I was somewhat taken aback at the answer, but upon reflection decided he was right on target. The American colonies were able to resist what they perceived as British tyranny, because they had guns and thus the ability to fight to protect their freedom. Plinking tin cans, hunting to put food on the table and collecting historical firearms are all well and good, but they are really just a footnote in the grand scheme of things. The real issue regarding the citizens’ God-given right to enjoy their liberty is that guns simply give people the ability to protect their rights.
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, of the Japanese imperial navy, is believed by some to have observed: “You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” During the darkest days of World War II, the Nazis controlled almost all of central Europe with the exception of Switzerland, which has mandatory gun ownership. Nearly every household in Switzerland has a trained and armed reservist in residence. No one has invaded Switzerland in 500 years. Apparently, an armed citizenry is a pretty good deterrent to invasion.
There aren’t many people left alive who remember firsthand the atrocities of the Nazis, since most of our World War II vets are gone now. My friend Herman was a boy living in Holland when the Nazis came to his home looking for his father, who was a leader in the Dutch underground. He remembers the brutality of the Nazis. He remembers that the first thing they confiscated from peaceful citizens was their guns. The Dutch lived under Nazi persecution until they were liberated by Allied troops.
Are there abuses of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms? Absolutely, just as there are abuses of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Six innocent people died in Santa Barbara, and almost a thousand innocent people died at Jonestown. Perhaps those kinds of tragedies are part of the price we pay for freedom.
Until next time, tight lines.
• Don Moyer, author and outdoors columnist for the Tracy Press, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.