Thursday, January 10, 2013

I might regret this: a post related to gun control (*ducks*)

I had a whole big post written out about this but you know how I hate offending people, so I erased it and I'm starting over. My point is simple enough: Americans en masse are not rabid gun enthusiasts.

Before I go on (but really I'm almost done), please know that if you and I have recently discussed this or if you've made a comment to me about this or you think I'm directing this post to YOU, you're wrong. I just feel the need to get this out there in general. Most of the news media I consume these days does not originate in the US and I am shocked at some of the things other countries are saying about us and our guns. I know I am just one American, but for the record:

1. I believe the second amendment is often horribly misinterpreted.
2. The NRA does not speak for me.
3. The idea of giving guns to teachers in schools is wrong (in my opinion) on so many levels.
4. Yes, a "gun culture" exists in the US but the fact is that many, many people live their daily lives in that country without ever really thinking about guns, to the point that guess what? I have never seen a real, loaded (and possibly even unloaded, maybe?) gun in my whole life in the United States [edited to add: my mom reminded me in the comments that I have seen a real gun in the US, last summer]. Some non-US news outlets would have you believe that American children walk past a dozen gun shops every morning on their way to school.

OK.

Now, that said, our problems are different from yours. You can't impose x-country's model of gun control on the US in a wholesale manner any more than you can import another country's healthcare system or public transportation system. Just because it's working really well for you doesn't mean it's what's right for America.

Now I will shut up and let Jon Stewart do the talking (thanks for the links, Jessie). This segment made me cry both kinds of tears: the laughing kind and the sad kind. Content warning: don't gather the kids around to watch this, duh. But listen to what the man has to say. The truth is, he's saying some of the same things I read in non-US media sources but at least he's American. It's so much easier to listen to him and know he has a full cultural context for his remarks.


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The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scapegoat Hunter - Gun Control
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27 comments:

Ariana said...

AMEN SISTER

Jessie said...

Seconded.

Liz Johnson said...

I don't think I've ever seen a firearm in the US, either, unless it's being carried by a police officer. I saw them all the time in Mexico (again, being carried by police or security personnel), but I can't think of the last time I saw one in the US. Part of this is because so many people have concealed carry permits - I have been around people with guns, but I haven't seen them because they've been concealed on their person.

I'm very, very curious to hear what other countries' news media are saying about the gun issues in the US. I'm also curious to hear what the gun laws are like in most Middle Eastern countries, as I have no idea.

I'd have to say that Jon Stewart's last few minutes hit the nail on the head for me. I also liked his idea of giving people as many muskets as they want. :) I'm rather anti-gun... I'd love to live somewhere like Japan where guns are so heavily regulated and criminally penalized that the gun violence rates are incredibly low (there are also cultural things at play there, too, but I digress). I agree that violence won't go away if we heavily regulate (or even eliminate!) guns, but if you have to kill somebody with a hammer (hahaha) or a knife, violence will go down. Guns depersonalize violence. When you can kill somebody from so far away without having to intimately engage them as you would with a knife or whatever - it depersonalizes it.

I was talking to my (libertarian) husband about all of this, and his view is that the constitution permitted guns to well-regulated militias - and that those militias were essentially meant to be the country's system of military. He doesn't see it being that far off, constitutionally, to just allow the military to own the guns. That said, I don't think regulations like that would EVER fly.

Anyways. Interesting. I'm curious to see the comments on this one.

Bridget said...

The fact that I am not aware of the intricacies of Middle Eastern gun regulations is another example of how the stereotype of Americans re: guns is wrong. I do not have a hyper awareness of guns and which governments might try to take mine away. That said, I know the UAE for one (and probably most if not all Gulf countries with sizable expat communities) does not allow non-Emirati residents to own firearms. However, there are shooting ranges here.

Like you, my first visible-weapons experiences were outside of the US. I saw guns (all types) all the time in Syria and Jordan, on police or military or "secret" police.

Ariana said...

