Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Observations on Guns

The more I thought about what I wanted or needed to say about guns the more notes I had and the greater the threat of some massive post that made no sense to anybody. I decided I would break it into two parts. There is just too much swirling around in my head so first I'm going to get out some basic "facts" about why I think about guns the way I do. Maybe in the end it will be that long awkward post broken in two but I have to start somewhere.

At times it is a very emotional issue for me, at other times very fact based, which is very hard to explain to some people. Before I go any further let me get this out of the way, it has to stop. Every year more Americans die in this country from gun violence than died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Yes the second amendment guarantees the right to own guns but that right shouldn't override the most basic of Jefferson's rights, the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." When the Constitution was written muskets couldn't hit the side of a barn from 100' and there was no such thing as a semi-automatic musket. Does the second amendment give me the right to a nuke? I don't think so, so why a semi-automatic assault rifle with a hundred round magazine? Nobody needs to go to Cabella's for armor piercing bullets to go duck hunting. It's just insanity.

I grew up in a small town ruralish county in Pennsylvania, a state which has more NRA members than any other state other than Texas. In the fall the thoughts of a large part of the state doesn't turn to Penn State football but to hunting. Pennsylvania has more hunting seasons than I can remember. Small game, deer, bear, archery, and musket come to mind. All my uncles hunt and my dad does too although I always had the feeling he hunted more to be with his brothers than for any other reason. I love my uncles but I argue with them all the time and doing that has taught me two things about gun control. Like global warming it's just a bad term and if there is ever going to be a rational gun policy in this country it has to soothe the very real, if somewhat irrational, fear of rural Americans that somebody is going to come and take there hunting rifles.

For years I owned gun, a completely legally purchased and licensed hand gun. My one uncle taught me how to shoot it, took me to a safety class, and often took me to a shooting range where, to be brutally honest, I quite enjoyed shooting it and did much better than hit the side of a barn. Why did I enjoy it? Have you ever played a shooter computer game? If you have you and enjoyed it you understand even if you don't want to admit it to yourself. It's the same feeling just a 'real' feeling and not a 'virtual' one. Beyond that I wont get into it because it's one of those no win emotional issues of the gun debate. One extreme will say I'm evil because I enjoyed firing a gun and the other will say I'm bad because I got rid of my gun to prove a point.

Why do some people react with near hatred of the right when it comes to gun control? Because they have to deal with people like Texas Governor Rick Perry who yesterday told a wingnut meeting that teachers should be able to carry guns. Then there is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who thinks a mass shooting in an elementary school is the natural result of taking god out of schools. If his god is that spiteful it would allow twenty children to die to prove a point I'm so glad I don't believe in it. As for the National Rifle Association I'm not sure I can discuss them, least at the national level, without a touch of loathing. There answer to everything seems to be more guns. Guns in school, guns in church, more guns everywhere as if 300 million weren't enough.

But now it all comes down to one simple fact, twenty small children died in a way nobody deserves to die. As I wrote somewhere last Friday, what does it say about a country when it kills its children?

So you can see that, even when I'm trying to not be emotional, when it comes to guns in America emotion is never far away for anybody.

1 comment:

  1. Wanted to comment on this yesterday - I'm so glad you brought this up. You write so eloquently, get your points across so easily, I wish I had been able to voice my thoughts better. Emotions are never going to be very far away when talking about any instruments of death and violence, guns included, on either side of the argument. I don't think you're bad for having had a gun or for having gotten rid of it, but then again, I'm no stranger to guns, so maybe we're in the same boat :)