28 May 2014

Gun Nuts: Tone deaf, insensitive and boorish

I don't understand gun nuts. I really don't. I'm speaking as a gun owner, and a person who really enjoys a day on the range. I enjoy shooting clay, or stationary targets. I can appreciate the care, time, effort and skill it takes to master long distance shooting. I can even appreciate people who train in tactical shooting in an effort to make their firearm a practical weapon of self-defense. I don't think the statistics on guns as a primary means of self-defense make this a very practical approach, but whatever. Sometimes the people engaging in such training display great discipline and skill.

Gun nuts though, these people I don't get. A definition might be useful here. Gun nuts are people who engage in most of the following. This isn't a very rigorous definition mind you so don't get to hung up on the details.

1. Gun nuts are people who think that a firearm represents an extremely viable, primary weapon of self-defense. They think this despite the fact that an abyss of statistics indicate that they, or their loved ones living with them, are vastly more likely to be killed by their self-defense pistol than any bad guy.

2. Gun nuts stockpile both guns and ammo.

3. Gun nuts think their AR-15 and AK-47 variants will allow them to take out our government should it turn tyrannical.

3.1 Gun nuts, often think our government is now too tyrannical.

4. Gun nuts really love violent imagery when discussing their opponents.

5. Gun nuts often think any discussion of gun control law equates to the government taking away all the guns.

6. Gun nuts think if more people had more guns there would be less not more gun violence. Again this violates the stats but sound statistics don't really impress gun nuts. [EDIT: Perhaps the second sentence deserves its own rule?]

7. Gun nuts can't understand why the public brandishing of their weapons in public places makes people nervous and uncomfortable.

8. Gun nuts respond, almost completely in the most tone deaf and insensitive ways to the gun related tragedies that we read about almost daily.

9. Gun nuts are people who really, really, really don't want to get punched in the face, but really, really, really want to run their mouths in an altercation.

Okay, that is probably enough to get us started. Again, I accept that the gun nut criteria I've laid out here are not systematic, or overly rigorous. But, gun nuts are a lot like obscenity for some people, you kind of know them when you see them, like when you, the manager of a popular family dining establishment,  are asking them to leave your Chili's because their loaded assault rifle's, slung over their shoulders, are making your customers nervous and unlikely to stay. One or two on my list don't make you a gun nut, but compounding the criteria makes it more likely you will probably say some thing catastrophically insensitive, statistically unlikely, and silly about guns and the plight of gun owners in the US.

Exhibit A. Joe The Plumber. Many of us thought Samuel Wurzelbacher had exhausted his 15 minutes of fame, but a weekend of dead college students allowed him to really shine and prove us wrong. Joe, as I prefer to think of him, took the time to write an open letter to the parents of the murdered victims, though not to the parents of the three men Elliot Rodgers stabbed to death. No, Joe The Plumber was careful to delineate. Joe was specifically interested in contacting, openly, and with all the sensitivity of a brick through the window, the parents of the victims who died by gunshot. Joe might have penned a more sensitive letter, but instead opted for, "As harsh as this sounds- your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights."  At least he managed to navigate the dread your/you're problem even if he missed more sanguine locutions indicative of a real desire to engage in a larger public conversation. The whole letter is sort of breath-taking in its attempt to demonstrate sympathy, while also insensitively exploiting the tragedy of murdered people to have a go at the "gun grab left." Joe set himself a high bar given that in one paragraph he says no one can criticize a grieving father and then going on to do exactly that. 

Exhibit B. Almost all the antics of Open Cary Texas (OCT) 
One of their stated goals is to, "To Condition Texans To Feel Safe Around Law Abiding Citizens That Choose To Carry Them [that is to say, openly carry shotguns, handguns, rifles]." One of the ways they think will best facilitate this conditioning process is to show up, more or less unannounced at restaurants, and other public places with their loaded assault rifle variants slung across their backs in large groups. I own guns, and a bunch of camoed clowns carrying their toys into a public does not make me leap to the conclusion, look, a bunch of responsible gun owners. It would make me want to leave the place the gun nuts were congregating in post haste. And the stats would be on my side. 

