The idea of America is just as much a moral premise as a governmental structure. To fully understand that moral premise, we have to look to the Constitution’s rule of law. But we can’t stop there.
We must go back 13 years, to the Declaration of Independence. Much of it detailed the “long train of abuses” by King George III. But not all of it.
In Jefferson’s explanation of why such a declaration was necessary, he eloquently laid out a moral case for rights. These rights (among them, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness) were not capricious or based on personal whim, but “Nature’s Laws”. Why did Jefferson, a very precise penman, emphasize Nature’s Laws so strenuously? And what do all of these unalienable rights entail?
“Unalienable” means they are as necessary to sustaining your life as oxygen. The only way to remove these rights is to cease living. So, how does the pursuit of happiness fit that definition?
Well, Natural Law recognizes the fact that your time and effort are both finite. It is further understood that effort is not just physical, but intellectual. Applying time, talents, and physical and/or mental labor to existing matter is generally done to improve it.
That improvement adds value that you can exchange for items (or money with which to purchase them). Perhaps an illustration, then.
I exchange my time and effort for money. With that money, I buy the latest TV. Watching various programs on this TV makes my family happy. Thus, I have pursued (and acquired) a modicum of happiness. The time and effort has already been spent. But it was worth the trade-off.
Then, the unthinkable happens: one night, two men break into my house. They want my TV, but are unwilling to trade their own efforts for it. On top of that, my state has strict gun laws, in knee-jerk response to heinous acts that were already illegal.
So I stay in bed and the men take my TV.
But it’s not just a TV, is it? They also took the happiness my family derived from watching it, and the hours of work I traded for it.
The pursuit of happiness, embodied in that TV, has been stolen from an entire family. Now, more hours of work are needed to replace it. And, on top of redundant pursuit, for items already acquired, I have to also pursue legal action against the thieves.
But I haven’t even seen their faces, because of the fear that they may be armed, while I was not. So the TV’s serial number is all I have to go on, and I give it to the authorities. Of course, it never pops up again.
If I’d had a gun, in our hypothetical scenario, might the outcome have been different? It depends, for the most part, on how badly the men wanted the TV.
You may say, “But, Bradley, that’s absurd! You wouldn’t shoot a person over a trivial item like a TV, would you?!”
But, is it trivial? How important is a workweek of your time, not a second of which you can ever replace? That is, in fact, a portion of your very life.
And if the whole of your life is an unalienable right, according to Natural Law, how can a certain portion not be? You would also do well to remember that force was initiated by the burglars, not me.
Further, why would you take the utilitarian “production for use” approach and presume that simply having a gun, in that scenario, entails using it? Perhaps I would simply hold the robbers at gunpoint, so they didn’t run off before the police arrived? Would you be OK with that?
You say, “Fine. But it’s still not worth a life. Scare ’em off and go back to bed.” Inaccurate, given what the TV represents. But, let’s go with it.
Maybe I live just across the border from a state where politicians have respect for unalienable rights, thus access to guns is easier.
Suppose I have no gun, stay in bed, and let the burglars take my TV. They then break into a house in the next town, just across the state line from me, and steal some guns.
The next morning, they use those stolen guns to murder 43 people in a shopping mall. Would it have been better if I’d had a gun to stop them at TVs?
Are you beginning to question the wisdom of my state’s hypothetical gun laws? Perhaps another scenario will cement the premise?
What if intruders came to steal a TV, and a child walked in on them? What if they were armed, but the homeowner couldn’t own a gun? What if the intruders were so startled they fired their weapons, killing the child?
Did the state’s prohibitive gun laws prevent it?
Would another knee-jerk law, piled atop the others, stop it from happening again? Or bring the child back? Or ease the parents’ grief?
Of course not. But a simple preventative measure, such as the homeowner holding the intruders at gunpoint till police arrive, would do all of the above. And, with the robbers in jail, any further criminal acts they may have planned are thwarted.
Does that not make infinitely more sense?
The villains are no longer free to take a life at the next house (or any portion of a life).
But, rather than a sensible solution, the Progs want even more gun restrictions. Why?
And it’s hypocritical. A microscopic fraction of high-capacity weapons are used in crimes. So high-cap mags must be banned? But, I thought they loved democracy? Wouldn’t that be “majority rule”, rather than tyranny of the minority?
But, I digress. Prog hypocrisy is documented to the point of tedium. A handful of mass murders justifies gun bans. A handful of gays necessitates universal marriage “rights”. Et cetera.
The point is this: top down policies never solve highly individualized problems. This is why I advocate federalism. Localized rule.
The government closest to individual citizens can best respond to individual issues. And they usually have more reverence for Natural Law.
By way of conclusion, let’s take a look at collectivist regimes:
Tell the people in 1970’s Cambodia that guns, let alone high-capacity magazines, would serve no useful purpose. Wait. You can’t. Because they’re dead. And they couldn’t legally own guns. Maybe high-capacity mags could’ve helped them out when Saloth Sar’s mobs came to round them up?
Tell the people of 1950’s China the fairy tale you insist on pushing, that gun control saves lives. As it turns out, only criminals had guns, and those criminals ran the government. When mobs of soldiers came to murder these innocent rice farmers, could high-capacity mags have saved a few lives? Even if only one life, would you say it was worth it? For the children?
Maybe the Jews in 1940’s Germany could have stood a chance, if they were armed? But Jewish gun ownership had been outlawed long before the first boxcar was loaded with its human freight. Might Anne Frank have lived to have children of her own, if her parents had access to MG34s?
Could the Bolshevik purges have been prevented?
Or perhaps your Leftist sensibilities are unmoved by any of this history? After all, those are foreign countries. And it’s hyperbole, anyway. All you’re calling for is “common sense gun control measures”, right? That kind of thing could never happen here, right?
Perhaps we should look to the Reconstruction South, then? Yes, in America. Progressives and Democrats instituted what they saw as “common sense gun control.” After all, what could be more common sense than keeping guns out of the hands of people you’d very recently held as slaves, amiright!?
Didn’t work out so well for the people in the pictures collected here, did it?
Here’s an idea, Mr. President, and the rest of you gun-grabbing, rights-hating Progs out there: tell the descendants of all these people that the society they lived in would’ve been worse for them, and much more dangerous, if they’d been allowed to have guns (or high-capacity magazines, with which they might have fended off collectivist/racist mobs).
No? Yeah. We didn’t think so.