Tag Archives: guns

Explaining Gun Culture in America

Today I was at a lunch-time happy hour with a few co-workers when the topic of guns came up. One of my co-workers Michael mentioned in passing that he and his family are planning a hunting trip in South Georgia where one of his uncles own several hundred acres.

This statement passed by me without a second thought, but two of my co-workers were intensely curious about the trip. One man from India and the other from China. They were fascinated by the nonchalant way he treated the topic of owning a gun – several guns – in fact.

Wei, a thin man with a thick accent and kind tone, explained he had served two years in the Chinese military during the early 1980s.  This was the only time, he explained, he had ever handled a gun. In China only the military may carry a weapon. I got the impression he was not a fan of the Chinese military. Yasir, on the other hand, had never seen a gun outside the movies. I think he pictured Michael’s hunting trip on a horse and with a cowboy hat. Both found the gun culture in America (especially the South) unusual.

Explaining Gun Culture in America

“Guns aren’t a big deal to us because we grew up with them.” Michael explained.

That’s true for me too. I remember when I was a young boy and my Dad and I would go hiking. We would pack a few fishing poles and some lunch. He would bring along our dog and the shotgun in the event we would stumble upon a while boar or if we just wanted to do some target practice for fun.

My Father and Grandfather taught me all about guns: how to safely hold them, how to shoot one, and how to store it. I remember my Father carefully explaining to me that a “gun is not a toy” and to “never point it at anyone” to “aim it at the ground when you’re not using it.”

All of these lessons seemed perfectly natural when I was a child, but looking back now I realize that they were something truly unique to American culture and Southern heritage. Just like some parents probably teach their children to use the subway or cross a busy intersection – mine taught me how to handle a gun.

Guns are kind of like a locally revered cuisine that the rest of the world finds distasteful. Chicken feet or caviar, maybe. And perhaps for that reason alone many Americans, in certain regions, embrace guns even more. It is part of our history, our “rugged and independent” ideology, and upbringing. It’s not bread out of some desire to kill our enemies, some love of conflict, or paranoia – it’s just another tool we were taught to use growing up.

I guess that’s why a lot of people are hesitant to give their guns up and why others don’t understand that logic. Culture can be strange that way.

Advertisements

Police State or State of Insanity?

Below is a video of a man in Texas who was arrested and disarmed by officers after someone called the police. Watch the video and let’s discuss.

Two Sides

In my attempt to remain level headed I want to examine both sides of the story here.

The Officer 

On one side we have the police officers. They received a call about a man carrying a rifle while walking down a Texas road. Their heart begins to pound because anytime you have to respond to a man with a gun your life could be in danger. Guns do have the potential to kill and when entering in a situation as such one must be prepared.

The police see the man and an intimidating weapon and a slight panic sets in. They ask the man to turn over his weapon and he gives them an attitude. This automatically makes the situation worse. The cops stop following protocol and act in self interest. Their first concern is disarming a man who seems aggressive – this isn’t by the book, but things are moving so fast that it’s easy to see why mistakes are made.

Gun violence has been all the talk on the news and in precincts everywhere. Tensions are high and protecting life is top priority.

The Armed Citizen

The man is a veteran and purposely chose rural Texas as a place to call home. He chose rural Texas because he believed that values he holds dear are upheld here. He has been desensitized by weapons after carrying one for several years in Afghanistan. He is a proud man and fought to defend the rights of all Americans and he wants to exerciser his to the utmost – that includes legally carrying a gun.

When the officer stops him he feels violated. This is America. This is Texas. He is just a man protecting himself and his son. The officer, who is a little panicked, tries to grab the citizen’s weapon away. This is it – unacceptable – this is exactly the kind of fascism and lawlessness the former soldier fought for to protect. It is inexcusable that any man try to take those rights away – the ones he was literally willing to die for.

The citizen is infuriated. This stamps on everything he believes in – and his son is there to watch.

Clarity

When you see it from both sides it kind of becomes obvious why there was so much conflict. Both sides had a good point, but both failed to realize the other had their own perspective. I would even go as far as to say that perhaps neither were wrong completely, but both failed to see the other person’s point of view. Both were hyper aware of the gun and less aware of the situation. The cop was trying to protect his own life (as far as he knew) and the citizen was trying to protect his rights and beliefs (which he was obviously very passionate about).

How the Media has distorted Judgement

When I first watched this video I felt a lot of emotion. Then as I contemplated it – I realized a lot of those emotions were not my own. They were implanted by the media. They were thoughts and ideas that someone else told me to think. Carefully formulated rhetoric designed by the anti-gun and pro-gun lobbies to persuade judgement. It seems like this has affected almost everyone’s ability to judge the situation without bias.

