Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, January 17, 2013.
I own the entirety of two guns. One is a Colt .45 caliber six-round revolver carried by my great grandfather, one Sam Turbeville. Sam lived in Delta County, Texas and was the local sheriff. He was later appointed U.S. Marshall for the Eastern District of Texas. Somehow in the passing of generations I would up with his sidearm. I have never put a bullet in it.
The second is a Remington pump action 12-gauge shotgun. It was purchased by a friend of mine while in town from Los Angeles. Seeking to avoid the aggravation of trying to get it home by checking it as luggage, he asked that I ship it to him. He died shortly thereafter and the gun now sits in my attic, having never chambered a shell.
That’s it – the entire Gleiser arsenal.
I say all of this so as to establish that I’m not in to guns and thus don’t speak here in defense of gun ownership as a result of either my fears or my pastimes. I am insufficiently armed for either.
But I believe in ordinary people owning guns if they so choose for two reasons.
First, I believe that self-defense is first and foremost an individual responsibility. As talk show host Tom Gresham often says, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.” I have had the good fortune all of my life to live in neighborhoods and to pursue employment in which I have had no need for armed self defense. I have thus chosen not to own guns for that purpose. But the operative word is chosen. Millions of Americans do choose to own guns for self defense and that right should be inviolate.
My second reason for defending gun ownership is rooted in history. Regular reders of this feature know that I’m naturally distrustful of government. That distrust is born less of personal experience (though not totally absent thereof) and more of an appreciation for the blood-stained pages of the human story.
Those pages time and again reveal the inescapable fact that humans cannot be trusted with absolute power over other humans. It is a natural tendency bordering on inevitability that those in power will abuse it.
When the American colonists began to resist the abusive rule of the British, King George III brought down upon them the mightiest military force in the world at that time. The founders wrote the second amendment in part because of the fresh recollection that the mighty British army had been defeated largely by men firing personally-owned weapons.
It was Thomas Jefferson that said, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” The wisdom of those words is illustrated by another Thomas Jefferson quote: “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”
There are those on the left that scoff at the idea that 21st century Americans would ever need armed protection against the government. But the fact that the second amendment can today be seen by many as an 18th century anachronism speaks to its effectiveness. Adolph Hitler’s predations took place not that long ago. Had he faced a populace as heavily armed as we Americans are, World War II might never have happened or at the very least might not have been so horrific. It is doubtful that six million people would have been so easily rounded up and put on trains to be taken to the places of their extermination if any significant percentage of them had owned guns.
We will do well to bear all of this in mind when considering any proposal or action arising from the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Though hard to accept, irrespective of the passage of any law or the adoption of any policy, the likelihood of another mass murder remains at 100 percent. It will happen somewhere, some time. Such is the fallen nature of man.
Thus any curtailment of freedom in the form of restricting guns will likely be just that, a curtailment of freedom – with little offsetting increase to public safety.