The United States' current obsession with the question of gun control must seem absurd to the people of the Middle East, where every country is eternally embroiled in civil war or fighting off aggressive neighbors. People there clearly see the value of armed citizens protecting themselves against marauding rebels, brutal religious factions and corrupt governments.
In parts of the world such as Mexico, South America and numerous African nations, the brutal murder and wholesale slaughter of men, women and children take place almost every day. Their helpless citizens would welcome guns to protect themselves and their families. They would see America's gun control advocates as extraordinarily naive to believe that it is all right to be defenseless in your own home and trust the local police force to protect them. In their countries, there is no such thing as an honest policeman, bands of lawless citizens kill with impunity and every government official is corrupt and dangerous.
Back in the relatively peaceful land of the United States, pro-gun advocates can passionately point to the birth of this great nation. Armed citizens fought back the tyrannical rule of the Motherland with muskets and gunpowder -- not with a declaration of independence on a piece of paper. The Spirit of America was reflected in the grit and valor of the early settlers who plunged into the wilderness of the American frontier to sink a stake into ground, swing an ax against a tree to clear the land, and build a home -- with only their rifles to protect them against hostile animals and Indians. Back then, no man could have had any hope of protecting his family, or surviving the Wild West, without his trusty Colt and Winchester.
The truth really is that there is no easy answer to the question of gun control, because advocates for both sides can easily point to equally compelling evidence to support their arguments -- if not to the same exact evidence. Anti-gun advocates, for example, can point to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows that the number of gun deaths in the U.S. continues to rise every year and may soon surpass those from vehicle traffic deaths. Right now, the numbers are currently nearly identical -- almost 34,000. Yet pro-gun groups can point to the same data and ask why no one has ever called for a ban on cars, which have been a leading cause of death in the United States for more than a century.
And finally, truly, can we say that this particular government -- these particular politicians and military leaders in whom we all place our trust -- are the true, honest leaders who will always work together at all cost to keep America united and safe? That lawmakers of this particular government will never again choose sides and turn their armies against each other, as they did during the Civil War, to resolve their disagreement over a bitterly disputed topic?
Can we really be sure that the angry confrontations over issues such as gay rights and abortion, or the racial riots of Baltimore and Ferguson, or the growing resentment of the poor and middle class toward the wealthy "one percenters," will never spread across the U.S. and ignite a revolution where neighbors turn against neighbors?
In considering the question of gun control, the real question is not whether we need assault rifles or a better review process of those who want to own them. Rather, it is whether we as human beings should embrace the violence that bred us throughout history; or trust in the continued good judgement of reasonable men -- in our government and across the street -- that can make us more than animals in our daily lives.