The completely unplanned, unstaged, unfunded, and spontaneous gathering of 75 students outside Rockledge High School in Brevard County, Florida, last Friday morning was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. Organized by Chloe Deaton, a sophomore, and Anna Delaney, a junior, the event lasted 20 minutes, just long enough to make their point: Other students in the same high school and around the country who urged more infringements on the people's right to keep and bear arms didn’t speak for them.
After playing the national anthem (no one kneeled) and “God Bless America” on loudspeakers set up on the school’s track, Delaney told her classmates, “We were built on certain rights and that was one of the original rights, that we should have the right to bear arms.” She can be forgiven for failing to note that the right to self-defense and, thereby, the access to tools useful for self-defense are natural rights and pre-date the Constitution.
She made up for her misstatement by quoting President Ronald Reagan, who got it right: “The Constitution does not say that government shall decree the right to keep and bear arms." The Constitution says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Seventy-five students, compared to the thousands — some say hundreds of thousands — of “students” bussed in to Washington the week before no doubt caused some in the freedom fight to ask: How can such low numbers of people who dare to speak the truth outshine the mainstream media’s anti-gun agenda, which aims to drown out or ignore that truth?
The one-sidedness of the media slant was even more evident the next day when a grassroots gathering sponsored by Minnesota Gun Rights and North Star Liberty Alliance brought together 1,000 people at the state capitol in St. Paul for similar reasons: to support the Second Amendment and to complain about their legislators’ determination to infringe on it. Once again, the silence from the mainstream media was deafening.
But we don't need to outshine them, we need to merely show as many people as we can that they are not alone: They are part of a larger effort. When challenged by the vast ignorance expressed by so many in his own day, Albert Jay Nock (b. 1870, d. 1945) took great comfort in relating similar concerns expressed by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:
The prophet's career began at the end of King Uzziah's reign, say about 740 B.C. This reign was uncommonly long, almost half a century, and apparently prosperous. It was one of those prosperous reigns, however — like the reign of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, or the administration of Eubulus at Athens, or of Mr. [Calvin] Coolidge at Washington — where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash.
In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them.
I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."
Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
Margaret Mead said as much, in much fewer words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
When the mainstream media fails to report on such events, that doesn’t mean that those events aren’t occurring everywhere all the time. Those in the freedom fight, including active members of the John Birch Society, take heart from such events, knowing that they do not labor alone. In the present case, those who are ignored by the media are far from alone: Polls show that less than half of students age 13 to 17 think that more gun control would reduce mass shootings, but that the vast majority of adults recognize that the availability of guns actually reduces violent crime and murders.
And so, as Nock paraphrased the Lord: “Be off now and set about it!”
Photo of Rockledge High School: Mike Russell