When “gun nuts” become gun control advocates

An interesting article has appeared in the Houston Press, titled, “3 Reasons I Went From Being A Gun Nut To Supporting Gun Control,” written by columnist Chris Lane.  In it, the author describes his journey from being a regular gun owner (he called himself in that state a “gun nut”) to someone whose attitude toward guns has significantly altered.

Lane tells us that he grew up around guns, owned a lot of them, and knew how to operate many varieties.  But he encountered other gun owners who, in his view, were bigoted, paranoid, weak, and enthralled with violence, and decided that it was time to sell most of his collection and support unspecified gun control.

Had he spoken to me first, I’d have had several observations to make about his choice—unless, that is, he was looking to give his collection away.  I’m likely preaching to the choir in writing this, but even the choir needs to hear the word from time to time.

As I’ve said before, gun owners in this country are a diverse and growing and diversifying group of people.  Yes, there are some among us who express a mixture of fear and contempt for black helicopters, blue helmets, and brown skins.  The same statement would be true about city planners, computer programmers, or newspaper columnists, though the latter may have to be cautious about sharing such opinions.  But as with those and many other groups, the more people I meet, the more I see that the good outnumber the bad.

Are we paranoid about the direction of gun laws and rights in this country?  The answer to that is a matter of perspective.  Some states have enacted stricter gun control since Newtown, while others have moved toward gun rights.  But when the president and some candidates for that office, along with prominent senators and members of the House continually insist that we need to curtail rights, we gun owners have sufficient reason to be cautiously vigilant.

Lane tells us that he didn’t like living in fear while carrying a gun.  Very well, for him, not carrying is a good choice if carrying is what brought on the fear in the first place.  But in a country in which 108,000 is the low estimate for how many defensive gun uses occur in a given year, carrying a gun is no more an act of fear fundamentally than is owning a fire extinguisher or wearing a seat belt.  What Lane himself experienced also isn’t definitive for everyone in the group of people who legally carry.

But he also sees America’s identification of guns with freedom as weird.  That’s a significant choice of word, perhaps in a way Lane doesn’t realize.  Weird comes from the Old English wyrd, meaning fate or fortune.  It took on the sense of the supernatural in the later middle ages, finally getting worn down to odd or disturbingly different in present usage.  This connects back to what I had to say about the origin and definition of danger.  Do Americans have an obsession with guns?  We may appear to, but if we dig deeper, we see that what is really going on is a belief in our right to choose our destinies—to be dangerous, in the sense of exercising power over our own lives.  Guns are symbolic of that choice.

And yes, guns show up in a lot of our entertainments.  Lane clucks at us for tolerating shooting in games and movies, and while he says he opposes censorship, he wants us all to feel that we’re a part of a culture that accepts violence in the media, as though that somehow is responsible for the bad actions of a few.

And that’s really the heart of what’s wrong with his article.  Are there bad people in this country?  Yes.  Do some of them own guns?  Yes.  But those two facts do not permit a leap of logic to the conclusion that gun ownership is generally suspect.  If out of personal conviction, Lane decided to give up his guns, that’s his choice.  But he has no justification in claiming any moral superiority for having done so, nor does he have any moral authority in telling us that we should do the same.  Contrary to his closing sentence, we’re not doing nothing, and giving in to the demands of gun control advocates would be the wrong choice as a nation.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.