In this guest article, Bob Glass reviews an April 6 event he attended in Boulder.
Venturing into the people’s Republic of Boulder is always part freak show and part sensory overload of political correctness. I got more of my share of both when I attended a symposium/debate entitled “Happiness is a warm Gun.” This event which took place in the University Memorial Center was part of CU’s Conference on World Affairs.
This has become an annual event where silver-haired liberals get to feel intellectually and morally superior to the common folk as they drink their half decaf mocha lattes along with tenured professors and listen to how evil capitalism is, how oppressive Israel is, and how imperialistic America is, as the ice caps melt and polar bears must resort to cannibalism. This all occurs with tax subsidies of course.
Having owned a gun store in Boulder and Longmont during the tumultuous years of the Columbine shootings and the Clinton/Reno fiascoes at Waco and Ruby Ridge, I knew what it was like to be a lightning rod for the media looking for anyone foolish enough to defend individual liberty and the Second Amendment in particular.
When I saw that Sheriff Richard Mack was to be one of the panelists at this event I thought it might be worth my while to attend. For those of you not familiar with Richard Mack, his is the classic story of the cop gone good. In a nutshell he decided to take his oath of upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States seriously. As he read the Constitution and the words of our founding fathers he began to understand what liberty and limited government were all about. He came to the inevitable conclusion that all gun laws as well as the war on drugs are unconstitutional and illegal. Hearing such ideas from Objectivists and Libertarians, even Conservatives is not so unusual. Hearing it from a man who spent most of his adult life in law enforcement is.
There were three other people on the panel besides the moderator. Terri Burke is the executive director of the Texas ACLU. Her claim to fame on the panel was to assert that the ACLU had no position of gun control but did however view the Second Amendment as a collective rather than individual right. I didn’t get the opportunity to explain to her that her position was a contradiction in terms. Just as well as I don’t think she would have had a clue as to what I was talking about. She asserted that the Second Amendment only talked about the state’s right to heavily control and regulate its own armed forces — what was then the militia and what is now the national guard. Again I did not get the chance to explain to her that the Bill of Rights is all about protecting individual citizens against the tyranny of the state and that the term “well regulated” in the context in which it is used in the Second Amendment means well-provisioned.
The third panelist was Colin Goddard, a former student at Virginia Tech now working with the Brady Campaign. His role on the panel was that of professional victim. Goddard was shot on April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech when a deeply disturbed individual went on a murderous rampage. If you can’t wheel out James Brady himself or at least get Tom Mauser to get the water works flowing, then a gunshot victim and now professional lobbyist will have to do. Goddard’s main focus was that the current system of doing background checks on gun buyers (the Brady Bill) is insufficient and the government needs greater power and more money to check more thoroughly into a person’s legal and medical history. He also asserted that there is no “need” for a variety of firearms now being sold and they should be made illegal. [Editor’s note: John Lott and others have pointed out that the shooting occurred despite the campus gun ban, and Lott argues, “those bans actually encourage those attacks.”]
Rounding out the statist panel was Jimmie Moore. Moore, now a municipal court judge in Philadelphia, played the role of the victimized Black man in America who despite his violent boyhood in the projects rose above the gun culture and went on to become a lifelong public servant. Moore’s main assertion is that we cannot control our own behavior — as evidenced by the rash of shootings in our cities — and therefore the government must step in and control us for our own good. He dismissed the Constitution as a document that condoned slavery and oppressed women and therefore has no validity today. He went on to say the the Constitution is a living, breathing document that is always in a state of flux and subject to the interpretation of judges and the times in which they live. Yes, this man is a judge.
Richard Mack showed great courage and character stepping into this viper pit with a bulls eye painted on his back. His arguments were constitutional, historical, and statistical, showing time and time again how gun control does not work and how the greatest threat to freedom and security is the state itself. The other panelists and the crowd of about 300 treated him like a pinata, taking turns whacking him with their emotion-filled, illogical arguments.
When it came for me to ask a question I immediately pointed out the inherent unfairness of having three gang-up against one. Once the moderator saw that I was not toeing the party line of political correctness he tried to silence me by going to the next person with a question. Big mistake on his part. This turned into an ugly shouting match between us as I stood my ground and said my full piece despite the obvious irritation on the face of the now-silent moderator and the groans coming from the crowd.
After the “discussion” ended an Israeli couple came over to me and thanked me for taking the stand that I did. They told me that originally Sheriff Mack was not scheduled to speak, but it was only through their efforts and invitation that they got him on the panel. So much for the concept of a free exchange of ideas and opinions on a college campus. I shook Richard Mack’s hand and thanked him for having the cojones for swimming in the piranha tank. As I left the auditorium, a few more people came up to me and thanked me for saying what I did. But for the most part I was met with stares and snarls of contempt. Just another day at the office in the People’s Republic of Boulder.