"America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within."
--Joseph Stalin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Liberty versus Tyranny Understanding "Needs" Versus Wants

Will Malven

I keep hearing those who want restrictions on our 2nd Amendment rights asking the question, "why does someone need a 30-round magazine?"

The question is based on a false premise.  The exercise of choice in a free society isn't about "needing," it's about wanting.  In a free society, decisions are not always about what each citizen "needs," occasionally--when they can afford it-- citizens are "free" to make choices and decisions based upon their wants, rather than their needs.

We Americans live in just such a free society.  Our nation was founded on the idea that each citizen is endowed with "unalienable rights."  Among those rights, both enumerated and non-enumerated, the right of an individual to own property was considered by our Founding Fathers to be the "first right," the paramount right from which all other rights sprang.  

One right, which logically derives from the ownership of property is the right to protect that property.  Each citizen has the indisputable, logically deduced right to protect himself, his family, and his property from any external threat. 

The First Amendment with its enumerated rights; to exercise our religious beliefs, to speak freely without fear of governmental retaliation, to print criticism of our government, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the government for a "redress of grievances," all are direct, logical derivations of our right to own property.

Each subsequent Amendment in the original Bill or Rights is based upon the preservation of that first right.  The right to refuse the billeting of soldiers in our homes (the Third Amendment) and the right to be free from arbitrary and capricious searches and seizures (the Fourth Amendment) are based upon the individual citizen's freedom to exercise sovereignty over his property.  

Even the right not to self-incriminate (the Fifth Amendment), the right of each citizen to be informed of any and all charges against him (the Sixth Amendment), the right of any citizen to be tried, not by the government, but by a jury of his peers (the Seventh Amendment), and not to be subject to excessive bail (Eighth Amendment); all are direct extensions of our right to property and to protect that property, including our persons.  All derive directly from the concept of the "freedoms" enjoyed by each citizen and his right of ownership.

What we "need," or what other people believe we need, doesn't and was never intended to control our behavior.  Each citizen is free to make his own decisions as to what he "needs" or wants based upon his individual situation.

Why does someone "need" a high capacity magazine?   You might as well ask yourself why anyone "needs" a Rolex rather than a Timex, or a Tissot, Tag-Heuer, or a Movado rather than a Casio? 
Ask any American why he "needs" a Cadillac, or a Bentley, or a Mercedes rather than a Chevy or a Ford and he will look at you as though you are from another planet.  Why a 10,000 square foot mansion rather than a 1500 square foot shack?  Why a $4 million salary rather than a $40,000 salary?
The answer is simple, because we can, because we want to.  

Americans don't "need, we want, we choose.  We have the right do so, because in a free society we can.  If we have enough money, we can buy what we "want" instead of only what we, our neighbor, or the government thinks we "need."  

This is the essence of freedom.  It is the basis upon which our society has been built.  The freedom to do as we wish rather than as someone else believes we should.  As long as our actions and our wants do not threaten the lives or property of other citizens, we are free to do as we wish.

Some may then argue, "yes, but, unlike firearms with high capacity magazines, those other choices don't represent a threat to the existence of others".  This argument based upon another faulty premise.  In America, we don't pass laws based upon what others "might" do we don't pass laws based upon existential threats, we pass laws based upon real dangers, dangers which logically derive from any such behavior.  

When governments begin to pass laws to protect citizens from potential threats, from what might possibly occur, that is the beginnings of tyranny.  

Say you decide to purchase a big pick-up truck--a so-called "dually"--for example, or a large sedan.  You "might" get angry at the world and decide to drive your big pick-up truck into a school bus full of children, or into a crowd of pedestrians at a cross-walk. Such things are not unheard of, on occasion people have done exactly that.  Should government then decide to outlaw buying any large pick-up truck or large sedan?  Surely the only people who "need" such a vehicle are those few individuals who work in construction or other heavy industry, or who chauffeur passengers around cities.

Perhaps you decide to buy a sports car with a big engine, should the government restrict that freedom, because you "might" decide to run it up to 150 mph and drive it into a building filled with people?  What if a heavy equipment operator--a crane operator, for example--suddenly decided to run amok and throw his four ton load onto a crowded bus-stop?  Far-fetched, you say?  No more so that any given gun owner suddenly deciding to walk into a school or mall and begin shooting.  

