PostHeaderIcon Scared Safe

There is no doubt that the recent spate of irrational shootings has scared many Americans. Some of them to the point where they are willing to forfeit their Second Amendment rights to an administration dedicated to the disarming (and subjugation) of our citizens.

I have written other articles in support of the Second Amendment, why the Founders included it in our Constitution (as a safeguard against a government that turns on its citizens) and why gun ownership, in and of itself, is not the cause of the irrational conduct we see around us. All I said then is still true.

However, there is another dimension to all this that needs also to be discussed. That is “how safe can we really be?”

At one level we all realize that all life carries with it an inevitable death sentence (whether or not we want to think about it). Naturally, most of us want to delay the inevitable as long as possible. Equally naturally, none of us wishes to be injured or disabled. That said, I ask again, how safe can we really be? It does not take much thinking to realize that life is actually quite precarious. Indeed, it amazes me that I have lived as long as I have, considering the way I have conducted my life – and, I will guess that many of you feel much the same.

It is also only natural that we wish to live in a circumstance where we can go about the daily activities of our lives without constantly looking over our shoulders – with a feeling of relative safety and security. And, for most of of the time, that is true. The odds that any one of us (or our families) will be the victims of violence are actually quite small, are slowly growing smaller, and, for the most part, have nothing whatsoever to do with firearms misuse. Indeed, if you are killed or maimed in an act of violence in America, the odds are much greater that the weapon used was an automobile rather than a firearm.

But, you say – used as intended, automobiles do not kill people but firearms do. My response is that this is partly true. In my own case, I would much rather my very possession of firearms would dissuade those who might harm me so that I never have to actually fire them other than for target practice.

Yet, that is not the point of this article. The point is that, whether the tools used are firearms, cutlery, automobiles, baseball bats, improvised explosive devices, bare hands, or whatever, there are a few among us who are irrational enough to use whatever tool they can find to cause harm to others – others who are totally undeserving of said harm. And, there are several truisms associated with this fact:

→ The more individual freedom we enjoy as a people, the easier it is for the few to misuse that freedom to cause harm.

→ The denser our population becomes, the higher the stress levels that lead some people to misuse their freedom.

→ The more our government (indeed, our very culture) discourages responsibility and self discipline, the more likely people will misuse their freedom.

This leaves us with a true quandary – are we willing to trade freedom for safety and security? If so, how much are we willing to trade, and, how can we know if any freedom we willingly surrender actually delivers a commensurate level of safety and security? Or, do we really care? Are we, perhaps, willing to settle for simply the illusion of safety and security (like the insults to our privacy we suffer in return for being able to board an airplane)?

I suggest that, whether we admit it or not, it is always the latter. Life will never be made truly safe or secure, especially at the hand of government. As the reality of the communist dictatorships of the previous century fade into history, the older among us tend to forget how truly brutal life was in those regimes, while the young never even knew (and far be it for our “education” system to teach them about it.).

The truth is that life will always have dangers. There are several ways these can be lessened, such as educating people to behave rationally and to understand the degree to which our individual rights rub up against each other. For instance, people can be taught the proper operation of automobiles and most will do so. Likewise, people can be taught the proper handling of firearms and most will do so. We can also pass laws against certain harmful behavior – however, such laws never really prevent such behavior – instead, they provide the legal foundation to punish those who misbehave after the fact.

We can also, acting collectively via our elected officials, make value judgments whereby we willingly forgo some freedom in return for a higher level of safety and security but this must always be done with extreme caution and with the clear understanding that everything is a tradeoff and that we must rationally guarantee that such a tradeoff is worth it. True leaders know and understand this. They realize that hard decisions often involve a choice between options, none of which are perfect. So, they should attempt to choose the option likely to cause the least harm, knowing that there is never really an option that totally eliminates it. And also knowing that “harm” is not always physical in nature.

A prime example of what I am trying to say would be the decision to render an entire population defenseless against the predations of government, claiming that this would protect the very few from the acts of the irrational and the insane. While harm to anyone, especially a child, is a horrible thing, subjecting an entire population to probable harm is infinitely worse. Freedom always exacts a price. Real leaders try to minimize that price, knowing it can never be totally eliminated.

Those “leaders” who promise to eliminate all harm are simply liars who wish to enslave you. And only fools believe them. We seem to be blessed with plenty of both these days.

Think about it.

Troy L Robinson

10 Responses to “Scared Safe”

  • daedalus says:

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Ben Franklin (possibly)

  • Historian says:

    Respectfully, “values,” like rights, are never collective. Values are individual; the aggregation of a population’s values are it’s culture. The gun culture in these united States is a subset of the self-sufficiency culture; both are founded upon the Enlightenment idea that the individual is sovereign.

