On Gun Control
I have been extremely hesitant to weigh in on this already bloated and inflamed debate, feeling that there is very little that I can add to a conversation that has – in recent weeks – been articulated at length, and from both sides, ad nauseam. So rather than belabor an already rubbed-raw wrangle, I would like to simply share my perspective in a conversational tone, and in what I hope can exist somewhat outside the now pervasive cacophony of for-and-against rhetoric. I write this as an opinion piece only, recognizing that this is one of the most polarizing discussions in our country and communities today. I am not so much attempting to add this to my existing body of work, rather I am simply taking advantage of this blog as an outlet for personal catharsis. I feel somewhat vulnerable in writing this, as it is a view that I have not to date shared with my community. Here goes…
I have had the opportunity to speak at length over these last few years about the domestication of organisms, and more specifically on that of humans beings. Primarily my focus has been on the role of diet and lifestyle, although I think it is obvious that there are other aspects that are of relevance in the discussion. As you have no doubt deduced by now, this article, on its face, is about gun-control. However, as I hope I can articulate clearly, it is my opinion that this current debate is really about something more. I think what we are really talking about the rights of individuals to possess and carry weapons. Read on…
I would preface this article with the reminder that human beings are tool makers. We use our anatomy – and as technology advances, our physiology too – to operate tools. Just as our strategy for staying warm and dry utilizes tools rather than, say, fur (I am referring to our clothing, which by definition is a tool), so to is it true of our application of violence, whether for offense or defense. The tools we use to multiply violent force are those that we refer to as weapons – or “arms”. Since our countries Bill of Rights enumerates the “Right to Bear Arms” it seems wise at the outset to define the terms:
arms |ärmz|plural noun
1. weapons and ammunition; armaments
1. (of a person) carry
Before bringing up the topic of firearms, I want to point out that the Second Amendment enumerates specifically the right to “bear arms”, or “carry weapons”, and is not specific only to firearms. This leads me to ask the following question:
Are those who are calling for gun-control truly only interested in regulating the possession of firearms, or is this about a persons right to carry a weapon in general, in other words, the right to “bear arms”? Let’s imagine that semi-automatic firearms were outlawed tomorrow, and the 8 million citizens who lawfully carry concealed weapons decided to switch from handguns to carrying edged weapons. Would those who are asking for firearms regulations be comfortable with this? Below is an image of a set of what I would consider effective concealable edged weapons. Personally, I think self defense with a handgun would be a safer, more humane option, but decide for yourself. Do you think those pressing for stringent gun control would consent to you carrying these around with you?
Central to this conversation – in my opinion – is whether or not we have a Natural Right (remember the constitution – via the Bill of Rights – does not grant you rights, it simply enumerates natural rights bestowed upon you by your creator) to possess and carry weapons. Hold onto that thought…
How I’ve arrived here
Had I been writing this just five or six years ago, my opinion would have swayed dramatically toward the other end of the debate spectrum. In fact, for me, the collective voice of the anti-gun/pro gun-control community echoes much of the internal dialogue that I carried around in my head previous to my immersion into the world of firearms. I did not grow up around firearms, despite the fact that my step-father was a career military man. We never had a gun in our home – to my knowledge at least – and I had never handled a firearm until I was in my mid-twenties. While I was always fascinated by the world of warrior culture, I hadn’t sought out firearms for sport, hobby, or self-defense. In fact, the image below sums up how I saw the the gun-owning American patriot during the early part of my adult life:
Since my early childhood I have been intrigued by all things related to the ancient martial class and culture, and in particular the weapons of the past. From “nunchucks” to swords, bows to atlatl’s, weapons and their mastery/application has always fascinated me. It wasn’t until these last few years that I became interested in owning and training with firearms, and to be more precise, it wasn’t until recently that I overcame my aversion to them.
