones who hold
the real power.
By most estimates,
there are 80 million lawful gun owners in the United States.
Folks, that’s power. Even simple civil disobedience in the
face of unconstitutional anti-gun policies can have an incredible
impact. What would happen if 80 million Americans suddenly
decided that they would no longer cooperate with illegal,
unconstitutional gun laws? What could the “authorities”
do about it? Witness Canada, where that exact scenario is
being acted out, as millions of Canadian citizens refuse
to comply with the government’s gun registration program.
even half that number joined the NRA. What congresscritter
would dare cross gun owners, faced with that kind of organized
“But I don’t
agree with the NRA on some of their policies,” you might
say. Well, neither do I. It’s inevitable that any organization
of any size will suffer some internal disagreements. So
what? The NRA is still the largest, best financed, and best
organized gun rights organization out there. The smaller
organizations like JPFO or GOA are good organizations, don’t
get me wrong. I’ve supported several of them myself. But
they’re not seen as a threat by the crime facilitators because
they’re too small to galvanize a large number of voters
to action. Why do you think the crime facilitators work
so hard to discredit the NRA? Because it’s the only pro-freedom
organization large enough to threaten the legislative careers
of the gun grabbers.
But, just for
the sake of argument, let’s say you so vehemently disagree
with the NRA’s policies that you’ll never join. Fine. There’s
still plenty more you can do. Become an ambassador for firearms
ownership. Write letters to the editor and to your representatives.
Join mailing lists dedicated to news on firearms-related
issues. Take your non-shooting friends to the range and
show them how much fun shooting can be. Be a peaceable citizen,
opposed to violence, and demonstrate it in your speech and
actions. In short, be active and aggressive in your support
of firearms ownership. Seize the power that is yours, and
refuse to give your sanction to your own victimization.
And don’t ever allow yourself to feel helpless or guilty
about exercising your rights.
Michael A. Mitchell. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce
this article in its entirety, including this copyright notice
and attribution to
this website. Mike writes for http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com;
you can contact
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.