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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Letters

Guns and God

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Kudos to Jonathan Thompson, who will surely get plenty of negative responses to his editor's note in Volume 40, Number 19, from numerous fundamentalists whose understanding of the First Amendment is nearly nonexistent (HCN, 10/27/08). I'm happy to have a Constitution that, at least on paper, allows everyone to worship whatever deity or higher power they choose, and at the same time protects me from the frequently malevolent intellectual suffocation of fundamentalists (including the kindly and "well-meaning") of every religious stripe. That those protections do not always operate as I'd like them to in the real world, as Ray Ring's article suggests, is merely a reminder that religious oppression has been around at least as long as political oppression, and has been no more humane in its treatment of dissenters than political regimes we've been taught to despise.

As for Democrats abandoning gun control, I'm not in a position to predict, though I admit I'd be surprised if they did, and I'm not sure we "all" need them to do so. I have several firearms, both long arms and pistols, that I've owned for many years. I've considered joining the NRA, but have always decided against it because of the organization's stands on other issues, as well as its refusal to acknowledge the very obvious and very real dangers of a gun-happy society. Hal Herring at least points out some of the contradictions of "pro-gun" zealots whose version of the Constitution includes trampling on the numerous rights of others to secure a specific one of their own.

I do question one of Mr. Herring's statements in defense of gun ownership as a hedge, if you will, against tyranny. He suggests, if I'm reading him properly, that we have less to fear from an armed populace than from anything the future might hold. Even if I grant Herring the benefit of the doubt regarding America's future, an examination of murder statistics in the U.S., and the weapons used to commit them, suggests to me that we have quite a bit to fear from our current armed populace, else my local police would not need Kevlar vests as part of their standard equipment.

Ray Schoch
Lakewood, Colorado

Reponse
Ben Miner
Ben Miner
Nov 06, 2008 09:13 PM
What specific rights do you feel "pro-gun zealots" seek to trample? The right for people to "feel" safe knowing there are lots of gun laws on the books? The right for people to know their neighbor doesn't own an assault rifle? Sorry, but neither of those are rights and they never were. A well-armed citizenry is the ultimate check against the power of the state because it ensures that the government can never become tyrannical to the point of abolishing all civil rights. History has shown time and time again that unarmed people are much easier to subdue. Ever wonder why most despots over the last 200 years supported strict gun control? It may not be pleasant to think about, but the hundreds of millions of guns in the homes of ordinary Americans serve as the "poison pill" of tyranny.

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