How big a gun does anyone need?

Originally published in on January 17, 2013

By Gary Henderson

The public discourse suddenly swirls angrily around this issue: How big a gun should people be allowed to own, with how many bullets? Despite all the furor, the question has a very simple answer. But it’s the wrong question.

Even those who routinely carry a concealed weapon, and certainly many who don’t, wrestle with the question, “How much firepower does anyone need?” Perhaps those who don’t own weapons think the answer should be very close to zero. Those who know that many times each year violent attacks are stopped when someone simply shows a weapon understand that self-defense tools are legitimate and necessary, but still worry about where the line should be above that level.

Legislators are hurriedly drafting a variety of bills to answer the question, phrasing them in terms of how evil a weapon looks, whether it automatically chambers the next shell for you, and how many cartridges it can feed. For those more knowledgeable about guns, the real concern is with things far beyond the personal defense category: rocket-propelled grenades, for example, the sort of things jihadists bring to a party at the U.S. embassy.

Here are some simple, foundational ideas to help sort it out.

The first principle is that the federal government has no constitutional say whatsoever in the size or quantity of weapons maintained by the people — because that very government is the most dangerous person in the room. The Second Amendment has one purpose: to ensure that “we the people” can withstand a tyrannical government, for perhaps the first time in history. The writings of James Madison (Federalist #46), among others, make that abundantly clear.

Since the fashion these days is to pass legislation without reading it, everyone can play. Given the Second Amendment, you can know this without even reading the new laws: whatever they pass or decree at the federal level will be unconstitutional. Why? Because the federal government is specifically forbidden by that Amendment from even addressing the question.

The second principle comes to our rescue: the powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the states and the people. (Sound familiar? The Tenth Amendment.) So the question really has to be addressed by the states, which can afford and manage any size weapons they choose. When we get beyond home and personal defense weapons, the question is not whether your neighbor will have a tank, but whether your state will.

Different states will decide differently. My state of Texas might love freedom and lean very heavily into “whatever it takes.” States that love the power of big government and the illusion of gun control might choose an answer close to zero, as Illinois and New York have already done. The result? Rapid absorption into the federal entity, where the government is armed, the elite have bodyguards, and the citizens are helpless. They’ll feel right at home.

Each of us can then live in whatever state we prefer based on their policies on this and many other subjects. This is federalism as it was designed to operate.

The third principle is the one that worries us: resistance must be able to be effective in order to be… effective. The fact that the founders did not know about AK-47s is irrelevant. In the context of the Second Amendment, “whatever it takes” is the correct answer to the “how much” question. As Judge Andrew Napolitano expressed it,

The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, thus, with the same instruments they would use upon us.

In Federalist #46 James Madison scoffs at the idea that the states would ever allow the federal government to become this lawless, but if they did, he assures his readers that the mass of citizens able to bear arms would always be able to resist the much smaller army a federal government might muster against them; the unspoken assumption is one of equivalent arms.

If that raises fears about how heavily citizens might need to arm themselves because of a hostile administration, we should focus our efforts on forcing the national government back within its prescribed constitutional limits so the concern can be forgotten. On the other hand, if we need bigger defensive weapons because drug lords are bringing automatic weapons across the border into our southern cities, that is again because of the federal government refusing to carry out its constitutional mandates, and even providing those weapons.

In one case, the federal government is becoming a tyrant; in the other, it is derelict. In either case, the citizens and states must respond to the federal lawlessness.

The fourth fundamental reality is that we’re starting at the wrong place, and therefore asking the wrong question.

Whether we are discussing salt, tobacco, gasoline, fountain drinks, greasy hamburgers, or guns, much wrong-headed policy today is being driven by the question, “How much does anyone need?” In Venezuela, Soviet Russia, or present-day England, it might be different, but here the correct answer is, “Whatever they want.”

Not because we support greed, plundering the rest of the world, or any of the other accusations the left throws at the right, but because of sovereignty. Your sovereignty. Yes, yours.

In America, based on the ideals expressed so well by John Locke and adopted by our framers, sovereignty rests with the individual, and then by extension his family. He then delegates some of that to the community, in exchange for protection of his rights — some is delegated to his city, some to his state, and then a few things were entrusted to a national government.

But none of those entities get to decide what a man needs; only that man himself does. While he lives within the legal boundaries of the societies he has willingly submitted to (including state-level weapons laws), he remains free, autonomous, and sovereign in his sphere.

Even if everything about him offends you and worries you.

