Should Political Refugees Be Armed?

America Has Plenty Of Them.

When a ruthless dictator seizes control of the power structure at some backwater nation in a dark corner of the planet, people tend to flee. They pack up their meager belongings, focusing on food, water, clothes and life’s necessities, and take to bomb-pocked roads, seeking safe haven. Rarely are they armed, leaving them potential victims to thugs along the way, or the new thugs running their government.

It seems impossible for that to happen in our great nation, but increasingly, people are fearful it could occur. Certainly, American Indians faced it. Preppers, people who plan and prepare for catastrophe, with escape routes memorized, are increasing in number. Even mainstream TV is starting to sport ads for long shelf life food packages, “victory farm” seed assortments and other survival gear that used to be the bailiwick of deep-end tin-hat survivalists. Hey, having at least some bottled water, flashlights, canned goods and a battery-powered radio is a basic requirement for any sensible person living in the world today.

But I’m concerned here with a softer type of refugee. I’m concerned with increasing migration within the US, of people moving away from where their right to keep and bear arms is seriously infringed, to a place where that precious right is held in high esteem and well protected. I’m talking about armed political refugees within America.

We have a supply of them here in Arizona. People who are proud to have left behind the highly repressive regimes in their home states for the relatively free air of constitutional carry in the Grand Canyon State. My good friend Charles Heller, formerly of Chicago, where even getting a firearm is a bureaucratic entanglement defying freedom, arrived here knowing and proclaiming he was a political refugee. That had an impact on me. And he has had a significant impact on Arizona. Arizona is arguably the gun friendliest state in the Union.

Ultimately, this is about federalism, that brilliant idea of the Founders to make us subject to two sets of law instead of one. By being a citizen of both the nation and the state you are in, you have choice. Your feet can vote.
You want a diverse multicultural feeling of compassionate environmentalism? Go to California. You want your gun rights intact? Come to Arizona. You want easy access to abortion or gay marriage? Try Massachusetts. Family values are important to you? Check out the Midwest. Some state goes too far? The feds can step in — hopefully — for balance.


The dual system is remarkably effective. Initially, the idea of being under two sets of laws is a turn off, until you realize federal and state forces compete with each other. The states fight against the feds for your rights. The feds fight with the states over control and a balance of power. We may seem a little (a lot?) out of balance just now, but that fight is a good thing. All the time governments spend focusing on each other instead of on you enhances your freedom. And it gives you two routes instead of only one to redress grievances or advance causes. This is good.
All that said, I have to encourage the stalwarts among you to remain where you are. America needs freedom fighters — gun-rights advocates and the rest — especially in the most repressive states. People like Scott Bach, fighting overwhelming odds and anti-rights bigotry in New Jersey, make ground little by little, and give the anti-rights bigots no quarter. Like you, he fights the good fight. When you feel weak and believe you’re only one person remember — everyone is only one person. Stand your ground.

Oh, and about those barefoot refugees abroad with their lives on their backs fleeing to a new mud hole away from the old mud hole’s new tyrant? Their right to arms or even self-defense is below zero. If they arm themselves with weapons abandoned along the way they (and their families) can be summarily executed. Cold dead fingers, anyone?

If you help them get weapons, even to avoid an active genocide, that’s subversive. You become a reviled international gun smuggler and a mortal enemy of the state running the extermination. The U.N. actually backs your execution, by remaining passive about the murderers in power. And it makes you a felon under all sorts of US gun laws, despite what we sometimes think is a robust Second Amendment.


In a ground-breaking Notre Dame Law Review article in May, 2006, scholars David Kopel, Paul Gallant and Joanne Eisen asked the question, “Is Resisting Genocide A Human Right?” After extensive research and documentation, looking at U.N. policies, the laws of the world and how they’ve been implemented, they conclude that although resistance to genocide should be protected, as a practical matter it essentially is not.

Should we follow the example of the rest of the world? Or should we, as we have always done, remain exceptional, and stand up for freedom and what is right? Arming refugees against the atrocities perpetrated on them is the right and moral course of action, at home and abroad. So what if it might upset the dictators and tyrants. Armed refugees are a flag of freedom.

Alan invites you to write to him or see his work, at

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