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L. Neil Smith's
Number 563, March 28, 2010

"The Joy of Stealing"

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Tastes Like Chicken
by L. Neil Smith

Please Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

When the enemy screams "Foul!" the loudest, you know you're doing him the most damage. Those who help him scream are also the enemy.
—L. Neil Smith, Lever Action

I didn't hear it myself, but I've been told that radio talk show host Glenn Beck was whimpering the other day about the way firearms have been brought into discussion of the way that Barack Obama and his goblin hordes have attempted to impose socialism on the people of this country.

Against our will.

At bayonet-point.

This, of course, follows similar wailing and moaning on the part of Democrats who helped squeeze Obama's medical Marxism bill through. These uglies are such mental and moral cripples they will interpret any voiced opposition as a "death threat". I heard a voicemail recording on the radio, describing its Washington recipient as "a pile of human [beep!]". This, we have been informed, constituted a "death threat".

No, it didn't.

It was just an accurate, if metaphorical, description.

Please understand, if you don't know me, that my life, from the time I was about sixteen, has been dedicated to a pair of objectives: achieving absolute individual liberty for myself and everybody else; and preventing a brutal and destructive civil war I foresaw in a very odd moment when I was nine years old, which is currently being openly provoked by those who hate the very idea of individuality, let alone individualism.

But I also understand—and agree with—the wisdom of a saying (supposedly by Roman general Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, but nobody knows for sure), "If you would have peace, prepare for war". A conspicuous weakness of weapons or will only acts to embolden one's enemies.

I said that.

The Founding Fathers would have vigorously seconded old Publius, and me. From their standpoint, the reason for a Second Amendment, guaranteeing (but neither creating nor granting) the individual right to own and carry weapons, was nothing less than to intimidate and deter would-be tyrants. If today's would-be tyrants must be reminded of that from time to time, it is simply a part of the reality we live in.

This isn't the first whinery of its kind. Last year, in what became one of the nation's first tea partylike events, a rally was held in Phoenix to protest the appearance of Barack Obama. Arizona is an open-carry state where individuals actually exercise the right. One of the attendants at the rally was photographed with an AR-15 slung over his back, standing out in sharp contrast to his white business shirt.

When that photo circulated nationally, whatever Old Media source published it—screaming like hysterical little girls all the way—did a bit of critical editing so that nobody who saw it could tell that the evilassaultrifle (that's the way the weenies think of it—I prefer the expression "sport-utility rifle"), exactly the sort of weapon specifically most protected by the Second Amendment, was being carried by a black man. And the fools wonder why they'll soon be extinct.

I can't say this media attempt at altering reality surprised me. They've been at it at least half a century, and that's not counting the lies they told, or at least conveyed, throughout two world wars, Korea, and Vietnam. There was a time, not long ago, when you could tell who the badguy was at the start of episodes of Barnaby Jones or Hawaii Five-O, or The Streets of San Francisco because he had rifles, and even big game heads, attached to the wall of his home or office.

Come to think of it, I have rifles and big game heads attached to the walls of my home and office. Not to mention moose antlers in my garage.

What did surprise me—a little; I seem to grow more cynical by the day—was the similar screaming (disguised as the pronouncement of older, wiser heads) by people who are ostensibly on our side. There were several others, but the most conspicuous of the lot was David Kopel of the Independence Institute and Cato, a highly celebrated author on the subject of gun rights, who, despite his many degrees and honors, doesn't seem to understand what the Second Amendment is all about.

Let me put it this way: ever wonder what those May Day parades in Moscow are all about, with their goose-stepping hordes and gigantic missiles on mobile platforms? If you're reading this, you probably haven't wondered, because you already know. What the Russians are saying is, "If you mess with us, then you're in for a world of hurt; we did it to the Germans in the Great Patriotic War. We can do it to you."

The United States is no different. I grew up in the military, and I know. They hold big air shows, deploy demo groups like the Blue Angels, and hold open houses on huge aircraft carriers when they're in port, so everyone will know that the government is perfectly equipped—and just demented enough—to destroy the world in order to save it.

Even Andorrans must occasionally get out the starter pistol that famously cost them four dollars and ninety cents and display it to the world.

I have always believed that an armed populace was all that stood in the way of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon declaring martial law. I also believe that today's politicians seem to have forgotten about that.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives reports that there are 250,000,000 privately-owned guns of all kinds in America. The firearms industry says that there are three times that number—three quarters of a billion guns—"of modern design in good working order". Americans are better heeled than most foreign armies.

And that's exactly the way it should be.

I'm not sure how much the past couple years of land-rush buying have added to that fabulous total. All we have are the BATFE's numbers, and they're well-established liars. But I do know that we've also bought four billion rounds of ammunition, and I know that nobody has bought a weapon since Barack Obama was nominated to the Presidency with the idea in mind of meekly turning it over to the government.

For the Second Amendment to do its job, the other side must become much better informed. I watched an action-adventure program last night that asserted that the famous AK-47—the original peoples' rifle (and Authority's greatest mistake)—is rare in this country, and that the only ones here were originally smuggled in from the Middle East, or possibly from South America. The idiots who wrote this mess seemed unaware that after legal imports—mostly from China—were illegally cut off by executive order, they began to be manufactured here.

I want one.

But, as usual, I digress.

Yes, Glenn, yes, Dave, it's unquestionably ickey, and not very polite, to warn the creatures who mistakenly believe they own us that if we are denied the power of the ballot, something like a hundred million of us may be willing and able to fall back on the power of the bullet.

And it may be just a little bit dangerous. I am by no means the most physically courageous individual you'll ever meet (although I have my moments) and a civil war is absolutely, positively the last thing I want to see actually happen. Then again, I'm not with the party that's doing their goddamnedest to foment a violent uprising (which they can then put down with the most brutal means available) by pretending not to understand why the American people are unhappy with them.

But I dare you go look at Scott Bieser's "Socialism Is Forever" at and then try telling me that saving liberty, at any cost, isn't worth it.

I triple-dog dare you.

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Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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