We Talk Strangely About Guns

W.J. Astore

Guns are the only innocents in America. To be clear, I’m being sarcastic.

Whenever there’s a school shooting, you can count on the shooter being denounced as evil, as monstrous, as out of his mind. But the guns the shooter uses? There are always people who tell us not to blame the guns. Guns aren’t evil. Guns aren’t monstrous. Guns are, in a word, innocent.

It’s all very strange. I think of the children killed in Texas, along with their teachers, as being innocent. I wish we’d have kept them safe. I wish their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness hadn’t been cut down by bullets. But wish in one hand …

We hear a lot of talk about gun rights and gun safety, almost as if guns indeed had rights, almost as if America’s true goal was to keep guns safe.

America is indeed a country where guns are safe, secure, and free to roam. We have more than 400 million of them, including more than 20 million military-style assault weapons. Congress is not seriously acting to put meaningful restrictions on guns. We’re lucky if we’ll see a “red-flag” law (allowing the confiscation of guns from a person who makes deadly threats before he decides to go on a murderous rampage), or possibly universal background checks. Of course, neither of these will curtail gun purchases and availability, and neither would have stopped the latest shooter in Texas, who purchased his guns legally and apparently showed no clear “red flag” before he attacked a school and killed 19 innocent children.

And there’s that word again. Innocent. We need to focus on child rights and child safety, not gun rights and gun safety. Don’t you think?

I’ve been a gun owner and have shot everything from a pellet rifle and .22 pistol to a .44 magnum Model 29 Smith & Wesson, made famous by Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry.”

Model 29 Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum.

I’ve felt the powerful allure of guns. I also have no problem with hunters, target shooters, and all the responsible gun owners we have in America. But when guns are responsible for 45,000 deaths a year in America (data from 2020), and when mass shootings become almost forgettable in their repetition (except in the most heinous cases, like the latest mass murder event in Texas), it’s time to admit that guns are not the innocents here. They are part of the problem, and restrictions to their ownership is part of the solution.

58 thoughts on “We Talk Strangely About Guns

  1. More than 40 years ago when I was volunteering for a pair of helplines in the area, in our training sessions were included suicide talk and assessment. There were several factors we needed to get, if we could, from the person on the other end, but the most important was 1) whether they had a plan and 2) [biggie] did they have the means, especially if at hand.
    Having the means would immediately escalate to possible interventions. As in police and a specialist (not just a cop).
    Having a gun on your person or in your house, handy, is a means.
    Similar is the old theater trope of “Chekov’s Gun.” Essentially, if you see a gun in scene one (such as over a fireplace), that gun will go off in the second scene (or before too long).
    What you have available is what you use.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve read many comments suggesting automobile-type regulations for guns. Require a license to purchase them, and require proof of liability insurance, along with proof of training, to grant a license. I like this concept, as a starting point, although it would admittedly be difficult to enforce.

    If the downward spiral continues, we’ll reach a point when mass shootings happen at least daily, and no one will bat an eye.

    The article Dennis linked makes a valuable point, that the 20% of the population who make gun rights their only issue are overwhelmingly vocal, and they vote. That’s why even many [spineless] Dems won’t come out in favor of restrictions on guns. The other 80% of the population wants restrictions, but it’s not their passion, so….no pressure on their representatives.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And of course the NRA, which represents the gun industry more than it represents gun owners. The NRA knows how to intimidate politicians.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If guns are licensed, only licenses will have guns. Hmm, wait a moment. Oh, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

        My all-time most memorable bumper sticker: “Ted Kennedy’s car killed more people than my gun.” Harsh. But we’ll never know what really happened to Mary Jo Kopechne.

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      2. I teased through some of the thinking there, and I think parts of the rationale are a bit too precious, such as the distinction between racecars and regular automobiles. Also, I don’t know about regulations in other states, but a representative of the Ohio BMV once told me that if my car was seen out in the driveway with expired plates, I’d be ticketed.

        But yes, your point about the uphill battle is well taken.

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  3. Bill, you always sound to me like the only sane voice in a totally insane society. I don’t know how you can keep up this pace of commitment to sane commentary, because from far outside where I am, I want to shut out all the rest of the horrors and commentary, but yours is precious. Keep it up as long as you can! Peace & Love, Chris

    Mieux j’apprends à connaître les hommes, plus je me mets à aimer les chiens. — Charles de Gaulle

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Because of 2A resulting in 400-million guns in the hands citizens the two points that JG MOEBUS made in yesterdays forum are the biggest problem with America ever getting its gun violence under control. The horse is long out of the barn. Gun violence, endemic in America, is baked in the cake.

