One Sensible Step At A Time

The Newtown Massacre affected me in ways that I am not sure any of the previous incidents did. I couldn’t even tell my wife about it, I had to show her. It could just be a natural reaction due to the age of the victims. It could be newfound empathy for the families due to my own newborn daughter. It could be related to the fact that I have been substitute teaching, often at the early grade school level, and I have stood in front of classes like the one massacred. Whatever the cause, it got under my skin.

Ultimately, though, it didn’t take long for things to fall back into the normal routine. I was informed, by a couple of people, that I have these children’s blood on my hands. I am, by and large, a critic of most gun control legislation. Remove guns from the Newtown equation, and we get a very different result. Indeed, thousands of lives are saved across the country every year. If we can remove guns from the equation. I oppose it, so…

Not that anyone is calling for guns to be entirely removed from the equation. Except for that guy over there, and that woman over there, that’s a strawman. The iconic hunter will never be challenged. Everybody knows this. And, in case there is any doubt, if you suggest otherwise you will be informed in no uncertain terms that this is the case. A lot of other things happen along the way.

Some of those that assure me that private gun ownership will never be banned because of the second amendment will sometimes suggest that the second amendment doesn’t actually – or shouldn’t actually – prevent the government’s ability to keep people from their guns. Or that it’s stupid or archaic. Others will approvingly cite the homicide statistics of countries that limit or regulate gun ownership far above and beyond what I am assured will ever be sought here. Some will express extreme disdain for gun owners and ownership advocates (not you, you’re okay, but the gun owner I imagine in my head as being common or describe as being common is actually something akin to a psychopath…). Contempt for guns, contempt for gun owners, and contempt for segments of the population we associate with gun ownership and the defense thereof. (Arguments about how bad, paranoid, and/or unreasonable those gun people are aren’t just ineffective with me, but genuinely counterproductive.)

Added to this, examples of unnecessary gun violence will be used for which the only effective solution is the severe restriction of private gun ownership.

A week before Newtown, Bob Costas gave a speech during an NFL game about how the Javon Belcher murder-suicide incident was cause for introspection on our American gun culture. And maybe it was. He approvingly cited Jason Whitlock who argued that if Javon Belcher hadn’t had a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would still be alive. Which is very probably true. Costas explained that he wasn’t arguing for gun confiscation and had the obligatory reference to hunters being a-okay, but a nation in which Belcher can’t have a gun is a nation in which hunters can’t, either. Making it a pertinent social question, but putting me very ill-at-ease as a question of policy.

The same is true of references to suicide statistics in general. It is difficult to deny that guns make suicide easier and thus more common, but legislation that prevents someone from having a gun with which to kill themselves prevents someone from having a gun. This is an argument for waiting periods, perhaps. Or to deny gun ownership to people on anti-depression medication, in counseling, or with a record of mental illness.

We can discuss the merits of making that so. But it doesn’t seem that people will often go on the record as supporting that. Just as nobody wants to ban guns. This is where it gets elusive, for me, and disconcerting. Ultimately, I don’t really know what the would-be gun controllers ultimately want, policy-wise. I don’t mean what legislation they are proposing at the moment, but what they actually want. The legislation put forth falls well short of achieving the stated aims – at least in my mind – and I find little assurance that we will reach a point (within a realm that I find acceptable) where gun control advocates will say “Okay, we have saved the lives we can through sensible gun registration. Next time there is a massacre, we really can’t ask for more.”

Responses like the one we had at Newtown do very little to dispel these concerns, and in fact feed them. The urgency to do something in response to this will never go away. It doesn’t matter if Adam Lanza had been denied his AR-15 and there had been 21 instead of 26 casualties. It doesn’t matter if the gun had been bought through a properly licensed dealer instead of a straw purchase. It doesn’t matter if we had gun registration and his mother had properly registered the guns and received mandatory training. Everyone concedes that no measure will prevent all deaths, though that runs headlong into rhetoric about “putting an end” to this sort of thing.

Proposed legislation that sounds tough on guns but won’t actually do anything is, from my perspective, the worst of both worlds. Rather than making unacceptable (to me) gun legislation less likely by way of a mutually agreed upon compromise, it simply moves the next round of negotiations to unacceptable (to me) terrain. Ineffective half-measures invite full measures. If an “assault weapons” ban proves to be entirely ineffective, what then? Shrug it off or start wondering why people need to even own semi-automatics at all when they don’t in Australia (for the most part)? It’s not that I even think people who are saying that they don’t want this are being dishonest. It’s that I don’t know when the limiting factor is that they actually don’t want it (and would stand arm-in-arm with me in opposition) or whether they are simply recognizing the limits of the current political climate. There’s a difference, because political climates can change.

This is not, ultimately, sufficient to bring me into opposition to all gun control proposals or that I am always and reflexively with the right on this issue. Right now, the ball is in the pro-gun side’s court to explain to me why we need thirty-round ammunition clips. Last year, when I was looking into gun ownership and what was required for it, more than once the thought crossed my mind that it really is too easy. I don’t know what proposals I would support to make it more difficult, but I at least understand where the other side is coming from on the issue. I’m also coming around on the idea of waiting periods on gun purchases.

