Are We Crazy NOT to Trust Our Government?

An underlying theme percolating in the gun control debate is that anyone who doesn’t trust their own government is absurd and bizarre and might even be a little unstable.

On Fox News this morning, Geraldo Rivera told Eric Bolling that the government has the right and duty to take away assault rifles from citizens and that anyone who thinks they need to defend themselves against the government is just plain paranoid. With shock and dismay, Rivera described people who are stocking up on guns as “deeply suspicious OF THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT” (his emphasis) and that this is “bitterly ironic” because these are the same people who “claim a mantle of patriotism.”

“What’s going to happen?” Rivera scoffs. “Are helicopters going to come and kick down your door. . . . I think it is bizarre that you don’t trust your own government of the United States.”

Another example comes from CNN’s Piers Morgan’s interview with Ben Shapiro, author of Bullies. The debate about gun control was heated, but the end was particularly significant. Morgan pressed Shapiro about why Americans need assault weapons, and Shapiro answered that they need them ultimately to fight tyranny, which might not happen today but it could happen in the future.

“And where do you think this will come from?” Morgan asked.

“It could come from the United States because democracies have gone tyrannical before,” Shapiro answered.

With smug indignation, Morgan replied, “Do you know how absurd you sound? . . . Do you genuinely believe your own government is going to turn on you?”

The lesson to be learned from these clips (and these aren’t the only talking heads making these comments) goes far beyond the second amendment debate. It reflects a deep confusion in this country regarding the distinction between government and the civil society and a naiveté about the power and role of government in our lives.

Is it absurd and bizarre not to trust our government? Not according to the founding fathers who fashioned our laws to protect us from tyranny. Patrick Henry wrote, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

So, no, Piers Morgan, adhering to the Constitution out of distrust of government is not absurd at all. It is reasonable, and it is necessary.

The likes of Morgan and Rivera and anyone else out there accusing defenders of gun ownership (and even of semi-automatic rifles, which you would need in a real gun fight) of being bizarre and even a little unstable should heed the words of our first president, a man who knew a lot more about tyranny than any politician today: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” 

You don’t trust fire. You keep a vigilant eye on it, never turning your back, always containing it because, in a moment of inattention, a split second of blind trust, it can spread, transforming into a conflagration of ruin that will consume everything in its path.

The founding fathers are the voices Americans should be listening to, not Piers Morgan or Geraldo Rivera, or even Barack Obama. That’s because the founding fathers understood the difference between government and society. They knew that patriotism meant allegiance to a set of ideas, to the principles of freedom laid out in the Constitution. They understood that to be a patriot was to trust in those ideals, not in government. That’s because they knew what tyranny looked like, and it was “their OWN GOVERNMENT.”

One of the first steps the British government took in suppressing the colonies was to take away their arms. This is what George Mason had to say about it at the Virginia Constitution Convention: “When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.”

And yet, many in America say the current U.S. government is not like the British crown. All our government is trying to do today by slowly eliminating which guns you can use or how many bullets you can buy is to protect people from themselves. All Obama is trying to do through gun control is protect us and our children, to keep us safe even from ourselves. His motives are pure and designed only for the betterment of society, for the greater good.

To this claim, there is no better response than another insight from Patrick Henry: “Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”

Not trusting the government is neither absurd nor bizarre. It is wise, and the extent to which every American takes this fact to heart will be the difference between liberty and enslavement.

  1. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” – James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 46

    “The Constitution shall never be construed … to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams

    “To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason

    ” To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” – Richard Henry Lee 1788

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”- Thomas Jefferson 1776

  2. MLH

    Just reading the title of the post made me think: that’s what we are founded upon.

  3. genferei

    Are these the same folks who feared Chimpy McBushitler and the imminent theocracy of Rick Santorum? Why, yes, yes they are.

  4. Aaron Miller

    Well said. I hope this post is promoted to the Main Feed so I may share it.

  5. Foxman

    Look at the “history” books that are in many schools today.  The US government is depicted as just a little better than Pol Pot.  Who would trust that government?

  6. Underground Conservative

    My own mom is completely devastated that I believe we need to protect ourselves from the government. She thinks I’m a loon (not to mention for a lot of other reasons, too).

