Gun Ownership: American Exceptionalism
by Gary North: Rev.
Jim Wallis: Another Victim of the Rockefeller Strategy
response to an attempt by a handful of liberal politicians in Congress
to enact laws against the ownership of assault weapons, meaning
semi-automatic AR-15's, we are seeing the most remarkable American
resistance movement that I can recall in my lifetime.
run articles in favor of gun ownership and against gun control find
that these articles get a high number of hits. Therefore, the sites
run even more articles on the same topic. This is only sensible.
You give the customers what they want.
The rush to
buy ammunition and anything connected with assault rifles is like
nothing I have ever seen. In the state of Georgia, one pro-gun group
is giving away in a raffle a semiautomatic AR-15. Its membership
drive is more successful than anything it has ever done in the past.
It is not just
in Georgia that this is the case. Across the South and in the Midwest,
there is a kind of mad dash to get involved in organizations that
promote Second Amendment liberties.
both sides of the question have drawn a line in the political sand.
The difference is this: the gun control politicians do not have
the votes to get anything through the House of Representatives.
They know this. Senator Feinstein is pursuing this as a matter of
principle. She is a left-wing ideologue. She is getting a lot of
publicity for her stand, but she has been completely undermined
by Harry Reid, who is staying
discreetly away from Feinstein's proposed legislation. He knows
better than to attempt it, since too many Democrats will break ranks
with him if he pushes this. It would make him look like a poor leader.
It would also reveal the fact that Democratic politicians are subject
to the desire of wanting to be reelected, and they know that on
this issue, if they vote in favor of Feinstein's bill, they risk
not being reelected.
I do not think
the people who have become active on this issue in the last month
are likely to be willing to surrender their guns unless there are
policemen at the door with a warrant. There will not be. There are
not enough policemen to enforce anything like a comprehensive gun
ban. Furthermore, there will be resistance in smaller counties,
in both the South and Midwest, to any such enforcement. Police chiefs
do not want to antagonize the local voters.
There is a
widely accepted argument, popular among Americans, that America
is exceptional in the world of nations. I do not mean that Americans
have a particular knack at entrepreneurship, or something similar.
Many nations have certain specialties they are good at. This makes
them normal, not exceptional. But on the question of gun ownership,
America really is exceptional. On this issue, something in the range
of half of all Americans are really serious about the ownership
of weapons. This is ingrained in our culture, although not in the
culture of the state of New York and other enclaves of liberalism.
This commitment to gun ownership is not necessarily a sign of commitment
to the United States Constitution. But it is a commitment to the
right of Americans to own symbols of American resistance against
tyranny, a tradition which goes back to the American Revolution,
and certainly goes back to the Civil War in the American South.
It is more
a cultural matter that it is a constitutional matter. This is why
the liberals have had such tremendous difficulty in pushing their
agenda on this issue. They have been successful in rolling back
the United States Constitution in most other areas, with the exception
of the First Amendment. Other amendments are barely known. But the
Second Amendment is well known, and liberals have not been successful
in changing the minds of gun owners on this issue. This is because
the bedrock foundation of gun ownership in United States is not
the United States Constitution, nor is it a dedicated and large
minorities commitment to the Constitution. The Constitution reinforces
a cultural value which extends back before 1776.
ownership of weapons in the United States by private citizens is
not matched anywhere else in the world. Switzerland is close. The
training is far better. The commitment of national defense by an
armed electorate in Switzerland is like nothing else in the modern
world. Being part of a citizen army is a matter of national pride.
What we see in Switzerland is part of a national ethic committed
to the autonomy of Switzerland, and the maintenance of that autonomy.
The Swiss stay neutral, and they are armed to the teeth as the best
way of staying neutral. In other words, in Switzerland it is a matter
of national priority that men be willing to fight, trained to fight,
and armed with military weapons.
This is not
the American tradition. The American tradition is far more a matter
of individual autonomy, individual ownership of weapons, and not
a matter of national pride. Americans do not have anything like
the training that the Swiss have in the use of their weapons. Americans
are not expected to answer a call to arms, and go down to the local
armory to get those arms. Gun ownership in America is not a matter
of a defense of the nation or a commitment to a military tradition.
It is quite the opposite.
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North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 31-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible.
2013 Gary North
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