I’ve seen it in the comments section of my blog enough times to recognize the pattern.
Invariably, someone throws down the gauntlet.
“If you want my guns, come and get them.“
Every time it’s been a man. Nearly every time it’s been an older man than myself-I’m 41. There’s some regional predictability, but not nearly to the extent as the first two identifiers. There are other social signaling patterns too. Motorcycles. Trucks. Profile pictures of flags. American. Confederate. Both.
Normally it sparks others to reply, accusing the originator of a threat. Then the social frenzy is on.
I don’t respond. But I notice it. The predictability of the dialogue is meaningful. It reminds me that much of America is only really interested in value signaling culture and identity and not at all interested in substantive dialogue about contemporary social issues in America.
It cuts down both sides of the debate.
The progressive version of “come and get em” is “guns are evil!” Suggesting anything to the contrary to either side is to be shouted down unconditionally. It’s worth noting though, there’s a recently present pattern where the less politically motivated among us are wandering over to a platform that believes that perhaps we ought to take a look at some things. And maybe take some action.
That’s the platform I’m on.
I’ve never suggested that we take anyone’s firearms away. Only that we be allowed to act more thoughtfully about them than the current political environment allows us to.
I seek the ability for our representative government to insist that we both ask and answer questions that we ought to be able to ask and answer. Like what types of fire arm storage requirements could we legally insist on? What kind of ammunition is sufficient for home defense? What kinds aren’t? What gun designs are inherently unsafe and need to be improved upon or eliminated? How many illegal guns are there in America? And if we really wanted them back, what would we have to do?
These aren’t unreasonable questions. To not ask them is to be a know nothing.
The CDC has 139 different classifications of falls included in their accidental death data. The result is that they’ve studied, understood and reacted to the unique hazards presented to groups like the elderly and construction workers. And it’s saved lives. We’ve nearly eradicated fire as a modern American hazard because we did the same thing. 96% of all fire department calls involve no fire because of strict fire code regulation and improvements in construction materials.
The idea that we couldn’t impact the amount of times where violence escalates into death because of a gun or eliminate some accidents that result in fatality or create enough friction by removing an amount of guns from the suicide equation the same way we’ve stomped out other hazards seems a bit far-fetched. And since none of those activities eliminate legal, responsible gun ownership, I find politically motivated opposition to them unreasonable.
Because it is.
Which brings me back to the regular “come and get them” comments.
What I find most troubling about them isn’t the implications of violence. Everyone’s tough on social media. And I acknowledge the well formed desire to be able to protect one’s home and family as a gun owner myself. But I stop short of the gun being a modern foundational enabler of liberty. That sentiment shows a fundamental lack of understanding of where we are on the arc of a relationship with our government and a gross miscalculation of our dependencies on the modern liberal state.
The reality that we live in is that modern American tyranny looks more like the government ceasing to do things that enable our society than it does actively doing things like “coming for our guns.”
If we woke up tomorrow and the federal government stopped subsidizing food production and utilities in a targeted way to coerce an outcome, that would be unimaginably impactful.
It would be modern tyranny.
If they decided to stop social security payments and Medicare services to everyone receiving them in a sanctuary city, that would be modern tyranny.
If they stopped funding education, if they stopped paying federal pensions, if they stopped paying air traffic controllers in states that didn’t vote for the party in power…all modern tyranny.
None of these things are likely to happen any time soon. But if they did it’s not obvious how guns would stop them.
These are the things for which we depend on our government. They’re not provided to us by those we hold at gunpoint. They’re provided to us by institutions that have been executing the will of the people for centuries, a free press and accountable government. Which is why many of us view the assaults on those institutions and our democratic process by the current tidal wave of populism to be far closer to enabling tyranny than any threats to come for our guns.
There’s something satisfying in the fairytale that tells us that we are in control of material things in our life through the material coercion of violence that guns can afford us.
We can see it.
We can feel it.
The reality is more abstract.