The architect of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, George Mason, once wrote of the need to include the individual right to bear arms in the Constitution at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, “When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people.”
What Americans, and especially those who still cling to the Constitution and the Second Amendment especially, must understand is that the debate over gun control is about principles much deeper than discussions about ammunition capacity and the rate of fire of modern weaponry.
The debate over gun control is, at its core, a larger conflict over culture and an individual’s relation to government. It is a culture war between those who value independence and individual liberty and those that value community coercion and dependence on the government; between a culture that values individual rights and the “self-made man” and one that says that “you didn’t build that,” and that rights come from positive law and the government.
The real agenda of the Left and those who are pushing for tighter gun control is, if you follow the reasoning of their philosophy, to take away all guns from Americans. At least some on the Left are honest in their intention, such as this writer on the DailyKos:
The only way we can truly be safe and prevent further gun violence is to ban civilian ownership of all guns. That means everything. No pistols, no revolvers, no semiautomatic or automatic rifles. No bolt action. No breaking actions or falling blocks. Nothing. This is the only thing that we can possibly do to keep our children safe from both mass murder and common street violence.
Unfortunately, right now we can’t. The political will is there, but the institutions are not. Honestly, this is a good thing. If we passed a law tomorrow banning all firearms, we would have massive noncompliance. What we need to do is establish the regulatory and informational institutions first.
Studies have shown that cities and countries with the highest amount of murders are ones with the most restrictive bans and that most of the famous shooting sprees have taken place in “gun-free zones.” But these facts are ultimately meaningless for those with a liberal worldview.
The Left fears American individualist instincts and blames capitalism for gun violence.
Jim Sleeper of the Huffington Post wrote,
Behind the gun control debate lies a deeper one that we need to have. It would show that the danger to our freedom isn’t coming from government censors and conspiracies but from marketing sensors that are bypassing our brains and hearts on the way to our gut instincts and wallets.
This groping and goosing of America isn’t “speech.” It’s an assault that’s adding to the kind of violence that we’re enduring. Gun control is absolutely necessary here, but not sufficient, and it won’t even happen unless we can first dissolve the deep bond between our libertarian individualism and our glorification of runaway corporate engines that disrupt public trust more brutally than their own managers even intend or know how to stop.
Modern day liberals value community over the individual; material equality over individual achievement and competition; security over self-government. Restricting the rights and liberties of individuals, even fundamental ones like gun ownership, is of little consequence if they see it as carrying out a positive social good.
Conservatives fundamentally reject the belief that the government can or even should ensure their safety and well-being. As Gerald Ford once said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”
Conservatives believe, as the Founding Fathers did, that government is best that which governs least, has limited and definite powers and, above all things, protects the individual rights of its citizens. And the conservative embrace of firearms and the Second Amendment is a product of the culture and ideas that support those values.
Gun ownership is about self-reliance and independence, the values that represent the core ideals of the nation’s founding and key elements of American exceptionalism. These American values are wrapped up in America’s founding doctrines which have been intertwined in American culture. They are part of what Guns and Patriots writer, Brian Vanyo, so ably described as “The American creed.”
Ultimately, taking away firearms from law-abiding citizens is stripping them of their independence and their capacity for self-defense.
But liberals simply don’t care about self-reliance and self-defense. Here is what liberal Justice Stephen Breyer had to say in the Supreme Court case about individual gun ownership, McDonald v Chicago, “Unlike other forms of substantive liberty, the carrying of arms for that purpose [self-defense] often puts others’ lives at risk…. And the use of arms for private self-defense does not warrant federal constitutional protection from state regulation.”
Liberals would rather prohibit guns to all individuals, dangerous criminals or not, because they trust their own lives and safety in the hands of others rather than themselves. When there is danger they look to the government for help, and if it doesn’t there are simply no alternatives but to be at the mercy of circumstances and evil.
Conservatives know that the ultimate guarantee against evil and tyranny is individual empowerment and the ability to defend oneself, through force if necessary.
This is the fundamental battle between gun rights activists and those who want to heavily restrict or simply take firearms away from law-abiding citizens. It is a battle between self-reliance and government control, freedom and slavery. A world where law-abiding citizens have a right to their own self-defense, or where evil may triumph because good men can do nothing.