Gun Control and State-Sponsored Rape
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Who can ever forget the scene in Braveheart in which a husband is required, under force of arms, to surrender his new bride to the noble who has been given the legal right by the English king to rape the woman on her wedding night? Given that the husband was not permitted to own a sword, there was no way that he and his family and friends were able to oppose the troops who were taking away his bride for the night.
Of course, one might say that it was just a movie or that the so-called right of prima nocta might have been mythical.
But they can’t say the same about Efrain Rios Montt, the former Guatemalan military dictator who has just been charged with genocide and other crimes arising out of rapes, torture, and murder of defenseless Guatemalan villagers committed by troops under his command.
Of course, one might say that that it’s only foreign troops who commit rape against defenseless women. But we mustn’t forget that Rios Montt and many of his military henchmen were graduates of the U.S. Army’s infamous School of the Americas, which was notorious for having an official torture manual that it used to teach its students.
We would also be remiss if we forgot that Rios Montt participated in the CIA coup in Guatemala in 1953, which succeeding in ousting the democratically elected president of the country, Jacobo Arbenz, from power, and installing into power a series of brutal, U.S.-supported military dictators, including Rioss Montt.
Or we might consider Nick Turse’s new book, Kill Anything That Moves, which details accounts of U.S. troops raping girls and women and even murdering them afterward so that they couldn’t testify to the rapes. Turse documents in excruciating detail efforts by high U.S. military officials to bury investigations into the rapes and murders, whitewash them, or dole out light sentences to the malefactors.
Or we might consider the numerous rapes that were committed by military interrogators operating under the command of army General Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator whom the U.S. military and the CIA helped install into power in Chile after ousting the country’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.
In many of those instances, the victims were unable to adequately defend themselves owing to strict gun control within the countries. One reads with horror, for example, as husbands and fathers in Chile watched helplessly as wives and daughters were arrested and taken away to military dungeons to be raped and tortured. What else could they do — throw rocks at the well-armed troops who were carting them away?
According to Wikipedia, the head of Pinochet’s secret police, army General Manuel Contreras, is “currently serving 25 sentences totaling 289 years in prison for kidnapping, forced disappearance and assassination.” It is revealing that the CIA hired Contreras to be a CIA agent during the precise time that he was leading Pinochet’s secret police to hunt down and murder Pinochet’s opponents.
Or we might consider the things that the CIA and the troops did at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, some of them so horrific that even Congress favored burying the photographs and videos of the acts from public view forever.
The primary reason that our American ancestors included the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights was to ensure that Americans would retain the means to defend themselves in the event that tyranny were ever to befall the U.S. government. The inclusion of the Second Amendment was an implicit acknowledgement of the possibility, no matter how remote or unlikely, of a tyrannical or oppressive regime taking control of the federal government.
If that were to ever happen, the primary way by which such a tyrannical regime would impose and enforce its oppression is the same as that employed by tyrannical regimes throughout history — through the military, the national police (e.g., the DEA), and the CIA. There is also the possibility that UN troops would be called in to help maintain “order and stability” — foreign troops who might have fewer reservations about abusing Americans, especially Americans who were believed to be terrorists, communists, or traitors.
In his dissenting opinion in the case of Silveira v. Lockyer, Judge Alex Konsinski expressed the brilliant insight that when people in a country give up their guns, it is a mistake that they can make only once. If the worst were to happen and the federal government became a tyrannical regime, then American citizens would end up doing what disarmed people in other countries do under such circumstances — they would end up meekly, quietly, and obediently accepting the tyranny and perhaps even praising it.
It would be too late to say, “Hey, that was a bad mistake we made when we gave up our guns. Let’s correct it and start reacquiring them” because the tyrannical regime’s oppressive control would prevent the mistake from being rectified. American men in particular might well find themselves doing what Chilean men did — watch helplessly in anguish as their wives and daughters are carted away by well-armed military, police, or intelligence forces to be tortured, raped, and murdered or disappeared.
Konsinski’s words are worth pondering carefully:
My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel’s mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
American gun-control statists love to point to European or Asian countries as models of how gun control has brought about more peaceful and safe societies. Of course, gun-control opponents have challenged their conclusions and also pointed to Switzerland, a peaceful and safe society where the Swiss citizens are among the best-armed people in the world.
But what Americans should always keep in mind is the fundamental difference between European and Asian countries and the United States when it comes to guns and tyranny. When European and Asian countries find themselves in the throes of a tyrannical regime, there is little the citizens can do to resist it. They have but two options — succumb or die.
The American people, with their long tradition of gun ownership, have an option that the citizens of those European and Asian countries don’t have in the event they find themselves in the throes of a tyrannical regime: resist with force, an option that would enable American men to more adequately protect their wives and daughters and families if the worst were to happen.