The following essay is written by Massad Ayoob, the ranking sensei of the defensive pistol. Mr. Ayoob is not only the leading instructor and instructor trainer in handguns, he is also heavily in demand as an expert witness in lawsuits involving the use of lethal force, as well as being a sworn police officer for almost 20 years. Ayoob runs his defensive firearms academy, Lethal Force Institute, in Grantham, New Hampshire. This essay was printed in the June, 1994 issue of Guns Magazine.
I have been an activist for firearms rights all my adult life. However, only now have I begun to feel like a Jew in the Warsaw Ghetto. Only now have all of us American gun owners lived under a regime that has made it clear that it would rather our kind did not exist, and which has publicly dedicated itself to reducing our numbers.

Let us, for a moment, set aside the Second Amendment. In the time of political correctness, we need to address politically correct issues before we talk about the fundamental cornerstones of freedom guaranteed by our Constitution.

Do not speak to me of James Madison. Speak to me of defamation. There are Americans alive who can remember the Jim Crow years, when African-Americans were stereotyped in cartoons as baboons or Stepin Fetchit characters. There was a time when Jews were portrayed as hook-nosed, snaggle-toothed avatars of soulless greed. Until very recently, national newspapers and magazines ran cartoons that depicted Arabs with vulpine features.

Except for racist hate literature, that sort of thing is gone from the mainstream media of 1994. Well, almost gone.

Caught some anti-gun political cartoons lately? The gun owners and gun dealers will be depicted as physically unattractive, dirty, unkempt, and possibly keeping company with drug dealers. Mario Cuomo, spoken of as a potential Clinton appointee to the Supreme Court, has described hunters as drunken slobs who lie to their wives about their whereabouts over the weekend. Cuomo's implicit caricature of us is a graphic example of how we are seen by the "in crowd" that currently occupies the White House campus.

We who own guns for personal and family protection are targets of opportunity for this sort of slander and libel. We have no "anti-defamation league" of our own. Shall we go to the American Civil Liberties Union for help? We shall receive there as much succor as the victims of the pogroms would have received from the Hitler Youth. In both cases, the victims were not "politically correct," and in both cases, the organization in question would never have spoken against its own candidate.

Do not speak to me of Thomas Jefferson. Speak to me of civil rights. President Clinton has spoken enthusiastically of the proposals by the politically opportunistic mayors of our two largest cities to limit handgun ownership with a scheme of needs-based licensing.

History shows where they come from . We've seen it in their cities in the issuance of permits to carry concealed handguns. In the Los Angeles of Mayor Riordan or the New York of Mayor Guiliani, needs-based licensing has meant and still means, this: If you are a Eurocentric white male with a lot of money, and preferably have contributed money to the party in power, you have a need and we'll consider giving you a license.

When that is applied to mere ownership of handguns, I think we all know where it is going. The Clinton-approved concept of needs-based licensing for ownership discriminates against citizens, black, brown, red and yellow. It discriminates against the old, with their traditionally fixed incomes, and against the sick and the crippled who need a defense gun most, but are most likely to be burdened by the sort of medical debt that the First Lady has so often decried.

Although those who would make the gun owners of America as extinct in America as German Jews in 1944 Berlin would paint themselves as the champions of the poor and the oppressed and the people of color, the fact is in this nation that the yoke of poverty has fallen most heavily on just those citizens. It is they who are most likely to be trapped in the pockets of poverty that they call the inner city, the places where crime breeds. It is they who are most likely to be preyed upon by criminals. It is they who most need the wherewithal to defend themselves.

It is they who, cruelly and ironically, will be hardest-hit by the enormous guns and ammunition taxes proposed by the Clinton administration and its supporters, taxes that would make the tools of self defense prohibitively expensive for all but the rich and secure. These proposed laws impact most brutally, sometimes with life or death consequences, upon the poor, upon the victims of politically incorrect, but nonetheless very real, discrimination.

Don't speak to me of the Minutemen at Concord and Lexington. Speak to me of sexism. Who among today's electorate does not remember the horror of the young woman ravaged by the wilders in Central Park? Would Mace or a rape whistle have worked for her? Can any mother of any daughter, no matter what her political beliefs, examine the scenario and not wish that, if the daughter in question was hers, she would have in hand a high-capacity semiautomatic pistol she knew how to use?

The gun isn't known as the equalizer for nothing. Nothing less will balance the lethal disparity of force that the predatory male, alone or in packs, can exert at will over the lone female. How great would be the hypocrisy of politically active women who worked to keep that life-saving power away from their sisters and their daughters?

Don't tell me about the Second Amendment. Tell me about the Fourth. The one that supposedly preserves us from unlawful search and seizure. The administration speaks of banning assault rifles. Where the toe has been dipped in those waters--New York City, and the New Jersey of the same former Governor Florio who, insiders say, the President wants to appoint as a gun czar--the five year-old model of Great Britain has been followed. Expensive firearms are banned, citizens are paid a few cents on the dollar for turning them into the government, or nothing at all if they destroy their property.

Understand the horror! For the first time in this nation's history, we are talking about the confiscation of private property, lawfully purchased and responsibly owned, without fair market value compensation under the eminent domain principle!

Eminent domain says that if the Government determines that to preserve the public good it must take your property, it must at least pay current fair price to you before doing so. Considering how many guns- -some with more than a century of service in hunting fields and the target ranges-- are involved, and how high the current readily-salable retail has gone for AUGs and AR-15s and the like. The Government would have to spend many billions of dollars to compensate under the eminent domain principle. Billions that would save far more lives if devoted to medical research or housing the homeless, or drug interdiction, or feeding the hungry, or...

Finally, at the end, do speak to me of the Second Amendment. Tell me why this alone, amongst every other precious standard of individual liberty in the entire Bill of Rights, should apply to auxiliary soldiers when the rest speak to citizens one by one?

Don't be so blatantly stupid as to tell anyone who passed elementary school American History that the Second Amendment was about the National Guard. In the time of American Revolution, the "national guard" would have been Tories loyal to King George. I do not think that Madison and company felt a need to keep them armed.

The fight for the next three years goes to the heart of your freedom, and that of you children and grandchildren. It will not be fought with guns and bullets. It will only be about them.

It will be fought with political activism and common sense. It will be fought by reaching out to new allies, by forging coalitions of those who have already learned the hard way the truth that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.