Pat Buchanan asks a good question: Why do intelligent people believe armed citizens are less safe than unarmed ones? When the question is put that way, it does seem to defy common sense. What’s so bad about the ability to defend yourself?
There’s a lot to be said for Buchanan’s answer, that the media spike stories about routine use of guns in self defense. That answer isn’t the whole story though, since it doesn’t explain why the media report things as they do—why they sincerely believe that the truth of the situation is captured by describing only bad results and never good results of legal private possession of firearms.
The answer to that question seems to belong, like most obvious political irrationality, to the metaphysics of politics. If we are citizens, and public safety is our own work, then it makes sense for us to have the means of participating in that work and carrying it forward. If, on the other hand, we are basically passive followers of impulse, units of production and consumption in the custody of the managerial state, then there does seem to be something bizarre about letting us play with guns. From that point of view anything that suggests private possession of guns becomes frightening and intolerable, even—in a recent case—the accidental presence of a capgun in a high school junior’s car, which resulted in his immediate expulsion from school.