Everyone harbors some measure of hypocrisy about something; it’s human nature. Others have pointed out how unnecessary and foolish it is to condemn hypocrisy in others while doing our best to minimize it in ourselves. It happens. We’re human.

I realized this afternoon that there’s some fundamental hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle about two issues that are important to me: gun control, and social welfare programs.

The stereotypically conservative view is that the ownership of firearms is a God-given right, put right there in the Constitution, and that they should be available to law-abiding citizens without many strings attached, because people (aside from a few) are responsible, and should not be restricted from owning guns due to the dangerous actions of a few. At the same time, welfare programs are a waste of money, because people do nothing to improve their lot in life, and just live off the government, sapping away hard-earned dollars reclaimed from others.

The stereotypically liberal view is that firearms have their place, but are too dangerous to be entrusted to anyone who wants one, without some kind of regulation in place to ensure that those buying the guns have exhibited a proficiency and responsibility in using them, or have some need to carry one (such as security guards and what have you). At the same time, we should support the poorest among us, and try to ensure that no one goes hungry, or lives on the streets, or dies from treatable illness or injury, because a couple strokes of bad luck could put any one of us in that position.

The prototypical conservative assumes the best of the gun owner, and the worst of the poor; the prototypical liberal, the opposite.

Reality is not so clear-cut, but in sweeping generalizations, I think these competing mindsets lead to a lot more division than necessary.