Declaration of Independence

Fear and Loathing in the Gun Control Debate

On my “About” page, I ask these questions: “What do people expect from their leaders? Do they trust them and accept their authority? Do the people feel protected from threats?”

When I wrote that, months ago, I was thinking about threats like terrorist attacks or cyber attacks.

If you’ve read about the American gun-control debate lately, it’s hard not to notice the fear of another kind of threat.

Among those who oppose further restrictions or more thorough background checks there is a group that considers the government itself to be the threat. And they believe they must have firearms to protect themselves from the government.

This isn’t a new development. For a long time, gun rights advocates have pointed to American history as proof of how important it is for people to have—or be able to have—weapons.  They say our freedom was won from our former British rulers at the end of a gun. That’s hard to argue with, but we’ll never know if the colonists could have managed to win their freedom some other way–eventually.

Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...

Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776 (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former Augusta, Georgia City Council Member Grady Abrams puts this very well in an Augusta Chronicle opinion piece from earlier this year. Abrams acknowledges the difficulty of the guns problem, given that “the horses are out of the barn.” He also emphasizes this fear I’m talking about.

He says these gun-control opponents who view the government as a threat are not indifferent to the suffering caused by gun violence, but they fear something else more:

I DON’T BELIEVE at all that this group is callous about the shooting tragedies that have occurred recently, especially the killing of innocent children in Connecticut. To them, though, it is a matter of priority – what scares them most. Is it a person walking into a theater with an assault weapon and killing a bunch of people; a deranged individual going into a school and killing teachers and children; or a man shooting individuals from a campus tower in Texas?”

Although all of these events do shake the beliefs of this group of people, their overriding reason for fighting control, which very few want to discuss, is the hate some of them have for their government. It is not the enemy from without that they fear most. It is the enemy from within.”

Such a strongly felt need for the right to bear arms stems from the Declaration of Independence—the part where it reads people are obligated to abolish any government that becomes abusive or despotic:

THIS IS THE reason, I believe, that some will fight tooth and nail to keep their arms – assault weapons and all. It is not about hunting. Even a fool knows this. It is not about protecting homes from burglaries. It is not so much about protecting loved ones from violence. It is all about one day having to fight their government.”

Good example of what I'm talking about. From website

Good example of what I’m talking about. From website

It’s this attitude that stays on my mind.

Under what circumstances do members of this group imagine such a fight beginning?

How do they believe it would actually end?

Do they think it would benefit the common good, the economy, the country they presumably love enough to die for?

I’m not against gun ownership, but the last thing this country needs is more bad-asses with guns.

Wouldn’t it be better—and more patriotic—to take political action and try to solve the problems that bother them so deeply? Couldn’t they try to make the government look more like the one they wish they had? Easier said than done, but better than living in fear of it, no?