Why I Vote The Way I Do â€“ Guns
Firearms are an unfortunately necessary part of life and a thankfully enjoyable part as well. On the one hand they are required tools for self defense – though rarely so, in most places. On the other they are enjoyable tools for recreational use. Both necessity and recreation argue for their continued presence in society, yet nothing argues against their removal. One might argue that crime necessitates their prohibition, but that is to confuse the ends and the means of reducing crime.
As far as the law is concerned, the Constitution is clear, though the lower jurisdictions are not necessarily so. “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.” The right is given to the people, and it is given individually. The left constantly argues that the right is collective, not individual, because the “militia” and “the people” are mentioned. This ignores both the practical and literal aspects of the word “militia”. If the rights to keep & bear are only granted to the people as a whole, where are the weapons to be kept? Are they to be accessed only in an emergency? What constitutes an emergency? Who guards the arsenal? These practicalities are best answered if the individual is the safeguard of the weapons, not the collective public. Further, the militia is the individual members of the public, both by law and by definition. A militia is unorganized, and therefore individualistic in nature.
The right was written into the Constitution because of fears that tyranny from the government would envelop the new republic. Therefore, the founders argued, the people should be unlimited in their ability to defend their liberty. The long years of history have shown that the danger lies not in tyranny from the government but in tyranny from the individual. It is not safe to walk down some streets in America. Danger lurks in dark shadows, and strikes when most emboldened by the apparent weakness of its intended target. Police are not necessarily a deterrent to crime, as a criminal can and often does feel safe in their felonious acts when they don’t see a black & white showing the flag. Though foolishness may give the sense of security, a personal firearm can help ensure it.
Don’t get me wrong, walking down a dark alley with a gun is just as foolish as without, as the criminal will simply wait until you are past them to strike, and strike harder, so as to knock you unconscious while they take your wallet or purse (and gun). It is best to avoid trouble when it is avoidable, though trouble sometimes finds you. Those are the times for guns. Guns are a unique tool – when you need one, you need one, and nothing short of it will do.
Some might say that it is the responsibility of law enforcement to protect us. This ignores several important aspects, of which I will address but one. Neal Boortz says it best, speaking of the recent delinquency of the New Orleans Police Department in the Hurricane Katrina disaster:
Those of you who didn’t attend government schools may already understand this … but the law IS in our hands. Law enforcement is not something citizens seize from police officers, it is a function that citizens delegate to police officers. The responsibility is ours, and we can chose to hire people to perform that function for us. If the people we hire to perform that job are either unwilling or unable to perform that function there is no law or standard that says we cannot perform that function for ourselves.
Note the emphasis – personal responsibility. It is your responsibility to enforce the law, whether or not a cop is on scene. You are expected to enforce it within yourself, so that you do not betray society through omission (as opposed to the criminal, who betrays through commission). If it is more efficient to have a full-time professional enforce it, then so be it, and pay that person well for their troubles. But do not forget that you have a responsibility to your neighbor, who has a responsibility to you. If the police are unable (through absence) or unwilling (through disgusting personal avarice) to enforce the law, it is irresponsible to let the law suffer merely because you lack the necessary tools.
Fortunately for this essay, there is a lighter side to firearms ownership. The recreational use of guns for target shooting and hunting is not only harmless to society, but beneficial. Target shooting develops personal initiative, self control, and responsibility. Hunting allows for the cultivation, harvesting, and management of natural resources that would otherwise grow wild and impinge upon human existence.
To oppose target shooting is to suggest that gun control is a petty exercise in micromanagement. I like to shoot, as it is a fun activity. There is a personal satisfaction in being able to exert a fine amount of control at one point to obtain an exact result at another point – just ask golfers. There may be nothing practical about shooting targets, but that is what freedom & liberty are about – allowing the individual to do as they feel (or as they are spiritually led) as long as they do not restrain others from doing the same.
To oppose hunting is to subscribe to baseless theories of nature that equate animals with humans and ignore not only common sense, but the care and respect hunters have for their quarry. Hunters often spend hours at the range, perfecting their shooting, so as to obtain a one-shot-one-kill accuracy. They hate making animals suffer. In this respect, they have as much respect for life as those who oppose the death penalty, who demand painless execution methods – though you would be hard pressed to find a hunter who opposes the death penalty, especially for those who use weapons against their fellow man.
Gun control is three things: first, hitting your target; second, keeping firearms out of the hands of unsupervised minors; third, keeping them out of the hands of criminals. The first is a matter of personal initiative, the second a matter of personal responsibility. The third is the most important, as it is the criminal who undermines the rights of the many by abusing the rights of the few. The criminal violates the liberty of a person, so why should that person’s liberty be restrained, instead of the criminals (or in addition to)? When a criminal is locked up it does more to prevent crime than melting a thousand guns, for it is the person that is the problem, not the implement. The person would still commit crime, even if they had no gun.
To close, I have this question for those on the left: if I am responsible with my firearms (as I keep them safely and use them properly), why should I vote for the party that seeks to remove them from my lawful use, instead of locking up the criminal who uses them for social destruction? If liberty is the foundation of the nation, then I should vote for the party that does not seek to restrain my lawful exercise of my liberty.