There are other countries, other cultures where guns are owned and handled more responsibly than they are here. There could be a healthier gun culture here I think. I see bits of it among friends who own guns. I think my household is part of it, mostly.
Still, it’s something that lives largely only in its potential. Good culture, good gun practices and attitudes can only grow so much in isolation. The more minds dedicated to building a healthy culture, the faster and better it will grow.
We don’t have many minds dedicated to a healthy gun culture in our country. Those there are don’t have many opportunities to get together and share ideas, which is also required for growth. Why? Because every time the conversation starts, people jump up to defend and reinforce one of the unhealthiest gun cultures in the world.
In the last couple of days, I have seen some of the most bizarre threads of argument coming from people who really should know better. I’ve seen anecdotes that have had shrines built to them. I’ve seen the most ridiculous slippery slope arguments. I’ve seen mind reading. I’ve seen conspiracy theories. I’ve seen tissue-thin analogies. I’ve seen utter, blatant non sequiturs. And they’ve all been directed at telling me we can’t change the world.
Bullshit. The world has been different than it is now. The world is different in other places than it is here. We can change, and we should change. The only question left is whether we get dedicated to changing the culture or whether we give that up as a bad job and go straight for the law.
Guess which one bad, emotional arguments make me think is the better choice.
When your first impulse after yet one more mass shooting is to tell me one more time that guns are the answer, I seriously doubt that you’re responsible enough to own one. See that dead shooter over there? He thought guns were the answer too. I don’t know what he thought the problem was, but his answer is damned obvious. If you tell me the same thing he did, I don’t want you and guns together anywhere near me.
The same is true when someone brings up regulation and your response is to talk about toasters and automobiles. That you don’t understand how much cars are regulated makes me sad. That you can’t or won’t understand the difference between something that is incidentally dangerous and a weapon designed to be deadly makes me want to take the weapon away until you do. A gun has one purpose: to kill things. You should never touch one without understanding that implicitly. If you do touch one without that awareness, you are a danger to those around you, and we are well within our rights to protect ourselves from you.
Then there are those of you who talk about freedom and tyranny. I’m not even talking about those of you who think that black guy in the White House is at stage one of his takeover plot. I’m talking about those of you who think the threat of armed rebellion is how we avoid dictatorship. Yeah, no. You I sometimes fantasize about taking guns from long enough for you to get involved in politics (no, I don’t just meant voting) so you can get them back.
When you tell me that your gun makes you safer, you tell me you don’t understand safety. You don’t understand your risks without a gun, and you don’t understand the risks that a gun adds. You don’t understand how desirable a robbery target a gun is. You don’t understand how hard it is to kill someone standing in front of you or how likely you are to misapprehend a threat if you don’t take the time to find out who you’re dealing with. You don’t understand that you’re telling me how ready you are to make bad decisions in tight spots when you have a gun in your hands.
You certainly don’t understand that threatening me with rape or murder (from some anonymous source, of course) if I don’t have a gun at my side makes me want to make sure you never, ever have access to guns again. I know, even if you don’t or pretend not to, that guns don’t equal any playing field. I know who owns guns and who gets shot. I know how unequally gun laws are written and enforced to keep the status very, very quo. When you don’t acknowledge these inequalities as you cling to your guns, I tend to think you like things just the way they are, and I do not want you to have more power to make the world in your image.
When your response to the idea of more regulation or taking certain kinds of guns out of circulation is “Come and get mine…if you dare”, that is exactly what I want to do, as soon as possible. You are the last person on Earth who should have a gun.
We could have different conversations about gun culture and about making it safer to own and use guns. We could make a better world by agreeing to put our heads togther and think. Every time, however, that we can’t do that because of gun owners who demand that their irrationality be part of the discussion, I don’t get closer to giving up the conversation. I get closer to shutting those gun owners down until they prove to me they can be rational enough to own killing machines.
This weekend has been no exception.
Update: See also this.