It never fails to amaze me when I see people arguing to limit the rights of other citizens while insisting on the preservation of their own. It’s a putrid form of elitism that sadly infects journalists, Hollywood stars, and political leaders.
You may find it interesting that the etymological roots of our word “elite” come from Old French and Latin, specifying someone who has been chosen from among the rest. Based upon their high self-regard, elitists often tend to see their own contributions to society as more important than those of average citizens. It’s nothing more than an expression of the human tendency toward egotism and self-inflation.
Obviously, we are all susceptible to the temptation of thinking that we’re more valuable or more important than others. Perhaps we base this upon our social status or the amount of money in our possession, a leadership position we hold, or an excessive appreciation for a particular talent we enjoy. Whatever its cause may be it gives rise to a wide array of double standards.
Let’s take a look at a few examples that are particularly troubling as the nation engages the debate on gun control.
A couple of days before Christmas, NBC journalist David Gregory grilled an NRA executive on the television program known as “Meet the Press.” During the exchange he displayed a thirty-round ammo clip from a high-capacity rifle. It appears that in doing so he violated a local ordinance prohibiting the possession of such an item within the city of Washington, DC.
Local police are now investigating; it’s possible that charges could be filed. NBC had requested permission to use the clip but this was denied by local authorities. They used it anyway.
From the manner in which Gregory responded to the NRA representative, it’s clear that he favors increased gun control–the type of control that will force law-abiding citizens to surrender their weapons of self-defense. In his interview he seemed to mock NRA’s Wayne LaPierre for proposing that armed guards be assigned to schools. Yet his own children attend the famous Sidwell Friends School in DC, an institution with a large security department in which many of the employees are known as “Special Police Officers.” These officers are obviously armed since this designation requires training in the use of weaponry. This is the same school attended by Sasha and Malia Obama, accompanied by armed agents of the United States Secret Service.
I’m sure Gregory doesn’t wish to be prosecuted for breaking the law, but he certainly favors harsher gun control and that means the prosecution of law-abiding gun owners who refuse to surrender their weapons. Perhaps the good of the nation depends upon the ability of journalists to receive special status when it comes to possession of gun-related items. Not being among the nation’s elite, the rest of us don’t get that privilege.
Rosie O’Donnell is another example. On more than one occasion she has pushed an anti-gun agenda, even going so far as to propose that gun owners should be imprisoned. Yet she enjoys the protection of armed bodyguards and pushed to get permission for an armed bodyguard to accompany her children to school.
David Brock is the founder of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning organization that claims a mission to monitor and counteract conservative commentators. The group has enjoyed considerable funding from Democrat financier George Soros. The organization has consistently attacked those who support permits to carry concealed weapons and has wrongly argued that carry permits do not decrease crime levels. Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, Brock feels he may be in danger from right-wing conspirators and snipers. One employee of Media Matters insists that he has “more security than a Third-World dictator.”
When it comes to these people defending themselves and their families, I have no words of condemnation. On the other hand, if they and their loved ones are kept safe by the ready presence of a loaded weapon then my family can–and should–enjoy the same right. That’s the whole point, after all. In a nation of misguided excessive regulation, however, such rights end up being taken from the average American who builds a peaceful life of work and leisure. Then the ability to defend oneself becomes the exclusive prerogative of criminals and elites.
My own experience is suggestive of this fact. I never owned a weapon until I ran for public office in 1989. At the time a not-too-veiled threat was published in the sound-off column of a small newspaper in Gulfport (it’s now out of business). The next day I purchased a double-action .38 revolver. It seldom sees the light of day except for an occasional practice round and cleaning, but I sleep better knowing that it is within reach. It is nothing more than a tool. Like all tools, it is available if needed. I hope never to need it.
In the wake of the terrible tragedy of Newtown, level-headed and rational discussion is necessary about how to keep weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally ill or have been convicted of a violent crime. Banning a weapon simply because it fires rapidly or because its magazine holds more than a few rounds won’t accomplish these goals. An overreaching agenda such as that being proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) might be called a knee-jerk reaction except for the fact that it represents a long-time goal of those on the left who wish to put severe limits on legal gun ownership. Should it become law, peaceful citizens will gain nothing but vulnerability while outlaws gain more power to loot, maim, and kill.
When I argue such things some of my friends ask searching questions such as why a law-abiding citizen should need this or that weapon. We hear too many such questions these days: “Why does anyone need a gun like that?” “Why should anybody have so much money?” “Why would someone want to drive an expensive car like that?”
The answers to these questions, and many others, are found in the hidden recesses of the human heart. As the wise have always said, there really is no accounting for taste. In a nation that has claimed to revere liberty such issues are left to the heart of the individual person, guided by conscience, religious conviction, and personal philosophic orientation.
Debate, argue, discuss, and compare values if you wish. This is what an open and free society should do. But at the end of the day, allow your neighbor to return home unmolested to live by his or her own values. Barring mental illness or conviction for violence, the kind and number of weapons your neighbor owns is his business and his alone. Be grateful that he owns those weapons. There may yet come a day when you and your neighbor must support one another in defense of your homes and your lives.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution plainly reads: “the right of the people to keep and to bear Arms shall not be infringed.” There are reasons for this. At the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven we can do away with this guarantee because we’ll no longer need it. Until then, it remains a right guaranteed by the Constitution–no matter how often and how severely it is curtailed by lack of wisdom among our elected elite.