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“If it Saves Just One Life…”

jailhandsLike everyone, I was shocked and dismayed by the the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. I grieved for the families who lost children. What an incomprehensible act of violence.

It will indeed be a black mark on American history.

And as much as I feel their loss and grieve with those families, I still believe that citizens have a right and duty to maintain our constitutional second amendment rights according to the founding era original intent.

At the time of this tragedy, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with finding a solution in thirty days so this never happens again. 

Vice President Biden has offered his recommendations, and as a result we have or will have a slew of new executive orders limiting the inalienable right to bear arms for self-protection.

During this process, the vice president was explaining the attitude of the president concerning this issue and said,

“And as the president said, if our actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.”

Wow. If we were to take that logic seriously, if it only saves one life, we should ban cars.

If it saves only one life, we should ban electricity.

If it only saves one life, we should ban alcoholic beverages, hammers, and knives.

If it only saves one life, we should ban travel, mountains, and water.

If it only saves one life, we should consider banning everything but sitting around.

But also by that same logic, if it saves just one life we should arm every citizen.

If it only saves one life, we should encourage all citizens to take gun safety courses.

If it only saves one life, the government should encourage all fathers and mothers to stay married and love each other.

If it only saves one life, fathers should spend more time with and showing true affection to their sons and daughters.

If it only saves one life, families should start going back to church.

If it only saves one life, we should stop the spending and start living within our means.

The real question is not so much if it saves one life, but do we give up liberty for security?

The immortal words of John Stuart Mill answer that question for us:

“A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked, if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it, if by monetary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet, even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions, in all these cases, they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it.”


Shanon Brooks is the President of Monticello College, the Director of Education and Training for Humanitarian Visions International, S.A., and a contributing editor of the Center for Social Leadership. He co-authored Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens.

Shanon and his wife Julia are raising their six children in Monticello, Utah.

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