Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gun Chat, continued

The issue of gun control sure gets people going—witness the comments on my previous post. I once had a work colleague who would go all sputtery and splotchy-faced at the mere mention of the phrase “gun control”; co-workers would sometimes do it just for the show.

That’s not surprising, since the “right to bear arms” has become a kind of religion to a lot of people. It even has a sacred text—the Second Amendment—subject to radically different interpretations. And, like other religions encrusted with myth and fantasy, it is largely impervious to rational argument. But I still think we should try.

I have some familiarity with guns and, in fact, used to be a pretty good shot. (I still have my Junior NRA sharpshooter trophy to prove it.) I don’t necessarily think that all people should be denied the privilege (note the word) of owning one, but I think that privilege should be at least as controlled and regulated as the privilege of owning a car.

But truthfully, people who just love and fetishize guns scare me. I well remember how nervous I felt driving through the deep South in the 60s looking kind of hippie-ish and wondering if Bubba in the pickup with the gun rack might just decide to take a potshot at the “outside agitator”. And I’m white. “Easy Rider” wasn’t just fiction, and Martin was quite right to bring up the sordid history of how race is mixed up in this whole question.

Actually, I think that racial fears remain an unspoken element in the whole gun rights movement. I don’t know about all the plaintiffs in the DC case, but the ones I’ve seen pictured are all white, including the woman who wants a gun at the ready to protect her home in crime-ridden Georgetown. So many of the 2nd Amendment fundamentalists seem to live in monochromatic suburbs or exurbs where the chances of needing a gun to protect their homes (from what?) are about equal to being struck by lightning. (Yes, I know there are some black gun rights supporters, but they are not running the NRA.)

Sure it’s possible to construct a scenario where having a gun might keep you from being a crime victim—assuming you had instant access to a loaded gun and the bad guys didn’t already have the drop on you. But this kind of notion is mostly just fantasy, and the odds of a scenario in which that gun becomes part of some tragic mistake or is fired in a blind rage are a lot greater. And yes, it’s comically easy to flout the DC law by making a quick trip to Virginia or South Carolina for a gun buy with few if any questions asked. But that’s an argument for strengthening gun laws nationwide, not for gutting all gun control measures.

Because that’s what’s really at issue here. The gun lobby—led by the NRA—has consistently fought to overturn any restriction on gun ownership whatever, and the DC decision (though limited in its scope) will become relevant case law for that effort if it stands. They don’t just want you to be able to have a handgun in your home, they think you have the right to buy as many AK-47s as you want and take them anywhere you want. They have gotten legislation passed to indemnify gun manufacturers from liability for the consequences of their products—an immunity not shared by any other industry. This is sheer lunacy and contrary to any rational idea of a civilized society.

Which is why I’ll take whatever puny protections the DC gun laws provide. I really don’t want our neighborhood gangbangers to be able to carry guns legally. At least now, they can be arrested if caught packing, and this gives the police some leverage. It ain’t much, but it’s something.


At 3/14/2007 3:15 PM, Anonymous Mark said...


Plaintiffs in Parker included African Americans and a gay white male.

Silly to suggest that gun rights lobby is largely driven by racism, as there's little evidence and the same conjecture is just as plausible of the gun control lobby. How much of D.C. fear of gun control among white liberals is driven by fear of urban black crime?

At 3/14/2007 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let’s see...On the one hand, consistent statistics that would lead most reasonable people to conclude that less gun control usually equals significantly lower gun crime. (Quite possibly because less gun control acts as a deterrent to crime – you’ve heard the term, right?)

On the other hand, fear-based (and – I gotta say it – borderline racist) talk of what, just possibly, might, could, may happen if gun control measures are relaxed at all. And this without any statistical support whatsoever, "tainted" or otherwise.

Who’s doing the “spluttering” here again?

Glad to hear you're a decent shot, Daddy Five-Oh, but your “rational” talk here reminds me of the fundamentalist Christians' stance on any gay-related issue: "Give 'em their rights, and all hell will break loose."

At 3/14/2007 8:09 PM, Anonymous martin said...

My uncle taught us to be pretty good shots when we spent summers on his farm each year as kids. Learning to hunt, kill and slaughter animals (strickly for food, not for sport) didn't make me enjoy it. An over active imagination made it insanely easy to see myself on the other side of the rifle, saw, hatchet and knife.

At 3/15/2007 12:33 AM, Blogger joshuathesmart said...

Well, if I am laying next to my wife in bed, and I hear someone coming down the hall, I would love to be able to know that I have something right there beside me to protect her. If hes got a gun, so do I. If I am not legally allowed to own a gun, I dont have one, but he still does. It doesnt matter that he will go to jail for having it, the fact is he has a gun, and I dont.

By the way, many small towns and cities are being infiltrated by gangs like we here in the U.S. have never seen before. Do some research on MS-13 and then tell me that you do not need a gun for your own protection...

At 3/15/2007 6:09 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

The Second Amendment and the society we live in today are not in good alignment with each other. I think your suggestion that gun ownership be regulated at least to the extent that vehicle ownership is would be a very reasonable way to bring some control without denying anyone's rights.

At 2/28/2009 5:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do some individuals always want to equate firearm ownership with the privilege of Driving. This is a argument I consistently see represented by Europeans when they stick thee unwanted noses in are affairs. Of course they think they are making such a sane and logical argument that only a fool would disagree with them. Ok, yeah well here is the thing. Driving is a privilege and Firearm ownership is a right in these United States. Why do so many have a hard time grasping these facts.Why would any American be for Taking away any of there rights what ever they may be ? D.C. has some of the most stringent Gun Laws in the nation yet one of the highest murder rates .The Brutal truth is that there is a very high price to be paid for true freedom. There will be tragedies, people will die.Alcohol kills tens of thousands every year, so do Automobiles. I don't see anyone banning either of them.It would be a lot safer if we all had to use public transportation and there was complete prohibition on the sale of alcohol and we know how well that one worked out. I am no gun Nut. I enjoy to target shoot and hunt once in a blue moon. I don't believe an individual should be able to by a Bazooka or a machine gun and agree with reasonable background checks on mental stability and criminal; record, But when so called reasonable background checks turn into what we have here in NY state . I can understand why so many are against so called" reasonable back ground checks" When individuals of good character and sound mental state are turned down for a pistol permits by county Police and when then queried by the applicant for a reason They are told " we don't have to give you a reason " I understand why so many get a little irked by those completely reasonable checks .We fought a bloody Civil war over States rights. I find it appalling we have a Bill of Rights ,yet some state can make a Mockery of that Document.I noticed something that turned my stomach when I was at my local High school for a kids play.There was a brass plague mounted to a column in a common area with the bill of rights engraved in it and were the second amendment was supposed to be in it's place there was a Question mark ? I wonder what peoples feeling would be if there was also a question mark were the 1st amendment should have been ? This is no fabrication, this is not some pro gun propaganda, it just really made me start thinking of what else in the coming years was going to have a question mark were words use to be ?


Post a Comment

<< Home