These last few months, there has been a lot of debate in the US about violence in general and gun control in particular. I think it’s safe to say this is an emotional topic for a lot of people: there seem to be more knee-jerk responses from both sides than on most other topics. In many ways, I understand why this is such a hot-button issue. As this is a self-defense related topic I haven’t discussed before, I wanted to share my perspective with you here.
Before I go on, some qualifiers you should read:
- I am not a US citizen. I live in Belgium. So whatever happens in the US is far removed from my daily life. That said, it is still relevant because what happens in the US is used to pass gun control legislation here in Belgium. Our media usually describe the pro-gun camp and the US society in general as a collective bunch of gun-toting nutcases. There is very little nuanced reporting. The other reason it matters to me is that it’s a constant topic of debate for many American friends of mine. So I’ve followed this issue for a long time, without ever commenting much on it, until now.
- US law doesn’t apply to me. The Constitution of the US is irrelevant to me. I’m a Belgian citizen and we have our own Constitution. It gets raped and abused by our politicians here just as much, make no mistake about it. But a constitutional right to bear arms doesn’t exist in my country. This makes many of the traditional points in the discussion irrelevant for me personally. So as far as I’m concerned they don’t matter.
- I’m a cynic. I am not bitter and live a life filled with love for my children, family and friends while enjoying the good times I share with them. However, I don’t believe mankind is inherently good; I expect and prepare for the opposite.
- Hunting isn’t big over here. There is some hunting of course, but it’s not that big of a deal over here in Belgium. So that argument is moot for me as well.
- I’m not a weapons freak. Weapons are tools to me, nothing else. I can admire the skill a good craftsman puts into making a weapon or the hi-tech engineering that goes into it. But other than that, I don’t care much for them. Just as I don’t care about cars: they’re also nothing but a tool (get me from point A to Z).
The points I’ll make here are relatively straightforward, though they are in my experience very difficult to accept for a certain kind of people. Typically, this means those who have lived a comfortable, sheltered life in Western society. Even though they loudly disagree with me on those points, I usually only get emotional diatribes as a reply, instead of reasoned debate. It’s ironic that their reaction only proves what I just told them, but that’s another story. Anyway, here goes. [Read more…]