Friday, February 1, 2013

Armed yet peaceful: the nation of Switzerland

In the country of Switzerland, we have an amazing example of a peaceful yet armed citizenry. Not even trusting their executives too greatly, they have no chief head of state, and although there is a president of the ruling council of seven, he is only the chairman, with no additional power.
In Switzerland the average male citizen, at the age of nineteen, is ordered by law to serve in the military. He undergoes around twenty-one weeks of training. (Military is optional for women.) The soldiers keep their guns in their houses, and the country of Switzerland does not involve itself in other people's war. Their system of being armed and peaceful seems to have worked, as they have not mobilized the military since 1939.
Recently there has been a great deal of pressure on the leaders of our nation, because of the multiple, tragic shootings in various places around the U.S., to reinstate the assault weapon bans. In the Newtown hearings one of the testifiers said “I can assure you there is absolutely no reason civilians need to have or should have access to high powered assault weapons or mega-magazines.” I assure you there are reasons.
Checks were put upon the government of this nation to keep it from overstepping its bounds, however, the most effective check upon a government's tendencies to become tyrannical is an armed populace. Make yourselves unarmed sheep, and the wolves will eat you. Be peaceful yet armed, and the tyrants will keep their distance.
The founding fathers of this nation had no illusion about man’s innate depravity, and that, just as we do not trust a scientist with weapons of mass destruction without proper safety measures, so we must never trust governments with our lives, our liberties, and our property, without proper safeguards.
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”(James Madison, Federals 51.)
There are times, as the Declaration of Independence said, when governments become tyrannical, and when they become tyrannical, it is at that time when that government must cease to exist. If a father has gone mad, and seeks to kill his children, then they must restrain him. So to a government trampling madly over a people’s rights must be restrained. However, an unarmed populace will find it nearly impossible to fight an armed tyrannical government. Not because we are rabid dogs looking to overthrow our government, but because we are  a peaceful citizenry, who will do others no harm unless we ourselves our attacked.
I will end with the words of economist Lord Acton “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Perhaps we should take the Swiss' advice on how to keep this from happening: being armed yet peaceful.

Through His Strength We Will Conquer,
Andrew C. Abbott
Note: For more on this topic I would suggest the book Target Switzerland:Swiss Armed Neutrality In World War II. By Stephen P. Halbrook

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