Ron Paul: Seeking Total Security Leads to a Totalitarian Society

by Ron Paul

The senseless and horrific killings last week in Newtown, Connecticut reminded us that a determined individual or group of individuals can cause great harm no matter what laws are in place.  Connecticut already has restrictive gun laws relative to other states, including restrictions on fully automatic, so-called “assault” rifles and gun-free zones.

Predictably, the political left responded to the tragedy with emotional calls for increased gun control.  This is understandable, but misguided. 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.  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.  We cannot reverse decades of moral and intellectual decline by snapping our fingers and passing laws.

Let’s not forget that our own government policies often undermine civil society, cheapen life, and encourage immorality.  The president and other government officials denounce school violence, yet still advocate for endless undeclared wars abroad and easy abortion at home.  U.S. drone strikes kill thousands, but nobody in America holds vigils or devotes much news coverage to those victims, many of which are children, albeit, of a different color.

Obviously I don’t want to conflate complex issues of foreign policy and war with the Sandy Hook shooting, but it is important to make the broader point that our federal government has zero moral authority to legislate against violence.

Furthermore, do we really want to live in 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.

Do we really believe government can provide total security?  Do we want to involuntarily commit every disaffected, disturbed, or alienated person who fantasizes about violence?  Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security? Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place.  Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives.  We shouldn’t settle for substituting one type of violence for another. Government role is to protect liberty, not to pursue unobtainable safety.

Our freedoms as Americans preceded gun control laws, the TSA, or the Department of Homeland Security.  Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference, not by safety. It is easy to clamor for government security when terrible things happen; but liberty is given true meaning when we support it without exception, and we will be safer for it.


  • Really wish more people could understand the logic in these speeches. The sheeples of United States are the problem, moreso than the shooter.

  • Good point. I do think guns should remain legal though, its about education, not control.

  • Good point. I do think guns should remain legal though, its about education, not control.

  • Good point. I do think guns should remain legal though, its about education, not control.

  • Good point. I do think guns should remain legal though, its about education, not control.

  • That’s what Rand is for

  • That’s what Rand is for

  • Switzerland has it right

  • Switzerland has it right



  • like anonymous does online

  • Some people might say people who fight for the second amendment in this time are cold-blooded. But that’s how logic and reason work. It sees past the emotions.

  • God bless you, Dr. Paul.One day this country,after enduring much unnecessary loss & pain, will remember you.The’ll remember w/ shame how they marginalized &ridiculed you, when they should have been hailing you as the friend of Liberty and theTrue American Spirit.We can’t live in a nerf world,where we are always safe & risk free.The best way for you to protect yourself & yours is to be prepared for when bad things happen,not to foolishly trust in Utopian rulers, who are the greatest danger of all

  • Wher are you going to be when it all goes bad, sir? I hope you are right next to me, and i think you will be. God bless.

  • Thank you for posting this. More people need to be made aware of that.

  • Thank you for posting. Most Americans have no idea that the world hates them, and the ones who do know this, don’t know why. Its the concept of BlowBack that many Americans find absurd for some reason.

  • The only real solution is better education and better parenting. Switzerland has a lot right. People should be trained on how to use guns properly. We need to be educated on guns, and we need parents who love their kids so that the massacres stop happening. Anything else is just patch work. Also, banning guns just feeds underground crime, and using Japan as an example is silly because Japan is astonishingly obedient to anyone in power. They are an astounding anomaly among humans.

  • So obvious you can’t spell it out….

  • Yes, I have. A blanket ban on firearms in all cases except professional (i.e hunting, shooting ranges) and an amnesty on all weapons. Offer incentives for weapons to be returned and harsh penalties to anyone carrying. This would obviously stop a large amount of gun homicides as there would fewer guns in general circulation. This would at least lengthen the period between mass shootings.

    Do I think this should happen? Hell no. I just think it would help the case in point.