Because they live on the unstable surface of a
planet with an energetic atmosphere and an even
more energetic interior, human beings sometimes
find their circumstances violently altered by
things like hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis,
hailstorms, volcanos, and meteoric impacts.
For thousands of years, survivors of such catastrophes
simply got back to their feet, shook off the dust,
mud, and debris, gathered what was left of their
property and loved ones, and moved on. Sometimes,
as with the Black Death, it took centuries, but
sometimes recovery only took a few weeks. Sometimes
there was help -- in America the Red Cross has
mostly been a good thing -- sometimes there wasn't.
And sometimes "help" has arrived in
the form of government agencies like the Federal
Emergency Management Agency that make calamities
worse than they were to begin with.
Government has a long, sorry history of mismanaging
catastrophes. If global warming were a real phenomenon
-- sorry, but it's not -- the next major manifestation
we might expect, in the summer of 2008 or the
summer after that, is a catastrophic drought in
the midwest. An event exactly like that occurred
in what was actually the hottest decade
of the 20th century -- the 1930s -- and we still
remember it as the Dustbowl. Government's reaction
then was insanely inappropriate -- destroying
crops and livestock when a 100 million people
were going hungry -- and saddled us, for the first
time, with an American welfare state that never
went away, although the drought itself eventually
In the hottest year of the century, 1934, government
even found an excuse to outlaw fully automatic
weapons, the very tools that are most useful for
keeping government under the firm control of taxpayers
And then there are the more recent disasters.
Everyone has a favorite Katrina horror story.
Government's first, instinctive reaction, after
rounding up as many people as possible in a makeshift
concentration camp -- the Louisiana Superdome,
which will haunt the nightmares of thousands of
innocents for decades -- was to insanely shove
every other priority aside, and use the opportunity
to try to steal everybody else's guns. Although
the courts subsequently ruled against this action
and ordered the guns returned, individual victims
are still vainly trying to get their property
back and being stonewalled.
Which is why the late Karl Hess called it "The
But as far back as the Loma Prieta earthquake
(that collapsed a double decker highway in the
Bay Area and interrupted the 1989 World Series)
I was hearing from my friends inside the San Francisco
Police Department that the presence of FEMA --
and its interference with local emergency services
-- was a worse disaster than the earthquake itself.
More recently, somebody flew a couple of stolen
airplanes into the sides of New York buildings
and government decided to suspend the Bill of
Rights and do its all-out damnedest to turn the
whole country into a prison culture that requires
government permission to board a plane, and hopes
eventually that you'll need its permission to
go anywhere at all, by any means at all, exactly
like the "good old days" in Soviet Russia.
What will it be like when "The Big One"
finally happens and half of California suddenly
leaps fifty feet northward, as most geologists
expect it to do any day now, or a hunk of space-rock
slams into the middle of Ohio, creating a new
Great Lake (we're 15,000 years overdue for that
one)? How about a real plague of some kind, rather
than the the phony ones government minions keep
making up in their restless and insatiably power-hungry
imaginations? After their first, instinctive reaction
-- another attempt to take everybody's guns away
-- will they make us all wear handcuffs, belly-chains,
and leg irons, or simply GPS anklet bracelets
like the ones worn today by prisoners who are
out on bail?
It's time to ask: what catastrophic event will
ultimately bring Americans to the realization
that they must stop relying on government -- in
emergencies as well as in everyday life -- and
become their own assurance of safety and survival?
While government neglects real solutions to likely
problems a year, five years, a century from now,
its notion of planning for the future is to build
a string of bigger concentration camps http://tinyurl.com/32jxd4
(apologies - this appears to be a dead link
- webmaster) across the nation where, if it
suddenly feels a need, it can herd hundreds of
thousands of victims.
Or political dissenters.
We must rid ourselves, once and for all, of the
idiotic notion -- unchallenged for six thousand
years -- that the appropriate thing to do in an
emergency is to deprive individuals of their freedom,
when freedom is the very thing they need to cope
with whatever happens. With freedom, anything
is possible; without it, nothing is possible at
If I were looking for somebody to vote for, I
would reject any candidate who won't sign a pledge
to expose those concentration camps to full public
view and abolish them -- raffling the land off
to private parties to make sure it can't be used
for some other evil purpose.
Clearly, as Robert LeFevre used to say, "Government
is a disease masquerading as its own cure".
There is no disaster, however tragic, that it
can't -- and won't -- make worse, because its
interests don't run parallel to yours. You and
government have completely different agendas.
You want to survive, prosper, and flourish. And
because it wants all the same things -- for itself,
along with unlimited growth -- it wants to control
your life, and all the products of your life,
right down to the microscopic level, from the
instant you are conceived, to the instant that
you are buried. And beyond that, if you try to
leave any money behind for your family. Of the
five basic human needs -- food, clothing, shelter,
transportation, and self-defense -- those that
government controls most (of course it has its
claws into each of them to some degree) are those
that are the most "fouled up beyond all recognition".
Government wants you helpless -- stripped of
any effective means of defense against it -- so
that you can't resist it when it decides to "help"
you. Government wants you out of your car, and
out of your home. It wants utter and complete
control over your children so it can transform
them into a generation of mindlessly obedient
police state zombies.
If you're too old or stubborn for "reeducation",
then it wants you penned up, preferably with your
Social Security number branded on your forearm.
Who knows what will happen then?
After Waco, Ruby Ridge, Abu Graib, Guantanamo,
and the Louisiana Superdome, most of us have a
reasonably accurate idea. For those who still
do not, get out your Ouija Board and ask six million
murdered Jews. --
Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith
has been writing about guns and gun ownership
for more than 30 years. He is the author of 27
books, the most widely-published and prolific
libertarian novelist in the world, and is considered
an expert on the ethics of self-defense. His writings
may be seen on the following sites:
The Webley Page: http://www.lneilsmith.org
The Libertarian Enterprise: http://www.ncc-1776.org
The Probability Broach: The Graphic Novel,
Roswell, Texas, and TimePeeper (August 2007):
LNS at Random (blog): http://www.bigheadpress.com/lneilsmith/
LNS at JPFO: http://www.jpfo.org/smith/smith-nra.htm
LNS Archive at JPFO: http://www.jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/lneilsmith.htm
other articles by L. Neil Smith