Ichabod and the Guns of Freedom

Let’s talk about guns.  It’s all the rage.  Everyone is doing it.  Hand guns, assault rifles, high capacity magazines. It’s very exciting and a quick “gun store online” Google search yields a bounty of “Shoot now pay later!” results (179 million).  So many choices.  So much to discuss.

It’s all very American to be sure, this ultimate freedom of ownership, freedom being the big issue.  Google “Freedom in America” and you get a whopping 1 billion plus results.  Compare it to “Freedom in the UK’ (483 million), “Freedom in France” (106 million), or “Freedom in Syria” (88 million) and you see a clear disparity.  Granted, these are not scientific results, but like it or not Google has become the measure by which we quickly evaluate a topic’s worth.

Gun ownership inevitably comes up in any discussion of freedom in the US, umbilically linked to what it means to be American.  Guns are part and parcel of the American myth, wrapped up in the entrepreneurial, brash, optimistic if a tad naïve and lacking in history, image of Americans that is stereotypically upheld by others.

But myth, as we all know, is not fact.

Myth, as metaphor, exists to teach us how to live in, and make sense of, the world.  Creation myths provide an existential sense of security, regardless of whether the world was created in 6 days by some almighty being (Judeo-Christian), is a result of Father Sky and Mother Earth being pried apart by a frustrated son (Maori), or the product of a turtle’s mud-covered back (Iriquois).  Other myths offer caution.  The Greeks are particularly notable in this, with everyone from Icarus to Prometheus warning us to behave.

America as Icarus - A reinterpretation of Bruegel's "De Val Van Icarus"

America as Icarus – A reinterpretation of Bruegel’s “De Val Van Icarus”

But if myths exist to show us the path, how does the American myth navigate today’s world?  The Asian Century is upon us.  America seems culturally irrelevant, barely worthy of note to our friends in the east save as a cheap shopping destination (fire sale at that!).  And what do we do?  We talk about guns, although who can blame us?  We do live in the shadow of many a brave soul known for their conquering nature.  And what are guns if not a symbol of our subjugation of others?  Be it Daniel Boone, Paul Revere, or George Custer, their myth is one of utter defiance, be it of nature, government, or even people.

It appears, though, that we have become slaves to this mythology, blindly clutching at something that has lost its relevance.  I propose a new myth, of my own creation.  In this tale a gun-toting Ichabod builds a wall around himself, built entirely of firearms.  He calls his wall Freedom and protects it from all who dare approach.  As his wall grows, so declines Ichabod’s sense of others, for they are obscured by his dedication to his own freedom.  Finally, Ichabod is crushed as his self-imposed prison collapses, barely noticed by the rest of the world that has long since moved on.

This, I fear, is what is happening as we rage on about our freedoms and liberties.  We toss these terms around, hell bent on protecting the tired catch phrases of the past rather than committing ourselves to a healthy future.  All this talk about 2nd amendment rights, civil liberties and what our founding fathers meant is so mired in yesteryear as to be profoundly un-American.  I thought this was a nation of innovators and forward thinking individuals.  So what’s this obsession with the past?  And why must we cling to outdated ideas simply because the constitution and its amendments say so?  No wonder the country is stagnating.

Perhaps the American myth can be saved, though, simply by recognizing the mythical industrious nature of Americans, that is the power to reinvent.  Isn’t that what has driven countless immigrant to these illustrious shores, myself among them?  Reinvention, rather than blind steadfastness, is the key to progress.  China did it.  Korea did it.  Other countries would be advised to follow suit, the US among them.  But alas the US is not a follower.  Or maybe that’s just another myth that needs debunking (oh Kyoto Protocol, where art thou?).

Yet as we scuffle in the ashes of a defunct world-view should we not recognize that this too has its base in myth.  Something about a bird, I think.  And fire.  And rebirth.

16 thoughts on “Ichabod and the Guns of Freedom

  1. PepeLapiu

    Maybe what you really long for us gun control Canada style. And there I might be able to help you as I am both a gun owner and a Canadian.

    Here we don’t have your dreaded scary ‘high capacity magazines’. For a rifle, the maximum magazine capacity is 5 rounds.

    Of course, we have mostly US imported magazines. You can get a 30 round, 40 round, or even 100 round magazine here. But they all have a rivet tapped into the magazine which restricts it from loading more than 5 rounds.

    This ridiculous law was implemented after a guy with ‘high capacity magazines’ did a mass shooting in Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal school.

    The problem with this stupid law is that every gun owner knows it’s a complete farce. It would take less than 30 seconds to drill out that rivet from my magazines to return them to their full 40 rounds capacity.

