from the Congress Action newsletter

Scare Tactics And Demagoguery

by: Kim Weissman
March 19, 2000

"…let me define the level of dishonesty that this man [President Clinton] is capable of. And I’ve been in this town for 20 years through the political storms. He could have had a bill last summer that included mandatory safety locks with the sale of every gun, included checks at all gun shows on all gun sales with a 24-hour delay, included juvenile Brady, where violent juveniles would be forever prohibited from owning guns, would even have included Dianne Feinstein’s import ban on high-capacity magazines, and he killed it all over the issue of a 72-hour wait. I mean, I’ve come to believe he needs a certain level of violence in this country. He’s willing to accept a certain level of killing to further his political agenda. And the vice president, too. I mean, how else you can you explain this dishonesty we get out of the administration?"

"You know, the president and the vice president have a strategy here: the pollsters and the consultants are telling them, ‘Scare suburban women on this issue.’ And that’s their strategy." — Wayne Lapierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association.

"Does it bother you that when someone commits a crime with a gun, Mr. Clinton pops up on TV with another gun law? Especially when his administration barely enforces the gun laws we have now. Under Bill Clinton, federal gun prosecutions are half — half — of what they used to be. Laws don't make you safe. Enforcement does. Mr. Clinton, when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake. When you know it's wrong, it's a lie. Remember?" — Charlton Heston, President of the National Rifle Association.

Bill Clinton is shocked and outraged that anyone would dare to call him a liar (a federal judge did precisely that last year), or suggest that he puts political power above the good of the nation. In Clinton's world of left-wing extremism, demonizing and lying about one's opponent is perfectly acceptable. But when that opponent refuses to shoulder the blame that rightly should be laid on self-anointed liberal visionaries, that's just plain unacceptable, that's "political smear tactics" and "slash and burn" politics according to Bill Clinton. And according to no-controlling-legal-authority Gore, Lapierre's comments revealed "a kind of sickness at the very heart of the NRA."

Yes, let's hear about "sickness at the very heart" from the politician who thinks that returning your own money to you is a "risky scheme", who thinks that car engines are a greater threat than Chinese nuclear missiles, whose own staff warned him about his persistent and obvious lying. Lapierre spoke the truth, but the problem is far deeper than that.

The NRA cannot be blamed for the cesspool of social pathologies that a morally vacant liberalism has turned our society into (just this week a 10 year old stabbed his father to death with a knife over a can of cake frosting — life is cheap in a society that accepts widespread abortion). Nobody in their right mind really believes that another law, or another hundred laws, or strict enforcement of those laws, would have saved the life of that child in Michigan. Anyone with an ounce of honesty and integrity knows that even if they are totally banned, guns will always be available to criminals. Just as crack cocaine — already totally illegal — is available on the street corners of every American city. The problem is not some inanimate object. The problem is a morally dead liberal ideology that thinks legislation can take the place of a conscience.

Bill Clinton would never engage in "political smear tactics" or "slash and burn" politics. Of course not. Usually, he just lets his friends in the like-minded media do it for him. Any time some criminal thug (who should be in jail but isn't because of lax law enforcement, or the left's typical laissez faire attitude toward criminals) shoots someone, or some disturbed kid illegally gets a gun and uses it in violation of any number of laws already on the books, as sure as night follows day Bill Clinton or some member of his administration or of the left-wing press will bring up the name of the National Rifle Association, as though Wayne Lapierre or Charlton Heston personally pulled the trigger:

"The chief obstacle to saner gun control remains the obstructionism of the NRA, whose extremist views and rhetoric should offend Americans fed up with gunfire." — New York Times, March 14, 2000.

"After all the gun tragedies in this nation — after Columbine, and Jonesboro, and Conyers, Georgia, and all the future massacres it is up to us to prevent — it is time for a new, bipartisan consensus on this issue. Some want more concealed weapons. But they can't conceal the fact that they're just doing the NRA's bidding." — Al Gore, July, 1999.

"In the sad and frightening wake of Littleton, there is hope in this one fact: the National Rifle Association is starting to call to mind Joe Camel. Like the tobacco interests before them, gun extremists, denying their impact on public safety and seeking to extend their malignant embrace to children, have built the case for their own demise." — Washington Post, May 4, 1999.

"That the NRA, the National Rifle Association, should feel guilty about the Columbine massacres goes without saying." — New York Times, April 27, 1999.

"If Charlton Heston and the NRA want to come into the mainstream of American political debate then they need to stop defining themselves as victims of media manipulation and help keep our children from becoming the victims of gun violence in our schools, in our homes and in our streets. I challenge the NRA to direct its attention to getting guns out of the hands of unsupervised children." — Education Secretary Richard Riley, June 9, 1998.

