Here is Part Two of my Gun Week interview:
While many in the firearms community hailed the June 2008 Heller ruling by the Supreme Court that affirmed an individual right to keep and bear arms, Vanderboegh sees the ruling as a win for anti-gunners.
"We were so quick to celebrate," he stated. "It was the gun grabbers who understood the quiet victory they got and they've been harping on that ever since."
The ruling left a door open for "reasonable regulations" and allowed existing laws against gun ownership by convicted felons and mentally unstable people. "Reasonable regulations" remains undefined, but he suggested that the gun control lobby has been able to frame the debate by using terms such as "common sense" in describing even the most restrictive gun laws, and demonizing firearms as "sniper rifles" or "assault weapons."
"There are some of us who have decided we aren't backing up any more," Vanderboegh said. "If they draw the line behind us . . . we will not obey."
Acknowledging that Americans have been "voting with their wallets," Vanderboegh observed that at the same time, they have been stocking up on firearms and ammunition as they did prior to imposition of the Clinton gun ban in 1994. At a gun shop recently, he encountered a young couple buying their first firearm, a Rock River semi-auto with a scope and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, plus six spare magazines.
"They were worried about what they called 'social disruption,'" Vanderboegh said. "Who am I to say that's illogical?"
"We find ourselves having this argument (about gun rights) not on a slippery slope but on one that's undergoing an economic earthquake," he added. "We don't know what the socio-economic future of the country might be."
And that brings him back to the letter to the Madison newspaper.
"I was laying out specifically to someone who had embraced gun confiscation what the unintended consequences of that would be," he explained.
Warning to Stop
He equates the letter to attempting to warn a motorist that a bridge around the next curve has collapsed, and he is trying to get the motorist to stop.
Vanderboegh's philosophy is that gunowners need to be prepared to take "the next step" in the event the warnings to stop attacking gun rights go unheeded. It was that approach that got the attention of Knox late last fall and the verbal fireworks unfolded on both KeepAndBearArms.com and on Codrea's "War on Guns" Internet forum.
Knox had suggested in the Hard Corps Report that many of those who espouse fighting back may be all talk and no real action.
"The same guys are often fond of bumper sticker slogans like, ' . . .from my cold dead fingers,' and the more erudite, 'MOLON LAVE,' (sic) and while I can appreciate the sentiment, I also know that on 99.995% of cases it's simply not true," Knox wrote. "The fact is that only those who have nothing to lose (and nothing to live for) are willing to give up everything -- including their lives -- in a symbolic gesture of defiance. The rest of us, those with families -- kids, grandkids, vulnerable parents -- and homes, jobs, and lives, are not interested in ditching the house, refrigerator, and HD-TV in exchange for a prison cell or a mountain cave . . ."
"The threat of armed revolt must be maintained," Knox argued, "but like the mutual assured destruction of nuclear war, its implementation must be avoided at all costs. If we have the numbers and the commitment to win a revolution then we should easily be able to win an election. The solution lies in the ballot box rather than the ammo box because the reality of a new revolution is that it is an all or worse than nothing proposition."
War of Words
A war of words erupted, with Vanderboegh reacting that "Knox . . . must understand that such words are more eagerly read in the homes and offices of our enemies who seek to strip us of our rights. What effect does he think that defeatism will have on our enemies? It is sweet music to their ears. What he is saying is that the Founders screwed up by entrusting the Second Amendment, which is explicitly a 'right to revolt' clause, to our generation because we have become too soft and comfortable to use it. What is that but an invitation to our enemies to push us farther down the road toward disarmament and the enslavement which then follows?"
Codrea summed up the argument, and the philosophy that has garnered so much attention for Vanderboegh from gunowners who are drawn to firebrand leadership that says what they quietly believe.
"I can give numerous examples of Mike working within the system to effect legal and political change -- more so than many of his critics," Codrea said. "What they won't answer is what they are prepared to do if such efforts don't work. Those who don't even want to talk about that now ought to tell us why they think preparation is best deferred until it's too late. Since when is unprepared reaction a winning plan?"
Vanderboegh downplays the notion that he is such a leader.
"If I am a leader," he says casually, "I've got a responsibility to act responsibly, and that's why you see no calls in my writing for attacks on anybody. I do say that we will defend ourselves if we are attacked. That is a human right going back a lot farther than the Constitution or even western civilization."
He is prepared to defend that right, alone or with his "merry band of three-percenters" supporting him.
"We have this critical mass of leftists in the Congress who may insist on (pushing gun control legislation)," Vanderboegh said. "Does (Obama) have the stones to veto such a bill? The Brady people are betting that he doesn't."
"I don't know what they're going to do," he says matter-of-factly. "I just know what I'm going to do. I'm not going to obey any more gun control. If they have a problem with that, they can come to my house."
(MBV note: Don't make too much of the initial exchanges between Jeff Knox and myself. We have since arrived at what can only be described as a rapprochement, with both of us fighting together early on to try and stop the Holder nomination. Nobody fought Holder harder than Jeff, and he is to be commended for it.)