This is How Freedom Died – By Choice

By Gerard Valentino

Two stories that any liberty-minded American should know about sneaked by unnoticed last week because of the overwhelming negative reaction to the health care debacle. Both were indicative of how little value some Americans put on their personal freedom and how some people are willing to turn over their well-being to the government, instead of taking responsibility for their personal safety.

First, in Oregon, a SWAT team was sent to a man's house because he legally purchased three firearms after being described by his employer as being disgruntled.

From the story:

However, the state agency had reported concerns about the man to law enforcement agencies, who started monitoring him, officials said.

"We had concerning information regarding a personnel issue and were watching the subject," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said.

In two days, the man bought a Heckler & Koch .45-caliber universal self-loading handgun, a Walther .380-caliber handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said. All of those firearms were purchased legally, with required record checks by the Oregon State Police.

Authorities were "extremely concerned" that the man may have been planning to retaliate against his employers, the news release said.

"Instead of being reactive, we took a proactive approach," OSP Sgt. Jeff Proulx said.

Based on that sort of reasoning, a gun owner could have his house surrounded and could be dragged off to jail, or a mental institution, at any time. All it would take is an anti-gun co-worker with a grudge to claim someone made a threat, or appeared unhappy with an employer.

The fact that people aren't outraged by how the government overreacted in this case shows just how little gun rights are valued by some Americans. If the person in question was a pro-abortion advocate, or an atheist detained for exercising constitutional rights you can bet the American Civil Liberties Union would mobilize fully to fight such an injustice. But, since it was a gun owner, they will most likely look the other way.

Also last week, a police department in Franklin Township, New Jersey started offering a program that allows people to put a Realtor-type lock-box on their front door which gives police easier access in case of an emergency.

From the story:

The lockbox has a combination that opens up the compartment with the spare key. Police first knock on the door, and if they don't get a response, they unlock the door and go in.

"No matter who you are, God forbid you get sick, we can respond immediately," Franklin Township Police Chief Craig Novick said.

The intent in this case seems innocent enough, and allows the police to check on elderly residents when responding to a medical emergency, or suspicious activity.

Also from the story:

Marilyn Chesner is a retired music teacher and a widow. Living alone, the 79-year-old recently had a close call.

"I was standing there, and next thing I know I was on the floor," Chesner said.

That moment – passing out in the bathroom – made her think about things.

"I wondered what would happen if something happened, and I couldn't get out of bed or move. How could someone get into the house?" Chesner said.

That's why the grandmother was the first person to join "Operation Blue Angel" run by the Franklin Township Police Department.

While everyone has a right to take part, the question is whether this is another in a long line of programs that start out voluntary, but become compulsory.

Now that the government has seized control of health care, they can claim a mandate that everyone needs to give them access to their home in case of an emergency. After all, whenever the government deems a behavior a threat to public safety, whether justified or not, they will claim the right to bar people from behaving that way. At the other end of the extreme, they will claim a right to enter someone's home under the guise of providing health care.

Whether the program in New Jersey continues or fades away remains to be seen. The fact that it was considered at all is proof that some of us no longer understand what freedom truly means. By looking to the government as the solution to life's problems, Americans have allowed, and even encouraged, more and more government involvement in our daily lives, and in ways never considered by our Founding Fathers.

Letting the SWAT team drag honest citizens off to the hospital after they've legally purchased a gun, or letting the government take control of our safety, irrevocably damages our personal liberty. After all, once the government has staked a claim to an aspect of our personal lives, it never gives up control. But, as we learned during the Katrina disaster, when the chips are down, the government usually fails to provide the promised services.

Still, there are people willing to give up their rights for the false promise of security, and there are people willing to watch as their neighbors are dragged off under the most ridiculous pretenses.

So, then, who is to blame when our rights are gone – the government itself, or the people who invited its agents into their homes?

Gerard Valentino is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and his first book, The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative, is available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.

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