I recently visited a website that featured a picture of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, with the caption: My hero! Someone who thinks his way out of trouble! The implication, of course, is that force and violence are universally to be rejected and despised as unworthy of thinking people (or Vulcans). Well bucko, Spock carried a phaser as well as a tricorder, and he used it when he had to. If the Star Trek future represents a hope for our species at its most reasonable and open-minded best, it would be well to remember that the Enterprise carried a hell of a lot of photon torpedoes because the cause of human decency cannot be advanced if all the decent humans lie dead. Freedom is preserved by free people. Our 40th President wrote that “no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.” Free people know in their heart that they are free. Back again for a moment to a culturally rich, bathed in literature and opera, non-simplisme culture like 1940s Germany: I also asked my father what would happen if the Gestapo came for us one night. He said he couldn't stop them from taking us, but he could damn sure take a few of those *******s with them, and I decided right there that I'd do the same thing. In the Warsaw Ghetto, in Solzhenitsyn's Gulags, in countless other miserable terrifying pits of murder, some people woke up to the idea that resistance is NOT futile. Which is why that old saw, which in my terribly, tragically misspent liberal youth I used to sneer at as the mark of a real idiot -- "they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers" -- suddenly makes a new kind of sense to me. That is not the statement of someone who doesn't want to give up a snowmobile or a Beemer. That is a statement that draws a line in the sand for the government, or any other oppressor, to plainly see. You want to take this freedom away from me? COME AND GET IT. I believe gun ownership is the truest form of freedom, and here's why: It says you are your own person, responsible for your own actions. You are not willing to be collectively punished for the misdeeds of others. In fact, those that abuse this freedom by committing crimes are thought of and dealt with much more harshly by gun owners, as a rule, than Hollywood celebrities, precisely because a free person understands the responsibility that comes with freedom. To the many thoughtful and intelligent Europeans and Canadians who scorn the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution as the dangerous plaything of illiterate, mindless oafs who enjoy loud noises, let me simply refer you to that great unbiased and incorruptible teacher: History. Ask yourselves why intellectual elites so love totalitarian states where people are unarmed and dependant sheep. Look at the examples of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Saddam, and the horrors they have inflicted at will on their own people. And when contemplating your ever-so-sophisticated foreign policy, ask yourselves what compassionate and non-violent options you are left with when facing a determined, heartless ******* like Hitler, Napoleon, Ghengis Khan or Attila. Some say that the time for real evil like that has finally gone. I hope you are right, I really do. I don't want to go fight those *******s; I'd rather barbeque and watch the Gators. I'm sure the Jews in 1930 Germany thought such things could never happen again, not in the heart of European culture and civilization. I'm sure every bound and beaten musician, surgeon, philosopher and painter being lined up at the side of a ditch thought exactly that. The Transnational Progressives who believe that the age of human brutality has come and gone should try and understand this about Americans like myself and others who can look such horrors in the eye: We are not going out like that. Get it? We'll put up with handgun murders if we have to, but we are not going down that road. As a general rule, we are quiet, peaceful, decent people with better things to do than referee endless bloodbaths abroad. But it is possible to get our attention. And believe me, you have it now, and I believe the time will come when you will regret calling us cowboys and Nazis and idiots, because the day may come when you once again need the help of a free and determined people, fighting forces you ignore not from superior sophistication but from sheer moral cowardice. Great Britain, the philosophical home and mother to this nation, has responded to a horrible shooting tragedy by essentially disarming their entire population. Their crime rate has skyrocketed; London is now more dangerous than New York. Maybe this is a correlation without a causality. It is, of course, their decision alone to make, and history will record whether it was a wise one or not. But consider this: A Marine Corps officer wondered to himself whether such an order to disarm law-abiding citizens would be carried out in the United States. He discovered that most of his men would not follow an order to disarm the populace by force. This, to my mind, is the fundamental difference between the Europeans and the U.S.: We trust the people. We fought wars and lost untold husbands and brothers and sons because of this single most basic belief: Trust the people. Trust them with freedom. Trust them to spend their own money. Trust them to do the right thing. Trust them to defend themselves. To the degree that government can help, great -- but TRUST THE PEOPLE. It would take an army -- not an army of celebrities or trial lawyers, an actual SHOOTING ARMY -- to forcibly disarm this nation. Who will do the dirty work? Volunteer citizen soldiers, that's who -- and the first guns they'd have to turn in would be their own. See, we don't have shock troops here, boyo. No Republican Guards, Special or otherwise; no Hussars, no Cossacks, no SS; we lack Praetorian elites, Napoleonic bodyguard units -- any of that ideologically inculcated poison. Just kids serving their country, making some money for college. You think those people would fire on a crowd of American citizens fighting to preserve the Constitution, when they themselves have taken the same oath? Think again. Unlike those poor, unarmed, psychologically battered Jews, Poles, homosexuals and uncounted other souls lost in the mid 1940s, NO ONE is pulling ANY kids out of this crowd's house at night and going home fully staffed, ready to try again tomorrow. Understand? THAT is the point. Here is a sociological experiment that might have something to teach us: Kick down 100 doors of self-proclaimed French pacifists, grab the women and kids, and haul them away. Then try that again in Texas, with 100 NRA members. Collate, or rather, have a surviving relative collate the results. Extrapolate the abductors' rates of casualties to determine the total number of murdering swine needed. See what percentage of jackbooted thugs have a suicide wish, and then determine the number of men you will need to disarm, kidnap and murder 50 million armed people. You will need a lot of men. More than you can raise. These trust the people freedoms are so deeply engrained in the fabric of America as to be almost hereditary, I think. I used to worry that we'd bred that out of us, and then along comes Todd Beamer and company on United Flight 93, who, first among us that day, realized they were being marched to their deaths and decided to do something about it. Not for themselves, because by taking that action they knew they were doomed. They did it for us. Not only to save the lives of those on the ground for whom their aircraft was headed, but to remind us of who we are as a people, to add to the list of ordinary Americans who can gather extraordinary courage and resolve because they have been trusted all their lives by their government and their fellow citizens. We are a nation of unruly immigrants, self-selecting people who placed bold action above endless suffering, sold what little they had and bought passage to take a chance on a place they had never seen except in their quiet hopes, a land our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, described as “a beacon, a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home." Intellectuals have called Ronald Reagan a moron, but that is to be expected from people incapable of being moved by anything other than the sound of their own bitter and small voices in a world too full of hope for them to grasp. We are, and remain, the descendents of people who had had quite enough of being told what to do by inbred aristocratic fops and unelected, intellectual sadists. When Europeans call us simplisme, they show themselves incapable of recognizing the difference between intelligence, of which we are amply endowed, and intellectualism, that circle-jerk of coffee table revolution and basement politburo planning that we have never had much patience with. To those who doubt our mental sophistication, I would remind you that our grandparents walked upon the moon. And why is it that of all we produce and all we exult, the only things that seem to have caught on in Europe are McDonald's and Baywatch? That says much more about them than it does about us, and none of it good, I'm afraid.