This is a truth many of us find uncomfortable. Oh, we’re often willing to speak of the price others have paid for our freedoms. We can speak of how much it cost those in the past for us to be free now. What we prefer to not dwell on is this: freedom not only has a price, it has a price that must be paid by every generation. When we fail to recognize the cost, when we say the price of being disturbed from our comfortable lives is to high, we are on the verge of losing the freedom we take for granted.
“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.” ~ Thomas Sowell
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~ Desmond Tutu
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” ~ Thomas Charlton
“Responsibility is the price of freedom.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
Each one of these quotes, some of which are debated as to authorship, has something important to say. The freedom we now enjoy, even with ongoing efforts to chip away ever more of it, has cost far too much for us to allow it to be taken away in response to mere rhetoric. We really do have an obligation to use well the liberty that has been handed down to us. Remaining vigilant and recognizing all the things, events and people who might take away or severely reduce our liberty is a price we must pay if we wish to remain free. Ultimately, we are, indeed, responsible for our freedom – and its loss, if we abdicate that responsibility.
Of all the things that might go on sale, of all the things we might purchase at true wholesale prices, freedom is not one of them. Freedom, I submit, must always be purchased at full retail and the price is outrageously high – especially to those for whom freedom is an inheritance. Our failure as a nation to recognize freedom carries a high price tag, coupled with what seems to be an ever increasing reluctance to pay full retail has placed that freedom at great risk. I believe we are most likely to experience that reluctance when my freedom is going to come with a cost we must pay. It is one thing to have others pay the cost. We can thank and even cheer them for their sacrifice(s) in the name of freedom. It is an altogether different thing when each of us, individually, must feel the burden of freedom’s sometimes overwhelming cost, or when it must be paid by those we hold dear or are sworn to protect.
I found the following quote on Quora. It is from Paul Harding, a law enforcement officer. Sadly, my techno ignorance is such that I can’t provide a link to the source. I share it with you because it shows the personal cost of freedom in all its stark relief.
“I, personally, and on more than one occasion, have sat across a table from men who, I felt fairly certain, had raped young children. On more than one occasion, I have looked that man right in the eye and said, “You’re free to go.”
When I said he was “free to go,” I meant it. I didn’t do a single thing to interfere with him in any way after that. One or more of those men might be raping a child right now, as you read this.
Why haven’t I done anything to prevent those men from getting near other children? We, at least, have this whole “registered sex offender” thing in this country, right? Should I have put them on “a list?”
The reason I didn’t do anything other than say “You’re free to go” is because the foundational laws of our country don’t allow me to do anything else. I won’t lecture, this time, on the specific functions of each amendment and how they apply, but at that point, the Constitution prohibited me from interfering with that man’s liberty in any way.
I can interfere with people’s liberty when certain standards of proof are met.
Reasonable Suspicion: I can detain a person for a few minutes and do a minimally-invasive pat down for weapons.
I couldn’t prove probable cause on that suspected child rapist, so I couldn’t interfere with his liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.
The FBI couldn’t prove probable cause on the Orlando shooter, so they couldn’t interfere with HIS liberty in any way. The Constitution says so.
That’s why he was able to go buy guns, and that’s why my suspected child molester may, right now, just be finishing up that child rape that he started when you were reading the beginning of this answer.
Individual Rights and liberty are extremely dangerous propositions. In this country, there are real-life victims of your rights to due process, your right to be free from the removals of your liberties every time someone likeme suspects you of being a child rapist.
Some people don’t like guns. That’s a political issue. I get it. Do you like kids though? Do you like NOT being published on the internet as a legally-registered child rapist when you’re innocent? The price of keeping you (and me) off of that list when we’re innocent is that cops can’t put people on that list until a court finds proof of guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. At the least, a court must find probable cause before even bail conditions can be imposed.
You’ve probably heard “price of freedom” so often you’ve learned to tune it out. That child rapist who, right about now, is cleaning himself off while warning that kid to never tell anyone what happened? The suffering of that poor kid IS the price of freedom.
You and I are enjoying the freedom from unreasonable intrusion upon our liberties every time a cop suspects us, and that poor kid is paying the price for it. Want to give up that freedom?
If any of those men I released did hurt another kid, I have to live with the fact that I could have stopped them. I couldn’t have stopped them legally. I didn’t have the evidence. I could have stopped them though. I could have designed a frame up on another charge. I could have just murdered them – become a one-man lynch mob. I didn’t do those things though. I obeyed the Constitution. If that kid is suffering now, he’s paying the biggest price, but wondering whether that is happening right now, I have to admit, is exacting a little price on me as well.
100 or so people shot in Orlando, countless lives destroyed,- That IS the price of freedom – your freedom and my freedom to not have our liberties restricted for more than a few minutes by a cop with no more than reasonable suspicion.
The people in Orlando, and their families, really did pay that price. We all risk paying that price every day . We all pay that price, to a lesser extent, every time we agonize over whether it would have been better to violate the principles of the Constitution. . . Just this one time.
It IS scary. It is terrifying when you think hard about it. That is why, in America, just before we say “Play Ball” we sing a song which reminds us that if you want to live in the Land of the Free, then you had better be sure you’re the Home of the Brave.
Free Speech for people who right about now are thinking this whole freedom thing is just too scary and should be done away with. . .
Yeah, those guys are scary too when people listen to them, but that IS the price of freedom.
I’ve written before that I’m just not a believer in conspiracy. That really hasn’t changed. For purposes of clarification, let me explain a little about what I mean. I really do believe most of the things about which many want to scream “conspiracy” can really be more accurately and reasonable ascribed to confluence, convergence and synergy. Here’s what that means, at least to me.
People, including you and me, tend to seek out and associate with those with whom we have things in common. If I’m a Christian who actively seeks to live according to my faith, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be spending a lot of time with other Christians. If I fly expensive RC airplanes, I’ll probably spend time with other enthusiasts. Democrats, Progressives, Libertarians, Republicans and members of other parties tend to spend a lot of time with those with whom they share a particular political view. Business people tend to spend time with other business people. Gun people spend time with other gun people. The more passionate we are about something, the more likely we are to interact a lot with those who share our passion and beliefs. We see it all around us in the people with whom we come in contact every day. If this is true, and I believe the evidence overwhelmingly says it is true, that it is simply a basic fact of human nature, then it explains a great deal, does it not?
Let’s take this a step further. Since I’m a pretty strict Constitutionalist, is it really surprising that I spend a lot of time talking with others who believe the document is best understood in light of its original context? Is it surprising that when I talk with these other folks we spend a lot of time not just discussing the meaning of the document’s text in context, but also talking about how to get others to see it the way we see it and apply it in practical ways? I don’t think that is surprising at all. In fact, it would be surprising if we didn’t do that. I’m a pro 2nd Amendment guy. Are you surprised I spend a good bit of time discussing the 2A with people, including trying to get others to understand why I believe the amendment is so very important? I doubt you are surprised at all. If I knew the things that matter greatly to you, I would not be at all surprised to learn you spend a significant matter of time 1) with people who see things the way you do, and 2) trying to help others see things your way. So, if this normal human tendency is true of you and me…
George Soros may be evil. I don’t know. I’ve never met the man and I won’t share my opinion of him here. The same is true of, say, the Koch brothers, if we look at what is ostensibly the other end of the spectrum. Would it be surprising, given our tendency to seek out those with whom we have something in common, to learn that Soros, or the Koch brothers, spend time with others who share their views? Should we be shocked if we learn they spend time trying to get others to see things their way? Let’s go further and look at the 2A and gun rights.
For those of you interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, I am an INTP. In practical terms that means that among other things, I am not much of a joiner. In fact, since I’ve become an adult, I’ve joined exactly 3 groups.* One of those is the NRA, which I joined less than 1 year ago (congratulations, Mr. President, you managed to do something that was beyond the ability of your predecessors). Now, what has that meant? Aside from the money I sent them, it has led me, the non-joiner, to become more active in seeking to help at least those who are ambivalent about gun rights perhaps come to see things a little more from the perspective of us pro gun rights folks. It has also meant I’ve spent time thinking and sharing how to bring about a significant shift in the way the majority of the American people view guns, with the end goal of having even more people view them in a positive light. I do the same thing regarding the Constitution. Sometimes, pretty frequently really, I spend time mapping out with others strategies for getting people to understand the Constitution the way we do, including how to get this view into schools, the media and other institutions and industries. In all of this, I doubt many of the folks with whom I do these things view themselves as participants in a conspiracy.
