I don’t know where to begin with gun control. I grew up in California, a state with some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, where people mock “gun-toting Republicans” and jeer at the utterance of the acronym, “NRA.” I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been much farther left on the political spectrum. I registered to vote as a Democrat on my birthday, and I planned to vote for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Yeah, I was duped by his incredibly good marketing team when it came to “democratic socialism,” but I researched his stance on gun control. Why? Despite my short trip to the left-wing, I have always been unequivocally pro-gun.
In the wake of the Alexandria, VA shooting directed toward Republican lawmakers, we see the same, predictable response from the left. It’s made me wonder, what makes gun control a strictly partisan issue? Why do I never hear of people with a similar story to mine?
This past spring, I walked out of my economics class to the quad to see a couple of people with a display opposing “campus-carry,” the law that would allow concealed carry of firearms on my college campus. I decided to go talk to them. Our conversation revealed some of their best arguments for gun-control (spoiler: they aren’t very good) and gave me insight to a way of thinking about this issue that I have never understood.
First, they claimed that the presence of guns would lower the quality of education. They said professors would be scared to bring up controversial issues in the classroom and challenge their students’ way of thinking for fear of being shot. In the moment, I saw this as their best argument and couldn’t come up with a worthy response. It wasn’t until later that day that I realized the irrational assumption that forms such an argument: that an individual given a gun is now capable of murder.
The man across the table who I was discussing campus-carry with was clearly not happy with me. He could’ve slapped me in response to a few of my smart-ass responses (you should have a little fun sometimes), but he didn’t. Why? Although he vehemently disagreed with me, he’s not about to use physical violence against me. He has a fist. He’s perfectly capable of punching me in the face. However, I’m sure the thought didn’t even cross his mind.
Even the idea that political or scholarly disagreement will cause violence in the form of punching or slapping seems far-fetched to me. I don’t see people in my classes running up to the front of the room to smack the political science professor. The idea that the presence of a gun will make them do something much more extreme: take the life of their professor, makes no rational sense. Does a sane individual given a gun become insane? Do they become bloodthirsty for people who disagree with them? A better question for the people who use this argument might be, how scared are you of other people walking around day-to-day? How much fear torments you before you step outside wearing that political shirt?
Besides the fact that this argument is irrational to begin with, the fact is, if someone wanted to murder their professor, there’s nothing stopping them from walking on campus with a gun illegally and doing it. This is the bottom line that anti-gun advocates don’t seem to understand. Murderers don’t check the law before they go on a rampage. They don’t think about the consequences. They don’t give a damn what the federal government says the size of their magazine should be. Just like illegal drugs, illegal guns with high capacity magazines or any other outlawed features will always be available to purchase via the black market, despite the government’s greatest effort to eradicate them.
If this terrifies you, buy a gun, get to a range and learn to defend yourself. As for me, the basic economic concept of black markets doesn’t worry me. What worries me is politicians and uninformed citizens pushing to limit my right to defend myself in the face of this obvious reality.
Another argument they offered was “citizens don’t have the training.” All I did was laugh, point to the flag pole 20 yards away and say, “I could shoot that.” (That was the smart-ass comment I was talking about.) I’ve been to the range twice in my life. I asked a counter-question to which I already knew the answer: if everyone with a gun received target and safety training, would you support campus-carry? They wouldn’t. The possibility that people may not effectively defend themselves does not justify robbing them of their chance to do so. It does not justify making them sitting ducks in the face of a mass-shooter, period.
For persuasion’s sake, I decided to make it personal. I told the man across the table that I would like to be allowed to carry a gun as I walk home from campus at night, for safety. Even though my school issued a warning earlier in the year regarding an attempted assault (a girl had been grabbed outside the dorms), the guy laughed in my face and called me paranoid. Isn’t it ironic that a man who, given his politics, is surely a feminist told me that I’m paranoid for wanting a gun to protect myself? Despite the feminist claim that 1 in 4 women are raped on campus, despite their constant insistence that I’m in danger as a woman, this guy laughed at me for wanting to protect myself with a gun. This is the same guy who thinks his student will up and shoot him for a controversial statement. I’m paranoid?
Eventually, we agreed to disagree and I went on with my day. Our conversation led me to wonder how it’s possible that something I see as common sense can be perceived as insane by someone else. Why are virtually all left-wingers passionately anti-gun? It’s for the same reason they consistently support big government “nanny state” policies.
While I see a city where everyone has a gun on their hip as a place where I have a good amount of personal bodyguards, they see it as a hostile environment full of potential killers. While I see the gun in my classmates’ backpack as the first line of defense against a mass-shooter, they see him or her as a potential killer.
This all boils down to one simple fact: those who support big-government policies don’t trust other people. They don’t trust gun owners to be responsible. They don’t trust people to provide for and take care of themselves. They don’t trust people to help those who fall behind who are struggling to take care of themselves.
Therefore, they want the government to use its authority and force to ensure that these things happen (which government intervention almost never does, let alone efficiently.) Despite the good will that they express in voting for policies they believe will help others, they forget their own spirit of good will when I suggest, “what if the government doesn’t, and what if individuals do, instead?”
The only reason I call out left-wingers in this instance is because I’ve never met a right-winger who’s anti-gun. Not considering political affiliation, I’ve noticed more and more that fear is the consistent, and strongest motivator that causes an individual to support any law that limits his or her freedom.
I’ll leave you with a catch-all argument for guns. Guns exist, and in the wrong hands, they have the capability of killing people or asserting power over someone. You and I are people who are alive, and we have rights to life and liberty. We have the right to defend our lives and those of others from those who wish to do us harm, and we have the right to defend our liberty from those who wish to control us. As long as guns exist, each of us has a right to keep one.