The weekly compilations of people doing stupid things with guns is depressing; David Waldman never seems to find a shortage of material to report. Over at Talking Points Memo Josh Marshall and crew have been doing their own coverage. But this week Marshall featured a reader e mail in response to Marshall's own gun story; they're both worth a read because they give a glimpse of what these tales look like from the inside.
More below the Orange Omnilepticon.
Back in January, Josh Marshll penned an editorial about guns and where he is coming from, Speaking for My Tribe.
So let me introduce myself. I’m a non-gun person. And I think I’m speaking for a lot of people.Marshall relates an incident from his childhood that could have easily been one of the tragedies we read about every day. I won't summarize it here - it's worth reading in his own words. It drew a response from a reader who has been living with the consequences of a gun fail moment for years now. It's a perspective that doesn't get a lot of headlines. Again I won't summarize it - read it here.
It’s customary and very understandable that people often introduce themselves in the gun debate by saying, ‘Let me be clear: I’m a gun owner.’
Well, I want to be part of this debate too. I’m not a gun owner and, as I think as is the case for the more than half the people in the country who also aren’t gun owners, that means that for me guns are alien. And I have my own set of rights not to have gun culture run roughshod over me.
I don’t have any problem with people using guns to hunt. And I don’t have any problem with people having guns in their home for protection or because it’s a fun hobby. At least, I recognize that gun ownership is deeply embedded in American culture. That means not only do I not believe there’s any possibility of changing it but that I don’t need or want to change it. This is part of our culture. These folks are Americans as much as I am and as long as we can all live together safely I don’t need to or want to dictate how they live.
Marshall makes a strong point in his editorial:
In the current rhetorical climate people seem not to want to say: I think guns are kind of scary and don’t want to be around them. Yes, plenty of people have them and use them safely. And I have no problem with that. But remember, handguns especially are designed to kill people. You may want to use it to threaten or deter. You may use it to kill people who should be killed (i.e., in self-defense). But handguns are designed to kill people. They’re not designed to hunt. You may use it to shoot at the range. But they’re designed to kill people quickly and efficiently.emphasis added
That frightens me. I don’t want to have those in my home. I don’t particularly want to be around people who are carrying. Cops, I don’t mind. They’re trained, under an organized system and supposed to use them for a specific purpose. But do I want to have people carrying firearms out and about where I live my life — at the store, the restaurant, at my kid’s playground? No, the whole idea is alien and frankly scary. Because remember, guns are extremely efficient tools for killing people and people get weird and do stupid things.
In all the talk about gun rights, the arguments about self defense, and all the other words being thrown around while the body count climbs, there's a larger story being worked out. No one buys a gun to be safe. A gun can't make you safe - it just makes you dangerous. And for some people, that's just what they really want.
They want to be more dangerous than the things they hate and fear. They want a feeling of power over others. They want to feel in control in a world that is not shaped the way they think it should be. They want to be able to demand respect (deserved or not), be listened to (whether they're talking sense or not), and they want the the feeling of being able to tell the rest of the world to do what they say with an implied OR ELSE ready to hand. The rule of law, courts, the justice system, society - at the core they don't really believe in any of that, or that it would ever work for them.
There have always been people like this. But they didn't used to have what they do now: an entire political party and well-financed industry lobbying effort cashing in on their fears and their votes, and a media machine feeding their frenzy 24/7. They didn't have an organized effort of crazy billionaires working to dismantle civil society, government, and the rule of law because it infringes on their freeeeedommmmmm.
Not all of us want to live this way. But these people are in the process of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy about the collapse of civilization with their fears, their anger, their racism, and every other resentment that drives them in the driver's seat. And until we have an answer for that, there will continue to be Gun FAILS - and maybe worse.