In so doing, these people, who come from all walks of life, and from many different ethnic groups, demonstrated that they are heir to a very old intellectual tradition. Here's a little background:
Ancient Greece, now known as the "cradle of Liberty", was comprised 2500 years ago of a number of small city-states, some small, some larger, with a wide variety of different styles and types of government. They quarreled constantly among themselves, for arable land and exploitable resources were as scarce then as now, and human nature has not changed. Just as now, most of the Greek polities disliked being tyrannically ruled, and in the 6th century BC, they rebelled against the Persians. Darius, King of Persia, attempted to reconquer the Greeks, but failed. In 480 BC, his son Xerxes, having spent several years assembling his army, marched on Greece.
The Greeks, quarrelsome as ever, knowing the Persians had amassed a huge army variously estimated at between 100,000 and over a million men, mostly cavalry, could not at first agree on who should command the Greek Resistance or how to organize it. Leonidas, one of the two elected kings of Sparta, together with his personal bodyguard of 300 picked men and a few thousand other Greek warriors marched to Thermopylae ( The Hot Gates,) a pass between mountains and the sea. The Hot Gates were a choke point where the Persian invasion force could not employ cavalry, and there he rebuilt the stone wall across the pass and waited for the Persian Army to arrive about 200,000 to 300,000 strong.
When they did, Xerxes sent his heralds to the Greeks, and offered the Greeks land, money and their lives if they would lay down their arms and surrender, hoping to buy the subservience of the Greeks. Leonidas' response to the call to disarm was brief- "Molon Labe!" "Come and take them!" After failing to persuade the Greek blocking force to withdraw, the Persian army attacked. The Greek force inflicted horrific casualties on the Persians, to the point that the Persian officers had to whip their troops forward. On the third day of battle, Xerxes found another route across the mountains, and sent his Immortals to attack the Greeks from the rear.
All of the Greek defenders were killed to a man; the Persians are believed to have suffered from 20 to 40 thousand killed. But Leonidas' bravery and willingness to die for his cause inspired the Greeks, and Xerxes failed to conquer Greece as a result. It is because of Leonidas and the Three Hundred that we know of the concepts of individual freedom and personal liberty, concepts defended time and again through the ages.
Time and again, history shows us examples of the spirit of freedom, of those who understand that liberty must be defended even in the face of overwhelming odds, even at the price of their own lives. Horatius at the bridge, the triumph of Welsh longbowman at Crecy, and the 70 Englishmen who stood on Lexington green in 1775 and refused to disarm, who defied their own government and fired the shot heard round the world, are all examples. The Texas War of independence, started when a tyrant tried to strip away the right of the people to own and carry weapons, is another. So is the Battle of Athens Tennessee, where American GIs used military arms to overthrow a corrupt local government and restore Liberty. There are many, many more.
There are other examples from history, too. History tells us what happens to those who have disarmed. From the dawn of time to the time of Leonidas, to the Romans, through the Dark Ages, and even up to today, the fate of disarmed people has not changed. Technology has changed, but human nature has not. Tyranny and oppression feed on the helpless, and the savage and the brute revel in the horror that they can create when their victims are disarmed. Whether one considers wholesale slaughter as demonstrated by the Holocaust, or retail slaughter as seen in the atrocities of Newtown, Columbine and all the other recent mass shootings, these events are all testimony to what happens to the disarmed.
During the twentieth century alone, over 170,000,000 disarmed people were murdered by their own governments. Russians, Poles, Germans, Chinese, Cambodians, Laotians. Armenians, and many others died, defenseless, at the hands of their own government. In every case, these genocides were preceded by disarmament of the victims.
Those are some of the lessons of history, and yesterday, thousands of people demonstrated that they KNOW these lessons, will defy tyranny and will defend their rights. Leonidas died at Thermopylae, but his words have lived on for over 2500 years, and these words were spoken again just yesterday.
"COME AND TAKE THEM!"
Those who presently exercise authority should heed these words from their people, and consider some other lessons history offers.
The Irish Republican Army fought the British to a standstill, and ultimately to a political victory, with fewer than two hundred active members out of a population of over 50 million. This equates to 1200 people in the entire USA. This on an island, with no Bill of Rights restriction on the police power, more police per capita than the USA, a long history of a disarmed populace and few arms in the hands of the people, no ability to train in even basic shooting techniques, and the IRA having a generally disliked Marxist philosophy. Contrast that to the USA, which has somewhere over 350 million legal firearms in private hands, over 100 million gunowners, many of whom shoot regularly and competitively outshoot police and military personnel, and a Constitutional recognition of the right to own and carry weapons. If only ten percent of the gunowners of this country are willing to violently defy a disarmament order, this would be twelve times the number of all law enforcement combined.
Then there is the old American tradition of shooting the leaders of our enemies. During the Revolution, the British were particularly distressed that the Americans, many of them veterans of the French and Indian Wars, had the temerity to specifically target officers first. Many units preferred to hide among the trees and rocks, shoot the officers and NCOs, and then run away and hide, to repeat this activity all over again. This was also true during the first War between the States, and is still true today. US doctrine since the revolution has emphasized targeting the enemy's leaders. There are a great many retired scout snipers and other veterans who took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, who know these lessons from history and have experience in Vietnam, Irag, Afghanistan and other hotspots around the world in targeting the enemy leadership. Bill Clinton recognized this lesson and applied it, when he directed the targeting of media outlets and personalities who supported the Serbians during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
The last American civil war cost somewhere in excess of 600,000 combatant dead, out of a total population of around 30 million. Wounded were about 5 times as many. The same percentage would mean today over 6 million combatant dead and 30 million wounded. This assumes that a civil war fought today would be as restrained as the last one, which is a considerable assumption. Given the vast differences in culture, religion, and philosophy between different factions in this country, not to mention improvements in technology and the fragility of the infrastructure, a civil war in this day and age could result in thirty million dead, possibly more, depending on how quickly the FreeFor won.
Those who presently exercise power in this country had better ponder these lessons, for there are many who stand for liberty who know them well. No rational person wants to see another civil war, but if attention is not paid to these lessons of history and the voices of the people, we will be doomed to be another undying lesson to history. Gunowners in this country have been smeared and scapegoated for the criminal insanity of both the deranged and the politicians of this country, and they have had enough. No matter what the cost, knowing the lessons of history a significant fraction of US gunowners will not be disarmed, and will not tolerate any further infringement of our right to own and carry weapons.
In response to the beguiling words of the would-be Xerxes asking them to yield up their weapons, they speak ancient words which ring down through 25 centuries, the words of Leonidas, King of the Spartans-
"COME AND TAKE THEM!"