Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gun Culture

Here's my problem with the American gun culture: It goes beyond defending a constitutional right.

Most everyone agrees that free speech is a good thing, right? But to show people how good a right that was, would you encourage people to purchase porn? Would you create an organization that celebrates the viewing and purchasing of porn? Would you hold big meetings every year with lots of famous "patriotic" speakers and advertise it as a "freedom" rally? Would you give millions of dollars to politicians to assure yourself the continued right to purchase and view particularly sadistic versions of porn? No, of course you wouldn't. But that's what the NRA does. It's gun porn. And semi-automatic weapons are their kiddie porn. Just like you can't seriously defend someone's right to have kiddie porn, you can't defend the right to have a completely useless and dangerous weapon. Get it through your heads, people. Our gun culture in America is not about a constitutional freedom any more. It's about trying to legitimize our gun fetishism under the cloak of patriotism. You'll wrap yourself in the flag to make yourself feel better about liking to shoot things ... or defenseless kids:

HOUSTON - A 7-year-old boy who was allegedly shot in the head by a couple who thought he and three other people were trespassing on their property died Saturday ...

... The boy, his 5-year-old sister, their father and a family friend were off-roading near a residential area about 40 miles northeast of Houston when they were shot after stopping so the children could go to the bathroom.

Authorities said the couple fired after they mistakenly thought the group was trespassing on their property.

Bishop said the area includes a dirt road, trees and overgrown brush and that it wasn't uncommon for people to go off-roading there. The Houston Chronicle reported that a sign in front of the suspects' home reads: "Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will."

Liberty County Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor said Sheila Muhs fired a 12-gauge shotgun once, then handed it to her husband, who also fired once.

DeFoor said Sheila Muhs then called 911 and told the dispatcher: "They're out here tearing up the levee, so I shot them."

DeFoor said the levee belonged to the subdivision and was not private property.

Bishop said there was no indication the unarmed victims did anything threatening toward the Muhs ...

Obviously these are not middle-of-the-road gun owners, but they are not as far on the fringe as gun-rights activists would have you believe. It's the glorification of gun ownership and that gives people like this the free reign to be how they are. I won't even go into the second part of this ... the question of property rights over human life. That's a topic for another day.


Laura said...

you forgot one other aspect: "patriotic" paranoia about the possibility of having to overthrow our oppressive government! Because we have it SO FUCKING BAD here. How dare our government tax us and attempt to take what is MINE in order to ensure that all members of our society have basic needs met! We might just have to take those semi-automatic weapons and take down our government!

Scott said...

Um, yeah, I *really* like guns even though I've never owned one and I'm all for US having more guns than THEM even though it's only in quantity rather than quality (which DOES matter, because there are just plain more of us than them), but that story is crazy and I don't think you'll find anyone who doesn't really think so (I mean you'll find people who SAY they don't think so, but I don't think they would mean it) but the fact is I could just as easily find a bunch of stories with people using guns responsibly to protect their persons and properties and I'd also say that much of the despised gun culture that you (maybe even rightfully) detest is simply a reactionary stance to the overwhelming and intellectually bankrupt assault on individuals' rights to defend themselves.

Well that's about a long as a run on sentence as I could write and I think I reached my limit for parenthetical thoughts.

dbackdad said...

Laura - I really think our founding fathers would be appalled at some of the ways that the Constitution and Bill of Rights have been interpreted.

Scott - The story at the end of the post was anecdotal and not really meant to prove my point. It was just a fucked up story and sad. Some people value their guns and their property more than people. And that's scary. These people are illustrative of what can go wrong if you take any ideal too far. And I'm not coming at this from a detached big-city effete intellectual viewpoint. I grew up in small-town conservative America with a Vietnam vet dad that always had guns and hunted. I have a Gulf War vet brother. A vast majority of my friends in high school were hunters. And I know people first hand who would sooner shoot you than let you set one foot in their yard.