It’s the above, though, that is a factor (though not the only one) for my stopping short of supporting universal gun registration. I don’t foresee a universal gun ban proposal in the near or mid-term future. But certain kinds of guns? It’s already happened. And given the care with which gun control proponents have decided guns should be delineated between “legal” and “illegal”… we’re in a place where I am not comfortable and won’t be as long as there remains an impetus to Do Something about gun violence in response to it occurring in spectacular fashion and the associated appeal to emotion.

Or when these things stop happening.

Which, without gun control the likes of which I have been assured nobody is seeking, won’t happen.

In post-script, I would like this piece not to be read as “the problem with the gun control debate is the ‘pro’ side and their dishonesty. Or as any sort of absolution for the problems of the other side. This is merely an account of why I personally approach these things the way that I do. It is absolutely true that there are a lot of NRA-types that will view any and every gun regulation as the beginning of a universal ban despite the merits of any specific proposal in their own right. The problem is that – on certain things – I find their concerns to be valid.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • RSS
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • email
  • Print

76 thoughts on “One Sensible Step At A Time

  1. This seems to be largely about culture. As far as I can tell, we are roughly the same age but you might be slightly older. We grew up in roughly the same socio-economic status.

    The big difference being geography. You grew up in a part of the United States where gun ownership and hunting seem to be common activities and I did not. I did not know anyone who hunted growing up. Anyone who talked about guns. I might not have even known anyone who owned guns. So the contempt I hear goes the other way. It is the contempt for liberals, urbanites (who have very different policy concerns and needs than rural and exurban dwellers), intellectuals and other members of the vague but not really elite.

    This might be America’s never ending problem. A country divided by urban and rural geography that creates different policy needs and wants and each side feeling contempt towards the other.

  2. For the most part, I think persons who support more restrictive gun statutes (including myself) are not under the impression that gun violence can be entirely eliminated — rather, the idea of further legislation would be some kind of harm reduction.

    Accordingly, a sentence like this is just baffling:

    It doesn’t matter if Adam Lanza had been denied his AR-15 and there had been 21 instead of 26 casualties.

    Really?

    • the idea of further legislation would be some kind of harm reduction.

      To what end, though? I don’t have a clear sense of where the point lies wherein “We can reduce no more harm without infringing on the rights of gun owners.” Gun rights often being tolerated as a matter of political necessity, for the most part, rather than any genuine sense that they should be accommodated in a free country.

      • Yes, but there also seems to be a weird intertia that “Now” is the bare minimum gun owners can accept, and possibly too infringing.

        I get the impulse — obviously no one wants to give up something, so no matter how many states now allow concealed carry and how ridiculously easy it is to get a gun and how gun control proponents have morphed from “We want your handguns” to “We’d like to reinstate a law that expired a decade ago and you all managed to survive just fine” or that the Supreme Court actually reversed some century of precedent to expand gun rights….

        You obviously don’t want to move backwards, even if “backwards” means to 1994 when militia movements still happily and legally stockpiled guns and muttered the same old refrain about how Clinton was gonna take their guns, and really all you have to do is swap in Obama’s name and you can’t tell whether it was said in 1994 or 2012.

        I mean, you could just ask gun control proponents — but honestly, those poor folks have been so beaten bloody and hammered so hard that all they’ve really got left is “Can we just do this one thing? Like it was in 1994?” and aren’t exactly trying to break any new ground. Or even old ground that really mattered.

        Gun rights are freaking’ enshrined. Nobody, flat out NOBODY, has the pull the NRA does.

        I know gun control people — serious people. They, one and all, basically believe it’s absolutely a lost cause and the best — the best– they can do is maybe turn back to the clock to about 10 years ago. Maybe 15. When guns were, you know, massively available.

        I can only guess they are useful bogeymen for SOMEONE, because it’s certainly not due to any actual influence on their part.

      • That the AWB was ineffectual does not come across to me as a good reason to re-institute it. Because back when it was the law, gun control proponents were still not satisfied. Had the law not been allowed to lapse, we wouldn’t be talking about reinstating the AWB so much as we would be talking about the next step.

        I have asked gun control proponents what they ultimately want. The answers range from very forthright (“I want all semi-automatics and handguns banned”) to the ignorant (“I want machine guns banned and laws against violent felons buying guns.”)… but mostly just vagueness. The answer seems to come down to “What can we get?”

        Political climates change. I don’t share your confidence that this is one thing that won’t. The tide has shifted in my lifetime from when a Republican president from Texas was politically scared to publicly oppose a gun control measure to one where Democrats were similarly scared to death of the issue. It can change back.

      • Morat – perhaps I missed your reply on the other thread but I think I asked you what was so scary about pistol grips and flash suppressors and never got a reply. You’re saying, “hey – what’s so harmless about reinstating the AWB?” but you haven’t demonstrated how it improves things. You will still have millions of pre-ban guns on the market. You won’t actually be banning characteristics which make guns more deadly. It only addresses guns used in less than 2% of all U.S. homicides. It seems like just a feel-good move for the gun opponents.
      • Honestly? They’re utterly useless for any legitimate purpose. You can, if you squint and basically hypothesize, make up “legitimate” reasons for them.

