The Reason Why

October 23rd, 2017 27 Comments

 

I received the following comment from a reader:

“I find it disgusting that some people have to voice their opinions with threats. With social media that seems to be more and more the case. Would most of these people say these things to a person’s face? I also want to say that being a Canadian I am more liberal in my views although I would never put someone down because of more conservative views. I would never, nor do I know of any other Canadian, who would vote Republican.  Republicans are far too much to the right for most Canadians. What I am wondering is why a lot of Americans feel so strongly about the right to bear arms.  I realize that it is a right in your Constitution and that we should fight not to have rights taken from us. I hear many Americans say that they need to protect themselves. From what?  As a Canadian I am not given the right to have a concealed weapon in my purse and I am 100 per cent okay with that. I feel, just as you do, that I live in a free country. I hear that it is to empower yourselves in case there is an uprising with the government. Really? I have never feared my government nor the head of state of Canada, the Queen. Whenever I am on holiday in Florida I also think in the back of my mind “many of these people could have guns on them”. This is not a reassuring feeling. I do also realize that the majority of you are carrying guns for protection and peace of mind and are not about to shoot me while I’m shopping at Target. As a Canadian I actually feel safer at home.  I guess I just want you, or your readers, to explain to me why you feel so passionately about guns and the right to carry one?”
Nancy Ontario Canada

Dear Nancy,

Thank you for asking a very reasonable question. I won’t go into the Republican versus Democrat issue, because that is a separate topic and relates to completely different views on what kind of government is best for America, views that were, once, possibly, long ago, during a brief and halcyon moment immediately after our revolution, debated with courtesy and respect for the other man’s opinion, in a gracious and honest attempt to reach what both sides knew must ultimately be a compromise. Them days is long gone.

But as to the right to bear arms, I am delighted to try and explain our uniquely American outlook on the God-given right to self-defense.

First, we must accept that self-defense is a God-given right, something no government can take away from you. Throughout all of man’s history, from the earliest known records of the Mesopotamian civilizations, men have always gone armed and usually in groups, precisely to be able to defend themselves. It was only with the rise of unprecedented wealth created by the industrial revolution that people in Western civilizations began to relax a little and stopped wearing swords or carrying guns for the first time, but during America’s colonial days, weapons were a fact of life and, in rural areas, of survival.

(An anti-gun history professor at Emory University, Michael Bellesiles, was awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize in 2001 for his book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture, purportedly showing that firearms were relatively scarce in colonial America, and therefore proving the historical construct for the individual right to keep and bear arms was a bogus invention of a gun industry pandering to wingnuts like me who wanted to justify their strange obsession with guns. Obviously, I am taking liberties here, because I honestly don’t know, nor does anyone else, what Mr. Bellesiles’ motivations were, but while his book was initially, gleefully, accepted by gullible and eager anti-gun types and the virulently anti-gun media, his purported “scholarship” was almost immediately called into question by legitimate historians and scholars, with the result that within a year, the prize was rescinded and he was fired from Emory. I mention this incident only to show that, unlike Michael Bellesiles, I am not making things up when I say that owning and carrying guns has been a tradition in America since before it was America.)

Understand that our founding fathers, the men who initiated and spearheaded our revolution and subsequently created as close as we are likely to get to an ideal democratic republic, were men who decided to revolt treasonously against the crown precisely because they felt they were being crushed by a monarchy that neither cared for them nor for the colonies, except as a source of revenue and geographic expediency. There is much debate about what the final straw was, but the embattled farmers who stood by the rude bridge that arched the flood and fired the shot heard round the world (Ralph Waldo Emerson is rolling in his grave for how I’ve mangled his poem) were there specifically because they had received intelligence that the British army was coming to confiscate their weapons. That’s worth remembering.

So, America had a tradition of keeping and bearing arms even before it was America, and unlike Canada, which is still technically part of the United Kingdom as a parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy, America had to fight for her freedom, enduring enormous hardship and great loss of life in pursuit of a dream of equality and autonomy.