I understand your stance and I wasn't really arguing the right to bear arms in this post. I'm willing to concede it in a general sense. My beef is with the perversion and glorification of those rights at the cost of common sense.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

I don't think it's about taking an ideal of gun ownership too far that causes crazies like that. I think it's taking the concept of individual rights trump all other rights too far. Yes, we all have rights as individuals, but they must be balanced with the rights of others with whom we share our society. When you value YOUR stuff more than other people - that's individualism run amok. A piece of land or a car or a TV is NOT equally important as a human life. Period.

Not to say that this is limited to the gun issue either. Someone who would kill another person for a name-brand jacket or who would defraud employees to line their own pockets has the same mentality. "What I want is more important that anything else, and I have the right to get it by any means necessary." Wrong.

greatwhitebear said...

"gun porn"! That's the perfect description!

Wish I'd thought of it!

CyberKitten said...

I struggle with the idea of why people think they need to own firearms. Is your country *really* that dangerous? If it is then shouldn't you do something about it to drop the danger level to reasonable proportions?

Normally a place with that many guns in the hands of so many people would either be called a war zone or a failed state. Most of the rest of the Western world seems to manage without them. Why can't the US?

Scott said...

What do you mean by "manage without them"? Who manages without them? Indivduals who are attacked by rapists or thieves, or the whole "West" as a collective. Because if it's the whole collective, as in they haven't self destructed without them, then the same could be said about the US with them. If it's individuals who are getting by without them while being attacked by rapists and thieves, well I then I highly doubt the truth of your claim.

CyberKitten said...

scott said: What do you mean by "manage without them"?

What I meant is that, by and large, we do not feel the lack of guns in our lives. Arguably we are safer without guns than with them. Sure there are still some guns in circulation but they are few and far between. Sure we still have appreciable levels of crime, including rape, theft & murder... but do you think we'd have less of those or more of those if more people carried or owned guns?

What I mean is the basic question: Is a well armed populace more safe or less safe than an unarmed one? What exactly are you using guns to protect yourself from - *other* people with guns by any chance?

Laura said...

CK hit it on the head. The solution to the problem, IMHO, is not more guns. Arguing that everyone should be armed because the criminals are armed doesn't solve crime, it simply admits defeat. The solution to rape, for example, isn't to arm the potential victims, it is to address the ideals of a society that teaches its male members that women are lesser beings and address our image of ideal masculinity as a powerful, controlling person for whom aggression is considered "natural." Yes, that takes a long time to change such ingrained attitudes - but if we keep turning our heads and ignoring the root causes of problems, they'll simply persist. (And no, I'm not arguing that we can achieve a utopia where crime is non-existent, but we can achieve a society where it is reduced)

Scott said...

CK said: "What I meant is that, by and large, we do not feel the lack of guns in our lives."

Again, who is we? Do you purport to speak for the whole of Europe? Or just the UK? There certainly seems to be at least some segment of "we" who feels largely unprotected. I'm sure you feel quite safe without a gun, as do I, being males and in safe ares. But the point of guns is to level the playing field so to speak for individuals who are weak. Such as females who are, on average, much weaker and smaller than their gender counterparts. Guns are the great equalizer when it comes to personal protection.

And no, we do not have guns to protect ourselves from other people with guns. They protect people from all sorts of threats against person and property. For a good source on how people use guns to protect themselves you can look here:

Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog

Sadie Lou said...

Ew. That story is seriously sick and twisted and makes me angry.
I watch a lot of movies about Westerns and the facts seem to state that back in the day, everyone had a gun.
Women, Grandparents, single people, bad guys, good guys, everyone!
Even children, young boys, knew how to protect the family by pointing the family's rifle at the "intruders".
What is different about back then and today?
Simple, the law made it more difficult to have weapons so that people who play by the rules have less guns and the bad people still have them and go around doing their business with the surety that not many families are armed and dangerous and that's sad.

dbackdad said...

I know of no law-abiding citizens that have any trouble getting a gun if they want one.

Saying that gun laws contribute to more violence is like saying that seat belt laws contribute to car accidents.