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Review of Glenn Beck, Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns (Threshold Editions, 2013), xvi + 189 pgs., paperback, $12.00.

I am not a fan of Glenn Beck. I negatively reviewed his book Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure back in 2011.

I am not an advocate of gun control. I have negatively written about the subject on many occasions.

You can imagine my dilemma, then, when I saw that Beck had just written a book against gun control, Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns. Actually, he had some help, for on the title page it says that the book was “written and edited” by Beck and two individuals, with “writing and research” by five other individuals, and contributions from seven additional individuals. That is a lot of help to write a small-in-size 200-page book. Obviously, my loathing of gun control overcame my dislike of Beck or you would not be reading this review.

My brief analysis of the book is simply this: Glenn Beck almost gets it right. Although he is certainly opposed to gun control, and does a good job of skewering liberals who advocate it, there are a few things in the book that are disappointing.

After a brief “author’s note” by Beck, the book is divided into two parts: “The Truth about Guns” and “Winning Hearts and Minds,” followed by an afterword, “The Way Forward,” and twenty-seven pages of notes.

The book is not divided into chapters. Part one (pp. 1-114) contains a series of thirty-six liberal clichés that Beck supports with documented quotes from gun-grabbers like Dianne Feinstein, Stephen King, Pers Morgan, Michael Bloomberg, Barack Obama, Alan Dershowitz, Rachel Maddow, E. J. Dionne, and Michael Moore. Beck demolishes each cliché with facts, logic, wit, and common sense. Part two (pp. 115-151) mainly consists of Beck’s musings about the connection between violence in video games, TV shows, movies, music videos, rap songs and gun violence. (For the record, he doesn’t think the answer is “to ban video games or television shows or movies.”)

So what could possibly be disappointing about the book?

Beck has an overemphasis and overreliance on the Second Amendment. He writes as if Americans would have no right to keep and bear arms without the Second Amendment. But the Second Amendment confers no positive right. The Bill of Rights, of which the Second Amendment is part of, is an additional limitation on federal power to infringe upon gun rights aside from the fact that no authority is granted to the federal government in the Constitution to infringe upon them in the first place. If the Second Amendment didn’t exist, Americans would still have the natural and moral right to keep and bear arms.

Beck defends the gun control regulations mentioned in the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). It is true that the Court ruled in Heller that “the  Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” It is also true that the Court reaffirmed this opinion in McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010). But these cases also made it abundantly clear that government can still infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms. Justice Scalia makes it apparent in Heller that the Second Amendment “does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” He also goes on to say: “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

Beck apparently supports federal background checks for gun purchases. Although he says, referring to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), that he is “not [a] fan of this system,” he also talks about fixing “the system we have”

Beck apparently supports the federal government licensing gun dealers and the federal regulation of “gun stores or home businesses that are routinely engaged in firearms commerce.”

Beck apparently supports some other federal gun control measures. He says he agrees with Mayor Bloomberg that drug trafficking should be a federal crime. He talks about holding off on “rushing a bunch of new laws through in the wake of tragedy until we can reasonably assess whether the ones we already have actually work.” He believes that the federal government should outlaw automatic weapons. He says he agrees with Rachel Maddow about people not being able to “possess artillery capable of shooting an aircraft out of the sky.” (Now that the federal government targets people with drones, this might be a reasonable thing to have.)

What Beck, Republicans, and other conservatives need to get through their head is that the federal government has no authority whatsoever under the Constitution to ban or regulate any guns or ammunition, institute gun licensing or gun registration, mandate waiting periods or background checks, regulate gun sales or gun shows, pass any gun-control legislation, or even have a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The best thing Glenn Beck ever did is to have my friends Tom Woods and Yuri Maltsev on his television show back in 2010. The best book he ever wrote; that is, the least objectionable to libertarians, is Control: Exposing the Truth about Guns. Here Beck almost gets it right.

This article first appeared on LewRockwell.com on July 10, 2013.

