“(I)t’s good, at least, to hear someone arguing the details and filling out the fact-picture, good to be reminded that the cultures and rituals of the gun, however irrational in nature, are still felt to be essential by the people who engage in them. Curing the irrationalities of human culture later depends on understanding them now.” – Adam Gopnik, How A Gun Dealer Sees It [at newyorker.com]

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93 Responses to Quote of the Day: Utopian Long Game Edition

      • Old news!? They’re from two weeks ago! Everyone here thinks they’re not being heard; these links dispel that myth.

        With all due respect, enjoy your complacency.

        • With all due respect, this is off-topic, and by cross-posting the link,
          you take up server time,

          and by insisting that others pay attention, and insulting them for “complacency” because they don’t share your priority,

          you compromise your own credibility.
          Its also considered very poor form- borderline troll.

          Who knows- you might even be a sock puppet from MDA desperate to send clicks their way. Judging by the “less than the fingers on one hand” average turn out at their typical PR events, they need all the help they can get.

        • Anon,

          Thank you for this information.

          Please ignore the complaints of others who think this is a forum and not a blog.

          Please also forgive them for comments that don’t even merit a response as they know nothing of the person to which they are responding.

          Your links might not be as useful today as they were two weeks ago but I thank you for them.

          We are all on the same side and must stand united in the defense of our rights.

      • Can we tweet her? (Dirk, shut up!) I’d like to remind her (and that POS Piers Morgan) that the RKBA is to secure and protect their Creator-given, natural, and civil right to call us names.

    • I particularly like this response in that Forbes thread from Kevin Thomason on page 7, a 2A-Backing (at least claiming to be) Solicitor/Lawyer:

      “As someone who has been blessed to influence national dialog on this issue (I am the person who was finally able to get it into people’s heads that gun rights are civil rights), I am amused by this hand-wringing.

      The reality is that there are somewhere around 100 to 150 million gun owners in this country. There are around 800,000 armed police. There are around 1.4 (million) active duty military.

      Gun owners can now use the internet to organize, and many of them do not like our government. I think these arguments will dissolve into a singularity after any sort of mass civil unrest. It could be urban riots, it could be financial chaos, food stamp problems, water supply problems. Just about anything is poised to set this country off like a large social-media-powered match.

      The point is, the arguments don’t matter.

      If only a small percentage of civilian gun owners decided to take up arms against this government, the very first thing they will likely do is go after anything connected to the state, and to any apologists for the state.”

    • @RLC2

      “Takes up server time?” First, learn something about computers. What “time”? You think that CPU cycles are being taken up by a post? Perhaps you meant hard drive space? Yes, all kinds of HDD real estate is in use due to my posting something in one more place, to get people to see it.

      No sock-puppetry at all, friend. You have completely jumped the shark. First, everyone is a “libtard”, now someone who is trying to point out Shannon Watts’ antics is an “MDA Member” and “sock puppet”.

      Excuse me for trying to get more of “us” to see those two links, I won’t make that mistake again. That line from Ronin just came to mind; “At the end of the day, we’re likely to be repaid for our kindnesses”.

        • Friend, are you ok? Don’t project your feelings of victimization on to me; I pointed out that I am not going to post something for the likes of you, but forget that; others here appreciate the info.

          Have a nice day.

  1. I enjoyed reading that article. When I read this part, “But it’s good, at least, to hear someone arguing the details and filling out the fact-picture, good to be reminded that the cultures and rituals of the gun, however irrational in nature, are still felt to be essential by the people who engage in them. Curing the irrationalities of human culture later depends on understanding them now. “, I realized he still doesn’t come close to getting it.

    ….sigh……

  2. Having grown up in a city, there Is a pervasive atttitude among city dwellers that their zip code entitles them to insight on human nature otherwise denied to those poor yokels in “flyover country”.

    Personally, I think its from breathing in city exhaust fumes ,but that’s just my hypothesis.If we get a chance to start this all over again, we need a Constitutional Amendment outlawing cities.

    • It is not the cities that are the issue, it is the culture and attitude of superiority. Those are not exclusive to big cities it is only that NYC has made an art of being self absorbed and believe they are superior to others and they are safe if they are in their high rise apartments.

      NYC like Chicago and Detroit can and will crumble from their far left ideas. CNBC is running a nice series right now how all the major cites are literally falling apart from a structural and financial point of view.

      It is all a cultural war. As things become more expensive and the liberal utopian idea starts to fall, so will these cities and crime and murder will rise as a result. It is hard to be smug when a criminal has a gun to your face and I still believe in a day when they too will realize that words on a piece of paper we call law does not stop criminals.

      • Being from that area, I think you’re a bit optimistic. It’s too much of their identity for them to change. There are radically religious undertones in their politics; and violence, for the sake of ‘proving’ their opponents wrong, is a logical solution to their irrational beliefs.

      • I give you Santa Fe, NM. A city with a self-image bigger than all of creation. “The City Different” is its motto. Pardon me while I go puke.

        Taos tried to do the same thing with “Life at a Higher Level”, but it just never stuck, because most people who live there know better. It’s tourist bait, but more than that, it’s self-aggrandizement by a self-Chosen Few.

    • Maybe it’s time to bring back the notion of “city states” – like DC. Except that gun-free paradise isn’t a state…

    • Conservatives on message boards are fond of posting the image showing which counties went “blue” vs. those that went “red” in the last Presidential election, since it shows an overwhelmingly red country.

      http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Images/election-by-county-2012.png

      As comforting as that picture is, it is in fact an illustration of “flyover country”. The vast majority of people in this country live in urban areas. As per the US Census, in 1790 the percentage of Americans living in rural areas was 94.9%. In 2010? 19.3%

      We live in a democratic republic, and numbers matter. People who live in the (relatively) empty interior of the United States aren’t going to have the same impact on national politics as those who live in the urban corridors of the east and west coasts. Given the demographic trends, I don’t see Republican policies dominating for the foreseeable future…which is bad news for gun rights in the long term.

      • We live in a Republic, a constitutional one, the founders despised democracy, they saw it as mob rule.

        We only have democratic tendencies in on voting for representatives, which is exactly how a republic works.

        The story goes, Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 18, 1787, a woman asked him, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”.

        Mr. Franklin replied, “A republic, madam – if you can keep it.”

        Not a democracy, or a democratic republic if you can keep.

        Sadly, with comments like yours being more the norm, seeing our country as more of a democracy, I think it’s safe to say we are are not keeping our republic.

        • We only have democratic tendencies in on voting for representatives, which is exactly how a republic works.

          We also have (in many states) voting by the people for state constitutional referendums and initiatives, which is as democratic as it gets.

          Sadly, with comments like yours being more the norm, seeing our country as more of a democracy, I think it’s safe to say we are are not keeping our republic.

          Reporting on something is not the same as endorsing it.

    • I laughed out loud when Gopnik expressed joy that he’d finally found someone with, to paraphrase, ‘facts’ that he liked. Well, of course! After so many disappointing books with facts he didn’t like. So New York.

      • That’s how they are. To be fair, though, we all look for facts to support our various viewpoints.

        The difference is, his “facts” are anything but, and our facts are supported by real-world knowledge.

  3. Yes, it’s this combination of arrogance and intransigence that has a tendency to get me to loose my cool. I’ve realized the utter futility of reasoning with folks like this. I’m better off keeping my mouth shut and going my own way.

    • “cultures and rituals of the gun” can mean a few thousand things. Some are rational, some not.

      So yeah, way to apparently criticize “gun people” without anything specific, Adam.
      (Well, the rest of his publication probably is specific, but this segment I believe is intentionally unspecific.)

  4. Surprisingly, that was less inaccurate than most anti-gun articles. Gun ownership is strongly culturally driven and gun violence is rare outside of poor urban areas. What’s fascinating is that even though the author purports to recognize these facts, he thinks a nationwide change in perspective -taking guns from those who aren’t the problem – will eliminate the latter issue. What he fails to recognize, however, is the fact that there is gun crime in urban poor areas because there is violence in those areas, period. If it wasn’t guns, it would be something else, and that’s the way it has been since we’ve had cities and concentrated the poor in ghettos. Poor people in cities killing each other isn’t recent; it’s been a documented problem since post-late middle ages. Put a bunch of people in deprivation in a confined area, give them addiction, no culture encouraging them to escape, no social ties, and of course they’re going to kill each other.

    • This was demonstrated some years ago when Scientific Studies were done with Rats. They were placed in densely populated confined communities with limited resources. They began to fight among themselves viciously, cannibalize their young and generally became irrational as a population. The experiment was repeated by various unrelated parties and the results were the same. Rats taken out of the stressful environment gradually returned to normal behaviors and social interactions. It was concluded that the behavior changes were instinctual and driven by individual stress and individual drive for self-preservation.

      Funny how we Humans can find the models in nature that do not work and fail to understand what they mean in the Human context when the evidence is literally staring us in the face. People only thrive when the basic need for a decent, meaningful life is met. Otherwise they revert to instinctual behavior and prey upon each other.

      The ruling Class in Washington DC is only interested in preserving its own privileged lifestyle and has no interest in the challenges many of their “constituents” face on a daily basis.

    • Dear John A. Smith,
      Just not accurate, I’m afraid. Like most people of every political stripe, you appear to believe what you see on TV. Gun violence is not a problem of the urban poor really – unless you mean on TV. Instead, the leading cause of suicide is…death by gun. Those numbers, everywhere, far outnumber criminal shootings of any kind. Ask your local coroner.

        • No, Matt in FL, my words were chosen very carefully. The first time I heard it, many years ago at a Coroners Conference, I thought it was nonsense. Thought cause and method were being confused. It is clear that the real cause is depression; but an ‘easy’, i.e. gun access w/o proper storage, is seen as a cause by many coroners in that there is a belief that, consigned to the ‘less efficient’ methods of suicide, there are a lot fewer suicides. A lot fewer. More than a belief: statistical analysis proves it.

        • Ah, so what you’re referring to is a contributory cause. Anything that precedes and can in any way affect the outcome is a contributory cause. Having prescription medication is a contributory cause if that’s the route to suicide they choose. Having access to a car is a contributory cause if the method they choose is driving into a bridge abutment.

          The fact that having access to a gun is a leading contributory clause means little, unless you can quantify how many of those people would ultimately be successful in their pursuit of suicide, if the gun were removed from the picture. The only way to quantify that is to ask the dead if they regret their actions, or ask the survivors of less-effective methods to see if they are glad they lived, i.e. glad they didn’t use a more effective method. In either case, the solution is better mental health care for those that do have issues, not making me prove that I don’t have suicidal ideation before I can buy a gun.

        • So speculation is bad science.. unless you’re a coroner. Good lesson, from the most appropriate name I have seen on this site yet.

    • It is true that before guns were used to enact urban violence, other means were more popular. Bladed weapons ruled even in the earlier years of NYC and Chicago gang crime. The battles at Five-Points in NYC were fought primarily with knives and clubs. I object to the inclusion of suicide in the “violence” category. It harms only the perpetrator (though it distresses others) and the result can be achieved by so many simple means that regulation of weapons has no effect on the frequency in a population. What stops suicide is family and friends who care and communicate. It is stunning that people feel a right to prescribe what means some lonely and ill person in rural Ohio should choose, simply on the basis of coastal urban preferences for jumping or pill-gobbling. Violence implemented with guns is overwhelmingly a problem of the urban minority poor.

  5. You gun guys got it wrong. Look how well the war on drugs has worked, so that proves laws do work. The cops use illegal entry to homes (no warning, no warrant), because they claimed the drug guys were flushing the drugs down the toilet, so the courts let them illegally enter homes over 70,000 times last year.

    The war on drugs is working well (with a few narco units going to jail, tempted by the drug money), the war on guns has just started.

    This war has to be fought at the local level.

  6. What is irrational about reserving the ability to protect oneself and one’s loved ones from predation? From even a casual inspection of nature, one finds that deterring, averting, and repelling predators is a big part of life for every species. Survival depends on it. Survival is not irrational. Having an effective means of survival is proactive, not irrational.