    1. If the manufacture and sale of certain weapons is outlawed, and/or the possession of any weapon by certain people is forbidden, what are the chances that a “War on Guns” will be any more successful than our Wars on Drugs?

    2. Do you Controllers plan to volunteer to lead any campaign to attempt to physically seize and confiscate all [or even some] of those weapons out there from their legal owners? And what Army are you going to use in order to even begin to think about doing that?

    And this statement JG makes -This is shaping up to be a great time to get into the business of providing armed security for students, staff, and teachers, worshippers and preachers, and shoppers and workers – is very sad. The thought of my grandkids going a school with armed guards in their bus’s and in their playgrounds, and their teachers packing heat, is dystopian.

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    1. What I would say here is that if we remain paralyzed in the face of the challenges, and never make an attempt to change things, we’re in effect enabling those who’d rather see children murdered by the dozens than see guns regulated.

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    2. I don’t think anyone is talking about seizing guns. The NRA does stoke the fear of that, though. “They’re coming to take your guns!” That kind of alarmism seems to work quite well for them.

      I don’t think we’re going to ban assault rifles either. Plus, with 20+ million already sold, I’m not sure the point of a ban. They’d simply become more desirable/expensive.

      Each state controls guns differently. My state is more rigorous than most; states like Texas almost issue guns like rattles to babies. Hey, it’s Amerika! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. State gun laws – a story.

        When I was a high school kid in the 60’s in New Zealand every NZ high school had an armoury. Stocked with Lee Enfield MkIV 0.303 rifles. Every Wednesday afternoon we high school males practiced shooting them at our range – for when the Japs showed up on our shores. LOL

        Many years later, when I was living in WA state, I went to a huge gun show at the fairgrounds and there was one of those much admired 303’s for sale. With ammunition and bayonet! I bought it – with the ammo and bayonet. Cash, no paperwork, no questions asked. I took it home and my American wife threw a fit! She would not let me have it in the house!

        I took it to work and sold it, cash, and the ammo and bayonet, to a character I met in my workplace parking lot. I never even got his name.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Perhaps a gun buyback for the assault rifles? I heard that worked well in NZ. If we can send $40bn to Ukraine….

        And then, after a period of amnesty, seizure and heavy fines on anyone found possessing such armaments.

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        1. Denise if you have time to waste – Google “Gun Buy Backs don’t work.”
          And read the 100’s of articles awash on the internet shooting down ( excuse the pun) gun buy backs.
          In particular the NZ scheme has been lambasted by gun advocates as a failure.
          And again sadly – the fact is they don’t work.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ll take your word for it.

            I’d thought that Ms. Ardern’s idea had been a success. If not, then there must simply have been a strong will among your fellow citizens to regulate gun use.

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      3. Lt. Col……I don’t think we’re going to ban assault rifles either.
        So soon you forget Bill. In 1994 the US came close to outright banning assault weapons:

        Wiki – “The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act or Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a United States federal law which included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms that were defined as assault weapons as well as certain ammunition magazines that were defined as large capacity.

        The 10-year ban was passed by the US Congress on September 13, 1994, following a close 52–48 vote in the US Senate, and was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton on the same day. The ban applied only to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban’s enactment. It expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision. Several constitutional challenges were filed against provisions of the ban, but all were rejected by the courts. There were multiple attempts to renew the ban, but none succeeded.”

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I wonder if any TV station in America would dare to be playing this episode today?
    Or have we all become to sensitive and politically correct for this satire in these modern times?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s my god-given right to have a gun in my home! Archie nailed it 50 years ago. Wallace should have had a gun! JFK, RFK, and MLK too! They’d all be alive if they’d been packing heat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bill, in my arguments with American gun nuts they all vehemently trot out this meme …”It’s my god-given right to have a gun”. (Would that be Yahweh, Allah, Zeus or Thor?) On the same level as their right to breath air! Ask them why God did not give them a right to have an RPG? (Rocket propelled grenade.)?

        Suggesting to them that this right is only granted to them by Laws made by their Government – and the argument turns into a fight and goes into the gutter from there!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, Charlton Heston played Moses, who talked to God, who got the Ten Commandments, one of which was: Thou shalt have as many guns as one likes. So Heston took over the NRA, as God told him to. Or am I forgetting my catechism?

