With the whole gun debate raging on, I have been thinking about why the issue regarding guns and United States is so different from the rest of the world. In particular the difference between Chinese culture (the one that I grew up in) and American culture. Here’s what I’ve been able to come up with so far:
In Chinese culture – as with a lot of cultures from East Asia – there was never a need for individuals to have firearms or any sort of weapon. This is ashy connected to how Chinese view what a “good government” is. As a history major, I can tell you that what constitutes as “good governance” is very different in the minds of Americans (and many Westerners) than Chinese.
The idea of good governance in Chinese society is that a great government is one that provides for the people. In regards to personal weapons, in Chinese society a good government protects the people, thus eliminating any software need to protect oneself. Granted you might have ex-soldiers or people with martial arts training having weapons in the house, but as a whole the government provides for you and takes care of its citizens. Thus what a lot of Westerners will find in the minds of those who grow up in Chinese culture is the question “why should I have a weapon in the house?”
There is viewpoint to the American one. America income persons will rest the world is a very young country. The American colonists who drafted the Constitution in 1787 were by and large frontiersmen. Back in those days there was often needed especially in the backcountry a weapon in which the family can defend itself. So to me, the reason why guns has such a fixation in American culture is simply the position guns had in American society prior, during, and after the Revolutionary war. Men were often required to have a musket in the house (or some type of firearm).
This is compounded to the fact that in the American Constitution anyway, good governance is seen as a balance between civil liberties, personal rights, and a strong government. One of these civil liberties is of course the Second Amendment.
This then of course leads to help both cultures view “civil liberties”. I can tell you as someone who grew up in a Chinese household that there really is nothing comparable to American “civil liberties”. Often times you will hear well educated Chinese (from the mainland) state something along the lines of “what is a civil liberty?”. Again this goes back to the different ideas of what constitutes good governance; in Chinese culture the government provides everything. The government also protects its citizens – so why should the citizens have to protect themselves when the government has a duty to provide and protect?
And regarding civil liberties – the whole idea of civil liberties in China is often seen through the lens of American democracy and the European Parliamentary system. This viewpoint is not taking to the fact that the government of China – yes the Communist Party – is essentially running things the same way as they have been for the past 2000 years. The only difference? Instead of the Emperor you have the Communist party.
Please correct me in any part that I am wrong