This past week, the Internet, our editorial pages, and our talk shows have been filled with calls for gun control. That happens every time there's a terrible massacre like the one we saw in South Carolina. The talk always fades.
I support gun control, but these efforts are doomed and always have been--and not just because of the power of the NRA. Guns are so enmeshed in American history, so much a part of our cultural DNA that there will never be truly meaningful gun control in the U.S. Advocates of gun control don't seem to understand that and don't seem to understand our founding national story.
Part of why we rebelled against the British was their attempt to take away our guns. In 1774, the British only had 2,000 troops in heavily-armed and seething Boston, and the British response was to take control of the powder house, which meant that Bostonians wouldn't be able to use their guns. The British also started searching for guns and ammunition without warrants. And to suppress a rebellion against their rule, the British began effectively embargoing exportation of guns and ammunition to the Colonies.
The very first battles at Lexington and Concord between Americans and the British took place because British troops were coming to seize an American arms cache. So guns are right there at the founding of our nation--they're there before we had a flag, a Declaration of Independence, a government, a national anthem, before we had anything that truly united us. Guns, and holding on to our guns.
If you don't understand that, you don't understand American history--and why repeated efforts at gun control have failed so miserably and will continue to fail no matter how much anguish we suffer. Citing gun control in other countries is pointless, because no other country has our unique history with guns and what they mean to us. Tragedies like the one in Charleston will keep happening, and so will the calls for change--but our history can't be unmade.