America, guns, and freedom. Part I: A recapitulation of liberty

Surgical Neurology International
Article Type: 
Published Date: 
Monday, October 29, 2012

The role of gun violence and street crime in the United States and the world is currently a subject of great debate among national and international organizations, including the United Nations. Because the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the individual right of American citizens to own private firearms, availability of firearms is greater in the U.S. than the rest of the world, except perhaps in Israel and Switzerland. Indeed, although the American people continue to purchase and possess more firearms, homicides and violent crimes have continued to diminish for several decades because guns in the hands of the law‑abiding citizens does not translate into more crime. As neurosurgeons, we can be compassionate and still be honest and have the moral courage to pursue the truth and find viable solutions through the use of sound, scholarly research in the area of guns and violence. We have an obligation to reach our conclusions based on objective data and scientific information rather than on ideology, emotionalism or partisan politics. — Abstract

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.

Noah Webster, an examination of the
Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, 1787.


In the Spring of 1943, the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, having become aware the Nazis were deporting the remaining Jews to the gas chambers of Treblinka, took up arms, whatever they could find, and rebelled against the German occupiers. These determined insurgents had only homemade Molotov cocktails and a handful of small arms, revolvers, pistols, and a few Polish resistance fightersGerman soldiers in Polandmilitary or hunting rifles. It took vastly superior Nazi forces to subdue the rebels, and the Germans suffered up to 300 casualties in pacifying the city.[6]

There were several other armed struggles and Ghetto uprisings, and the Poles and Warsaw remained a serious problem for the Germans during the remainder of the war. The Polish Jews continued to procure whatever arms they could find to defend themselves in their struggle, repeatedly disrupting the timetable of the Nazi high command and the German war effort [Figure 1].

The last major Polish uprising in August 1944 was to be launched in concert with the liberating Soviet Red Army. But, the advancing Red juggernaut suddenly and inexplicably halted. Advised by General Georgi Zhukov, Stalin rejected the appeals of the Western allies to assist the insurgents. For 2 months, the courageous Poles fought the Nazis in heroic, urban warfare without any assistance [Figure 2]. Stalin had simply halted the advance of the giant Red Army to allow the Germans to destroy the non‑communist freedom fighters: 200,000 Poles perished and 800,000 were deported to the death camps.[4] Warsaw was erased by orders of Adolf Hitler, and the Soviets at the outskirts of the city did nothing.[42]


During the summer of 1944 in the ongoing carnage of World War II, German troops were retreating on multiple fronts. Hungarian allied troops were defending the motherland from the onslaught of the Soviet Red Army, yet in the midst of the chaos, nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews were rounded up and deported to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz‑Birkenau, where 90% of them were summarily exterminated in the gas chambers. A reign of terror ensued for those who remained in Hungary; thousands of them were tortured, robbed, or murdered; Jewish Captured Jewish womenwomen were raped; property was looted or confiscated.[25] These atrocities were carried out with a minimum of Nazi troops. While seated in a restored synagogue in Budapest a few months ago, a friend of mine listened in utter disbelief as this story was recounted. How could this have happened? How could these atrocities have been carried out with only a minimum of Nazi troops? The Hungarian state had outlawed the possession of firearms for its citizens. Simply put, this happened without resistance because the Hungarian people had been disarmed [Figure 3].


And here is a story with which I am intimately familiar. After the triumph of the revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro reneged on his promise to establish democracy in Cuba. In response, the Revolutionary Directorate (RD), the opposing, non‑communist group, threatened to renew the insurrection against the Castro brothers’ revolutionary government. To back their demands with substance or perhaps even expecting a showdown, the RD seized arms from the San Antonio de los Baños Air Force Base in the western part of the island.

Fidel Castro reacted characteristically in a speech at the Maestre Barracks of San Ambrosio, artfully commanding the situation by accusing the RD of seizing the arms and then, in a masterpiece of rhetoric, asking: ¿Armas para que? ¿Para luchar contra quién? ¿Contra el gobierno revolucionario, que tiene el apoyo del pueblo? (“Guns, for what? To fight against whom? Against the revolutionary government that has the support of the people?”). Fidel Castro defused the situation and neutralized the defiance of the RD. Shortly thereafter, Castro commenced his long‑term campaign to disarm not only his confreres in the Revolutionary Directorate who had not joined him, but also, in due time, all Cubans. A 100,000‑member “militia” was organized to seek out the political opposition and actively disarm it.

Unfortunately, they had a well‑drawn blueprint to follow — the local firearm registration lists that the former dictator, Fulgencio Batista, had established. All the milicianos had to do was to Anti-communist Cuban insurgentsseize the registration (licensing) lists and then go door to door searching for and confiscating firearms. The militia tried to disarm my father, a physician, and the episode is recounted in my book Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise (2002).[8]

During the Batista dictatorship (1953–1958), Cubans were free to leave the country with family, personal possessions, and their wealth, anytime they wished, but not so in communist Cuba.

