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The Gun as Symbol: Who Owns It?

In the aftermath of a shooting, there’s always a heated debate about guns in our country—one often fraught with bombast and vitriol. The high tension and emotion make sense: shooter Devin Kelley’s attack on congregants at Sutherland Springs’ First Baptist Church this past Sunday ended with 26 dead and 20 wounded. But all too often, our debates following such carnage result in little other than deeper division and venom between left and right.

Much of this vitriol stems from widely differing perceptions of the gun between these two circles. On the right, a gun is not always viewed as just another weapon. It’s often seen as a symbol: of resistance to tyranny, of autonomy and self-sufficiency, and even of traditionalism or groundedness. A plethora of pro-gun, Second Amendment-touting bumper stickers [1] abound on the internet, as well as t-shirts [2], hats [3], and mugs [4]. All of them hint at a libertarian individualism, a savvy self-determination that transcends what’s popular or “safe.”

On the left, of course, such sentiments aren’t usually just confounding—they’re offensive. Guns are weapons of murder. They are lethal, dangerous, and uncontrollable. For most Democrats, the gun isn’t a symbol of liberty; it’s a toxic emblem of death. And people who oppose gun control with such arguments or appeals to the gun-as-symbol aren’t just being reckless; they’re putting countless lives on the line in order to perpetuate their Second Amendment fantasies.

It is true that the right can be reactionary, rather than reasonable, when it comes to guns. In recent years, the anti-government and anti-left rhetoric of the right has reached a fever pitch. One need only watch an NRA ad [5] from earlier this year to see this potent, poisonous “us vs. them” oratory in real time. In practice, talking points like this don’t further debate or good governance. They foment hysteria, anger, and division. Instead of a pearl-clutching society, they’ve fostered a gun-clutching one.

This seems hardly beneficial, even to someone like me who supports gun ownership. Because while a gun can be an exceedingly useful tool (for hunting and providing food for one’s family, for instance), it is also an exceedingly dangerous one. People fear guns because they have a profound capability for slaughter. A gun is, in its very being, exponentially more deadly than a knife or bow and arrow.

I grew up in the incredibly pro-gun state of Idaho. Being pro-Second Amendment and pro-gun was part of being a conservative in this hunting and fishing state. Shrewd gun ownership and use was part of many families’ lives: fathers were proud of their ability to provide food for their families, and of their ability to protect them (whether from potential break-ins, from coyotes, or from dangerous wildlife while out camping). Teenagers practiced marksmanship shooting, helped hunt in the fall, and learned to cook with venison.

For these families, perhaps guns were a symbol of liberty and autonomy, but they were also a profoundly practical tool. Meat doesn’t just come from a grocery store. You don’t call the cops when a fox gets into your henhouse.

But these gun owners were also savvy and prudent. They knew just how dangerous these weapons were. Guns were locked away. They were never allowed around children. Pre-teens and teenagers learned how to use them only with the expert care and caution of their parents. There was never a scenario or time in which a gun was presented without extreme gravity, solemnity, or care.

It’s important to highlight such instances, because it’s easy for anti-gun advocates to see all gun owners through stereotypical lenses: perhaps they picture an apocalyptic prepper who has built up an arsenal of weapons in his basement, and is determined to stand his ground when the federal government comes for him and his property. Or perhaps they picture Instagram star Dan Bilzerian [6]: a man for whom weaponry is more about macho manliness than it is about safety or sustenance. It’s important to remember that, while these people exist, they are not the average gun owner.

That said, many gun owners are careless. I have heard too many stories [7] of toddlers who innocently plucked guns from their parents’ bedside table or car console, only to turn them toward their face or chest and accidentally pull the trigger. According to the CDC [8], 19 children die from or are treated for gunshot wounds every day. It’s difficult to know why such things happen—why gun owners so often forget the inherent lethality in their weapons. But perhaps it does not help that, when we turn tools into symbols, we can forget what they’re truly capable of.

