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Liberalism and Guns

    It is unlikely that the progun, and antigun factions will ever truly understand each other. Each group often wonders at the insanity of the other. They may be able to comprehend each other's arguments, but the mindsets of these two philosophies are so divergent that it is hard to see true empathy and understanding ever developing. This is not to say that there is no common ground between them, au contrair; to hear them speak, you would think that both groups are in perfect agreement, and stand for all of the same things. Both proclaim that their positions uniquely address the problems of crime, insecurity, violence, public malaise, and morals. One difference seems to be on the matter of trust and of responsibility. Liberals tend to place a great deal of trust in centralized institutions, and a perfect, collective form of fairness which would attempt to equate all things with all other things so much so that, for many of them, the preferred method of government is some form of socialism. Conservatives, from the founding fathers on, have had a healthy distrust of government, but an abounding faith in the individual, and in what has sometimes been called an enlightened self interest. Rather than a collective quantifiable fairness, they tend to favor a more individualistic approach. Liberals tend to live in a world of ideas, idealism, and intention rather than a world of acts. Firearms, personal wealth, and individualism tend to inject an unpleasant dose of concrete reality into this world.
   An attempt to define these belief systems by defining the words "liberal" and "conservative" would suggest that a liberal will approve of change while a conservative will object to change. There is a grain of truth to this, though with the epidemic of liberalism infecting our government, media, and educational institutions, Conservatives may now be more open to change, and liberals more opposed to it than the previous definitions would indicate. It is also interesting to note that at the founding of this nation, those who were the most violent advocates of change believed in what we would now call conservatism, while those who strongly opposed them stood for much of what today would be called liberalism. This might sound strange, but a look at what the fathers of this country revolted against --- high taxes, unresponsive centralized government, trade restrictions, and constant government interference in their personal lives --- sounds very much like what liberalism tirelessly seems to advocate. On the other hand, those freedoms for which the founders of this country risked lives, fortunes, and reputations --- public expression of ideas and opinion, individual firearms ownership, the sanctity of private property and personal wealth, the individual pursuit of happiness along with the freedoms to chose life's own course --- are the very things which the left rallies against, or interferes with.
Perceptions and definitions
    The definitions of liberal and conservative blur somewhat, as people are individuals, and there tend to be few "pure" members of either group, however there are certain issues which have such a polarizing effect on people that they can effectively define the terms. These issues are abortion, gun control, taxes, capitol punishment, having a strong military, and the legalization of drugs. There is a group of secondary issues on which there can be some divergence, these issues are immigration (legal and otherwise), trade and protectionism, pornography, and how much control the government should have over schools, etc. A closer look would indicate that responsibility would seem to be a major factor. In the conservative view, each of us is responsible for the conduct of our lives. In the liberal view, a higher authority should be responsible for us all, since "fairness" requires that we be monitored and supervised to prevent any inequalities from occurring. In sporting terms, the conservatives strive to make a level playing field, while the liberals strive to see that each team gets the same score. Ideally, the liberals would not have the game played at all, but simply award the score to each team, eliminating the need to have a playing field. There is also the matter of freedom, which both groups claim to be all in favor of, however the definitions of freedom to which the two groups ascribe varies widely. The liberal desire for freedom seems to be a desire to be free from worry, and from the need to make tough decisions as to the manner of one's life, deriving neither the benefits nor suffering the consequences of their actions. Conservatives pursue the freedom to make these tough decisions, and to deal with life's worries according to one's own perceptions, and best judgment, reaping the benefits or suffering the consequences accordingly.
    These differences in the perception of what constitutes freedom, and of the definition of what responsibility is, may give a hint as to why liberals and conservatives position themselves as they do on certain issues. This removes some of the perceived contradiction in beliefs of these groups. As an example let's take the abortion and capitol punishment issues. It would seem that a pro life position would be against abortion, and capitol punishment, but this is, by and large, not true. Most conservatives believe in capitol punishment but oppose abortion. How could this be? The answer is simple when looked at from a point of view of personal responsibility. According to the conservative point of view, a felon who has committed some heinous crime is responsible for it, and must pay. Responsible, decent people who have committed no heinous acts have a right to be protected from him, as their interests out weight those of the felon.  Though the felon is given less consideration than the law abiding folk, this is a level playing field, since any law abiding citizen who turns to crime can expect similar treatment. Liberal dogma takes quite a different approach. The felon is not held strictly responsible for his acts. Despite what he has done, he is still considered to be on a par with those whose actions remain within the law. He must be worked with, rehabilitated, and educated. This is the liberal way of giving both teams the same score no matter how the game itself was played. What of the abortion issue then? A conservative will insist that a couple who conceives a child be responsible for it, and not commit murder in order to spare themselves the inconvenience of caring for it. The liberal point of view on this is that a woman (the man having long since disappeared) should not be held responsible for the rest of her life for one little mistake. So according to the liberal outlook, abortion of an unborn baby is acceptable, but capitol punishment of a convicted felon is not. According to the Conservative point of view, abortion is wrong, but capitol punishment is an acceptable response to some forms of criminal activities.
    When applied to the gun issue, these standards show clearly which direction the two groups would have to take to remain consistent with their beliefs. Conservatism will support the individual in his right to defend himself and be responsable for his own security. Liberalism will require dependence upon the police and the government, individuals not being qualified or competent to deal with their own security.  Personal defense is also a difficult and unpleasant undertaking (excuse the pun), and difficulty and unpleasantness is to be spared us at all costs, even if those costs include our freedom and the right to decide our own life's course. As a society composed of the irresponsible, and the unaccountable, we can certainly not be trusted with firearms. Though we have not yet become this sort of society, the barrage of liberal policies are rapidly changing us into one.
passing the buck
    Part of this is because of the idea that exists in certain mindsets, that it is possible to outsmart or shortcut human nature, or the way the universe works. The people who think this way generally consider themselves to be more clever than, and a step above, the rest of us common folk. To this way of thinking, the direct approach  is far too unrefined and lacking in the subtleties and refinements, possible to the more complicated and intricate minds such as they themselves possess. They disparage the simple minded, direct approach that those of us less endowed with their own gifts, brutishly employ. This type of mindset refuses to believe that the best way to stop crime is to stop criminals. The liberal solution to the crime problem is to "work with" criminals, rehabilitate, educate, and socialize them. This also embraces the notion that criminals are a class different from themselves (a lower species with limited potential, but suitable for taming), rather than a state in which an individual places himself. There is a similar attitude regarding "the poor", and of poverty itself, which is considered to be an attribute of a class of individuals rather than a state in which an individual may find himself. The tools of their crime prevention program include social workers, counselers, teachers, and "supervision". Part 2 of the liberal crime prevention program has to do with ending poverty. This fits in well with a catch phrase that has come in to vogue, "poverty is violence". This is a pretty loose definition of the word "violence", but as always, it is not for certain clever minded individuals to be constrained by the direct meaning of words, rather it is the indirect underlying cause of the meaning of a word which is important ( I hope it is realized that I am just being sarcastic here). Of course, Lyndon Johnson tried to end poverty back in the sixties with his "Great Society" programs. These programs knocked down entire functioning neighborhoods, replacing them with hellish housing projects, while raising taxes, and initiating a round of inflation which made many middle class people suddenly poor. It would seem that the best way to end poverty would be to let people keep more of their money, but this is far too direct a solution to appeal to the tastes of the intellectual left; most of the anti poverty programs put forth from this quarter involve taking money.
     It is interesting to contrast the liberal and conservative viewpoints regarding the recent incident in Michigan involving a six year old boy who killed a classmate. The boy's father is a drug addict currently in prison; his mother, too is an addict. At the time of the incident, the boy was living with his uncle in a crack house. The gun he used to kill his fellow student was stolen, as was a shotgun found amid all of the drugs in the house where he lived. Everything about this boy's life conspired to doom him, only the manner of his destruction being in doubt. Yet despite all of this, our friends on the left tell us that this is a gun issue rather than a social one. We are told that more restrictions, more rigorous licensing requirements, or mandatory trigger locks would solve these problems, as if this boy's uncle would have licensed, or put trigger locks on the stolen guns he possessed. Even a casual look at the facts of this case, and at many of our other social ills as well, will show this to be a result, not of a deficiency of liberal social policies, including gun control, but an overabundance of them. Liberal policies involving decriminalization of drugs, has aided a blossoming of the drug culture, particularly among the poor, who are least able to afford them. Liberal policies enacted to "free" people from the requirements of marriage and moral behavior have reaped a bounty of unwanted, unloved children, unacknowledged, or abandoned by their fathers, and beyond the abilities of their mothers to raise alone. These same policies have made sex, and the traditional commitments associated with it, frivolous, recreational pursuits, thus eroding much of the power and security of the family. Liberal policies on abortion, in response to the huge increase in out of wedlock pregnancies, erodes our respect and concern for human life. Liberal policies on education, welfare, and the work ethic seem determined to create a class of  uneducated idlers unwilling, and unable to do anything with their lives. Liberal social policies enacted into law, require that huge government agencies be created to intrude these policies into our lives. The crushing taxation needed to sustain a nonproductive entity like a government agency reduces the wealth, and therefore the standard of living of the society as a whole. Liberal policies on crime seem determined to trivialize the stigma, and minimize the consequences, for the criminal.  The cumulative result of these combined liberal policies sometimes assumes the form of a six year old boy who will take his uncle's stolen gun and murder a classmate with it.
    It is a pretty good indication that a stand on a major issue is wrong, when the nature of the argument has to be continually changed in order to defend it, or when the terms of an argument are relentlessly picked apart. This is the case with many, if not most of the tenets of liberalism. The most blatant is the argument put forth by the pro abortion activists. One of the major bits of semantic maneuvering (termed spin, in an attempt to put a new spin on spin) used is the definition of their own position as being pro choice, rather than pro abortion. I suppose that by this definition the pro gun group is actually pro choice, as are those in favor of euthanasia, legalized drugs, gambling, prostitution, and probably child abuse (Not that child abuse is a good thing, it just ought to be left up to the individual whether or not he wants to do it --- at least that's what the pro choice position would be). I suppose that in the early and middle part of the last century, those in favor of the continuation of slavery could have made the argument that they were pro choice. Not necessarily pro slavery, you understand, just of the opinion that each individual ought to be free to decide on their own, and that no government agency ought to be able to interfere with their free choice. No one asked the slaves, of course, as slaves had as little recognition in the eyes of the law back in those days as an unborn child has today. This introduces another shift in spin that the pro abortion activists use, the implication that an unborn child is something other than a human being. This maneuver was necessary in order to turn the argument away from the unwinable position taken, that ending the life of a baby before it has a chance to be born is not a morally wrong thing to do.
    In a similar manner, the ownership of firearms has been blamed for many social evils and ills, which can more justifiably be attributed to the epidemic of liberal policy enacted during the second half of the twentieth century. This may be somewhat of a defensive posture on the part of those who consider themselves liberals. As was mentioned above, much of what ails this nation is a result of the liberal agenda to give complete reign to every sort of self indulgence, self indulgence being the liberal definition of freedom. Up until a hundred years ago or so, firearms were so common in this country that it seemed nearly everyone was armed, yet there was, by today's standards, nearly no crime at all. The justice system was considerably more harsh than today's, and people were expected to work or starve. There was also little of what we would call enlightened social policy. Though we were a very diverse society of immigrants, there was no such thing as multiculturalism, and the new immigrants desperately trying to learn the language and become Americans, would have considered the call for such a thing ludicrous. There was no income tax in those days, since there was little government interference in peoples lives, and no need to maintain costly government agencies. People were free to succeed, and were encouraged to do so by the prospect of failure and it's consequences. This open and free society is abhorrent to much of what liberalism stands for, and for generations, liberals have been doing their best to dismantle it. Under those conditions, in a bit over a hundred years, America grew from a collection of separate colonies precariously hugging the eastern seaboard of this continent, to the greatest, wealthiest, most individualistic nation the world has ever seen. Since that time, the growth of liberalism has attacked and eroded the family values, economic and personal freedoms, along with the moral and work ethics and standards of behavior, decency, and personal responsibility  which had for generations been the foundations of our culture. This cultural war has ignited an outbreak of crime immorality, selfishness, and violence which is sweeping the nation, and which we are told can be solved by a further increase in liberal policies. In short, liberal policies if fully implemented would produce a society of irresponsible, selfish, hedonists.  I agree that, in a such a society, people can not be trusted with firearms.
