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[Matt Morin] Guns in America: Freedom Ain’t Free

By Matt Morin

Because I am either a charitable hearer of opposing viewpoints, or a glutton for punishment, I try to tune in to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity at least once a week when I am in my car. Rarely do I find myself nodding in agreement—for example, unlike Hannity, I don’t “define peace as the ability to blow your enemies into smithereens”; nor am I persuaded by Limbaugh’s line of reasoning: “How can I be anti-woman? I even judged the Miss America pageant.”

So imagine my surprise last week when, during the topic of gun violence in the United States, one call-in guest reminded his host that “freedom isn’t free.”

YES! Finally, someone who gets it. At last, the anti-gun message is starting to sink in.

In the United States, the “freedom” to exercise our phallic obsessions through gun ownership means that there are currently 89 legally-owned guns for every 100 citizens. And in a series of bizarre statistical twists that nobody saw coming, the highest rate of gun ownership is somehow correlated with:
(1) The highest rate of gun deaths per 100,000 people among top exporters
(2) The second highest percentage of homicides with a firearm among the same;
(3) The highest rate of homicide against children– 1300 percent greater, in fact, than other developed nations.

Apparently, guns actually do kill people. (Now where did I put my bumper-sticker remover…)

Moreover, according to a recent statement by an eight-year-old boy who watches too many movies NRA vice-president Wayne LaPierre, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Given such a neat and tidy division of the world, LaPierre argues that the only reasonable thing to do is place “armed guards” in every school across the country. (Protip: When committing the logical fallacy known as the “false dilemma” or the “fallacy of bifurcation,” it is generally discouraged to highlight your error with italics.)

This, then, is life in America: There is an 89% chance that the guy you just cut off has a gun in his car; children must enter school through a designated security checkpoint; if you choose not to own a gun, it is only a matter of time before you are shot dead in your home by a bad guy; and if you choose to own a gun, it is only a matter of time before you are shot dead in your home by a good guy.

And what about the freedom of those citizens who would prefer not to own a gun? What about the rights of children to learn in environments free from the constant reminder of death? What about choosing to live at peace with your neighbors, rather than looking upon them with constant suspicion? In other words, what about the freedom from guns? In the United States, such a freedom does not exist; only freedom for obtaining guns matters.

This is the high cost of living in a gun-saturated society. American freedom is, indeed, not free.

Matthew Morin lives in Milwaukee, WI and worships with Milwaukee Mennonite Church. His current work in comparative theology lies at the intersection of changing diapers and swinging kettlebells.

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