By Stu Chisholm
Detroit, Michigan –-(Ammoland.com)- Last Saturday, Maynard McKillen’s article, “Why Did We Once Have a Gun-free Commons” ( http://tiny.cc/six8cx ) got headlined on OpEdNews.com, where I’m also an occasional contributor.
I quickly wrote a response in the same manor as this Op-Ed, but it appears that the Powers That Be have chosen not to publish it.
Luckily, AmmoLand.com understands the concept of freedom, speech being one of them, and I’m happy to share my response with you here:
You have presented your credentials. I present mine. I too am an American. I am a small business owner, a DJ, a husband, an author and magazine columnist. Perhaps I, too, have served as a role model. And I am in my 50s, but don’t take people to task for being older or younger than myself.
My mother, a life-long Democrat, taught me the awesome responsibility that comes with owning, carrying and handling firearms. (I note your use of the word, “brandishing,” which clearly doesn’t apply to holstered weapons. Insinuation?) I have owned many firearms over the years, in very select, specific calibers.
You were brave enough to submit your reply to said marketplace of ideas. Your claims will also be scrutinized for truth and honesty. Indeed, true courage compels you to hear what other fellow Americans also say on the matter, and to weigh our thoughts carefully, completely, over time.
You, too, also have to be willing to grow, to evolve, to change your mind even.
My relatives were also comfortable around firearms. Some of my cousins are veterans, among them one who served in Korea and Vietnam. They have served in the Army and Navy. My father-in-law was also Navy veteran.
None of this gives my, or your, views more weight. In fact, they’re irrelevant, aside from saying that our homes were literally chock-a-block with guns and those who used them. My relatives and I do not differ in our worldview from the one presented by the Iraq war veteran’s editorial.
See, the law either states, or is silent on the fact that we can carry sidearms in the public commons. Some of us do, as do police. We do not do so simply because we have a “right” to do so, a right that is exquisitely clear in not only the Second Amendment, but in most state constitutions.
(My Michigan constitution states: “Every person has the right to keep and bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” This is the most commonly accepted meaning of the federal amendment as well.)
NOTHING takes a back seat to our responsibility for the land we love, and its citizens, all of them. This is why we carry firearms; to be ready for the worst case scenario, one which fills our nightly news. I suggest that you DO engage in tribal thinking, as you, too, talk about “the commons” and America, and how it should be in your gun-free Utopia. You then say, “we do not draw a line in the sand between our families and friends and anyone supposedly put on the other side of that imaginary line,” which is indeed tribal thinking. You’re excused, however. Tribal thinking is a human trait. Everybody does it to one extent to another, from family to country. There is nothing inherently bad in tribal thinking.
Indeed, I agree that we are our brothers' keepers. How, then, might you protect your brother from an armed attacker?
What other sane, rational, logical option is there besides being able to mount an armed response?
You state that “the culture we grew up in kept firearms unloaded, locked and boxed until we reached the hunting grounds, the firing range, the gun club or the gunsmith.” Perhaps you did, but your view is a parochial one. When I grew up, we played “cops n’ robbers” or “cowboys and Indians,” complete with very realistic toy guns. Nobody freaked out. Later we played “army” and “G.I. Joe,” again with toy guns, grenades, bayonets and full battle uniforms. Nobody freaked out. My high school had a shooting team. No TV trucks came. Nobody freaked out. Oh, and nobody among my friends would ever consider bringing a loaded gun to school to settle differences. It would’ve been considered a cowardly thing to do.
I grew up in a country where the “public commons”, and any other public place or private business, with logical exceptions, was NOT gun-free. Police were everywhere, and even beat cops wore guns along with their badges. You may have imagined that the “commons” was gun-free, at least until you heard about the nearby robbery, rape or murder on the radio, in the paper or on TV. Disarmed law abiding citizens have never been “a blessing,” but have been made victims or casualties due to poor public policy. Call it a common logical fallacy that this is the public commons we got, regardless of what we wanted, and any freedom from fear was an illusion.
Ask anyone who was at the University of Texas in 1966 when shots started ringing out… in the campus “commons.”
You have lived with that illusion, and traversed that public commons, for over half a century. Now you balk at the improvements the more informed and pragmatic have made to that country. Is it possible you missed something? Are the rights of your fellow citizens so dismissible that you publicly trash an American hero because you disagree with his point of view? Does his service and experience mean nothing to you? You ask him, “[Is] your dubious ‘right’…paramount?”
The answer is twofold: my right to life, written right next to liberty in our Constitution, is hardly dubious; the 2nd Amendment has repeatedly been affirmed as an individual right which, had it not been, we wouldn’t even have the America we have now. And what, to you, is more “paramount” than life itself? This is the whole point of ANY firearms and/or carry rights!
Recently a paranoid minority have wrung their hands and whined about new laws (or, in the case of my own state, asserting rights not prohibited by law) relaxing restrictions on law abiding citizens to carry sidearms in public. They then speak for us, saying that our “rationale” is that we do so simply because it is our right to do so. And indeed, anyone exercising a legal right should never be questioned for doing so! But that is hardly the only reason. The main one is that we know that police cannot be everywhere. We also know that we, not they, are responsible for our own safety. Just ask the Chief of Police in Detroit, Michigan, who encourages residents to get trained and buy guns. NONE of us are “strangely quiet” about our responsibility to their fellow Americans: we wear that responsibility on our hips! There is no “sanctity of [the] public commons.” Just ask anyone in Compton, Oakland California or any “commons” controlled by gangs.
