Even an "FBI" style of federal agency, limited only to being a resource for investigations, was not accepted until this century. Yet today, fueled by the federal government's misdirected and misapplied war on drugs, the hysteria surrounding radical environmentalism, and the aggressive dictates of the nanny state, we have witnessed the massive buildup of a virtual army of armed regulators prowling the states. This buildup is the direct result of the sacrifice of individual responsibility and the concept of local control by many Americans.
The enforcement of the interventionist, welfare-warfare state requires a growing army of thriving bureaucrats. With special interests demanding favors, federal office-holders can only meet those demands by abusing the rights of those who produce wealth and cherish liberty. The resentment of those being abused is then directed at the government agents who come to collect, even though those agents are merely the front-men for the special interests and their elected puppets. As resentment toward these agents increases and becomes more hostile, the natural consequence has been for the bureaucrats - the intruders upon liberty - to arm themselves as protection against the angry victims of government abuse.
Thanks to a recent article by Joseph Farah, director of the Western Journalism Center of Sacramento, CA, the surge in the number of armed federal bureaucrats has been brought to our attention. Farah points out that in 1996 alone, at least 2,439 new federal agents were authorized to carry firearms. This brings the total up to nearly 60,000. Farah points out that these increases were not only in agencies like the FBI, but include the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
According to Farah, even the Bureau of Land Management wants to be armed. Farah logically asks, "When will the (National Endowment for the Arts) have its armed art cops?" This is a dangerous, and ironic, trend. Ironic in that the proliferation of guns for bureaucrats is being so firmly - though admittedly stealthily - pushed by the same antigun politicians who publicly work to disarm every law-abiding American citizen in the name of safety. Which begs the question, "Safety for whom?"
On one level I agree whole-heartily with the anti-gun activists. We desperately need gun control: we need to control the bureaucrats, disarm them, and then abolish their agencies. There is no constitutional basis for the EPA, and certainly no constitutional reason for allowing EPA agents to pack pistols as they declare every inch of your property a protected "wetland."
Force and intimidation are the preferred tools of tyrants, though not just intimidation with government guns. The threat of imprisonment and fear of harassment by government agents strikes terror into the hearts of millions of Americans. Four days after Paula Jones refused a settlement in her celebrated suit against the president, she received notice that she and her husband would be audited for their 1995 taxes. Since 1994 is the current "year" for which the IRS is conducting audits of returns, the government claim that the action is unrelated to the suit is suspect, to say the least.
Even if it is coincidental, do not try to convince the American people. Most Americans, justifiably cynical and untrusting toward the federal government, know the evidence exists that since the 1970's both Republican and Democratic administrations have not hesitated to intimidate their political enemies with IRS audits and regulatory harassment. Though the average IRS agent does not carry a gun, the threat of incarceration and seizure of property is backed up by many guns. All government power is ultimately gun power, and serves the interests of those who despise or do not comprehend the principles of liberty.
I tend to agree with Charlton Heston, who recently said that the Constitution's Second Amendment is the most important. Without the ability to protect themselves and their property, discussion of any other rights is only so much talk.
A gun in the hand of a law-abiding citizen serves as a very real, very important deterrent to an arrogant and aggressive government. Guns in the hands of the bureaucrats do the opposite. The founders of this country fully understood this fact, it's a shame our generation has ignored it
Ron Paul represents the 14th District of Texas. His office may be contacted at 203 Cannon, Washington, DC 20515.