Freedom is Not Free (Gun Control is Still Control).

Via Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)
on Jul 23, 2012
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 “We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”
~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

The tragedy in Colorado has surely renewed the very passionate debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights.

It is also surely going to further divide a nation already fractured to its core. I am lost in a sea of what I feel/want versus what I know to be true. Things like this are never easy, and such things often exercise our emotions versus our values. If we examine these things carefully and with awareness, we should be left with a resolution to adhere to our values. Character demands nothing less.

As is true with my attitude on abortion rights (I am pro-life but believe everyone has the right and should have the freedom to decide for themselves) my views on gun control often inspire a big reaction from those I know, love and/or discuss with. I would shrink from the discussion if it were not so important in our national discourse. My personality and my character simply does not allow me to hide in the shadows.

That being said, I am nothing more than some anonymous blogger who loves people and values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights bestowed upon us all by our Creator.

I feel a distinct and immutable sadness over the death, suffering and destruction created in Aurora.

Tears well up inside me as I empathize with those who have lost a loved one to such a heinous act. My heart bleeds for those who were injured. My soul prays for healing and yes, it even prays for forgiveness for the person who created caused it all. Yes, I wish him healing and love as surely as I wish it on the victims. If that offends you, I am sorry.

I am no longer a man prone to violence, and I see it as the lowest frequency of human vibration. I see violence as fear’s lowest low, the moment when our human minds become their weakest and our hearts lose their hold on the smaller part of us.

In that light, I cannot react to violence with violence and expect the world to become a better place for my existence. I must find the strength, resolve and love in my heart not to beat you down but to find a way to lift you up when I feel you have done me wrong.

That is my way. It may not be yours, and I have found it take great resolve and strength to act in accordance with that vision even in the most benign of circumstances, let alone in an event like the tragedy in Aurora. I struggle with adhering to this vision daily and certainly know the strength it takes to not react in fear’s grip when it is so easy to do so given our societal instruction from birth.

I understand that we are taught “an eye for an eye” from birth, and that “domestication” creates in us a reactionary personality that feels the need to do something when we feel a wrong has been done. Sometimes stillness should be the answer, but we weren’t raised that way as a collective and certainly were never taught how to exercise that restraint. That “domestication” often makes hypocrites out of even the most peaceful and well-meaning among us.

Control is Control and Control is Oppression

To me, it is this simple. The mechanism by which a deranged human being carries out his fantasies is not the issue. A man bent on killing others will find a way to carry out his will regardless of what weapon we put in his hand.

One such example was at the Happy Land Social Club, where an angry boyfriend used gasoline to kill 87 people. A difference here is that there is no “right” to gasoline, a gas can or matches. The Oklahoma City bombing was caused by fertilizer and fuel oil. You simply do not need a gun to carry out acts of terror, vengeance or anger on other people.

So, while I personally see no need for anyone to have an assault rifle, I can’t inflict my attitude on those who do. As a vegetarian, I see no reason for people to kill Bambi at all, let alone with an AK-47. I read somewhere that about 13,000-14,000 people a year die from car accidents related to speeding, far greater than those who are killed by assault weapons every year.

While speeding is against the law in the United States, I have heard no one propose that we take cars away from those who speed. They may lose their driver’s license after umpteen tickets, but they still have their car. Guess what, there is no “right to own a car” written in the Constitution anywhere either.

While this argument may sound silly to you, the idea of punishing law-abiding citizens whose pursuit of happiness involves owning a Uzi because of the handful of deaths committed every year at the hands of assault weapon owners is just as silly to me. If they want to own a Uzi, fine, they should be free to own one. As long as they don’t shoot up innocent people as a result. People should be free to make choices for themselves.

Attitude is a dangerous thing, especially when some try to force others to into adopting one. Gun control is not about controlling guns, it is about controlling others. It’s about keeping them from doing as they wish and distorting the Constitution to fit that attitude.

The Second Amendment is not about bearing arms as part of a “well-regulated” militia, it is about ensuring that the People can both keep a well-regulated militia as well as ensuring the right to bears arms is not infringed upon by the Federal Government (study Tench Cox and the opinions of the delegates on the Second Amendment).

Both things, the militias and the right to bear arms, were a direct result of the real fears of our founding fathers pertaining to tyranny. They wanted to ensure that the government could not keep the citizenry from both militarizing and protecting itself from a government.

“Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command; for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”
~ Noah Webster  (1758-1843) 

This was a predominant fear, particularly of those who fought against the European monarchies and tyrannies. I understand that many Americans did not want a strong central government just for this reason. There was a real fear that everything they fought for against England would be lost by creating a government that could usurp the power from the People. The Second Amendment was considered, debated and approved under those auspices; the People can fight back whenever the government becomes oppressive.

So this isn’t about Bambi, or Aurora or Columbine. It is about the real fact that we have a right, liked or not by all, to keep and bear arms in this nation. That right exists more clearly than the right to abortion, the Separation between Church and State as well as many other “principles” many of us hold dear.

Freedom is Not Free

The price of freedom isn’t always about currency. It is not always about fighting foreign dictators or evil empires. It’s not always about liberating the oppressed. Sometimes the supreme sacrifice made in the honor of freedom is found in movie theaters, in schools, in dark alleys or on college campuses. Sometimes those who die for freedom are not part of a well-trained military unit, but are our neighbors, friends, husbands, wives and children.

It sucks to say this, in fact it pains me greatly to say this, but we can’t honor those who have died for freedom by eroding that freedom out of fear, just because we don’t happen to like something.

Yes, my attitude may be dramatically different had I lost someone close in Aurora. Anger does that to a reasoning mind. Sometimes we have to allow cooler heads to make decisions for us when in the throes of an angry reaction. I sincerely want the person who did this to be punished for his crimes, but I don’t want to punish everyone for them too. I don’t want to allow this government to take any freedom away from you, from me, or from anyone else. I simply don’t trust it enough.

I realize this may create some angry reactions. Understand that it is very hard for me to not only take this position, but to stick to it. I will stick to it, if only because I am sick of being told what I can and can’t do because of the attitudes of others. I have to wear my seat belt (I always wear it anyway. It is the “have to” that I dislike) for instance. Hey, if I want to drive down the road without my seat belt and suddenly wear my windshield as a necklace—that’s on me.

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t tell me about the monetary costs created by those who don’t wear their seat belts. Freedom is not free, and sometimes we pay a monetary price to allow others to exercise their own.

I pray we can have intelligent, wise and controlled public debate on this issue. To me, freedom is the issue here, and what we are willing to sacrifice in the quest for a false sense of security that will never exist.

Peace.

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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About Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)

Tom Grasso is a Colorado-based seeker, meditator, blogger (new site), and creative wordsmith. More importantly, he is a father of three (meaning he is also a lecturer, teacher, chef, order taker, taxi driver, coach, mentor and aspirin addict) and has found great joy in sharing his life experience to the benefit of others. Tom is an abuse survivor and a reformed (though unapologetic) bad ass warrior who bares the scars of his adventures and the power of transformation in every word he writes. As a former firefighter and rescue tech, Tom understands the fragility of life and the impermanence of each moment. You can follow Tom on Tumblr , and can find his books on Amazon. You will soon be able to purchase Tom's short stories (and erotica) at www.tomgrasssowriter.com. Don't forget to like his "blog page" at Tom Grasso, Writer on Facebook.  

Comments

65 Responses to “Freedom is Not Free (Gun Control is Still Control).”

  1. tomgrasso says:

    Mike, I can understand you point, but what WOULD your reaction be if a government came to your door to take YOUR car away because people who speed had killed someone?

    It's the very same mechanism EXCEPT you are not guaranteed any right to own, drive, or use a car. That's why I used the example in the first place.

    I agree, the issue is NOT gun control, it is the culture of violence. It may also be that gun control laws now on the books mean that in that culture of violence, people are forced to bring fists to a gunfight. They have no ability to protect themselves from others in "this culture of violence" because they abide by the laws. Adding more of these laws doesn't protect them on bit.

    One more thought. Do you know a police officer? Find me one that does NOT carry his/her firearm everywhere they go even when off duty. Why? Because they know what's out there…

  2. __MikeG__ says:

    Repeating a straw man argument does not validate that argument in any way. More people die of heart attacks than gun or traffic fatalities combined. At least if you argued the straw man that the government might take away hamburgers thus preventing future heart attacks your argument would be funny. Still flawed, but funny.

    My cousin is a police officer and he does not carry a gun everywhere he goes. He definitely knows what is out there and that knowledge has changed him. This proves that your contention that all police officers are constantly armed is a figment of your imagination.

