- The way that Americans feel about guns has undergone
a sudden and unexpected change since the attacks of 9-11. Regulatory agencies,
gun retailers, and safety instructors all report a sharp increase in activity.
Many purchasers are women, first-time buyers, and those who previously
held anti-gun views.
- Societal issues normally undergo gradual, pendulum-like
swings, but this one is changing with astounding speed. It took roughly
forty years for the gun control movement to convince a large portion of
the population that guns caused violence and were too dangerous for ordinary
citizens to possess. It has taken less than one year for the tide to change.
- The most obvious reasons for this rapid transformation
are directly related to the terrorist attacks. For example, the almost
unanimous call for military action makes it seem hypocritical to label
guns as evil instruments when we are asking our military to wield them
on our behalf.
- The fact that the attacks were carried out without a
single gun was a wake-up call to even the most ardent anti-gun activists.
While they were concentrating on the dangers of guns, they ignored the
reality that people with evil intent are the real threat.
- Leftist filmmaker Michael Moore, in the process of finishing
an anti-gun documentary, made this dramatic statement that probably expresses
the feelings of many at his end of the political spectrum:
- "This started out as a documentary on gun violence
in America, but the largest mass murder in our history was just committed
without the use of a single gun! Not a single bullet fired!... I
can't stop thinking about this. A thousand gun control laws would not have
prevented this massacre. What am I doing?"
- I believe this widespread attitude adjustment would have
been impossible if not for the results of the last presidential election.
Political analysts declared that support for tougher gun control laws lost
the election for Al Gore. Although this is probably an exaggeration, Democratic
politicians fled from the issue as if it were the kiss of death.
- Liberal voters were free to rethink their position on
guns without feeling disloyal to their party. They began to notice the
failure of gun control laws and "gun free zones" in other countries,
as well as in various states and cities. They started reading articles
by Prof. John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime. Doubts developed about
the politically correct view of gun ownership. These doubts suddenly fit
in with the new picture created on 9-11.
- As soon as details of the boxcutter hijackings became
public, millions of people shared a single thought. These attacks never
would have succeeded if a single person with a handgun and a cool head
had been in the right place at the right time.
- The ease with which terrorists eluded our security measures
made us all aware of how vulnerable we are. Terrorists have the luxury
of striking at a time and place of their choosing, while we must defend
all possible targets at all times.
- The next attack could easily disable large sections of
the electric power grid, resulting in extended blackouts and a breakdown
in social order.
- Today's neophyte gun buyers are probably less concerned
with fighting terrorists than with a scenario similar to the last round
of riots in Los Angeles during which police abandoned large areas of the
city. In the resulting rush to local gun stores, many were dismayed at
the long waiting period required before they could take delivery of a firearm
that would allow them to protect their families.
- The anti-gun lobby would like us to believe that new
gun buyers are acting out of blind fear, but most are undergoing a sober
and thoughtful re-evaluation that began prior to the attacks. Before 9-11,
many people were still in denial about their own vulnerability to danger.
It was easy to believe that we could always dial 911 and instantly summon
armed officers to our rescue.
- The lesson that many Americans have taken from this experience
is that we should each take more responsibility for our own safety. Seeing
so many innocent lives snuffed out without warning has injected a harsh
dose of reality and relieved us of some of our idealistic innocence