Friday, January 21, 2011

Travis Corcoran and his right to bear arms

Alright.  A 39 year old blogger named Travis Corcoran just had his gun license suspended after he posted "1 down 354 to go" on his blog, following the Giffords shooting.  This goes back to a basic theoretical question of political science, or does it?

The concept of positive liberty is that we are granted liberty by our governments, and that the only liberties we are entitled to are those specifically granted to us by our governing bodies.  Negative liberty, on the other hand, postulates that we are naturally intended to be free, and that the only rights and liberties we don't have are those specifically removed from us by our governments.

Either way, this is a transgression against liberty.  If we take the negative liberty view, Corcoran should have had the liberty to bear arms, as well as to say whatever he felt like, simply because there is no law which proscribes either behavior.

On the other hand, even if we take the positive liberty view, the U.S. Constitution, the highest "Law of the Land," granted him the right to do both.  Even our Constitution, which grants specific rights, granted Mr. Corcoran the right to bear arms and the freedom of speech.  Thus, regardless of whether we believe in positive or negative liberty, this case is a case of rights encroached upon.  Until Mr. Corcoran went out and tried to make it 2 down, 533 to go, his right to bear arms should not have been taken away, or even suspended.

He is (as far as I know) a law abiding citizen, and this attempt to take away one Constitutionally-guaranteed right (the right to bear arms) for the exercise of another (freedom of speech) is absurd.

Personal Autonomy: Beyond Negative and Positive Liberty

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