Reader American Spirit writes:
The Denver Post has been one of my local sources for news and information since I was old enough to read (and while I’m still young, those heady days seem farther and farther away all the time). But it both saddens and angers me that they’re willing to publish a column by William Saletan equating gun owners with snake handlers. And at the same time, it’s very hard to find pro-RKBA opinions published by this same paper which operates under the mission statement of “Transparency is won through accuracy, compassion, intellectual honesty and an introspective mission to convey complete, contextual views of our world” . . .
After two examples of the worst that people can do to other people in America during the last two decades locally (these should be obvious; I prefer not to pander to the shrill finger-pointing hysterics who insist on ignoring the minuscule overall odds of death or injury in such an event in any individuals’ life, and to avoid yet more posthumous and post-arrest attention to those extreme deviants, some of whom are inevitably present in any society, with a necessary exception below) it’s imperative that both sides of the “gun control”* argument receive equal attention in the dead-tree and online press and in the media in general.
It seems that one side of this argument is providing mostly thoughtless hyperbole devoid of real, scientific and rational analysis of the myriad data available. At the same time, they get the majority of both column inches and airtime not just locally, but nationwide. This is, plainly put, not just bad for both my state as well as for the country, but also dangerous to We the People and our freedom.
The profession of journalism and the right to free speech exist to provide Truth (capitalized to show absolute and factual Truth rather than relative or opinionated ‘truth’) so as to allow informed decisions on behalf of the citizenry. The Editorial section of any newspaper is an important tool allowing those citizens to examine thoughts and opinions other than their own on that Truth. As such, it’s simultaneously necessary and extremely important that the op-ed pages in any newspaper carry truly varied opinions rather than simply variations on a theme. Here’s my contribution:
Guns are dangerous, true. Snakes are also dangerous. I won’t argue that. One was invented by man for the express purpose of being both useful and dangerous (as were swords, spears, and indeed the first knapped flint blades some tens of thousands of years ago). The other evolved as a result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution via natural selection. The author of the aforementioned essay comparing ownership of a poisonous animal to a valuable tool is, plainly put, irrational.
Irrational and hyperbolic arguments have no place in reasonable and rational discussions of those inalienable rights that we, first as humans, then as Americans, ought cherish and hold dear.
The sheer absurdity of asking people to pray for my safety and for that of my family as a result of being a gun (snake) owner shows a paternalism on behalf of William Saletan that may only be equalled by the social paternalism on behalf of regimes behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. After all, he (the state) can’t be wrong – guns and snakes (dissidence) are dangerous. Therefore, guns and snakes must be restricted for the good of society. Neither Mr. Saletan nor any state have the right to determine what is fundamentally best for me. As a free individual, I shall make those decisions, just as I must accept the consequences attendant to those decisions.
Firearms serve an immeasurably greater purpose in our society than only for hunting or personal safety. They provide an invaluable deterrent against tyranny, the only reason that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was enumerated and included in our Constitution. The Founding Fathers were wise men indeed.
History has proven repeatedly that disarmed and disadvantaged citizens worldwide (those with less material goods, social and political power, or access to information) receive the short end of the stick at the hands of those who are not similarly disadvantaged. I should not need to list those many examples, for the study of history, after all, is still a mandatory portion of public education.
The social cost of ensuring the general population the right to firearms pales in comparison to that of prohibiting them as those dictators and sociopaths of the 1930s and 1940s proved so effectively. In the last decade in the United States of America, perhaps 200,000 have been killed by guns, including suicides (which could arguably be counted separately). But in Europe alone, in a single decade slightly more than a half-century ago, more than 35,000,000 died as a direct result of tyranny.
I do not attempt to argue that we currently face the looming threat of a similar tyranny, nor do I dismiss the mostly preventable deaths here in our own country – I simply argue that the incomprehensibly enormous difference in social cost between an armed populace and a disarmed populace should provide evidence enough to any rational and thoughtful human being in favor of citizens’ Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
An armed, well-educated populace need not fear tyranny – but tyrants around the world should fear those same groups of people.
My childhood best friends’ mother was a teacher at Columbine High School. A male acquaintance of mine was in the very Aurora theatre viewing the midnight showing of the Batman movie. The teacher struggled with PTSD and significant depression after that day in April. I vividly recall being at my friends’ house for a sleepover and hearing her wake up screaming from a recurring nightmare. My acquaintance felt he had to move away from what had been his home city in an attempt to reduce the influence of those traumatic memories. He is currently undergoing intensive therapy.
The experiences of those two people in my life affected me profoundly, but did not motivate me to aim for either the banning of or significant curtailment of the availability of firearms locally or nationally.
Any tool can be misused to do harm. These one-degree-of-separation, highly unusual events that touched my life instead provided a motivation to treat my fellow human beings better. It is those unbalanced, disaffected and socially isolated humans that are the root of the problem behind needless, wanton violence, not guns. The first and most necessary collective step to reducing gun violence in our nation is to treat the people in our lives as well as we are able, certainly better than we do now.
I’m not perfect at it – I know that there are times that I have failed to treat those around me with the respect that they deserved. But that provides me with more reason to try harder rather than an excuse to withdraw from working hard to be a positive influence to all I interact with on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s the waiter at a restaurant yesterday, the little girl learning to read National Geographic at the dentist today or my closest friends in the future.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution protects the rights of all citizens to armed self defense. Wanton gun violence is a symptom of persons in our society under duress rather than the availability of firearms. It’s our personal and collective duty to protect the former as well as reduce to every extent possible the latter with our actions every single day.