If I’m George Soros – and no, I am not – and I, along with those of my peers who see things my way, spend time and effort trying to get a majority of people to see things the way we do, is that a conspiracy? Does it become a conspiracy because we have access, as a result of our vast collective wealth, to greater resources to bring about what we see as desirable? No, it does not. What, then, might make something a conspiracy?
Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary defines conspiracy as:
- a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal
- the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal
Here’s the important part. To truly be a conspiracy, the thing we plan or do must be both secret and have the goal of doing something harmful or illegal.
So, as say you and I plan out ways to get future generations to see the Constitution the way we do, we may or may not be really open to one and all about our intentions. One could argue, for instance, that if we are truly transparent about what we plan, we might face great difficulty getting people like us into positions to make such a thing happen. How would we go about getting people into education, the media and academia if we let it be known what our long-term goals are? Does that make what we do a conspiracy? I don’t think so (by the way, I’m not necessarily arguing either way regarding transparency, here). It’s not a conspiracy, I submit, because it doesn’t have the end goal of something harmful or illegal. There are some, though, who would undoubtedly see things differently. They really do believe those of us who view the Constitution as meaning what it says, and as severely limiting the power and role of government, seek to promote something harmful. I believe their reasoning is sadly deficient, but that’s a different topic.
When we look at globalists, of whom I’ve actually met a few, I suspect the same thing is true. Most of them, including George Soros, are pretty plain about what they favor, what they hope to see and even what they hope to bring about. Now, I tend to think what they want is frightfully harmful. I don’t see as ever coming about, the benefits so many globalists tout. But, to the extent it is not planned in secret, I don’t see it as a conspiracy.
See, in my view we don’t have to have conspiracies, vast or small, to explain most things. We just have to have people who see things the same way working to bring them about. Honestly, I don’t even believe a conspiracy is necessary for our freedoms to be in danger. Neither my freedom nor yours is at risk primarily because of what George Soros, the Federal Reserve or George Bush do or did. Now, I believe our freedoms are at great risk. I believe we are on the verge of seeing our nation transformed even further into something most of my generation will not recognize if it comes about. I just don’t lay the bulk of the blame at the feet of conspirators, existent or nonexistent. No, the blame lies somewhere else.
“…the real villain here is your neighbor. You see, had your neighbor not become complacent with their liberty and freedom we would not be having this discussion. Had your neighbor not accepted state control of the media, unfettered spying on their life’s activities, social safety nets that have been abused for decades and the willingness to disarm for paltry promises of greater safety, this discussion would not be required.”
The only thing I would add to the above excerpt is this: It is not just your neighbor’s fault or my neighbor’s fault. It is your fault and it is mine. We have all failed to treasure our liberty enough. We have all failed to become active enough early enough and we failed to teach enough others to have avoided being where we are now. We are where we are because we the people abdicated our responsibility. The watch and the vigilance it requires has always been ours to keep. In that we have failed. It is that vigilance we must regain. I may disagree with what seems to be his view of Soros and others, but it hardly matters if the results are the same – the loss of freedom.
In the context of this topic I truly do not care if you think there is a vast conspiracy to deprive us of our freedom. Further, I do not care what you think of this billionaire or that one. I do not care what you think about banks or central banking. I do not care what you think about this political party or that one. I do not care what you read or the kind of music you prefer. I do not care about your faith or the lack thereof. I do not care about your race or gender. I do not care who you sleep with or how many. I do not care if you own no guns or if your armory contains a load out sufficient for a US Marine Corps rifle company. I most certainly do not care what you think about me. Here is what I care about: do you treasure freedom enough to fight for it? Is liberty important enough for you to sacrifice everything in its defense?
Happy Independence Day. For your serious consideration I offer some words from that most seditious of American documents, the Declaration of Independence:
“…When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…”
- No, gun owners and members of the NRA do not want terrorists to have access to guns. If you will grant me that one I will grant you that gun control advocates are not involved in a pernicious effort to turn the US into a police state.
- I don’t believe Republicans in Congress fear the NRA. What they do fear, I submit, is the four to five million NRA members and the far greater number of gun owning non-members, all of whom take their 2nd Amendment liberties very seriously and who also have very long memories.
