Laura Williams: Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians

Since the tragic murder of 59 peaceful concertgoers in Las Vegas Sunday, I’ve heard well-intentioned Americans from all political corners echoing heartbroken and tempting refrains:

Can’t we just ban guns?

Surely we can all get together on the rocket launchers.

Things like this would happen less often.

We have enough military.

While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

Those who claim to see no necessity or benefits of individual gun ownership need only look to the rolling hills of Catalonia, where a live social experiment is currently unfolding.

Unarmed Patriots

Just hours before an alleged lone gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay casino, the citizens of a small region surrounding Barcelona, Spain, cast a vote for their regional independence. Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

Polling stations in Catalonia were attacked by heavily armed agents of the state with riot gear and pointed rifles. Spanish National Police fired rubber bullets and unleashed tear gas canisters on voters, broke down polling center doors, disrupted the vote, and destroyed enough ballots to throw results into serious doubt.

Exceedingly few of those would-be patriots were armed.

In Spain, firearm ownership is not a protected individual right. Civilian firearms licenses are restricted to “cases of extreme necessity” if the government finds “genuine reason.” Background checks, medical exams, and license restrictions further restrict access. Licenses are granted individually by caliber and model, with automatic weapons strictly forbidden to civilians. Police can demand a citizen produce a firearm at any time for inspection or confiscation. Spain has enacted, it would seem, the kind of “common sense restrictions” American gun-control advocates crave.

But of course, that doesn’t mean that Spanish citizens don’t buy guns. In fact, Spanish taxpayers maintain an enormous arsenal of weapons, which are all in the hands “professional armed police forces within the administration of the state, who are the persons in charge of providing security to the population.”

Those agents of the state weren’t “providing security to the population” of Catalonia on Sunday — they were pointing guns at would-be founding patriots who had challenged the rule of their oppressors.

“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Spain’s justice minister said in a public address.  While many polling places were closed or barricaded, 2.3 million voters (90% in favor of independence) were permitted to vote, he claimed, “because the security forces decided that it wasn’t worth using force because of the consequences that it could have.”

The consequences of a government using force to control those it is sworn to protect must be high. When citizens are armed, the consequences for tyranny rise and its likelihood falls.

Armed Tyrants

Americans have grown too trustful of the State, too ready to assume bureaucrats have only our best interests at heart. Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office, many are seemingly eager to turn over individual liberty to those who promise to manage our lives for us. The United States was designed to be the smallest government in the history of the world, with no standing army, and little right to intrude in the private activities of its citizens. Instead, we have the most powerful and intrusive government in human history, with 800 permanent military bases in 70 countries, unfathomable firepower, and staggering surveillance capabilities. Unchecked abuses of power are routine and tolerated.

67 federal agencies, including the IRS and the FDA, have military weapons, according to the OpenTheBooks Oversight Report The Militarization of America. Among the most intrusive programs, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Authority, do not disclose their weaponry budget.

Don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

The number of armed government officials with arrest and firearm authority has doubled since 1996. The US now has more armed “civilian” federal officers (200,000+) than US Marines (182,000). The IRS spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually on pump-action shotguns, AR-15 rifles, riot gear, and Special Forces contractors to train thousands of “special agents” in targeting American citizens.

Local police, sheriffs, and state troopers have also been armed to wage war against American citizens.  Battlefield weapons are being given to state and local police, allegedly to combat drug trafficking and fight terrorist threats at local pumpkin festivals. Military SWAT-style raids are used to serve search warrants for low-level drug possession, not hostage situations. Relatives and neighbors of alleged criminals have had government guns held to their children’s heads. Violations of civil rights, including illegal searches and the seizure of money and property without evidence of any crime, are commonplace.   

Law enforcement requests military equipment directly from the Pentagon’s war-fighting machine: tanks, machine guns, rocket launchers, tear gas, camouflage, shields, and gas masks.  Military equipment is often purchased with civil asset forfeiture slush funds to bypass legislative appropriations challenges.

The high percentage of civilian law enforcement who are military veterans (one in five, by some estimates) compounds the cultural risks of treating average Americans like enemy combatants.

