“GUN CONTROL” OF ANOTHER KIND (NEW THOUGHTS ON “GUN CONTROL” PLEASE)

I may not be an uptight conservative, and I definitely am not a rabid Republican, but I nonetheless view myself as conservative.  I come from a long line of conservatives. My lifestyle in general is very conservative.  I hold to many rather country-simple ideals which were passed down to me through a rich heritage.

But I find the meaning of “conservative” changing too.

I only mention all of that upfront so that you can feel free to dismiss out of hand everything else I have to say.  Which, you are doing now, if you haven’t already.

This term “Gun Control” has a new life of its own which betrays the literal meaning of each word and especially of their coupling.  I think this new life for those terms came to birth over the course of my lifetime.  Not sure, really.  I am no expert, but I am an old guy who has been around some.

I will not hide the fact that I have, on a number of occasions, enjoyed handling firearms of various kinds.  Mostly in a target practice setting.  I never actually killed a big animal, but I have shot a bird – a small sparrow.  I have lined up many a prairie dog in my sights as well.

The home I grew up in did not have a lot of guns.  We mostly had BB guns.  I think we had a shotgun briefly and maybe a .22 rifle.  But my grandpa kept guns, including a Japanese assault rifle he brought home from WWII.  That was an interesting piece of hardware, for sure.

School shootings, post office shootings, and restaurant shootings (McDonalds and Luby’s) started taking off as a trend when I was a kid.  The tower shooter in Austin might have kicked it off, but that was shortly before I was born.  However, the shooting at Columbine High put the trend in a much higher profile.  It was already bad enough, but now we talk about “active shooters situations” since they occur in so many different settings anymore.

What happened to controlling guns?

Believe it or not, when I was a kid, my view of the NRA was that they “taught gun safety” – which in English is a nice paraphrase for “gun control.”  The NRA advocated for “responsible gun ownership” – likewise a nice paraphrase for “gun control.”

I never was a member of the NRA, but growing up, these are the ideas I thought characterized that group.  But now, it seems the purpose, the whole reason for its existence, is to oppose “gun control.”

It’s almost a bit confusing.

But I get it.  “Gun Control” is a political term.  It doesn’t mean it’s own literal meaning anymore; it is something of an idiom, a political stance.  It’s almost a coded language thingy.  None of this is particularly hidden from anyone, but perhaps it does get a bit lost in the fray.

“Gun Control” is now something the NRA and conservatives (for the most part), Republicans and the like are opposed to while liberals and Democrats are for it.  And these groups really dread each other!  The NRA and conservative types feel threatened by the idea that liberals want to take away our guns.  “Gun Control” to these types is thinly veiled language suggesting the stripping away of constitutionally protected rights to own and use guns.  It’s a FEAR of losing guns!

I don’t want to take away anyone’s guns per se, but I do want them controlled.  I think most of my liberal and Democrat friends feel this way about it.  (I am sure SOME do not.  I am sure that SOME actually want to rid the nation and the world of guns, but that is not my interest, nor do I think it is the interest of MOST.)  But conservative types FEAR this will happen if “Gun Control” gains sway.

This is the very thing conservative types say about it.

I am not old enough to remember when taking a gun to school was acceptable for “show -n- tell” time, but I am sure there was such a time in this country not too long before I came along.  I recall many friends and neighbors keeping gun racks in the back window of their pickup trucks, and keeping rifles openly visible there most everywhere they went in town – including school.  But it seems that between those gun owners’ parents, grandparents, and “gun safety” taught by the NRA in the old days, those guns were plenty well controlled.  I have no memory of fearing them, and I recall no instances of such gun owners shooting up schools.

We had “gun control” of another kind.

I am now thinking of how insightful it seemed when Chris Rock said, “We don’t need gun control; we need bullet control!”

Yeah…  That term “Gun Control” might mean “gun control” to my way of thinking, but it means FEAR that “the government wants to take away your guns” to many conservatives.  The same English words used among English speaking people with very different meanings.

