Note to Gun Control Advocates: Safety is Not a Right

As a gun blogger I’ve got a pretty good idea of what arguments gun control advocates are using to further their disarmament agenda. Here’s one zooming to the top of the hit parade: “The nation has turned into the Wild West,” northjersey.com‘s editorial board editorializes, inaccurately. “It must stop,” they insist, unrealistically. “Holding up the shield of the Second Amendment does not cut it. Yes, Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. And children have the right to attend school without worrying they’ll get killed. Pedestrians have the right to walk down a street without fearing for their lives. Moviegoers have the right to sit with strangers for two hours without thinking they’ll be mowed down.” Close but no cigar . . .

Assuming we’re talking about legal rights, the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitutions lists the rights it protects (not creates): freedom of speech, freedom from torture, etc. The right to personal safety is notably absent from the list.

The Founding Fathers would have laughed themselves silly at the sheer impracticality of the idea. How could a government guarantee a citizen’s safety? Preposterous! You might as well guarantee immortality! Obama care anyone?

I kid. A bit. More to the point, the men who created the rule book for the United States would have been seriously concerned about the implications of a government protected “right to safety.” They knew that the moment you charge the government with an impossible task is the moment you surrender personal liberty.

Back up a second . . .

Anti-gun folks tend to focus on the “well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” bit of the Second Amendment—arguing there is no individual right to keep and bear arms. It’s a line of attack that makes no sense whatsoever (the Bill of Rights are all individual rights) that the Supreme Court has struck down on numerous occasions.

Let’s call it a bad landing at the wrong airport. Never mind. It’s the “shall not be infringed” part of the Second Amendment that’s important.

Question: infringed by whom? That’s an easy one. The Constitution clearly IDs the government as the enemy of individual rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.

True story (and a bit of a no-brainer): if the government tries to protect a citizens’ [imaginary] “right to safety” via gun control it’s infringing on our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Ironically enough, the right which empowers Americans to look after their own safety.

In fact, gun control advocates’ attempts to make safety a “right” reduces public safety rather than increases it. You only have to look at every country that’s instituted gun control—especially as a preamble to mass murder—to see the truth of that statement.

Bottom line: gun control advocates can argue for the need to “balance” the right to keep and bear arms against an individual’s desire not to get shot. But unless gun control folks amend the U.S. Constitution they’re claiming ground which does not belong to them. And never will.

comments

  1. avatar tdiinva says:

    ” …Pedestrians have the right to walk down a street without fearing for their lives. …”

    So you want to disarm the NYPD? (couldn’t resist)

    Again with the Wild West analogy. The West was much safer than NYC. Watch the BBC America show “Copper.” From my historical readings it gives a perfect picture of how dangerous the “civilized East” was during the 19th Century.

    I do have right to walk down a street without fear. That’s why I carry a gun.

  2. avatar Aharon says:

    I’m only writing this for site visitors who may not be gun owners or familiar with the Bill of Rights.

    One could possibly argue that the Founders may have considered or envisioned the greatest danger to the people of a future America to come ultimately from their own government and less so from a foreign power. A ‘free-state’ is just not freedom from a foreign invasion as it is freedom for the people from a domestic threat namely an over-bearing government. The militia back then were seen as consisting primarily of individual citizens that would ban together as necessary. Over the years the National Guard and then the Federal Department of Defense came to dwarf, to take over, and exceed the role previously held in earlier years by the local militias. That change is another reason why America is now a less free country, in huge debts, hated and feared internationally behaving like a modern-era Roman Empire trampling around the world.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Aharon:

      The reason that the Militia got bypassed by the Regular Army and US Volunteers was because it’s failure to perform it’s mission from the Revolution through the Black Hawk War. It was noble experiment that failed.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        depends on how you define failure. the militias lacked the training and discapline of the regulars against regular soldiers. but they answered the call every time and aside from battling european regulars they also helped to maintain law and order in what was mostly a frontier setting.

