Thursday, January 31, 2013

Confessions Of Two Liberal Gun Owners

I have am ambivalent relationship with firearms. I never acquired a firearms license until I was in my thirties and then became interested in American Civil War reenacting. In the real army I am a non-combatant by virture of my trade, and yet I have two rifles at home (one a replica .58 calibre rifled musket from my reenacting days, the other a WW2 era SMLE4 because as a history geek I wanted to own the same type of weapon that my father carried). Most of my army friends are knowledgeable firearms experts and collectors, who look askance and rather pityingly at me when I bring out views on gun control, which are reinforced at home by a self-administered diet of liberal media such as NPR. As a gamer I spend an inordinate amount of time painting lead and plastic figures carrying weapons. As a Canadian I'm grateful that I live in a country that is culturally and historically different from our neighbours to the south, with their singular relationship to firearms, and yet there is much about the United States I admire. So it's all rather complicated.

This essay by American author Justin Cronin describes a similarly complicated relationship with firearms, and is worth reading. In my heart I wish that Cronin's line of thought took another direction, but in my head, I can understand why a family man, in a society awash with guns, would conclude that "I am my family’s last line of defense". I'm grateful that I live in a society where I feel that I don't have to draw the same conclusion, but I can understand his thinking.


Anibal Invictus said...

Mike, thanks once again for such an interesting insight.
I have to admit that from this side of the Atlantic, this debate seems to us like more appropriate for a lunatic's asylum and (almost) nobody can understand a thing.

Let's put this way: if you sell tobacco without restiction what you get is ... a lot of deaths by cancer. Is you sell weapons, the only outcome is more violent deaths, full stop.

It´s is the function of the Goverment to enfoce the law and protect you and your family lives, and the Goverment is the only body legitimised to use violence in order to compl with that function; but violence within a set of rules and not in an indiscriminatory basis. And we the citizens give the government the power to enforce the law.

This debate about the right to use weapons on the basis of our personal freedom is totally misleading. Sorry, I cannot understand.

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

In Britain we long gave up educating people in the art of using your common sense. Instead, we decided (or it was decided on our behalf) to remove and make illegal/difficult anything that could be mishandled to anyone's detriment ie guns, types of dogs, conkers, etc. We are protected in other ways by geography, in that we are an island, proximity, being some 60 millions and never more than a stones thrown from help or the law and of course the weather, it's not good enough to go out and get into too much trouble unless you're really determined.

But Canada and the rest of North America and, to some extent Australia et al. You're (not entirely, but often) on your own. Vast distance and less concentration of population does make a case for arms. The last time I saw a bear in Britain it was in a pram and a real one was in a zoo. If circumstances make it a rational arguement to have arms, then surely need and education followed by strictly enforced laws appear to be the way to go.

Kieran (Headologist) said...

My stance is very similar to yours Mike, I've had firearms licences in the past but am not especially enamoured with the things as your southern neighbours seem to be. Similarly as Service Ration Distribution says, here in Britain the population concentration and geography is not the same as it is in North America. Similarly, Canada does not seem to have nearly the same issues. Many in the US seem to think that licensing means stopping you having a gun. If "guns don't kill people, people do" look at the people you're selling to. Whilst it may be possible to kill with a pencil it's a damn sight more difficult...

Jason said...

I think the term 'Gun Control' is rather strange and approaching the problem from the wrong angle. 'Person Control' would be better. If you can restrict the guns from the nut-jobs then this should solve the problem. I have a large collection of guns and shoot quite happily in the UK in the company of some of the safest and most decent people you could ever wish to meet. These people would be as safe with a Bren as they are with a .308 target rifle. One can no more blame the gun for the actions of the lunatic,than I can blame my pen for some of my exam grades at school.

James said...

It is problemmatic and I feel your angst, as a fellow liberal and also someone who enjoys things that go 'bang'.

But I do not understand the American resistance to better screening, education and liscencing of gun owners.

Anonymous said...

When I was stationed in Britian I got a Shotgun Certificate so I could shoot clays. It was interesting going through the process. I also respect that Europeans have a very different outlook on firearms and government. As a Texan first, the government most assuredly is not here to protect me. That's my responsibility.

Our failing with people control is not dealing with our mentally ill. A person convicted of a felony, of any family violence, or adjudicated mentally deficient is prohibited from access to firearms. Unfortunately, criminals don't obey the law. It's already illegal to assault and murder, but does that stop it?

I'm as incredulous as ya'll are about our lack of vehicle control. A drunk father killed 6 of his own kids in a drunk driving single car accident. There was no outrage, no calls for stricter driving laws, or more police, or reduced-capacity cars. What represents more of a threat?

I spent over 20 years in police/security. I never confronted a gun, but I dang sure dealt with tons of vehicle related problems.

Michael Peterson said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I find it interesting that all of us, I think, are looking at most complicated issue from a non-American perspective. I don't presume to lecture Americans and to tell them "be more like us Canadians or Europeans or whatever. Firearms are too much a part of the American history, both historically and psychologically, for our friends to try someone else's solution. They'll have to find their own. However, on my drive to church this morning, I heard that America's top sniper, a famed ex Navy SEAL and published author, was shot to death on a gun range in Texas yesterday. Details are still somewhat unclear:
I don't really know what to say about this incident and how it relates to the theme of the post, but it's terribly sad and disturbing.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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