The Second Amendment from “Down Unda,” Mate

While on foreign exchange in Sydney, Australia earlier this spring, I was exposed to a completely new culture in a way that is unmatched by any other travel experience that I have ever had. The speed with which I became familiar with the Australian customs was only possible because of my total immersion into this new environment. Causing me to challenge my own perspectives on a daily basis, the trip gave me a new point of view from which to look at the world. Upon my arrival, one of my first reflections upon their culture was its similarity to ours. Their way of life is influenced heavily by ours, evidenced by their following of American music, film, pop culture, business, education, literature, etc. I found the old Disney world ride song “it’s a small world after all” playing in my head frequently, because I was halfway across the world but people acted just the same as they did back home.

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Being from Texas, the first question that I was asked consistently when I would meet a new person was whether or not many people own guns. I’ll spare you the long story of their gun laws because all you need to know is this: they do not have them. Not only was the question consistent, but the reaction that I got from people after telling them that I myself own several and am an avid hunter was virtually identical. I would get the same puzzled look followed by the question: “Why?” The first few times I was asked the question I was taken aback, not really knowing how to answer. I grew up around guns, so I never imagined life without them, but they had no idea why guns are so readily available in the States, and why on earth an 18-year-old kid like me would have one. All they knew is that guns lead to violence, and the easy way to remedy this problem is to get rid of them altogether.

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that “why?” is a valid question to ask. Any time you turn on the news, are you not bombarded with horror stories that occur because of gun violence? One does not have to dig too deeply to remember the slaughter at the Aurora movie theater and the tragedy of the 20 children and 6 adults of Sandy Hook Elementary, both very recent reminders of the dangers that come with the legality of firearms. To my Australian peers, the direct correlation between the legality of firearms and violence was the end of the story.

ImageFor days I struggled with the search for an origin of such a vast difference in opinion between two countries whose cultures seemed so similar. It was not until I attempted explaining the roots of our Second Amendment to my Aussie friends that they told me that they knew absolutely nothing about American history, and had never learned about the American Revolution. It was then that I realized that without the background of our revolution, it would be nearly impossible to understand why guns are still legal. Further, because they did not fight a war in their homeland to earn their freedom as we did, and because their men did not have to give their lives for their freedom as ours did, it is impossible for them to fully comprehend the reason why “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, and the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It is our origin that created our perspective, and although the Revolutionary War was over two hundred years ago, the price that our ancestors paid for freedom from oppression is engrained in the hearts of each patriot, which is why we find the ability to protect the country that those men fought for by way of an organization of militia imperative, and why our right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.”

While my immediate reaction to Australian culture was that it was remarkably similar to our own, when I dug deeper into their globalImage perspective, I found that the world is not always such a small place like I first thought. While people are generally similar creatures with similar patterns and behavior, it is the origin of a people that leads to their cultural tradition, which then leads to their point of view. I came home after three weeks with several personal philosophies further solidified, several a bit displaced, but I can now view all of them more objectively because of my exposure to another perspective by this foreign exchange opportunity.