      2. avatar Michael B. says:

        Citations, please.

        The various state militias worked well for what they were. Roosevelt, Wilson and others wanted more federal control of them and more standardization so they could potentially be used overseas in foreign interventions. Which, of course, is not what they’re supposed to be used for.

        Google the National Defense Act.

        And Switzerland’s militia system works just fine.

        1. avatar tdiinva says:

          Want citations? Read any standard history of the Revolution. The British defeated us by attacking the militia who were easily routed forcing the Continentals to retreat. The regular army, the Continentals, were primary fighting force. They were trained by the Prussians (von Steuban). Why do you think we render the closed handed Prussian salute and march to the Prussian cadence? The regulated in the Second Amendment refers to mastery of the Prussian manual of Arms. There were more French troops at Yorktown than Americans. While we glorify the performance of the militias during the British retreat from Concord, they were a net negative during the revolution.

          War of 1812? The militias failed to prevent Admiral Cochrane from ravishing the Chesapeake Bay region. They ran at Bladensburg and were defeated in Canada. The Battle of New Orleans was won by Jean Laffite and his professional pirate cannoneers.

          You can read about the last call of the militia to Federal service during the Blackhawk War here:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hawk_War

          What ever the militias did in policing the frontier was not their intended mission. There is big difference in chasing down a cattle rustler and fighting a trained military force. Where the militias were used as a law and order force they were acting like state police not soldiers. As military technology advanced in the 19th Century drilling a couple of times a year could not produce an effective fighting force. That is why the states began to form standing “militia” units. They weren’t militia of the Second Amendment. They were a standing force of US Volunteers and true predecessors to the National Guard. Many of today’s guard units trace lineage back to Civil War volunteer units. (See the 69th NY Infantry as an example. They served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.) The draft eventually replaced the militia call starting with the Civil War.

          The Federal government has the same control over state military units today as it did in 1792 when Congress passed the first Militia Act. As far as the Swiss go, they haven’t fought a war in at least 400 years. Nobody shoots their own banker.

          Here is a pop history quiz for all your non-interventionists. We are now in the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. What caused the war? Answers Bueller? Bueller?

        2. avatar the fateful lightning says:

          “George Washington did not use the First Ammendment to defeat the British. He shot them.”
          -author unknow to this writer

      3. avatar Aharon says:

        Did they fail or did leadership fail to prepare? A small federal force to help organize, bring up to speed, and lead a disperse large and independent militia force as one its core mission requirements would have worked a lot better in the time of a major conflict. A few decades ago the feds took over what remained of the state controlled national guard. Consider the current state of America: a growing police state, liberties and freedoms being stripped away, federal debt alone exceeding $200 trillion, and the US behaving like an immoral imperialist empire. Give me back the militias.

  3. avatar jwm says:

    exactly. and good luck trying to get support to amend the 2a out of the constitution. i told hmmmmm, or mikeybnumbers or one of those trolls just that.

  4. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    I hear this one all the time: “What about my right to feel safe?”

    Quite simply, you don’t have the right to feel safe. Feelings are different for different people. Where I might feel safe (at the range surrounded by my buddies who are all packing) you might be curled up in the fetal position, sobbing in abject terror. This whole “feelings as a right” bullsh!t needs to stop. You have a right to feel the way you feel, not the way you want to feel.

    [/rant]

    1. avatar Billy Wardlaw says:

      The Constitution does not grant rights, it simply enumerates those that are expressly protected by it. Unenumerated rights can still be retained, and to a degree protected. That is the sublime beauty and foresight of The Constitution.

      See my full point below.

      PS. I agree though that a feeling cannot be the basis of a retained right – it needs to be as concretely defined as possible to do so.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        I’m sorry, Billy. I cannot agree that the right to feel a certain way is valid. You have the right to pursue happines. You do not have the right to feel happy.

  5. avatar racer88 says:

    Yep… I’ve had that exact argument thrown in my face: “I have a RIGHT to not be safe walking down the street, etc.”