Even the western expansion of our two countries was radically different: American settlers and the American government fought battle after bloody battle against various indigenous tribes (and routinely and serenely disregarded treaty after treaty, which is why pro-Second Amendment types frequently and ironically say, “Of course you can trust the government. Just ask an Indian.”) while Canadian settlers relied upon their government (the Mounties specifically, if memory serves) to broker peace treaties instead of waging war. (Perhaps a better and more humane strategy, but all those Canadian treaties worked far better for the settlers than for the native tribes.)

I’m not trying to praise or condemn either one of our separate histories here: I’m just pointing out that there are historical differences between America and Canada and that those historical differences are reflected in our different attitudes toward self-defense today. Canadians, judging by the ones I know personally, by statements like yours, and by the accounts I read in local papers and saw on the local news during the three-plus months I worked in Edmonton, really believe in their various levels of government, and in their national government especially. Americans, at least conservative (read Republican) Americans, tend to look at their various levels of government with a much more jaundiced and distrustful eye. We also tend to be more self-reliant (for want of a better phrase) from the point of view that we do not expect the government to be there for us when we might like it to be. Anyone who has ever frantically called for the police in a life-threatening emergency knows that, with the best will in the world, law enforcement can never get there as quickly as we need them to be there. (I did it once; my ex-wife did it once. In neither case were the police able to arrive until well after the danger was past. In my ex-wife’s case, she was saved, literally, by the fortuitous and random appearance of a private security guard.) Nor is that the police’s mandate: our courts have ruled that the duty of law enforcement is to protect society in general, not the individual, a ruling that compels law enforcement to try and solve the crime and arrest the bad guys, but not to prevent the crime from happening. And, realistically, how could they?

So, while you, as an individual, have the right to defend yourself, just as every individual in the wide world has the right to defend himself, only in America is that right codified in our Bill of Rights, and spelled out to specifically mention arms. Not only is it codified, but it is given the honor of second place, preceded only by the rights of freedom of religion, expression, press, peaceable assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, all lumped together under Amendment One.

Even a cursory glance at the writings of the founding fathers, their letters amongst themselves, their diaries, and specifically and most importantly what we refer to as the Federalist Papers (a series of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay), shows that they considered the armed individual to be a necessary requisite to balance the power of any government. Our anti-gun politicians and the media keep spouting fatuous nonsense such as, Nobody needs a (fill in the blank) to go duck hunting. But no kind of hunting is ever mentioned anywhere in the Federalist papers or any other writings. What is mentioned, repeatedly, is the right to self-defense, and the importance of an armed populace to keep a government from becoming too enamored with itself and taking liberties with individual rights. Think it can’t happen? Read your history. I won’t bother listing the all advanced, civilized, well-educated countries that descended into murderous chaos when their governments came under the thrall of leaders with evil in their hearts. It has even happened—on a very small scale—right here in America; the reason it hasn’t happened on a larger scale is precisely because an armed populace would, and more importantly, could, rise up.

So, what do I and other Americans, feel we have to defend ourselves against? Evil and stupidity and mental illness exist everywhere, and no legislation in the world will ever stop them. Fortunately, they exist in minuscule amounts, and are greatly outnumbered by good and kindness and selflessness, but they do exist. I have used a handgun to defend my life and the life of one of my sons. I have used a rifle to defend myself and my late hunting partner from a bear. Even our Center for Disease Control (CDC), an agency which has not had a traditionally pro-gun stance (to put it mildly), stated in a report commissioned by former and virulently anti-gun president Barack Obama, that “defensive gun uses by victims” [skip] “range from 500,000 to more than 3-million per year.”

Does that mean that 500,000 to 3-million times a year law abiding Americans whip out their gats and throw slugs around? Of course not. In my case, I never even got the pistol out of its holster; just the act of reaching for it caused the two men to spin around and jump back in their van. Usually (and countless studies and statistics prove this) just the presence of a firearm resolves potentially violent criminal situations without a shot ever being fired, thank God. Nor is the average person likely to go to places where bears will regard him as the first course of this evening’s dinner, but rabid animals and aggressive and out of control dogs seriously injure thousands of people every year.