    • Decades ago, The New Yorker used top notch writers. The writing was sharp and engaging. Even if you were at odds with an article, you’d come away with the impression that it was skillfully written. I’ve only read a few random pieces in the last few decades and they were just like you say: elitist bullshit. Gopnik’s writing is mediocre at best and requires great effort to read no matter what the topic. The New Yorker has the right to take any side of any argument they choose, but to publish poorly written material is inexcusable.

        • Anyone who says “… essential fact that American medicine costs more and does less than the socialized kind.” is obviously either insane or a pathological liar.

  7. Someone should tell the Syrians and Libyans that guns are outdated and they should give them up because their fears of tyranny are irrational.

  8. Well as soon as he convinces everyone else to act rationally I’m on board. Not going to hold my breath on that one, but I guess if he can figure out an end to all crime and war… Oh who am I kidding, I’ll still go the range and blow holes in stuff.

  9. I’ve come up with an idea that should go viral. The natural, human, civil, Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms exists to secure and protect everyone’s natural, human, civil right to spew nonsensical emotional blather and call us all manner of vile and disgusting names.

    • You’re right, it should go viral. It should even be stated as a
      universal truth that unless one possesses the means to protect
      oneself, they have no freedom. The only problem is that those
      who need to understand this are also those intellectually
      incapable of doing so.

      • Absolutely correct. And it seems that the school “system” is doing its level best to spawn ever more intelligent idiots.

      • I think it is more like “willfully incapable of doing so” because what those people really want is to control the larger majority because those people believe they are intellectually and morally superior. They believe equality is conditional and they intend to define the conditions to their own benefit.

  10. So, am I to understand that every culture is decent and needs to be understood and catered to… EXCEPT “gun culture” which needs to be “cured”??

  11. It is clear that Adam is writing on a topic that he has no real understanding of. Merely labeling people and ideas that he does not believe in or understand as irrational, fails to meet any reasonable standard of inquiry. He does claim to have made the attempt to understand “pro-gun culture” by reading a book or two, notably books that are not really pro-gun. A look at the ammoland article on Mike Weisser should have told Adam that he was being conned.

    To give Adam the benefit of the doubt I would say that he is trying to rationalize his own beliefs and painfully flawed ideas on gun control with the fact that many people disagree with them. The best he can do is quote a couple books and claim it is a “cultural” difference.

    He should stick to writing about Art and not furthering ignorance.

  12. For a moment I thought this was going to be a fairly objective article, till I saw this interjection:

    (America, he points out, is the only country where small arms are fascinating to otherwise law-abiding citizens.) Are these the words of Weisser or Gopnik?

    When you come from the place where fascination with small arms is a crime, it’s hard to filter out the condescending tripe or if you believe this as a gun dealer, then you are the worst kind of hypocrite.

  13. One of the comments on the article particularly outlines the mental disconnect that occurs with gun regulation supporters:

    “I live in a country where there are strict laws governing weapons ownership yet still we have shootings. Even here there are no politicians willing to impose further limitations. I personally see no place for weapons in suburbia and welcome restrictions on type availability. The argument guns don’t kill holds merit; however bullets do and that’s where I see scope for controlling legislation.”

    So, this person lives somewhere where guns are regulated, and yet there are still shootings.

    I thought as I read his comment that he would admit that regulation of arms, like regulation of drugs, does not stop illegal use. Nope. His answer is simply to state that he supports more regulation, even though it doesn’t seem to have its intended effect whatsoever.

    Bizarre.

  14. “He also debunks rather thoroughly the notion that there are often, or even ever, occasions when carrying a loaded, concealed weapon is likely to make an actual difference in a confrontation; when they do take place, it’s difficult for even a trained policeman to hit anything reliably.”

    Putting aside that’s hearsay and contrary to evidence. If carrying a gun is so ineffective, then why is he concerned about people carrying them? If carrying a gun doesn’t make an actual difference then it doesn’t make an actual difference when criminals do it. And police wouldn’t have any reason to carry guns either.

    It’s also obvious that he has no interest in understanding a culture he dismisses as irrational. While he admits that “the truth is that gun violence is, outside of poor, minority neighborhoods, relatively rare”. He fails to recognize that almost all those guns are already illegal, and the criminals committing those crimes are hardly representative of the “gun culture” he attacks.

  15. “Curing the irrationalities of human culture later depends on understanding them now.”

