Volume 22, Number 2 (Spring-Summer 2004)

Enemies Foreign and Domestic

by Matthew Bracken

$20; Purchase from the author at PO Box 90443, San Diego, CA 92169-2443.
Reviewed by Joseph P. Martino

The author claims there is a tectonic fault line through American society. On the one side are those who look upon guns as relics of barbarism, which should be tightly regulated or completely banned. On the other side are those who believe they have a right to self-defense, that right includes the right to own guns, and they will never be willingly disarmed. The author warns that unscrupulous people may use this fault line to gain power for themselves.

The story opens with a massacre. A sniper positions himself to fire at a football stadium during a game, with the bullets passing just over the stadium wall and striking among the seats on the far side. Several dozen people are wounded or killed by the shots. Several hundred more are killed in the mass panic that follows, either falling to their deaths or being crushed in the exit tunnels.

The immediate reaction of the government is to ban all semiautomatic firearms. A short deadline is imposed for them to be turned in. After that there are huge fines and long jail sentences for possession of semiautos. In addition, there are generous rewards for persons providing information about people who have not turned in their semiautos. Checkpoints are set up along major highways to intercept anyone transporting illegal firearms.

One immediate result is the assassination by snipers of a U.S. Senator and a state Attorney General who had supported the restrictive measures. This leads to a further law banning telescopic sights. After that, names and addresses of FBI agents are posted on the Internet, and assassinations of agents follow.

The President, desperate to curb the attacks on government officials, arranges through a series of cut-outs ("plausible deniability") to provide money and other support to a group of government agents who are to "get results" without paying attention to the niceties of the Bill of Rights. The group begins what amounts to a war against gun club members, in attacks that intentionally leave no witnesses.

The main characters in the story are Ranya Bardiwell and Brad Fallon. Ranya is the only daughter of Joe Bardiwell, a gun dealer. Her mother died years before. Her father is murdered when his gun store is burned down, one of a series of attacks on gun dealers after the Stadium Massacre. Brad has built up a nest egg from his job as a machinist in the ANWR oil fields. He has concluded the US is going down the tubes. He has bought a second-hand ocean sailing boat and is refitting it to "escape" from the US and save himself. He is a customer of Bardiwell's gun shop, and meets Ranya at her father's funeral.

Government agents photograph everyone at the funeral, following the same practice they use at Mafia funerals. They try to recruit Brad as an informant, ordering him to infiltrate the local gun club. They use the threat of seizing his savings and boat if he doesn't cooperate. The effect is to throw Brad and Ranya together, and involve them in the growing civil war between gun owners and the government. Most of the story deals with how they and other patriots strike back against the government.

The author intends the book as a cautionary tale.

The main thesis of "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" is that cynical manipulators, who understand both views, could easily shape events to spark a violent crisis in America between the two camps. . . No matter the provocation, genuine or contrived, millions of Americans will not be disarmed without a violent struggle.

This is a strong Second Amendment novel. It also has strong Libertarian themes: the right to be left alone; the importance of limiting government power; the dangers of covert law enforcement for individual freedom. It is well written. Ranya and Brad, as well as both their allies and antagonists, come through as human beings with human motivations and reactions. I recommend it strongly. Buy it and read it.

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