Categories : Book Reviews
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Last week, I had the opportunity to be on the InfoWars Nightly News to talk about the TSA’s full body scanners and our efforts in Texas to stop the TSA’s war on our civil liberties. We discussed the health risks, the effectiveness, and the politics surrounding the TSA from national to local. They said we would have 15 minutes, but we ended up having so much fun that we kept going for 23! Hopefully you will enjoy it too…

Make sure you check out the website I helped create at www.StopAustinScanners.org, and start getting ready for the next round against the State!

Categories : Blog News, Media
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imageReview of Andrew Napolitano, It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom (Thomas Nelson, 2011), 320 pp. Hardcover: $24.99 ($16.49 on Amazon.com).

I am long overdue to comment on what I sincerely believe to be one of the best new libertarian works from 2011, Judge Andrew Napolitano’s It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong. To a great extent, I am tempted just to stop here and tell everybody to buy the book and read it immediately, but such would make me a very poor reviewer overall. The heroic host of FreedomWatch deserves better than that.

The prime beauty of Napolitano’s work is encapsulated in the Introduction, titled “Where do Our Rights Come From?” Napolitano takes his legal background as a judge and explains the natural law and natural rights (which he says are separate but related concepts) in an incredibly powerful way. He places the natural law and our rights as human beings in contradistinction with the fake “laws” that governments impose. The “legal positivism” philosophy, which says that whatever the state says is law, is denounced as a falsehood. What is more, Christians will clearly see Napolitano’s Christian faith (with a Catholic background) through his discussions of the origins of the natural law.

Napolitano continues in the “chapters” of the book working out this understanding of the eternal law, natural law, and natural rights, approaching a variety of topics including economic freedom and property rights, free speech, freedom of association, self-defense, freedom to travel and immigration, sound money, and doing what you want with your own body. Dealing with these topics is not novel, but what makes Napolitano’s explanation special is the data presented in the book. Example after example is provided that illustrate the principles in enlightening ways, and all the examples are backed up in the notes with websites, books, articles, and various other source materials.

The “Ride on Dr. Feinberg’s Bus” chapter, for instance, was particularly interesting to read. Napolitano poses a hypothetical situation for us to consider, a ride on the bus that becomes annoying and disgusting to the point of absurdity, but that none of the actions, however annoying they may be, can be considered criminal. Without getting too detailed with the specifics, Napolitano then explains why there must be a moral limit upon what kind of actions can be made illegal (hint: only aggressive behavior). Besides colorful examples, the statistics in the book are a terrific resource for future use. Indeed, I have already referenced this book a number of times when writing articles and discussing particular topics (namely, guns and health care) with my non-libertarian friends.

Part of what excites me about the book is that it is clearly targeting people who are questioning the government, but don’t know where to start building their philosophy of government. He says, “If there is any message that I hope to communicate in this book, it is that all of us should be constantly questioning the validity of our officials’ commands… We must stop obeying the unjust laws with which the government enslaves.” Napolitano has gone back to the basics and covers the gamut of personal liberty boldly and convincingly. This is not a new thing to do, but this book is special because it does so in a more accessible way to outsiders than I generally have the pleasure of reading. I cannot imagine someone from the left or right putting down the book and rejecting the fundamental claims about law and rights without understanding that by doing so they spurn all the benefits of Western civilization itself.

I do not know if this will be a book looked upon in a century as a timeless classic. However, this is a book whose time has come. In a day when so many of us do not understand what the basis of law is, Napolitano has provided an accessible book that will remind some, educate all, enlighten our way, and encourage many to take a strong stand against the tyranny of statism.

Interested in learning more? Check out the book at Amazon.com. Remember that you support the work of LibertarianChristians.com every time you make a purchase at Amazon for 24 hours after clicking an LCC link!

Categories : Articles, Book Reviews
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Dec
15

Is there still a Bill of Rights?

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Today is the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights being passed. Cato-at-Liberty surveys the current state of these safeguards, and it is not particularly pleasant to consider how pathetic this rogue government has become.

Let’s consider each amendment in turn.

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.” Government officials, however, have insisted that they can gag recipients of “national security letters” and censor broadcast ads in the name of campaign finance reform.

The Second Amendment says the people have the right “to keep and bear arms.” Government officials, however, make it difficult to keep a gun in the home and make it a crime for a citizen to carry a gun for self-protection.

