When I first saw the tweet, I was pretty sure it was a joke. Police in England have been making a big deal of “getting weapons off the street” for years now, so they tweet photos of weapons they’ve confiscated.
But surely this photo was a joke. Right?
“These items were found during a #weaponSweep near #MackworthHouse #AugustasSt during #OpSceptre,” said the tweet from police in the Regent’s Park area of London. “Safely disposed and taken off the streets.”
But it was a real tweet from real police in London. It appeared that someone had frisked a local handyman or janitor and stolen his tools.
I see two pairs of pliers, two small screwdrivers and a pair of scissors that would be at home in any office desk. The remaining item might be a file of some sort, but I can’t tell for sure. I just know it’s bizarre to consider these common tools to be weapons — and it shows the end result of a world which tries to use force to eliminate risk.
The ability to think rationally has become a liability in public discourse. The winners in politics today are those who can put their brains in neutral and tell emotional anecdotes. That’s how policies such as this develop. It’s the product of shallow and short-term thinking.
If you tell stories of the tiny minority who have been harmed by something, you can get unthinking and emotional people to go along with banning almost anything.
If you want to get rid of guns, tell emotional stories of people who have been killed by folks with guns — but pretend that guns aren’t also used in defensive ways to stop attacks. Pretend that guns have no uses other than by a crazed criminal out to murder children.
Then you can start banning all sorts of weapons, as has been happening in England. Before you know it, police are stealing screwdrivers and pliers — and pretending they’re protecting you from criminals.
Is it possible that someone could use a screwdriver to stab someone? Sure. But do screwdrivers serve so many useful purposes that it’s reasonable and rational to let people keep their tools. Of course.
I don’t own a gun and I’ve never owned one. I recognize the dangers they can pose and I’ve chosen not to have one around. But I also recognize that millions of Americans use guns for legitimate purposes — such as self-defense or hunting — and I know that I have no right to force them to make the same decision I’ve made about owning a gun.
It all comes down to who has the moral right to make a decision. I have the right to make decisions for my life. I also have the right to respond to specific threats against me, so I would be within my rights to use force to stop someone who used a gun to threaten me. But I have no more right to disarm every person in the name of safety than I would to take away everybody’s screwdrivers because they could theoretically hurt me.
Some of the Parkland high school students who are trying to take guns away from peaceful people are confused about this issue. In the wake of a murderous rampage by one former student at their school, authorities have instituted a new policy that all backpacks must be clear — so the contents can be seen by all. Some of the students are indignant about this. For instance, senior Tyra Hemans told CNN the requirement isn’t right.
“I’m not happy with it,” she said. “Why are you punishing me for one person’s actions?”
I presume she said this with a straight face — and with no understanding of the hypocrisy of what she was saying.
At the big protest march in Washington, D.C., over the weekend, there was a sign which was popular and was being tweeted by many people. The protester had written, “Is ‘freedom’ more important than safety?”
She apparently thought this was a slam-dunk for taking freedom away — and this is an indication of how unpopular freedom is becoming. Unthinking people like to take freedom away from others, but they have no understanding that their intrusion on other people’s lives and rights will eventually result in a loss of freedom for themselves.
So, yes, freedom is more important than safety — even if you’re too blind to understand that.
I’m a big advocate of safety in my own life. I make decisions to protect myself and those I care about. I strongly suggest that you make decisions for your own safety, too.
But neither you nor I have the right to make these decisions for other people. A world which dictates all safety decisions — and demands obedience through the guns of government employees — is a far more dangerous world than one in which my peaceful neighbors have the right to own weapons.