Obviously, as someone who has been around firearms practically all my life, I have a very different feeling about guns than you or anyone who is unfamiliar with them. Not long ago, driving through Arizona, where constitutional carry is the law, I stopped in a big-box store and saw two men carrying sidearms openly (in holsters outside their clothes) and identified several others who were clearly carrying concealed sidearms. My immediate reaction was one of safety, of (to paraphrase Mr. T in The A Team): “I pity the fool who starts trouble in here.” But that’s a result of my knowing that guns are inanimate objects, tools that do not cause bad behavior or discharge by themselves. I quite understand that urban people who have never been around guns, let alone seen or handled them, might respond with fear, but always remember: there is far more good in the world than evil, so if you are in a state where law abiding citizens may legally carry firearms, take comfort in knowing that if evil should raise its head and see a man with a gun on his hip, evil is likely to retract its head and leave quietly for other venues. If that doesn’t happen, at least there is someone around who has the means to take care of the situation while you wait for the police to arrive.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Excellent discussion. I guess it is a good thing for a person to feel safe in their country without firearms. However, I do know from my experience with friends out on the prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan that they feel about their government the same way so many of us in the States feel about ours. It does not have their interests in mind and is an object of intense mistrust and distrust.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your raise an interesting observation. Namely how in more rural and wilderness areas the attitudes about government is similar in both countries. I suppose that is why I live in a mostly rural and wild state myself.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have a friend in Britain who asked me this same question a few weeks ago and although I tried my best to explain our point of view to her, I did not do nearly as good a job as you just did. I will be forwarding this on to her so she can read it and maybe she will gain a better understanding of why our right to bear arms is important to so many of us. Enjoy your blog very much!

    Marilyn

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well said. I think you explained this superbly. I hope that this will also help, not only people from different countries, but Americans who are confused no little about firearms. Like you said guns themselves cannot hurt you they must be used. Someone must pick it up and pull the trigger. Again very well said and thank you for taking the time to give an explaination.
    Cheers
    MH

  4. Anonymous says:

    I suspect that this way mass shooters actually look for gun free zones to commit their crimes.

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe there are documented cases that prove that. That is to say, cases where the mass shooter left a location without attacking because of the threat of an armed response to find “greener” pastures or “gun free” zones to ply their evil.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks you for this. Just want you and your readers to know that Nancy from Ontario, Canada does NOT speak for all Canadians. She really needs to get out a bit more.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the history lesson! I have a better understanding of where she is coming from without feeling vilified for our Second Amendment and wanting to keep it.

    Mary Ellen
    Arkansas

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I hope every American reads this.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Jameson for answering my question on why you, and many other Americans feel so passionately about your second amendment. It is very much appreciated.
    Nancy Ontario Canada

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Nancy,

      There are many Americans who agree with Jameson and would love to show you that we might not be who you think we are should you come to visit us sometime.

      I hope you can also meet some of your fellow citizens who feel like we do (as some of the comments on here indicate) to learn about them and why they believe as they do.

      Best regards,
      WB

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr. Jameson Parker, may I just say what a well written piece this is. When I read the Canadian woman’s comments the other day, I was filled with disgust. And questions. These questions came to mind: Do they not have crime in Canada? If so, by what means do they fight off an intruder? Do they prefer to be sitting ducks? If she is so very uncomfortable in Florida or anywhere in the States, for that matter, I must ask her the question of why than does she submit herself to such things as taking a holiday in the U.S.? I would not feel safe in Canada. Therefore, I will not travel to Canada. I feel safe at home in the states just as she feels safe in her homeland. She isn’t too bothered by our freedoms or she wouldn’t holiday here at all. Mr. Parker, thank you for your eloquent and thorough answer to her and perhaps many people’s same question. God bless the U.S.A.

