With the ever-increasing hysteria and the tone of accusation surrounding almost every aspect of public discourse, it seems crucial that we Americans begin to try to understand each other rather than divide ourselves even further.
With that in mind, one of the more polarizing issues occupying public attention of late has been the role of weapons in civilians’ hands, and whether this has become anachronistic in light of horrific events such as we have seen in Orlando and San Bernardino. There is no shortage of disagreement on the matter, and each side seems perfectly willing to engage in the worst kind of vitriolic rhetoric in defense of their viewpoint.
This state of affairs is counter-productive. Therefore, here I will seek to help those with viewpoints opposite my own understand why I believe what I do.
Why People Own Weapons
To start, I believe in the right of citizens to be armed. I own what others in this country call “weapons of war,” and to me this is the only appropriate way of things. I am not a hunter, and I cannot claim to have ever used my weapons to end the life of any living creature. I enjoy the shooting sports, but that is not the reason I own weaponry. These are not devices of recreation, useful as they may be for that purpose. They are weapons, and whatever else we may say about them, we all know that to be the case.
Additionally, it is true that these weapons are “weapons of war,” as many are so fond of pointing out. Historically, this title places them in the same category as bolt-action rifles, crossbows, swords, and rocks. Every weapon is a “weapon of war,” and we own them for a reason.
In all of human society, and equally if not more so in the West, men have always had a powerful attachment to weapons. Weapons are a near-sacred aspect of the Western tradition, depicted in our art and enshrined in our stories. Many men in modern society know this without ever bothering to ask why. It’s a truth as clear and fundamental as any other: free men own weapons, slaves do not. They are instruments of life more than of death, the method by which we fulfill our role as shepherds and caretakers, and our birthright as Westerners.
Many seek to exploit this connection between masculinity and weapons, mischaracterizing it as some Freudian attempt at “feeling like a man.” In truth, it is the opposite: We are men, and therefore we own weapons. A man does not need weapons to “feel like a man.” Rather, he understands his role as a defender of himself and those around him, and takes measures to ensure that role is fulfilled. Many women understand this just as clearly, but limited as I am, I feel it only appropriate that I allow them to speak for themselves on this matter if they choose.
Behind the surface of America’s “gun culture” exists a grim and simple truth: There is no protector; there is no guardian; there is no defender except oneself. We hide ourselves from this truth, we don’t talk about it. We have faith in our military and police, and rightly so: They are men and women of honor, who sacrifice far more than we to fulfill the role of protector. But they are few, and there are wolves among us. It is up to each individual to ensure that he or she is prepared to meet whatever threat, foreign or domestic, and to do so with appropriate force.
The Need for Self-Defense Will Never Die
Many attempt to delude themselves, suggesting that the right to bear arms is a relic of another time. They insist we have changed, and have made progress enough to toss aside those old principles from another era. There is but one question to ask in response: In light of the events in Orlando, Newtown, and elsewhere, how much can we truly claim to have changed? These acts were as savage and evil as any in our history. Our protectors, valiant as they are, cannot prevent these acts of brutality until it is already too late. No law or institution has done anything to stop the wolves from preying on us, as is clearly demonstrated by the attacks in Paris and Brussels. The grim, horrifying truth remains unchanged: We, each of us, are our only protectors.
That is why we arm ourselves. We are charged with defending ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation. The vast might of our military and the commendable efforts of our police do nothing to diminish that truth. We are the men of the West. Regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference, our lives, liberty, and principles exist only insofar as we are willing to take up arms to protect them.
All through history, nations have fallen. No empire has ever withstood the march of history, and likewise our own will fail. We are far too young a nation to believe ourselves untouchable, and only through arrogance and naivety do we convince ourselves of our most dangerous folly: “It can’t happen to me.”
The people of the West desperately need a reality check. We are so comfortable, so happy, and so ignorant of our own good fortune that we begin to believe humanity has changed. But more and more it becomes clear that this belief is unfounded, put to lie by the violence visited upon innocents across our nation. The wolves are among us once more, and no law will protect you. You are responsible for yourself.