David S. Markowitz

    Labels are powerful things. They create our first impression of what they are attached to, whether it's a can of soup or a group of people. Human nature being what it is, the first impression you make is critical in getting others to listen to you, especially those who are undecided or hostile to your position.

    Take the abortion debate, for example. Those who favor a woman's right to have an abortion are commonly known as "pro-choice." The anti-abortion camp is called "pro-life." Now, anyone in his right mind wants to be known as pro-life, but here in the United States we cherish our freedom above all else. (At least that's what we tell ourselves. Whether that's true, given the direction our country is headed, is debatable.) Because the pro-choice faction seized the initiative with its self-description, the pro-life forces are left with giving an anti-choice firsting an anti-choice first impression to millions of people by default. And to be labeled as anti-choice is to bee tainted as anti-freedom. And that's un-American.

    Turning to the gun control debate, participants are usually lumped into one of two opposing camps. On the one side, we have those who favor government regulation of firearms ownership and use, based on "need," the kind of gun being discussed, the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, etc., etc. The most common justification given is that gun control is necessary to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, i.e. - public safety. The end result that proponents of gun control desire, depending upon who you're talking to, is either "sensible regulation" or outright prohibition.

   What we need to get across is that the key feature of this position is control, as opposed to safety. This control manifests itself as prior restraint upon an inalienable right. Limited choice means limited freedom. Limited freedom results in limited safety.

    On the other side of the debate we have those people who oppose gun control, including most participants in this forum. It is our right, we say, to own and use firearms (and other arms for that matter) as we - not the government -- see fit. Prior restraint, AKA lack of choice is unacceptable. We recognizeble. We recognize only one legitimate limit upon our right to keep and bear arms (RTKBA). That limit is that if one abuses the RTKBA, that person has to bear the consequences of his act.

    At the root of this - our - position is freedom. The main components of freedom are choice and responsibility. As individuals who believe in and support the RTKBA, we make a choice and stand up for our own actions. If, in the exercise of that right we make a mistake and property is damaged or someone is hurt, we acknowledge the fact, and our responsibility. We don't seek to place the blame on someone else, or more foolishly, upon an inanimate object with no volition of its own.

    In our exercise of our RTKBA, we choose to take responsibility for our own safety, and that of our loved ones and our country.

    In so doing, we choose life.

    In our exercise of our RTKBA, we choose to take responsibility for any harm that results if we act carelessly or malevolently.

    In so doing, we again choose life.

    We see the choices we make as the moral thing to do,ral thing to do, but because we value our choice - our freedom - we don't seek to impose that choice upon others, because we recognize that once someone else's freedom is curtailed, so is ours. We may view those who through fear, religious belief or conscious choice do not decide as we do as sheep waiting to be preyed upon by the wolves of this world, but we won't force them to adopt our choice.

    In so doing, we choose freedom.

    So the next time someone asks you where you stand on gun control, tell him that as an American who values freedom above everything else, you're pro-choice and pro-life, which makes you pro-freedom.

    Copyright (c) 1998 David S. Markowitz <dsmjd@erols.com>. Permission is given to cross-post this article in its entirety, including this copyright notice.

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