Smoke and Mirrors

19 Feb

I don’t know why those who oppose greater restrictions don’t simply say, I love guns instead of giving a bunch of non-sensical reasons for why they don’t believe in gun restrictions/laws. Phrases and arguments like, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” are diversions that have no place in a rational discussion. They are headlines, soundbites and memes that provide nothing in the way of thoughtful analysis. Any reasonably intelligent person knows that the gun all by itself isn’t the problem, rather the combination of a gun and a human being creates the potential for a problem. In this equation the gun is the predictably inanimate object and the human is a behavioral wildcard. The danger to society occurs when you combine an otherwise very predicable killing tool with the extremity, pathology and unpredictability of human behavior. Thus, it would seem that any rational discussion must include solutions that address both factors. Focusing on mental health ignores the fact that all gun deaths/injuries are not perpetrated by the mentally ill. Moreover, most of the recent discussions I’ve seen does little to address the problem while simultaneously stigmatizing a group of people who have an illness and who often desperately need societies help instead of mindless, stereotypical condemnation.

Another argument that rings false to me is that firearm purchase, possession and use is protected by the 2nd Amendment. To be clear, I don’t doubt that the 2nd Amendment protects this right, what I doubt is that this is actually why most want to keep and/or continue to acquire firearms. Maybe I’ve been living in a bubble, but I don’t actually know anybody who lives their life, to any noticeable degree, as if the government is getting ready to eradicate all of our rights. Most people I know, get up, go to work, raise their children and generally contribute to the stability and well being of society. They are not stocking up their survival shelter, and plotting to overthrow the government. They may not like government generally or politicians specifically, but they are not seriously expecting to start a new government, at least any time soon. Frankly you couldn’t get most people to run for office or show up at a city council meeting, let alone plot a coup. So, when I hear an otherwise rational, employed, tax paying, husband/wife, talk about the need to have an AR-15 in case the government decides to take their rights away, I find it hard to take them seriously. While I’m sure there are those that actively and honestly hold these beliefs, I think they are a fringe element. I think that in most cases it is simply a popular and handy rhetorical device and not a substantive argument.

But back to my original point, absent all of the BS, firearms are valuable tools, that have much in their favor. Clearly they are ideal for hunters and while I don’t hunt, I know many who do and they do so for reasons that benefit society, wildlife and our environment. Simply shooting for fun or in competition is an activity that has taught many children discipline and good judgement and I have personally enjoyed both activities immensely. Guns, marksmanship and hunting are often the well loved glue that binds families, not only to each other, but to their ancestors and family history. Guns are beautiful, marvelous tools and even works of art and engineering that reflect some of mankind’s greatest craftsmanship. Guns in the hands of the soldier or peace officer are a symbol and tool of freedom and order. Guns are also a deeply engrained symbol of our independence and shared heritage. I think that all of these reasons argue strongly against any overreach or unconstitutional firearms seizure and the failure of the gun lobby to focus on the real reasons we should protect firearms possession and use has created an environment where the two sides seem so far apart that it seems as if nothing will ever be accomplished.

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