It is in a government’s best interests to control the number and types of arms its people possess. Should the people become seriously unhappy with the establishment in power they are easier to control if they have inadequate means to resist. In most of mankind’s history, this has been reasonably easy to do. To be armed means to be able to afford the weapons, training and infrastructure necessary to maintain and successfully employ the weapons of the time. Perhaps the most extreme example of this was during the storied days of knighthood.
A knight was generally armed with a steel-tipped lance, a shield to fend off other knight’s lances and blows from other weapons which included large swords and clever cudgels and similar devices, like the mace-and-chain. Everyone also had knives of various sizes and qualities. However, it was basically impossible to effectively wield the lance without a horse, a special horse, a charger, which also required a place to keep and train it, sufficient food, and someone paid to care for and tend to the horse. Of course you would need a specialized saddle which didn’t come cheap, armor or mail of some sort, another expense, helmet… You get the picture. It took a wealthy man to afford the latest weapons and their support structure. This is the way of it for generations, knights and lords reporting to the biggest knight, the King, appointed by God and not to be trifled with.
Then, in a foretaste of what was to come, some English (or Scot or Irish) developed the long bow. The bow is a personal weapon, nowhere near as costly to make and maintain as the knight’s armor and baggage, but in a critical way the longbow was much more effective. It was an individual’s weapon, requiring small outlay since many longbows and arrows were self made and not under the control of the state and subject to one’s economic and social standing. Longbows were powerful weapons, requiring both strength and training to shoot one accurately. Any man strong enough to draw one could train to become a deadly archer. As the Battle of Agincourt demonstrated, the longbow in the right hands was a seriously deadly weapon even against armored and mounted knights.
Then came the gun. No need to trace the history here, but suffice to say that with the gun’s arrival, any advantage an opponent had previously in economics, social standing or hand-wielded weaponry was quickly nullified. Now, the small and illiterate peasant could successfully defend himself against the larger, better fed, better equipped knights and society tumbled.
In the Royal Palace in Madrid there is a long hallway in which stand many suits of armor worn by knights and soldiers of old. A few of them, one in particular that I remember vividly, stood erect, powerful and immense but with a .50 caliber bullet hole punched through the breastplate. So much for privilege, rank and money.
A Samuel Colt allegedly pointed out, his revolver was the great equalizer.
Guns overthrew tyranny, stopped fascism, dissuaded murderers and robbers and, in the hands of citizens, overthrew an imperial government and established the country where gun ownership and use are enshrined in the Constitution.
And many people hate them.
Why is that? Why would people who espouse freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of individual rights hate weapons that have permitted these ideas to flourish? It is a good question that demands serious consideration, not by so-called conservatives, but by the people who are afflicted with this fear themselves.
Let’s say, for the purposes of argument, that radical conservatives similar to, but not totally like, the religious radicals now imposing their laws on millions in the middle east, were to gain power here in America. They like guns, use guns and recognize that guns are one of method of gaining and enforcing power. They also know that people without guns who oppose them are basically powerless, frustrated and vocal, but essentially powerless without the means to resist. Now, wouldn’t liberal people who oppose this want and need guns?
I think the answer is obvious. Yes. What else would you use to resist armed force but arms? But, then, why are the liberal minded in America so vehemently anti guns? Why, whenever we are presented with another example of evil people doing evil things to us does the cry of “gun control” and “gun violence” erupt and the NRA becomes the convenient target of invective and protest?
My guess is that it is due to two main factors: ignorance and fear.
The gun-haters are almost to a person ignorant of weapons and guns in particular. What little they do know is wrong and skewed by thousands of hours of TV and movie gun fights and violence. Case in point, there are people who seriously want to know why the police don’t shoot to “wing” an assailant – shoot them in the arm or leg perhaps – or just shoot the gun, knife or club out of the bad guy’s hand.
This in an obvious indication of ignorance, not only about guns, but about the nature of violence and deadly force itself. Many of the people who ask these questions have never been in an actual physical fight, have never seen a gun fired in action, or in person for that matter, and who understand virtually nothing about firearms. I have actually had people ask me if I wasn’t afraid to have a gun in the house since it might somehow spontaneously go off.
I also sense that people ignorant of guns and who are fundamentally fearful think that by merely being around a gun they are somehow in danger, as if it was an evil force beyond human control. Reason isn’t effective with these people. Emotional fearfulness doesn’t listen to the voice of reason or fact. They hear what they want to hear. The best one can do is to entice a few friends, who suffer from this phobia, to go shooting. I’ve found that some people, once they understand firearms, how to be around them safely and responsibly, learn to enjoy shooting them. Women more than men for some reason.
Although these days I refer to myself as an independent and refuse to join either the liberal or conservative camp, I still take the time to try to talk sensibly about guns to my liberal friends. Some of those minds can be changed, but it can be a long slow process.
So, whenever possible, take an anti-gun friend shooting. It will be fun.