Even out here in the wild west (Arizona), it is not the ‘wild west’ decried by the anti-gun forces. Nor is it the one envisioned by those in countries where the rights of citizens to self-protection have been usurped by Draconian gun control laws.
Yet, the meme continues that Americans are just a bunch of gun-crazy yahoos, looking for the next OK Corral showdown.
Are Americans obsessed with their guns?
Well, yes to a point. It is not the gun itself for which we hold such passion, but for what that gun preserves.
I recently had a Brit, an Aussie, and a Canadian ask me on my page why Americans are “so obsessed with guns.” This was my response, and I hope it encourages you to think about why the right to keep and bear arms is so important.
“Our Second Amendment is near and dear to us for a number of reasons. Hear me out.
First, it is near and dear to us because of our history. The right to keep and bear arms is second only in importance to the protections of the First Amendment (the right to free speech, free press, free worship, free assembly, and the right to have redress of grievances with the government) because when our nation was founded we recognized that a nation that disarms its citizenry makes it nearly impossible for that citizenry to resist tyranny. That’s borne out in the many despotic regimes in the world today and in recent history. Notice the overthrow of despots in Libya and Syria recently…the people with arms did that. That’s an important check on governmental overreach. Criminal or negligent gun owners kill singles. Armed robbers might kill dozens. Government kills by the millions when it goes bad. And Americans at our core are distrustful of government.
Secondly, we know that no matter how hard the police try, they can’t protect us from harm. Tragedies in Australia and Canada recently show that. And good people who are properly trained and equipped are the first and best line of defense, which is borne out in the places and times in the States where mass shootings occur. 100,000,000 people own firearms in America, making accidents like this story (the mom whose 4-year-old shot her with a gun she left in the seat near him) incredibly rare statistically. But tens to hundreds of thousands of times a year, lawful people stop violent crime because they’re appropriately equipped. Most of those don’t make the news.
Third, we are deeply saddened by terrorist attacks, like the Charlie Hebdo and Paris attacks. We see the attack we recently had in San Bernardino, and the rash of stabbings in Israel by terrorists in recent weeks, and terroristic attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere and once again know from experience that disarmed people offer no resistance to evil. Armed people have a chance.
Fourth, we are proud of the fact that Americans are a bit of a rough and tumble breed, who will go wherever we need to and help those who want freedom to resist tyranny. We hate bullies and tyrants and those who would deny others their life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. We are proud that our British and Australian and Canadian brothers and sisters fought by our side in two world wars in that same vein. It saddens us at what looks like a real loss of pride in people we hold near and dear, who seem to now embody Benjamin Franklin’s quote that “”Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We have a long memory. Our grandfathers remind us of the atrocities of the Nazis to this day. Our fathers fought in Vietnam to help people resist evil. The list goes on and on of the times and ways that we do our very best to be a check on those who would take by force that which is not theirs by right.
This is just the reality of the world we live in. It’s not the world we want; we want a world where people treat one another with respect and dignity, take care of one another and help one another. And that’s what we do. We act as a bulwark against evil people taking what isn’t theirs.
So to you, we might look obsessed with guns. We’re not. We’re obsessed with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’re obsessed with no one being able to force us to do anything, because it requires them to convince us to do it willingly if they would have us go along with them. An armed man or woman cannot be compelled but must be reasoned with, because they cannot be overwhelmed without a fight.
Best to you and yours.”
Well said, John.
Dennis P. O’Neil