Gun violence is a term that has been around long enough that we can assume those who originated it and continue to promote it do so with full knowledge of its nuances. The term makes no distinction between the hate-filled ideologue who murdered Dr. Martin Luther King and the mother who would defend her child. Those who use the term gun violence use it in specific preference to gun crime or violent crime, refusing to distinguish between murder and any form of justifiable self-defense.
Our social fabric is dependent upon the policeman or the member of the armed services who has sworn an oath to the Constitution to defend us. Their very oaths imply the threat of gun violence. We may sleep secure in our bed at night or feel we can walk our streets in complete security. When we do so, it’s because some hard men and women watch silently and protect. Are we reduced to the place where we consider these men and woman morally bankrupt in comparison to the cubicle worker or the hairdresser who refuses to own a weapon? Is a mother who would defend her child morally inferior by definition?
The police aren’t always there. An old farmer in the remote Scot border country, a place with centuries of violent history, said once, “The police are thirty minutes away. In that thirty minutes, I am the only law.” This same farmer’s daughter, also a lawyer, explains, “Great Britain does indeed still have a castle doctrine in practice, but it only comes in play if you own an actual castle.”
Gun violence, any violence, is an amoral term. Before a violent act is judged as right or wrong, our legal tradition demands the circumstances be examined. If we say all violence is wrong, we’re accepting that an individual has no right to live and breathe, if someone, anyone, decides it’s time for him to die. If the individual has no right to physically contest anyone’s decision to end his life, then this individual can be said to be a creature of no rights. He only enjoys those privileges either the state or the more violent-prone individuals he encounters should choose to bestow in the moment. And, the state or individual who bestows these privileges can reclaim them at the whim of their choosing.
To say that the world would be better off if all citizens were disarmed is a sophisticated abstraction. The problem with any abstract concept is that all of us can’t grasp them. There are certain mathematical concepts I may never understand, but while I’m on the concept of mathematics, for those who proudly state they’ve lived their whole lives and never needed a gun, I’m in complete agreement. I agree you can never really need a gun but once when you don’t have it. A person has a right to decide he doesn’t want a gun, but when he takes it upon himself to make that same decision for me is there anything left I can decide for myself that is truly beyond his touch?
If the world is a better place without guns, the first thing I’d have to acknowledge would be that this better world would be a place without me. Without my guns, I would have starved, been killed by wild animals, or human predators. Is it so wrong that I’m glad to be alive? Can you not see the difficulty of such an abstraction for a person who lived when he might not have because he had a gun and knew how to use it?
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