I Don’t Understand Gun Culture

With the shooting in the Thousand Oaks bar having been committed by a veteran who allegedly had PTSD, I did some thinking while driving today, and I have just come to the conclusion that I will never understand gun culture. I just simply do not get it.

I mean obviously I have shot guns and know how to use them. I’d wager I have probably shot more weapons than your average gun humper, having fired all sorts of handguns ranging from .22 long barrel to m9 beretta to a cz-75 to a .44 and a .45 and on and on. And then all sorts of long rifles, from your run of the mill .22 and .30-06, to ar-15’s and multiple variants of m-16’s. And countless shotguns of various types. And then the various machine guns from a .240 and M60 and a .50 cal. And then the big boys, including a 90mm recoilless to a 105mm on an M1 to a 120mm on an M1A1 and TOW missiles. Hell, I’ve set off claymores, thrown grenades, set off a bangalore torpedo, gone through more c4 and det cord than I can remember. Hell, I was even taught how to make explosives with fertilizer and diesel fuel. What I am trying to say is I’ve been around them, I’ve used them, and I’m not afraid of them.

But they don’t interest me in the least. I’m not even remotely drawn to them. I simply do not understand the allure or attraction.

Mind you, I am not talking about hunting culture. I have a lot of friends who hunt. By friend Amy who I trade veggies for eggs is typical of the kind of people I know who hunt. She hunts turkeys, deer, etc., and she eats them. But for her, it’s not so much about the firearm, although she does go shooting recreationally from time to time. For her it really is about the hunt, and she just likes being outdoors and enjoys hunting with a bow and arrow the most. If you could describe her dream day, it would be out before the ass crack of dawn, looking for game, and then an afternoon riding her horses and dinner and a couple beers with her husband. She just likes being out there and a good day hunting doesn’t mean having to kill something. It just means a good day out there.

So I’m not talking about people like them, and to be honest, if there were not people like her around you simply would not be able to drive around here between the hours of sunset and sunrise, there are so many deer.

I’m talking about the idiots who just worship guns. Recently I’ve seen a bunch of gomers driving around with a silhouette of an M16 on the covering the entire back windshield of their car. It’s like they are advertising that they are assholes and warning the rest of us. I just simply do not understand them- the hours they spend reading about guns and thinking and saying things like “oh that’s a sexy piece” or “check out this grip” and getting excited about something like fucking grip tape. It’s just so foreign to me I do not get it.

And I don’t get the people who are so scared they need to have a gun with them all the time. It’s not that I am particularly brave- there are tons of things that scare me. But I simply do not understand being so afraid that you literally can not go anywhere without a gun to “protect” yourself. It’s nuts. When someone says they need to carry a gun with them everywhere to protect themselves the first thing I think is “jesus you pussy.”

I wonder what percentage of guys who were in the military feel the way I do. Since I got out of the service, I bet I have fired a weapon maybe a half dozen times, and easily haven’t fired on for fifteen years. It just does not interest me.

There’s no real point to this post. Just I don’t get it.






150 replies
  1. 1
    Ithink says:

    I co-sign all this for whatever its worth!

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  2. 2

    I don’t get it either but I am not a guy, nor have I served in the military.

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  3. 3
    zhena gogolia says:

    Amy sounds like a character in a Trollope novel.

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  4. 4
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    This may be completely off the wall, and I don’t know whether there are accurate studies or statistics linking mass shooters with previous military service/deployment, but there seems to be something of a correlation. If so, I’m wondering whether the Pentagon couldn’t design and implement some kind of mandatory “boot camp” training at the end of one’s military obligation, to help the new vets adjust to civilian life and norms.

    If the soldiers (soldier-equivalents, across all Services) were discharged for medical reasons, make such decompression training part of VA services.

    No, of course this kind of policy wouldn’t magically eliminate all these gun massacres we’ve become accustomed to to the point of numbness. But it might save some lives, including, arguably, the lives of the shooters themselves.

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  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Depends on the former Soldier and the former cop. Some are heavily into firearms after they leave the service/retire, some aren’t.

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  6. 6
    Ithink says:

    I just hate all these precious college aged victims are just simply snatched from the face of existence! I hate it whoever the victims of gun violence are (too many to list or recall here) but I’m only a few years older than these cats and working to actually return there in the Spring. You just can’t safely go anywhere these days without hyper-ventilating about this happening, it seems…

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  7. 7
    Scott Starr says:

    I recently listened to some reporting on White Nationalist movements in the US from the 70’s through today. I think white nationalists / militia / christian identity groups have provided a lot of the passion, activism and energy behind the gun rights movement. These people think that they need to overthrow the US government in order to establish a white ethnic state. For them, it’s a matter of survival – or at least for the survival of their “race.” They NEED military style weapons in order to survive!

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  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I did the initial study of Soldiers who commit mass shootings. I wasn’t specifically looking to answer the question you asked, but I don’t recall something that set my antenna off that this a larger or systemic problem related to Soldiers or members of the other Services.

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  9. 9

    Oakland? Was there another shooting? The one last night was in Thousand Oaks.

    ETA: TO is about 400 miles south Oakland.

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  10. 10
    Humdog says:

    Don’t you fire a weapon in your video games? That may satisfy your level of needing to blow things to pieces.
    My ex cop bro in law says he cannot sleep if he doesn’t have his gun under the pillow (figuratively, I hope, but didn’t want to know so didn’t ask). It’s a sickness, IMO.
    ETA, said sister’s family does not get invited to sleep over.

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  11. 11
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’d bet the insanity of Iraq is what changed all that.

    ETA: Shouldn’t have left out Afghanistan. That too.

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  12. 12
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I have a bit of a thing for engineered and/or machined metal objects. Like Damascus steel knives, a hand-made titanium fountain pen, that sort of thing. If handguns weren’t what they have become in the US I might appreciate and own one or more. But I don’t, because of that.

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  13. 13
    MJS says:

    “Shooting recreationally” is also something I don’t get. Shooting to improve your aim while hunting? Sure, if that’s even a thing. Shooting just to shoot, and see the damage inflicted on some kind of target, is just weird. Guns are either weapons, or tools (in hunting). They’re not fucking toys to be played with.

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  14. 14
    Kent says:

    I haven’t been in the military but I’ve been around guns my whole life. It was just an ordinary thing growing up that my grandfather had a couple rifles and a shotgun in the coat closet in the farmhouse kitchen with a couple boxes of shells on the shelf above. He would have giant piles of back issues of Pennsylvania Sportsman and Field and Stream stacked around the house. My dad started taking me hunting when I was about 10 in the 1970s and my dad would mess with his guns in the garage, mostly around hunting season. Polishing up the bluing and wood stocks. Then we’d go out to the range and sight them in. But it was about like we’d polish up and wax our skis before ski season, more of a gear fetish than gun fetish.

