Straight Shootin': Gun ownership: It’s the civilized thing to do

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In some of my past columns, we have explored the legality and constitutionality of gun ownership. Still, some people say to me, “OK, just because I CAN own or carry a gun, WHY should I? We live in a civilized society, so why do I need a gun? This isn’t the wild, wild, west anymore.”

My answer to that is no, it’s not the wild, wild, west anymore. It’s much worse today than it ever was in the Old West. The crime rate per capita today is much higher than it ever was in the Old West, and back then you never heard of mass murderers, serial killings, suicide bombers, terrorists or gang initiations. It’s obvious you can’t rely on the military, police or campus security to protect you from that stuff. I would argue that having a gun is not only neccessary and the responsible thing to do in today’s society, but it’s also a great emancipator and equalizer in modern CIVILIZED society. I said I WOULD argue that, but Major Caudill is much more eloquent than I, so I’ll let him do that:

Why I have a gun

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under the threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of these two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on an equal footing with a 200-pound mugger, a 75-year-old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year-old gang banger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we’d be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a (armed) mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger’s victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat, it has no validity when most of a mugger’s potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong and the many, and that is the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then, there’s the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party, inflicting overwhelmingly injury on the loser. People that think that fists, bats, sticks or stones don’t constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip, at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that’s as lethal in the hands of the octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weightlifter. It simply wouldn’t work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn’t both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don’t do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I’m looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I do not carry it because I am afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn’t limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation… and that’s why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Here is another short quote that makes the same point. I can’t remember who said it, so let’s just chalk this one up to anonymous:

“God didn’t make all men equal, Sam Colt did.”

Eric R. Sonnenberg is a Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer who owns Forest City Firearms, 137 N. Chicago Ave., Rockford. He can be reached at (815) 262-4279 or via e-mail to

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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