There’s been some really interesting arguments about guns in America in the Atlantic recently. James Fallows has repeatedly discussed “Gun Safety, Not Gun Control“:
.. I will henceforth and only talk about “gun safety” as a goal for America, as opposed to “gun control.” I have no abstract interest in “controlling” someone else’s ability to own a gun. I have a very powerful, direct, and legitimate interest in the consequences of others’ gun ownership — namely that we change America’s outlier status as site of most of the world’s mass shootings. No reasonable gun-owner can disagree with steps to make gun use safer and more responsible. This also shifts the discussion to the realm of the incremental, the feasible, and the effective…
… only to discover, via a reader who’s an epidemiologist, that “a restricted understanding of “Gun safety” is likely to be very vigorously defended” (by the the comitted gun fetishists, as Fallows does not say).
Marketeer Marc Parrish argues that “Big Data Can Solve America’s Gun Problem“. Given the (highly profitable) rightwing paranoia about government confiscation, I’m not sure Parrish’s enthusiasm is necessarily helpful, but if you want a counter-argument against “too many guns already, can’t be counted, might’s well not try”, he’s your guy.
But the argument that really impressed me — and not just becasue he articulates my own feelings — comes from the invaluable Ta-Nehesi Coates, “On Living Armed:
… It is not enough to have a gun, anymore than it’s enough to have a baby. It’s a responsibility. I would have to orient myself to that fact. I’d have to be trained and I would have to, with some regularity, keep up my shooting skills. I would have to think about the weight I carried on my hip and think about how people might respond to me should they happen to notice. I would have to think about the cops and how I would interact with them, should we come into contact. I’d have to think about my own anger issues and remember that I can never be an position where I have a rage black-out. What I am saying is, if I were gun-owner, I would feel it to be really important that I be a responsible gun-owner, just like, when our kids were born, we both felt the need to be responsible parents. The difference is I like “living” as a parent. I accept the responsibility and rewards of parenting. I don’t really want the responsibilities and rewards of gun-ownership. I guess I’d rather work on my swimming. And I think, given the concentration of guns in a smaller and smaller number of hands, there’s some evidence that society agrees…
…[O]ne does not simply do violence — or live prepared for violence — and remain the same. I carry all of West Baltimore with me, and I am in constant conversation over the fact that that part of me is wholly inappropriate for this world. That part — the part that is analyzing every person who walks up on me, who is trying to figure out every angle, who sees a crowd and walks the other way — is fit for a world of violence. That pose is totally draining. (It has no time to go off and learn French.)
So if you ask me if I wished to have a gun when an active shooter is present, then I will tell you that guns don’t magically appear in the holster, that the capacity to do lethal violence requires an expense of time, energy, and responsibility, which I would rather not make. I would tell you that I have, already, spent too much of my life preparing for violence. I would say that the person who should wish to have a gun in that situation, should be a person capable of shooting a gun, and a person comfortable with the responsibility of carrying a gun during the 99.9 percent of the time when violence — much less lethal violence — is wholly inappropriate.
A gun is power. And power demands responsibility. I don’t want to spend my time that way.