Does “Bullets First” Still Apply?
By Alan Korwin
The firearms community got apoplectic when word went out that Kenneth Mapp, governor of the Virgin Islands, ordered National Guard troops to confiscate guns from residents as hurricane Irma approached.
“It’s going to … RAIN! Big rain!! OMG! Strong wind! Storm … with a name! Danger Will Robinson! Give us your guns because there’s danger! Or we’ll take them by force! We’re armed, we can shoot you! Ve haff our ordahs!”
Do you turn them over — is that why you’re armed? Is that what the Second Amendment is for? Lay down like sheep when government agents say, “Obey us!” Might you need arms afterwards — or right then — for protection? What would you do? Would you actually make a stand? Wind was already blowing, rain was raining, weather was on everyone’s doorstep.
Confronted — on the radio — one of America’s most ardent gun-radio talk-show hosts boldly insisted, “They’ll never get my guns!” He had to be pressed, hard, live, on the air. Proudly, “They’d have to arrest me!” So I did the only reasonable thing I could. I called him a moderate. Is that what, “From my cold dead fingers!” means? And we sat there with some dead air. I have a link to the show.
Other friends confided, “I’d hide my guns … I’ll say I sold them!” figuring they would outsmart the jackbooted storm (ironic, eh?) troopers at their door. “Why, thank you sir! Have a nice day!” C’mon, the Guard won’t buy that. Everyone tries that, besides, guns in the V.I. are registered, they know your inventory. “That’s why I buy off-paper!” Right. You’d turn over some and keep some.
How very brave. Now you’re in armed possession of contraband, subject to shoot-on-sight. You gave up tactical opportunity. “I guess I would have to turn them over, and obey the law.” What’s the point of giving away your guns to armed tyrants? Would you like a receipt, jotted out in the rain? Is that what people mean when they say, “Bullets first!” We constantly hear “They would never take our guns” but we never hear “They’re disobeying direct orders!” When the order comes, they’ll be on the paycheck side.
In fairness, nothing got confiscated — this time. The poorly worded order of 9/4/17 didn’t demand door-to-door takings, but could have easily been applied that way. Everyone dodged a bullet.
You can see where this is going.
No one wants to die. We’ve all grown too comfortable. We imagine a cadre of storm troopers at the door. Not a rag tag one or two, with wind howling and places they’d rather be. Cowering alone at home, you didn’t envision your neighbors, plus a community organizer standing together, in defiance of the threat government poses, facing the threat nature poses.
We’ve reached Walter Mitty’s Second Amendment, the brilliant essay by Jeff Snyder, author of Nation of Cowards, two inspired insights into America. We have our guns and believe we’re free, as every last liberty has been regulated beyond recognition. When they come for our guns we’re prepared to turn them in or hide … in protest!
How did the vaunted gun-rights groups respond? With strongly worded statements. And promises to file court papers. We’ll get those results in a year or three. Bullets First! is a slogan, not a policy. When the abomination began years ago, with intolerable acts justifying abominable orders, the usurpations went unchallenged. The perps remained in office. The state bequeathed itself power to confiscate guns they had on lists — in case it rains. Or gets windy, or if the governor decides it’s fine (q.v., 23 V.I.C. §1520 et. seq.). I don’t read our gun rights that way, and those statutes should have had strongly worded objections filed back then (1972). And prison terms for the rights-thieves. Those were illegal actions. But hey, that’s the moderate position.
Maybe It’s Not So Bad
Oh, so the V.I. are only a US territory, it’s not like it’s happening here, right? Just disregard New Orleans seizures, when it rained there. Or all the infringements already on the books nationwide — too many cartridges, wrong kind of sidearm, improper carry, wrong parking spot, vair ahh your paipahs? Or, no, don’t forget all that, it’s the very point.
Now hard questions. Just to make you think about it. Seriously, what would you do if troops were at your door, with “orders,” formally issued, under “law” to take your guns? Hide, hide your property, pretend you sold them, pretend you’re not home? Would you do the “constitutional” thing, swing the door open, use your training, and rapidly take out the violent armed usurpers attempting to disarm you in contravention of everything you hold dear? Make a stand for the very reason your guns and gun rights are in place? One group actually suggested that.
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (http://www.jpfo.org) issued a press release on point, saying, “If US National Guard troops execute this illegal order and attempt to forcibly disarm the public they should be met with armed resistance and subject to court martial … The idea that you can make people safer by making them defenseless in the face of hurricane devastation is insanity … Government agents arriving to disarm innocent people who face mayhem should face loaded guns, not compliant victims, because the agents are doing harm and threatening lives. Soldiers take oaths against this. People are justified in defending themselves — it is precisely why they are armed.”
Which brings us to the deadly conclusion of these mental exercises. After hurricane Hugo struck there in 1989, the L.A. Times reported the National Guard and police were the looters — along with hundreds of criminals freed from a destroyed prison! So now do you want to give your guns to armed tyrants at your door? Or just the bullets first? Things you need to decide for yourself.
Governors and troops must know better. Perhaps some need remedial education classes and sensitivity training. The rest of us need more range time.
The above represents Alan’s personal opinions. We welcome the opportunity for you to respond. Send your letters to [email protected]
Alan Korwin’s website features plain-English books on state and federal gun laws for the public. He invites you to write to him or see his work, at GunLaws.com.