Guns and Freedoms

By my observation, a good number Americans justify gun ownership on the basis of defending themselves, individually or collectively, against government tyranny (however it may manifest). Setting aside the feasibility of armed civilian resistance (which is a different discussion altogether), I find it interesting that the US seems to be the only stable, long-lived democracy for whom a significant proportion of citizens feel the need to keep the state in check through arms.

By my knowledge, every other free and democratic society doesn’t rely on armed civilians to ensure that their rights aren’t violated — or at least they don’t feel the need to. Indeed, many of the countries that perform better than the US in metrics of civil liberty, economics, and government transparency have no such political rhetoric attached to gun ownership. Among wealthy, industrialized democracies, America is an interesting outlier.

But why is this the case? What are other successful — often more successful — democracies doing  in order to preclude the need for armed citizenry?  And what are the implications of this curiously adversarial power dynamic? What does it say about the nature of our government, society, and culture? I have my own ideas, but I’d rather leave the floor to you all.