There is a terrific article over at Open Source Defence on the real-world implications of the gun rights argument. Go and read it, it is well worth your time. Here’s a taste.
If you were making an argument for free speech, would you base the entire argument on statistics? On epidemiological data about various health and safety statistics in a few dozen jurisdictions, plotted against their their speech freedom score on the y-axis? There are things about the idea of free speech — the most important things about it — that live in the realm of philosophy and of one’s approach to life. Only using stats here would be like using a ruler to study a painting; you’ll learn something about the painting, and maybe even some details that would be impossible to see another way — but to stop there is to miss the whole idea of the painting.
Like all Open Source Defence content, it’s reasonable, rational, well-argued and dispassionate. You won’t find any “MOLON LABE!!!!” screams over there. Rather, they take on the “science” behind gun control, and fight the enemy on their turf.
The idea that guns are normal and normal people own guns is true for the vast majority of American homes. The key word in that sentence, though, is AMERICAN. We live in a global world. My favourite TV show (Top Gear) is from Britain. My coffee of choice? Costa Rican. My preferred cuisine? Mexican food. The gun control crowd complains that the Founding Fathers did not have civilian ownership of military weapons in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment (they did). What the gun rights crowd has failed to take into account, however, it just how much easier it now is to compare American culture to other cultures around the world, cultures that don’t understand that the Second Amendment is an “in Case of Tyranny, Break Glass And Grab Gun” sort of thing.
It’s not that the Founding Fathers were unaware of other cultures. Far from it. All of them were either immigrants or the children of recent immigrants, so they knew exactly what they didn’t want in their new country, and they laid it down in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, in 1783, news from those countries took quite a long time to reach our shores. Today, however, the CBC and BBC can comment almost immediately on some atrocity inside this country, somehow link it to our gun freedoms and it will reach people inside the U.S. in a matter of milliseconds.
And all of a sudden, to a great many people, guns don’t seem that normal anymore, Why, look at those people in other countries, with similar cultures to us, they say. They don’t have school shootings (they do), why does this sort of thing happen only in the U.S.? (it doesn’t).
There is nothing wrong with making a strong philosophical argument for gun ownership. In fact, it should be encouraged, because it works. Independence and freedom know no racial or gender barriers. Responsible gun ownership and the liberty it provides is a beautiful thing. It is, however, a mostly American thing. Craft your arguments accordingly.
* And yes, those spellings were intentional.