COMMENTARY by Kendal Hemphill

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June 1, 2018

Freedom or Safety?

T HIS TIME, IT’S DIFFERENT. This time, something has to be done. This time, we won’t stop until things change. This time we won’t be ignored, we won’t go away, we won’t give in. This time we will win. That’s what children are saying.

A deranged young man walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day and started shooting. He killed seventeen and wounded that many more. I won’t mention his name, because that’s exactly what he wants. That’s why he committed such a heinous, heartless act. And his senseless act of mass murder seems to have created a new breed of gun control advocates.

A month after the shooting, students all over the country banded together to walk out of their classrooms in protest. Many of them carried signs that said, ‘Protect Children, Not Guns,’ and ‘Mr. President, how many more kids will die?’ and ‘Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.’ The usual gun control mantras were shouted. The kids demanded new gun laws, more restrictive gun laws, and more sensible gun laws.

They demanded action.

The students, of course, are being used. They’ve been flaunted on every mainstream media news outlet, quoted in major newspapers, and praised by talking heads at every opportunity since the crime. The kids have no idea what they’re talking about, but those who are using them are clever and dangerous. Taking advantage of children to advance an agenda is nothing new, and the left is doing a splendid job of it.

Their ploy seems to be working. Several states have passed new and improved gun control laws, such as magazine capacity restrictions, bump stock bans, and some have even outlawed entire classes of popular rifles. No pistols have been banned as yet, and no one seems to be willing to point out that rifles are used in only three percent of gun-related shootings in the country. Truth doesn’t seem to matter. The left smells blood, and the feast has begun.

Basing political policy on the desires of children is dangerous at best, and disastrous at worst. Science tells us that the frontal lobe of the brain, where decisions are made, is not fully developed until at least age 25, and much later in some individuals.

To be honest, both sides in the gun control debate are using adolescent kids to push their agendas, and it’s wrong in both cases. Surely we can find people with some measure of maturity to decide what our national laws will be. We can do better than to base legislation on the opinions of people who seem to have been spending their time of late eating laundry soap and texting inappropriate pictures of themselves to one another.

But there are a couple of serious problems with the walkout protests, aside from the fact that the children are being manipulated. When school administrators learned about the planned protests, in every case I know of, the walkouts were approved and sanctioned by the schools.

Classes were canceled, and children were told when to get up and leave the schools. Some were even reprimanded if they chose not to participate. The walkouts morphed from student protests into mass capitulation, authorized and orchestrated by the state.

The protests, then, became groups of citizens doing the bidding of the government, at the behest of the government, demanding that the government take rights away from themselves. They were no longer protests; they became state-sponsored civilian requests for state oppression. It’s a new version of the old frat boy hazing response to punishment—“Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

Protests, real protests, are by definition acts of defiance. The government does not sanction protests. If it does, they aren’t protests. The goal of real protests is never the loss of freedom. Citizens have never, in the history of history, demanded that their government restrict their liberty—until now.

This brings up the other problem with the walkouts. At least one student at one protest held a sign that asked, ‘Is “freedom” more important than safety?’

The irony was not lost on the gun rights crowd, and the sign was pointed to repeatedly as the key to what is wrong with the entire debate. The girl holding the sign, of course, was being used, so she is not to blame. Her parents, on the other hand, should know better, as should the parents of all the protesting students. If we don’t teach our children freedom is more important than safety, we don’t deserve either.

Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The people manipulating America’s children are hoping to trade liberty for safety. The problem is that the safety they hope to gain doesn’t exist. It’s a chimera, but once freedom is gone it’s impossible to get back, without watering the tree of liberty once again with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

More gun laws will be passed, and more shootings will occur. More freedom will be surrendered, until liberty is nothing but a memory.

Is freedom more important than safety? If our forefathers hadn’t thought so, the United States would still be a British colony.

This time, it’s different. This time, we’re demanding our own defeat. This time, instead of fighting for freedom, we’re fighting to become slaves. 


Email Kendal Hemphill at [email protected]


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