Despite the almost universal perception that Charlton Heston discovered that guns don’t kill, a closer look at history reveals that the credit should actually go to a Chinese empress. Cixi, known in the West as the Empress Dowager, a reluctant supporter of the Boxer Rebellion, informed her followers that the foreign devils’ guns would not harm them. Many of her troops were on an intellectual level with those modern Americans who believe that civilian ownership of automatic weapons is helpful in keeping the peace, so they believed her. She thereby expedited the demise of the Qing Dynasty around the turn of the 20th century and turned China over to warlords who used guns to kill each other, by the millions, for the next 50 years. In 1949 Chairman Mao effectively succeeded Cixi by re-uniting the country. He had a prescient view of what today’s advocates of unrestrained gun ownership seem to have in mind. “Political power,” he proudly proclaimed, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
But our brave boys, having fallen in love with guns during the extermination campaign against the original American settlers, then against each other in the 1860s, cling to their belief that we are safest when each of us owns a few guns. Nor are they swayed by the fact that we commit 10 times as many homicides by gun each year as Canada, Germany, France, Australia, the UK and Japan combined. They loathe questions such as “How many would have died at Columbine, in Aurora, at the Sikh Temple, etc., if easy access to guns had been denied?” Other weapons, of course, have kill potential, but only America’s weapon of choice guarantees that the victim won’t have a chance.
Paradoxically, the staunchest advocates of unfettered gun ownership, i.e., those owning a level of complicity in those 11,000 murders, often proudly proclaim their “right to life” bona fides. This can only mean “you have the right to life unless I decide to exercise my Second Amendment rights, which of course trump your right to life.” The right to kill whoever annoys you has been legalized by states like Florida and Texas with their “stand and defend” statutes. It’s a little annoying that you have to make it look like the corpse attacked you, but that’s only a minor inconvenience for the joy of real freedom.
But don’t misread my message. You can’t blame boys for loving their toys. Point an accusing finger instead at the politicians in both parties who know better, but value their positions too much to do better. Cries to stop the madness are simply idle chatter when there’s so much money at stake and our leaders feel such scant regard for life and logic.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.