    WRT safety, that is an illusion; we may be more or less at risk from moment to moment, but we are never completely safe. Learning this bothers some people, but not me; I enjoy outwitting the Reaper. Some day he will win, but that is a contest we are all doomed to lose someday. Earth must be fed.

    • Troy says:

      I agree that rights are individual. When I said

      We can also, acting collectively via our elected officials, make value judgments whereby we willingly forgo some freedom in return for a higher level of safety and security but this must always be done with extreme caution and with the clear understanding that everything is a tradeoff and that we must rationally guarantee that such a tradeoff is worth it.

      What I meant is that, as a people, we can agree to forgo some rights in return for making civilized life more orderly and predictable. For instance, we surely have a “natural right” to drive in whichever lane of a highway we individually choose. However, a majority of us have voluntarily surrendered this “right” in favor of enforceable statutes saying that we will stay to the right-hand side of some arbitrary center line in order to make driving more practical (as well as safer).

      This does not mean that the rights in question are collective, instead it means that a majority of us, using the voting franchise, can empower our elected officials to institute statutes that leave us somewhat short of total anarchy and the attendant chaos.

      True safety is, no doubt, an illusion. Some level of order and predictability are not. It is up to each of us to understand the difference between anarchy, civilization and tyranny and to make the critical choices land us in the middle of this continuum.

      I realize that the word “collective” is a red flag to some people, However, an election, conducted fairly and honestly, is nothing more or less that a way to gather the “collective” intent of the voters. So, the word does have some uses outside Marxist doctrine.


      • Historian says:

        I find the assumption that rights must be given up to maintain civilization dubious. The concept of individual right is most useful and most needed within a civilization, and as Jefferson stated, the primary function of government is to protect individual rights. So, why would a legitimate government ask us to surrender our rights?

        the fact that so many do is a strong argument for the anarcho-capitalist wing of the Libertarian movement. I also question the false dichotomy between anarchy and civilization. The real contrast is between tyranny and freedom.

  • daedalus says:

    Agreed “Historian” rights are never collective, but only individual. That is one of the reasons why the UN “Human Rights” beliefs are so off base.

    During WWII the British Government raided the museums for antique guns since they were desperately afraid the Nazis were going to invade and they had lost a large part of teir arsenal at Dunkirk. Home Guard units paraded with wooden rifles hoping German reconnaissance planes would think they had the real thing. Having a well armed populace would have obviated the need for such actions. I don’t imagine the Brits felt very safe at that time.

    • Historian says:

      IIRC there was a huge recruitment of personal weapons, rifles, pistols and shotguns sent to England for use by the military and the Home Guard after Dunkirk. There was a huge outcry when the British government destroyed them after the war……

      • daedalus says:

        Of course, after the war they voted in an immoral government, there is no end to the effects of wrong headed philosophy.

  • Overall a good analysis of the Liberty/Safety tradeoff, Troy; but I would like to quibble with your overuse of the term ‘leaders.’ It is a personal pique with me; but I reckon part of our problem in our political arena, is that we have forgotten that we should be electing ‘representatives,’ not ‘leaders.’ I think the ubiquity of this language usage, encourages the sheeple mindset, which is inclined to vote for a demagogue and unduly trust him to ‘lead’ them to greener pastures. It further encourages the politicians to arrogantly consider their constituents as mindless rabble, who are required to follow his lead toward his glorious vision of a better world. Those who might object, are labeled dangerous, subversive, nut cases, lest the rabble might follow their lead instead, and upset the ‘leadership’ oligarchy’s grand plans. â—„Daveâ–º

  • Troy says:

    Sorry to take so long to respond to this — truth is, I overlooked it.

    I agree that what we elect are “representatives”. However, IMHO, there is a necessary leadership component to the job (if well done). For instance, if all my congressman does is follow the party line and/or the House leadership, he is not likely putting forth the agenda the folk in my district sent him there to do. By assuming a leadership role, he is far more likely to do so. Likewise, some manner of leadership is required to help his constituents understand and support needed legislation that they may initially have disliked or misunderstood.

    Obviously, I do not support the notion that a representative is obliged to blindly champion his constituent’s positions when he knows these to be not really in their interests.


    • I must still disagree. I would certainly have no problem if my Representative were a bellwether among the herd in DC, if he were not wasting too much time on maintaining such status. I don’t know if I would call it leadership; but I do understand your point about the roll of educating and persuading constituents. However, advocating for a position is as far as I can go. I do not wish to invest in a Representative, the power to decide what is best for me and/or his district, regardless of constituent desires. If he is unpersuasive with his advocacy, and the preferred course of his constituents is not unconstitutional, he is obligated to vote as they wish him to, even if he thinks they are wrong. If he does not, they have every right to replace him with someone who will represent their views. â—„Daveâ–º

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