Last Tuesday night almost 300 Nevada County residents gathered to hear a report from our Congressman Doug LaMalfa, and a presentation by Stewart Rhodes of Oathkeepers in the Grass Valley Veterans Hall presented by CABPRO. The very stark presentation by Mr Rhodes was on the progress of government overreach and focused much on defense of the Second Amendment. The message for Americans at the grassroots level was to resist all state efforts to actually or constructively confiscate our firearms.
I don’t want to do a rehash of what has been covered so much on RR during the almost seven years it has served as forum for the Left and Right to debate the most crucial questions that face our Republic in this new century. But leaving the Vets Hall on a cold and blustery night again brought to mind a question that has puzzled me for some years – how should a liberal state deport itself toward its citizens when a goodly portion of them feel strongly that its government is in the process of destroying the nation?
But, dear reader, accept neither of these propositions. Instead, let’s expand the posed question. For example, should an enlightened state make it easy for its citizens to modify or even overturn its current form of government? If so, how would it communicate, or more strongly, invite such a fundamental transformation? If not, what means should it be able to employ to inhibit such a transformation, or more significantly, are there any limits to what force the established government can bring against the cohort of its own citizens that seeks to either unseat it or separate themselves from it?
Today we see several concrete answers to that question – poster child Assad of Syria – that are being implemented by admittedly illiberal Islamic countries and Russia. When we look into the mirror do we see, or do we condone our federal government to also use such means?
The test case to answer these questions may well be upon us. It involves our ability to possess firearms of sufficient power and capability to successfully resist federalized local police agencies for a sufficient period so that word of that resistance can spread across the country. In other words, arms of appropriate mettle in the hands of civilians so that, if neighbors gather to mount their own ‘stand at Lexington green’, the state will not be able to quickly and quietly put them down, and whisk away the evidence of their courageous grievance. I’m talking about resistance of a form and magnitude that cannot be hidden from the nation, no matter whether that nascent resistance ultimately succeeds or not.
That is what the diverse movements like Oathkeepers, Constitutional Sheriffs, …, movements that are spreading across America, are really all about. Consider for starters, Stewart Rhodes openly called for citizens to refuse the registration of their firearms (Californians are already behind the curve), and then went on to press people to publicly call out their local sheriffs, constables, and other electeds to have them declare where they stand with respect to their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. (Do you see the wisdom of the Founders in that phrasing?)
Things are rapidly passing the point where our local leaders – all of whom have sworn to defend and uphold - can continue to hide behind inanities and lame responses such as ‘we’ll have to see where the courts come down on this’. All British courts in 1775 backed the Crown in its colonial dealings.
Our military has long been taught that it cannot hide behind the Nürnberg defense of ‘I was only following orders from my superiors.’ As officers – commissioned and non-commissioned - we were told in the strongest of terms that our oath required us to follow only lawful orders. And here’s the hard part, as Americans operating within the legacy of liberty and individual responsibility, it was the duty of each of us to put the measure of lawfulness on every order we were commanded to carry out.
That is a terrible burden that all men who seek to remain free must always bear. For to err in that call will not be forgiven. We know the oath taken by so many of us did not lapse when we took off our uniforms. So today, as the government prepares to confront massive civil unrest within our borders, what do we do when laws become lawless?