“To own firearms is to affirm that freedom is not a gift from the government… As the Founding Fathers knew well, a government that does not trust its honest law-abiding, taxpaying citizens with the means of self-defense is not worthy of trust.” – Jeffrey Snyder in his essay “A Nation of Cowards”
There is a reason why the Founding Fathers made the right to bear arms second to none except the right to speech, association, and worship.
It has nothing to do with how superfluous a citizen’s weapon might be in defense against foreign enemies whether it is the British armada firing upon Washington, D.C., in 1812 or the fear of “The Reds” invading America in the 1960s. It has everything to do with protecting their person and property.
To make it clear, I do not own a gun nor have I ever fired one.
Yet the right to bear arms must be defended by even those of us who can’t fathom personal use of them or else it is just a matter of time before the rights of free association, worship, and speech will be suspended to “cure” a societal ill.
The ill gun control is supposed to address is the number of domestic deaths from guns.
Snyder frames the debate as it should be framed in terms of exactly what was intended by the Second Amendment.
It is one thing to regulate and outlaw automatic weapons and hollow tip bullets. It is an entirely different thing to relegate guns to the point that it is just a step short of banning them.
Consider statistics that Snyder gleaned for his “Nation of Cowards” essay in the fall 1993 edition of the Public Interest that was a precursor to his 2001 book by the same name that is a series of essays on the ethics of gun control.
One was from Florida State criminologist Gary Kleck. He gleaned numbers that showed the error rate for “shooting” an innocent person was higher for law enforcement than private citizens defending themselves. The reason is obvious. A citizen being attacked is less likely to guess whether the person they draw a gun on matches a description.
It needs to be clear that the police have a hellacious job as often people who may fit descriptions run or make moves that arguably can threaten the safety of the officer and others.
There are also statistics that show states that allowed more concealed weapons had a drop in crime.
Snyder is neither a red neck nor gun nut that those opposing gun control like to paint those who defend the Second Amendment. He is an attorney in arguably the wildest of lands – Manhattan.
His essay makes you think whether we have abdicated personal responsibility and now assume that police were intended to be our personal bodyguards.
It is the natural outgrowth of relying on police instead of neighborhood interaction to address low-level property crimes.
This isn’t simply an academic debate.
There is going to be increasing pressure on both sides of the fence in the coming years to take action thanks to the government financial crisis sweeping this country that is reducing the ranks of law enforcement as cities, counties, and states struggle to stay afloat.
The anti-gun forces will argue law-abiding citizens who arm themselves will only make matters worse.
The more rhetoric prone on the pro-gun side will make the usual talking points.
When push comes to shove, though, the issue of the constitution must be taken seriously. Whether you believe it is a solid foundation that defines all American rights or is a “living document” there is little doubt what the Founding Fathers had in mind or their intent.
Freedom is not a gift from the government. It is secured by the people. At the same time a government that doesn’t entrust the people it was created to serve to have the means of self-defense is a government not worth trusting.