Wednesday, March 11, 2009
American Culture: In Guns We Trust?
I am not always able to see why people disagree, Republicans and Democrats in the American political system should both have the best interest of the country at heart, right? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists all believe in some form of system where good behavior and moral beliefs are vital. They should have a great deal of common ground. Women and men both desire love, and pursue it, however poorly or misdirected. But in all these examples, they don’t get along, however much they should be able to do so. I cannot understand it, but I recognize that it happens.
“There are no "good guns". There are no "bad guns". Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.” - Charlton Heston
On the other hand, I fully understand why people who own guns in the United States do not intellectually find common ground with those who do not own guns. Gun owners trace the independence of the United States and American people to a well armed civilianry. They consider how free Americans are societally, and they attribute that freedom to being able defend their freedoms from governmental intrusions. Beliefs such as these are difficult to argue for or against without passion. For while Gun culture has beliefs regarding the ownership of guns or the right of ownership, those who disagree, and do not own such weapons also have beliefs. They believe that if guns are available that people who aren’t interested in self defense or sport shooting or hunting will be able to acquire a gun and use it in the committing of a crime. They suggest that the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights provides for a well armed and trained Militia, not everyone wanting a gun. They also point to accidents that happen and take lives due to guns being a dangerous tool in the hands of the inexperienced or careless user, or worse, child.
“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” - William S. Burroughs
I am explaining all this because Gun culture in the United States does influence the popular culture, the knowledge of the past, the beliefs about the society and nation. Guns are part of the American scene, and guns are symbolize things to both sides of the argument. Guns are dangerous. But to the gun owner they are a good danger, one that threatens criminals, defends property, and keeps the government from taking more than just the gun away, but all rights. Guns are dangerous in a bad manner to those people against gun ownership. The danger is not misunderstood, bullets kill, but motives, scenarios and circumstances help to make the argument one with few winners, just angry expressions and disagreement.
“It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” - Bill Hicks
So, if you are an American who believes in the legends of the American West, with cowboys, the great frontier, the role of violence in taking the land, I am willing to bet that you are a gun owner, or at least support gun ownership rights. If you are an American who believes that there are a great many victimized people groups in America due to the violent process of nation building, I am willing to bet that you do not agree with or feel a need to greatly limit gun ownership and gun ownership rights.
“Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout "Bang!"” - George F. Will
I am not suggesting here, for any reason, that either side is correct. I simply pointing out that within what we call popular culture are views that are often part of the whole view, but disagreed upon. Gun culture is part of American culture, but not everyone agrees that it is a good thing.
“And the National Rifle Association says that, "Guns don't kill people, people do,” but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, "Bang!" That's not going to kill too many people, is it? You'd have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that…” - Eddie Izzard
((I will certainly be asked by reader emails if not via comments, if I own a gun. I come from a family that did not hunt, but my brother does now. My best friend is a gun toting Libertarian, and in high school I was one of the very few males who attended school during Deer Hunting. In Wisconsin if you didn’t hunt deer, you were not normal. I do not own a gun, but I grew up in a part of the country where hunting was the norm. I do not find myself desiring to own a gun, but I am not against the ownership of guns. I think most of the problems come down to the fact that nobody wants criminals to be able to acquire guns, but we know they will. So how do you prevent it, at the same time as allow gun ownership? I don’t have an answer, but I am not saying all gun ownership should end because criminals violate other people’s rights. In fact you could argue that gun ownership protects you in those cases. So I am a tweener.))