Living in a bubble can be comforting. There is no tension at dinner parties and no arguments on vacations. You are constantly fed “proof” that supports the way you think, which makes you feel smart and good and “right”. But when your whole world is an echo chamber it makes certain subjects absolutely incomprehensible – and I’m not being superlative, there are things that I just don’t understand and I have no one to ask because everyone in my bubble is asking the same question or regurgitating judgmental answers that aren’t necessarily progressive, nor do they feel accurate.
The day after the election, when I asked you why you voted for Trump it was out of utter curiosity because I was desperate to learn more about why one would check his box. And I learned SO much. Your responses and the dialogue that ensued really changed my view on America – it didn’t change my politics, mind you – but it made me really respect the the experiences of many of you who think differently than I do. “Oh, That’s why…” I felt that at least mentally I could wrap my head around the whys and relate more to other Americans. Newsflash, folks: listening to different viewpoints is enlightening. Duh.
So today’s question is another one in which I’m desperate for your input:
Why do you own and/or like guns?
I’m sincerely hoping that those of you who love and appreciate guns can help those of us who don’t understand your views.
If you are curious about my stance on guns, here you go:
I’ve shot a 22 at pop cans with my family in Wyoming and it was fun. I’ve shot a machine gun at a firing range in Vietnam where my adrenaline spiked faster than those bullets (its a weird tourist thing). I realize these are not everyday gun shooting scenarios but they are all I’ve got. Despite being a less than great shot (but i’m not bad), the energy was intense, the destruction of the target was immediate, and the power in my hand was palpable. Holding a gun feels awesome.
It’s precisely that power which scares me the most. If everyone in America was mentally balanced, had strong moral compasses, and an appreciation for humanity I’d be less worried. If everyone in America had a healthy childhood, never suffered from violence, and had the mental tools to deal with conflict in a non-violent way, I wouldn’t be worried.
But that’s obviously not the reality.
When you hold a gun you feel powerful and I think it’s because you know that what you are holding in your hand can, in fact, destroy something or someone else in a second. Not that you want to, but you are very aware of the possibility. Because let’s be clear, that is the point of a gun. Guns are meant to kill, destroy, and remove life from something else. It’s not always premeditated, obviously. It might be for personal defense, sport or hunting game, but it is meant to KILL and there is is a shit ton of power in that. I mean, on a base level what is actually more “powerful” than the ability to destroy something near you?
There are a lot of people who feel powerless in life for a myriad of extremely sad reasons. As hard as it is to remind ourselves, mass killers were once innocent babies too and for whatever reason they likely had a void of love, stability, attention or weren’t given the tools (or help) to heal, succeed or be happy. And that baby, now grown, given the chance to feel some power, or maybe to feel anything at all, might take it. If triggered they might, in fact, pull that trigger. When we call it ‘sense-less’ it often really means just that – they feel nothing. The latest shooter went to Wal-Mart to grab deoderant and then to Macdonald’s to grab a filet-o-fish after killing 17 high school kids (we don’t know what he really bought). That void of sense isn’t the result of having a normal, healthy life. It’s just not. And yet there is no multiple choice questionnaire or blood-test to find out how broken someone is or what their potential threat might be to society before they buy an AR15 or M16.
But that’s probably not you or most of us. And to be clear I don’t want to take away your guns.
But I understand and appreciate your need to feel safe – I want to feel safe, too, which is why I have a fancy home security system. To each their own. I understand that having a handgun provides you some comfort for personal defense. Just because I don’t want to own a gun doesn’t mean that I want to take away the right of responsible, highly checked and trained adults to buy a handgun for personal protection or a rifle for sport (assuming you store them in safes where no child could ever find or accidentally obtain access). The main reason I’m not campaigning to take your guns is because its clear that being totally anti-gun is futile and will further no progress. I am am personally very anti-gun, but I just want compromise with the hopes of more safety and less tragedy. I want stricter gun laws. More regulations. Less access to military style rifles that can kill so many so fast.
But man, I feel hopeless and helpless.
We all know why politicians won’t change the laws – they are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the NRA to essentially not regulate guns and vote pro-gun policy. I get that. Frankly, I think they are cowards, but I don’t think they are necessarily bad people. They also just do not have the same fears and vulnerabilities of normal people because they and their children or grandchildren are more protected and privileged. It’s the same reason why they don’t advocate for public schools or universal health care – it’s not like they sent their kids to public school (or would now) so they can’t relate at all and therefore they don’t see its value or necessity.
But they would have voted differently on that AR15 ban if one of those children had been at Sandy Hook or Parkland.
I know why politicians aren’t trying to ban military style weapons, but I don’t understand why normal citizens are opposed to more gun restrictions and banning the AR15 or M16. I don’t understand why people think strangers should be able to buy guns online via the gun show loophole, without an effective background check. I don’t know why someone would be opposed to strict background checks and wait times for any gun store. Or maybe you do and most of you who own a gun really do want more restrictions. I know that a lot of moms read this blog and I can’t fathom that anyone with a child thinks that this weeks shooter should have been able to easily buy that AR-15 at a local gun shop, mentally ill or not.
I know, truly, that there are two sides to every story and I NEED to hear the other side because I’m sad and feeling so helpless and hopeless.
So in the name of gaining knowledge, understanding and to create an important dialogue, I’d love to invite comments from those of you outside of my liberal bubble – those of you who own or like guns. You can be anonymous and enter a fake email (people do it all the time), I want you to be as honest as possible.
The main questions are:
-Why do you own a gun?
-As a gun owner do you think that there should be more restrictions and tighter gun laws? If not, why?
– Do you think that AR-15s should be legal for purchase?
Let me be clear – this is NOT a political conversation. Obviously, this is a very passionate subject and it’s easy to get angry and words might fly out of your fingers that can take the conversation in an ugly direction. But this space will remain void of trolls and bullies (aka we’ll delete anything that feels disrespectful). My general rule is that if you wouldn’t verbally say it to an eight year old, find a way to rephrase it. We have an opportunity to listen to each other and learn and we shouldn’t squander it with generic rhetoric, judgment or digression.
Because if knowledge is power then maybe learning from each other is the only way we can become more knowledgable and more powerful than the piece of dangerous metal called a GUN.
***opening graphic via