A Dehumanizing Corruption Story From India Reminds Me Again Why the Second Amendment is Sacrosanct

Previously, I have written about corruption in India in the context of gun permit bribery in CaliforniaMaryland, and New York. I reminisced on the corruption I personally witnessed, and how it was eerily similar to the corruption in the one area some American apparatchiks had unfettered discretion: gun permits. The following excerpt captures the gist of what I saw before I emigrated to the United States:

Growing up in India, I was used to daily corruption because of the way the bureaucracy was imprudently set up. You had to bribe cops to get out of traffic infractions instead of paying a ticket. If your stolen vehicle got recovered by the police, you had to bribe them to get your vehicle back. (A family friend of mine whose car was worth less than the bribe the cops asked for walked away and let the cops keep his stolen car.) Anytime the government was involved, there was corruption: getting a landline, train tickets, getting a birth or a death certificate, a building permit, driver’s license, sewer/water hookup, you name it and there was corruption.

Things are undoubtedly improving in India, but there still is deep-rooted corruption in far too many places for the people of the world’s largest democracy to call themselves free. I learned of one such heartbreaking story recently.

A couple of months ago, there was an unexpected death in my extended family in India. A relative of mine lost her husband, who passed away while traveling out of town for a few days. She got a call out of the blue from the police in the other town informing her of his death, asking her to identify and collect his body.

My relative started her trip, shocked, dazed and alone, to get to the mortuary several hours away. When she got there, imagine her shock when the mortuary staff and the police asked for a bribe to release her husband’s body. The mortuary staff and police basically told her that she had to pay the bribe, or they would keep the body and drag out their work into a “suspicious death” investigation. In Hindu tradition, cremations are supposed to happen within a day of someone’s passing, so this was egregious from a religious standpoint. My grieving relative paid the bribe to get her husband’s body.

How cruel can someone be, especially to a widow in anguish and distress? What if this had happened to the cops’ or the mortuary staff’s relatives? How could they not put themselves in her shoes and experience her pain and grief? Clearly, even the most basic human decency succumbs to the drunken arrogance of unchecked power.

In the modern era of smartphones with cameras, people are recording such corruption and publicizing it. If the recording hits the social media outrage jackpot, one can expect some action or resolution in that particular case. However, it’s not guaranteed, and even if there’s action, the other bureaucrats usually revert to their corruption once the public’s attention fades.

The roots of this corruption are complicated, and I won’t get into that. But what I would like to point out is that the government apparatchiks wouldn’t behave this way if they knew that the people were armed and could collectively inflict serious violence on them.

It is, of course, best to avoid violence and attempt reform through democratic, nonviolent means. However, the American Founding Fathers knew that violence as a last resort can sometimes be necessary. They wrote the Second Amendment not to let capricious people overthrow the Constitution willy-nilly, but to let a thoughtful People overthrow men who pervert the Constitution and tyrannize them.

What’s smeared today as the “insurrectionary” interpretation of the Second Amendment was the norm and the Founding generation knew this by heart. If the Second Amendment’s “security of a free State” rationale isn’t clear enough, I would like to point the reader to Article 10 of the New Hampshire Bill of Rights, written in 1784, which explicitly talks about Revolution:

[Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
June 2, 1784

I would like to emphasize that I am not advocating violence or rebellion in any way. But it’s obvious from a plethora of documents and sources that individual self-defense is only one part of the Second Amendment; the collectivized aspect of self-defense against one’s own government is the core and should never be ceded, lest we end up in a place where a grieving widow is shaken down for a bribe to get her husband’s body.

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