Since Fidel Castro took over the island in 1959, the best figures we can glean are that between 30,000 and 40,000 Cubans were either executed en los paredones de fusilamiento (on the firing squad wall) or died at the hands of their communist jailers. Between 1960 and 1965, hundreds of anti‑communist rebels, many of them former RD members, went back to the hills of the Escambray Mountains in my native Las Villas province to fight the new communist dictatorship of the Castro brothers [Figure 4]. The mostly peasant insurgents, who were defending their lands, lacked sufficient weapons to overcome the well‑armed, communist Cuban military forces. Thus, most of these peasant insurgents were annihilated by 1966.[5,7,8]

Moreover, between 1960 and 1993, 36,000 Cubans perished at sea trying to escape the Castro brothers’ communist inferno. If we include all of those who died escaping the regime, those who were shot or died in custody, the figure well exceeds 100,000. In fact, the late scholar Armando Lago arrived at a death toll of 105,000 victims directly attributed to the regime of Fidel Castro.[5,8]

Countless thousands of other Cubans have died indirectly as a result of Fidel Castro’s collectivist policies, unspeakable privations, malnutrition, and the general desolation of a once prosperous island — the island Christopher Columbus called the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

One day, as it happened in the Soviet Union, we will learn the truth, and more accurate numbers will be available, recording the full extent of the brutality and destruction wrought by communism in Cuba. One reason this happened and Cuba today remains a totalitarian state despite the collapse of Soviet communism is because the Cuban people were disarmed.[5,7,8]


The role of gun violence and street crime in the United States and the world is currently a subject of great debate among national and international organizations, including the United Nations (UN). Because the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the individual right of American citizens to own private firearms, availability of civilian firearms is greater in the United States than the rest of the world, except perhaps in Israel and Switzerland. But freedom comes with responsibilities. Children should be taught not only the basic academic subjects, but also instructed in civics, constitutional principles of government, and the meaning
of liberty. Simply stated, education is important, and a system of constitutional governance that guarantees individual liberties and protects citizens from disarmament (by their own governments) comes with concomitant responsibilities. The citizens’ necessary civic involvement in the society in which they live is paramount, and it requires that the empowered population remain an informed and vigilant citizenry, the ultimate guardians of their own rights and freedoms.[1,21,35,41]

The First 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution (i.e., the Bill of Rights) limit the power of government and enumerate certain fundamental, individual rights, so that their enumeration would provide specific protection from the monopolistic tendency of government to wrest power away from (and usurp the liberties of) the individual citizen. The Second Amendment was framed by James Madison, the master builder of the U.S. James MadisonConstitution, as an essential part of the American Bill of Rights, one of the fundamental, inalienable Natural Rights of citizens guaranteed in the Constitution [Figure 5].

The physician and English philosopher, John Locke (1632–1704), who was greatly admired by the American Founding Fathers, once wrote, “I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my Liberty would not when he had me in his Power take away everything else.” And for his part, Thomas Jefferson added, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and for government to gain ground.” The solution to this dilemma — namely, government as a necessary evil, according to Joseph Story (1779–1845), foremost American jurist and intellectual alter ego of Chief Justice John Marshall — was found in the Second Amendment.

Supreme Court Justice Story thus wrote (1833): “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over  them.”[37] These are strong words better said by the American Founding Fathers in explaining the reason for the Second Amendment than to be left unsaid to a posterity that may have forgotten why the natural right of gun ownership was written into the U.S. Constitution.

In the last three decades, most American legal scholars — including Second Amendment attorney David T. Hardy, Akil Reed Amar of Yale University, William Van Alstyne of Duke University, Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds of the University of Tennessee, Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas Law School, Don B. Kates of the Pacific Institute for Public Policy Research, attorney David Kopel of the Independence Institute, and noted Fairfax, Virginia, attorneys Jeffrey Snyder and Stephen P. Halbrook — have concluded that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. [2,22‑24,26,31,33,36,40] Nevertheless, gun prohibitionists, in justifying their crusade for gun control in place of crime control, have erroneously maintained that the Second Amendment only permits the National Guard or the police to possess firearms for collective police functions.[10,11,13]


The U.S. Supreme Court finally confirmed what many of us had believed all along. On June 26, 2008 in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a Washington, D.C. handgun ban, which had forbidden American citizens from owning and possessing firearms in the District of Columbia. The Court ruled that U.S. citizens have an inalienable, personal right to keep and bear arms in the federal districts of the nation, a preexisting natural right guaranteed in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Then on June 28, 2010 in the McDonald v. Chicago case, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a similar Chicago handgun ban, reconfirming that the Second Amendment protects an individual right of all citizens to possess firearms in their homes for self‑defense. In the McDonald decision, the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Second Amendment as a fundamental right of citizenship applicable to all the states and municipalities of the nation via the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Under legal tradition, a constitutional right is protected and inalienable under the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, if it is considered a fundamental right, an inherent natural right deeply rooted in American history and jurisprudence.


Even before these landmark rulings, Americans had refused to give away their natural and constitutional right “to keep and bear arms.” Nevertheless, many politicians bent on prohibiting gun ownership have tried ingenious ways to curtail gun rights and institute gun control. One legal approach has been to attempt to apply the Treaty power of the U.S. Constitution, using the UN as a vehicle, to circumvent and contravene the same document and disarm Americans.

I refer to the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

While in the landmark case Reid v. Covert (1957), the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution supersedes the power of treaties, many left leaning, liberal scholars have tried to circumvent that ruling with creative arguments, claiming the treaty power vested in the Constitution supersedes other internal U.S. laws, even if these are duly enacted laws, and even if the treaty itself contravenes the U.S. Constitution. Other conservative legal minds disagree. For them, it is axiomatic that a creature is never greater than its creator!

For years, so encouraged, several influential politicians and respectable members of the Democratic Party, have worked hand‑in‑glove with their political counterparts in the UN to pass several versions of the UN’s Small Arms Treaty. The most recent attempt, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), was tabled in July 2012; but according to Gun Owners of America (GOA), UN Secretary General Ban Ki‑moon called “the unraveling” of the ATT merely a “setback,” and experts at the UN expect further discussions and the taking of a vote at the next session of the UN, when the General Assembly reconvenes.[20]

The Obama administration continues to support the treaty and has indicated that negotiations will resume after the next presidential election. This stance may seem contradictory, but it should not be surprising in view of the recent scandal created by “Operation Fast and Furious,” in which American officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the Obama administration, under the supervision of the Department of Justice, were running illegal guns to Mexico so they could push for gun control in America while simultaneously pushing for the UN treaty.[12]

But what would this UN treaty entail? I believe U.S. Representative Paul Broun (GA‑R) is immensely correct when he expressed the following concerns in a June 2010 open letter:

“If passed by the UN and ratified by the U.S. Senate, the UN’s Small Arms Treaty would almost certainly force national governments to: enact tougher licensing requirements, making  law‑abiding citizens cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a firearm legally; UN knotted gun statueconfiscate and destroy all ‘unauthorized’ civilian firearms; ban the trade, sale and private ownership of all semiautomatic weapons; create an international gun registry, setting the stage for full‑scale gun confiscation.”

The truth is that although the UN Small Arms Treaty has failed to materialize because of the inability of negotiators to reach a consensus this time around, according to GOA, “it would be a mistake to believe that it spells the end of the effort to regulate small arms worldwide.”  Indeed, for years the UN has been trying to formalize a global, civilian disarmament treaty with the intention of circumventing the Second Amendment rights of American gun owners. After all, the UN has dictated national policy to other sovereign nations as it regards environmental, criminal, and even global tax issues, so why not gun control? [Figure 6] So the struggle to preserve the right to gun ownership is an ongoing effort, even for those who already possess it.


Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. disarm only those who are neither inclined nor  determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

— Italian Criminologist Cesare Beccaria, “On Crimes and Punishment,” quoted in
Thomas Jefferson’s Literary Commonplace Book.

Scholarship published in the criminologic, sociologic, and legal literature in the last 30 years show that the defensive uses of firearms by citizens amount to 2.5 million uses per year and dwarf the offensive gun uses by criminals. In the United States, between 25 and 75 lives are saved by a gun in self and family protection for every life lost to a gun in crime.[38] Medical costs saved by guns in the hands of law‑abiding citizens are 15 times greater than costs incurred by criminal uses of firearms. Guns also prevent injuries to good people and protect billions of dollars of property every year.[13,29,30,38,39,41]

Moreover, the actual U.S. health care costs of treating gunshot wounds is approximately $1.5 billion, which is less than 0.2% of the U.S. annual health care expenditures. The $20–40 billion figure so frequently cited in the medical literature has been found to be a deliberate and exaggerated estimate of lifetime productivity lost, where every victim of crime is assumed that had not his life ended untimely he would have become a wealthy successful citizen. Reality  points otherwise: Many “victims” are criminal elements who have been killed in the act of perpetrating serious crimes, either by the police or by law‑abiding citizens acting in self‑defense.[9,10,13,38,39]

In a 1986 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) paper, Drs. Arthur Kellermann and Donald T. Reay claimed that defending oneself or one’s family with a firearm in the home is dangerous and counterproductive, noting that, “a gun owner is 43 times more likely to kill a family  member than an intruder.”[28] This conclusion, though, was severely criticized by numerous investigators, who had not only discerned evidence of methodological and conceptual errors in the study, but also found that the authors, most significantly, had failed to consider and underestimated the protective benefits of guns.[13,32,38,39] These and other serious deficiencies, stemming not only from methodological errors but also from political partisanship, have been noted in the standard public health model, which has also erroneously assumed that guns are a disease that must be eradicated in order to combat crime and promote what public health researchers deem desirable gun control laws.[3,9,10,13‑19,27,38,43]

On the other hand, Professor John R. Lott, Jr., using the standard criminologic approach, reviewed the FBI’s massive yearly crime statistics for all 3054 U.S. counties over 18 years (1977–1994), the largest national survey on gun ownership and state police documentation in illegal gun use. The data show that while neither state waiting periods nor the federal Brady Law is associated with a reduction in crime rates, adopting concealed carry gun laws that allowed law‑abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for self‑defense cut death rates from public, multiple shootings (e.g. as those which took place in 1996 in Dunblane, Scotland, and Tasmania, Australia or the infamous 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado in the United States) — by an amazing 69%. Allowing law‑abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime — without any apparent increase in accidental death. In Professor Lott’s survey, children 14–15 years of age were found to be 14.5 times more likely to die from automobile injuries, 5 times more likely to die from drowning or fires and burns, and 3 times more likely to die from bicycle accidents than they are to die from gun accidents.[34]

In the United States, if states without concealed carry gun laws had adopted them in 1992, about 1570 murders, 4177 rapes, and 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided annually. Moreover, when concealed carry gun laws went into effect in a given county, murders fell by 8%, rapes by 5%, and aggravated assaults by 7%.[34]

For this important, groundbreaking research, Professor Lott has received the accolades he certainly deserves both from his peers in the social sciences and from the freedom‑loving citizens of the United States. Nevertheless, his work and findings need wider dissemination among the people, as well as the elected representatives, of the emerging democracies of the world at large, who are still not aware of his work and freedom‑promoting message.

