Thursday, June 3, 2010

To Gun, Or Not To Gun

Lately, I’ve been thinking about buying a gun; probably a rifle, because hand guns give me the creeps.

This development seems to make a deep kind of sense on one hand, and a deep kind of nonsense on the other. You see, I was brought up around guns in a rural area of Ohio. My grandfather, uncle, and father participated in civil war re-enactments when I was a young boy. My grandfather (a navy man and retired journeyman) also owned and operated a gun store for a number of years. My father is a member of the NRA. I’ve been around guns all of my life. It makes sense that after years of ambivalence towards them, I might find my interest piqued.

On the other hand, I am a liberal who supports reasonable gun laws, including waiting periods, background checks, bans on assault weapons, and measures to close the so called ‘gun show loopholes’. I also don’t support any kind of public-carry licenses, concealed or otherwise.

I know that there are many liberals who like guns, and like hunting, and support the second amendment to varying extents. I know Hunter S. Thompson was a political liberal who loved guns, and if I am to believe the subtext of so many election year photo ops, so do many, many, many (many) left-of-center presidential, senatorial, and congressional candidates.

But it still feels weird to me to think about buying a gun and taking it to a shooting range. More often than not it seems like you need to buy into some weird mojo to get on the gun bandwagon. It seems like you might need some ‘Real America’ credentials; like getting into Glenn Beck and NASCAR, and begin hoarding canned goods, bibles, and bottled water in preparation for the coming Socialist Superstorm that the Obama administration is deftly war-gaming with their reptilian-muslim-communist-atheist-homosexual-secularist-sorosian cohorts.

I don’t like Glenn Beck or NASCAR, and I’m not in the tinfoil hat business. To the generator buying, ammo-stockpiling, book of revelations survivalist I will comfort with the following Dennis Miller quip:

“The biggest conspiracy has always been the fact that there is no conspiracy. Nobody's out to get you. Nobody gives a shit whether you live or die. There, you feel better now?”

That being said, I think I want to shoot a gun. I have a certain primitive urge that is hard to define that I think shooting a gun would satisfy. This urge is part of the reason I can’t be a vegetarian (I like to eat meat when I am frustrated), and probably explains to some degree my simian appearance when I walk around without a shirt on.

Some other benefits to owning a gun: My kids seem interested in them, and I would like to embrace every bonding activity with them that I am offered. They’re going to be growing up around guns whether I own one myself or not. I still live in a very gun-friendly part of Ohio, and guns are pretty important to many members of my family. I might as well be the one to teach my boys how to respect and shoot them, and maybe I can even model a reasonable way for them to think about the things.

But it’s difficult for me to extricate the gun from what I have come to conceptualize as ‘the gun culture’. I’m certain it’s possible. After all, I still love to cook, even after watching Mario Batali in Spain...On The Road Again!


Willie Y said...

I feel the same way you do about gun laws. I also am attracted to guns. I don't own one, but every time I have a chance to shoot one I jump at it. For me the attraction is the wieght and the way it is put together the machanics of it and the way it looks. I don't think I will every own one, for me, they scare me.

Spencer Troxell said...

It's a fun experience. I had the opportunity to shoot at some clay pigeons this weekend, and although I was terrible at it, I think I could get into it.

Plus, you definitely want to be good with a shot gun, just in case there's a zombie outbreak.

Steppenwolf said...

I grew up around guns too. My father was an ex-paratrooper who tried to teach me how to kill when I was six! He took me hunting when I was a little older. He showed me what to do by shooting some rabbits with his twelve gauge. Many were only injured and flopped around screaming like babies. I never felt such disgust. I would always aim to miss. My father said I was a girl. If it's a choice between one or the other hand me the lipstick.

Steppenwolf said...

Spencer the latest news from England is about a man who went on the rampage in a small seaside town and killed twelve people with a shotgun. I don't believe anyone should own guns. Guns are for killing. I understand gun crime is a serious problem in America - and yet a piece of legislation drafted years ago when Americans needed to protect themselves from the English is gaurded with religious fervour. I'd like to melt then all down - turn 'em into plowshares. I've held a gun, it's achildish thrill. The instrument between my ears is where I get my power from.

Spencer Troxell said...

Steppenwolf: I appreciate your passion. I'm weary of guns to a certain extent too. I think that might add to some of the attraction. Who knows? We're complicated creatures.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say make them all illegal, I do support a lot of gun regulation, and the banning of certain types of guns.

I am profoundly turned off by the machismo that is rampant in the gun culture, and am sorry to hear what happened with your father. We should be supportive of our kids, and not try to force them to be things that they are not.

Lodo Grdzak said...


Go to almost any rifle/pistol range and they'll have a gun for you to shoot. You've got kids in the house, man. Young boys who'll start to get into your personal shit/private stash more and more as they age. If you're not like...just itching out of your skin to buy a gun, my humble suggestion would be to take them to a range, rent/borrow one of their guns, let the kids learn the mechanics and respect--and yeah, have fun.

Spencer Troxell said...

Good advice, Lodo. Thanks.

the elegant ape said...

Man. That is a tough one. I have a concealed carry permit as well as a couple of long guns. But with a child in the house all the guns have gun locks and are locked away. For self defense It would be more pratical for me to throw a large storage container of legos in the time it would take me to actually get my hands on a firearm and make it operational. Whatever you decide always take in consideration what a temptation a firearm is to a child.

Spencer Troxell said...

Well, I grew up in a house full of guns and made it out alive. I think I'm more than able to teach the kids to respect the things.

On the other hand, the attraction kids have to guns is undeniable.

Whether I buy one or not, I want my boys to have familiarity with guns, and to understand how seriously they need to be treated.

We know how well the abstinence only approach works with kids & sex.