January 19th, 2013, has been designated as “Gun Appreciation Day.” Uh, no, not by the federal government; by a coalition of groups that all support the second amendment of the U. S. Constitution. Some of these groups I belong to or support; some I have only heard of; some I’ve never heard of; some I have heard of, but they seem a little too far over the top—or to the right—for my taste. But what’s interesting about this is that it appears to be the first ever (that I’m aware of) attempt to show legitimate, quasi-mainstream (to the extent the internet can be considered mainstream) support for gun ownership. Which brings us to the crux of the issue.
Chris Dorsey, CEO and President of Orion Entertainment, an outdoor television production company, once told me that when he was in high school in Wisconsin he and his best friend used to ride their bikes to school during hunting season with their shotguns on the handlebars. At school, they would give the guns to the principal, who would lean them up in the corner of his office, and after school Chris and his friend would pheasant hunt their way home. That was only about thirty years ago, but it seems now like such an old-fashioned, long ago and far away thing for boys to do, Huck Finn drifting down the Mississippi on his raft. And yet it was in most of the country, until recently, just as much a normal, quintessential American activity as playing baseball, the kind of scene Norman Rockwell might have painted.
How did the gun, any kind of gun, become demonized? Why have so many Americans, primarily white, liberal, affluent, urban and suburban Americans, become so virulently afraid of guns?
Gun control of any kind is, by definition, racist. The vast majority of violent crime occurs in impoverished, inner-city areas. The vast majority of residents of impoverished inner-city neighborhoods are minorities, primarily black and Hispanic. Should those residents not be allowed to protect themselves? Are so many white, liberal, affluent, urban and suburban Americans really so racist that they consider minority lives snuffed out in ghettoes a small price to pay for their own safety?
Gun control is, by definition, sexist. Women are usually smaller and less able to defend themselves than men. Rape and sexual assault are becoming “more common throughout the world” (Source: Wikipedia, quoting a United Nations survey), with approximately one out of every six (or seven, depending on your source) American college women reporting a rape, yet nine out of ten rape victims never tell anyone what was done to them. Those are college women. I have no reason to believe the situation is better for poorer women unable to afford a college education. Do white, liberal, affluent, urban and suburban Americans care so little about their wives and daughters that they would put their own safety first?
And the ugliest truth of all is that gun control is, by definition, elitist. Most victims of every type of crime, violent or non-violent, are those people who are least able to protect themselves, physically or financially. Politicians and celebrities and the wealthy or well-connected can afford armed bodyguards; they and the affluent can afford to live in neighborhoods with low rates of crime; they can afford to live in homes with alarm systems. Are white, liberal, affluent, urban and suburban Americans so arrogant and callous as to believe they are the only ones who deserve to be protected?
Ever since the first ape whacked another ape over the head with a bone and got more of the berries to eat, man the tool-using animal, has always been armed. It was only toward the end of the industrial revolution, when lifestyles and living patterns throughout most of the world were changed by industry, and more people became more affluent, that for the first time in history a man would or could go out without an armed retinue to protect him, or, if he were less wealthy, with a sword or a pistol on his belt to do the protecting himself. Is there any white, liberal, affluent, urban or suburban person out there so naïve as to believe that countless hundreds of thousands of years of evolution can be undone in a handful of generations? Or, more ridiculously, by the scribbling of a presidential pen? Focusing on the gun as a casual agent is completely inexplicable. If you follow that logic, the next time you go to a concert, wait until Yo Yo Ma leaves the stage and then applaud his cello.
Now, according to columnist Philip Rucker, writing for the Washington Post, “…the White House is working with its allies on a well-financed campaign in Washington and around the country to shift public opinion toward stricter gun laws and provide political cover to lawmakers who end up voting for an assault-weapons ban or other restrictions on firearms.” Is the current administration so elitist as to believe they are the only ones who deserve to be able to protect themselves? Are they so naïve that they really believe they can pass more laws to make crime more illegal? Are their own careers more important to them than reality?