The Hot Gates and Fighting Back

Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passes by, That here obedient to their laws we lie. – Simonides of Ceos

In 480 B.C. the huge Persian army was stopped in their march to conquer the free Greek states at a narrow pass between cliffs and the sea called Thermophylae, or the Hot Gates. The Spartan King Leonidas led about ten thousand Greek allied troops while Xerxes, the Persian King had more than ten times that number. Xerxes sent word to the Spartans. Lay down your arms. The Spartans replied, molon labe, come and take them. Drawing the Persians into the narrow confines of the pass, the Greeks defeated attack after attack. Finally a Greek traitor, Ephialtes, led a large Persian force toward the rear of the Greeks over a little known mountain pass. Leonidas, learning of this, stayed behind with his 300 Spartans to guard the pass while the remainder of his army made an orderly retreat. 

The Persian hordes defeated the Spartans at the Hot Gates, but it took them three days.

The Spartan sacrifice, for that is what the stand of the Spartans at Thermophylae was, bought enough time for their Greek allies to prepare for and defeat the Persians later at the battles of Salamis and Plataea. The legend of the Spartans at the Hot Gates lives on today. The Greeks remained unconquered by the Persians and gave us western civilization, science and democracy. Many of the modern day descendants of the Persians are consumed by medieval religious ideology and are busy boring holes in apostates’ heads with electric drills. Their victims, former Moslems, cannot defend themselves or their brethren like the Spartans did because they don’t have arms to lay down. They long ago surrendered them to their masters.

In the mid-eighteenth century, the British colonists in the new world were told to do as they were instructed by King George and to stop causing trouble. To enforce the king’s demands, the British marched troops to Lexington and Concord to confiscate the colonists’ stores of arms and ammunition there. They failed. Armed colonists opposed that transgression of their rights. The result, they gave us the United States of America. If the British had succeeded, we’d be celebrating the Queen’s birthday instead of fireworks on the 4th.

And, why shoot off fireworks to celebrate our independence? Arms, that’s why. If the British had confiscated our arms, we would still be speaking the King’s English and driving on the wrong side of the road.

After emerging successfully from that terrible struggle for independence, the framers of the Constitution well knew that to preserve liberty and freedom for all Americans, the right of a citizen to keep and bear arms could never be questioned. That’s why the Second Amendment follows immediately upon the First, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Why follow the first amendment with another specifically guaranteeing the people’s right to keep and bear arms? Because if Congress were to do any of those things prohibited by the First Amendment and the people then were to object, demonstrate, demand, meet, discuss, plead and request that those Congressional actions were illegal and unconstitutional and the Congress still would not rescind those actions and bend to the Constitution, then the People have only one redress, which is guaranteed them in the Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

“Necessary to the security of a free state,” is a key phrase which points directly to the freedom of the people who live in that state. I interpret “state” to be both any of the individual States, as well as the country as a whole.

Armed American revolution number two. This is usually referred to as The Civil War, or more accurately, the War Between the States which also misses its essential cause. It was a war between the power of the states against the power of the federal government. The fundamental cause of the war was not the question of slavery, nor equality among races, rather it was about the right of the state to make its own decisions and to not be forced to comply with demands made by a federal government, demands the state had reason to believe were not legitimate nor in its interest. The slavery question was the proximate or immediate cause that finally motivated secession, which was caused by the more fundamental issue.

Did the federals oppose the secession because the states were pro slave, or because they wouldn’t recognize the equality of races? No. The federals refused to recognize that they had just been served with divorce papers by their former partners who had now changed their collective name to Confederate instead of United States of America.

Yes, slavery was evil and morally wrong, even though the Bible does condone it. Most white people in the United and the Confederate States of America considered any race other than Caucasians to be morally and intellectually inferior. Even Lincoln briefly toyed with the idea of transporting negroes to another country. But, the secession of the states and the subsequent years of bloody warfare did not begin because of slavery. It began over states rights versus federal control. 

Today we are facing a similar situation in this country. The basic and underlying issue is once again states rights. Does the federal government have the right to demand compliance of people who do not agree that the federals have the constitutional right to so demand? The proximate cause in states rights today is pinned to the Second Amendment of our Constitution. Arms. That is the issue. 

America is home to millions of people who passionately believe that the Constitution is clear: the people have the right to keep and bear arms. There are also millions of Americans who do not want any citizen to be armed, even though the right is guaranteed by the Constitution. Today it is plain that a dedicated group of religious fanatics are determined to kill as we are also one of their many enemies, and doing so guarantees they get their ticket to paradise punched. This can happen anywhere, any time. Criminals, robbers, drug users looking for money for that next high, rapists and just evil assholes are also working that side of the street yet they have their own more prosaic but still twisted rationales. This is a time for all citizens to be prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones. Calling the cops seldom works out well. After they arrive the violence is usually over, or getting worse. But, the left and the regressives and the cowards want to strip everyone of guns, which are the only viable means of personal protection from these evil people. It is not enough that the gun haters will not arm themselves, they want you to join them as yet another sacrificial lamb to their notions of political correctness and human rights. They don’t consider freedom and self defense among those rights.