    -Kelli Rodgers

    • Anonymous says:

      Kelli

      Really? Filled with disgust? That’s a strong reaction to a reader who was simply trying to understand American gun laws and the right to bear arms. And may I add, Kelli, that there are many, many people all over the world who have the same questions as Nancy’s and are interested in why the right to own guns is so extremely important to so many Americans.

      I’m not sure I entirely agree with Jameson’s interpretation of Canadian history’s link to its current gun ownership laws, but I was interested in his take on why American’s are crazy for their guns.

      Liz from Ontario, Canada
      (I don’t know Nancy)

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, Liz from Ontario, yes, I was disgusted. Not that Nancy had a question about guns and America but by how she seems so uncomfortable when here, yet continues to vacation in the great state of Florida. Americans aren’t crazy for guns, by the way. We have (legal) firearms to PROTECT us from crazy people with guns (illegally.) You may not feel the need to protect yourself, family or home but many of us in the Unitd States do. And we have that right. The question wasn’t the source of disgust. It was the fact that she, along with so many, think we are “gun crazy” yet continue to visit and even want to live here. Perhaps that’s because others know that despite our right to own a firearm, we are indeed the greatest nation on earth.

      • Anonymous says:

        I submitted my response to Liz before signing out. The response to Liz is proudly written by Kelli Rodgers.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Jameson for sharing why you, and many other Americans feel so passionately about your second amendment. You have given me something to think about. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.
    Nancy Ontario Canada

  11. Anonymous says:

    Another well written piece JP. Hope it receives a wide circulation.

    WB

  12. Anonymous says:

    JP, I read the replies, and was happy to see Nancy from Ontario reply back to you. She may not agree with some of the views of many of us here in the U.S. but your wonderfully written piece seems to have given her an idea of who we are and why we believe what we believe. She seems to be a gracious woman and this discussion and her response has reminded me not to jump to conclusions. You are an awesome writer, Mr. Parker! And to Nancy: God bless and enjoy your visits to America!

    -Kelli Rodgers

  13. Anonymous says:

    Very well written piece. Thanks for acknowledging Nancy’s question and answering it honestly and respectfully. I’m disappointed to see so many negative comments toward her question. I believe a big part of out problem as Americans is the knee jerk negative reactions when people question or disagree with us. I don’t think Nancy was doing anything other than seeking a better understanding of where many of us are coming from on this issue. We would do well to remember that the way of life in the US in many cases is very different from other countries. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. We hosted an exchange student from a small town in Germany several years ago. The first time I took her to the grocery store and told her to pick out some cereal, she stood and looked at one small section of the shelf until I told her to walk up and down the aisle if she couldn’t find what she was looking for. She was shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of choices. Another time, she was looking at magazines while I was picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy. When I went to get her, she waved her arm at all the gun magazines and asked me if everyone in the US had a gun. I said no, not everyone. She hesitated for a few seconds then kind of whispered, “Do YOU have a gun?” I chuckled and said yes. It was a shock to her that she had been living with us for several months without even realizing we had guns. She ended up dating a guy that was joining the Marines upon graduation. He came from a military family that had A LOT of weapons that they enjoyed going out to the military range and firing. Before she left, she had fired bigger and better guns than I’ve ever had the pleasure to hold. LOL Nancy, I applaud you for asking questions rather than judging us. I wish more people would follow suit.

    kj

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. I to was surprised. She did have a very good question. A question I believe a number of American’s have had as well. To understand something requires some knowledge on and about the subject. It’s healthy to ask questions.
      Cheers,
      MH

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tomorrow I head to my remote off grid cabin in Northwester Wisconsin. Reading this latest post and the fact that I am heading into some remote country brings to mind a small situation I had at my cabin a few years back. I think I may have shared this story once here already…

    A few years ago I was at my cabin for some hunting. It was this time of year. 10pm it started to rain and I turned in for the night. Around 3am I woke from a dead sleep and and laid there in bed for a few minutes before deciding to go out for some fresh air.

