America needs to address its gun hypocrisy

On one hand: America is a country with a proud tradition of self-reliance and self determination. Part and parcel of that spirit is the right to defend yourself. It is such an ingrained part of America’s ethos that we have protected The right to bear arms in our bill of rights. Guns served Americans well as we settled the frontier and made America a prosperous nation. Legions of Americans grew up hunting and consider it a right of passage that they pass down to their children. Guns, and the right to possess them, are fundamental to American liberty.

In furtherance of this concept we recognize the right to use lethal force in self-defense when your life is in danger and we recognize the Castle doctrine, which allows a person to use lethal lethal force to protect their Homestead (with several caveats of course)

Several states have added to these legal theories with Laws providing the right to stand your ground, sometimes allowing deadly force in broad daylight.

As I understand it many gun owners use their weapons as a tool to control and de-escalate potential volatile situation. And they are sincere when they say that gun possession makes them safer.

On the other hand: it is a crime in most (all?) jurisdictions to point a gun at somebody and threaten them. Children such as my eight-year-old son are criticized for pretending to shoot people and for enjoying playing violent video games. Their fascination with guns is viewed with concern. Similarly, I feel confident in asserting that a person walking down the street with a rifle would be viewed with some degree of alarm.

America clearly has a hypocritical relationship with guns. Are they a fundamental right or are they cause for concern? Are they an intrinsic part of American culture or are they menacing objects that suggest violence?

Back in the 1960s the black panther party openly carried weapons while patrolling neighborhoods in California. This was viewed as something that was concerning to the government. More recently Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer while sitting in his car trying to identify his concealed carry firearm. I realize the huge racial implications for both cases, but I struggle to understand how either could happen in a country that is supposedly committed to gun rights.

I am arguing that one of the reasons that America has such a gun problem, which is to say frequent gun tragedies, is because we have such a hypocritical relationship with our firearms. We have so many in circulation and such entrenched rights protecting their ownership that it is absurd that we do not embrace this part of America.

Even though there are many Americans (including myself*) who do not own guns and we made a personal choice not to own guns there is simply too many in circulation for us not to accept that America is the gun capital of the world.

It would seem to me that rather than continue useless debates about restricting guns we should be taking measures to fully embrace the fact that we are the most gun loving and gun toting country, at least developed country, in the world.

I’d like to see gun safety classes taught in public schools. By the time kids get to high school they could have marksmanship clubs. I’d like to see the country fully embrace gun rights too; Nothing that is hand held and shoots a projectile as opposed to a rocket or a flame should be banned.

My further idea would be a universal open carry law instead of allowing concealed carry. (Concealed carry Could be limited to those who have a need). My thinking on this is that we are constantly hearing the mantra that good guys with guns offer protection and that guns are a deterrent. I’d like to see that put to the test by allowing all Americans to openly wear and display their guns wherever they are. This would begin at age 18.

This would be an American thing! Come to the states and expect to see people with guns strapped to their hips and rifles flung over their shoulders. But also know that your typical American teenager can safely load and unload a handgun because they had to learn it to graduate elementary school.

This half assed gun acceptance that we do is dangerous in my opinion. We will never confiscate the guns that are out there and we will never pass laws a decisively discriminate between appropriate types of guns so I say we need to become the The nation or guns or just something you are used to seeing and something that people don’t mind and understand and are proficient with. Kind of like Brits and a teakettle.

*I don’t need a gun in my home, for reasons. But I’d hate to go to the shooting range sometimes.

If the concealed carry rate is non-negligible, then the deterrent rate would be higher than a similar level of open carrying because the possibility of anyone possibly having a gun in a scenario deters crime even if a gun isn’t evident. This bears out the stats when comparing crime rates to other countries - in the US, crimes against people like robbery and home invasion are lower, and a lot of it gets shifted into crime against property, which is less dangerous to human life. If everyone is carrying openly, then criminals can simply see where the guns aren’t and commit their crime against that group.

Really, concealed carry has never been a problem in the US. It has an exemplary record. People who concealed carry legally generally have among the lowest criminality rates of any group, much lower than police officers.

People proposing new gun laws pick the weirdest shit to target. As an example, legally owned machine guns by non-police civilians were never involved in a crime for 52 years - a perfect record and, arguably, a great example of gun control because the process of getting a license for such weapons was very thorough - but, of course, they decided that the menace of zero crimes over 52 years had to be banned, and they were, in 1986. Now you want to target concealed carriers for a ban despite an exemplary record. “Assault weapons” bans almost always target cosmetic features - what parts make a gun look scary - rather than functional ones. It’s hard to take controversial proposals for public policies that restrict constitutional rights seriously when they seem to be completely arbitrary, ignorant, and/or nonsensical.

