Top 10 Things Gun Lovers DON’T Need To Fear

Gun love

Gun love

I’ve been struck by the repeated themes of so many of the conversations being had, online and off, since the recent spate of shootings, culminating in the Newtown, CT, massacre, the second most deadly shooting in America’s history. It seems clear that we’ve reached critical mass – just how many of these horrific events can happen before we literally become a military state? – but while there’s a sense that a tipping point has been reached, there’s also a very real fear that regardless of the urgency being felt and expressed, the issue will diminish over time to leave us right we started. Until the next shooting.

The other theme that appears over and over in recent conversations is the enduring and relentless fear expressed by gun lovers that their “rights,” or their “freedoms,” are about to be trampled. Less inclined to talk about 18 dead kindergarteners, reluctant to admit no one on this earth besides a combat soldier needs a Bushmaster M-4, and eager to shift attention from gun control to mental heath care issues, gun lovers  are nothing if not loyal to the NRA/Second Amendment/Gun Lovers list of talking points.

Since I’ve personally engaged in more debates than I’d like with gun lovers who dismiss concerns about dead children with repeated mantras of “I will fight to my death to protect my rights to buy and own a gun,” I’ve put together a list of the Top Ten things gun lovers fear most and why they don’t need to:

1.  Non-gun-lovers want to “trample on the Constitutional rights of the 99.9% vast majority of law-abiding citizen gun owners.” Not true. Keep your guns…well, most of them; we could do without assault, semi-automatic and combat weapons. But if you love guns as much as you say you do, enjoy them! We just want to see common sense rules and restrictions implemented and ask that you try harder to keep your own stash locked up and away from children, criminals, and mentally ill sons.

2.  Everyone who doesn’t own guns thinks “all guns and gun owners are bad.” Not true. We hate the carnage caused by guns, we’re not fond of the braggadocio and macho posturing of many gun lovers, and the culture of guns – swaggering gun shows, camouflage fashion, Ted Nugent – elude those of us not enamored. But a safe, sane, responsible gun owner who enjoys the sport or keeps a gun safely in a home for protection? Have at it. But stop being over-sensitive about what everyone thinks about you! We’re actually not all that interested either way and only assign “bad” to those who deserve it: people who kill with guns or those who leave their guns in places where kids/others can find and use them to wreak havoc.

3.  “Those calling for better gun control laws and enforcement are secretly trying to do away with the Second Amendment.” Not true. Though the amendment written hundreds of years ago at a very different time and with very different weapons at hand could use a re-education campaign. Gun lovers’ insistence that the amendment’s verbiage assuring them of the “right to bear arms” trumps all other public safety concerns is narcissistic and culturally tone-deaf. A “tweak,” perhaps, is in order, but abolishing it? Naw, it fits too nicely between the First and Third.

4.  “Sensible gun controls = taking away our guns.” This is a weary old meme, trotted out regularly to ward off logical gun control laws or the proper enforcement of laws already on the books. Frankly, we don’t care about your guns, don’t want your guns, have no interest in confiscating all your guns. Your paranoia is just deflective. When we say we want “sensible gun controls,” that’s what we mean. Refer to #3.

5.  “If you don’t fight against the creeping government you will soon not be able to set foot outside your house without violating some government regulation.”  Really? Do we really need to discuss this? OK … you are the government, you elect your government officials, you vote on propositions, new laws and regulations that are designed to offer protections, mitigate corruption, set boundaries, and limit damage. What you define as “creeping government” is the action of a society doing what it can to protect the greater good of its citizens. If you don’t want to engage with government, don’t drive on publicly funded roads, enjoy publicly funded parks, avail yourself of police, firemen, public schools and colleges ….

6.  We will all stop referring to Ted Nugent and your one high-profile celeb will lose his cachet.  Naw. He’s a frothing madman and a certifiable lunatic but he’s such good copy. You can relax; we hope Ted’s around for a good long time, all plump and pissy and ready for us to poke fun at!

7.  “The focus on gun control deflects from a focus on better mental healthcare.” Let’s get this straight: everyone who wants better gun control laws also recognizes the urgent need for more effective mental healthcare protocols. This isn’t an either/or proposition. The conversation needs to include BOTH issues and requires very wise, thoughtful, minds to sort through the various elements and design laws, regulations, controls, etc., that bring both gun control and mental health intervention to a productive point. Because they are linked; in Newtown, CT, the tragedy occurred when the high-powered weapons legally purchased by a mother were left accessible to a mentally ill son who used them in the crime.

8.  “Don’t allow anyone to TRUMP your rights for the ‘good of society’… our society isn’t that good.” This is a quote from a right-wing, Texas conservative who is a walking encyclopedia of conservative rhetoric and talking points, and with this line he belies his cynicism, selfishness and deep misunderstanding of his fellow Americans. We all, every day, make decisions and follow rules that are influenced by what is the “greater good.” Frankly, our society, our people – moms, dads, siblings, friends, colleagues, etc. – are, by and larger, really good people. There are always those, but the majority understand that abiding by a restriction, following a rule, giving up a right because of some tragedy  that incited the need for these restrictions and laws, is simply being a good American.

9.  “Until the bad guys don’t have guns anymore, the good guys shouldn’t have to give up theirs.” Refer to #4. This dreaded fear of “giving up” your guns is based on the delusion that someone plans to force you to hand over your hardware. Who? Who is going to implement rounding up all your guns in lieu of going after the “bad guys”? No one, because that’s not real. Stop fearing it. Deflecting to that panicked response abdicates you from participating in the real conversation the rest of us are having about sensible gun control and mental healthcare improvements.

10. “I’m a member of the NRA and we just don’t talk gun control.” WRONG! This may really surprise you but a poll was done (by a Republican, no less!) that showed that a majority of NRA members “favor sensible gun controls.” Shocked? Me too! Now pick your chin up off the floor and click over to that article: Surprising NRA Gun Owners Poll – Most Favor Sensible Restrictions 

Let’s be honest, we do have the capacity to put aside our selfishness to do what is right for our community. We learned to give up some of our personal freedoms after 9/11, when 3000 people died and our world changed forever. Homeland Security came into being, as did the Patriot Act; restrictions on travel and immigration increased, some even feel basic civil liberties have been encroached upon. Yet we did it, accepted it as a response to the tragedy and those 3000 lives lost. We adjusted as a collective, a community, for the greater good of the country…and so far no other attacks of that magnitude have happened on these shores.

By comparison to those 3000 deaths, 12,000 people were murdered by guns in one year in this country, four times the number on 9/11. Surely this slaughter deserves – requires – the same kind of community response as 9/11. So let’s get everyone necessary to the table and get it done…focus on both mental healthcare and sensible gun controls…get it done and get it right.

And then let’s all get on board, ALL of us. You’ve just heard ten reasons why your fears are unfounded, so put aside selfishness, embrace cultural empathy, make some sacrifices, and affect some real change. It can and must be done.

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