Of Puppies and Guns: Variable Expressions in the American Quest for Liberty

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” — John Stewart Mill, On Liberty


“Happiness is a warm gun,” John Lennon famously sang on the Beatles’ 1968 White Album.

Uh, right…unless of course you happen to be on the muzzle end of that warm gun, as Lennon found himself in 1980.

Said Lennon about the origin of the song-title: “I think [George Martin] showed me a cover of a magazine that said ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun.’ It was a gun magazine. I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something.”

To be charitable and considerate, we’ll label Lennon’s remark, “shortsighted.” Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, may have been a bit closer to the mark when he titled his initial book, Happiness is a Warm Puppy.

Both observations, in their own ways, speak to the quest for liberty and/or the expression of personal freedom. To some folks, a loaded Colt .45 is liberty…and “shooting something” is an expression of personal freedom. To others, a warm puppy is a more satisfying companion and a more trustworthy expression of freedom.

Nevertheless, back home in the States, a growing number of folks are taking up arms to defend against both actual and perceived threats to their liberty. Handgun applications keep setting new records, as do ammunition sales.

But liberty that arms itself like Rambo seems like a strange and precarious one…not to mention a potentially fatal one, as we discussed in the August 13th edition of The Daily Reckoning, “When They Come for Your Guns, You Will Turn Them Over.”

Fortunately, soaring gun sales are merely one expression of the American quest for liberty. There are many others that do not tear apart flesh or attract SWAT raids…which brings us right back to that warm puppy.

During your California editor’s visit here in Nicaragua, he has encountered more than a few liberty-seeking Americans. They moved down here, either permanently or semi-permanently, because they consider it an uptick from the life they led “back home.”

Most of the ex-pats your editor encountered were 20- or 30-somethings who love to surf. Many of them were working hourly jobs; others were pursuing some sort of entrepreneurial venture. All of them were enjoying greater liberty than they enjoyed back home…at least that’s what they said.

Their version of liberty is not for everyone, but it is very clearly for somebody, like your editor’s own daughter. She recently relocated to Rancho Santana, here in Nicaragua, with this particular warm puppy, Gypsy…

Gypsy Puppy Sleeping

Her relocation to Nicaragua is experimental, of course, but the American quest for liberties that the modern American only grudgingly provides is not experimental at all. It is an established trend.

To be sure, the Land of the Free still provides plenty of freedom. But many folks sense that some of those freedoms are vanishing…or at least eroding, which is the reason the L-word seems to be on the lips of so many Americans these days.

The legendary American liberty that used to be a “given” is becoming a “taken.”…and that trend is a call to action, even if that action be merely resignation to “whatever will be, will be.”

Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning