When asked why people own guns, self-defense is more and more the answer that comes up first and more and more as the only answer for many. Another increasing trend is that the people who are becoming new owners are not, in many cases, the stereotypical white male who lives in the rural parts of this nation. One example of this is women in our big cities who buy one handgun only to protect herself or her family. Opponents of gun rights call this a reaction based on fear, as though that would be enough to invalidate the choice, but we in the gun community understand that when risks are compared to rewards, owning guns yields a definite benefit.
That being said, it should be clear to us that we want as many people to join the community as possible. That’s because we want as many participants in the exercise of this right and as many votes in favor of protecting the same as we can find. But also, we want people to be able to protect themselves from violent attacks.
This is predicated on the the assumption that the people buying and using guns are “good.” And here we have a potential for debate. What do we mean by good? My answer to that is that while we can wander down rabbit trails into the weeds, I can sum it up as a statement that a good person doesn’t force others to do or to endure something against their wills. Again, the details are complex — let’s not discuss whether taxes are theft in this discussion — but the principle is not hard to understand.
With this in mind, I come to a coalition of groups in Texas who gathered together to protect themselves against intimidation and potential threats. The point of contention is that the groups who armed themselves for their own defense were the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam. According to their own statements, they stood together to defend the right of black Muslims to worship without being harassed by the Bureau of American Islamic Relations, a group that declared in a Facebook post that:
“We cannot stand by while all these different anti-American, Arab radical Islamists team up with Nation of Islam/Black Panthers and White anti-American anarchist groups, joining together in the goal of destroying our country and killing innocent people to gain dominance through fear! We will be going in full gear for self defense only. This is a full gear situation.”
Both groups faced off peacefully, perhaps thanks to the presence of the police.
We can argue the relative intimidation of two lines of armed groups facing each other, but a mini-Cold War on the streets of this nation isn’t an ideal condition. That being said, both groups were within the exercise of rights, but BAIR’s purpose wasn’t the same as the people they came to oppose.
I’m on record on this site and elsewhere as questioning the positions of religion, but belief and practice are basic rights, and the worshippers who gathered to participate in their religion should be free to do so. And they should also be free to protect themselves, especially when that means offering a show of potential force to forestall an attack.
It’s a test of members of the gun community as to whether we will welcome in people who aren’t popular in the current political climate who are only living their lives. Agree with black power groups or with Islam or not, but the members of those groups are human beings with rights, just as everyone else. The armed defenders from the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam did exactly what I as a supporter of gun rights promote. They made it clear that they had no interest in starting a violence incident, but were ready to stop one if it were brought to them. As such, they are a good example to us all.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.