It has simply never been part of our national consciousness. While the individual right to keep and bear arms is largely absurd, I have begun to believe that a state that essentially bans all gun ownership is equally ridiculous.
Safe gun use can be hugely enjoyable, but only a few can enjoy it
As one of the very small minority of British people who has fired a rifle, I have more experience than most of the realities of safe gun ownership. I won't go into details: I don’t want to advertise where a gun can be found. I would shoot at cans at the back of the garden, and in so doing I got a great deal of quality time with a family member. This is someone I love very deeply, who won’t be around forever. However, the right to do this is so restricted in this country, only a few can enjoy it.
While I was always aware of the personal arguments for gun ownership, the political dimension was somewhat lost on me, until a conversation with a friend in the Five Swans. If the people don’t have the power to face the army and fight the government, they live at that government's liberty. Gun ownership, he argued, is the only way to make sure that the people are not at the mercy of the state. While there are immense flaws in this argument, it does seem somewhat logical that the people should be able to defend themselves. They should be able to hold out against their own and foreign governments, as well as corporate and military interests. It’s not perfect, but it is important to point out.
Guns symbolise something about choice, lifestyle and freedom
There’s also the libertarian angle: guns symbolise something about choice, lifestyle and freedom. The government shouldn't be able to tell me, or anyone else, that we don't have the right to live a life outside of the 'system'. The government shouldn't able to tell me not to live outside the established, normal, capitalist and consumerist society that's been built for us. The only people who can tell me that should be my family. In an intervention.
The idea of a gun is more than defence. It’s about a self-sustaining lifestyle, and gives the people the true power to resist authoritarianism, foreign invasion, and undemocratic governance. But most of all, it’s a symbol. It's about having the freedom to live how you choose. There is a middle ground between the two sides of this debate, but nobody, on either side, wants to talk about it.