Robert Heinleein on Gun Rights

This may all be rather well known, but it was new to me, so I share it on the chance that it is new to some of you as well. (Feel free to share and forward.) I have been reading a collection of Robert Heinlein’s letters, edited by his wife Virginia, called “Grumbles from the Grave” (Ballantine, 1989). In one long letter dated April 19, 1949, to a woman editor at Scribner’s who forced him to alter the young people’s novel “Rolling Stones” to include approval of gun licensing laws, Heinlein set out his views about gun ownership (pp. 55-56): “I have one of my characters say that the right to bear arms is the basis of all human freedom. I strongly believe that, but you required me to blue pencil it.” “I am opposed to all attempts to license or restrict the arming of individuals . . . I consider such laws a violation of civil liberty, subversive of democracy, political institutions, and self defeating in their purpose.” (Regarding government licensing) “Whether the authorities be invaders or merely local tyrants the effects of such laws is to place the individual at the mercy of the state, unable to resist.” “Criminals are never materially handicapped by such rules; the only effect is to disarm the peaceful citizen and put him fully at the mercy of the lawless.” “Such is my thesis, that the licensing of weapons is subversive of liberty and self-defeating in its pious purpose.” Then after making changes incorporating approval of licensing and restrictions of guns to suit his editor, Heinlein wrote to his literary agent Lurton Blassingame: “from my point of view I am being required to support publicly a doctrine which I believe to be subversive of human liberty and political freedom” (p. 57). Heinlein fleshes out his argument considerably with arguments and examples and the whole three or so pages arguing about gun rights is worth reading, and, I dare say, drawing wider attention to.

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Robert Heinleein on Gun Rights

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