In Part II of “America, Guns and Freedom,” this essay will conclude with the experience of the United States in juxtaposition with the rest of the world in terms of the experience of violence with firearms, multiple and accidental shootings, the relationship of guns and suicide, and perhaps most troubling of all — the relationship of civilian disarmament to the development of tyrannical governments and genocide. In a better light, Part II of this essay will end with a discussion of how armed citizens can preserve their freedom and republican form of self‑government, more commonly referred to as representative democracy.


1. Adams L. The Second Amendment Primer: A Citizen’s Guidebook to the History, Sources, and Authorities for the Constitutional Guarantee of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Birmingham, AL: Palladium Press;1996.

2. Amar AR. The bill of rights and the fourteenth amendment. Yale Law J 1992;101:1193‑284.

3. Bennett JT, DiLorenzo TJ. From Pathology to Politics: Public Health in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers; 2000.

4. Blejwas S. A heroic uprising in Poland and Kojder A, Wegierski M. The Role of Poland and the Poles in World War II. The Polish American Journal, August 2004. Available from: [Last accessed on 2004 Aug 15].

5. Clark J. Cuba, Mito y Realidad — Testimonios de un Pueblo. Saeta Ediciones. 2nded. 1992.

6. Edelman M. The Ghetto Fights: Warsaw, 1941–43. London, England: Bookmarks Publications;1990.

7. Encinosa E. Cuba en Guerra — Historia de la Oposicion Anti‑Castrista 1959‑1993. Miami, FL: The Endowment for Cuban American Studies;1994.

8. Faria MA Jr. Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise. Macon, GA, Hacienda Publishing; 2002. [Last accessed on 2002 Jun 14].

9. Faria MA Jr. Public health and gun control — A review (Part I): The benefits of firearms. Medical Sentinel 2001;6:14‑8. Available from: [Last accessed 2001 Apr 1].

10. Faria MA Jr. Public health and gun control — A review (Part II): Gun violence and constitutional issues. Medical Sentinel 2001;6:11‑3. Available from:

11. Faria MA Jr. The Second Amendment — Reaching a consensus as an individual right. Medical Sentinel 2000;5:213‑4. Available from:

12. Faria MA Jr. Gunrunning ATF runs amok! GOPUSA. Available from:
[Last accessed on 2011 Jul 18].

13. Faria MA Jr. The perversion of science and medicine (Part I): On the nature of
science; (Part III): Public health and gun control research; and (Part IV): The battle
continues. Medical Sentinel 1997;2:46‑53. and Medical Sentinel 1997; 2:81‑86. See also: Amicus Brief No. 07-290 IN THE Supreme Court of the United States DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., Petitioners, v. DICK ANTHONY HELLER, Respondent. On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. BRIEF FOR AMICUS CURIAE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS, INC. IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENT. ANDREW L. SCHLAFLY Counsel for Amicus, February 7, 2008.

14. Faria MA Jr. Public health — From science to politics. Medical Sentinel 2001;6:46‑9. Available from:

15. Faria MA Jr. The perversion of science and medicine (Part II): Soviet science and gun control. Medical Sentinel1997;2:49‑53.Available from:

16. Faria MA Jr. Statistical malpractice — ’Firearm availability’ and violence (Part I): Politics or science? Medical Sentinel 2002;7:132‑3. Available from:

17. Faria MA Jr. Statistical malpractice — ’Firearm availability’ and violence (Part II): Poverty, education and other socioeconomic factors. Available from: [Last accessed on 2002 Mar 25].

18. Faria MA Jr. Part I: Public health, social science, and the scientific method. Surgical Neurology 2007;67:211‑4. Available from:

19. Faria MA Jr. Part II: Public health, social science, and the scientific method. Surgical lNeurology 2007;67:318‑22. Available from:

20. Gun Owners of America (GOA). Help Gun Owners of America stop the UN’s continuous attempts to destroy the 2nd Amendment. Available from: [Last accessed on 2012 Jul 31].

21. Halbrook SP. That Every Man Be Armed — The Evolution of a Constitutional Right. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press; 1984.

22. Halbrook SP. The right to bear arms in the first state Bills of Rights: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Vermont Law Review: 1985;10:255‑320.

23. Halbrook SP. The right of the people or the power of the state: Bearing arms, arming militias, and the second amendment. Valparaiso Law Review 1991;26:131‑207. Available from:

24. Hardy DT. Armed citizens, citizen armies: Toward a jurisprudence of the second amendment. Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy: 1986, p. 559‑638.

25. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Hungary After the German Occupation. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Available from:

26. Kates D. The second amendment: A dialogue. Law and Contemporary Problems; 1986, p. 143.

27. Kates DB, Schaffer HE, Lattimer JK, Murray GB, Cassem EH. Guns and public health: Epidemic of violence or pandemic of propaganda? Tennessee Law Review 1995;62:513‑96. Available from: [Last accessed 1995 Apr 1]

28. Kellermann AL, Reay DT. Protection or peril? An analysis of firearm‑related deaths in the home. N Engl J Med 1986;314:1557‑60.

29. Kleck G. Point Blank — Guns and Violence in America. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter; 1991.

30. Kleck G. Targeting Guns — Firearms and Their Control. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter; 1997.

31. Kopel DB. The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies? Buffalo, New York, NY: Prometheus Books; 1992.

32. Kopel DB. “Children and Guns” in Guns, Who Should Have Them. New York, NY: Prometheus Books; 1995, p. 309‑443.

33. Levinson S. The embarrassing second amendment. Yale Law J 1989;99:637‑59.

34. Lott JR Jr. More Guns, Less Crime — Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 1998.

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36. Reynolds GH. The right to keep and bear arms under the Tennessee constitution. Tennessee Law Review; 1994;61:2.

37. Story J. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1830) quoted in The Second Amendment Primer by Les Adams. Birmingham, AL: Palladium Press; 1996.

38. Suter E. Guns in the medical literature — A failure of peer review. J Med Assoc Ga 1994;83:137‑48. Available from:

39. Suter E, Waters WC, Murray GB, Hopkins CB, Asiaf J, Moore JB, et al. Violence in America — Effective solutions. J Med Assoc Ga 1995;84:253‑63. Available from:

40. Van Alstyne W. The second amendment and the personal right to arms. Duke Law Journal; 1994;43:1236‑55.

41. Waters RA. The Best Defense — True Stories of Intended Victims Who Defended Themselves With a Firearm. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House; 1998.

42. Wdowiński D. And We Are Not Saved. New York, NY: Philosophical Library; 1963.

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Article written by: Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and a World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002), Editor Emeritus, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS); Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). 

This article was originally published in Surgical Neurology International and may be cited as: Faria MA. America, guns, and freedom. Part I: A recapitulation of liberty. Surg Neurol Int 2012;3(1):133. Available from:

Copyright © 2012 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD

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Comments on this post

Global gun control — Professors' discussion!

When this article first came out in Surgical Neurology International (SNI), a long discussion ensued in the commentary section, unfortunately when SNI chnaged its format recently, some of the comments were lost. Professor Hariz's original letter was lost but I kept a copy of my reply to him which I,m reposting here for the benefit of documentation as well as an interesting source of information for a controversial topic.

October 30, 2012

Hello Prof. Hariz,

Thank you for your interest in my article. Allow me first to respond to two general items in your letter before proceeding to specifics.

You wrote: "... if your Journal is one aimed to be really INTERNATIONAL, I think an international approach to contentious issues would be advisable, lest international looses its meaning here."

First, if you look at the articles published in SNI, Prof. Hariz, you will find that the vast majority of them come from around the world, not just the USA. And we welcome and invite knowledgeable health care professionals, particularly neurosurgeons and neuroscientists, from all over the world to write and submit articles and commentaries (including "contentious" or controversial ones). Moreover, we are delighted to publish responsive letters to articles with a contrarian viewpoint. As Dr. Ausman has stated on multiple occasions, SNI is an open journal and different points of view are welcome.

You wrote: "The US is a great country but it is not the norm of how it should be..."

Second, my article, "America, Guns, and Freedom – Part I " is focused on the U.S.A, not to slight on the rest of the world but because it is the USA that has led nations of the world in extending the torch of liberty throughout the globe, particularly since World War II after the defeat of the German Nazis, the Italian fascists, and the Imperial Japanese empire. And after the war, America not only freed the nations of Europe and Asia, but also proceeded magnanimously with the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe at the expense of American taxpayers.

Moreover, on the issue of guns, firearms are plentiful in the civilian American population, not just for sport and hunting, but also in the traditional cause of liberty. Only Switzerland can rival America in citizens possessing firearms and in embracing liberty as a national ideal. And yes America is not perfect; we have too many lawyers and excessive litigation that impacts adversely on physicians in general and neurosurgeons in particular. England has a better legal-tort system, and I have written extensively on that subject.

Again, let me reiterate that we are delighted to publish well-researched articles on various socioeconomic topics that may be of interest to neurosurgeons and the general readership of SNI. In relation to both of these points — i.e., international vs U.S. — I myself have written two article on Russia's politics and history for SNI (1)(2)

Before Surgical Neurology (SN) went online as SNI, I wrote at least three article on the Cuban health care system; one letter responding to an article on the Nicaraguan health care system under the Sandinistas, etc. I have also written elsewhere extensively on El Salvador during the civil war in the 1980s, and have travelled there as well as to Haiti during troubled times in those countries, visiting hospitals, mental institutions, and orphanages. I led a humanitarian effort in one of those countries.(3) (4) (5) (6)

So we at SNI are definitely international and we welcome opposing viewpoints in commentaries or responsive, interesting letters, such as you have written — and we have so promptly published.

As to more specific items, where should I begin? You have started, Prof Hariz, so many little fires!

Let me start by agreeing that there have been many petty dictatorships, both of the right and left variety, who killed many of their own people, but these despots did not propound destabilizing and evil political philosophies, world conquests, or the extermination of millions of people, class enemies, for a grotesque and twisted political philosophy. Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier were petty tyrants who ruled with the help of voodoo and thugs, Les Totons Macuote. Anastasio Somoza was a greedy dictator interested in power for the sake of financial gain for himself and his family. When these despots died or fell from power, their greed and corruption vanished with them!

