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“The Queen is the symbolic head of Canada and the Commonwealth. She has exactly zero power. I, too, am a citizen but I regard myself as more free than you because I don’t need to own a gun to feel safe. I am well steeped in world history, in contradistinction to most Americans (sounds like you fit the bill) who believe they are the centre of the universe.” Holy Neighbour to the North Batman! Does Canadian columnist Daniel Johnson of the have a chip on his shoulder or what? Nasty ass nationalism aside, Mr. Johnson’s editorial Socrates’ Gun offers excellent insights into the mindset of those who oppose armed civilians. For students of rhetorical combat, Mr. Johnson also provides a textbook example of the technique called reductio ad absurdum. Make the jump to see the psychology of gun control, and one of the best anti-gun control comments ever written . . .

First, Mr. Johnson’s anti-American Second Amendment salvo.

1. I see gun-carrying as a form of paranoia—the whole world is potentially out to get me. Even though they are probably a tiny minority, they all look alike and I can’t tell them apart.

2. By carrying a gun, people believe they are exercising their freedom when, in fact, they are losing some of their freedom. They are letting their fear of criminals dictate how they live their lives.

3. They are also saying—civilized society does not work. Each citizen must look after their own safety.

If this is true, why aren’t gun-carriers pushing for the disbandment of police forces across the nation? At a time when the economy is in such parlous condition, the savings to the taxpayers would run into the tens of billions of dollars. Let individuals themselves choose to what degree they wish to be armed. People could also band together into neighbourhood militias (Call it a militia and there would be no conflict with the Second Amendment. You’re automatically covered).

4. I am really trying to understand what is behind the gun mentality. You don’t see citizens in Canada, the UK or the EC pushing for gun ownership on a wide, or even narrow, scale. Only in the U.S. does this phenomenon exist. But perhaps I am missing the obvious point—compared to other developed nations, perhaps the U.S. is that scary.

They all look alike? As my 12-year-old step-daughter would say, wow. I haven’t heard a remark that inflammatory since Archie Bunker tired to set the world to rights. Once again, I’m struck by the sheer rudeness of commentators weighing-in on serious issues. Whether it’s Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly or MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, the word “debate” has become a synonym for “vitriolic shouting match.”

I digress. More to the point, I refer Mr. Johnson to my step-daughter’s remark when I reminded her this morning that we’re a non-violent household: “even though you have a gun.” (Uttered without pre-teen irony or sarcasm, I swear.) Of course, Mr. Johnson would see that contradiction as evidence of insanity, rather than search for causality.

Thankfully, there are some eloquent Internet surfers willing to take the time and effort to help distrustful Canadian columnists understand America’s perspective on gun ownership. One of which is, gasp, Canadian! ShaneD holds forth:

“1. I see gun-carrying as a form of paranoia.” Are using smoke detectors a form of paranoia? Are wearing seat belts? I have a 72-hour Red Cross emergency–is that paranoia? We all take actions to mitigate potential risk even if the probability is low when the cost of being unprepared is potentially very high. It is not paranoia; it is simply preparedness.

“2. By carrying a gun, people believe they are exercising their freedom…” Again, this is just risk management. Hikers often carry bells or other noisemakers to ward away bears? This allows them to more safely hike. Are they losing freedom to the bears and other predators? Or do they only lose freedom if they choose to also pack a shotgun as additional defense.

“3. They are also saying—civilized society does not work…” Not really. They are more saying that civilization is imperfect, and it is an individual’s responsibility to ensure their own safety. Police and society will be around to pick up the pieces, but they can not respond to threats as readily as you can. This is especially true in rural areas. We have one police station with one care for several towns. Firearms and defense is, realistically, only one small part of it that is often over-emphasized. First aid and emergency supplies are also things everyone should have.

“4. I am really trying to understand what is behind the gun mentality.” It about individual responsibility and self sufficiency. It extends to things beyond mere firearm ownership, but that is probably most emotionally visible for you. “You don’t see citizens in Canada…pushing for gun ownership on a wide, or even narrow, scale” Expand your horizons a bit. I am Canadian. “Perhaps it’s time for pro-gun people to seriously examine why they believe what they believe.”

Perhaps it is time for you to examine why you think firearm ownership is socially negative? Where has expanding open or concealed carry rights actually created social problems? It is easy to hand wave at “instability” or the “Wild West” (the popular concept of which is entirely a Hollywood construction), but what basis does this really have? I think you are projecting what you believe gun owners think instead of what they really do.

If you want to really understand there is a good book called “Shooters: myths and realities of America’s gun cultures” by Kohn which is probably a good place to start to perhaps answer some of your questions.

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