I dated a guy a long time ago who loved to hunt and target shoot...it was so fun, I bought myself a .22 rifle. I still have it, but I haven't shot it in like 12 years. I own no bullets. It lives hidden away in our house. It was fun to target-shoot, and I was REALLY good at it, but is it something I feel I must have in my life? Nope. I know so many people who feel they need a firearm "to protect their family and property from people if there was ever a big catastrophe." So like if there was a huge earthquake and goods/services were temporarily impossible to come by, it's suddenly ok to go shooting people who come wanting to take your stuff? I just do not agree with that.

Steven said...

I'm kind of interested in what you had to say in your original "offensive" blog post.

Jen said...

First of all, I'll admit that I was practically pacing the floors for Jon Stewart to come back from vacation because I knew he was going to talk about guns, and I knew he was going to articulate my feelings a LOT better than I could. That man is brilliant.

I've mentioned it before elsewhere, but there is a major discrepancy in this country about what should/should not be regulated. French cheese? Raw milk? Regulate the heck out of it. Being able to take a concealed assault weapon onto a college campus? Meh. Go right ahead.

I am apologetically opposed to guns and I don't buy the culture argument. Because, really, this is not a republican v. democrat argument---this is a regional one. A North Dakota Democrat and a Massachusetts Republican will certainly disagree about gun control, but not along party lines. I don't accept the premise that guns are a healthy or necessary part of our culture. We have the highest rates of gun violence in the industrialized world--but as Stephen Colbert pointed out last night, the rest of the world ALSO has violent video games and violent movies and...and...and. (http://www.hulu.com/watch/443675)

(And, for the interest of your information, I've also never come across a gun in a setting that wasn't law-enforcement related. I agree that there is possibly an overblown cultural perception of America's obsession with guns. When my cousins were being relocated back to the U.S. after more than a decade of military service in Europe, they were terrified. They honestly thought that they were going to be immediately victimized by gun crime.)

Jen said...

Grrr....auto-correct. That should say UNapologetically opposed.

Sarah Familia said...

This reminds me about the issue of universal healthcare. My friends in other developed countries are not surprised at the conclusions we reach, they are flabbergasted that it is even a discussion in the first place. Sometimes I hate how uncivilized we look to the rest of the world.

Also, to add a dissenting viewpoint to your #4, I have been shocked at the number of my U.S. friends and acquaintances from various states who regularly make (what I consider to be) extremist statements about their "right" to own a gun. And maybe it's just that I'm still having culture shock here in Florida (where the Trayvon Martin shooting is very alive in people's memories and lots of people live out in the wilds accompanied only by their guns and their No Trespassing signs), but I feel like even though I've certainly never sought it out, "gun culture" is indeed quite prevalent in the U.S. I don't remember it so much growing up, but I feel like it's gone completely out of control.

Bridget said...

"My friends in other developed countries are not surprised at the conclusions we reach, they are flabbergasted that it is even a discussion in the first place."

YES - you have expressed it so well.

It is true that I haven't spent a lot of time in areas of the US that are known for having a stronger gun culture (for lack of a better term), and that might account for why I find outsider media to have such a skewed view of America, at least compared to my perception.

Liz Johnson said...

I'm with Steven - what was your original offensive piece?? :)

I should clarify - though I don't interact with guns, I have several friends/family members who carry guns and who get really angry the minute you talk about regulating them. When I give the argument that much less dangerous things are far more regulated (like Jen mentioned), they retort with something like "the right to drink raw milk isn't in the constitution, but the right to bear arms IS!!!!!!" And then I shake my head in disbelief, because SERIOUSLY?!

BUT. Those people are in the minority of all of the people I know. I mean, probably 5-10% of the people I know are gun-owners, but probably 25-30% oppose further regulations on firearms. That's obviously a very rough guess.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Guns have been present in the US since our beginning in Jamestown, when survival meant owning a few of those awkward dangerous misfiring muskets to defend against bears and panthers and frontier marauders, and to provide food. Hunting is still a popular sport, so ok, we “need” guns for that. Come to think of it, I forgot until now that we own a gun. It’s Craig’s rifle from when he was a teenage target shooter. This is bad, but I don’t even know where it is right now. It hasn’t been fired in 35 years.

I don’t see that the general populace needs guns for defense these days. Yeah, I live in a nice community where we don’t generally have bad guys trying to break down our door at all hours of day/night (although there was a triple murder around the corner from us a few years ago (not random)) (and yes, the perp used a gun). From what I read about the bad parts of town here in PDX, break-ins don’t happen as much as you’d think. If someone is out to get someone else, they just fire their AKs through the window and it’s all over for that victim. You can’t defend yourself against that. And by the way, guess what makes a part of town “bad” these days? Yeah, it’s the heavy use of guns.

It alarms me to hear calls for arming teachers, or posting security guards in front of every school (don’t forget theatres, businesses, parks, malls, etc.). More guns means more innocents will die. My friend was widowed when someone set down an “unloaded” gun which went off and killed her husband. Real life isn’t like TV, where a bad guy with a gun is taken out by a good citizen who packs. In fiction a character analyzes a crazy chaotic situation in a nanosecond, and they are perfect shots and never harm a bystander. In the recent Clackamas Mall shooting in PDX (same week as Sandy Hook), there were people in the mall carrying concealed weapons. And they could not use them, because it all happened fast and they were afraid of hitting the wrong person.

I wrote this comment before watching the videos. Stewart may have hit the nail on the head: “Their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present.”

Tia said...

I agree with you 100% but I guess I am one of the few who have seen a loaded gun being used not by police and not for hunting or shooting practice.

The Doctor said...

Hi. I love to read your blog. I'm a US History teacher, who carries a gun. I'm from Utah, which does have a big gun culture. We are one of only two states where you can do this (carry at school). Our elders quorum has parties where we go out shooting (shot guns). We also do this for father and son outings. I served my mission in Oregon, and know they have stricter gun laws. It does depend on where you live and grew up, as to your experience with guns. I respect your views. On the 2nd Amendment, most people don't realize that the first statement about the militia is only a preamble (one of many reasons), to why the people have the right to bear arms. Other amendments also begin with preables (one of many reasons) to have this right. They liked to write this way back then. Thomas Jefferson said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." In my history class this week, I tried to make history today relevant to the past, by showing that the American Revolution started when the British (the government) tried to take the peoples guns at Concord (Battle of Lexington & Concord). The Revolution would never have happened if the people were disarmed. Think about Jefferson's statement. Today, the government and non-gun cultured people want to take guns. It's funny how history repeats itself. The South during the American Civil War took up arms against what they thought was a tyrannical government. The government sent the military on Utah in 1857 (The Utah War). Governor Boggs issued the Extermination Order on the Mormons. As much as we don't want to think about it, sometimes these things happen, and "the people" must have arms to protect themselves from the government. Just some things to think about. Again, I love to follow your interesting travels. I spent time in Jerusalem with BYU many years ago, and also teach geography, so I learn much from your blog. Don't mean to sound controversial.

Nemesis said...

I respect The Doctor's comment, and I am curious about one point--I've heard this argument made before, about how people may one day need guns to protect themselves from their government. But I'm pretty sure that if the US Army came after me, they would have tanks and missiles and, hey, nukes. I don't think my hypothetical gun (even if it were an assault rifle) would actually protect me from that kind of firepower.

My dad is a gun enthusiast and, in the last few years, has started carrying a concealed hand gun. He absolutely does not think that assault rifles should be banned because criminals will still be able to obtain them anyway.

But the kid who opened fire in an elementary school wasn't some criminal who went through the black market--he just got them from his mom's (legally obtained) collection.

Susanne said...

I've thought of that as well, and hoped if it ever came to that that our military would be more in line with the people than the government. More like Egypt's army (er,kind of) than Syria's, for example.

