We Might Have A Lot Of Unhealthy Ideas About Guns In This Country

I totally get the appeal of guns. I’ve gone shooting on a few occasions now and I can safely say I had a great time. What they say about that feeling of power when you hold a loaded gun is true. It’s both terrifying and thrilling. It’s a power that commands an immense level of respect and responsibility so I become laser focused on the task at hand and all the usual bullshit and noise that occupies my mind is filtered out. I’m well aware that failure to do so could end up with myself or someone else very dead. There are very few activities I can think of where I am so easily present in the moment. It’s overwhelmingly relaxing. I will jump at the chance to do it again.

Having said that, it’s becoming increasingly disingenuous to act like we, as a country, have a healthy relationship with guns. Mass shootings are now so commonplace that we don’t even bat an eye when hearing about them.

We live in an inexplicably fearful country. For all the freedoms and liberties we enjoy, we’re irrationally afraid of way too many things. We’re fearful of other countries. We’re fearful of our fellow citizens who don’t share our views. We’re fearful of our government. We’re fearful of everyone who isn’t us. A fearful people is an unpredictable and irrational one. Combine unpredictability and irrationality with unreasonably easy access to guns and you’re looking at outright catastrophe.

If you’re a law abiding, upstanding citizen, you should be able to own a gun. This is the bottom line; it’s embedded in the fabric of our country. However, there is an absolutely necessary aspect to this that has become increasingly misplaced in recent years– the right to own a gun comes with a certain level of maturity and responsibility.

When you argue, for example, that cars kill people too but we don’t talk about banning cars, it shows me that you are lacking a certain respect for what that right really means. You seem to be willfully ignoring the fact that guns are deadly weapons and that is about as clear a sign as I can think of that you lack the maturity to handle one. When you kill someone with a car you are misusing the car. When you kill someone with a gun you are in fact using it for its intended purpose. It’s a weapon. It was invented to gain an advantage in warfare over the sword and bow and arrow and to also make hunting more efficient. The sole designed function of a gun is to launch a projectile at an extremely high velocity with the intention of destroying a target. That is it’s only purpose. A car was invented as a means of transportation. If you want to play that equivalency game, yes, just about anything can be used to hurt or kill someone through misuse. I can kill you by smothering you in a plate of spaghetti. No one in his right mind is going to call a plate of spaghetti a weapon because that’s silly. Insisting on it would be childish. So is equating deadly weapons with everyday items.

I find it disrespectful to my responsible gun owning friends when we play dumb about what guns are. They’re weapons. Being coy about this is what makes the gun control side so crazy. They understand how dangerous guns are and they see the gun rights side not treating their use with the seriousness it deserves. Let me say this right now, I can almost guarantee with complete certainty that guns will never be outright banned in this country. For one, the NRA still holds an emmense sway over politicians and will never let it happen but more importantly, it’s completely irrational. There is a middle ground solution to this problem and it involves people on both sides essentially growing up and facing reality.

One of the biggest problems I see is a cultural one. We have a gun fetish in this country. I think it’s entirely reasonable to say we tend to idealize guns a bit. It’s everywhere in our media. All our favorite television and movie heroes use guns. We see those heroes solve problems in exciting, visceral ways with guns. We learn about the models and attributes of different guns from blowing up our friends while playing video games. And through all of this we get removed from the real life consequences of guns and the responsibilities that come with gun use because it all looks so effortless and clean. The NRA suggestion of arming teachers as a measure to prevent school shootings, is an example of that warped view of reality.

The average civilian is not an action hero. Gun proficiency is not the same as combat proficiency and using a gun proficiently in real life hostile situations doesn’t come naturally. No one can really prepare his or herself for how to act in a life or death situation. Putting this kind of responsibility on a teacher is just wrong. He or she didn’t sign up for that. The idea of arming civilians as a means for dealing with threats that arise is absurd because it completely ignores the fact that to even be in a situation where someone is firing a weapon at you is so out of the realm of normal experience that there is no way to predict how you’re going to react. You can hit the shooting range all you want. It makes a world of difference when the targets are human beings with lives of their own and are shooting back at you with the intent of taking yours. It rattles even people with combat training. I have no earthly idea how I’d react if I found myself in such a situation. I also have no idea whether I’d have the presence of mind to do anything heroic. Neither do you. You think you do because we’ve been conditioned to think that you’d rise to the occasion because movies and television make it look easy. But reality is messy and ugly. People panic. People lose control of themselves. You have no idea what you’d really do because the overwhelming majority of you have never experienced a situation that even approaches such an extreme level of stress. You have no frame of reference to realistically base your expectations on. If you’ve never been in an active shooting situation you really have no business declaring how things would be different if such and such were armed. It’s just an abstraction to you.

I believe this removal from the consequences of gun use is what makes it so hard for us as a country to address the problem rationally. What compromises would we be comfortable making to keep guns out of the wrong hands?

