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The Three Reasons American Gun Owners Won't Surrender Their Guns

By Robert Farago on March 2, 2015

I recently posted  The Three Reasons Anti-Gunners Want to Disarm You: they think you're crazy, they think you're a threat to the government and they hate you. After spending a few hours with a French TV crew investigating "American gun culture," I thought I'd share some of my arguments for gun rights – a concept as alien to the French TV channel's urban audience as Nick's no-carbs, yes-bacon diet (which helped TTAG's T&E twenty-something shed thirty pounds). Here are my top three reasons why Americans won't surrender their guns . . .

1. American gun owners don't trust the government

America's Founding Fathers viewed the government – any government – as the greatest threat to individual liberty.  By shielding Americans' right to keep and bear arms from government infringement, the Constitution made it impossible for the government to impose tyranny upon its citizens. In theory. In practice, there have been serious lapses (e.g., the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II).

These lapses only serve to underscore the importance of gun rights. Would they have occurred if all Americans had free and unfettered access to firearms? In any case, millions of modern-day Americans refuse to surrender their guns because they distrust their government. They consider firearms a bulwark against government tyranny. What tyranny? Ipso facto. Any government demanding disarmament is tyrannical.

Hence gun rights activism and the high levels of non-compliance with gun registration in New York and Connecticut – amongst other acts past, present and future against government infringement on Americans' natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Yes there are "big government liberals" who own guns. But the majority of Americans who "cling to their bibles and their guns" do so because they do not cling to some [mistaken] idea of government largesse. Which brings us to . . .

2.  Gun owners need their guns

Gun control advocates would have all Americans rely on the police to protect them from harm. Gun owners ain't got time for that. They know the truth of the expression "when seconds count the police are only minutes away." A firearm is a right-here, right-now defense against violence, whether it's a home invasion, street robbery, riot or the ATF come to confiscate their AR-15. (Yes, there is that.) Gun owners [rightly] view themselves as first responders.

Gun owners who keep and bear guns for self-defense view a firearm as a tool they need to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They reject the idea that this need for armed self-defense is statistically unrealistic or premature. (A contention refuted by 700k+ annual defensive gun uses.)  You know that other well-worn saying, "It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it?" Like that.

And let's not forget hunting. Millions of Americans use their firearms to put meat on the table. Many of those who don't use their gun to hunt for meat know that they could, should their food supply be radically interrupted. It's a capability that sensible people keep in reserve as insurance against calamity.  Strangely, the antis lobbying for civilian disrmament are some of the same people who claim that all Americans "need" health insurance – to the point where they're happy using government force (i.e., guns) to compel them to buy it.

3. Gun owners like their guns

Although the pursuit of happiness is not a Constitutionally protected right, the ability to do whatever it is that gives you pleasure without government interference is an integral part of the American experience. Call it a blessed by-product of liberty. For whatever reason, guns make people happy. American gun owners like keeping arms, bearing arms, using arms, maintaining arms, buying arms, selling arms and passing them down to their family. They don't want to lose that pleasure.

Nor should they. The antis' argument — that gun ownership is a selfish pleasure that puts other at risk — is feeble. For one thing, there are plenty of laws against firearms misuse which do not infringe on Americans' right to keep and bear arms. For another, restricting Americans' gun rights to prevent firearms misuse is impractical, ineffective, unconstitutional and a major league bummer for happiness-seeking gun owners.

Despite these reasons for not surrendering guns to the government (one way or another), many gun owners have allowed their gun rights to be degraded and destroyed. But because of these reasons (and more), there are millions of Americans who will not, do not stand idly by when the forces of civilian disarmament range against them.  When Charlton Heston told the world that the government would only take his guns when they pried them from his cold, dead hands, he wasn't kidding. And he wasn't alone.