“This language of fear has given rise to a politics of fear.”

And when Americans become afraid, they buy guns.

Massad Ayoob

Arab-American author Massad F. Ayoob marvels at all the fear. “If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had a conversation with someone in the last few days who asked, ‘Why do ordinary law-abiding people need those semiautomatic firearms with magazines that can hold more than ten cartridges?’” he writes in Backwoods Home. “There are lots of sound answers.

“For one thing, defensive firearms are meant to be ‘equalizers,’ force multipliers that can allow one good person to defend against multiple evil people. To allow one good person to defend against a single evil person so much stronger and/or bigger and/or more violent than he or she, that the attacker’s potentially lethal assault can be stopped.

“In the 1980s and into the 1990s, cops switched en masse to semiautomatic pistols. So did the gun-buying public. Today, the most popular handgun among police seems to be the 16-shot, .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic. Not surprisingly, the general public has gone to pistols bracketing that caliber in power (9mm, .40, .45) with similar enthusiasm. The American police establishment has also largely switched from the 12 gauge shotgun which was also the traditional American home defense weapon, to the AR15 patrol rifle with 30-round magazine. And, not surprisingly, the law-abiding citizenry has followed suit there, too.

Rifles on display at a gun shop

“The reasoning is strikingly clear. The cops are the experts on the current criminal trends. If they have determined that a ‘high capacity’ semiautomatic pistol and a .223 semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families.”

Is fear – and arming ourselves – perhaps a uniquely American tradition? After all, Thomas Jefferson advised: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,” declared Benjamin Franklin.

A school guard

“For those of us fighting for our traditional rights,” writes Mishin in Pravda, “the U.S. 2nd Amendment is a rare light in an ever-darkening room. Governments will use the excuse of trying to protect the people from maniacs and crime, but in reality, it is the bureaucrats protecting their power and position.

“The excuse that people will start shooting each other is also plain and silly. So it is our politicians saying that our society is full of incapable adolescents who can never be trusted? Then, please explain how we can trust them or the police, who themselves grew up and came from the same culture? No it is about power and a total power over the people.

“Do not be fooled by a belief that progressives, leftists hate guns. Oh, no, they do not. What they hate is guns in the hands of those who are not marching in lock step of their ideology.”

But be careful not to embrace fall for the manipulation of those who use fear to their own advantage, advises Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times. “In the 19th century, fears were stoked by books written by people who supposedly had ‘escaped’

Catholicism. These kinds of stories inflamed a mob of patriots in 1834 to attack an Ursuline convent outside Boston and burn it down.

Nicholas Kristof

“Similar suspicions have targeted just about every other kind of immigrant. During World War I, rumors spread that German-Americans were poisoning food, and Theodore Roosevelt warned that ‘Germanized socialists’ were ‘more mischievous than bubonic plague.’

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