I get that an assault weapons ban is problematic because of how “assault weapon” is defined. As of now many handguns are considered assault weapons. But a ban on civilian use of military style assault RIFLES with the large capacity magazines and all the bells and whistles is not something I would get upset about. It’s not my place to decide this for you but consider a few things. Is your belt fed 50 cal really going to be an effective tool for home protection? If that’s an extreme example, how about your M-4 Carbine? These weapons are undeniably impressive to see in action, even more so to use in a recreational setting. I can see the appeal of owning one from an enthusiast‘s standpoint. But the argument that they’re for home defense purposes is ludicrous. You’re going to do just as much if not more damage to your own property and several of your neighbors’ properties as you will to any home invader.

If you’re really being honest, I think you’ll have to admit you own thses weapons because you find them to be impressive machines and you like using them for recreational purposes and if you’re responsible with them and treat them with the respect they deserve, I get why you would get up in arms about banning them. But you don’t really NEED them.

And when you’re claiming to have this kind of firepower to defend the country against foreign invaders or an out of control government, you sound insane. There’s a whole lot more to being a soldier than pulling a trigger. And even you are a real life Rambo, the people you’ll actually be fighting are our men and women in uniform, be that law enforcement or military. There’s no secret army waiting in the wings. Senators won’t suddenly turn into Agent Smiths and attack. Police and military IS the government’s army. It’s our fighting brothers and sisters. You can’t be supporting the troops and “blue lives matter” with one breath and stockpiling weapons to take them down with the next. It makes no sense. And more importantly, they’re better trained, better armed, better organized, and they have an Air Force and a Navy. You won’t make a dent in that fire fight let alone win. And if you’re arguing that you can help in some sort of foreign invasion, Red Dawn was a fictional film and you’ll just be getting in the way of the people whose sworn duty is protecting our country and our Constitution.

Personally, I don’t see the need for lethal force in home protection because I personally don’t own any items whose value outweighs a human life. The percentage of home invasions where the perpetrator is simply there to harm you and your loved ones is very small. Even if violence is their sole intent, a powerful handgun is far more effective than an assault rifle in close quarters. Most break-ins are for robbery purposes and people generally don’t resort to robbery unless they’ve exhausted a whole lot of other life options. I don’t think someone deserves to die for that but I’m not going to decide morality for you. It’s just something to think about.

The men who founded our government were extremely well educated and worldly people. They understood that being able to look after one’s own self-preservation was one of the most basic of human rights. But they also understood that just handing weapons over to criminals and the mentally disturbed is incompatible with any civilized society. There needs to be policing. That’s what that whole “well regulated” part means. The founding fathers chose their words carefully.

If you make the possession of an illegal firearm carry a far harsher penalty, that’s one way of chipping away at the problem. I’d go so far as to suggest writing a law that states that if you sell a firearm to someone without doing the necessary background checks and that person then uses that firearm in a felony, you can be charged as an accessory to that felony. The same goes for lending your guns to someone who uses them in a felony. Or, if through negligence on your part to store your guns safely, someone steals your guns and uses them in a felony. Everyone I know who owns guns keeps them locked in a safe when not in use. If you exercise the right to own, you should also be adult enough to handle the responsibilities that come with it.

I’d like to own a gun someday. And when I go to purchase it, I’ll be perfectly fine with submitting for whatever background checks are needed and waiting as long as is necessary for those checks to be completed. I think any responsible gun owner should be perfectly fine with enforcing these background checks and waiting periods. That goes for closing the gun show and private sale loopholes as well. Why wouldn’t you want to have sensible laws when it comes to obtaining guns? It makes everyone, including you, safer. Yes, criminals will find ways to get guns illegally because they’re criminals. But even then, where are THOSE guns coming from? At some point, they were purchased by legal means and fell into the wrong hands. A national gun registry would go a long way towards curbing this. This will set off alarm bells on the gun rights side, but again, we’re talking about deadly weapons. If we have to register our cars, an often necessary means of transportation before we can use them, we should be registering guns. Because again, they’re deadly weapons. I’m repeating this because it was drilled into my head every time I went shooting. It won’t infringe on your rights if you’re a responsible person. To reiterate, the government is not coming for your guns, even with the increasingly childish and selfish behavior demonstrated by gun rights extremists. This is not something that will happen no matter how intense your fear may be. If you need a gun RIGHT NOW, that’s exactly why you shouldn’t have one. If you think your right to be able to obtain a gun whenever and where ever you please is worth even one Sandy Hook or Vegas, shame on you. You’ve let your fear override your reason.

None of these things seem outrageous to me and I’m very pro-2A. Guns violence is occuring at far too great a frequency these days and if gun rights advocates can’t be called upon to help come up with solutions that make sense, others who may be less sympathetic will do it for them. You should be mature enough as a gun owner to respect that your ownership rightfully gives many others pause and one would think you’d be the first in line to ensure it’s tougher for the wrong people to get those weapons, at the very least because it reflects really poorly on you and your recreational choices. No one should be able take away your freedoms but at the same time we need to start developing a level of responsibility that’s worthy of them.