Skip

The Devil's Right Hand
February 7, 2007 9:01 PM   Subscribe


 
Awesome. My wife is a better shot with her snubnose .357 than I am with a scoped, ported, target .45.
I can't wait to get my daughter her first .22 rifle.
posted by Balisong at 9:11 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just wanna know what's up the crazy bread in the corner there.
posted by neustile at 9:12 PM on February 7, 2007


You gotta have something to munch on in the panic room.
posted by Balisong at 9:14 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


For me as an European having a gun at home is more then strange. Having a whole assortment of assault weapons in one's living room is just freakish.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:17 PM on February 7, 2007


I read an article a while back about a study of who gets killed with a homeowner's gun. If I remember correctly, it was this order, from most common to least:
  1. Family member, suicide
  2. Family member, at the hand of another family member
  3. Family member, at the hand of an intruder
  4. Intruder, at the hand of a family member
And I think the dropoff between each was pretty severe.

Does anyone know what article I'm talking about, and (hopefully) have a link to it? Or am I imagining it?

Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 9:20 PM on February 7, 2007


posted by Balisong You gotta have something to munch on in the panic room.

Dan doesn't look like he could afford a panic room. He probably just has a spaz cabinet, or a freakout tower.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:22 PM on February 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


What a nice essay. This one touched me the most. The familiar still life of grandkids' photos, TV guide, remote controls, superpoofy chair, notepad... that choked me up.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:23 PM on February 7, 2007


Wow, I've known Kyle (via the internet) for years and years. Nice to see him getting some respect! I thought this was some of his strongest work. If you can find it, check out his pictures of a girl who cut herself. That was some strong medicine to say the least.
posted by unSane at 9:25 PM on February 7, 2007


For me as an European having a gun at home is more then strange. Having a whole assortment of assault weapons in one's living room is just freakish.

As an US American, I respect that. But, oddly, a Russian guy I work with bought a bunch of guns upon moving to the USA. He gave a similar reason,

"Because we can't own them where I am from."
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:25 PM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


well well, i was about to post that link fandango, with some snark like, "Is this guy fucking nuts or what?"
posted by phaedon at 9:27 PM on February 7, 2007


Some people like their weaponry.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:29 PM on February 7, 2007


Very nice. In a related note, I had been woolgathering for some time to make a post around this image, which to me looks like every stereotypical apocalyptic American movie poster ever - except, you know, real.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 9:35 PM on February 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


The best quote is from the wife in the last picture:
Jean: I hate guns. Don't get me started.
posted by ColdChef at 9:37 PM on February 7, 2007


I've vacillated between being pro-gun and very anti-gun. I have no doubt that having a gun in the household decreases the safety of folks inside without a high level of education, stability, and security--especially if there are kids or folks with depression or other mental health issues. On the other hand, living in an era where it's not completely inconceivable that we might suddenly find ourselves with a "president for life," the idea of a citizenry able to do more than wring its hands holds appeal.

Dunno. I've worked in a gun shop, I don't own any weapons nor have I, but might.

Aside, based on a couple of the captions in the essay: Having worked in said gun shop, I would say that the ratio of dudes really into the natural world who don't care about bagging any game when they hunt versus those who want to drink beer, drive on logging roads and just kill the shit out of something, yeehaw, is at best 10% "into nature" to 90% "kill kill kill." Maybe I just lived in the wrong area.
posted by maxwelton at 9:47 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most of these guns are designed to kill people, not to hunt with. These people appear to be normal middle class folks. The idea that normal middle class folks should have as their right that great a capacity to kill people indicates a deeply sick society.
posted by wilful at 9:53 PM on February 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


The more times I have to go into a home and remove a suicide with only half a head, the more anti-gun I become. I've actually found myself being thankful for people who take pills or just use a smaller caliber. Scraping brains off a wall and picking teeth out of carpet can really make a guy question his life choices and his second amendment stance.

On the other hand, most people I know are avid sportsmen with impressive collections of firearms. And I don't normally get the feeling that they're thisclose from climbing a clocktower.

I guess my current position is: fine for others, not for me. So, you know, if you're looking for someone to rob and you're in Louisiana...
posted by ColdChef at 10:06 PM on February 7, 2007 [8 favorites]


As an Englishman I am both atracted to an repeled by the thought of "one man, one gun".

I can see why you would want to protect yourself. But having a gun in my home would make me feel less than safe.
posted by gergtreble at 10:09 PM on February 7, 2007


The idea that normal middle class folks should have as their right that great a capacity to kill people indicates a deeply sick society.

Huh, I made less than $50,000 last year in the US. I own a rifle. Thanks for the heads up on my condition.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 10:10 PM on February 7, 2007


Yes, yes, having rights is an indication of sickness.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:12 PM on February 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


Most of these guns are designed to kill people, not to hunt with.

While it happens far, far too many times, especially in America, there actually are times where shooting a person is called for.
posted by spaltavian at 10:20 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only person safely presenting a handgun — not in hand, slide locked open, chamber exposed, magazine removed, and muzzle pointed in a safe direction — is Danielle, the Philadelphia homicide cop's daughter.

Danielle, Chris, Dave & Tara, Jim, and Fleming are the only ones not touching their weapons.
posted by cenoxo at 10:36 PM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Roughly 25% of the populace in the U.S. own a gun, though some stats suggest that it works out to be <5 0% of all /i>homes have at least one gun owner.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) estimates that there were about 215 million guns in 1999,1 when the number of new guns was averaging about 4.5 million (about 2%) annually...

That's a lot of guns.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:38 PM on February 7, 2007


50% of all homes ^
posted by exlotuseater at 10:39 PM on February 7, 2007


While it happens far, far too many times, especially in America, there actually are times where shooting a person is called for.

Does it? Does it really? I don't question that if you're living in the Congo and you have a 10-year-old daughter you want to protect from being gang-raped that is one thing, but let's be serious here--if you are middle-class in America, what is the likelihood really that you will be confronted with a situation where you absolutely must use deadly force? And I'm not talking about a TV here (unless you think some guy ganking your TV means its OK to kill him on the spot), but someone who is entering the house for the express purpose of visiting bodily harm upon you and your family. Because again, we are not constructing a situation where you're being randomly mugged or attacked in the street--these people presumably are not attempting to take their shotguns out on the street, they expect to be able to take them out and use them if confronted with an intruder.

What is the likelihood? How often does it actually happen? Does the fact it happened to some guy in another state a couple of years ago make it worth the risk of the gun being in your house?

I personally would not own a gun, though I would like to learn to shoot one and how to own one just in case. I support responsible gun ownership. But there is a huge difference between being someone who simply enjoys the craftmanship of guns or likes hunting or taking stress out on the shooting range and someone who's driven to gun ownership because of a culture of fear that has permeated American society. I think the last kind of gun ownership can be pretty dangerous.
posted by schroedinger at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


I found confirmation that I'm not a gun owner when I started taking notes on the fantastic interior decorating some of these people have.
posted by katillathehun at 10:47 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Guns freak me out. I don't know why, exactly. It's not meant as an indictment on those who own/collect them. I just feel very strange around them, even if they're not loaded. I don't like to touch them. I don't lilke to be near them. I don't like what they are. I don't know when this happened. This wasn't a problem for me at some point in my life.

I feel like, as a citizen of the United States, I should get over this uncomfortability enough to learn how to use/handle them responsibly, since there are so many around. But I'm not sure how to go about doing that (getting over it, that is; I know how I would go about learning to handle them).

