By Ian Haworth, Contributor
In response to the truly horrific shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that her government would implement strict gun control legislation. These new laws include the mandated surrender of all “military-style semi automatic rifles”.
This swift move was applauded by many advocates for gun control in the United States. Hillary Clinton stated that “Public servants didn’t stop at offering thoughts and prayers. They chose to act.”. Bernie Sanders celebrated the decision with “This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand’s lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States.”. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commended the New Zealand Prime Minister’s swift action with “Christchurch happened, and within days New Zealand acted to get weapons of war out of the consumer market. That is what leadership looks like.”
This reaction encapsulates the foundational problem with those who effectively advocate for the destruction of the Second Amendment. This problem is not that, unlike New Zealand, the right to bear arms is a right and not a privilege. This problem is not that there is little evidence to support such legislative changes. The problem is not that such laws are impractical given the sheer number of guns already in circulation, and that most shootings occur when existing laws are not enforced.
The problem is the idealistic naivety which underpins the belief that freedom is guaranteed to the people by government. New legislation provides government with ever-growing power. These new powers are celebrated, regardless of whether the legislation has any hope of achieving its purpose, because the incremental sacrifice of individual freedom has been laid upon the altar of government. Safety is the promised reward.
I grew up in the United Kingdom, and while I have always been politically conservative, I viewed the world with this absolute trust in government. Guns were foreign to me, and during my first visit to the United States in 2001, I was incredibly intimidated by the very sight of firearms in the hands of law enforcement. I am also embarrassed and ashamed to say that, before I moved to the United States in 2013, I was laden with the image of stereotypical America thrust upon me by the British media – pro-gun Americans were misguided fools who cling to their guns as a child clings to their toys. Had this mentality remained, I would certainly have joined those who argue against the right to bear arms.
Thankfully, after moving to the United States, my eyes were forced wide open by the ideological principles of American conservatism. I had the pleasure of talking to actual gun advocates (instead of the caricature described by the European and Left-leaning American media), who helped me realize the absolute and immutable importance of the Second Amendment. The slight irony of a British person writing about the importance of the Second Amendment is not completely lost on me.
Since then, I have become an unwavering and staunch advocate for the Second Amendment. The reason for my complete ideological turnaround is that it became clear that freedom is something that cannot be guaranteed by anyone except yourself, and if you believe in Him, God. Government may provide you with the illusion of freedom, but without any ability to protect your inalienable rights, your freedom is actually on temporary lease.
When you hear people discuss about the Second Amendment, the conversation is often muddled with talk of hunting, or defense of self or property. These are both important byproducts of the Second Amendment which should be protected. However, the single fundamental purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect individuals from tyranny. To threaten the Second Amendment is to threaten the ultimate protector of individual freedom.
Some of the bloodiest chapters of history were written by tyrannical governments. Many of these regimes were only able to achieve such levels of human destruction by forcibly disarming their citizens. The Soviet Union imposed strict gun confiscation laws, under penalty of imprisonment, with tens of millions of people perishing under the despotic regime. The Gun Control Act prevented Jews from owning firearms in Nazi Germany, putting them at the utter mercy of an evil government, with disastrous consequences.
Those who scoff at the idea of ever taking a military stand against the government make two mistakes. Firstly, they have clearly never set foot in Texas. Secondly, and more seriously, they are still viewing the world through the lens of the Left.
One basic difference between the American Left and Right is that the Right believe in equality of opportunity, while the Left believe in equality of outcome. With equality of outcome, resistance is futile against a government or its military, as the equality they seek is impossible to obtain. For the Right, all they seek is the opportunity to defend their freedom against tyranny. For those who strive for true freedom, dying on your feet will always be preferable to living on your knees.
I am relieved that I no longer see the government as an all-knowing, benevolent entity. It’s simply an organization made up of men and women, who are just as fallible as any other human being. While some forms of small government can provide positive outcomes for a society, it is historically ignorant to view any government without deep skepticism, especially if they ever seek to consolidate their power by removing their citizens’ one guarantee of individual freedom.
Without the Second Amendment, we are free by the grace of the government.
With the Second Amendment, we are free.