Confessions of a Former Gun Control Fanatic
I recently had the opportunity to watch Brady Campaign leader Paul Helmke debate John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime. I was struck by two things in the way Helmke argued. First of all, I found him to be an exceedingly normal and reasonable fellow. The second was a certain sad desperation in his style, as though he knew that his positions were indefensible (and indeed, he had a very hard time defending them against the aggressively factual Lott), but there was something within him that still just had to try. He very strongly reminded me of his predecessor Pete Shields in his uncertainty about his own position. Needless to say, Lott destroyed Helmke in the debate, rattling off facts and figures from reputable studies, while all Helmke could do was impugn the habits of college students and call into question the mental stability of gun owners through cherry-picked anecdotal examples. Really, it’s all the Brady Campaign ever does.
All of this is a little strange to me. Regular readers (all two of you!) have certainly noticed the change in subject over the last few months from pure tech rants to include a plurality of gun-related rants as well. I write about guns primarily to explore my newfound non-hatred of them, essentially. You see, I was raised to hate guns. I can still barely believe that I don’t hate them anymore. It’s almost impossible for me to realize that I now actually own a gun because it’s such a radical, 180-degree turnaround from how I was raised to feel.
I actually used to support Helmke’s opinions and organization. When I was in middle school, I participated in the Million Mom March and wrote a violently anti-gun magazine for a school assignment. I interviewed our local Million Mom March media coordinator ((A woman who, I might add, was an absolute witch incapable of disciplining her children. I carpooled with her for a year and her two brats were absolutely uncontrollable, stealing my pencils and notebooks, trying to lick me right after eating popsicles, and doing other such nonsense. Every time I got mad and yelled at one of them, their mother would get angry at me! I honestly don’t know how I was able to hold in my disdain for her poor parenting skills during our interview.)) and nodded vigorously as she talked about how hopelessly inadequate Illinois’s gun laws were (at the time they were some of the toughest in the country), and how we needed more licensing (Illinois is still the only state to actually have universal licensing of gun owners and did at the time). I keep all my school work, and looking back, as I read this ancient thing, I’m struck by how many factual inaccuracies and outright falsehoods and fabrications I wrote. I remember that the assignment was designed to teach us to do independent research and learn about a topic objectively. In retrospect, I seemed to have accidentally picked the perfect one: none of my hyper-liberal anti-gun teachers or parents ever questioned the validity or accuracy of what I was writing, as secure in their own knowledge that Guns Are Bad™ as I was at the time. Needless to say, I received an A. On a piece of work riddled with breathless hyperbole, factual inaccuracies, and blatant misrepresentation of the opposition, I received an A.
Though the whole thing is pretty laughable, there are some bits in it that are real whoppers:
…How could a gun possibly save a life!?! After all, the sole purpose of a gun is to lodge a sleek metal object in a living organism, thereby killing, maiming, wounding or crippling it.
…Another poster showed a woman aiming a shotgun at something. The caption read, “A strong woman, and well armed. Her children are safe.” Just how safe are those children? First, if the woman is pointing the gun at a burglar, what if she fires it? The burglar will be maimed or killed. Either way, the woman will serve a jail sentence for injuring a fellow human being, no matter how good her intent was.
…Gun violence was out of control! There were practically no gun laws. Any old citizen could pay a couple hundred dollars and receive a deadly spewer of death and destruction.
…I’d rather not let my personal opinions get in the way of this article, but usually even the most extreme anti-gun-control fanatics can change their minds when they hear the horrific news that their child has been mercilessly slaughtered in a demonic rain of bullets spewed from illegal weapons that the local madman managed to get his fiendish hands on.
…If you suspect that a certain shady character is following you, instead of a gun, tote around a mace or tazer instead. After all, carrying a gun is an excuse for someone to shoot you. As the haze around this new shooting clears, citizens begin to wonder just how “great” this country is.
I admit it, I was a stupid little kid, okay! But seriously, I actually used to believe these sorts of things! I was, dare I say, even bigoted against guns and their owners. But really, kids believe all kinds of stupid things; the really outrageous aspect of this is that nobody ever corrected me. Nobody stopped and said, “Wait! That doesn’t make any sense! You’re arguing for laws we already have! And no woman who shoots a male burglar would ever go to jail; that assertion is just wrong!” Sadly, this never happened. See, I was taught to understand and respect African-Americans, Hispanics, and poor people, but not Republicans, and certainly not anyone foolish and irresponsible enough to own a gun!
And that’s a real shame. It’s easy to empathize with people you already understand, but it takes time and patience to learn about those who are strange and alien to you. It’s the easiest thing in the world to just dismiss them as stupid, uninformed, or evil, but most people have rational, well-thought-out reasons for doing the things they do, and gun owners are no different. Strange that this is such a revelation to me, huh?
Categorised as: Guns