Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Here's the rub...

It was announced recently that terrorists were able to pass background checks and legally purchase firearms here in the U.S. This is bad.

What ought to be done?

On one side you have an argument that asserts that we need more stringent and effective background checks, waiting periods and a ban on military pattern guns.

On the other side, it is asserted that any tightening of regulations infringes upon the rights of law abiding citizens.

Who's right?

Well, frankly, both sides are.

At the end of the day, the amount of liberty - or openness - in a society is directly proportional to its vulnerability.

So, if we create an America in which the government knows enough about your personal history, political affiliations and medical/psychological condition for them (whoever THEM are) to be absolutely certain that you are the right kind of person to own a firearm, I believe that we'll be much safer from criminal or political violence committed with firearms.

I haven't researched it, but I doubt there were many firearms related crimes in the Soviet Union. Similarly, today in China, you are probably much safer from the kind of terrorism and crime that we American citizens face all too often.

It all comes down to a question of trade-offs. Do we want that kind of society?

Benjamin Franklin once said that those who would trade essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. For my part, I'm willing to pay more attention to people I see on the street, willing to get "involved", willing to stand up and say that I am responsible for my fellow citizens. In return, I expect to maintain my privacy, my freedom of association and my right to self-defense.


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