How America’s Gun Culture Cultivates Civic Virtue

It is through the enjoyment of a dangerous freedom that Americans learn the art of reducing freedom’s perils.” —Alexis de Tocqueville

Many people are often surprised to learn that I am a gun owner and firm defender of the Second Amendment. After all, I, a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant and do not fit the stereotype of the typical American gun owner. Of all of America’s cherished freedoms, the natural and unalienable right of self-defense, recognized and protected (not granted) by the Second Amendment, took me the longest to fully embrace.

But as an open-minded rationalist, the lessons of history and statistical research proved overwhelming (not to mention the sheer fun of learning the basic operations and mechanics of firearms) and eventually helped me understand why tens of millions of my fellow Americans treasure their right to keep and bear arms.

From the colonists winning independence from Great Britain to African-Americans vindicating their civil rights, the role of the gun is inseparable from American identity. The gun is the ultimate multipurpose tool that empowers its user with the means to put food on the table, as well as preserve one’s life, whether against common street criminals or government tyranny. The philosophical underpinnings and lived experiences that shaped American gun culture all matter (and reinforce each other), but I want to focus on one aspect in particular: the cultivation of civic virtue.

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h/t Dr. Ley

      
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