What do y'all think about people like the Georgia mom who shot an intruder five times because he found her and the kids hidden in the closet?

I am for guns out of the hands of evil people (i.e., those with "sin problems.":-))

The Doctor said...

When the Minute Men stood up against the British at Lexington, they didn't intend to win. They were standing up to show their protest of what the British were doing, hoping the army would not fire on them. As we know, someone fired a shot that was heard around the world. A good netfix movie to watch (I 'm showing my class) on this is "April Morning". I agree that heaven forbid the military turns on it's people we would have no chance, but then so did those early Americans have no chance against the mighty British army.

Kathy Haynie said...

Bridget, I have one disagreement here. You have labeled this post as a "rant," and I don't think it fits the genre. It is thoughtful, aware of other positions, and informed. Thank you for speaking up. I live in a part of Oregon where gun culture is still alive and well. Many of my (high school) students miss a week of school in the fall for the annual hunting trip. Many members of my extended family are gun enthusiasts / military / retired FBI, etc. I often feel silenced in my views, which are that guns are not regulated nearly enough in the United States. I especially appreciated Jon Stewart's intelligent arguments in favor of a multi-faceted, common-sense approach to rational steps we can take to reduce gun violence. The more we hear from more voices--even on our humble little blogs--the more the conversation may be able to shift. We also need to speak up and inform our representatives of our views on gun violence. Thank you.

Bridget said...

I kinda liked it as 'apologetically.' :)

Bridget said...

Susanne, I read that story yesterday and if there is a time and a place to shoot someone then I suppose that's it. When we lived in Tucson, a U of A student shot and killed a home intruder. Reading the book A Safeway in Tucson also prompted some deep thinking about guns, gun control, concealed weapons, etc. The thing is, I am more than ok with people like Nemesis' dad or (it seems) The Doctor (above) carrying. Where I get uncomfortable is in the extremes - assault rifles and that guy in the DS clip screaming. How has it come to this?

Nemesis, good point about the CT school shooter just taking the guns from his mom. It will always be hard to prevent that kind of thing.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I agree, that a sensible and trained person carrying is fine. It's the arsenals of 'extreme weapons' that are troubling, especially when a wacko person is involved.

We hear so much from a certain faction saying that most gun owners are responsible, whatever that means. You and me both can think of a family with a house full of children and a room full of guns. And no lock on the door.

The Doctor mentioned a good point about defending ourselves against tyranny, which I had not thought of when posting above.

Jen said...

I have a hard time accepting the argument that we shouldn't create tighter gun control because it "won't work." Clearly, this is a difficult problem to solve...where "difficult" is probably synonymous with "best-case scenario." But when the NRA's solution to "bad guys with guns" is "good guys with guns," I have a hard time taking the whole thing seriously.

Bridget said...

Mom, you just reminded me that I HAVE seen a gun in the US, in the summer of 2012.

Bridget said...

Oh no! That sounds scary, or am I misinterpreting?

Tia said...

Definitely scary. A woman pulled out a gun and shot at police officers in front of our house while playing in the yard when I eight. I grew up in ghetto Phoenix.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Yes, and thankfully none of the little kids were running around w/ them saying bang bang you're dead.

Myrna said...

As a Canadian-raised American citizen who has been living in the US for over ten years after twenty spent in Canada, I have got to echo Kathy's "I often feel silenced in my views" and Sarah's "I have been shocked at the number of my U.S. friends and acquaintances from various states who regularly make (what I consider to be) extremist statements about their "right" to own a gun." This, on the heels of what was a very mean-spirited election year, has made me really not want to live in the US anymore. I live in Utah, where I very much do not fit in with the prevailing political attitudes, and where I am in an almost constant state of feeling flabbergasted, whether it is about health care or guns or just general disrespect for different opinions. Too many Americans of my acquaintance are oh-so-very concerned about their second amendment rights, while they happily trounce on the first amendment rights of their neighbors.

Canada never looked so good to me. And I hate cold weather.

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