The person--the average citizen--who chooses to buy a 30-round magazine is no more of a potential threat to his fellow citizens than the individual in these, or any other of a myriad of imaginable scenarios in which wrong conduct or the misuse of an object can lead to an extensive loss of life. 

We were all shocked and horrified by the nightmarish happenings at Newtown, Connecticut, when an unbalanced, isolated, alienated youth walked into Sandy Hook grammar school and did the unthinkable, the unimaginable; murdered 22 innocent children using his mother's legally purchased and owned firearms. 

We were shocked by what occurred at Sandy Hook, not because it is a common occurrence, but because it was rare.  Never before has anyone walked into one of our grade schools and, by his own choice, unleashed death and destruction of innocent children--babies--who have never done anything to deserve such a horrible fate.

The fact is that such occurrences are as rare a lightning strikes.  It's only that they are sensational, that they receive tremendous press coverage--not because they are commonplace--it is because they are so far outside the range of expected behavior that they grab our attention and send us spinning in a search for meaning and solution. 

And it is because they are so unusual that they cannot, must not be allowed to be the basis of formulating laws that restrict our behavior.  Because we are horrified, does not justify a rush to act, indeed acts taken in the heat of the moment very often turn out to have been exactly the wrong action.  If action is to be taken in response to this type of tragic occurrence, it should be measured, rational, careful action.

The proposal to ban high capacity magazines is based on a false premise.  Laws prohibiting the sale of so-called "assault weapons" are based on "potential" behavior, on what someone might possibly do, not upon likely behavior.  Connecticut has the most stringent, most restrictive gun laws in the nation.  What happened at Sandy Hook was already against the law.  Adam Lanza broke a number of existing laws in committing his horrific act.

In a free society, we cannot afford to pass laws based upon what deranged people may do.  We cannot afford to pass laws restricting automobile ownership based on the possibility that someone might, in a sudden fit of depression or rage, decide to drive his car into on-coming traffic.  To do so would restrict the rights and privileges of every citizen.

When governments begin passing laws restricting behavior based upon what their citizens "might" do rather than on what they are "likely" to do, then they have begun travelling down the road of tyranny.  In Britain they outlawed their citizens from owning firearms, except under very stringently constrained circumstances.  Yes, deaths from gun associated crimes plummeted, but overall violent crimes have surged to the point that Britain now has the highest violent crime rate in all of the European Union.  Knives have become a weapon of choice . . . and the government is now considering restrictions on the size, type, and availability of knives.

At what point does this process stop?  Suppose clubs, or cricket bats suddenly become the source of violent assault in growing numbers, should the British government then begin placing restrictions of its citizens' access to cricket bats?  At some point, reality must be taken into consideration and people must understand that it is impossible to ensure absolute safety.  Government can never pass enough laws to ensure that no citizen will be absolutely safe and one doesn't need to follow this logic very far to understand that each step down the path in pursuit of illusory "safety" leads towards enslavement.
People must decide whether they want freedom or slavery.  Neither choice offers absolute security, but only one allows people the right to choose for themselves what they will or will not do.

Another falsehood being perpetrated on the public  is that the Second Amendment has anything to do with protecting the right to "go hunting" or is about "sporting."  The Founding Fathers did not write the Second Amendment so that they and their fellow citizens could hunt deer or go target shooting.  That assertion is laughable and is based on ignorance . . . or (more worrying) an intent to deceive people in order to achieve certain political aims.  

The Second Amendment was never intended as a protection of the rights of citizens to go hunting or target shooting, neither did they include the Second Amendment to insure that citizens would always be able to defend themselves, their families, and their homes, as important and legitimate an imperative as that may be.  They did so to insure that the government would never contemplate usurping our rights and they made the basis of their decision abundantly clear in their writings both before and after our Constitution was written.

Those who wish or choose to own so-called "assault-weapons" do not do so with the intention of fighting the federal government, they do so with the intent of preventing possibility of that eventuality from ever becoming necessary.  

The purpose of the Second Amendment isn't so that the citizen can fight the federal government, it is so that those in government will never even consider tyrannical actions.  It is so that the citizens of our nation are so well armed that it is unthinkable for those in government to attempt to restrict the freedoms and liberties that American citizens enjoy and take for granted.