        They aren’t — they’re excuses. They’re mainly sold to look “cool” to a certain type of buyer. And a buyer who is accesoring his gun in order to look more military, tactical, assasin-like, or “cool” is not someone who needs to be encouraged.

        But basically: Totally fine banning them. They’re unnecessary for any legitimate use an owner might put them to. It doesn’t, in any way, aid hunting, target shooting, or self-defense.

        (And no, silencer’s aren’t for ear protection. It takes a moron to think someone shelled out money for a silencer to protect his delicate ears, when a 60 cent pair of earplugs would do the job. Or a 100 dollar pair of really nifty ear protection that not only muffles loud noises, but enhances quiet ones — quite useful for the hunter).

      • So the features in the AWB don’t mean anything but yet you’re fine with a ban? Isn’t that the very definition of worthless legislation?

        (And for the record pistol grips are extremely useful for hunting. they firearms much more accurate, which is why they are being added to items like turkey guns).

      • This is what I find so disconcerting. Essentially, an admission that something isn’t likely to make a difference, but support anyway because it makes the right people unhappy.
  3. Every time I think about the gun control debate I ask myself one question. What is the ultimate outcome that is wanted from gun control?

    I see some categories of gun violence that could be addressed: mass shootings, gun suicides, and general gun violence. General gun violence could also be broken down into drug use related crimes and drug trafficking related crimes. These are very broad, simplistic categories. These are a start though.

    Now is where I would like to pull out a white board and take each category and brain storm what are the characteristics of each category. This could be the characteristics of the people committing each act and the type of guns most often used. Are the guns gotten legally or stolen or bought on the black market. Then I would take this information and see what if any law is already on the books to stop the act from happening. If the guns are illegal, what laws are being broken allowing some to get access to the weapons? If there are no laws being broken then it might be a good idea to question whether there should be new laws or existing laws that need tweaking to become more effective.

    It would probably be a good idea to see what categories also account for the largest percentage of gun deaths. Or which categories account for the most socially unacceptable gun deaths. This will help determine the goal to be reached. We can also see if there are common characteristics across categories.

    Probably another brain storming session would be required. We now know that either new gun laws are needed or existing laws need to be tweaked. Here is where we would start putting out ideas on ways to accomplish the goal. Rank each idea on an initial scale of how effective it may be. Once we have that, we can research how each idea might be implemented. What are any impediments to implementation? How would it be implemented? How will it help to achieve the goal?

    Until we take the emotions out of the discussion, define what the problem is, decide why the problem is occurring, what can be done to fix the problem or mitigate it, and then decided what are reasonable measures that can fix the problem we are going to just keep saying the same things over and over. “You want to take my guns” or “I want all guns gone just because”. A never ending circle of one side talking past the other with no real definition of what we really want to do and how we are going to do it. Until we stop thinking that everyone else is the problem and start realizing that the solutions are when we all try to work together nothing is ever going to change. One side will push through laws; the other will feel like they had no input. More than likely it will result in more laws that don’t really address the problems; laws that don’t accomplish anything but make us feel good until we read the next story about someone getting shot in some horrific way. We are the solution, groups like this. If we cannot come to some kind of understanding amongst ourselves how do we expect the politicians to stand a chance of getting it right?

    • “Every time I think about the gun control debate I ask myself one question. What is the ultimate outcome that is wanted from gun control?”

      Fewer guns. Hopefully eventually, a society that does not considered concealed carry a good idea. Does not make countless arguments that are easily refuted about “What if someone was armed?” every time a massacre happens.

      • You have to understand that the people who want to be able to carry concealed want to do so for the exact same reason you don’t want them to be able to do so.
      • Lol. Quite a nice distillation of the problem, MRS. There’s no hope of reconciling the views – they’re contradictory. It’s about numbers. And force. You know, the usual political stuff.
      • It’s about fear of criminal violence. Each side just has a different approach to how best approach that fear.
      • It’s about outcomes, not just fear. Lots of people want to see a less militarized populace. Others don’t.
      • ND, though I disagree with it, I don’t really find opposition to concealed carry to be that troubling*. I can see the rationale. I understand the aims and they’re not as vague or problematic as “less guns” or fluffery as with the AWB.
      • What do you mean to say is problematic about less guns, Will? The actual idea, or the process of getting there?
  4. Will thank you for this post, that is how I feel too. I look forward to effective legislation and dread a repeat of failed legislation that does nothing but look good.
    • As I said — the “gun control” lobby is effectively dead. There’s no real organization devoted to it. Few Democrats support it. It wasn’t even on their agenda until a worse than normal massacre happened, and even then their big legislation is the AWB.

      That passed, was the law of the land for a decade or so, then expired. Not exactly wanting to blaze new ground.

      The knee-jerk, most massive gun-control response the Democrats offer is the weak-sauce of the AWB.

      The NRA won. A decade or two back. The Supreme Court affirmed it. And the only gun control measures you’re likely to see for a decade are basically gonna be repeat legislation because, obviously, “something has to be done” but politically — nothing that could actually matter could ever, ever pass.

      We yawn as the government collects data about every bit of our lives. EXCEPT our gun purchases. In the post 9-11, we can spy on Americans without warrants and hoover up the internet through Langley America — we can’t track the purchases of actual weapons.

      Fertilizer, sure, but not guns. And if you, by some chance, do get to track it – -you have to dispose of it in what, three months? No permanent records. By law that is far, far, FAR more vigorously enforced than any other bit of data about you.

      So when I read about gun-control legislation, and being the “camel’s nose” to seize all the guns — I can’t help but laugh. Because it’s so ludicrously paranoid, so conspiratorial and so absolutely backwards to the reality of a gun-control lobby that has been beaten into a weeping submission.

      Seriously. I can’t think fo a single piece of national legislation that even so much as peeped up for commitee hearings in like 15 years on gun control. Maybe California is being all jack-booted thugs, but all i see is an endless proliferation of concealed carry laws and personal encounters with the idiots who wander around packing heat.

      • I have to ask, where do you live?

        WA state has a pretty free & open concealed carry system, and I have once, in the 7 years I’ve lived here in the Seattle area, seen one jacka$$ packing heat (& you could see him coming from a long ways away).

        The vast majority of the people I’ve encountered who carry are very thoughtful, very respectful, & have no desire to make anyone feel uncomfortable, which is precisely WHY they carry concealed – so no one has to know & be worried.

        Seriously, almost every state has laws against being an idiot with a firearm in public (such as brandishing, or worse…), and if you see people being that way, call the cops!

        Of course, if all they are doing is walking around with a holstered gun on their hip, then maybe the worst they are guilty of is being a dick.

        Luckily, we don’t have laws against that (yet)…

      • Yeah. You gotta understand, Texas is like…California for Conservatives. Tom Delay came from Texas, and rewrote Washington. Everything the GOP has really done in the last 20 or 30 years, they did in Texas first.

        So if you think the GOP might be having some problems connecting to Ye Olde Average American, understand that I’ve been watching it 10 years longer than you have and will be watching it for at least another 20 years.

        And what’s really funny, is on this subject? I’m Texan. I come from gun owners, hang out with gun owners, and know gun owners — from hunters to sport shooters to even a few absolute idiots waiting to pop some criminal. (I try not to be around those people. They are flat out dangerous to themselves and anyone around them.).

        So when I talk about gun-control, I talk about the Texas version — in which, under no circumstances, would my ability to shoot a deer or duck or feral pig (seriously, those things are problems. Major ones) ever be imperiled. I cannot even bring myself to come down entirely against personal ownership of handguns!

        And yet I am apparently Captain Confiscation on the subject. :) Which makes me wonder — I can’t imagine I am the far left of gun control. I can’t even imagine I’m in the MIDDLE on gun control, because Texas in general has a historical and cultural heritage with guns that many, many states lack.

        *shrug*. I believe the stats on gun ownership show fewer and fewer households owning more and more guns. (Sorta like a scarier version of income inequality). I personally don’t see any real changes in gun laws coming for a decade or more, if ever. If I make myself the most optimistic I can, and pretend the GOP doesn’t control the House solidly (to the point where the Dems cannot regain it until redistricting without like a +7 D wave), I can at MOST imagine the government starting maybe actually keeping it’s data on gun sales and tightening up the fines and penalties associated with straw buying.

        But I can’t help but wonder, thinking about it — if fewer and fewer Americans actually own guns (as a percentage of the population), but they own more more guns each….

        I dunno. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve got a demographic issue of their own they should probably start addressing. Because I can’t imagine that, if the trend continues, a tiny minority owing basically armories while the vast majority won’t touch the things is gonna be friendly towards gun rights.

        Right now? Doesn’t matter. Gun control is toothless. I expect it to be my whole life, really. Even from a Texan’s gun control perspective. :)

      • Wait, which is it… are gun rights advocates paranoid freaks that have nothing to worry about, or are they potentially staring down into a demographic sea change? It can’t be both.

        You may be confident that it won’t occur in your lifetime, but that confidence is cheap: You don’t care if they lose. You want them to.

        In any event, this is what I meant by “political climates change” and the possible demographic sea change is a reason not to help the process along by giving in on registration.

      • As long as the Republicans control the courts (and for some reason Democrats never figured out that they need to start appointing 12-year-olds to lifetime positions and placing holds on every single GOP appointee to ensure lots of open seats) you have nothing to worry about.

        But more seriously, Morat is right that gun control is dead. Even the toothless AWB is a longshot. Worrying about anything more is exactly like worrying about creeping confiscation when even Clinton-era tax rates are out of sight.

      • Heller and McDonald are 5-4 majorities and there is, I believe, plenty of room for a judge to “clarify” it into oblivion.

        I think you, Morat, and myself are agreed on what the immediate outlook is. Maybe an AWB, maybe a little more or a little less or nothing at all. It’s not the short term I think that GRA’s have some justification in being concerned about (except AWB+-).

