After ten minutes of CNN’s town hall “debate” I had already searched for gun safes, the closest firearms dealer near me, classes on gun safety, and an NRA membership. Whether that’s a sign the event was a rousing success or terrible failure depends on who you ask. But whenever the left talks about gun control, significant numbers of people who see value in the Second Amendment run out and purchase a gun.
Normally, that wouldn’t include me. But this time was different. Here’s why.
Everyone watched the same event. Yet, depending on the political perspective it was with horror or glee. The town hall was one long string of thinly veiled accusations against people who had nothing to do with a heinous crime that was committed a week earlier. It was not really a debate or discussion, but a kangaroo court, where the audience held Americans responsible for the actions of an evil individual they had nothing to do with. The behavior of the children and parents at the event, while understandable, was reprehensible. Trauma, no matter how real, is never an excuse for treating other people with contempt.
Emotions aren’t what led me to buy a firearm. That decision was driven by the idea driving the “discussion” at the town hall, that security is more important than liberty.
Liberty is a state of being free from oppression imposed by an authority, but it requires individuals to take responsibility over their own lives. Responsibility is something of a burden, a difficult aspect of liberty conservatives sometimes avoid talking about. Liberty grants people the power to choose and chart a path, but that means that each individual is responsible for their actions, thoughts, and even their own security. Certainly, individuals grant some select members authority to protect in an effort to enhance safety for the whole community, but the responsibility for each person’s safety still rests with that individual.
The left would argue we can have security without consequences of oppression or loss of liberty, that we can live in a state free from danger. But that’s a false hope — we are never truly free from danger. The real security they promise is freedom from responsibility, or the ability to transfer responsibility to a select group of people who can be held accountable when things go wrong. They promise security for all in exchange for a little more, and eventually a lot more, power.
America is seeing this happen everywhere. Give up speech and no longer feel bad for offending others. Give up weapons and the government will protect you. Give up the ability to choose health care and the government will provide it for you. The tradeoff in each of these cases is the promise of some benefit in exchange for a loss of freedom in governing your own life.
The left wants the government to do more than secure our inalienable rights. Liberals want the government to secure things like economic security and free health care and a “proper” minimum wage. They want the government to guarantee emotional security, so girls are told they cannot tell a boy no to a dance. They want enforced psychological security, so people are forced to conform their speech so that liberals don’t have to suffer the hardship of words and labels they disagree with. And most fundamentally, they want the government to shield them from the burden of personal responsibility.
Opposition between liberals and conservatives, in the gun control debate and otherwise, is about placement of power. Liberty places power with individual, which means it places responsibility with the individual. Security places power within a limited amount of people’s hands and thus responsibility away from the individual. They are diametrically opposed, because they are inherently contradictory.
Certainly responsibility is a heavy burden, but it elevates humanity. To choose is to express free will. Yes, failure may be a result, but simply look at the flow of humanity toward freedom. How many people have attempted to “escape” America to Communism? How many people fled away Communism? Seeing a mob of people celebrating baseless and morally reprehensible claims at CNN’s town hall was frightening. More than that, as the evidence continues to mount over the failure of law enforcement in handling the Parkland shooter, it will only heighten the truth that a promise of security from the government doesn’t actually guarantee safety.
The town hall was a display of tyranny. For tyranny has never come from a single person, but rather from a mob cheering for the destruction of liberty and rights from those with whom they disagree.
So I bought a gun.