The wake of outrage from the Colorado shooting (which was made possible by an AR-15 assault rifle) has flooded my ears with this rhetorical question: “who even needs an AR-15 assault rifle, anyway?” This is a good argument. It’s true, after all—nobody really needs an assault rifle. My libertarian DNA struggles to concede this point.
Even NRA guys admit there’s a limit to the right to bear arms. We shouldn’t be allowed to own doomsday devices. So why not ban the AR-15, even if there’s a slim-to-none chance of saving lives?
The problem isn’t this argument—the problem is the mindset that would make such an argument. It’s the mindset willing to manage unhappiness instead of figuring out how to be happy. It’s the mindset that accepts boredom instead of figuring out how to make life exciting. It’s the mindset that treats life as a metaphysical concession.
For example, if you interviewed for your dream job, and you didn’t get it, banning assault weapons is like saying, “well, I guess I didn’t need that job anyway.” Right, you didn’t need it, but it would have made you excited to be alive. Better yet, it would have given you an opportunity to do something awesome. It would have at least been fun. But I guess now there’s no risk of getting in a car accident while driving to work.
Or, when somebody asks you how you’re doing, banning assault weapons is like saying, “I’m alive, aren’t I?” Yeah, I guess, but don’t you expect more? You’re a sentient being who can think, feel, and do. Gazelles should be happy to be alive. Humans should only be happy to live a life they want to live.
So sure, nobody really needs an AR-15 assault rifle. We also don’t need beer, and we don’t need cars (the combination of the two is responsible for exponentially more deaths than an AR-15). We don’t need to read or think, and with syringes and test tubes, we don’t need to have sex. At this point, you start to wonder if you even need to be alive (you don’t).
But to only want something if you need it indicates a lack of expectation only found previously on online dating profiles. Low expectations for life are much more frightening than a movie theater massacre. It’s no surprise that the Aurora shooter had two online dating profiles.
The slow but sure legalization of marijuana is another example of our willingness to bargain with life. The scientific community had to elucidate the medical benefits of marijuana before it became more acceptable. Imagine, if when a pot smoker is asked why pot should be legal, he replied, “because it’s fun.” The outrage! How dare you do something that’s fun? We, the common good, feel like it takes away from us somehow. Then, to further emotionalize our reaction, we refer to all people who smoke pot as stoners. Hey, if you’re going to subjugate somebody, you have to first distance yourself from them.
The Left does the same thing, of course. To the New York Times pinky raisers, anybody who likes guns is automatically a “gun nut.” Fathers and sons have always argued, not because they’re different, but because they’re similar.
NRA guys and pot smokers really just want the same thing—both are trying to defend a lifestyle they don’t need. Maybe gun guys should take a page from the pot smokers and start arguing for the medicinal benefits of assault rifles. If we can convince people vaccines cause autism, we can convince people AR-15s relieve stress.
This is where society is. We have to do something that’s needed, otherwise we’re condemned as egocentric. The tentacles of this monster work their way into deeper crevices of life, too. I knew a girl in college who was passionate about fashion. Her passion went beyond watching Project Runway, which every girl ever watches. She would make all her own clothes in her spare time. She even designed her own kind of pockets—it was pretty cool. But she never felt like she could go to fashion school and make a living out of it because, as she put it, “fashion is unnecessary.” Not surprisingly, she was one of the most depressive girls I’ve known. The tagline of our university was, “do something great.” How about just, “do something you like”?
And we wonder why the economy is hemorrhaging 20-somethings. What if James J. Hill spent his 21st year reading Sartre? He’d probably rationalize that a transcontinental railroad was unnecessary. “Whatever,” he would say, “it’s not like anybody needs to transport goods faster and more efficiently.” Don’t blame America’s politics on a recession, blame our ethics.
I doubt banning a gun would have kept this lunatic in Aurora from carrying out a massacre. Maybe, without an automatic weapon, the massacre would have been worse. I’d rather Timothy McVeigh only had an AR-15. But the more important issue at stake is society stagnates when people feel the need to justify themselves.
Explanations are for the servile. If you like guns, don’t cite me the second amendment. If you like pot, don’t cite me a study. Just enjoy things—that’s all any free man has ever wanted you to do.