OCT has also managed to demonstrate a great deal of disregard and venom toward a group of women, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who have had the temerity to disagree with OCT and advocate for smarter gun laws. One way OCT voiced this annoyance with Moms was to have a mad minute (a period of high volume fire from multiple shooters toward a target) in which a female mannequin, the surrogate for Moms, naked from the waist up,  was shot to shit in what can only be described as a classy display of respect for not only their intellectual opponents, but also for women generally. This class and nuance was demonstrated most eloquently by the men (they were all men shooting this mannequin) taking trophy pictures with the female effigy, full of bullet holes, with her jeans bunched around her ankles.

Photo Courtesy of Mother Jones.  
CJ Grisham, the founder of OCT couldn't be part of this particular mad minute but said, in a further display of his extreme class and respect for women, that the image, "....warmed the cockles of my heart." And what a warm magnanimous heart it must be to delight in such an image. 

What is almost amusing about this fantasy of violence against women is that the members of OCT can't really understand why the image above is so offensive. It is almost as if they cannot understand symbolism they are offering. Why can't they put the gang rape symbolism together. It seems fairly obvious to all of us looking in. Perhaps I am reading it wrong, CJ Grisham is deeply intimidated by these moms, or as he has calls them, "ignorant, retarded people," or "thugs with jugs." Maybe this is the only way he and his friends know how to deal with people that frighten them? That thought does not make me feel any better. 

Exhibit C.  The National Rifle Association, or as everyone knows them, NRA. 
Here is an organization that really ought to be leading the way toward better guns, and smarter legislation. But instead they tend to lobby against any measure that might bring greater clarity to our nation's gun issues. The gun lobby, of which the NRA is a leading part, has limited the amount of federal monies that can be doled out to research organizations for research on guns. They oppose smarter guns. They oppose doctors asking patients about their guns, despite the fact that this has positive health outcomes (such questioning by doctors seems to encourage more responsible behavior by gun owners). However, such facts don't matter to the NRA. The problem with NRA, is that, gun nuts seem to have taken over the leadership of the NRA. I've no idea how in step with its membership NRA leadership is, I just hope the answer is something like, "not very much."  

Let me end where I began, "I don't understand gun nuts." 

Rant over. Feel free to contribute your own gun nut criteria, tell me where you think I am wrong, but whatever you do, just don't shoot me. 

Addendum: Allen Clifton was examining some of the same themes over at Forwardprogressives.com. You should check out his piece, its full of wit and sharp observation like this: "Because in a world where open carry is legal, you know what a potential mass shooter is called right before they unload 20 rounds into a crowd of children? An American citizen exercising their legal right to carry their assault rifle out in the open."

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At 3:32 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

I think your "gun nut" criteria is pretty much spot on. The image of the mannequin is especially chilling when you think of the UCSB shooters. These open carry types don't realize (or do they?) whom they are aiding and abetting. They give cover and ideological ammunition (as well as literal ammunition) to active killers.

At 8:37 PM , Blogger Max II said...

Steph, do you have any thoughts on OCT's inability to see why the mannequin, riddled with bullets, and pants around her ankles could be offensive? It seems almost impossibly obvious too me. Why don't they get it?

At 6:59 AM , Blogger Stephanie said...

I can't get into those minds. They are just so invested in their worldview, they can't see things any other way. There are a few women in their ranks, therefore they "aren't woman-haters," and that's the whole narrative.

But I have noted that some of their supporters in the comment thread are telling them to change their tactics. So that's something.

At 6:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very glad to have stumbled upon your blog. The gun nut culture makes me really mad, which is the fronting cover for being really sad. They are ruining my beautiful memories of my dad, my brother, and guns. People who think they know me might be surprised at how much I know about guns, but I had such loving, wonderfully enthusiastic teachers and stacks and stacks of Field and Stream magazines to read in my youth. I loved walking with my father and brother through the early morning in total silence and solemnity. We never killed a thing, but we walked, shotguns broken and held over our arms, in readiness and with one mind. I miss it. These Open Carry nuts? I cringe and go crazy because they are so wrong. I worry for their children. I am amazed and frightened by their mean craziness. I think they are obviously crazy and should not have guns.

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