Security and Freedom
On October 1, 2017, there was a concert in Las Vegas Strip at the Route 91 Harvest music festival when Stephen Paddock swooped in and opened fire to the crowd. The incident resulted in the death of 58 people and injuring 413 concertgoers. Paddock fired 1,100 rounds of ammunition before he later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Varied conversations sprang up after the events and everyone took a moment to weigh in on the matter. While there are other arguments about gun ownerships, terror organizations such as NRA, but the main concern on people’s minds was how the government could keep them safe. Safety here however, expanded to a broader conversation because it would come at the expense of other Bills of Rights that the founding fathers were generous enough to entrust to us. For the government to assure security in the critical modern threats, there is the possibility of doing it at the expense of other fundamental freedoms but this should not be the case because it will start a journey that in the long term, will undermine the constitution and cause detrimental effects to independence.
When people face a threat, civil liberties are treated differently, and this would be a start to the undermining of the constitution in the long term. The second amendment possesses several rights that would have to get violated to ensure the security we dearly need. The constitution under this act protects the rights of people to own firearms after its ratification under the bill of acts (Roman, 2015). The National Rifle Association has had its grip in the USA since 1871 and has facilitated the civilian rights to won and possess guns according to the constitution. In times such as the Paddock attack, it brings forth the question of whether to protect this right to own a gun anymore for the sake of security. Claiming that there are regulations that ensure the gun owners have the case of Paddock would question proper backgrounds. The Las Vegas shooter, for example, passed all background checks and any other legal questionings that allowed them to possess guns and still, he went ahead to cause the mayhem that happened. And one would, therefore, question the constitution at this time even though it has been the supreme leading document. Once the people have given into the fear, the government would then be at ease to infringe the people’s freedoms and rights for the sake of their security.
The government and leaders conceptualize security under the assumption that we are always under threat while this is not the case. Several leaders on the global scale and even in America today are in constant discussion on threats, reforms, and tragedies and the cases, they argue that security is the main concern. A study by the World Bank Voices of the Poor revealed that an environment that assures protection of crime and provides psychological security would also provide a consistent supply of housing, food, clothing and income (Günther, 2017). Therefore, they always propose solutions that favor the advancement of military capabilities and the scope of control for government security personnel. Eventually, they will instill limits to the behavior of people which goes contrary to Hobbes’ definition of freedom,” freedom is a right that individuals gain from the state of nature that allows them to act without limits” (Hampton, 1988). While people require a secure environment to secure their freedom, if the securing comes at the expense of the freedoms, then it means that there won’t be the freedom in the first place. The oppressive rule will take over.
The priority of security over freedom provides comfort for a period but eventually cause detrimental effects. Security is usually a concern for a short period and after it gets dealt with, the odds topple back to freedom (Haynes, 2015). The US Patriot Act demonstrated the detrimental effects of choosing security over freedom. In the long term, it resulted in the imprisonment to people within the Guantanamo Bay without explaining why or even getting representation. The same scenario is also witnessed in the Terrorism Act 200 in Northern Ireland which increased the cases of ethnic profiling and deprivation of liberty of its citizens. The two acts came timely when there was the case of threat and thus, the odd was for security; the laws, therefore, undermined people’s freedoms for a while for the benefit of peace of mind. In the long term, after the threat was not there anymore, the people realized the damaging effects these laws had brought (Haynes, 2015). The priority goes against the works of the founding fathers who thought that people should be allowed the capacity to live their lives without interfering with their choices (Kristof, 2002). Statistics from the Human Freedom Index shows that countries that have prioritized freedom show a better performance in their per capita income. Nation interest is good but it should never play the card of seeing freedom as a temporary advantage.
I am a constitutional originalist. Therefore, I strongly believe that the constitution is absolute, the bill of rights is standard and thus, no one should have the right to change them or add an asterisk to them. Freedoms bestowed to us got termed as the God-given rights to everyone and thus, when one would start interfering with them, it would mean that they are against all that which America stands for. The fathers desired a country where people had the right to think, create their valued and progress their lives without anyone limiting them. In the face of danger and threats, these rights remain fundamental and should not get altered. In the face of hate speech, the solution is not to silence everyone, in the face of supremacist groups, the solution is not to ban all the rights for gatherings. It is proper that the government take the responsibility of dealing with the problems or threats but not get into the way and abolish rights altogether. The start of these amendments would lead to affecting the most sacred of all acts, the right to life. Living with the bill or rights and the American constitution has worked for 243 years but all threats do not last long. It is proper to protect the working relationship and not destroy it because of a short-lived reason.
Freedom requires to be a priority over Security. The sense of security is short-lived, just as threats are but in the long term, when it gets chosen over freedom, it has damaging effects on the development of a nation and the impendence of the people. Freedom was made fundamental by the founding fathers because they realized its importance in the lives of people. The leaders within the world today sell the idea of threats as a way of infiltrating these fundamental freedoms and go-ahead to set regulations such as the Patriotic Act that lead to trials of people without reason. As a constitutional originalist, I, therefore, believe that the constitution is right to protect the freedoms and it should be left that way. Threats should be handled as threats and not used to manipulate the God-given rights of the people.
Günther, K. (2017). World citizens between freedom and security. In Civil Rights and Security (pp. 433-445). Routledge.
Hampton, J. (1988). Hobbes and the social contract tradition. Cambridge University Press.
Haynes, D. D. (2015). Liberty vs. Security: An old debate renewed in the age of terror. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved from http://archive.jsonline.com/news/opinion/liberty-vs-security-an-old-debate-renewed-in-the-age-of-terror-b99500066z1-303775951.html/
Kristof, N. D. (2002). Security and freedom. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/10/opinion/security-and-freedom.html
Roman, P. (2015). The hard dilemma: Counterterrorism and shallow freedom. openDemocracy: Free Thinking for the World. Retrieved from https://www.opendemocracy.net/petre-roman/hard-dilemma-counterterrorism-andor-shallow-freedom