by Jerry Farber / The Daily Kos
Let’s be honest. Haven’t you just about had it with this latest round of hand-wringing about guns? I mean, look, why don’t we just concede the point right up front? Yes, if you want the kind of government that runs your life, that comes into your home and tells you how sharp your kitchen knives can be, well then, sure, I suppose life can be made a little safer. But what about freedom? Isn’t that pretty much supposed to be the name of the game in this country.
And aren’t we all just sick and tired of hearing how America should try to be more like some other country—like this country or that country? Now it’s all about gun violence. People throw these ridiculous figures at you. Supposedly, in England, the death rate from guns is forty times less than it is here. (So in those London pubs they just have to come at each other with broken bottles, right?) Oh, and Japan. Yes, let’s be just like Japan. In Japan, nobody ever dies at all (except, of course, when a nuclear plant blows up in their face). So what is this all about? What are these Japan-lovers and these England-lovers trying to sell us? What are they after? I’ll tell you what they’re after. One more freedom down the drain.
As the man says, freedom isn’t free. Freedom costs. It’s not some little game you play. Freedom is tasting the wind in your face. Freedom is going to the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread, knowing that life is not meant to be safe, knowing that this trip could just possibly be your last, but knowing also that if a situation should happen to develop—if there’s, let’s just say, a shootout—you’ll be there crouched down by the cheese puffs with your Glock in your hand. This is America, and freedom in America smells like gunsmoke.
Those boys in the pub in England may think they’re unruly, but when the government decides to put the squeeze on them, what are they going to do? How far is a broken-off bottle going to get them when The Royal Marines come busting through the door? Sure, they think they’re free. The British, the Dutch, the Danes, the Australians, the French—they all think they’re free. But I’m here to tell you that you are not free until you know that when the feds come after you, when they give it everything they’ve got—black helicopters and all—you may die—yes, you may die—but you’ll die with a gun in your hand.
But OK, OK, I know—I can hear the liberals squawking now: “That’s just ridiculous! How can you possibly expect to defend yourself against a government that can throw everything they’ve got against you, right up to Predator drones?” And I say: You know what? You are exactly right, my friends. We’re not living in 1776 anymore. Guns alone won’t do the job. You hear what I’m saying? That target pistol in the drawer by your bed—I hate to break it to you, but that pistol is not going to keep you free. Yes, of course, handguns are part of the answer. Put a gun on every citizen’s hip and you’ll find the police are going to be just a bit more respectful when they pull you over. (No wonder the police chiefs are all pushing gun control.)
But sure, the idea of someone with a hunting rifle in his hands trying to defend himself against government tyranny is a silly joke. All that’s going to get him is a nice picture for his kids to put up on the fridge after the funeral. Which is why everyone needs to have access to the full range—I repeat, the full range—of military ordnance. Nothing less will protect us against the most powerful government in the history of the world. And I don’t mean just every individual. I mean every citizen’s group, every Neighborhood Watch group. But, of course, here it comes: here’s where your timid liberal starts coming up with his hypotheticals: “Oh, but what if one of those neighborhood groups gets crazy or has criminal motives or something? And you’re going to let them have all these weapons?”
So, OK, fine, let’s play with that. Let’s suppose that some band of nuts or criminals starts using their weapons to terrorize the neighborhood. And then what? What better protection against wacko violence or criminal violence is there than a fully armed citizenry. In other words, we’re back at that supermarket, crouched down in the crossfire. But scaled way, way up. You see where I’m going with this? There’s going to be a group of freedom-loving weapons-lovers down the road who have the ordnance—and maybe even the air support—to take the bad guys out. Sounds dangerous? Maybe, but let’s face it, that’s how the right to bear arms is going to play out in the twenty-first century.
When everyone can pack a weapon, the smart gun owner is going to want buy himself some competitive advantage, just in case things get a little hairy on the street or in the mall or at the movies or on some campus—or even, let’s say, at a city council meeting or at some demonstration when people’s tempers get out of hand. A little more dangerous, sure, but a lot more free and a whole lot more exciting. The hell with background checks. Some weirdo wants to rumble? Just be armed and ready.
