Monday, June 11, 2007

Gazette against Big Brother, for self defense

Today's opinion from the Colorado Springs Gazette makes a great argument for what our Constitutional right to self-defense really means.

Restricting rights
Scotland edging toward knife control

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the best summations of individual rights in history. It clearly lays out the colonists’ case against the tyranny of King George III in words anyone can understand. It also defines what the signers were laying claim to: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Most Americans are as familiar with these words as they are their own names. But do they understand the implications of the stated rights?

Take the right to life. That’s pretty straightforward; no one has the right to deprive you of your life except under the most extreme and specific circumstances. That implies a right to self defense. Restricting how you provide for your own defense is a limit on your right to life. That’s what gun control advocates either don’t understand or don’t care about.

They cloak their rhetoric in terms that make their goals seem acceptable; they don’t want to ban guns, just put “reasonable” restrictions on ownership, how often one can buy a firearm and what type it can be. That’s not unreasonable, is it? Let’s take a short trip abroad and see how this is playing out in one of the bastions of peace and tranquility the gun banners often point to as an example.

The United Kingdom has long had many restrictions on the type of firearms citizens may own. After the schoolyard massacre of 16 children and a teacher in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, private ownership of guns was restricted almost to the point of an outright ban. That should have reduced violence to the point where police could keep it in check, right? Not hardly.

Remember how gun-control advocates want “reasonable” restrictions? That’s just the first step. That’s how things started out in the UK, but that didn’t stop people from attacking and killing each other. Now, Scotland Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson is going after knives. But not all knives, of course, just the really dangerous ones. According to Jamieson, “Sharp items continue to be the most common method of killing in this country, consistently accounting for around half of all murders each year.”

We won’t argue with the minister’s statistics, they make sense in a society where firearms aren’t very common. But her rhetoric sounds familiar to people in this country who have heard similar arguments for restricting firearms.

Jamieson admits that banning knives outright would help solve her problem, but realizes that knives also have “legitimate” uses. “The vast majority of people use knives in the home responsibly and safely every day,” she notes. She’s going after “non-domestic knives,” those with “a blade or sharp point, and which is not designed only for domestic use, or only for use in the processing, preparation or consumption of food.” Those words are very similar to the language of several laws and proposed laws around the U.S. that seek to ban firearms that don’t have a “legitimate sporting purpose.” H.R. 1022, a bill that would reinstate the so-called assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, would give the U.S. attorney general the sole authority to decide which firearms fit the “sporting purpose” definition gun control advocates claim they don’t want to ban.

We worry about giving the government that kind of broad power. Jamieson doesn’t seem to believe self defense is a legitimate use of knives. She said in a statement, “Knives can be lethal weapons and to carry them for ‘protection’ or as a status symbol is not something which we can tolerate.” We’re don’t think government officials who don’t believe in basic rights is something the people can tolerate. [Emphasis Added]

No comments: