Recently, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that read “I am Pro-Gun”. Nothing unusual in that, you might think. Unless of course you happen to be from Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand or any other Western democracy where guns are strictly curtailed and generally speaking, only hunters are allowed to have guns. If you were living in any one of the aforementioned countries and you had a bumper-sticker that read “I am Pro-Gun”, people would be deeply suspicious of your motives for wanting to have a gun: “Do you want to rob banks, threaten the dude that stole your girlfriend, or maybe you’re just plain old psycho?”. My point is, normal people in Western democracies, people like you and me, do not feel the need or a desire to own a gun and they very, very wary of people who do want to own guns. “Oh, yeah. Well this is America”. I hear you say. “We do things differently over here”. Fair enough and indeed the world would be a very boring place indeed if we all behaved in exactly the same way.
For a split second after I’d read the “I am Pro-Gun” sticker though, the thought occurred to me that I might like to get a sticker for my car. One that would express my views, “I am Anti-Gun”. But then I quickly dismissed the idea from my head. Why? Because I was afraid, plain and simple. Afraid that if I did put a sticker on my car that read “I am Anti-Gun”, I would draw the attention of people who disagree strongly with me – and these people have guns. And therein lies the injustice and unfairness in any debate in this country on the subject of gun-control. You see, you and I can disagree on education, health care, taxes, whatever, and we’ll debate, but at least it’s on level playing field. With a gun-control debate, one of us has a distinct advantage: the potential to threaten, or to use physical force to “win the debate”.
It was only at the moment when I realized that I could never put a bumper sticker on my car that read “I am Anti-Gun”, that it occurred to me why politicians who may share my views, shy away from the issue; not because they don’t agree with me, but because they are more politically savvy than me. For, just as some things are unknowable, the gun-control debate here is simply “unwinnable” – at least not when you have literally millions of people with millions of guns. Many gun owners would willingly disregard the democratic process in favor of pursuing their own needs and wants. Because even if there were a constitutional amendment to curtail gun ownership in this country, there would be those who would feel “I know better.”
Brian O’ Nuanain runs “Across The Pond And Beyond”, a company that organizes international vacations. You can reach him at acrossthepondandbeyond.com