Make no mistake.  Everyone wants gun control.  Even the most conservative people I know suddenly want a cop or a SWAT force to stop that active shooter in the grocery store.  That is gun control!  It’s a bit after the fact – a day late and a dollar short – but it is gun control.  I don’t know any conservative worth their salt who wants North Korea or Iran to have a nuclear gun.

But we used to have controlled guns in this nation.  Not perfectly controlled.  No.  But not rampageously out of control either.

This country is eating itself up with Hate Politics anymore.  (My term for it.)  I am not an expert on how that happened either, but I have some old-man observations which I use to make sense of it.  But the Democrats and Republicans, the liberals and conservatives, HATE each other more and more every election.  As I see it, the conservatives are the most vicious haters, while the liberals just want to hold the conservatives in contempt.  But, there are liberal haters, and I sense the hate started among liberals too.

As I see it, just seething beneath the surface of our rhetoric is a desire among conservatives to shoot and kill liberals.  (I worked with a man a few years ago who was a life-long member and activist in the NRA who openly told us fellow employees that he WANTED to kill someone, legally of course, in self defense.  He spent everyday itching for an opportunity.)  I am particularly alarmed at how the church seems aligned with this politic.

Somewhere in all this hate and fear, we have lost that old fashioned (and very conservative) ideal that “gun safety” and “responsible gun ownership” is a real social action concern.  The NRA used to be all over that, but seems to me anymore, to have abandoned that ideal in favor of power plays in politics stirring up fear and hate.  Now days, the NRA will tell you flat out that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  But that loses sight of the fact that back when the NRA was known as a “gun safety” organization, there were very few bad guys with guns running around needing to be stopped!

I am not so naïve as to think that the old NRA was keeping us all sane and safe.  But I do think that the social service they championed in those days (which probably was buttressed more by responsible parents and grandparents than any social institutions) has been abandoned now.  I wonder why liberals don’t pick up the service the NRA dropped.  Why does all “Gun Control” have to be legislated?  That could be seen as a liberal power play too!

Gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right in this country.  That doesn’t make it morally right or even God-ordained, but it does make it a fact of life and a big part of our cultural heritage.  Guns are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

But somehow they were not the scourge in years gone by as they have become in school after school, church service after church service, post office after post office, restaurant after restaurant as they have become now.  SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT about gun culture and the politics surrounding guns 50 years ago which also has changed.  Something was different about the NRA.  And it wasn’t the lack of “Gun Control” legislation.

I suspect the politics were not so hate-filled, and that may well play a very big role in the problem.  But there used to be a lot more trust in our neighbors, and neighbors used to be a lot more trustworthy. (That used to be a conservative ideal too, and goes a long way explaining why I view myself as conservative since I hold that ideal to this day.)

I wonder if my little blog post here couldn’t find its way into some civil conversations between some liberals and some conservatives.  I wonder if I couldn’t point us to a talking point OTHER than the usual ones regarding “Gun Control.”

I kid you not.  I have seen rifles in rear window gun racks in unlocked pickup trucks sitting in the parking lot of my own high school in my life time and no one being the slightest bit alarmed by it.  Constitutionally protected guns just sitting there harmlessly waiting for the gun owner to return to that truck and drive home with it and no one even thinking twice that someone might shoot at another human being.  I don’t think the gun owner even had self protection in mind.  I expect the gun owner was keeping it on hand in case there was “game” or predators (wolves, coyotes, rattlers) along the path between school/work and home.  Good to always have it ready.

We used to live in THAT world.  And it wasn’t the laws that controlled it.

I can’t help but wonder if liberals began providing the social service that the NRA used to provide if conservatives types won’t just get jealous for their own conservative passions about “gun safety” and “responsible gun ownership” – maybe championing the cause again.  It certainly would be a real TALKING point rather than a hate point masquerading as a talking point.  And who knows?  It might actually contribute meaningfully to the control of guns!

