Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 24, 2013

If we must err, let it be on the side of liberty

Based on current research, gun ownership in colonial America included up to 73 percent of all households. Some gun ownership opponents have misrepresented this issue.

In a 2000 book, Michael Bellesiles, formerly of Emory University, suggested much lower gun ownership in colonial America. His book was repudiated as just shy of fraud by Emory University itself.

Seeking to limit the ability to rebel, in the period immediately leading up to our Revolution, the British attempted to confiscate gunpowder, seize existing weapons, and ban the import of arms and ammunition to the colonies. A parallel to today perhaps?

Would there have even been an American Revolution without a high rate of gun ownership? The common sense answer is “no.”

Our forefathers, knowing that government can overreach to the point of tyranny, recognized not only a right of citizens to protect themselves individually, but a collective right of protection from an oppressive government, should it arise; the type of government that seeks to control more and more of our lives and diminish our liberties and freedom. Thus, we have the Second Amendment.

Some observers suggest, and not facetiously, that since muskets were the common firearm in the late 1700s, based on the Second Amendment, Americans should only be allowed to own muskets.

By this reasoning then, the First Amendment which guarantees the rights of free speech, a free press, and of peaceable assembly should only protect personal and group interactions in a physical location, newspapers, magazines, written letters, and other printed materials.

The Internet, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, television, radio, and other forms of communication that did not exist over 200 years ago would not be protected.

The Fourth Amendment, which guarantees that citizens should “…be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…” would then seem to apply solely to physical items, but not phone conversations, emails, tweets, and the like.

This is not an argument for the malleability of the principles of the Constitution. Principles are fundamental tenets, but the application of those principles will change over time.

For instance, our ancestors’ muskets were equivalent to the weapons used by British soldiers.

Should Americans today then be allowed to own weapons equal to those of our soldiers? Or should citizens at least be allowed to own a firearm that is similar?

These are not easy questions, but if we are to err, we should err on the side of the primacy of individual liberty.

The issue of individual liberty only exacerbates the complexity of this issue. There are two common denominators in these recent mass shootings: firearms and individuals with apparently severe mental problems.

In the name of liberty, on Feb. 5, 1963, President Kennedy addressed Congress on the issue of mental illness and began the deinstitutionalization of over 350,000 citizens.

The goal of successful integration into society for many of these individuals was never realized as sufficient resources were either never provided or were not used for the intended purpose. E. Fuller Torrey wrote an interesting piece on this recently.

Perhaps there is even a third commonality in these recent shootings in that in most all of the cases there was no citizen present with the weaponry or ability to stop the perpetrator.

This is a complex and emotionally difficult subject. This writer believes that to pretend otherwise is to choose not to think. It is also this writer’s belief that if we err on any issue, we should err on the side of liberty and freedom or we take one more step on the road to tyranny.

There are plenty of laws; they just need to be enforced.

Patrick Brady

Cumberland

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • President and Obamacare: Who needs Congress?

    Being a fellow from a small town like Cumberland I don’t always really understand what’s going on in Washington. But I have watched a few houses being built over the years. I even helped some with one house, but my brother fired me from that work pretty quickly, mainly because it was his house being built.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sweet Success Business Forum this evening in Frostburg

    As a member of the Frostburg Business and Professional Association (FBPA), I am pleased to inform the community of the “Sweet Success” event sponsored by the city of Frostburg and our organization.

    April 22, 2014

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • You can help United Way reach its goal

    The United Way of Allegany County campaign for 2013-14 will end April 30 and to date has raised more than $430,000, which is over 86 percent of its goal. But there is still $70,000 to be raised in a very short time.

    April 21, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo