Recently, a chain e-mail surrounding a proposal by a Vermont State Representative by the name of Fred Maslack has been making the rounds. This e-mail resurrected a story that will be ten years old later this year. The idea: Make non-gun owners in the state of Vermont register with the state and pay a $500 fee.
The energy spent forwarding these emails could have been spent opposing the radical agenda of Barack Obama – or urging Congress to support measures like right-to-carry reciprocity. That opportunity cost is problematic in and of itself. Wasting efforts on phantom chases does not help protect the Second Amendment. But that opportunity cost – as well as looking pretty damn stupid when the facts get out – is not the biggest problem with this proposal, which is far more fundamental.
To lay this problem out, it’s important to ask: Why do you get involved in the debates surrounding Second Amendment issues? Me? I got there because I became tired of being punished for someone else’s misdeeds. I wanted the ability to choose for myself what firearm I would own. If an AK-47 was what I wanted, then why should someone else’s misuse of one reflect on me? I would go on to spend over nine years defending the Second Amendment for a living with the NRA–ILA, first in their Grassroots Division, then in the Research and Information Division.
Why did I do so? I wanted to protect my right to own guns. It was none of Sarah Brady’s damn business whether I wanted to own a gun. Dianne Feinstein had no business telling me what kind of gun I could own. And it certainly was none of Chuckie Schumer’s business how many rounds the magazine of my gun (be it a Glock or Colt M1911) can hold. We all can agree on that, right?
Well, there is a flip side to this. Inherent in the right to do something, be it to speak, vote, to go to the church of our choice (or decide whether we wish to go to church at all), or own a gun is the right to decide NOT to do so. Freedom, when it comes down to it, involves the ability to make those choices for yourself.
It even extends to the point of having the right to screw up big time. Therein lies the fundamental problem I see with laws like Kennesaw, Georgia’s “must own a firearm” ordinance, or the 2000 proposal from Representative Maslack to register and tax (and yes, he was proposing a tax). In essence, they would deny those on the other side of the issue the right to make the choice that is their right as Americans to make.
In The 5000-Year Leap, Cleon Skousen wrote, “The goal of society is to promote ‘equal justice,’ which means protecting the rights of people equally.”