Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

February 13, 2013

Arguing and arguing about gun control

Nathan Harter
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Ordinarily, I let others weigh in on topics of the day.

For many years, that was true about the topic of gun control, in part because I have little authority to speak. I am not descended from military or law enforcement or hunters. I own no gun myself.

Most people assume that conservatives oppose gun control, partly as a reflex as we “cling” to our guns because we are so backward and stupid anyway. I had not spent time deciding what to believe, so there was no point writing a column about it.

All that has changed. Obviously, the debate could zero in on the meaning of the Second Amendment. You would think that my legal training would prepare me for that debate. But I leave that for others. Also, I have no opinion about hunting and other sport shooting.

Many opponents of gun control argue they should be permitted to amass weapons in order to protect the citizenry from its government, as a precaution against high-handed misrule and tyranny. That gets closer to my area of interest, although a resolute army today possesses too much intel and firepower (and drones!) to make a handgun of much use.

I worry about a different scenario. The federal government has demonstrated to my satisfaction that it is willing that the economy collapse even if it results in ruin to the civic order. Now, hear me. I am not saying collapse is inevitable. I am not even saying it is likely. But it does appear now to be possible, even thinkable.

Ask the people of Detroit how bad things can get. Already some portions in the U.S. are nearly ungovernable. Nice folks learn just to stay away from “that part of town”. But what happens when the government fails in its essential purpose? It has happened in civilized places, sometimes abruptly.

Am I a survivalist, hoarding water and batteries in an underground bunker against the zombie apocalypse? No. The time could come, however, when I cannot avoid standing to fight for my home and my wife, not so much against Muslim terrorists and black helicopters but against desperate fellow citizens – and not a few people here illegally.

To be candid, I prefer to band with neighbors to organize a community response, with options to barter and collaborate in finding the necessities. You are unlikely to see me crouching behind a stone wall with a pistol, taking potshots at some menace coming up the road. But I wouldn’t always blame the man who found this necessary.

And because the government cannot (a) risk collapse while at the same time (b) depriving its people of the means of coping with the collapse it seems determined to precipitate, I have (c) decided to oppose gun control. I do not feel less safe in its absence. Passage of any legislation controlling firearms will not make me feel any safer existentially. I ask, who will still be around to enforce such legislation in desperate times?

At some point, a man has very few options. I happen to trust in God and the good will of likeminded neighbors. Local law enforcement is in my opinion a calming presence, not a fearsome threat. Yet the mere presence of guns in the community doesn’t frighten me, either. I pray that the day never comes when I feel safer that ordinary citizens have them and know how to use them. May the day not come when you hear me singing, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”  

Shame on you, politicians, for making me actually start to imagine such a day.