Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

I gave up my gun after the New Zealand mosque shootings. Why are Americans mad at me for it?


“I had always considered my weapon nothing more than a tool.”

“But no one sees gun ownership — much less semiautomatic rifle ownership — as an essential component of their identity.”

“Giving up some of our guns doesn’t mean giving up our liberty. The redcoats aren’t coming. The American idea — that it’s important to have the ability to kill someone on a whim – is just bizarre to us. In fact, when New Zealanders apply for gun licenses, we have to state our reasons for buying a firearm, and citing “home defense” is the fastest way to get denied — our laws explicitly state that self-defense is not sufficient reason to own a gun.”

The mindset of the American gun lobby is so entrenched, that they are incapable of understanding alternative points of view. That, in my mind, is what makes them so dangerous. The above quotes are taken from a guest commentary in The Denver Post. It’s the attitude that is similar to almost every gun owner in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s worth reading to understand how people in two different English Speaking democracies view gun ownership.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

9 thoughts on “I gave up my gun after the New Zealand mosque shootings. Why are Americans mad at me for it?

  1. Regarding the role of the gun lobby in the US, it’s not about some failure of ‘understanding’ alternate points of view when it comes to the role of owning firearms in the US, or some lobby gaining unwarranted privilege in law. In fact, it’s the other way around. Those who try to ban gun ownership or constrain who can own what are the one’s failing to understand what the issue is all about.

    Many of us do not understand the role of ‘arms’ in the United States but assume it’s similar to a choice of owning something or not owning something (and we should make everyone go along with not owning something… for their own good), something that has the potential to be quite lethal and which demonstrates this lethal element when used against civilians to cause harm.

    For many people – especially gun owners in the US – this lethal nature of ‘arms’ is not the issue at all, and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with identity. It’s not a ‘thing’ under review here – owning guns or not owning guns – but a right, a Constitutional guarantee everyone shares… gun owners and non gun owners alike.

    So when some organized effort is made to constrain or impede or ban ownership of certain kinds of ‘arms’ in the name of the public’s welfare, what is really being attacked is the Constitutional right everyone shares but one that some people want eliminated and then imposed on everyone… in the name of everyone. That’s the Red Flag element of fascism: removing rights in the name of protecting rights.

    And attacking fundamental rights in this way for many Americans (not all, obviously) is a Very Big Deal and, again, a significant misunderstanding of the issue involved… especially from those on the Left who presume they are correct and who also speak for everyone who understands.

    It is similar to someone telling you that a right you have had up until now and clearly established in law is being arbitrarily changed to suit the narrow and politically biased demands of others, others who present themselves as the only reasonable ones at the table, who assume their framing of some issue is the only correct one, the only one that really appreciates your concerns and safety, others who continue to insist that you not going along means YOU do not understand something, others who are going to insist that their demand be imposed on you for your own good. Would you passively go along with this and, if you did, does this make you the Good Guy? Does going against this mean you are too selfishly and stupidly attached to an identity of some lobby?

    There are ways and means to change the Constitution in the US but government imposed arbitrary decisions championed by those who pay little if any attention or respect to our shared fundamental rights and freedoms while advocating about removing them in the name of something else is never going to be a good way to proceed because it’s never going to work. And guess who is best equipped to stand up to such illegal government imposition? You got it: gun owners. That’s why you will see the signs of patriotism to the US so dominant wherever guns are sold. Firearms are branded as the tools patriots should have if they wish to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign… AND domestic.

    • And I’m fully aware of why they value their right to bear arms – they keep arguing the points you made repeatedly. They seem to believe that we need protecting from ourselves. We fully understand the risks of not being armed, but we believe the risks are worth it. We chose to have nothing to do with nuclear deterrence in the 1980s knowing the risks that involved. Just as our prime minister of the day told America that our anti nuclear stance was not for export, our stance is not for export now. Attacking someone who hands in their gun by posting his email address on American Pro gun forums shows their intolerance of our values.

      • I couldn’t read the commentary so my comment was based on the selected quotes that suggested 1) gun ownership was about choosing the thing itself, the gun, versus what it represents, 2) that concern for ownership was misunderstood to be about identity, and 3) that giving up one’s rifle was misunderstood to be about giving up liberty, giving up the means to protect liberty. None of these addressed what I think of as the central issue: understanding that Americans see this liberty issue as supreme because it’s a Constitutional right, and the problems of mutual understanding if presumptions are made that other nations share or don’t share this right.

