Op-Ed About Rejecting Gun Culture Seemingly Doesn't Understand Rights At All

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

Some people aren't going to defend themselves no matter what. They don't believe in using violence, even to protect themselves. I can respect it. In a way, I can even admire it, though I don't share such a belief. People who stick to their beliefs even at the detriment of their own selves are something worthy of respect. Many people say they believe something, only to back down at the moment of truth.


Where I have a problem is when they seemingly want to push me into being forced to live that same lifestyle.

I don't have a problem with using violence to protect myself or others. I consider it a moral obligation to step up and protect others, for my own peace of mind if nothing else. I've lived with not acting once and I never will live with that again. I especially won't allow others to make that decision for me.

This is why I keep taking issue with a publication called Waging Nonviolence.

See, it's not enough to be against war--I can respect that even if I disagree with the fact that they also tend to figure nations shouldn't defend themselves--they also have to attack the right to keep and bear arms.

For over 30 years, I have been frustrated by the inevitable destruction our gun culture imposes on American life. As a state senator in Utah in the 1990s, I promoted carefully modest gun safety bills. As an ordinary contributor to Brady, Giffords, Everytown, and other gun responsibility organizations, or just as another person expressing my opinion, lost in the vastness of our media universe, the disorder of gun violence calls out for my attention as a citizen. As it is for everyone, this call is more immediate for me after a mass shooting of children, but it is always there. It is my conscience, I suppose.

The starting point for me is the falsehood, the false pretense of our gun culture. The right to carry a gun, and the claim to a right to exert that power, must not be the highest right in our land — one which comes ahead of the rest. This bothers me, that I have to confront this falsehood. I really don’t like us avoiding the truth and giving obeisance to the falsehood. We have to keep a few things, which we know to be true, in front of us and give them their due. Here are some.


It's strange because even we at a site named after the text of the Second Amendment don't actually believe the Second Amendment comes ahead of the rest of the Bill of Rights. We simply demand that it be given equal treatment to the others.

See, part of the problem is that people like the author often demand restrictions on the Second Amendment they'd never tolerate on the First. Many people, for example, argue that Islam is a religion that preaches intolerance and violence. Some have called it a "death cult" because of the actions of terrorists.

But would the author support a ban on Islam? We all know he would not. I wouldn't either. I value the First Amendment and its protection of the right to worship freely.

So here we are, two paragraphs into this piece and we already have a problem, a false claim that has no bearing on the real world and doesn't really reflect the gun culture in this nation in any way, shape, or form.

First, guns are machines designed to kill. Most of the weapons sold today are not designed for hunting or target practice; they are built to kill people. There may perhaps be a proper place for these weapons, in armies or in police forces, but certainly not among the general public. For the general public inevitably includes people who are invisibly unstable and easy prey to acts of hatred or anger.

Yes, they are designed to kill. I'm not going to pretend they're not, though I will note that with estimates of more than 400 million guns in the United States, most of them never do any such thing.


Further, the Second Amendment doesn't say a damn thing about hunting or target practice. In fact, you'll not find either term anywhere in the Constitution. That's because the right of the people to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with punching holes in paper and so many meters or taking down a deer for the freezer, though it does happen to protect the means to do both.

It's just not limited to those things. 

Funny how that didn't make it in there, isn't it?

Second, our gun culture exalts guns over life. We refuse to control guns even though they are the essential instruments in the murders of children and grown-ups time and again. If we say we obey God’s will, and we believe that God wants children to live a full life, and yet we distribute everywhere the ready means to kill children, then this is idolatry. In fact we do not worship God; we worship the gun.

This is a bald-faced lie.

The reason so many of us fight to defend the Second Amendment--which is what this author's definition of gun culture does--is because we value life.

The violent don't need guns to kill. They can kill with their bare hands, a rock, a knife, a power tool, a car, or pretty much anything else.

We value the right to have guns because guns are equalizers. They allow the good to preserve life.

Or would the author have preferred Eli Dickenson to be disarmed at the Greenwood Park Mall? What about Jack Wilson at the West Freeway Church of Christ?

"But the bad guys wouldn't have had guns!"


Nonsense. We've seen all too recently how gun control doesn't stop bad people from doing bad things. It does, however, stop good people from preserving life.

Of course, the author--a former Utah state senator, apparently--keeps going and keeps missing the point. He's demonizing people like you and me, trying his damnedest to make us the bad guys in his Greek tragedy, but the truth is that the world he envisions would be nasty, brutish, and short.

So we stand against such nonsense. Our right to keep and bear arms isn't more important than any other right.

It's just the right that makes damn sure those others don't get stripped from us.

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