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Why Does the Left View Freedom so Cynically?

Bryce Dunio ’22, Opinion Columnist

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In a few weeks, Pittsburgh’s city council will vote on a series of controversial gun control bills. The bills would, among several other reforms, make it illegal to own ‘assault weapons’ within the city limits. The bill with the specific focus on ‘assault weapons’ expands upon its previous definition to include certain types of pistols and shotguns among many other guns listed (because we all know how big a problem assault pistols are).

These bills and their collective content come as a surprise for Pittsburgh, a city where gun violence decreased by 55% from 2017 to 2018 and consequently hit a 12 year low according to the Post-Gazette.

 Next Pittsburgh further explains the surprising nature of these bills in an article, writing that they “do not address the sale of traditional handguns, which are responsible for 81% of gun homicides in Pennsylvania.” 

Nonetheless, both the mayor and the governor have given their support for this set of bills to combat crime and domestic terrorism.

However, these bills, while aimed at wrongdoers, have one major flaw that the Democrats backing it either do not understand or do not care about: they unjustifiably target responsible gun owners.

When wrongdoers are the ones acting wrongly, hence the name ‘wrongdoers,’ why would responsible gun owners who simply wish to protect themselves or their families be punished? All arguments for gun control dwell on those who commit crimes, yet the common, law-abiding citizen never receives an ounce of care from the left on this issue. 

For gun reform many brand as “common sense” – this adverse effect seems entirely nonsensical. But the idea of unjustifiably making the whole team run seems like a staple of the left’s current stance on gun ownership. Policies that limit the rights of responsible gun owners because of abuse by a select few can only be explained through a lack of trust in freedom itself. 

For a personal example, my father owns an AR-15 for home protection. They are remarkably more accurate than any handgun and generally easy to operate, making them excellent in a situation where someone is directly threatening your family and/or property; however, because there are evil persons out there who abuse this rifle, Washington’s best and brightest wish to punish responsible owners – my father included – rather than focus on preventing evil persons from getting their hands on such weapons. Again, such a ‘common sense’ gun reform begins to seem increasingly nonsensical and intellectually lazy the more one analyzes it.

This lack of trust in freedom of the left extends further than simply gun control though. While this cynicism can be identified in the left’s recent drift away from individualism and free market values, opting instead for revived collectivist and identitarian politics, it is best identified in the left’s not-so-recent embracing of hate speech laws across the world. While such policies are best sold as protection for minority communities or a way to wither away intolerance in a society, their track record does not lie. 

In 2016, The Washington Post reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was allowing the prosecution of a comedian named Jan Böhmermann to take place in the German court. The hateful speech this man said, gaining even the attention of the German Chancellor herself, was both intolerable and almost unspeakable:

He harshly criticized the president of Turkey for his extensive human rights abuses.

In 2011, a man named Simon Ledger was arrested in England on, as written by the Daily Mail, “suspicion of racially aggravated harassment.” The horrific and utterly racist statements Mr. Ledger spoke are deeply troubling: 

He sang ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ at a Pub.

In 2016, Scottish YouTuber Mark Meechan posted a grossly disturbing, Nazi-embracing video slammed by Scottish courts as a “deeply unpleasant offence.” He was consequently arrested and went through several months of legal trouble and unending media coverage. The contents of the video are truly concerning on several levels for any liberal democracy:

He uploaded a video of his girlfriend’s pug that he turned into “the least cute thing I could think of – a Nazi.” 

While this video is certainly offensive in nature and was uploaded in poor taste, I cannot fathom any sane person watching this ‘Nazi pug’ and seriously be persuaded into becoming a National Socialist. The only negative effect this video could have is making the viewer a cat person, and even then it was does not warrant legal punishment by the state in any fashion.

The freedom to craft one’s own thoughts and ideas, offensive or not, is the most important freedom a human being can have. 

Freedom of speech is a human right not intended to protect the popular thought, but rather the unpopular thought. Limiting this freedom in any capacity further perpetuates George Orwell’s concept of ‘wrongthink’ and is at its cold, authoritarian core a lack of trust in freedom itself.

Instead of being so cynical towards the idea of freedom, the left needs to return to its roots. Just a few decades ago, President John F. Kennedy was a lifetime NRA member and an ardent defender of the 1st and 2nd amendments. Jump a few decades ahead and you will find over a third of Democrats favoring a repeal of the second amendment entirely, according to a 2018 study by The Economist and YouGov.

It is no secret we live in tough times, especially with the news rocked regularly by innocent citizens being slaughtered and hate crimes that are ever-present, but we must find thought-out, logical solutions to our problems while simultaneously continuing to be the centuries-old beacon of liberty America is destined to be.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Why Does the Left View Freedom so Cynically?”

  1. Jennifer Jillson on February 8th, 2019 1:21 pm

    Amen and amen. Thank you for recognizing the speech police for what they are!!!

  2. Gil Sperling on February 8th, 2019 2:10 pm

    The mistake Mr. Dunio makes is to conflate gun control with punishment. He further implies that ownership of automatic weapons is somehow a key element of liberty. Depriving law abiding citizens from possessing AR 15s is no more punishment than requiring drivers to stop at red lights or require the payment of taxes. And, liberty does not require automatic weapons. That is what the constitution and our democratic republic ensure.

    There are many ways to protect one’s home and family. Society has abundant right to create rules for the safety of the community. Prohibiting the ownership of certain weapons makes abundant good sense for the safety of the community of the whole. Perhaps, Mr. Dunio would better serve the community by working constructively with the liberals he seems to despise instead of complaining about the burdens of living in an organized society.

    Gil Sperling “77

  3. William French on February 8th, 2019 3:53 pm

    Does not the spread of AR-15s into homes across America make it more likely that we will continue to see tragic cases of mass shootings? We are told that the right to buy and own an assault rifle is an enhancement of an individual’s or a family’s freedom and that a city that seeks to ban assault rifles is a bad “liberal” attack on freedom. Some press the argument is that our policy should be to keep guns out of the reach of the “criminal element” but make them–handguns, rifles, assault weapons–easily available to “law-abiding” citizens. The problem is that the gun purchaser over the years is not always fully in control of a gun once it is brought into a home. The perpetrators in the vast bulk of firearm homicides are family members, friends and acquaintances, not hostile strangers. Adam Lamza’s mom brought gun into their Connecticut home because she thought target shooting would be a good family activity for her and her two sons. They were all “law-abiding” citizens–that is until the day Adam opened the gun cabinet, murdered his mom, and then went on his murder spree of the first-graders at the school in New Town. Law-abiding citizens can flip and too much alcohol can turn an argument among family, friends or acquaintances into another sad gun death.
    The Bill of Rights does protect a “right to bear arms” but surely the Founding Fathers could not have envisioned AR-15s lethality when the advanced weapons of the Revolutionary War were single shot muskets. I thought a strict-constructionist reading of the Bill of Rights would try to seek the original intent of the writers.
    We cannot elevate the freedom envisioned in the second amendment to soar far above the freedoms of say “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Have the tempo and scale of America’s mass shooting events taught us nothing about the need to balance access to guns with public safety concerns? The stated rationale of the opinion piece is that a family has an AR-15 for their safety. So if safety is an important value in this discussion isn’t it pretty inconsistent to mock Pittsburgh’s effort to promote city-wide public safety –across streets, in schools, and homes–by a ban on assault weapons.

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Why Does the Left View Freedom so Cynically?