Harry Wyeth: How about some critical thinking about guns?
Harry B. Wyeth
The other day I spotted a parked vehicle with a bumper sticker reading, “If you are coming to take my guns, one of us is going to die,” or some such. This was almost across the street from the Unitarian Church in Grass Valley, of all places.
One wonders if gun owners of such a mind-set ever critically consider what they believe in, what the basis of their beliefs are, and what the consequences are.
I write as a former NRA member (from when I used to teach rifle shooting at a summer camp), and as a fair shot from regular shooting practice when in the Army.
If asked why they get so worked up about gun ownership, the NRA and the most vocal gun owners will respond that it is because it is their right under the Second Amendment. Let’s examine that argument with some hard questions.
If the gun owner were in a high-quality law or business school, he would be asked probing questions by the professor forcing him to think critically, such as: If there were no Second Amendment, would you feel so strongly — and why?
What if the Supreme Court were to reverse its stance on what the Second Amendment means, and allowed states to sharply restrict gun ownership?
What is it about gun ownership itself that makes it more important than, say, making sure that everyone who has gun access is responsible for keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people?
Why is it that you have little trouble maintaining a driver’s license and car registration, business license, or hunting license, but object to licensing a firearm? Do you know that in Israel, where self-defense is actually encouraged by the government, gun owners need a license?
Why do you think that you need more than one firearm, or a large ammunition magazine, for defense of your home?
What argument do you have with the observation that the U.S. has by far the greatest number of non-combat gun deaths of any country, together with the greatest number of owned guns (except for Yemen, possibly)?
What is the objection of the NRA to voluntary gun buy-back laws? And, confidentially now, does owning a gun make you feel more — you know — manly?
One suspects that gun owners who display NRA-style bumper stickers or wear shirts with “Keep Calm and Carry Guns” slogans may have difficulty answering such questions with a high degree of critical thinking.
Unfortunately, as long as intelligent analysis about the American obsession with guns is lacking, gun violence and campus shootings will continue to be ho-hum events.
In a nation of 321 million people, there will always be plenty of disturbed individuals seeking a method of killing those they dislike, and even with the best of mental health services there will never be a way of heading them all off.
The NRA will continue to pretend to be sympathetic and lament gun killings, but as long as serious questions about America’s gun culture go unasked and answered, we can’t expect any change.
How long will it be before some mentally disturbed person with access to guns decides he wants to shoot as many people as he can at, say, a high school basketball game? How many victims would that be?
Harry B. Wyeth lives in Grass Valley.
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