Thus, even while I understand the gun-as-symbol argument, I believe guns are a rather inappropriate item to be touted, clutched, or worshiped. Any human construct—from a truck to a house, a guitar to a toolbox—can be beloved by its owner. We can attach an air of dignity or pride to these things, especially when we develop some skill and proficiency in their use. But these objects weren’t made to kill. Their chief end isn’t death. Even if we only use guns for target practice or shooting clay pigeons, we cannot ignore what a gun was made to do—what it is, in its very essence. Guns are not righteous objects to be protected at all costs, but rather (as many Democrats rightly point out) incredibly dangerous machines.

Those who view guns as symbols of resistance—to the state, to the left, to the “them” so menacingly described in that NRA ad—can no longer sympathize with those who look at a gun, and see only peril and death. They’ve cut themselves off from the other reality so many recognize when staring at a gun: the homicides of young men. Domestic violence that ends in murder. Thousands of suicides per year. The accidental deaths of children.

But we cannot cut ourselves off from this other reality. And we should not scoff at liberals who call for gun control, even if their hoped-for measures cannot drastically change gun violence [9] in this country. Because the plain, simple truth that they point out is both unavoidable and important: without a gun, Kelley could not have sprayed the side of First Baptist Church with bullets. Without a gun, he could not have killed so many in so little time. Without a gun, the life of an 18-month-old baby might have been saved.

In our hesitancy to endorse exhaustive gun control measures, we must not negate or ignore the lethality of the gun. Because some tools are too deadly to be taken lightly.

Gracy Olmstead is a writer and journalist located outside Washington, D.C. She’s written for The American Conservative, The Week, National Review, The Federalist, and The Washington Times, among others.

31 Comments (Open | Close)

31 Comments To "The Gun as Symbol: Who Owns It?"

#1 Comment By warren trout On November 12, 2017 @ 8:55 pm

You miss the whole point of the pro-gun side. It’s about DEFENSE. Defense against the bad guys and defense against an oppressive State.

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On November 12, 2017 @ 9:22 pm

Thank you, but you are suggesting too nuanced an approach for this debate. I decline to call this a ‘left / right’ or even ‘conservative / liberal’ debate, as that automatically sweeps-in too many other issues. This needs to be addressed as a specific issue.

But here is where we start to unravel. Too many self-proclaimed 2nd amendment ‘defenders’ are using that as a smokescreen for personal proclivity without any real understanding of how the exercise of Rights is always tempered by other factors, such as no freedom of speech to start a dangerous panic in a public venue. Too many mis-perceive this as the thin edge of the wedge of tyranny. I suggest that if the responsible gun owners you describe strongly supported gun safety laws and ceased blocking basic legislative efforts to vet gun ownership and keeping a national database of gun violence, there could be genuine progress, maybe even that American political innovation of ‘compromise’.

I do dichotomise the issue as ‘for’ and ‘against’. Those you describe are not the open carry attention-seekers, but are responsible citizens. And many, many of us who promote the highest standards of safety, including licensing owners and a comprehensive FBI database of gun crime, do not wish to confiscate anything.

This is not a ‘what’ question and should be approached as a ‘how’ problem.

#3 Comment By ScottA On November 12, 2017 @ 9:24 pm

Except that if all guns were illegal you would still have a big black market for criminals to get guns which can be easily shipped across our open border. Guns are a great equalizer for women to defend themselves against rapists.

I am not taking a position one way or the other at this point on assault rifles, but a compromise could be to outlaw assault rifles for civilian use, but allow law abiding citizens to purchase hunting rifles, shotguns, pistols and be able to acquire concealed carry licenses for self-defense.

After all, when the Second Amendment was written people had muskets and assault rifles had not even been invented yet. Civilians can’t purchase grenade launchers, flame throwers, etc. so maybe if a compromise must be made maybe this can be the solution. I could live with this, but I would not find it acceptable for pistols, hunting rifles, shotguns and concealed carry to be illegal.