    Of course, I don’t do that. I am a law abiding citizen after all.

    But you seriously think the nut job who wants to kill 30 people will think twice about drilling out that rivet?

    And strangely enough, there have been no mass shootings since that law was enabled. You think about that.

    This retarded law is only there to make people like you feel good – people who derive their gun knowledge from TV and Hollywood.

    1. Mischa Post author

      Thanks for your comment. There is certainly a huge difference between US and Canadian attitudes towards guns and I agree that someone who is determined to kill people will find a way to do so. The issue then is one of education and ensuring that people DON’T want to go on the rampage. What is it about the US that makes people think shooting up a school or movie theater is the only option they have?

      1. PepeLapiu

        “What is it about the US that makes people think shooting up a school or movie theater is the only option they have?”

        That is a very good question. Most anti-gun people will simply tell you that the USA has the most guns per capita, and the most homicides per capita. And you are supposed to automatically draw a correlation between gun ownership and homicide rate.

        But let’s look at the statistics with a more open mind. If you took all the gun homicides out of the US crime rate, that would put a serious dent in their homicide rate. But even if you are to completely eradicate gun homicides by removing all guns, the USA still would have a homicide rate 3 times higher than Canada. And that is counting all Canadian homicides while only counting non-gun US homicides.

        In fact, when dismissing all US gun homicides, they still have a homicide rate head and shoulder above every other western countries.

        This clearly shows that the weapon used (gun, knife, or fists) is not the problem. Something else might be causing the high US homicide rate.

        Could it be related to the fact that the USA consumes far more illicit drugs than any other country?
        Could it be related to the fact that the USA consumes far more prescription drugs than any other country?
        You might think it illelevent. But next time you hear about an other US mass shooting, look into the perpetrator medical record. They all seem to have a mental health history and be on some very strong mind altering prescription drugs.

        Now I want to consider the most important aspect of gun ownership and gun control.

        The US government lied to the people about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. And they lied to create support for the Iraq war. So a million Iraqis were killed all based on a ridiculous lie.

        Now your TV might not talk about that. But the TV silence doesn’t change the fact that the government is a liar and a mass murderer.

        If I kill 20 people I am a mass murderer.
        So if the government kills a million people based on an obvious lie, the government certainly is a mass murderer too.

        Now those 1 million Iraqis, your TV will not refer to them as murder victims. The more politically correct ‘war casualities’ and ‘collateral damage’ are used instead of murder. But it’s murder all the same.

        No matter what your views are, you have to conclude that the government cares nothing about the sanctity of human life.

        So you really think it’s okay for a lying mass murderer to take away your guns to make you safe?

        The Iraq war is just the tip of the iceberg. When you look seriously into the history of government lies, genocides, democides, and false wars, you can only conclude that government is the last entity to trust with your safety and wellbeing. Government doesn’t love you. That is the most important thing you should remember whenever government comes up with more ways to make you safe.

        All I can say is that you should cherish your second ammendment my friend. You have no idea how lucky you are for that. Your founders gave you the second ammendment not to protect against bear attacks or to hunt duck. The second ammendment is there specifically to protect against a tyrannical government. And a government that lies to you to promote the killing of a million people so that you and future tax payers can foot the bill. That alone certainly qualifies as a tyrannical government.

        1. Ajnin Haru

          I work for DHS, you are absolutely right about the government. In fact the people now running this government absolutely despise the American people. They hate the fact that they have to ask for votes every so often to stay in power. The reason politicians want to eliminate gun ownership is because they want to do things to the American people they know will piss people off to the point of lethality. They want to be able to oppress without the danger of assassination.

  2. Guy

    Gun control is only effective on the law abiding citizens who would use them for protection. Strangely, the street tugs , rapists, home invaders, and mass shooters surrender their guns .

    This is simple logic that will fly right over your head because you see guns (innanimate objects) as bad.

    But you only see a gun as bad when I hold it. If a cop holds a gun, you than shift to the idea that it’s for protection.

    Hitler agreed with you and that is why he implemented gun control. …..6 million Jews died because they were unable to protect themselves.

    If you so beleive in gun control, you should put a sign on your lawn : “WARNING – HELPLESS VICTIMS LIVE HERE”

  3. Tom Craig

    The right of self defense doesn’t go out of style and will never be “out-dated”. If so, why do our leaders need armed security to protect them? Yet many of them are the same people who want to take our ability away to do the same.