Guns and race are intimately tied together. Harboring racist attitudes is one of the strongest predictors of gun ownership for white people, and as you mentioned gun control became more popular in California when black people armed themselves. Its not really hypocrisy when you understand that guns are themselves a way to establish power and safety in a country with a strong racial hierarchy.

As the right descends further into irrationality and fascism, the left is realizing that they need to arm themselves for self defense as they can’t rely on law enforcement or the government to protect them.

Guns are going to become a much bigger issue if anything.

I thought of that and I don’t have a good rebuttal so, fuck it, universal concealed carry. But I do favor some sort of I don’t know process to ensure that people who are severely mentally ill maybe don’t get them.

My hope with this thread is to make progress on the gun discussion by giving up the idea that guns would ever not be a part of American society or by advocating the banning of certain styles of rifle or handgun.

I happen to be swayed By statistics they tell me that a handgun in my home does not make my home safer. I also have enough depressive tendencies that it makes sense not to keep a firearm in my home. And I would certainly prefer it if America didn’t allow rifles. But I accept that this is not realistic and I favor progress Over persistence.

So concealed carry it is.

You could go full Heinlein (“Beyond This Horizon”) and make people who are unarmed into second class citizens forced to wear a brassard as a mark of their shame.

Gonna do it, may as well do it properly.

Given the, at best, uncertain nature of the evidence supporting claims that guns deter more crime than they facilitate, I’m not too enthusiastic about essentially forcing all Americans to participate in a massive sociological experiment to “test” these claims, whether they want to or not.

I have a masters degree in criminal justice. I have sat through countless discussions about studies verifying your suspicions that guns do not deter or reduce violence.

But unlike you I would like to force the issue and lay bare before America whether people like you and myself are mistaken. I fully expect that were my proposal adopted there would be a noticeable increase in gun misuse, at least until the educational system caught up with the proliferation of weapons In a few generations.

(My thinking behind making gun safety or gun handling as a required part of an American scholastic curriculum is to hopefully curb gun accidents).

Nevertheless I would predict that normalizing gun use in America would still result in an increase in criminal activity. But gun rights advocates tell me I’m wrong so let’s see. I as an American and willing to try. The current debates are not getting us anywhere.

So you want to force 300 million people to be armed, many of them against their will, in order to satisfy your curiosity about the effects of having 300 million people be armed? It doesn’t sound like you’re proposing a thought experiment but actual policy, the sort of which would be pretty much unprecedented and wildly problematic.

Yeah, I have concerns about the ethics of knowingly advocating something that I expect to have that result.

I think we as a society are probably headed in the direction of more gun ubiquity and more gun misuse anyway, without trying to encourage it. I hope events prove me wrong.

Nobody would be forced to own or possess a weapon. People would have to learn the basic mechanics of guns in school (we can offer that the kids whose families do not approve of gun use can opt out of shooting, although they wil still be trained to identify, confirm unloaded, and disassemble a firearm.)

Moreover, the basic thesis I’m operating under is that I could be wrong, and allowing guns everywhere might have a strong deterrent effect. At least we’ll know.

Not encourage, but embrace. If it’s a given that guns our becoming more ubiquitous, I propose that we make it so that all Americans are used to, and have a working knowledge of, these weapons. Part And parcel of that, I would presume, would be a healthy respect for an armed person.

To my mind this is not much different than mandating drivers education in a Place where every adult can be expected to either drive or ride in a car.

If we’re actually requiring people to get officially trained and licensed before they can legally operate a gun, as we do for those who want to legally operate a car, that’s a different story.

But there’s no practical point to requiring drivers’ ed for non-drivers, or to requiring gun training for non-gun-users.

Your goal here seems to be not so much to reduce gun violence but to encourage more Americans to be more familiar with and comfortable with the prospect of gun violence. Well, I guess that’s one way of making gun violence less of a “problem” in US culture: just get people to take it more for granted.

Not violence, but guns themselves. Isn’t that the gun rights’ sides lament? “Gun control advocates don’t know how guns operate, or mislabel them, or fear them for incorrect reasons”. Im proposing bridging the gap, on the theory that increasing the familiarity and understanding of weapons will reduce accidents and instill a healthier respect amongst all who might encounter one.

How much of this “lament” is actually identifying a significant cause of gun misuse and violence, and how much of it is a red herring attempting to distract from the fact that gun control advocates are not the ones committing gun misuse and violence?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of every responsible law-abiding person who wants to know more about guns, and/or how to operate them, having access to information and training. And I’m all in favor of requiring gun users to know how to use a gun properly before they’re entrusted with one. But I think that requiring non-gun-users to get trained in gun use is a pointless exercise.

AFAICT, complaining that gun-control advocates don’t know enough about guns is just a rhetorical tactic for gun-control opponents. Even if gun-control advocates knew everything there was to know about guns, that still wouldn’t reconcile gun-control opponents to introducing stricter gun control. They don’t want it, and no amount of “understanding” or “respect” for guns on the part of gun-control advocates will make them want it.

So ISTM that this whole discussion is about what essentially boils down to futile acts of window-dressing. It’s been interesting, but I remain unpersuaded of the merits of anything in the OP’s proposals.

Then you’ve already answered your own question. You clearly believe your proposal will be harmful. and you even know the science backs you up. It does not make sense logically or morally to kill a bunch of people in order to prove the gun rights activists wrong.

I actually had assumed you took the other position: that you thought it would help. But even that wouldn’t make it okay, because of the possibility of failure and the inability to undo it once it happens.

This would be a profoundly unethical experiment.

That said, I see no reason not to teach people about guns. I don’t actually see any problem with people who don’t use them learning about them, same as kids who don’t drive still should learn how to handle traffic. They wouldn’t get the intensive training, but they’d at least know the basics to avoid problems.

The main issue would be making sure to teach without encouraging their use. But the right kind of teaching could work to repudiate the myths that are part of the culture, similar to how sex education works. The idea of guns, like sex, is so out there and so glorified in the culture that I don’t think education would necessarily make things worse, as long as it is not itself pro-gun (just like sex ed doesn’t say "go out and have sex! It’s fun.)

I actually believe that people knowing the facts about gun use would result in fewer people wanting them. Or, at least, it would in a vacuum. Your concern about minorities whose rights are being stripped away carrying more is one I think is well founded. Guns are less needed when people’s rights are protected.

Of course, that’s assuming that we don’t formalize the unwritten rule that white people with guns are okay, but minorities with guns are a threat and shouldn’t have them.

I disagree with this assertion. It might apply in some cases, but often times people who are ignorant about guns and their capabilities write our laws, and they propose laws that really don’t make sense. Assault weapon bans are a prime example of this - assault weapon bans almost always ban things that make guns look scary, but not things that make guns any more deadly or have any other function. And when you point this out, you often get the reverse of what you describe - “oh, so I don’t know every technical detail about guns so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter!” which implies the pro-gun side is gatekeeping policy behind irrelevant minutia.

But when you write the laws, you have to know what the fuck you’re doing. The federal '94 AWB was completely fucking nonsense because it tried to ban guns from looking scary. A ton of political capital was burnt on something that would serve no public good. A lot of gun control legislation is like this - it’s meant to appeal to people who have no idea what the actual effects of gun crime are, or how guns function, or how laws directed at banning specific parts of guns will actually effect the legal gun market.

Like, imagine that the people who want to stop global warming only cared about stopping anything that produces black smoke. They might say “coal plants make black smoke, and coal plants are bad and generate CO2, so we need to ban anything that makes black smoke.” You’d come along and say “while we do need to reduce coal plants, whether something emits black smoke isn’t what determines how much CO2 it releases. Your proposal would cause widespread unintended effects, like banning campfires, and wouldn’t actually address the main issue, which is co2 emissions, and many things which generate CO2 emissions don’t generate black smoke, so it’s not a rational public policy”

And then that person would say “oh, so I might not know all the little technical details of how smoke and co2 work so I guess I can’t have an opinion, huh! you elitists will pick apart every proposal with trivial details”

That’s what it sounds like when people who don’t understand anything about guns try to advocate for technical laws about guns. And the worst part is that the people actually writing the laws are just as ignorant about them.

Very few gun control proposals I’ve seen were actual good-faith, non-ignorant attempts at sound public policy. A lot of them were flat out lies, like the attempts to ban “cop killer bullets” that would have banned every rifle round ever made, so that they could then say “the extremist gun lobby opposes a ban on cop killer bullets!”

Gun law proposals that have an actual rational basis in public policy - like, say, mandatory background checks implemented in the 90s - have passed before. Most gun laws that don’t pass are either overly broad and basically destroy gun ownership for self defense, or attack a problem or non-problem with nonsensical solutions (assault weapons bans).

There are, of course, people who would oppose any sort of anti-gun measure, but it’s not the entire pro-gun-rights movement as you declare. There has been very little in the way of proposals that would actually be good public policy.

