After a series of horrific IRA attacks, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had this to say to the electorate: “Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.” Fortunately, the anti-British violence abated. Equally important, the British press emerged from the crisis unmuzzled. The Land of Hope and Glory didn’t sacrifice freedom of speech on the altar of expediency and ideological purity. Unfortunately, American gun blogs have adopted the Thatcherite position on gun control advocacy . . .
For years, some members of the gun blogging community has followed an unwritten rule regarding websites antagonistic to the Second Amendment: no links. The policy was born during dark days, when local, state and federal governments opposing Americans’ right to armed self-defense were triumphant. Gun bloggers felt that starving pro-gun control websites of traffic would isolate them and, thus, ensure their oblivion. The policy was, at least in part, successful.
In that sense, the anti-gun control website blacklist is entirely understandable. It was a practical response to a grave danger. Given the Second Amendment’s importance to the cause of liberty and personal safety, you could even say that the information war was a matter of life or death. Make no mistake: we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the pro-gun Internet voices who kept the faith during one of the worst periods of gun control in this nation’s history.
When I started The Truth About Guns (TTAG), I was lucky enough to do so as gun rights regained the moral and then legal high ground. I felt no sense of embattlement, no compunction to shun gun control advocates. Quite the opposite. From the outset, I encouraged input from pro-gun control writers and commentators. I felt then, as I do now, that the unexamined belief is not worth holding. That the open and free exchange of ideas only strengthens the cause of truth. Which is not relative. Not to coin a phrase, let me be perfectly clear . . .
For me, the truth about guns was—and is—that we have the God given right to armed self-defense. The right to keep and bear arms is the bulwark against criminals and government tyranny. It’s integral to the past and future success of this nation and the predominance of the rule of law. I share the Founding Fathers’ conviction that the government should make no laws infringing upon that right.
But I also know there’s a reason the Second Amendment followed the First. Freedom of speech is the bedrock of democracy. Without it, we are slaves. If we—all of us—lack the freedom of speech, we cannot manipulate the levers of democracy to protect any of our other rights.
The idea of excluding gun control advocates and leaving out links to pro-gun control websites never occurred to me. How can I respect the freedom of speech while restricting readers to one point of view? By the same token, how can I deny readers access to original source material so that they can judge the integrity of my analysis? The truth flourishes in a vigorous marketplace of ideas. It lies fallow in the cold sterility of an empty echo chamber.
This is not an opinion shared by all members of the gun blogging community. They’ve concluded that The Truth About Guns’ inclusive editorial policy harms the cause of gun rights. They believe I’m giving aid and succor to the enemy. They have blacklisted TTAG. They will not link to this site.
In the interests of fairness and fraternity, I won’t burn bridges and name names. Suffice it to say, their opposition has not—will not—change my stance. I will continue to provide safe harbor for all points of view on gun rights and gun control. I will continue to link to sites whose opinions on firearms I find abhorrent. Abandoning this editorial policy would render meaningless nearly two years and over a million words of effort. And the hard work and passion of the writers and commentators who’ve generously donated their time and energy to this website.
I invite participants in this unofficial blacklist to reconsider their position. While I understand and appreciate their motivation, times have changed. To defend and extend the gains that the Internet pioneers fought so hard to achieve, gun rights advocates must reach out to the mainstream. In this endeavor we must not be afraid to engage our detractors. To prove that we are fair-minded. That we deserve a willing ear. To open the general public’s minds to the truth about guns.