Own Guns, So I Don't Have To
While attending the Agora Financial Symposium in Vancouver, I became aware that Americans enjoy some rights that Canadians do not: among them, the limited ability to carry weapons. Even private security guards seem unable to be armed in Canada. This does not make me feel safer. Quite the reverse.
Private people who carry guns make me feel safer.
So I would like to make a plea to my fellow citizens: please buy, carry, and even stockpile weapons. Carry them with you always. Keep them in your homes and cars. It’s especially important to do this in public places, where freak murderers like that guy in Aurora, Colorado, lurk. The weapons should be loaded and dangerous, capable of killing with one shot.
I especially desire this because I don’t want to buy or own a gun. Truth be told, I hate them. I don’t want them in my home. I don’t want to go shooting at the range. I don’t like looking at them, shopping for them, cleaning them, or even thinking about what they do to others. I loathe violence of all sorts, and hope to never have to use it. I’m a pacifist in spirit.
The only way I can really hope to get away with indulging my wimpy temperament here is if others are willing to pick up the slack that my unarmed self has created. I want burglars, kidnappers, and thieves of all sorts to believe that every home in my neighborhood is heavily armed and populated by fearless gun owners.
I want every robber around every corner to hold the expectation that anyone he mugs is carrying a deadly weapon. I would like to sit in theaters, airplanes, and restaurants where the trolls and scum among us believe that they could pay the ultimate price for misbehavior.
The thing is that I do not want to personally contribute to this cause in any way. I’m not up to it.
To be sure, I was raised with guns in Texas. As early as my trigger finger could work, my parents gave me a surprisingly powerful BB gun. All my friends had them too. We played in the backyard with them regularly. The older kids had 22 pistols and rifles. When they weren’t playing basketball or street football, they were in someone’s backyard (in city neighborhoods!) blasting away at cups, cans, and targets. When I came of age, I got a pistol too.
It was enjoyable enough. But as the guns got bigger, I lost my interest. The shotgun my father taught me to shoot I found to be alarming. His 33 rifle was no better. The bullet was long and looked deadly, even horrible. Once a friend took me out to his farm to shoot his 44 pistols. The sound, the kick, the astonishing damage that these guns caused was it for me. It burned me out on weapons forever. I never want to hold one again so long as I live.
My sincere hope is that other people are not as squeamish. If everyone felt like I do, the world would be a much more dangerous place. The criminal class would rule the day. The pathway for their craft would be clear. So too for government agents, who would hold a monopoly on the use of deadly force. Barriers to tyranny would removed. Those who prey on others would have a free hand.
A friend who grew up in Brooklyn in the 1960s said this was a common slogan in his neighborhood: “For every Jew a 42.” It was commonly understood that if the Jews had been heavily armed in Germany, the rise of the Nazis would have been checked, and perhaps the Holocaust could have been prevented. Neither he nor his friends were particularly interested in doing this but the point was clear.
Today, he too hopes to be a free rider on gun nuts. I’m with him on this point.
In so many ways, the debate on guns in deeply disturbing. Those who love guns, collect them and shoot them, are the people who are dedicated to defending Second Amendment rights. They go to gun shows, sign up for gun-rights advocacy groups, read gun magazines, and hang out with friends at the rifle ranges to practice.
On the other hand, the opponents of gun rights, those who would want to disarm everyone and stupidly think that the criminal class will go along with the bans, are also the same people who can’t imagine ever owning a weapon. None of their friends own weapons. They live in places like Portland, Oregon, where there doesn’t seem to be any purpose to owning a gun. They are sickened by them. Therefore they want to ban them.
This group has a corollary among those who have no desire to smoke pot and therefore want to deny everyone else’s right to smoke the stuff. So too the people who want to ban liquor and prostitution exercise no effective demand for the goods and services. These people all see the law as an extension of their own moral and aesthetic preferences, and means of institutionalizing and universalizing their own lifestyle and belief systems.
Actually, what the law is should have nothing to do with our own personal choices about what we like and do or dislike and do not do. This view seems nearly extinguished in our world today. If you don’t drink sodas, you are happy to ban them. If you are not gay, you are glad for laws that restrict freedom for others. If you don’t like guns, you want them banned.
That’s not how the free society works. The preservation of freedom requires that we be willing to stand up for the rights of others to own and do things we do not like but which harm no one, or, in the case of guns, actually save lives.
For this reason, I have far more respect for the teetotaler who favors a free market in liquor than I do for the heavy drinker who favors them same. Non-smokers should stand up for the right to smoke. And so too should people who do not own guns and have desire to own guns stand up for the right to possess and carry.
Especially in the case of guns, we gun wimps have a special and personal interest in defending not only gun rights but also the massive proliferation of weaponry among the citizenry. It’s the only way that we can truly deter crime and stop crime in public places when it is unleashed.
The Aurora theater case is a great example. An unarmed population is vulnerable to mass killers, and there is nothing the state can do to prevent this. You can turn the whole of society into a prison and not even that would prevent violence, as anyone who knows prison life can tell you.
The push to disarm is actually a very scary trend. Think of how it applies among travellers today. All weapons are confiscated before people board the plane. So we have large numbers of unarmed people landing in unfamiliar places and wandering around without the ability to protect themselves. Every tourist has a sign on his or her head: mug me.
The only real means to prevent the emergence of a world safe for criminals and government is to see the proliferation of guns among everyone else. I’m sorry, but I will not do my part in this respect. But I will defend the rights of others to do so, with a sincere hope that they will stockpile and be ready. Yes, I’m a free rider, but gun nuts need to know that I’m truly grateful.