Not so with communist ideology anywhere in the globe. Karl Marx and Lenin died but left violence, oppression, dictatorship, death, desolation and destruction in their wake. As I pointed out in my article (and extensively substantiated by the various political scientists cited) — collectivist governments in the form of communism and Nazism (in peace time) — killed more of their own people than all wars of the twentieth century combined! And the proletarian paradise failed to materialize despite 100 million victims! Communist regimes may not be the only dictatorships on this planet, but they are the most oppressive and deadly:

USSR: 20-40 million; China: 40 million plus; Cambodia: I million plus (over a third of the population!)(7) (8)(9)(10)

Regarding the communism of the Castro brothers, Salvador Allende, the Ortega brothers, and Hugo Chavez, you are incorrect. All of them, except for Hugo Chavez (whose own political thinking is a little fuzzy) have categorically stated that they were communists or Marxist-Leninist from the start. One must keep in mind that in Latin America "socialism" is almost always used as a euphemistic synonym for communism to make it more palatable to the people, who for the most part prefer their festivals, religion, real democracy and freedom to communism and slavery.

Fidel Castro, not recognizing Europe's social democracy as legitimate governments of the proletariat, used the terms socialism, communism (as did Lenin and Stalin), and Marxist-Leninism as completely synonymous terms. (11)

President Hugo Chavez, according to Wikipedia, whose own founder, Jimmy Page, affirms is biased toward the left — says this about Chavez:

"Although he has been a leftist ever since his days at the military academy, since becoming president Chávez's political position has progressed further left, rejecting democratic leftist ideologies like social democracy or the Third Way and instead embracing socialism." Since 2008, the Hugo Chavez ruling clique calls itself the United Socialist Party, a proto-communist party, which has vowed to turn Venezuela into a socialist, Marxist state.

Daniel and his brother Humberto Ortega, just like Fidel and Raul Castro, waited until they were firmly in power in Nicaragua in the 1980s (and too late for the people and those who supported him) to proclaim themselves openly Marxist-Leninists.

Finally let me state that Alexandr Solzhenitsyn has thoroughly, as have others, debunked the mendacities of fairness, equality, freedom, social justice, etc. of the socialist workers paradises. His works and subsequent revelations that have come to light with the end of Soviet communism, have thrown the rotten idols — i.e., Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Mao, Tito, Castro, and the whole slate of communist tyrants — from their pedestals and the false moral high ground from which they falsely stood. I recommend you read all of Solzhenitsyn's works to understand why the evil Soviet empire came tumbling down with the crumbling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of Soviet communism in 1991. The volumes of The Gulag Archipelago are perhaps the best books, the most honest political testament, and the most poignant condemnation of a brutal political system that has ever been or that will ever be written, a testament to a man who against all odds preferred freedom over slavery — and triumphed! I challenge you to read them, Prof Hariz.

I have taken too much time to rebut your assertions, and I think I should leave my comments on the "wonders" of socialized medicine vs American medicine for another time. Perhaps we can discuss it under one of my other articles on that topic published here in SNI.(14) Suffice to say that the documentary "Sicko" by Michael Moore has been thoroughly debunked as biased, inaccurate and contrived. Take a look at this video. (15)

Please take these criticisms of your letter in the collegiality and good faith in which it was written.

Cordially and fraternally,
Miguel A. Faria, Jr.

Selected References

1) Faria MA Jr. The Russian political turmoil (2012): An American perspective. Surg Neurol Int 2012;3:28:

2) Faria MA Jr. Stalin's mysterious death. Surg Neurol Int 2011;2:161:

3) Faria MA Jr. Socialized Medicine in Cuba 2002 (Part 1): A Poor State of Health!

4) Faria MA Jr. Socialized Medicine in Cuba (Part II): "Doctor Diplomacy," Sex Tourism, and Medical Apartheid.

5) Faria MA Jr. Medical Equipment from U.S. Brightens Christmas in El Salvador

6) Faria MA Jr. Letter to the Editor: Regarding "International Perspective: Neurological Surgery in Nicaragua."

7) Rummel RJ. Death by Government. Piscataway, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 1994.

8) Simkin J, Zelman A, Rice A. Lethal Laws. Milwaukee, WI, Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership, 1994. http://

9) Stéphane Courtois, et al. The Black Book of Communism (1999). .

10) Faria MA Jr. Stalin, communists, and Fatal Statistics, the Macon Telegraph, Jan 8, 2012

11) For the most thoroughly documented biography of Fidel Castro, I recommend Fidel Castro by Robert E. Quirk. 1993. This is the most comprehensive and accurate biography. It is also unbiased.

12) Alesandr Solzhenitsyn. The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956) — An Experiment in Literary Investigation. 1973. This volume contains Parts I-II. The first 660 pages of the English translation. Nonfiction. Translated by Thomas P. Whitney.

13) Alesandr Solzhenitsyn. The Gulag Archipelago (1918-1956) — An Experiment in Literary Investigation. 1975. This volume contains Parts III-IV, The Destructive Labor Camps and The Soul and Barbed Wire. The final 712 pages of the English translation. Nonfiction. Translated by Thomas P. Whitney.

14) Faria MA Jr. ObamaCare: Another step toward corporate socialized medicine in the US.;year=2012;vol...

15) John Stossel exposes Michael Moore's lies about Cuban health care.

