For my money, the most edifying email we’ve gotten during the post-Newtown gun debate was the one from TPM Reader SS (‘Tactical Reality‘) back in mid-December. TPM Reader MJ seems to have had a similar experience …
I was struck by something in ZB’s letter. I grew up in the Appalachian somewhat rural South (western North Carolina) and now live in suburban upstate New York. While I agree that there’s a distinct rural/urban split in attitudes toward guns, it seems to me that there’s been a big change in the rural attitudes over the last 30 years or so. The Bushmaster “man card” ads typify it for me.
When I was growing up, we had no guns in our house simply because my dad didn’t hunt. Both his brothers did, and there were guns at their house, and I learned how to shoot and properly handle a gun from them at a young age. Tried hunting small game a couple of times, but it didn’t take. I was more of a fisherman…but I digress.
Lots of people I grew up with hunted. By the time I was 12, a fair number of kids I knew had their own guns for hunting. But I never heard people going on about how they needed special guns for defending their home, and I never felt like anybody thought less of my dad because we didn’t have guns.
Guns were tools, they had a purpose, and if you didn’t need one for those purposes, well, lots of folks I knew felt like the money would be better spent on food, clothing, and shelter than on a gun to show off.
I don’t have an explanation for why that has changed and so many gun advocates seem to have their manhood tied up in their guns, but I could make a couple of guesses. Marketing is one. The GOP playing heavily to the gun mythology of the US is another. But those things don’t seem to be enough to cause what I’ve seen. It’s puzzling and disturbing.