The High and Low Road of Gun Rights
Let's face it -- in most everything we do in life, we have a choice. We can take the high road or we can take the low road. Knowing which road, when to take it, and why, can sometimes alter the course of history. Such was the case with our Founders during and after the American Revolution.
After America had thrown off its chains of tyranny and won independence from England, people were elated at the prospects of their new, free nation. However, the suggestion that they should now turn around and accept a new governance compact known as the the Constitution of the United States came as a surprise to many and was viewed with considerable suspicion. Our Founders understood the economic stability and national security that the Constitution would provide, but convincing the general populace would be a different matter altogether.
So how did they do it? Did our Founders go out and brazenly flaunt this new document in everyone's face, instigate polarizing tactics, or try to intimidate the public into acquiescence? No -- they used careful reasoning, appealing to the peoples' natural predilection for love of family and self-preservation.
In other words, they showed respect toward those who did not, as yet, share their urgent understanding of the issues at hand, then offered a positive dialog with real solutions and examples that would eventually win them over. This time-consuming but highly constructive and successful discourse took the form of 85 published letters, commonly known as The Federalist Papers. Today, every American who exercises their freedom to choose how they wish to live their life owes a great debt to those who long ago understood the necessity of critical thought when evaluating how to approach a given crises.
Looking back, we can clearly see our Founders were men and women of great fortitude, wisdom, and patience. Of these virtues, I believe the most important was wisdom, for they knew all too well the battle to secure their rights could not be won by courage and conviction alone. True victory required a higher level of thinking, both in planning and execution.
Unfortunately, fewer people today are willing to take the time to truly understand the serious political, economical, and social consequences involved in America's current constitutional crisis, especially with respect to the Second Amendment. Case in point, the flippantly polarizing antics of a growing faction within some gun-rights groups. The recent statement by Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz "requesting that customers no longer bring firearms" into their stores brings to light a prime example -- in fact, showing how some people have become so excited about being in the advocacy game they've completely lost focus on the ball.
Over the past year, a small number of gunners in the "open carry" movement have descended upon select Starbucks stores as part of a messaging effort to normalize the public's perception and acceptance of firearms. To their credit, they purchased large amounts of product and expressed their appreciation for the company's noncombative (i.e., neutral) stand on the Second Amendment. Sound good?
Not so fast. You see, these people didn't just show up and financially support Starbucks, they arrived in small platoon-like groups with shotguns and tactical rifles slung fore and aft as they sipped their way swaggering about between adult and child patrons alike!
Gee, I wonder. Wouldn't a discreet, nicely holstered sidearm have sufficed?
While I can appreciate this group's anxiety over current events and the urge to exercise their constitutional right, such mindless behavior can only be seen as anything but normal. In truth, such antics only serve to help bring about the very thing we all want least -- government intervention.
If you're a Second Amendment supporter, ask yourself this question: In states that permit open carry, what's the difference between showing up heavily armed in a parking lot across the street from a school and that of strolling through Starbucks during the middle of rush hour? The answer is: nothing. There is no difference. Both actions are legal, equally stupid, and completely unnecessary. Moreover, such actions only fuel our opposition's rage against all of us, regardless whether we carry openly or concealed, and further hinders any honest effort to educate others on the criminal realities of society and break through unfounded phobias about Americans and their lawfully owned firearms.
As a former Marine and one of our nation's 90 million responsible gun owners, I simply cannot see any merit in this kind of unwarranted conduct. Remember, with rights come responsibilities. Let us therefore lead by example through exemplary character, even if our detractors do not.
For me, there is a painfully obvious point to concede here. What we really need on our side, now more than ever, is cool heads and critical thinkers -- like our founders. Maybe then we could keep our gun debate out of the gutter and onto the high road.
Jack Eldon Jackson is a certified firearms instructor, speaker, and former U.S. Marine who writes on issues involving government overreach.