    I'm not anti-gun. I just don't have the faintest clue as to where to draw the line.

    And I am all for less government and less government control.

    If you want no limitations then you also are for no laws at all. That means murder, rape and theft would not be crimes and there would be no prohibition, other than personal ethics, against those actions.

  3. __MikeG__ says:

    And I'm not bashing your article. I pointed out the use of a logical fallacy but that does not mean I discount your arguments in their entirety. I think this article raises good questions and makes some good points. And I think you do yourself credit with your willingness to engage people who comment on your article. Far too many authors either do not engage at all or only engage with persons who agree with them.

  4. Chip Njaa says:

    Tom, most Americans don't ride an assault weapon to work… so I think your analogy is pointless and meant only to incite outrage over the prospect of the government, yet again, "(coming) to my door to take" yet another thing (by the way, in my forty years, the government has never showed up at my door. Where do you live and what kind of lifestyle do you lead where you are left in constant fear of government intrusion?) and thereby, restricting our god-given rights to own vehicles and shoot military style assault weapons. Who cares if it is the same "mechanism"? You're seeking an emotional response to validate your own argument, nothing more.

    You continue to ignore comments that question your statements that an armed militia made up of civilians would somehow be able to overthrow a tyrannical and abusive government. So, I'll ask again, would you please explain how this would work (in reality, not some analogous 4th dimensional world where cars are taken away by the government)? I find it curious that you like to infuse every response with comments about your love for fellow human beings and peace and so on and so on, ad nauseam, so we all know how ironic and hard it is for you to defend gun rights. I guess you think Martin Luther King, Jr. is a real pussy? I mean, really, it's not like black folks weren't oppressed and treated like slaves (oh, wait! They actually WERE slaves at one point, remember?) Yet, according to your current arguement, the best and only way for them to have reacted would have been an armed rebellion, right? Let's take two recent examples… a peaceful uprising in Egypt (they currently just held their first election) and an armed rebellion in Syria (how many dead so far?). Awesomesauce. Keep spinning the NRA fear machine.

    Last, why mention police officers when they, overwhelmingly as a group, don't believe that the general population should be allowed to own assault weapons? Who cares if they carry their weapons while off duty? They're sometimes called upon to be officers while off-duty. I own a kite store and keep a number of kites in the back of my car… it's what I do. They bring home what they do.

  5. tomgrasso says:

    I appreciate your cousin is a police officer, but I would suggest you not decide that because your cousin doesn't carry a weapon off duty that this is somehow a "figment of my imagination". I am friends with less than a dozen police officers, not to mention the friendly acquaintances I have on the Philadelphia Police Department, and I tell you that every single one of them carries their weapon off duty. How many times have you heart "an off duty police officer shot…" in the news? Plenty.

    So I will restate my contention. MOST (not all) police officers carry their weapons off duty and everywhere they go. Why? Because they know what is out there…they deal with it as part of their daily lives.

    And I've never stated that I am for "no limitations". What I am saying is that the LAW OF THE LAND clearly states that the right to bear arms "shall not be infringed" with this contention being supported by SCOTUS precedent and opinion. If we, as a society, are willing to let this government (or any government) infringe on those rights they have no legal right to infringe upon, then we are going to get what we have asked for. It's already beginning…

    Sometimes we have to support those things we DON'T like because we LOVE freedom. Oddly, I had this same discussion with a conservative friend of mine when explaining to her why I love the ACLU. At least they have the balls to fight an unpopular fight in the name of freedom and liberty.

  6. tomgrasso says:

    Thanks Mike. I see no point to a one person conversation. If we are going to learn to have a dialog on issues in this nation, we have to start having the dialog. Respectful, disciplined, and supported by facts.

  7. tomgrasso says:

    Chip, I appreciate your sentiment but you are missing the point. While most Americans don't ride an assault weapon to work, that right is guaranteed by our Constitution…and has not been changed by Amendment as required by that same Constitution. Therefore, a person has MORE of a right to ride their assault weapon to work then you do your car.

    That's the point I am trying to make. Like it or not, ownership of that assault weapon is protected by the highest law of this land where ownership of your car is not.

    I am happy that the government has never shown up at your door. It's a testament to what abiding by the law (even those you do not like) in a free society. The point I am trying to make here is that I'd like to keep that track record going, and that may be impossible if we allow our government to disregard the highest law of the land (even those we don't like).