- This thing that is now being identified by the newly coined term “terror gap,” also goes by a much older term. This much older term is found within the Constitution of the United States. It is called due process of law. You can put whatever face on it you wish but the truth is this: the proposals put forth by gun control advocates in the wake of Orlando would deny people their due process rights. If you are not familiar with the concept of due process I encourage you to read both the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
- I am astounded that many liberals, who were so very rightly critical of the Patriot Act, are ok with proposals that attack not just one civil liberty, but several.
- No, I do not believe in some vast conspiracy to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. I have made that point here and here. I do not need to believe in such a thing. History, I submit, teaches us that it is the nature of government to always seek to increase the control it exercises over citizens. People in power like being in power. Quite often, they feel and believe they are better qualified than most citizens to tell the citizens what they must do. This is independent of nation or type of government. It is simply the nature of the beast.
- People do not propose laws to keep them from doing things they should not do. Instead, they propose laws to keep other people from doing things they don’t believe those other people should do. The problem with laws that limit or take away liberties is this: because of the tendency of government to always increase the power it has over citizens, each loss of liberty makes the next easier to accomplish. Eventually, unless one is quite fortunate, the liberties you happen to favor or like find themselves on the chopping block and you become one of those “other people.”
- It gives the appearance of more than a little hypocrisy that so many of those who advocate for further, greater and stricter gun control frequently enjoy protection (often around-the-clock protection) by people armed with the very weapons and exercising the very liberties they wish to curtail for the rest of us.
- Finally, I would like to leave you with this. If you wish to understand the frustration of most gun owners regarding further gun control efforts, I would encourage you to consider the history of gun control legislation in this country. In every case of which I am aware, the “reasonable compromise” offered by those who favored the legislation was a thinly veiled version of this: “Let us pass this legislation or we’ll simply take away all your 2nd Amendment rights.” I can do no better than to refer you to the words of the so very articulate Lawdog.
- Evil is real and it is present in this world. Pretending acts like those that occurred in Paris, Mumbai, San Bernardino or the most recent one in Orlando Florida are the inevitable result of poverty, governmental corruption, global climate change, a generalized dislike of some group or something equally absurd is an exercise in foolishness and deception of self and others.
- Evil knows of no limitation of appetite. It always seeks more. Whether ISIS, Hezbollah, Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot, evil can never oppress, steal, murder or torture enough to be satisfied.
- All cultures, and their peculiar values, are not equally valid. Some cultures prize values that are inherently inimical to the values of some other cultures.
- There is no reasoning with evil. It has never “seen the error of its ways” and it never will. Evil scoffs at dialogue and uses it only as a screen and cover. Evil willingly enters into agreements, treaties and accords with no intent of abiding by them. It considers those who take them seriously as weak and powerless. Payments in the form of aid are viewed as either tribute or attempts at appeasement.
- Some worldviews simply cannot peacefully coexist. They are so far apart that conflict is inevitable virtually any time they meet.
- It is the height of foolishness to welcome immigrants from cultures with values opposed to those of the receiving country and expect there to be no conflict.
- The only reasoning to which evil is amenable is that which slaps it down hard and which guarantees its obliteration should it rear its ugly head ever again.
As per my SOP, I’ve delayed writing much about the events in Orlando. It’s not that I don’t have strong feelings about what happened and subsequent responses. I do. Rather, it’s a case of not wanting to be “that person,” the one who jumps on a tragic, senseless event and uses it to further an agenda. I have no desire to dance on the bodies of the dead, to bring more pain and horror to the wounded and the loved ones of all the victims. Doing that sort of thing is vile and disgusting. Sadly, we’ve seen there’s more than enough vile and disgusting going around. There are two writers who have articulated, far better than I, many of the essentials of the event and responses to it. The first is Larry Correia. He provides us with an insightful blog post to remind us evil people will always do evil things and that self-protection is a basic human right. The other writer is Michael Z Williamson. He gives us two articles. The first, Orlando: The AAR and BFTNP, expresses some unpleasant truths about the worthlessness of many responses to events like the one we recently witnessed. The other, After an Attack: Understanding the Fear, deals with the reality of the fear many non-involved people experience after an attack like the one we saw in Orlando. Be aware, all three articles may make you uncomfortable. There is a third writer I’d like to mention. He never published anything online, but he dealt in a very reasonable way with the nature of property rights and how essential they are to all other rights a people may enjoy. His name was John Locke; you can find copies of his works online, in most bookstores and in any decent library. I cannot recommend his writings highly enough. Anyone who loves freedom would be well served by reading all of these.
