A Facebook acquaintance has presented the argument that gun ownership is necessary to protect ourselves against a police state, and that gun control advocates, who inevitably want to take away all guns, are leading us down the path to something like Communist Russia. We would be better, he says, committing resources to mental health and looking for ways to alleviate the gap between rich and poor. This is my response:
You’re presenting a scaremongering extreme example. Regulating guns carefully, which we do in Canada, obviously does not lead to confiscation of all guns; if it did, it would have done so already. You might as well say that regulating prescription medications — which we do more tightly in Canada than in the US — will lead to unavailability of prescription medications. Or or or.
It’s true that our freedoms are being eroded by the Harper Conservatives, subtly and gradually, in a kind of frog-boiling exercise and entirely through abuse of the system, for example overpadded omnibus bills, but they know well enough, like the cynical and powerful in the US, that guns make pleasant little pacifiers for scared people to hang onto. I would like you to consider the equipment available to the Canadian army, and imagine whether a bunch — or even thousands — of Canadians with heavy weapons could really oppose that — really as in “not in a Hollywood movie.” Now consider the odds of opposing the American army, which so many supposed “patriots” in the US think they could do. It’s frankly laughable.
No, really, it is. In Syria there are freedom fighters with international supply sources going up against a much smaller country and they’re still getting badly hurt. And what we’ve seen with the Arab Spring is that the only way citizens are going to prevail against a hostile government is either (a) to persuade it to resign for fear of looking bad in the international eye or out of some lingering hesitation to murder thousands of citizens and destroy much of the country or (b) with international help.
If groups of “patriots” in the US or Canada decided to oppose a hostile government with armed force, first of all, most citizens would not go along with it; think about Germany, where they won not by taking people’s guns (the Nazis had looser gun control than the previous government) but with the complicity of enough of the populace, though the kind of propaganda assault that is popular with political parties everywhere (only of course more sinister than most), and taking advantage of a populace who were scared and resentful in the aftermath of the first World War and its sequelae. But among those groups that decided to go with armed insurrection, they would not all agree with each other — again, look at Syria, and look at the kind of infighting you can see, for instance, in the US Libertarian Party. Even if there were two million people with assault weapons, they would cause a lot of damage but they would be wiped out by the breathtaking superiority of the US army. Simply scale down the numbers for the Canadian equivalent.
The way to protect ourselves from a police state is NOT TO ELECT ONE. Good grief. Pay attention to who you’re voting for. When a politician puts energy into making you fearful of threats, recognize that you’re being played. It’s the same approach that made the Nazis so successful — and many other less vile but still obnoxious groups.
Don’t tell me what advocates will and won’t do. I am one. You are not one. I know quite a few. You seem to know only your fantasies and straw men.
And don’t waste time with false oppositions either. Committing resources to mental illness is not something that takes away from gun control. Indeed, with less gun violence there is more money freed for other things, since gun violence has its undeniable costs. Likewise looking at the gap between rich and poor — something that certainly does need to be addressed, and is best addressed by good social services in a well-funded (by taxation) state wherein everyone recognizes the rights and obligations of citizenship and sees their government as of, by, and for them, and works to keep it that way, rather than indulging in paranoid us-versus-them fantasies that foster opposition to and disengagement from the government, thereby undercutting the best means of improving social services.