Friday, June 27, 2008

The Gun-Nut Gap

Our national schizophrenia on firearms defies rational explanation. In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, both presidential candidates and, according to public opinion polls, most voters believe in "the right to bear arms."

Yet only one out of three Americans owns a gun and, after mass murders like Virginia Tech, there is an upsurge of grief and outrage at the easy availability of deadly weapons.

Somehow, there is a disconnection between the idea of guns and the reality of what they do that can't be explained away by NRA lobbying or the fierce protestations of "gun nuts."

How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction that many of those who believe in preserving the life of fetuses are just as passionate about the right to own weapons that kill human beings after birth?

By now we are inured to arguments such as that in a "liberal elite" New York Times editorial today:

"This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United States values gun rights over human life."

Many of us agree with that, but there is no justification for feeling morally superior to those who deny it if we can't find a way to talk about that basic human difference without demonizing each other.


Anonymous said...

I have never been into guns and don't pretend to understand the need for them.
I do feel they are connected to macho and manhood.
Some is the idea of the frontier individual. A kind of nostalgia, most on the right, in the same way that they tend to romanticize WWII.
I also think it has to do with intelligence as well.
How they all fit together to explain in a comprehensive way is not my ability.
To connect the dots.

Dyre42 said...

You should clarify what you mean by the word "gun". Technically that word applies to everything from flintlock pistols to machine guns. For example I could have assumed that in this post you were specifically referring to handguns given the recent SCOTUS ruling when in fact you were talking about all guns.

Gun owners generally view the word "gun" as meaning all firearms whereas to that group "handgun" refers specifically to pistols. By not making that clarification you are allowing the reader to define your position according to their own biases which may not accurately reflect your position.

E. Summers said...

The only reason there is outrage over "guns" is because there are evil men that do evil deeds. Even without guns, evil men would do evil deeds, and we would be less able to stop them.