, Newburyport, MA


January 5, 2013

Column: Right to bear arms keeps us a free people


Next, we need to understand that we do not live in a historical vacuum, that the threat of an overreaching government is as much a concern to us as it has been to citizens of powerful governments everywhere. Let’s break this down into an understanding of human nature, one part of which doesn’t apply to good people like most of us, who have no desire for power over each other.

But we all know bullies — from our school days, our workplace, books and movies, the news. We don’t pretend that individual bullies don’t exist or can’t be a threat to us. We count on the government to protect us: school authorities, the police, the courts, and our elected representatives passing laws against bullying. If they fail, we are justifiably angry.

Now take one step beyond this, and imagine the bullies getting themselves into the government, into positions of power — not to uphold the Constitution, not to do good, not to have an important, fulfilling job, but to use the extraordinary power of government to make themselves more important than they are, to push people around, to enjoy inspiring fear. Imagine them attracting others like themselves and eventually seizing control of a government. Now take a few minutes to check out today’s world news.

Why do we assume our own government wouldn’t turn against us? For one thing, we have the Constitution with its Bill of Rights to protect us from government abuse. But some in government don’t honor this grand document, are eager to discredit it and the extraordinary men who wrote it. Already, the First Amendment has been weakened by political correctness and freedom of religion is always being debated; some government officials assert that the war on terrorism justifies violating other individual rights specified in other amendments.

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