-Andrew Rock, contributing writer
“Why do you need those things?” It’s a question that gun owners hear all the time. I hope that I can begin to answer it. Many people in my family have had to use guns to protect their very lives. Their stories build the foundation of my case for gun rights.
Long ago, my great-uncle let a hitchhiker into his truck. The hitchhiker promptly brandished a knife and demanded the vehicle. Thinking quickly, my great-uncle dropped his cigarette onto the floorboard, and feinted as if retrieving it. This allowed him to pull his pistol from under the seat, and he calmly told the man “This is where you get out.” When he pulled over, the carjacker fled.
Years before this, my grandmother had to act quickly when someone tried to break down her apartment door. She was alone at the time, with only her infant son (my father). When she heard someone trying to break open the door, she retrieved her .22 pistol, and let the man know she was armed. He never bothered them again.
These stories illustrate an underlying principle: people have a right to protect themselves, and need the tools to do that effectively. Since humans are created in God’s image, our lives have value. God has given us something so precious, and we are responsible as stewards to protect it. Guns are the most effective tool to carry out this job. Weapons, such as mace have very short range, and the use of martial arts or knives require a level of physical prowess that not everyone possesses. Imagine, if you will, that my great-uncle had not had his pistol that day. What chance would he have stood against an armed carjacker?
There is an old saying: “God made men, but Sam Colt made them equal.” (Samuel Colt was a famous gun designer.) By nature, some people are larger and stronger than others, and a gun levels the playing field. My cousin knows this principle from personal experience. When she worked downtown as a nurse, she had to walk in the dark to the hospital from where she parked. One morning, a stranger accosted her in the darkness. He followed her, making lewd remarks, as she tried to move away. Finally, she retrieved a pistol from her purse, and told him she would use it if necessary. He left in a hurry, and she arrived at work safely. Had she not been armed, who knows what would have happened? She would have had little chance of fighting off an attacker alone. Having a pistol could well have saved her life.
Guns, then, are the best way for people to protect themselves. However, this effectiveness cuts both ways. The same power that makes firearms excellent tools in the right hands can make them devastating in the wrong ones. Criminals often use guns in robberies and murders, and occasionally, evil men go on shooting sprees. Thus, some people reason that there should be much more regulation, if not outright bans, upon gun ownership and availability. However, these arguments fail on multiple levels.
The biggest problem with gun control is that it is difficult to keep people from getting what they want. A good illustration is the war on drugs. Has the government been able to stop the massive flow of drugs across the border, or within this country? Drugs and guns are both in high demand, and criminals buy them, legal or illegal. If laws are passed that make guns harder to get, criminals will still acquire them. Honest people, however, will be at a disadvantage, simply because they followed the law. As a result, it will be harder for law-abiding Americans to exercise their right to protect the lives God gave them.
The second problem with gun control is the Second Amendment to the Constitution. According to this entry in the Bill of Rights, keeping and bearing arms is a “right” that “shall not be infringed.” The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly (notably in the Heller case) that this means people have a right to own personal firearms. While there are indeed people who abuse this right, that doesn’t mean it should be taken away. After all, every right on the Bill of Rights can be abused. Free speech can be used to deceive, the right to privacy can be used to cover crimes, and so on. The fact that some crooks abuse a right doesn’t mean that everyone should pay for it with their freedom. If we wouldn’t take away free speech over a few crazy protestors, why would we take away gun rights because of a few criminals?
So, “why do you need those things?” We need them because robbers, muggers, and rapists don’t play by the rules. We need them because as human beings, our lives are worth protecting. Guns have been part of America’s history since the War for Independence, and we should remain vigilant in guarding this precious liberty.