Why some Americans love guns


#1

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#2

I love guns. I used to fire them at a range as a kid. My mom uses them to kill woodchucks and other local hazards to our summer home. And in some of the more off the beaten path park locations on the west coast they are there just in case you need to scare off a bear.

The reality is, guns are fun. When you aren't shooting them at people, they are just another hobby. Much like driving. And yes, driving is somewhat more utalitarian for most than say owning a gun. I will say that a car is pretty worthless in manhattan, but people still want to own a car there. And for some folks, guns are a utility that makes their lives easier.

So yeah, I get that no one wants to see anyone murdered. No one wants to see anyone die in a car accident or to heat disease either, which kill more americans every year. But, does outlawing guns really speak to the American way of life? I'd say no. I'd also say any such ban would be pointless because of the versatile utility of fire arms and their likely general distribution among the population regardless of gun control or regulation.

More to the point, gun crime is a symptom of a much larger set of societal problems. And slapping band aids on those problems aren't going to solve the issues of criminal violence. We need to attack the root causes for gun violence. And guns aren't that root cause.


#3

Seriously? No mention of slavery, race, and fear? It's because of Hollywood Westerns? Yeah...


#4

I think this is more of an explanation for why Americans love pistols. Pop culture glorifies the pistol above all else, starting with the classic cowboy with six-shooters.


#5

Congress and the Executive branch have made it pretty clear that the war on terror is global, and that includes the homeland. So packing heat isn't just about standing your ground, it's also about defending yourself from terrorists.

For me, the feds can't have it both ways. If the homeland is under threat, I need an assault rifle. If it isn't, why are you spying on me?


#6

Yep, that's why US gun culture started on 9/11.


#8

I'm pretty sure the number of terrorists taken down by American civilians with assault rifles is still somewhere between "zero" and "imaginary."


#9

Gotcha. It's Hollywood and our obsession with all being Yosemite Sam.

Can't be anything as nuanced as personal safety, exercise of a freedom or anything. At least it's a nice image to go with a vapid, empty Strawman argument.

What's next, "Americans only love their Freedom of Speech due to it's quaint, colonial roots"...?


#10

Lovely article, but... Hooey.

There's certainly an old-west romance - but you may as well say the same types of things about why Americans love horses.

We like guns - a lot, in some cases - because they represent, in a very real way, freedom. The US was founded on revolution against an oppressive government, and especially when our government is dysfunctional as it currently is, we don't forget that fact. Guns are an icon of this - they are the means by which we obtained and insure our freedom from tyranny. To many, firearm ownership is the epitome of freedom.

Are there downsides to that? you betcha. I don't actually own a firearm, because I have small children and my concern for their safety outweighs my need for personal protection - but I'll teach them to shoot when old enough, again if only for their own safety (a gun in the hands of someone unfamiliar with them is deadly). But to suggest, as this article seems to, that our main reason for coveting them in mass quantities is a hollywood cowboy fixation is missing the reality. We have plenty of gritty, shoot-and-ambush westerns today, and that hasn't made us lose our love of guns, because movies aren't real, and we mostly know that. What is real - look in the news, Syria is a great case-in-point - is that governments can and will treat their populace like cattle if need be, and we think that arming the populace may just make that less likely here. Time will tell.


#11

Lately, particularly in the way of the recent NSA revelations, I've seriously rethought (and ultimately reversed) my stance on the guns issue.

One of the more persuasive arguments I've read is that if the anti-gun folks want to get rid of guns, they should first do so by amending the Constitution, as we did with things like prohibition. If the political will is there amongst enough of our country, it will get done. (I suspect it's not.)

The other argument I'd previously rejected is that I just don't trust my government anymore. It clearly spies on all of us, implicity considering us potential threats. It certainly doesnt care enough about us to even perform its basic functions, as evidenced by the colossal clusterfuck known as the "Shutdown."

Third: no government in my bedroom or any woman's uetrus; no government telling me what I can buy that isn't inherently dangerous.

Lastly (and most pragmatically), with Defense Distributed providing an ample proof-of-concept: gun control is a moot point. The future prevalence of 3D printers/replicators/additive manufacturing means that anyone will be able to print their own gun. Unless we want the government in the business of censoring the entire internet looking for the 3D source files that contain the descriptions of such things for the replicators to act on. But that would be some sort of 1st amendment clusterfuck that no one wants, so I suspect that's out.

So, to the folks who don't like the prevalence of guns: sadly, I think you're on the wrong side of history. Better arm up.

