Guns and Liberty

When our country was engaged in what we refer to as the Revolutionary War, an untrained militia were issued firearms with which they could fight the battle. When the war was over the soldiers were allowed to take their rifles home. Thus we began associating gun ownership with liberty. After all, firearms helped us defeat the British and folks had a hunting tool to provide for their family.

The connection of guns with freedom is a deep-seated archetype in our culture. It is a very sticky habit in our collective cultural mind. Even those who are adamantly against firearms tacitly support them because of their opposition. When we create an us-against-them mentality we continue to fight the war. Nobody wins.

If we do not address the habit pattern that believes we can insure our safety with guns, or without guns, we are destined to perpetuate the delusion. Freedom and security are a matter of our mental stability more than anything else and nothing disturbs this balance more than the ‘fight’ for arms control. Buddha taught us that all suffering arises from the dualistic divisive mind. When we fight the ‘other’ we fall into the trap of wanting others to suffer if we are suffering.

I suspect this is, in part, the motivation for all mass-shootings. Shooters actually believe their action will somehow help to resolve their own suffering. This is akin to dropping bombs on people to demonstrate dropping bombs on people is wrong. Or, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. This insanity has to stop.

The Dharma we study and practice necessarily brings us in touch with the mind of war. We observe our need for control and how we want to harm those we think have harmed us. So, we work diligently to liberate that pattern and help others to do so. Until we as a culture prioritize compassionate awareness and provide resources to recognize and help those who feel marginalized, angry, depressed, etc., nothing will change.

Fighting about guns is counter-productive and only serves to heat up the battle—giving more power to the gun. The mind that gives power to the gun, regardless the perspective, is the problem. If we regain our sanity, the symbol of a firearm has the potential to bring us together. We need to gather in the same room, settle our minds, and find a middle path—free from extremes.

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