Where’s your nearest farmers market? Find it on our interactive map; Check out these photos of how Alabamians are staying cool as the temperatures rise; Military tattoos: How common are they?. Like that. Which makes her post I want a gun, and I’m not sure how I got here remarkable on a number of different levels. Let’s start with the fact that Benjamin’s account of her “Road to Damascus” moment includes the usual pro-gun control arguments . . .
Just this last Christmas, us kids went out with him [Benjamin’s father] and shot empty plastic Coke bottles and aluminum cans off a tree stump. I never went hunting as a child, but that’s still a regular past time among my people in northeast Mississippi.
Guns are a way of life there, as they are in many parts of rural America.
But they’re also a way of death all across the U.S.
My response to “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” has always been, “But they sure do make it a lot easier.”
I understand what the “people kill people” folks are trying to say. But these death gadgets are too readily available. And we see report after report of mass shootings, domestic violence turned deadly, kids accidentally shooting their cousins, siblings or friends, and I can’t help but wish we just didn’t have guns.
So, while not unfamiliar with guns, Benjamin was pro-gun control. Judging from that last line, she might even have supported a total prohibition against civilian firearms ownership. Not for any specific, articulable reason – other than the idea that guns make death “too easy.” Clearly, the existence of tens of thousands of annual defensive gun uses and the role of privately-held firearms in deterring or combatting government tyranny weren’t on her gun-related radar.
This view of gun rights strikes me as typical of millions of Americans. They’re not virulently anti-gun. But they are anti-gun. They’re not insensitive to arguments about personal accountability. But they’ve never really thought it through. All they know is that firearms-related injury and death is “all too common” – thanks to constant, contextless media
advocacy coverage. And, well, it’s sad. They’re also not the bravest people in the world.
When I lived on my own in Anniston, a veteran homicide detective there told me once that unless I’m comfortable knowing that if I pull a trigger I could end a life, a gun has no place in my house. When you hold a gun, you have to be confident, another officer told me. Without confidence and certainty, that gun can be taken from you and used against you.
I’m not comfortable with killing another human being. Yes, yes, I understand it might come down to me or them, and THEN what? (That was the counterpoint that just crossed your mind, right? Can you tell I’ve had this conversation many times?) Well, honestly, then I’d probably hesitate. And that gun wouldn’t keep me safe while I reasoned through things, the good lieutenant said. And for better or for worse, I’m a reasoner.
So I didn’t buy a gun, even though my family members insisted that I arm myself while living in a faraway land with a much higher violent crime rate than my hometown. Instead, I slept with a softball bat beside my bed. I figured, I might accidentally shoot a loved one with a gun but if an intruder is physically close enough to me that I can bludgeon them with a softball bat, then that’s their own fault.
Yes, I see the flaws in that plan, too.
Antis don’t have guns because they’re not comfortable with the idea of using a gun for self-defense. Hunting, sure. Target shooting, maybe. Shooting someone in self-defense? Killing them? Shudder. Anyone who could do is no better than the person attacking them. They lack morality, a social conscience and/or self-control. They’re someone who shouldn’t have a gun. (Except, of course, the police.)
Because this “guns are too available, and not for me, thanks, and come to think of it not for you” demographic doesn’t feel personally comfortable with the concept of armed self-defense, they can’t understand, empathize or listen to gun owners who are ready, willing and able to use a firearm to defend themselves, their family or other innocent life against a lethal threat. Until, suddenly. . .
Somewhere along the line, maybe while picturing myself experiencing the horror of these latest victims of public, deranged gun violence just before they took their last peaceful breath,… something seems to have changed.
I don’t think more guns are the answer. I don’t think we’re safer if everyone walks around with a concealed weapon. I honestly think that’s a recipe for disaster—that there are too many cocksure, paranoid gun enthusiasts who care more about proving a point about preserving their freedoms than they do about protecting the lives of those around them.
I think that if everyone shoots, we all lose.
So I don’t want everyone else to have a gun.
But I think I want a gun.
Who are these cocksure, paranoid gun enthusiasts who aren’t bothered about protecting the lives of those around them? I haven’t met any, and I meet a lot of gun owners. OK, I’ve met a few gun owners who answer to one of those characteristics, but not all three. Anyway, none of them were gang-bangers, the population responsible for the vast majority of America’s “gun violence.”
My point? Conversion shmaversion. Benjamin remains a detached, dismissive anti-gun elitist – who wants a gun! Because a journalist – I’m a journalist! – was gunned down. Her decision to buy a gun is entirely selfish. Which is OK, to a point. More to the point, it makes perfect sense. People like Benjamin who are OK with denying Americans their gun rights care more about proving a point about “improving society” than they do about “allowing” those around them to protect themselves.
Is Benjamin’s newfound desire to tool-up a Pyrrhic victory? Will she become just another anti-gunner with a gun? I hope not. But her experience is instructive. It shows us that the best way to convert an anti – perhaps the only way – is to convince them that they need a gun. (Even if they don’t, much.) And then help them understand that the gun owners they would restrict are just like them, regardless of their education, color, sex, or geographic location. Yeah I know: good luck with that.