The only cost of my being prepared to protect myself and my family is in the fees, legal hoops, time and effort one needs to comply with the myriad laws involved in buying, owning and carrying a firearm. No one is made less safe by innocent Americans exercising their rights. If I exercise my right to free speech in a demonstration, that, too may “intimidate innocent civilians,” but there is no right to not be offended or annoyed! Or intimidated.
Those who haven't lived private and public lives in the presence of firearms need to get over their paranoia and get used to seeing guns. The only thing shocking is that grown adults are so willing to sacrifice a vital right because of their own fear and paranoia. Stop being shocked to see open-carry sidearms in public.
Your reference to the “shocking and stupid number of gun-related mishaps” is a false correlation; there is a vast gulf between the criminal culture and traditional American “gun culture.” I’ve owned guns for 44 of my 56 years and have never shot anyone. I’m not atypical.
I also take my responsibility to other law-abiding, patriotic Americans very seriously. Their sense of safety matters to me as well. I have taken significant time and spent significant amounts of money to be able to defend them should the need arise.
What have you done? How would my disarming help anyone? Have you really simplified your thinking to “we need to magically make all the guns go away?” If so, it is you who are pushing for a toxic – indeed deadly – paradigm shift! Sorry, but you cannot presume to speak for “most Americans,” veterans or anyone else, as to what they’re “ready to see.” Public spaces are for everyone, and everyone who hasn’t sacrificed their rights by criminal action has the right to keep and bear arms.
We don’t base life on “which scenario [is] more likely?” If we did, we’d own guns before we’d own smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, because a violent attack is statistically more likely to happen than a house fire. When the stakes are life or death, we go the extra mile to prepare for ANY possible threat to our lives and those of our loved ones. THAT is balanced thinking.
You call the veteran’s claim that he carries a sidearm to protect family members “specious,” which is just another way of calling him a liar. You then make a specious claim yourself, saying that “fear” does his soon-to-be niece or nephew “great, long lasting harm.” Indeed, fear may do just that! But our veteran is not afraid. He’s taken practical steps to address a real, potential problem. He is not afraid of his firearm and will teach his children not to fear them either. Parents universally teach “fear” to children when they tell them to avoid strangers, watch out for cars when crossing the street and not give out personal information on their computers. Does that cause “great, long lasting harm,” or is it pragmatism?
That is why I and many sane, rational Americans DO carry sidearms in public. Together, as Americans, we create a public commons where children, families, our elders, fathers and mothers, are ACTUALLY protected from crime and violence and the accompanying fear and paranoia. If you don’t believe it exists, interview some school children in Chicago. Or Philadelphia. Or Detroit.
I suggest that it is you who are not being honest with your readers. You question our innocence, despite the exemplary record that most people with CCW permits have; baseless slander and disingenuous character assassination. I’m sorry, but it is your editorial that is a cry for help.
Irrational fear compels you to attack those who carry firearms to deter crime, which is one of the reasons why it is now a statistically remote possibility. The statistics show that where gun ownership and legal CCW is permitted, there is less violent crime in general. I challenge you to take your own “terrifying suggestion” and see a therapist. The enemy isn't the law abiding armed citizen. The enemy is called “hoplophobia” and you are its victim. You harbor trust issues that cause you to draw stark but illusory lines between police and citizens; that one is more trustworthy than the other. (Have you checked THOSE statistics?) Seriously, get help.
The dismissal of our right to carry firearms is denial. The real issues will emerge after you summon the courage to submit to professionally facilitated self-examination, after you volunteer for spring cleaning of your psyche. You owe it to your family and friends.
If the true goal is a public commons that is free of fear, then it must be completely free of the possibility of violent crime, rape, murder or assault. Obviously this is impossible, so the next best thing is to allow the innocent to defend themselves and support their rights, not denigrate them. So many Americans have sacrificed so much to win them! A sidearm, along with freedom of speech, assembly, a free press, a speedy trial and all the others listed in the Bill of Rights is a blessing of liberty.
If you cannot accept this gift, have the decency not to prevent your friends, loved ones and fellow citizens to accept it. All are welcome here.
I am an American, a businessman, a husband, an uncle, and many more things to my family, friends and neighbors. And I tell you, out of an equally fierce love of freedom, and an equally fierce hatred of self-deceit, that you are misguided and need to see the hero in the editorial. You claim he’s not still at war while you attack him, disparage him and try to trick him into doubting himself. But he knows his rights. He knows his responsibilities. He is not deluded by a Utopian dream of a gun-free world, but is dedicated to make his world a safer place through service to his fellow man.
He did it in the armed forces. Now he’s doing it by being prepared to defend all who are not.
About the author:
Mobile DJ, business owner/entrepreneur and author Stu Chisholm was born in Detroit, Michigan. A columnist for the DJ industry trade magazine, Mobile Beat, Stu’s series on “DJ Security” contained a controversial segment on concealed carry and the use of guns. It was later included in, and expanded upon, in his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey,” published in 2008. Running a business and pursuing what he considers logical security measures, Stu obtained his CCW permit in the state of Michigan in the late ’90s and later became active in the gun rights movement. He joined the grass roots group MCRGO, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, helping to reform Michigan’s concealed carry law in 2001. Stu remains an active DJ, writer and activist, and is currently collaborating on an upcoming science-fiction book set in Detroit’s near future. He is married to cable television producer, Janette Chisholm and lives in Roseville, Michigan.