#4 Comment By Youknowho On November 12, 2017 @ 9:50 pm

I suggest that we treat guns like cars. You can own a car, but to drive it, you must pass a driver’s test.

People with guns should be made to pass a stringent gun safety course, to instruct them that they have a lethal instrument which should be treated with due respect. There will be those for whom it will be a breeze, just what they have learned from their father. And there will be those who will desperately need to know it.

#5 Comment By mike newkirk On November 12, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

There are not 19 “children” dying every day from gun shots. There quite possibly are 18.9 gangbangers making their exit, which is a very good thing.

#6 Comment By Egypt Steve On November 12, 2017 @ 10:24 pm

As a constitutional originalist, I advocate that we strictly construe “arms” in accordance with the understanding of the Framers. The people have the right to bear flintlock muskets, Kentucky long rifles, and single-shot, muzzle-loading pistols. And swords. That’s pretty much it.

By the way, I went through more than 10 Captchas to post this. GET RID OF THIS SYSTEM.

#7 Comment By Weldon On November 13, 2017 @ 6:57 am

Two problems there, ScottA:

1. The distinction between an “assault weapon” and a “hunting rifle” is a marketing distinction, not a technical one: a semi-automatic that accepts detachable magazines is a semi-automatic that accepts detachable magazines. Proponents of gun control love to say “you can’t hunt deer with an AR-15”, which is true: it’s not powerful enough. But you also couldn’t hunt deer with a .223 centerfire rifle that is styled more traditionally, either. More on this in a second.

2. The VAST majority of murders, and even a slight majority of mass shootings, are committed with handguns (Cho at VA Tech is probably the highest-profile recent example). And the VAST majority of murders never need even a second bullet, let alone a 30th. If this is an average day, 60 people will die from being shot, 40 by their own hand, and of the 20 who were shot by someone else, 18 will have been shot with a handgun. But the political appetite for addressing the profusion of handguns in the US is non-existent. A slow burn of 60 unconnected people a day will never overcome the occasional spectacular mass casualty incident in the public consciousness, even though it’s objectively the significantly greater danger.

Now, back to point 1. An interesting idea I’ve seen starting to be thrown around is that assault weapons should be addressed not as a demand question but as a marketing question. Gunmakers make most of their money from government contracts; those contracts give the government leverage to say things like “you cannot put out an ad for the AR-15 that says ‘Your man card has been re-issued’.” The difference between an assault weapon and a traditional weapon is a marketing distinction, but the whole point of marketing is that it *actually changes people’s behavior*, otherwise companies wouldn’t spend so much money on it.

#8 Comment By John On November 13, 2017 @ 7:30 am

The problem here is that neither side is willing to compromise or admit the other side has valid arguments. There is also a great deal of duplicity, too. The left claims that no one wants to confiscate guns, which is a lie, as many on the left do. The right ignores the simple fact that people profit from arms sales, which has as much to do with the promotion of gun culture as anything else. You too can own an M4gery and pretend to be a SEAL.

The real answer is that we do need tighter controls on ownership, in terms of training and qualification, and we also need to make gun ownership again become a useful civic asset, as opposed to a political minefield.

How?

Simple – do away with the restrictions of the 1968 GCA on full auto ownership. At the same time, institute a training and qualification plan for owners of these weapons and semi-auto clones (yes, I know you can own class 3 right now, and have licensing, but bear with me). You need to store them securely, be legally liable if anything happens, etc. In return, you get to have access to formal training and are part of the reconstituted militia. You also automatically are eligible to carry concealed handguns on a national level, without licenses, in the same way that the police can, as it would be rolled into your existing training and qualification.

Next, people can own hunting rifles, shotguns, and handguns as they do now, including background checks. Anyone who wants to carry a handgun has to pass a real training course, not the joke ones you need now, including tactics, legal issues, etc, not unlike what a police officer has to pass. Likewise, doing so gives you national unlimited carry, and without restrictions – this is because “gun free zones” only serve to enable killers who don’t care about those dumb signs.