Regardless of your feelings regarding the events in Orlando, specific firearms, firearms laws and firearms in general, there are a few rules you really should follow if you’re going to write or speak about them.
- Always tell the truth. It is one thing to be honestly mistaken, or even to be biased (we all are). It is another thing altogether to knowingly and willingly lie to make your point. For gun rights advocates, let me suggest you make sure the quotes you have from the Founding Fathers actually originated with them and not some hothead with a keyboard. For gun control advocates, I submit it is a lie to keep repeating memes that have repeatedly been proven false.
- Use standard definitions. It is dishonest to change definitions to support your position. The purpose of standard definitions is to make sure we’re all discussing the same thing. Calling it “gun safety” when you mean “gun control” is a fine example.
- If you are less than honest and get called on it, act like an adult, admit what you did, and return to the argument with more integrity. If you believe your position requires dishonesty, your position is weak and you’re probably a liar.
- Emotion and feelings are real. So are facts. It is okay to feel things should be a certain way, even in the absence of supporting fact. It is not okay to call people names, impugn their motives or call into question their morals, ethics and character because they find your lack of fact based arguments less than compelling. This is what children do. Don’t be a child.
- Don’t keep shifting your argument if you find yourself losing. If someone points out you’re focusing on a gun’s cosmetic features, don’t shift the focus to its function if such hasn’t been touched on before.
- Know something about the gun(s) you mention before you mention them. To that end:
- Automatic and semiautomatic are not the same thing. Automatic weapons are not readily available. Suggesting otherwise is a lie.
- Modern gunpowder contains no sulfur. Suggesting otherwise is a lie.
- Collapsible or adjustable stocks are designed to allow a rifle to fit people of different heights/sizes, not make it conealable. Suggesting otherwise is a lie.
- Magazines and clips are not the same thing. Suggesting otherwise marks you as a uniformed idiot.
- The AR-15 is not a “high powered rifle.” A bolt action .338 WinMag is a high powered rifle. People use it to hunt elk and even bigger animals. Calling the AR-15 a high powered rifle marks you as dishonest, uninformed, or both.
- Magazine capacity is irrelevant. A trained and experienced shooter can do a lot of damage regardless of the action of a gun (revolver, semiautomatic, bolt or lever action, etc) or the amount of ammunition it holds. Pretending otherwise is wishful thinking.
- All semiautomatics fire one round per pull of the trigger. No exceptions. Suggesting otherwise is a lie.
Finally, there are these few thoughts. If you support the calls we’ve had lately suggesting any number of things, including repealing the Second Amendment, secretly suspending it or suggesting due process is the reason people are dying, allow me to suggest you have neither regard for liberty nor an understanding of it. If you truly believe in banning and confiscating firearms, do you truly believe gun owners will stand by as such things are done? Do you truly believe there would not be refusal to do such things by local, state and federal law enforcement officers (as many in New York have already done in regards to the “SAFE” Act)? Do you really think a huge number of military people would not desert if they received orders to do such a thing? I’m a retired Navy officer. I assure you, many would desert. Above and beyond the always civilian gun owners who have never served under arms in either law enforcement or the military (but who nonetheless often have received a great deal of ongoing professional training), do you really wish for a face off with those for whom guns are an essential part of their day to day lives? There are estimated to be somewhere between 80,000,000 and 100,000,000 legal gun owners in this country, with a total number of perhaps 300,000,000 guns. So, can we avoid further silly talk of confiscation…please?
You want to greatly reduce the number of crimes committed with guns? Great! So do gun owners. Do you want to keep terrorists from acquiring guns? Fantastic! So do gun owners. Do us a favor as we discuss how to bring those things about. Do not lie to us, do not misrepresent your intentions and do not threaten us with things that simply won’t work or that you have every reason to know gun owners simply will not tolerate.