To acknowledge the critics of my article from two days ago, I submit my rebuttal. The issue concerning the definition of a militia and its applications is relevant to its historical context. What is relevant today is how the citizens perceive a militia, and their own rights regarding a militia. It is the citizens who ultimately constitute their government, and their evolving views of rights should be reflected in the governing process. With the right to own guns, there needs to be an education in gun use and gun defense. The right to defend yourself is a natural liberty — that is, a liberty you were born innately with to ensure your survival. Let's take our liberties seriously, and accept our responsibility in society, since we are constantly being evaluated by our government, and liberties are often unfairly taken away because of the chaos that irresponsible free men create.
Peace-Loving Citizens…For the Most Part
Most people would describe themselves as peace-loving citizens. In a population of 100,000, you have a .004% chance of being a victim of homicide, a 2.5% chance of experiencing aggravated assault, and a 4% chance of becoming a victim of any other violent crime. While you’d probably prefer to see the odds reduced even further, the percentages do illustrate that the vast majority of citizens are not actively seeking violent episodes. It is that small percentage that does commit aggressive acts of violence, however, that shocks our senses.
Violence becomes more personalized when demographics are taken into account. The percentages for violent crime are greater in urbanized zones than they are in suburban and rural areas. The greatest majority of violent crimes are perpetrated against men, minorities, and youths. In a city of half a million people, there is an expectancy average of 20-25 victims of homicide before the year is over. The ripple effect of alarm becomes greater, the closer it strikes home.
Coping With the Shock to Our Senses
Nearly everyone has been affected by a violent crime in one way or another. Along with the anguish comes the determination, or at least ambition, to prevent a similar occurrence within the home, family, or community. Many survivors of violent crime become activists, joining organizations that shelter and protect women, minorities, and youth, or work on committees dedicated to changing policies and laws regarding their particular type of offender. Laws against hate crimes are an example of this type of change. In recent years, there has been an ongoing campaign against bullying.
Bullying is a particular form of aggression that can be, but is not always, accompanied by physical blows. It may be as subtle as pushing, shoving, tripping, name-calling, and petty vandalism, but it is still an aggressive action designed to humiliate and degrade the victim. Our peace-loving nation has tried various means of coping with bullies. Walking away from a fight, reporting bullies to the authorities, and standing up to bullies have all been tried with varying degrees of success. The success rate, however, has not been enough to stem the rising tide of bullying. Internet bullying has been great enough to trigger suicides in vulnerable personalities.
Ignorance in Defense and the State of Panic
There is a weakness in the way we have learned to defend ourselves. Basically, we do not know how. From shielding ourselves from the effects of bullying to witnessing murder in the streets, we have very little education in the arts of defense. Even among those who did go out and buy a .38 revolver, stuffing it in drawer next to the nightstand, the chances they know anything more than just how to use it are small. They may not have prepared themselves for gun cleaning, re-loading, or gun safety. The chances that they prepared themselves for panic are even less.
Panic can do many things to people, including cause them to fire a number of rounds rapidly without taking aim, jeopardizing even family members. Panic is what makes it easy for a man with a knife to completely subdue a crowd of onlookers. Panic immobilizes people, prohibiting them from thinking clearly and problem-solving in a critical situation. Panic can be avoided with training.
Training in Defense
Training is given for a number of situations that require a clear mind and analytical thinking: firefighting, emergency rescue, medical aid, even training to cope with natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Training ourselves in defense lowers our chances of panicking in a violent situation.
The gay community is one of the minority groups that has been targeted for bullying and violent crime. Deciding it was not okay to target gays for hate crimes, they have formed an organization called the "Pink Pistols." Thirty-one states ratify the rights of citizens to carry concealed weapons, and gays are encouraged to exercise this right. The Pink Pistols task force teaches its students how to become comfortable with guns, take part in shooting courses, and help their members acquire licenses to carry. Although Pink Pistols is primarily composed of LGBT members, it is not exclusive. Any individual desiring to join can gain acceptance.
They are not a militia or a vengeance committee. Their single goal is to stop being victims. They feel if hate crime perpetrators knew the homosexual community were packing guns, they would be less likely to contemplate committing violent crimes against them. Advocates state the strategy is working.
A Prepared Citizenry
Perpetrators of violent crime exploit weaknesses. Their victims are the helpless and the unprotected. Their ability to spread panic would be less effective among people prepared to defend themselves. Instead of fearing guns and wishing they would somehow go away, we should learn how to use them and learn gun safety. A gun will not instantly turn you into a serial killer if your intent in learning to handle a gun is purely for the defense of your person and family. A prepared citizenry has a better chance of preventing a violent incident and of disarming a perpetrator.
The mental image of guns often involves Wild West scenarios with bigger guns and more sophisticated firing mechanisms, most notably fully automatic and semi-automatic weapons. This image alone is enough to strike sensitive nerves, even among gun advocates. Our sensibilities tell us there needs to be some kind of gun control, but where do we draw the line?
Alaska recently rejected the 23 executive orders relating to gun control passed by President Obama that could potentially restrict law-abiding citizens with a history of using firearms responsibly, from having access to them. Alaska’s contention is that the existing laws involving background checks and gun registry are enough. If a crisis occurs, the state will deal with it in the most suitable manner.
Additionally, there are many gun owners who have circumvented registration laws by creating a trust. In his manifesto written before going on a killing rampage, former Los Angeles police officer Christopher J. Dorner stated he had set up a trust to buy silencers and a shotgun from a gun store in Nevada without a background check.
What can be done to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible or unbalanced people? There are no easy answers. Should prospective gun owners be required to pass a psychological test? Should there be a limit placed on the number of guns a person may own, as well as regulations concerning high-powered, automatic, and semi-automatic weapons?
What is clear is that people are no longer content with inaction. They are no longer sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the issues to resolve themselves. Many states do not agree with the new federal regulations and are willing to draw on their 10th Amendment rights to prevent federal interference with their existing gun laws. It’s vitally urgent to find a middle ground, one that protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners yet makes it difficult for the unbalanced to acquire access to lethal weapons.
It’s the non-involvement of peace-loving citizens that allows their numbers to be struck down. Preparation would help us get over our fears that there is nothing we can do, and give us a perspective of what can be done in a critical situation. If enough people assert they are prepared and ready to defend themselves, you may never have to use your gun.
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