Why Own Guns?
Over the past few months, I have been running into more articles where gun rights opponents are using questionable tactics to argue against gun ownership. At first, I took the approach of discussing their points specifically and have come to realize that I was making the same mistake they were – discussing the right to bear arms as the basic principle instead of understanding the fundamental reasoning.
To get to that singular truth, I considered the empirical facts:
- I have owned guns since age 11
- I have used them to hunt (for food, not trophies)
- I have purchased them for home defense (and hope to never use them that way)
- My father, all my uncles, and both grand fathers have owned guns and hunted
Just looking at this evidence one might draw the conclusion that my parents forced them on me, that I just like to shoot animals or that I tend to live in dangerous areas where I would need added protection. None of those are true, but looking at only the particulars would never yield truth – is it a greater generalization that drives my desire to own these weapons.
Examining the above facts, all but one supports the idea that gun ownership is a tradition within my family. That much is an established fact. It is also the reason my son will be handed down my first .22 when I feel he is old enough to responsibly handle it.
The tradition isn’t just my family’s, it’s an American legacy. Gun ownership has been an identifying characteristic in our culture whether we examine the militias of the 18th century, the western expansion ormanyothercritical periods in our history.
In the militia act of 1792, it was actually made mandatory
That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder;
Certainly gun ownership is not mandatory today, but examining our history provides context and substance to the idea that perhaps the desire to keep and bear arms may be have roots in our history and traditions.
I own guns for shooting clays and target shooting. It would be intellectually dishonest to say that enjoyment was not one reason that I own guns. These activities do serve to sharpen my skills with different firearms and I do work to be the best marksman I can while learning every facet of the operation of these weapons. Interestingly enough, one interpretation of the first part of the second amendment, “well-regulated militia” asserts that well-regulated was intended to mean well-trained. I am no constitutional lawyer, but certainly in the context of the period, I can see why the framers would seek to have a marksman citizenry.
No one told me I needed to own a gun, I wanted to. My son expressed the desire to learn about firearms from the first time he realized I had them. Why? I didn’t tell him I expected him to own a gun or that I would like him to have one. Why might he have the same desire as me, when others have the exact opposite feeling. My wife certainly expresses no desire to own one and she has had the same experience as he – her father owned guns when she was young.
Did those with anti-gun feelings gain that characteristic through life experience or is there a central portion of their personality that drives them away from firearms? A small portion may fear guns based on some negative event in their past, but relying only on this precept means that my son only desired guns because of a positive event in his.
I believe character plays a part. It is both inherited and reinforced through life experiences. I would gladly jump to the defense of those in need or that of my Country.
Military service was a given for me. At some point in my teenage years I knew I was going to join out of a sense of duty. Are those of the anti-gun sentiment also less-likely to volunteer for military service?
I am the kind of person that will get involved if something untoward is happening within my area of influence. Might anti-gun activists be the opposite? Could they be those that would choose to just not get involved in violent situations where another is in need? I cannot guess so I’ll leave it as a question.
Turning to the modern debate over the right to bear arms, several arguments are made and debated. One that was particularly alarming to me is expressed in the post, “Guns Don’t Kill People, They Kill Amendments?” a progressive made the assertion that the reason Conservatives want guns is to make sure that the first amendment rights of liberals were limited. As the post explains, he destroys his own argument.
David is attempting to show that one right should not quash another and I agree with that premise. He destroys that strong argument by instead talking about how his right should quash that of gun owners.
A right may not be taken away, it must be given-up freely. If he decides to stay quiet out of fear the Conservatives might shoot him, he has stated that our rule of law is invaluable and only through the dissolution of those rights that threaten him is there justice. What happens if I find his right to free speech a threat? Can I then demand that his right be infringed as well? Of course not. I have no intention to shoot a liberal because he is speaking freely. I am more apt to take up arms should his, and therefor my right to free expression ever be squelched.
And therein lies a truth, a natural truth – the right to bear arms is an unalienable right that derives from a natural law – individual freedom. And even more important, it is a right that is intended to protect all others. Should we not protect each and every right to the extent possible, we will lose each of them gradually until none are left.
As further proof, it can be found that the framers of our government created the second amendment as a protection against an internal evil that might seek to take those rights from us – the tyranny of our own government.
From the “Declaration of Independence”:
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government..
The founding Fathers made this assertion, but knew it would need material support. The second amendment makes it visible to anyone who may decide to follow in King George’s path that it will be their undoing. An armed populace is difficult, if not impossible to control beyond the desires of that population.
The founders were not simply foreshadowing a coming revolution, they were putting in a mechanism in the hopes that it would never be needed. It is a “show of force” so as to reduce the appetite of our government for the infringement upon our rights. I certainly hope this never comes to pass, but there is historical precedence and therefor the remotest of possibilities.
The Sum of It All
Tradition, sport, character, responsibility all are influencing factors in why I, and I would think many others, own guns. Different measures of each for different people dictate their drive. What all of these have in common is the fact that it is an individual freedom. One that is protective of itself and the other rights provided for in the Constitution. I do not wish to delegate any of my rights to the State for the purpose of security. Should I do so, over the course of time I or my progeny will have no hold on the remainder.