Just like you, he is an adult, a free citizen in a free society. How much of any legal product he wants is purely a matter of what he can pay for and how he wishes to spend his own resources. A small handgun for protection at the mall and on the street? Something stronger for hunting and protection against home invasions? All of the above? He’d like to stock a few thousand shells, in case a hostile government decides to ban them? None of our business. In fact, I may be very glad he made those choices if the economy collapses, mobs take to the street, and I live next to him.

So the real question is who gets to decide what a man needs or wants. In America, until a man breaks the law, he does. If you reject that principle, you are left with statist tyranny, of which two flavors currently dominate the rest of the world.

The underlying principle which we abandon to our great risk is that in a free society we trust each other. Sometimes nervously. But we certainly trust each other far more than we trust the government where money flows, power accumulates, and that accumulated power corrupts. In America we don’t punish people for crimes they haven’t committed, or search our citizens without warrants because years ago a foreign enemy hijacked four airplanes and attacked us.

Oh, wait, I guess we do.

Reprinted from:

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Snapping Dogs and Liberal Logic

Originally published in on January 11, 2013

By Gary Henderson

The attack began without warning last Sunday. Two dogs came over the grassy hill from the center of the campus. When the noise grew loud, a large third dog came from the nearby neighborhood to join the fun. Snarling, snapping, biting, they circled the 82-year old walker and went for his legs.

Harold had just returned from walking across northern Spain on the Camino del Santiago, a 300 mile trek that involved walking seven to twelve miles a day for weeks on end. To continue walking while avoiding the dangers of traffic, he chose the local community college campus and walked the perimeter road.

Until the dogs came.

The attack lasted twenty minutes, and Harold had brought nothing to defend himself on this walk around a college campus but his hiking boots. A middle-aged couple watched from their car a short distance off, then drove away without helping. Harold blew a shrill whistle to call for help, and later the campus policeman said he had heard it and wondered what it was. Three calls to an incompetent 911 dispatcher produced no help. The attack went on. Occasionally the dogs would pull back to rest, then launch in again.

Our liberal friends have the obvious answer. If only there were additional leash laws, those dogs would never have been out. Should this slender elderly man have carried a handgun? Of course not; why would a person ever need a gun? Just call for help, and — did you know? — you can hold your car keys between your knuckles and scratch their faces. And, by the way, no protective guns should be allowed anywhere near a school. For goodness’ sake, children might be there!

Do we already have leash laws on the books? Of course. We just need one more, and as soon as we put more fences around all the law-abiding dogs that were not involved in the attack, everything will be fine.

Liberal logic does not acknowledge the realities of human behavior, such as the obvious fact that criminals do not care about firearms laws. Unintended consequences abound. For example, the publishing of the addresses of gun owners in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy has no doubt been greeted with delight by criminals. Apparently it was meant to shame gun owners, but the result is that thieves now know which homes are defenseless, and which homes have firearms to be stolen. Why was this so hard to predict? The obvious answer is that it did not matter to the arrogant, self-righteous liberal mind, which only focuses on imposing its moral standards on everyone in sight.

Do we already have gun laws on the books? Of course. We just need a few more, and as soon as we further restrict the millions of law-abiding citizens who have not committed crimes, these crimes will stop. And, by the way, no protective guns should be allowed anywhere near a school. Think of the children!

The right to self-defense was not given to us by the Second Amendment. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was not given to us by the Declaration of Independence. These documents simply acknowledge and reaffirm rights we already had as human beings, not just as Americans.

Unless we accept liberal logic, which insists that the greater good requires that no one except the state should own weapons. In fact, in every area of your life the state knows how you should live and behave better than you do.

The result? Light bulbs that require a HAZMAT team to clean up when they break, corn squeezings in our gasoline that gunk up our engines, toilets that won’t flush, and economic damage based on mythical global warming that has not actually happened for almost two decades. But never mind, you can’t be trusted to manage your own life, and especially not to use dangerous things like guns.

The federal government is not allowed to infringe upon your right to keep and bear arms. This was a condition of the formation of the United States. Without this assurance, there would be no federal government. All the nonsense about controlling firearms under the interstate commerce clause is pure fabrication, and flatly illegal; “shall not be infringed” is patently clear.

If the Constitution no longer matters, then the federal government no longer exists. The same document that restricts them is also the document that created them and gives them their authority. Either it is in effect, or it is not.