If it saves one life

“If It Will Save Just One Life”

Have you noticed how some people use a phrase or a proverb to support their position on a specific subject, but then they totally ignore that same phrase when it applies to another subject with which they disagree? No one is 100 percent consistent. But past a certain point, inconsistency becomes so great that it destroys all credibility.

Take the phrase, “If it will save just one life.” Proponents of strict gun control – that is, gun confiscation – delight in repeating it as if it were a mantra. And even here, the phrase sounds nice but is counter-factual. It is undeniable that if no private citizens possessed guns, there would be no accidental deaths from guns. But it is equally undeniable that there would be more deaths of unarmed victims of violent criminals.

Eighteen-year-old Sarah McKinley was home with her three-month-old son on New Year’s Eve 2013. She lived in the rural community of Blanchard, Oklahoma, and police response times tended to be long. Her husband was not with her; he had died of cancer on Christmas Day.

She saw two men attempting to break in. She recognized one as a man who had been stalking her since her husband’s funeral. Apparently he was looking for drugs in the cancer victim’s home. She gave the baby his bottle, then retrieved a shotgun and a handgun and barricaded the door. She phoned 9-1-1 and asked what to do. She was told she could not shoot unless they came through the door. But the 9-1-1 dispatcher, who was a woman, added, “You do what you have to do to protect your baby.”

Sarah was on the phone with 9-1-1 for 21 minutes, and the police still had not arrived when the men broke down the door. The first man, the stalker, came at her with a 12-inch hunting knife. She fired the shotgun, killing the man. His companion fled, quite possibly breaking the Olympic 100-meter record. He later turned himself in to police.

Later Sarah explained:

I knew that I was going to have to choose him or my son, and it wasn’t going to be my son, so I did what I had to do. There’s nothing more dangerous than a mother with a child.

If we truly want to “save just one life,” we must remember Sarah McKinley and all those like her. We must read the work of Dr. John Lott, especially “More Guns, Less Crime,” which shows that violent crime decreases when more law-abiding citizens are armed, after background checks and suitable training. We must read the work of Dr. Gary Kleck, especially “Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America,” which shows that guns are used more often to defend against violent crime than to promote it….

Dr. David C. Stolinsky, July 20, 2015

Politicizing tragedy backfires!

A Message from GOA —

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Americans all over the country grieved when 26 precious lives were ended way too early by the actions of a murderous thug.

But in a shameless effort at politicizing a tragedy, our President has used the ensuing months as an opportunity to attack gun owners and the Second Amendment.

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” the President’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, used to say.  And exploitation of a calamity is precisely what President Obama did this past year -- with, of course, much help from the liberal media.

Some of the more notable media events occurred shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting:

* In two very famous interviews, GOA’s Executive Director Larry Pratt went mano-a-mano with CNN’s Piers Morgan ...One reporter said Pratt calmly and rationally took “the arrogant British host completely apart” and debunked every “tired liberal claim” about gun control.

* And then GOA’s Director of Communications went toe-to-toe with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC in an intense debate over the President’s gun control agenda...After the firefight, GOA’s Facebook lit up with comments that ranged from “Erich Pratt owned her” to “She got schooled” to “I’m so pleased I rejoined GOA...”

But if there’s good news, it’s that the truth is winning out -- and we are seeing this in many ways:

1. Good guys with guns are saving lives.

One week prior to the Newtown tragedy last December, a concealed carry permit holder stopped the shooter at the Clackamas Mall in Oregon.  While the killer had stolen an AR-15, he was stopped when Nick Meli pointed his gun at him.  (The killer then retreated and took his own life.)

Universal background checks would have done NOTHING to stop either killer in Oregon or Connecticut.  Both men stole their weapons.  The only difference -- the key difference -- is that, in Oregon, there was a good guy with a gun!

2. CDC confirms that guns save lives.

After being commissioned by the President to study “gun violence” earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control found that guns are used more often to save life than to kill, “with estimates of annual [defensive gun] uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”  (June 2013)

Because there are roughly 30,000 gun deaths every year (by murder, suicide and accident), this means that guns are used in this country anywhere from 16 to 100 times for often in self-defense.

3. Police agree that guns save lives.

A poll of more than 15,000 police officers this year showed that the rank-and-file cop on the beat is EXTREMELY pro-gun:

* 80% feel that legally-armed citizens would likely have reduced the number of casualties in recent mass shootings; and

* 81.3% support arming teachers and/or school administrators who volunteer to carry at their schools. (March 2013)...

Gun Owners of America (GOA)
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102
Springfield, VA 22151 703-321-8585

Cuban testifies...

Dear Miguel,

We always seem to think alike and that is a wonderful feeling. Here is a video of a man testifying to a committee on gun control—he is from Cuba. You will appreciate his words. It always amazes me how the American leftist and American intellectually demented refuse—absolutely refuse, to listen to those, like you and this fellow, who have lived the reality of communism/socialism.

Communism survivor blasts Salem, Oregon, gun grabbers in poignant testimony. Watch:


In the news...

Goodies posted by BenCats1 on MT, Saturday 3/23/13:

15 Congress Members Demand Response From DHS On Massive Ammunition 
Buying; DHS: We’re Just Buying In Bulk!

"In the letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Huelskamp wrote that it had 
“become clear” that DHS was “purchasing vast quantities of ammunition” and that 
“estimates show that this … would be enough for 24 Iraq wars.”

