Lora Machel’s article from the Arizona Daily Wildcat reprinted in Monday’s Hatchet (“Cold truth about guns, society,” p. 5) is typical of the left wing’s anti-gun rhetoric. Machel clearly does not understand the purpose of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, nor is her analysis of the correlation between guns and violence sound.
The right of ordinary citizens to own firearms was included in the Bill of Rights to ensure that the people would have the ability, should the need ever arise, to defend themselves against the imposition of tyranny from either a foreign power or the government of the United States.
While Machel would undoubtedly argue that this possibility is so remote that the benefits of eliminating firearms outweigh their continued protection under the Constitution, I would point to several instances in recent history of people left helpless to defend themselves against the terrible power of their own governments.
The cases of Soviet peasants during Stalin’s regime, the Bosnians and Kosovars in the present-day Balkans, the East Timorese in Indonesia and the Jews of Germany and Poland after the rise and aggression of Hitler are powerful examples of the ability of the state to inflict harm on its defenseless citizenry. More eerily, each of these oppressive regimes came to power through some democratic process. What safeguard do we as Americans have that we will not, at some point, fall prey to the same disease that brought death and terror to the citizens of these other nations? What guarantee do we have that some elected tyrant will not seek to eliminate some group of Americans? The answer is only our ability to defend ourselves.
As to Machel’s claimed correlation between guns and violence, I will grant that guns are involved in thousands of deaths each year. Then again, so are cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, automobiles, bicycles, stairs, sexual intercourse, and myriad other legal products and activities. Guns do not produce violence; rather violence involving guns is an expression of other problems in our society.
As Machel conveniently leaves out, most gun violence involves drugs or alcohol. If one were to consider those incidences of drug-related death rather than gun-related death, an entirely new picture of violence in America emerges. That being the case, we have to stop blaming guns for creating violent behavior and start taking a hard look at our culture, our society, and our values, to find a way to curb needless injuries and death.
-The writer is a junior majoring in political science.