Something like this is impossible in the modern political climate, unfortunately, where we have long ago abandoned the idea that we can rationally compromise. It is increasingly hard for a gun rights person like myself to defend unfettered access after things like Vegas and Texas, but I also know that putting regulation out there without trying to build something positive from it for gun owners is foolish and doomed. The real question is if people who do not want some regulation are willing to accept things as they are if there is a shooting at a school which claims the lives of their children or grandchildren.

Likewise, can the left accept the consequences of trying to forcibly do away with the right of self defense and leaving most defenseless against criminal assault? A restraining order is not bullet proof and a no guns sign isn’t, either.

#9 Comment By JeffK On November 13, 2017 @ 9:00 am

Gun ownership, along with abortion (a topic for another time),are probably the two most contentious issues separating Republicans and Democrats. For many, they are probably the top two issues that drive their political party preferences, votes, and activism.

As I mentioned before on this site, I am a registered Republican on hiatus from the lunacy of the current makeup of the party. The Republican party is, as I have mentioned, dead to me.

However, I get it as for the defense of life and property goes. I was a hunter at age 12, and hunted for years before I took a break from it. I had 2 deer rifles and 2 shotguns safely boxed up in the closet. There were no small children in the house.

Then things changed. Before the heroin dealer moved in across the street from me I saw no reason for owning an assault rifle. However, after taking license plate numbers for months and giving them to the local police, with no halt to the 24hr/day traffic of really scummy people, I bought my AK47. One of my friends had a daughter who was an addict, and she shared that the enforcer that moved into the house was a really bad ex con who bragged about his history of ‘taking care of business’. Well, with neighbors like that, I wanted to be able to match anything the bad guys had. But, that situation was resolved. Things seemed normal.

Then Trump got elected. I view this president as the greatest threat to the American way of life and democracy since the civil war. So I bought a couple more ‘modern sporting rifles’, along with thousands of rounds of ammo, and put them into a gun safe in the basement. What will I use them for? I have no idea. But I am ready. And I don’t think they will lose much value and will be part of my estate when I pass.

So I get it. People want to feel safe. And modern sporting rifles actually commit a very small percentage of murders. Most murders are buy handgun (I think). But, when in the hands of a lunatic, MSRs are incredibly dangerous killing machines.

If MSRs are outlawed, will I give mine up? I doubt it. But I certainly think they should be regulated. How? I don’t know. I think the best thing would be to do what John Kasich recommends. Get together a commission of people that 1) Acknowledge the 2nd amendment and gun confiscation in this country is a non-starter, and 2) Recognize that some reasonable regulations are appropriate.

When 85% of NRA members are for enhancing background checks and closing the ‘gun show loophole’, while the NRA opposes those things, it just shows how out of step the NRA is with the American people. The NRA is basically an industry association instead of a civilian organization.

One last thing, a very good friend of mine is retired and took the position of Range Safety Officer in a southern state. We were discussing this topic. He is 100% for regulation, and said something like “If the average American saw what some of these guys bring to the range they would be horrified. I have seen people that absolutely should not own a gun bring some very serious hardware’ to the range.

How do we solve this? I don’t know. But the pro-gun group had better hope that the crime scene photos of Newtown and the Pulse Nightclub and Southerland church never see the light of day. Photos of children cut in half by MSRs will certainly change the conversation. If my child was a victim I would insist on copies of those photos so that I could share them with the public.

A very difficult issue for sure.

#10 Comment By SDS On November 13, 2017 @ 9:35 am

“And many, many of us who promote the highest standards of safety, including licensing owners and a comprehensive FBI database of gun crime, do not wish to confiscate anything.”

…Let be serious. Of course you do. You want to confiscate any and all you can…..but don’t want to say outright. So you push for it, bit by bit. As do some of the commenters here; talking about flintlocks, or licensing like cars.

Be honest….

