18 June 2008


Posted by Dirk under: musings; politics .

I think all my buddies own multiple guns. Both handguns and rifles. At least one has a concealed carry permit and since he got it he’s packed heat when he comes to our poker games. Keeps things fair, I guess.
Me, I’m sort of the anomaly in my group. I own a gun, sort of. My dad gave me a shotgun many many years ago and I still own it, but it’s always been stored at my parent’s house. I shot it a bit when I was younger but now, I couldn’t even tell you what brand it is. We used to go to these turkey shoots back in Indiana that were fun. No actual turkeys were shot, we’d shoot at targets and the person with the best score (I even forget how they scored them) would win a frozen turkey.

I don’t really have a strong opinion on gun ownership. On one hand, I understand the people that own guns. Part of me would like to own a nice pistol or two. I’ve went target shooting and plinking a few times and it’s fun. When I was a kid I had BB guns all the time. My cousins and I would even have BB gun wars and shoot at each other :p Yah, that’s what they call young and dumb, I guess. Luckily we all have two eyes still.

Guns are cool. The good ones are finely machined, high precision, superbly engineered tools. One of the few areas where you can still get a product that reeks of quality craftsmanship. In this age of planned obsolescence, guns are still made to last.

They are also very American. Ingrained into our ‘collective psyche’ by just about every form of mass media since mass media was invented. This is especially true if you are an American Male. American Men have guns and are competent in their use. At least, that’s what we are told.

This is certainly true of me. When I was very young I never left the house without my two plastic six shooters strapped on. There is a stretch in our old family photo albums where all the pictures of me show me wearing boots, six guns and a cowboy hat. That’s how I defined myself then 😛

And guns are powerful. All the movies say, if you got a loaded gun in your hand, you’re a bad motherfucker and you make the rules. And who doesn’t want to be that? Nothing quite feels like a loaded gun in your hand. Especially if you don’t hold one often. It’s heavy, and not just physically. Having that gun in your hand puts you in a different frame of mind.

Despite this, I don’t own a gun.
For one, they are expensive. I mean, if I got one, I wouldn’t want a cheap piece of shit.
Two, I don’t really see the need for one. Beyond the techno geek joy of holding it and admiring it and taking it out and shooting stuff up (which isn’t really cheap either, beyond the cost of the ammo, I don’t really know of any good places to go shooting that are free.) I don’t see the point of owning a gun.

I asked my buddy that had a concealed carry permit, why? His answer was that due to his job he travels a lot, often in remote rural areas and he felt he needed some protection.

I can understand wanting to not be killed by random psychos, but does that really happen all that often? I’m 42 years old and I’ve never been in a situation where I needed a gun to feel safe. I imagine that I’ve often been in situations where having a gun at hand might have been dangerous. Times when melancholy + too much beer + too much of The Smiths might have had me doing something stupid with that gun. Or just too much beer might have had me do some other stupid thing with that gun. Or too much anger.

Of course, my inability to control myself, one might say, is no reason for other people to be denied the right to own and bear arms, and that would be correct. I think that lots of people might be more dangerous with a gun in easy reach.

What it comes down to, the danger presented by a loaded gun being within easy reach 24/7 I think greatly outweighs the danger of a random psycho doing me bodily harm because I didn’t have a gun.

That’s because, sorry, but… people are stupid. Guns are very powerful and most people are too stupid to have access to that power. Stupid and unwise. Or just ignorant.

Many years ago, some friends were gaming at one of their apartments. The guy whose apartment they were gaming at was really into the paint ball fad that was going on then and had several paint ball guns. One of the other dudes that was there wandered into the bedroom and came back out holding a loaded shotgun. Round in the chamber. It was a short barreled gun with a pistol grip handle so it didn’t really look like your standard shotgun, but still. He came out holding this and said something about ‘what a cool paint ball gun this is’. Everybody else knew it wasn’t a paint ball gun and managed to get it away from him without mishap, but it could have been a very bad situation. The guy wasn’t stupid, but he was ignorant about guns.

When I was very young and my dad was still in the army, we had a neighbor who kept a loaded shotgun next to his front door just “in case any niggers try to break in“. One day his little girl accidentally killed herself with that gun. What can you say? Tell some NRA guy that story and he’ll lecture you on responsible gun ownership, but the fact is, many many people that own guns are not responsible. That’s the problem.

I used to be in the NRA myself when I was a kid. Used to target shoot 22’s at Fort Ord and had to join the NRA to do so. So you best watch it around me!

And then there is the idea that we need to be able to own guns to protect ourselves from tyrants. I agree 100%.

But. Will an army of citizens armed with deer rifles be much of a threat against our modern military? I don’t know. I think at one time this was a viable thought, but the gap between private military science and what the government has in military science has be become so large that this argument is losing it’s credibility.

And really, if we were going to actually rise up against a tryant, wouldn’t now be a good time for it? I’d say this is the closest we’ve been to a government in need of being overthrown, but mention that possiblity and you’ll be branded a radicial leftist terrorist. Probably by the same NRA guys that told you they needed their guns to protect themselves from tyrants.

2 Comments so far...

Arcanum Says:

19 June 2008 at 8:57 am.

Another great article, Dirk. The last paragraph made me laugh; not because it was particularly funny but because of the irony it represents.

I’m one of those friends who owns multiple guns. My father was a Marine and spent his entire post-Marine life in law enforcement until his retirement a few years ago. When I was a young lad he would take me target shooting at the various police and sheriff ranges he had access to. It was fun and scary at the same time. It required skill, patience, and proper respect for the power wielded in your hands. But most of all it was something that the two of us could do together. The point being that guns have always been a part of my life, albeit a very background part. We always lived in cities. We didn’t belong to the NRA. We didn’t drive trucks with gun racks. I’ve never been hunting.

The subject of guns and gun ownership brings up contradicting perspectives on my part. On one hand I’d be happy if firearms were completely non-existent and people couldn’t shoot one another. On the other hand I agree with the positives Dirk mentioned. Both my pistol and rifle were purchased in my early twenties. My friends and I would often go target shooting. I never felt like it was a gun-nut thing, but rather a friendly competition. We’d set up targets at various ranges from 100 yards to 500+ yards and see how well we could do. This is one of the few activities we took part in that did *not* involve alcohol. As foolish and crazy as we were, we approached firearms with caution.

Nowadays my guns spend most of their time in my closet collecting dust and cobwebs. They are intriguing and powerful tools. If I had the time, and a decent rifle range existed nearby, I might even take them out once in a while and go shooting. However, I don’t feel compelled to use them. I try not to get involved in the debate between strong firearm ownership proponents and strong gun control proponents. Both sides have some good points and some ludicrous claims. I do believe that if guns were outlawed only outlaws would have guns. The flip side to that is I’m not at all sure that the fact I’m allowed to own a gun makes me any less likely to get shot by someone else.

FederOnline Says:

23 June 2008 at 4:33 pm.

I have a couple guns, mostly inherited from my still living father.

While I agree that, if we were going to overthrow a government, this would be a good choice. The issue isn’t whether the people should overthrow the government; there are two other “equal” arms of government that have, frankly, been negligent in their over site. But, we also overthrow our own government peacefully every 4-8 years (12 in the case of Reagan/Bush, and 16 in the case of Roosevelt). Overthrowing the government is not the issue.

The need for people to have guns is to prevent the government from attempting a “holocaust” against its citizens. With and army of under 1 million, and 80 million gun owners (many trained by the military), I’d guess that the military, even with superior weapons, would find that to be a tough fight. Never will this country summarily execute any of its citizens without a jury having had a say. If they do, 80 million of us will likely shoot back.

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