Why ‘If It Saves Just One Life’ Is Bad Policy

Two-thirds of Americans support raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. A similar number feel the same way about the minimum wage, and even moreso about mandating paid sick leave.

In related news, 0% of those poll figures matter. The same applies to all the polls regarding support for banning “assault” weapons, creating a registry to track guns sales, etc.

Why? They show no respect for the rights of the minority. That was a foundation upon which our nation was born, but it seems to have fallen further out of favor with authoritarian politicos and their cheerleaders in the mainstream press the last couple years.

“If it saves just one life” is the rule of the day.

That notion was regularly invoked to drastically limit people’s movements, gatherings, and commercial transactions in the name of a virus that, by some estimates, kills 1% of those it infects. And those figures are based on reported cases only.

Moreover, the most seriously affected were concentrated in two demographic groups: the elderly, and those with underlying conditions, some of which were non-naturally occurring. There’s no reason we couldn’t have focused our efforts on them rather than enduring so much collateral damage.

Mayors and county leaders bemoaned governors who limited their ability to exert local control to maintain shutdowns and restrictive rules. But the actions of those governors, slow though some may have been to reverse course, were essentially a defense of our freedom.

Usually when government oversteps, the effects are more subtle. Subsequently, there are as many unseen consequences as there are seen. In the case of the lockdowns however, the seen of business closures, lost jobs, backsliding in education, social strife, etc. was glaring.

Now imagine what it would be like if those in the establishment who were sympathetic to the “defund the police” movement, got their way in further limiting citizens’ natural right to defend themselves. It would be a win-win for criminals who, by definition, do not obey the law.

This, for a gun like an AR-15 that, amongst the millions in circulation, accounted for 3% of the 14,000 gun murders in the U.S. in 2020.

“If it saves one life” has become the preeminent, politically expedient, emotionally-driven rationale used to legislate before “common sense,” to borrow a phrase, has set in.

By the way, if gun-control advocates sincerely wanted a good faith discussion about this issue, they’d start by dropping that phrase from their talking points repertoire. It’s condescending and puts human rights advocates on the defensive, implying that if they don’t go along, they’re stupid.

Polls are used mostly for political purposes, and it’s no different here. They lay bare the lack of principle by those who cite them as justification to further control individuals. And it betrays their lack of respect for them as well.

The only polls that matter are those on Election Day. And if recent recalls in San Francisco are any indication, Americans have had it with those whose policies have left us worse off and less safe.

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Christopher E. Baecker

Christopher E. Baecker teaches economics at Northwest Vista College, is the policy director and editor at InfuseSA, and is a board member for the Institute for Objective Policy Assessment. He can be reached via email or Facebook.

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