Pick up the morning newspaper or turn on the evening newscast and the story that you’re bound to see is that America is facing an economic recession of historic proportions. Consumer spending is down and unemployment is up, but there is one item that Americans are rushing to buy -- guns.
Why? Well, as NRA-certified instructor Joel Rosenberg told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “It’s the Obama effect.”
Gun sales have skyrocketed ever since it became clear that Barack Obama was going to win the White House and be able to govern with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.
Interesting, isn’t it? But apart from the details of all this, a question comes to my mind. Before the question, a bit of background.
Throughout my life I have heard pundits urging people to exercise their rights. We are encouraged to exercise our right to vote. We could debate whether or not this is a right, but leave that aside for now.
We are told to exercise our right to free expression. This category of rights is cataloged in the First Amendment.
But why do most of these same people never encourage us to exercise the right to be armed? That right is also cataloged in the Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has even recently ruled that - a very obvious conclusion - it is an individual right.
When we ‘exercise our right to vote’ we get those stupid little ‘I voted’ stickers and the applause of almost everyone. Why not a parallel congratulation for those who exercise that just-as-important right to be armed?
People will line up to drive us to the polling place. Why not drive people to the gun shop?
Schools worry themselves silly about teaching students ‘civic responsibility’ and praising involvement in political expression. Why not teach students how to select, use, and maintain those instruments of Second Amendment expression?
Of course, I know what will be said about all this. “Guns are dangerous. In the hands of the irresponsible, they can do great harm to others.”
This is true, of course. But what about the danger, for example, of voting? A gun ill-used can kill someone. But consider this: votes ill-used can kill many people.
How many people have died from the CAFÉ standards? Those standards are met by making cars smaller, and less safe. Thousands upon thousands have died because of this, and it all came to be by those who vote irresponsibly.
The FDA prohibits people in the United States from obtaining certain medications that could save lives. Though this is bureaucracy, it is in place and remains in place because of irresponsible voting.
Examples could abound. But the point is that we have a kind of ‘rights myopia’ that has developed in our culture. Good citizens should be armed, in the same way good citizens should express political views and vote.
And one more thing: those who don’t understand the many reasons why good citizens should be armed probably don’t understand enough to cast informed votes.