Some people have faith—a steadfast belief in something, often despite a lack of concrete evidence. Or perhaps even in the face of evidence to the contrary. And that’s okay.
For many people, faith is a powerful force, a source of comfort and strength. For some people, faith is everything. For me, what you believe, who you love, what you eat or smoke, however you want to live your life—whatever it is, and whatever your reasons—is fine with me. As long as it remains only your business, it’s none of mine.
The problem arises when someone tries to force their faith on others, be it religious, social, dietary, pharmacologic, or hoplophobic. To insist that others share your faith—especially, to enlist the power government to force it on them —is tyranny.
Faith by force is easy to recognize in theocracies around the world, and in policies enforcing religious discrimination. But people have a hard time recognizing it in their own actions, particularly when they believe the restrictions they wish to impose are for the good of the people on whom they would impose them.
If you think marijuana is a “gateway drug” (even though that’s a political term with no medical definition) then it’s easy to justify making it illegal. If you think homosexuality is a sin, it’s easy to justify discriminating against gays and voting to maintain prohibitions on same sex marriage.
Similarly, if you think guns are evil, it’s easy to blame those inanimate objects for the evil acts of sentient humans and clamor for restrictions on basic constitutional rights. You do this because you have faith, which can’t be shaken by facts, statistics or logic.
When politicians promise to “close the gun show loophole”, you cheer. When they claim they’ll “close the internet loophole”, you donate to their campaigns. Because you have faith—faith that they have the answers, faith that just one more law will save lives.
Your faith is so strong that you don’t think to ask them to explain what they mean, to explain what those loopholes are. If you did, you would learn that they don’t exist, that the sale of firearms at gun shows and over the internet is subject to exactly the same restrictions and regulations that govern all other gun sales in the U.S. Those “loopholes” are total fabrications. Like the boogeyman, they are lies used to frighten and control the uneducated and uninformed . . . and the faithful.
When opponents of the Second Amendment rail against AR pattern rifles, calling them “weapons of war on our streets”, or “weapons only designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible”, again you rely on your faith. Faith that new laws restricting ARs will save lives and make you safer.
Your faith-armor is so strong that you ignore the facts, statistics and common sense that readily refute those claims. Like the fact that the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban had, according to the FBI, “no discernible impact on gun crime”. Or that rifles of any kind are used in fewer homicides in the US every year than knives, hands and fists, shotguns, hammers or baseball bats. There are 20-25 million privately owned AR and AK style modern semi-automatic sporting rifles in the U.S. Yet these are used in only about 0.5% of all homicides—so rarely that the FBI doesn’t even track it.
When anti-gunners claim that those rifles are not suited for hunting, you don’t wonder, then, why they are used every day by thousands of hunters across the country? If those rifles aren’t useful for self-defense and are only suited to mass murder, you don’t ask yourself why they are the preferred duty rifle for nearly every law enforcement agency in the country? How can you ignore the common sense answer—that those who actually own and use those weapons have a much better understanding of their role and utility than those who, by their own admission, have never even held them? Because you have faith.
When you see news reports of another mass homicide, you plead on social media for “common sense gun laws” and blame the NRA and law-abiding gun owners. Those horrible crimes virtually always occur in so-called “gun free zones” yet you don’t wonder why we don’t eliminate those resistance-free, target-rich environments that legislation has created? You believe that carrying guns causes violent crime, that gun owners are unhinged and violent, but you don’t wonder why mass shootings don’t occur at gun shows, shooting ranges, or NRA meetings, where participants are usually carrying a loaded weapon or two? Or why mass murderers don’t attack police stations? Because you have faith.
You’re opposed to civilians lawfully carrying concealed handguns, despite statistics showing that concealed carriers are not only more law abiding than the general population, but are even more law abiding than law enforcement officers?
If you think guns are too dangerous, that you don’t want them in your home, or that carrying one is not a good idea, I have no wish to force my beliefs on you. If you choose to rely on faith and the state to protect you, while I think you are short-sighted and naive, that’s still fine with me. I have no desire to change your opinion or your plans. How you choose to protect yourself and your family—or not—is none of my business.
But if you want to force your faith on me, that’s tyranny.
—Tom Vaughan, MD, is a neuroradiologist in private practice in Louisville, KY. He is a shooting enthusiast who believes in individual liberty and personal responsibility.