Can the gun control conversation grow up?

This is the best article I’ve yet read about the conflicting cultures of gun owners versus gun control advocates. Makes me realize that, though it’s talked up as uncrossable, I straddle this cultural divide. I bet there are plenty of others who do as well.

Plenty of members of my family are devoted to deer hunting. I’ve been hunting, and I thought it was pretty boring until a yay-hoo with more exuberance than sense gave me a welt across the back of my leg via rabbit shot. I grew up with the knowledge that my father had a rifle in the closet. On the other hand, he told me he didn’t think it would fire and he didn’t own ammo for it anyway. I’ve shot some fairly mad guns, courtesy of a friend’s FBI father. I don’t find them inherently frightening. But I still think they create a false sense of self-assuredness: plenty of folks talk about what they’d do in a crisis–i.e., who they’d shoot–but I’ve talked to enough veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to know that’s foolish conjecture.

Maybe, just maybe, NRA folks can have a discussion about whether guns are actually very effective for self-defense. Seems they are best at turning, in moments of passion or drunkenness, “good guys” into “bad guys.” Recent research about “stand your ground” laws backs that idea up well. And they’re also equal opportunity weapons, killing gun owners who turn them on themselves or, in moments of mistaken identity, members of the family.

But having that kind of discussion would require getting past the usual canard about how changing gun laws automatically equals an attempt to take all guns away. It’s a classic bait and switch, but never seems to grow tiresome to its fans. Ought to be interesting to see what unfolds regarding such discussions in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary incident. It truly seems to have been a game-changer for a lot of people. Will it be enough to change the tenor of the conversation to something useful to both sides?

James Heflin

Author: James Heflin

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