      • I’d like to see Heller and McDonald clarified; they’re extreme decisions by an exceptionally activist court. (Remember when “inventing new rights” was something liberals were accused of? But those were the right to attend schools as good as kids of other colors and the right to counsel if you’ve been accused of a crime, not the absolute personal right to own firearms and unlimited free speech for corporations.) But they’ve moved the goalposts so far that it would take a generation-long liberal Court majority even to move things back to where they were pre-Heller.
      • How did Heller move things to the right? Isn’t a ruling that possession of a handgun for the traditional purpose of self defense pretty neutral?
      • The absolute, personal, unregulated right to own any sort of firearm. All the adjectives are new. It took the discussion about what regulations are appropriate out of the hands of the people and their elected representatives, just like You Know What did.
      • Mike,

        So can we assume that you would you be open to a deal where both Heller and You-Know-What are overturned?

        And to be sure, Heller was a whole lot less of a stretch than You-Know-What, if we look at the long-run of American rights.

      • You know what has effectively been overturned in many places, largely by people with guns.
      • It seems to me that if Heller did what you say it did then we wouldn’t be able to talk about, say, Chicago having tougher gun control laws than, say, Rural Montana.

        I don’t see why I shouldn’t do a ~Q -> ~P with that.

      • We can also talk about different states having different regulations for You Know What. It remains true that the scope of those regulations is extremely reduced compared to what it was (or could have been) beforehand.
      • I don’t care. I’ve given up. I doubt any meaningful change will happen, I will not work for it, I don’t care. The nutcases with their concealed handguns and semi-erections waiting for the chance to shoot some “evil doer” have won, which is — in my opinion — a loss for people who want guns without the urge to actually shoot people with them.

        In their shoes, staring at the demographic destiny, I’d probably be trying to make gun-owning seem more appealing, not less.

        I’d want more responsible gun owners, I’d want responsible gun owners leading my PR efforts, and I’d be decrying idiots with personal armories and plans to defeat the UN via paintball tactics with real guns.

        Instead, they issue full-throated roars of agreement that make crazy seem the face of all gun-owners.

        Seems…counterproductive.

        Should they be paranoid? I dunno. Can you be paranoid about something you appear to be doing to yourself? What if they’re not out to get you, so much as you’re making yourself a pariah?

      • If it helps, I know the kind of gun owner you were talking about above, and such folks irk me. I hope to have time to write a bit more about them & where I think they came from (& maybe how best to reverse the trend).

        However, right now my son is teething, and time is not something I have in abundance.

  5. I’ve been a lurker here for 2 or 3 years, and have only recently been leaving comments. Most everyone here is better read, better educated, and a better writer than me, so I’m content to simply read – even during the “open mic nights” like these symposiums. Still, I’ve been struggling with what my theoretical submission here might look like, since I couldn’t square my emotions with my policy preferences. I figured I’d just leave a long rambling comment here, since Will Truman’s post asks a question that mirrors what I’ve been asking myself:

    “Ultimately, I don’t really know what the would-be gun controllers ultimately want, policy-wise. I don’t mean what legislation they are proposing at the moment, but what they actually want.”

    Here’s the rub: I support keeping the 2nd Amendment, since I view it as integral to the rest of the Bill of Rights. I don’t support banning private ownership of guns. I support gun regulations in the abstract, but I have been convinced of the non-efficacy of many recently proposed and enacted polices, like the Assault Weapons Ban. I also recognize what a can-of-worms the “gun show loophole” is, since it’s really about private sales, so there likely isn’t an effective policy to close it. I arrived at these conclusions years ago, and subsequent news-making mass shootings, including the most recent one in Newtown, haven’t changed my mind.

    And yet…

    I am filled with contempt and loathing. After digesting the news of the Newtown shooting, my next thought was “Great. Now my Facebook feed is going to be plastered with NRA pro-gun sloganeering bull-S.” Despite being a west coast liberal, I grew up an Air Force brat in a conservative household, so the friends and family that populate my social media contacts cover almost the entire political spectrum, and I have several gun owning, right leaning friends on my list. Many of them aren’t even “friends”, but just guys I sort of knew, or my brother knew, from one of the several high schools I attended. I’ve been tempted to de-friend one or two of them from time to time (especially during election season), but my need to keep their worldview in my peripheral vision always wins out. The other temptation I resist is commenting on their posts, but I know better than that. There’s no winner in an internet political debate. At best, you rhetorically destroy your opponent, and they will simply assume it’s the best 2 out of 3, and drag you into the next round.

    Even as I reject the endless stream of digital bumper stickers, I still accept the best of the pro-gun arguments – so why am I still so angry? It’s their worldview; constantly invoking extant threats of violence that ONLY personal armaments can protect us from; a rejection of civil society and an assurance that doomsday is nigh (an Obama dictatorship, race riots, complete financial collapse, zombies, etc.). Their view that the world is violent and rapacious, and only a fool would venture out their door unarmed and prepared to defend themselves from such a constant threat.

