Quote of the day—Richard Feldman

A government which cannot protect its citizens has no right denying them the means to protect themselves.

Richard Feldman
1984
At the Bernie Goetz news conference in Manhattan when he was the NRA/ILA rep for the Northeast.
Via email from Feldman
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

11 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Richard Feldman

  1. “A government has no right denying [citizens] the means to protect themselves.”

    There. Fixed it.

    Denying that human right would not become acceptable if government were providing each and every one of us a team of expert body guards. The issue of whether government can protect us, or the extent to which government can or will protect us, is irrelevant. We still have rights. The original quote doesn’t seem to acknowledge an unalienable right, but asserts a government responsibility to “keep us safe” (which doesn’t exist).

    The Progressive interpretation of the above quote would be that government is violating our rights if we don’t receive free weapons, free ammunition, free training and a government-provided training and practice facility. That is exactly how they perceive the “right” to birth control, for example. Progressives are of course dangerously insane.

    The only protection a government can provide legitimately is the protection of rights. “…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men”

    The original quote says that the reason we should be able to carry guns is that the government is failing in its responsibility to protect us. No. The reason we should be able to carry guns is that we have that right and it is therefore outside the jurisdiction of government to interfere.

  2. The other fallacy in the original quote is the assumption that the government has a duty to protect the citizens. Lots of people think so, and many claim it is so, but that is not the case.
    The police isn’t in the protection business. Its business is the gathering of evidence and the arrest of criminals. As an indirect side effect, this may at times increase public safety. But the notion that protection is a government duty is flat out false, that’s very well settled.
    This sort of thing applies more generally. Government regulation exists for various reasons: to increase employment among parasites; to protect incumbents from competition; etc. But it does not protect the people. To see this, try to recover damages from the FDA for injury suffered from a drug it approved. Come to think of it, the FDA is a particularly pernicious case: not only doesn’t it protect the people, but it actively harms them.

    • I agree with the interpretation about the police not having an obligation to protect the citizens and the SCOTUS has ruled as such. A police force is not specifically described in the Constitution.

      Militias are described though.

      However, I do think there is a duty of the government to protect its citizens from an invasion and military attack. The whole point of the power to raise an army is to defend against foreign aggression.

      Paul Koning, am I off base here? Did I misunderstand what I see as a fundamental obligation of the government?

      I have one potential corollary question depending on your response. If the government is not responsible for the safety of citizens, how can it protect any of our inalienable rights? For example, my 3rd Amendment rights to be free of troops quartered in my house are meaningless if I am dead. Same goes for the rest of the BOR.

      I fear you are right though. Government seems to have forgotten its role to secure my rights and seeks only to perpetuate itself.

      • You’re right, the government does have a Constitutional duty to repel invasion, and to guarantee to each state a republican government. That doesn’t directly amount to an obligation to protect any one person, I suspect. I would expect the existing reasoning that says the police have no such duty to be applied to that other case as well. A general duty to prevent invasion, sure; but a specific duty to protect a specific person from the consequences of invasion is a different matter.

        As for how can the government protect our inalienable rights? That’s a great question. The Declaration of Independence says that this is the purpose of government. But interestingly enough, the Constitution does not. Some would argue it wasn’t intended to. (Certainly Hamilton did not intend it to.)

        Instead, the supposed purpose of the Constitution is to create a strong national government while at the same time preventing it from infringing on our inalienable rights. The Framers pretended that this could be done; the Federalist Papers are a set of marketing documents expressing that belief. Or perhaps more accurately, expressing arguments intended to make the ratifying voters believe it. For example, I really wonder if Madison actually believed his bizarre argument about the meaning of semicolons in Federalist #41 (his claim that Article 1 Section 8 doesn’t grant unlimited power to tax).

        The unavoidable conclusion is that it isn’t the job of the government to protect our rights so much as it is to keep from infringing them. Remember that the Bill of Rights clearly is a list of prohibitions against the government, NOT an enumeration of rights granted (the name is quite misleading).

        And the problem is that no part of government has shown any inclination to obey this duty, and hasn’t for 150 years or more. I’d estimate that about 99% of Federal government activity is clearly unconstitutional — for example, that is obviously the case for every “independent agency”.

        As Jefferson put it: “And what is our resource for the preservation of the Constitution? Reason and argument? You might as well reason and argue with the marble columns encircling them.”

        Mencken made a similar statement in not so refined words: “In nothing did the founders of this country so demonstrate their essential naivete than in attempting to constrain government from all its favorite abuses, and entrusting the enforcement of those protections to judges; that is to say, men who had been lawyers; that is to say, men professionally trained in finding plausible excuses for dishonest and dishonorable acts.”

  3. “Government _______________ seeks only to perpetuate itself.”

    In any organization, this eventually becomes it’s primary directive. Any activity directed toward it’s original focus, or reason for creation, is entirely secondary.

    • True. But normal organizations are limited by their power to obtain funds, whether from profit or from donations. The problem with government is that it has an unlimited power to tax (in reality though perhaps not in the Constitution) and also an unlimited power to forge money (in reality though clearly not in the Constitution).

  4. This is similar to the practice of using relatively low and/or falling crime rates (or otherwise using statistics) as an argument in favor of gun “rights”. It’s a contradiction. A right doesn’t require any set of circumstances before it is recognized, nor does it disappear at some statistical threshold. The statistical argument tacitly concedes that the right goes away, or is subject to revocation, when the statistics change.

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