    I unlocked the cabin’s door, walked out into an enclosed section of my deck and unlocked the sliding glass door there. I then walked out onto the covered but open section of my deck. I had my flashlight with me and was shining it around looking for any animals or critters with their glittering eyes.

    I turned to go back inside when I noticed wet boot prints on the covered section of the deck. Somebody had been on my deck VERY recently and they tracked their wet and sandy prints from the sandy and grass yard onto the deck planks. No other way for there to be wet boot prints there.

    I as all alone, and more than likely whomever had made those tracks was still in the darkness around my cabin, probably watching me. Yeah, I was freaked out.

    I went back inside locking the doors behind me, and went straight for my Springer 1911-A1. I turned the solar back on, but only turned out the outside lights, none on the inside.

    I was out in the middle of nowhere, many long minutes if not an hour away from having county police show up. So having that pistol was a great piece of mind.

    More than likely whomever was snooping around (which I likely heard and is why I woke up suddenly) was looking to score some easy hunting gear from my SUV or deck of my cabin. I never leave anything out, or unlocked, and there was nothing to swipe.

    But still, it is very unnerving to know somebody was lurking around outside while you were sleeping, being watched from a dark woods, all alone…

    Yep, I called the police and reported it.

    Had another incident a year ago where I was driving along not far from home and saw two people, a man and woman, along a country road with backpacks. Suddenly out of nowhere the guy wheeled around and walloped the woman across the face and she went down. I have no idea what it was about, but I pulled over at a distance and got out to see the guy standing over the woman yelling at her and threatening to kill her. To make a long story short the guy started threatening me and coming towards me after I told him to leave her along and that I was calling the cops… I ended up flipping my shirt open and putting my hand on my holstered 1911 – just that action diffused the man and he walked on.

    Police were called and the woman was detained… not sure if the man was ever found or what happened after he scrammed.

    As I started out saying, tomorrow I head to my cabin for nine full days of vacation and bow hunting. I will of course be carrying a concealed handgun with me. I’ve been doing it for many years now. I take defensive training courses every couple years, and maintain my marksmanship skills on a routine basis. It is what it is.

    TD Bauer
    Wisconsin

  15. Anonymous says:

    I believe the response to Nancys question was swift and defensive because even in this great country the Second Amendment has been (pardon the pun) under fire for awhile now. Every time there’s a shooting it’s politicized instead of taking each case, case by case. The debate is in our own backyard. And someone from another country getting in on the debate, yet vacations here, was surprising. Questions are how we learn, yes. But I felt it to be more than a question. It was almost a dig at us for wanting to protect the ones we love and the homes we live in. I see Canada and many countries that will not let their citizens (legally) own a firearm and the carnage after attacks. The bad will always find a way to get a weapon. Those who can legally carry will be ones best defense in the worst of times. More times than not, one will never have to use said firearm. But at least we are prepared to help ourselves and those in need, if need be.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just as a clarification; it is NOT illegal for citizens to own guns in Canada.
      There is a process to go through, but citizens may legally own guns.

      Liz
      Ontario, Canada

      • Anonymous says:

        Dear Liz,

        That is only true in the extent that a much more limited class of “ownership” is allowed in your country. Many things that we Americans own are not allowed in your country and the regulation of ownership is too us quite excessive so for us we would be “illegal.”

        Cheers,
        WB

        • Anonymous says:

          WB
          True!
          I just wanted people (Americans) to understand that’s it’s not entirely illegal to own a gun here.
          Liz

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow TD, that was a scary story. I’m glad you’re around to tell your story. It is times that you mention where I am thankful that we have the right to defend ourselves because law enforcement cannot be everywhere at once.

    JP you point(s) are well-written as usual. Thanks for the information.

    On another note, please continue to pray for our leaders because we appear to be more divided than united in recent weeks which does not benefit anyone except our enemies (foreign and domestic).

    Carla In California

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