Confessions of a Gun-Nut

 

I was given my first rifle about seventy years ago, after having had some training in marksmanship at a  summer camp for boys. I was thirteen years old at the time.  It was a single-shot 22 caliber bolt-action, equipped with peep-sights.  Other than my old Daisy BB-gun (air rifle) it was my only gun for some years until an uncle gave an ancient single-barrel 410 shotgun he’d picked up someplace.  My main targets were empty tin cans, a wood-chuck that was digging up another uncle’s front lawn, and some years later, a crow I had called in and brought down with that old shotgun – much to my, and certainly to that crow’s, great surprise. From that time on I was hooked and have remained such, even having at one period in my life belonged to a local rifle team despite having been wounded once by a friend who was playing with an old handgun. Later in life I went on to take up the hobby of reloading my own rifle and shotgun ammunition and even built two muzzle-loading rifles pretty much from scratch, beginning with new barrels, an assortment of old parts, and a plank of hard maple.  And like most people who live out in the woods, I have a more powerful modern rifle to hunt bigger game.

I have briefly recounted that bit of personal history to illustrate the truth of what I recently read in a book titled “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”.   The author, a psychologist by the name of Jonathan Haight, cites numerous scientific and laboratory studies that prove that people who like to think they are acting rationally are really driven first by emotion or, as Haight prefers to term it, “intuition”.  Either way, what this all comes down to saying is that we generally decide issues based on our gut feelings and only afterwards try to justify those decisions by appealing to reason, often in the process twisting logic all out of shape.

Certainly this truth has been illustrated again and again when it comes to the subject of gun control.  After the latest round of mass shootings we see rational attempts to control gun violence -- really, murder when you get down to it -- again and again defeated by gun rights advocates and politicians who repeatedly read the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution backwards.  They elevate the right to keep and bear arms far above and beyond the carefully reasoned stipulation by our Founding Fathers that such this practice is required by the need for “a well regulated militia.”

Well regulated? The hodge-podge of conflicting laws from state-to-state in the USA has made enforcing such laws all but impossible.  And the few federal laws that were ever passed have become relics or historical curiosities.  For example, while the mayhem of the gang-warfare of the prohibition era resulted in the total outlawing of machine guns like the infamous “Tommy-gun”, today in many places anyone can buy off the racks in sporting goods stores and other gun traders cheap foreign-made copies of even more lethal guns like the famed Kaleshnikov (AK-47) assault rifle, the favorite weapon of the Islamic State fanatics, Boko Haram, the Talaban, and just about every other insurgent group intent on terrorizing people into submission to their crazy ideas. 

And as for controlling hand-guns, which kill far more people in this country than assault rifles do, again the only enforceable law we seem to have is the one prohibiting sawed-off shot-guns -- another favorite weapon of the prohibition-era mobsters.  Or again, there is a federal law prohibiting hunting of migratory waterfowl with shotguns holding more than three shot-shells at once, but few or any laws prohibiting hand-gun or rifle magazines holding a dozen or more cartridges (how did that Chicago policeman end up shooting that poor 17-year-old kid sixteen times in a fraction of a minute?).  Apparently Americans care more about ducks than people.

Of course, there are those who argue that things have gotten so out of control in this country that we need all these guns to protect ourselves against all the “bad guys” out there.  Sadly, maybe they are right, but if they are, I suspect it means we have reached the end of any legitimate claim to be a sane civilization -- aside from ever claiming to have been a Christian one.  But if that is the case and we have decided to “live by the sword”, then I think it is foolish to imagine we’ll somehow escape the inevitable consequences of dying by the same.

 

R W Kropf  12/10/2015                                            GunNut.doc  15-12-10.html