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Canadian warning on gun confiscation: It CAN happen there

Posted: February 19, 2013 at 5:55 am   /   by

“It Can’t Happen Here.”

That is the title of a 1935 political novel by Sinclair Lewis about the rise of a fascist government in America. It is also a phrase that people now use, sometimes sarcastically, to make a point about the degree of authoritarianism we experience now, or will at some point in history. Of course, as Jonah Goldberg points out in Liberal Fascism, it most certainly did happen here in overt fashion under Woodrow Wilson (and in many other ways since).

The possibility of outright door-to-door gun confiscation seems unlikely. It feels unlikely. America has long been the home of freedom. And yet, if you think about it, freedom is not the norm in the history of human governance. From the dawn of time until the dawn of the 19th century, despotism, monarchy, and ancient statism were nearly universal. If you didn’t live in a state of nature, you lived in a state that was comparatively unfree. Then, we had this brief, wonderful interregnum from “Waterloo to the First World War” in which things became comparatively free for people in a number of countries, led, of course, by America—the home and vanguard of human liberty. Unfortunately, in the 20th century, we moved back in the other direction and saw the rise of modern statism, in all its forms, from totalitarianism to fascism to the nanny-state corporatist quasi-capitalism we now live under throughout the West.

Today, we still have our Bill of Rights and our proud history of liberty, and we feel like “it can’t happen here.” And yet, look at where we are now. Things our Founders warned about have come to pass. Things our Founders deeply feared have come to pass. The limited role the wanted for the federal government is gone. The subsidiarity and respect for state and individual sovereignty upon which they based the very formation of our country is on the ropes. The welfare state and debt they said would destroy the nation now threaten to destroy the nation. Things that seemed unthinkable 40 years ago, eighty years ago, or 200 years ago, have come to pass.

No doubt we live in a world of marvels and modern phenomena that 19th century French author—and great praiser of America—Alexis de Tocqueville probably never imagined. And yet the “administrative despotism” he feared we might one day live under has come to pass—created by the growth of soft statism he warned us about.

Yes, we sill have our Bill of Rights and our legacy of freedom. It runs through our veins and permeates our psyche. And liberty and good sense may yet prevail in all this. But it is also true that a snapshot of the America of today would be unrecognizable and horrifying to the very people who founded this nation.

So, is this Canadian news anchor right, or is he being overwrought?

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook