No, gun debate about freedom AND life

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

It’s amazing how many Americans can’t seem to grasp that many things aren’t either/or situations. Let’s take the gun debate for a moment.

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It’s a contentious issue, to be sure, and a lot of us aren’t remotely interested in giving any ground for any reason, but the debate continues regardless.

Which is fine. People have a right to their opinions. They have a right to be wrong.

But they don’t have a right to go unchallenged, and when you say something supremely stupid and I see it, I’m going to do just that.

Take this op-ed out of Montana, of all places, titled, “The gun issue isn’t about freedom, it’s about life.”

A couple of days ago, I heard a story on National Public Radio about a program that provides gun owners with the opportunity to store their guns in a “safe house” if they happen to be going through emotional difficulty. It’s designed to address the high rate of suicides in Montana, and it is one of the few examples that has garnered support from both gun rights advocates and gun control advocates.

Why? Because it makes sense. Because Montana’s suicide rate is the second highest in the country, and because 85 percent of the gun deaths in Montana are suicides.

So, this seems promising. The two sides, so contentious for so many years, have managed to find one area of common ground where they see the benefit of temporarily taking firearms out of the hands of someone who’s at risk to themselves.

And it begs the question of why the same approach can’t be applied to someone who is a risk to others? One of the people interviewed in the segment, a gun rights advocate, was worried at first that this could lead to “red flag” laws, where someone who has mental health issues might be targeted and have their guns temporarily confiscated. The reason he likes this program is because it’s voluntary.

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Yes, that’s why everyone’s in agreement here, because no one is taking anything from anyone who doesn’t want their guns gone.

Voluntary is a very important aspect, and yet it’s pretty clear that the author doesn’t see that as necessarily a good thing.

And here’s where the manufactured agenda that these people are so determined to hang onto comes into play. This hidden “liberal” agenda of trying to take everyone’s guns away, the agenda that has never existed and never will.

Really? Tell that to Gabby Giffords, the poster girl for gun control who literally said “no more guns” and even stopped an aide to tried to explain her comment away. My friend, science fiction and fantasy author David Burkehead, has compiled a list of people who have expressly said they wanted all of our guns.

Further, I’d love this gentleman to tell me where his line in the sand is. Most gun control advocates don’t actually have one. They can’t tell you how far is too far beyond the generic “I don’t support a total ban.”

Instead, this continues incrementally with the inevitable result of an effective ban like we see in places like Australia or the UK.

How is this different? Why is it OK to protect people from killing themselves, but it’s going too far to protect people from killing other people? This makes my head hurt.

Because. It’s. Voluntary.

See, when you give people the ability to make choices voluntarily, it’s quite different than using the government to enforce it. If I feel depressed and like I might want to end it all, I can hand my guns over to a third party so I don’t do something I can’t come back from.

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When a third party gets the government to take the decision out of my hands, it ignores any number of factors including that I might not actually be suicidal or that the third party in question doesn’t really have my best interests involved.

On the issue of guns, it’s not a choice between our freedom or our lives. Our freedom allows us to preserve our lives, and having voluntary programs like the one cited is certainly one aspect of it. Taking away freedom even under “temporary” red flag orders, however, can actually make the situation worse.

Yet I find it funny that the man who claims there’s no effort to take away our guns literally can’t see the difference between a voluntary effort and government force.

It really calls his powers of observation into question, especially regarding his claim that there’s no agenda to take away our guns.

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