The Second Amendment is invaluable. I want to call into question the idea of margins in this kind of conversation. The origins of the Second Amendment lie with ensuring that, should the government become tyrannical or abusive, citizens can oust it by force as a last resort.
In an effort to reach a liberal utopia – an effort that is well-meaning, heartfelt, and well-placed, I’m concerned that those on the left are getting caught up in reactionary rhetoric that has actually begun to match the radical fervor of the alternative right, relying on a historically intolerant, racist, imperialist, intrusive, war-mongering, wasteful institution – the US government – to handle the problem of mass shootings when, over the course of many assessment criteria, that institution is not up to the job.
Further, I’m shocked that liberals so quickly forget that gun control arose out of racist propaganda in the Democratic Party and that the first restrictions on firearms were passed specifically to keep black people from owning guns in the south after the Civil War.
What’s really confusing is how the idea of anti-Second Amendment rhetoric can be seen as consistent with many strains of liberal ideology. Do you trust the mobbish predilections of democracy when it has produced a corrupt, two-party system with failed candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, successively approved laws restricting religious freedom, created a systemic prejudicial environment that has failed to adequately respond to the civil rights demands of disenfranchised and marginalized groups of people, granted arbitrary moral authority to older generations that, because of advanced age and lessened financial stake, will never feel the effects of their wonton social restrictions and poorly-checked spending sprees, etc.?
And, from there, we can examine those margins more closely. Exactly how many deaths are so many that we cannot allow the “freedom to decide” to stand in the way of our security? Do you support the NSA wiretapping to prevent terrorist attacks? Do you support censoring “harmful” or “problematic” speech from the conservative right? Do you support holding the press legally accountable for yellow journalism and sensationalist, racially-charged reporting?
If during these discussions, an individual opposed to the Second Amendment asserts that they don’t, then they’ve drawn a line in the sand somewhere – and what I’m arguing here is simply that whatever line they draw is arbitrary and ideologically inconsistent, betraying the fact that, when we have rights guaranteed to us as individuals, we need them all. Otherwise, the security of those rights which are left become unstable.
Every amendment in the Bill of Rights is an opportunity for a criminal to get away. Sorry, but it’s true. Yet, somehow we consider these ideas to be liberal bastions, paving the way to a free market of thoughts and ideals which allow competing ideologies to stand the test of efficiency and progress.
If you don’t believe that these rights are worth the security risks, but you trust our current government to care for you and protect you – a system run by career elitists who are more capable than any common thief of picking your pockets and mugging you (because you’re black, poor, female, non-Christian, foreign, differently-abled, etc.) – then I propose you’ve misplaced your trust.
Libertarians support the Second Amendment because we don’t live in a utopia. We support the right to bear arms because freedom means taking responsibility for security and cops are safety nets, not omnipotent protectors. We support gun rights because we believe our country is at risk of declining and our moral compass is more conflicted than ever.
On a personal note, more than any of that, I support people’s choice to own a gun because it disincentivizes criminals from organizing in an unfettered environment. Removing guns from the populace, like any form of prohibition, doesn’t work. What security risks are posed? What if we find ourselves in a country where guns will be made on 3-D printers, manufactured and sold on black markets, smuggled in from Mexico along cocaine/meth distribution routes, and found in the hands of criminals – all of this while law-abiding citizens are left to the luck of their local police station’s response time. Welcome to a new age of mafia members, militant skinheads, and drug gang violence?
No, thanks. I’d rather not make a bad situation worse.
How about instead of restricting people’s rights, people focused on improving mental health services, created more stable community resources to support their neighbors and reach out when there’s need, focused on personal responsibility for under aged youth on the streets, engaged in family planning measures for families who are at risk of not being good parents or raising children without the necessary resources, pressured school boards to crack down on bullying and intolerance, and rose up to finally smite the beast of racism in this country?
Because, right now, a lot of what I see is people whining about murder weapons and completely ignoring murderers.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Mike Avi, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC
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