"In the wake of the Jonesboro school killings, the National Rifle Association has been on the defensive. The NRA, instead of showing common sense in addressing the issue of children and guns, has been issuing pro-gun statements that verge on parody." — New York Times, April 11, 1998.

"The Washington Post's media writer, Howard Kurtz, joins us now to discuss the aftermath of the shooting in Jonesboro. Howie, your book documents the acumen of the Clinton White House spin doctors. But could they ever be talented enough to get the GOP leadership and its NRA allies out of trouble for the role they played in making guns so available to these Jonesboro boys?" — CNN's "Inside Politics", April 1, 1998.

"Coming up next on Dateline's special report on the tragic slayings at the middle school in Jonesboro, Arkansas. How the National Rifle Association, through its Eddie Eagle gun safety program, taught youngsters how it was cool to lock and load with deadly aim, a skill now turned against their follow students. The gun advocates, creeping to the edge of bloody fanaticism, when Dateline continues." — NBC "Dateline", April 1, 1998.

Columnist Charley Reese recently wrote,

"A welfare state is a slave state. The slaves are the productive citizens whose taxes are used to support the unproductive. The beneficiaries are simply the politicians who take the money from the productive people and use it to buy the votes of the unproductive." And the first rule in a slave state is that the slaves must not be allowed to have any means of resisting their masters. Tyrannies throughout history have all understood that elementary rule, and tyrants always made sure that disarming their populations was among the first orders of business when they seized power.

Where do the self-proclaimed guardians of freedom, the republicans, stand in this fight between Clinton and the few remaining defenders of the Second Amendment? Most have remained silent, afraid to confront this administration or the American people with the truth. Don't rock the boat, be polite, and maybe Clinton won't be too mean.

At least one republican, however, understands: "It's a misplaced hope that by simply being nice to the White House, we will get the White House to stop beating us up. The White House will beat us up no matter what. I wonder why our people haven't figured that out yet." — Rep. Bob Barr. This week, 46 House republicans joined 171 democrats in voting to conference Clinton's Juvenile Justice gun control bill, versions of which the House and Senate passed last year (H.R.1501/S.254).

In all the millennia since mankind emerged from the jungle, the proudest achievement of civilization has been the establishment of the Rule of Law. The highest embodiment of that Rule of Law begins with the words

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Our Constitution is all that stands between us and the tyrannies that have engulfed other people around the world. Nor are our Constitutional rights dependent on popularity polls, as a recent news story implied ("…the 25% of Americans who own handguns are far outnumbered by the 37% who favor a handgun ban…"). Yet that Constitution is eroded every day by demagogues skilled at emotional manipulation and by judges who use the authority of their office to impose their ideas on the country.

Today they come after gun owners. Yesterday it was smokers. Every day, its property owners who get in the way of their vision, those with religious faith, and those with the wrong skin color or ethnicity or gender. Do you feel complaisant because you don't smoke or own a gun? Because your skin color or ethnicity or gender is politically correct? Wait until tomorrow, when it will be your turn, because tyrants are never satisfied with partial power.

Our century has seen the worst horrors of human history: death camps, and the enslavement and slaughter of millions, made possible by the concentration of unbridled political power in the hands of a few self-obsessed visionaries proclaiming themselves to be agents of "change" and champions of "the people". Some of those visionaries used brute force to destroy the existing Rule of Law. At least one whipped up public frenzy by his demagoguery of national issues, and used the resulting public outcry to intimidate fearful legislators into ignoring his usurpation of arbitrary and unlimited power.

Sound familiar? When the U.S. Senate refused to hold the Chief Executive accountable to the Rule of Law following his impeachment, those Senators thought they were closing a sordid chapter in our history. They closed nothing. What they did was to set this country on a new course, admitting that from then on, that Chief Executive would be unaccountable for his actions. They discarded our Constitution and the Rule of Law, and replaced it with the law of the jungle, in which government power alone rules. And uncontrolled government power is the most dangerous sort of power there is. How many times must we re-learn the lesson enunciated by George Washington, that "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire, it is a troublesome servant and a fearful master."? How much suffering will we all have to endure, this time, before we learn that lesson once again?

"The exercise of despotic power is the unrelenting war of an armed tyrant upon his unarmed subjects." — Cato's Letters # 25 (April 15, 1721).

"[A] government resting on a minority is an aristocracy, not a Republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace." — James Madison

"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms." — Samuel Adams, in the Constitutional ratification convention in Massachusetts (1788)

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered a palladium of the liberties of a Republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable people to resist and triumph over them." — Justice Joseph Story, United States Supreme Court.

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.


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19 mar 2000