The United Nations is getting into the gun-control business, suggesting private ownership of firearms is a dangerous and outdated idea and that, for the safety and well-being of all concerned, only governments should be entrusted with such authority.

At the same time, we learn the U.S. federal government, with nearly 70,000 domestic men-at-arms, is militarizing national law enforcement authorities at an alarming rate.

Why should we worry about these parallel trends? Because history shows us that only an armed and vigilant citizenry stands between freedom and slavery. And because government is the only power on earth capable of the kind of mass annihilation for which the 20th century is notorious.

“About 170 million men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hanged, bombed or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners” in this century, writes University of Hawaii professor R.J. Rummel in his book “Death By Government.”

No other century has come close to the carnage of the 20th, he writes.

“It is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague,” he says. But this is plague is a “plague of power.”

Rummel’s estimates of the death toll, remember, are based on documentary evidence, in most cases, provided by governments themselves. Thus, the actual number is probably much higher — perhaps as high as 360 million, he says.

Without question, socialist regimes, those that monopolize power in government, have been by far the deadliest culprits. Since 1949, for instance, one in every 20 Chinese citizens has been murdered, starved or killed by their own government. More than 50 million civilians wiped out in “peacetime.”

And it is the unarmed civilian population that always pays the highest price. During this century, four civilians died for every soldier killed fighting in wars.

The Soviet government was the second biggest butcher regime, not only in the last 100 years, but throughout history. Many of the civilian deaths, such as those who died of starvation in Josef Stalin’s Ukrainian terror famine, were murdered by government-dictated quotas. In sheer numbers, the Chinese and Soviet holocausts made Hitler’s look trifling by comparison.

More recently, from 1975 through 1979, more than 2 million Cambodians, or 31 percent of the population, was destroyed by government edict inspired by utopian pipedreams. That belief in power as a tool of changing societies, combined with government’s superior firepower, is the big difference That’s been standard operating procedure this century, says Rummel.

“In this century there has been a concerted attempt to use power to change societies in ways never thought of in the past,” explains Rummel.

Whether it was Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China, the first step toward civilian “pacification” — and ultimately mass murder — is the strict control of private gun ownership. Just a handful of guns in the Warsaw ghettoes kept the Nazis at bay for many months.

To get a picture of just how many people have been exterminated by government, imagine this: If you lined up all these victims and marched them at 3 miles per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with three feet between them, Rummel figures it would take five years and nine months for the grisly parade to end. Unfortunately, it would start right up again with the latest atrocities in Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda and, inevitably, wherever the next government-sponsored genocide occurs.

Ask yourself: Would this — could this — have happened if the citizenry of these countries had the right to bear arms as we in the United States have had for the last 200 years? In every case, there is a common denominator — raw government power and a disarmed civilian populace.

Are we really ready to consider worldwide control and regulation of private gun ownership? If so, just imagine what the body count will be like in the 21st century.


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.