#11 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 9:53 am

Youknowho :

I suggest that we treat guns like cars. You can own a car, but to drive it, you must pass a driver’s test”
**********
I’ve heard that suggested by others, too but operating a vehicle on a public highway isn’t a constitutionally guaranteed right. Owning a firearm is & you shouldn’t be forced to pass tests to qualify to exercise your rights. That’s been attempted in the past to exclude certain classes of citizens from voting.
Depending upon the state you may be required to take a gun safety course for a concealed carry permit but not for simple ownership.

#12 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 10:04 am

mike newkirk says:
There are not 19 “children” dying every day from gun shots. There quite possibly are 18.9 gangbangers making their exit, which is a very good thing.”
*******
I don’t know what the stats are actually, but that’s a good point. There are many deaths averaged in for teens who are in gangs or individually involved in criminal activity. Being under 18 doesn’t mean you’re necessarily an innocent child.
Back where we used to live, a 16 year old took out a mother shopping in broad daylight just for the few bucks in her pocketbook. And sadly that wasn’t unique.

#13 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 10:08 am

Weldon says:

Proponents of gun control love to say “you can’t hunt deer with an AR-15”, which is true: it’s not powerful enough. But you also couldn’t hunt deer with a .223 centerfire rifle that is styled more traditionally, either. ”
************
Well, I personally know someone who’s 12 year old daughter took out a doe from 230 yards with an AR15. She got a headshot, too.
I’m looking forward to some deermeat sausage.
🙂

#14 Comment By Dan Green On November 13, 2017 @ 10:51 am

Really kind of a stupid debate. The only way to stop a big portion of violence with a firearm, is allow no firearms. Now we all know that isn’t going to happen. If firearms were illegal, organized crime would supply, to those who wanted to shoot someone. We will never rid our society of nut cases. Muslims currently use home made bombs, and now cars, to kill innocent people. Solution ban guns and Muslims.

#15 Comment By Elizabeth Burton On November 13, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

“it’s easy for anti-gun advocates to see all gun owners through stereotypical lenses: perhaps they picture an apocalyptic prepper who has built up an arsenal of weapons in his basement, and is determined to stand his ground when the federal government comes for him and his property.”

Should we be surprised, given this is the image hammered by the corporate media every time there’s a shooting? You don’t have to take my word for it, either. Just watch how the “guy with a gun” becomes the “guy with an arsenal” within 24 hours or less. And how many times daily are those noxious NRA videos repeated on TV and via social media?

The issue of gun control is one that never comes close to being resolved, and both sides of the political game get to blame the other while nothing gets done. That is NOT a normal state of affairs. So, I think we need to start asking that very important question that should arise any time something eminently sensible never happens: Qui bono?

And in this case, I think at least one potential version of that question is: Who will benefit by a total ban on private possession of firearms? Because if you watch and listen, that’s the message that gets repeated the most. Not the sensible “treat guns like motor vehicles” concept of education, training, licensing and insurance but “get rid of guns.” Why is that?

And when is the last time you saw a TV episode or a film in which people with guns used them for feeding their families? Considering the way we humans absorb ideas via the media, why is it that even when such a theme is included it inevitably leads to someone being killed with those guns?

In these times, sometimes a little paranoia is healthy.

#16 Comment By PrairieDog On November 13, 2017 @ 12:55 pm

For years, decades, gun control advocates have painted anyone who disagrees with them, particularly the NRA, as having “blood on their hands” after every one of these episodes in which some miscreant kills some number of innocent people. The folks advocating more restrictive gun laws seldom, if ever, concede that anyone who disagrees with them on the issue can possible have anything other than evil intentions. Why should I “sympathize with people who hold me in such contempt? If there is to be any civil discussion of the matter, both sides need to be civil.

#17 Comment By March Hare On November 13, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

This is more of a rural vs urban/suburban culture issue than it is left/right. There’s a large degree of overlap with politics, but the dichotomy between “guns are my fetish” and “guns are icky” is mostly cultural.

