The Existential Threat to Gun Rights
The biggest threat to the right to keep and bear arms, as well as other rights, has shifted from the government to the private sector -- a massive change I doubt we are prepared for. Three items in the news demonstrate this corporate assault against, which we have little defense.
After one court blocked and another court allowed what clearly was an illegal petition drive to put a monstrous initiative on the ballot, Washington state faces the possibility that all semi-automatic rifles will be regulated and possibly banned as "assault weapons." As I've said for 25 years, the term "assault weapon" is infinitely expandable -- by design -- and I-1639 includes even .22 rimfire rifles in that definition. What's corporate about that? Billionaires and millionaires funded the petition drive, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase signatures on forms which violated state law. Now that a friendly court has ruled that breaking the law to put this measure on the ballot is no big deal, that initiative will be passed or defeated by voters who will be assaulted with millions of dollars of advertising. Here's the harsh reality. If you spend enough on messaging, you can convince a large percentage of the population of almost anything.
This is the commercialization of civil rights. Slick disinformation campaigns funded by anti-civil rights oligarchs such as Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder) can and have convinced the voting public that it should be a felony to loan your gun to your neighbor for a pheasant hunt, or, in this case, that the Ruger 10/22 rifle you used to train your children on gun safety is, in fact, an "assault weapon" which must be regulated or banned.
Another clear and present danger from the private sector comes in the form of suppression of information, ideas, and free speech. Two decades ago I started talking about the threat we might face from Google and its ubiquitous (75 percent of searches) search engine. What if, I asked back then, someone tweaked the algorithms so that searches about guns, gun safety, self defense gun uses, semi-automatic firearms, and more, tended -- just a bit -- to favor news stories and sites which feature an anti-gun rights bias? Who would know? The net result would be that what the public "knows" to be true could be shifted. Public policy (laws) shifts with what people believe to be true.
Many believe that just such social engineering of search results is, in fact, being done now. Even Congress has called tech giants before a senate hearing, but Google famously refused to appear.
When one company can alter the delivery of information to the point of shifting public opinion through an agenda-driven program designed to mislead the public, it's a threat to not only gun rights, but to any right, any group, any way of thought that the person or persons running that company deem to be worthy of attack.
Amazon -- once an online book seller, and now a provider of almost everything -- has begun the online book burning -- a practice characteristically reserved for small-minded, intolerant ideologues. It removed a book containing the printed (non-executable) files for 3D printing of firearms. Now it appears that Amazon is actively removing from its services any book with "objectionable" content. Who's to say that any information about gun rights and the Second Amendment wouldn't be labeled as "hate speech" by a Millennial with access to the "do not sell" button?
If this were a single book store, most people would shrug it off. When it's the largest online book seller, and it's the go-to source of books for millions, this virtual book burning threatens the ability to put a variety of thoughts before the public.
One other example of the growing corporate assault on civil rights may stand above all others. That's the strangulation of financial services to the firearms industry -- stores, small manufacturers, large businesses, and the credit card and online payment systems, which have become almost the only way to purchase anything online. When online retailers block the sale of your regulated and legal product, banks and credit card companies refuse to process charges made for firearms-related products, and online payment systems (PayPal) block payments for legal products, it certainly appears to be a coordinated attack designed to choke off the lifeblood of an entire industry.
Of course, this started with an Obama-administration program titled "Operation Choke Point." Todd Zywicki put it well in his article: "The ability to destroy legal industries through secret actions to deprive them of banking services has obvious political consequences." (READ Here)
Operation Choke Point stands in stark contrast to those who parrot the claim that President Obama never did anything to try to take away our guns. No. It was much larger and much more sinister than that. He tried to destroy the entire firearms industry and your ability to purchase a firearm.
Unfortunately, that secret program set the wheels in motion for others in the financial sector to carry on this legacy of intolerance by adopting corporate policies with the same goal -- destroy any company involved with firearms or firearms training.
Our challenge, and I admit I don't have an answer, is to push back against the individuals and companies who use their financial resources to attack a basic human right. That right belongs to every man and every woman, no matter that person's beliefs, creed, color, background, etc. It is the right to live. It's the right to protect your own life. This "rolling thunder" assault from the Corporate Left is, in fact, an existential threat to freedom, to liberty, and to life itself. ~ Tom
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.
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