As published in Rash Magazine

New York City's powers-that-be did not take well to the recent news that certain members of the local militia would be re-asserting their right and duty to take up arms in defense of their homes and families. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, in particular, displayed palpable distress at the idea of the citizens of Brooklyn showing such effrontery.

"We will not tolerate anyone brandishing weapons under the guise of protecting others," Kelly exclaimed angrily. "Anyone attempting to patrol the streets armed with a weapon will be arrested."

What got Commissioner Kelly's thin blue panties in such a knot was the recent announcement by Rabbi Yakove Lloyd that his Jewish Defense Group would begin nightly armed patrols of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Borough Park and Flatbush. Although the rabbi decided to bow for the moment to public pressure and postpone the patrols, which were originally scheduled to begin last Sunday, he vows to go forward with his plans in the very near future, even if it means arrest. Rabbi Lloyd says his plans for the patrols were prompted by a television report that 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef told an accomplice he originally wanted "to blow up Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn."

Seeing that we are actively engaged in a war on terror, Rabbi Lloyd is undoubtedly correct in believing that the threat to Brooklyn's Jewish neighborhoods persists. Moreover, as U.S. citizens, he and his followers have a constitutionally protected right and duty to call up the militia to respond to that threat.

Before anyone argues that the "militia" protected by the Second Amendment refers only to the New York State National Guard and similar government-controlled entities, they should read the law. No, not New York's countless victim-disarmament (a.k.a. "gun control") laws, from the Sullivan Act on down, every single one of which violates the Bill of Rights -- the highest law in the land -- and is therefore null and void. I mean Title 10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code, which says: "The militia of the United States consists of all able bodied males at least 17 years of age and... under 45 years of age who are... citizens of the United States."

Yes, we are the militia. You, me, Rabbi Lloyd -- all of us, whether or not we don khaki uniforms one weekend a month. Not for nothin', as they say in Brooklyn, did James Madison use the word "people," rather than "National Guard" or "government" or even "police" to identify those whose right to keep and bear arms may not be infringed. We are the same "people" Madison refers to elsewhere in the Bill of Rights. (Or do we now believe that "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances" or "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" also refers only to government entities?)

Madison and the other founding fathers had good reason for insisting on such an explicit protection of the individual right to self-defense. They had learned first-hand that an armed populace really is "necessary to the security of a free state." When the Continental Army was bogged down at Valley Forge, all that stood between the Redcoats and New York City was a small band of rabble farmers with guns at Saratoga. The founding fathers knew that not only could such citizen-soldiers be highly effective, but they were essential to avoiding a return to the tyranny we had just escaped. A standing army would inevitably abuse its power, which is why the Constitution does not provide for one. If we were to have security without forfeiting freedom, the citizens would have to defend themselves.

Fast-forward some 200 odd years later, when we are once again in a state of war. Rabbi Lloyd announces that he and his compatriots will exercise their sacred right and duty to defend the homeland with weapons. Opposing them, we have Commissioner Kelly arrogantly proclaiming that the militia's activities "will not be tolerated" and threatening them with arrest. In other words, by enforcing New York's arbitrary and unconstitutional gun laws, the commissioner is explicitly and deliberately undermining the security of a free state. The founding fathers had a word for such conduct: treason.

With a treasonous commissioner at the helm of the NYPD, potentially exposing millions of New Yorkers to imminent mortal danger through Kelly's determination to keep them disarmed and helpless in this time of crisis, should we expect Mayor Bloomberg to demand the commissioner's immediate resignation, to be followed by formal criminal charges? After all, only a few weeks ago, Bloomberg had the following to say with respect to the war on terrorism: "If you have to make a mistake, you make a mistake favoring the Bill of Rights rather than going against it."

Unfortunately, Bloomberg's comment was not a fearless defense of the Second Amendment. Rather, the mayor was expressing concern that in rooting out potential Islamic terrorists, law enforcement agencies might actually want to focus on gatherings of young men at mosques. Bloomberg's copy of the Bill of Rights apparently ends after Amendment One, a defect that is all too common among New York liberals, especially rich liberals with their own bodyguards. When it comes to Rabbi Lloyd's citizen patrols, the mayor of the city in which 2,800 people died on September 11th because airlines passengers and pilots were prohibited from exercising their Second Amendment right to defend themselves against madmen with boxcutters is less keen on the Constitution. "We will not tolerate people going around with guns in this city, acting unto themselves," Bloomberg declared.

So now we have the threat of another terrorist attack on the citizens of New York; a police commissioner determined to keep those citizens disarmed, in violation of the Constitution; and the mayor -- the one man with the power to remove the police commissioner -- aiding and abetting him. The king and his men have declared that there will be no citizen's militia, that contrary to the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, the militia has been replaced by a standing army in blue. The peasants shall not safeguard their neighborhoods, they shall turn in their weapons to the king's army immediately, and anyone asserting an individual right to bear arms shall face immediate prosecution and imprisonment.

It's not too hard to figure out why Bloomberg and Kelly would betray their oaths of office, in which they swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Quite simply, they are afraid of Rabbi Lloyd and his allies. They fear a free and armed populace. The citizen patrols of Brooklyn are a threat to the terrorists, yes, but they represent even more of a threat to the men who rule us. That's the horrible truth that keeps Bloomberg and Kelly awake at night, just as it terrifies the bureaucrats in Washington who refuse to allow armed pilots, despite overwhelming public support. Once the Second Amendment is enforced by the people -- the rightful sovereigns whose consent is needed for government to exist -- then the whole unconstitutional jig is up. Before you know it, these armed rabble will start insisting on enforcement of the entire Bill of Rights. No more unconstitutional drug war. No more unconstitutional seizures of private property. No more unconstitutional searches of our persons, papers and effects, and so on.

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms," Thomas Jefferson wrote. "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Jefferson also said, "When the government fears the People, that is Liberty. When the People fear the Government, that is tyranny." That is what every modern tyrant, from Kelly to Bloomberg to George W. Bush and his Gestapo-like Department of Homeland Security, is up against. For longer than any of us can remember, the people have feared the government. They quietly suffered disarmament and other infringements of the Bill of Rights because they were scared. But that is changing quickly, and it has the political class wetting their pants. Armed citizens have that effect on bad guys of all stripes.

When Ramzi Yousef and his cohorts fear the people, that is security. When Bloomberg, Kelly and their cohorts fear the people, that is liberty.


Jim Lesczynski is chairman of the New York City chapter of SCOPE (Shooters' Committee on Political Education) and was the Libertarian Party challenger to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller in the 2001 elections.

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