So Don Charisma did an opinion piece about gun control, from the perspective of mostly living in the UK, that got me thinking about a few things, mostly how Americans are perceived in many parts of the world, kind of as a cartoon stereotype based on mediated reality, where we are all about our guns, big cars, and surviving our crime infested neighborhoods. That perception of reality is right off our televisions and piped into our homes daily. Many Americans ourselves believe that stereotype. The news is rather relentless about promoting it.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of gun rights, mostly because of that word “control.” Kind of woven into the American psyche is this strong resistance to the idea of control. We’re a country founded on the precise opposite of control, on resistance and freedom and this idea that nobody, especially our government, is qualified or authorized to make decisions for us, to regulate and control our behavior. Our government exists at the consent of the governed, a kind of moral authority that we believe can and should be revoked any time they prove themselves unworthy.
They have frequently proven themselves unworthy, all throughout our history.
Right, left, religious, atheist, anarchist, we all share this value, this ideal that is ingrained in our psyche, this resistance to authoritarian anything. It manifests itself differently depending on ideology and pet peeves and issues, but that is still the essence of who we are as a people. Listen to the Fems, “get your laws off my body” or the LGBT advocates “get your religion off my marriage” or the cop protestors “get your government authority off my streets.” Down the spectrum we have “you’ll pry my gun out of my cold dead fingers” and “shrink government” or “drown it in the bathtub entirely.”
Americans are not big fans of partial freedom, in fact, the whole idea of “partial freedom” sounds like a complete oxymoron to most of us.
Freedom has always had an uneasy relationship with authority, with government power, and this idea that government should have the right to control much of anything having to do with domestic affairs, doesn’t sit well with anybody. And for good reason, we are a nation of immigrants comprised of a whole lot of people fleeing such abuses of power, all the way back to the very founding of our country.
The Second Amendment has been under steady attack for a few decades now, an idea aided and abetted by our media that likes to try and portray guns as the greatest threat our nation faces. They never report any factual statistics or truth, such as the fact that crime has actually declined dramatically in the last 30 years. Or the fact that it is actually gun suicides that far outweigh gun homicides. Or the fact that the leading cause of death for Americans is not crime, but rather heart disease. Yes, living the good life and dying fat and happy is the leading cause of death in this country. America actually doesn’t even rate on the scale of most dangerous places to live in the world.
Statistics are an odd thing, you can manipulate them to pretty much say anything you’d like. People like to make these country comparisons, like look at the UK, we don’t have a problem with guns, so gun bans work. On the other hand, look at Mexico and their gun ban, and yet they have some of the highest gun homicide rates in the world. Look at the US cities with the strictest gun regulations, Chicago, Washington DC, and also some of the highest rates of homicide in the country.
A while back Norway had a tragic incident brought about by Anders Breivik where he shot and killed 69 innocent kids on an island. From an American perspective, one of the greatest horrors behind that event was the fact that nobody was armed, nobody could stop him. Many of us read those accounts from witnesses and first responders who had to stand by and do little, while they waited for guns to arrive. That kind of powerlessness strikes fear in the hearts of most Americans.
There are many Americans who also support gun bans and gun control, but flat out their thinking is flawed, their understanding of the issue short sighted. America is not the UK, we are not Europe, we are a completely different culture. What works in one small country somewhere in the world does not necessarily translate well to a country with our huge population, our history, our American psyche, and our powerful government. Gun regulations and gun bans are only going to be honored and obeyed by law abiding people who care about honoring such things. If you’re about to rob a liquor or shoot some rival gang member, having your gun paper work in order is probably the farthest thing from your mind. If our laws against homicide don’t dissuade you, it’s unlikely our red tape regulations around guns are going to be a high priority either.
School shootings have been a prominent concern in recent history, but even the presentation of those in our mediated reality are a bit distorted. People forget that school tragedies are not a new phenomenon, but rather something experienced by people all through history, all over the world. Canada is familiar with them, as are many parts of Africa and the Middle East. Education can be a very controversial issue and also likely to attract unstable individuals. In spite of the media’s recent focus on the so called modern phenomenon of school violence in America, our most horrific tragedy is still the Bath School disaster of 1927. Nearly a hundred years ago Andrew Kehoe, former school board member, following his election defeat for township clerk, firebombed a school killing 38 children, six adults, and injuring 58 others. That was an attack not involving guns at all, but rather explosives.
Humans have the capacity for great evil, even in the absence of guns, something one can learn from peering in at places around the world that have been dealing with acts of terrorism on their own soil a lot longer than Americans have. The biggest threat our troops face in the ME right now, at least what is likely to cause them death and serous injuries, isn’t really guns, but rather explosive devices.
If you try to ban guns in America, what you really do is destroy the essence of who we are as a people, our ideals, our values. Whether symbolically or metaphorically, we have a powerful belief in our right to defend ourselves from all enemies, foreign and domestic. People actually swear allegiance to our Constitution based on this ideal. On our soil or not, domestic or foreign, people are willing to die for this principle. It’s not simply an issue or a problem to be legislated away, it’s the very essence of who we are, a cornerstone of our democracy, how we define ourselves as Americans.
One reason we have that peace and prosperity and statistical likelihood of dying from heart disease, is because of our powerful belief in our right to own guns and our obligation to defend ourselves. Quite simply if we hand that right to sort the bad guys from the good guys over to our government, we lose far more then our guns in this country. We lose everything we have fought so hard to try and build, values, ideals, freedom, the whole psyche of our nation. If we do that, our government becomes the good guys, the adults, and our people the potential bad guys, the children in need of constant supervision. This flips the power dynamic on it’s head and reverses the path.
If you filter out some of the hogwash being fed to us by our media right now, the debate we are having all over our country is a conflict between who truly holds the power, our government or our people? “The people” are on pretty shaky ground right now, in fact it’s one the most tedious and terrifying situations I’ve ever seen, and the consequences of losing this struggle are rather profound, not just for Americans, but for the world at large. Some people believe we’re already there. I do not, I have a rather idealistic trust in Americans and our ability to get it right at the very last possible moment.