It was while training in a medieval Japanese martial art form – what I would today call a “museum martial art” – that it finally occurred to me just how anachronistic this “fighting style” had become. I was learning the basics of sword handling when it finally dawned on me that the battle rifle – a.k.a. the “assault rifle” – was the modern day sword and the current weapon of choice and convention for todays warriors. It suddenly felt like a strange thing indeed to spend my time learning to master a weapon from an era now long past at the expense of learning to wield the weapon of the day. It sounds funny to me now, as it is such a painfully obvious conclusion, but my atavistic personality always dreamed of a world reverted to something more akin to a renaissance-fair than the world that we are living in today. I made a decision then to immerse myself in the firearms culture, and to bring myself to date through the development of a skill-set that has relevance now.
Guns, which for me had been a powerful symbol of unnecessarily violent, lopsided power, now invoke for me a far less dramatic emotional response. Firearms are simply part of life (like it or not) and I am comfortable with that. Their operation is no longer a mystery, and their safe handling is now second nature. To be honest, having personally observed the shooting skills of hundreds of people, from police and military personnel to competition shooters and hunters, my fear of ever being shot (intentionally) is drastically diminished, knowing that under stress, even most trained individuals miss their targets most of the time – and most violent criminals are not well trained. This New York Times article says police officers hit their desired targets only about 34% of the time. I digress.
The gun-control movement – in its current frenzy of activity – would depict firearms owners as extremists who are pathologically obsessed with their guns. I would take this opportunity to say that I for one do not fit neatly into this category. As I see it, guns are excessively loud, environmentally polluting (due to the Lead content of their ammunition), and represent a quite nearly antiquated technology dating back as far as the 700′s AD. They lack – at least to my sense of aesthetics – the grace of the bow, or nobility of the blade. If I had a magic button – or maybe a trigger – that I could press to make them all suddenly disappear, I would press it (and yes, that includes my own collection). That said, no such button exists and we are left with the world we live in, one that is, quite literally, bristling with guns.
When it comes to gun-control, there are really two very distinct issues being discussed by and within our government, by the corporately puppeted “dinosaur media”, and within the blog-sphere at large as it relates to firearms. The first is about the citizens right to self defense, and the other is about the true meaning of the Second Amendment. I would like to explore both, beginning with the former.
On Self Defense…
Concealed Carry – Weapons are all around you
I would like to bring to the awareness of the uninitiated, that as many as 8 million Americans currently have permits to lawfully carry concealed weapons (CCW permits or Carrying a Concealed Weapon). These individuals are all around you, many of them walk by you on the street each day, stand next to you in line at the bank or grocery store, and sit next to you at the movies. These people have guns concealed on their person – and yes, they are loaded – and you are likely, by design, completely unaware of it.
A full 49 of the 50 States currently issue CCW permits, with 38 considered “Shall Issue” jurisdictions, and 10 considered “May Issue” jurisdictions. 2 are considered “Unrestricted” Jurisdictions, and 1 State, Illinois as the only remaining “No-Issue Jurisdiction” (this was just recently determined to be unconstitutional and is about to change), along with the District of Columbia (Washington DC).
Essentially, “Shall Issue” means the State will issue CCW permits to those individuals who meet their criteria, which may include proof of a firearms safety training course, background checks, etc.
A “May Issue” jurisdiction is one that issues CCW permits at the discretion of the local or State level authorities, and in practice often means that it is difficult to obtain such a permit without some degree of nepotism.
A “No Issue” jurisdiction is just what it sounds like, where no private citizen – with some very limited exceptions – can be issued a permit to carry a weapon within that jurisdiction.
Unrestricted or “Constitutional Carry” States allow their residents to carry a concealed firearm without the need for a CCW, though 3 of these 4 states do continue the practice of issuing these permits for those who wish to be permitted. Vermont – not exactly known for it’s gun violence – is the exception, where no permits are issued, if you can own the gun lawfully, you can carry it concealed.
