It’s come to this: GLOCK chronicler and occasional firearms-related commentator Paul Barrett was compelled to put pen to paper over the weekend to express his discomfort with America’s “gun subculture.” That’s right, Mr. and Mrs. Gunowner, the Bloomberg Businessweek assistant managing editor is downright embarrassed by what he sees these days when he looks out over the American scene. At least where firearms are concerned. In a businessweek.com piece, Barret writes, “The weekend’s headlines confirmed my growing sense that the American fascination with guns has reached a crucial inflection point. We are, to put it politely, making ourselves look ridiculous, and sometimes much worse.” . . .
Barrett rips three stories from recent headlines to make his case that perhaps Americans have taken this whole gun-love thing a little too far; Castle Rock, Colorado’s tussle with how to regulate guns in their parks, the Utah National Guard’s frolicking fun with bikini-clad models and the life sentence handed down to hip hop music hater Michael Dunn.
Set aside the merits of the three stories for now. Many, if not most gun owners were troubled by the Michael Dunn case. Reasonable people can differ as to whether there’s anything untoward in the Utah Guard helping out with a revealing calendar shoot. And it’s unclear exactly what troubles Mr. Barrett so terribly about a suburban Denver town attempting, through the legislative process, to decide how they’d like to handle the regulation of firearms in municipal parks and facilities.
The real question is, why is he embarrassed? To experience embarrassment, you have to be concerned with how your actions will be viewed by others. In whose eyes is Barrett worried that, given these three disparate examples and no doubt more he could cite, America is “making ourselves look ridiculous”?
Could he be thinking of more civilized societies with much stricter gun laws than the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Surely the average Brit or Aussie, upon reading the particulars of the three stores that have Barrett in such a lather, would shake their heads in shocked disbelief at our violent cowboy culture. Our unhealthy infatuation with firearms. Maybe Barrett’s isn’t looking forward to justifying our hoplophilia and occasional poor ballistic behavior to his friends overseas.
Make no mistake, Barrett’s no fan of our Second Amendment freedoms. It’s probably difficult enough for him to make a case to his associates in other lands for the Founders’ obvious slip-up in enshrining the right to armed self defense in the Constitution. So in an obligatory to-be-sure concession, he writes through clenched teeth that,
…I consider it fruitless at this late date to debate the legitimacy of the Second Amendment and unseemly to condescend to the tens of millions of law-abiding Americans who see firearms as necessary for self-defense or representative of their fundamental liberty. We have a subculture of gun ownership in America, and it’s a big country. I say live and let live.
That’s big of him. But before he gets too much farther, condescend, he does.
(I)f we’re going to tolerate a gun subculture—as the current Supreme Court understanding of the Second Amendment obliges us to do—common sense absolutely must be part of the equation.
So there’s your takeaway, law-abiding gun owners. Watch your damn P’s and Q’s. Your betters like Paul Barrett are losing patience with all of you frickin’ gun nuts. Unless you clean up your act and are a lot more careful going forward, something’s going to have to be done about this whole firearms freedom thing. Consider yourself warned.