Thought of the Day: The Appeal to Safety

The rallying argument of conservative media during the past few days, in defense of particular freedoms granted by the 2nd Amendment, have been thus:

It’s the price of freedom.

You, me, or any of our loved ones can be shot and killed at any moment. But that’s what it means to live in a free society. Safety cannot be guaranteed.

And in fairness, it’s not a bad argument. Especially when we consider how guns and assault weapons have been available in American society. In many sectors, they play a huge part in that culture. Can sweeping legislation easily take away these so-called “freedoms”?

Some have brought up Prohibition. Alcohol has had as much of a damaging effect on society as guns, yet when America experimented with banning it, it failed miserably. Some fear the same fate awaits America again should the 2nd Amendment be repealed.

Others have argued that having armed citizens is necessary towards preventing a tyrannical government. In fact, they continue, that’s the very purpose behind the 2nd Amendment. The Founding Fathers were such geniuses, that everything they ever said and did is applicable for America today. Take away the 2nd Amendment, suddenly the government has the power to overrun its citizens.

And it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

The Left, meanwhile, doesn’t quite take this argument seriously. Naturally. I’ve seen some go as far to argue that the government has the responsibility to protect us from gun-wielding madmen….that safety MUST be guaranteed. That the 2nd Amendment is outdated, and owning a gun adds nothing to our freedoms. The dangers that they present only tread on our freedoms.

I don’t live in a world where one argument has a monopoly on truth. I will personally never own a gun. I’m not paranoid about the government. Owning a gun seems like overkill. I have no personal interest in ever killing someone, even for protection because such occasions are extreme and rare. And although one could ARGUE (not that I agree with it) that guns make society as a whole safer…they do not make ME safer. They more than likely put me in danger, along with everyone I know.

At the same time, I can’t allow myself to walk around in the world paranoid that I’m going to get shot. While I like to think the government is looking out for me, I take the presumption that safety IS my responsibility….because that is the price we pay for living in a free society.

While I ultimately agree with what gun-enthusiasts are arguing, even right down to the balance of power maintained by having armed citizens…what gun owners and 2nd Amendment defenders fail to take into account is the price we pay for living in a free society.

What? Am I repeating myself?

Basically citizens are free to choose what we find acceptable in modern society. While guns were once considered an acceptable choice…that is increasingly falling out of vogue. Times change, and citizens are finding the necessity of possessing automatic weapons unacceptable. Those that own them are being seen as paranoid, overcompensating, or downright dangerous. This may not ever become reflected in our legislation, but the perception is changing against guns and the people that own them. And that will be the downfall of gun-culture (if there is to be a downfall).

And THAT’S the price we pay for living in a free society.

Of course, the Right can counter with the whole “tyranny of the majority” argument. But that’s not what this is about.

Personally, I thought that the Left had some audacity to utilize this “appeal to safety” in their recent talking points. It wasn’t that long ago that George W. Bush was President. There was the Patriot Act. And everyone was arguing that in a free society, safety cannot be guaranteed. Because we can’t allow our need for safety to trample on our freedoms.

Or, as Ben Franklin said “those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I recall that every liberal was chanting that saying (regardless of whether or not that’s what Franklin meant). And now, it’s the conservative’s turn to use this line.

What kind of world are we living in?

While I’m sympathetic to the anti-gun movement, I believe that it’s important for the Left to not fall into the “safety over liberty” trap. It’s not a winning argument, it’s hypocritical, and it goes against everything that liberals should stand for. But it just goes to show how easy it is to use this logic.

No side has a monopoly on truth. Additionally, neither side is immune to being ignorant.

One thought on “Thought of the Day: The Appeal to Safety

  1. Fairly well-spoken – or well-written, I guess – Sir. We differ greatly on our personal feelings towards having firearms but seemingly on little else in this context.

    Well honestly, I have nothing but antipathy towards the anti-gun movement, but that’s based upon their behavior and preferred methodology as opposed to what I believe is the core of their underlying rationale…though some number that is larger than we’d want are doing this to give the government greater control of the People because they truly do fear the normative majority of the People and know that they need the government to have total power in order to get what they, themselves want in a nation.


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