With great power comes great responsibility
It is not my intention to paint a Wild West image of this somewhat secretive concealed carry culture, as there are many restrictions prohibiting the carry of firearms in certain places and at certain times. For instance, and this should be obvious, it is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, into Federal buildings (this includes the Post Office) and in many jurisdictions, even into establishments that post specific signage that effectively creates the now infamous “Gun Free Zone” that has become the favored killing grounds for active shooters. I am writing this from Arizona where carrying a concealed weapon is lawful without a permit, and as a result many business posts signs like the one I photographed at a Staples a few days before writing this:
As an interesting side note, there is a saying in the firearms culture, “an armed society is a polite society”. When you are in a state with “constitutional carry” you think twice before giving someone the finger in traffic. It really does get you thinking differently about behaving aggressively. Again, I digress…
Now, if the thought of all of these concealed weapons makes you squeamish, consider the following excerpt from the Wiki on concealed carry:
(a 3 year) study concluded that Texas CHL holders were always less likely to commit any particular type of crime than the general population, and overall were 13 times less likely to commit any crime.
In other words, lawfully concealed weapons are carried primarily by exceptionally law abiding citizens. These people will almost never pose a threat to you, and in fact may reduce your threat of violence by discouraging violent crime (see video below).
The following is a subjective, but relevant point…
Most of the police officers I know strongly support the right of private citizens to carry a concealed firearm. More specifically, most police officers I know encourage civilians who do carry to be sure that they carry consistently, as in “all the time”. Keep in mind that police officers see the underbelly of the towns and cities we live in, and they are aware of individual and collective threats to our safety that most of us are oblivious to. They also know that they almost always respond to violent crimes after they happen, not before, and that they are not able to protect you during those vital few seconds during a violent altercation.
I know it is an uncomfortable subject to bring to light, but according to Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, (if you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do, or at least listen to the audio version like I did!) as many as 1 in 25 people are sociopaths, essentially people who do not feel emotions the way the rest of us do. These are the people we describe as “psychopaths” when they commit violent crimes. Sociopathic individuals do not possess the emotional fail-safe that prevents most of us from committing predatory crimes, which is why these crimes feel so unnatural to the rest of us. We would feel so bad about it, but they don’t feel at all. While most of us choose to live in a kind of passive denial about violent and predatory crimes and those who commit them, police do not have this luxury.
Here’s a quick homework assignment:
If you know a police officer, or even if you don’t, go ahead and ask one if they support citizens (more specifically YOU) lawfully carrying a concealed firearm for self defense. Let me know what they say in the comments below!
As of today, at least 8 million safe, law abiding, and perfectly normal Americans are permitted to carry concealed weapons. These individuals – obviously – seek out these permits for defensive purposes, as those who would use firearms offensively do not typically apply for permits first!
Choosing to carry a weapon for personal defense is ancient. It is human, and can be considered – from an anthropological and evolutionary perspective – quite healthy. While many animals are born with powerful defensive and offensive weapons, humans are tool makers and users. We must carry our weapons. Perhaps there will come a day when we – together as a species – can evolve beyond this pattern, though I scarcely imagine this evolution will happen via the selective pressures of legislation (enacted by politicians who themselves have armed security, or enforced by those who carry guns).
If you have never owned a firearm, are not intimately familiar with firearms, or simply have not yet been polarized to one side of the debate, I would humbly ask that you take the time to watch this rather calm, rational video explantation of some of the more fascinating statistics on guns and gun-control by Stefan Molyneux. It is probably the most balanced and well articulated enumerations on the topic I have heard to date.
This brings me to the next point…
I think the most valuable and important point made in the video above is this (I’ll paraphrase); gun control legislature does not and will not make guns go away, it simply concentrates guns into the hands of the military and police (not to mention violent criminals). Nowhere in the gun-control debate has anyone mentioned removing the guns from our police or military, rather it is the partial or complete disarmament of “We the People” that is being discussed. The point that the mainstream media will scarcely allow into the conversation is the true purpose of the Second Amendment, which is (not was) to arm the population as an equalizing distribution of power and a deterrent to tyranny.
The second part of the the debate over firearms is in regard to the Second Amendment. We repeatedly hear from our politicians, newscasters, and pundits about the “right to hunt”, and the “right to self-defense”. I would like to point out that the Second Amendment is not about either of these obvious and natural rights. In fact, these are so obvious that they were not enumerated in the Bill of Rights, as they are and were simply assumed. All organisms have the right to defend themselves, and hunting (we are, as a species, “hunter-gatherers”) was one of the most important ways that people procured food for themselves and their families at the time the Bill of Rights was penned. Despite the corporate medias attempt to obscure the real purpose of the Second Amendment, I think it is clear enough to anyone who reads it:
“Being necessary to the security of a free state…”
Even in those rare moments when the mainstream media will allow the idea of oppressive government to enter into the conversation, it is treated as if it were an absurd and incredulous fantasy or the ramblings of conspiracy theorists (the media continues to get some serious milage out of that label), with even President Barak Obama laughing at the idea – not to mention Vice President Biden smirking in the background – in his recent address to the nation (yes, the address that was complete with stage-prop children) where he rolled out his 23 new “is-this-even-legal?” executive orders on “sensible gun control”.
I have many friends that are police and military, some of whom have operated in elite military units. I appreciate and understand their training, their mindset, and the desire to “do good” that has led most of them to the career that they have chosen. I also deeply value the contribution and sacrifice that they have made to ensure that the rest of us can sleep soundly and safely in our beds at night. For that reason, I ask them to forgive me for the following images, which I place here not to demonize the acts of individuals, but to illustrate the tyrannical feeling-tone which has become ever-more oppressive throughout these United States in recent years. All three of the following images represent force, or the threat of force, being used against Americans – Citizens of the Republic – and are iconographic representations of the growing sense of imperialism that is leading to an ever increasing distrust of government by the people.
The very fact that the idea of a tyrannical and oppressive government can not be openly discussed in the mainstream conversation – even though it is the very stuff of the Second Amendment – is in itself suspect. I think the following quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson sums it up pretty effectively:
“The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it” – Thomas Jefferson
If you are unclear about the reason for the existence of the second amendment or why this issue is so significant, please read this outstanding article on the subject.
A few important points
- The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy. Even if second amendment support were not pervasive – 40-45% of households report owning a gun – a majority vote to ban guns would remain unconstitutional. Even if only 1 single American gun owner were left and all others unanimously decided that all guns should be banned, the second amendment would still protect the right of this individual to be armed. It is important to understand the United States is not a democracy, and that the fashionable and fickle whims of the majority cannot alienate you from a right endowed to you by your creator and enumerated in the foundational documents of your country.
- The second amendment was not written to protect the right to self-defense, hunting, or sporting pursuits. It was written to ensure an equalized distribution of power amongst the people and throughout the Republic, and to decentralize power out of the hands of the government. This is a crucial point to understand, as the mainstream media continues to muddy the minds of the people by repeatedly referring to peoples “right to self defense” or “right to hunt”, as if this were the meaning of, or the reason for the Second Amendment.
-Banning “Assault Rifles” is the fundamental violation of the 2nd Amendment. These are the very weapons that We The People must possess to equalize power throughout the Republic. The mainstream media continues to ask the question of “why would anyone need an ‘assault rifle?” since they are not designed for hunting. The answer, though obvious, continues to be left out of the conversation- and since many gun owners do not feel sufficiently protected by the First Amendment anymore they are hesitant to openly discuss that “assault weapons” are the last equalizer of power throughout the republic.
The weapons that would be left in the hands of The People were this round of proposed gun-control legislation passed would leave Americans grossly undefended against oppression, and would actually set up the conditions for it by concentrating and centralizing firepower into the hands of the government and their enforcers. Perhaps, sadly, it is only after these armaments have been relinquished that their true import be sufficiently understood.
