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“You mean, the people are armed?” Prince Bentrik was incredulous.
“Great Satan, aren’t yours?” Prince Trask was equally surprised. “Then your democracy’s a farce, and the people are only free on sufferance. If their ballots aren’t secured by arms, they’re worthless.”
– H. Beam Piper, from Space Viking
H. Beam Piper was a Silver Age SF author, in my opinion, one of the best. I first started reading his stories when I was in 4th or 5th grade, going through my dad’s collection of Astounding/Analog SF magazines. I think I read Space Viking for the first time when I was 12.
It is classic space opera, the tale of revenge sought by Lucas Trask against Andre Dunnan, who killed Trask’s bride on their wedding night. The quest for revenge turns into something else over time, something far more positive. Yet it is a ripping good adventure story, one worth reading and (as I do every few years) re-reading. Click the link to find an e-version of the book (all of Piper’s work is in the public domain) or go to librevox.com for an audio version.
The exchange quote above is part of a conversation between Prince Bentrik of Marduk and (by then) Prince Trask of Tanith about Marduken politics. In the book, Marduk has a constitutional monarchy, modeled on that of Great Britain. I was re-reading the book when the Las Vegas shooting occurred, and I thought this passage appropriate following the Democrats’ call to repeal the Second Amendment. It underscores the reason I most believe in the Second Amendment. Without the right to own guns any vote we take is at the sufferance of those with the guns. (Come to think of it, even with the Second Amendment, any vote we take is at the sufferance of those with guns. The only difference is the voters are the ones with guns.)