Your Turn, NH: From one who fled European oppression, a perspective on guns
I am writing this because I came from the other side. From where? Where people are taught that government is the source of their rights.
As toddlers, my parents scooped up my brother and me and got out of town in Eastern Europe. We ran because certainly my mother, my brother and I had some Jewish blood, and Eichmann's thugs were searching through town records very carefully so they could launch the last phase of the Final Solution. Governments in most of Europe and Asia were busy murdering their own people first and foremost, and then each other.
The people themselves were generally not evil, but they rationalized cooperating with government thugs, or they just kept quiet. Why were they so passive and cooperative with their tyrannical governments? They had been totally disarmed, they had been sold the concept that in a civilized society there is no reason to have guns, that guns lead to violence and evil.
Up to age 11, I lived in a refugee camp, where I witnessed a young Jew being beaten to death by a bunch of ladies on their way to Easter services. The Jew was not armed, and the ladies used rocks and clubs to do the job. The occupying American Army kept us alive, through the compassion of individual soldiers.
We immigrated to the United States and become Americans. I was lucky: I learned some lessons early, and I was brought to the only country on earth where rights start with the individual and don't have to be cajoled out of a government.
I learned that principles, ethics and rights are not worth the time dreaming them up if I am not ready to defend them. Corollary to that, you love and care for your significant people only to the extent that you are willing to work for them and defend them.
In my world, the moral person strives above all else to be a provider and a defender, a ready warrior for justice, and to leave that same legacy to his children and friends.
My son was 14 when I taught him the basics of using a rifle and a handgun. My daughter was about eight when she first fired a rifle, and in that same year she had the opportunity to see exactly what a bullet can do. When more than seven years old, both children knew where I stored my weapons, had access to them in case of emergency. Fortunately, neither of them was in a situation where they had to use them for self-defense during their growing-up years.
I trusted that they would not wantonly use a weapon or turn to violence. They both understood the results of a bullet hitting flesh or bone, understood the gore and the pain of it, and had the sense of honor and compassion to avoid unnecessary violence. In my son's case, football helped; I taught my daughter self-defense. She has since studied combat hapkido and budo ken, and my son spends his professional life salvaging juvenile delinquents. Today, they are both married to warrior types and are raising their children likewise: to act with courtesy, compassion and resolve. Children like that earn your trust and respect.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution was put in place not to protect hunting or home defense, but to enable Americans to defeat a tyrannical government, to provide a balance of power between the citizenry and the government. Not needed anymore? Look at the history of mass murder in the last century, and this one, and you will find governments killing, enslaving and robbing their own citizenry to massive extents, far beyond the casualties of any school or theater shooting. Can't happen here? Give that some thought and answer yourself honestly.
We are going through a period in which the media and the government are opining that you do not need semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines to either hunt or defend your families. (Can governments become tyrannical, murderous?)
I was moved to write this because I was inspired by a 15-year-old boy in Houston who saved himself and his younger sister from major harm by two thugs who invaded their home with an AR-15 while parents were absent.
Please remember that you are an American, and your rights do not have to be defined by the government. You were born with them, and your government owes you respect.
Antal Peter lives in Londonderry.