The right to own a gun includes the right to destroy that gun. That's as American as apple pie.

A gun is not a sentient being in need of a savior. A gun is a tool - an efficient and deadly tool - but a tool.

A gun has the same rights as my toaster.

Yet those who make the physical preservation of guns paramount over all else act as if guns are an endangered species in need of devoted attention and loving protection.

This head-scratcher of a viewpoint fuels the frothing hysteria about the gun-buyback event planned for 9 a.m. today. Bring a gun you don't want, and don't want anyone else to have, to the Tucson Police Department midtown substation so it can be destroyed, and get a $50 grocery gift card in exchange.

And if you don't want to, then don't.

To hear criticism of the buyback, you'd think the British were coming. The prospect that a gun might be destroyed is heresy to its venerators.

But their vociferous opposition doesn't make sense - and it certainly isn't about protecting gun owners' rights.

Of course, Americans have the First Amendment right to share their opinions, leaps of logic and all.

Say I decide that I don't want an old can of paint thinner around my house. I could keep it, sure, but I don't want to and I don't want someone else to have it - the reason doesn't matter. I take it to the county hazardous-waste disposal site and it's dealt with safely.

Where are those self-envisioned defenders of freedom? Where, oh where, are the do-gooders bent on protecting helpless inanimate objects from destruction? Doesn't that can of paint thinner have rights?

It doesn't make sense.

This being Arizona, if you want to own a gun, you pretty much can. You can keep it in a closet, under your pillow, take it to the shooting range. Shoot it a lot, shoot it a little, shoot it never. That's up to you.

But you are not allowed, according to the self-appointed gun do-gooders, to decide you don't want it anymore. And heaven forbid if you decide your gun should be destroyed. These do-gooders will trample all over your ability to do what you want with your own property while noisily declaring themselves the protector of rights.

Because, you see, the gun is presented differently, depending on the circumstances. It's property, but it's not. An object, but also a cause. Gun devotees can't have it all ways, though they valiantly try.

If the gun discussion were rational, gun devotees wouldn't twist the shooting murders of 20 children into a perceived threat against themselves and their beloved guns. The sheer self-centeredness is astounding. But we've seen it again. And again. And again.

If a person uses a semiautomatic weapon and a high-capacity magazine to shoot up an elementary school, the onus, according to the gun devotees, is solely on the killer.

The shooter was a bad guy who did a bad thing with weapons that are, and should be forever more, legal. The weapons are innocent, merely a means misused to a deadly end.

But if a person wants to dispose of his gun, or if a community decides that it doesn't want some types of weapons and accessories to be so readily available, then the gun suddenly possesses all manner of noble qualities.

The gun, not the person, becomes most important. The gun embodies liberties and freedom - it is a friend, a protector, a companion, a member of the family. The gun is not the means to a goal, it is the goal. Cue the gun-waving, soaring eagle draped in the American flag.

It makes sense that someone would care if someone else wants to buy high-capacity magazines that allow a shooter to discharge more bullets in a second, or if a person wants to sell a gun to any schmo with a criminal record or propensity for violence. Both of those scenarios are now legal, by the way.

But destroying my own gun? Making sure it's out of commission? That's my business. It's my right to decide I want it done, and who should do it. So back off.

If the whole crux about owning guns is about individual rights, as supporters claim, then let the individual exercise his rights.

Fighting a small-scale gun-buyback program by trying to intimidate supporters and participants into forfeiting their right to do what they want with their own property does not make you a Second Amendment crusader.

It makes you a hypocrite.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen is an editorial writer with the Arizona Daily Star. Email her at