They Pry Them from Our Cold Dead Fingers

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Once
upon a time, in a land not so far away…

It's
a lively community forum. A nice young woman named Jan Smith from
Freeland (a tiny country tucked away somewhere in Western Europe)
is telling us about how Freeland has solved many of the problems
our local politicians have been struggling with. Some think our
city council members could learn from Freeland's example.

"One
of the problems we've dealt with quite successfully is the gun issue,"
Ms. Smith says. "Now remember, we're a free country like yours
— we believe in individual liberty and responsibility. We certainly
allow citizens to own and use firearms.

"However,
we noticed that this creates several problems. Many people just
don't take proper care of their guns. They don't know how to clean
them, how to store them, how to make sure they are safe. Other people
modify their guns in ways that are illegal or not in the best interests
of the public. This poses a danger not only to themselves, but to
the community.

"Some
of our cleverest leaders solved that. First, we passed a law requiring
that everyone care for their guns and store them properly. We instituted
a massive educational campaign to stress the importance of this.

"That
helped, but of course there were still people who didn't comply.

"The
way we ultimately solved the problem was for the government to provide
citizens with the service of taking care of their guns for them.

"We
built huge buildings in every community and hired firearm experts
to work there. We passed a new law requiring everyone to drop off
their guns at the building closest to them every morning, and then
pick them up in the early evening. Some complained this was inconvenient
for them, so we created a system to pick the guns up at each home
every morning and return them to the owners in the evenings.

"Having
the guns all day gives our government-trained firearms experts a
chance to modify those that don't comply with gun regulations, in
addition to making sure they are cleaned and stored safely.

"It's
a win-win. Folks really appreciate this service!

"A
great side effect that we didn't anticipate was that it gives more
freedom to everyone! No longer do citizens worry about what might
happen to their guns if they left them at home during the day, so
they can go to work or run their errands in peace.

"They
know their guns are safe and well-cared-for. And of course they
appreciate not having to do the hard work of taking care of their
guns themselves."

Councilman
Brown interrupts with a question: "Have you encountered any
problems with this system?"

"Not
really." Ms. Smith pauses. "Well, some people complain
that the government experts don't do a good job. Some say that their
guns don't work as well as they used to, or that they prefer to
take care of them themselves, for whatever reasons.

“No
problem. To appease these complainers, we allow them to take their
guns to private, licensed companies that provide the same service.
Of course, not many people take advantage of these private services,
because after all they have to PAY for them, whereas the tax-funded
government service is free.

Councilman
Jones: "Sounds great! This is something I think we should consider
here."

I
look around at the mostly conservative and libertarian crowd — who,
predictably go ballistic.

"You've
got to be kidding!" says a man on the front row. "You'll
never see that here!" says another.

"You'll
take my guns when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!"
shouts a man in the back row, and soon the crowd is on its feet
— echoing his statement and booing the politicians.

Whew!
It's clear we won't see this sort of thing in my community any time
soon.

As
I nod in agreement with the crowd, I notice an image out of the
corner of my eye — a bright yellow school bus is passing by the
window.

And
suddenly I realize that just about everyone in the room allows government
workers to come every day and take away something — something far
more precious than any piece of metal.

That
big yellow school bus takes our children to huge government buildings
where most of their waking hours are spent. Where each day begins
with an invocation of loyalty to the state. Where their most treasured
spiritual values and symbols are banished. Where peer pressure replaces
family values. Where the truly important questions of life can't
be asked, much less answered. Where pop culture surpasses the classics.
Where socialism is taught — both in theory and by example. Where
conformity and indoctrination are far more important than thinking
or reading…

Libertarians
and most conservatives boldly and nobly take a stand for our right
to keep and bear arms. Not so we can go duck hunting, but so we
can defend ourselves and our families from invasion. And so we can,
if necessary, defend our liberty from the possibility of a tyrannical
state.

But
what if the tyranny we fear comes to pass — grown and nurtured in
our very homes?

Until
we have equal passion for defending our children from the invasion
of their MINDS – unless we take a bold and noble stand for
the separation of SCHOOL and
state
— we will continue to allow our children to be taken from
our warm, loving arms.

January
7, 2004

Sharon
Harris [send her mail]
is president of the Advocates
for Self-Government
, a nonprofit libertarian educational organization
established in 1985.


        
        

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