          Liked by 2 people

        2. You raise a very interesting ~ and indeed critical ~ point, Dennis: IS the “Right” to own a gun a “Right” that is granted to them by Laws made by their Government?

          If so, are other Rights similarly “granted” to people because of Laws made by their Government?

          Are the Rights to Life, Liberty, Property, Privacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness GRANTED to People by their Government? Or do People have those Rights regardless of what their governments do and/or don’t do to prevent or enable the exercise of those Rights?

          For example: Does the “Right” to Life exist because of laws that say murder is illegal? Or because Human Beings are born with that Right, regardless of what the government they live under, and regardless of what laws that government decrees and enforces?

          And the same questions can be asked about the Rights to Liberty, Property, Privacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

          Thus, a ~ if not The ~ foundational, fundamental Question that needs to be asked and answered is: Where DO Human Rights come from? From “God,” however named? From Governments? Or from someplace, something, some one else?

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          1. The answer I think JG is easy.
            Life is a crap shoot. Nobody has a “right” to anything.
            As much as we like to think otherwise, the good Lord ( I am an atheist!) could end all our rights as we type here.
            The idea that one has Rights to Liberty, Property, Privacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness is fanciful thinking.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Or maybe another way of thinkin about it JG?
              What rights does an elephant or a polar bear have? None – I think?
              As just another animal species, why should Homo Sapiens have any more rights than our animal friends who inhabit the same planet?

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              1. And BTW, I wonder what the American Indians who we decimated thought about the founders concept of the Rights to Liberty, Property, Privacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness. LOL

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Heh. Good question.

                  My guess is that they probably thought and felt the same about the White Man’s concept of “Human Rights,” as they thought and felt about all the other “blessings” that 15th-19th century Western Civilization was bringing to them.

                  And my guess is that the American Indians who we decimated also probably felt and thought the same way that the Peoples who were decimated, if not enslaved and/or exterminated ~ in Central and South America, Africa, India, Australia, and, correct me if i am wrong, New Zealand ~ thought and felt.

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              2. That’s another good question that i need to ponder a bit before answering.

                One could start by similarly asking: “Well, what about the Rights of Plants?”

                First of all, i have a problem characterizing Homo Sapiens as “just another animal species.” Biologically ~ genetically and physiologically ~ Humans are indeed just like every other Animal in many, many ways.

                But what distinguishes Humans is that we have a Brain/Mind that is capable of doing things that no other Animal can or will ever be able to do. Specifically, Humans can do Science and Technology, and use it to improve the material Standard of Living and Quality of Life of Humans [and certain Animals closely linked to Humans, like Pets].

                And as i noted earlier in response to Your statement that belief that Humans have Rights is “fanciful thinking”: “HUMAN RIGHTS WERE AND ARE CONCEIVED, INTENDED, AND DESIGNED TO PROTECT HUMANS FROM OTHER HUMANS: be they Individual or Group Predators, Government Agents and Centurions, or Religious Crusaders, Jihadists, and the like.” [EMPHASIS added.]

                To the best of my knowledge, Elephants and Polar Bears only rarely [if ever] murder their own kind, or steal from each other. Nor does any other Animal species. At least certainly not like Humans do. Which could lead one to conclude that Elephants, Polar Bears, and everybody else in the Animal, Plant, Protist, Fungus, Archaebacteria, and Eubacteria Kingdoms do not have “Rights” ~ at least when it comes to dealing with each other ~ for the simple reason that they do not Need them. Like Humans definitely do.

                The question of whether Animals have the Right not to be killed by Human hunters or destroyers of those Animals’ natural environment is a totally separate issue that merits separate consideration.

                Humans haven’t figured out what their own Rights [as opposed to Needs, Wants, and Responsibilities] are yet; let alone figure out the Rights of Animals, Plants, Forests, Oceans, and the rest of the non-Human Planet.

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            2. Having survived Katrina just outside of New Orleans in 2005, Dennis, i am up-close and very personally familiar with the fact that Humans have no “Rights” when it comes to “acts of God” like hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, flooding, and other so-called “natural disasters” [even attacks by wild animals or microbes].

              The concept of Human Rights has nothing to do with protecting Humans from some “God”; that’s what we have Organized Religion for. Nor is it to protect us from Nature; that’s what we have Science and Technology for.

              Human Rights were and are conceived, intended, and designed to protect Humans from Other Humans: be they Individual or Group Predators, Government Agents and Centurions, or Religious Crusaders, Jihadists, and the like.

              And how many past and present real world dictators ~ actual or wannabe ~ subscribe to that very same idea that to think that one has Rights is to engage in “fanciful thinking”? And how many future dictators will subscribe to that very same idea?