Showdowns between civilians and heavily armed agents of the state in Ferguson, Baltimore, the Oregon Wildlife Refuge, and at various other political protests across the country should remind us that gun control advocates won’t be reducing the number of guns so much as shifting them all into either federal or criminal hands.

The senseless murder in Las Vegas is a frighteningly familiar tragedy. But don’t say “Americans shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns” when what you mean is “citizens should only be allowed to buy guns for their rulers.”

Laura Williams


Laura Williams

Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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57 Responses to Laura Williams: Catalonia Shows the Danger of Disarming Civilians

  1. Tim Neilson

    Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office,

    I wouldn’t describe Obama as “maniacal”. He’d blazed too much choom to get that energetic.

  2. Roger

    Catalonia’s citizens have a unique language, culture, and history, and consider Spain a neighboring power, not their rightful rulers. So as America’s Continental Congress heroically did (and as Texans and Californians occasionally threaten to do) Catalonia wished to declare independence and secede.

    Sorry, you lost me right there; invoking a dubious analogy doesn’t bolster your argument.

    The Cathalans are nothing like the American Founding Fathers.

  3. cuckoo

    Catalonia is the ultimate sh!t test. I’ve seen lefties who love it because independence movements are a Good Thing. And lefties who hate it because it threatens the breakup of their beloved EU. And conservative commentators who love it because it threatens the breakup of the EU. The worst case of Trump Derangement System I know is insisting the Russians are funding Catalan independence. (But he also insists the Russians were funding UKIP.)

  4. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    Catalonia Independence is a communist plot aided and abetted by the Kremlin.

    More of them should have been shot.

  5. Barry 1963

    What the good doctor prescribes has a manifestation on Earth. It’s called Somalia. I prefer Australia.

  6. Craig

    Stopped reading at ‘manical man child’. Typical leftist bullshit name calling by someone called Laura Williams. This is what the leftist turd like Laura don’t get, they seem to think we of the centre right respond to this language as if it’s some tribal mind thought the centre right should agree on. No Laura, fuck you and fuck off.

  7. notafan

    Sorry, you lost me right there; invoking a dubious analogy doesn’t bolster your argument.

    Exactly Roger

    The demographics of Catatonia are nothing to do with anything, and it is has a very significant immigrant population.

    Catalan is spoken as a first language by a tiny minority, mostly old people and despite all the rhetoric
    the issue seems to be mainly, a spendthrift socialist government that has run up billions of debt which wants an even bigger share of the tax take to fund even more equality!

    The turn out for the vote was very low (only around 43%) and it was very clear that most no voters stayed home.

    The author clearly wants to see a rerun of the Spanish Civil War.

    PS there isn’t a single region of Spain that does not boast ‘a unique language, culture and history’.

  8. Suburban Boy

    Dr Williams’ support for Catalonian independence from Spain would be more credible if she also said that she thought the South was entitled to secede from the United States in 1861.

  9. Zatara

    I scrolled past the gratuitous ‘maniacal man child’ crack but when I hit the oft-debunked ‘800 permanent military bases in 70 countries’ Ron Paul meme I quit.

  10. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    95% of what the Doc says is bang on.

  11. Tel

    While victims were still in surgery, some took to television and social media to criticize the “outdated” and “dangerous” Second Amendment to the Constitution. They have lived so long in a safe, stable society that they falsely believe armed citizens are a threat to life and liberty for everyone.

    Does anyone remember when the French cartoonists were murdered, how all the same crowd started going off about outdated, and dangerous French laws?

  12. Tim Neilson

    This is what the leftist turd like Laura don’t get

    I’m not sure she’s a “leftist”. Leftists are mostly psychotically derangedly anti-private gun ownership, which she’s clearly not.
    I think she’s at the fringe of libertarianism where sensible scepticism of authority starts to drift into paranoia.

  13. H B Bear

    There will be that many automatic weapons in Europe following the MENA million muzzy march that the US will look like a pretty good balance in a few years time.

  14. Roger

    PS there isn’t a single region of Spain that does not boast ‘a unique language, culture and history’.

