False Dichotomy Alert

Emerging out of all the emotional, heated rhetoric surrounding gun control in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre is a meme I find deeply, deeply troubling and personally offensive.

That the first, knee-jerk reaction of people like myself was, rather than cling to my children and give them hugs, was to cling to my guns and give them hugs. That all I really care about, my primary idol, is my right to own guns, regardless of a child's right to attend a safe school. To hell with the kids, so long as I get to pack my 9mm.

Let me set the record straight. The first thing I did when reading about Newtown was to weep. No, that is not hyperbole. I am talking about fully choked up, tears streaming embarrassingly down my face in a public place kind of grief. The second thing I thought about was my own daughters, trying to imagine, and failing, the awful grief so many parents must be enduring. The third thing I thought was to pray to God for comfort and peace for the families affected. The fourth thing I thought about was my guns and my as-yet incomplete concealed-carry application.

I am utterly unashamed and proud of that fact. Feel free to broadcast it to the world.

Why? Because all I care about is my right to have guns, regardless of massacres like Newtown? Not in the slightest. Because OF massacres like Newtown. I vowed, right then and there, that if I am ever present when I homicidal maniac tries to murder precious little children, whether my own or somebody else's, I will not be a helpless bystander. He will have to go through me first. Literally over my dead body. And, Lord willing, he will never make it that far.

I cling to my guns because I love and cling to my children, not in spite of them.

I think I speak for every gun-packing friend I have (which is plenty, and not something your average anti-gun advocate can honestly say): We love the Second Amendment because it frees us to protect ourselves, our children, and our neighbors and their children. It enshrines and codifies the most basic natural law of all: survival and protection. Grizzly sows are endowed with tremendous strength and power, teeth and claws to protect their cubs. Human mothers compensate for their comparative weakness with an invention called a Glock. It frees us to not be at the non-existent mercy of mass murderers, or the mercies of an often untimely police force. It frees us to meet reality as it is rather than as we wish it to be, that murderers can, will, and do obtain deadly weapons regardless of how many laws you pass, and that most often the only thing standing in the way of mass murder is a citizen with the means and ability to stop them. We have had no recent shortage of mass murders. We have, to my mind, had an awful shortage of citizens with the means and ability to stop them.

A world without guns is a utopian, left-wing progressive fantasy, as unrealistic and unrealizable as all of its other utopian dreams like a world without possessions, without economic inequities, without countries, and without wars. On the other hand, a world where homicidal psychopaths meet a bullet before they meet any children to kill isn't fantasy, is very realistic, and isn't too much to hope for. And I, for one, would like to see it more and more realized.

I do not cling to my guns out of some kind of deep-seated, reckless, or misguided hatred of humanity. I cling to them because of my love for humanity. It is not in spite of my children; it is because of them.

Disagree all you want. Go ahead and make your argument that a disarmed citizenry is more likely to reduce these kinds of horrors. We'll disagree. But at least you should be able to put yourself in my shoes and not throw around ugly and lazy accusations that I care about guns because I do not care about the safety of children.

Brian Mattson