A while back, I was watching a discussion about gun control on Facebook. One commenter identified himself as a gun owner and said, “If anyone comes into my home without invitation they aren’t coming out alive.”
It was, of course, the typical overweening and simplistic power-fantasy posturing we see from so many gun owners. I was curious about the guy, so I glanced at his wall, where I saw him complain that both pro-gun and anti-gun folks couldn’t argue reasonably on the issue. And yet, all he brought to the discussion where I encountered him was his “I have a gun, I am powerful, I will kill the wabbit” comment.
I started to ask him if shooting a prowler non-fatally would be enough, doing just enough to stop them from their dread and fearful action but not actually taking their life. But I’ve been in such discussions, and the answer is always that if they’re on the gun guy’s turf, they’re dead. It’s not just a matter of using the gun as a practical tool in order to do what is necessary to protect yourself. It’s a matter of violent punishment: you’re on my turf, so you die.
And, you know, that’s a different sort of mindset than we want with gun owners, really. We allow police to carry guns, and we train them how to use them properly and responsibly (whether they actually do is, alas, another matter). Do we tell them, “If someone is involved in a crime, use your mighty boomstick and slay them?” No. We teach them to (hopefully) do the minimum violence necessary to solve the problem.
You don’t see that mindset in gun owners, or not very often. They harbor this violent power fantasy in which their gun is their talisman against evil and they are victorious (and unerringly accurate and effective) heroes in the dark and bloody moment. It’s not just that they might have to kill in certain circumstances, it’s that they want to. And that very critical difference ought to be enough to make us wonder if they, as a group, really have the maturity to wield these powerful weapons, or if their very stated desire to wield death is reason enough to question allowing them to have them.
And here’s the Song of the Week…
“Whenever Kindness Fails” (live) – Robert Earl Keen