The Right to Own a Gun Isn’t Just for Americans
The United States is unique for its tradition of gun ownership, which often shocks foreigners and leaves them in a state of disbelief at how ubiquitous firearm ownership is. Moreover, the idea of people carrying firearms almost seems unreal to many. Indeed, gun ownership is as American as apple pie and will not go away so easily, much to the dismay of the most rabid of gun control proponents.
Just look at gun sales since the covid-19 pandemic lockdowns took place. In the first six months of 2020 alone, 10.3 million firearm transactions went through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). From January to October, 17.2 million background checks were conducted, which surpassed the 2016 record of 15.7 million.
In short, gun ownership in America won’t go away so easily. It’s a firmly established tradition that has its roots in practices that go back to the British Isles. The Assize of Arms of 1181 issued by Henry II obligated all freemen of England to possess and bear arms in service of the king.
Further, Ryan McMaken has observed that America’s militia system drew a considerable amount of inspiration from the Levellers—English libertarian-minded reformers who were advocating for a decentralized militia that stood against the British Crown’s efforts to centralize political power in the mid-seventeenth century.
The “folkway” of firearm ownership made its way to the American colonies, where it took on a more radical twist and became a unique part of the American experience. Through its codification in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms became an integral civil liberty and a unique aspect of American political culture that has largely withstood government overreach. But now there’s reason to believe that this concept will likely be going international.
Will Europe Embrace Gun Rights?
Switzerland has traditionally been one of Europe’s outliers on firearms, thanks to its well-established custom of firearm ownership, which dates back to the Middle Ages. However, that is gradually changing due to a voter-approved initiative in 2019 which clamped down on the ownership of certain firearms the European Union deems dangerous. Bullying from the EU likely contributed to this outcome: the supranational entity revoke passport-free travel for Swiss nationals if they rejected a ballot initiative that would have harmonized Swiss firearm regulations with the EU’s draconian restrictions.
Although Swiss voters have set the country back on gun policy, there are now renewed calls for liberalized gun laws following a high-profile terrorist attack in neighboring Austria. The imminent threat of terrorism on the European Continent and the limits of law enforcement’s ability to protect
Article from Mises Wire