I really don't want to jump into this fray so fast, and I promised myself that I wouldn't get emotionally charged after a shooting, and would wait until the bodies had at least cooled and been buried before dumping my thoughts on the matter to the web. To be totally honest, it takes a lot of discipline to hold firm for a bit, let the smoke clear and the facts present themselves before letting thoughts fly rampant about the web. Unfortunately, those who would like to see my right to bear arms curtailed seemingly love a good tragedy, and are willing to make political moves while the dead and dying are still warm. They capitalize on the immediacy of the tragedy in an attempt to garner sympathy from the people the purport to help.
And so I am faced with this conundrum- hold to my principles and let my ideological adversary have the field in the opening round, or ignore my principles and take to the field and bring forth my arguments and views. I've been responding to posts on Facebook from friends of mine who believe that there isn't a place for "assault rifles" in polite society. I keep it civil, and ensure that I'm not attacking the person or a group, but rather the ideas put forward. It takes some stepping back and remembering that many people have only the best intentions when they speak of banning these weapons. And to be fair, some of the people who have come to this conclusion are former Military like myself. I know they want only the best for their country, and they just disagree with me on the best way to get there.
And so, with all that said, I feel compelled to pen this piece. It's been a long time coming, and I have already touched on many of the points in previous posts both here and on my own site, www.battlespecter.com/blog. I believe strongly that the best way to secure freedom of the people is to allow private ownership of arms. Yes, I understand that there are bad apples who wish to do harm to others, and these cowards generally target the unarmed or the weak amongst us. The reality of being a nation full of arms is that we will have to deal with these bad apples. I just believe that we shouldn't cut down the whole tree to keep wormy, nasty, crab apples from getting into the carts of good people just wanting to live in peace.
I have already seen calls and accusations stemming from the more "progressive" among us claiming everything from 18 school shootings this year alone to no one needs and AR-15 "assault rifle." These claims seemingly being presented within hours of the tragedy in Florida when the emotional impact was still rather high. I disagree with this strategy from an ideological perspective, but I understand the reason for bringing the argument so close to the event. Emotional appeal can be a strong motivator when trying to sway public opinion to your side. We've seen how well it works- remember 9/11? We went to war very quickly in far off lands to combat the people who committed the attack, and the authorization needed was gathered when emotional impact was still very high. There are many who would argue (and I think succinctly) that going into the middle east in the manner we did was wrong. That the decision was made out of anger and a need to act rather than in a calculated manner consistent with American ideals regarding foreign policy.
This is how I view any issue regarding the BoR in this nation. There have been calls, for example, from activist groups to curb freedom of speech to prevent people being offended. I have witnessed first hand how discussion can be stifled rather effectively when you have to substitute "the n-word" for a certain pejorative used in context in a book meant to show how stupid racism really was <cough> Huckfin <cough>. It is very hard to have a civil and reasoned discussion regarding a topic when the rules of conversation are being dictated by our emotions rather than our reason. Passion can lead us in directions that seem "Right," but are all too often very dangerous or wrong. That passion lead to the rise of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and a whole host of other tyrannical people who then killed millions of people.
"The great leap forward," "to each according to their need," and "Deutchland uber alles" sound amazing, but in practice, these ideals fell flat on their face. The unintended consequences we so often see in hindsight when we read history books stare us in the face each time we revisit whether Americans should be "allowed" to own arms. Here, we aren't "allowed" to own arms, our rights to own arms are protected just like we aren't "allowed" to speak controversial views, but our right to speak on controversial views is protected. In our nation, the rights of the individual are believed to be intrinsic to the individual, not granted by an authority of any kind outside of the natural law (or to some, God). This idea is truly only held here, in this country, where groups like ANTIFA and the NEo-Nazis can peddle their crap to whomever will listen so long as they don't advocate violence. Simply using words to push an idea isn't harmful to anyone just like simply owning arms harms no one.
The argument around our right to own weapons is pivotal to how we view individual rights. Do people have a right to defend themselves from an oppressive government? Or are people subject to the political winds of their nation with no means of recourse. You may argue that gun control isn't that kind of argument, but history has shown that this can very well be the case. Our ability to speak is only as powerful as our ability to take action. I can tell a criminal to stop trying to kill me for only so long, but taking action to stop the criminal intent on taking my life is the ultimate right. Though being able to speak my mind is critical to my ability to influence the political winds of my nation, arms are the peoples means of throwing off the yoke of tyrannical oppression (or preventing such oppression from taking root in the first place).
How we move forward regarding our right to keep and bear arms is paramount in how we view other rights protected by the BoR. IF our right to own weapons can be viewed as simpler permission from the government, then what about our rights to "petition the government for a redress of grievances?" So much of our rights as Americans has already been watered down over the years- permits to protest or hold rallies are antithetical to the aforementioned right to petition. So too are permiting regulations to the right to "keep and bear arms." I view both in equal light, and will fight to protect both in equal measure. Our freedoms, and the freedoms of my children and eventual grandchildren require as much, and their rights are worth fighting for. I would much rather win this contest and preserve those rights utilizing dialectic debate, but should the need ever arise in my lifetime to utilize kinetic means to preserve liberty, I have those means in my possession, and I have the skills necessary to enact such means.
And to me, and many men and women far more intelligent than I throughout history, that is the true measure of freedom for the individual. As Heinlein penned in "The Notebooks of Lazarus Long," "Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." Can you think of any better way to tell someone to "go fly a kite" than to bare arms? I can't.
Image, Knights Armament