I know you don't like having your hand forced in this way, but sometimes this happens on an emergent level in a way no individual can control. I liken this to the erosion of privacy. I don't want to sign up for any social networking site, but I have an account on LinkedIn. This is very common in my industry, and if I didn't have a profile there, I'd be at a significant competitive disadvantage. This is bigger than any one of us, and with the replicators, I suspect in a generation's time this won't only be an American issue.


#12

A "terrorist" isn't just a guy with a turban waiting to strap a bomb around his waist. He's the guy with the knife in your face wanting your wallet. It's the gang that likes to do home invasions. Or the kid on anti-psychotics that flips out and decides to shoot up a school; or mini mall.

According to CDC statistics, firearms prevent between 600k and 2.5 million crimes a year. The numbers vary so much because crimes that don't happen don't get reported.

Minimalizing the "threat" to personal safety to a single boogeyman, or generalizing about the reasons for firearm ownership to some quaint antebellum attachment to shootouts and western attire isn't just simplistic, it's disingenuous.

And for the record, there are no American civilians that own "assault" rifles (class III collectors excluded).


#13

Straw man and false dichotomy. I can't think of major politician who is calling to outlaw guns in America. And there are more choices than unrestricted gun ownership and banning guns.

You mention cars. They are dangerous but we don't ban them. Neither do we allow unrestricted ownership and operation. Cars must meet safety standards and be licensed. Drivers must be licensed, pass a knowledge test, a practical test and meet certain medical standards (i.e. not blind) and drivers must carry insurance to make sure they are financially responsible. Moreover, drivers of more dangerous vehicles (busses, semi-trucks) must meet higher standards. There is no reason we couldn't do the same with guns.


#14

This article is a good read. It does a great job giving a digest history of the firearm on the American Frontier. It does a really unconvincing job proving that this is why America has a love affair (or whatever phrasing works best for you) with firearms. For instance, the author doesn't interview a single gun owner or cite anyone anywhere saying, "I love guns because Wild West." It seems like the author formed a hypothesis, then gathered information which seems to support that hypothesis.

The stand-your-ground ideology in the US dates back to the Revolution at least, which is why it was subsequently included in the Bill of Rights (whatever your interpretation of the Second Amendment, you can't deny that it's about firearms).

Other possible non-Wild-West reasons for people to care about firearms and personal ownership thereof:
-Target- and sport-shooting are fun.
-Hunting is an enjoyable passtime.
-Family tradition
-Distrust of a government that follows you on Twitter to see if you're a terrorist

I enjoyed the article because of the history and the pictures, but overall it really feels like a strawman.


#15

As much as I enjoyed the history in the article, it still struck me as yet another repetition of "the old west as portrayed in books/radio/tv/movies was a myth", to which I reply, no shit, news at 11. I have always had my doubts that people were ever as gullible as we think they were, that somehow no one got that these portrayals were unrealistic up until the 1970s or so.


#16

OK, fine. For the sake of argument let's adopt your ridiculous definition that deems all violent or potentially violent criminals as "terrorists." I stand by my earlier point: there are few if any examples of American civilians stopping these crimes with assault-style weapons.


#17

So what?


#18

I believe the President invoked the idea that "if only one life is saved", gun control was worth it.

I don't see why it won't apply to terrorists at home.


#19

I was offering a direct counterpoint to a post where @Cocomaan stated "If the homeland is under threat, I need an assault rifle."


#20

Actually I don't think he did say that, but even if he had it wouldn't apply to civilian ownership of assault rifles since that "one life saved" hasn't happened.


#21

http://www.13wham.com/news/features/crime-stoppers/stories/rit-students-accosted-gunmen-their-home-76.shtml

http://www.rationalityrebooted.com/2013/03/ar-15-kills-burglar-and-stops-crime.html

I could go on, but it still wouldn't change your mind. The AR nothing more than a rifle made using modern manufacturing and design with modern materials, It is no more dangerous than any other rifle type using equivalent ammunition. It can be built to use .223, 5.56, 22lr, 9mm, or any of at least a dozen calibers. It is just a rifle that has been the easiest to demonize by the anti gun left because it is the "scariest" looking to those without basic firearm knowledge.

An "assault rifle" is a full automatic rifle, or if you like, a "machine gun". The AR is not a fully automatic weapon.

A "ridiculous assumption" is something that has no basis in fact or first hand knowledge. My posts here contain neither of the prerequisites.