We know the ideas: Guns are bad. People with guns kill people. Universal background checks. Common-sense laws. The Government is bad. The Government wants to take guns away so they can control us. Blah blah blah.

Maybe what we need to do is sit down and rethink this whole issue. Forget the guns and think PEOPLE. We need to educate people. We need to change the culture. People are both the problem and solution.

Side Note: The New Vietnam?

I also see a frightening pattern regarding returning veterans. Will this be a new pattern? Returning vets realizing they fought in Iraq based on a lie the Government sold based on Nuclear weapons that didn’t exist. A war that was never declared and never ended? Will proud vets return home to a population that quickly dismissed their cause and doesn’t appreciate their sacrifice? In the end I can see nothing good from the kind of endless war we’re in. History forgotten is quickly repeated.

Gun Laws in the wake of the Connecticut Mass Shooting

Here we are again in the wake of the most tragic mass shooting in U.S. History.  28 victims, 20 of them children, were murdered by a psychopath in the name of nothing, for no reason, and has given none of us one ounce of closure.  To call this a tragedy is an understatement.  To try to put into words what the parents of these beautiful children must be feeling is impossible.

To imagine those unwrapped Christmas presents laying under the tree on Christmas morning. To think of the parents who have to live with the loss of their child every year – the holidays a constant reminder of what was taken from them. To finally muster the courage to pack your child’s bedroom and say goodbye. When it finally sinks in that your child will not be there on Christmas morning – smiling, excited, innocent – I can’t even imagine.

All these things have come to pass – or will come to pass – but one thing still remains.  One conversation: Gun Control.

Gun Control

I’ve covered Gun Control many times. I’ve tried to take a logical approach to the statistics and come to a reasonable conclusion about what it means to be a nation with an armed populous. Now 28 more people have been slain – so what do we do now?  What does this mean? Is it the time to open the discussion about Gun Control?  Is it time, for once and for all, to do what so many countries have and disarm? No.

By focusing on Guns we are missing the point. We are avoiding the elephant in the room. We aren’t having the right discussions at all.  What we need to talk about is us.  What’s wrong with our culture, with society, with our psychology?  How can we as a nation blame violence on Guns alone without taking a very careful look at ourselves in the mirror?  Why are we killing each other, what is happening to us culturally, what is the root cause of this issue?

Culture Health

We are a culture in trouble.  We have the highest gun related crime rate of any developed nation on Earth.  Why?  Is this a gun problem or something deeper?  Has TV and music corrupted our young people to such an extent that murder has become ingrain in our psyche to such an extent we resort to violent behavior?

We are in trouble unless something changes. Even our Government is built upon violence.  Have no delusions  We have the biggest military in World history.  The military industrial complex is the largest arms dealer in world history. So how can a Government enforce laws around gun control when they themselves supply all the world with weapons of destruction?  Hippocrates.

It just doesn’t fit. A culture of violence is one built from top to bottom and it has to be solved at all levels.  Peace has to come from the leadership as well as the populous – is our Government willing to lead by example?  No.

This isn’t an anti-government rant – I’m just pointing out that a culture of violence and love for Guns has saturated us.  The media, the Government, entertainment, and the people – all engulfed in a lust for violence that we can’t easily detach ourselves from.  Pro-gun or anti-gun ask yourself this: What is the real problem?  Guns or the system that promotes the idea of violence?

Tighter gun control laws without changing the moral fabric of the people will be more like chaining a rabid dog to a fence post without training him – you can take away the dogs freedom and it may solve a few problems, but he’s still rabid. How many people can you chain, spy on, and control in the name of safety?

Look in the Mirror

I’m not saying these shootings are any of our fault.  Not even close. But we have to agree that changing the way we embrace and cheer on violence has to change.

It’s propaganda. We love violence because we have been trained to. So it’s no surprise when a few of us begin to act out the thing they have come to embrace.

Does your 8 year old still find it entertaining to kill another person in a video game?  Are you still apathetic about the brown people being killed in the middle east by drone strikes that are eerily similar to the video game that your child loves to play so much?  Are you embracing love and humanity or war and murder?  Where do your dollars go at the movie theater? Do your actions scream peace?

Pro-gun or Anti-gun I really don’t care as long as we can all agree to do something about ourselves first.

Edit: A friend pointed this article out to me today. A mass shooting eerily similar to the one in Connecticut from back in the late 1920s. People have a very short memory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

Amazing Graphic Representation of the Arms Trade 1992 – 2012

This is literally one of the best graphic representations of anything that I have ever seen.  Worth sharing.

http://workshop.chromeexperiments.com/projects/armsglobe/