Details remain sketchy, but the unfolding story in the small African town of Timbuktu presents a lesson for those participants in the unfolding gun control debate. Over the past few days, French troops have driven radical Islamists out of the historically significant city. But the Islamists didn’t go quietly. Before they left, they burned to the ground several historical sites and also destroyed priceless, centuries old manuscripts, many of which provided invaluable insight into African culture and history.  It is a terrible story, but there’s a lesson to be learned as well.

During an interview with the BBC, one of Timbuktu’s residents discussed the helplessness he felt in the face of such needless destruction. He said,  “We wanted to fight them. We tried to fight them. But we had no guns.”

I don’t think that the United States is at all close to falling under a tyrannical regime. But I’m not naive enough to think that it couldn’t happen here. And at least if it did, we would have some means to resist it. We would have some way to fight back.

Gun control isn’t just about hunting or even about protecting our families. It’s about preserving our freedoms.