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Who determines what you need?

By Charles Bloomer
web posted March 8, 2004

I overheard an irritating conversation the other day. One guy was telling another that he was upset with the National Rifle Association. In a loud voice, this guy complained that the NRA had called him and asked him to contact his state senators and delegates to urge them to support a repeal of the state's one-gun-a-month law. Why was the guy upset? Because "no one needs to buy more than one gun a month."

I don't know this guy. I don't know his name, where he lives (except that he lives in the same state I do), what he does, or what he thinks. What I do know is that this smug loud mouth is arrogant enough to think he knows what I need and don't need.

Now, maybe I don't need to buy 2 guns in any given month. But who makes that decision? Does this total stranger get to decide? Or maybe one of my neighbors gets to decide? Obviously the state thinks it has a right to decide for me, since it has taken that choice from me in the form of a law.

As long as we have total strangers making our choices for us regarding the need for guns, shall we let those same strangers make the determination of need for other things? What about cars? In my household there are only 2 adults. We have three vehicles. Two of them are – GASP! – SUVs. Do we really "need" three vehicles? At best, we can only drive two of them at any given time. Shall we let some pandering legislator or do-gooder stranger decide how many cars are appropriate for my family?

What about shoes? My wife has a closet full of shoes. She can only wear one pair at a time. So who gets to decide how many pairs of shoes she should be allowed to have? She has, on occasion, bought more than one pair at the same time. Should there be a law restricting her to one pair a month?

I'm a tad overweight and I know I don't need that extra-large, super-size order of french fries to go with my bacon double cheeseburger. But whose decision is that? Should the stranger who was so upset that people might want to buy two guns be stationed at the local burger joint to prevent me from indulging in a few extra french fries? After all, he seems to think he is smart enough to know what I need and don't need.

I think you get the drift here. The only person who can determine what I need is me. Whether its cars, guns, shoes, or french fries, no other person in the world has the in-depth, intimate knowledge of my situation, my desires, my preferences or my attitude. No one else in the world can differentiate between my needs and wants, and then make the decision about what I buy, when I buy, or how many I buy.

Sometimes we voluntarily delegate these decisions. Before either my wife or I make a major purchase, we discuss the matter. We come to a mutually agreed upon decision. Guns and cars generally fall into this category; shoes do not. Similarly, my wife does all the grocery shopping. I let her decide what I need to eat. I trust her to make good decisions, and she generally does (the exceptions being squash and lima beans!).

Unfortunately, more and more of these do-gooder strangers think they are smart enough to make decisions for you and me. This is an especially dangerous attitude among lawmakers since they can enforce their pronouncements with the threat of force, extra taxes, confiscation, or imprisonment.

Do I need to buy more than one gun in a month? Maybe not, but that should be my decision, not the decision of some meddling busybody.

Charles Bloomer is a Senior Writer for Enter Stage Right.

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