    The looks on their faces is priceless when I counter, “Actually, you DON’T have a RIGHT to safety. Would you mind pointing out which part of the Constitution details your “right” to be safe?”

    1. avatar racer88 says:

      Oops…. jumbled my words there. Should have read: “I have a RIGHT to be safe walking down the street”

  6. avatar Pascal says:

    The SCOTUS has already ruled numerous times that the police do not have to protect any individual while they must keep general order they have no duty to respond. We have already seen in Camden, NJ the police have already stopped responding to certain types of crimes and that court orders are really worthless.

    The SCOTUS has pretty much said — “your on your own”. That does not mean that the police will not try, if they can, when they can but they cannot be everywhere and nobody would ever spend the money it would take to make it so.

    With Hurrican Season upon us, it is a reminder that you are responsible for your own safety and you are you are the first responder. No matter what they say, you are at the event when it happens, everyone else is second. That means your health and your safety are your responsibility. A firearm is just one tool among many in being prepared.

    It kills me here in the northeast that as soon as a flake hits the ground, the grocery store shelfs are cleared of all available dairy products (a hell of a lot good that will do if there is no power, but that is for another post), but nobody can see that they need to be prepared if the bad guys come? Is it a here and now thing with snow but cannot see the potential for the bad guys?

    1. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      A few examples of the fact that the police can not be held liable for failing to protect an individual (every time I hear that elitist idiot Bloomberg talk I think of Linda Riss. He should be asked about her every time he opens his mouth about gun control):

      California’s Government Code, Sections 821, 845, and 846 which state, in part: “Neither a public entity or a public employee [may be sued] for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes and failure to apprehend criminals.”

      1. Warren vs DC, Court of Appeals, DC
      “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”
      Castle Rock Vs Gonzalez, SCOTUS
      2. Hartzler v. City of San Jose, 46 Cal. App. 3d 6 (1st Dist. 1975). (Ruth Brunell, restraining order ex-husband called to say “I’m coming to kill you.” Police wouldn’t come.
      3. Riss vs New York. Linda Riss telephoned the police and begged for help because her ex-boyfriend had repeatedly threatened. The day after she had pleaded for police protection, the ex-boyfriend threw lye in her face, blinding her in one eye, severely damaging the other, and permanently scarring her features. [Note: Linda Riss obeyed the law, yet the law prevented her from arming herself in self-defense.]
      “What makes the City’s position particularly difficult to understand is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law, Linda did not carry any weapon for self-defense. Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York which now denies all responsibility to her.” Dissenting opinion.

  7. avatar Mark N. says:

    Blame Hollywood. For years we have seen movie after movie of the reluctant hero becoming lawman to save the town from the evil bad guys. No hint of the people arming themselves against the threat. See, e.g., pretty much every western Clint Eastwood ever made, High Noon, 2:10 to Yuma, and on and on and so forth. Every western–maybe every movie–John Wayne made. We are inculcated with the idea that the responsibility of personal security rests with the town lawman, not the individual citizen. High Plains Drifter is a classic example–it’s not like the townsfolk had no guns, just a lack of leadership and will. But it was still the lone gunman who saved the day. Just like it is the lone superhero who saves Metropolis. [Funny how all of these heros seem to be outsiders–why is that?] So programmed by Hollywood, we want and expect that the police will be there to “protect us,” failing to realize that this is an impossible dream without a total loss of personal freedom and privacy.

    1. avatar Uncle Lar says:

      Case in point, the infamous 1876 Northfield Mn. raid where the James/Younger gang had the incredibly poor timing to attempt to rob the bank there during deer season when most locals had their rifles and shotguns close at hand. They were, as the saying of the day went, shot to doll rags by the townsfolk most of whom were Civil War veterans.

  8. avatar styrgwillidar says:

    The amendment was written to ensure an EXISTING right was not to be infringed. The 2A did not establish a right to arms under the new government; it was written to ensure the new government would not be able to put a limit or infringe on an existing right. Or as the DC Court of Appeals ruling, upheld by SCOTUS put it in Heller:

    “To summarize, we conclude that the Second Amendment
    protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right
    existed prior to the formation of the new government under the
    Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for
    activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being
    understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the
    depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from
    abroad). In addition, the right to keep and bear arms had the
    important and salutary civic purpose of helping to preserve the
    citizen militia. The civic purpose was also a political expedient
    for the Federalists in the First Congress as it served, in part, to
    placate their Anti-federalist opponents. The individual right
    facilitated militia service by ensuring that citizens would not be
    barred from keeping the arms they would need when called forth
    for militia duty. Despite the importance of the Second
    Amendment’s civic purpose, however, the activities it protects
    are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual’s
    enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or
    intermittent enrollment in the militia.”

    This to ensure that the government of the US could never slaughter their own citizens in the manner that Germany, USSR, China, Cambodia, etc. did in the last 120 yrs.

  9. avatar Billy Wardlaw says:

    I vehemently disagree. Safety IS a right if it is expressly retained by the individual. The 9th amendment reads; The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    However, this does not preclude, and indeed ends with the enumerated protection granted by the 2nd Amendment – that is, one right cannot infringe on another. This is especially the case with as citizen that believes the 2nd amendment empowers the unenumerated “right to safety/security”.
    The flaw in the grabbers argument is that they feel there safety is dependent on you not feeling safe. The only solution to that kind of impasse is to educated the insecure to not feel threatened by those who choose to arm themselves to protect their own safety.

  10. avatar Robert says:

    Thank you Mr. Farago, this is exactly what was needed to be said. The government only guarantees safety from itself, not from other parties outside of the social contract created between the people and the state.

    On a related note, the supreme court case Warren v DC came to a similar conclusion

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia

  11. avatar John says:

    I find it ironic that the anti-gun lobby often claims that gun owners are paranoid. It appears to me that a government and people who do not want civilians to own firearms are made up of some of the most paranoid and insecure individuals out there.

  12. avatar Eric says:

    Well done!

  13. avatar Bob says:

    Although the Constitution does not grant/protect a right to be or feel Safe (or happy), the people do and should expect that their government will not do things that negatively impact their Safety (or happiness).

    I quote from the Declaration of Independence:
    … “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ” … “— 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.” (I provided the extra emphasis.)

    To summarize, since governments are established by the people and for the people, then the people have the right and duty to abolish a government that they feel is not protecting their safety.

    Of course, “Safety” is a relative thing. Complete safety is completely impossible. However, people expect and need a certain degree of safety in their lives. As someone else mentioned, a certain degree of safety is an “unenumerated” right, because it is a basic need of all human beings. Your government should try to not take away from you any of your most basic needs -Life (safety is a part of the Life thing), Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    A government that protects your “Rights” is a government that is helping you attain your basic needs and desires, or at least it does not unnecessarily constrain you from attaining them, and that is a good government.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Governments promote safety by establishing and maintaining social order; they do not guarantee safety except as it is a happy adjunct to civilization and “order.” But as any good anarchist will tell you, to have order, one must give up one’s freedom, must agree to a social compact that limits one’s free will and free choice. So government is always in tension between order and freedom. Too much freedom and the social compact dissolves; too little and you have a race of slaves who will inevitably revolt to regain the freedoms lost.

      1. avatar Bob says:

        I think you were affirming what I said, and then expanding upon it, right? I hope you were not disagreeing with me, because I didn’t see anything in your reply that I don’t agree with.

        1. avatar the fateful lightning says:

          Complete agreement. There are no guarantees. There are Rights, however. They permit access to “the game of life”. Not Happiness, but the “pursuit of Happiness”. You only get a shot, no guarantees.

          One God-given right is self defense. Some, my wife included, choose to not be armed. That is their choice. My choice is to defend her rights, and mine, and to give those who would violate our rights the choice between life and death. No big.

