Tomorrow, the New Hampshire House is scheduled to vote on legislation that would repeal the state’s two year old “stand your ground” law. House Bill 135 would reinstate self-defense provisions that served the state without controversy for 34 years.
When he addresses the House tomorrow in support of the bill, Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) will base his argument on Article 3 of the New Hampshire Constitution.
“When men enter into a state of society,” it states, “they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others, and without such an equivalent the surrender is void.”
Excerpts from Vaillancourt’s speech, as prepared for delivery, follow:
[W]e have a responsibility here today to act not as demagogues but rather in what is in the best interests of our society, of accomplishing the always delicate balance of preserving individual freedoms with society’s need for protection.
That balance is an age-old quest, and this bill merely takes us back to the days when you could in fact stand your ground, when you could use force to defend yourself but when you could not abide by law of the jungle, of the cave, of the lynch mob, of the less than civilized man who preferred to shoot first and ask questions later.
In Leviathan, Hobbes postulated a state of nature, a time before men had formed themselves into societies…. No laws, except the law of the jungle, got in our way in this Hobbesian state.
Hobbes theorized that we give up that state of nature and form societies for one very important reason…because…here’s the line…”Life in nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Only through civilization, through regulated societies, and yes through government, do we succeed in making life less solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
You know I speak as a libertarian who believes that government should leave me alone when I do nothing except indulge in a practice harmful merely to myself.
However, clearly and sadly, man is capable of engaging in many activities which are both harmful and fatal to fellow man.
We limit, never sacrifice but in fact limit, our freedoms so we can live safer lives in society.
This bill represents a compromise in the finest sense of the word. It preserves the long-standing tradition of safeguarding our natural rights, while at the same time keeping us from reverting back the state of nature when as Hobbes said, “Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”