As I’ve said before, I grew up with guns, target shooting with .22 rifles and the odd .410 shotgun. I once carried concealed while covering the Klan in Iredell County almost 30 years ago. I favor the right to gun ownership and even concealed carry. But having spent a lot of time as a cops reporter, I also know that the “responsible American gun owner” is much more of a myth than the NRA, and even regular gun owners, want to let on. The bevy of “accidental” shootings at gun shows across the nation recently is just the tip of the iceberg.
In that light, I know just how high the bullshit level comes to in this essay by Walter Kirn on gun ownership in The New Republic:
Growing up around guns and owning them as an adult affords a person memories and experiences that strangers to guns may have trouble understanding. The divide is phenomenological, not political (or not political until it gets to be), like the gulf between those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t or those who smoke and those who’ve never lit up. Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self. Depending on the nature of your social life, which time around guns can shape and color in ways that I’ll describe, you might forget that these patterns are even there, because you’re surrounded by people who share them—until someone or some event challenges you to answer for your thinking.
Kirn gives us 3,300 words of anecdata, what-the-hell? analogies and magical thinking, best responded to by two contributors to No More Mr. Nice Blog, Aimai …
If you want to make a Second Amendment absolutist argument be my guest — but if you want to make it on the grounds that your hazy memories of feeling safe pulling the trigger with daddy gives your gun ownership primacy over my hazy memories of being able to drop my kindergartners off for school well, [forget] you.
… and Steve:
I’m tired of gun owners’ demands that I privilege guns’ effect on their neurochemistry over the safety of everyone else in the country — not just the thrill of the shooting but the delicious in-group joy of being part of the He-Man City Slicker Haters’ Club.
I’m not arguing that every gun-rights supporter falls into one of those two categories. Certainly I don’t. But a lot do, and, worse, they seem to expect us to try to make sane, constitutional policy on their basis. No. Sane countries do not allow themselves to be run by people who are not sane. Anyone who wants to argue to the contrary is not, by definition, a responsible American gun owner, no matter whether your people came here on the Mayflower and Miles Standish’s musket hangs over your fireplace mantel.