The end of February marks the anniversary of the start of the Waco siege of 1993. A small, fringe sect of Christianity with a leader of questionable sanity was under investigation by the FBI and ATF for firearm violations. When federal agents made initial contact, the congregation refused to give up their guns and a 51-day standoff between the American federal government and this sect ensued ending in the burning of the sect’s church along with its 76 members including 28 children.
The Waco Siege is a decidedly contentious case-study of 2nd amendment rights. The government didn’t come to wrest weapons from the hands of innocent hobbyists, but rather from a miniature arsenal headed by a man with a nefarious background. Even so, Waco should serve as a caution to those who would blindly give the government more power; under any governmental mandate lies force.
In his acclaimed work, The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek elucidates the dangers of a centralized government. He contends that centralized planners, anyone who views an expanding government favorably, have every incentive to keep planning. He warns, though, that continued centralization is synonymous with power, and that power can be misapplied.
Laws have greatly strengthened the ATF since 1968’s Gun Control Act; the congregation had no chance. Hundreds of federal agents descended on the scene forming a small army with tanks, machine guns, and cases of flammable tear gas. This event happened in 1993 and the ATF has only gotten more militarized since.
The government sees gun laws as a vessel to protect the populace from themselves. As Hayek would argue, if institutions like the ATF see itself as the protector, why shouldn’t it naturally expand its ability to protect? More agents, more firepower, more laws all encompass the purview of this expansion. This centralized power seems fine until it’s misdirected and 28 children are burned alive, and it’s not a matter of if but when the power goes awry.
The American electorate is staring at complete governmental centralization with this next presidential election. Waco is a tangled but instructive example of centralized power. Perhaps the aims and justifications for power are sound; our society may have benefited from a raid on this group’s firearms. However, this isn’t some morally dichotomous situation—firearms or peace. With centralized power all too often an inevitable result is violence, and in this instance that violence manifested a fiery grave for 28 children.
Waco demonstrates the scale of the government’s ability to react with force to something it does not like. In this case, it’s only power was the expanding anti-second-amendment federal agencies. What happens when the government also gains complete control of healthcare, firearms, and up to 90% of individual earnings as some candidates suggest? It is up to the voting base to determine both the scope of that growing force and the direction to which that force points. Perhaps it has some positive uses but we must never forget its presence.
image source : https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/waco-siege
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.