Yesterday I reposted something I’d written about how assault weapons bans are a canard. Nothing in it was radical, everything was based on stuff really easily available on the internet. But, as always, it brought a bunch of people out of the woodwork who seemed to know absolutely nothing about guns to tell me I was dead wrong. (I believe the technical term for that is “gunsplaining.”)
One of them even implied that I must be on the take from the gun lobby. Which cracked me up. I mean, I would certainly take a sponsorship from, say, Ruger, but the characters in my books are not exactly responsible gun owners, so I can’t see that happening. I think Evan Williams would be more likely. Or a cocaine cartel.
Anyway, I started asking all of them the following three questions:
- What firearm features would you ban? (And I mean specifically. Not buzz words like “assault weapons,” which don’t mean anything.)
- What would you do with the millions in existence? (That should be hundreds of millions, actually. Would you confiscate? How would you get them off the streets?)
- How would you enforce that? (Would you create an agency to go into suspected gun owners’ houses and confiscate? How would that work?)
I didn’t get one actual answer to those questions.
Which I found thoroughly depressing.
What’s kind of funny is that I’m no gun enthusiast. I work 2-3 jobs at all times, am a single father, and write novels. I don’t have free time for any kind of enthusiasm. I go shooting at paper now and then for fun, but it’s infrequent at best. Moreover, my only functioning guns right now are a revolver and a lever-action .30-30. Nobody on earth is trying to ban anything I have.
Most of what I know about guns comes because it seems to be an important issue and an important part of American culture, so I’ve been curious — as a writer. I don’t understand any writer who forecloses knowledge on any serious aspect of American culture.
So I’ve spent a bunch of time reading about guns. Found some books, spent some time kicking around the internet, and found a bunch of really interesting voices. My favorite gun blog is View From The Porch and I’m on there every day. Even got obsessed with recreational shooting sports for awhile, because it looks like a gas and the folks doing it are amazing.
I’ve also taken advantage of any opportunity I can to learn. As I tell people all the time, almost all of my gun enthusiasm is fictional. Luckily, I’ve got friends who know a lot. Real gun enthusiasts, folks in the military, people who’ve used guns in self defense, even some who’ve used guns in armed resistance against the United States government. And, of course, I have friends on the other side. Friends who are staunchly anti-gun, principled pacifists, Quakers, and a couple who lost their lives to gun violence.
Which brings me to my point: If you’re opposed to all new gun control measures, I hear you. I’ve got a healthy bank of distrust when it comes to new governmental legislation banning anything.
But if you’re for new gun legislation, new gun bans, maybe you should take some time to educate yourself on the subject.
That seems to me the lowest bar possible for engagement on any subject. Do some research about firearm functionality, some reading about what’s actually on the market and what’s already illegal. Hell, most of the gun enthusiasts I know are really generous people. You could probably even go up to one and tell ’em “I hate guns, and I’d like to know more about what to ban,” and they’d take you out shooting.
But, like with any subject on earth, if you’ve got really strong opinions about something you know nothing about, you really don’t have an opinion. You’ve just got a knee-jerk reaction. If you don’t care enough to educate yourself on the subject, you don’t care. You’re hurting your own cause, and you’re just noise.
Which means the other side will eat your lunch, every time.