    What freaks me out today when I walk into a big sporting good store is how militaristic the gun culture has gotten. All the hunting rifles of my youth…The Remington 700s and Winchester Model 70s. You know the ordinary bolt action hunting rifles that look like hunting rifles with beautiful polished wood stocks are just gathering dust in the back while all the uber-military looking metal and composite rifles with all kinds of “tactical” accessories are front and center and what everyone appears to want. The gun culture has completely shifted from a sportsman kind of mentality to a survivalist kind of mentality. If freaks me out and leaves me cold. I don’t know when that change happened. But it is dramatic.

    Back in the late 70s we actually took our rifles to school in rural Oregon for after school hunters safety class and we had an old chemistry teacher who taught fly tying and hand-loading as an elective. My Dad told me that a ton of guys at his private Christian college in Virginia kept rifles and shotguns in their dorm rooms back in the 1950s. It was just routine. Times have really changed.

    Now that I have kids I don’t want them anywhere near the house. If I did still have hunting rifles I’d keep them locked in a gun safe and with trigger locks on top just to be certain. But I sold my last rifle when I left Alaska over a decade ago.

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  16. 16
    bluehill says:

    There are groups of people that just seem to turn a hobby a little too far and turn it into an obsession. Cars, dolls, video games, lawns, starbucks cups. Seems like a way to signal to others about how you want to be perceived and establish your status within your group. I see really mild forms of this on enthusiast sites where they will list all the cars they have owned as part of their signature or the abilities of their gaming characters or the players they want to draft. Could be more of guy thing too.

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  17. 17

    But they don’t interest me in the least. I’m not even remotely drawn to them. I simply do not understand the allure or attraction.

    I think there’s a deep insecurity among people like gun nuts. They don’t really believe in their own self-worth, so they’re constantly looking for something outside themselves to provide it. Some people look for it in religion or membership in another kind of group, and some people look for it in something like a material possession. Guns are very attractive because they’re obviously powerful, so people who feel powerless and worthless are drawn to them. You don’t feel the allure because you don’t have that hole in your sense of self-worth than needs to be filled that way.

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  18. 18
    jharp says:

    I’ve shot and owned many guns and the game changer for me was I just didn’t want the additional responsibilities any more. I have plenty on my plate without any guns.

    I don’t want a safe in my house nor do I want stuff around (guns) that bad guys like to steal.

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  19. 19

    It’s cos play for these guys. They imagine themselves as Rambo.

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  20. 20
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Oh, I understand it all too well. I tried for 50 years to make peace with those racist assholes, before saying “Have a good life” and walking away. Do. Not. Miss.

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  21. 21
    The Moar You Know says:

    In addition to my job, I’m a working bass player. One who has also worked in four different music stores at various points in my life, and two manufacturers, so I know something about basses. Enough to sell them, anyway.

    But there’s a breed of cat that knows more about them than I’d ever want to. They own dozens. They post on every bass forum out there and some that don’t even cater to bassists. It’s their identity. And here’s the weird thing.

    They can’t play and the few that can don’t gig.

    For them, it’s a lifestyle and identity. For me, it’s just a tool.

    The gun humpers are fucking psycho about it because it’s all they have. We’d be a hell of a lot better off if we could get them to play guitar, but that requires work that they apparently are fiercely allergic to.

    I shoot, bust the guns out once a year to make sure I know what I’m doing. It requires no special talent other than the ability to just be really fucking careful – something else the gun humpers can’t and won’t do.

    They need a better hobby, I guess is what it boils down to.

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  22. 22
    trollhattan says:

    I went plinking with the old man at the gravel pit off I-90 when I was a kid, and being a boy-kid was rather fascinated with them, having spent countless hours watching oaters and war flicks and spy flicks and shows on the teevee. I thought it would be cool to have more, more better and cooler looking guns. Then I turned fifteen. Done.

    I do occasionally fish and that’s an even match. What am I saying, the fish have my number.

    ETA never played cowboys and Indians in the hood but we played war. A lot. Always GIs vs. Germans. Half the neighborhood dads had served in Europe, the other half in the Pacific. They never stopped us but they never told us war was kewhl and we should enlist, either.

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  23. 23
    Rusty says:

    This is more a guy issue, and part of what is considered masculine. The ones I get the least are the die hard gun nuts I know that are doctors, lawyers and professors. As far as I can tell they didn’t necessarily grow up around guns, but got the fever later. It makes them “a man”, even though they can barely use a hammer. I know I have out of date notions of being a guy, I work on cars, build boats and have a shop with enough tools to run a dozen businesses in a third world country. I don’t see why pulling a trigger makes you a guy. We need new and better models of masculinity.

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  24. 24
    Robin Suleiman says:

    I’m a guy, I was military and then private security, I train people to handle weapons, including guns, as part of my job, and I grew up in a house of competition shooters. And the gun culture of today is a thing in and of itself. It doesn’t have anything to do with local or national crime rates, or global rates of war or upheaval. It’s hard to relate it to anything but panic about a combination of changing racial and gender percentages, particularly in places of power.

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  25. 25
    trollhattan says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:
    I didn’t want to rule out a “fresh” shooting but am quite relieved it’s a simple error.

    The day isn’t done, however.

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  26. 26
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: I don’t think so. Let me try to explain. I find that the guys who stay in the Army for an entire career, especially those that started in Combat Arms (Infantry, Armor, Artillery, as well as Special Forces, Combat Engineers, and some of the Aviation elements), tend to be very big gun people. The reason for this is socialization to becoming and remaining proficient in firearm usage as part of one’s profession. I had a lovely discussion with a retired nominative (nominative means he was assigned to a 2 star general as his senior enlisted advisor) Command Sergeant Major last weekend. When it came up that I was going for quarterly tactical training on Monday, which I did, he was impressed. When we started talking about why I’ve worked very hard to be highly proficient with both the small and long arms I might be required to use if deployed – because I came to this late as an adult (I was 37), that even though I’m deploying as a leaf eater (non-combat arms enabler), I have to be proficient to be both taken seriously professionally and to be capable to defend myself and teammates if, Deity forbid, I had to without being a danger to the Soldiers and other civilians I’m with. For Soldiers and former Soldiers like this, proficiency with arms is an indicator of both membership in the Profession of Arms and ones professionalism. Many of them also target shoot, sport shoot (skeet and trap), and hunt as well.

    I’m not sure the folks that don’t make a career of it, regardless of the reasons for not doing so, have quite this heavy of a socialization and acculturation.

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  27. 27
    Damien says:

    Personally, I think it comes down to power. The ammosexuals by and large are white, rural, older, living lives of quiet desperation; they’re the types that would run the town bank and wield that little fiefdom like an axe against anyone they felt disrespected them, either in reality or just by being different. They felt comfortable in their power, and now they look around to realize things are changing rapidly, and their assured place in the hierarchy simply isn’t assured anymore.

    Now they’re scared and frustrated, so they fumble around looking for something to tell them that they’re still powerful, still scary, still capable of wielding something against those who disrespect them. Guns aren’t guns, they aren’t even weapons, they’re a mental bulwark against the future where they don’t automatically sit atop the heap.

