Pregnancy’s a real trip.
The heartburn, the aches, the pains, the sleepless nights—it’s a real carnival. One of these sleepless nights this past week, as I was flipping through my phone at 3 am, wishing desperately that I could fall back asleep, I saw a story popping up across my newsfeeds (yes, I read news at 3 am). My heart sank as I watched it develop before my eyes: a man was shooting person after person in Las Vegas and no one knew where he was yet.
By morning, the story had developed into a nightmare: one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
My heart sank again for another reason. I knew that before the countless bodies were collected from the now-bloodied pavement, people would start pulling a Rahm Emmanuel (you know, “never let a serious crisis go to waste”).
Sure enough, from Hillary Clinton to Jimmy Kimmel—suddenly everyone’s an expert on guns and how to prevent these evils from happening again.
(For the record, Hillary, a silencer would have melted on a weapon firing at that speed, but I’ve digressed.)
As I watched this ever-predictable gun control debate raise its tired head, I thought of the same things I always do. “Why don’t these people call for the banning of knives or vehicles or pressure cookers or cell phones or any other countless item used time and again in attacks here and around the world? Why is it that this is the SINGLE thing that the American left wing suddenly cares about emphatically when there’s a tragedy?”
I’ve watched people, like this formerly pro-gun control commentator at FiveThirtyEight come to stunning conclusions when she actually analyzed the data behind the 30,000+ lives that are ended in the U.S. each year by guns. (Hint: most of them are suicides, accidental deaths, and gang violence like that in Chicago—which the left loves to ignore.) I, myself, have written about the statistics that time and again disprove the narrative that we’ve got a love affair with gun violence in this country and that somehow the answer is more gun control.
And while sometimes these facts do sway the intellectually honest (as was the case with the aforementioned FiveThirtyEight writer), so often these truths are brushed aside in an emotional tidal wave of political rhetoric.
It’s like none of it matters.
Why the hypocrisy?
Why attack guns and ignore the other countless other ways people are attacked and killed? Why ignore the facts behind gun deaths in this country? Why ignore the fact that gun control measures (like in Chicago) are demonstrably ineffective?
Part of it, of course, is that people have been long since conditioned to think about this emotionally. It’s easy after a tragedy like this to resort to knee-jerk “get em!” mentalities wherein guns are an easy target (no pun intended). I do think there are a LOT of well-meaning, caring and compassionate left-of-center Americans who oppose guns because they really want to help stop evil.
But is it really just about emotion and compassion? Is that really where the anti-Second Amendment rhetoric gets its strength? Perhaps today, yes—but are we missing a bigger cause?
It dawned on me this week: I don’t think that we on the side of the Second Amendment always grasp that when we’re dealing with the anti-gun crowd, the roots of this sentiment aren’t exclusively in compassion and emotion—even though many may think that’s exactly why they believe what they believe.
It goes a lot farther back than that— back to our founding, to be precise.
Guns are the great equalizer.
They give power to a petite woman defending herself against a burly male attacker; they give a father power over the home intruders threatening his sleeping family; they give a would-be carjacking victim power over the thief with the knife.
The Founders—as I’ve written here—enshrined the Second Amendment in our Constitution for several reasons, but one of them was to (and this is critical) equalize citizens with their government. Historians Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen wrote (emphasis mine):
“Over the years, the militia preface has become thoroughly (and often, deliberately) misinterpreted to imply that the framers intended citizens to bear arms only in the context of an army under the authority of the state. In fact, militias were the exact opposite of a state-controlled army: the state militias taken together were expected to serve as a counterweight to the federal army, and the further implication was that citizens were to be as well armed as the government itself.”
Why? As Noah Webster wrote:
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.”
George Mason, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, told his colleagues that the British Parliament was advised by the then-governor of Pennsylvania that the best way to keep the American colonies in check was to disarm the people; that it was “… the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.”
And there it is.
Our Second Amendment is rooted firmly in ensuring that citizens not only have the right to defend themselves individually against harm (like the examples I gave above; home invasion, rape, theft, and so on) but that they are able to defend themselves against a government that becomes tyrannical.
Don’t get me wrong: I, nor any of my fellow pro-gun Americans, are advocating for the second American Revolution. Heaven forbid—I pray we never see such a day. My point is simple: an armed citizenry is a counterbalance against a government that gets too big, too powerful—and God-forbid—evil.
What does the American Left love more than anything?
Big, powerful government. And what is a threat to big, powerful government? Citizens who are equally as powerful.
My point is simply this: I just want those of us on the side of the Second Amendment to be aware of the mindset that this is rooted in. I’m not saying that every single person who dislikes guns and wants more gun control is diabolically in line with some plot to disarm the American citizens in order for the government to have its way with us.
But understand this: that is this argument’s logical end.
When we consider that no other form of violence is so voraciously targeted by the Left; when we consider that NO law would have prevented Las Vegas and that consequently what the anti-gun crowd is ultimately arguing for is a comprehensive ban on guns—we need to understand why the Founders fought for our Second Amendment in the first place.
We need to understand that this post-Las Vegas debate isn’t exclusively about compassion. We all— Republican, Democrat, White, Black, Gay, Straight, Christian, Atheist—cringed as we watched lives destroyed by this evil man. To say that the American Left is the only entity with any kind of compassion is not only dishonest, it’s destructive—because it distracts from the real problem: gun control isn’t just about stopping evil. That’s never going to happen.
We can talk all day long about statistics and facts and reality—but here’s the thing: for the Left—deep, deep down whether they admit it or not—this is ultimately about control. If it was only about compassion, then they’d argue equally against all things that can be used to kill people.
After all, why so voraciously advocate for measures that are never going to stop evil—but that will absolutely limit the citizenry’s autonomy?
All-powerful government control doesn’t have to come violently and suddenly. It starts slowly, quietly—by stripping away what makes us individually powerful.
I’ll leave you with the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, speaking of the creeping power of a too-large, too powerful government:
“The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.
And that, my friends, can lead to SO much more.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show Worldwide. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree