In Defense of the Second Amendment
By Larry Correia
Regnery Publishing (January 24, 2023)
256 pages, Hardcover $29.99; eBook $14.99
Reviewed by Gila Hayes
Has America outgrown its Constitutional recognition of the right to armed self defense and the right to possess weaponry to overthrow government tyranny? This is the underlying question when novelist Larry Correia departs from his usual supernatural epic genre for a long but informal debunking of the many reasons politicians, news media personalities, entertainment celebrities and others cite as they attempt to destroy this cornerstone of America’s freedom.
Restrictions against lawful gun ownership are nothing new. Correia, who once was a dealer in Class III weapons, explains how early gun control laws targeted unpopular minorities, and favored the wealthy. For example, the 1934 NFA restrictions set what was at the time an exorbitantly high fee to own suppressors, short-barreled shotguns, and rifles and other AOW class firearms, restricting them to just the very wealthy. Today, a $200 tax stamp isn’t a big financial impediment, but in 1934 it would have been about $4,500 in today’s dollars. Decrying laws that allow and disallow a variety of gun features, mandate barrel length, regulate suppressors, and risk inadvertent commission of a felony by uninformed gun enthusiasts, Correia writes, “For almost ninety years these things have been heavily regulated, and it made no difference to criminals.” At its heart, gun control isn’t about guns; it’s about control. Anti-gunners may talk about common sense gun control, but “All of it, every single bite, is designed to make you weaker and them stronger,” he stresses.
There is no shortage of logical fallacies that are trotted out when the government and the news and entertainment media join forces against armed American citizens. Correia painstakingly debunks each one. School shootings horrify people on both sides of the gun rights argument. Correia argues for allowing voluntary concealed carry so school staff can stop or “be a speed bump” to slow anyone trying to harm the children. Schools and workplaces, he adds, should allow the fundamental human right to personal defense and safety. “The only rules schools—or any employer really—need to add to their employee handbook about CCW are these: If you are going to legally carry a gun at work, keep it concealed at all times, keep it securely on your person at all times, and only pull it out for matters of life or death, or we fire your ass. Simple. You don’t need to over-complicate this with extra paperwork, bureaucratic oversight, or mandatory training.”
Any mass killing is an “opportunity for political gain,” which the “worst among us” are fast to exploit because poorly informed people hearing the news can’t help but think “what if we or our loved ones had been the victims?” As a result, public figures who propose to “do something” get the backing of the fearful who naively endorse simplistic, feel-good gun ban legislation. He adds, “Our system has developed a sick, symbiotic relationship with mass murderers. The killers get the fame and validation they desire, and the news gets ratings and websites get clicks. Afterwards the gun control politicians come along and reap the harvest.”
If Correia’s statement that the laws are passed for personal power seems overblown, consider this: politicians and the news media vigorously suppress reports of incidents in which atrocities are committed by minorities or when a mass killing attack is stopped by an armed citizen. “What stops killers?” Correia asks. “A violent response. The only real question is how long it takes to arrive,” he answers. The armed citizen’s intervention will not be widely reported or if it is, it will be mentioned only in passing. Twisting the facts only encourages more violent acting out by those who feel the world as not given them their due. “By burying the stories where wannabe killers promptly get shot in the face by a local and die a pathetic and ignominious death, they remove the chance for shame,” Correia writes. “If all an aspiring killer goes by is what he sees on the Internet, then he will believe he’s going to be an unstoppable force until the cops eventually arrive in five to seventy-seven minutes. How about instead of promising them fame and importance, the media shows the ones who get gunned down by a grandma and end up as big a failure in death as they were in life?”
Instead, mass killer’s faces get plastered on magazine covers and their names repeated in news and commentary gone viral, all fueling the plaintive cries of, “We’ve got to do something!” Correia systematically debunks the most common “Do Somethings,” including mandatory gun registration, mandatory training, red flag laws, and the big dream, total elimination of private gun ownership. What would happen if gun ban activists succeeded? He writes that the four-day terrorist massacre in Mumbai 2008 that killed 164 and wounded over 300 shows very well what happens. Look also, he suggests, to the rape and assault statistics from Australia after the gun ban that followed the Port Arthur, Tasmania mass shooting, or consider increases in violent crime in Great Britain – if you believe crime stats despite knowing they’re substantially underreported.
The so-called murder capitals of the world are generally also plagued by drug or gang problems, terrorist infiltration or other societal issues. Shootings there get all the headlines, while most of America is peaceful. Murders in crime-ridden cities “have absolutely nothing to do with my owning guns in rural Utah,” Correia writes. The problem is evil, not guns, he continues. “Some of the biggest mass killers in modern history have used bombs, arson, or even airliners. There is no law you can pass, no one thing you can ban, and nothing you can say or do that will stop some men from choosing evil,” Correia concludes.
Lest it sound like In Defense of the Second Amendment is political, pro-gun propaganda, I hasten to add that Correia does not hesitate to also criticize our own people. Speaking out against open carry purely to make a political statement, he urges, “We’re in a culture war. Let’s not provide ammunition to our enemies.” The cultural war is over much more than guns, he writes later, and stresses that the Second Amendment also protects people who disagree on any number of beliefs, be that abortion, climate change, or the host of other fractious issues. “All of us have the right to defend our lives, and there is no other tool that’s as viable for that as the gun.”
Self defense is a human right that transcends our differences, he urges. “I don’t care what your personal beliefs are, or what your lifestyle is, self defense is a human right. Take advantage of it. Please. If you are responsible and you’ve got the proper mindset, seek out training, get familiarized with weapons, and then get yourself a firearm. If you live some place it’s possible, get a concealed weapons permit, and get used to carrying it everywhere you can. There are plenty of people happy to walk you through the process.” This he follows with a review of the legal and ethical principles affecting use of force in self defense, suggestions about training, and encouragement to speak out against all the lies told in the ongoing attack against the Second Amendment.
Gun control boils down to one question, Correia concludes. Do the American people own their government, or does the government own the people? He closes out In Defense of the Second Amendment with a rallying cry to win the culture war on little things as well as big political fights. “It’s the little things. It’s being that good example. That helping hand. It’s teaching and passing on knowledge. The greatest warrior for the Second Amendment is the grandpa who takes the grandkids out and shows them how to knock cans off a fence with a pellet gun. It’s the patient spouse who tries to gently persuade his or her significant other that Moms Demand Action is lying to them, and that allowing a gun in their home isn’t the end of the world. It’s the manager who tells the HR department to shut up, and then tears down all those gun-free zone signs. It’s you every time you take some new people to the range, show them how to use your guns safely, and then help them have fun.”
Unlike the scholarly works we generally read, In Defense of the Second Amendment plain talks all the reasons why disarming Americans will not work, in the author’s chatty, conversational way. That’s not to say Correia is short on stats, but for this reader his commentary is what really carries the arguments. A friend told me that he found the book like sitting in the living room and chatting about shared concerns with Larry Correia. The value lasts beyond the enjoyment of reading, my friend added, because the substantial footnoting and index at the back of the book will support his pro-gun arguments.