Even this piece and its comment stream, overall pretty well thought out, falls victim. Fact is, a semiautomatic rifle doesn’t care how big a magazine is attached to it. I own a Ruger mini-14 carbine, and magazines which hold 5, 20, or 30 rounds. The rifle doesn’t know one from the other.

And by the way, I’ve never pointed this weapon at another human being, but I have killed three different rabid animals with it: two raccoons and a woodchuck.

As for “nobody goes hunting with an AR-15”, well, nonsense. My mini-14 shoots the same ammunition and it IS a legal hunting weapon for deer here in upstate NY of all places. so are AR-15s. What you can’t do is be in the field with more than 7 rounds in your magazine. That’s sound hunting management, since you want hunters to shoot carefully and not just blast the whole hillside with a fusillade. If it were up to me, I’d take that number down to 4 or 5.

The craziest bit of all is that when our dear Governor Cuomo pushed through an anti-assault rifle bill after Newtown, he was careful to focus on gnarly-looking weapons, the kind you can equip with flash suppressors, grenade launchers and bayonets. That’s the legal definition of an assault weapon under the NY SAFE act.

To my knowledge, nobody has yet held a mass shooting using grenades or bayonets, so this focus was purely pandering to suburbanites who know nothing about firearms. My rifle was excluded, largely because is has a nice, well finished wooden stock and doesn’t look so gnarly. But it is just as capable of spewing mayhem and death as any of the weapons covered by the ban. Alas, we have proof of this from Norway, where one of the largest mass shootings anywhere took place a few years back, using a sedate, dignified looking mini-14.

So on both sides, this is largely a dialogue of the deaf.

#18 Comment By Youknowho On November 13, 2017 @ 3:16 pm

@mrscracker

The right to own a gun does not include a right to make a nuisance of yourself in exercising a right. A gun is not a moral principle to be debated in philosophy class. It is a dangerous tool that needs proper handling. Since considerable damage happens when not handled properly, and since that damage often involves third parties, those third parties should have a say in the process.

I think that the author’s gun owning relatives would say if they saw someone using a gun carelessly :”get the gun out of that fool’s hand before he hurts someone”.

You have a Constitutional right to own a gun. You have a Contitutional right to be a damn fool. But there is no Constitutional right to be damn fool with a gun…

Remember “properly constituted militia”. Properly constituted militias do not allow damn fools in.

#19 Comment By mrscracker On November 13, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

Youknowho ,
I’m very much in agreement that firearm owners should be responsible, but first presuming they’re not isn’t correct I think.
Most folks
that grew up with guns were taught by their family how to use them properly. Sadly it becomes apparent pretty quickly when that isn’t the case.
We had an incident reported in the local newspaper where a 19 year old was cleaning his gun, assumed it empty & pulled the trigger in the direction of his grandma & the family dog. Only the dog survived its injuries.
The first rule is there’s no such thing as an unloaded gun & the second is to never point a gun at anything you don’t want to kill. Just practicing those two rules goes a long way.

#20 Comment By Kent On November 13, 2017 @ 4:24 pm

Up voting what John above said. A very reasonable and responsible resolution to this issue, that, unfortunately, would require reasonable and responsible people on both sides of the issue. Pity that.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The “free State” in this amendment meant the original 13 states of the union. The second amendment was meant to ensure the security of the states from the federal government. Therefore, the federal government could not disarm the “well regulated militias” of the states. The states, on the other hand, could do whatever they wanted, and did.

That is the literal intention of the 2nd amendment. Not the “let every nut have an AR-15” view of the modern population.

#21 Comment By grumpy realist On November 13, 2017 @ 4:32 pm

Mrscracker–which is why probably the easiest way to solve all of this is to insist on strict liability for all gun owners and mandatory insurance for all gun owners.

(Trouble is, most dummies-with-guns don’t kill themselves; they kill other people. Just like drunk drivers.)

#22 Comment By b. On November 13, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

“It’s often seen as a symbol: of resistance to tyranny, of autonomy and self-sufficiency, and even of traditionalism or groundedness.”