Anyone else feel this way? It seems almost irrational to me.
posted by Brak at 10:50 PM on February 7, 2007


And I'm not talking about a TV here (unless you think some guy ganking your TV means its OK to kill him on the spot), but someone who is entering the house for the express purpose of visiting bodily harm upon you and your family

The problem is that these are not an exhaustive list of probabilities. Sure, maybe the guy who's trying to jack my TV isn't out to hurt me, but when I startle him coming out of the bathroom is my robe? If you think it's horrible that I'd rather shoot or otherwise harm this person than hope he has some restraint, than I am horrible.

but let's be serious here--if you are middle-class in America

Kind of excluding a lot of people there, aren't you? My house has been broken into 3 times in 4 years. Thankfully, I wasn't there the first two times, and a baseball bat to the kneecap quickly ended the third.

unless you think some guy ganking your TV means its OK to kill him on the spot

I don't value human life universally and unconditionally. Though I'd be happy with anything that incapacitates this person long enough to ensure my saftey.

But there is a huge difference between being someone who simply enjoys the craftmanship of guns or likes hunting or taking stress out on the shooting range and someone who's driven to gun ownership because of a culture of fear that has permeated American society. I think the last kind of gun ownership can be pretty dangerous.

And, actually, I totally agree. But to think the very idea of owning a gun designed to kill a person is in of itself 'sick' is off the mark, in my opinion.
posted by spaltavian at 10:52 PM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the heads up on my condition.

Learn to read. Or better yet, comprehend.
posted by wilful at 10:58 PM on February 7, 2007


I'm a Canadian, so we have some different ideas regarding guns despite our proximity to the US. I've shot guns with my hunter friends, but I'm not attracted to them and don't feel compelled to own one. I keep a baseball bat beside the bed to ward off intruders, but if he's got a gun, he can happily have whatever he can carry - my insurance will cover it.

What struck me about this essay was how much it resembled "pot smokers in their homes" or "working girls in their homes" - like gun ownership was being equated with some kind of "deviant" behaviour ("See? Gun owners are people too! Your neighbour could be a gun owner!!!")
posted by sharpener at 11:06 PM on February 7, 2007


Yes, yes. If your argument sucks, attack the grammar.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:10 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I grew up around guns. I learned to hunt at an early age. Guns and gun ownership were a matter-of-fact thing. I never saw a gun as anything more than a tool like a hammer or a car. It was not until I was older that I was exposed to fetishizing of guns, either in the affirmative like in the linked pictures, or in the negative, like Brak. I don't think either direction is particularly healthy.
posted by event at 11:16 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good post, very sobering, and kind of scary.

I think the reason I find gun ownership distasteful is my distrust of humanity in general. I don't think guns are inherently evil or anything, just that most people aren't competent enough to be trusted with devices that make it so easy to kill someone that it can be done by accident.
posted by benign at 11:20 PM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


To show a handgun, you unlock the display case, pull the weapon out, and insure that there's nothing in it, not that there should ever be, but you make sure. That means checking revolvers by opening the cylinder, checking it's empty, closing it, and checking that the safety is engaged. With pistols, you eject the clip, make sure there's nothing in it, pull back the slide, make sure there's nothing in the chamber, release the slide, put the clip back in, and make sure the safety is engaged. And this is only if you "like" the guy who wants to see it (plus you've already got his wallet safely on a shelf behind the counter).

Having done all that, it's still extremely unnerving to face the business end of a handgun you haven't taken your eyes off of and which you know is empty. (Customers only got to point it at me or anyone else once, and then only unintentionally while "getting a feel for it"--the second time it was time to take it back. Intentional pointing got you an invite never to come back plus a march out of the store if we were having a bad day.)

Guns are powerful, even unloaded in a controlled environment. They're also difficult to use in stressful situations, and difficult to store in the home in such a way that they're both handy and not an open invitation to theft or tragedy.
posted by maxwelton at 11:26 PM on February 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


My favorite Bloom County strip ever:

Man in overalls:
"I'm here to articoolate my views with this letter to the editor on gun control. [holds up paper] Lemme tell ya...oo!...when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will be killing people... 'cause guns don't kill people... people kill guns. From outlaws." those *@#! anti-gun nuts...oo! they just...oo! i'll tell ya somethin'...oo...my constitutional... oo...they really...self-defense! Anyways...it's all there in the letter."

Milo: "Verbatim."
posted by Bixby23 at 11:30 PM on February 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Most of these guns are designed to kill people, not to hunt with. These people appear to be normal middle class folks. The idea that normal middle class folks should have as their right that great a capacity to kill people indicates a deeply sick society.

You mean, like police officers? Is it okay for them to have guns?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:41 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


normal middle class folks should have as their right that great a capacity to kill people indicates a deeply sick society.

Not only is that statement deeply insulting it's also not accurate.

First:
In terms of those photos many of those people were not "middle class."

Second:
Except for very recently, historically speaking, or under oppressive regimes, when have human societies felt they should NOT had the right to a "capacity " to kill other people? I got me a history book that has about 99% of it dedicated to people killing other people. Guns certainly take the skill and practice out of killing... but, well, that's the point. Now weak people can fight off strong people without dedicating years and years to full time training.

Third:
I'd say it's indicative of a society that is deeply afraid and feels largely unprotected. The cops protect the upper class. They do NOT protect the lower classes excepting when the lanes of commerce are threatened or when the lower classes become a threat to the upper classes. Buying a weapon seems a perfectly rational response to an irrational perception of rampant crime created by the media. This perception is not created by the citizenry.
posted by tkchrist at 12:01 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit of a slob myself, but if I know I got people coming over and they are going to be taking pictures, I'm going to clean up the place a bit.

Sometimes when I go back to the US to visit family, I go to the local firing range and fire a few rounds. I took a German friend of mine with me once and he was astounded at how easy it was for a person to just go into a firing range, pick out a gun and start firing (in Connecticut, with a valid permit holder and after a 5 minute safety lesson). The first time I did it, I was a bit surprised myself.

Somebody needs to keep a close eye on Dan. He's the only person here that gives me an uneasy feeling. Maybe that is because he reminds me of a slightly unstable kid I knew from school.
posted by chillmost at 12:05 AM on February 8, 2007


most people aren't competent enough to be trusted with devices that make it so easy to kill someone that it can be done by accident.

Knives fall into that category, too. Though it is nearly impossible accidentally kill somebody two blocks away or through an oak door with a knife. But a huge number of people ARE killed with blades all around the world. Intentionally and accidentally.

You trust people to drive? A two ton Ford Focus going 70 miles per hour makes one hell of a missile. I mean if you distrust humanity so much I wouldn't drive on roads that don't have concrete barriers between on coming lanes.

Really, most people don't trust "certain" people. Once you identify what class those certain people are you start to see it's not a trust issue at all but another irrational fear and prejudice. Those you can get over.
posted by tkchrist at 12:09 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Somebody needs to keep a close eye on Dan. He's the only person here that gives me an uneasy feeling. Maybe that is because he reminds me of a slightly unstable kid I knew from school.

An astute, but baseless, observation. And I think I agree.
posted by tkchrist at 12:10 AM on February 8, 2007


Sharpener -- now you've done it, you've made me desperate to see a photo essay of gun owning, pot smoking working girls in their homes. Maybe Mr. Cassidy will take it on as his next project.
posted by Fennel B. at 12:27 AM on February 8, 2007


homodigitalis: Depends on your particular breed of European. I'm from Norway, where we have about the same gun density as the US (and 1/20th the gun crime...) Until a couple of years ago about 100.000 battle rifles were stashed in citizen's homes as part of the Home Guard branch of the armed forces.
posted by Harald74 at 12:34 AM on February 8, 2007


Anyone notice a lot of these people also seem to have dogs?

I remember that once my mom had two dogs in the house, she felt comfortable getting rid of her guns. I wonder how some of the people in these photographs think of their dogs.

