Liberty, Uncategorized

Arrow vs. Bullets

The show Arrow follows the vigilante exploits of Oliver Queen. The show has done a good job of showing his character’s growth over the years. In the first season, Oliver is “rescued” from an island after 5 years. He returns home and begins a quest to kill a group of bad people who were planning an attack on a low income area of the city with the intent to rebuild it for their own profit. Like many comic book heroes, by the second season he  swears not to kill anymore. The show is now on its fifth season and he has evolved into trying not to kill, but situation dictates.

The latest episode is called “Spectre of the Gun”. Oliver is now Mayor of Star City during the day and Green Arrow by night. In this episode, a man walks into City Hall and shoots the place up killing 7 people. Then the man gets away, but leaves behind one of his weapons. Instead of the gun ending up at the police department, naturally it ends up in the Arrow base to be examined. During this examination, Team Arrow starts to break up into “gun rights” and “gun control” groups. While discussing how to find the perpetrator, they mention that AR-15s can be bought anywhere and they are the most popular gun in America. That is true. The problem is, the rifle used in the shooting was an automatic rifle. The National Firearms Act  of 1934, severely restricts the ownership of any automatic weapon with high taxes and registration of those firearms. So the rifle the shooter used was NOT the type of  AR-15 you can buy at your local gun shop and if it had been purchased legally, it would have been registered.

During the shooting, the team member Wild Dog, pulled his own pistol and shot the gunman, but the gunman was wearing body armor. It is later brought up that Wild Dog was Dishonorably Discharged from the military and therefore could not legally buy a gun. He points out that he is still able to get one. Later in the episode it is revealed that the gunman lost his family to a mall shooter after the city council refused to pass a gun registration act. It is also revealed that the mall shooter obtained his weapons illegally and a registration would have done nothing to prevent the mall attack. I appreciate the show adding that information to the story. That was a common miscommunication between people after Newtown. He killed his own mother and stole the guns he used. No registration could prevent that. I also want to point out that the whole premise of the show is civilians illegally using weapons. If anyone should understand the futility of trying to use laws to prevent crime it should be this group of people, but some of them are missing that point.

Overall I thought the episode did a fairly decent job of covering both sides of the debate. I also appreciated the theme of not shying away from heated discussions to find answers. In the episode, they end with a “compromise” that doesn’t violate people’s rights and makes people safer. Conveniently, they don’t say what that compromise entails.

One of the issues with the gun debate is that the 2 sides are talking about different things. Gun control people see violence and want it to be stopped or at least reduced. They see statistics and body counts and news articles about how people seem to be getting mowed down by guns left and right. Restrictions seem like a common sense solution. On the other hand, gun rights people will never be persuaded by any of those things, because they are talking about rights and principles. To them, restricting guns because of how bad people use them is equivalent to restricting the rights of Japanese-Americans because of Pearl Harbor. They don’t want to be punished for another person’s actions. This disconnect guarantees that the discussion will continue for a long time. Unlike the show, we can’t just pretend a compromise exists.

I will always choose to protect people’s rights. That doesn’t mean I am not open to discussion, but know that in order to change my mind, you must convince me that people do not have a right to self-defense from both criminals and tyranny.

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Uncategorized

Pres. Snow for Gun Control

“Even though trespassing in the woods is illegal and poaching carries the severest of penalties, more people would risk it if they had weapons. But most are not bold enough to venture out with just a knife. My bow is a rarity, crafted by my father along with a few others that I keep well hidden in the woods, carefully wrapped in waterproof covers. My father could have made good money selling them, but if the officials found out he would have been publicly executed for inciting a rebellion. Most of the Peacekeepers turn a blind eye to the few of us who hunt because they’re as hungry for fresh meat as anybody is. In fact, they’re among our best customers. But the idea that someone might be arming the Seam would never have been allowed.” The Hunger Games, Ch. 1

In the Hunger Games books/movies, we follow the events of Katniss Everdeen starting out just trying to feed her family and ends up being the face of a revolution. She lives in Panem, a post-apocalyptic North America. Panem is separated into 13 Districts and the Capitol. Each District is responsible for certain goods. It is a centrally planned economy where the Districts starve while the Capitol lives in excess at their expense. As a form of punishment for a rebellion years before, there is established a competition where 2 children are chosen from each District and are all pitted against each other in a fight to the death. This competition is called the Hunger Games.

In the story, Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her younger sister from having to participate. She wins along with the other tribute from District 12, Peeta, by both of them threatening suicide to prevent there being a winner. This decision along with some of the events of the competition led to Katniss sparking a rebellion in multiple Districts which eventually led to the overthrow of the Capitol.

Throughout the stories, Katniss doesn’t know what effect her actions are having, she is just reacting to the situations she is put into. She isn’t itching for a fight like her friend Gale. She just wants to protect her loved ones. The one thing she does know is how to hunt and use a bow. If her father was a law abiding man, she would not have been able to provide for her family for years after his death. If her father was a law abiding man, she would not have had the skills to succeed in the Hunger Games. If her father was a law abiding man, there would never have been a revolution and the people of Panem would still be sacrificing their children to the State annually. The ability to hunt and use a weapon was the key necessary to overthrow Tyranny.

The Founding Fathers knew the importance of being armed. It is important to be able to provide for your family, but they did not write the 2nd Amendment for hunting. They knew that if the people were ever disarmed, they would not be able to fight back against Tyranny. We don’t need to hide our weapons like Katniss, because the founders knew what they meant to our free nation. As long as the Constitution stands, we don’t need to fear legal repercussion for exercising our right to self-defense from criminals or tyrants. As long as we are armed, we can defend the Constitution. Don’t let fear lead to the sacrifice of  Liberty.

As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow-citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” Tench Coxe, Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 (http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1421&context=wmborj)

Liberty, Uncategorized

The Dream

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is important to remember those who fought for freedom as well as how they achieved what they achieved. With Donald Trump becoming President at the end of the week, many have begun to mobilize in defense of civil liberties. That is fantastic. We need people keeping an eye on the government and willing to do something about it when the time comes. Unfortunately, many of those same people have been blind to what President Obama has been doing with his 8 years in the presidency. Others have chronicled his many civil liberty violations, but that is not exactly what I want to discuss today. I would rather look at what MLK was fighting for and how that applies to the fight for freedom today.

“And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” MLK, Dream Speech

“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”” MLK, Dream Speech

We have a nation of immense potential that is often stifled by government in one way or another. MLK did not let the abuse of government cloud his view of the promise of America. He also recognized who rights applied to. He was not fighting for “Black” rights, he was fighting for Human rights for Black people. Many today seek to wield government to improve their group’s way of life. Gay rights, black rights, immigrant rights, men’s rights, women’s rights, etc. should all be seeking the same thing. “I am a human being and have the right to my life, to freedom, and to live my life in pursuit of my happiness without fear of government force.” Anything beyond that goal, is seeking to wield government over others and in doing so is a violation of others civil rights, thereby becoming the monster MLK was fighting against.

We who believe in the rights of all humans must be willing to call out all violations of those rights and hold the perpetrator responsible. If that is a white police officer using unnecessary force, that police officer needs to be held accountable. If it is a black police officer using extreme force, they need to be held accountable. If it is a white/black/asian/hispanic criminal using force against another individual, they need to be held accountable. If it is the first black President of the United States having citizens assassinated off the battlefield in a country we are not in a declared war with, we need to hold him accountable. If it is a reality TV star become POTUS who creates a Muslim registry, he needs to be held accountable. The violator does not change human rights. The human does not determine which rights they have. We are to be equal and I will continue to do my part to see that we are treated as such. I hope you will join me.

“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 

Liberty

The Government is not Goku

In the popular anime series, Dragonball Z, the hero Goku is often all that stands between super powered aliens and the Earth. He is a pure hearted hero who has dedicated his life to the study of martial arts and in doing so became arguably the strongest man alive. One of his more powerful fighting techniques is called the Spirit Bomb. To use this technique, he siphons a portion of the life force from the planet and all the living things on it creating a giant ball of energy he then pummels his foe with.

In the real world, there are many people who will try to scare you into compliance on any number of issues. From militant Islam to Carbon Dioxide in the air, ask anyone and they have a theory about how everything you value is about to be destroyed. Of course this can be avoided by simply sacrificing some of your life force to the hero, the State. If everyone sacrifices some privacy, the State will keep us safe. If everyone sacrifices some of their income, the State can abolish poverty. If everyone sacrifices burning fossil fuels, the State can stop the climate from changing. Just give and give and give to the hero and everything will be fine. The problem is we think we are giving our life force to Goku, the altruistic hero, but in reality we are often only contributing to the problem or creating a new one.

There is no one hero to solve our problems. By trying to create one, we create a worse enemy than the one we started out against. Prohibition created Al Capone. Intervention in the Middle East created ISIS. The War on Drugs empowers the Drug Cartels. The minimum wage negatively affects minorities, the very people it was supposed to help.

We do need to share our energy in order to battle all of these monsters. But not with one all powerful State. The solution is in individuals working together through voluntary interactions. In the show, Goku asks for the energies he collects for his Spirit Bomb. It is time we stop looking to the State to save us by forcefully taking our money and rights. We need to take back our energies and use it to work together for good.