Government forcing freedom

Doug Pennington who is the Assistant Director of Communications at the Brady Campaign writes:

[I]sn’t it ironic how some libertarians want government to stay out of their lives, yet have no problem with forcing other people to live with loaded, concealed weapons everywhere they turn?  The grocery store; the park; the school; the airport.  Apparently, we have the “freedom” to live with what these so-called libertarians tell us to live with.  After all, they have the guns, right?

I heard sort of argument in the context of concealed carry of guns at least 15 years ago. It was some radio talk show host in San Francisco who asked why she didn’t have the right to walk down the street without people having guns hidden. I suspect this sort of argument resonates with a lot of people.

The thing is people use the same sort of argument with free speech and religious freedom. They ask why do we have to tolerate neo-Nazi’s parading down the street? Or why do we have to tolerate atheists, Muslims, or Jews in our neighborhoods and schools?

If that doesn’t bring my point home try using the argument to support segregation.

Governments don’t force freedom on their citizens. Governments can only infringe freedoms of their subjects.

Wednesday night Barb and I had dinner with Mike Brown of the Idaho Sport Shooters Alliance and his wife. His wife, a big Ayn Rand fan, encapsulated a point in a very compelling way. She said under a free, capitalist, system people are able to create their own little socialist or communist utopia societies and share according to need and take according to their abilities. Or they can give up all “evil” modern technology such as the Amish communities do. Free societies allow such communities to successfully co-exist just fine. If you can own property you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone else or their property. The government still demands taxes but you don’t have to tolerate other religions, free speech, or people with guns on your property. The same isn’t true under a communist or totalitarian government.

But despite the clear problems of “government forcing freedom” there have been entire books written on the topic. Last year daughter Kim reported her economics class had The Shock Doctrine as required reading. One of the thesis’s of the book is that advocates (such as certain people within the U.S. government) of Milton Friedman are forcing (including using torture) free market economics on people. Kim was pissed and had trouble reading the book because of the anger it invoked. How does a government “force a free market”? A free market is one free of government interference! Force is required to have anything other than a free market.

And so it is with “forcing free speech”, “forcing religious tolerance”, and “forcing other people to live with loaded, concealed weapons everywhere they turn”. Pennington is telling us the true beliefs of his organization and the utopia they would like to create–freedom is slavery.

Update: I apparently got their attention. The post now has this tagged on to the end:

UPDATE: For readers referred from Joe Huffman, guns are not speech.

No one said it was free speech. But both free speech and the right to keep and bear arms are specific enumerated rights protected from infringement by the Bill of Rights. Hence the comparison is valid. For the Brady Campaign to claim a freedom from other people bearing arms is the constitutional equivalent of claiming the freedom from the speech of others. Of course it’s not the physical equivalent. But it is the legal equivalent.

Digressing a little bit I will admit that we probably will not ever have a constitutionally guaranteed right to carry concealed guns in public everywhere. If the Brady Campaign were to explicitly state it is only the carrying of concealed guns they get all uptight about but open carry is okay then I would be much more muted in my criticism of them. The carry of firearms in some form is probably going to be eventually upheld by the courts. Either the politicians have to make concealed carry permits “shall issue” and relatively quick and painless to obtain or they will have probably have to allow open carry without a permit. If some sort of carry for self defense in public is not allowed then the “bear” part of keep and bear arms will be infringed. I’m pretty sure the Brady people see that writing on the wall and are just dragging their feet or in denial.

After thinking about it for a long time and reading nearly all the blog posts and podcasts about the big open carry debate in the last few weeks I’m going to have my say on the topic soon. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Brady and company just contributed to my post on the topic.


6 thoughts on “Government forcing freedom

  1. The nut balls (socialists) are making a certain kind of sense from their perspective. In a free society, people are indeed “forced” to respect other people’s property, “forced” to refrain from rape and murder, etc., and “forced” to not violate other rights.

    So in that context (the perspective of the criminal) they are entirely correct. Freedom and Liberty can only be protected through force or the threat of force because there will always be people willing and ready to violate other people. That’s a first step to “getting it” right there.

    Maybe they’re beginning to understand a couple of things. a) That there are people who will never respect other people’s rights without the fear of retaliation to dissuade them, or b) that there is a difference between the initiation of force (crime) and force used in retaliation to the initiation of force (justice).

    On second thought, no. They’re not beginning to understand much of anything. Devoid of basic beliefs or principles, they’ll grasp at which ever straw presents itself, never realizing that they contradict themselves at virtually every turn.

  2. Dude, i totally get their point. They are forced to have to not see loaded, hidden, deadly firearms the same way the government forces them to see black people, Mexicans, and the dirty Jooooos (or is it Juice, i forget). I mean, if this country was really free, they would ban Blacks, Mexicans and Jooos from our streets. that’d be real freedom. And i am not talking about painting them to look like WASPs or hiding them under coats, like concealed guns, i mean actually ban them and toss them out of the country.


  3. It’s another blank slate argument. Everyone in this country has been surrounded by people with weapons since… well, since before this was a country. They’re just aware of it now.

    No Horsemen, apparently.

    My advice: adjust attitudes accordingly, and welcome to civilization.

  4. I finished the post at about 4:00 AM and went back to bed. As I was drifting off I thought of something else I should have added–it is the job of government protect freedom, property rights, and punish those that try to infringe on other people’s freedoms. I considered getting up to make the correction but thought, “No need. Lyle will correct my oversight.”

    Thanks Lyle.

  5. Have you people no empathy? Can’t you see the distress your “rugged individualism” is causing Mr. Pennington?

    Americans have a constitutional right to live free of fear. And if that means you face a slightly elevated risk in your daily lives so that others can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they aren’t surrounded by potential assassins every time they go to the grocery store, well, that’s a concession you should be willing to make as part of the give and take of living in a civilized society.

    Communitarianism is the Wave of the Future. Learn to surf it, or prepare to drown.

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