Who Decides If You Should Own a Firearm?
Yesterday a parent of two small children wrote The Dish about getting the guns in the right hands and out of the wrong hands:
… all my previous beliefs have been upended. Allowing such easy access to these military-style weapons is madness–how could I have not seen it before? …
Having responsible, armed citizens isn’t an inherently bad idea. There are police officers in every school in New York City, and guess what? No mass shootings there. Trick is to make sure the right people have them and the wrong ones don’t. Also, if this debate stops and starts with guns, that will be its own tragedy. Mental illness and the depravity of our popular culture … must also be addressed.
OK, I thought, but who makes that distinction? Because not too long ago in the US, the right hands were generally white and the wrong hands were generally black. Now it seems that the right hands are rural and suburban and the wrong hands are urban, which often has the same effect as the old distinction. In many other countries the right hands are rich and male and the wrong hands are poor or female. And NYPD do carry out mass shootings — but a mass of shooters against one or two targets.
Banning assault weapons is a logical first step, but as Paul Barrett observed on Democracy Now!, the last attempt at an assault weapons ban was ineffective:
… the 1994 so-called Assault Weapons Ban was one of the most porous, ineffective pieces of legislation that I personally have ever had the opportunity to study. It was shot through with loopholes. It had no applicability to weapons that were made and sold on the day before enactment. And the fact that it was coming for a period of years gave gun manufacturers an opportunity to run their factories overtime and to build up huge stockpiles of the weapons. So we’ll see. But if Congress is not proposing to ban weapons that are already out there, then that leaves millions and millions of weapons already out there.
Orion at dagblog, and a lot of other people, are focusing on the the medicated youth — the Aspies, ADD and ADHD types taking anti-depressant and attention-focusing drugs. That concern is justified in some cases, but many such kids are too busy learning to be bronies and pegasisters to be interested in guns. Keeping medicated folk from buying guns should be a no-brainer, but I worry that people will now assume they are all ticking time bombs.
TPM showcases a letter in which an old-school shooter describes the new paranoid culture of tactical weaponry:
The gun culture that we have today in the U.S. is not the gun culture, so to speak, that I remember from my youth. It’s too simple to say that it’s “sick;” it’s more accurately an absurd fetishization. …
I can’t remember seeing a semi-automatic weapon of any kind at a shooting range until the mid-1980’s. Even through the early-1990’s, I don’t remember the idea of “personal defense” being a decisive factor in gun ownership. The reverse is true today: I have college-educated friends – all of whom, interestingly, came to guns in their adult lives – for whom gun ownership is unquestionably (and irreducibly) an issue of personal defense. For whom the semi-automatic rifle or pistol – with its matte-black finish, laser site, flashlight mount, and other “tactical” accoutrements – effectively circumscribe what’s meant by the word “gun.” At least one of these friends has what some folks – e.g., my fiancee, along with most of my non-gun-owning friends – might regard as an obsessive fixation on guns; a kind of paraphilia that (in its appetite for all things tactical) seems not a little bit creepy. Not “creepy” in the sense that he’s a ticking time bomb; “creepy” in the sense of…alternate reality. Let’s call it “tactical reality.”
That description fits many people who now frequent The Truth About Guns, where I used to contribute until I felt completely out-of-place. But again, how does one legislate against people owning and carrying because they creep you out?
It almost seems that the only people that should carry guns are the ones that would never think to buy one.