The other day a posting of mine degenerated into an argument about gun control. The prime advocate for controlling firearms trotted out the standard talking points, with extra emphasis on protecting children — citing teen suicide by gun statistics, teen homicide, and the like.
I’ll save the actual gun-control argument for another time, but only point out the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
That brought a bigger issue to mind: the United States Constitution was written by adults for adults. More specifically, at the time it was written for white, property-owning males — those who, at the time, were considered to be mature and responsible members of society. That has expanded since, to all adult citizens who have not forfeited their franchise by conviction of a crime, but the essential concept remains the same: the Constitution was written for mature, responsible people.
The underlying presumption behind that is that rights and responsibilities are inseparably intertwined. Paul Harvey phrases it as “self-government without self-discipline is self-defeating,” and I kind of like that.
People often refer to the “right” to vote, but I don’t think of it as such. I view my franchise as a duty, and take it very seriously.
That explains why I (and so many other people) get annoyed at the “for the children” argument for many laws. We need to do this, stop that, outlaw the other thing to keep children from being injured.
But what isn’t often brought up is that the reason why they feel the need to pass such laws — because parents aren’t doing their job. And because those parents aren’t doing their job, keeping their children from misusing certain freedoms, then by gosh then NOBODY can do it.
In this case, it’s guns. Because some people don’t care for their guns responsibly, then NOBODY oughta have them. Pornography? Same thing. Every day millions of people look at nekkid pictures and don’t go psycho. But because the fourteen-year-old might turn off the TV and miss seeing his 17th ending of a life and fire up the computer to see a picture of two people possibly starting one, we gotta make sure NOBODY sees nuthin’ improper. Alcohol? We got millions of drinkers in this country who don’t have problems. But because of a few, we all gotta jump through all kinds of hoops. Prescription drugs? Well, they MIGHT be abused, or they ARE being abused, so let’s just take them away from everybody to get rid of that nasty temptation. (“Oxycontin” ring any bells?)
The main purpose of a “nanny” is to supplement the efforts of parents. And lord knows that the children who are being neglected and abused need help. But the problem with using the government is that the government is a “one size fits all” solution. There’s very little room for individual judgment and discretion. In fact, it’s a solid principle of our government that everyone ought to be treated equally under the law.
And in the nanny state, we’re all just little kids that need someone to slap our hands and hide the cookie jar and clean up our messes for us.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: David Gerrold nailed it when he defined “freedom” as “the right to be responsible for one’s actions.” If we’re going to have the government step in and protect us from our “bad” choices, how long will it be before it also starts intervening in our “good” choices? And who exactly will decide which choices are good or bad?
Thanks, but no thanks. I know some of my choices are pretty rotten, but they’re MINE, and I neither want nor need anyone to “protect” me.