In Friday’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks makes the observation that “…the gun issue has its own unique dynamic, which is that the people who oppose gun limits vote on this issue while the people who support them do not.” He was referring to members of Congress, but his observation is equally valid for the public at large.
The difference is passion. Opponents of gun control are passionate about their belief, for whatever reason they support their position with money and political savvy that overwhelms those seeking to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals.
American history is unique; our love affair with weapons begins with the Minute Men, armed farmers whose sharpshooting honed on the frontier, routed the British redcoats at Concord and as they retreated to Boston. It continues with the Frontiersmen whose shooting skills helped carve a nation out of the wilderness. Lewis and Clark are never pictured without their trusty flintlocks. Finally the west was won with the Winchester rifles and Colt revolvers.
Thus, those seeking to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals found they were defined not as citizens seeking common sense legislation, but as an unpatriotic dangerous coalition of radicals seeking to destroy the Constitution and the sacred right to self-defense.
In truth the sacrosanct “right to bear arms” did not originate with our founding fathers. The Second Amendment is based on English Common Law and its roots were in the concept of a citizen army where each man would provide his own weapon.
Of course the argument that the unrestricted right to firearms is necessary to protect democracy is a romantic but specious myth. President John F. Kennedy observed that: “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”
Now, the question is whether the cause will be abandoned in frustration or if believers in the justice of their cause can muster the passion to fight to impose the will of the people over the myth fashioned by a passionate minority.
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