Op-ed advocates shaming of "gun extremists"

Op-ed advocates shaming of "gun extremists"
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

For some time, I’ve written about the stigmatization of gun owners in this country. There is a concerted push by many to not just restrict guns, but drive those of us who support gun ownership into the underground. They want to make it shameful in a way that would be objectionable if it were just about any other lawful action.

But, for the most part, they’ve mostly been subtle about it.

What they’ve done is push an agenda that seemingly embraces this, but few have come right out and called for it.

At least, not until now.

But before we get to this, I have to address the opening of this piece of….well, let’s just say “piece” and leave it there.

America is a country-size arsenal.

There are 20% more guns in the U.S. than people. Americans are estimated to own 393 million of the 857 million guns in the world, or almost half — 46% — of all civilian guns.

And the obscene ubiquity of firearms in the U.S. explains much about why the country is a killing field without parallel in the developed world. Anyone who has studied the matter arrives at a simple conclusion: More guns means more death.

Actually, anyone who has truly studied the subject would come to the simple conclusion that there’s something far different at work than the number of guns in private hands.

First, we saw record gun sales during a period where we also saw record declines in the homicide rate. If more guns mean more death, then how does the author reconcile that simple fact?

Additionally, we have the fact that our “knife homicide” rate alone is greater than many developed nations’ total homicide rates. Were it just about guns, we wouldn’t see this, yet here we are.

So maybe the author’s “study” of the matter should evolve beyond Brady talking points.

Moving on…

But in a country so awash in deadly weapons and so steeped in the mythology of firearms, regulatory tweaks can protect Americans only so much. True reform will be achieved only through a transformation of culture. This is a generation-scale project, but at a time when guns are involved in almost 49,000 annual deaths and are now the leading cause of death among America’s youth, few national initiatives could be more worth undertaking.

The project must start with a shift away from tolerance of gun extremists. Acceptance must cease of these murder-mongers in the media, government, public gatherings and the home next door. No longer can their fanaticism be indulged or their rigidity accommodated. Society must stigmatize them, and they must be rendered culturally odious. Only when gun absolutists become social pariahs can the nation start to establish comprehensive reform, allowing community members to attend schools, shop at grocery stores and visit nightclubs without fear of being torn to shreds in a blast of bullets.

The Second Amendment won’t be repealed anytime soon, but Americans can at least begin a cultural shift and re-imagine what the law means. Society should no longer tolerate the kind of depraved fanaticism that allows someone like U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert to tweet a Christmas greeting with her young sons brandishing weapons of war. It should dismiss from the public conversation anyone who advocates the hell-summoning lie that the presence of more guns will prevent gun violence. It should humiliate without restraint those costume-wearing soldier wannabes who show up with their shooters at rallies. It should elevate judges — unlike the present conservative majority justices of the U.S. Supreme Court — who don’t view the Second Amendment as a national suicide pact.

Castigation must befall anyone who obstructs gun violence prevention. Lawmakers should continue to enact measures to protect constituents from the daily massacres their communities suffer. But members of those communities can participate in the greater reform project by shaming gun proponents wherever they show themselves.

Somehow, I don’t think the author has the cajones to actually put his words into action. After all, if he really thinks people like me are “murder-mongers” as he claims, why would he believe taking such a stand to my face wouldn’t be potentially fatal?

Obviously, I wouldn’t harm him unless he was a threat to my life, which is something I’m quite sure this individual is incapable of even if he so desired.

What’s amusing to me, though, is that I have no reason to believe he wouldn’t blast anyone who opposed the free exercise of our other rights.

Now, should we be “shamed” by society? No, but under the principles of freedom of association, he’s more than willing to distance himself from those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms. He can cut off any and all contact with those who think the Second Amendment matters.

Of course, in so doing, he’d be surprised to find how few of his neighbors and acquaintances are left.

Many of us who support the Second Amendment don’t do it vocally. I do, but many others simply make their stands with a check in the mail and a vote at the ballot box.

The writer calls us extremists, though. It’s a loaded term quite popular with the American left these days, but let me lay it out quite clearly: If supporting people’s rights makes me an extremist, then I will wear that label proudly until the day I die.

It doesn’t, though. The extremist is the person who wants to throw people out of society simply because they disagree about how to solve society’s ill.