The age-old dichotomy between individual freedom and security from government control is the root issue surrounding the limits on government power. The government exists for the sole purpose of providing some type of security in an insecure world. In order to obtain this security, citizens must give up some of their rights to the freedom found in Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature. Freedom must be handed over to government for the purpose of security. Thus, the question becomes how much freedom does one relinquish? The surrender of some rights is necessary to avoid the terror of anarchy, but the American people have relinquished far too much freedom.
The freest nation on Earth was asked to pick between freedom and security this past Saturday; we answered in favor of security. The House voted 220-215 in favor of health care reform, in what President Obama called a “historic vote.” The president was right. The vote was historic in the sense that it was the first manifestation of the major shift in American values that has been in the works for decades. This vote is the actualization of Obama’s goal to bring us closer to the European forms of government, against which our forefathers so adamantly fought. In choosing to provide a heath care safety net, we have given up the freedom to choose our own insurance and make medical risk judgments ourselves.
Behemoth government is full of red tape, bureaucratic procedures and useless forms that inhibit efficient and timely operation. Socialized government programs also lack monitory motivation, arguably the only real mover of our greedy race. Timeliness is a serious issue that cannot be effectively addressed by big government. Take, for example, the slow-moving pace of Canadian health care. As former House representative Bob Barr, R-Ga. reports, it takes four and a half months to see a primary care physician in Canada.
The choice for freedom over security could have made a significant difference at Fort Hood last week. According to CNN, 13 soldiers were killed and 42 injured on base last Thursday. Though it is a valid question to ask how shootings like these can be prevented in the future, an equally important consideration is how to stop these shootings while they are occurring. Though we will never be able to read the thoughts of future killers, we do have the opportunity to stop killers from killing once they have begun, limiting the magnitude of attack.
Though military police responded to the incident at the base and eventually wounded the shooter, they did not respond soon enough. To their credit, they were not able to. The only effective way to immediately stop these killing sprees is to arm the people present: average citizens, or in this case, soldiers.
It may seem strange to say this, as the rifle is a soldier’s best friend, but strict gun control laws limit the availability of weapons on military bases. As General (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey stated on MSNBC, “Even there, there is ferocious gun control measures on soldiers and families on a military installation. Single soldiers in barracks, [are] never allowed access to their weapon, they have to sign them out.”
Giving up the freedom to carry a gun, the soldiers of Fort Hood supposedly gained the security of a weapons-free environment. Strange then, how it was two hand guns that killed and wounded 33 people. These soldiers would have been safer if they had kept their freedom and their guns. Perhaps only one person would have died instead of 12.
Next time you visit the polls or cast your absentee ballot, consider what freedoms you are surrendering and what securities you receive in return. You cannot have both complete freedom and complete security.