|Issue #45 • May/June, 1997|
It has become increasingly politically incorrect to be a firearms owner. This is because trends tend to be set by the fashionable and the media-connected in metropolitan environments. Gun ownership per capita is well under 50% in urban areas of this country. Nationwide, it is estimated that one half of all homes contain at least one firearm. As the demographics move into rural areas, gun ownership well exceeds that 50% margin, and on the frontiers and in the true backwoods home, gun ownership will generally be found to reach the 90th percentile of the population.
When your beliefs and values are challenged, you want ready answers. The following have worked for me when debating the civil rights of gun owners in this country.
- Isn’t the Second Amendment about the National Guard?Frankly, no. Serious legal scholars have almost universally agreed that the Second Amendment speaks to the rights of the citizens, not the rights of the states or other communities. Doesn’t it seem incongruous that the Framers would have written one states’ rights amendment into a Bill of Rights that otherwise speaks entirely to the rights of individuals?Besides, consider that the document in question was written at a time when the gunfire of the American Revolution was still ringing in the ears of the Framers. A “national guard” of the period would have been Tories loyal to King George, hardly an entity the freedom fighters who wrote the Bill of Rights would have wanted to empower.
Historically, you’ll also find that the constitutions written by the separate colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights spoke of firearms ownership specifically as an individual right encompassing personal protection, and not just a tool to facilitate state militias.
- Isn’t a gun just a phallic symbol?If it was, no man would ever have bought one with a two inch barrel.
- What about the argument that people die in domestic arguments because a gun is within reach of an angry person?Certainly, those with uncontrollably violent tendencies should not own guns. When asked this question, I always respond with a question: “Could you pick up a gun and kill someone you love because they angered you?”If the answer is No, I reply, “Then how dare you imply that I, and everyone else, would be that unstable?” If the answer is Yes, I suggest they stop attempting to counsel well-adjusted people and immediately seek psychiatric counseling for their own self-admitted tendency toward acting out impulses of uncontrollable violence.
- Won’t criminals just take your self defense gun and shoot you with it instead?That has happened, but rarely. It occurs more often with police, whose openly worn service handguns come quickly to the mind and the hand of the high number of criminals they face in the course of their work. If you’re worried about it, take a course in handgun retention, the art and science of defeating a physical disarming attempt. Most of this training is limited to cops, but private citizens can take such classes on the East coast from LFI (1-800-624-9049) or on the West coast from Firearms Academy of Seattle (1-800-FAS-AMMO).
- How can one morally keep a lethal weapon when the Fifth Commandment states, “Thou shalt not kill?”That’s not what it actually says. Biblical scholars seem unanimously agreed that in the original Hebrew, the commandment said, “Lo Tirtzah, Thou shalt not commit murder,” i.e., thou shalt not kill with evil intent.This is not an exclusively Judeo-Christian ethos. The Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon all make it clear that there are times when it is both justifiable and necessary for the good to use lethal force against the evil. Provisions for justifiable homicide have existed in every body of law in the history of civilized Man: the Code of Hammurabi, the Napoleonic Code, the English common law, the Dutch-Roman model. From communist nations to capitalist, from the First World to the Third, it has been universally understood that every human being has the right to use lethal force against any individual who unlawfully threatens their life or limb with killing or crippling intent.
- Don’t all the police favor gun control?No. A number of high profile police chiefs have espoused gun banning schemes, but they’re usually mouthing the platforms of the politicians who appointed them, and in whose good graces they must stay if they don’t want to be demoted back to Captain, usually the highest rank protected by civil service laws. In rural areas, polls show, most police chiefs and sheriffs support citizens’ rights to be armed against violent criminals. Polls of working street cops routinely show the overwhelming majority favor the rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms. Indeed, most cops make sure there’s a gun at home with their significant other for family protection while they’re at work.
There isn’t space here to go into all the specious arguments used by those who would take from you your right to own firearms if you choose. If you find yourself debating the issue, many publications of the Second Amendment Foundation will give you ample ammunition. You can call them for information on literature and membership at (206) 454 7012, or write SAF, 12500 N.E. Tenth Place, Bellevue, WA 98005.
(Massad Ayoob teaches armed self defense classes around the country to both police officers and civilians. For information, write to LFI, PO Box 122, Concord, NH 03302, or call toll free 1-800-624-9049.)