A frequent refrain of gun control freaks is “Why does anyone need a gun?” Good question. I’ll get to it in a minute.
But first let’s consider another question: “Why does anyone need an abortion?”
The question is relevant because the cases for banning guns and banning abortion are quite similar in principle and in a number of respects are similar in practice.
Both the right to keep and bear arms and the right to abort a pregnancy are constitutionally protected rights — abortion by virtue of Supreme Court decisions (Griswold vs. Connecticut and Roe vs. Wade) and gun ownership by virtue of the Second Amendment. Both are under constant attack by self-righteous, arrogant prohibitionists who think they have a natural right to organize other people’s lives for them.
Sometimes gun controllers and right-to-lifers have embraced identical types of limitations. For example, both have proposed “waiting periods” of several days or weeks before someone can complete the purchase of a gun or get an abortion.
Both gun controllers and right-to-lifers are fond of offering limitations on and alternatives to gun ownership and abortion (which they inevitably refer to as “common sense”).
Abortion? There are lots of “common sense” alternatives to abortion — putting the baby up for adoption, abandoning it on the steps of a church or police station, or getting your mother to raise the kid for you. You could even consider raising the child yourself; hey, billions of people all over the world have done it, and until about 50 years ago most of them were illiterate. How hard could it be?
Gun controllers can give you an equally condescending list of reasons for not owning a gun. The police will provide all the safety you need, and you’re paranoid if you think you need more. A child might get hold of it and shoot herself. People who live in homes that have guns in them are more likely to get shot than people who don’t. You’re an ordinary person and ordinary people are too unstable and inept to own a gun.
Gun control advocates, who are disproportionately abortion rights advocates as well, might argue that the comparison is unfair because the primary purpose of guns (and assault rifles in particular) is killing.
Kind of like abortions.
It is true that using an assault rifle sometimes involves killing someone. Having an abortion always does.
You can argue that the “someone” that an abortion kills is less than a fully formed human and thus can be killed, or you can argue that while a fetus is entitled to be called human, it does not have the same rights as a child, anymore than a child has the same rights as an adult, but you can’t argue that an abortion doesn’t involve killing.
But back to the original questions.
Why would anyone need an abortion?
I can think of a lot of possible reasons why you might need an abortion:
Carrying a pregnancy to term might kill you. You don’t want to have a child that was fathered by a rapist. You don’t have a job and can’t afford to raise a kid. Your parents may abuse or kill you if they find out you’re knocked up. Having a child will derail your career plans. Having a baby and raising a child would interfere with your lifestyle. You’re certain you would be a lousy parent. You’re just so not into the father of your putative baby. You don’t like being around children.
Having access to abortion gives substance and meaning to the natural right of determining whether or not you will reproduce and with who you choose to do it, which empowers you and makes you free.
And here are some reasons that you might want to own an assault rifle or a gun generally:
To deter intruders who might want to break into your home — like an ex-boyfriend with a temper who drinks too much and doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “no contact” in a court order. You’ve lived long enough to know that when it comes to your personal safety, there is only so much the police can do, no matter how much you support them. You want to have a way of defending yourself and your family if there is a breakdown in public order and rioting, looting and mob violence break out. You don’t trust the government, and you think it might be deterred from laying too heavy a hand on Americans’ freedoms if it knows the country is armed to the teeth. You want to be able to go down fighting if the country turns tyrannous and there is a knock on your door at midnight. Like Obama, you’re into recreational shooting. To shoot varmints. Owning a gun gives sub stance and meaning to the natural right of self-defense, which empowers you and makes you free.
Some of the reasons on both lists may strike you as more legitimate than others, but that is beside the point.
That is because the real answer to people who ask why does anyone need a gun or an abortion is “Why do you need to know?” Where do you get off telling anyone what they need and don’t need when it comes to exercising their rights? Access to guns and abortion are their rights, and why they choose to exercise that right is no one’s business but theirs.
It’s no secret that a lot of gun rights advocates are right-to-lifers and a lot of abortion rights advocates are gun controllers. Well, a foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but this shared inconsistency is poisonous. Either we start respecting each other’s rights or we’re not going to have any.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.