Gunwalker and the Foundation of Liberty
It all comes down to this: Is there an inalienable right to self-defense? If there is, each man has indisputable, inestimable value, value that he may rightly preserve even if the life of another man is forfeit. A man may kill another in lawful self-defense even if the policy preferences of the state would prefer his death. If a right to self-defense actually exists, it is in a very real sense the highest law of the land and all lesser laws must pay it deference. It fundamentally defines the social contract, the nature of the relationship between man and the state.
But if there is no such inalienable right, the entire nature of the social contract is changed. Each man's worth is measured solely by his utility to the state, and as such the value of his life rides a roller coaster not unlike the stock market: dependent not only upon the preferences of the party in power but upon the whims of its political leaders and the permanent bureaucratic class. The proof of this analysis surrounds us.
Irony abounds in that England, the cradle of the common law and of our doctrine of self-defense, has utterly done away with even a government-condescended privilege to self-preservation. Not only have the English allowed themselves to be virtually stripped of firearms, British politicians have made attempts with varying degrees of success to ban knives. Attempting to protect the self or others from brutal criminal attack can and will lead to lengthy jail sentences in jolly old England -- for the victims. Attacking criminals often go free, and often successfully sue their victims for daring to harm them in the process of depriving them of property or their very lives.
In the recent riots in Britain, we see America not far into the future if the progressive worldview is much further advanced. Contemporary England is a nation that spends a great deal of time and energy ostensibly caring for "the people," yet cares not a whit for the life of any individual, particularly when that life is threatened or taken by a member of a favored political class or victim group, criminals included. This attitude and practice is a foundation of socialism.
At an earlier stage of glorious socialist evolution, we find the family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, murdered by cartel gunmen wielding rifles walked across the border in the gunwalker scandal. As reported by Fox News, the family of Terry requested crime victim status in the case of Jamie Avila, charged with purchasing the guns that reportedly killed Terry. Victims with such an obvious and compelling connection to a criminal case are routinely granted this status by prosecutors, but not in a government fundamentally changing itself into a socialist state.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke has opposed the family, claiming that the victim of Avila's crime was "society in general" rather than any particular persons. It should be prominently noted that it is Burke's office which has been intimately involved with Operation Fast and Furious and the gunwalking scandal which flourished under that larger operation. At stake is the right of the Terry family, under the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act, to work with prosecutors and to be heard at Avila's sentencing.
The Obama administration is, to put it mildly, in a panic over the fallout and potential damage to Mr. Obama of Gunwalker. As my co-blogger Bob Owens recently reported, the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation are planning lawsuits against the Justice Department's administrative mandate that border gun dealers report the sale of two or more long guns within a five-day period, primarily on the grounds that Congress has expressly forbidden the ATF (or the DOJ through the ATF) such power. Continuing revelations such as former Phoenix ATF Agent in Charge William Newell's repeated discussions of the gunwalking case with a White House National Security functionary, and a multitude of embarrassing e-mails which clearly indicate that the basis for gun walking was a political desire for restrictive gun control policies unattainable through the legislative process, are also very much a thorn in the Obama administration's collective posteriors.
The Terry case adds a very large and painful additional thorn. Avila is one of only 20 arrests made in the entire case, a case which the DOJ and high-ranking federal law enforcement officials foolishly may have thought would lead to the downfall of drug cartel kingpins. No doubt the Holder Justice Department is furiously struggling to make these 20 arrests of bottom-of-the-criminal-barrel straw purchasers appear as significant as possible. If Burke is attempting any kind of a deal or anticipating any kind of political spin, having the Terry family making contrary demands or statements at an emotional sentencing would be clumsy at best for the Holder DOJ. This would be particularly so if the Terry family files a wrongful death action against the government, as expected. It is not outside the realm of possibility that prosecutor Burke could find himself in a very uncomfortable position in that sort of case.
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