Thursday, December 6, 2012

Which Gun Culture?

Thanks to Bob Costas using halftime of Sunday Night Football to pontificate on the Kansas City Chiefs murder/suicide case, there is plenty of talk about guns again--or should I say the "Gun Culture in America". Whenever I hear that phrase used I always ask "Which Gun Culture?"--because their certainly isn't one overriding set of beliefs or practices involving weapons in the US.  In fact, I would say there are at least FOUR "Gun Cultures".

The first "Gun Culture" (which Mr. Costas is apparently a member) sees guns as inherently evil--and despite being inanimate objects--capable of committing crimes and killing people on their own.  They believe that the elimination of guns in the country would instantly reduce crime and prevent anyone from dying.

The second "Gun Culture" (to which I belong) sees guns as mechanical tools.  Tools that can be used to harvest wild game, to provide personal protection, and to facilitate competition and sport.  And that like any tool, requires proper training, use and storage to be safe.

The third "Gun Culture" (to which many of Bob Costas's loudest critics belong) see guns as the embodiment of liberty and freedom.  To them, any effort to prevent any American from buying any kind of firearm is the greatest affront to the Constitution imaginable and must be opposed at all costs.

And then you have the fourth "Gun Culture" (which included the perpetrator of the Kansas City tragedy) which sees guns as the ultimate symbol of power.  A symbol that not only demands respect but punishes those who fail to show that respect.  The gun also serves as an "equalizer" between those that have--and those that have not--by allowing those without to more easily take from those who have.

So now we have the four cultures clashing again--with those in the first group trying to convince those in the second that everyone in the third are just as dangerous as those in the fourth.  And those in the third are left trying to explain away the actions of those in the fourth while trying to convince those in the second that the everyone in the first are out to destroy the country.  And those in the fourth laugh at those in the first knowing that if they were to succeed in their efforts, nothing will change for them--while those in the second and the third become more vulnerable.

So the next time you hear someone mention "eliminating the Gun Culture" in conversation, ask them which one they are talking about--so you know if they are actually serious about fixing the problem.

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