Friend of mine asked me this question the other day, “So, why do people buy guns?” A non gun person, not anti, just never interested and it was an honest question. Its also asked by those wanting to deny others the ability to buy guns. My answer was pretty short. It encompasses all the reasons (or justifications) people usually provide. “Either they really need one, thought they did, were convinced they did, or just wanted it” . I also added for effect, “Just like most everything we buy in America”
Those that think no one should have guns often use the “why” question, or “need” to justify their desire to prevent us from having them. Logic does not apply to people with that opinion I know, but truth is it’s the same for everything. Using their approach one could prevent others from buying just about anything we think they don’t need. Its that age old concept of denying others their rights to something while leaving ours untouched. You cannot have guns, but I can have (fill in the blank). It is unfortunately human nature, demonstrated throughout time, the only thing that changes is the item.
Buying something for no other reason than you want it is as American as it gets. There is no required justification beyond desire, its that simple. Currently in America you get to do this, even with guns, THAT is a product of freedom, and a society that enjoys the ability to think beyond basic survival needs. Once people move beyond simply providing food and shelter to survive the night they look to get what they want. In modern terms, its disposable income, extra money not needed to survive. We get to spend that on anything legal, acquired by legal means, period!
Need is different, you either actually need something, or want it, and can’t or won’t simply buy it without a need (real or otherwise). Justifying a need where none exists is universally human and exists in every society today. Void of this ability many if not most sources of income would flat out disappear. Taken to the extreme someone else tells you what you want and need. Want to live that, move to California or Washington or other states where a few thousand people tell millions of residents who disagree exactly what they need, want and can legally have.
Actual need, like for a job, profession, self or home defense is simple. Otherwise its what I call a “fabrication of need.” Unable to admit you just want it due to some self constructed or outside influenced force (like a boss or spouse), a “need” is created. Sometimes that creation is organic, that sort of self justification that occurs as you are staring at the gun you want in the store, on line, or in a magazine. The other is what I call the fabrication of need.
The Power of Justification!
With enough imagination just about anything can be justified as a need. Food, clothing, vehicles, you name it. Try hard enough to convince yourself and you can justify the need for completely useless stuff with ease. I am well practiced at this, maybe even a master given an office full of useless crap I “needed”. How many people with vehicles lifted a couple feet “need” them to get to work, or forage for food, or ford the river outside their apartment. Is it possible to survive without it, or without say a video game, or $500.00 shoes, or the latest guchi camo covered gadget, you bet it is. Never discount the ability of a human being to justify the need to buy. And if you do, or think that is an issue, make sure your very livelihood does not depend on it. This very phenomenon puts food on the table, useless vehicles in the garage, and meaningless college degrees in the hands of millions. Eliminate it and life becomes just about the next meal. Most people want more, and many people have given their lives so we can have more, to deny it is just plain stupid. Honestly, there are cults, communes and countries out there where YOU can live that life, find one, move there, and leave the rest of us the hell alone!
Nothing creates a need where none exists like properly targeted marketing. Masterful marketing drives our economy as well as any free, or even mostly free country where someone besides the government can buy something. If you look hard enough, even if you have nothing to do with selling something, some part of the company that pays you does. Self employed, you are or should be marketing yourself even if only by word of mouth. Without it Social Media probably would not exist to the extent it does. Much of it is people posting pictures of their dinner, more of it is trying to get you to come back there and buy it again, or go somewhere else. Even service related organizations like public safety, utilities and hospitals market themselves. It pays for my office, and my truck, and the ability to do what I do every day. Do I need a long range precision rifle that shoots out to two miles and costs 15X what I paid for my first car, and twice that of one I own today? Absolutely not, but I have it and use it, with no intention of getting rid of it. Call it the most effective crutch for the power of justification. Need a push as you spend countless hours trying to convince yourself you “need” something, marketing and advertising will step right in and provide it. In fact, you might never have even conceived of a need only to have it provided for you. In this day and age my guess its 75% of the modern economy, buying stuff you never needed based on a need created for you by marketing.
Next time you decide to tell someone they don’t “need” something take a very close look at yourself first. Are you willing to give up one of your favorite needless things to take away one of mine? Just as importantly, understand that allowing you to remove my right to own needless stuff may just allow me to remove yours next. It is a concept completely lost on much of society today. In practice it drives those having their rights removed to retaliate resulting in a society where no rights exist beyond government. That edge is very sharp on both sides. If you want that I can provide several places where it exists today, maybe you should move there.
Can needless things be used for ill intent or evil, you bet, but that is in the heart of the individual. A world without evil only exists on television, the movies, and in the minds of men unwilling to deal with reality. Dream of Utopia, even work towards it, just don’t let your reality get me killed during the process. People get deprived of their needs, or killed every day believing they were safe by those who understand they are not. Remember that the next time you want to deny someone the ability to own and carry a gun that just may save their lives. Be the victim, the worlds needs them, just don’t make me or anyone else join you.
Can marketing be evil, sure, like anything it has a good and bad side. Without it much of what people today consider essential would not exist. If you think cell phones are a product of some “need” for communication you are either naive or ignorant. They were marketed, sold, and result in millions of jobs for people who buy other stuff throughout the world, sometimes on that phone. maybe something that pays the company that provides your salary. If no one profited from their sale they would exist in one place, government. Given governments ability to take my money by force or threat of imprisonment they would hold all the cards. Want to experience that Utopia, move to North Korea (or California). Spend a few years basking in the freedom of a totalitarian or socialist government, my guess is your perspective might change.
The next time someone asks you if you “need” a gun, just tell them maybe but I want one, and thats all I need. Beyond that its none of their business, they call that Freedom, something by the way that was won, and remains in tact thanks to men and women with you guessed it, guns!