Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Interesting Gun Article In Washington Post

Turk Turon points out an interesting Washington Post article on the US gun culture.

And so it goes with people looking for solutions to gun killings in America.

We’re talking about the very best people, the people with statistics and proposals for regulation, crawling around in the sunlight of their social-scientific rationality.

They never find a solution because all their legislation, academic studies, mathematical proofs, and proposals for waiting periods, background checks and buying limits aren’t going to do much more than they ever have.

Nor are the pleas of the progressives asking why anyone would ever want to own a gun — thereby demonstrating their arrogance toward the people who own the hundreds of millions of guns in the United States.

Both the problem and the solution lie elsewhere, in what historian Richard Hofstadter called “America as a Gun Culture.”

Guns get handed down through generations, symbols of patriarchy.

They’re symbols of protection of the home, the romance of industry, equality, cool daring, mean-street savvy, fighting for liberation and family tradition.

There are complications of class, too. Campaigns against “Saturday night specials” were campaigns against the arming of the lower classes. In 1941, a Florida Supreme Court justice wrote an opinion that a gun-control law had been “passed for the purpose of disarming the Negro laborers and. . . was never intended to be applied to the white population.”

Right there the writer butts up against an error in his thinking, and doesn't realize it. There are two dominant gun cultures in the US: one white, one black. They almost never interact. Almost all of the gun crime and gun murder statistics that so horrify the world and provide the Brady Bunch with their raison d'ĂȘtre come from the black gun culture. That is the culture of thugs and gangbangers and drive-by shootings, of convenience store robberies, of home invasions. I'm not saying that whites never commit these crimes, get that clear - - I'm saying, though, that the vast majority are carried out by blacks. Most of these young men (it's mostly a crime of young men) ignore laws requiring concealed carry permits. Indeed, many of them wouldn't qualify for permits, having felony arrests on their criminal record that prevents gun ownership. The black gun culture doesn't join the NRA, spend time on gun forums, or read historical articles on guns; the gun is simply a tool for acquiring the money they desire, to be used to buy drugs, jewelry, cars. In this they are no different than any outlaw class of the past.

The writer goes on:

Last week an analyst talked to an NPR talk-show host about “insurrectionist” gun owners — a rising of the masses against, presumably, some of the people who listen to NPR. When elites talk about “armed rednecks” and “gun-toting trailer trash,” they may think their bigotry stays secret. It doesn’t. Those maligned Americans are aware that governing classes throughout history have sought a monopoly on violence, in the manner of the British redcoats trying to seize American guns at Concord, Mass.

The writer did indeed get this part right. This is the white culture divide under the microscope: the coastal/urban elite versus "flyover country," as the elite likes to describe us. You'll see these culture wars fought out on Twitter, and in newspaper comment forums (not so much in the old letters sections of newspapers, because elite editors chose what letters would run in that section, creating skew.) When Larry Pratt get into a shouting match with Piers Morgan on CNN, resulting in gun owners starting White House petition for Morgan to be deported, you're seeing the culture war being fought.

Then the writer gets something horribly wrong:

We might start with public pressure on the media and mass entertainment. We might stop catering to gun fetishism. We might increase the number of high school rifle teams, the dwindling of which, following calls for bans starting in the 1960s, has helped leave gun training to movies and video games. We might point out that the great names of American gunsmithing — Winchester, Colt, Smith and Wesson, and Remington — are now just brands bought and sold by corporations. U.S. pistols are so shoddy that our armed forces chose a pistol from Italy, the Beretta. Our police carry pistols from Austria and Germany.

All of us white gun culture types know that the US military dropped the 1911 for a bunch of reasons: we wanted commonality of ammunition with Europe, which uses the 9mm; women, who were joining the military in increasing numbers, have a difficult time mastering the recoil of the .45ACP; the design of the 1911 is less forgiving to the fool than the Beretta and other modern pistols are; switching to 9mm allowed an increased number of cartridges per gun, an important feature for people who miss a lot. None of this had anything to do with shoddy construction. Indeed, there are 1911's in storage that have been carried by soldiers going all the way back to World War I. You'd have thought they'd have broken by now, if they are so shoddily constructed.

And as for why most police forces these days choose "pistols from Austria and Germany," that has more to do with the marketplace than with any shoddiness of US construction (and, in truth, many of those Austrian and German gun manufacturers have factories here in the US, so if quality is a concern, why are they building them here?)

All in all, it's an article that goes a little further toward understanding of the US gun culture(s) than the usual MSM article. Wish we'd see more articles along these lines.


Graybeard said...

I suggest that we have more than just two gun cultures. I don't have any problems with the two you outline, but we're seeing the emergence of yet another.

The culture the Post author talks about "patriarchy" is parents passing down guns to their children - probably hunting, but of course for home defense, if needed.

We're seeing people now joining through concealed carry, people to whom it's obvious that the gun offers them a level of protection that martial arts or other things can. People, a large number of them women, who have never gone hunting. Put another way, year 2000 or 20-teen women are realizing the truth in the 1800's saying "God made man; Sam Colt made them equal".

Bob said...

@Graybeard: I'm not averse to the discussion of other gun cultures - - indeed, there is often discussion of "gun culture 1.0 and gun culture 2.0" on gun forums, the former being old-school hunter/recreational shooters (Fudds, they are disparagingly called) and self/home defense types (often referred to as Mall Ninjas). I maintain that law-abiding whites and law-breaking blacks make up the two dominant gun cultures, however.