    Also, it is our civic duty to ensure the rights of others is protected even if we disagree with the right being exercised. Otherwise, I feel we are no better than ultra-conservatives stopping people from marrying based on sexual orientation or other examples of insanity (my view). So…I will hope we protect the right of someone who wants to own an AK-47 just as I would hope we protect the rights of my gay friends to marry (or help fight to get those rights protected). The fundamental rights of others must be protected…

    …or else I am no better than some control freak who wants to tell you how to live your life. I'm not that guy, and don't ever want to be.

  8. Chip Njaa says:

    You and "ultra-conservatives" really aren't all that different. They hold the word of God, translated from a two thousand year old book and written to act as a foundation of moral rules to govern man, as sacred. You hold the words of the founding fathers, written over two hundred and fifty years ago to act as a foundation of guidelines based on what they considered inalienable rights, as sacred. You don't seem have a problem with telling others that they need to update their religious views to fall more in line with how societal views have evolved (and don't forget, they live in accordance with the word of God)… yet you leave no room for outdated opinions, based on the word of man, to be updated because that will lead (somehow) to the government controlling every aspect of our lives.

    My frustration with your stance is that you aren't flexible… in any way. For you, the rights of the individual will always outweigh the rights of society. I believe that that may have been well and good up until this century, but it doesn't fly anymore. Everything and everyone are so interconnected at this point, that every action an individual takes has an effect on someone or something around him. We can't continue to separate individual rights with human rights… and weapons have become a human rights issue.

  9. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Mike, you're right. Citizens, even when armed, can't stand up to the US military. That's why the founders wrote the "Swiss way" into the Constitution. Switzerland figured out how to protect itself and its freedoms in a very warlike part of the world without standing armies: with citizen militias. When you have that, you don't often have military oppression within the country or wars in other countries. But you need the right to own weapons. Paradoxically, that right is essential if we are to have a non-militaristic society, like Switzerland. You can't police the world, though, with militias. Once America decided to play globocop, the Constitution had to be trashed and the bedrock meaning of the 2nd Amendment forgotten.

    Chip, I have to disagree. Most Americans DO ride assault weapons to work. Cars are deadly weapons, and America would be a lot safer for children (and others) if drivers drove with that reality in mind. And no, you are right, an armed militia cannot often overthrow a tyrannical government. But, as the founders knew, tyrannical governments generally rely on standing armies. When the people themselves are the army, well… There's no need for them to overthrow themselves. The danger of standing armies, some historians say, is the only point on which there was virtually unanimous agreement among the writers of the Constitution.

  10. tomgrasso says:

    Chip…I don't hold any THING sacred. What I hold sacred as far as you and this discussion are concerned are the principals by which that document, and our independence, were constructed under: the unalienable rights to LIFE, LIBERTY and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

    What you seek to do is control other people by instilling what you see as right and correct on them. This idea is NO different than the religious right telling women what they can and can't do with their reproductive system. YOU have an idea, and everyone else has to live under it. Or at least that would happen if your idea was stretched into my reality.

    Society needs some controls, in that I will grant. Those controls do NOT, however, need to bleed over to infringing on the rights of people who are not breaking any laws (except those laws that need to be broken for civil discourse). Imagine sodomy being illegal. Imagine interracial relationships being illegal. Imagine black people voting being illegal. Imagine women voting being illegal. THAT'S the result of ideas of some being inflicted on others.

    And when those ideas are horrible, it should be the RIGHT of Americans to rise up in armed insurrection. That's the purpose of the Second Amendment. Now, while I am a believer in non-violence, I see the reason for the amendment and the wisdom (experience) behind it. I don't want to live in the box some gun-control advocates wish to put me in despite the fact that I do not own a gun and most likely never will. The box isn't in the "gun control" it simply lies in the "control".

    As far as flexibility there are very few things that I am inflexible on. Liberty is one thing I don't find much room to bend on. When you give up freedom you CEASE being free. Why would I give up any freedom to allow you to create a false sense of security? The very idea seems ludicrous at best.

