The Conditions of Weapon Ownership
I’ve heard the argument that if a given group of unarmed and massacred people had been armed, that the results would have been different. What is usually meant by that is that the massacred group would have been able to defend themselves and their families from their government or from their enemies. But given the same conditions an influx of weapons might have only meant that the massacres were multiplied. That is, “given the same conditions,” but would the conditions have remained the same?
A culture of gun ownership, of supporting an armed citizenry, changes the conditions. In the way that actions “say” things or send messages, it’s impossible to have, within a population, a systematically oppressed sub-group that is also legally armed. Arms are an absolute endorsement by the government and by the rest of the citizens stating that members of the population sub-group are also full and trusted citizens. The fundamental conditions of the society have changed.
A culture of gun ownership, a clear Constitutional demand that citizens not be disarmed, also changes the conditions of government. It is an absolute endorsement by the nation stating that citizens are a force for good, that they are full citizens and rational beings, individually respected and trustworthy. Given those conditions it’s nearly unfathomable that the government would ever turn on the citizens.
Lately one hears the scoffing; do you really think you need those guns to oppose your own government? That I have those guns creates the condition where one can scoff at the mere notion of our government becoming tyrannical. I remain a citizen, explicitly trusted to be the competent ruler of my own self and a force for good in society. Note that this is true if a citizen chooses to own weapons or chooses not to own weapons. The right to be armed remains, the trust remains, and the conditions created by the 2nd Amendment remain.
This message of trust and full citizenship is widely recognized, if only subconsciously. Quite a few people pushing for gun control, those encountered in private conversations, media columnists and others have made something of a fetish of publicly declaring themselves untrustworthy, emotional basket cases, likely to kill someone if they have a weapon at hand in a stressful moment. Their own irresponsibility is presented like a trump card. The final word. They are mentally unstable, they tell us, someone no one should trust with a weapon. And because they are mentally and emotionally infirm, everyone should be disarmed, no one should be trusted with a weapon, and the government must keep us all safe from ourselves by disarming people who are not criminals, those people who used to be citizens in good standing.
They want to change the conditions.