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Rudyard Kipling on Gun Control

"When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said 'Stick to the Devil you Know.'"

Rudyard Kipling, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919). The full poem is about the perpetual folly of mankind in forsaking the elemental truths learned in school (the gods of copybook headings) in favor of seductive, but ultimately destructive, utopian teachings (the gods of the market place). For example,

"In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'If you don't work you die.'"

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More Kipling on Gun Control and Other Matters:
  2. Rudyard Kipling on Gun Control
BTD_Venkat (mail) (www):
Huh?
11.18.2005 1:50am
James of England:
That's wonderful. Thank you.

Did you skip the verse between the two you quote because it's less good, because it would be distracting, or because you're not interested in the subject matter? It seems amazing to me that it was written in 1911.


On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
11.18.2005 2:02am
SP (www):
So, here is a question that has bothered me for awhile. Why are reasonable TPM restrictions ok in terms of the 1st amendment but not the 2nd? I'm really not trying to start a fight, I'm sure gun-rights folks have an answer, I've just never heard it.
11.18.2005 3:38am
LINO_watcher (mail) (www):
"In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: 'If you don't work you die.'"

Of course implicit in this verse is the idea of property rights being honored. Those who have no property rights are indistinguishable from slaves.

Unless you were oddly quoting an anti-collectivist and anti-socialist verse to support some kind of socialist scheme where people are exploited and robbed and then attempts made to intimidate them into accepting this nonsense.
11.18.2005 4:08am
Michael Patrick Gibson (mail):
I wonder if Huxley read that bit in the last verse about the brave new world. I had always though he just ripped it from the Tempest. But here is Huxley's dystopia adumbrated in one verse...I think Huxley's book was published in the early thirties.
11.18.2005 4:23am
Brett Bellmore (mail):

So, here is a question that has bothered me for awhile. Why are reasonable TPM restrictions ok in terms of the 1st amendment but not the 2nd?


The answer is that reasonable TPM restrictions ARE ok in terms of the 2nd amendment. At the state level, where the general police power resides. But that the reasonable restrictions were all adopted a very long time ago, and people who are determined to destroy a civil liberty are a very bad judge of what additional restrictions would be "reasonable".
11.18.2005 6:25am
Guest44 (mail):
Personally, I'm fine with a few TPM restrictions on 2nd A: no carrying in court or while drunk or by violent felons; no grenades, C4, or crew-served weapons.

TPM restrictions that say "no concealed carry" or "no guns" are unreasonable to me.
11.18.2005 6:55am
PersonFromPorlock:
Why are reasonable TPM restrictions ok in terms of the 1st amendment but not the 2nd? I'm really not trying to start a fight, I'm sure gun-rights folks have an answer, I've just never heard it.

It has something to do with the tendency of supporters of RKBA restrictions to say "That's a good start" when one passes.
11.18.2005 7:49am
Pete Freans (mail):
How does a simulation of Rudyard Kipling holding an AK-47 sound? Now that's PR campaign that the NRA should adopt. The NRA needs more poets as members.
11.18.2005 7:53am
G. Lock:

Guest:
TPM restrictions that say "no concealed carry" or "no guns" are unreasonable to me.


I agree "no guns" is quite unreasonable, but it isn't exactly TPM, either.

Why is "no concealed carry" unreasonable? Because you give up tactical advantage in all the imminent crime scenes you stumble across?
11.18.2005 9:13am
Speedwell (mail):

Because you give up tactical advantage in all the imminent crime scenes you stumble across?


You say that like it's a bad thing.
11.18.2005 9:47am
billb:
"No concealed carry" is only unreasonable in the face of "no open carry," IMO.
11.18.2005 10:04am
G. Lock:
Speedwell - Of course it's not a bad thing, its just an exceedingly rare thing, and likely outweighed (from both personal and the government's perspective) by the alternatives - open carry, for example.

You'd have to arrive early enough in the crime that the harm could be prevented by drawing the weapon, but late enough that the deterrent effect of a sidearm or slung rifle is lost. All on public property or property open to the public. Seems like once or twice in a lifetime, at most.
11.18.2005 10:16am
G. Lock:
Speedwell - Of course it's not a bad thing, its just an exceedingly rare thing, and the benefits likely outweighed (from both personal and the government's perspective) by the alternatives - open carry, for example.

You'd have to arrive early enough in the crime that the harm could be prevented by drawing the weapon, but late enough that the deterrent effect of a sidearm or slung rifle is lost. All on public property or property open to the public. Seems like once or twice in a lifetime, at most.
11.18.2005 10:17am
Passing By:
As he is apparently beholden to Kipling's politics, I would love to hear Mr. Kopel relate this to, say, our misadventures in Sudan and Iraq.
11.18.2005 11:26am
Mike Lorrey (mail) (www):
It seems to me that Kopel has his attributions backwards. "Work or die" is a market rule, not a utopian rule. He is calling the market utopian? Kipling hardly thought so. More like the anti-marketeers were the utopians.
11.18.2005 12:14pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
Concealed carry offers great advanatages to a defender. Some of the benefits acrue to folks who don't carry.

