So I was in bed last night watching television with my wife and we were discussing gun control.

There is no more divisive issue sui generis to the American experience and national psyche than the question of gun control.  I am often asked to appear as a guest speaker on topics touching on constitutional rights.  I always begin those talks by quickly describing my travels and experience living and working with people from similar and vastly different cultures.  Because of my exposure to different cultures I am very much aware of what makes Americans different from anyone else on earth. I also know that very few Americans are aware of that difference.

So I ask groups of people whenever I can what it is that makes Americans different and distinct as a culture.  It often isn’t easy for them to determine because they’ve never considered the question before. Most of them have never been more than 50 miles from where they were born and most of them live near people who look, talk and think the same way they do.

But eventually the Socratic method succeeds in helping my audience discover the truth – i.e,  that it is the rights we enjoy as Americans that makes us fundamentally different.  Americans experience a level of freedom no one else in the world can exercise.

Which prompts the inevitable follow-up question. I ask “What freedoms are uniquely American?”

The answer I get varies from audience to audience, but I am always surprised how often the answer is the right to bear arms.

Those who believe this, of course, are wrong.  The right to bear arms isn’t fundamentally or uniquely American.  The Taliban in Afghanistan believe the same thing and are willing to kill anyone who attempts to compromise their right to own and use fire arms.

I bring this up only to illustrate how important it is to own firearms to many, many Americans.  It is so important that millions of Americans value the right to bear arms above the rights of speech, assembly and movement.

I am not that extreme in my views, but I do feel the right to bear arms is an important right if for no other reason than it is expressly mentioned in the American Constitution.  My wife disagrees.  She believes that the American Founding Fathers’ viewpoint is important, but not controlling because time has made their worldview – their original intent – absurd.

You can see her argument best expressed here:



Gun control is a fairly hot topic, which is why my wife and I were discussing the topic while watching television last night.

The recent horrific shootings in Tuscon, Arizona are at the forefront of all of our minds. My wife is upset and believes Arizona should have more potent gun control regulations.  In the heat of our discussion she said “guns kill people.”

I was ready for that argument. “Blaming guns for killing people,” I retorted, “is like blaming spoons for obesity.”

I felt pretty good about that statement. It was eloquent and elegant, bordering on poetry.

We sat in silence a while, me feeling a bit smug, and then my wife said:

“Yeah, but if crazy people were running around killing 9 year old girls with spoons, I bet we would have some spoon control laws pretty quick.”

God, I love my wife.



  1. Her Doktor … it sound like she and the HLDW would get along famously. I have learned to fear that wonderful, warm smug feeling I get after launching a particularly powerful logical broadside during these kinds of “discussions” with my wife. It generally turns out the same way for me too.


  2. I just read your comment to my wife. She said “you may continue to correspond with that wise and intelligent gentleman.”

    Then I told her that you are THE Rhino. “Oh yeah, that guy,” she said.



  3. “That guy”? LOL. Sheesh, I should probably be used to it by now.


  4. I love your wife too. I think we have the same mindset on these things.

    Just thought I’d drop by. Love your work on the cheeseburger and you’re always such a gentleman poster, leaving an eloquently worded response after a stream of Aussie invective. The contrast is sublime.


  5. paulboylan Says:

    Thank you. I feel a great spiritual kinship with you sons and daughters of transportees.


  6. Oh there are so few of us in that category and ironically, most of those think they’re the upper echelon of society (genealogically speaking of course). My family are comparatively recent arrivals. No bread stealers so far as I know (sigh). You’d have to know a shady past would be almost a prerequisite for social status in this country.


  7. paulboylan Says:

    I am aware that not all Australians descend from criminals. However, those criminals fermented a culture and a world view I admire. Mr. Birmingham said something to me when we spent a bit of time together in San Fran that, for me, stands out as a manifestation of that culture. I asked him how his son liked San Francisco. John paused and said that he liked it very much, but was a bit startled by the “number of people eating out of bins.” John went on to say that such a thing “isn’t acceptable” in Australia.

    Later, John explained that Botany Bay was organized very communally where all was share in common to maximize survival odds for the greatest number of people. I think that your modern culture was shaped in that crucible. Mine originated with people who came to the New World because they did not want to share anything with anyone. Consequently, people eating out of bins is not just acceptable, but, for many Americans, it is a manifestation of God’s judgment and a consequence of poor morals and/or bad character.

    But I digress. Let’s just say that this seppo appreciates much about the Australian psyche that some may overlook – especially how it all began and why. I enjoy the irony you describe above very much and find it more than fitting – it is poetic.


  8. You know, I think you’ve nailed it. And very well too.


  9. paulboylan Says:

    I sure hope so. Imagine my disappointment if it turns out I am wrong.


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