We already have part of this experiment going in 22 states that have constitutional carry laws. I haven’t seen anything about their gun violence rates increasing more than it is every where else. Of course, our statistics and tracking of gun violence is abysmal.

I do really like the idea of rolling back restrictions on the types of guns we can own though I would probably want to see it paired with red flag laws nation wide.

I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more gun training for kids and adults in the safe operating and handling of firearms and the drivers ed model isn’t a bad one to pull from. I think getting people to see guns as more than objects of terrifying death is a good thing but at least based on my school experiences I’m not sure that would happen. I think we would mostly see an increase in the skill set of our school shooters and a corresponding increase in deaths from school shootings. I would hope there would be a decrease in found gun deaths but a lot of those occur in very young children who wouldn’t have had the school training and I’d worry that more people “carrying” guns would mean more guns left around.

All in all I’d go with the idea but it seems it would mostly have no to negative effects.

I recognize the conceit of the OP is that we’re talking about the US as an entity, but I think it’s important to finding a “solution” to identify that there’s no actual hypocrisy here; no holding of views but not fully embracing them. There are two large groups with entirely diametrically opposed views, both fully embracing those views. In some places the things the OP describes are one way, in other places they’re the opposite way. They just can’t be reconciled, is the truth of it. It’s not like there is one unified belief system that both holds that it’s super important to preserve the individual right to have as much firepower as one wants, and also holds that the presence of guns is terrifying and per se intimidation and shouldn’t be discussed in polite society, etc. There’s a lot of people who really really believe in the gun, and a lot of people who really hate it.

I look at it as pretty similar to the controversy over cigarettes. It was obvious which way the wind was blowing decades before any action that was taken that was in any way commensurate with the state of affairs intended by the people taking the action. Even though it was not a realistic political option to just outright ban the sale of tobacco products in the 50s or 60s, you certainly could have found a lot of people whose belief was that it needed to be at the very least severely restricted. But because of the many interests in completely unregulated and free tobacco production, sale and use, “America” was hypocritical about tobacco.

At the end of the day, whether it was by drips and drabs or by a sort of punctuated equilibrium, what happened wasn’t really a coming together of the opposing viewpoints. It was just one side winning hearts and minds. I think the same is true when it comes to guns. You’re either going to get rid of them or you aren’t, and there’s going to be a lot of unhappy people either way. Teaching well-off white kids in the suburbs of major metropolitan areas gun safety isn’t going to change the culture any more than mandating that public elementary schools in Arkansas put up posters showing gunshot wounds.

I reject your implied premise. When two civilians are in a potentially volatile situation, one of them choosing to take control is not a de-escalation.

What you call “healthy respect”, many others would call “fear”.

The reverse of that argument can be used, too. If a ban only affects the cosmetic features of a gun, with no impact on its function, why do people get so bent out of shape about the ban? People who complain about an assault weapons ban are not saying “this law restricts a tool that I can use to defend myself”, they’re saying “this law prevents me from dressing up my gun so I can look like a badass.” That doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that they are responsible, sober-minded gun owners interested only in safety.

I don’t know if it’s a hypocritical relationship, so much as there’s a very wide spectrum within American society with respect to views on guns. Anything from gun hobbyists whose lives revolve around shooting and collecting guns, to people who view them as evil machines that should be strictly relegated to military and police use, without exception. And a whole lot of people everywhere in between. This also somewhat mirrors the urban/rural divide as well- gun restrictions that seem eminently reasonable in a densely populated urban area, seem insanely restrictive and oppressive in more rural areas. Same in high vs. low crime areas.

In a political sense, the poles of that gun spectrum happen to line up with the extremes of the political spectrum quite closely. So gun policy has been rather schizophrenic over time depending on where, when and who’s in power.

Societally, it’s very dependent on where you live, and who you associate with. I mean, I know some people who are basically of the mind that guns are evil and should be banned/confiscated. I know others who have not-so-small arsenals of pistols, shotguns and rifles, including AR-15s and Kalashnikovs, and I live in suburban Dallas. None of them are actually unreasonable zealots- they just have very different experiences and opinions.

On state and national levels, it’s the aggregate of all these opinions that counts- places like California have different overall views than say… Texas. And both probably differ from somewhere like Ohio.

In most ways, I think that gun issues are an example of EXACTLY why the Founding Fathers liked the idea of Federalism; this is the sort of thing that’s tailor-made for it- it lets California be very restrictive, and Texas be essentially unrestricted because that’s what their people want.