It's Not "Just a Gun"

by Keith Coniglio

For most of my life, firearms have simply been inanimate objects to me, tools no more capable of influencing one's character than a hammer or a microwave. But as calls for limiting citizens' right to be armed grew under the previous administration, I heard repeatedly how firearms were more than that. They were symbols. They bordered on supernatural talismans whose very presence could influence your character and behavior.

I am a data-driven man who believes in measurements, calculations, and specifications. But for the sake of intellectual honesty, I attempted to see things from this more abstract perspective. To my surprise, I found myself acknowledging that they have a point: there is another dimension to guns beyond a mechanical ability to launch a projectile with accuracy.

A gun is more than a tool. It is the embodiment of a citizen's right to say, "No," and to back it up with more than outrage, indignation, or pleading. It is the ability to put meat on your family's table; to resist aggression; to have a say in your fate. And that ability — that literal empowerment - does shape one's character. It fosters an independent spirit of self-determination; it provides the courage to oppose violence and intimidation.

Our national ethos includes our citizens' ability to meet force with force, and our history is permeated with examples of it. In 1946, the citizens of Athens, Tennessee, forcibly liberated their town from a corrupt and violent political cabal. In 1964, the Deacons for Defense was formed, providing silent protection to the non-violent marchers of the civil rights movement. In 1992, Korean shopkeepers took rifles to rooftops to protect their businesses during the Los Angeles riots.

In 2005, New Orleans citizens defended their homes and families after being abandoned by emergency services after Hurricane Katrina. And each year, hundreds of citizens use privately-owned firearms to thwart home invasions, sexual assaults, and robberies. Knowing we can makes us willing to try, raising us from the status of passive victim.

Gun control isn't about restricting access to a "thing," it's about psychological manipulation. It's about divorcing citizens from the internalized belief that they have a right and ability to make their own decisions in life. It's a fostering of cultural amnesia - making a free people forget that they are in charge of their own destiny. Without these intrinsic values, this spirit of personal independence and courage borne of ability, we may all too easily believe that only a cadre of our betters could provide for our safety and welfare.

Invariably, there will be renewed calls for restrictions on citizens' rights — it seems to be reflex for some groups, whatever the catalyst. But no matter how mild or "common sense" the measure, remember that the real restrictions being sought are not on inanimate objects but rather on the spirit of autonomy they imbue. And smothering that spirit has a corrosive effect far beyond the realm of firearms.

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate. He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans' passion for - and defense of - their Constitutional rights and personal liberty.