  14. avatar Silver says:

    To progressives (or at least the radical leftist mind that gives birth to such oppressive tendencies as gun control), a right is defined as anything that benefits themselves. Hilarious that they spend their lives attempting to strip people of their rights, then demand that everything that matters to them be viewed as a right.

  15. avatar the fateful lightning says:

    I’m in AA. It doesn’t guarantee me that I will remain sober. I don’t have the “right” to be sober. With AA, I do have that opportunity. Without it, my best shot is to be fuel for the fastest team in the Iditarod. Alpo.

    That I am armed doesn’t guarantee my safety or my family’s safety. It just makes me a harder target. It gives me another option, an opportunity to survive. There are other softer targets.

    Sorry, but to me, it’s just Darwinism.

    Chariho ’63

  16. avatar Mark says:

    The only people who are “safe” and not in danger of dying from any number of causes are those who are already dead.

  17. avatar aaronw says:

    I thought a pic of that place would make it to a gun-related site sooner or later. I pass by there all the time…

  18. avatar Robert says:

    Regarding the 2A, just because someone is “right” about their interpretation of this aspect of the constitution does not mean they “win” the “rightness” war or public opinion and the question goes away. It is kindof like an argument going “I am right : you are an idiot and I don’t have to pay attention to you.”
    I suggest that gun owners and 2A supporters need to be reasonable and appear reasonable to the large number of people who may or may not be as polarized on the issue. Be reasonable, normal, gun owning and using, neighbors and community members.
    Also, instead of the lazy thinking route of demonizing an easy enemy in the left or the Democrats, I suggest the lazy thinking itself is a greater enemy and the relative isolation and confinement of support for the 2A and gun ownership to what appears to many to be a somewhat radical right is a risky approach. Being and appearing reasonable and the perception that gun ownership and rights are an American thing and a progressive thing and a conservative thing, a male thing and a female thing, is very important.
    My suggestion is that being normal, gun owning, good neighbor and community member is potentially much more useful and powerful than being a “right” 2A supporter curmudgeon.
    Looking at the theater shooting example mentioned above, going to a movie, a person does not knowingly consent to being shot, injured, or killed. This is what makes that occurrence a crime that one has a right to resist appropriately.

    1. avatar the fateful lightning says:

      It’s all in the perspective, isn’t it.

      I go hiking in Wilderness Parks on a regular basis with an associate. I mentioned on our first hike that I am, from time to time, armed. He said, “OK, but I don’t care for it.” We had been hiking for a couple of years every Saturday when we encountered a couple camping. We both have backgrounds in the tratment of substance abuse. These two were on somthing, an “upper”, if you will. It was a little tense, edgy, but we were both polite and never let the male get within arms length, chatting as we continued on our way, and away from them. About an hour further into the hike my buddy said, “I’m glad you had something with you.”

      You are more afraid of the knuckle-dragging right wing bigotry among the defenders of 2A than you are of the Treyvon’s of this world. Check the crime sheets in any city or town.

      Certainly some of us are a bit “outre” in our language, manner and dress, but we are not augering day and night to deprive others of their Rights.

      Clean your own side of the street, we’ll clean ours.

  19. avatar BHirsh says:

    Even if they repealed the amendment, Cruikshank recognized that the right exists “independent of any written instrument”.

    Even if they could get the support (which they can’t and won’t), it would be a futile exercise.

  20. avatar Tim says:

    Safety is Not a Right? I think it is a right. I am not saying that the government can Guarantee safety, that is not possible, but don’t forget that we have something that came before the constitution, and still comes before the constitution. It laid the ground work for the constitution and it is called the Preamble.
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
    Domestic tranquility, sounds to me as though they have some expectations of keeping people safe in their towns. The Common defense would refer to keeping other countries out of ours, but that is not what domestic tranquility means. Domestic Tranquility means that they will try to keep us safe from each other and, Domestic tranquility is a RIGHT!

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