There is a connection between being allowed to carry a concealed weapon and national security, but it isn’t what you think.
Back after the initial revelations about widespread government spying on Americans were made, it was clear that some of the more worrisome monitoring of our day-to-day communications and activities was being done either at the direction of President Obama or his entrusted lieutenants.
The reaction of the president’s die-hard supporters was telling. In op-ed piece, after blog, after talking head news show, they indicated they would be uncomfortable if such spying was at the behest of a conservative in the White House but because it was someone that essentially was one of them they weren’t worried.
In a republic founded on the principle that the rights of the minority aren’t automatically subservient to the rights of the majority, such thinking is reckless if not dangerous.
It would be akin to the Federalists being in charge of the White House and one or both houses of Congress and imposing licensing requirements on the press and prohibiting persons to possess printed newspapers in the streets that carried what Federalists perceive as the inflammatory rhetoric of the Whigs.
After all, there are security issues for the state at stake given the Whig press could incite restlessness not to mention personal safety should the printed words incite fighting between partisans.
Sound a tad far-fetched? It’s no different than the situational arguments being made currently to abridge the freedom of speech and the right to keep and bear arms.
Make no doubt about it, government-monitored speech is not free speech. What seems as a noble effort to fend off terrorists, both foreign and domestic, by a massive electronic dragnet of personal communications, can easily morph into much more sinister and chilling undertakings by the government.
It can run the gamut from essentially starting criminal investigations on a wide array of activities deemed illegal by the government without having to worry about probable cause or securing a warrant to chilling individual speech out of fear of the government.
If the government catches drug dealers and murders through high-tech electronic surveillance, then more power to them, right? Isn’t it worth compromising our liberties to a degree to be safer and more secure in our persons and home? The problem is it is a slippery slope. Today it might be terrorists and drug dealers they search for in such a broad dragnet. Tomorrow it may be those who exceed the speed limit by one mile per hour or who speak disparagingly about the government.
Already partisans of various causes work to gain the upper hand by chilling free speech by hounding those that make political contributions to organizations and efforts that they oppose. They also employ government mechanisms for targeted enforcement such as the IRS and a repertoire of federal agencies with more police power than your local beat cop.
It is highly likely that one day that data gleaned by government dragnet will be used in such a manner. If you think such information is secure, then you obviously don’t understand the implications of what Eric Snowden did. Yes, it is treasonous on one level but it also shows why you can’t trust a government agency with large amounts of information beyond the reality they can use it against you at their convenience. They simply can’t keep it secure.
The erosion of personal freedom and liberty is all being done in the name of safety to secure our borders against a terrorist attack.
Our safety also is used to justify the all-out assault on the Second Amendment.
Those that want the state to impose restrictions by empowering agents of the state to use nebulous reasons to deny law abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon are doing so in the belief that it improves public safety.
It isn’t enough that known felons and the mentally ill be excluded from carrying concealed weapons. Those wanting a permit must demonstrate a “pressing need” and not simply wish to be able to defend themselves outside of their home if the need arises.
“Pressing need” is the nebulous rationale that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited in striking down California’s restrictions on the issuance of concealed weapons permits for law-abiding citizens.
One sheriff may view carrying large sums of money from your business to the bank as a “pressing need,” while a sheriff in another jurisdiction may think differently. The same is true if you live in a high crime area. A government agent in one jurisdiction may deem carrying a weapon a pressing need in such a situation while their counterpart across the city limits or county line believes otherwise.
It is one thing to trust the government. It is an entirely different thing to trust the people who run the government.
Government should be objective with rules applied evenly and fairly to everyone. But in reality, government is subjective as the individuals who are employed by it often make decisions on the individual they are prosecuting or regulating based on personal biases regarding the person’s social-economic status, ethnicity, gender, or religious background.
We can ill-afford to allow government the ability to suspend rights at will simply because we happen to agree with the philosophical and/or political leanings of those who wish to bend or suspend the constitution.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 249-3519.