Lost in the impassioned arguments about the Second Amendment and the right to defend oneself from government and each other is the question of what “open carry” might do to the already fragile fabric of society.
Let’s set aside the prospect of someone opening fire in a restaurant and forty would-be heroes suddenly responding with a hail of bullets, only guessing at who actually began the conflict.
Instead, let’s talk about what makes us civilized, and what makes America free. Guns don’t make us free, much as the NRA’s literature would have you believe it. What makes us free is the ability to govern ourselves, to make laws through a democratic process, and the mutual understanding that we will obey these laws once they are enacted.
It is the expectation of redress of grievances, and trust in fairness as dispensed by our legal system, that keep our society stable.
The system lets us down all the time, but the ideal, and our commitment to it, remain. This is the real glue that binds us. It cannot be forced or enforced from the barrel of a gun.
Robust yet civil argument is the lifeblood from which the system draws its strength. This is why it is so unsettling to us when argument becomes uncivil; it means the system isn’t working. When it stops working, and the disaffected feel their views haven’t been given their proper due, they begin thinking of empowering themselves in ways not sanctioned by the system.
Wearing a gun is another way of saying that, ultimately, all disagreements have the potential of ending in violence if they don’t turn out to our liking. This is antithetical to the process the Founding Fathers envisioned.
Deep in its corporate-sponsored heart, you have to wonder if this is what the NRA really believes those learned gentlemen had in mind when they ratified the words, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”