Unlike the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 that fizzled almost as soon as it ignited, the present conflict between gun owners and the government centers on more fundamental issues than corn, liquor and taxes. It centers on primal issues such as self-defense, defense of property and most importantly, defense of one’s family.
Americans are obviously a patient, law-abiding people. They tolerate a several thousand page tax code that’s understandable to nobody and oppressive to everyone. They are seemingly quiet when federal judges disregard the will of the people by striking down laws passed by their duly elected lawmakers. Americans are even complacent and compliant when government regulates their light bulbs, their soft drinks, their children’s school lunches, and their right to purchase or not purchase insurance. Half commendably and half not, most citizens are so busy making a living that they wait on someone else to right political wrongs.
Americans are even tolerating a steady progression toward classical socialism that’s dressed in language such as investment, transformation, and fairness, probably because they think the right person will soon emerge (remember England’s Margaret Thatcher) to halt that progression, and set us back on the path of free enterprise and individual liberty.
Americans are not given to public demonstration, or public outcry; at least conservatives aren’t. They prefer to hope and wait for the next election. Most conservatives are conservative in temperament as well as in politics, which may be part of the problem.
But as restrained as Americans are, they are not restrained or tolerant when it comes to protecting their children, their spouses or their houses. There is a hill always on which to fight or die, and that hill is self-defense and defense of those we love most. We can wait another day or another election for a political savior or a president who understands America’s economic system and her pioneer roots, but our babies sleeping in the night, and even the roof we work so hard to pay for, are primal and present concerns.
It is these primal concerns that will give rise to the Regulars. And just who are the Regulars? They are the everyday Joes, the working stiffs, to whom our stereotypical minds typically rush when we think of guns. But they are also highly educated men and women who simply like the sport of hunting as well as the idea of protecting their babies and their property. Check out the names on the boards of directors of the NRA and Gun Owners of America if you think gun owners are crazy people.
In short, the Regulars are America’s every day “good folks,” many of whom happen to own and know how to use guns. If just a dozen of them live in Manhattan or Hollywood, I’m surprised. Certainly none are in Obama’s inner circle.
The Regulars have substantial representation in elected officials, locally and nationally. This is pleasing because the Regulars deserve representation like everyone else; indeed, I will argue that most Americans are still Regulars, that is, people who just want to make a living, pay their bills, obey the laws, and enjoy life.
One reality that both scares and pleases is that many an elected county sheriff in both rural and suburban areas will choose not to obey/enforce any federal law that places their constituents and their families at the mercy of home invaders. Already sheriffs in six states have so pledged.
Yes, there will be unrest, the type that Americans are not accustomed to, unless Congress injects common sense into the president’s plans. Before acting on the president’s proposals, Congress might consider that, in the Regulars, the political class has found its match. Primal things — our kids, our property, and our very lives — trump just about everything. Don’t push us too far.
Actually, the Regulars began to stir with the emergence of the tea party, whose concerns were chiefly fiscal. If the president’s executive orders (which he did not specify in his Wednesday speech) go too far, the tea party will need to prepare for explosive growth, taking on an additional centerpiece issue.
Draconian gun control certainly didn’t make Britain safer. In 1996, a tragic school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, resulted in the same emotional, rather than logical, reaction that always occurs in America. British legislators responded by passing a handgun ban. Yet, according to the London Telegraph, no friend to British conservatives, crime doubled during the next decade. The Regulars understand this.
The Regulars are coming, and well they should.
Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.