Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It was Legal in Missouri until the 1970's to Kill Me: A Gun Rights Story

I teach high school US history.  I don't consider myself a historian, per se, but I do love the stories of the past.  I recently took a world history class from BYU and, odd as it may sound, find solace in the consistency and predictability that exists in the cycles of human history.  I also find myself sometimes lying awake at night with a stomach ache for the same reason. 

With the recent Mayan apocalypse, there was much discussion about the end of the world.  Obviously, I'm glad it didn't happen.  But history has shown us that the end of the world "as we know it" happens relatively frequently.  History also has shown us that our liberties and freedoms are tenuous at best (illusions at worst), and while the recent murders in Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado, and Texas are heinous, they are small fry compared to the genocides that have occurred in Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Germany, Cambodia, China, Russia (not to mention Scotland, ancient Egypt, and countless other ancient civilizations) and in other countries where the citizens were denied the right to defend themselves from their governments.  Historically, the worst mass murderers have always been governments.

So, as you can imagine, the recent push to limit US citizens' ability to arm themselves gives me reason to pause.  I have more personal reasons to be concerned, though.  I'm a Mormon.  An Extermination Order existed in Missouri until the 1970s that made it legal to kill a Mormon on sight. My and my husband's concerns are articulated below in an article he wrote.

"As a memberof the LDS church, I have a relatively recent history that demonstrates the importance of being able to defend ourselves with guns. In this case, our family ancestors were driven from their property under an extermination order signed by a governor. I feel it important to be able to defend myself and my family from such aggression.

On October27, 1838 Governor Boggs of Missouri received false reports by people who were fighting against the Mormons. As a result of the false reports he thought the Mormons were planning on attacking the city of Richmond. Governor Boggs ordered the state militia treat the Mormons "as enemies and [they] must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good." This resulted in many attacks on homesteads, and on Mormon settlements. A Colonel Hinkle, who was a member of the church, agreed with the state militia forces who had come to attack Far West, Missouri, to: 1) give up the church leaders, 2) give up the property of members of the church who had taken up arms (to defend themselves) to pay for those who were attacking them,  3) the saints would leave the state under protection of the state militia, and 4) give up their arms (HC3, 188). "The Governor's troops then marched into town, and under pretense of searching for arms, tore up floors, upset haystacks, plundered the most valuable effects they could lay their hands on, wantonly wasted and destroyed a great amount of property, compelled the brethren at the point of the bayonet to sign deeds of trusts to pay expenses of the mob (militia), while the place was desecrated by the chastity of women being violated." (HC 3, 192). My wife, Leah's great great great grandfather, John Pack, was among those forced to sign a document "paying" the militia for driving him from the state.  

The Constitution guarantees "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The founders of our country, like me, understood the right to bear arms was not to protect our right to sport hunting - It is a right to protect ourselves from tyranny."

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