We often hear that fear of our own government seizing firearms is mere paranoia. “It can’t happen here” is the popular refrain. But in point of fact, it did happen here.
On this day, 241 years ago, 700 British soldiers marched out of Boston to confiscate arms held by His Majesty’s law abiding citizens. These legally owned firearms were at an armory (safely stored, if you will) at Concord about 20 miles outside of Boston. British troops encountered colonial militia in Lexington at approximately 5:00 am. While it is not known who fired “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”, the British regulars unleashed a volley that killed 8 American colonists and wounded another 9. One British regular was lightly wounded in the skirmish.
The British soldiers continued their march toward Concord with orders to capture or destroy the colonists’ arms. But by this point, news of what was happening had spread to all of the neighboring towns and settlements. Militia units were converging on Concord and were in place before the Regulars could secure the town. Fighting broke out and the soldiers were unable to accomplish their mission.
Things went from bad to worse for the British regulars as they made their way back to Boston. By day’s end, nearly 4,000 militia were in the area, many along the troops’ escape route back to their garrison. British losses would number 73 killed, 174 wounded, and another 53 missing. American losses were 49 killed, 39 wounded, and 5 missing.
Within a year, the Americans realized that the rift between them and the Crown had become irreparable. In May of the following year, Congress authorized the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. At that point, there was no going back. By 1781, the Crown had effectively lost its American colonies.
What amazes me is how quickly things turned to worms for George III in the Americas. In 1763, the Seven Years War had ended with a British victory. In the American colonies, that war was called the French and Indian war. This was arguably the true First World War with fighting on 5 continents. During the conflict, the American colonists fielded at least as many troops in the New World as the mother country did in Europe and the other theaters of war. The Americans had also spent millions out of their own treasuries to fund combat operations in North America. But in 1765, Parliament imposed special taxes on the colonies to recover some of the costs of the war. The Americans were outraged that they were now being asked to pay (again) for the privilege of bleeding to defend the Crown’s interests. Worse yet, the tax was levied by a parliament where they were unrepresented. The colonists, who still saw themselves as British citizens, protested repeatedly, but King George and his parliament ignored them.
The Stamp Act was the spark that led directly to the flames that erupted just after sunrise on April 19, 1775. The King’s American colonies went from living in peace to “shots fired” in 11 years. Each new provocation from the government was met with more protest. Rather than listen to these protests, London responded with indignation and a new round of provocations. And with each step, government further alienated itself from the governed.
Flash forward 241 years. The drive to disarm Americans has begun again. However, American gun owners remembered that “it can happen here”. The anti-gun left remembers too. They remember the Crown’s failure and its consequences. They’ve tried a slow roll approach to the problem that started in 1934. They’re tried reassuring words, telling us that “no one’s out to take away your guns”. But much to their dismay, American gun owners have pushed back. And we’ve done so with tremendous success thus far. The Clinton Gun Ban of 1994 was the left’s high water mark. Since then, the “assault weapon” ban expired and shall-issue CCW is the norm rather than the exception. Worse yet for the anti-gun left is the trend toward erasing CCW laws altogether and adopting “Constitutional carry”. West Virginia is the latest to do so.
But like George III before them, the anti-gun left has failed to take the hint. The California Legislature in particular seems immune to such hints! So the question remains: Will the anti-gun left make the same headlong rush to violence that the last American king did?