Ron Paul Hits NRA: "School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America."

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), departing Congress, reminds us of his ineffable Ron Paul-ness with a great statement on his House web site both defending gun rights and attacking the right-wing hysteria response via Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) (taken apart ably by Jacob Sullum here last week) of armed government guards in every school:

The impulse to have government “do something” to protect us in the wake national tragedies is reflexive and often well intentioned.  Many Americans believe that if we simply pass the right laws, future horrors like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can be prevented.  But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don't obey laws.   

The political right, unfortunately, has fallen into the same trap in its calls for quick legislative solutions to gun violence.  If only we put armed police or armed teachers in schools, we’re told, would-be school shooters will be dissuaded or stopped. 

While I certainly agree that more guns equals less crime and that private gun ownership prevents many shootings, I don’t agree that conservatives and libertarians should view government legislation, especially at the federal level, as the solution to violence.  '

Paul points out, as he also did in his bravura farewell speech to Congress last month, that:

Real change can happen only when we commit ourselves to rebuilding civil society in America, meaning a society based on family, religion, civic and social institutions, and peaceful cooperation through markets.

Paul goes on to point out, as one of the only men in public life who would, that government itself is a machine of violence, fingering drone strikes, and he alienates both standard left and right in his effortless way by condemning government for both "endless undeclared wars abroad and easy abortion at home."

He then laments the mindset that would turn Sandy Hook into an excuse for further tightening a 

world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners, and warrantless physical searches?  We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders.  This is the world of government provided "security," a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse.  School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.

Paul winds up with the very important point that seeking the phantasm of total security through government inspection and control is a clear path to a "totalitarian society" that would "claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens lives."

This statement, especially considering that he didn't have to make it and it will surely annoy many in what might be considered his natural audience (Second Amendment absolutists) is a marvelous example of Paul's style as a politician. He was in the political game to root his opposition to government in an opposition to violence and control in all its forms, not just as a culture war game of fighting perceived enemies on the "other side." (i.e., those damn liberals!)

Paul's statement on Sandy Hook also shows the moral coherence of his libertarian politics and his foreign policy stance, a meshing that alas seemed to confuse many GOP voters, and is another reminder of how much his voice in Congress will be missed.

U.S. News and World Report and Fox News (even!) gave his statement respectful coverage.

My book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    "Your revolution is over. Condolences. The sensible, limited-government conservatives lost!"

  • CatoTheElder||

    As Murray Rothbard put it:

    “The idea of a strictly limited constitutional State was a noble experiment that failed, even under the most favorable and propitious circumstances. If it failed then, why should a similar experiment fare any better now? No, it is the conservative laissez-fairist, the man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, “Limit yourself”; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian”.

  • anon||

    But why do you hate children?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    "Hysteria." I don't think this word means what you think it means.

  • ||

    You know what would be hysterical? A bunch of commenters becoming hysterical over the hysterical use of the word hysteria.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But there are no female Libertarians.

  • nicole||

    Bzzt, wrong! The correct response was, "This is why there are no female libertarians." How can there be when the patriarchy running Reason (this would never have happened under Postrel...) microaggresses by using that word. Especially by associating it with scary, evil penis-substitutes.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The correct response was, "This is why there are no female libertarians."

    Who do you think I am, Ken? Stop othering me on this, the first day of Kwanzaa!

  • nicole||

    Okay, okay, I will wait until day three to really other you.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Day 3? You would wait until Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) Day, you cosmo collectivist!

  • robc||

    Im half afraid you didnt have to google that.

  • robc||

    half afraid

    Note: That wasnt a mulatto joke, but I wish it had been.

  • nicole||

    LOL...I didn't have to Google it either.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    My daishiki-wearing uncle celebrates Kwanzaa.

    *sigh*

  • nicole||

    But that's why I'm going to other you!

    Though, yes, I was planning on it being a group effort, as it so often is.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And, knowing your love of the art-form known as 'twerk', I was going to give you this as a present.

    Hrumph.

  • nicole||

    Happy Boxing Day to you too!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The extremely pregnant Asian girl who pops up randomly really makes the video.

  • nicole||

    As does the Snuggie.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Whoa.

  • Ted S.||

    Doesn't hysteria mean shitty music?

  • sarcasmic||

    But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don't obey laws.

    Self evident truth is no match for the power of blind good intentions!

  • anon||

    But those intentions feel so good! THEY CAN'T BE WRONG!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    You know what else Feels So Good?

  • Rich||

    School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.

    They most certainly do.

    /Half of America

  • nicole||

    Half? HA! If only it were half.

  • Rich||

    Serious question, nicole: What is it, and why?

  • nicole||

    I don't know; I was obviously being flip. How many people supported the PATRIOT Act? How many support "doing something" about Sandy Hook? How many support the drug war? The TSA? Something tells me if we were able to make a Venn diagram it would come out to something like 95% of people in favor of a surveillance state, at least of one variety or other. When that state becomes "Orwellian" might be more difficult to determine.

    As to the "why" part of the question--they are afraid, and not very thoughtful.

  • Rich||

    Nice answer. Thanks.

    Another "problem" with such analyses is the essential meaninglessness of "support".

    E.g., from my experience, few people even *know* about the NDAA, so how can the population be said to either support or not support it?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    E.g., from my experience, few people even *know* about the NDAA, so how can the population be said to either support or not support it?

    But not caring to research what the TOP. MEN. they vote for support, they give their tacit support.

  • R C Dean||

    In the land of the Total State, you either actively oppose, or you support.

    From this, we conclude that support of the Total State is quite high. At a guess, based on the recent election, around 98%.

  • freeforall232||

    We're not free unless we're told we're free...

  • Mike M.||

    Jeez, I just remembered that Congressman Paul is retiring here in just a few days. Yet another really shitty, depressing event to end one of the most shitty, depressing years in recent American history.

  • Greg Gauthier||

    If the "rebuild" includes religion, it's doomed.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    But this impulse ignores the self evident truth that criminals don't obey laws.

    Farewell, Congressman Paul. Farewell and well done.

  • ||

    Interesting how the yokeltarians don't come out to show their wet panties when Ron Paul, King of the Yokels, scolds them.

  • Mike M.||

    Fuck you and all your Cosmotarian ilk.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement