If gun enthusiasts’ assertions about guns don’t sound rational, it’s probably because they aren’t. They’re emotional. Gun owners have feelings TOO you know.
Careful Kid, You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out
In the end, do you know who is going to win a debate about guns? The person with a gun. Which is too bad, because there’s no intelligence test required for owning a gun. Nor is there typically any kind of personality test, and one thing the last decade or so has demonstrated is that a lot of people who are allowed to own guns are either ignorant, insane, or both. Before I go on, I’d like to point out that my choice to not own a gun doesn’t mean I want to take away yours. Unless of course YOU are stupid or crazy. Personally, I grew up in a time and place where there were a LOT of guns. My family owned a huge piece of property, and hunting and sport shooting were a small but integral part of family life. We had a half dozen rifles, several shotguns, and two handguns, and there were rituals attached to learning to responsibly handle this little arsenal which were imbued with both seriousness and humor. One classic piece of this training involved making a decision about when an overly-eager youngster was ready to shoot a shotgun for the first time, with a 50/50 chance of getting knocked on their ass. This may seem like a flip way to introduce a kid to shooting a shotgun, but with the supervision of a caring parent who was a proficient shooter, this was in fact an excellent way to instill a kid with an awareness of the incredible power they were wielding when they put a shell in the thing, pressed it into their shoulder, and pulled the trigger.
And that last little concept is something that is – in my opinion – key to understanding the gun debate. If you’ve never fired a gun, there’s a pretty good chance that most of what gun advocates say sounds insane. And although some of it is, that’s not the problem. The problem is that much of what they say is irrational. And by “irrational” I don’t mean insane, or even illogical. I mean not rational. If you’ve ever fired a gun, there was almost certainly a moment when you acquired a visceral awareness of the awesome power intrinsic in the thing. How you internalized that awareness may have varied; maybe you felt a surge of excitement, maybe a sense of power, maybe a sense of comfort or security, or maybe you even said “Wow, I really don’t think I want the responsibility that comes with the life-or-death power here“. But whatever your reaction, you’re either ignorant or a liar if you say you felt nothing. And that’s the real key here. FEELING.
It’s easy to ignore or forget the fact that the sole reason for the original creation of guns was killing. Primarily for killing humans, but obviously they’re just as useful for killing other animals. But they served virtually no other practical purpose. Like it or not, be consiously aware of it or not, built into the existence of any gun is its birth and long history as a tool for delivering death to the recipient of its primary function. And putting life and death powers in someone’s hands changes their self-perception in ways that even THEY don’t understand. As we all know, surgeons may easily develop varying degrees of a God Complex, and are typically unaware of having this aberrant trait even though they’ve almost certainly read about it. Why would we think someone wielding the power to end another’s life by moving a simple lever will somehow not be prone to the same phenomena?
My point is that you can rarely have rational discussions about things that are almost entirely feeling based, especially if no-one involved in the discussion is acknowledging (or even aware of) the fact that feelings are involved at all. Much like discussions about politics, relationships, and sports, the dialogue about guns has an underpinning that is driven by human desires for power, security and comfort. There is in fact very little in the way of strict logic that supports the idea of the average citizen owning a 22 caliber pistol, let alone an arsenal of high-powered automatic weapons. Let’s talk about some of the flawed thinking that seems to go into the debate.
The All or Nothing Posturing
First of all, let’s establish how fundamentally insane the two extremes of either side of the debate are. To anyone who thinks we can retroactively implement sweeping gun control: you’re nuts. As of 2009, there were an estimated 310 million nonmilitary firearms in the United States. Good luck with that. And for gun nuts who say that no regulation at all is needed: you’re just as nuts. I’m sure we would all agree that about 80% of drivers in America are of imminent danger to the rest of us, simply because of the feeble requirements for securing a license to drive. And cars aren’t even meant to be weapons! Likewise with any of a slew of other potentially lethal items like explosives, drugs, poisons, airplanes, nuclear reactors – whatever – you probably in your heart of hearts wouldn’t be opposed to SOME sort of legislation restricting the ownership of firearms to people who aren’t insane, senile, or terrorists. Get real. Keep your gun if you’re a sane responsible citizen, but help protect us ALL from nuts or numbskulls incapable of such a responsibility to a presumably peaceful civilized society. C’mon even GUN SHOWS don’t like having loaded guns around.