Harold survived the attack, and fortunately there has been no incidence of rabies in the area for 50 years. What if one of the dogs had managed to pull him off his feet, giving the other attackers access to his face, neck, and abdomen? It certainly would not have been the dogs’ fault; they had obviously been treated badly in their puppyhood, and must have been deprived of benefits other dogs have enjoyed. Better redistribution of puppy chow was needed. It’s not their fault.

The liberal answer? Harold should simply not have been there. It’s his fault. Why would anyone need to go walking around the college campus on a Sunday afternoon, anyway? And as far as the possibility of his carrying a gun when he goes out walking, we’ll take care of that with our upcoming legislation. Why would anyone ever need a gun?

Reprinted from:

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The book is out!

Our new book is out:  “Freedom. You Can Handle It. But Hurry!” 

It is available online at Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and for all the electronic book readers — in the Kindle, Nook, and Apple iBook stores.

Here’s a link to the publisher’s promotional page, which includes links to the various online purchase/download options:


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Denny’s Pro-Constitution, Pro-2ndAmendment Commercial

You go, Denny’s!  Good job!

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Organized Crime, with Police Approval

Surely the TSA is in the running for the grand prize, recognition as the largest organized criminal activity in the country.  What other organization commits federal crimes in hundreds or thousands of locations, thousands of times per day, under police supervision and with full consent of the local law enforcement agencies?

The crime?  Have you not heard?

Here’s what the law says:  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The federal government is specifically forbidden to search you, your papers, your house or belongings, without a warrant issued by a court supported by oaths and specific accusations of wrongdoing.  Forbidden.  To do so would be a federal crime.

Been on an airplane lately? Were you put through a scanner that showed a TSA agent every detail of your skin, bones, underwear, and whatever else you might have had under your clothing?  Worse, did you or some member of your family have to endure a “thorough patdown,” allowing a complete stranger, and not even a law enforcement officer at that, to put his or her hands in places only one other person in your life is allowed to touch?

The Houston police officer overseeing the area where last I enjoyed this illegal assault waved his hand at the screening area and said, “Well, that whole thing is a federal area, and they pretty much do whatever they want.”

Couldn’t have said it better. The ironic part is that preventing what they are doing, that “whatever they want” thing, is so important that the very document that created the federal government contains the prohibition against them doing exactly that thing.

They are not allowed to do that.  Period.

Why do we allow it?  I’ve been asking that question. The answers are amazing.  You should try it.

The best answer has to be the one already mentioned, that the feds “do pretty much whatever they want.”  Even things that they are prohibited to do.  And that’s acceptable?

The managing TSA officer at the screening area explained that “flying is a privilege, not a right, so you agree to whatever screening is needed when you buy your ticket.”  Funny, I don’t remember that … buying a bus ticket requires giving up Constitutional protections?  Missed that somewhere.  And what is an airplane, but a flying bus?  I should read the “contract for carriage” that is actually created when you buy an airline ticket, but I’ll be surprised if there’s a waiver of 4th amendment rights in the fine print.

He further explained that when you enter the screening line, you are giving permission to be searched.

Hmm.  Is there any other way to get to the airplane I have a ticket for?  Well, no, not at the moment.  So I have no other way to get to the plane, so … I waive my Constitutional rights because an illegal federal action is being carried out between me and the plane?  Did you ask me for permission? Did I give it?  Was I drinking, and just don’t remember?  In the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, “I’ve never been that drunk!”

Another Houston police officer explained that the Harris County district attorney, supported by “a recent Supreme Court ruling,” had told them that it was not an “unreasonable search,” because when you enter the screening line you are giving implicit permission, which makes it “reasonable.”

It’s “reasonable” to commit a federal crime against me because I bought a bus ticket and got in line to board the bus?  Excuse me?

An airline service agent offered a series of incomprehensible rationales, including that individuals must give up some things for the benefit of the whole society.  I’m sure the millions murdered by Lenin’s social improvement efforts would have agreed, and gladly contributed their part.  Likewise those blessed by Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung, and others aggressively improving their societies over the last century.

He further explained that the federal government is supreme, and admitted he actually has no idea what’s in the Constitution.

So we have a choice.  The TSA is going to commit a crime against you, as part of your getting on the airplane for which you bought a ticket. Either they will strip you of your ability to use that ticket — isn’t that robbery?  theft? — or they will simply strip you. Which is a federal crime defined over 200 years ago.  The wonderful part is that you get to choose the crime, and it happens with the blessing of the local law authorities watching over the airport.  And although many you talk to, including the police, will express a gut reaction that it is somehow wrong, they can’t begin to explain why, or what we should do about it.

