If guns were banished from American society, it would be a grave disservice to humanity. And in such a scenario, peace-loving people would rationally refuse to give up theirs.
I don’t want to rehash the same arguments that are being made about guns across the country. I want to propose quite a different idea.
There are those who say that we ought to despise guns, labeling them as nothing more than killing machines. Members of this cohort tell us that the country — better yet, the world — would be infinitely better off without firearms, and that it is incumbent upon us to take whatever steps we can to move in that direction.
Then there are those who say that having more guns leads to decreased crime — that well-trained gun owners and concealed-carry license holders can effectively deter crime and combat would-be madmen.
I would like to offer a different thesis altogether — that we ought to love guns. Not tolerate them or grudgingly agree to allow them in our cities, but love them and give them their due appreciation.
For hundreds upon hundreds of years, physical strength alone ruled the day. A person’s reason and intellect, his powers of persuasion or the nobleness of his cause had very little bearing on the outcomes he could expect in life.
Instead, physical strength remained virtually the sole determinant of superiority. He who had the ability to take from others — to overpower them with barbaric force — would be the one whose stomach was full and whose possessions were plentiful.
This is not to say that fists and feet were the only weapons. Eventually people took up clubs, bats, knives and axes. But the fact remained — whoever was most adept at swinging the club or plunging the knife would emerge victorious.
Firearms changed this once and for all. Guns were the great equalizer.
Due to the presence and prevalence of firearms, reason can now, to a much larger extent, determine our outcomes because generally, brute physical domination is no longer institutionalized as a method of problem-solving.
When an aggressor encounters the barrel of a gun, he is effectively neutralized. Just ask Melinda Herman, who protected herself and her 9-year-old twins when she shot a home intruder five times after he found the mother and her children hiding in the attic of their home in Georgia.
Does this mean that every situation in which the good guy has a gun will end well? Of course not — humans err. Does it mean that guns are not dangerous? Of course not — we would all do well to remain cognizant of the incredible, destructive power of firearms and to handle them safely and responsibly.
But I assure you that when an intruder comes in the back door in the middle of the night and your two children are sound asleep upstairs, a gun is the only tool that will protect your family.
If college students were forced to hide behind an overturned desk as they heard the ominous footsteps of a deranged shooter approach the door, there would not be a single student who would prefer to wait for the police — passively defenseless — instead of posing an armed resistance.
That guns are the great equalizer certainly does not mean we should rely on firefights to settle our disputes. The fact that a potential victim might be armed — or better yet, is likely to be armed — serves as a bulwark against the victimization of the weak. It forces disputes to be resolved through the judicial process and by other civil means.
Even some of the fiercest gun rights advocates claim that, in an “ideal” scenario in which no one had guns, they would be happy to give up theirs. This position completely ignores guns’ capacity as the great equalizer. If the entire world were disarmed, the strongest would rule it. Even in the case of near-universal disarmament, I would never sacrifice the right to self-defense with firearms.
Jeffrey Nadel is a College sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @theseends. “Give Me Liberty” appears every other Friday.