        What many Americans don’t understand is the difference in what other nations consider rights. In a Constitutional monarchy, for example, there is no equivalent right. Take the right off the table and absent from law and see ownership as a regulated privilege, you take away the argument that makes ownership so important to so many Americans. Your PM has every to legislate such weapons illegal and those who criticize it in the name of liberty demonstrate their ignorance.

        But even most people in our Commonwealth do not understand that the military is NOT an extension of the current local (meaning national) government but owes its allegiance to the Crown. It is the Crown that recognizes local (national) authority over the military and ‘allows’ the various national militaries to represent their countries and receive orders from their legitimate local governments. The practice looks like militaries are beholden to their representative governments and to be absolutely clear this is the usual practice. But that recognition can be withdrawn if deemed necessary should the Crown indicate that the local (national) governments are illegitimate. It is therefore our militaries in the Commonwealth countries that guarantee the local liberties we enjoy. Not the law. Not the government. The military.

        This difference provides the ‘security of liberty’ that Americans connect to gun ownership and their role in protecting their liberty; as far as I know, the rest of the Commonwealth uses the Crown as the source of legal, political, and military authority and can always be called upon to intervene in local (national) abuses of liberty. Again, many people don’t grasp the vital role the Crown plays in exercising legitimate legal, political, and military authority and just how incredibly difficult and contentious would be the replacement by a Republic. Many Americans see the entire British tradition of passing on the Constitutional monarchy framework as ‘childish’ when it’s anything but; it’s a massive responsibility that ensures minority protections from majority (mob) rule.

        The oath I swore as a Canadian in the military was to the head of state, namely to the Governor General as the Crown’s agent and the same was true for other members of the Commonwealth nations with whom I came into contact at the time.

        So Barry, I understand quite well the different framing of understanding many people bring to this discussion which, in turn, skews the views of many on every side of this issue. There is a lot of misunderstanding all around.

        • There is a Washington Post article by the same name if you can’t access the Denver Post version.

          As far as the crown is concerned in NZ there is some doubt about its ability to act independently of the executive. It can only act on the advice of ministers. There’s doubt that it can dismiss a government without the approval of the prime minister as it can in Australia for example. It’s one of the problems of not having a codified constitution. In fact what constitution we have are acts of Parliament and can be amended or repealed at any time Parliament pleases. While it’s true that some acts are entrenched requiring a 75% majority to amend or repeal, the entrenchment law can be repealed by a simple majority. So constitutional guarantees that exist in Australia and Canada are not available here. A great deal of our system relies on convention instead of clearly defined rules. An example would be cabinet. It is regulated by a “Cabinet Manual” but neither the manual nor cabinet are defined or even mentioned in any legislation. But members of cabinet can get into hot water if they don’t follow the rules and protocols defined in the manual.

          • It’s my understanding that this is what is meant by ‘repatriation’ of the British legislation to bring it under the control of the native government… in effect clearing the way to create a new Constitution and associated Bill of Rights (or something similar). This is then approved by the Crown and lent its authority. Canada went through all this in the early 80s and it can be pretty disruptive as certain elements try to gain some upper hand or greater authority than in common practice. Sometimes I think convention offers more benefits than drawbacks compared to codifying the rules and regulations and really forces everyone to get along better.

            • I’m not familiar with the the evolution of the Canadian constitution. In our case, at the time we became a self governing colony, all UK law, both legislative and common law existing at that time became NZ law. However right from the start Parliament has had supreme authority, and even the original constitution was simply an act of Parliament that was able to be ammended by simple majority. There never has been any limit to its power.

              In fact the story goes that the legislation enabling entrenchment of acts of Parliament was not entrenched itself was because Parliament is not bound by a previous Parliament. The courts are unable to declare any act of Parliament unconstitutional.

              From time to time a call for a formal constitution arises, but I’d be very surprised if that happens in my lifetime, so convention is likely to remain the oil that keeps government running and in check.

  2. It is a failure of understanding an alternative point of view when they not only fail to accept that we view guns and gun rights differently, but attack us for holding them.

    They fail to understand that we view the relationship between citizen and central government differently and attempt to impose their view on us – to the extent of wanting to finance opposition to changes in our gun laws. That is not acceptable.

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