  11. Chip says:

    Hi Mark, I agree that cars can be deadly but I would argue that they are rarely used as weapons. Cars aren't produced and designed with the intent and purpose to kill people, but they do have the potential to cause harm when driven by an impaired or distracted person. My comment was meant to convey the idea that if the government started taking away cars from citizens, the act of restricting transportation would have a huge negative affect on our society whereas taking away military style assault weapons (I've been very specific with no mention of an all-out ban on guns) wouldn't, in my opinion, restrict "freedom" in any meaningful way. YES, I understand the argument that people feel that under no circumstance should we compromise our freedoms and perhaps you're right. I, though, believe it's time to seperate "want" from "need", and since people seem to be unable to do it on their own, regulations are a good start. Look at how the view of smoking in public has changed over the past twenty years (again, I understand the right to smoke is not listed in the Constitution, but it falls under the "people should have the right to make their own decisions" argument). People don't "need" assault weapons for any reason and, despite what some people say, I don't believe restricting access to them would eventually lead to a ban on all guns. It's clear that the vast majority of Americans have no wish to ban all weapons and it would never happen. How do you define the term "arms"? How does the government? There doesn't seem to be any controversy over what weapons we are currently allowed to own or not own. Why?

    I now, kind of, understand what you and Tom are saying about the "Swiss way" and how access to guns would be important to citizens if we had citizen militias but… we don't. So, if this system isn't in place and likely never will be, how is it a valid argument in favor of not regulating the types of weapons legally sold in the U.S.? I also think it's kind of silly to believe that our nation, when comparing its size and diversity, could mirror a military system used by a small landlocked ethnocentric country. I think Switzerland has thrived because they act as money launderer to the world through their policy of being "neutral". Who's going to beat up the kid on the playground who promises to hold you coat and not tell the teacher that you're stealing lunch money from the weak kids?

  12. Chip says:

    I would like to add that I believe the "word of God" originated in an effort to control people as opposed to the purpose of the "word of man" in the Constitution which was/is meant to liberate people. I support your defense of freedom, but I don't see freedom as an absolute ideal, incapable of evolving to suit the best interests of the individual and society simultaneously.

  13. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Point on comparing car deaths-gun deaths well taken, Chip. Ya hafta understand that I am anti-carworld so I take whatever chance I can find to throw out some propaganda in that direction, thus I happily continue to compare the two, illogical though it may seem.

    Speaking of which, I just googled car and gun deaths. It seems that, contrary to the mood of our discussion, that it's actually pro-guneys don't like the comparison and anti-guneys that bring it up. Here's some interesting info from a pro-guney rebuttal to an anti-guney car-gun comparison at http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/05/bruce-kr

    Anti-guney points out that in 10 states, gun deaths exceed car deaths. (Which means, I immediately calculate, that cars are more deadly in 40 states) Pro-guney, in a hissy fit, (I mean he even attacks, inaccurately, anti-guneys grammar!) illustrates what happens if you take out suicide deaths from the stats. Suddenly, even in the 10 states, car deaths far exceed gun deaths. So hey, I'll stick to me assertion! CARS are the assault weapon we really need to be concerned about.

    As to the Swiss Way, which, once upon a time, really was, even if imperfectly, the American Way…

    Damage done by the military-industrial complex, foreign wars and foreign bases, wars on civilians (atomic and fire-bombing etc etc) far far outweigh the damage done by mass killers. An anti-militarist, anti-imperialist like myself HAS to keep the possibility open of returning to the Constitution, returning to a peaceful foreign policy. That requires steadfast support of both the 2nd Amendment and other anti-war anti-standing army provisions of the Constitution.

    I think I've overstayed and overstated my position on this thread. The last shot is yours to take if you want to. Good day to you!

  14. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Ok, PS, I'm not quite finished. One more thing.The Swiss, before being pressured by Imperial America, would let you save money away from the prying eyes of government (ie those folks who give us aggressive warfare, spending out of control, and all manner of tricks to take our money to finance their evil schemes). Even if you call that money laundering, it's a tiny tiny issue compared to, say, the militarism of America.

  15. Chip says:

    My parting shot is to thank you and Tom for the open dialogue and to say that, even though it may be hard to believe, I have learned a lot over the course of the last three days thorugh your comments, responses, and through things I've read and watched while trying to learn about this issue. The thing I've learned that has had the biggest impact on me is that when I try to demonize other people for their opinions, the only thing I'm achieving is making myself more narrow minded. That isn't something I'm proud of, nor is it helpful for communicating my feelings and ideas. Thank you for your time, your civility, and most importantly, for a different perspective. Take care.

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