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Ray Haynes

Standing For Liberty, Part VIII; Pro-Gun is Pro-liberty

In these next two articles, I am going talk about some of the more controversial “pro-liberty” positions, and urge all my Republican friends to talk about these issues as issues of liberty. There are not social issues, economic issues, business issues, and fiscal issues, there are only liberty issues, that is, do we, as Republicans, officeholders or activists, believe that the individual should have more or less control over their lives. Or, do we think that expanded government power is necessary. That really is the only issue that the politically powerful address daily. Do they expand their power at the expense of the individual, or do they diminish their power, and keep themselves out of the family and business decisions of the people they rule? In a society that values liberty, the ruling class trust the people over which they rule, and they have jails and prisons for those who abuse that trust. If the ruling class does not trust people over which they rule, they pass a myriad of laws and regulations over all sorts of real or imagined bad behavior. Their “subjects” then prove themselves as untrustworthy as the ruling class believes they are because they end up breaking the law, sometimes by mistake, sometimes by design, simply because they are doing what they have to do to survive under an oppressive government.

I’m going to use the current debate surrounding guns as the best example of exactly how this process works. There are millions of gun owners in this country. The Government estimated in 2011 that somewhere between 70 and 80 million people in the United States own guns. You heard that right–70 to 80 million. And one nut with a gun kills 20 children, a truly horrendous act to be sure, and the ruling class is falling all over itself to deprive people of their ability to buy guns. What could possibly justify this kind of regulation? Why would one person, acting extremely badly, deprive 79,999,999 people of an important constitutional right? It is because the ruling class in this country doesn’t trust their subjects, and they believe they must deprive the subjects of their liberty so the ruling class can keep its power.

Guns control the behavior of the powerful. Interestingly enough, some of the earliest gun control legislation in this country was enacted to prevent
African Americans from owning or possessing guns. In the midst of Jim Crow, there was a great fear that if those protesting racial discrimination owned guns, they might be able to stop the discrimination. In fact, they did. In the early part of the civil rights movement, gun toting African American protesters prevented police abuse of protestors simply by walking peacefully with their guns on display. Government oppression of the less politically powerful was thwarted because of the presence of peaceful citizens with guns. We can go back to the Revolutionary War to talk about how the British tried to take away the guns of the colonists (in fact, Paul Revere’s ride was to warn the citizens of Concord and Lexington that the British were coming to seize their guns. The colonists said, basically, Mr. Redcoat, you can take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, and the NRA was born when the British heard the shot heard round the world. Of course, it took some time for the NRA to actually take real form, but the sentiment of the colonists then created the mindset that still predominates among freedom loving Americans), but we really don’t have to go back that far. The civil rights movement, on many occasions, was given life through the peaceful display of force by civil rights protestors. Guns protect liberty.

We are not pro-gun because of the guns themselves, and Republicans should not be pro-gun because gun owners are a powerful voting bloc. We should be pro-gun because we believe, like we believe with respect to economic liberty, small government, and less taxes, that liberty is an important value, and individual choice with respect to gun ownership is an important part of protecting that liberty. Democrats, quite frankly, don’t believe in any form of liberty. Republicans do. And if Republicans are going to start winning elections, they are going to do so, because they consistently support liberty at every turn, including that right which is defined in the Constitution as “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right OF THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”(emphasis added)