That maybe so, but it is also irrelevant. Those that see their guns that way, or claim to do so, do not see themselves as resistance against tyranny, or if they claim to do so, their definition of tyranny is a tautology: The tyrant is who wants to prevent me from buying a gun, my resistance begins and ends with buying more guns.

There is plenty of tyranny and oppression to go around in this nation, but it appears to get scant attention among those proud descendants of the amendment that originally read “The right of the plantation states to maintain slave patrols shall not be infringed upon.” You’ll notice that even the grammar suffered in the rewrite. The 2nd is really the blood-red step child of the Bill of Rights.

I do not share the author’s wonderment that so many of us fail at gun safety. The Founders built their entire government to account for the fact that we are, by and large, a bunch of damn fools. Petty tyrants, too.

I am confident that the upstanding defenders of the Bill of Rights – well, the 2nd of the amendments – and the Constitution – well, except for those War Powers – will be first in line to vote for a “no drive” list to fight the War Against Vehicular Terrorism, or to oppose a Right To Private Computation in the War On Hackers, or whatever national insecurity craze will sweep the land next.

Given that fishing with dynamite is a very sensible approach to sustaining your family, maybe we need to extent the 2nd to include the Right to Bear Explosives. After all, those militia men had to carry powder for reloads.

There is a world of a difference between regulating gun sales and ownership, and gun prohibition. It is not the same as, but somehow resembles, the difference between upholding the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, and pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth. The 2nd Amendment is little more than a letter of indulgence for the cargo cultists of “resistance”. In the age of Trump, the R-word has become as meaningless on the Left as it has always been on the Right. To think, this nation claims to have been founded in a R-evolution.

#23 Comment By Whine Merchant On November 13, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

“…Let be serious. Of course you do. You want to confiscate any and all you can…..but don’t want to say outright. So you push for it, bit by bit. As do some of the commenters here; talking about flintlocks, or licensing like cars.

Be honest….”

No, I do not want to confiscate anyone’s weapons. Your post is an example of Trumpian juvenile emotion masquerading as logic that blocks any adult discussion. I and many others want comprehensive background checks, mandatory safety classes and safe gun storage, and renewable licensing like for driving a vehicle. No confiscation, but criminal charges for law-breakers. So you can keep your ‘defensive’ arsenal while slowly, over a few generations, we improve public safety and personal security.

Your post is a great example how to perpetuate the problem. Go back to Faux, Rupert is calling you home for dinner.

Thank you –

#24 Comment By Youknowho On November 13, 2017 @ 6:38 pm

@mrscracker It is not disparaging responsible gun owners to want to constrain those who are not. In fact, if you read my post, you’d see that I postulate that they would be the first ones to demand that someone take the damn fool’s gun away before there is a fatality.

#25 Comment By Reasonable On November 13, 2017 @ 7:38 pm

I think it’s this simple: Just as the right to free speech does not give one the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, the right to bear arms does not give one the right to own a tool that can mow down scores of worshippers, human beings, in a church in seconds.

Why not an additional duty for an elected justice of the peace, a Sergeant of Arms for every municipality? Let that person hold the records of semi-automatics. A certified doctor or judge can contact the Sergeant when a citizen is in judged dangerous to himself or others, and then the Sergeant has the right to knock on the owner’s door and conduct an inspection, remove the gun by force only if necessary, and hold the weapons until the citizen is cleared by a professional. No need for a nationwide database, just a local paper registry, would do it. Why not also common-sense laws that make gun safes and training mandatory for such weapons? Let the same Sergeant conduct annual inspections. Let the NRA sponsor annual training. Something like this, could, and really must, be done if we’re to avoid mass-shootings.

#26 Comment By Wizard On November 14, 2017 @ 10:04 am

Egypt Steve – If the framers had meant “muskets”, they would have said “muskets”. They chose to use the generic term “arms” for good reason. They knew weapons technology had changed in the past and would change again in the future.

