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Had They Been Armed
An Article for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2001
Written by Marvin V. Stenhammar  - 27 January 2001

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, Germany. It has become a solemn day of remembrance in many places around the world. Now called Holocaust Remembrance Day.  The holocaust is often referred to as "a sad testament to man's inhumanity to man." I am unsure who coined the original quote, but they were correct. It is sad, it seems inhuman and we must remember it. Jews, Gentiles, Moslems and Pagan Vikings are well advise to remember. Because the fact is, it is all too typical of our inhumanity, and very typical of our worlds history of cruelty, repression, murder and subjugation of our fellow men, women and children.

As we pause in solemn remembrance, let us ask ourselves one important and topical question. What would have happened had they been armed? While this question could unnecessarily offend the victims' memories, or the painful memories of their survivors and descendents, please understand that this is not my intention. I do not mean to use the Holocaust to my argument's advantage, especially at the expense of anyone's pain. I have deep remorse and great sympathy for those whose lives were taken by the Nazis and by other tyrannical and murderous governments in the death camps of this world. At the same time, the fact remains that in all too many cases, that is exactly what we humans and our governments have done to our fellow humans.

Recently in the Balkans, men, women and children were displaced, dispossessed, tortured, and murdered. All at the hands of their neighbors and fellow country folk. Before that it was Tootsies killing Hutus and vice versa, on the blood-darkened plains of Africa. History is replete with abominable cases of brutality, rape and murder. In Cambodia alone, over 3 million people -- man, woman and child -- were murdered by the vicious Khmer Rouge. Over 20 million others were displaced and forced into slavery and so-called "reeducation" camps. The one common thread to our sad history is that all of these atrocities were perpetrated by those in power [read, those with arms], against those who were powerless, because they were unarmed.

Now I am not going to insult your intelligence and say that a handful of German villagers with hunting rifles and shotguns could have defeated the mighty German Army. Nor do I assume that any small group of armed civilians are ever going to be a match for a trained and equipped army of oppressors. I will tell you that had they been armed, as a people and as a culture, things would have certainly been different. Sure, many would have died fighting for freedom, but they died anyway, and freedom fighters and an armed populace could have prevented the tyrants and the misguided powerful from becoming a problem, and from gaining so much power in the first place.

In our own bloody American history, we have proven to the world and certainly to the oppressors of King George's government that armed common folk could prevent the domination of a foreign King, the repression by a foreign army -- and could stop the bloody oppression by local tyrants who were "the King's men." There are many other examples in world history of the people taking back their rights from governments by the use of arms. As a Special Forces soldier, I participated in a few revolts myself. The people of Central America are living in democracies today because common men and women were willing to risk it all and fight their oppressors in armed conflict and open rebellion.

Recent news events covering the so-called "Million Moms March" have lead many to publish articles with graphic pictures of what is now referred to as the "First Million Mom March": the death march of millions of women and children who were marched off to the gas chambers and ovens of Nazi Germany. I ask again, what would have happened had they been armed? Could an armed people have prevented Hitler from gaining power and declaring the Third Reich? Would things have really been different on the killing fields of Cambodia had they been armed? Can common people really fight powerful governments?

My answer to that question is an emphatic yes. If for no reason other than that the murdered masses would have died on their feet, fighting for their freedom, engaging destiny with a rifle or some other gun -- rather than facing destiny unarmed while laying on their bellies or crawling on their knees like so many sheep headed to the slaughter. It is better to fight and lose than to be oppressed. It is far better to give yourself a fighting chance and to strike back at the black hearts of tyrants. Far better to die fighting for freedom and to die on your feet, especially if you're marked for dead anyway.

Now I certainly am not Jules Verne or "Q" of Star Trek fame. I have no means of seeing into the past, nor do I have the ability to change time. I have watched enough Star Trek to understand that no one can reasonably predict the outcome of even subtle changes in the "time continuum." We will never know what might have been, had they been armed. But it is safe to speculate that most (or at least some) of the murdered masses would have choose to stand and fight, had they been armed. Safe to assume that by standing up to tyranny and oppression they could have made a difference -- to some degree -- in the outcome of history. Certainly safe to say that they would have rather died on their feet and that they surely would have taken many their oppressors with them to the grave.

