It may interest the 4.5 daily visitors to my blog that I really cannot find any reason to oppose any of the probable gun control plans. Stunned and horrified as I am by the events in Newtown–a more profound response to which I’ve posted elsewhere–it doesn’t really factor into my reasoning. I’ve been to the other side, to gun shows and, well, Texas in general. But guns have always frightened me and I don’t think unlimited access to them, in the form they currently take, is particularly wise or even particularly conservative.
From a constitutional standpoint we’re always going to have guns in the hands of citizens, barring another constitutional amendment. “Arms” has always meant guns. The question here seems to have to do with the form weapons have taken in the past fifty years or so. We’re no longer talking about grandpa’s flintlock or the ol’ double-barrel we use for pheasant. We’re talking about perfected bullet machines of a post-industrial age. The right to bear arms in 1916 didn’t include mustard gas, thanks be to God. I’m having trouble conflating shotguns and non-automatic rifles with the .223 and glock used at Newtown.
I suppose there are honest uses for high-capacity magazines and fully automatic assault weapons, but they seem few and easily replaced. Self defense in rough neighborhoods? Um, unless you’re preparing for a zombie apocalypse, I don’t see the point in keeping anything beyond a .357. Sport? Take up archery. It’s more bad-ass since it actually requires bicep strength. Also, skeet shooting, if you actually want to be good at it, needs nothing beyond a shot or two.
The only subculture I will defend is that of honest hunting–an instinctual and historically laudable practice of human sovereignty and relation to nature that has been labeled barbarous only by the sentimentality of a post-industrial age. I’ll entertain no huffiness from those who disdain hunting as a needlessly violent and “redneck” institution only to lap up the gristle of the meat-packing industry–even those labeled with the vapid monikers created by debilitated hipster consciences: “local” or “organic–or other comparable companies that take the acquiring of food and its unfortunate necessity of taking life (yes, even vegetable life and the health of the soil) out of the hands of the consumers of that food. If hunting seems disingenuous now due to its enclosure in fenced arenas and under lawful supervision, it is because a callous, mechanized, post-industrial society prone to artificial sentimentalism has called it so. Forgive me if I don’t take the descendants of eugenicists at their word. You can take the tiger out of the jungle…
I think that any collateral damage from assault weapon bans are really only going to hit hobbyists. I will try to sympathize. I would be devastated at a board game ban. But honestly, we are a culture that is all too prone to special interests and niche markets. When you dabble in one as offensive (in the original sense of the term) as automatic assault weapons then you’ll need to know the risks going in, and also consider the source of the fetish. Why do people love automatic weapons and not, say, hang-gliding? Sure people are entitled to their own rush (we could probably safely file that 21st Century desire under the “pursuit of happiness,” even if it’s probably not what the founders originally intended) but the question should be asked: whence that “rush” and why? Is it the feeling of power? Of independence? Is this morally appropriate? Does it promote the health of communities or division and seclusion into personally defended enclaves? Furthermore, I think there’s something to be said for the efficiency of some weapons and its effect on the user. Shortened intervals between trigger pulls may very well contribute to the dissociation of mind and moral sense from behavior. We see a similar action in social media, real communication mediated by spoken language between persons is reduced to “click, click, click.” Perhaps some fetishes are not worth indulging.
Perhaps I’m missing something here, and there really is some broader threat to individual liberties and conservative values that I’m not seeing, but high capacity magazines, military grade assault rifles and glocks just don’t seem to fit in the landscape of private, honorable citizenship. That the same liberals who successfully got a quieter and more convenient form of child-murder legalized are now leading the charge on gun control is not lost on me. But I can think of little to do other than grit my teeth and join the ranks. That there has not been much proactive conservative voice–not even paleo-conservative voice–given in measured support of gun control is concerning. It simply continues the unfortunate stereotype that only progressive iconoclasts, unhinged from traditional or historical hangups get to be the ones to make sensible changes to law and promote American flourishing. It need not be so.