The ultimate meaning of the 2A isn’t really about weapons at all, it’s about self-protection. Either you have a right to protect yourself, or you don’t. If you do have such a right, then it logically follows that you have a right to own the most effective means of doing so. If you don’t have a right to self-protection, then all other rights become meaningless, since you have no recourse against those who choose not to respect your rights.

#27 Comment By PrairieDog On November 14, 2017 @ 11:38 am

Egypt Steve;

Do you, as a “constitutional originalist” also believe that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press only applies to the eighteenth-cntury, one-page-at-a-time printing press, and not to electronic media of any kind, not to mention ‘analog’ broadcast media or steam-powered rotary presses? Really?

#28 Comment By Slobobba On November 14, 2017 @ 1:09 pm

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy and thoughtful comment for this thread. Upon clicking the “Post Comment” button it never appeared in the thread and seems to have vanished into the ether. Any experienced person providing a solution is much appreciated.
But in the meantime- great post. Yes it is nuanced, for the specific intention of exposing our collective unwillingness to find a single common thread from which to have a sober debate or examination.
The writer makes no pretense at defining the issues involved, other than to give a nuanced suggestion that we share a mutual principle: to be safe. Not complicated!
We just disagree on what is the threat and how to protect ourselves from it.
As a lifelong hunter and recreational shooter, I have to reach deep to find empathy for what I experience as obsessive gun fetishism and aggressive fear at any suggestion this creates a problem that needs some addressing.

#29 Comment By mrscracker On November 15, 2017 @ 10:15 am

Wizard says:

“The ultimate meaning of the 2A isn’t really about weapons at all, it’s about self-protection. Either you have a right to protect yourself, or you don’t. If you do have such a right, then it logically follows that you have a right to own the most effective means of doing so.”
************
Sure, I basically agree. I personally don’t like revolvers & there’s a good reason more folks own semi-auto weapons for self defense.
Most of the debate over AR15 type rifles is bogus, but you do have to admit they have the potential for greater collateral damage in the wrong hands.
It seems reasonable to have a conversation on certain high capacity weapons and whether any commonsense restrictions might apply, but I’ve found that the energy behind the gun control lobby isn’t about commonsense. You give an inch & they take a mile.

#30 Comment By grumpy realist On November 15, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

Wizard–if I have a “right to protect myself”, especially against the “tyranny of the government” why can’t I insist on having a nuke? Or biological weapons?

Muh FREEDUM iz bean in-FRINJD!!!!

#31 Comment By Native Daughter On November 16, 2017 @ 5:57 pm

I just finished dealing with the estate of a late uncle who was a gun collector with an FFL, and left a horde of 930 guns in the home he shared with my aunt, who has Alzheimer’s. Because my aunt has dementia, I had to become the legal owner of the guns and arrange to auction them off to pay for her continued care at her home. Caveat here: I own two long guns and two pistols, and enjoy target shooting.

One thing I learned through this experience is that guns are not remotely alike. We had amazing historic guns (lots of Civil War), piles of 1880s to 1900 Colt SAAs and 1873 Winchesters, a Volcanic, a Japanese Matchlock, etc . . . and we also had some AR type guns and a bunch of Dirty Harry Smith & Wessons, and some items we turned over to the ATF (but no plastic Glock type things).

Based on my experience, I don’t understand is why we don’t have categories of ownership and licensing which include space for collectors and dealers but are more basic down at the .22 plinker level. There could be target shooting licenses, hunting licenses, licenses and clearances for those who really want to own an AR (and limits on how many you can own, because they are not collectable), and self defense licenses for those who think of their firearms in those terms (and mandatory classes to go with each category). And yes, this means more layers of government paperwork, but sometimes government IS the solution. In a general sense, people tend to value what they have to earn, and taking a safety class before buying a gun makes it more valuable than if you just plunk down money for it.

Finally, for those of you with ARs, the M1 Garand and Carbine are better firearms. Throw out the black plastic trash and hold some American history in your hands.