I guess I am just clear enough in my defense of life and liberty to choose to take some of the bastards with me, even if my chance of winning is not assured. It is hard for me not to think like a soldier and like a freedom fighter after all my years in the Army. Hard because I witnessed the power of arms over the power of tyrants. Of course the reverse is also true; I certainly witnessed the power of arms over the unarmed as well. It is the reverse that compels me to ask again, what if they had been armed? I have witnessed great things accomplished by not-so-great people. Witnessed great battles won by not-so-great armies. Seen great power transferred by not-so-powerful arms. The true battle is, after all, in your heart. Sure it is in your hands and is aided by your arms, but the most important factor in being a soldier or in being a freedom fighter is attitude.

Having a fighting mindset is paramount. Having B-52 bombers is also nice, but they are worthless without men and women willing to use them. Common people who are willing to fight and to prevent tyranny, willing to die if necessary, for what they believe in. Just simple folk who could be your neighbors or your sister-in-law. People like you and me who have told themselves that they just won't tolerate tyranny and oppression. Human beings with a mental attitude that compels them to take action. People with a fighting mindset that will not allow them to just sit by and watch sheepishly as their friends and family are marched off to the camps. A fighting mindset that only arms, and competency in arms, brings to the common person. A fighting mindset that separates those oppressed from those who are and choose to remain free. And an attitude that happily exists in the minds of most American gun owners.

"Things are different here," we confidently tell ourselves. "This is America. We are different." That is true to a certain degree. The fact that things are different is due in part to our armed populace. Gun-owning Americans who won't take any crap from tyrants, be they foreign or domestic. But just how different is the heart of man? How different are we and our neighbors from the neighbors of the murdered masses? They were, after all, humans too. Are we capable of such hatred in America? Are we immune from tyranny and the countless atrocities committed elsewhere by our fellow man? The sad answer is no. We are not. After all, we are humans too. All too human I fear. America's record regarding Native Americans and the treatment of African human beings are but two examples of the fact that our bloodline is by no means "clean from" the influences and effects of the abuse of power.

Given the right circumstances, there would be selfishness, greed, corruption, murder, rape and oppression right here on the streets of our beloved country. When the power has been out for a week and armed thugs are roaming the streets, hell can certainly come to America. We are, in fact, not all that far from that today. Make that only a few nanoseconds if you live in California. Admittedly, the likelihood of this happening here is much less than the likelihood of it happening in places where tyranny reigns. But the likelihood of people being people can never be discounted. Not in Rwanda, not in Nazi Germany and not in America either. Had people not been armed in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, the situation would have been much, much worse.

One reason the possibility of such madness is less likely is because we have power and fuel and we typically have enough to eat and drink. Another important factor is that we are an armed people, a citizenry made up of people who will not be oppressed. One can speculate how things might have been different right here in America had we been unarmed and did not possess the fighting mindset. How things would be different if Americans did not possess the strength, confidence and self reliance that being armed provides. Could tyranny raise it's ugly head here in America? Sure it could. People are people. But it is just as likely to get it's ugly head shot right off. Blown off by American gun owners who would stand and fight.

Only because we are armed are we free. Because we are armed we can prevent so many of the nasty events that have afflicted our fellow humans in places where arms are disallowed. Because we have the Second Amendment, we can protect with arms the other freedoms stated in our Bill of Rights. But only by constantly and consistently fighting for our basic human right to keep and bears arms can we insure that tyranny and oppression will not prevail in America.

No, we have no death camps in America. Nor are they likely to ever exist here, because we have the power of arms and the fighting mindset that arms provide. Take some time this weekend to remember the victims of tyranny everywhere. Offer a prayer to your God for the souls of the murdered masses. Then consider donating some time or money to an American "Pro Gun" organization.  There are many to choose from, and they all need your help. Join those of us who are involved in the fight for freedom and the right to keep and bear arms. Because in America, no one should ever have to ask, "what would have happened, had they been armed?"

Viking Sends,


Marvin V. Stenhammar
Director of Operations
Gunnery Network News

Marvin Stenhammar is the Founder and Director of Operations at Gunnery Network, a large, noncommercial firearms information web site. He can be contacted using the information below.  This article can be reproduced in it's entirety, for noncommercial use, as long as it remains unchanged, with credits and links attached. 

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