Among the arguments made by gun control advocates are to be found examples that are mean-spirited or just plain silly, but one I came across recently is the most inane I’ve seen in a good long while—and that’s saying something. Salon.com writer D. Watkins has a proposal for those of us who wish to exercise gun rights: “Want a gun? Take a bullet: Take this, gutless NRA cowards — you can have a gun, once you understand the pain of being shot.”
Watkins has an interesting history. He started college, dropped out to sell drugs, returned to a different college five years later, and now teaches writing and expounds his ideas to the reading public. Given his personal story, he may have escaped being someone prohibited from owning firearms only by chance. But he uses his experience to bring himself to his latest proposal regarding guns.
Yes, in fact, his article does say that in his scheme, if you want to own a gun, you have to be shot to qualify. We’re told that if this were the law of the land, mass shootings would stop. Of course, he leaves out the detail of how he would round up all the guns currently in circulation and seal the borders to keep new ones from being smuggled in. Later in the essay, he perhaps clarifies that he’s talking to those who find that guns “make you feel safe,” and who “hold and cuddle with them at night.” Somehow, though, his attitude doesn’t encourage me to trust his intentions.
This is illustrated by his questions, midway down the page, that “Other than giving a coward the heart to stand tall, what’s the positive part of gun ownership? Other than the people in rural areas who use them to hunt for food, I have only seen them destroy, both in the suburbs and in our inner cities.”
There’s the hunting cliché again. If you have grandpa’s bolt-action deer rifle, you’re one of those unregenerate rednecks who doesn’t get his food wrapped in plastic in a grocery store, but at least you aren’t a wandering menace on the streets of urban America with a frightening “automatic.”
This trite idea is plain tedious by this point. It’s nothing but an attempt to divide gun owners against each other until we’ve ended up in the situation found in Australia in which you may own a gun only in narrow and approved circumstances such as the need to protect livestock from wild animals. Fortunately, we American gun owners have learned the lesson taught to us by the Assault Weapons Ban from the Clinton presidency and following gun control measures that we stand together, or we suffer our rights violated separately.
But is hunting the only positive—by which I presume he means good—part of gun ownership? Perhaps he hasn’t seen the report of the CDC in 2013 that finds that several hundred thousand of us defend our lives each year with a firearm. Perhaps he doesn’t regard competitions such as IDPA matches or the like to be genuine sports worthy of the time needed to acquire the skill. Perhaps he doesn’t understand why someone would appreciate the history and design of firearms as seen by collectors.
Or perhaps his hatred for us is exposed and summed up in this paragraph:
Gun praisers are just like the people who were in favor of slavery back in the day–the elite, lazy and ignorant who weren’t being beaten, raped or in the field doing the work, so they were perfectly okay with involuntary servitude, which is a problem and why I think gun owners need to feel more–they need a taste of the other side.
Just like his remark about hunting, this is the feeling that I get from a lot of advocates of gun control that we gun owners are a bunch of racist and heartless persons of privilege who need to experience the “real world,” whatever that may mean to the particular person saying it.
And it’s this point that I reject entirely. As I said in my article about the big tent of gun ownership, the exercise of gun rights isn’t exclusively something that old white men do. Speaking for myself and I hope for firearms owners generally, I see this one right in the context of all rights. I support the truly equal treatment under the law of all races because it’s fair and because I want the group I belong to treated in a just manner when demographics shift as they inevitably do over the course of history. I want all of us to have the ability to make choices about our own lives because it’s the right thing to do and because that’s the best way to protect my freedom to choose. I abhor the idea of slavery, and Watkins could not be more wrong if he believes that my support of one right means that I would deny another right, namely of personal liberty, to others.
Given the tone of his article, I doubt he cares to learn the truth. Still, this reply to his article is here if he’s willing to read it.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.