    Tyranny is outdated? Really? With a government that is using the IRS and other government bodies to target a specific class of people with traditional views, collecting data on our internet travels and our phone conversations you think tyranny is out-dated? Wow.

    The author reveals a complete lack of understanding of the Founding principles. When I read this sort of thing I just chuckle a bit and shake my head at the level of ignorance of the herd.

  4. Stu Chisholm

    Sir, you have been served: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2013/06/foghorn/mischa-livingstone-civil-rights-are-so-passe/#more-234219

    Like all the newsies, bloggers and talking heads who don’t understand the topic they’re pontificating on, you miss the entire point. (Well, actually two.) First of all, you talk about the age of the Constitution and how old it is, as if it has become irrelevant because of the passage of time. (Are you a Christian? Then what of your Ten Commandments?) Yet guns are first and foremost for the preservation of SELF, and the ability to assert one’s rights — NOT to terrorize, intimidate or subjugate as you suggest. So unless basic human nature has changed, then firearms still have a valid place in society (and our homes).

    But the second, and most important point you’ve missed is that there’s a huge gulf between “gun culture” and “gang/criminal culture.” Accusing lawful gun owners of being responsible for the actions of murderers and crazy people is like accusing lawful owners of video cameras of being responsible for child pornography. Can you imagine hosting a “buy back” for video equipment based on the promise that turning them in will result in less child pornography? And yes, it IS the same; I employ no fallacy of logic here. Even very beneficial things can be and are misused. If you want the benefits of one, you must tolerate the other. Think of the appalling death toll we tolerate for the convenience of driving a car.

    And yes, there IS a benefit to gun ownership; another key thing the smirking gun control know-it-alls miss. Aside from wars, guns are used to save far more lives than they take. Each year, between 700,000 and 2.5 million violent crimes are brought to a halt by someone with a gun. That’s a ratio of between 22 and 80:1 to the good. Sweeping that under the rug makes a bulge that even Apollo Robbins can’t misdirect you from seeing.

  5. Chip

    “… All this talk about 2nd amendment rights, civil liberties and what our founding fathers meant is so mired in yesteryear as to be profoundly un-American. I thought this was a nation of innovators and forward thinking individuals. ”

    Funny you using your First Amendment Rights to try and remove everyone else’s Second Amendment Rights.

    Do you consider the Freedom of the Press to be equally outdated and in need of updating?

    Do you consider the concept of Innocent until Proven Guilty to be equally outdated and in need of updating?

    What other parts of what it means to be an American do you think should be given up because they are from the past?

  6. John Eliyas, MA Crim.

    Leave it to a film teacher to try and delve into the world of criminology. You stick with f stops and I will the guns and crime. Your skewed logic is best at teaching about Felini not firearms.

  7. Tim Gee

    Mischa, yours is a classic straw man argument. To most 2A supporters today the right to bear arms has nothing to do about subjugation, and everything to do about self defense. Self defense is a fundamental and inalienable human right. Research has shown (including research done under the aegis of the Clinton administration) that there are 1.5 to 2 million defensive gun uses by law abiding citizens every year. This is not about Daniel Boone or George Custer, but car jackings, armed robbery and sexual assault.

  8. OODAloop

    So if I change a bit of your argument, do you still agree with it?

    All this talk about 1st, 2nd 4th and other amendment rights, civil liberties and what our founding fathers meant is so mired in yesteryear as to be profoundly un-American. I thought this was a nation of innovators and forward thinking individuals. So what’s this obsession with the past? And why must we cling to outdated ideas like freedom of speech simply because the constitution and its amendments say so? No wonder the country is stagnating.

    Huh? Thought not. They are the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Needs and none of them are negotiable…

  9. Emfourty Gasmask

    Did you know that in France, they speak French? Also, in Syria.. They speak Arabic? Huh. I could have sworn ‘Freedom’ would be a bit different in their language.

  10. Pingback: Inside the Twisted Mind of a Gun Grabber, Pt. 10: Mischa Livingstone | The Truth About GunsThe Truth About Guns

  11. David Harris

    But Mischa. Them pesky Brits may come back for more. And them pesky southerners may be looking for some more trouble… Oh, wait a minute.. My bad… I have my centuries mixed up..

  12. Mali Joy

    You always hit the mark. Just heard that china is about to overtake the US as the leading country in the world.Times they are a changing.

  13. Chris McKee

    I wonder if the stagnation will pass with the Baby Boomers, who outnumber their children. Their fear of death pervades too much of their thinking. Or maybe unlike the liberalization of marriage and other cultural mores we Gen Xers and Millenials are finding comfort in weaponry.


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