Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts on the latest slaughter...

...this time of first graders.

Over the years I have occasionally tried to talk about guns with gun fanciers (I am using the most polite word I can think of for them) and they seem to have three main reasons for their gun fetishism. 

Some of them want guns for self defense.  Some believe that the 2nd Amendment is their last line of defense against governmental oppression.  Some want guns for hunting. There is considerable overlap, of course.  

WRT the self defense gun fanciers, they  think that only professional criminals,  maniacs, and psychopaths  commit gun crimes, and argue that these individuals,  if thwarted by not having a gun, would invariably kill and rob with knives or baseball bats instead.  But if you ask why they themselves want a gun instead of a club under their bed  if their statistically unlikely nightmare fantasy of home invasion should ever occur, they don't see the point.  And if you present  the statistics showing that having a gun in your house actually increases your chance of dying of gunshot wounds, they simply refuse to believe it.  I think I can safely guarantee that they won't get it even if you mention Nancy Lanza, who had an arsenal in her home.

With the 2nd Amendment fans, the "shall not be infringed" clause is so vivid in their minds that the "well regulated militia" part disappears.  It stays disappeared even if you quote it.  They just can't process the words, not because they are stupid, but because they are smart enough to see that actually parsing the sentence would wreck their adolescent fantasy of facing down muggers with a gun pulled from under their coat.

Hunters are marginally more reasonable.  I think you might be able to convince some hunters that it's more sportsmanlike to hunt animals with a single-shot bolt action rifle than with an assault rifle that will shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger--those of them who just like to hunt deer, and who are not caught  in the toils of Walter Mitty fantasies of  leading an armed insurrection against the United Nations troops sent to enforce Obamacare.

Most  gun fanciers are not very amenable to the idea of even moderate gun restrictions, to put it mildly.  I am sad to say I think they are perfectly willing to continue to sacrifice  classrooms full of first graders indefinitely.

My only hope is that someday reasonable and sane people can convince the very large number of Americans who are not gun fanciers, hopefully still a majority, that we need some very strict regulation of handgun and semi-automatic rifle ownership, and ammunition purchase limits as well.  

Despite the ferocity of their rhetoric, remember  that most  gun-fanciers are middle-aged-to-elderly suburbanites, generally pretty law-abiding, if only out of timidity and poor physical condition, who would in fact obey laws restricting gun ownership if we could get such laws passed.  

And there, of course, is the problem, given that legislators seem quite content with the blood money they receive from the NRA and allied conservative groups, and being thus bought and paid for, will probably, once again, do nothing.

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