Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I grew up in a gun culture, here's my perspective.

You know who isn't debating gun ownership with heated emotional rhetoric right now?  All the responsible gun owners that I grew up with in Alleghany County, NC, and I'll tell you why: because it is a non-issue for someone like me to buy and own a rifle, shotgun, and/or pistol for hunting, sport shooting or home protection.  I'll say it again, it is a non-issue.   Debating it is as useful as debating owning a car when over 30,000 people die each year in car wrecks. It is the laws and regulations that should be debated.  Much like the abortion issue, you have two sides who mostly want the same result-- the lowest number of abortions/gun deaths as possible--but are so dead set in their ideology that they refuse to give ground to get there.  (Anyone who thinks we can achieve zero abortions/gun deaths by banning them is unrealistic and is removed from rational discourse)

I grew up in a certifiable "gun culture."  The majority of homes had some type of firearm, and most of us, guys and girls, learned to shoot early, even if we didn't actually own a gun.  So in this "gun culture" where even the high school parking lot had its fair share of rifles in the back of trucks, the issue that gathered the community into the small local funeral home was not guns, it was car wrecks.  Ask any parent what kept them awake at night and you would never hear "guns," even though they were almost ubiquitous. 

So let's get some perspective on this and separate the issue from the tragedy.  For every child killed by a gun, over 6 drown in a swimming pool.  Each death is just as tragic and the loss is felt just as much, but when spread out over time and distance you lose the emotional sensationalism and nobody debates banning swimming pools.  So if you're serious about banning guns then you should be 6 times as serious about banning swimming pools, and vehicles for that matter.  Honestly, I don't care if you want to ban guns (you won't get very far), but you better be just as serious about banning swimming pools.

What needs to happen is the NRA needs to back the fuck off with their absurd conspiracy based fear mongering message of "they are going to take our guns, and therefore we have to fight every waiting period and sensible regulation to the bitter end."  Who is this they?  Obama?  He actually loosened gun restrictions by allowing people to carry in national parks.  As someone who hikes alone a lot I was very happy about this and felt it made perfect sense.  The average gun owner - the people I grew up with - are not going to have issue with the government trying to keep guns, and especially semi-automatic assault rifles out of the hands of evil or emotionally disturbed people.  But yet the NRA, who claims to speak for all gun owners, distorts this fact and fills the issue with unnecessary conspiracy tinged fear. If you help spread this message then I ask you to please, please stop.  You're not helping anybody.  (Unfortunately conspiracy theorists are convinced that they are the only ones who are aware of the "truth" against any evidence to the contrary, much like the Westboro Baptist Church)

If you want to make me wait a few days before purchasing a gun, fine.  If you can show that banning  military assault rifles will ultimately save innocent lives, fine.   If a history of violence and/or emotional illness trumps the right to own a gun, fine.  I refuse to believe any of these actions are connected to a vast government conspiracy to take all our guns and force us into concentration camps.  I mean c'mon.  If making me wait a few days saves one innocent child's life, just one, then I am okay with it. 

People will always die from car wrecks, drugs, guns, swimming pools, heart disease, rock climbing, motorcycles, and apparently one lady was just killed by being beaten bloody with banjos.  This is a fact of living, but we can work together to lessen the deaths as much as possible.   But any wanna-be thug that comes up to Sparta and breaks into a house in the middle of the night will probably be shot in the face by a very protective and loving father, and nobody will debate gun ownership then.

I really believe that the ultimate issue here in the wake of the tragedy is we are facing a culture of violence where emotionally sick people feed into the media sensationalism and work themselves into the perfect storm of killing innocent people.   I say "perfect storm" because there is no individual cause, but many things that work together; availability of emotional health-care, responsible parenting, easy access to guns, a culture that glorifies killing.  Put all this together into the right (or wrong) person and tragedy follows.  We have way too many gun deaths, and we also have a huge national ego that doesn't allow us to look at how other countries have reduced gun-related deaths to impressively low numbers.  For me, the issue isn't gun ownership, it is our perspective on it and how we can find a healthy and reasonable solution to save innocent lives.    

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