Gun Control Debate 2013: Why Do Americans Love Guns So Much?
Over thing that gun owners are constantly told — and that we too often buy into — is that we only have a right to have guns in as far as they increase safety. They might increase safety, or be necessary to ward off tyranny or varmints. But gun owners should not have to prove anything about public safety to justify owning their guns in the first place. Gun ownership speaks for itself.
For those who are not familiar with weapons of any kind and who have never had any experience with guns, it might not be surprising that they would want to ban some weapons or ban all weapons. But this essentially amounts to a red state / blue state divide: People who have been relatively content with their circumstances cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to live any differently than they do.
Also, gun owners talk about how we need to own guns to protect our homes or as some sort of sword of Damacles for those in power. While many of us believe this, this is not the real reason why most of us choose to own guns. Most of us own guns for the same reason some people go hiking or buy a motorcycle or take a skiing trip: because, quite frankly, shooting a gun is one helluva lot of fun.
And it is not merely the destructive fun that comes from throwing bricks at windows. If you happen to be from New York City and have a name like Michael Bloomberg, the thought of a shooting range might bring to mind an image like this when, in real life, this is something closer to what most aspire to when honing their marksmanship skills. Marksmanship is a skill in itself and learning to rest, sight, breathe, and squeeze requires at least as much self-control and self-mastery as meditation or pilates. (Admittedly, at this skill I'm only mediocre — when the zombie apocalypse happens, I'll be one of the first to get bitten because I aim for center mass.)
For those who would say that they are not talking about all guns, just semi-automatic guns or whatever else, those who do enjoy shooting can answer that all guns require a unique set of skill sets. You can't shoot a semi-automatic rifle the same way that you shoot a pistol, or even a bolt action rifle. Learning to shoot while standing on two feet is nothing like shooting at a target when crouched on your elbows.
The second problem with this argument that the pro-gun control side makes is that, while they might think they are coming in good faith, in most cases they are probably deceiving themselves. If we were to ban so called "assault" rifles and magazines that held more than ten rounds, and then there was another mass shooting where some guy used an M-1 Carbine and brought ten magazines, what happens? I doubt that those who are currently pushing for tighter regulations would say, "Well, we got what we wanted when we banned the AR-15. So the regulations that we have in place are good enough." As with most issues of public policy, one ban serves to open the door to the next, until eventually gun control advocates might be asking why we need anything more than wheelguns, double barrels and Spencer carbines.
Proponents of gun control often cite surveys of police chiefs to back up their arguments. This is a bit problematic. Sheriffs, who are elected rather than appointed, are more likely to oppose gun control measures. But on another level, this is not really too relevant to the fundamental points of the debate. No doubt, the jobs of many traffic cops would be much easier if alcohol in America were banned and we were to halve the number of drivers on the street by banning women from getting b.ehind the wheel. But this is not what a free society does.
Any enforcer who has a problem with facing the use and abuse of freedom should probably have thought of that before choosing to enforce the law in a free society. After all, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela are probably always receiving applications. Of course, this doesn't mean that dissent isn't welcome or that you have to love guns or leave. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion in a free society. I don't have children, but if I did I wouldn't have a problem if their friends' parents asked me if I had a gun at home (though I might wonder whether or not their children would be a bad influence on mine if they answered my "Hell yes!" with anything other than "Righteous!").
But people who are afraid of others exercising a freedom which in the vast majority of cases will harm absolutely no one, should probably ask if they would feel more at home in Russia or Cuba or Chicago. In one of the silliest lines of his presidency, Obama channeled his inner-Michael Bloomberg and said "If there's even one life that can be saved, we've got to try" to pass stricter gun ownership laws. Perhaps he intends to ban swimming pools, rock concerts, and being outside during thunderstorms also? Undoubtedly, these measures could save a couple of lives.
This does not necessarily mean there should be no regulations, just that, in most cases, these regulations should be fewer and better. Give the power to regulate gun ownership back to communities of friends instead of doctors who will have a huge economic disincentive to approve anyone to own a gun. If someone wants to buy a real assault rifle (i.e. one that fires in bursts at least), there is no reason why they should not be allowed to, as long as they can get five friends without criminal records to vouch for the purchase. This is what it means to live in a free society. Or, as one great American writer said, that government governs best which governs least.