• 73°

Oppression in pursuit of safety

By Joseph L. Bass

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I would rather live in a dangerous democracy than a safe tyranny.”

It seems many Americans have abandoned a dangerous democracy and strive toward personal safety at any cost.

A fundamental concept of our unique system of society involves allowing individual freedoms, even as we know that some will misuse them. We are able to exercise more freedoms than any other people on earth. Our freedoms allow us individual flexibility of thought and action.

Because of this we are the most creative, inventive, productive, wealthy people in the history of the world.

But a social movement that started in the 1960s encourages a safe society regardless of the costs.

Prior to 1968, for example, few laws existed at the federal level regarding sale and possession of firearms, except machine guns, short rifles and shotguns, and silencers. State laws mainly focused on firearms discrimination against black Americans.

Prior to the 1968 gun control law, it was easy for any American with enough money to purchase a wide selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns. Most firearms were purchased from Montgomery Wards, Sears and J.C. Penney, through mail order catalogs.

In 1965, before moving from Oklahoma to California, I saw a used rifle that I wanted in a sporting goods store, but I didn’t have the money for it. When I did have it, I mailed a check to my dad, and he purchased the rifle and then mailed it to me.

Eventually its value increased; it was old in 1965. A few years ago, I sold it to a collector for a good deal more than I paid for it.

Today my dad would be arrested and imprisoned for 10 years for what he did, even though the rifle he mailed me was never used in any crime.

The 1968 gun control act and others have been pitched as being focused on reducing crime, particularly violent crime. But how well does this approach work?

In 1960, the violent crime rate per 100,000 Americans was 160.9. In 2016 it was 397.1. That is an increase of almost 2.5 percent. And the murder rate is always the highest in cities like Chicago that strongly promote gun control.

But many Americans continue to believe it is possible to pass enough laws so they can live in safety. Because of this thinking many campaign for more and more gun control restrictions. This is the case even with the obvious fact that earlier, restrictive laws have not lived up to promises of increased safety made by politicians.

How many more ineffective laws are Americans going to pursue? How much oppression are we willing to accept, knowing such laws have never improved our safety?

And how important is our safety? Is pursuing it worth progressively giving up our freedoms?

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety@aol.com.