    I despise this atavistic clinging to a lawless frontier. I reject their apocalyptic forecasts. I renounce their atomistic worldview.

    And yet…

    I’m a bit ashamed at myself for feeling so spiteful. “Well, Jason, you did cede the argument to Team Red. Why shouldn’t you be pissed?” Because an AR-15 with a 30 round mag isn’t going to stop the decline in violence that continues in this country and around the world. Because flash suppressors and pistol grips aren’t stopping populations around the world from moving out of rural areas in to cities. Because, really, it is getting better.

    …on the other had, there’s always climate change.

    • Heh, I’ve seen a lot of that of late myself. (Texas, and a lot of my friends are Texans). And there’s very much the same sense of “Jesus, now I have t olisten to these yaboos”.

      And while I have a ‘perfect world’ regulatory setup on guns in my head, I don’t actually expect anything to change. The NRA has won. My concealed carrying, pawn-shop working, 8 hand-gun owning paranoid friend has won.

      he gets his guns. He gets to carry them wherever he goes. Nobody even really tries to do anything about it anymore.

      And yet he still acts like some sort of freakin’ victim under seige. That’s the part that gets me. He’s been whining for FOUR YEARS that Obama was gonna take his guns. When Obama didn’t, it was part of a plot to lull him into a false sense of security.

      It’s not enough that he gets his way. It’s not enough that he wins, that his political preference is the policy of the land. No, until we agree that his way was and is and will ALWAYS be the best way, he is the victim. The oppressed. The brave soul standing against tyranny.

      Is there a version of “sour grapes” for winners? Some term to use to describe people who won, but aren’t satisfied because it doesn’t count if so much as one person, anywhere, thinks “I’d have preferred the other outcome”.

      • And there’s very much the same sense of “Jesus, now I have t olisten to these yaboos”.

        I actually wonder how much of the passion of some of these online forums are driven by the frustrations we can’t or are too wise to air in real life. I specifically avoided Facebook for the first day or so because of what I knew would be there.

        A few of the people you would refer to as yahoos, but a lot more in the other direction despite coming from the Redlands. And how often is it that when we don’t want to get into it with people that we have to get along with on a regular or semi-regular basis, that we get into it here.

      • “I actually wonder how much of the passion of some of these online forums are driven by the frustrations we can’t or are too wise to air in real life.”

        My view is that the Internet largely acts as conduit for the unhinged ID of humanity to express itself. Freud would have a field day with the Internet.

        “And how often is it that when we don’t want to get into it with people that we have to get along with on a regular or semi-regular basis, that we get into it here.”

        The Internet does destroy the Big Sort. We tend to like living with like-minded people.

      • I think that this is what annoys liberals the most about conservatives. It is the siege mentality. We are all very annoyed by the martyr complex or if you are me see it as being dangerous. In my mind, if tyranny comes to America it is going to be through that siege mentality from the right. Not bike paths in Denver. It is hard to have a constructive debate with someone who feels like the person you mentioned does. There is no anchor in reality.
    • +1. You’ve captured much of my feelings and thoughts on the issue perfectly. You’re not alone. But I’d encourage you to not feel ashamed–there’s no reason to feel shame at recognizing that reality is often complex. It’s those who see reality simplistically who really should be ashamed, but if course they’re the ones who never will be.
    • Great comment Jason. I’m coming from a different place then you but you have captured a lot of my feelings.
    • “It’s their worldview; constantly invoking extant threats of violence that ONLY personal armaments can protect us from; a rejection of civil society and an assurance that doomsday is nigh (an Obama dictatorship, race riots, complete financial collapse, zombies, etc.). Their view that the world is violent and rapacious, and only a fool would venture out their door unarmed and prepared to defend themselves from such a constant threat.”

      How much do you think that worldview is created by the this group’s marginalization or sense of marginalization? We start to get a bit chicken-and-eggy… gun owners seem paranoid, gun control advocates chastise them for their paranoia, gun owners become more paranoid because they’re being attacked, gun control advocates chastise them for being even more paranoid, rinse-and-repeat. Let me be clear: I am in no way supporting the sense of victimization that clouds the mind of many conservative white males in this country; if you’ve read me here, you’ll probably know I’m an out-and-out critic of privilege. But I do think we need to realize that many folks who take such vocal, seemingly antagonistic stands are doing so because they feel marginalized. And, often times, they are. Poor white folk from West Virginia don’t enjoy the same white privilege that I do. They get dismissed as red necks, hill billies, or whathaveyou. They’re often ignored in political discourse and treated like children. So Facebook, bumper stickers, and other seemingly trite things become powerful tools for them to make their voices heard. And with guns being such a battle ground, especially after tragedies like Newtown, they’re only going to dig their heels in further because, goddamnit, they’re not going to cede yet another fight to whatever bogeyman they are afraid of.

      “Most everyone here is better read, better educated, and a better writer than me, so I’m content to simply read…”
      Also, not sure if you’ve seen the Commenting Policy here, but it is best not to start your post with an outright lie. :-) You can clearly hold your own here and I hope to see more from you going forward.

      • Or, as Obama put it about those very folks, “it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

        What’s that definition of a gaffe again — getting caught telling the truth?

        p.s. — Ditto re: everything Kazzy wrote above

      • Kazzy, their marginalization is a useful tool for propping up sales. You want to seriously address the issue of gun violence? It’s a parallel to the small government conundrum, IMO. Government’s bad, let’s make it smaller. So we do. Fewer workers to help with stuff like sorting renewing your license, applying for SS or sorting out a Medicare problem, clogged courts. The very incompetence that shrinking government induces reinforces the notion of how bad government is. That same preverse logic applies to those marginalized folk; marginalize them further, and they just might cling to their guns harder. Isn’t that what the bump in sales that we see after highly publicized shootings? Don’t those very acts of horrific violence act as the single most effective advertising for selling guns and ammo?
      • The bump in sales comes from the threat of a ban (better get it now, before they are outlawed).

        Of course, half the time it’s the right drumming up fear. The other half, it’s the left talking about a ban.

        As it’s been said before, the AWB was bad/stupid, it continues to be so, and as long as people on the left keep trying to revive it, people on the right will use it to rally.

  6. What everyone else is basically saying, about both this comment and that seeig more of you would be grand.

    I still remember the comments you made on the post from my Values Voter Summit post, which were also a really good perspective that was added to that particular conversation.

  7. “I was informed, by a couple of people, that I have these children’s blood on my hands.”

    In case it hasn’t been said, here or elsewhere, this is nonsense. And, even if it has been said, allow me to join in the chorus supporting your right to hold the positions you do without absorbing responsibilities for the sins of others. I can’t imagine that was an easy criticism to hear by any means.

    “Contempt for guns, contempt for gun owners, and contempt for segments of the population we associate with gun ownership and the defense thereof. (Arguments about how bad, paranoid, and/or unreasonable those gun people are aren’t just ineffective with me, but genuinely counterproductive.)”

    This got me thinking… how much do you think the current animosity towards guns and gun owners by particular segments of the (left-leaning) population is because of broader animosity between the two groups? One of my major issues with many folks on the left (and I generally consider myself to be a person on the left, sometimes even the far left) is the elitism held there and the contempt it can lead to. I myself can be guilty of this sometimes, but in generally less harmful ways (What do you mean there isn’t a Thai restaurant in this town? What do these people eat?).

    But if guns were the provence of the well-educated, of the wealthy, do you think we would see the vitriol in the attacks on guns and gun culture that we do? I’m tempted to think we wouldn’t. If every gun owner in America turned in his/her weapon for a knife or a bow, many gun-control advocates would still look with contempt or derision at that segment (or their perception of that segment) of the population. And it’s not just because of a left-right political divide. But because of a broader cultural divide. So many criticisms of guns and gun culture include needless wandering into criticism of people that have nothing to do with guns and gun culture but, hey, all is fair in the culture wars, no?

    I wander how gun control advocates would shape their rhetoric if their perception of gun owners looked more like the cultural elite they fancy themselves to be than the culture-less rednecks they think we need to evolve away from.

    • Here’s the deal, Kazzy. Seen from my perspective, the gun owners want to play by the rules of Achilles and the Tortoise.

      Well, yes, Sandy Hook was a terrible event … buuuut, we need a stipulation from you Gun Seizers that this was a statistical outlier. Well, yes, the list of school shootings is very long, but if only you Gun Seizers were honest people, you’d stipulate to their rarity.

      Well, yes, American society features millions of semi-automatic weapons, completely unsuited for hunting… buuuuut, you Gun Seizers must give us a head start here. Yes, it’s true, we applied considerable political and financial pressure to Congress to repeal the AWB and yes, we did have Charlton Heston whipping up the rubes and yes, we did bring weapons to political rallies, just because we could…. and the Gabby Giffords shoot-up was tragic [insert much unctuous hand-wringing and many crocodile tears here] but yanno, once again, you’re just being a bunch of meanies if you even breathe out a whisper connecting our intemperate and unpatriotic rhetoric about Defending Ourselves from Government to the paranoia of the crazies.

      So now I’m coming out swinging. I’m through stipulating to the Gun Crowd and cringing as they demand ever more stipulations. Their rhetoric has dominated the debate for far too long. I’m through listening to their bizarre mythologies. I’m taking their ridiculous Tortoise and putting it back in the starting blocks.

      • Blaise,

        “Well, yes, Sandy Hook was a terrible event … buuuut, we need a stipulation from you Gun Seizers that this was a statistical outlier. Well, yes, the list of school shootings is very long, but if only you Gun Seizers were honest people, you’d stipulate to their rarity.”

        But they ARE rare. In the last 10 years school shootings have represented .06% of all gun deaths.

        “Well, yes, American society features millions of semi-automatic weapons, completely unsuited for hunting… buuuuut, you Gun Seizers must give us a head start here.”

        That’s an exaggeration. .223 rounds are legal for deer in many states and with a scope an AR is perfectly reasonable for close-range deer hunting. They wouldn’t be my first choice but if someone wants a dual-purpose gun, they are fine.

