America’s Gun Culture
The media and gun control advocates often talk about the US “gun culture,” as if those of us who own and appreciate guns are some sort of deviant cult. The reality is, America’s gun culture is part of the dominant American culture; it’s the hoplophobes, with their irrational fear of firearms, who are out of sync with the social norms of most of the country.
America’s gun culture is as normal and mainstream as its belief in God. Naturally, there may not be quite as many people going to church or the range as in days past, but God and guns are still part of everyday America, and are deeply ingrained in our heritage. Those who retch in fear and disgust at the thought of a gun – who preach disarmament as a religion – are like the activist atheists who demand that every trace of God be removed from schools and all other aspects of public life.
Polls and personal experience tell us that the vast majority of Americans believe in God. Some are more active in their faith and some are less faithful in their acts, but most at least believe in something, even if they just call it spirituality. The majority of those who doubt the existence of God – or even those who are sure that He doesn’t exist – still respect, appreciate, and accept others’ belief in God as normal and good. They might not understand or agree with religious people, but they don’t see them as abnormal or harmful. Typically the atheist’s or agnostic’s only conflict comes when others’ religious beliefs encroach on their own liberties.
Examples include “blue laws,” such as bans on hunting on Sundays or laws against personal, sexual choices. Those types of disagreements can sometimes be intense, but even the majority of people involved in them are not advocating that religion or religious people be banished – that the “God culture” is somehow incompatible with American life.
Attitudes toward guns follow a similar path. Many members of the “gun culture” are enthusiasts, hunters, target shooters, competitors, etc., whose lifestyle revolves around their passion for firearms and the shooting sports. Others own and enjoy firearms, but are not passionate about the subject, and still others don’t own guns and have no interest in them – or might not even be personally comfortable with them – but they respect and support our right to have them. But both the “God culture” and the “gun culture” are part of mainstream American culture.
In contrast, there is a small, but vocal cult of non-believers who aggressively preach atheism as a religion. They claim to be intellectually enlightened and superior to religious people whom they regard as superstitious and backwards. They take deep offense at any mention or recognition of God – particularly in any sort of public setting. They point to historical examples of abuse of religion and use those examples as proof that religion is bad – ignoring all of the good that also springs from that same well.
These “enlightened” few have been effective at perpetuating a belief among many that the Constitution demands that God not be invoked, recognized, or in any way acknowledged bypublic officials or with public funds. This is a demonstrably false notion. The founders were, by and large, Godly men, many of whom had deep religious convictions. They routinely called upon God’s grace and guidance to protect and direct our nation, and they clearly saw value in the moral teachings of the Bible. Nonetheless, they also had seen the danger of a state-sponsored religion – the English Civil Wars were comparatively recent history and religion was a central issue. To protect the United States against religious tyranny, they set out a simple rule in the Constitution: that Congress could pass no law regarding the establishment of an official religion. The objective was to protect individual liberty, not to require that the federal government make a religion of atheism. This restriction was so limited that it only bound Congress, not the legislatures of the several states.
Similarly, there is a relatively small group of individuals who concentrate on the costs of the right to arms, but ignore – and even actively deny – the benefits side of the equation. They preach government monopoly on force and citizen disarmament. Like the atheists who admit their eventual objective is the destruction of religion, but who push and tear and pick at anything they can find in their efforts to kill God with the death of a thousand cuts, the anti-rights zealots chip and whittle away at firearms rights trying to make gun ownership more difficult, more expensive, and less socially acceptable.
The atheists and the hoplophobes are the minority culture. They’re the extremists. They’re the ones tearing down the American culture and trying to replace it with their myopic, utopian vision of a Godless paradise where all are peaceful because they have no Gods to fight over, no guns to fight with, and with an all-powerful government to take care of the people. The term “gun culture” is used as a pejorative along with terms like “gun nuts” and “right-wing Christians” in an effort to marginalize and discredit anyone who can be categorized as part of these groups. Unfortunately, the tactic is effective, especially as it is consistently employed by major media, repeating lies, omitting facts, and generally misleading the public.
For now, at least in most of the country, the “gun culture” and Christianity remain part of the core fabric of our nation’s dominant culture. But that will change if we don’t fight back against this culture of fear and government power that only tears down and never builds up. We are mainstream America. We are the culture upon which this nation was built and through which it has thrived. We are still the dominant culture in most places in the US, but that will only remain true if we continue to cling to our bibles and our guns and fight back against the growing culture of destruction that has infested our nation like a cancer. We are America. Our ancestors left Europe to get away from such tyranny. We must not let it subvert our liberty.
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