June 14, 2016

America is Exceptional When it Comes to Guns

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Gary North writes:

There is a widely accepted argument, popular among Americans, that America is exceptional in the world of nations. I do not mean that Americans have a particular knack at entrepreneurship, or something similar. Many nations have certain specialties they are good at. This makes them normal, not exceptional. But on the question of gun ownership, America really is exceptional. On this issue, something in the range of half of all Americans are really serious about the ownership of weapons. This is ingrained in our culture, although not in the culture of the state of New York and other enclaves of liberalism. This commitment to gun ownership is not necessarily a sign of commitment to the United States Constitution. But it is a commitment to the right of Americans to own symbols of American resistance against tyranny, a tradition which goes back to the American Revolution, and certainly goes back to the Civil War in the American South.

It is more a cultural matter that it is a constitutional matter. This is why the liberals have had such tremendous difficulty in pushing their agenda on this issue. They have been successful in rolling back the United States Constitution in most other areas, with the exception of the First Amendment. Other amendments are barely known. But the Second Amendment is well known, and liberals have not been successful in changing the minds of gun owners on this issue. This is because the bedrock foundation of gun ownership in United States is not the United States Constitution, nor is it a dedicated and large minorities commitment to the Constitution. The Constitution reinforces a cultural value which extends back before 1776.

The ownership of weapons in the United States by private citizens is not matched anywhere else in the world. Switzerland is close. The training is far better. The commitment of national defense by an armed electorate in Switzerland is like nothing else in the modern world. Being part of a citizen army is a matter of national pride. What we see in Switzerland is part of a national ethic committed to the autonomy of Switzerland, and the maintenance of that autonomy. The Swiss stay neutral, and they are armed to the teeth as the best way of staying neutral. In other words, in Switzerland it is a matter of national priority that men be willing to fight, trained to fight, and armed with military weapons.

This is not the American tradition. The American tradition is far more a matter of individual autonomy, individual ownership of weapons, and not a matter of national pride. Americans do not have anything like the training that the Swiss have in the use of their weapons. Americans are not expected to answer a call to arms, and go down to the local armory to get those arms. Gun ownership in America is not a matter of a defense of the nation or a commitment to a military tradition. It is quite the opposite.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com