Monday, January 4, 2016

An Open Letter to Gun Control (Story of My Political Socialization)

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Oh boy, this opens the can of worms for real.

Like I mentioned in my post on Obama's threat to use executive action to create stricter gun restrictions, I don't really know where I stand on the issue of gun control.

That's not quite true; I know exactly where I stand: I'm conflicted, standing right smack in the middle.

I'll start from the beginning, which is that I used to be completely against guns; I thought that if we just got rid of them all there would be no problem. No guns, no means to kill, am I right? People brought up the points of self protection and for sport, but I couldn't see past the fact that a gun would be anything more than a tool of destruction and death.

And then I heard Dan Carlin's take on the gun control, which sent my left leaning ideals reeling towards the center. He spoke at length about the different values that a gun might bring in a case of self protection. We might be able to quantify the number of cases in which a gun was actually used in a case of self defense, but we will never be able to quantify the number of people for which the gun by their bedside or under the pillow is the only reason they can sleep at night. I couldn't fathom the idea that, for those who grow up seeing a gun everyday, who go hunting on weekends and practice their aim at the firing range, the gun was simply a part of their lifestyle.

If this post stirs some rational debate, great. My point, however, was to provide a small window into my political socialization regarding a topic: my viewpoint was cultivated on a diet of MSNBC liberal media, fertilized by the liberal soil of the west coast in California, and trimmed by this generation's social media.

Feel free to analyze; that's why I put this up in the first place.

Carlin, Dan. "Overdue Analysis." Audio blog post. Dan Carlin. Orator LLC, 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Jan. 2016.
Koppel, Ted. Lights Out: A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath. New York City: Crown, 2015. Print.
My Political Socialization


Shu Yang said...

Similar to Scott, I am quite conflicted about the idea of gun control-meaning I am not strongly for or against. I feel that the 2nd amendment is definitely not outdated; however, there should be restrictions as to who may acquire a gun, what types of guns they may acquire, and how they may acquire it. Many advocate for stricter gun control laws because of concerns for future mass shootings and violence by firearm.

If you follow the links to the graphs comparing different firearm statistics internationally, you will find the first pictures depicts the percentage of people owning firearms and the second depicts the percentage of homicides due to firearms. At first glance it appears both graphs correlate with each other; however, you may notice although Norway has a high percentage of people owning guns, their firearm homicide rate is fairly low. Some may argue this is because Norway has extremely strict gun control laws. The conflict is the idea of how strict gun control laws should be.

Grant Hillman said...

Thank you for your perspective. As for the part regarding political socialization, I can fully relate. Until I reached my teen years, I was horrified even at the thought of guns, especially having one in my own house. I've come to realize that this was entirely due to how I had been exposed to guns during my youth. The only times I had ever seen handguns and other firearm variants used were on TV shows and in movies, and whenever a firearm is featured in such an instance, it is almost always being used to threaten or kill someone.

It wasn't until I joined the Boy Scouts of America and took the Rifle Shooting merit badge class at summer camp that I was fully exposed to the idea of shooting guns for sport. During that time at camp I learned how to properly handle, clean, and of course, shoot a rifle. Not only did this ease my irrational fears about accidentally blowing my own head off, I quickly became a pretty good shot. Since then I've explored deeper into the realm of firearms and shooting sports, and target shooting is now one of my own personal interests and something I would like to turn into a regular hobby at some point.

Now, I'm definitely not in the middle like your are on this issue. I support gun rights one hundred percent, and I'm a big advocate for concealed carry. If someone asked me if people should be allowed to keep firearms to protect themselves, my answer would likely be "Duh. Why not?" I've personally never understood the thinking process of people who legitimately think that shouldn't be allowed (and they certainly do exist). The ability to defend myself seems like such an obvious natural right that gun rights has quickly become my own personal hot-button issue.

I definitely could go deeper into my own opinions and arguments in support of gun rights and why President Obama's continued obsession with gun control legislation deeply irks me, but truthfully I've spent a whole lot of time on this blog asserting my position already. I just wanted to share my own experience in regards to political socialization and firearms.

Crystal Lee said...

There's an issue here that I think is a common misconception: that gun control means taking away all guns or even a majority of them.

Grant, I liked your story of the shift from the left to the right on this issue, but to address your point: gun control does not mean that the innocent people who want guns for self-defense will necessarily get them taken away. Stronger gun control can mean stronger background checks, which in turn simply mean that the people who are more likely to, say, instigate a mass shooting will have a much harder time getting their hands on one.

And, Shu–it sounds like you ARE for gun control, just not the complete confiscation of guns.

And, finally, Scott–I appreciate your story, too, and I totally love how you recognized and explicitly stated your own political socialization. I also like your open-mindedness when it came to ideas that were relatively to the right of you on the political spectrum.
However, you state that Dan Carlin was against gun control because of those reasons. Gun control does not mean that those people would be completely deprived of guns–as I stated to Grant above, it means that those who are more likely to use guns for malicious intent (read: people with a criminal history of a certain degree) would be unable to procure a gun. Also, on another (more semantic) note, you credit your ideas as "left leaning," but I would go so far as to call them "left wing." Again, this goes back to the belief that gun control means BYE to all guns and that it has no spectrum within itself.

I'd just like to introduce this nuance to such a controversial conversation.

Also, as a general question to both the people addressed above and anyone interested in answering: How would you propose fighting the use of guns in suicides? In the link below, the CDC clearly shows that firearm suicides disproportionately outweigh the others.

Also, as a final note: personally, I share a view similar to Shu's in its essence, but I would definitely state it differently. I am totally, unequivocally, completely for gun control; I am NOT for completely taking away guns.