Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hold fast to all liberty

Today's second column. I typed this up in about an hour and had to hand it in quick, so it's a little less polished than I would like it to be, but it came out reasonably well.

UPDATE: I guess it wasn't actually printed. This means the last word I ever wrote for The Lode was "Chesterton". Seemed fitting.

On Sunday, December 9th, Matthew Murray killed two people at a missionary training center near Denver, Colorado. Just twelve hours later he fired on parishioners leaving a church service, killing two more people: a pair of sisters, Stephanie and Rachel Works, aged sixteen and eighteen. Further calamity was prevented when Jeanne Assam, a former police officer with a license to carry a concealed handgun, took down Murray.

While the especially obtuse might claim that Assam acted in an unchristian manner in killing Murray, it is important to note that the commandment which supposedly forbids killing actually forbids murder, and that Christ's command to “turn the other cheek” applies when one is the subject of persecution; it doesn't preclude defending others from similar treatment. In short, while Christianity does not condemn the personal pacifist, Assam acted well within the bounds of Christian morality; Murray forfeited his right to life the instant he opened fire. Although the phrase is overused almost to the point of meaninglessness, her pastor's appellation of “hero”applies well to Assam. By his estimates—admittedly uncertain, but not implausible—her actions saved the lives of hundreds.

Thus we have yet another example of how guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens save lives. The old adage about dog biting man explains why we so seldom hear about the defensive use of guns. Economist John Lott wrote a whole book about it: The Bias Against Guns. Therein, Lott quotes a survey he conducted which suggests that in the U.S., guns are used defensively 2.3 million times in the course of a year. His estimate probably warrants some skepticism, but his larger point is entirely valid: guns save lives, and they do so far more often than we would suspect.

There are two reasons to be opposed to gun control. The flimsier of the two suggests that it is an exercise in futility. Laws do not always prevent action; often they must be content to provide a mechanism for correction after their violation. Laws against speeding haven't eliminated speeding; on the other hand, they've added immensely to the coffers of local governments. The same applies in regards to guns. Studies, such as those of Lott, demonstrate that strict gun control doesn't reduce crime; if anything, crime increases when guns are taken out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Since only a totalitarian regime would be able to completely eliminate guns from the populace, and criminals will pack heat anyway, a reasonable policy would allow citizens to conceal and carry handguns.

The second reason is more fundamental. The founders enshrined—albeit in curious language—the right to bear arms within the Bill of Rights, because they knew it was essential to a republic founded to preserve liberty. It would have been impossible for the Declaration of Independence to be asserted by the young colonies if the colonists were unarmed. As the power of the federal government continues to grow, we may again find ourselves impelled to separation, in which case the guns will come in quite handy.

More prescient concerns have thrust gun control to the background of late, but the time will come when the powers that be shall again attempt to take away the rights of the people. In recent years, the tendency has been to give away liberty so as to attain elusive security. Much attention has been paid to the Orwellian Patriot Act, which, like all such measures before it, takes away freedom as promised, but fails to deliver anything but the illusion of safety. Aside from being beneficial, it is also worth remembering that the right to bear arms was a liberty the founders thought essential to the republic. The next time a terrorist threat gives impetus for the seizure of guns, it would be wise for the people to resist.


troutsky said...

gun control is much less worriesome than mind control.The corporate governence doesn't need coercion, it has televisions and easy chairs, both available at WalMart.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I would tend to agree. However, it's much easier to prevent gun control--at least theoretically--than mind control, which is often indicative of malaise.

The consumerist mentality renders truth inconsequential, which is very convenient to the powers that be. The solution has proven difficult to locate.

Doom said...

In the majority, I am with your statements. In the minority, however, is the attitude that perhaps this is best. I should explain. When I see a child take a meal for granted, I have to think that is not a bad thing( though in reality, only if it is sustainable, which a child could not know). Why not have adults take freedoms for granted? Of course, the problem is that freedoms for and adults, unlike meals for a child, taken for granted they disappear. Only religion and political theory offer possible solutions. One of those who been thoroughly dis-proven by history, leaving only one real hope for the eventual ability to take freedom for granted.

Still, troutsky, are you honestly vying for freedom, or are you dissatisfied with the numbers at the radical events? *ribbing you a bit, sort of* From my understanding, Marx, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, or even Hillary, Obama, and Blair, all major socialists (of one variety, and to my understanding/classification system) did(does) not promote freedom. So, though touched, I am dubious about your concern regarding the matter. Have I read you wrong?