Why do people commit it?
The pummeling of fists, the stamping of feet, the bashing of clubs, the firing of guns. Road rage, reckless driving and rape. And then we have violent acts involving emotional abuse and bullying, which may or may not become physical in nature. The human race finds ways to hurt each other every single day.
Why do we do this?
A great many proponents of gun control believe that the human tendency toward violence can be curbed by gun-free zones, and the disarming of the citizenry. If this is true, then why are we seeing numerous public shootings in gun-free areas where the average citizen is not armed? And, why do we see such violence in foreign states where only the government and/or military are armed?
Perhaps our views on gun rights come down to an even more fundamental question about the inherent nature of humankind. I’m not necessarily talking about a religious view either – just whether or not we personally believe that humankind is made up of both good and evil, and is therefore inherently fallible.
Our founders believed that men were fallible, especially when given power. They were students of history and had also personally experienced it. In their case, it was a matter of addressing the power that came with nobility and government. They expected corruption to sometimes take place, and they created a system of checks and balances that they hoped a diligent public could use to keep powerholders – for the most part – on the straight and narrow.
They were right about the corruption. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you most strongly identify with, you know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Unfortunately, they were also right in believing that it would take a diligent public to keep things on track. Diligence in the majority of the populace has been sorely lacking. Especially (sadly) as our country has become more affluent over the years. We have given over responsibility for our nation to those we considered better qualified. And many of those “better qualified” persons took advantage of our inattention and railroaded us.
Human fallibility can be argued on either side of the Second Amendment issue. Gun control proponents could say that it is precisely because they believe in the fallibility of their fellow citizens that they want these regulations put in place – to protect them. Gun rights activists would say that it is precisely because of this same belief that they need the right to protect/defend themselves against the misdeeds of others. Besides fallibility, what is the common denominator here?
Other people can hurt us. None of us like that. Therefore, we seek some form of protection. That’s the common ground. The difference is, one group seeks outside protection, and one side seeks to provide it for themselves. Gun free zones, registration, background checks are all things that have to be enforced by an outside agency – like the government or the police. Some people feel okay with this. After all, aren’t the police hired specifically to do this job? The problem is, aren’t the police again subject to the same problem that requires our need to be protected in the first place? They are fallible and prone to corruption.
Most of us know that especially in urban centers, the poor and minorities often become a target for bad law enforcement policy and corruption. Surprisingly, many people who recognize this, and push back against law enforcement, are the very same people who want their right to bear arms to be regulated by the state, which equals the police. These same people infringing on citizens rights are being asked to register, and in some cases disarm, people.
Nowadays, some argue that the founders were just a bunch of ancient crusty guys who couldn’t possibly understand anything that we are going through today, and therefore the words they wrote are outdated and irrelevant. But there were miscreants and murderers during the founding era, just as there are today. The threat of tyranny was also just as real. However, the founders chose to take responsibility for arming themselves. They knew that they were their own last line of protection. I’m sure this doesn’t mean that every person of the founding era owned a rifle. The point isn’t really whether everyone did or not, so much as that they recognized the inherent right to provide protection for oneself and ones family, rather than trusting that right to outside forces that may or may not be just – and which may or may not come in the nick of time.
Can we really trust our government and/or police, (which are probably made up of people that we don’t know – for the most part – and who generally aren’t any more knowledgeable about our rights than we are), more than we trust our neighbors who we have a much better chance of befriending, or at least being acquainted with?
It’s true that liberty can be a very difficult thing. We have to allow other people to experience life in ways that we don’t always find to be moral. We have to live side by side with folks that maybe we don’t entirely agree with on even important issues. We know the founders didn’t all get on with one another either. Danger is always going to be there. The question is whether we will assume the responsibility of protecting ourselves, our families, our neighbors – or – if we will relinquish that responsibility to those who might use arms to rule over us. We are unfortunately blinded by having lived comfortably as Americans. The truth is, this is happening all over the world today, to people who are no more special than we are.