Questioning Gun Ownership
Like any efficient (and possibly dangerous) technology, the ideas behind their use and control can be incredibly polarizing. Recently, I came face-to-face with that polarizing effect when I asked a seemingly simple question of Micheal Moore (the documentary filmmaker):
@MMFlint #bowlingforcolumbine Why is it that ppl in the US can own weapons, legally, that seem to be meant for heavy combat?
— Kevin Costain @ CWL ?? (@cwl_cc) December 28, 2012
And, to be clear, I was lazy for replying to a tweet about Piers Morgan, because my question had nothing to do with him. Ultimately, Moore stopped answering questions with the #bowlingforcolumbine hashtag and did not answer mine. Well, after that tweet, I was hit with replies left and right from those who seem to support my implied position and others who were clearly pro-gun. Read on for a look at how this panned out.
Before getting into this, it’s important to get some basics out of the way. I’m not a gun expert, owner, or enthusiast. This is a particular technology that I have held, but have never used. The guns I have seen in recent news stories have seemed particularly destructive for legal, home use – hence the essence of my question. I’m not an expert in U.S. law or The Constitution, so my interpretation of the second amendment is not relevant to the question; though, some have offered it as an answer. Guns are a particularly fascinating type of technology. Strikingly efficient and destructive, yet also an incredibly heated subject.
There were replies tying my questions directly to the shooting in Newtown, Conn, where a .223 calibre Bushmaster AR-15 rifle was used (with other weapons) to kill 27 innocent people.
@calwell Lol, if you knew what "heavy combat" was, then you'd know a Bushmstr wouldn't buy you 10 secs of extra breath if u were in the shit
— James J. Riordan (@JamesJRiordan) December 28, 2012
Moreover, James asserts my lack of “heavy combat” knowledge nullifies my point. I disagree with that, but James is entitled to his opinion. While it was hard to reply to all of the tweets that came in, others I was speechless. For example, I didn’t know what to make of this reply:
@calwell @MMFlint Because our Constitution allows for it. Ask the German Jews how gun control worked out for them
— John G (@johngio48) December 28, 2012
Of course, the old and tired “Why don’t we ban other stuff that kills because that would be like banning guns” argument had to pop up. In this case, the invalid argument trotted out was that of gas cans and a lighter. While very destructive, they weren’t created solely to kill.
@calwell the same amount of carnage could have been done with 2 gallons of gas and a zippo lighter. We gonna ban gas and zippos?
— Chris Croney (@ChrisCroney) December 28, 2012
I then came across a couple of users that brought on some longer exchanges. Since this is a contentious subject, there were some that ended up calling me an idiot. For those that stuck with me and offered edifying discourse, I continued to engage. One such well-informed fellow started right away by sending me an image of what appeared to be his guns:
@calwell like this one? @lixosoundstorm pic.twitter.com/lsUb786v
— J (@TinyDancer0912) December 29, 2012
This was striking to actually see them and great that someone was interested in having a sane conversation about which he appeared passionate. I was intrigued, so I asked what kind of guns they were. His reply was simply “[larger] one is a .223 made by Daniel Defense, it’s for home defence and sport. The pistol is a SIG Sauer P228”. After a lengthy exchange of ideas, I feel that he provided the clearest definition of what most of the world calls “gun culture” in America:
@calwell the only way to stop force is with overwhelming force and the courage to use it #caring
— J (@TinyDancer0912) December 29, 2012
Now, I’m not American and nor have I lived in America. I’m no more qualified to dictate government policy there than the next non-American. That said, I have some clear concerns about allowing certain kinds of destructive weapons to be legally owned anywhere in the world. I see that many seek to downplay the destructive abilities of these guns, but they are very efficient at what they do.
Of course, all of this belies the cultural and historical context that America lives in. Many there are of the mind that safety is assured in a cold war-esque arms race; where, as long as everyone is carrying a gun, no one will reasonably want (or need) to use it. This sort of pervasive arming of a nation leads to other undesirable effects that I feel many gun owners themselves don’t or are unwilling to see. I don’t support a complete gun ban anywhere, much less in America – but I do support controlling the kinds and numbers of guns that are out there.