    Yes, and one could say the same of just about any European country, including the U.K..

    Is every ethno-cultural minority in the world entitled to stage an armed insurrection against historical and lawfully constituted authorities on the basis of real or perceived grievances?

  15. Tel

    Yes, and one could say the same of just about any European country, including the U.K..

    And indeed, both the Scots and the Irish were given an opportunity to peacefully become independent.

  16. notafan

    People seem to be forgetting the murderous Basque separatists too.

    list of European separatist movements

  17. Roger

    And indeed…the Irish were given an opportunity to peacefully become independent.

    Only after a war, Tel.

  18. sfw

    I like Laura, I think we could make beautiful music together, I like her attitude on guns as well.

  19. Empire GTHO Phase III

    Is every ethno-cultural minority in the world entitled to stage an armed insurrection against historical and lawfully constituted authorities on the basis of real or perceived grievances?

    The only armed insurrection happening in Catalonia is by the federal government against its own citizens.

    I seem to recall an independence referendum in Scotland in 2014. Her Majesty’s armed forces were not commanded to prevent the vote.

  20. Roger

    The only armed insurrection happening in Catalonia is by the federal government against its own citizens.

    Madrid adopted a stupid approach; if they had let the referendum proceed it would have been defeated.

    I seem to recall an independence referendum in Scotland in 2014. Her Majesty’s armed forces were not commanded to prevent the vote.

    The Scottish vote was legal.

  21. Biota

    I guess the Chechnyan conflict was the type of conflict that Laura would favour.

  22. Tel

    Only after a war, Tel.

    Well it wasn’t 100% peaceful, but if it had been a war, the English would have won easily just like they did every other time the Irish got stirred up. Fundamentally the British did not want a real war at the time so they backed out somewhat awkwardly but not as bad as many other empires under similar circumstances.

  23. Empire GTHO Phase III

    The Scottish vote was legal.

    Because Westminster consented to a Section 30? The Scottish Parliament received advice they had a case to hold a vote and were prepared to test it. They had some kind of leverage negotiating with Westminster. The latest plea for Section 30 “discussions” is pitiful and planned to fail. Clearly Scotland has lost its leverage post BREXIT.

    Catalonia delivers juicy tax revenue to Madrid. The Feds continue the Franco tradition of public funding for Real Madrid and general cronyism. When big brother in Brussels is displeased, they cop lawfare, fines and who knows what else. Spain is a basket case. Corrupt and bankrupt.

    Dissent will not be tolerated. It’s about the cash.

    Check out this EU shake down shit from 4 Oct.
    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-3498_en.htm

    That psycho commie Juncker is saying “grind my organ you swarthy wench”.

  24. Felix Kruell

    And how does the author think the Catalan dispute would have ended up had the voters brought along guns too?

    The State has the right to assert sovereignty. Catalonians have the same democratic rights as other Spaniards. They don’t have the right to secede. Quite different to the US founders.

  25. rickw

    And how does the author think the Catalan dispute would have ended up had the voters brought along guns too?

    If the voters had guns the Government show of force would have been significantly more restrained you tool.

    That’s the beauty of an armed citizenry, Goverment knows its place.

  26. rickw

    Not that great an argument, but at least there is the fundamental recognition that there MUST be a balance of real power between The State and The People.

    If there isn’t, then The People slowly get dry humped to death by The State, as is the case with Australia.

  27. Eyrie

    “The State has the right to assert sovereignty”
    Amazing number of statists on a so called libertarian blog. Whatever happened to “the consent of the governed”?

  28. Craig

    Not buying it Tim, she has shown her colours using language found only on the left

  29. Tel

    The State has the right to assert sovereignty.

    The State has the might to assert sovereignty.

  30. Empire GTHO Phase III

    The State has the right to assert sovereignty. Catalonians have the same democratic rights as other Spaniards. They don’t have the right to secede. Quite different to the US founders.

    The state has an obligation to defend sovereignty. That’s what I willingly pay tax for – continental defence in all its forms.

    Robbing Pedro to pay Pablo isn’t a racket I would want to fund, nor is the corrupt EU Superstate.