The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners.  This safeguard is one of the few that is in fine shape — so we can pause here for a laugh.

The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist that they can conduct commando-style raids on our homes and treat airline travelers like prison inmates by conducting virtual strip searches.

The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not be taken “for public use without just compensation.” Government officials, however, insist that they can use eminent domain to take away our property and give it to other private parties who covet it.

The Sixth Amendment says that in criminal prosecutions, the person accused is guaranteed a right to trial by jury. Government officials, however, insist that they can punish people who want to have a trial—“throwing the book” at those who refuse to plead guilty—which explains why 95 percent of the criminal cases never go to trial.

The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases where the controversy “shall exceed twenty dollars.” Government officials, however, insist that they can impose draconian fines on people without jury trials.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. Government officials, however, insist that a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense is not cruel.

The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights should not be construed to deny or disparage others “retained by the people.” Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what rights, if any, will be retained by the people.

The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people. Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what powers they possess, and have extended federal control over health care, crime, education, and other matters the Constitution reserves to the states and the people.

Thank goodness we still have Amendment #3! The Cato Institute also posted a little video as well:

Categories : News
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Aug
19

Government and Religious Expression

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Anthony asks a series of questions in his submission:

I might consider myself a Libertarian, except I just can’t get over that so many libertarians are atheists and against all religious expression by government. For instance, Libertarians hate Mike Huckabee for some fear of a “theocracy.” How do you address these things about your secular libertarian friends (such as Ayn Rand types)?

This question has multiple levels, and thus I want to wade carefully through the various issues wrapped in it. First off, just because there are plenty of atheist libertarians does not mean that it is a political philosophy only for atheists. On the contrary, I would argue that Christianity has lots in common with libertarianism and very little in common with statism. A philosophy that is essentially founded upon “treat others the way you want to be treated” would naturally see Christianity as favorable. See my Lessons in Liberty article for more.

As for religious expression by governments, Christian libertarians do not want to see government taking on vestments of Christianity whatsoever for two reasons: (1) the State is founded in rebellion to God and it should not be covered in Christian garb to look better than it is. We should always look to expose the State’s evils rather than “baptize” it to gain benefits; and (2) the Church universal needs to be internally protected from the trappings of the State in order to stay pure. The more governments get wrapped up in Christianity, the worse it will be for the Church.

I wouldn’t say that libertarians “hate” Huckabee because they fear theocracy (hate is a strong word anyway). Still, there is much to despise in his politics. Huckabee is a warmonger, pro-big government, pro-drug war, economically illiterate, anti-free market, anti-immigrant, and a supporter of the police state. If he supports these things because he thinks that’s what God wants, then he’s completely off his rocker and that’s worth criticizing in its own right.

I have many non-Christian, libertarian friends. Some of them love Ayn Rand, some don’t. But I have rarely had any issue in sharing my faith or dealing with sensitive topics because we have a common desire to treat others with respect. Here’s the bottom line: liberty brings people together. Libertarians come from all over the belief spectrum, but the commonality of seeking liberty transcends boundaries. As a result, you have many opportunities to live out the gospel to those around you.

********

He concluded with a statement that kind of begs a response:

Also, I can’t get over how so many Libertarians (probably not you guys) are like Barney frank on social issues but Jim DeMint on fiscal issues.

Christian libertarians do not believe that you can solve moral problems through legislation. Insofar as law exists, we seek to reduce its grasp on individual action that is not aggressive in nature. Instead, we want to use the power of social change, leveraged through the Church and local communities, to fix such problems.

Libertarians understand that the government cannot do anything right for an economy. Thus, if the government is to exist at all, it should not involve itself in anything other than the protection of basic property rights. (And many libertarians, myself included, think the State cannot even protect rights without becoming corrupt!) Hence, the government should abolish all income and property taxes and not involve itself in trade whatsoever.

Besides that, Jim DeMint is not a great example of someone being “libertarian” on fiscal issues. If you’re going to look anywhere in Congress, look to Ron Paul!

Have a question you’d like to ask? Submit yours here.

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