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Blast from the past: "As long as"
Posted by: McQ on Monday, February 13, 2006

A February 2004 post on Q and O entitled "As Long As":

Donald Sensing, while ruminating about the meaning of the 2nd Amendment and Kerry’s stance on it gets to the essence of “freedom”:

One lady told me, "No one needs an AK-47 to hunt deer." Well, yes, that's true, and in fact an AK-47 would be a rather miserable hunting gun. But freedom is not about what we "need," is about being able to do what we want. And if someone wants to hunt with an AK-47, then as misguided as that is, gun-wise, he should be able to do so.

Look at it this way: no one needs a BMW or a Cadillac. A Chevy will do just as well. People buy a luxury auto not because they need it over a Chevy but because they want it. No other reason.

Let me make this point again. It's important. The freedom of a sovereign people does not spring from having or doing only what they "need," but being able to do and have what they want.

That can’t be emphasized enough ... “freedom ... does not spring from having or doing what they “need”, but being able to do and have what they want”.
Bingo. It doesn’t matter if its AK 47s, BMWs, or drugs.

I would add a huge “as long as” to that, however.

“Freedom does not spring from having or doing only what they ‘need”, but being able to do what they want as long as they do no infringe upon the rights of others when they do so.”

This is the part the enemies of freedom always leave out when they attack such statements of freedom as being akin to or leading us down the path to anarchy. Whether expressed or implied, that “as long as” statement is always an integral part of any right and any freedom. That’s one of the reasons the founders of this country chose to “provide for the common welfare” by instituting a system which legally protects those rights and ensures equal treatment under the law.

One other point. Freedom doesn’t come from government. Government is instituted to protect freedom. Freedom and its corresponding responsibilities are our natural state and natural responsibilities. Government has but one job ... ensure we live up to our responsibilites.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Here, here. I maybe one of those misguided souls that need to hunt with an AK-47. But I am as good with it as a remington 700. And I don’t spray the deer as it isn’t really a machine gun. But I have yet to miss a deer because of the gun I was using. Maybe I’m to poor to by a gun made just for hunting. Maybe I need a gun that can serve me no matter the situation. Maybe I am trying to show that you can use a gun like that for hunting. Maybe I am just trying to show that with freedom comes responsibility and that I can enjoy freedom and don’t need to be told what I need. I am perfectly capible of deciding on my own.

Thanks for your time.
Written By: D.L. Horton
URL: http://
I would consider myself, so would a libertarian political test, on the border between a liberal and and a libertarian.

But I used to (during my extremely liberal days) support extensive gun control for "class III" arms and such, and my philosophy was the one mentioned above: "No one needs an AK-47 to hunt deer." But after a little research I ultimately found that a majority of violent crimes are committed with weapons bought and sold underground. Moreover, children are more likely to drown in a swimming pool than be killed by a gun (I suggest you read Freakonomics for more details).

I still believe background checks are a good thing, but the major gun control laws restricting fully-automatic weapons were mainly reactions to crime in the 20s and 30s and then to the Kennedy and MLK assassinations. Of course, now we have a booming black market so criminals can get plenty of guns, and I would argue that anyone who has to will to attempt an assassination of the president or another extremely popular and powerful figure will get a gun despite any laws.
Written By: Bryon Rogers
Government is instituted to protect freedom. Freedom and its corresponding responsibilities are our natural state and natural responsibilities.
Sorry, but I have to say that these two statements are contradictory.

Freedom is not our "natural state". Freedom, or generally-available freedom anyway, is a relatively new phenomenon. And government has been instituted in many instances to do exactly the opposite of what you claim. Without doing a running tally, I’d say there have been more governments instituted with the express intent of limiting freedom than those that have been instituted to protect freedom.

And I’m not counting governments that were imposed.

I do agree that protecting and respecting our freedom is our responsibility, but if it were our natural state, we (the human race) would have had far far less bloodshed in our collective past.

If you’d said that our (meaning the US) government was instituted to protect freedom, I’d have to agree.

