While there have been “reformations” in the past none of them stand out more than the “Protestant Reformation” after all it is referred to as “THE” reformation, along with an actual day dedicated to it (Oct 31st). What I suggest now is a Gun Reformation…
History lesson: in 1517 Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 thesis to the door at Wittenburg, what may not be as well known was Luther’s last straw that resulted in him airing his grievances was Johan Tetzel. Tetzel’s famous line was “for every coin in the coffer rings a soul in purgatory springs” (coffer being the box that collected the offering to bring to Pope Leo). The reason this infuriated Luther was that he believed this to be a downright lie on contrary to scripture. His thesis was to point out the errors and “reform” or correct the current path or position of the Roman Church at the time. He wasn’t the first to do this John Wycliffe and Jan Hus made stands as well (Hus was executed for it). Luther’s famous words were “here I stand, I can do no other” was a brave stance that he took at one of his trials (Diet of Worms… which has to be the best trial name).
What Luther went on to do was translate the Bible into the German language while he was in hiding, this is a clear example of Civil Disobedience as his aim was not violence just disobeying what he believed to be unjust. The result was the largest group of PROTESTers in the world… the PROTESTants, responsible for modern German language, and he spawned resistance during his time as well as centuries later in an name that would become synonymous with civil disobedience… Martin Luther King Jr (MLK). MLK’s name changed after his dad learned about the reformer. (Of course my favorite thing about Martin Luther was that although he was brilliant he still told his enemies to Eat Shit (look it up)) Back to MLK, MLK is perhaps the first thing people think of when they hear Civil Disobedience (sorry Henry David Thoreau) his statements on civil disobedience are numerous and “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” in my opinion is better than his “I have a Dream” speech. Letters from a Birmingham jail is where he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It might sound weird to say but I think the letter gives the best example of his brilliance, in that he wrote so well and referenced cases so clearly yet he wrote this in prison… He was writing about civil disobedience while acting out civil disobedience.
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the
oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was “well timed” according to the timetable of
those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “wait.” It rings in the
ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” -MLK
I have heard others say that not turning in an item such as a bump stock or high capacity magazine then you are breaking the law and you are a criminal, and further saying this is not civil disobedience… However this action is exactly that civil disobedience. It is asinine to believe that just because a thing is entitled “law” that it somehow becomes “just.” Countless cases can be offered as example such as Harriet Tubman, Corrie ten Boom, MLK, and I would say to an extent more controversial people like Daniel Ellsberg (leaked Pentagon Papers which helped end Veitnam War), Edward Snowden, or even Julian Assange. It is easier to argue over older scenarios and their morality because the stigma is gone, in other words enough people finally agree that what was done to blacks and Jews was immoral. At this moment most do not consider an infringement of the 2nd amendment to be immoral, in fact I would say they believe they have the moral high ground as they do not understand Natural Rights/Law. Even people who you would think would be on our side are pushing to not disturb the status quo, again in MLK’s Letters from jail he seems to answer “You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” I do not want it to sound like gun owners plight is currently that of the Blacks in the 60s, far from it. However at what point do you want to reform and at what point can you no longer reform and you must revolt? I for one would rather attack low hanging fruit while we still have the means instead of waiting to things further deteriorate.
Between Luther and MLK we had Henry David Thoreau who literally wrote the book on Civil Disobedience. He argued Civil Disobedience is the “deliberate violation of laws for reason of conscience.” (Notice he didn’t say they had to be public displays of resistance) Thoreau’s belief was that no law should command blind obedience and that non-cooperation with unjust laws is both morally correct and socially beneficial. An interesting quote that ties Reformation and Civil Disobedience is from Thoreau’s famous work, in it he says “They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?” When I started writing this post my whole intention was to only explain that the gun community needed a reformation and was using the reformation as a comparison, what I did not plan until seeing a post from gun celeb, was that reformation and civil disobedience were so similar. Thoreau in the previous quote in his book on civil disobedience actually references Luther, MLK in his letter from a Birmingham Jail quotes St Augustine who said “an unjust law is no law at all.” Luther was a monk dedicating himself to the “Augustinian” order, Wycliff was known as John of Augustine because he loved him so much and Hus was Wycliff’s student… In other words St Augustine was born in the mid 300’s yet the same belief that was true in his day was true in Wycliffs, Hus, Luther, Thoreau, MLK and so on and that is DISOBEY UNJUST LAWS! Civil disobedience is nothing new, it has just grown out of favor as a means to correct the state, just like the tenth amendment that so few citizens seem to understand.
What every great generation or leader has had in common was that they had a breaking point, a point where they said “here I stand, I can do no other”…. what made movements out of those moments was that other people got on board and simultaneously had the last straw. The reason I started with Luther was that his last straw was similar to the problems we face in the gun community. (you could argue it was also the founders last straw with the Stamp Act) It is violating or ignoring your convictions for financial gain. The amount of “gun celebs” that have fallen in the trap are countless… too many have let their pocket book direct their beliefs instead of the truth. Just like there are televangelists and there are pastors, one group claims to believe the same but is only interested in financial gain. Organizations like the NRA are rotten to the core where the mission has been lost due to the maintenance of the monument. $400 million dollars in annual donations (under Obama) results in numerous people clamoring to keep their jobs and putting principle to the side to make way for profit. Outside of the NRA we have too many people who claim to be supporters of the constitution and gun rights who make statements like “don’t blame me I just enforce the law I didn’t write it.” People who make such claims that they are just enforcers are in direct opposition to their duty to protect the people. I urge you to read MLKs letter not only because of the content but because who the letter was written to. I think the letter is more powerful because he was writing to his fellow pastors… people who should have been next to him but stayed safely away. People who Thoreau said sit by waiting for “others to remedy the evil.”
“Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an “I – it” relationship for the “I – thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn’t segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.
Let us turn to a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow, and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil
We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist
country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.”