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            3. D’accord, Dennis. There is no social contract. Doesn’t exist, never has. A fine idea, but ultimately it’s philosophical waffling, as relevant to Life As We Know It as the so-called “breakthroughs” by contemporary theoretical physicists that always seem to require (at least) a 16-dimensioal universe and Imaginary Time (yes, a concept used by the breed). As for all these studies and videos and rehashing of old Congressional actions (or non-actions), to quote Mayella Ewing in “To Kill A Mockingbird” (one of those classics of American literature recently declared by the woke-people as unfit for American youth to read), “They don’t come to nothin’.” Best wishes from another foreign correspondent.

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      1. I have not watched TV for I’d say 10-years now JG.
        Are there even sitcoms nowadays that dare satirically examine American issues?
        Or is that passé?
        Norman Lear wrote some great prescient shows and was not afraid to mock the establishment and pose the difficult questions.
        The episode called the Draft Dodger was brilliant. Its worth watching on YouTube.

        And Caroll O’Connor (RIP) acted out the part of your typical dumbass yank to perfection.
        Wiki – “While O’Connor’s personal politics were liberal, he understood the Bunker character and played him not only with bombast and humor but with touches of vulnerability. The show’s writing was consistently left of center, but O’Connor, while his character held right-wing views, could also deftly skewer the liberal pieties of the day.” Very well said.

        Maybe I’m getting old, but were those not days when we were more at ease with laughing at our self?
        Cheers, and I hope things are copacetic in Sitka.

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        1. Heh. Well, i haven’t owned a tv since 2005 [or a car since 2011], so i can’t really answer any of Your questions about the state of the sitcom today. i understand that Saturday Nite Live still does satire; but really can’t confirm that. And that The Corbett Report is along those lines; but don’t really know.

          Other than that, my primary source for laughing at ourselves is The Onion. That, and i find more than enough to laugh [and sometimes weep] about just following the news online.

          And one reason that we may not be quite so at ease to laugh at ourselves is that, increasingly for a lot of people, there is less and less about their and our lives that is amusing. Even thru the lens of satire.

          Things are well here in Sitka, Thanks. Where exactly are You in New Zealand? And, i gotta ask: How’s the All Blacks’ season shaping up? ~ jeff

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          1. I live in a small 2-room apartment in Palmerston North. About 100-miles North of the capital, Wellington.
            And I am a Seahawks fan! LOL Don’t really follow the All Blacks – despite being in the 1st 15 at high school.
            BTW I worked on several construction jobs (piers) in Sitka in my work with a Seattle Marine contractor.
            My most miserable memories are working on a job in Valdez that ran into November.
            Cheers mate. Dennis

            Liked by 1 person

  6. “‘NO WAY TO PREVENT THIS,’ SAYS ONLY NATION WHERE THIS REGULARLY HAPPENS.”
    Every Time There’s A Mass Shooting, The Onion Writes The Same Story. Wednesday, It Featured All 21.

    It jokingly bills itself “America’s finest news source,” but for years now The Onion has done exceptional, biting coverage of a very American phenomenon.

    Each time there is a high-profile mass shooting, the satirical website publishes a variation of the exact same story.

    Starting with the 2014 attack in Isla Vista, California, that killed six people, the Onion published a piece titled “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

    IN THE YEARS SINCE, IT HAS PUBLISHED THAT SAME HEADLINE 20 MORE TIMES. [EMPHASIS added.]

    “It’s just incredibly draining and it’s hard to actually find like new angles on it,” Onion Editor-in-Chief Chad Nackers told BuzzFeed News in an interview on Wednesday. “And this kind of encompasses everything and it just works so well and it captures the helplessness of it.”

    On Wednesday, The Onion published its 21st variation of the story — this time in response to the murder of 19 elementary school children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, the previous day.

    For the first time ever, the Onion devoted its entire front page to all 21 past stories and linked all the past pieces in a long Twitter thread.

    Continued at https://news.yahoo.com/onion-flooded-homepage-same-21-192411622.html

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Once again: A ~ if not The ~ foundational, fundamental Question that needs to be asked and answered is: Where DO Human Rights come from? From “God,” however named? From Governments? Or from someplace, something, or even someone else?

    One reason that that is a Core Question is because, throughout history, the biggest violators of Human Rights ~ and the perpetrators and perpetuators of Human Pain and Suffering ~ have been Governments and Religions. Especially when they link together, wrapped in a flag and carrying the Holy Book of the day, time, and place.