        But that doesn’t matter…

        Even if ARs were unsuitable for hunting, they are also unsuitable for the majority of criminal enterprises. that’s why handguns are the problem. So why do you keep talking about assault weapons.

      • C’mon, Mike. You can aw-shucks some of these folks, but don’t try shittin’ the Ol’ Shitter, here. You don’t hunt deer with a .223 and you do not hunt with a Bushmaster. I wonder if you hunt with a semi-automatic weapon at all. Do you?
      • If you’re talking about me specifically, I hunt with a .243. Not a big difference in bullet size. But I know plenty of people that use .223 for deer. I live in a wooded state. Average shot for a deer is under 50 yards. And a .223 is a great youth gun. We have state-wide youth hunts for deer every year and I’m sure there are plenty of .223 in the woods on those weekends.

        I hunt squirrels with a semi-auto. I’ve got friends who like the BAR for hogs. And of course, the Remington 1100 has been on my wish list for years.

      • Heh. Sorry, you stepped right into that one, Mike. The Bushmaster is a great youth gun all right. Works great in kindergartens.
      • Sometimes, Mike, the only valid response to tragedy is black humour.

        Sorta like that old Army joke. So the FNG asks the old-timer, “what are we supposed to do if we step on a land mine?”

        “SOP says you’re supposed to jump fifty feet in the air and scatter yourself over a wide area,”

      • Tragedy is me cutting my finger. Comedy is you falling into an open sewer and dying.

        -Mel Brooks.

      • Mike, like you I grew up in a rural area where most people owned at least some guns and lots of people enjoy hunting. We weren’t a big hunting/gun family but we owned a semi-auto 22 rifle, a shotgun, and another rifle of indeterminate caliber. My dad also donated to a local museum a really cool antique, over/under pistol with octagonal barrels. I knew plenty of families that owned a lot more guns than that. But I NEVER saw anything like the military-style “assault” weapons that are being so fervently defended here.

        The gun culture has changed a lot in the last 40 years or so. The hunters I knew back then wouldn’t have been caught dead using a semi-auto for deer. A deer rifle was a high-quality, single-shot, bolt-action rifle. The ethos was a clean kill using one bullet. You would take a pistol along for a “finishing” shot if necessary, but you wouldn’t talk about it because that would be a fail. A semi-auto like the 22 we had was strictly a varmint gun. I mainly shot at prairie dogs with ours.

        Basically I’m uncomfortable with the militarization of the dominant gun culture and for the same reason that I’m uncomfortable with the militarization of our police. Maybe it’s just cosmetic but there seems to be an attitude that accompanies it that I find deeply disturbing.

        It feels like too much unbridled testosterone and not enough mature, manly, responsibility.

    • But if guns were the provence of the well-educated, of the wealthy, do you think we would see the vitriol in the attacks on guns and gun culture that we do? I’m tempted to think we wouldn’t.

      Well, we’d probably see a similar vitriol (maybe more, maybe less), just from a different segment of the population.

      To answer your broader question, I think for some it is driven by the cultural animosity. Screw the rednecks. I think that’s more the exception. The broader concern I have, because I think it’s more widespread, is an indifferent to the concerns of people they don’t like. Not to impose onerous regulations for gun ownership because they’re onerous, but disregarding the imposition in a way that they wouldn’t if it were affecting people they cared about.

      Sort of like “No, we can’t have cigarette bars. Cigar bars? I can see why we should consider allowing that.” The desire may genuinely be to provide the maximum reasonable availability of smoke-free establishments, but the approach can be quite different.

      • I’ve seen frustration and vitriol arise on this particular issue, between friends of mine who’ve been close friends since high school and have similar (blue-collar) backgrounds, and similar experiences with guns (the gun-control advocates, in this case, are also hunters). In which case, I am quite certain it’s neither a cultural divide, nor indifference to the concerns of people they don’t like. I’ve also heard raised-in-comfort, never-owned-or-shot-a-gun-in-their-lives friends snarling at each other on this issue, albeit less recently.

        I don’t know what proportion of the whole is comprised of people like my friends, but I suspect it may be larger than it is portrayed as being.

      • Something I’ve been pondering is the ‘who’ mostly falls victim to gun violence. Because it’s mostly not little children. And it’s mostly not middle-aged white guys or little old ladies with gray hair and pearls to clutch in horror. Mostly not mass shootings in movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools.

        It’s young black men, mostly. Shooting each other. On city streets.

        That ‘we gotta do something sensation’ fades away when they’re who we’re discussing; or so it seems to me.

        And that makes me want to wail and gnash my teeth in frustration; to scream, “No, this is our problem. All of us, together, have a problem. Other’s got no place in this discussion.”

    • One of my major issues with many folks on the left (and I generally consider myself to be a person on the left, sometimes even the far left) is the elitism held there and the contempt it can lead to. I myself can be guilty of this sometimes, but in generally less harmful ways (What do you mean there isn’t a Thai restaurant in this town? What do these people eat?).

      This is more or less true of me, except for Thai food. I can take it or leave it and usually only go to visit friends who like it.

Comments are closed.