Folks who think that the latter is wrong are invited to wear signs saying "unarmed" and to post the same on their residences.
11.18.2005 12:34pm
markm (mail):
"You'd have to arrive early enough in the crime that the harm could be prevented by drawing the weapon, but late enough that the deterrent effect of a sidearm or slung rifle is lost." No, if concealed carry is not too uncommon it will be a better deterrent than open carry, as criminals will not know who in a group might be carrying.

Consider a pair of criminals who are planning to stick up a McDonald's, which has ten or more customers at the moment. They are carrying concealed firearms, which most likely would be illegal for them in any case, since few men work up to open robbery without getting a previous felony conviciton. If they can be sure that no one else is armed, two handguns gives them a sufficient advantage over the customers and employees. With open carry, the criminals can see who is armed and either wait until they leave or plan to take them by surprise and/or shoot them first. If 5-10% of the population are carrying concealed, there is a substantial probability that at least one customer is armed, but the criminals cannot tell who, nor can they gather their money while watching 10 customers plus the staff. closely enough to ensure one armed person doesn't get a decisive advantage of surprise.

There are two alternative tactics: One is to recruit a much larger gang, enough to ensure no one could pull a gun on them unseen - but that reduces each criminal's take, and the larger the gang, the more risk that some member will stumble into other legal problems, which he might make go away by turning in his confederates. Or the stickup men might simply wait until the McD's is empty late at night - but then, the management might see to it that most of the money is taken to the bank or dropped into an on-site time-locked safe before the hours when the place is apt to be empty.
11.18.2005 12:35pm
PersonFromPorlock:
As he is apparently beholden to Kipling's politics, I would love to hear Mr. Kopel relate [The White Man's Burden] to, say, our misadventures in Sudan and Iraq.

It's pretty direct: Kipling's rather grim romanticism defined 'burden' as something that crushes you. He'd have expected 'misadventures'.
11.18.2005 1:05pm
DanB:
Having learned a lesson from Mr. Volokh's post about learning from context, I'm just going to ask. What does TPM stand for?
11.18.2005 1:06pm
PersonFromPorlock:
It's pretty direct: Kipling's rather grim romanticism defined 'burden' as something that crushes you. He'd have expected 'misadventures'.

(Continued) He would not, however, have accepted such misadventures as an excuse for 'The White Man' (read: 'the civilized world') to shirk his duty.
11.18.2005 1:13pm
Supermike (mail):
Mike,
Market doesn't mean "free market" here. Market means something closer to "market square"; a public area full of pamphleteers and demagogues with seductive ideas about how things "could be".
11.18.2005 1:26pm
billb:
Time, Place, and Manner
11.18.2005 2:05pm
A Question:
This isn't really on topic, and I don't want to hijack, so feel free to ignore me, but it seems like we've wandered into second-amendment issues, and I'd like to hear what smart gun-rights folks say about this:

I learned from John Wayne movies (and had it confirmed by the History channel) that towns in the Old West routinely forbid citizens other than the sherriff and his deputies to carry guns within the town limits. The laws were, of course, frequently broken, but they did exist, and were at least sometimes enforced.

Is there some simple explanation of why these laws were constitutional? Did the issue ever go to trial? (I've seen it said on this site that gun-controllers' interpretations of the 2nd amendment are unheard-of before the 20th century). Or is it just that the Clanton family et al. weren't exactly the type to settle their differences by means of lawsuits and constitutional interpretation? I can't be the first person to have thought of this, right?
11.18.2005 6:05pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
IIRC, the "don't carry" laws in the old west were only in cattle towns (where the herds were loaded onto trains) and only for the folks who brought the herds to town.

Note that old west violence was extremely segregated. Folks who wanted to fight were fair game. Folks who attacked folks who didn't want to fight were at considerable risk.
11.18.2005 10:37pm
Stan Morris (mail):
I must disagree with Andy Freeman. More than a couple of years ago, I represented an old mining town, Rico CO. The town was on the edge of development from Telluride and among other things the town board tasked me with updating all of the town's ordinances. One ordinance still on the books from the late 1800's fobade the carrying of firearms in town, either open carry or conceared. I gathered from the ordinance book that it was a public safety issue but there were neither cattle nor railhead within 50 miles.
11.19.2005 7:42pm
Stan Morris (mail):
I must disagree with Andy Freeman. More than a couple of years ago, I represented an old mining town, Rico CO. The town was on the edge of development from Telluride and among other things the town board tasked me with updating all of the town's ordinances. One ordinance still on the books from the late 1800's fobade the carrying of firearms in town, either open carry or conceared. I gathered from the ordinance book that it was a public safety issue but there were neither cattle nor railhead within 50 miles.
11.19.2005 7:43pm