Today at noon, President Obama gave a long-awaited announcement saying that he intends to introduce legislation soon that would ban assault weapons, place limits on high-capacity magazines, expand background checks for those wishing to buy a gun, and place other restrictions on guns sales and transfer.
Obama also declared that he would bypass Congress by signing 23 executive orders to strengthen existing gun regulations and ease the transfer of information between government agencies.
This announcement will undoubtedly only stoke the emotional fires of the national gun debate. While arguments over gun control laws continue, opponents of increased restriction will attempt to persuade anti-gun zealots to trade in their emotional armor in favor of logical, intellectual weapons loaded with piercing facts. If this were an easy task, defenders of free markets would have a much easier job. But it’s not.
For example, commentators like MSNBC’s Ed Schultz are continuing attempts to convince audiences to give up their most basic freedoms for false promises of security. It is no secret that, in the last year, America has been host to a number of violent tragedies involving firearms. And it is understandable that in the wake of such horrendous events, Americans are deeply saddened and not only want to know why these things happen, but also what can be done to keep them from happening again.
Our right to defend our lives and our property is enshrined in the Second Amendement.
As usual, the response from Schultz, much like Obama and other proponents of big government, is that we are simply too free. Their argument contends that the Constitution, our nation's legal backbone, is "archaic." As Schultz put it, “the Founders "didn't have machine guns back then, and they didn’t have high-capacity clips back then. They had muskets." And although it is certainly true that you wouldn't have seen George Washington crossing the Delaware with an M16 hanging across his chest, suggesting that a lack of technological advancement played any role in the creation of the Second Amendment misses the target entirely.
The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to explicitly restrain the federal government from infringing on specific rights considered to be most sacrosanct. It was not created to define the proper use or regulation of any select or limited list of physical goods, but to protect principles or rights key to man's existence, success, and freedom. In the case of the Second Amendment, our right to defend our lives and our property is enshrined.
Stating that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” cannot be construed to mean “citizens may bear arms unless those guns become too effective at achieving the purposes for which they are created, in which case the only arms allowed are those listed in article ‘never written’, section ‘make it up as you go along’.”
The Bill of Rights was not created to define the proper use or regulation of any select or limited list of physical goods, but to protect principles or rights key to man's existence, success, and freedom.
As Ayn Rand said, "the right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. [...] It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.”
If property is essential to man’s survival, then so is the ability to protect and preserve that property—our lives, our homes, and all other possessions. In order to do so, we must have the freedom to equip ourselves with the appropriate tools for the job.
Anyone who has been alive long enough to be aware of the happenings beyond their front door, knows that there are bad people who do bad things. Homes are broken into, cars are stolen, people are murdered, and often times the perpetrators are armed, even in areas with strict gun control. What’s worse is that typically it is the areas with the most restrictions on guns and the greatest government presence that actually have the highest crime rates. Defenders of government should not take this point lightly: across the country, it is the cities that have the worst violence that also have the most laws against gun ownership, the most government surveillance, and the strongest concentration of law enforcement officers. Protecting citizens from force is the entire point of government. If restrictions on private gun ownership and a state-monopoly on arms cannot protect the innocent adequately, citizens must be allowed to do so themselves rather than hoping that dialing 911 will resolve a crisis in which every second counts. That is the reality supporters of gun control seek to evade.
The same voices crying out to have all guns seized and banned, or even the “more reasonable” individuals who only want semi-auto—most guns are semi-auto now—and up banned, are also usually the ones who insist the idea of rounding up the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants and deporting them is completely unrealistic even if it was the right thing to do. They’re right--it is unrealistic. So why then do they consider rounding up over 200 million or more guns, which are much easier to hide than people are, to be a viable option?
Attempting to bring about a peaceful society by implementing laws which lack a basis in objective reality and deny basic human rights can only lead to ruin. Former congressman, Ron Paul, once said that “utopian wishes are dreams destined to become nightmares.” Let us hope that America will finally learn from such wisdom. If not, things will get much worse before they ever get better.
Aaron Rainwater is a Special Projects and Operations Executive at The Atlas Sociey
Video: Restoring the Constitutional Presidency
Has the U.S. Presidency effectively become an "absolute monarch" in the modern era as the Presidential powers have expanded far beyond the scope envisioned by the Constitution's framers? Law professor David N. Mayer presents a searing indictment in this 2-part video presentation. Includes information on how executive orders have been used in the past to violate the U.S. Constitution. Mayer is the author of The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson and Liberty of Contract
David Kelley is the founder of The Atlas Society. A professional philosopher, teacher, and best-selling author, he has been a leading proponent of Objectivism for more than 25 years.