Once again the long running debate over gun control is being beaten into the ground in the wake of the maniacal attack in Colorado. So why drag it out further? Even after writing about it this weekend and sitting through hours of largely unbalanced coverage on television, there was something stuck in my proverbial craw. Two things brought an additional point of clarity to me on the subject today and made me realize that I’ve been cowed by social conventions into dancing around, side-stepping and outright ignoring what may be one of the most fundamental truths which needs to be highlighted when dealing with those who seek greater restrictions on gun ownership.
One was this opinion piece at CNN, which goes beyond the normal let’s do this and let’s do that to get guns out of people’s hands and casts a far wider net over one of the fundamental “flaws” in the fabric of America going back to the revolution.
What is it about Americans and guns? How much time do you have?…
There are an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States, making Americans the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. Yemen, a tribal nation with no history of strong central government or the rule of law, comes in a distant second…
America’s collective memory — of the Wild West in the 1800s, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King half a century ago and the front-page news from last week — is marked time and time again by guns…
But America seems to be the place the whole world thinks of when apparently ordinary people use guns for grotesque acts of violence. America stands alone in its historic and cultural attachment to guns. America stands armed.
(We’ll circle back to that in a moment, I assure you.)
The second was a radio interview I did in DC this morning with John McCaslin and Dana Mills on America’s Morning News. (A really great show weekday mornings, by the way, which is on in well over 100 markets now.) We were chewing this over again and Dana – playing a bit of Devil’s advocate – spelled out some of the common arguments you hear from gun control enthusiasts these days, asking for my reaction. The crux of the standard patter goes something like this, always delivered in a voice dripping in treacle and oh so reasonable:
Look, we’re not saying you can’t go hunting. (If killing helpless animals is your sort of thing.) And nobody is saying you can’t go shooting targets or skeet or clay pigeons or whatever you people call them. We’re not even saying you can’t defend yourself inside your own home! But honestly now… who really needs a semiautomatic handgun where you can just keep squeezing the trigger over and over again? Who needs a drum shaped magazine that can hold 100 rounds? Who needs an assault rifle? The deer will run away if you haven’t killed him with a couple shots. You can always stop and reload your clay pigeon thing. And you can defend your house if you keep the guns to a reasonable size and keep them inside your home! Can’t we all just get along?
Let’s face it… you only need those things if you’re planning on killing people.
That was the moment when it hit me. The combination of that premise taken by anti-gun groups with the previous historical perspective on our country reminded me of what may be the most important piece of the puzzle. When having this conversation, it’s far too easy to say, “Oh! Of course we don’t want to kill people! So let’s discuss your proposition.”
It’s time to come out with it and speak the plain truth which was born and bred into the very soul of the United States from day one:
There may yet come a day when you will have no choice.
I know.. I know.. heresy. But I submit the following premise to you. America was founded by and remains populated by people who, in many cases, realized that an armed population might be vital to our survival. There are three basic scenarios which are likely on the minds of many people, presented here in (hopefully) descending order of likelihood.
1. Some people have concerns that, in a very unstable world, things might eventually go completely pear shaped and the social fabric could be in danger of collapse. Nobody wants this and I’m not saying it’s even likely, but if that is one concern of yours, you’re going to have to be ready to defend yourself, your family and your property. And not against deer.
2. There has been a constant undercurrent of worry that the United States might still, some day, be invaded by a foreign power using a land invasion rather than a nuclear attack. And if such invaders overwhelmed the troops and the National Guard, there would still be an armed force of tens of millions of Americans to deal with. More than a few people wiser than me have opined over the years that this is a large reason nobody has tried to invade us.
3. The last, worst, and – I hope – most unlikely scenario is one which persons as “radical” as Thomas Jefferson fretted over. And that is the possibility that a vastly swollen and powerful central government could forget and abandon the promises made to the people and violate the fundamental rights promised to them. The Founders came from a land and a time when that was hardly science fiction. And while I see no indication that such a thing is imminent today, an armed populace remains a constant reminder to those in Washington that, should they ever dare go so far as to employ the military to suppress their citizens and break those promises… You only rule by the consent of the governed. We outnumber you vastly. And we are armed. This isn’t a threat. It’s a reminder.
No, there is no reasonable person who wakes up in the morning hoping for the chance to kill another human being. But in times of war, ultimate disaster, chaos or – God forbid – the betrayal of those in power, killing another human being may, sadly, be part of the only path to survival. And to take a piece from the CNN article linked above:
“America’s collective memory — is marked time and time again by guns..”
You bet is is. And there were good reasons for that. Stop apologizing when you hear these arguments. They’re actually making your case for you.