Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trying to understand the gun culture

Note: this essay is about the gun culture, not about gun control legislation or proposals.
NCPR’s In Box blog has an interesting essay on northern New York’s cowboy culture.

I grew up in upstate New York and have spent virtually my whole life here. I’ve seen enough of isolated rural New York that I understand perfectly well why someone might feel the need to own a gun to protect their family and home. But while I get most of the gun culture, even if I don’t partake in it, there are still aspects about it that I simply don’t get.

An acquaintance of mine last week brought up the issue of guns last week following the passing of a gun control measure by the New York legislature and governor, the first since the Sandy Hook massacre. This was a bit surprising since we’d never directly talked politics before. He’s an evangelical Christian and very socially conservative (at least based on his Facebook page). He was extremely upset by the law. Fair enough.

He was so agitated that he was speculating on the possibility of moving to Canada or to Vermont... not mere ranting since he lives a stone’s throw away from the latter.

To him, the key issue seemed to be the mere (to my eyes) fact of having to register his weapons. when he asked if guns had to be registered in Canada and I said I think they did, he said the heck with that.

He seems like a nice reasonable person. Not a bloodthirsty fanatic. Not a drone intoning from a script. Not a raving lunatic blaming video games for Newtown. He is religious, pleasant, even boring, family man.

But the gun issue was so important to him, it seemed to trump his other views... to the point that as an evangelical social conservative, he’d considered moving to a far more secular country than ours and to a state where gay marriage was legal (and probably the most liberal state in the nation overall).

Evangelicalism seemed to be at the core of himself and his family’s everything, yet when guns were threatened, it seemed to trump even something as strong as religious belief. *This* is what I don’t get about gun culture... and frankly what unnerves me a bit.


Anonymous said...

The beauty of it all is, you don't have to *get* it. You may want to but it really isn't critical. If law abiding people don't want nonsensical, fear based and ultimately ineffective measures (that also have the added benefit of allowing someone's naked political ambitions to gain a foothold in the national psyche when a significant number of people are not thinking clearly; i.e. A Crisis) that are usually a prelude to confiscation wherever tried, it really won't affect you at all. And as long as he minds his own business and you don't threaten he and his family's safety in anyway, it would stay that way.

Criminals and psychopaths won't abide by the law (but then, that's so blindingly obvious, it seems to be escaping the notice of about half the population)and *that* should unnerve you.

The reality of it is, the governor of NY just made thousands of decent, would-be law-abiding people possible criminals when the law takes effect, while taking NYS that much closer to being a hunting preserve where the sick and evil can prey on all the innocents they want (like schools that are Gun Free Zones. Or the city of Chicago, whose death by firearms exceeds the Afganistan theater) without the worry of good people lawfully shooting back. Because, when seconds count, the police are minutes away. That should unnerve you.

The shootings, robberies and rapes will continue apace, as always. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was...

That should also unnerve you.

Anonymous said...

This comment just shows the arrogance and stupidity of gun fanatics. I don't know if the author of this blog is a gun owner but he's clearly not an anti-gun zealot. But rather than trying to engage him or try to explain to him where you're coming from, the above commenter pretty much gives him the middle finger. Yes, criminals won't follow gun laws. But that alone is a moronic argument. No one wants to get rid of laws against rape and murder just because those laws aren't followed 100% of the time.

Anonymous said...

" But rather than trying to engage him or try to explain to him where you're coming from, the above commenter pretty much gives him the middle finger."

Yeah. Guess I did. But it seemed a fitting response to the condescension on display for people the author doesn't *get*. Don't worry. I ain't afraid to admit it goes both ways.

Arrogance and stupidity? How so? Ok, ok, I get the arrogance part: Guilty as charged. But stupidity? I look forward to a *less stupid* explanation of my own thereof.

I never advocated getting rid of the laws on rape and murder and I find it telling that you think *that* is the logical progression of my argument. Says volumes really. It really shouldn't be hard to see the difference between a transgression of the law that is Mala in se and one that is Mala in prohibita, that is, without the Latin, one that is evil and wrong in and of itself versus owning certain firearms that are now prohibited but not necessarily a moral wrong. If I were advocating such, *that* would be cause to wonder now wouldn't it. Stick to logical and intellectually honest arguments.

Go back to your pr0n and your basement. Grown- ups are talking.

Brian said...

I stated pretty clearly that I know my friend is not a lunatic. I know he's not bloodthirsty. I know he's a decent person, a good family man. I even get why he doesn't like the law (which I have issues with too). I just don't get the fury with which he or my many other gun totting friends object to it and how it seems to trump all else. I'm really not sure where you got condescension from this, unless you were looking for it.

Anonymous said...

I took the point of this post to be the author didn't get something and he wanted to be enlightened. You took it as condescension. Are you interested in a real discussion or just spoiling for a fight?

Anonymous said...

Spoiling for a fight? You have chutzpah, I'll give you that.

Maybe my response to the author was intemperate. In fact, let's say, yes, it was. But you started with the 'stupidity' and 'moronic' first. So, lets not pretend, *now*, that you are the reasonable one here. The author may very well be. And maybe I didn't give him (I assume it is a Him) enough credit. Maybe I was a tad defensive upon reading it and felt condescension in his tone. I'm still not convinced there was none but let's take him at his word, for our purposes.

*You* are still a hypocritical lout. You accuse me of spoiling for a fight but you need to examine you initial response to the arrogant and *stupid* gun fanatic (hint, I don't even own one myself) and his moronic arguments.

If the author wants to engage in a discussion, well, alright then. But save your Faux-indignation and hypocrisy for someone else.

As for the original author, I am sorry. Like I said up top, maybe I didn't give you enough credit. That is the way I initially read your essay and it felt that way to me. But if you say you didn't mean it that way, I'll take you at your word.

Brian said...

My blog is not going to be used for a pissing contest between two people who won't even sign their comments. So both of you stop.

To the anon immediately above, I'm not sure how you inferred condescension from my original post but hopefully you'll believe me that none was intended. The title, after all, began "Trying to understand..."

Anonymous said...

And I said that I was sorry and I'd take you at your word. By way of explaining myself, but not excusing, my great-grandfather escaped from the Ukraine by the skin of his teeth after his rifles were taken. I tend to take a dim view of firearms registration since it tends to be the first step to confiscation. I'll be the first to admit, I am over sensitive to it.
But I will still take issue with the Other Anonymous.

From here on out:

-A. Kravchuk

Patrick Aurience said...


Knowing you as long as I have, I can say that you absolutely do want to understand and I can appreciate that. I would lie to understand as well. Part of the gun culture is, having grown up in rural NY, you grow up with guns. Your family has guns, you go hunting with your family. You shoot with your family. You defend your family. Police were far more than "minutes" away where I grew up. At one point my father was deputized by state police because they needed someone who knew the area during a manhunt. That is how well the police knew the area. People who grow up in environments like that associate guns with their way of life on a level that you don't get in urban areas. You take people who have been part of an activity for most of their lives and then tell them that continuing that activity can make them FELONS especially over bolt-on equipment that has only marginal effect on weapon lethality, you are going to raise some hackles. Now you take this and combine it with a government that MOST people do not believe are serving the peoples' interests and you get the second amendment's defense against tyranny rationale kicking in. You may or may not believe that the second amendment is anachronistic, but there are a lot of people who do not. This is only part of the gun culture that you are trying to understand. It's also a lot of fun to shoot.