In other words (Sorry for the redundancy, but it bears repeating)…
-Gun control does not, and will not make guns go away. It will simply concentrate guns into the hands of the government, and more specifically into the hands of those who execute the orders of that government, a class that has demonstrably become increasingly hostile to the Citizens of the Republic (that’s you and me) in recent years. Compliance with, or support of gun control measures can be viewed as a vote for the centralization and monopolization of power into the hands of a small elite few.
I understand this is not a simple issue, and that many are frustrated by the pro-gun arguments which sometimes sound an awful lot like “more guns = more safety”. I am also not insensitive to the atrocities that take place every day at the hands of sociopathic shooters. It isn’t difficult to see that the gulf separating those who identify with the modern gun culture and those who have never been a part of the firearms world is tremendous, leaving both sides struggling to make sense of the perspectives of the other. Interestingly though, were the Republic to stand, it wouldn’t matter what anyones opinion was, as “the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
I believe in your right to own and carry a weapon, whether that is a firearm or some other weapon of your choice. I support your right to own a handgun to protect yourself and your family from crime and violence, and I support your right to carry that weapon concealed on your person. I also support your right to own a semi-automatic rifle for the defense of your home or your homeland against enemies foreign or domestic. If you choose to, or have chosen to own firearms it is my sincerest hope that you will seek out the most outstanding training in the operation and safe handling of your weapons.
If you choose not to own firearms, I ask you to consider your willingness to call people with firearms to come to your rescue if you find your life or limb in jeopardy (“hello 911, please send help, there’s an intruder in my home!”). This is – to me – a classic case of personal disempowerment, where we refuse to participate in our own defense but request or even demand that others protect us. If you find the idea of armament repugnant, I ask you to consider how much of your peaceful, affluent, and creative lifestyle is afforded by the willingness of others to take up arms on your behalf. Consider what your life here at home might be like if we suddenly left our selves and our nation defenseless (can you say “warlords”).
The Constitutional Republic of the United States of America was created as an experiment in personal Liberty. This is a unique and rare opportunity considering the recorded history of civilizations past and present. I implore you to consider this deeply, and to be slow to willingly relinquish your unalienable rights. They are granted to you by your creator, not your government. They are enumerated in the constitution, not granted to you by it. Another way to say this is; this isn’t about your constitution – which is after all just a document – this is about your natural rights as an organism, as an animal, as a human being. Please don’t be quick to willfully surrender your freedom.
3 Questions and a Thought Experiment
First, I invite you to partake in a rather amusing thought experiment. For the next week, whenever you hear mention of “guns” or “firearms”, change the word in your mind to “weapons”. If you hear “assault rifles” mentioned, change the word and mental image to a medieval long-bow. Should you hear the term “hand gun” change this – both word and image – to “dagger”, and if the term “shotgun” should come up, shift it to “cross-bow”. When you hear the word “magazine” switch it to “quiver” and “bullet” to “arrow”. This exercise gives you an opportunity to alter your perspective on the topic, removes the major “trigger” words, and reduces the emotional response to the issue. It may offer you a view point that was previously crowded out by rhetoric and emotion. Here is an example:
“Legislation is being proposed that would make the production, sale, or transfer of bows unlawful, as well as ban the ownership of thirty arrow quivers. Those who currently own existing bows would be required to register them in a national database, and would be restricted to the ownership of ten arrow quivers.”
Question 1: Do you believe that you have a natural right to possess weapons, the tools of self and collective defense?
Question 2: Are you comfortable with – given our current political climate – the idea of the Federal Government and Police having a monopoly on firearms, and with their ability to keep you safe and to treat you fairly (especially given the many warnings left to us by our forebears regarding the threat of tyranny by out of control government)?
Question 3: Are we Surfs or Citizens? Free or Bond? Are you ReWilding or moving further down the path of forced domestication?
I am sincerely intrigued by your responses, and I intend to be very involved in the discussion below. If you are opposed to weapons, I politely ask that you display your commitment to non-violence in the wording and tone of your comments.
Thank You for taking the time to read this rather protracted post, you are very much appreciated!
Celebrating Your Wild Freedom,