The Government is Disarming Us
A half-dozen or so bizarre assertions are often made by the wingnuttier of gun enthusiasts about how any kind of gun control is the first step toward totally disarming the populace so that the government can have total control of our lives. Even if this were the case, sick your militant little mind on THIS simple fact: even if you had an armed compound fully staffed with a hundred trained military experts, the US military has any of a number of ways of reducing your fortress to rubble with the the push of a button by a drone jockey or F-18 pilot. Any defense against “our armed oppressors” is going to require more than a bunch of fruitcakes making a stand in a bunker, even if they have GRENADE LAUNCHERS. And I think it’s pretty hard to pick one of those up at the local gun show.
An Armed Guard in Every School
If you’re paranoid about the government ruling our lives, THIS preposterous idea is the one to watch out for. Have you ever been in a country where the police walk around with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders? They take a slightly different attitude with civilians than a cop here in the states does. Do you really want to cultivate a culture where your kids EXPECT someone to come shooting them, and have a constant reminder of this in the form of an armed cop or soldier at the school? There are about a dozen other ways your kid could die today, maybe you should also put a poster on their bedroom wall listing them. Death is always near you know. This is the road to fascism, if anything is. Never mind the fact that cops and soldiers are human too, with the same potential for going nuts with a gun, which they will on occasion.
The Second Amendment
Just shut the F up about the GD second amendment will ya? Even if you CAN quote it, you probably aren’t familiar with the contentious history of its interpretation. And aside from the fact that the words were drafted by intelligent cultured gentlemen over 200 years ago who had way more dignity than a couthless cur like you, it was also a dramatically different era, with different concerns. There is in fact nothing in the second amendment that imparts you a God-given right to own an “Armalite AR10 carbine gas-powered semiautomatic so you can stalk from office to office pumping round after round into colleagues and co-workers”, to paraphrase Fight Club.
The Switzerland Defense
Likewise with your looney and ill-conceived Switzerland Defense. This is about as viable as the Chewbacca Defense used by Johnnie Cochran in his closing statements on behalf of Chef on South Park. Americans have guns because our country was a wild untamed paradise populated by indigenous people that frightened us, and by the time we had wiped them all out, we had established a cowboy culture of Booze, Cigarettes, and Guns, and were so wracked with anxiety and guilt that we couldn’t go to sleep at night without a loaded 45 in our shorts. That’s why we lump those things together under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. On the other hand, the Swiss were sophisticated, intelligent Europeans whose lovely mountain home was a favorite stomping ground of less sophisticated, less intelligent Europeans as they tried repeatedly and failed to create German, French, or Prussian empires. The Swiss just got fed up and said “F*** it! We’re making the whole COUNTRY an army!” They didn’t then proceed to set up an all-you-can-eat gun buffet, they systematically distributed guns for a very singular purpose and trained people to use them.
One of the flimsiest and almost surreal arguments I hear for owning guns is for “domestic protection”. Really? I mean REALLY? If you really cherish your precious Brandon and Courtney, and are purchasing a gun to improve their chances of living the long and and happy life that you yourself have apparently abandoned in favor of one of fear and insecurity, ponder this: In a typical year, although only about 4,000 kids are killed in gun accidents that have nothing to do with intruders, over 30,000 are injured . Whether you care about their lives or not, those are over 30,000 incidents a year that wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t have a gun in your home. And if they merely get injured as opposed to dying, that is going to cost you a pretty penny, as opposed to paying you a few if you have a good life insurance policy. Which brings me to the next point. When a person insists they need guns around to protect their family, I have to ask them (with usually dismal results) questions like: Do your kids already have top-notch dental and health care? Are they getting the best education available? Are you buried with a mortgage? Have you set up their college fund? Are you driving a ’97 Chevy Caprice because you can’t afford better right now? Getting robbed is usually the least of a kids’ worries these days. Here’s an excellent alternative to stocking an arsenal at home: