The Good, the Bad and Their Guns
A few days ago, a pleasant young woman was pitching the concept of modular construction in our office conference room. Although the AIA calls these continuing education courses, we call them “Lunch ‘n Learns.” We eat lunch while they edumacate us about something – which they usually also sell.
She showed us pictures of various building types that had been constructed with her company’s modules. As she showed some school buildings, she pointed out that most schools now use modular single-classroom buildings that require students to troop outside between classes. “With all the school shootings these days,” she matter-of-factly noted, “our larger modular buildings provide much better security.”
I had just the evening before finished reading Guns for Good Guys, Guns for Bad Guys by Michael R Weisser, a former sole proprietor arms dealer in Massachusetts. I ran across Adam Gopnik’s enthusiastic review of GFGG, GFBG at The New Yorker, where I learned that Wiesser blogs about guns on the Huffington Post, using the handle, Mike the Gun Guy. GFGG, GFBG wasn’t a long book, only six chapters and 240 pages, and was easy to follow.
Wiesser’s stated intention was to inject some facts into the national discussion about firearms, and clear up some misunderstandings. He tries to explain both the mindset of the gun enthusiast to the rest of us, and to explain why they are so successfully influenced by the NRA. He claims that thin profit margins and long product life have set manufacturers in search of new customers. He challenges the idea that people need guns for protection – or could even use them effectively. He asserts that the root cause of gun violence is not the guns, but the root cause of violence. And finally he points out that most statistics cited in the mainstream media and pro and anti-gun internet sites are based on two surveys sampling about 250 people each, neither of which took scientific measures to ensure the accuracy of the responses.
Weisser likes guns, respects average gun-owning folk, can’t stand the NRA but hasn’t much use for gun-control advocates either. His argument that the root cause of gun violence is the root cause of violence strikes me as a more nuanced version of the saying, guns don’t kill people, people do. Weisser might say: sure guns are dangerous, but whatever leads to violence is what we really have to worry about, not the gun hobbyist.
Weissner cites statistics to assure us that only two sorts of people do most of the killing with guns: black males (shooting other blacks), and even more, white males (shooting themselves). In Weisser’s view the mass shootings, the family shootings and the accidental shootings are just noise that temporarily riles up antigun sentiment but has no lasting impact on the debate.
Though he wants gun folk to be left alone, Weisser’s opposition to the NRA seems to have made him very popular with the gun control crowd. But there is no safe middle ground in a shooting war, and Weisser has riled up many pro-gun internet sites, which ask if he is a Useful Idiot, or call him a Judas Goat. I would recommend reading the book to educate oneself, but I wouldn’t recommend citing Weisser as an authority on a pro-gun forum.