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    1. One quick comment: We Americans tend to focus on our “rights”; maybe we should focus on our responsibilities. Put in quasi-Christian terms, too many people love themselves and forget all about loving thy neighbor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You broach a subject that seriously needs to be seriously explored, Colonel: What is the difference and the relationship between Human “Rights” and Human “Responsibilities”?

        Which leads to the questions: What is the difference and relationship between Human Rights and Responsibilities, on the one hand, and Human Needs and Wants, on the other? And What difference does it make?

        Which can then lead to such questions as: Is Health Care a Human Right and Responsibility? Or is it a Human Need and Want? And, again, What difference does it make?

        And the same questions can be asked about such things as Education, Housing, Employment, and Income Security, among other things like Child Care, appropriately adequate Nutrition, Potable Water, and Breathable Air.

        Do Humans have the Right to all these things; and thus that it is the Responsibility of Humans to ensure that they are available?

        Or are these Human Needs and Wants that can only be met and satisfied by successfully effective, productive Human Action by somebody?

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  8. On guns I suggest taking a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left side put down the bad stuff that happens with guns. On the right side put down the good things we have due to guns. Call this dual listing “The Balance for Society”

    The list of bad things that guns expedite would include mass shootings, drive-by shootings, suicides, police over-reactions or deliberate killings a la Laquan McDonald, accidental deaths by gun, deliberate self-appointed individuals seeking “justice”. In other words, the production of lots of either dead or injured people.

    The list of good things amount mostly to things some individuals like: collecting, target shooting, hunting but would also include debatable items – the 2nd Amendment, self-defense, home defense, defense against the government. On these debatable points, it’s not clear that having a gun helps with self-defense/home defense more than it poses a danger to the self or the family. These can easily transfer from the good list to the bad one. As for the government, does anyone seriously think police or the FBI are deterred by a suspect having a gun? Waco, Ruby Ridge both show the opposite as does the frequent deaths dealt by police that are due to “I thought he had a gun” If gun possession is known, and particularly if a gun is used, one can assume the individual with the gun will end up dead.

    Now suppose there were no guns, that both of these lists could be erased. Would society be better off, would fewer people die? There would still be murders and suicides by other means, but they would be more difficult to accomplish. Spraying lead at many people all at once would end, though bombs could still be used a la Timothy McVeigh. The question is, on balance would our society be better or worse off without guns?

    But even a ban on semi-automatic rifles cannot be achieved by our government charged with maximizing our safety. Our precious children keep getting slaughtered, Wayne LaPierre continues his rants and gun shows are mobbed. It seems the American people will not rise up for anything, while profit-making will be protected for everything. The very people who claim the need for a gun to protect themselves from government are the same people whose gun ownership is being not just protected but expedited as even permits are being done away with and “stand your ground” laws spread. We are arming up against a fantasy of imagined threats while real threats are killing us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well put! Thank you. Yes, the government that supposedly wants “to take away your guns” is making it easier to buy them and use them. Contradiction, anyone?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The French existentialists of the mid-20th century (e.g., Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir) were atheists, by and large. I’m paraphrasing and condensing here, but they said that religion was not necessary for morality, that people didn’t have to believe in a deity to be good citizens or good humans. That was a radical idea at the time, of course. The concept was that, by definition, if people wanted to live in societies, they had to treat one another well. Organized societies, therefore, had unwritten contracts. If you killed off your neighbors, for instance, sooner or later, someone who cared about them would come after you, and so on and so on. To keep societies functional, basic rules would have to prevail, or humanity would devolve into barbarism.

    The corollary, then, is that to have the best civilization, people should care about one another and be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.

    Here’s a link to an article that briefly touches on some aspects of existentialism:

    https://www.beyondhorizons.biz/existentialism-in-a-social-context/

    To grasp the essence of existentialism, try Sartre’s novel, No Exit.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey unpacked lipstick, an iPhone and something else from her purse in one campaign advertisement — “a little Smith & Wesson .38,” she said. A Republican candidate for governor in Georgia declared in a different spot, “I believe in Jesus, guns and babies.”

    I mean what can you say!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I believe in Jesus, guns and babies.”

    How could anyone make a claim to sanity with a straight face after spewing that statement???

    That’s even worse than the GOP senatorial candidate here in Ohio whose slogan was, “Pro God, pro gun, pro Trump.” Unbelievable! I laughed, though, because he didn’t get TFG’s endorsement. 😁

    Like

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