Confessions of a Gun Control Convert

Today we have once again witnessed the tragedy of mass violence in America. A 24 year old man, armed with a handgun and 5.56mm (.223) caliber rifle, walked into a Connecticut elementary school, and killed at least 27 people, including 18 children. We are not sure how many were wounded.

As I write these words, filled with anger and sadness, I feel I must explain why I converted from a gun enthusiast to a gun control advocate. I have owned many, many firearms in my life and still own several. I have fired tens of thousands of rounds. I have attended countless gun shows and ‘machine gun shoots.’ I have been very much a part of America’s gun culture so let me speak from experience: America’s gun culture is completely out of control.

The gun culture subscribes to a peculiar mythology: complete with it’s own historical narrative. Go to any gun show and you’ll hear an earful if you ask around. Listen to right wing talk radio on a day like today and you’ll hear the same myths. In this world of mythology, the only thing holding back our nation from the Fourth Reich is individual gun owners. Did you know that the first thing Hitler did was disarm Germany? No? That’s because its not true, but in the gun world it’s gospel. In the gun world, the federal government is the enemy, always looking to take away our rights and freedoms. Gun owners stand between tyranny and freedom.

To be sure, nearly none of these people are criminals. They are actually responsible gun owners, sold a story by the NRA and talk radio. The reason my focus is on them is not that they commit crimes, but that they are the reason why serious gun control is not even a debatable topic. They are one-issue voters: guns are the only thing that matters, thanks to the mythology.

Freedom is not anarchy. Freedom is responsibility. Why should free people have to create fortresses stocked with arsenals to maintain their freedom? Why must we be patted down, searched, and forced to walk through metal detectors to go into a school or movie theater? When does the freedom to own firearms start to infringe upon our other freedoms? Where does this end? When will freedom loving people figure out that the prevalence of firearms in our culture is reducing our freedom instead of expanding it?

I for one cannot support anarchy any longer. We need to have a real conversation about gun control.  It does not have to be this way; there are other advanced nations with 1/10th the murder rate of our own.

I’ll simply end on a personal note: I live 4 miles from the Aurora Mall theater. I nearly went to that show. It was sold out when I checked for tickets. A madman was able to purchase an M4 with a 100 round mag, and no one batted an eye. That’s because these purchases are common, and because the government is the enemy, the gun culture is hesitant to report suspicious activities.

I was a part of the gun culture, so please don’t insult me by saying I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know the devastating power of weapons. I’m calling for a conversation, not a shouting match. We cannot pretend that, “this is the price of freedom,” is an acceptable answer any longer.

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21 Responses to Confessions of a Gun Control Convert

  1. Pingback: Lifelong Democrat Changes Mind On Education Reform | Reason and Politics

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  4. Thank you, thank you. Yes, freedom is responsibility. You wrote all of this very well.

  5. “A factoid that came out today….80% of mass shootings in the US have been committed with weapons that were legally obtained.”

    And ALL of the mass shootings have occurred in places where the perp knew people would be unarmed and vulnerable–blame gun free zones for mass shootings. Blame prescription drugs for mass shootings. Blame a sick society for mass shootings. Guns don’t shoot people. People shoot people.

    Who is the greatest mass murderer of all time? — Government. They murdered over 90 million people during the 20th century. And you want to be totally at their mercy? Jez…what a crazy idea.

    • You are certainly casting a wide net when you blame “government.” That’a not really helpful in this discussion.

      You know who has committed even more mass murder than “government?” People. People have committed 100% of murders over all of human existence. See? Doesn’t really contribute anything meaningful to the conversation.

  6. Pingback: Joe Scarborough Changes His Mind on Gun Control | Reason and Politics

  7. The fact is, we have literally thousands of firearms related laws on the books. All of them are reactionary and will never prevent a madman from obtaining a weapon to do wreak havoc on others. If not guns, then knives, rocks, bombs, or arrows. In other words, gun control laws only serve to control possession by the law abiding citizen who would never think of committing such a heinous act.

    What is really needed is meaningful dialogue on the other thing perpetrators of these types of crime have in common: mental illness. This country continues to cut funding to mental health services when the need is at an all-time high.

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I agree with you on the mental illness part. Both David Brooks and David Frum were on the Sunday news shows stressing this.

      I used to agree with your first argument, but no longer. I wrote another post today directly addressing it. If you have time feel free to have a look.

      As I said in this piece, I used to be a gun enthusiast, and supporter of gun rights. I now look back upon my old positions and can’t help but think I was advocating for anarchy. Its easier to get an AR-15 in nearly every state than a driver’s licence. I still own guns, but my stance has softened.

      Depending on the year, America has a murder rate between 4.5 and 10 times the rate of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Culture can explain that to a degree, but the ease of access to small arms cannot be overlooked.

      I also wrote today about a measure that I think could preserve full freedom of choice for us gun owners while reducing crime: gun registration.

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

  8. izzyverse says:

    Reblogged this on Izzyverse and commented:
    Highly thought-provoking blog.

  9. Pingback: Gun Registration Is the Solution Gun Violence | Reason and Politics

  10. Pingback: Confessions of a Gun Control Convert | The Secular Jurist

  11. Words of wisdom. Will our representatives in D.C. hear?

  12. A factoid that came out today….80% of mass shootings in the US have been committed with weapons that were legally obtained.

  13. Pingback: Each Tragedy is an Argument for Gun Control | petebrunelli

  14. I’ve never been a gun enthusiast. I don’t think enacting stricter gun control means impeding gun ownership for sane, competent individuals. It just means enacting laws so that mentally ill individuals don’t have, at least the legal means, to purchase a firearm.

    I also just blogged about the tragedy.

    • Just read it. Excellent piece.

      I just can’t support the status-quo any longer. We need to tighten this up. 20 children… Its just unacceptable.

      • I’ve been meaning to write something on gun control for awhile. I just don’t know how many more innocent people have to be killed before this country realizes there is a problem.

        ABC News is now reporting that the shooter either was autistic or had some form of it. Baffling how he could get a gun.

        Sad day. I pray for the families.

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