The Kansas congressman also said the timing of the purchase was “of great 
interest” because of gun control legislation currently being pushed by the Obama 

“The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any...”
[from Weaselzippers]

"Senate Democrats Adopt First Budget in Four Years
Lawmakers on Saturday voted 50-49 to endorse a fiscal 2014 measure that proposes to raise $1 trillion by clamping down on tax breaks for the wealthy while paring spending on defense, farm subsidies and other programs. The vote capped 
a session lasting into early morning to consider scores of amendments. 
The nonbinding plan mostly uses the savings to finance the repeal of $1.2 
trillion in automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, leaving little for 
additional deficit reduction.

“Budgets are about far more than numbers on a page -- they are about the 
values and priorities of the American people,” said Senate Budget Committee 
Chairman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and the plan’s chief sponsor.
The proposal highlighted differences between the two parties over taxes, 
spending and the size of government. The vote clears the way for the next phase 
in Washington’s budget battle, which probably will revolve around the need to 
raise the U.S. debt limit. Federal borrowing authority is scheduled to expire 
May 19. Republicans said the Senate Democrats’ proposal would do too little to rein in government red ink.Four Democrats voted against the final version: Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. All are up for re-election in 2014.Action was completed 
at 4:56 a.m. New York time, after 13 hours of a so-called vote-a-rama, a 
rapid-fire series of votes in a chamber where what comes before lawmakers 
usually is determined by extensive negotiations. Under special rules, senators were allowed to seek an unlimited number of amendments to the fiscal blueprint. Interesting article, it details both parties ideas on spending and cuts in the out years! The Senate Democrats’ proposal calls for $265 billion in cuts over the next 
decade to Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, with an 
additional $10 billion in savings from Medicaid, the joint federal-state health 
plan for the poor. That’s less than what Obama has endorsed, and a fraction of 
the almost $800 billion in Medicaid cuts House Republicans want.

"Democrats would cut defense spending by $240 billion beginning in 2015, while 
taking $76 billion from non-health- related mandatory spending. Their plan would 
offset some of those savings by spending an additional $100 billion in economic 
[from Newsmax]

WASHINGTON – The Senate easily passed on Friday a symbolic measure approving the Canada to Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline, a move backers said showed strong support for a bill that would give Congress power to green light the project later in the year.

The amendment to the budget plan, sponsored by Senator John Hoeven, a Republican from North Dakota, passed 62 to 37.
It was symbolic because the budget is a blueprint that will not become law. But the measure was selected out of hundreds of others for a vote and was approved by a strong majority in the 100-seat chamber led by Democrats.
[from Reuters]

Scalia on Heller

Professor David Oedel, Professor of constitutional Law at Mercer University wrote in the Macon Telegraph 1-27-13:

"[CNN commentator Eric] Erickson suggested that a personal revolutionary purpose undergirds the Second Amendment. However, that reading of the Second Amendment was undermined in Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion for the Supreme Court in the 2008 case brought by Dick Heller.

"Heller, a security officer, who by day protected D.C. politicians with a gun, argued successfully that the District of Columbia could not restrict his ability at home by night to defend himself with a gun. Although the court held in Heller’s case that the Second Amendment enshrines a personal right for people to bear arms in self defense, it also noted that the right remains limited.

"The court held that the right only extends to weapons 'in common use at the time' of the Second Amendment’s ratification in 1791. The court explicitly suggested that 'weapons that are most useful in military service -- M-16 rifles and the like -- may be banned' even if an effective militia today 'would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large.'”

This interpretation implies that only muskets and one shooter rifles are protected by the Heller decision. But Scalia also said:

"It is no answer to say, as petitioners do, that it is permissible to ban the possession of handguns so long as the possession of other firearms (i.e., long guns) is allowed. It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon. There are many reasons that a citizen may prefer a handgun for home defense: It is easier to store in a location that is readily accessible in an emergency; it cannot easily be redirected or wrestled away by an attacker; it is easier to use for those without the upper-body strength to lift and aim a long gun; it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police. Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid...."

Nevertheless, admittedly, the Court opined that the right was not absolute and there were limits. So I don't know that gun owners could rely on the Supreme Court anymore to oppose the Assault Weapons Ban. But the U.S. House of Representatives, the legislature closest to the people at the federal level and the State legislatures may be the only options left to lawful gun owners to protect their rights. Profesor Oedel is correct that gun owners cannot expect the U.S. Supreme Court to protect their rights in the present milieu of misplaced compassion and fickle majoritarian rule.

Finally, Scalia concluded:

"We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns. But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct."

I would not oppose to participate in a public forum in which Professor Oedel, Mr. Erickson, and I could discuss the issue of original intent and the Second Amendment in a friendly one hour exchange or debate. Another local participant, perhaps Dr Richard Elliot could join Prof Oedel on his narrow Court interpretation on his side of the debate. Such debate may be necessary to clarify the issue for the readers of the Macon Telegraph.

Dr Faria on nranews!

My interview with Ginny Simone on on "Guns and Freedom – the UN and the Second Amendment." Monday, November 19, 2012 5:00 pm.

The Senate is at this time the pivot upon which the UN Small Arms Trade Treaty and draconian gun control in America hinges. To hear the interview –

After the page loads, click on NOV 19 above, then on segment 3 on the left.