Piggy-backing off of Ryan’s piece, I thought many of you might find this article from The Week interesting. I am not a very good liberal when it comes to gun control, but not because I have any special love of guns. I have only fired one a couple of times, and frankly didn’t get the appeal. The fact that people can talk about “gun culture” is bizarre, and doesn’t square with 2nd Amendment defenders’ claim that guns are simply tools. They’re not. Spatulas are tools, and there is no such thing as “spatula culture.” Guns are something altogether different.
So no, guns aren’t my thing. The reason why I am a bad liberal on gun control though is because I don’t think much of what the government can do will decrease the number of guns in this country or the prevalence of gun violence. By some estimates there are almost as many firearms in America as there are people, and nearly half of U.S. households own at least one gun. We’re too far down the rabbit hole to simply ban most guns and think it will accomplish anything. While I believe that there should be background checks on every kind of gun sale, even this won’t stop the kinds of mass shootings we saw in Connecticut or even Colorado. And that really shouldn’t be our priority. What is needed is a change in “gun culture,” and that starts not with pieces in Mother Jones (although everything written in their article is true, they’re preaching to the choir), but with gun owners like Paul Brandus standing up to the NRA and its minions in government. Brandus writes:
The NRA has also spread the false notion that the Second Amendment was designed to protect you against government tyrants. Unless you’re a constitutional scholar, you’ve probably bought this one hook, line, and sinker. Someone who is a constitutional scholar, Professor Robert Spitzer of the State University of New York College at Cortland, points out that Article I of the Constitution allows militias to “suppress Insurrections,” not cause them. If you think the Constitution allows you to rebel against the government, guess what? The Constitution says you’re a traitor. Writes Spitzer: “The Constitution defines treason as ‘levying War’ against the government in Article III and the states can ask the federal government for assistance ‘against domestic Violence’ under Article IV.”
It’s not your fault that you don’t know this. How would you know to wade through a giant appropriations bill from 2011, or to sift through the Constitution’s fine print? And it is this — your lack of knowledge — that the NRA and its toadies on the Hill are banking on. One of my favorite quotes from the father of our Constitution, James Madison, comes to mind: “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.”
As with everything, culture matters. The NRA claims to speak for all gun owners, but it doesn’t represent even a majority of these people. Not even close. And yet the NRA seems to determine how both sides of the gun control debate talk and think. The left gets itself in a tizzy every time Wayne LaPierre says anything, which is exactly what he wants. The NRA feeds on a collective sense of powerlessness that many people feel. If liberals really want to decrease gun violence in America, they’ll stop overreacting to everything the NRA does, stop demanding legislation that won’t accomplish anything, and start building a culture where kids are better educated, more employable, and less likely to buy the bullshit the NRA is selling.