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  28. 28

    @trollhattan: I’m sort of sensitive to it since it was in my home town.

    ETA: I see Cole corrected it. Thanks John.

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  29. 29
    Mary G says:

    I’m feeling upset with myself because I decided not to go to a march tonight. The only one at my end of the county is at Main Beach in Laguna, where there will be no parking for miles, and my hand still hurts from writing postcards and didn’t want to make a sign.

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  30. 30
    geg6 says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Never spent much time around West Virginia or Western PA (or any of a thousand places like them around the US or the world for that matter), I’m guessing. Hunting is a very big thing here, whether with guns or bow. And people eat what they kill. And they enjoy it even if they don’t get any game. It’s also needed to control animal populations that can easily get out of control. It’s the way of many lives here and some of the poorer areas even need it for subsistence. Not sure how that relates to Trollope’s Archdeacon or whomever. But maybe I haven’t read enough Trollope.

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  31. 31
    raven says:

    I have some really interesting old firearms. A double barrel 50 Cal Muzzle Loading Purdey made in 1861, a Model 1885 Lowall Single Shot Rifle, a WW2 Japanese Rifle, a 30-30 Winchester and the 22 Rifle my dad bought from the Sears Catalog in the 1930’s. I have fired the one’s that are operable once in the 20 years I have lived in this house and maybe three times in 35 years I’ve lived in Georgia. The thing I tell most people is that I do not have guns for protection because I know that means loaded and ready to go. It also means you have to be willing to use them and one of the people that lives in this house is not. That said most of the Nam vets I know here pack most of the time.

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  32. 32
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Robin Suleiman:

    And the gun culture of today is a thing in and of itself.

    Yep.

    ReplyReply
  33. 33
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    I know at least one vet with PTSD who does not feel safe without a gun. Having the gun present soothes his anxiety. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I know it is tied directly to his mental health issues.

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  34. 34
    Mike J says:

    Imagine if somebody subscribed to “Spoons and Tines” magazine. Spent thousands of dollars per year on forks, bought clothing and accessories and spoon polish and all of their casual wardrobe was designed to make them blend in with a sideboard and if somebody they didn’t like got elected they got together dressed up in 18th century clothes each holding a pickle fork.

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  35. 35
    piratedan says:

    NYT is reporting as the counting has continued, Sinema has pulled ahead of McSally at the last check, still lotta ballots to go….

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  36. 36
    Kent says:

    @geg6:

    Never spent much time around West Virginia or Western PA (or any of a thousand places like them around the US or the world for that matter), I’m guessing. Hunting is a very big thing here, whether with guns or bow. And people eat what they kill. And they enjoy it even if they don’t get any game. It’s also needed to control animal populations that can easily get out of control. It’s the way of many lives here and even need it for subsistence. Not sure how that relates to Trollope’s Archdeacon or whomever. But maybe I haven’t read enough Trollope.

    My family’s from rural Central PA. Dairy farmers. You work your butt off all summer bringing in the harvest, putting up hay and grain for the winter, repairing fences and fields, and so forth. When October finally rolls around and the harvest is in you can finally take a breath. The leaves are turning color, the air is crisp, and the mountains are beautiful and you finally have a few days to kick back with your friends and family. So you pack up for your annual trip up to the hunting cabin, gather up the food, the gear, the guns, and go enjoy a week of hunting before winter sets in. It’s part of the age-old rural cycle of life.

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  37. 37
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Understood. One can be big on guns and not be rabid about it, I suppose. I’m rabid about not being in the same room with one.

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  38. 38

    @Kent:

    You know the ordinary bolt action hunting rifles that look like hunting rifles with beautiful polished wood stocks are just gathering dust in the back while all the uber-military looking metal and composite rifles with all kinds of “tactical” accessories are front and center and what everyone appears to want.

    Is that what the people want to buy, or is that what the sellers want to sell? My (admittedly not that well informed) impression is that the tacticool crap is outrageously overpriced, so manufacturers and retailers want to push it because of the higher profit margin. Also, people who are buying mostly to hunt aren’t that big of a market. How many hunters need more than a couple of different calibers of rifle and maybe a shotgun or two? In contrast, the collectors and gun nuts will just keep buying more and more stuff.

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  39. 39
    West of the Rockies says:

    The shooting took place in the city next to my sister’s. Her son and DIL have been to that club. The father of one of their friends was killed.

    And now Paradise, CA, where I grew up is aflame. My anxiety is pretty fucking high.

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  40. 40
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    There’s a lot to gun culture. There’s “owning the libs”, of course. And there’s the “manliness” aspect – they think guns are all macho, and crap. And there’s the constant repetition of dumb ideas like “the police might not get there in time” and so forth that they encourage fear.

    I think part of it is “I might kill someone yay!” – that’s the only real point I see behind “Stand Your Ground” laws. (Now: if there were dozens of otherwise-innocent people in jail whose only crime was using a gun in a situation that might well have been self-defense, *then* I could see changing the laws regarding use of force. There wasn’t. Stand Your Ground was a pure-D culture war issue.)

    The gun nuts have gone far beyond “what can a law abiding gun owner do wrong, that isn’t already covered by other laws?” They’re preaching fear (you NEED that gun! For PROTECTION!) and culture war, without even thinking about common sense or, you know, *reality*.

    I prefer the gun owners who might carry a gun, if they think there’s a reasonable fear they might need it, but otherwise consider it a pain in the rear to deal with, and leave it at home.

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  41. 41
    Ruviana says:

    T-Bogg’s moving commentary could be revisited here.

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  42. 42
    Liberaljarhead says:

    I’m with you John. I got out of the Marines Corps in 1993. I’ve fired a weapon twice since then. I had a friend in law school who was a reserve Army Officer and a gun nut who invited me to shoot with him. Second time it was part of a gun familiarization class for my job. I like to fire guns but it’s not something that consumes every waking moment. I like to fire some of historical weapons like the M-1, the Springfield 03, and any Civil War weapon. Beyond that I could care less.

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  43. 43
    encephalopath says:

    If you want something real to be afraid of in the world, go watch a few car crash compilations on YouTube.

    CC Tube is especially good. The Russians are really special folks when it comes to driving. Like toddlers with object permanence issues.

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  44. 44
    geg6 says:

    @Robin Suleiman:

    Exactly. Hunting culture is so big here and has been all my life. Even we girls in the family were taught to use guns and gun safety. I hunted a few times with my dad and have killed a turkey and a couple of deer. But we were using my dad’s hunting rifles, usually a .22 or .30-06. We knew people who were way into guns and shooting but not like the gun nuts you see today. It’s a whole other level from what I grew up around.

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  45. 45
    Mike in NC says:

    I bought a pistol around 1982 while on active duty, mainly because it was easy to do in Virginia (show military ID). Fired it on a range a couple of times and have had no interest ever since.

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  46. 46
    JWR says:

    Oy. Via local CBS, (KCAL9), we’re seeing the first video, along with its chilling audio, of last night’s shooting. I’m sure it’ll be all over the place before long.

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  47. 47
    Patricia Kayden says:

    The love and worship of guns is pure madness. After Sandy Hook, it looks as if there is no victim of gun violence which will lead Republicans to change their NRA stance on gun control legislation. They have placed guns over people.

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  48. 48

    All I can guess is that they’re either terrified of everything or they feel inadequate down there, if you know what I mean, and this makes them feel like big men. If it’s something else, I have no fucking clue what it could be.

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  49. 49
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Kent

    : All the hunting rifles of my youth…The Remington 700s and Winchester Model 70s. You know the ordinary bolt action hunting rifles that look like hunting rifles with beautiful polished wood stocks are just gathering dust in the back while all the uber-military looking metal and composite rifles with all kinds of “tactical” accessories are front and center and what everyone appears to want

    Blade that on first person shooter computer games.

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    Mark says:

    I too was a rifleman in the army. Haven’t discharged a firearm in 35 years. I’ve got a bunch that I inherited from the old man but they just collect dust.

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  51. 51
    Gelfling 545 says:

    One of my nephews has had his ass handed to him by his elders and his cousins on FB today after he was whining about the Dems gaining power in NY because of having to register his guns. Oh and also he doesn’t like to pay taxes because the state does nothing for him. Don’t know where the kid gets it from. He disappeared after a couple of hours of everybody pointing out his essential ignorance. The kid’s only in his 20’s – youngest of the cousins – so I hope he will grow up.

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  52. 52
    tobie says:

    @piratedan: Wow!

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    Fair Economist says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    This may be completely off the wall, and I don’t know whether there are accurate studies or statistics linking mass shooters with previous military service/deployment, but there seems to be something of a correlation.

    I’m not aware of any statistics or studies, but the old problem in war was that most soldiers would not fire their weapons in combat. Supposedly the US Army redesigned boot camp and other training so this isn’t much of a problem. I do wonder if this “fixes” created a problem in the other direction.

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  54. 54

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    I think part of it is “I might kill someone a ni**er yay!” – that’s the only real point I see behind “Stand Your Ground” laws.

    FTFY. Let’s be completely honest. SYG isn’t about personal defense. It’s about providing a legal justification for killing Those People if they get uppity.

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  55. 55
    JMG says:

    I have said this elsewhere, but gun culture rests on one fact that could be proven quite quickly. If Soros or somebody else bought every male of color an AR-15, this country would have the strictest gun laws in the world before nightfall.
    PS: I have NRA riflery medals from summer camp in childhood. As a Delawarean, I often went duck hunting. Dullest damn thing in the world. Ducks ain’t stupid. They’ve learned the range of a shotgun.

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  56. 56
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @The Moar You Know: My father was so into guns that he built the carriages, and bought the barrels for two Civil War cannons and a mortar. All are still fired in competition.

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  57. 57
    geg6 says:

    @Kent:

    This. I’m from a steel town west of Pittsburgh and the men would toil in the mills and on fall weekends, they’d hunt in the local woods and, if they were lucky, they or a friend had a hunting camp in Marionville or Pymatuming or Titusville where everyone would go after Thanksgiving for the first day of deer season. It was simply part of the rhythm of life here.

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  58. 58
    guachi says:

    Sinema is currently ahead by 0.10%. She was down 1.00% before early votes were counted and has received 57.11% of early votes counted so far.

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  59. 59
    raven says:

    @Fair Economist: SLA Marshall’s study

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  60. 60
    ruemara says:

    You don’t have penile insecurity syndrome, JC.

    TBH, I want to learn bowhunting and I don’t mind guns, although I prefer the blade. It’s not the weapons. It’s the easy access to high powered weapons and these nitwits are perfectly fine with people murdered daily as long as they don’t have to do any paperwork for their security blankets.

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  61. 61
    Kent says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I never made that connection before. When I grew up video games were arcade games like Pac Man. I have daughters not sons so to the extent that they play video games it has been more minecraft and role playing than shooter games. So I missed the whole shooter gaming culture. But I suppose that makes sense to some extent.

    Also back when I was a kid I think that a MUCH MUCH larger percentage of the male population had served in WW2, Korea and Vietnam and so the military gun fetish thing was just not there. These days despite Iraq and Afganistan, a much much lower percentage of men have served. And I say “men” because it’s mosty men who have the gun fetishes.

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  62. 62
    khead says:

    @Kent:

    Yeah, I can relate to this. I know a whole bunch of these folks except they are miners or live in a mining town. In fact, the entire week of Thanksgiving should just be a holiday in WV for hunting. When I was young there were more than a few “wildcat strikes” that happened to coincide with the start of deer season. However…. almost all of the people I know are bowhunters. They may have (and like) guns, but tend to not be total gun nuts.

    Edit – see also @geg6:

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  63. 63
    Olivia says:

    I wrote a letter to the editor once several years ago wondering why some people were so scared to death of everything that they thought they needed to carry a gun at all times. A few weeks later a friend called me and told me to Google my name. When I did, the first couple things that came up was some online gun humper site that had copied my letter and posted it. There were at least 25 posts threatening to find me and show me what there was to be afraid of and which weapons they would use while doing it.
    That seemed so illogical to me that these people were threatening to harm me to prove that they were big strong brave good guy heroes because they carried guns. I was going to write back to them to point that out but several people talked me out of it.

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  64. 64
    joel hanes says:

    Cultural signifier for power.

    Very very important to those who have feelings of powerlessness that they cannot admit or deal with.
    Compensation.

    IMHO, grew in importance as the stature of white, non-college regular working guys declined, and as feminism began to reduce the status difference between men and women, perhaps also as liberalism began to reduce the status difference between people of color and white men.

    My grandfather was a gunsmith and gun collector, and I love guns as abstract objects, precision tools that with care will last for a century or more. Grew up hunting, got drafted in ’73 and fired a bunch of stuff then current, including eight-inch howitzers and the LAW rocket, but there’s just no place for guns in the urban life I’ve lived for the last thirty five years. Meanwhile, fucking burglars stole my dad’s guns, the remnant cream of Grandpa’s hunting arms, including the sweet Winchester Model 12 with the custom stock and forearm that my grandfather made to fit me and the reblueing job that my uncle gave me for my birthday. I could describe each of those long arms for you today, in detail: it used to be my job to clean and care for them.

    I haven’t felt any desire to handle a firearm or discharge one in decades, and if I still had any, I would have gotten rid of them after Sandy Hook.

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  65. 65
    Darrin Ziliak (formerly glocksman) says:

    @Scott Starr: Having been a “member” of those groups, I’d say that you’re spot on target.
    Before I ‘saw the light’, I was a gun humper.

    That said, nowadays I’m ready for some sane gun laws.