Given the fact that our country, Constitution and freedom are now under siege the Second Amendment is exactly appropriate and applicable. “…necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Our security is endangered possibly more now than ever before.  

Two more brief points. The militia is the people. It’s not the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. It is the people. And, note well that the Second Amendment does not create the right to keep and bear arms. That is a human right that has existed since humans became human. The Constitution merely acknowledges that right and prohibits the American government from interfering with it.

 I won’t discuss the many hedges, caveats, interpretations and arguments these people make against the Second Amendment now but I will focus on the seriousness and similarities between this issue and the second American Revolution.  I think most people do not understand how fundamental this issue is and how deep it lives in American history and psyche. Hark back to the legacies of the Civil War. Slavery is now long dead. Racism remains ubiquitous across the country, stronger in certain places, weaker in others. It existed long before the Civil War, during it and remains alive to this day. Anthropologists see it as a feature of ethnocentrism, the favoring, sometimes to the point of absolute exclusion, of ones own ethnic group over all others.

It is relatively easy to mark on a map those states where guns are considered to be tools for hunting, sport, protection and a constitutional bulwark against potential governmental oppression, and, conversely, those states in which guns are believed to be unnecessary, evil and a sign of dementia and countrified, rather dim witted people. It is no coincidence that the pro-gun states fall mostly into the category of those states that seceded during the Civil War and other states, mainly western and rural, that are sympathetic to the South’s cause. Why? They understand the value and necessity of remaining a people who exercise their human right to be armed and that being so guarantees their right to live in a free and secure state.

One huge difference between the pro-gun (PG) states and the anti-gun (AG) states is that the PG states aren’t involved in an ongoing campaign to force the PG states to give up all gun ownership. The AGs are constantly working for this. 

Consider a state in which gun ownership is perfectly legal, where one must pass a reasonable background check before buying a firearm. A state in which the citizens have decided that carrying a firearm openly or concealed is a right accorded to all of its residents. Few people in that state have any issues with this at all. But, mostly out of state anti-gun forces are hard at work to remove those rights, impose unreasonable restrictions on firearms and ultimately seek to get all civilian ownership of firearms prohibited. One has to ask, what business is it for anyone else to attempt to coerce the citizens of that state to comply with their wishes and demands.? Answer: none.

Broaden the definition beyond the  states to include political affiliations, the entertainment industry and the media – print, visual and social – and the picture becomes more dismal for the PGs, whether the PGs are territories, cultures or social groups. Crime happens. Shootings occur and when they involve unarmed and innocent civilians, the immediate reaction among AGs is invariably, “ban guns” and all of the variations on this tiresome theme. When a criminal or assailant is shot by a citizen in defense of life or property, this legal and ethical shooting is seldom given the same or even similar exposure and attention.

When it is pointed out that the person, or people wielding the guns had the intent to shoot others based upon factors like religious ideology, mental instability, greed or perhaps personal grievances, it makes little difference. Ban guns is the retort, then people won’t be committing “gun” violence. When the rational response is that guns are themselves benign, that the effect of their use depends solely on the intent of the operator, the AG response is something like, “they [guns] are dangerous”, or “they are designed to kill people”. This is true, but still misses the point. Cars are dangerous. Bombs, knives, clubs, swords, Claymores are dangerous and also designed to kill people. But, none of them, including guns, can do that by themselves.

When it is pointed out that guns, like drugs and other prohibited items can be acquired by criminals, crazies and religiously motivated murderers outside of legal channels the response from the AG people is never an actual engagement with this fact. When statistics show that crimes, including shootings, murder, assault, rape, and so forth are quite often prevented by a citizen with a firearm, these facts are ignored or wished away. When it is pointed out that the places in America with the most restrictive and draconian gun laws have the worst assault, rape and murder rates, the AGs refuse to discuss why this may be. People believe what they want to believe regardless of evidence.

The issue of guns and states rights is today nearing a critical point. If the federal government should find means to circumvent or nullify the Second Amendment and move to ban or confiscate firearms there will be many PG states – both States, and people of a Constitutional free state of mind, who will not comply. There are many millions of Americans who take their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms seriously, especially in these times of civil unrest and threats of violence from religious ideologues who are quite willing to shoot us, blow us up or fly airplanes full of us into buildings. We are a nation under siege by medieval religious zealots who are dead set on imposing their beliefs and laws on the rest of the world. This is not a time to render our people defenseless.

Many Americans believe the Second Amendment exists to protect the people against tyranny by governments or forces, foreign or domestic, who would attempt to deprive Americans of any of our Constitutional rights. The spirit of those who also believed this, and who fought for the rights of free states in the Second American revolution is still alive today. 

If the Persians once again appear at the Hot Gates and demand that the Spartans lay down their arms, there are many who will say, molon labe.


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