If you are one the millions of law abiding gun owners concerned about your second amendment rights, listen up.

If you are one the millions of law abiding gun owners concerned about your second amendment rights, listen up.

The debate isn’t really about gun control. It’s about self-control. While it is true that the function and purpose of guns originally began as a tool for killing, either to feed or defend, and only later became a sporting toy, guns are an integral element of our cultural identity and political consciousness. As a nation, we defined ourselves against a background of European empire-building and economic elitism where the few controlled the wealth while the many toiled without much hope of ever changing their fate. Ironically, this is still the reality in this, the land of the free, where 1% of the population control 90% or more of the wealth. But that is another discussion. Suffice it to say that force filled the void created when reason and goodwill failed to prevail, and armed revolution ensued.

The issue of gun rights began as a reaction to despotic actions of a government over its citizens. It was, and remains, a legitimate concern of a free society. Yes, it is possible for a government, even ours, to exercise deadly force against an unarmed or under armed citizenry. A substantial number of gun owners may perceive themselves as the last bastion against such an attack, and any attempt to limit the right to own whatever weapons they want as the foreshadowing of a police state. There is some truth in that perception.

But I must ask, what civil and social breakdown must precede such conflict? How have we the people failed to control our own actions, and turned the responsibility over to the very government we are so wary of? Laws do not make us safe from lawbreakers. More laws merely generate more criminal opportunities. So what do we need to do?

For one thing, take a look at the individuals who have committed the gun-related atrocities. What forces, other than genetic, have impelled these persons to such violence? Were they marginalized persons? Abused?

Neglected? How could we, society, have been more aware and inclusive of them?

Do we, society, in any way glorify violence? What example do we provide for each other to follow? Is force our fundamental response to conflict? How different are we from the masses that gathered in the Roman coliseum to be entertained by gladiatorial slaughter-fests?

As gun owners, how do our actions and posturing affect the perceptions of non-gun owners? Are we lumped into the same category as gun-waving lunatics riding jeeps through war-ravaged villages in obscure corners of distant countries where hate of anyone who isn’t ‘us’ legitimizes murder, rape and looting? I wonder how effective a defense of gun rights defensiveness really is.

Yes, the individuals who commit violent acts are responsible for their actions, but in how many instances have we, society, made those actions all but inevitable? If we don’t want to end up in a police state, maybe we should learn to police ourselves.

It is a truism that most people fear what they do not understand. How can a non-gun owner appreciate the mechanical beauty of a finely crafted weapon, or the sense of efficacy and expertise of the marksman? How can a gun owner ever know the soul-wrenching abyss of the loss of a loved one to gun violence, unless they themselves experience it?

Our mission in our democratic experiment is to find ways to protect the rights of everyone. The most basic way to achieve this goal is, if we can’t act cooperatively, to simply leave each other alone. Gun rights supporters; don’t allow some few to make you look bad to the rest of America. Gun control advocates; don’t presume to impose your views on responsible gun owners. Everyone; participate in the decisions that are made in your name by legislative bodies. Read, discuss, vote, and most importantly, think. We the people, the society of the United States of America, are not faced with a choice of all or nothing. Our choice, our heritage, is all and everything.