It’s not that hard.

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The Supreme Court is not the solution

We are always encouraged when it appears that the Supreme Court will support the good, and we are always afraid that if they support the bad there’s nothing to be done.

At this writing, the first judge to do so has ruled Obamacare — ie, government control of the healthcare industry that includes requiring you and I to purchase insurance — is unconstitutional.

Well, of course it is.  Now we’ll see if the Supreme Court agrees.  But if they disagree, if they let Obamacare proceed, does that make it constitutional?

Well, of course not.

The whole involvement of the federal government in our healthcare decisions is outside the scope of the powers delegated to them; the bill is unconstitutional on its face, never mind in its details.

How can we break free of this idea that 7 unelected lawyers, and more recently an increasing number of them appointed purely as political support for the party in power, have life and death authority over our entire lives?

The states must step up, as Jefferson insisted they must, to defend their citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic.  Any attempt by the federal government to exert unauthorized power over any citizen of any state constitutes an attack on that citizen.  What else would you call it?

What?  The states?  How are the states authorized to stand against supposedly constitutional actions, especially if the Supreme Court has approved them? Didn’t that law professor on the radio just laugh at that idea?

Yes, he did.  And he was wrong.

The states can trump such actions, because the Supreme Court is subject to the Constitution, just like the other two parts, and has not been give power to extend and “adjust” it by fiat.  Here’s how Jefferson explained it in the Kentucky Resolutions:

“…that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

So, who’s Supreme? Who really has final say about health care, and light bulbs, and dishwashing soap, and how much salt we eat, and a thousand other things being taken under Washington’s wing as we speak?

You are.  The tenth amendment has not been repealed, just trampled.

If the other party to any agreement is engaged in aggressive, unlawful expansion of its powers, you have to respond. Don’t you?

It’s time to quit being run over.  It’s time to stand up to the bullies.


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How can we know what we cannot know?

How can people know what people cannot, in fact, know?

It happens all the time, and the reason it happens, the way it happens … well, that’s the rub.

A close friend — let’s call her Lila, since I know no one by that name — was talking recently about having an animal communicator in to talk with their dying dog, and find out how it wanted the process to be managed.  Did it want aggressive medication, etc, or just a few quality of life adjustments for its final days?  The animal communicator was able to convey the dog’s wishes to Lila and her husband, and they were both surprised and pleased at what he had to “say”.

She also mentioned being in Africa some time back, and a “healer” there happened to say, quite unexpectedly and off topic, that Lila would never return to Africa until she resolved the issues with her mother.  My friend, accepting this as somehow true, threw up her hands and said to her husband, “Well, we’re never coming back to Africa!”  Today, those issues are being resolved, and they are expecting to be back in Africa soon.

How did the stranger have any idea about Lila’s issues with her mother?

She also mentioned a series of books including “The Journey of Souls,” in which a doctor apparently began working with hypnosis to find the reason for longstanding, undiagnosed pain in one of his patients.  The experience led to many more such efforts, all revealing issues in “past lives” that explained current issues.

The common thread in all these is people knowing things that are not available to be known.  What animals think, what issues are deep in other people’s histories, what happened in prior centuries of which the person today has no specific knowledge … how can these be known?

The assumed explanation, of course, is that some people CAN speak with animals, and that some people ARE “seers”, able of themselves to look into other people’s minds and histories, and that some or all of us have lived prior lives.  Lila completely accepts that.

What if that’s not true?  Is there another explanation, if reincarnation and telepathy do not actually exist?

There’s one man who has demonstrably been to death and back again, and demonstrated the ability to know other people’s thoughts quite clearly, and was known to communicate effectively with plants and the weather, not just animals, and predicted future “resolutions” with precision. What would his explanation be, of these matters?

We have two ways of knowing.  What he said — which is preserved in the most validated historical records on the planet — and what he continues to say and do through the millions who have walked with him for two millenia.  His name, of course, is Yeshua.  In English we call him Jesus.

And there’s a third way, of course, and it’s really the most appropriate. Go ask him yourself. He said “my sheep will know my voice,” not “my sheep will know my handwriting.” And he wasn’t talking about sheep.  Talking about future years and generations, he said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth.  So go be led.

