Sunday, December 16, 2012

If I were a "responsible gun owner" in the USA...

(This is a slight adaptation of my longest Facebook status update ever. It got a lot of comments and fuelled a lot of discussion, so I thought I would share it here too.) 

Since Friday's unspeakable shooting incident, I’ve been reading a lot of posts and comments on Facebook  written by people who call themselves “responsible gun owners.”

Their responsible gun ownership doesn’t necessarily bother me half as much as they seem to think it does. But they have been making a lot of remarks that I find cynical, fatalistic, and just plain sad.

As most of you know or imagine, I am not a gun owner. But if I wer
e a "responsible gun owner" in the US today, these are some things I would NOT be saying:

I would not be pointing, almost gleefully, or with a weird sense of relief, to mass shootings in other parts of the world, as in “Hey, look at Norway, they have super strict gun control and they had a mass shooting that was WAY bigger than this one!” Why would I feel the need to distract attention from what’s happening in my own country?

I would not be suggesting that Americans who think the US just might need better gun control and who say so should just “pack up and move to another country,” if only because I would be just as high on the 1st amendment as the 2nd amendment.

I would not calmly and coolly be saying “Why, of course we have lots more mass shootings than other countries – we have lots more people!” It’s not like there can possibly be some sort of “quota per capita” for mass shootings that somehow makes them okay. Isn’t this one issue where we can all agree “the fewer, the better?”

I would not be spewing out “[insert names of objects] kill too, so why don’t we just ban [insert names of objects]” arguments, as in “Power tools kill people too, so why don’t we just ban power tools?” As a responsible gun owner, I would certainly understand the fundamental difference between a power tool and a gun. In fact, that is why I would proudly call myself a “responsible gun owner” but likely not refer to myself as a “responsible power tool owner.”

Finally, what I WOULD be doing is pondering what the US as a nation could do in order to avert as many of these mass shootings as possible.

Because as Americans, responsible gun owners or non-gun owners, shouldn’t we all want to be held up as an example and an inspiration to the world?

Or did I miss something in all those years of hearing about what it meant to be an American?


  1. Excellent post, particularly your last sentence. But therein lies the problem. We DID miss something about what it means to be an American, because those of us who think that guns should be much more fiercely regulated are so far fighting a losing battle, as so many of our fellow Americans disagree. And, they have the NRA and most House members on their side. It's nearly intractable, this problem, and yet I don't think we should give up the fight, even from our French vantage points, to fix it.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Maybe I'm feeling like this could be "a defining moment" for this issue. The NRA's silence is deafening.

  3. Well said. I too have been reading all the comments on gun control articles and shake my head in sadness/disgust. Things need to change.

  4. Well, I do agree that:
    a) It's not just a US thing, and
    b) That one does have to consider total population/total number of gun deaths, for example a country of 1000 people and one gun death is comparable statistically to a country of 100,000 people and 100 gun deaths.

  5. Well, as on 12/21, the NRA has spoken! I am not sure there is a solution as the country is so divided. I don't own a gun and don't want one. It is still very sad as mass shooting continues in spite of gun control talks!

  6. @Megan, yes, of course, per capita is the most telling figure statistically (don't think the US does well there, actually) but I cannot bear people using that argument to say every shooting is somehow ok, just part of life, etc. What if our goal were to have WAY FEWER shootings than other large countries, whether it be total or per capita? I can't accept the fatalistic idea that the US is just always going to have at least as many shooting sprees, and probably more, than other countries and that this is just "the price we pay for freedom."

  7. @Nadege Yes, the NRA did lay out a clear and creepy vision for a solution. Crazy as I find their proposed policy, AT LEAST they seem to have changed some of their rhetoric. I find it pretty ironic, however, that they lay blame on gun-related video games, entertainment, and media coverage of gun-related events...would they then support a federal ban on violent video games? I pretty much doubt it.

    Anyway, it was a very strange speech. They seem to try to be setting themselves as some sort of citizen's militia, which has perhaps been their dream all along.

    Personally, if the sad day were to come where we did have armed guards in front of schools -- not that they did much good at Columbine -- I certainly wouldn't want "retired NRA volunteers" to be doing the guarding, or the NRA to be in charge of recruitment. But I bet some communities are going to buy into their plan.