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  66. 66
    zhena gogolia says:

    @geg6:

    He has tons of scenes of women who love to go hunting. True, it’s on horseback, hunting foxes, and they don’t eat them, but the joy they take in being outdoors at dawn is similar to what he’s describing.

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  67. 67
    West of the Rockies says:

    @West of the Rockies:

    Family and friends have lost their homes, everything. My old high school is gone in flames. The sky here is so dark.

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  68. 68
    ET says:

    I think they are at heart very scared people.

    Scared of the other (which includes people of color, the guv’ment, the future, etc) and scared of not being in control. They think a gun will protect them. They even likely think them with a gun is the only thing that will protect them so they have to cling to them all the harder. Them having a gun is control of something and that something is the weapon they think can protect them.

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  69. 69
    Kent says:

    @geg6:

    This. I’m from a steel town west of Pittsburgh and the men would toil in the mills and on fall weekends, they’d hunt in the local woods and, if they were lucky, they or a friend had a hunting camp in Marionville or Pymatuming or Titusville where everyone would go after Thanksgiving for the first day of deer season. It was simply part of the rhythm of life here.

    My family is from Mifflin County (next valley south of State College) which is Mennonite and Amish country but all my Mennonite relatives are hard core hunters. We have family hunting cabins bordering the state game lands on the mountain separating Belleville from State College. It is so much the rhythm of life and just part of the seasons. My grandfather handed me down an old lever action Winchester 30-30 carbine that was pre-1964 so a valuable collectors item. We moved to Oregon and my mom sold it in a garage sale when I was in college or the Peace Corps so someone got a great steal. At that point in my life I was active in the divestment from South Africa movement and Central America peace movement had no interest in guns and couldn’t be bothered to go retrieve it.

    To this day my facebook feed starts filling up with hunting pictures like clockwork during hunting season as my cousins and relatives in PA and northern MI start posting the pictures of their latest bucks and the deer that their kids have shot.

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  70. 70
    Duane says:

    The number of guns reported stolen from vehicles in our town has doubled from last year, about one every other day, since concealed-carry laws took effect here. Tell me again how safe these guns and their law abiding owners are.

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  71. 71
    geg6 says:

    @khead:

    If you’ve ever seen Thr Deer Hunter, the scenes on the homefront were absolutely authentic to my experience. That was how I grew up.

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  72. 72
    Yarrow says:

    @West of the Rockies: I’m so sorry. Are you and yours safe?

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  73. 73
    Shana says:

    @zhena gogolia: Or one of those outdoorsy Wodehouse women.

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  74. 74
    The Moar You Know says:

    I have said this elsewhere, but gun culture rests on one fact that could be proven quite quickly. If Soros or somebody else bought every male of color an AR-15, this country would have the strictest gun laws in the world before nightfall.

    @JMG: And I have said this everytime someone brings up this idiotic idea: no it won’t. You’re simply guaranteeing the murder of a large percentage of the population of people of color.

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  75. 75
    imonlylurking says:

    @Mary G: This is a marathon, not a sprint. If you need to take a break-do it. They’re counting on people burning out. Rest, heal up, and come back when you’re ready.

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  76. 76
    Kent says:

    @geg6:

    If you’ve ever seen Thr Deer Hunter, the scenes on the homefront were absolutely authentic to my experience. That was how I grew up.

    The town and mill scenes are utterly authentic and I think were filmed in Ohio. The hunting scenes always annoyed me though as they are very clearly western coniferous forests and not eastern deciduous forests and look instantly wrong to anyone who has ever hunted in PA. I think the mountain scenes were actually filmed in the North Cascades area of Washington State.

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  77. 77
    Mike J says:

    @The Moar You Know: California got its tough gun laws because of black people carrying guns and Reagan being a racist.

    ReplyReply
  78. 78
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Yarrow:

    Thank you, Yarrow.
    Yes, my five family members evacuated, my best friend’s aged mother, too. The fire is at 18,000 acres, zero containment. Untold homes lost.

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  79. 79
    Yarrow says:

    @Duane: I’ve said for a long time that working on the “responsible” part of “responsible gun owner” is a way to push people toward being more responsible for the guns they own. Sure, people can carry their guns around but if their baby digs it out of their purse and shoots someone or if the gun drops out of their waistband and goes off or if they leave it on the coffee table and their grandkid shoots their other grandkid, well, they’re not being responsible gun owners. We need to work on what “responsible” means and make those who are not responsible have some consequences for their irresponsibility.

    Insurance rates going up would be one but points on their gun license or mandatory “defensive driving” type gun classes could be other ideas. Don’t go after guns so much as go after the behavior around guns. And no, “they have suffered enough” is not enough. Sorry. They are irresponsible and there are consequences for that.

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  80. 80
    geg6 says:

    @Kent:

    We had (and still have but I don’t live in exactly the same place) farms just out of town that bordered the state game lands here who would let us hunt on their land. I got both my deer there, just five miles from our house in Hopewell, Beaver County. My dad worked in the mill in Aliquippa. The only thing I ever got on a hunting trip to the mountains was the turkey. It was so many years ago! Haven’t hunted since I was about 15 or 16. But my John and I have a “camp” in Titusville still. Right on Oil Creek. We just hang out there on the deck or in the sunroom watching the water go by, drinking wine and laughing at the dogs freaking out at all the wildlife.

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  81. 81
    Eric S. says:

    Honest question on a slight tangent. What percentage of hunters are hunting for food vs. trophies? I realize these can and do overlap. I’m not implying that people hunting for food are doing so for subsistence. I only know one hunter – pheasant – and he does eat what he kills

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  82. 82
    Yarrow says:

    @West of the Rockies: You guys really deal with a lot with those fires. Glad those you know are safe but it’s still a tough thing to deal with. Take care of yourself.

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  83. 83
    geg6 says:

    @Kent:

    This is true. Was talking more about the culture than anything else.

    ReplyReply
  84. 84
    Aleta says:

    Two timelines seem similar–changing attitude toward the military and its place and changing attitude toward guns and their place.

    I remember the first time I saw the cover of Soldier of Fortune magazine at my sister’s house –early 80s, though it was started around the end of the V War.

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  85. 85
    Amir Khalid says:

    @West of the Rockies:
    Relieved to hear your loved ones are safe. Do they have somewhere to go?

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  86. 86
    eemom says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    And I have said this everytime someone brings up this idiotic idea: no it won’t. You’re simply guaranteeing the murder of a large percentage of the population of people of color.

    I used to say it too, because I believed it. But I have since figured out that you’re absolutely right.

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  87. 87
  88. 88
    sambolini says:

    @Robin Suleiman:

    panic about a combination of changing racial and gender percentages, particularly in places of power.

    Ding Ding Ding We have a winner.
    I know a good number (not dozens but close to a dozen) gun nuts (and they ARE nuts) and to a one they are unrepenetant racists, xenophobes, and misogynists.