A friend in graduate school at Harvard was discussing the Freudian view of psychological treatment, versus Jesus’ dealing with indwelling, invading spiritual beings that needed to be expelled.  My friend finally said he would choose Jesus’ approach over Freud’s because, after all, “it works.”

So, in Jesus’ view of the cosmos, how do we explain the things Lila was relating?

Is there reincarnation?  Have we lived past lives?  No.  “… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement,” just to pick one principle of many.  And in the three days after his death, according to his close friend Peter, Jesus went into Hades and gathered all who wanted to go with him for a victory parade.  To make the obvious point, if they had moved on to subsequent lives on earth, they would not have been there!

No, nothing in the massive revelations of God’s will and character, of the nature and history of man, etc, presented in the JudeoChristian scriptures supports the idea of reincarnation.  Moreover, interaction with the deceased is consistently prohibited.  Note that such interaction is possible, because life does not end with death, the end of the original human body; dead persons have not gone on to become a second person, and never will.  We were made for eternal life, as who we are.  We stay ourselves, forever.

Can people talk with animals?  More specifically, can animals verbalize thoughts to us?  It has certainly happened, but in each case we know of it was enabled by a specific spiritual being for a specific purpose.  Inhabiting a serpent, Lucifer spoke with Adam and Eve.  And Balaam’s ass corrected his asinine behavior, under the Holy Spirit’s action.

Other than that?  I love the idea C.S. Lewis paints of talking Narnian animals, and I certainly chat with a variety of animals who populate my novels, but I think “not yet” is really the answer today.  “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God,” and the trees will clap their hands in that day, and the rocks could have cried out when Jesus entered Jerusalem, so it appears full cross-species communication is on the way.  But not yet.

And the seer?  Telepathy?  Mediums and seances?  How is all that explained?

The obvious, single, and completely sufficient answer to all of the above issues is that spiritual beings communicate with us all the time.  God’s spirit works in the world to heal, expose, direct, convict, and deliver from bondage,, and his angels are literally “messengers.” Other spirits also communicate continually, and their purpose is deception and destruction, even when they speak the truth.

We all experience this, until we come to grips with it, recognize who is speaking, and as Paul puts it, “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  Who has not found thoughts of bitterness, temptation, anger, or rebellion suddenly appearing in their minds, leading to destructive behavior?  Are those just arising “from our subconscious”? What if they are not?

Jesus conversed openly with such spiritual beings as he expelled them from people oppressed by them, and that is still the experience today of Christians willing to participate in the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit in these areas.  Many times these spirits proclaimed (using the voice of the person they inhabited) who Jesus was, as they begged not to be expelled, and he told them to shut up and get out.  The slave girl following Paul was declaring the truth about who he was, but it was to incite others to kill him.  In each case a person was saying what they could not have known by themselves.

It is common experience for Christians in ministry to have a “word of knowledge” about someone, i.e., for the Holy Spirit to tell them something they could not have known, for the purpose of physical, mental, or emotional healing of the person being attended to.  And the ministry typically called prophecy is simply listening to the Holy Spirit and saying to others verbatim what He is saying to you.

So, can people know things beyond their experience?  Certainly.  Happens all the time.  How?  From the Holy Spirit, working through any person or creature he wants to use, and from other spiritual beings with the motive to deceive and destroy (and in particular to ensure the people involved dismiss any thought of needing to get serious with God).

Can a spirit who has been alive for millenia enter a person who is under hypnosis and spin any yarn he likes? Easily; the essence of hypnosis is the absence of control of what’s happening to your mind and spirit. Can that lying spirit convey many details of true history, to make the “past life” appear the more real?  Of course, why not?  Will the hypnotist believe the person on the couch is the one actually speaking?  Every time.

Can a spirit give an animal communicator all sorts of images, thoughts, ideas, and emotions that the communicator will believe came from the animal?  Of course.  Will the non-Christian practitioner have any way of knowing it’s not real?  No.  And the prestige, satisfaction, and sense of having done real ministry will prevent them from even wanting to know if they’re being fooled.

Can a spirit convey to a medium or seer any details at all about your personal life and history? Easily. Your life is an open tabloid to the spiritual hierarchy, and much of what you wish you had not done arose from their prompting anyway.

With two radically different explanations available for all this, you need to decide for yourself what’s really happening.  But the first issue is how you will phrase the question.  “If there is no God, how …” will lead you to one answer.  “If what God says is true, how …” will lead you to an entirely different one.

Does it matter which explanation you choose?

If you walk onto a battlefield, does it matter whether you realize there’s a war going on?

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