Tag Archives: free

“Don’t act surprised, you guys, ’cause I wrote ’em!”

30 Mar

After the mass shootings in the US recently, the gun control debate (briefly) raised its ugly head. However, instead of debating the pros and cons, I was more curious about the language of the 2nd Amendment. More to the point, what did the guy who wrote it have to say?

Quick recap of American History: After the Declaration of Independence, the United States were not… united. The Continental Congress sounds rather impressive in the history books, but it was still a voluntary conference of independent state governments. If Rhode Island’s legislature had decided to declare its undying loyalty to George III, they could have. It wasn’t until March 1st, 1781, five years after war was declared, that the Continental Congress signed its first constitution, the Articles of Confederation. This gave nearly all power to the states. This didn’t work and the cracks in the union were showing. Eight years later, some folks decided to scrap the articles in favor of a new working constitution.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were afraid that giving power to a national government would create a tyrannical government just like the one they had spent seven years fighting. After the compromises and debates, the states still had to ratify the Constitution, and the biggest objection to that was that their rights were not enshrined. So one of the things James Madison, one of the major drafters of the Constitution, wrote a Bill of Rights with 12 amendments to ensure those rights were protected. Ten of those were passed, including the Second regarding guns.

Fun fact: one of the unpassed amendments was passed two hundred years later as the 27th Amendment. The other dealt with changing the number of reps per state through mathematical formula, it doesn’t really work in a country of over 300 million.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

2nd Amendment to the Constitution (1791)

A lot of attention is paid to the commas (see what the Supreme Court says about it), opponents talk about the focus on the word “militia,” and how the founders were focused on national defense, not individual gun ownership. But again, I’m not debating what I think about it, but what James Madison thinks about it… the guy who wrote it.

Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it.

“Publius” (Madison’s pseudonym), The Federalist Papers, Number 46

What Jimmy Boy was more concerned about was tyranny–an overpowering national government able to crush all dissent–which you have to admit, is a lot easier if the citizens aren’t armed. Opponents would say that’s not really possible in the modern era; to quote a French officer in WWII, “you can’t fight tanks with rifles.” Madison would agree with you: “And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes.”

But that’s not the point. When the folks want to shake off their yokes, they have the choice. Otherwise, you have to stand in front of tanks and hope the army soldiers are more interested in protecting life than stopping dissent. In 1991, that worked in Russia… and didn’t in China. The difference? Organization. In Russia, Boris Yeltsin was the president of the Russian SSR–the equivalent of a state (the biggest and comprised most of the country, but not the national leader) and refused to back down in the face of the “Gang of Four.” In China, it’s was pro-democracy protesters, and didn’t have the backing of a local or state government. The American Civil War wouldn’t have happened if the states themselves didn’t want to secede, but if they didn’t have the guns in the first place, they wouldn’t have even got started… and history would have been a lot different.

This doesn’t address the issue of daily life and the problems of having the wrong person owning guns, but all ye liberals, consider this. If you aren’t allowed to own a gun, the only guns are in the hands of the police and the military, the same ones you want to defund. The only ones who are authorized to protect you can not be everywhere at every time. Even assuming a criminal can’t get a gun, can you defend yourself against a man who’s ready to kill you for your wallet? As was said of the first revolver manufacturer, “God created men equal. Colonel Colt made them equal.”

But I’m biased… I’m just not adamant about it. What argument did I miss? Did Jimmy have too much faith in the power of militias? (Answer: Yes, he did.) Could Jimmy imagine a world where people had more than single-shot muskets? Was Jimmy too much of a weakling to fight? Let me know in the comments below! And while you’re down there, click on the link for my books and buy one! Not ready to commit to that? Download one of my stories for free!

How Come Everybody Want to Keep it Like the Kaiser?

3 Nov

I read an interesting post today – “If I’m not going to make money off my books, why don’t I give them away for free?” And I’m torn on the issue. Because although that might be a way to generate readership, people perceive free things as having no value.

One of my favorite authors, David Weber, worked with his publisher and offered the first book in his space opera series, On Basilisk Station for free on Kindle and on his website. It’s a great book – I should know, I’ve been a member of his fan club for many years! As he likes to joke, “The first taste is free.” Like any good drug dealer, the hope is that you get hooked on the character and want to buy all the other books in the series.

So the concept can work. I’ve read many free books. I love the Little Free Library for just that reason; exposing me to books I would have never been inspired to read on my own. Some books I’ve wanted to keep reading in the series, others I’ve been like, “That was nice, but I don’t need to find out more about these characters,” and some I’ve been, “Ugh, I’m glad I didn’t buy this.”

But on Twitter, I’ve been offered books for free, and I download them but… sometimes I never even read them. In one case, I realized, “Oh, I hate mystery novels.” Sometimes, I’ve read halfway through the book and thought, “It started out good, but it’s just the same thing repeated over and over.” Sometimes I’ve read the free sample, bought the book, and realized far too late that all the good stuff was in the sample.

That’s why pricing is such a big deal on Kindle. $0.99 sounds good, but it also sounds cheap – am I getting a short story overpriced? On the other hand, I read a 10-book (quickly written) series for under a book and enjoyed it. I put all my books at US $1.99 which I figure gets me compensated fairly and still puts my books available for casual readers.

I think I’ve going to go halfway and give away a book for free for a week as a way of celebrating an upcoming novel (which is Drag’n Drop, coming out December 4th). I’d like to give away Fatebane, which is my favorite novel I’ve written and the only character I’ve written over three books, so there’s a chance at repeat business.

But what do you think? Is it a good idea to give away books? Have you embraced a free book to become a wild fan of the author? Or are free samples or short stories on their website enough? Let me know in the comments below!

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