  31. notafan

    At this stage there is no evidence that the independence voters in Catalunya represent anything like a democratic majority.

    I actually don’t care if they are are in or out, I do think that the current regime in Catalunya are a bigger bunch of corrupt liars than the mob in Madrid.

    I also think the corrupt socialists will destroy the place quicker that a Maduro.

  32. sdfc

    At this stage there is no evidence that the independence voters in Catalunya represent anything like a democratic majority.

    There is no evidence to say they don’t. Rajoy’s incompetence has probably shoved a few more in the yes column, a clear majority thought the referendum should be held.

  33. Rabz

    Catalunyans are commies.

    The civil war wasn’t that long ago, FFS.

    And no, I’m not referring to the American one.

  34. sdfc

    Conservatives often get excited at the sight of men in uniform.

  35. Rabz

    Illiterate innumerate ahistorical collectivist cockheads invariably blurt out nonsensical wordfarts whenever their obvious unrelenting idiocy is pointed out.

    Whenever I see drooling idiots in statist uniform I immediately place a very large distance between them and myself. The moron above goes and supplicates itself before them.

    Here’s that moron, engaging in some supplication:

    “Hey stalinfuhrer, I can tell you where all our local enemies are hiding – will you then give me a precious dog biscuit, if I get down and raise my skinny flabby and bulbous backside and beg you to, please, stalinfuhrer?”

    sdfc you monstrous obsequious cockhead – I’ve seen more intelligent creatures lying dead by the side of road than you. I’ve leaned against trees who were more capable of justifying their existence than you are.

    You are an absolute disgrace. A petty little fascist who would happily condemn everyone else to any form of unrelenting tyranny as long as you could try and pretend that there actually was some point to your inexcusable existence.

    Just fuck off.

  36. max

    A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite. (Omnipotent Government, p. 90)

    No people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want. (Nation, State, and Economy, p. 34)

    The right of self-determination in regard to the question of membership in a state thus means: whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars. (Liberalism, p. 109)
    If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done. (Liberalism, pp. 109–10)

    https://mises.org/library/mises-secession

  37. Rabz

    Humanity is rapidly descending back into “extreme” tribalism.

    Whether we like it or not, we will be existing in “interesting times”.

  38. sdfc

    Whenever I see drooling idiots in statist uniform I immediately place a very large distance between them and myself.

    Then why aren’t you up in arms about Rajoy’s jackboots you colossal fuckhead?

  39. sdfc

    Libertarians are in short supply on Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog.

  40. notafan

    The vote turnout was 43% with many allegations of vote tampering for its 90% yes, by the Catalunya government notorious for corruption.

    Stands to reason no voters would stay away from a vote declared illegal by the Spanish government.

    That isn’t democracy.

  41. DD

    But trolling, intentional or not, has reduced a topical argument in favour of 2A into a squabble over interpretation of illustrative points. Cats should be ashamed.

  42. notafan

    Perhaps the author shouldn’t have called the president of the United States a ‘maniacal man child’.

    Credibility zero.

  43. notafan

    If the author wants to be taken seriously she shouldn’t preface her arguments with BS analogies and pathetic put downs.

  44. Chris M

    I like Laura, I think we could make beautiful music together, I like her attitude on guns as well.

    Yes – definitely hot and freedom loving, nice. But the Trump derangement syndrome kills it a bit…

  45. Boambee John

    From the open thread

    IR at 0754

    Thomas Jefferson would raise an armed militia to obliterate the ABC and government ‘advertising’.

    The strongest evidence of the value of an armed society in combating government overreach, ironically, is the Muslim “community”. The government knows that the Muslims have access to weapons and are quite willing to use them.

    Lo and behold, the government lets Muslims get away with activities that would see obsolete Australians in jail so fast their feet wouldn’t touch the ground.

    We needs our politicians to have the same fear of us that they have of Muslims.

  46. DrBeauGan

    I love the old Australia and despise the current one. I have therefore decided to secede from the country. For tactical reasons I haven’t yet told the government..

  47. Kneel

    notafan: “That isn’t democracy.”

