A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. – Amendment II
The above is the most fiercely argued – attacked and defended – statement that has ever been incorporated into any law. More objections to it have been made, and more exceptions to it have been proposed, than any other legal stricture in history. Opposition to it has characterized a great many political figures who’ve come and gone since World War II. Yet before then, very few politicians of great significance ever said a word against it. Why?
It’s simple, really. American men of the era prior to 1940 had ample experience with the private ownership of weapons. They were unafraid of them. They taught their sons, and sometimes their daughters, respect for weaponry: how to approach them, use them, and care for them. Concerning the dangers posed by weapons, pre-1940 American men treated them as not significantly different from any other powerful tool.
But ours is a safety-obsessed era. The Safety Brigades perpetually emphasize the hazards that this or that might pose to the unskilled and unwary. The overarching, all-encompassing theme is fear. It’s hammered at us from innumerable sources, continuously. In particular, the media have become caricatures of the “get away from that, you might poke your eye out” overprotective mother, constantly harping on the risks to us from this or that.
Of course, the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent State is happy to pitch in with restrictions and regulations. Incidents such as the one in Uvalde, Texas are its best nutrition. Another atrocity? Wonderful! More grist for the fear mills! they cackle. Fearful people are easily shepherded, subjugated, and controlled.
Is there any Gentle Reader who hasn’t yet read Jack Williamson’s novella “With Folded Hands?”
The above is all “previous work,” of course. We all know what those who want power over us think of the private ownership of weapons. Their opposition has many centuries of history behind it. Medieval authorities strove to keep swords out of the hands of the commoners. Anyone not recognized as a knight in service to some noble was forbidden to own anything more dangerous than a kitchen knife. However, back then there was no pretense about it being for the commoners’ safety.
Beware the man who claims that all he wants is to keep you safe. God gave you two parents, two hands, and a brain for that role. You don’t need anyone else.
They who hawk the “safety uber alles” theme don’t content themselves with firearms. Districts in which they predominate also ban and / or regulate crossbows, swords and knives, and bear and pepper sprays. Put that down! You could hurt somebody! It’s when we ask “Who are you protecting?” that matters start to clarify.
The safety pretense is misdirection – a “Look! Squirrel!” tactic to distract us from discerning the identities of the truly fearful. For it is they who seek absolute and unchallengeable power over us who really fear for us to have weapons and strive to take them out of our hands. Incidents such as Uvalde, or Parkland, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine merely feed their fear campaign extra ammunition.
I could go on. I could dissect the many assertions that the right to own a gun is strictly about hunting. I could trash the arguments that a gun is more likely to hurt its owner than those who seek to harm him. With John Hinderaker’s assistance, I could debunk the claims that America is soaked in the blood of innocent children because of our “love affair with guns.” But it’s not necessary.
The theme is fear. You are to be made afraid of yourself and other private, law-abiding citizens. You are to view everyone around you as someone who might decide, on the spur of the moment, to threaten your life. That way you won’t ask the fear-mongers “Why are you, who surround yourselves by men with guns, so anxious to take mine? Who are you afraid of – and why?”
Have a nice day.
“Before all else, be armed!” — Niccolo Machiavelli