The other night I penned a profanity-laden screed decrying the immorality of gun-owners. While the piece was brief and to the point, and I support it, now that I’m a bit less engulfed by emotion, I’d like to explain the concept a bit more clearly.
You can read about the statistics anywhere: guns in the US are responsible fror tens of thousands of deaths, often to the gun owner or someone in their household. There are no credible statistics that I’ve seen that show that guns reduce violence. I’m going to run with that. Since even the NRA hasn’t been able to prove their central thesis of a well-armed population being a safe population, anyone who argues this can pretty much be discounted as an idiot. The best the gunners have come up with is some statistics (see the Cato Institute) that gun control laws don’t reduce gun crimes.
This may or may not be true, and in the American context is not relevant, as there has been no true comprehensive gun control in the U.S. We are left to study other countries with gun control laws and compare their statistics to ours. We look like a libertarian nightmare state with no regard for public safety.
Americans like guns. We always have. This trend may be a bit overplayed, but many Americans certainly own and like guns. Hunting is a strong part of our culture in many areas (including my own state), and gun collecting, well, I guess I get it. Guns are kind of cool. Simple, tactile, powerful.
But gun hobbyists need to grow up. Their hobby is killing us. Gun ownership encourages our culture of guns, and guns lead to gun violence. You, Dear Reader, may be a law-abiding gun owner or enthusiast. But statistics show your gun is more likely to injure you than anyone else. So, fine, you’re allowed to risk your life. But your support of gun culture props up a system of death, murder, and suicide.
Target shooting is a lot of fun. There’s no reason someone can’t keep a pistol locked up at a range. There’s no reason a hunter can’t own a normal hunting rifle (not a semi-auto butchering machine). These are at least reasonably safe options, but they also contribute to gun culture.
And it’s gun culture that’s killing us. I was encouraged that President Obama mentioned not only schools and malls, but also “the streets of Chicago”. Gun violence is an everyday occurrence in the US. We kill each other wholesale, and we kill each other one by one.
Gun owners aren’t all sociopaths, not in the same sense as an unfeeling murderer. But they are supporting a gun culture many of them don’t even recognize. Many of them could be convinced to give up their guns for the good of our society. I really believe that. Not enough of them, but some. Once the public conversation makes clear that gun owners are the cause of our deadly gun culture, some will see the light, others will double down. The ones who do aren’t defensible. They are sociopaths, and I have no problem telling them so.
The only legitimate reason to own firearms is as a hobby (be it target shooting, hunting, caressing them lovingly). It’s not about freedom; it’s about a selfish class of hobbyists and an industry that supports them. It’s about this class endangering all of us for selfish reasons.
We need to push this discussion forward, this recognition that hobbyists are killing us, and that the treatment is giving up a hobby. A hobby. Guns aren’t a way of life, and if they are to you, you are an idiot.
As this talking point moves forward, civic-minded hobbyists can give up their guns, join our civic society, and help solve the problems. Those left behind can be ostracized, regulated, ridiculed. Religious and political leaders need to take point here, telling their followers it’s time. The rest of us have to keep the pressure up.