Hedonism and heathenism
    Surely liberalism has rendered the strangest interpretation of the Constitution possible, when they bother to pay it any mind at all. This interpretation casts the founding fathers in a rather poor light, portraying them as shallow, self serving and self indulgent types. There is a hedonistic interpretation by which the first amendment is used to defend pornographers, and the most vulgar possible speech in what are claimed to be song lyrics, while enshrining the press as a sort of a fourth branch of the government.  This same first amendment is claimed to offer no protection for the expression of personal opinion, or particularly opposition to the "progressive" views advocated by most of the liberal establishment. This interpretation looks at the Second Amendment with repugnance, but unable to ignore it's presence, interprets it as being in place for the protection of sport and recreational shooters. This was actually put forth in defense of the assault rifle ban, along with much other gun legislation, that these arms have no legitimate sporting use. The Fifth Amendment has been interpreted as a protection extended to criminals, to the extent that a criminal caught in the act may not even be charged if procedural mistakes are made during apprehension. At the same time it's application to the property rights of law abiding citizens has been ignored, particularly with regard to environmental issues and policies regarding eminent domain. It is actually possible that modern liberalism has embraced a policy by which freedom to express opinion, responsibility for individual security, and freedom to have the use, enjoyment, and dominion over our own property are held in such low regard that it's followers can not imagine these rights being protected by the Constitution. So according to our friends on the left, the fathers of this country rebelled against legal authority, fought a war in which many were killed, and threw an entire continent into chaos and hardship so that they could draft a constitution which would let them utter vulgarities, read pornography, go hunting, commit crimes with impunity, and participate in popularity contests to decide who would run their lives.
     Recently a sports figure has been suspended and fined for making a remark which some have considered to be racist. What is interesting about this is that it was taken so seriously when compared to the flippant attitude taken regarding the criminal activities of so many other sports figures. There are athletes who use and deal drugs, who commit violent acts including assault, and rape, and who, in general, behave as thugs both on and off the court or the playing field. A player can choke his coach, threaten fans, and fire a gun into a building without arousing much indignation or incurring any professional censure, but heaven help him if he gives any indication that he disagrees with the current enlightened positions held by the liberal press or politicians. The player in question gave voice to a personal opinion, which he has the right to do. Naturally I do not care for racial divisiveness, but this seems to be a tactic more often used for effect by our friends on the left than anything that could be considered part of conservatism.
    Interestingly enough, though the supreme court found that restrictions on abortion were a province of the individual states, there is nothing in the Constitution regarding abortion. The decision of the high court was made on the basis that the issues were too muddled (is a fetus a person, and so is abortion murder?) for a comprehensive decision to be made by the nation as a whole, and that the states should regulate abortion. Though there is nothing in the Constitution about abortion there is certainly a reference to free speech, and there is no muddle about this at all; it is definite and without any trace of ambiguity. An individual, even a sports figure, has a right to say what he wishes, and the whole point of having rights guaranteed by a constitution is that said right should be inviolate and not dependent on the whim of particular groups or individuals. The case of Marge Schotz a few years ago was similar, and similarly driven. In neither case were the remarks meant to be disparaging, though this would make no difference in the constitutionality of the matter. These were simple statements of opinion, and of perceived fact, and yet despite Constitutional protections, a pretty vigorous persecution of these individuals was allowed. I wonder what would have happened had Marge Schotz been a younger woman who, instead of making a remark considered offensive by some, had had an abortion performed. In such a case, what would have been the reaction had she been fined and suspended for this. There would have been a storm of outrage at this shocking event, from the ranks of the intellectual left.
    So we are not, according to the left, allowed free expression of opinion, firearms ownership for defense, or security of our property, but surely freedom of religion is written into the Constitution. Like many liberal interpretations of freedom, this is presented as a guaranty of freedom from religion, rather than freedom of it. This part of the Constitution has been used to remove school prayer, delete references to God from public documents, slogans, and ceremonies, and in general try to ban, discourage, and diminish religious beliefs, or at least discredit them. This has also been used vigorously in an attempt to block freedom of choice in schools. The anti religious bias is understandable considering the belief set of the left. Religion sets forth a standard of behavior, principle, and morality to which all are accountable and responsible. This has set the left against what they like to refer to as the religious right, time after time. The major battles have generally taken place over abortion, immorality, and homosexuality (which the religious right considers a form of immorality), but there have been other minor disagreements. The biggest problem with religion is that it sets forth the belief that there is one set of standards and one higher authority set above even the government and the progressive policies which the left tries to impose through it. These people can recognize no authority or set of standards above their own, and even the suggestion of such a thing is as disturbing to them now as it was to the groups who conspired with the government to have Christ killed 2000 years ago.
    So there you have it. This is what liberalism contrives to make of us, an immoral, irresponsible, indecisive people, concerned only with shallow self indulgence, and unable to direct our own lives. People such as this are certainly not fit to own or carry guns. There have always been these types of people in the world, but never have these traits been encouraged, and treated as virtues, at least not in a nation which has lasted for any length of time afterward.