Maybe I’m picking a nit here, because otherwise I’d say you were right on with this post.
Written By: W
URL: http://
Unfortunately the "As Long As" filter is the problem. Your SUV is degrading my environment and bringing conflict to my world by consuming OIL. Your blog is devicive to my countries well being please shutter it (hypo). Where does one draw the "As Long As" infringement line? Unfortunately the attack on freedom is very well organized and I don’t think it is coming from the government.
Written By: Coaster
URL: http://
I do agree that protecting and respecting our freedom is our responsibility, but if it were our natural state, we (the human race) would have had far far less bloodshed in our collective past.
"Freedom" includes the liberty to cause bloodshed, whether rightly or wrongly.

Government was instituted as a means of avoiding bloodshed (through protection against common enemies) or as substitute for it (through civil means of settling internal disputes).

Unquestionably, in our natural state, we are "free" to do anything we please in that there is no higher mortal authority to judge our actions. Of course, "freedom" does not imply "without consequences," and so we may very well limit our actions in a natural state so as to cointinue in that natural state for as along as possible. Using government to protect our interests allows a more efficient use of our time, by obviating the need to stand guard over our property for example, but it does not "create" freedom.
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
I have to echo Coaster a little bit.

The common Libertarian refrain is, "My freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose."

I can’t get behind that. Because if you are swinging wildly, I have to protect myself. And your intent to hit the tip of my nose matters not a whit if you accidentally connect. I’ve still got a damaged nose because you couldn’t respect my personal space.

But how much personal space does everyone need? Oops, there’s that word again: "need". Okay, so how much personal space does everyone want? Well, if you want so much personal space that mine is reduced, that’s not going to work, either.

Humans tend to notice their own discomforts more and discount the discomforts of others. So there are three choices for determining personal space (and I’m not just talking body, but also economic, property, rights, etc).

1) Common sense. Except that sense isn’t common. If everyone can swing their fist, then someone will swing it in a way that threatens my nose. Which leads to:
2) Negotiation. And that can be negotiation with weapons to back up your point, too. If you can’t depend on common sense and personal restraint (and you can’t), then you have to make room for yourself. And you have to resist against people who are trying to take your room to give themselves room. Dictators and the like are more than willing to run roughshod over others. That results in "Might makes right", and degrees of anarchy.
Since those don’t and can’t work, there’s only one other choice:
You get together with other like-minded people and establish both a framework and an authority to enforce that framework.
The problem is that since everyone contributes to that framework through allegience, taxes, etc, no one person (or small group of people) can (or should) be able to determine its direction. The problem comes in when people get too excited/insistent about their rights. If everyone stuck with self-restraint within the framework, we’d all be free.
But there’s that dish of free candy on the desk. And someone jerk ruins it for everyone else by taking so much that others don’t get any. So you gotta make a rule for how many each people get. Once you get a rule, someone tries to get an exception. And someone else finds ways to manipulate that rule to their own advantage. And someone else exploits the areas where there aren’t rules. So we need more rules.
And the more rules, the more government interference.

One rule of life: things always get worse.

So we’ll get worse and worse, and someday our government will collapse, and hopefully all the selfish jerks will get killed, we’ll reestablish a new nation/government on the basis of altruism and idealism again, and once again start a slow decline to suckage.

Or maybe I’ve studied Chinese dynastic cycles too much?
Written By: Nathan
"The freedom of a sovereign people does not spring from having or doing only what they ’need’, but being able to do and have what they want."
That demands explication.

Children merely "want" things.

There is an old proverb attributed to the Spanish, which goes: "Take what you want, and pay for it."

Grown-ups produce what they want, whether directly, or through free exchange in a complex division-of-labor economy.

"Being able to have what they want", by itself and without accounting for how they have it, is the simpleton’s touchstone of twentieth century "political economy" that simply ignored what it really takes to live, assuming that there’s nothing to it.

Written By: Biilly Beck
URL: http://www.two—
Oh, yeah:
I want to emphasize, one of the biggest problem of the whole "need" argument is that "need" can never be objective, but only subjective. It’s part of the personal autonomy problem as much as it is a part of the government control problem, though.
Written By: Nathan

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