By
hardball
updated 2/15/2013 6:50:44 PM ET 2013-02-15T23:50:44

Two people getting married doesn't hurt someone else's marriage—nor does it reduce its reverence or love. Having a gun in the wrong hands—freedom for that person—can mean death for lots of others.

Let me finish tonight with this.

I keep trying to figure out which way this country’s heading. I know we’re going to the liberal direction with the growing acceptance—true acceptance of gay people. The steady movement to support same-sex marriage is, I think, the most dramatic shift in public attitudes on something so basic I can ever remember.

On guns, I think it’s hard to say.

Yes, there’s a national upsurge of desire for gun safety. Yes, people have seen the worst and want to do something about it.

But when I look at gun sales and NRA memberships and all that, I get the sense that a good number of people are out there circling the wagons. They see the government coming to collect their guns and they’re preparing for the fight.

So the only thing I can figure is that the movement—crude as it may be to throw these two issues together—toward personal freedom, toward individual autonomy is growing profoundly on the right as well as on the left.

People want to make their own decisions. They do. And it may be dangerous for society as a whole to allow this when it comes to gun buying, but there you have it.

One bet you can make on America: we are still a cowboy country. We like to get around in our own cars, live in our own separate houses, do what we want to do in our lives, read whatever, see whatever, pretty much do whatever.

The difference here is doing harm to others. Two people getting married doesn’t hurt someone else’s marriage—nor does it reduce its reverence or love. Having a gun in the wrong hands—freedom for that person—can mean death for lots of others. That is where the desire for freedom jumps the tracks. That’s where our cowboy urge needs Wyatt Earp to come in and clean up Dodge City.

Video: Matthews: Gay marriage hurts no one; a gun in the wrong hands does

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