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  89. 89
    Kent says:

    @geg6: Good memories. My mom together with her sisters inherited 100+ acres or so of woodlands bordering the state game lands north of Belleville with a couple of family hunting cabins. They kept it in the family for decades until finally a couple of years ago sold it all to my cousin’s kid who is the last of the family still living and working the family dairy farm there. We used to visit every summer but not so much anymore except for family reunions. Everyone else has long moved on because there’s nothing left to do there and dairy farming doesn’t make any money anymore. That whole valley is like entering Brigadoon. I don’t thing anything has changed since the 1930s, or perhaps the 1950s at the latest when electricity arrived.

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  90. 90
    Yarrow says:

    We could use a non-gun thread. Lot’s of stuff happening. Sinema pulling ahead in Arizona–Suzanne are you out there? Exciting! Nelson in hand recount territory now and Gillum gaining seats. Protests happening all over the country. Rumors flying of Jr. being indicted tomorrow.

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  91. 91

    @Duane:
    The gun nuts will assure you this is only a problem because private businesses are allowed to forbid guns on their premises. If the gun humpers were allowed to take their guns with them absolutely everywhere, they wouldn’t need to leave them in their cars where they can be easily stolen. I think there needs to be a requirement for in car gun safes.

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  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Deuling pistols at 20 paces?//

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  93. 93
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Mary G: I was hoping for months to go to the march if/when the shit went down, but this happens to be the one day I absolutely cannot do it (I’ve been spending the evening rearranging my house so that workers can finish putting in a new floor upstairs tomorrow).

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  94. 94
    JPL says:

    @Yarrow: It’s gonna be a good night The Sinema news is excellent and hopefully Suzanne comments soon.

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  95. 95
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: NON-gun, please.

    @JPL: I’m waiting for her comments! Suzanne! Where are you?

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  96. 96
    Erin in Flagstaff says:

    @Yarrow: Yes, Sinema is in the lead and it’s looking decent. There’s lots more ballots to count!

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  97. 97
    Mandalay says:

    I’m not sure whether it constitutes a victory of sorts, but I couldn’t find a single politician who has used the phrase “thoughts and prayers” in response to the Thousand Oaks murders.

    I think it has now become toxic for politicians, since anyone daring to use it will get savaged (and rightfully so).

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  98. 98
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Dueling sabres at 20 paces?//

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  99. 99
    Eric U. says:

    The mailman misdelivered one of my next door neighbor’s gun humper magazines. Whatever it was on the front looked like a toy version of a machine gun, lots of exaggerated features. It really did seem like a porn magazine.

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  100. 100
    JPL says:

    @Erin in Flagstaff: That would be an excellent result. just sayin

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  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mary G:

    I’m not going either, if it makes you feel better. I have a nasty cold that turned into pleuritis, so I need to stay home so I don’t make myself sicker. 😢

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  102. 102
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    This gun fetish comes from Anime and Japanse computer games – weapons in that stuff are some extension of your personality thus the tactile nonsense and accessories represents personal growth. Yes, it sounds dumb, but this is the same culture that thinks if you make a statue that looks like a human it gets a soul. Young folks today grow up watching anime, playing games like Metal Gear Solid and there you go, a gun is not longer some tool it’s literally some dick extender.

    Sword base martial arts gets the same nonsense with katanas for the same reasons.

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  103. 103
    Hkedi [K. T. Conqueror] says:

    @Gin & Tonic: G&T, Do you know about Chris Bathgate? He makes machined art that might really be up your alley. https://www.chrisbathgate.com/

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  104. 104
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Eric U.
    It is a porn magazine.

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  105. 105
    Aleta says:

    Another piece of gun culture seems to be access to displays of superiority. Guns (and vid games) provide multiple avenues for that–tech knowledge, skill, comparing lists of the ones you’ve tried or mastered or own, and a way to make someone cower in your imagination. Official competitions, hunting success, training levels. Other ways we have (say, riding bicycles) offer a few of those, but not as wide a range.

    The military is about impressing conscripts and contractors with the absolute good of competing for superiority. Some come out and leave that behind but some, like a few of my relatives, absorb it and never shake it. It’s visible in some pilots too.

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  106. 106
    Redshift says:

    I don’t understand it either. I have a friend who is a gun bunny but is definitely not conservative on any other issue who, a few days after Pittsburgh, posted that she was outraged that people were trying to “change the subject” from antisemitism to gun control. I’m not aware of anyone dismissing the importance of the antisemitic element, so I suspect this was actually just people also talking about the need for gun control, which she’s against.

    The whole thing was very reminiscent of “the real problem is mental health.” I know a lot of that is just bad faith deflection, but I just don’t understand how some people can sincerely but into the notion that if “the real problem” is mental health or antisemitism, we can do nothing to mitigate the harm until we completely solve those centuries-old problems.

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  107. 107
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Sabers? Who duels with sabers? Spladroons, the sword that can’t make up it’s mind if it’s a small sword or a saber, for everyone!

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  108. 108
    Yarrow says:

    @Mnemosyne: Feel your pain. Mine’s into the coughing stage. Fever seems to have subsided. Take care of yourself.

    @Adam L Silverman: If we must. My cousin briefly dated a guy who made swords. That was an interesting holiday get together.

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  109. 109
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Eric U.: Most likely an AR pattern rifle. Basically the world’s most lethal tinker toy.

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  110. 110
    Eric S. says:

    @Adam L Silverman: To the pain.

    ReplyReply
  111. 111
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I’m personally an enthusiast of Japanese cutlery, but to each their own.

    ReplyReply
  112. 112

    @Eric S.:

    Honest question on a slight tangent. What percentage of hunters are hunting for food vs. trophies?

    There’s a fair bit of overlap. My impression from the hunters I know is that food tends to be the main interest, with the trophies being mostly a byproduct. It also depends on the species. Deer hunters love getting a buck with a big rack, but they care more about the venison than about the head. People who hunt predators (bear, mountain lion, etc.) tend to be more heavily focused on the trophy rather than the meat. And people who are hunting (or shooting, depending on your POV) nuisance animals tend not to be that interested in either; they’re just interested in getting rid of an animal that’s causing them problems. Of course there’s also some overlap between nuisance animals and the kinds of predators people hunt for trophies. Ranchers see predators as an economic threat even as hunters see them as a prized trophy. Some jurisdictions will give out permits to shoot nuisance predators that specifically forbid collecting trophies so would-be trophy hunters aren’t tempted to lie about an animal being a nuisance as a way of getting a hunting permit.

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  113. 113
    West of the Rockies says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Thank you, Amir. I’m not yet sure. I’ve put word out that I’m here, but no reply yet. Evacuation took hours.

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  114. 114
    The Gray Adder says:

    @Scott Starr: Even worse, I know people with various affiliations with the military, from contractors to GS civilians to reservists to (probably) active duty servicemembers, who freely admit to believing that nonsense about needing a personal arsenal just in case they have to overthrow the government. Usually it’s that Declaration of Independence stuff about tyranny or whatnot, but it basically amounts to the same thing. “Dude, you signed an SF86 saying you don’t advocate this stuff,” I would say. Zoom, right over their tiny little heads, or in one ear, around their tiny pea brains, and out the other. OR they would go off, and I’d get an earful about how I was the one who hated America.