    How about some high-speed lead therapy Mr. Gopnik? How is that for a cure?

    The arrogance of some people blows my mind. People like Mr. Gopnik are self appointed elitists. They have determined that they alone define what is “normal” or “healthy”. And they have determined that they alone will act to remove abnormal, unhealthy people from culture. Shame on me for thinking that we actually defeated Nazi Germany.

    • High-speed lead therapy… That could be construed as a death threat — but I’m pretty sure you were just thinking of a really fun, relaxing range trip. I wonder if Gopnik has ever actually handled a gun in its natural habitat or spent quality time with real gun owners (not what passes for such in NYC). It probably wouldn’t cure him, but it couldn’t hurt.

      Gopnik’s prescription for “curing the irrationalities of human culture” makes me laugh. Humans are not completely rational creatures and never will be. Nor will our cultures ever be. This guy has no clue. Just one more educated idiot goose-stepping down the streets of his own logical fantasy.

  16. This was my favorite in the “oblivious to history” genre in the comments to the article:
    “It sounds as controversial to me as owning one, genocide and mass famine… It is perhaps and only trivial to the originality a swift interpretation that guns were primarily and only simply invented for hunting.”

    Guns were invented for hunting???? Ummmm, ummmm, left me speechless. The first guns were cannons, and I really don’t think that the Chinese were using them for hunting. Necessity, as they say, is the Mother of Invention. And in War, any weapon which more efficiently destroys the enemy is a necessity. Guns were invented, designed, modified and improved to kill other human beings. Period. That they could be used for hunting was just a side benefit.

    • Snares, traps, and arrows were the common hunting tools long after the first rifles were created. Gopnik writes as he does because he writes for an audience demonstrably uncritical when anti-gun pieces are printed. In this the New Yorker is much like the New England Journal of Medicine, which holds medical articles to a standard of published data, but allows Heminway to publish his tripe without subjecting his raw data and methods to public observation.

      Those self-assessed as culturally elite cannot imagine themselves in need of means to stave off oppression, which only means that they feel safe….for now. Tables can turn. When, for example, an administration finally pushes the medical profession into state employment, as in Sweden or France, they will have more time to reflect on their presumptuous and error-full rethinking of the meaning of rights and the fragility of liberty.

    • That’s true and that’s what always strikes me as odd when the anti’s blather about “military style weapons.” EVERY firearm is derived from so-called military style weapons. The very concept, as you mentioned, of small arms themselves stem from cannon which are most assuredly military style weapons. To inveigh against military style weapons is to attempt to discredit firearms across the board; but in a way that seems acceptable, even pleasing, to an ignorant population out there.

  17. Irrational cultures and rituals, he says? Kind of like clinging to our guns and religion? I see. Here’s the thing, firearms distill down to five major elements: liberty, legacy, safety, security and individual responsibility. These are timeless, vital issues. Yet, this fellow dismisses them as so much backwoods homespun nonsense or late night dorm room bull sessions? This is a man whose own capacity for reason is under assault from over-emotion in open revolt. Yet, he speaks of curing others’ irrationalities with the insouciance of a man whistling past the graveyard? Please.

    Not everyone stares down evil every day and only somewhat more are prepared to do so at any given time. Nevertheless, evil is out there and tools like guns offer a buffer between us and it. It isn’t the Tooth Fairy who keeps monsters at bay, after all. It’s the threat, and sometimes action, of turning their evil, fevered minds into chunky red stew that protects us. It’s deeply offensive that this man cannot acknowledge that reality.

  18. Gopnik’s opening proposition that a debate conducted by reasonable persons reason should depend on truth, falls apart with his first analogy to prove his point-
    that “most arguments about the right thing in social policy depend, or ought to, on what actually works” and “fall apart over the essential fact that American medicine costs more and does less than the socialized kind”.

    Gopnik penned another howler in his September 18th article: “It cannot be said too clearly, and it cannot be said too often: guns make gun violence happen, gun-control laws make it stop.”

    Gopnik is the art critic for the New Yorker. He’s won awards on that, and apparently written childens and cooking books. So he’s hardly qualified to lecture on facts on guns and frankly, he is reflecting badly on the New Yorker if this is the best he can do, writing wise.

