The NRA Are Not Men In White Hats

Lt. Col. Jason Dempsey, writing at Foreign Policy, talks a lot of sense. He writes that the NRA’s notion that the correct way forward for America is an openly armed society would actually be a retreat to frontier violence of the kind he’s seen in Afghanistan.

The NRA’s maximalist position on guns is theoretically about freedom, but following its lead would result in less freedom, not more, and mark a step backward for the civil society that we Americans have labored so hard to build. The NRA fantasy that true safety only derives from an openly armed population is not only indulgent, it ignores both human nature and history. It is a philosophy that offers false comfort to frightened individuals and would do nothing for our collective safety.

The world is full of societies where individuals arm themselves for safety, and the instability of such countries should serve as an object lesson of what happens when our mutual trust and our willingness to engage in conversation, unarmed, is driven away by fear of both our government and our fellow citizens. Such places are invariably not more polite, as NRA leaders would have it, but much more explosive. Just look at Afghanistan, where I and thousands of other Americans have confronted the realities of a population armed and on edge.

…There are steps we can and should take to limit the potential for future events like Newtown, but we should scorn the paranoia that sees solutions in even more weapons in more public spaces. America armed would not be a place of genteel men in cowboy hats keeping everyone calm, but a nation even more on edge. Encouraging an armed populace cedes the ideas of justice and deliberation that we have worked so hard to build to a brittle strength — one that sees mortal insult in a traffic slight and where arguments are more often than not met with physical challenges.

We can respect the right of Americans to own weapons while agreeing that they should be left largely out of public life. I don’t agree with banning guns, but I categorically reject calls to embrace them more openly as a way to avoid violence.

It’s a compelling argument that should appeal to responsible gun owners. Read the whole thing.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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  • Bonus read – a truly great piece from Josh Marshall, Speaking For My Tribe.

    It’s customary and very understandable that people often introduce themselves in the gun debate by saying, ‘Let me be clear: I’m a gun owner.’

    Well, I want to be part of this debate too. I’m not a gun owner and, as I think as is the case for the more than half the people in the country who also aren’t gun owners, that means that for me guns are alien. And I have my own set of rights not to have gun culture run roughshod over me.

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