Dreams of Good Government and Gun Control

USA Today discovers a requirement for gun control - an impossible one.

On March 6, 2013, USA Today published "Your Right to be Free From Fear of Guns" which made an excellent point about the ongoing gun control debate.  It described the fears of those who advocate strong controls on guns, and even confiscation:

For those of us who cry out for gun control, our fears cannot be eliminated as long as the country remains an armed camp in which the most troubled among us can find ways to appropriate one of the easily available weapons in all our communities.

Freedom From Fear of Assault

We'd be the first to agree that everyone should be free from fear of guns.  As far back as 1776, Adam Smith pointed out that giving us freedom from fear of violence is the first two out of three responsibilities of national leaders:

The sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice and oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions.  [emphasis added]

--Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

We agree with USA Today that none of us should live in fear of being assaulted with a gun, or with a knife or fist for that matter.  We also agree with their explanation why it's so hard to get gun control laws passed:

... we have to acknowledge and deal with the fears of those who most fiercely oppose gun control.

We must engage with the fear of our government...

We need to find ways to reassure gun advocates that the government is not the enemy.  [emphasis added]

The writer knows why gun advocates think of government as the enemy, saying, "the failure of government appears to be the norm rather than the exception.  We need a new effort to remind people about the many constructive services government provides..."

Fear of Government

What's not to fear about our government?  Remember when an FBI sniper named Lon Horiuchi put a bullet through Vicki Weaver's head?  The FBI had wanted to arrest her husband Randy and was engaged in an armed stand-off.  Her family won a $3.5 million award from the government for wrongful death, but that didn't bring her back to life.

What about Waco?  Agents of the BATF started a shoot-out at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.  They claimed that the Davidians possessed illegal guns.  It turned out later that the Davidians' paper work was in fact in perfect order and the assault was unnecessary. The compound caught file during a second attack 50 days later and 76 men, women, and children were burned to death.

More recently, Federal agents engaged in misconduct in trying to put a gun dealer out of business.  We should trust the feds?

We shouldn't fear our government?

Confidence in Government

Gun advocates not only fear government, they tend to believe that even when it's not trying to take away freedoms, government is incapable of protecting us.  What has government done well in the last 10 years?

  • We spend more money per student on government-run K-12 education than any other nation, but our students rank low in overall achievement.
  • Our courts used to be concerned with justice, but they've become a mechanism for routing money to lawyers who contribute to the Democratic party.
  • We used to be able to build roads and bridges.  Then came the Big Dig which cost $10 billion more than the first estimates and didn't reduce Boston traffic delays one iota.

Even the New York Times has become concerned that the Obama administration claims the right to use armed drones against US citizens on US soil.  They haven't criticized Mr. Obama for ordering the aerial execution of US citizens against whom no charges have been filed as sharply as they criticized Mr. Bush for summarily locking up US citizens against whom no charges had been filed, but they're beginning to fear our government.  That's a good first step.

USA Today ends with:

... changing people's minds is essential if the nation is to find common ground on reducing gun violence and lifting the pall of fear that drive so many into an unholy alliance with guns.

They've omitted the first step - government will have to demonstrate at least minimum competence at protecting us from violence, and it will have to somehow reassure us that our ruling elites don't want to take away our guns, whisk us off to secret prisons, or execute death from above.

That will be difficult because our ruling elites have said they want to take away our guns, and have in fact done all those other predations.  When talking about the Connecticut massacre, Gov. Cuomo of New York spoke of confiscating guns as the ultimate goal of gun control legislation.  Mayor Bloomberg claimed that privately-owned firearms were "unnecessary."  He said this while standing near the Uzi-toting bodyguards we supply to him at taxpayer expense.

Mr. Obama and Mr Biden, both whom are advocating stricter gun controls, are protected by the Secret Service, the Marine Corps, and hordes of other taxpayer-funded guards.  Well and good, but who's going to protect me?

Living free of fear of guns is a wonderful wish, but if wishes were horses, beggars could ride.  USA Today states that "much of the support for the Second Amendment, the 'right of the people to keep and bear arms' also rests on fear of government overreach, the temptation to limit or even deny individual freedoms."

Freedom From Fear of Government

Here's the bottom line.  The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.  It was written because our founders knew that no government can be trusted not to abuse its power.

Gun supporters see any new restrictions as a slippery slope.  Just as abortion advocates see any restrictions as a slippery slope because they accurately don't trust pro-lifers to stop there, gun lovers don't trust government to stop until every American civilian has been entirely disarmed.

If USA Today really wants the gun crowd to be willing to trust government enough to accept more restrictions, they need to work toward making government more trustworthy - a noble effort indeed, but one at which even our Founders had only temporary success.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

The abortion comparison is priceless. Good job!

March 12, 2013 8:11 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...