    I’m going to retire on my 60th birthday. It’s going to be great.

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  115. 115
    dww44 says:

    @raven:Interesting, that. My spouse was a platoon leader in Viet Nam, was himself shot, and shot many others. But he has never owned a gun nor has he been interested in owning a gun. We do have the German luger his Dad brought home at the end of WWII. In all these years we’ve never once gone camping. He hates it.

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  116. 116
    maura says:

    no guns thank you vefy much

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  117. 117
    Emma says:

    @Kent: I know a couple of people who grew up as you did. Both have given up hunting unless they’re on private land, because the “sport shooters” are showing up with the kind of guns that would turn a deer into ground meat — and they don’t know a damn thing about hunting protocol.

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  118. 118
    Eric S. says:

    @Roger Moore:

    people who are hunting (or shooting, depending on your POV) nuisance animals tend not to be that interested in either;

    I didn’t even think about that group. It’s a good distinction to remember. Thanks from a Chicago urbanite.

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  119. 119
    trollhattan says:

    @West of the Rockies:
    Very glad to hear they got out. Conditions are very much like the Santa Rosa fires last year and how close together the various evacuation orders were issued is testament to how fast this one blew up. “Civilian injuries” are reported and they’re checking on possible fatalities.

    I know the area and in fall it’s a tinderbox until the first big storms.

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  120. 120
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Eric S.: There can be only one!

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  121. 121
    Kent says:

    @Roger Moore:

    There’s a lot of hunting that’s more just for the hunting than for trophies or meat. And these days the trophy is more the pics you can post on facebook than actually getting heads mounted to hang on the wall. Same thing with fishing. People want that great pic with a big salmon or swordfish. They don’t necessarily want to have it mounted. When I used to go deer hunting in Alaska it was more just to be out with friends. I was single and had no use for the actual deer but would take some stew meat and sausage. There are hunters who love hunting and then just donate whatever they kill to local homeless shelters or food kitchens.

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  122. 122
    Pogonip says:

    Hi Cole,

    I feel the same way about gearheads. Don’t get it. To me a car (truck, etc) is a box on wheels that gets me from point A to point B faster than I could walk. The answer, I think, is that most men love gadgets, the more parts the better, and gadgets that make loud noise are better yet!

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  123. 123
    Kent says:

    @Eric S.:

    people who are hunting (or shooting, depending on your POV) nuisance animals tend not to be that interested in either;

    I didn’t even think about that group. It’s a good distinction to remember. Thanks from a Chicago urbanite.

    Hunting feral hogs is HUGE in Texas. You can shoot them year-round without permits or limits. They are a huge plague https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/a-plague-of-pigs-in-texas-73769069/

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  124. 124

    @Eric S.:
    Of course these are just generalizations. ISTR that part of an attempt to eradicate nutria in Louisiana involved trying to convince Cajuns that they were good eating, and The Joy of Cooking still includes recipes for squirrel and instructions on skinning them.

    ReplyReply
  125. 125
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @West of the Rockies: We’re keeping good thoughts for you all!

    ReplyReply
  126. 126
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Some asshat introduced nutria to the San Joaquin Delta and they’re struggling to snip that in the proverbial bud before it’s too late. Maybe they can bring the CANG up from the border.

    ReplyReply
  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: @Eric S.: Though a lot of the people that hunt/shoot feral hogs or the feral hog/wild boar hybrids do either use the meat themselves or donate it. In almost every state with a wild pig, feral hog, and/or feral hog/wild boar hybrid problem they’re considered nuisance animals and can be hunted year round. Every so often we get a big one, from the looks of the tracks, come through my side yard.

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  128. 128
    Daniel'sBob says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: Been reading Neal Stephenson?

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  129. 129
    Aleta says:

    @Pogonip: I like watching toddler boys go out to watch the garbage truck. (It must be an amazing sight when it’s new.) I like to imagine them enthralled by angular momentum changing to linear but it’s probably just the noise.

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  130. 130
    Obdurodon says:

    My worthless take: it’s not really about guns. It’s not about freedom either. It’s about identity. It’s about belonging to a club, and proving you belong to the club. The gun-humpers are people who feel left out of so much else – economically, intellectually, etc. – so they’ve formed their own club where they prove by worth by owning the biggest ugliest gun and getting in other people’s faces about it as much as possible.

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  131. 131
    chopper says:

    me neither. on lotsa blogs there always seems some commenter who goes off for like three pages about the exact specs of the make and model of gun when the post has a picture of someone holding it and i’m all jesus dude it’s just a picture of a gun.

    i mean i understand people fetishizing stuff and all but when it’s something designed to murder other people my brain just can’t wrap around it.

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  132. 132
    Duane says:

    @Yarrow: The things you said are right, and will help, but I swear some people just don’t learn. Steve Scalize comes to mind.

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  133. 133
    Origuy says:

    @West of the Rockies: Glad you’re safe. I’m concerned about a friend who has a house and a veterinary practice in Megalia, north of Paradise. I posted on his Facebook page, but he’s an infrequent poster in the best of times.

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  134. 134
    RAVEN says:

    @dww44: Yea, I think it goes either way.

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  135. 135
    RAVEN says:

    @Kent: One of the things that drove me nuts about the movie. The other was a active duty special forces dude (DeNiro) with a goatee just hopping on a plane and flying to the Nam.

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  136. 136
    PenAndKey says:

    Yeah, I’ve never understood “gun culture” myself either. I grew up in a small town/rural area in Wisconsin so guns and hunting are huge around my hometown, but for me they’ve never been anything but a way to test my skill. I won’t lie, I appreciate being able to hit a long range target, but I haven’t fired a rifle or handgun in over 20 years because I couldn’t stand the posturing nuts at the only gun range in my area with a range long enough to be a challenge. I decided, very early, that if that was the crowd associated with the hobby I wanted nothing to do with it.

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  137. 137
    Ruckus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    I’ve related stories here way too many times and it should be obvious that I’m in the same camp as John. But I think there are a lot of bits and pieces to the gun story.
    First there is the glorified stories/movies of what a gun can do. A bad guy with a gun stopped by the good guy with the gun. It’s like the people didn’t do anything it’s all the guns that accomplished everything good. And bad.
    Which is point two. In all of those action stories/movies is power. That power is the bad guys. And a lot of people who think they should have power will never have any until they take it. With guns.
    To point three. PTSD is a real problem with the military. I’ve been in group a few times in the last three years, trying to lean to cope better with my health issues. And I’ve seen people who were in the service 40-50 years ago who still have issues. As well as people who were in, in this century. I’ve seen PTSD before they called it that, in a military hospital in 73. It’s insidious, and the triggers for a bad response may be most anything. It can happen to anyone involved in a traumatic episode of some kind. And combat is a traumatic experience. But it’s not a triggering experience for everyone, any more than an auto accident is for everyone.
    Which brings us to point 4. The VA takes PTSD very seriously. But not every vet gets their healthcare with the VA. Not every vet in the VA will show enough signs or ask for treatment.
    And 5. Our healthcare system is, if not broken, certainly not up to reasonable standards. Even with the ACA (which of course the shitheads continue to try to break) what got mostly tweaked was the payment process. Example: take John’s attempt to stop drinking. He had everything necessary except the actual healthcare – motivation/desire, money, time, effort. What I’m saying is that even with a perfect ACA/Medicare for All/whatever to pay for it, we’d still have a supply problem. Politics pretty much has been playing to the rich for so many decades that we have a lopsided system. The rich have all the healthcare they want and need, everyone else has to scratch for care or die.