    Was the response of the Spanish Govt one of calm reason? I think not.

    Calm reason would say that federal agents would be dispatched with signs along the lines of:

    The federal court of Spain has ruled this vote to be illegal.

    Therefore, the federal government of Spain will NOT accept the outcome of this vote as evidence of the will of the people of Catalunya.

    and place them conspicuously and in plenty at every polling booth, then go home. Subsequently ignore any claims made on the basis of the vote, by reason that the court had already declared it illegal and that voters were notified by appropriate signage at as many places as the govt agents could get to in the allowed time, as well as national media advertising.

    Likely outcome:
    Some vote, others do not, great gnashing of teeth, political diatribes galore. Catalans go through the process again after some time and do so fully legally, with an appropriate and amicable outcome regardless of what that outcome is.

    Actual response:
    Federal govt dispatches the army to prevent by physical force electors from reaching a polling station and to destroy or otherwise invalidate already cast votes. Army uses sub-lethal weapons, those targeted by the army respond with violence.

    Actual outcome:
    Many of the 60% or so of Catalans who either didn’t vote or voted “No”, have friends and family – or are themselves – victims of violence perpetrated against them by their own army, when their only intention was to peacefully exercise their right to self-determination. How many of those would now vote “Yes” to Catalan independence?

    I would suggest that the Spanish govt has done itself no favors here, alienating pretty much ALL the fence-sitting Catalans and likely very many previously staunch “No” voters too. They may have put it off, but they have assured that at some point, Catalunya will become independent again. So Spain can say goodbye to one of it’s most productive (and therefore very lucrative, tax wise) areas, simply because the govt itself over-reacted.

    Well, they ARE politicians, I suppose…

  48. Roger

    Libertarians are in short supply on Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog.

    If Libertarianism supports the right of Socialists to defy the rule of law and manipulate a referendum to achieve their ends and impose their will on a majority then it doesn’t represent the future of Western liberalism but rather the fag end of it.

    It has mistaken the power to choose for the ultimate Good when it is, rather, a means of attaining the Good.

    This has, admittedly, taken us a long way from the topic of the 2nd Amendment, but then it wasn’t commentaters here who made the inane analogy but the author of the article.

  49. notafan

    alienating pretty much ALL the fence-sitting Catalans and likely very many previously staunch “No” voters too.

    I suggest you have no idea about Spanish politics.

    Incidentally, imagine being a member of the 4000 strong Spanish police against a mob of up to 700,000.

    There were no deaths, and that is a good thing.

  50. marcus classis

    While the central concepts of this article are OK, Williams demolishes her credibility with the level of emotive and one-sided comments made.

    Patently asinine and/ or snide virtue signalling comments such as “Even with a maniacal man-child in the Oval Office,” seriously detract from the article.

    If the article was clearly labelled as an opinion piece, this might matter less. Yet from the tone and structure it appears to be intended as an assessment or analytical piece.

    Including emotive commentary and unvalidated ‘virtue signalling’ data such as the 800 bases in 70 countries point really damages this piece.

    Which is a pity, some of the themes of her argument were interesting. Spain, for example, remains an Imperial state – it is an empire. It’s also an old fashioned and rather outdated internal Imperial structure, representative of ‘stage 2’ European imperial structures, and the Spanish state has done little to modernise this over the last two centuries. Franco attempted to clear the decks and develop a more efficient federated imperial structure, but the bad old Imperial Napoleonic habits of massively centralised state control in an Imperial capital overwhelmed his efforts, and they failed. They always seem to in the long run (witness the USA’s concentration of power in an imperial capital) due to the human desire for maxi,um personal power and damn the long run.

  51. Fisky

    If Libertarianism supports the right of Socialists to defy the rule of law and manipulate a referendum to achieve their ends and impose their will on a majority then it doesn’t represent the future of Western liberalism but rather the fag end of it.

    Roger, the strategic imperative is to smash the EU into little pieces, if that requires temporary alliance with Left-wing insurrection, I’m fine with it. I was a huge supporter of the Greek Syriza movement prior to their cucking out.

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