When we think about what characterizes free men, what qualities or habits they usually exhibit, there are a handful of traits that seem to show themselves again and again. For instance, free men speak their minds: which is not the same thing as saying they run their mouths. Rather, it is simply to point out that when something needs to be said, a free man will often say it. And free men abide by the intuitive, internal witness to right and wrong embedded in them by God, through nature. In truth, they not only abide by it — they actually nurture it and expect others to abide by it as well. Thus they still live by maxims such as, “a man’s word is his bond.”
Free men are also inclined to own their own things. Whether that is land, a home, a farm, a business, or any other fitting example, free men like to have things the use of which is their determination and no other. They view their chief property — their own lives — this way, and don’t take kindly to having overly ambitious individuals or government entities telling them what to do and where to do it.
Such men are also up to the task of defending their property. Whether this means defending their own lives and the lives of their family, or their real property, their homes and farms and such, a free man knows it is his duty to defend what belongs to him.
In fact, whether it’s a local burglar breaking into his home to take possessions from his living room or a foreign power attacking his country, a free man knows that freedom isn’t free. As Rhett Atkins sings, “I ain’t scared to grab my gun and fight for my homeland.”
Free men are also characterized by the tools they use. And the tool free men frequently rely on, wherever life and liberty must be defended, is a gun. This brings us back to George Washington’s oft-quoted line, a “free people ought … to be armed.”
Argumentative souls will contend that they see men going about their business and living free in countries around the world where private gun ownership is banned. They will point out how men in those countries, usually European ones, speak their minds, own some parcel of property, and abide by rules of common decency just like men here. Are they not free?
The answer, simply put, is “No, they are not.” Rather, they are but acting as free as their government will allow them to act under certain conditions. At best they are imitating free men and at worst they are distracting themselves from their shackles.
Again, a “free people ought … to be armed.” This was Washington’s way of saying, “guns become us.”
The man without a gun may look free, but that’s only until a criminal with a gun enters his house, or his car, or his business, or …
AWR Hawkins is a conservative columnist who has written extensively on political issues for HumanEvents.com, Pajamas Media, Townhall.com, and Andrew Breitbart’s BigPeace.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, and BigJournalism.com. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. military history from Texas Tech University, and was a visiting fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in the summer of 2010. Follow him on Twitterand on Facebook.