(Though admittedly, some of them don't seem like they'd be ideal watchdogs.)
posted by hifiparasol at 12:39 AM on February 8, 2007


Thanks tkchrist, I was going to make the same point about driving. Actually there are quite a few people I trust more behind triggers than behind the wheel.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:43 AM on February 8, 2007


I hate the gun vs. car vs. knife comparisons, they're really not very apt.
posted by supercrayon at 1:00 AM on February 8, 2007


I took a German friend of mine with me once and he was astounded at how easy it was for a person to just go into a firing range, pick out a gun and start firing (in Connecticut, with a valid permit holder and after a 5 minute safety lesson).

In fact - that specific part i the same in Germany. If you know someone with a gun permit, you can just go to his club's range and shoot.

And an ownership/shooting range/hunting permit (as opposed to a carry permit) is perfectly available for any adult without a crime record - it's just a lot of bureaucratic hassle that will take about a year.
posted by uncle harold at 1:12 AM on February 8, 2007


Freedom of religion? No biggie. Unreasonable search? Not a problem. Speedy trial? Whatever.

I find it amazing that out of all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights, it seems that right to bear arms is the only one that many people feel is worth fighting for. And this is ignoring the part about "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state..."
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:39 AM on February 8, 2007


And I find it difficult to get my brain around this from Ivy: "I've never hunted. It would be easier for me to shoot a human being invading my house than it would be to kill an animal whose natural habitat I'd invaded."
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:43 AM on February 8, 2007


It's the difference between going out with a gun with the express purpose of shooting something to kill it, and being thrust into a situation where you're scared shitless, but have a weapon with which to alleviate that fear.
posted by blasdelf at 2:13 AM on February 8, 2007


katillathehun--

The fantastical decor elements disturbed me too. And I'm a gun-owner.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:25 AM on February 8, 2007


Great, another crazy yanks post.
posted by Mocata at 2:33 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is something very odd to me about people who fetishize guns. Having a rifle if you are a hunter or live in a rural community makes sense to me but having a handgun or an automatic weapon definitely does not.

FWIW, my father is a collector and he really gets off on his guns, by cracky. He is also a depressive and a drinker. Get the picture? He would love the opportunity to shoot an intruder (REALLY!). My father is not the only person that I have seen treat guns in an irresponsible fashion, either. I've seen people shooting while drunk, pointing their muzzles willy-nilly as they swing around, aiming at one another for a joke (it's not loaded, what's your problem?), target shooting in urban areas where a stray bullet could hit someone, leaving guns out in the open while loaded, etc. I even know one fellow who brags that in his house he is never more than five steps from a ready weapon. I pity the paperboy that steps in without knocking.

My point is that guns are fine in the hands of well balanced, responsible people but if they are readily available then they are also available to unbalanaced, irresponsible people.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 3:12 AM on February 8, 2007


This looks like a response to an earlier photographic exhibition of pictures of Americans with their guns--the previous one (sorry can't find a link) was contrived to show gun owners in a bad light as poor, freaky looking hicks.

Flunkie, you're thinking of any number of articles drawing on a study by Dr Arthur Kellerman & others, published in the New England Journal of Medicine over a decade ago. It has a number of flaws to say the least. There's a thumbnail critique here and a longer, better one here and many links from the first link but the best is in this book by Gary Kleck, replayed in a number of other books (I like this one). A number of people (like Tim Lambert) have tried to defend Kellerman's research but I don't find it very convincing.
posted by Martin E. at 3:12 AM on February 8, 2007


> Most of these guns are designed to kill people, not to hunt with. These people appear to be normal
> middle class folks. The idea that normal middle class folks should have as their right that great a
> capacity to kill people indicates a deeply sick society.

You're so right. Healthy minds understand that when they come to round us up and take us away we have a moral obligation to go quietly.
posted by jfuller at 3:16 AM on February 8, 2007


And I'm not talking about a TV here (unless you think some guy ganking your TV means its OK to kill him on the spot), but someone who is entering the house for the express purpose of visiting bodily harm upon you and your family.

obviously, a considerate home owner should always have a questionaire ready for the burglar to fill in by every window, door, other place of entry, etc. with a working pen and clear directions on where the bedroom is so the burglar can slip the completed form under the door ... once the form has been evaluated, the home owner can then decide the proper course of action

if "i am just here for your jewelry" is checked, it is generally considered polite to go to another room to call the police

if "i am here to steal your tv and other consumer goods" is checked" the home owner should be helpful and turn on lights, prop open doors, etc so the burglar doesn't injure himself and end up suing for everything else ...

if "i am here to raid your refrigerator" is checked, a helpful homeowner may offer use of the stove

if "i am here to find your underwear and masturbate on them", the home owner should try to take video with his cell phone and load it up to youtube where he will become net.notorious

if "i am here for the express purpose of visiting bodily harm upon you and your family" it is considered wise to negotiate not only the amount and type of bodily harm that will be performed but to ask for time to lay out towels, first aid kits and if necessary pens and pieces of paper for last minute wills and testaments before the bodily harm is commenced

most intruders, of course, are trained professionals and will only be too happy to grant you the knowledge of what their intentions are and time to consider their needs

remember that any successful encounter between intruder and intrudee takes preparation, tact and consideration ... don't make the mistake some people do by just assuming that the intruder is up to no good and loading up a shotgun while announcing that the intruder's ass is going to be shot off ... such gauche and tacky behavior will be almost certain to cause intruders to avoid one's house entirely and cause complacent, self-righteous ninnies like schroedinger to question your sanity, morality and resemblance to mad max
posted by pyramid termite at 4:55 AM on February 8, 2007 [7 favorites]


what I'd really like to see is naked pictures of these guys holding their BIG rifles. I'm afraid that what those of us in the ungodly gun-control camp have always suspected would become suddendly clear as day.


when they come to round us up and take us away

you're not a Muslim, you'll be OK
posted by matteo at 5:06 AM on February 8, 2007


There is something very odd to me about people who fetishize guns. Having a rifle if you are a hunter or live in a rural community makes sense to me but having a handgun or an automatic weapon definitely does not.

But there's nothing to show these people fetishize their guns, in aggregate (although there are some exceptions). Most of them just look like someone asked them to see their guns so they got 'em out.

A handgun is like anything else, a tool. Some morons use it poorly, and that's when people end up killed accidentally. I think the omigod guns! people are more fetishistic than a lot of these folks.

Anyone notice a lot of these people also seem to have dogs?

I noticed that too. Makes sense if you imagine a lot of them live in rural areas. In terms of protection, unless your dog is trained you really shouldn't rely on him for anything else than deterrence. My dog, for example, is an 85 lb. rottie-catahoula mix who would scare the shit out of any potential intruder, unless that intruder decided to come right in, in which case he'd lick them a lot and possibly lie on his back for tummy rubs.
posted by miss tea at 5:08 AM on February 8, 2007


How tough is it to get a license to own/carry a gun? Are there mandatory safety lessons? Do you have to prove a certain level of aptitude in handling a firearm? I'm honestly curious, as you have to take a driver's examination to get a driving license. Does the same apply for guns and is there variation between states?

I'm quite happy to live in the UK where guns are illegal. Feels safer when the average thug on the street probably isn't carrying a firearm. Same goes for cops, I know they're not going to (be able) to shoot me when I take out my wallet. (Is it just me that finds watching 'Cops' really unsettling? Do police officers in America really draw their weapon just to intimidate and subdue a belligerent drunk?)

My short stint in the military didn't teach me much, but it did teach me to respect firearms. This is why I'm with maxwelton 100%. I don't care if you're totally sure that the gun isn't loaded: if you're not 100% prepared to kill me, you shouldn't be pointing a gun at me...
posted by slimepuppy at 5:27 AM on February 8, 2007


I think owning a gun or hanging out with people who have guns for purposes other than hunting is stupid and dangerous, but it's a personal bad choice --like drinking too much or spanking your kids or dating a violent asshole or not exercising.

But because there's a certain subsection of 'mericans who do fetishize gun ownership, the Democratic party really needs to drop the issue entirely. It's just a gun, after all; no reason to lose voters over it.
posted by footnote at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2007


These are the people I will actively seek out when the zombies come.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:59 AM on February 8, 2007


"Because we can't own them where I am from."

Not that I want one, but to counter a few of the blanket "crazy Yanks with shopping carts full of guns" statements, this applies to me in sunny Massachusetts.

Our police force rejects over 99% of gun permit requests. We had a court case here last year where an Army Reserve MP couldn't get one. I find myself about 40% Libertarian-annoyed and 60% Gun-hater happy at this situation. That ratio may flip flop once the zombies or avian flu show up.
posted by jalexei at 6:05 AM on February 8, 2007


How tough is it to get a license to own/carry a gun? Are there mandatory safety lessons? Do you have to prove a certain level of aptitude in handling a firearm? I'm honestly curious, as you have to take a driver's examination to get a driving license. Does the same apply for guns and is there variation between states?


Long guns generally don't require any safety courses, although they may require a waiting period for background checks. In Connecticut, for instance, you will have to wait 14 days from purchase to pickup for a long gun from a dealer if you don't own a hunting license or pistol permit.

Handguns are a whole other beast, and vary from no wait no license no registration (such as Vermont and New Hampshire) to no handguns period. In Connecticut, one has to pass an 8 hour course in basic handgun safety (offered by the NRA) and wait three months for an application to go through once your are 21. Some states are "shall issue" (where as long as there is no reason to disqualify ownership, you can get a handgun) while others are "may issue" (you will have to provide a reason).

A lot of gun owners are normal, well adjusted individuals, many with families, children, and steady jobs. A large amount of us don't advertise the fact that we own. You've probably talked with one, and walked away, never knowing that he owns a semi automatic Bush AR-15 with a pistol grip, bipod, and hicap magazine.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 6:11 AM on February 8, 2007


err, Bushmaster.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 6:11 AM on February 8, 2007


Reminds me of the pictures in Vollman's violence books. I liked it. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 6:29 AM on February 8, 2007


How tough is it to get a license to own/carry a gun?

Here's a good Washington Post story about people packing heat in very wealthy, very safe Fairfax County. It has some details about Virginia's concealed and open carry laws, including:

"Virginia law 18.2-287.4 expressly prohibits 'carrying loaded firearms in public areas.' But the second paragraph of the law defines firearms only as any semiautomatic weapon that holds more than 20 rounds or a shotgun that holds more than seven rounds -- assault rifles, mostly. Regular six-shooters or pistols with nine- or 10-shot magazines are not 'firearms' under this Virginia law."
posted by peeedro at 6:30 AM on February 8, 2007


jalexei, I assume you're talking about permits to carry concealed. I don't think you'll find any states, including MA, where the majority of people are not allowed to buy a gun.
posted by knave at 6:32 AM on February 8, 2007


I don't think you'll find any states, including MA, where the majority of people are not allowed to buy a gun.

While it's not a state, in Washington, DC handgun sales are prohibited and it's almost impossible to even buy a rifle or ammunition. Summary here [PDF].
posted by peeedro at 6:48 AM on February 8, 2007


Really, most people don't trust "certain" people. Once you identify what class those certain people are you start to see it's not a trust issue at all but another irrational fear and prejudice.

Yeah, and you know who those people are? The paranoid. That is what struck me most about the folks in these pictures. I mean, I think most people are dumb, but I don't think they are out to get me to the extent that I need a gun. That is what freaks me out.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this, just for a window into a way of looking at the world that is foreign to me. (But the one who is all "I'd eat the meat but not shoot the animals"? Him I hate.)

Yes, I've shot a gun before. But I liked archery better.
posted by dame at 7:12 AM on February 8, 2007


I'm all for self defense, but do you really need 6 handguns, 3 shotguns, 7 rifles, and an assortment of assault rifles in your home to feel safe? And what happens to those guns should your home be broken into while you're away? What happens to those guns when you die? Are you sure your son/brother/wife/etc won't have the dumb idea to take one of your many guns for a fun round of "let's go shoot something"?

The chances of using your gun for self-defense is far slimmer than the chances of your gun being involved in an accident. I'm all for rural dwellers owning a rifle to ward off bears and coyotes, but urban dwellers needing guns is just way off base, IMO.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:14 AM on February 8, 2007


What I learned from this is how prevalent the "like a fire extinguisher" meme is in the "community."

I have used, and have a respect for, guns, but I won't have one in my home, for two reasons: accidents and suicide. Accidents happen with all devices but with firearms the ramifications are too significant. And as to suicide? Well, keeping a firearm in the home is a little like living on the Golden Gate Bridge.
posted by Pliskie at 7:20 AM on February 8, 2007


There is a certain terminal finality to guns. They produce extreme, unrevertible results: death, maiming, the unfortunate removal of a pesky organ.

The sorts of people who I feel comfortable owning and handling the simplest of weapons must have the qualities that NY Superman Guy, That Would-Be NFL Military Guy Who Died In Afganistan, and Charlie Rose.

To assume that the average person has the mental capacity and judgement to use such a device responsibly all the time is foolhardy at best, quixotically optimistic with a thin slice of delusional Belief In Humanity at worst.

I wonder what will happen to those who want to protect their homes when a viable non-violent method becomes readily available. Like say, a button that causes everyone in the house to throw up violently.
posted by eurasian at 7:23 AM on February 8, 2007


Brak - Your post was a long time ago, but regarding getting over the oddness about guns, well, that was me. I fired a real gun once as a kid and it scared the hell out of me enough that I never fired a gun again until I was 26.

Where I went to college was close enough to a rural area that the college itself offered a gun safety class, which I decided to take.

Turns out that I actually enjoy shooting. I even enjoyed the maintenance and working with the various guns.

Do I own a gun? Nah. Am I against people owning guns? Nah. Do I think I need a gun? Nah.

Still, common sense gun control laws seem, well, like common sense. (I mean, we have laws about what automobiles are street legal after all.)

As someone who is mostly liberal in nearly all regards, this isn't one of them. The slippery slope of "control" is very easy to expand into other areas once you get started.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:26 AM on February 8, 2007


Guns have been an interesting part of my life, usually happening around (for me or for others) very emotionally intense parts of their lives.

I've recently been thinking I should know how to handle a gun should I never need one, so I think I will seek out and take a gun safety class soon.

Anyhow, my Dad owned a gun for a long while. It didn't have a firing pin and he'd brought it back from WWII, the pacific theatre. I forget what kind it was. He sold it at a garage sale, where he almost sold the sword I still have. Not one of the really expensive ancestral ones, just a mass-produced Japanese Officer's sword, plundered from a Japanese warehouse during the end of the war. It's not multilayered to obsessive degrees, has no outward signs of tempering, etc, but I do like it and like having it around. For home defense, I've another sword too.

Now, beyond the swords being longer than knives and used to stick/slice people with, we're neither of us trained to use them as weapons for killing folks, so it'd be up to us and what the situation was like if we'd seriously use them for home defense. I'd rather just give over the money and have whoever it is go away, honestly (such a thing recently happened to my Mom at the end of January).

For other folks I know, though, guns are part of life, or required by a job, or part of emergency planning or a way of putting enough food on the table, or a way of just getting desireable food on the table.

When I was 16, I fired the only gun I've ever fired in my life (a nice shiny 9mm), and while I enjoyed it, I didn't seek it out again.

I still think I ought to know how to use a gun/handle it safely.
posted by kalessin at 8:00 AM on February 8, 2007


I like guns; they're interesting and sophisticated machines, and I've had a great deal of fun killing pop bottles and the like with them. The gripe on handguns, that they're for killing people, is wrong. They're for incapacitating people. Train properly and you're unlikely to go shooting an intruder in the face.

Personally, I don't own a gun, and until the revolution comes and I mount one on my stolen speedboat, I doubt I ever will. If I did own a handgun, I would have eaten it by now; that's no joke and that's my reason against it.
posted by breezeway at 8:02 AM on February 8, 2007


Owning guns is OK by me, provided ownership is heavily regulated. What's insane is the NRA fighting tooth and nail against every proposed gun regulation, no matter how innocuous. Philadelphia, where many of the people photographed seem to live, had 406 homicides last year, 80% by gun, and several of innocent kids caught in the line of fire.

Would it really be so terrible to limit handgun purchases in PA to one a month? Shouldn't the ATF be allowed to inspect gun stores more frequently than once yearly, as is now the rule? There are a hundred small steps that would make a big difference in the cities, but they won't happen because of fatuous slippery slope/2nd amendment opposition.

I'll have a lot more respect for gun owners when they begin to act like they want the killing in the inner cities to stop, and step up to moderate the NRA and support some regulation. Until then, I will feel free to mock them as ignorant, paranoid, overcompensating yeehaws.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've seen people shooting while drunk, pointing their muzzles willy-nilly as they swing around

If it's good enough for The Vice President of The United States...
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:20 AM on February 8, 2007


One of the best posts I've seen on Metafilter.

Thanks!
posted by tadellin at 8:28 AM on February 8, 2007


There was one point in my life when I wanted a gun. Like many here, I was raised around them, plinked away at my share of soda bottles and was taught to shoot by my father at the advanced age of 9. When I grew up and became the flaming commie pinko liberal I proudly remain today, I renounced any and all interest in the things - until I moved to New York as a single mother and started having to chase people off my East Village tenement apartment fire escape. The second or third time I found someone trying to get in through the window of the room where my 5 year old daughter was sleeping I called my father and asked him for a gun.

He was wise. He reminded me that if one of these guys did get in, then he wasn't exactly going to stand there and wait while I found the key to the locked box of ammo and opened that and then found the key to the other locked box containing the gun and opened that and then loaded the gun and shakily fired it at him. So I reinforced and locked the bars on my windows (ignoring the firecodes,) hung a sign on my window explaining that I didn't have a TV or a good stereo and stopped wanting a gun.

Eventually I moved out to rural West Virginia, where we kept a shotgun for the occasional sad rabid raccoon and I taught my kids to plink at bottles and take guns seriously. They still do, I think, and we've never had a gun in the house since, unless you count the ones that fire foam darts, paintballs, small pink plastic pigs and potatos, all of which make up what I hope and believe is a more common household armory than the ones portrayed here.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:39 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


How tough is it to get a license to own/carry a gun?

By gun I'll take it you mean handgun, not long gun.

In New York State it depends on the County of residence. Upstate generally tends not to be too much of a problem - some administrivia is all (I'm sure there are some exceptions). In New York City it's nigh on impossible, and in Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties (basically suburbs of the city) it can be very tough indeed. In Westchester you need four notarised references from current Westchester County residents, a four hour gun safety class from an accredited NRA trainer, an interview with a Police Officer in the County's licensing division, background check, fingerprinting and a waiting period of up to six months while a County Judge decides the outcome. Even then, the license you get will likely be restricted to Target and Residential unless you can show cause that you need to carry concealed.

Currently in Westchester there are three agencies involved in processing pistol licenses; The County Clerk's office, the County Police and the Judiciary. There is talk of transferring all of these functions to the Police as is the case for New York City. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be better for the Gun Control side of the argument or not.

Oh, and late last year the local newspaper The Journal News published a list of all pistol permit owners in the County, to the consternation of many.
posted by Sk4n at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2007


jalexei, I assume you're talking about permits to carry concealed. I don't think you'll find any states, including MA, where the majority of people are not allowed to buy a gun.

Nope. The 99% figure is for a simple permit to own. Massachusetts allows municipal governments to set gun policy at their discretion. While your point above is true at a state level, I'm bound by the rules/random impulses my local police force decides upon.

While the situation would vary dramatically if, say, I lived a mile or three in any direction, as it stands now, I'd have only a slightly tougher time getting myself to the moon as I would legally getting a shotgun or a .22, nevermind a handgun.
posted by jalexei at 8:48 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't purport to have some grand theory on guns, but I know when I look at those pictures with kids in them in makes me nervous as hell.
posted by thekilgore at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2007


i detect an undertone of resentment from some liberals that normal, middle-class people have any rights at all.
posted by bruce at 9:37 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by bruce i detect an undertone of resentment from some liberals that normal, middle-class people have any rights at all.

I detect an undertone of entitlement from an overwhelming majority of people who lack even the vaguest understanding of what the Second Amendment actually means.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:49 AM on February 8, 2007


Interesting photo essay. I'm the kind of guy who thinks it's cool to reach out and touch a piece of paper at 600 yd or more with a US Civil War -era rifle (single shot, muzzleloading), but my community seems to be mostly the kind of folks whose firearms "training" comes mainly from movies and TV and who see a nine tucked in a waistband as a fashion statement rather than tragic stupidity waiting to happen.
posted by pax digita at 9:53 AM on February 8, 2007


Don't forget the guns
Cheryl Wheeler

Now let's get the kids and pack up the car
Take that vacation we've been waiting for
Drive across this country leave our worries far behind
Singin' four-part harmony to "sweet adeline"

`Cause I got these books and maps from triple "A"
We'll visit friends and sites along the way
So bring the bikes and toys and diapers
Pay the neighbor's son
And call to stop the mail and, honey,
Don't forget the guns

(Chorus)
Now don't forget the guns you know exactly what I mean
Bring the pistols, bring the uzi and the old AR-15
We don't look for trouble but by golly if we're in it
It's nice to know we're free to blow nine hundred rounds a minute
posted by X4ster at 9:53 AM on February 8, 2007


as someone who was born in the Philippines, I find the idea of gun ownership as a stopcheck against government tyranny to be, at best, quaint.

When I was growing up, gun ownership was pretty much 1-to-1 for the populace, kids included. That didn't stop a president from declaring martial law and suspending the rule of democratic institutions. Marcos maintained power by maintaining the loyalty of the military, and there's not much that a revolver or carbine can do against a tank or helicopter gunship.

You know what got rid of Marcos? Shame, sympathy and peaceful protest. In some cases, wringing your hands does work.

All the same, I understand the fear and the urge to protect what is yours; and it's your constitution so far be it from me to tell you how it should be written. I just think that it's useful to remember that the state of military technology in the 1700s is rather different from the 21st century.
posted by bl1nk at 9:58 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


"What's insane is the NRA fighting tooth and nail against every proposed gun regulation, no matter how innocuous."

The thing is, they're not. And the NRA isn't just packed full of drooling Republicans either. It has a very wide range of members from all walks of life. Did you know that the current NRA President is a female lawyer from Stanford? Every time I see a list of 'high ranking women' they seem to leave her off. I'd consider her position to be a pretty decent one.

Here in California we have a few restrictions.
* One handgun every 30 days
* 10 day waiting period
* Felons & the like cannot purchase firearms. This includes anyone that's ever had a restraining order or domestic violence charges brought against them.
* No magazines that hold more than 10 rounds

We're also losing gun shops due to the ATF claiming "paperwork issues." On the 4473 form, if you write "Y" instead of the word "Yes" or "N" instead of the word "No" they're counting it as a "paperwork discrepancy." And a while back, some Sheriff in southern California flat out said that he wanted to visit the home of every gun owner. People worry that registration will equal confiscation, which is exactly what happened during Hurricane Katrina.

FYI, Vermont and Alaska allow you to carry concealed without a permit. Many other states are "open carry" or "shall issue" states. California does it on a county by county basis, and here in the SF Bay Area it's nearly impossible for the average citizen to obtain such a permit.

Oh, and mygotho - that must have been before the time of biometric locks on handgun cases. You don't need to fumble around like that these days. :)

Not every gun owner is a slobbering idiot. Many of us promote safe handling and responsible ownership. Besides, it's a whole lot of fun to shoot old hard drives.
posted by drstein at 9:59 AM on February 8, 2007


Oh, and the whole "your gun is more likely to be used against you" line seems kind of strange. I have never seen any numbers to back that claim at all.
posted by drstein at 10:01 AM on February 8, 2007


i detect an undertone of resentment from some liberals that normal, middle-class people have any rights at all.
posted by bruce


Your dectector is broken, bruce.

Healthy minds understand that when they come to round us up and take us away we have a moral obligation to go quietly.
posted by jfuller


I've been thinking about this all day. Who is this 'they' you speak of, jfuller?

Don't you think that when this unnamed 'they' comes to round us up and take us away 'they' will also simply take away our guns?

On Preview, what bl1nk said: I find the idea of gun ownership as a stopcheck against government tyranny to be, at best, quaint.... there's not much that a revolver or carbine can do against a tank or helicopter gunship.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:02 AM on February 8, 2007


This is all I have to say.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:08 AM on February 8, 2007


I bought our current home out of probate from the estate of the woman who killed herself with her own handgun in the master bedroom. The purchase was house and contents, including the nice quality antique headboard with bits of gore spattered on it. She had been an angel figurine collector and there were dozens upon dozens of angels throughout the house. For at least two years after we moved in mail addressed to her from the NRA and other gun owners groups continued to be delivered. The outside of the envelopes often had solicitations for contributions to 'preserve our 2nd ammendment rghts'.

The most avid gun owners I've had contact with who say they have guns for self portection all seem to relish the day when they might have a chance to use them.
posted by X4ster at 10:10 AM on February 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Stupid regulations keep me from having my weapon of choice. I've had training in their use and know how to handle one safely. It's a weapon that can be used both for hunting and for fishing plus it's superb for home protection. That's right; the grenade. Specifically the good old standby the M-79 granade launcher. Five types of rounds; anti-personnel (flechette), concussion, tear gas (CS), smoke and the ever popular WP (White Phosphorus). Deer hunting? Of course - bloop, blam and there's your buck gutted quartered and ready to go direct to the freezer. Quail hunting too. One round and you've got the whole covey - plucked! For home protection - if some junkie breaks in to steal my TV I can eliminate the threat to my family (literally) with a single round and I have the certainty that I'm not going to miss.
posted by X4ster at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


There appears to be an underlying idea behind many comments in this thread that one must have a "reason" to own firearms. The more insidious hidden thought is that somehow, gun owners must 'justify' such ownership. Why? Why is it incumbent on firearm owners to justify their desires to society? Because guns are dangerous? Of course they are. So are legos, when you step on them. Is it because guns scare people, and we arbitraly pick this fear as needing justification? No justification seems necessary to me, anymore than someone must justify collecting or owning unicorn figurines. So I really am curious; why do so many seem to require that others submit an adequate reason to them, as to why those others own guns?

And personally, figurine collectors squick me out far more than gun owners do.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2007


I've been thinking about this all day. Who is this 'they' you speak of, jfuller?

It's the dreaded Statist Borg which will one day metastatize into a giant Ball of Fascist Katamari Damacy assimilating helpless unarmed Americans who realize the error of their ways too late only to be stopped by a plucky band of rag-tag libertarian gun enthusiasts who Take A Stand Against The Man thereby saving the rest of us from ourselves.

Sort of like Red Dawn with liberals instead of communists.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:52 AM on February 8, 2007


Why? Why is it incumbent on firearm owners to justify their desires to society?
Because you can't kill someone from 30 paces with lego.
posted by eurasian at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2007


I detect an undertone of entitlement from an overwhelming majority of people who lack even the vaguest understanding of what the Second Amendment actually means.

I'm going to assume this was just a kneejerk response to an admittedly incendiary driveby, but, really, is that necessary? I think most of us understand the Bill of Rights pretty well, even with the bizarre smokescreens that keep going up.

From whence does this huge gap in thinking in much of the liberal thought in the US come? We take every other amendment at exactly face value, and ascribe all sorts of interesting extensions where we think they're necessary: there's no conceivable way that the First Amendment was designed with the intent of protecting discourse over electronic channels, and yet we still clamor pretty loudly when the gub'mint tries to stymie free speech on the Internet, don't we? It requires a pretty substantial leap to apply Fourth Amendment protections to those same electronic channels, given that it wasn't designed that way, eh?

Things change. The beauty of the document is that everything is worded pretty vaguely, because rights were designed to evolve over time. We accept that in almost every avenue of thought, but suddenly start gnashing our teeth and channeling strict constructionism when guns come up.
posted by Mayor West at 11:09 AM on February 8, 2007


Wulfgar, good point. Why must I have a reason for owning an M-79 and a couple cases of rounds? I've got some acerage that needs to be cleared, plowed and fertilized for next years crop. With just a few rounds it'll be cleared and tilled plus phosphate, iron and some nitrates will be added to the soil.
posted by X4ster at 11:22 AM on February 8, 2007


I once heard about a Unicorn going off accidentally. tragic. Really, it's the parents' fault, for not keeping a safety on it.

And one time these kids got into their grandfather's Lego collection and took a bunch to school, and spread them out in the cafeteria before school, when all the kids were there before going to homeroom, and several got sprained ankles and bruises on their toes from stepping on them. Finally, some brave kid tackled the kids with the Legos...wait...that's something else I'm thinking of.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:23 AM on February 8, 2007


I'm digging the Pink Pistols t-shirt in this picture. Their taglines: "Armed Gays Don't Get Bashed" and "Pick on someone your own caliber." Now those are slogans I can get behind.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:34 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this all day. Who is this 'they' you speak of, jfuller?

It's the dreaded Statist Borg which will one day metastatize into a giant Ball of Fascist Katamari Damacy assimilating helpless unarmed Americans who realize the error of their ways too late only to be stopped by a plucky band of rag-tag libertarian gun enthusiasts who Take A Stand Against The Man thereby saving the rest of us from ourselves.


I'm a gun owner, and I don't really care about saving you from yourself. If you truly believe that the basic reality of physical force has somehow been suspended by our oh-so-enlightened society, I'm not likely to change your mind, anyway. The gun is for target practice, and also for possibly saving me, not you. With a gun, I can at least fight back if it comes time to do so... and at the very least, I can think of many times throughout history when having an easy suicide method might have come in handy.

Also, if I made a list of everyone worldwide that "they" have come for in the last 50 years, I'd still be writing when the sun goes down. It doesn't really matter who "they" are, not when "they're" standing on "your" lawn asking you and your family to please step into the truck. And, to be frank, "they" have been the US Government before, and they could be so again. The whole "ha ha who's afraid of the Statist Borg" argument would be a whole lot better if the Statist Borg hadn't actually shown up in the Katrina Quadrant a couple of years ago.
posted by vorfeed at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


bl1nk, thank you for your insight. That certainly strengthens the side of my conscious not inclined to own a gun.
posted by maxwelton at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2007


The whole "ha ha who's afraid of the Statist Borg" argument would be a whole lot better if the Statist Borg hadn't actually shown up in the Katrina Quadrant a couple of years ago.

And? Are you suggesting that the whole thing would have turned out better if all the forcibly evicted homeowners in New Orleans had gotten into an armed standoff with the government instead?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:47 AM on February 8, 2007


So, it's potential, then? People should be required to justify owning anything that has the potential to harm others? Yeah, I can sorta see that. It does tend to make society a bit more calm. But if you think about justifying your intent, isn't that really just allaying the fear of others? So, isn't what's really being said is that many people feel property rights should extend only till they get scary?

Keep in mind, I'm not asking whether guns should be regulated or illegal. I'm asking why people seem to feel that others need to justify their desires.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:49 AM on February 8, 2007


posted by Wulfgar! I'm asking why people seem to feel that others need to justify their desires.

Because the people who feel others must justify their desires are simply reflecting their own unease and fascination with those same desires, and they're jealous of the comfort gun owners have with expressing their desires.

MetaFilter: Like Red Dawn, with liberals instead of communists.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:57 AM on February 8, 2007


Because the people who feel others must justify their desires are simply reflecting their own unease and fascination with those same desires, and they're jealous of the comfort gun owners have with expressing their desires.

Yeah, it's kind of like why homosexuals have to justify gay marriage.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2007


I detect an undertone of entitlement from an overwhelming majority of people who lack even the vaguest understanding of what the Second Amendment actually means.

got a supreme court ruling for that?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:03 PM on February 8, 2007


posted by Armitage Shanks Yeah, it's kind of like why homosexuals have to justify gay marriage.

Actually, it's more like why heterosexuals feel the need to oppose gay marriage.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:07 PM on February 8, 2007


Sort of like Red Dawn with liberals instead of communists.

Sort of like Red Dawn Iraq with liberals instead of communists Insurgents.

What does it matter why people want have guns as long as they are not shooting anybody? This reminds me of the thread on dogs. Another one based on irrational fear.

The "you're not that likely to be a victim of crime" argument cuts both ways, people. YOU'RE not that likely to be shot by the average gun owner, either. What are the odds? Nearly half of the population owns a gun in the US. Have we killed the other half? Compared to the number of people killed by cars this "concern" for the health and safety of other Americans, while touching, is absurd and hypocritical. You cannot have it both ways.

You don't want people to have guns because you're afraid of them? That is you're problem. Like your fear of dogs. Your fear of black people. Your fear of hipsters. Whatever. These are your problems.

Ultimately the rational fear is the MIS-use or accidental use of guns. Well all sorts of things are mis-used and result in death. Many more deaths, in fact. Cars. Alcohol. The Cheeseburger.

Some you will now be tempted to argue "b... bu... but Guns are design to kill. " This is true.

So what. So now you fear the INTENT of an object? Objects don't have intent by themselves. While this is a fascinating philosophical conundrum it is not a rational argument to base policy on. We start basing our liberties on arguments like the intent of an OBJECT -rather than the USE of an object- we are in serious trouble. Now somebody will bring up Mass Killing Weapons like flame throwers or Nukes. Reductio ad absurdum. Those types of weapons even when used "correctly" will kill dozens, if not millions, of people indiscriminately. Again a matter of use.

The overwhelming majority of gun owners will never shoot anybody.

If people want to own a gun to shoot on weekends for fun, to protect themselves from Martians, or to shove up their asses what business is it of yours?
posted by tkchrist at 12:13 PM on February 8, 2007


Your fear of hipsters.

that guy ... over there ... oh, god ... no ... he's drinking a pbr!!

i'll just stay here under the table until he's done
posted by pyramid termite at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2007


And? Are you suggesting that the whole thing would have turned out better if all the forcibly evicted homeowners in New Orleans had gotten into an armed standoff with the government instead?

Better? Maybe, and maybe not. More fair? Fuck yes. They had armed cops blocking poor black refugees from entering rich white suburbs, and all this while there was no law inside that city -- what more does it actually take before people realize that the government is not in this for the majority of the people? Even if you decide not to get into a standoff with government over what's happened, you will be in a MUCH better position to protect yourself during something like Katrina if you're armed, because we've seen that the state is not going to be there for you, unless "you" have a nice $500,000 home.

And as for harming others, guns are way down the list as a cause of death in this country, especially when you consider that suicides make up the majority of gun deaths. Tobacco and alcohol together kill 17 times more people each year than guns do, and they're not explicitly Constitutionally guaranteed, yet I don't see anybody blathering on about how we should ban alcohol and tobacco, because smokers and drinkers are all compensating and do so much harm, blah blah blah. The same goes for poor diet -- if gun deaths are an emergency, then our diet is a full-on holocaust. A Brady-style campaign to regulate and shame the companies that make the unhealthy food we eat would make a lot more sense than the Brady campaign to regulate guns and shame gun owners does.

Mayor West has it -- there's a major disconnect in liberal thinking on this issue. In light of the actual damage guns do each year, how do those of you who generally support civil rights justify removing the right to bear arms, but not the right to smoke, or drink, or drive, or eat fatty food?
posted by vorfeed at 12:22 PM on February 8, 2007


posted by vorfeed In light of the actual damage guns do each year, how do those of you who generally support civil rights justify removing the right to bear arms, but not the right to smoke, or drink, or drive, or eat fatty food?

I do. Just last week a toddler was killed by a stray Chicken McNugget.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:27 PM on February 8, 2007


why would a lefty be pro-gun?

...anything cheney says
...the cops hve them
...the army has them
...the right wing is armed to the gills
...watching video of any riot

have you ever held a winchester 94?
posted by aiq at 12:33 PM on February 8, 2007


no problem, maxwelton, and just to be clear, though I would never own a gun, I'm cool with folks who justify gun ownership as sportsman equipment or as a precaution against home invasion; and treat their equipment with care and responsibility.

It's just the 'well-regulated militia' justification that tends to raise my eyebrows and gets my fingers typing.
posted by bl1nk at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2007


Peel off the nerf, people! The world is no fun if it's not a little dangerous!

If we continue down this path to Ultimately Safety we will be wearing bike helmets, goggles, and reactive armor 24/7. The world will have no dogs. No rats. No snakes. No spiders. Nobody will swear. Cars will only go 15kph. Nobody will drink anything over 4% proof. Children will only play with each other through virtual connections. No one will mention religion or skin color. And we will have to have sex through sterile acrylic sheets.

I have been shot. Yes. I have. If anybody should be a bit gun shy it's me. And for a while I certainly was. A loud gun-shot noise and I would hit the floor. I was like a 'Nam Vet. When I was a kid my Dad, a 'Nam Vet, used to hide in the basement over the Fourth of July. I could sympathize.

But he got over it. So did I. And so can you.

Guns are very dangerous. Indeed. I am all for gun back-ground and mandated safety courses before ownership. I don't think anybody needs to own more than 10 guns and thousands of rounds of ammo. If you do I think your neighbors have right to be notified.

But guns are what they are. Another dangerous tool humans invented for a very good reason and a bunch of very bad reasons.

The good reason is that of all the dangerous things on this planet PEOPLE are the most dangerous and gun can protect the good/weak from the evil/strong. When evil/strong people CAN oppress, abuse, enslave, and exploit good/weaker people— they will. We are in constant race to protect ourselves from the evil/strong.

And that race inevitably enables those evil/strong people to be a greater threat in that they can employ those same tools against us.

And such is the world.
posted by tkchrist at 12:39 PM on February 8, 2007


I do. Just last week a toddler was killed by a stray Chicken McNugget.

Funny. That toddler is far more likely TO be killed by that Chicken McNugget. It doen't need much velocity other than the speed it takes to block an artery.

Unfortunately Chicken McNuggets will be responsible for a greater Holocaust than handguns ever will.

Where is the Museum? Where is Rosey O'Donnel on this matter (oh.. never mind, I see why)?

