At a dinner party on Friday evening, the Canadian hosts asked, in light of 2012’s mass shootings, what conceivable purpose could be served by allowing Americans to own such large personal arsenals. Being a parent and a non-gun-owner it was tough for me to come up with a rational argument other than a weak “Well, it is in the Constitution”. Contemplating the question later, however, I wondered if we would still be the same nation without so many passionate gun owners. From a strictly rational point of view it is tough to justify a lot of things that Americans do. We spend a lot of time and energy watching professional football, which is injurious to the players and even more so to the spectators (who should be out exercising themselves or learning Mandarin!).
It is tempting to think that we could pick the best laws from various countries around the world and come up with some sort of optimized society, but perhaps it simply isn’t practical. The Japanese have a national character of craftsmanship. The French have a national character of enjoying rich food and wine. Maybe one aspect of our national character is that a lot of us need to be gun nuts.