Guns have been part of the American fabric since the founding of this nation. Privately held firearms were here in the colonies, something that people living in Europe often lacked. We needed them to fend off attacks from hostile natives and to put food on the table. They were routinely used for personal protection as well, since the Indians weren’t the only ones who could be hostile.
Through the years, the role of guns in America has changed a bit. The country settled down, became more civilized, and the threat of constant attack evaporated like a mud puddle in August.
However, guns were always still there for most of us. That is, until fairly recently, when various places began restricting gun ownership for various nonsensical reasons.
Now, in an op-ed at The Week, it seems that by demanding our constitutionally protected right, we’re defending a made up gun culture while ignoring the precious liberal snowflakes their culture.
We are a nation divided, as everyone knows. And what we need to fix that problem is to reach out, express some empathy, and show our opponents that we don’t hate them even if we disagree.
Or at least, that’s what liberals are supposed to do.
You can hear that argument everywhere on the subject of guns: Whatever policy changes liberals might be proposing, it’s important to communicate to gun owners that you respect their culture and you don’t mean to wage an assault on their way of life. When someone like retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens writes an op-ed in TheNew York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, it only convinces people that you’re a bunch of gun-grabbers.
I’m all for respecting other people’s cultures and taking their feelings into account. But when was the last time you heard someone implore conservatives to respect the culture of coastal or urban-dwelling liberals?
We’re told that if you grew up around guns, then you’re right to worry that your culture could be eroded, and we need to understand and sympathize with your perspective. But here’s something that might surprise you: For millions of Americans, not having guns around is an important cultural value. It’s part of how we define the kind of places we’d like to live. Since most Americans don’t own guns, maybe that’s worthy of respect and consideration, too.
No, it’s not.
You see, we’re not fighting against your right to not have a gun around. We’re not calling for a requirement that everyone go out and buy an AR-15 tomorrow. We’re not trying to attack your choice.
If you choose not to have a gun around, that’s fine. The truth is, many of us do respect that. Gun ownership isn’t for everyone, and we’re okay with that. Much as I get tickled about Kennesaw, Georgia’s requirement that everyone have a gun, I oppose the law on general principle. People have a right to own guns, but they also have a right to not own them.
But the coastal or urban-dwelling liberals aren’t willing to reciprocate. They won’t return that respect. They want to strip us of our sacred, constitutionally protected rights because they’re uncomfortable. They’re the ones ignoring our cultural values.
Then one of them has the nerve to pretend we’re insensitive?
But that’s okay, because, you see, “gun culture” isn’t what we think it is, and this writer is going to “libsplain” it to us.
Make no mistake, in the past a greater proportion of Americans owned guns than do today. As recently as 1977, half of American households had guns, according to the General Social Survey; by 2016 that number was down to 32 percent. But back when a far greater portion of the American public lived in rural areas and small towns than do today, there wasn’t really anything like today’s “gun culture.” If you had a hunting rifle or a shotgun your dad gave you, as millions of Americans did, you weren’t participating in an encompassing “culture” in which guns defined your identity. That gun was a tool, like a broom or a shovel or a cleaver.
But the gun culture of today, with so much fetishizaton of guns and an entire political/commercial industry working hard to spread and solidify the idea that guns are not just a thing you own but who you are, is what we’re now expected to show respect for. For instance, the idea that anyone should be able to own military-style rifles designed to kill as many human beings in as short a period as possible, for no real reason other than the fact that some people think they’re cool, is supposed to be a part of people’s culture, no matter how ludicrous it would have seemed to your grandparents.
Actually, my grandmother was a supporter of the Second Amendment and had no issue with people owning AR-15s. She lived long enough to see them in common use, and while she wasn’t interested in owning one, she agreed that people had the right to.
You see, she came of age in a time when gun ownership was what helped her family survive the Great Depression and may well have helped keep the Japanese at bay in World War II. She saw gun ownership as more than just the right to have a hunting rifle.
But he’s right; a gun was never about who someone was.
It’s still not.
You see, there are a handful of people like me who consider ourselves “gun guys.” You’ve always had those guys to some extent, but they’re not the rank and file NRA member or gun owner. Most are people who have their guns for personal protection or whatever else, but if you ask them to describe themselves, they’ll tell you they’re an accountant or an attorney or a plumber or a welder.
They don’t define themselves as a gun owner as a general rule. We still view guns as tools, and we’re fighting like hell to keep our tools free. It’s only during these fights that many of us define ourselves as gun owners to provide perspective.
If this writer had bothered to actually talk with any of us, rather than seek to lecture, he might have learned that. But that would be asking too much of an anti-gun liberal.