Sunday, December 16, 2012

Firmin DeBrabander, "The Freedom of an Armed Society"

DeBrabander wrote a thoughtful essay in the New York Times about the kind of "freedom" that is embodied in the ideal of an armed society.
The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment — they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech.

The gun rights advocates who call for arming ourselves to an even greater degree, like Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), however, are immune to such arguments. They simply don't accept that there is any justifiable restriction on gun ownership.

Would blowhards like Gohmert be so arrogant if their children had been massacred? For that matter, would they be the ones to preempt such killings, heroically (and accurately) taking out the would-be killer without harming others?

More to the point, do we want to live in a society where everyone is packing? Do we, in other words, want to return to the Old West, where might (and only might) made right?

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