Most of those who own "assault weapons" do so, because they want to.  They own them because they enjoy shooting them and many citizens do so, because they believe in the same values and ideals that our Founding Fathers believed.  

People own "assault weapons," because they want them, not because they "need" them.  It is out of choice, not out of necessity and to restrict them--to restrict citizens' choices-- because of some potential, but unlikely, threat that someone might misuse them is to take the first step towards tyranny and away from freedom.

We live in a "free" society.  We live in a society in which people are free to behave as they choose, as long as their behavior doesn't threaten the lives and property of their fellow citizens and any attempt to restrict that freedom goes against the intent of the Founding Fathers and against the intent and letter of the Constitution.  

Risk is all around us.  We encounter risks every day.  Risk is a part of life in a free society and only those who live in slavery to the state can have even the illusion of living a risk-free life; the illusion, but never the reality.

Because something represents a potential threat, because someone might, at some time, decide to act badly--to misuse an object in a manner which injures or kills other people--is no excuse for restricting the freedom or right of other people to access that object.  That fact is the very essence of freedom that our Founding Fathers understood so well.

As for restricting magazine capacity, one is faced with the inevitable question, is a police officer facing an armed robber at any greater risk than a citizen on the street?  Is a police officer facing a bank robber with a shotgun at any greater risk than a home-owner facing the same in a home invasion?   

Why, if a homeowner or citizen should not be allowed to possess a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds (or in New York state 7 rounds), why should a police officer have a higher capacity magazine?  What is the possible justification for the police to be better armed than the individual citizen?

If we want to restrict the amount of ammunition being carried in a handgun or rifle, shouldn't police return to carrying 6-shot revolvers, as they did 40 years ago?  After all, the most common occurrence of the use of excessive force occurs when the police are called upon to use their side-arms, not when a home owner defends his home or an individual on the street defends himself against a mugger.

In spite of what the elitists in the press or in Hollywood try to portray, the average owner of a semi-automatic, high capacity rifle (or "assault rifle") is not some camouflage wearing, wannabe militia man running around in the woods pretending to be "G.I. Joe" (though he may on rare occasions be just that).  He is a banker, a lawyer, a doctor, a carpenter, an electrician or any one of a myriad of professions--just an average "Joe citizen" who enjoys the sport of shooting.  A man or woman who enjoys owning such a weapon or, on occasion, going to a shooting range and cutting loose on a target, or series of targets is not an "extremist."

Is there a little "Walter Mitty" involved?  Occasionally, but . . . so what?  What business is it of anyone, but that individual, what his motivation is, as long as he is obeying the law and not threatening their fellow citizens.  Why is it anybody's business, but his?  Who is harmed by his activity, or even the actions of those wannabe militia men--those "clowns" running around in their fatigues and backpacks that the elites like to laugh at?

We already have laws against sedition and revolution.  We don't need additional laws restricting the freedoms of law-abiding citizens.  

The motivation behind the efforts of those who want to restrict the right of an individual to own certain firearms which may appear to be "scary," is fear.  Fear of an unlikely, extremely rare occurrence.  Fear of their fellow citizens.  

It is an irrational fear and it is a dangerous fear, because it is that kind of fear that leads one to tyranny.  It is that fear that leads people to attempt to control the actions of others with whom they disagree.  The inevitable outcome of laws created out of that fear is the oppression of others and the restriction of the rights and freedoms of others.  It is the basis upon which dictatorships are built.

Here's another thought for you liberals who believe the Constitution to be "obsolete," outmoded, and/or that it should no longer be thought of as binding to the actions of our government.

The Constitution wasn't simply a document written and signed by our Founding Fathers as an experiment in republican-style self-government, it is also the binding contract that each state signed under which those sovereign states agreed to surrender a certain amount of their sovereignty.  It is the basis for many of the laws that we take for granted today . . . such as the Voting Rights Act, it is the authority under which the Supreme Court decided that the federal government could enforce integration laws, and it is the over-arching authority which prevents those states from seceding.   
The Constitution is the only authority which preserves the union and without it, there is nothing to prevent the several states from dissolving that union.  It is solely under that "outdated," "irrelevant" document that the federal government derives its authority.  Without the Constitution, there is no United States of America.

Long Live Our American Republic!!!!!

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