Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog
This comes out of various conversations I've had with people about gun regulation on Facebook over the last year. Mainly after the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings.
I to find it interesting how this conversation has changed over time and what's come up in my various conversations with people who are for and against further regulation of guns.
First off the tribal nature of this discussion cannot be understated. It's really really clear in a lot of these conversations that we're talking about the different tribal identifiers of the two major competing tribes that exist in this country.
One has a point of view that comes more out of an urban outlook and the other more rural, though there are plenty of people who live in the opposite tribe's domain and hell most of us live in the suburbs now anyway.
There's the difference in identification of a society where law is of the highest order and there's one that has a strong undercurrent of an honor-based society. (See Gladwell)
There's also a subtext of the various "makers vs takers" or "welfare queens" language that comes from the dog-whistle racial language that was developed following the civil rights movement.
I've encountered all of these on Facebook when discussing this topic though thankfully little of the racial-coding language on my friends list. Well, not anymore anyway.
I've come away from it feeling like everyone who cares to speak on these matters is very hardened in their positions though there are a lot of people who are ambivalent and don't engage in the debate.
Myself I've moved completely from one side of this discussion to the other in the past 10 years or so. I identified very much with the gun rights side of the argument and looked forward to the day when I could expand my collection of firearms. The sport shooting and home defense questions were strongest to me and I think I may at some point own a shotgun or two for those purposes.
Want to know the primary thing that has driven me away from gun advocacy? Gun advocates.
I have heard some of the strangest and frankly most frightening arguments against greater gun control.
Everything from the absurd: "Assault rifles are for putting holes in paper targets and nothing else will do for that job!"
To the downright frightening: "I'm really not sure if we should ban shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, we may need those to fight the government at some point."
For me whatever interest I may have had in owning military style assault weapons (and sure there's some debate about how that should be defined) and/or handguns has been strongly overwhelmed by my feeling that those devices are, in the end, very harmful to our society and the fewer of them we have the better. I don't feel like the legitimate possible civilian uses for those firearms outweighs the downside of having them available. People with guns kill people more than happens without, either themselves or others, intentionally or accidentally. That's what they are designed for, that's how they end up being used.
And those people who think that we may need them to fight the government are, I think A) stupidly overestimating what a rifle buys you in a conflict against the government and B) really in need of therapy.
In the end though no one involved int these debates nor anyone watching is going to be convinced by them.
I do think more people are going to be convinced by the next massacre though. And yes, it's okay to have an emotional reaction to that. Not all ways of killing and dying are the same. Terror is a weapon in itself and there are plenty of people in this society who will fight to not be terrorized. Not with a gun but with a phone call and a vote.