"There's no free lunch."
All of us have heard that old saw throughout our lives. But - it's true. Everything has a cost; we simply have to analyze what it is.
In the wake of the Newtown mass murder, a great many voices have called for significantly more gun control. Seeing photographs of the young children whose lives have been ended, such cries are most understandable.
Nevertheless, is additional gun control the answer to stopping this insane violence? What should America do (assuming anything "can be done at all") to mitigate such horrors?
If we’re serious about curtailing future Columbines and Newtowns, everything — guns, commitment, culture — must be on the table. It’s not hard for President Obama to call out the NRA. But will he call out the ACLU? And will he call out his Hollywood friends?
The irony is that over the last 30 years, the U.S. homicide rate has declined by 50 percent. Gun murders as well. We’re living not through an epidemic of gun violence but through a historic decline.
Except for these unfathomable mass murders. But these are infinitely more difficult to prevent. While law deters the rational, it has far less effect on the psychotic. The best we can do is to try to detain them, disarm them and discourage “entertainment” that can intensify already murderous impulses.
But there’s a cost. Gun control impinges upon the Second Amendment; involuntary commitment impinges upon the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment; curbing “entertainment” violence impinges upon First Amendment free speech.
That’s a lot of impingement, a lot of amendments. But there’s no free lunch. Increasing public safety almost always means restricting liberties.
We made that trade after 9/11. We make it every time the Transportation Security Administrationinvades your body at an airport. How much are we prepared to trade away after Newtown?
Yes, everything has a cost. We need to judge what benefit we might receive from reforms - and what we give up from same.