Anyone who believes that the gun culture will someday go away knows little about American history. It's as American as apple pie. It started when the Europeans first landed on the shores of the New World.
Guns were essential in protecting the settlements and for acquiring food for the settlement's survival.
They were indispensable in acquiring independence from British rule and then for taming the American west. Samuel Colt and the Winchester lever action rifle led the way.
It was the heyday of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and many other gunslingers. Myth or not, they were glorified in the mass media throughout America. No need for concealed carry permits in those days. Then in the early 20th-century the gun culture erupted with a new dimension of violence.
Prohibition and the Thompson sub-machine gun led the way here. Notorious criminals were glorified in motion picture and newspaper, and in our largest cities, crime, corruption and violence escalated to new levels.
All this is unique to America. We now have a citizenry that is among the most well armed in the world. It is a citizenry well aware of the totalitarian regimes that have enslaved millions of people in Europe and the rest of the world.
It doesn't matter that the Constitution insures that America will always be a representative democracy. Conspiracies abound that Big Brother or some other strongman will somehow overpower our democratically elected government and enslave the populous just as they have in other parts of the world.
It's the basis for what has become a paranoid belief that the populous must always be armed in order to protect against any approaching tyranny. Enter the National Rifle Association. Upholding the Second Amendment and fighting to prevent the enslavement of America has become its primary agenda. It's an agenda so uncompromising that it blocks any and all attempts to enact meaningful legislation which would improve firearm safety and reduce gun violence.
The bitter opposition to more gun control is expressed in a number of ways. One is the constant claims of rank-and-file gun proponents that the government is intent on taking their guns away, all 300 million of them. We read and hear this continuously in letters to the editor, the Internet, and talk radio.
Another claim is that virtually any attempt to impose restrictions on gun violence, no matter how innocuous, will place America on the slippery slope of disarming the American people. Another claim is that people have the right to protect their homes and loved ones, and to combat the threat of armed confrontations in the streets of America.
The ultimate justification for arming America rests with the second amendment of the Constitution. "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It was permanently established by the Supreme Court in 2008. The part of that sentence that read "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State," was simply ignored. The fact is, whether the Supreme Court interpretation is correct or not correct, its decision is irrelevant.
With the deeply entrenched gun culture and over 300 million firearms in possession by Americans, there is no way America will ever be gun free. The conspiracy that the United States government will somehow some day become a dictatorship and that all guns will be confiscated is complete nonsense. However, there will always be true believers who are convinced that this is a very real possibilty.
In view of all this, what can realistically be done to stem the gun violence that prevails throughout America? Proposals to prohibit assault rifles, limit magazine capacities, improve data bases for criminals and the mentally disturbed and tightening background checks may help, but these are not the full answer. The answer must be in debunking the conspiracy nonsense that one day guns could be confiscated from every household in America and that the America people could one day be enslaved.
Only when these conspiracies are debunked and the electorate is convinced that they are self-serving fantasies promoted by the NRA and gun industry, can meaningful steps be made to deal with gun violence. Only when the citizenry is convinced that reasonable measures do not threaten or weaken the Second Amendment can any progress be achieved.
History confirms that Wyatt Earp was a highly questionable character during most of his life. However, when he was an assistant marshal at Dodge City, and later as deputy sheriff and U.S. marshal at Tombstone, the carrying and use of guns were strictly prohibited. During those periods gun violence was drastically reduced. It would be nice if that was true today.
Jack Allen is a member of the Weber County Coffee Party.