I’m sure everyone is familiar with the tale of the 300 Spartans who stood tall against Xerxes and bought ancient Greece time to muster its forces and repel the Persian invasion. It’s a tale of standing up against great odds and defying kings, fighting to the last man to protect family and freedom from a great foreign oppressor. Sheer tales of manliness are still told of Leonidas and his die hard group of badasses. Dienekes, the second prototype for badassery after Leonidas himself, made a name for himself when Xerxes’s messenger threatened to send so many arrows at the Spartans they would blot out the sun. Dienekes replied simply, “Then we will fight in the shade.”
Another phrase that came out of Thermopylae was “molon labe”. This is what Leonidas said to Xerxes when the Persian emperor ordered the Spartans to lay down their arms. As you would probably guess from the awesome badassery that was Leonidas, molon labe means “come and take.”
In other words, Leonidas stood in front of his 300 Spartans, facing down the massive army of Xerxes, and said, “come take ’em.”
A phrase that was used 2500 years ago by a man standing tall and protecting his country has since been co-opted by a group of people living in a country that grants them nearly unparalleled freedom is now using molon labe to refer to standing up to a government that has shown precisely zero interest in taking away their guns.
Sit down, kids, this is going to sting a bit.
Some of you might have heard of LARPing. It’s live action role playing, a game where people dress up as their characters and act out a game in real life. It takes creativity, some costuming skill, and an extreme dedication to the cause. Think of it as a cross between Dungeons & Dragons and a cosplay convention.
American gun culture is very different from when I was a kid. We had the same kinds of weapons available to us – my dad had a few full-auto weapons that he went to great pains to acquire and keep legally. Those guns were insanely fun to fire, even if it did take forever to collect the brass and reloading all the spent rounds could take up an afternoon. When he died, I sold those to a friend of his who had also gone to great lengths to be able to legally purchase and own full-auto weapons. Everything was completely above board and all the guys my dad knew in the AZ shooters groups at the time were rational people who just really liked shooting things.
Gun culture now has shifted to LARPing and the LARPing has shifted to this fantasy world where the guy in the lifted 4×4 with his modified AR-15 variant and Molon Labe sticker thinks he’s the last bulwark between tyranny and freedom. It’s this belief that the tyrants are just around the corner and someone has to put on tacticool outfits and collect gun mods to keep American safe from itself that has pushed gun culture into this insane fantasy world.
The NRA has had a hand in this shift from gun enthusiasts to people who seriously think they’re going to save the world from the bad guys, or worse yet, protect us from the evils of the government. Look up what happened to the NRA at the Revolt at Cincinnati and how the NRA shifted from a group of people who taught marksmanship and gun safety to Boy Scouts into the group they are today.
People like Alex Jones – lying conspiracy theorists looking to make a quick buck – have pushed gun culture even further toward the edge.
There used to be a time when gun enthusiasts kept things neatly in check and the idea of walking around a Target with an AK-47 was unheard of, let alone the idea of shooting up a concert or a church. Don’t get me wrong, I really like shooting and would hate to see a world where all the guns are rounded up and disposed of, but the culture needs to start pulling itself back from the abyss.
I get it, LARPing is fun. It’s fun to dress up and pretend you’re going to save the world, but it’s just a fantasy, a fun game to play and not necessarily a bad skill set to have. But it ain’t real and it’s likely not going to be.
When Leonidas uttered the words “Come, take”, he was facing down a huge army bent on his destruction and subjugation of his homeland. He was standing tall against a very real threat and he died doing what needed to be done. There is no army of angry Persians knocking on our door. The government has no great plans for taking away all the guns. Even now, with two of the top ten deadliest shootings in American history happening within thirty-some-odd days of each other, there won’t be any serious legislation to curtail to gun ownership in this country; it would be political suicide to try that and everyone knows it.
The bottom line is: there is no real threat out there. If someone is crazy enough to try to invade this country, they’ll find out quickly we’re not to be trifled with, but we don’t need American gun culture to keep us safe from tyranny. We’ve got the brave men and women in the armed forces to handle that.
So, go out, dress up and find the coolest mods for your guns. Have fun. Shoot the living shit out of targets and enjoy every second of it. Just realize it’s just a game. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s time to start bringing gun culture back from the brink and realize the rampant paranoia has no basis in reality. It’s also time to realize a gun is not the ultimate solution to every problem.