Angry, Frightened and Armed

Several people have asked me why I haven’t blogged about the massacre in Connecticut, or about creepy Wayne LaPierre’s press conference. There are two reasons: first, plenty of other people have commented, analyzed and basically said anything I might have said. And second, what’s the point?

One of the saddest aspects of our contemporary politics is the utter lack of dialogue. We are all preaching to our own choirs. If the NRA’s press statement (hard to call something a press conference when the press isn’t allowed to ask any questions) proved anything, it is that the massacre hasn’t changed that. We are all invested in our own points of view–I certainly am–and for some issues, that investment makes it impossible to understand the opposing perspective.

I know it is fashionable to bewail this state of affairs and to lecture anyone within earshot about the virtues of “going halfway,” of making the effort to see the perspective of the other. And there are definitely areas where extremists on both sides of the ideological spectrum need to get over themselves and do just that. But let’s be honest: right now, there are some positions that reasonable people ought not engage, or take¬†seriously.

Arming America is one of them.

I understand that there are a lot of people–make that a lot of white guys, mostly middle-aged and older–who are angry because life hasn’t turned out the way they thought it would. There are a lot of people who are frightened and disoriented by the pace of change. When President Obama made his “gaffe” about those people clinging to their guns and religions, the remark was politically damaging, but no less true. And those people are not going to enter into a conversation about what reasonable restrictions on gun ownership might look like.

Fortunately, not all armed Americans are fanatics. In fact, if polls are to be believed, most members of the NRA do not inhabit LaPierre’s alternate universe. There are plenty of gun owners who do¬†favor background checks, who agree that American sportsmen do not need Uzis and assault weapons capable of mowing down dozens of people without reloading. Those are the people we should seek out; the people we can and should talk to.

The others–the ones screaming that Obama is coming for their guns, the ones stocking up on ammunition, the ones demanding that we arm teachers or post armed guards at every classroom door–are quite simply beyond the ability to reason.


  1. I was smart enough not to expect the NRA to come out proposing gun control possibilities but neither was I expecting STUPIDITY! My uncle, Don Davis, fought for years to have background checks on long guns as Indiana used to have on handguns, he also fought against the lack of any control at gun shows. Indiana did not impose registration or background checks on long guns but did lower requirements for purchasing handguns. Uncle Don gave up, went back to selling all guns and made a few more million. That is the basis for the lack of any type of control – MONEY, MONEY, MONEY! The 2nd Amendment right is in second place as it is in our Bill of Rights.

  2. I think the NRA as an organization known for its extreme stance on the 2nd amendment is in decline. The “press conference” they subjected us to made for a bully pulpit for them to put their message out there. Many citizens never paid the NRA much attention–they knew they were out there; maybe they didn’t care much for their positions, but oh, well. Now, the NRA has put their extremist positions out there for all the world to see and the world is watching. Yes, there is a significant segment of the population who march in lockstep with the NRA (I’m married to a member of that population, God help me), but I think there is a large and growing segment that don’t. And the NRA has gotten their attention. The demographics are changing as evidenced by the last national election. The NRA will need to alter their views or risk obsolescence. Will it be as fast as I and many other Americans want it to be? No. But I think Wayne LaPierre’s statements will be the beginning of the NRA’s ulitmate undoing. Angry white men don’t live forever.

  3. One thing that really concerns me is the repeated claim from Manu gun rights advocates that they need assault weapons and high capacity magazines to help protect their liberty, protect against tyranny, and if necessary “refresh the tree of liberty” (in other words, revolution). Are the folks really that scared of our government? Do they really believe that they have a right to revolt if they don’t like the outcome of the democratic process? Hmm. All those secession petitions suggest they just might. But we need to worry about people who put their own delusional paranoia of the government over the safety of our children.

  4. #1: I think the gun industry has played the gun owners like a cheap violin. They have manipulated their ignorance and fear of that scary black guy in DC. The result has been an utterly amazing level of sales and profits. THIS is good capitalism I guess: They saw an opportunity and manipulated it to their benefit.
    #2: Since a huge majority of the NRA members and gun owners overall do NOT AGREE with the creepy guy at NRA, it seems that the time is ripe for a NEW Gun Owners lobby that is NOT insane. Calling all lobbyists !!
    GO FOR IT. Once in a lifetime opportunity!!

  5. You all have participated in the dialogue we’ve needed for a long while–from Sheila right on through Pat. Thank you all!

    It’s obvious that many more cooler heads need to prevail. It’s also obvious that Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, synagogues and Sikh temples, shopping malls and parking lots are targets for the deranged, the angry, the confused, and those who ‘just take a notion’ to go shoot people.

    It is time that we came together, not to shoot each other, but to work through our problems. There are some sensible folks in the NRA, (Michael Moore, for example) but the organization has gathered many wingnuts, too–LaPierre, Heston, Eastwood, and nameless others.

    Surely the most recent shootings of innocents engaged in their daily activities have taught us something. It isn’t to run right out and arm ourselves to the hilt.

  6. Why would any law-abiding citizen go to a gun show knowing it’s a magnet for criminals wanting to avoid background checks who may be standing next to you at the display tables and cashier counter?

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