“I’m not right-wing or left-wing, I consider myself more of a centrist,” so said one of my acquaintances during a recent conversation.
That’s not the first time I’ve heard such a statement or similar expression. The truth is that it is far more common for people to say they are a moderate than it is for them to pick a definitive side. We’ve seen this play out for decades as people publicly declare themselves to be “undecided,” “centrist” or “neutral.”
It’s not all that big of a surprise that when pressed to take sides most folks will squirm around and try to stay in the middle or remain neutral. During the last several years I’ve penned articles that discussed the “reasonableness disease.”
Image source: Hyatt Gun Shop web site
People want to be seen as reasonable by their peers so they deliberately avoid choosing sides or they will temper their beliefs with blanket statements such as “well, I can see both sides” or “I’m not saying you’re right or wrong” and the famous “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
It’s easy to fall into the moderate or centrist trap. No one wants to be disliked, not even by strangers. People by their very nature crave acceptance and seek to be well-liked. When you pick a side you automatically set yourself up for scorn or ridicule from the opposing faction.
Consider the birth of our nation. Analysts have said that during the years of the American Revolution less than 50 percent of the population embodied outspoken patriots who favored complete separation from Mother England. The vast majority were considered “fence-sitters”. After April 19, 1775, with the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, there were still members of the Continental Congress who wished to make peace with King George and come to some kind of power-sharing agreement.
It is no secret that the hottest topic on the minds of gun owners across the United States is Second Amendment rights. When the topic of the Second Amendment comes up, I want to reply that I am fond of that entire Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution and the principles upon which this nation was founded, not simply one amendment.
Signs of the “reasonableness disease” have crept into the modern gun culture conversation.
Noted Outdoor Life writer, Jim Zumbo, committed career hari-kari in print a few years ago by referring to the AR-15 as a “terrorist rifle” that had no business in the hunting field. Zumbo went so far as to call for state officials to actively seek to ban the use of certain types of rifles for hunting. Apparently, in Jim’s mind certain guns were acceptable and others were not.
More recently, Dick Metcalf, longtime columnist for Guns & Ammo magazine staged his own public career suicide when he penned a piece detailing the case for “reasonable” restrictions on Second Amendment rights. Many readers were legitimately shocked when Metcalf trotted out the tired, old gun control reasoning that Americans have to get a license to drive a car and compared that to possessing arms. It was not surprising to anyone in the shooting sports community that both Dick and the editor of Guns & Ammo, Jim Bequette, were quickly shown the door. Bequette was allowed to resign.
Both the Zumbo and Metcalf incidents are excellent public examples of gun owners attempting to “fence-sit” or maintain some spurious type of neutrality. Neither man came out as “anti-gun,” they simply tempered their comments to seem reasonable. Both writers were ostensibly stunned at the backlash they received from the community. Predictably, anti-gun politicians and elitists were quick to jump on the comments made by Zumbo and Metcalf to bolster their “reasonable restrictions” arguments.
Many in the gun owning choir have fallen for the simple trap of supporting the ownership of an object as proof of purpose. These people view gun ownership as testimony that they support the Second Amendment. If the ownership of firearms somehow indicated an allegiance to the founding principles of the United States, a strict adherence to the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution, there would be no arguments over magazine capacity, pistol grips and folding stocks, government-issued handgun permits, firearms registration, etc.
(CBS New York)
If 80 million American gun owners stood on purpose and demanded a strict faithfulness to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and a true republican form of representation, the words “gun control” and “reasonable restrictions” would not exist in our modern political discourse.
For those who might place themselves in the liberal gun-owner camp, and have had the courage to have read this far in the article, I’d offer the following observation.
Claiming to support the Second Amendment while continuing to lend your support and money to parties, politicians and organizations who favor the “collective” and “the state” over the individual liberties of the citizen is the height of intellectual dishonesty. Every election cycle liberal gun owner swallow the lies of “hunting purposes” and “legitimate sporting use.” Those are the moral excuses they use to cover their nose and mask the stench of elitist politicians and the party of ever-expanding government. It is selfish and dishonest, but it makes them sleep a bit better at night.
It is far beyond time to choose a side. You are either on the side of limited government, personal responsibility and individual liberty or you are on the side of unlimited government, the collective mindset and strict limitations on the rights of the citizen, ownership of an object notwithstanding.
The choice of personal liberty is the most difficult as it requires that one accept responsibility for their failures as well as successes. That same path also requires that difficult choices be faced and sacrifices be made. The role of the peasant or comfortable slave is far simpler; declare allegiance to the state and fall in line for the promise of “safety and security.” The choice is currently yours to make, but that may not always be true.
Fence-sitters and those who attempt to appease both sides by being reasonable are of little use in the struggle to maintain God-given rights and liberty. Failing to choose a side does not make you enlightened; it makes you unreliable to either cause.
For the past three decades Paul Markel has had the privilege to study with some of the finest instructors the U.S. Military and Law Enforcement world have to offer. Visit Student of the Gun.
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