Is there a right to freedom from guns?

Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo doesn’t own guns, doesn’t like guns and resents the aggressiveness of the “gun culture”—people such as Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, who think the solution to gun violence is as armed citizenry.  He wrote the following earlier this week in defense of the values of the “non-gun tribe.”

… … Do I want to have people carrying firearms out and about where I live my life — at the store, the restaurant, at my kid’s playground?  No, the whole idea is alien and frankly scary.  Because remember, guns are extremely efficient tools for killing people and people get weird and do stupid things.

bildeA big part of gun versus non-gun tribalism or mentality is tied to the difference between city and rural.  And a big reason ‘gun control’ in the 70s, 80s and 90s foundered was that in the political arena, the rural areas rebelled against the city culture trying to impose its own ideas about guns on the rural areas.  And there’s a reality behind this because on many fronts the logic of pervasive gun ownership makes a lot more sense in sparsely populated rural areas than it does in highly concentrated city areas.

But a huge amount of the current gun debate, the argument for the gun-owning tribe, amounts to the gun culture invading my area, my culture, my part of the country.  So we’re upset about massacres so the answer is more guns.  Arming everybody. 

There’s a lot of bogus research (widely discredited) purporting to show that if we were all armed we’d all be safer through a sort of mutually assured destruction, pervasive deterrence.  As I said, the research appears to be bogus.  But even if it was possible that we could be just as safe with everyone armed as no one armed, I’d still want no one armed.  Not at my coffee shop or on the highway or wherever.  Because I don’t want to carry a gun.  And I don’t want to be around armed people.

via TPM Editors Blog.

I feel the same way Marshall does.  I don’t own a firearm and, if I did, I wouldn’t carry it around in public.   I don’t want to have to be constantly thinking about whether the person next to me is a threat, or the circumstances in which I needed to use deadly force.

Like Marshall, I recognize that there is a right to own guns, and that there are valid reasons why people might want to own guns.  I have no problem with someone who has a gun at home for hunting or in their home or place of business for self-protection.  I can see why someone might want to carry a gun in public for self-protection.

I think gun prohibition is a terrible idea.  The Branch Davidian massacre and the Ruby Ridge tragedy were the results of misguided attempts to enforce federal gun laws.

On the other hand I have no problem with the fact that you can’t bring a gun onto an airplane or into a federal building, or, in many places, within the vicinity of a public school.  I think the Obama administration made a mistake in deciding to allow concealed weapons in national parks.  I wish the President would issue an executive order rescinding that decision.

bushmaster-man-card-bannerWhat I do have a problem with is people who own guns as a form of self-expression.  I don’t personally know anybody who owns a large individual arsenal, but my impression is that, for most of such people, their stockpile of firearms is primarily a statement of who they are and what their values are, rather than for personal use.

Gun control is a symbolic issue.  President Obama’s proposals, and the legislation enacted with lightning speed here in New York state here this past week, are a way for Obama and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to affirm that they have more sympathy for what Josh Marshall calls the non-gun tribe than for the pro-gun tribe.   Sometimes there is a need for symbolic actions to reassure the public.  Whether these actions—such as New York state’s limitation of seven rounds to a magazine—will have any practical effect is another question.


Click on Being Part of the Non-Gun Tribe and Guns Kill People for Josh Marshall’s full comments on TPM Editors Blog.


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