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.