One of the least helpful questions newspeople and interviewers ask these days is, “Why do you or why does anyone need a semi-automatic rifle and a 100-round magazine?”
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That only opens the door to a bunch of reasons and rationales that then get challenged, restated, ridiculed, defended and ultimately don’t stand up to reality. The issue is not why or why not anyone “needs” such equipment. They don’t unless they really are in imminent danger of being attacked by a force far larger than anything the average person is likely to encounter. The average innocent person is not likely to be “attacked” by the sheriff’s S.W.A.T. team. The average person is not likely to be attacked by a dozen or more heavily armed drug gang members. Those things could happen, just like getting hit by lightning happens. Yet who has ever seen or heard of anyone who carried a lightning rod — just in case?
The reality is that people “want” those things. And if they’re asked why do they want them, the answer can really only be, “Because I do. I want them, because I want them. I like them, and I enjoy having them, and that’s all there is to say about that.” And no one with any sense would argue with them about it.
There is no reasonable justification for wanting things, and there doesn’t need to be a reasonable justification for wanting things. People can want things, and they don’t need to have that make sense to someone who doesn’t want the same things. It’s no one else’s business why they may or may not want something. I want things. I need things. There’s lots of things I want that I don’t need. And there are lots of things I need that I also want, but the two aren’t the same. Wanting and needing are as different as night and day.
I’ve camped plenty of times without a propane lantern and stove. I don’t need those things to go camping. But I now prefer to go camping with those amenities. And I’d shy away from an argument with someone whose point is that I don’t “need” those things. Of course I don’t need those things, but I want them. And they come in handy on those rare occasions when the power goes out for any length of time. Not necessary but comforting nonetheless.
God fights on the side with the best artillery
Napoleon is credited with that statement of probable fact. It’s even more true today. Anyone who thinks he’s going to hold out against overwhelming force with a bunker full of semi-automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition is living in some kind of Butch Cassidy “going down in a hail of bullets” dream world.
I’ve discussed this issue numerous times with my brother the conservative who thinks he “needs” a lot more firepower than he can legally acquire. He, for whatever bunch of reasons, seems actually to believe that one day he will need to defend himself and his home against an attack by an unknown, unspecified enemy — usually generalized as the “government” or the U.N. or maybe China or even North Korea.
“How long do you think you could hold out against a military assault on your house?” I ask.
“Longer than someone who isn’t as well armed,” he says.
Well, that may be entirely true, I have to admit. Two minutes, five minutes, a half-hour before “they” launch a missile from three miles away and blow your house to smithereens with you in it? So what did you gain, two minutes, five minutes, a half-hour? And would that be worth all the expense not to mention the perpetual anxiety you live with waiting for that day? Evidently it is, not only to him but to thousands if not millions of other like-minded folks.
It wouldn’t be worth it to me, because I figure Napoleon was probably right.
Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.