A Gun Culture
What does that even mean? And if we have it, why is it different here than any other place on the planet?
I’ve been really trying to get my head around the gun debate ever since I posted my thoughts after the Sandy Hook tragedy. I’m always critical of people who speak without information so I’ve tried to study a little bit on the topic and go over some statistics and then try to form my own conclusions.
For the last several years I have taken an interest in early American history. It’s really fascinating. There were so many firsts tried here. The other day while reading a book about James Madison I learned that in 1775 when Virginia adopted a declaration of rights that it was the first time in the history of the world that any government had a written declaration of individual rights that were supernal and had it adopted by vote. So, in the known history of mankind it took over 7,000 years for anyone to say, “hey, human beings have rights that no one can take away, and by the way, here are some of them.” That is astonishing to me. It seems so natural and right to recognize ones rights that I cannot comprehend living in a world where that idea didn’t exist.
Then it dawned on me that this declaration by citizens of an empire, that historically was taught to believe that it’s monarch received the authority to rule over every living being by the very God they are using to declare their individual rights, was truly revolutionary. Saying so, made you a criminal. I think that sometimes we forget that the American Revolution was not fought between Americans and the British. It was an uprising of British against their own government. These colonists were the fringe wackos of society. An absurd minority screaming about things that were unthinkable. We think of them as our Founding Fathers, but their own government thought of them as criminals. Rights? Please. You get to do what the divinely appointed monarch tells you you get to do.
Another amazing thing is that many of the Founding Fathers didn’t think we needed a bill of rights. They thought that individual rights and sovereignty were so natural that to innumerate them would limit them and really was unnecessary. How interesting.
So, how does this relate to the point of this post?
When you listen to the gun debate, listen carefully to what the players are saying. “Common sense measures to protect our children.” “Preserving the rights of hunters and sportsman.” If you support the gun lobby you care more about “getting an A grade from the gun lobby than caring for our children.” “There is no reason for a sensible person to have such and such kind of gun.” “We can limit this and still protect the 2nd amendment.” “There’s no need for a militia anymore.” It’s all rubbish. Not a single comment in the entire debate accurately reflects the reason for the second amendment.
The hunters and sportsman one really gets me. Is hunting and sport shooting exclusive to the United States? Was it exclusive to the 13 colonies? Of course not. Guns weren’t invented here. They may have been perfected here, but guns were not unique to life in colonial America. So why do we have a gun culture (whatever that is)? Because for the first time in the history of mankind this society was based on a totally radical idea. That was, that the people are sovereign. Unlike in England, who also had a Bill of Rights, but that bill enumerated the rights of Parliament as they shared sovereignty with the monarch.
It reads like this. “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.” Well, what is a militia? Is it a hunting party? Is it a group of guys headed to the range? Maybe they are a competitive shooting team. Actually, they are a group of armed citizens. What are they protecting with all those arms? Well, a free state. What’s a free state? Well, in the United States where the government is of the people and by the people a free State is the sovereign citizens of each State. So who is responsible for protecting the freedom of the people? The people are. How are they going to do it? Well, when facing heavily armed soldiers of their OWN government, they better have guns. Remember, at the start of the revolutionary war there was no such thing as an American. These were citizens of Great Britain by in large and they weren’t being invaded, they were rebelling against their own government.
So, what’s the conclusion? We don’t have a gun culture because we like to hunt or shoot for sport. We have a gun culture because at this place and at that time for the first time in history every citizen was responsible for protecting their own inalienable rights. We have a gun culture because in this place and at that time for the first time, we declared that people should be free. But the question has to be asked, why can’t we now trust our (relatively) new Federal government to protect our rights so we don’t have to? There are a lot of people who believe that’s the way it should be. But they forget, in the United States of America it’s the people who are sovereign.