Power Or Fear?

Owning and carrying a firearm is not a juvenile quest for manhood – for most.

Matthew Davis Anderson writes in Medium of the personal power of possessing a gun.  I’m inclined to believe he is who he says he is based in no small part on his accurate description of the feeling a sane and rational person has when they carry a gun; “an intense feeling of responsibility.”  Far too often, an article of this kind is written by someone that obviously has never carried a gun and knows next to nothing about them.  I do not believe that is the case here.

Anderson then goes on to discuss this personal power as it relates to the American notion of manhood.  He describes Kyle Rittenhouse as a boy wanting to be a man and wanting to wield power without having cultivated or earned it, to acquire it simply by acquiring a gun.  Of course, whether or not this is accurate only Kyle Rittenhouse knows.

I found Anderson’s article an uncomfortable read, not because I disagreed with it, but because I believe it to be true for some people (a small minority I suspect).  For the record, Anderson does not suggest this to be true of all gun owners – or even most.  Rather he plainly states his fear of guns, not as objects or tools, but as symbols of power for young men.

There is another explanation for people wanting to arm themselves that does not involve projecting personal power onto others.

I do not believe that roughly 5.4 million first-time gun owners in 2021 were all suddenly overcome with a lust for personal power to bolster their perception of their manhood (many of them women).

Seattle news site KOMO recently posted a story about people frustrated with car theft tracking down their stolen cars.  These victims of crime are doing this for one simple reason; the police won’t.

The KOMO article, in typical media fashion, characterizes these people as vigilantes.  None of the actions of these people as documented in the article is anything other than investigation.  No instance of a citizen’s arrest is noted, no instance of meting out punishment is noted either.  Hardly vigilantes.

Taking it upon yourself to track down your stolen property is a logical and manifestly predictable result of stunningly bad police policy at the state and local levels.  Only an idiot would not have foreseen ordinary citizens arming themselves and taking action to protect themselves and their property in response to a breakdown of the rule of law.  And only an idiot would not have foreseen that breakdown as a result of these policies.

The only surprising fact in the KOMO article was that over 31,000 cars were stolen in the state of Washington last year alone.  Couple this with the fact that many prosecutors are now refusing to prosecute property crimes.

It is entirely unreasonable to expect law-abiding citizens to be victimized by criminals and do nothing.  Something will be done, that is an inescapable fact.  If the police and prosecutors do nothing, the citizens will.  How anyone could expect otherwise is beyond me.

Not a single gun owner I know has any interest in projecting his or her “personal power” onto anyone else.  They don’t feel “macho” for carrying a gun.  They would rather not carry a gun in most cases.  Nothing is empowering or particularly comforting about it.  It’s a burden – physically and psychologically.  It’s an immense responsibility.  It is also increasingly necessary as criminals are emboldened by a breakdown of law and order, there simply is no other choice.

In the summer of 2020, in a small town near where I live, there was a BLM protest.  The streets of the town were lined with local citizens – many armed.  The local sporting goods store had no less than a platoon of armed citizens around it and on the roof.  Contrary to what the media would have us believe, this had almost nothing to do with whether or not anyone in the town supported the BLM movement.  It had everything to do with protecting the town from the riots and looting that had attended every other BLM protest.  The citizens were not trying to stop the protest.  The protesters marched through, nothing happened.

For the majority, carrying a gun has nothing to do with a quest for power or manhood.  It’s a quest for safety and security, to defend ourselves, our property, and our community.


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