Monday, April 19, 2021

'The problem is too many guns' - and our bizarre gun culture.

Tim Miller writing at thebulwark proposes that Guns Should Be Safe, Legal, and Rare And: The problem is too many guns.

I’ll pick out a few passages that, IMHO, best show off Miller’s view.

… I do want to say something that I know for a fact certain people of the conservative persuasion or background think, directly.

There are too many fucking guns in this country.

The way our culture treats them is perverse.

And we need to do something about it.

… these days American “gun culture”—or put more precisely, the kinkification of deadly hand-penises—has spiraled out of control. From kids in our cities who are getting killed pretending to be hardcore, to the “hunters” collecting hand cannons, to the lonely boys importing their first-person-shooter video games to real life, to a member of Congress using a rifle cross for her backdrop like she’s fucking American ISIS.

It’s way, way too much.

Mass shootings, suicides, urban bloodshed, police violence—they all lead back to this fundamental issue.

I’m sure that everyone reading this is familiar with the recent mass shootings at the massage parlors in Atlanta and at King Soopers in Colorado. These have shocked our consciences, again.

But did you know that since those shootings, eight people were killed at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis? A former NFL player killed four people in South Carolina? Two brothers killed four family members and themselves in Texas? A gunman killed four people—including a 9-year-old boy—at a real estate office in California? A guy killed his parents, two others, and himself at a convenience store in Maryland? A man was shot to death at a “shot house”? Another in a drive-by shooting at a strip mall? Another in a drive-by at their home? Another during a domestic argument? A 19-year-old was shot and killed trying to break up a different domestic argument; another shot and killed on the sidewalk; another shot and killed in his car?

And those last seven all happened in a single small city—Birmingham, Alabama (population 210,000)—in the last 10 days.

How is this an acceptable state of affairs?

Gun absolutism is one of the few dogmas still in place in conservatism. There are conservative politicians and pundits and voters who feel the way I do. I’ve met them. These are people who respect gun rights and individual freedoms but are deeply alarmed and horrified by the amount of carnage in our country and believe we need to rebalance the equation.

But saying that out loud is akin to self-deporting from the conservative movement.

This language is policed aggressively by the NRA, Dana Loesch, conservative politicians, and media personalities who immediately shoot down (intended) even minor restrictions or reasonable reforms that are proposed.

Every proposal to try to rationalize gun laws fails one of the (many) litmus tests that have been set up by the gun fetishists.

… Any proposed reform is useless unless it solves every problem. Any proposed reform that solves every problem can’t work. Any proposed reform that can work is an abridgment of God-given liberty. And anyone who can’t field strip a pistol with their eyes closed like Gene isn’t allowed to have an opinion.

And here’s the thing: It’s true that any one individual reform isn’t going to make a big dent in the problem—because the problem is:

  • We have way too many fucking guns in this country and too many people treat them like they’re cool toys.
  • Humans are fallible creatures who when given easy access to cool deadly weapons at scale will use them to kill themselves and others.

That’s the problem.

But saying this out loud on the right is verboten and politically toxic.

As a result, any discussion about proposals that attempt to manage the problem turn into the same Thoughts & Prayers, it won’t make a difference, Armalite & Costello routine that everyone is tired of hearing.

So we end up back here, heartsick over Adam Toledo and Anthony Thompson Jr. and Matthew Farias and Tahijer Lafleur and Samaria Blackwell and all the rest. But feeling like there’s no hope for it to ever stop.

A line from the song that a pair of students wrote for the Columbine memorial stuck with me.

Columbine, friend of mine, peace will come to you in time.

That was written 22 years ago.

I never could have imagined that two decades on not only would peace not come, but that the horror of that day would become a weekly occurrence and nothing would be done.

It needs to stop.

Our gun culture itself is the problem.

Solving it starts with people saying that truth out loud.

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