Looking Inward: Fear over Freedom

Emily Russell/ Sun Star Columnist

April 22, 2014


Taking the bill off the table during this legislative session is not enough. SB 176’s sponsor, Senator Coghill (R) from North Pole, admitted that the “practical problems,” including student safety on campus, had not been solved. How can a state representative support a bill that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on University of Alaska campuses and not have taken safety into consideration?

Too often Americans are blinded by this idea of freedom, freedom in the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, that the inherent and defining freedoms of speech, religion, and all others are a mere afterthought.

The freedom of religion is one that just recently suffered from an exploitation of the right to bear arms. One week ago a man opened fire outside of a Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a nearby retirement community, resulting in the death of three innocent people. The gunman, Frazier Glen Miller, is a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and has a history of anti-Semitism. In a radio interview Miller cited Hitler as the “greatest man who ever walked the earth,” and warned against Jewish control of the media and federal government, insisting that Jews are, “committing genocide against the white race.”

Of course it is clear, from both his actions and his words, that Miller is deranged. So how do we protect ourselves from these types of deranged, gun-toting Americans? Arm more Americans, both sane and deranged? I find it hard to comprehend the pro-gun argument for how this Sunday afternoon in Kansas would have played out differently had more people carried concealed weapons. It is unrealistic to think Dr. William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Underwood or Terri LaManno would have been safer had they been carrying firearms.

Over the past few years and specifically over the past few weeks, I have been trying to understand the argument that every American would be safer if we all carried a firearm. The understanding that I’ve come to is that it is not about the argument at all, but rather about the fear-ridden mentality of gun-toting “freedom-loving” Americans.

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus at MIT and world famous intellectual, has convincingly asserted that our nation’s gun culture is a “reflection of fear and desperation” in an “unusually frightened country.” For me this is spot on. More specifically, Chomsky describes this deep-rooted paranoia as a fear of retribution.

For centuries, our nation has found it hard to kick the habit of oppression, beginning with Native Americans and soon followed by slaves. Although today’s oppression in our nation takes a less violent form, groups of people continue to be oppressed including immigrants, gays, and minorities, to name a few. Chomsky uses this trend of oppression and fear of future retribution to explain what he describes as the “extremely unusual gun culture” in America.

Clearly demonstrated in the recent shooting in Kansas, the gunman was fearful of a Jewish uprising in America. For other gun-toting Americans the fear is far less extreme, though still seems to plays a major role in the motivation for gun ownership. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather restrict my Second Amendment rights to live in a nation based on trust and all other freedoms rather than a nation full of fear and distrust.

My biggest fear is not my government or a stranger in a dark alley, but rather I am fearful of the oppression of every other freedom in America for the blind pursuit of the Second Amendment. I am fearful that someone like Senator Coghill will push a piece of legislation without fully taking into consideration the practical and quite obvious issues of public safety. Taking SB 176 off the table during this legislative session is not enough.

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