Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Guns, Knives, and Cars - oh my!

I really, really, really hate the mainstream media.

Oh wait, maybe I should be a bit more specific about why I'm saying this at this particular moment.

By now, you've either heard extensively about the Santa Barbara killings last week, or you're already so disillusioned with the "news" that you no longer pay attention. Allow me to summarize -- a spoiled 22-year-old boy, with a warped perception of life and women, wrote a 137 page "manifesto" declaring his frustration with life and with women who wouldn't accept his advances (The media coined him the "virgin killer", as though this is some shameful label to be worn by an unmarried 22-year-old. But I digress...). He then proceeded to stab 3 college students, and gun down another 3, while evading cops and running over cyclists with his car. He then took his own life before cops could arrest him.

Oh, and this kid had been getting therapy since he was 8 years old - and his parents had previously called the cops because they were concerned he might be planning something. Typical, normal, average kid, right?

In response -the entire news media is now engaged in yet another debate over the issue of "gun control" in order to help "end gun violence." Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims declared at a rally, "How many more people are going to have to die in this situation before the problem gets solved?"

This is what has happened to the Left-sided "news" sources - rather than recognizing that a disturbed individual heartlessly killed and wounded his peers - we see a call to "end gun violence." Is anyone even acknowledging that he stabbed 3 and ran two cyclists off the road with his car? But let me clarify - I do think that violence is a problem in our society, in many ways - but this is a problem in every society. The real issue that must be considered as how policymakers move to address the violent actions of individuals - regardless of what weapon they use to perpetrate their crime.

Last week, I was in the process of preparing a blog about the issue of national security in contrast to individual privacy - which I think is a very relevant discussion. Simply put - there are dangerous people out there - whether that be criminals who act out their fantasies for fame and attention or terrorists who have an agenda to destroy the West and everything we stand for. Terrorism is a real thing - anyone who believes that we are not in serious danger of attack by religious or political terrorists is vastly mistaken. The world of the 21st century is the perfect stage for the continued expansion and severity of terrorist action and senseless murder- not only from Islamic fundamentalists but also from political anarchists, cyber-warfare, and idiot kids following their lust for recognition and fame. This reality is often easily forgotten by many of us in this nation, due to our soundbite culture. Rather than seeing crime as crime, terrorism as terrorism, and foreign threats as foreign threats, we tend to see them as excuses to advance an agenda.
  • Someone was killed with a gun? We must - "end gun violence in this generation" by limiting the access that citizens can have to guns. 
  • A radical jihadist successfully carries out a terrorist attack - and we think that we should capitulate to jihadists everywhere in order to get them to stop. (or we should specifically hunt down everyone in that organization without giving any thought to potential threats from other organizations.
Rather than using bad news to advance a particular agenda, Americans must recognize that there are threats, but how we move to address them must be done in a way that reflects the values that we treasure the most.

I fundamentally agree that, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" (Benjamin Franklin). Thus there is an important balance that must be recognized - we live in a dangerous world with real enemies that mean us real harm, whether but we also live in a constitutional republic that is designed to have a limited government that will not abuse its powers. What is a solid Conservative to do with such a dichotomy?

You're probably not going to like this....

There is no solution.

Liberty is a sacred value that cannot be traded. If individuals and local entities continue to trade their independence and liberty in the interest of providing temporary safety, then that freedom is severely compromised. However, I must admit - I have no desire to watch a bomb go off in my local airport or get shot to death by a madman on my college campus.

I firmly believe that liberals who argue for increased gun control will do far more harm than good. I also just as firmly believe that the libertarian/anarchist movement of anti-government and anti-police is breaking down law and order and actually accentuating violence in society. 

Perhaps the only answer that I am willing to give is that the Second Amendment offers a legitimate solution to this problem, albeit a controversial one. The Second Amendment, in case you are unfamiliar, reads "
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." 
I am not arguing for the "Wild West" as many gun-control advocates would claim - I believe that there should be some minimal standards to ensure that those who have been convicted of violent crime cannot easily gain access to weapons. But I do believe that the vast majority of gun control laws vastly exceed the minimum standards necessary. I think the recent wage of shootings provide a good framework. Rather than moving to ensure that schools and public areas were provided with safety measures and programs, the greatest political push was for increased gun control. Why? Soundbites and emotion are the perfect tools to gain support for "doing something."

On the flip side, exercising your second amendment rights doesn't have to be a war against "the man," either. When we continue to assert our rights in the faces of those that have dedicated their lives to public service in the interest of protecting citizens from harm and serving their local communities, we are not representing the values that America was founded on, either. Instead, we are actually weakening the stability of our own society, by failing to allow those who uphold our laws to perform their jobs.

This doesn't mean that we have to accept everything that comes from the benevolent government either - there are important concepts called "balance," "common sense," and "integrity" that I have found are quickly being lost in the minds of many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum.

Our government allows us to address the issues that we see. There are legitimate ways to curb violence through legislation - and I believe that if these policies are formed through careful consideration rather than an emotional whirlwind, we can see positive reform. Even more important, though, is the understanding that reactions to specific cases of violence is a dangerous way to shape the laws of our nation. There will always be dangers from the mentally disturbed, criminals, and terrorists. This is the world we live in. It is important to recognize that in America we will not always have everything we want - we cannot have collective bargaining, social security, gun control, welfare, free healthcare, all while holding onto limited government, a competitive marketplace, and individual liberty.

Ultimately then, the question we should be asking is not "how can we end gun violence in this generation" as the media would tell us. Instead, it should be - "how much of my freedom and privacy am I willing to give up in order to feel safer?"

...And then we must be willing to accept the consequences of that decision.

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