Short answer…I dunno. But the picture above is probably the earliest example of an identifiable anti-gun bias. Now before you tell me “that’s ridiculous” or to “nip it in the bud,” let me explain…
I’m a huge fan of the late, great Don Knotts. And Andy Griffith, for that matter. I have no idea about their personal political leanings (although I hear that Opie is a Leftie). And I don’t have any idea or indication that Desilu Productions, the producers, directors, stars or anybody else associated with The Andy Griffith Show was anti-gun. But the point I am trying to make here, is that if you want to hurt something, one of the most effective ways to do it is to make fun of it.
Think back to your middle school days. There’s a reason we say “kids can be cruel.” They can be. And are. My daughter goes to middle school (she’s twelve, and in the sixth grade). The stories she comes home with would curl your hair. Some of her classmates make Freddy Kruger sound like Fred Rogers. The stories she tells sound like more like Borgia Family Feud than a day at Crockett Middle School. And that’s on a GOOD day. Their number one weapon? It’s not guns, knives, or cudgels (thank God), but humor, sarcasm, and mockery.
The venerable NBC show, Saturday Night Live has for years commented on the political scene. They were credited by more than a few people with bringing the re-election campaigns of Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush to a screeching halt. And don’t get me started on Tina Fey’s wickedly funny impression of Sarah Palin. Humor has a power than mere diatribes and demagoguery doesn’t – the power to wound from behind the safety of a smile. Which takes me back to Mayberry…
So did the bumbling Barney Fife influence a generation of kids who grew up thinking that anybody who wanted to use a gun is an ineffectual idiot? Did Barney influence folks to see the “wisdom” of gun control? (Remember, Andy allowed Barney to carry only if his revolver was unloaded, and allowed him but one bullet – to be carried in his shirt pocket.)
Did they instill in a generation the false hope that we should be able to outwit the bad guys with brains – but no bullets? Or was the show simply going for the laugh with no real agenda or thought that what’s a funny caricature today can be tomorrow’s poster child for gun control?
I don’t know. I suspect that they were going for the funny, but there are way too many left-leaning writers, producers, directors and actors in Hollyweird for me to completely reject the idea that this could have been more than just an attempt to make people laugh. Don’t believe me? How about this little bon mot from the mouth of Sheriff Andy Taylor:
When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.
I don’t know when Hollywood decided to mock gun owners and do everything they could to portray them as idiots, misguided morons, and boobs. But I know that they’ve done a bang-up job (no pun intended) at creating an environment where, when it comes to discussions about guns, it’s “us” versus “them.” Which is a shame, because it’s hard to have an intelligent discussion with anybody when they’re mocking you. And if we are to ever discuss these issues in a civil way, that’s something I wish we really would nip in the bud.