But anyway. OH The HUMANITY!
posted by tkchrist at 12:43 PM on February 8, 2007


tkchrist, I agree with you on almost every level ... save the arbitrary limit of ownership. I know people who collect firearms and do so because, like fine wine, every weapon is different. They are collectors, nothing more. And I find most of them to be far safer with a firearm than most single-gun owners.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:46 PM on February 8, 2007


save the arbitrary limit of ownership

It was a PERSONAL opinion. Not an endorsement of any particular law.
posted by tkchrist at 12:54 PM on February 8, 2007


I do. Just last week a toddler was killed by a stray Chicken McNugget.

Exactly. If you look at the numbers, far more kids are harmed by diet than by guns. Far more. In my 30-year lifetime, I have gone from being the only kid in my class with diabetic parents (as in, other kids would always ask, "what's diabetes?") to hearing about classes in which a number of the kids have type-2 (i.e. lifestyle-related) diabetes. That's a type that was almost entirely limited to adults not twenty years ago, so much so that they used to call type-1 "juvenile" diabetes. And diabetes doubles the risk of death, across all age groups. But ooh, better come and get my gun, think of the children!
posted by vorfeed at 12:59 PM on February 8, 2007


I don't think it's crazy to be more fearful of things like guns, with immediate and extremely heavy consequences to the innocent, than something like chicken mcnuggets, which take a conscious, sustained effort to kill someone.
posted by agregoli at 1:11 PM on February 8, 2007


I don't think it's crazy to be more fearful of things like guns

There are fears. And there are irrational fears. One should be afraid when a gun is pointing at you. That is rational.

When it's not... worrying, without evidence, that some where out there is a guy you don't know with a gun, who may at some indeterminate time, shoot you... that is irrational.

What is crazier? Eating something day after day that is a PROVEN potential harm.

Or: Worrying about the potential of some hidden harm you know little about. Be it a gun. A spider. Or a snake.

with immediate and extremely heavy consequences to the innocent...

...and given a comparable statistic also relatively rare.

And that you use "innocent" is interesting. Isn't a kid with preventable diabetes also not "innocent?"
posted by tkchrist at 1:26 PM on February 8, 2007


chillmost said: Somebody needs to keep a close eye on Dan. He's the only person here that gives me an uneasy feeling. Maybe that is because he reminds me of a slightly unstable kid I knew from school.

tkchrist: An astute, but baseless, observation. And I think I agree.

Dan is the only person in this shooting gallery who has carefully arranged his handguns — all six of them, albeit with slides safely locked open — so they can be picked up by right-handed viewers. These are also the only guns shown that are pointed at their owner.
posted by cenoxo at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2007


These are also the only guns shown that are pointed at their owner.

That's it. Couldn't cypher it out until you mentioned that.
posted by tkchrist at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2007


Shrug, tkchrist, we disagree. I don't see it as irrational in the least to be concerned about gun usage and ownership. I'm much more concerned about things that can kill people outright than 20 years of diabetes and heart disease.
posted by agregoli at 1:36 PM on February 8, 2007


drstein: Oh, and the whole "your gun is more likely to be used against you" line seems kind of strange. I have never seen any numbers to back that claim at all.

That's because it's so rare as to be statistically nonexistant. It does happen from time to time with police officers because they wear their guns out in the open and must on a regular basis (as it is their job) put themselves in the middle of troublesome, dynamic and potentially (or already) violent situations. Often with only a sliver of an idea of what is going on and who the dangerous bad guy might be.
posted by Martin E. at 2:21 PM on February 8, 2007


As for Mcnuggets

At least one child dies from choking on food every five days in the U.S., and more than 10,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms each year for food-choking injuries.

If you leave out juvenile criminals the numbers for guns are much much much lower.
posted by Megafly at 2:26 PM on February 8, 2007


armitage shanks:

> It's the dreaded Statist Borg which will one day metastatize into a giant Ball of Fascist Katamari Damacy
> assimilating helpless unarmed Americans who realize the error of their ways too late only to be stopped
> by a plucky band of rag-tag libertarian gun enthusiasts who Take A Stand Against The Man thereby saving
> the rest of us from ourselves.


"She would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."
- Flannery O'Connor (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)

fuller is not a good man, but tips hat to a.s. anyway.
posted by jfuller at 2:58 PM on February 8, 2007


I'm much more concerned about things that can kill people outright than 20 years of diabetes and heart disease.

And that is an irrational sentiment. Being overly concerned with things you cannot totally control as opposed to things you so easily CAN control.

Ok. Say we accept your feelings, irrational they may be, on Heart Disease vs. Guns... due to, I guess, the speed at which that death occurs? So. Then what about cars. Cars kill people "outright" at a much higher rate than guns. You afraid of them?
posted by tkchrist at 4:11 PM on February 8, 2007


X4ster : my weapon of choice... Specifically the good old standby the M-79 granade launcher.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I wrote a web page that basically said exactly the same thing. There is something about that 40mm maw which is just... neat.

Great (read as: sick) minds obviously think alike.

/too late to thread to engage in any of the more interesting discussions.

//sulks.
posted by quin at 4:29 PM on February 8, 2007


What is wrong with this guy's head?
posted by tehloki at 5:20 PM on February 8, 2007


"M-79 granade launcher"

Oh they're available provided your state allows you to have destructive devices and you can pass the background check.
posted by Tenuki at 5:37 PM on February 8, 2007


tehloki said: What is wrong with this guy's head?

Wide-angle lens distortion: Chris' head is at the edge of the frame. Note also the angled cabinet door behind him and the slanted fridge on the right. You can see the same effect with Nick's portrait.
posted by cenoxo at 8:02 PM on February 8, 2007


tehloki: Artifact of the shot. If you look at the kettle on the stove it seems bent too.
posted by Jilder at 8:33 PM on February 8, 2007


You trust people to drive?

No. No I don't.
posted by benign at 10:31 PM on February 8, 2007


The reason I want people to justify the desire to own a gun is from the fact that I live in a country where you're not allowed to own one. It's a mindset I find completely alien. I do think there is something innately weird about people owning guns, simply because I'm not used to it. Wulfgar's comment terrifies me in its utter lack of fear of guns and the mindset that a lego block is equal to a handgun. Yes, it's all based on fear. But surely that fear is at least partially justified by the very nature of guns?

The problem with gun control is the fact that it's the desire for the government to take something away from people. If you'd never had guns in the first place you wouldn't know to miss them. I have no suggestions or solutions...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:41 AM on February 9, 2007


The reason I own firearms varies from gun to gun. Hunting, practice hunting, fun, personal defense in the wild wild woods, and zombies. The justification for owning such weapons is, I can.

And no, I don't fear them anymore, but that's based on familiarity. Fear has been replaced with a rather profound respect. To that degree owning a gun is like owning a car. Either one is capable of very bad things. But they're both simply items, tools. They have no nature beyond that. The potential is what is scary, and that nature lies with the tool user, not the tool. Hence, like any fear, familiarity is the key to overcoming the unknown of the potential.

But I am a strong advocate of gun control ... meaning that you hit exactly what you're aiming at, nothing more and nothing less.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:55 AM on February 9, 2007


Should just add, for all the English posters claiming its illegal to own a gun in the UK, that this isn't quite the case. Actually a shotgun license is relatively easy to get, and it is possible to get a license for single shot rifles and more if you have a demonstrable need to use them. Still, in comparison to the US, the checks required are enormously stringent, and the storage requirements are very strict. As such, virtually no crimes are committed in the UK with legally owned firearms(if you exclude suicides...)

I don't own a shotgun myself, but I've really enjoyed shooting clays in the past, so maybe I might get one in the future - but it's a sporting tool - like a fishing rod or some skis (only more dangerous). The idea of using one for home defence seems perverse...
posted by prentiz at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2007


« Older World Wildlife Fund   |   A Soldier's Thoughts. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post