So, last week the lead article in our weekly Digest was a review of the XM42 Flamethrower, a fire-spitting tool capable of hurling flames as far out as 25 feet!
The XM42 is badass, and we expected many of you to geek out over it. While many of you did express your jubilation for a civilian flamethrower, others were not only less than impressed, they were downright offended that we published the article.
I’ll give you some examples of what I mean:
“I’m sorry, but this is one weapon so horrifying that no ethical person should ever bring this to market,” wrote one reader. “Imagine a home invasion and someone decides to roast you and your family with one of these?”
Another reader wrote, “People like this man, the company who manufactured this, and all who buy this, make all responsible, pro 2nd Amendment gun owners look horrible!”
“This should not be supported whatsoever I really think this is going to far, next some nutcase like the one using it will kill a bunch of children TAKE THIS ADD DOWN,” wrote another commentator.
First off, let me just say that we at GunsAmerica love and embrace the free exchange of ideas. We understand that not all of us are going to agree on every issue and therefore, at times, there will be (hopefully constructive and not overly contentious) dialogue and debate in the comment section. It comes with the territory of running a popular and pro-Second Amendment publication.
Everyone has a right to their opinion and we are pleased when they express it on GunsAmerica. That said, as the curators of and contributors to GunsAmerica we also have opinions on your opinions and from time to time we like to publicly express them, not in a belligerent way or a I-know-more-than-you way, but in a way that clarifies how one of us may feel about an issue.
Now, I’m going to start to speak for myself here, because I’m not entirely sure how the other GA guys feel about this particular issue and it would be unfair if I were to pretend that I speak for them all.
So, let me start off by saying I was shocked by those aforementioned comments. I knew there were going to be negative reactions, there always are. However, I figured it’d be over the price of the XM42, which is around $1,000. A bit steep for many of us, myself included. I never thought there were going to be individuals who opposed the flamethrower on the grounds that it was “horrifying,” or that it “went too far” or on the underlying implication, evident in the majority of the negative comments, that the XM42 is excessively dangerous and therefore not fit for law-abiding citizens.
Allow me to point out the apparent cognitive dissonance in those reactions, which is based on the presupposition that all of the commenters support one’s right to keep and bear arms, including widely popular and commonly owned black rifles, e.g. the AR-15, AK-47. Let’s suppose for a minute that instead of talking about the XM42, they were talking about an AR-15. How would those comments read:
“I’m sorry, but this is one weapon [AR-15] so horrifying that no ethical person should ever bring this to market. Imagine a home invasion and someone decides to roast shoot up you and your family with one of these?”
“People like this man, the company who manufactured this [AR-15], and all who buy this, make all responsible, pro 2nd Amendment gun owners look horrible!”
“This [AR-15] should not be supported whatsoever I really think this is going to far, next some nutcase like the one using it will kill a bunch of children TAKE THIS ADD DOWN,” wrote another commentator.
Well, let’s just be grown-ups and state the obvious. Several wackos have used AR-15s to shoot up schools, movie theaters and other public venues in a horrifying and unspeakable manner. Yet, we still support one’s right to own these tools. Why is that? Why is it that one potentially lethal tool [the XM-42] is not okay when another tool, that is arguably purpose built to be optimally lethal [AR-15], is okay? I guess that’s the question I have for those commenters and anyone else who feels that the XM42 is too dangerous.
From my standpoint, it’s not really a question of tools but a question of who is going to be the end user? I have zero problem with responsible, law-abiding citizens possessing optimally lethal tools or weapons (and that includes all NFA-regulated items). Why? Because I believe in the natural right of self-defense. Moreover, I believe that crafting laws that infringe on fundamental rights because one is afraid that a tool may fall into the hands of an evildoer is putting the deluded idea of “public safety” over the very real and invaluable enterprise of individual freedom (which is the cornerstone of our Democracy and the reason why we are the envy of the world). Ideologically speaking, I’m not that type of person. I always err on the side of liberty and the belief that we are responsible for our own safety, not the government. And as a free man, I think in terms of rights (It’s my right to own an AR-15, It’s might right to own a flamethrower), not needs or government allowances (i.e., Who needs an AR-15? Am I allowed to own one?). Don’t limit my freedoms because you’re afraid to take responsibility for your safety. Don’t limit my freedoms because you’re afraid of what might happen. Don’t limit my freedoms because you’re afraid to acknowledge that evil exists in the world.
Now, I’m willing to accept that my position is maybe a bit radical in the eyes of the average Joe, but at least it’s consistent and intellectually honest. What I’d really like is to hear where you draw the line on the individual ownership of weapons? Do you draw the line at the ownership of a flamethrower? If so, how does it differ from that of an AR-15?