    And good point, Foxman. Yeah, I wouldn’t trust our Pol Pot-lite form of government as taught today. I mean, the pre-Obama government, of course.

  7. Blue State Curmudgeon

    The scariest thing is that Geraldo, and people like him, can’t distinguish between the country (which should be the object of patriotism) and government.  I love my country but I neither like nor trust my government.

  8. Gretchen
    genferei: Are these the same folks who feared Chimpy McBushitler and the imminent theocracy of Rick Santorum? Why, yes, yes they are. · 1 hour ago

    And longer ago: In the 1980s an academic of Dutch origin who was about 60 and had spent her entire adult life here told me she always kept her Dutch passport current because “with Reagan you never know when this will turn into a dictatorship”.

    Being politically naive at the time, I was stunned speechless. I thought she was nuts.

    Now they think we are nuts. Difference is, we´re right. ;-)

  9. Pelayo

    I could not agree more with this post.  My parents lived through the Communist Revolution in Cuba.  One of the first things Fidel Castro did once he seized power was to disarm the civilian population.  Ironically, my father questioned this call for disarmament in front of a university class he was attending and was arrested shortly thereafter for his statements.  He was released on bail and fled the island a few days later rather than stand trial.  Geraldo and others like him are being very naive if they think a Government would never use force against its own citizens.  Does Syria sound familiar?  What about our friends in Iran?  I rest my case.

  10. AR

    Thank you for this post.  The level of ignorance out there is staggering.   I’ve started to pose this question to such wide-eyed innocents out there:  ”When do you think the last time the 2nd Amendment has been used to defend against a tyrannical government?”

    Most assume the answer is the American Revolution… some will ponder whether the Civil War qualifies (it does not).  Then I tell them the answer, “1946.”  The incident occurred in McMinn County TN.  Google it.  Also known as the Battle of Athens.  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946)

    http://constitution.org/mil/tn/batathen.htm

    The older I get, the more I comprehend that is has truly all happened before and it will all happen again.

  11. Skyler

    I’m not patriotic for my government.  I’m patriotic for my freedoms and I hope my government defends them.  

  12. HeartofAmerica
    AR: Thank you for this post.  The level of ignorance out there is staggering.   I’ve started to pose this question to such wide-eyed innocents out there:  ”When do you think the last time the 2nd Amendment has been used to defend against a tyrannical government?”

    Most assume the answer is the American Revolution… some will ponder whether the Civil War qualifies (it does not).  Then I tell them the answer, “1946.”  The incident occurred in McMinn County TN.  Google it.  Also known as the Battle of Athens.  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946)

    http://constitution.org/mil/tn/batathen.htm

    The older I get, the more I comprehend that is has truly all happened before and it will all happen again. · 29 minutes ago

    History, as they say, repeats itself.

  13. Lord Humungus

    How come it was cool, noble, encouraged for the hippies (young baby boomers) to distrust government in 1968, but it’s crazy, criminal, ostracizing to distrust government (old baby boomers) in 2013?

  14. KayBee
    KC Mulville:  And sure, no individual with a rifle could hold off a SWAT team, but if many people in the community had weapons, the SWAT team would have to think twice before trying to disarm the community.

    It amazes me that some of these folks want to confiscate 300 million weapons, but think that 11 million illegal aliens (most of whom won’t shoot back) can’t be “rounded up.”

  15. Cutlass

    Over 12 years of Bush Derangement Syndrome and the Occupy Movement have we once heard an MSM the phrase “Do you know how absurd you sound?” directed towards a leftist?

  16. Z in MT

    The contrapositive corollary to 

    “It is insane for citizens to not trust their government” 

    is

    “It is insane for a government to trust it’s citizens”

  17. The King Prawn

    Just imagine if we (or anyone else) proposed “reasonable restrictions” on something like freedom of the press or freedom of speech.

  18. Lord Humungus
    The King Prawn: Just imagine if we (or anyone else) proposed “reasonable restrictions” on something like freedom of the press or freedom of speech. · 9 minutes ago

    It’s easy if you try

  19. Eeyore

    I wonder if Geraldo did any reporting on the Katrina gun confiscations.

  20. Foxfier

    Geraldo and Piers Morgan think that I’m crazy?

    It’s hard to think of a better complement to my good sense.

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