5 comments

  1. Steven · March 23

    It would be wonderful if we could return to a collective dialogue about gun ownership that doesn’t come across mentally off-balanced and full of mutual hatred. It is interesting how the NRA used to champion “reasonable gun control” in its earlier years, before its hard and partisan turn to the political right. In my earlier adult years I’ve been an off-and-on NRA member, back when I squarely fell into the rabidly partisan “pro-Second Amendment” camp. There was a point in my life where I owned multiple AK-47 type rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition, “just in case.” Now I’ve grown into what I hope is a more balanced approach to firearms, having gone through that early partisan thinking (“those librools wanna steal my guns!”) to a brief stint in the more leftist pro-gun control camp after the Parkland shooting, to where I am now. I detest the NRA for its rampant fear-mongering, its cynical but effective efforts at keeping the national dialogue hysterical. And I think it’s highly misguided to want to outlaw or heavily tax firearms, or certain popular subsets of firearms such as handguns or magazine-fed rifles, all the while ignoring more foundational problems like poverty and mental health. I suspect if we as a society could aggressively and effectively address widespread poverty and social inequities, provide a decent infrastructure for addressing mental health, and get our shit together addressing the widespread disintegration of family units, I suspect the violent crime in general would noticeably decrease. Maybe I’m a brainwashed leftist who can’t seem to fully let go of my previous attachment to guns. Or maybe, just maybe, I think a little too hard outside the prescribed boxes that I say I have to hold to one rigid set of positions or another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · March 23

      I had a rather Freudian idea – something of a satirical/prophetic notion – that we round up all the discussions (video/audio/print/digital etc) about “Gun Control” and do some dream interpretation analysis.

      In this dream interpretation, “a gun is never REALLY a gun” but a penis.

      We can talk about conceal carry, open carry, training classes held down at the First Baptist Church in Dumas, TX…

      I mean, if we had people walking into post offices or Luby’s, whipping out their “gun” and firing it off at everyone sitting down to eat lunch, I have a funny feeling we could put a stop to it in one incident.

      But let a gun be a gun, and… well… people gotta have their rights.

      Just a though. Maybe Chris Rock could develop that joke a bit better. (Actually, I thought his commentary on Bullet Control was compelling.)

      Both sides of this debate keep hitting the other with one-liners and zingers which SEEM so powerful and inarguable almost. Yet between the mass shootings and the stupidity of the debates, our world is CRAZY.

      Each side makes sense, if you sit a listen a moment. At least at SOME points. But, I find we are putting too much of the wrong kind of stress on the words for political expedience. “Gun Control” two simple words in English have two different meanings to two different opposing groups. I can’t help but think of God confusing the languages of the people building an empire to make a name for themselves in Genesis. Both sides can talk, but they can’t understand each other.

      I hope my post was even handed and respectful to the finer points of both sides. And anyway, I am a living witness to historical fact of guns coming to school without either alarm or incident. THAT WAS GUN CONTROL! Yet it was neither an endorsement nor defense against assault rifles. It says nothing about small children finding a weapon and hurting themselves or others. But, my recollection surely does demonstrate a world where neither guns nor conservatives were a major threat to life and limb.

      I just think there are sensible ways of ironing out these things IF WE REALLY WANT THAT. But if we must politically crush the opposition, and if THAT is what we REALLY want, then we effectively bring seven demons worse than the first in the back door and roll out the welcome mat for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. therooflesschurch · March 23

    I shopped in that King Soopers multiple times a week for 4 years before moving closer to the other one up the road. I had friends in there right before the shooting started. People in the church I serve lost people that they cared about. I am at the end of my rope with fearful gun worshippers. I just can’t anymore. Jesus and guns don’t mix.

    Like

  3. darthtimon · March 26

    A very thoughtful article, I hope your plea for a dialogue is met with fruit.

    Allow me to offer an overseas perspective. I’m from the UK, and we’ve traditionally not had the relationship with guns that exists in the USA. We had the Dunblane Massacre in 1996 and that was enough for the British public and the government to turn against guns, with most forms of firearm being banned. Guns can be legally purchased in the UK, but they are limited in terms of their size and ammunition.

    I’ve done some research into the homicide rates of various countries, but before I put it forward I will acknowledge that there are major cultural differences at work here. The USA has a very different perspective on guns to what we have here in the UK.

    My sources include: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-7.xls

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/homicideinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2019

    In 2019 firearms accounted for nearly three-quarters of all US murders. The murder rate was 5.0 per 100,000 people. Therefore the US murder rate was nearly 3.75 per 100,000 if we look at only firearms. The UK’s total homicide rate over a similar period? 1.1 per 100,000. More than three times as many people were murdered by firearms in the US than murdered in the UK by any means.