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  138. 138
    John Fremont says:

    @Rusty: As a friend of mine who is a veteran and a recreational shooter calls those guys, fashion queens. Those guys love to buy all of the latest gadgets from of the pages of Guns & Ammo magazine. They talk a good game but they just seem to be posers.

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  139. 139

    @Ruviana: That man can turn a phrase when he wants to, and that essay will never, ever lose it’s impact. So grateful for his words and his wisdom.

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  140. 140
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I think there may be two parts to that. Some of the people that stay in do because they are drawn to the lifestyle, they like the deadly toys. The like comes first, the career provides that. Some stay in because the job is OK and they get bennies and everyone has to do something.
    Now some of the people will learn to like the weapons after they get in and stay for the work they get to do and the tools they get to do it with.
    What I’m saying is I don’t disagree with you just that it’s not always why they went in, in the first place.

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  141. 141
    tomtofa says:

    Lot of eulogizing here about ‘pure’ hunters as opposed to the gun nut culture.
    My only experience with it goes back many years, to when a buddy and I had a gov contract to repair the barbed wire around a wilderness preserve in eastern Washington state.
    We’d stay out camping and working for a few weeks at a time; came across many hunting sites. They were full of trash, beer cans, and spent shells. The local ranger, who found us every week or so to check in, had nothing but contempt, bordering on rage, toward them. They fouled the place, shot the wrong things (if anything), didn’t bother to learn the land, were there, in his view, just to escape the responsibilities of ‘real’ life and act like toddlers.
    So that’s another view of hunters. I’m sure some are carrying on an ancient cycle of natural life, but many aren’t.

    I can just imagine what they’re doing nowadays out there with semiautomatic weapons.

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  142. 142
    dimmsdale says:

    I am continually horrified at the way so many people traffic in delusional thinking–it shows up regarding Trumpian policy, but also regarding the utility of guns. Really, delusional thinking is a feature that underpins gun-culture thinking; it’s also, in the age of Trump, an absolute mental-health epidemic that seems to be sweeping the country. Part of the delusional thinking about guns is the thought “a gun makes me better than I used to be.” Stronger, tougher, grittier, at one with the rugged soldiers and frontiersmen who ‘made this country great’. (I DID say ‘delusion,’ after all.) It’s the idea of a gun as an identity-enhancer, such that rational gun regulation would take away a treasured part of a gun-lover’s identity, and/or his ‘better-than-you-ness’. (This has nothing to do with legitimate 2nd-amendment arguments, it has to do with lessening via legislation a person’s ability to feel part of a fearless elite…and to the extent that a gun projects personal power, a POWERFUL elite.)

    Granted, lots of generalizing here. But someone upthread said ‘cosplay’, and I’d just add ‘on steroids.’

    There is also a hardcore group of gun owners/users who enjoy shooting, collecting guns as people enjoy collecting Wedgwood, shooting them as a sport. (I’m one of these). There’s no NRA for gun owners who favor rational regulation; no gun-owners organization they can turn to, to faithfully make THEIR case. just the totalistic NO of the NRA.

    But I do think, of the total universe of gun-owners, it’s only a relative (deeply delusional) few that wouldn’t favor e.g. banning bump stocks, continuing the ban on silencers, and reducing the easy lethality of assault-style weapons.

    What we need to do for THAT to happen is to get Republicans the F out of government, top to bottom. It’ll take time…but it needs to happen.

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  143. 143
    Ruckus says:

    @Ruviana:
    In many ways T Bogg’s story is similar to my story of my late teen years. Including similar reasons for stopping.
    Alcohol and guns? NFW.
    Stupid and guns? NFW.
    Too many chances to die or be seriously wounded for absolutely no reason? NFW.

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  144. 144
    Ruckus says:

    @Liberaljarhead:
    I got out of the navy in 73. Haven’t fired a gun since. Haven’t had desire one. Last time I fired one was in late 71, qualifying off the fantail with a 45, about 20 miles out. Hit the water and nothing else and you’re good to go. Watched Thompson 45 sub machine guns, BAR, being fired. Just haven’t had the desire.

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  145. 145
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    @Roger Moore: I won’t say you’re *wrong*, but I think they’d be happy killing anyone justifiably. They might assume, a priori, that it will be an African American, but I think they’d be happy with “being forced to kill” an Aryan, as long as it was justified.

    I grant you: I might be incorrect. I was the kind of child who used to laugh at racist humor, thinking it was hilarious to imagine an actual *human being* thinking/acting that way. It was like watching the Three Stooges! I had some very hard lessons to learn growing up, and after being grown up, and through middle-age (where I am now).

    But I think a lot of them are imagining being macho, and “heroic”, and killing someone, without actually thinking much about what that person might look like.

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  146. 146
    wasabi gasp says:

    That’s the way I feel about sports, but unlike your extensive familiarity with all sorts of weaponry, I’ve only played with a couple of balls.

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  147. 147
    wasabi gasp says:

    Pulling down the blinds and getting dark, I’m sure you’ve heard gerrymandering described as the GOP firewall. There is another GOP firewall, it is constructed of blockheads found deep in the culture you’ve sited.

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  148. 148
    Marcus says:

    When I was stationed in GE, I went to some events with German, French, British and US representation. It was fun being able to try out other weapons than what I was issued. When I became a civilian, and had a job where I needed to carry, I had a .45, on the theory that in an encounter, if I can’t deescalate, I’m only gonna hit once or twice, and I wanted to hit hard. Now, I have no need to have a gun, and thus don’t carry. Guns are just tools to me, with one purpose – to kill other people.

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  149. 149
    EricNNY says:

    Vet here, but I’m with you. I have a varmint rifle, but hesitate to even use that. I’ve fired the same as you. I’m a great shot. But I don’t need to prove myself and will never get the gun hoarders that are so obsessed.

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  150. 150
    James Simonds says:

    I strongly believe the GOP and NRA have weaponized what would normally be an outlier neurosis, or normal hobbyist obsession behavior. Humans have a strong tendency to fixate. For their own selfish reasons, the above groups have sharply focused as many people as possible onto guns as they can.

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