    This smells more like progressive propagandizing of the lazy chummy ‘we are smarter than the hicks in flyover country’ flavor that seems to be all the fashion these days in NY, judging by whom they elected as Mayor.

  19. On the one hand I want to thank Gopnik for at least trying to understand-in a Dan Baumian way- those irrational gun owners.

    Unfortunately, Gopnik doen’t get anywhere close to Baum, and if Gopnik is so lazy to have only cherrypicked one book, then he fails the writer-integrity test.

    Gopnik also fails the “propaganda test” – comparing gun owners to terrorists who fly into the twin towers, (no matter how “artfully” couched, and sad, for an award winning writer) is the tawdry and sadly predicatable confirmation of the typical progressive opinion writers mendacity.

    I appreciate the introduction to Mr Weiss. Having skimmed a couple of his articles, I would have said I’d be willing to give him a read, but given the Ammoland “FACTS” (back to Gopniks plea for reason based on facts) and Mr Weiss standing as the go-to gun-guy for Huffpo, I know all the facts I need to know now.

  20. Weisser doesn’t talk for gun owners ,that’s his opinion ,he’s right about gun culture ,wrong about lesser guns equal lesser crime,but I suspect Gopnik put those words in his mouth.
    More Stupid Liberal,”I’m from New York and am better than you cause you are ‘Irrational thinker’s’ attitude”,which is funny coming from “Murder Central ” ,New York
    This joker is a typical ” why do you need it ” “common sense” ” assault weapon” journalist from ‘it will never happen to me ville” who has the gonads to say “debunked pro-gun surveys” I can and have debunked just about every anti survey that has come down the pike.It’s easy as they post them and when you follow up you see less than a thousand people surveyed and that represents “90% of America.Yaaaa Riiiiiiight
    Well, what do we expect from the clueless ” I don’t know anything about,but hate guns and you should too or you’re a monster” clan? That would be ,aaahhh,not much!

    • Pollster: “Hello, we’re taking a survey to prove that guns cause crime. Would you like to participate?”
      Annoyed person: “Well, they don’t, you tool. They prevent crime. Go take a flying leap.”
      Internet article: “97.4% of those surveyed …”

  21. Gopnik is not going to talk about the real problem,criminal being let out of jail over and over and over again.Being unleashed on the ( in case of New York where our buddy is from) unarmed and unprotected public!
    In our town 30 days ago a man walks into a National Bank and puts a gun in the teller’s face and demands cash.An 82 year old Ww2 veteran of Guadal Canal tells him to “Get Out” ,the robber shoots and kills him!,No CCW carriers in the bank as it is posted “no firearms”(gun free zone) .The robber was caught getting on a bus going back to his home state,California .Here is the kicker,he had been arrested,are you ready?; 62(sixty – two) ,that’s 6 and 2 , times,and he’d had possession of a GUN from the most restrictive gun laws in the nation,CALIFORNIA! Can you say Universal background check?
    But we are going after law abiding gun owners as they are a threat! What was that I said earlier ? Oh ya……..Yaaaaaaaa Riiiiiiiight!

  22. REMEMBER, this is the left-wing liberal elitist New Yorker. The slimy author would NEVER WRITE about anything that did not promote his left-wing liberal elitist views, and the magazine would not publish it.

    Calling Weisser’s remarks “truthful” is the typical liberal elitist view because something is only “true” if they agree with it, otherwise, it’s not. Notice that this author states “[Weisser] reiterates the most, ahem, disarming argument in the gun wars: that, . . ., the truth is that gun violence is, outside of poor, minority neighborhoods, relatively rare, . . . “. The author doesn’t call this true, just an argument, even though it is A VERIFIABLE FACT!!

    As a newbie, I agree with the assertion that for many, owning firearms is a hobby, much like owning various cars, but much, much cheaper. Before I decided I needed to learn how to defend my family and my myself, I wasn’t aware of the depth of the gun culture. For some, blasting away at stuff is pure fun. But, for me, learning to use various firearms so they can be used in proper defense is enough.

    This author does not denigrate any other hobby, of course, like collecting moths. And, of course, this author has to take a parting shot by calling gun owners “irrational”.

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