Liberals Are NOT Gun-Haters

by Steven Greenhut

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Throughout the blog-o-sphere, I've been reading about how much liberals, such as those in the Obama administration and the Democrats who run our state government in California, hate guns. The term "gun-haters" can be found in countless articles written by conservatives about advocates for gun control, with one publication listing myriad “gun-hating” organizations.

No doubt, the politicians and groups named in these articles and lists are advocates for gun-control measures, but they absolutely, positively do not hate guns. In fact, these folks love guns. Their entire political philosophy is based on their adoration of big guns and small ones, without which they could accomplish none of their goals.

Readers can see where I'm headed. Our enemies in the gun-rights battle don't hate or dislike guns per se, but hate the idea of average citizens having access to them. I've never heard a gun-controller complain about the way police are now outfitted with military-style uniforms and granted firearms worthy of an invading army. No one seems to complain about the military's immense firepower and its stockpiling of even nuclear weapons.

Obviously, I'm playing a semantic game, and semantic games can be annoying. (I get tired, for instance, of readers emailing me to complain that I used the term government "worker" rather than government "employee." I get their semantic point, but government employees do actually work for their money even if the work they do is wasteful, unnecessary and coercive.) My semantic game, by contrast, illustrates a valuable point. This current "gun" debate isn't about whether guns are good or bad or whether we love them or hate them but about which particular groups of people are entitled to own them.

The founding publisher of the Orange County Register used to refer to the public-school system as "gun-run schools." His point was that the current school system is based, ultimately on the use of guns by the authorities. If we don't pay our taxes or follow compulsory-education laws, then well-pensioned officials in uniforms show up at our door with weapons to haul us away to jail. If we resist or run away, those authorities will shoot us.

I personally don't like guns, yet I purchased two shotguns and would use them if necessary. It's no different than my lawn tractor. I don't particularly like it either – with those dangerous spinning blades that could cut off my legs – but it beats trying to cut my six acres of two-foot-high grass with a scissors. I don't like target shooting, so the guns are simply a tool. In the popular view, though, I am a gun-lover because I believe in the right of average folks to own them.

A liberal gun-banner might personally dislike firearms also, but that person's support of firearm ownership by the authorities ought to put them in the category of gun-lover also. A true gun-hater would be someone who wanted to ban all weapons from all people and all governments – a naïve notion given the unfortunate flaws found in human nature.

Without the authorities toting guns, liberals couldn't force us to do all the things they constantly are forcing us to do. Conservatives don't want us to resist their plans either, but at least they are more consistent – they want the government to be armed to the teeth, but they are willing to allow the rest of us to be armed also, although to a lesser degree.

Conservatives are aghast whenever some lefty legislator, media celebrity or politician is caught using a firearm (or when their paid bodyguards tote such arms). I agree that such behavior is ridiculous, but it isn't really hypocritical when a so-called gun-hater is caught depending on a gun for their personal safety. As good progressives, they believe that they are members of an elite that has special privileges the lesser folks should not have.

I know cops who won't go anywhere off-duty without a weapon even though they disdain the idea that the rest of us should have similar protections. Never mind that private citizens are more responsible with their weapons than government officials, perhaps because government officials know they have immunities that the rest of us do not enjoy.

I'm sure the “gun-hater” moniker won't go away, but let's at least remind Americans whenever possible that the opponents of public gun ownership don’t hate guns. They hate the public.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a Sacramento-based writer.

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