    There are other comparisons to be had. Japan for instance, has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, and an extremely low homicide rate. It would be naïve of me to assume that’s all on gun laws, but equally, it has to play a part no?

    So, does the answer to the problem of mass shootings and gun control lie in looking at what works elsewhere?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · March 26

      Thanx for reading and commenting. Your overseas perspective is very welcome here. I appreciate your addition to the discussion.

      (I also meant to respond to Pedro before now too, but I am having technical difficulties which have overwhelmed my blogging time.)

      I think I should say that I am not committed to the view advanced here exactly. I think it is worth further exploration, but I find it to be full of compromise. In fact, it is an exercise in seeking compromise.

      Saying “Guns don’t kill people; people with guns kill people” (as I USED to hear all too frequently in decades past) certainly has truth to it, certainly is pithy and handy, but in reality does NOTHING to solve the problem. In fact, I have trouble seeing why it ever shut down a debate. If you pulled that on me in a debate, I would just respond with “Then we should keep guns out of the hands of people!”

      I wouldn’t actually miss guns if they all disappeared tomorrow. I want to join the prophets of old and dream of beating our weapons into gardening tools.

      But then I see NOTHING morally wrong with guns for sport or for hunting (and there is a lot of overlap there). But at root, I think THAT is not where the debate REALLY centers. That part is peripheral, I think, to the real thrust which is we WANT to kill people. We think that killing people is an important part of world order.

      We don’t put this in the brochures, but the USA didn’t become a world superpower by just being extra nice. We got to that position because we are more efficient at killing people than most other nations. That is a stubborn fact lurking beneath the surface of our culture and rhetoric. And there are times when that power is celebrated prolifically. France and the USA have troubled relationship today, but VE day proved quite intimate! And for understandable reasons.

      But THAT also is the outer edges of our second amendment rights. As your nation makes for a fine example, it is quite possible for a nation to have weapons and national defense without an overly armed citizenry. And as Japan and several nations likewise demonstrate, it is not antithetical in the slightest for a citizenry to be disarmed and be at peace with its own government.

      But we have a number of things colluding in our collective imagination which BOTH prevent us from disarming AND from trusting others. I expect FEAR is at work in it. Giving up a gun is giving up power. It is a surrender of one handle on the mantle of power. We are a nation that lies to ourselves about a lot of stuff. When the terrorists of 9/11 attacked us, David Letterman (our entertainer) asked if they were just jealous of our stuff… (cant quote him just now, but he spoke of thinks like cable TV and fast food etc.) After all, we just LOVE ourselves and our way of life and cant imagine why others might feel offended by our arrogance, our meddling, our powerplays.

      I am dealing personally with racial issues and racism and how it impacts my life as a white male. I am not one who has traditionally suffered from it, but as a sensitive soul, I am trying to learn what it feels like to live under the tyranny of my kind, and maybe even of my latent, unrealized oppression on a personal level. How have I hurt people of color? I am sure I have, even without being a hater. I am seeking sensitivity to that now.

      And I find Republicans and conservatives (people LIKE me, people of my family, my community, my church) inventing ways to suppress the votes of colored people – all in the name of safe and secure elections. Why not seek more votes for conservative ideals? I happen to hold to many of them? I want to see many of them survive or revive too, but suppressing opposition seems extremely undemocratic to me. And people of color keep having large families who grow up to be potential voters, while white people like me keep controlling our birthrates. Soon us whites will be the minority, and if we cant make that transition with sensitivity and care, we surely will be paid back with insensitivity and uncare!

      That’s getting of the gun control business, I know, but it all fits in the over all package of concerns I think, and parallels the gun thingy too.

      I expect that oppressed people, and people of color, have entirely different views of the world than I do. When their voices are heard, they change things… change them in ways I would not have chosen. As a white person, that could be very challenging. As a person armed with guns (and other forms of power), I don’t have to be bothered with such things. I don’t have to face my fears about them.

      Liked by 1 person

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