Don’t let anybody tell you that the Second Amendment is out of date; we just have to scale it up, as I say, for the world we live in. Terrorists—drug cartels—folks from the wrong side of town who come looking for trouble—the maniac with a grudge, some body armor, and a high-capacity magazine—not to mention Washington, which, every time I look over my shoulder, seems to be gaining on me. When you bear arms these days, you’re going to need something with a tad more sizzle than a flintlock
I’m not saying I wish it on you, but if trouble ever does break out in your neighborhood, and the local bad guys find themselves staring some major armed response in the face—when automatic weapons fire is sounding out in the night, when the mortars have been wheeled into position, when the grenade launchers are doing their thing, when the house two doors down has its roof blown off—well, my friends, that acrid tang you’ll be inhaling? That will be the smell of freedom in the night air.
Look, understand me. I’m not simple-minded. I know there’s a price to be paid. You think I’m joking? Believe me, I understand that there’s a price. I’ll be absolutely honest with you: you know what stopped me for a little while? What really made me think twice? I was doing some research on this whole business for an online forum, and I just happened to come across some figures for children’s deaths from firearms. And for some fool reason I just had to look. And yeah, OK, if you put them all together—homicides, suicides, and accidents—the U.S. is way, way up there, compared to other modern countries. Not just in the cities where the homicide rate is high, but in rural areas where just about as many kids die from firearms accidents or suicide. And like I say, that stopped me for a while. Because these kids don’t have a choice. And they’re just kids. Thousands of kids. Every year.
OK, but then hear me out: where do we go with this? How safe—how fenced in by rules—do we want to make our kids’ lives? No spanking? No guns? Everything G-rated?
Or would you like to move to some country—let’s say, some European country—where the firearms death rate for kids is maybe an tenth of what it is here? Fine, but let me tell you something, my friend. When you do get there, what country is everyone there going to be looking at? What country are they going to be talking about? Whose movies and TV will they be watching? Where will they be wanting to visit, or maybe even move to if they can manage it? Where? It’s a country you may have heard of: the United States of America.
What’s the lesson to be learned from all those school shootings? Very simple. Arm teachers: high school teachers, elementary school teachers, all of them. Arm librarians. Arm camp counselors. Have there been shootings at universities? Then make those liberal professors start packing guns. Arm the doctors and nurses in hospitals and emergency rooms. Arm servers in restaurants. And what did we learn from Aurora? What did we learn? Arm movie ushers, what else? Arm the bus drivers. Arm the people at the DMV. Get the weapons out there. Bring those holsters and gun belts back in style. (And if you happen to have a little cash set aside, follow the smart money and put it in Smith & Wesson or Sturm, Ruger. These people are the real NRA. Never mind Wayne; give them your money and watch it grow.)
Will the firearms death rates go down if we get the guns out there in everybody’s hands? Hell, I don’t know. Maybe not. Maybe they’ll even go up. But is that really the point? Look, it’s regrettable—it really is—that so many tens of thousands of people have to die from firearms in this country—have to die what some people will want to call “unnecessary deaths.” It’s a shame, especially, that thousands of kids have to die here from firearms every year. Nobody likes to see that happen. And definitely, we need much better weapons training.
Doesn’t it make sense that children need to learn, starting in kindergarten or even before, how to handle firearms responsibly and maturely—and to have it be, not just a school thing, but have guns be an important part of their lives at home and, even more when they get a little older, and learn to carry firearms responsibly at parties, and ball games, and proms and pop concerts and whatever. Yes, OK, this is the real world, and there’s going to be deaths—but what people don’t want to face is that this is the price we have to pay for the kind of freedom that makes America what it is.
I can hear you now. I know just what you’re going to say: “So what are you trying to tell me: that they’re not free in Australia? Are you trying to tell me that the Dutch are enslaved, that the French and the British are living under tyranny?”
But see, you’re missing the point. There’s freedom . . . and there’s freedom. And ever since 1776, freedom in this particular country smells like gunsmoke.
Let the French live in peace and drink their Chablis, if that’s all they want out of life. But ask yourself: do you really want a peaceful society where everyone lives to a ripe old age until they’re finally bored to death?
Guns are who we are, and the whole world knows it—and loves it. What do you think sells our movies? Here and all around the world. What do you think the tourists come for? The Wild West. The mob. You know what I’m talking about. The gangsta. The psycho school shooter. The Hatfields and the McCoys. Cops crouched behind their squad car with the colored lights flashing. This is what makes America what it is.
Everybody here loves gun violence. Never mind what people tell some poll taker on the phone; we vote with our feet when we go to the movies. We can’t get enough of it, and we sell it to the world. Gun violence isn’t our problem, my friend. It’s our brand.