Worth Reading

January 30, 2013 7:32 p.m.

Here’s a really meaty and interesting essay in the new and relaunched TNR about gun ownership and what gun owners want. What Gun Owners Really Want by Walter Kirn.

There’s a lot there. But one point resonated with me because it’s a flip side of something I was trying to capture in my ‘non-gun tribe’ piece from a couple weeks ago. And that is that there’s a division between gun and non-gun people that is deeper than and not even necessarily aligned with the politics. And it has to do with people who have a basically familiarity and intimacy with them and those who don’t.Here’s how he puts it …

Growing up around guns and owning them as an adult affords a person memories and experiences that strangers to guns may have trouble understanding. The divide is phenomenological, not political (or not political until it gets to be), like the gulf between those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t or those who smoke and those who’ve never lit up. Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self. Depending on the nature of your social life, which time around guns can shape and color in ways that I’ll describe, you might forget that these patterns are even there, because you’re surrounded by people who share them–until someone or some event challenges you to answer for your thinking.

It’s a really good, interesting piece. Read it.

On a separate note, in the aftermath of writing the post I referred to above I talked (though in many cases that’s way to gentle a way to put it) to a lot of people all over the gun issue. In some cases they just yelled at me. And I talked back. Except in the cases where I yelled back. That be as it may, I was interested to see that some non-trivial number of the gun diehards I talked to had never owned or in some cases even fired a gun. When asked one guy said, he didn’t own a gun, was “just interested in the liberty angle.” Others who were longtime gun owners want them all to be registered and hard to get. In some ways, like with the guy who was just into the “liberty angle” it’s clear the issue has just been subsumed into the country’s greater ideological polarization.

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