I often think about the great debate that plagues Americans everywhere. It seems that all the struggles in America come down to the choice of safety and security or group and individual rights. This debate has brought out in detail by the recent mass shooting in Orlando over guns and radical muslim terrorists. This debate is nothing new. One of the problems of governemnt especially with a democratic government is that it allows free choice. Free choice in itself can be good and bad. You can choose to make good choices that help you or others. You can also choose to kill people. Of course, for every bad choice or legally wrong choice there is consequences. Our democratic government has fallen into the trap of limiting bad choices of its citizens. This is a natural process throughout our history as we advance through time. The problem with choosing security over rights is quite simply that it takes away the rights of the people. The people as the constitution states, run the government. It can be noted that dictatorships actually demonstrate a full view of an security state. The power of the government is vested in one person. That one person is the government and makes all the decisions. That dictator controls all the rights of the people. Therefore in theory, the safety of the people is guranteed because adjustments by the dictator can be made. However, many dictators are corrupted and use their power to undermine the safety of the people. Ultimately it undermines their rights. In a democratic government the debate over safety or rights is an issue because we follow a constutition which lays out the specific power limitations of government.
The constitution is a very important document that is not fully understood by many Americans. I want to point that the constitution doesn’t grant the government power to do whatever it wants. The constitution is not supposed to be taken advantage of or used to increase personal power or wealth. The constitution is supposed to make sure that our government does its job. The job description of the government is written in the constitution. Checks and balances and Judical Review both are instruments to help keep and uphold the constitution. If people reconigze the constitution as a statue of limitations then it totally changes how you see our government. Remember the people run the government. Not government run people.
The constitution also lays out our rights as people that are basic to everybody who is an American citizen. The bill of rights is the most important addition to the constitution because it gives us those freedoms that we enjoy. Many people, politicans and groups argue over the 2nd Amendment. This is the right to bear arms. If you don’t know there are two ways to interpret the constitution, they are strict and loose interpretations. In each interpretation, the right to bear arms means the right to own a gun regardless of the purpose. The amendment actually stipulates two different laws. The first is that of a well regulated militia for the security of a free state. In a strict intepretation this would be out of date since we no longer have militias. In a loose intepretation this would mean that if necessary then a militia could be formed. The second part of the law applies to current events.
The second part states that its “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall be not infringed”. This statement in both interpretations means the right to own a gun is not to be taken away under any circumstances. The narrative after the most recent shooting is that assault weapons should be banned. Let’s set aside the fact that bans have never worked. (Tell me about bans: Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes under 18….how are those working out? If you ever drank under 21 or smoked a cig under 18 or smoke pot in a state wheres it illegal then you probably know that bans don’t work right?) The problem with banning assault weapons under the second amendment is that there is no legal grounds to do so. A better solution that has no legal ramifications constitutionally is more extensive background checks and psychological evalutions at 1 year interevals. In this case, there is actually a way to choose safety AND rights. Unfortunately, the government would prefer safety because it increases their power. If they can take away your assault rifle then that’s techincally voiding the second amendment and legalizing all guns for bans. The logical solution is that getting a gun should be very hard through extensive background and psychological evalutions. I would propose a similar regulation to that of motor vechicles. You need to register your car every two years, get an inspectation (In NY STATE) every year, and update your plates. Its not that cheap to own a car with all the expenses like insurance and all that I just mentioned. So why can’t we do this with guns?
I think that its clear that our rights our being traded for security. I want to give one more example. The best example of government picking security over rights is after 9/11. Its obvious why the US government took the steps that it did to protect us. What isn’t so obvious is that they violated our rights while doing so. The main culprit is the Patriot Act. The Act gave legal power to government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NRA and others to spy and keep track of all citizens. The means by which this was carried out violated many of the constitutional bill of rights. It far exceeded the power that the government should have had. The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th amendments have been violated by the Patriot Act. This was done all in the name of security. You may ask then, how do we let this slip by us? The answer lies in who we voted in office. The congress has become very stagnant with the same people in office for many years. This allows for complacency and inactitivity. One of the problems that occur in the safety vs. rights debate is that politicans are often on both sides. Politicans tend to claim that will defend our rights. In practice, they usually end up either creating new rights for their own advantage or taking away rights for some to help others. Politicans are plagued with self interest and greed. This is human nature. It seems that being a poltiican only makes these two vices worse.
Since 9/11, we have certainly traded a lot of rights for what seems like the same standard of security. I feel like trading rights for security has never worked. Many political observers have often noted this fact. I look around the world with new terrorist attacks every week, I can’t see how we are any safer. I also want to add another facet to the gun debate that also involves rights. The right to keep arms is usually in your house. However, the right to bear arms would suggest that an open carry policy is the constitutional standard. One of the common dominators of terrorist and mass shooting attacks is gun free zones. These safe zones are not so safe and are usually: schools, colleges, clubs, shopping malls, government buildings, convention centers, stadiums. Many people are against an open carry policy, usually offering the argument that America into Somali, a war zone. However, let me submit to you an example of open carry policy in a US state, a state that has had no mass shootings in recent memory since 1983. That is 33 years with no mass shootings. This state if you don’t know already was admitted to the union as the 49th state. It was purchased in Sewards Folly which should be a dead giveway! Its in the arctic circle. Its Alaska! Yes, Alaska has an semi-restricted open or conceal handgun policy with similar restrictions on other guns. So basically, you don’t need a permit to carry or conceal a handgun. For other guns and assault weapons you may need a permit or not depends on where. So how can this be?
Well, my friends this is how gun control works. I want to use analogy to wrap up my post. Let’s say that Country A and Country B are neighbors. Country A has a nuclear weapon. Country B does not have a nuclear weapon. If Country A decides to nuke Country B there isn’t much that B can do about it. If both Country A and B have nuclear weapons (Same amount) then if Country A threatens to nuke B. The result will be one of two: Country B threatens to nuke or Country B is nuked and retalites. In a situation where both parties have equal strength of force it will become a zero sum game. If country B does get nuked then retalites against A then they both loose. However, if they both decide against launching their nukes then they both win. This same logic can be applied to guns. This is usually called deterence. It can be more powerful than any passable law.
I know that personallly I would rather have my rights over safety because rights give you safety. The government can’t protect each individual its just not practical or possible. Allow me to suggest that we start advocating for rights over safety so we can guard the constitution, the law of the land.
Thanks for reading!