Friday, October 09, 2015

Guns are the definition of uncool

Michael Maiello thinks he knows how to undermine gun culture:

It’s surprisingly easy to imagine a society where gun ownership is looked down upon, if not scorned outright. This already happened with smoking, at least partly as a result of a public education campaign aimed at young people, and it happened when polite society finally came down against people flying the Confederate flag after the Charleston church shootings this year. Sometimes, when legislative action is difficult or downright impossible, a cultural approach works to curtail dangerous behaviors.

In short, we can make gun ownership uncool.

This was once unthinkable when it came to cigarettes. In post-World War II America, you might have kept an ashtray in your house even if you were a non-smoker, just to accommodate guests. It's hard to imagine anyone doing that today, or even to imagine a smoker with the audacity to ask if they can light up inside. ...

It's been hard for me to imagine that young people might think that equal rights for gay people would ever be the definition of a just society -- but that's how it is for Erudite Partner's undergrads. Sometimes extreme cultural change can precede legal change, and even obviate the need for legal change to some extent. We've all seen it.

Maiello has some practical suggestions re guns:
  • Let other parents know you don't want your kids staying over if they have unlocked guns.
  • Shun adults who take kids to gun ranges, as apparently the mothers of both the Sandy Hook and Oregon shooter did.
  • Point out that mature gun owners know when not to wave heat in the middle of a confusing melee -- including one young man at the recent Oregon massacre and another who witnessed the Gabby Giffords shooting. Owning a gun requires that kind of self-restraint.
  • Push for trigger locks that prevent unauthorized people from firing and for required liability insurance. Guns are dangerous business, not toys for fantasists. The only people who benefit from resisting safety features are owners of stock in gun manufacturers.
These sorts of measures can reduce the cool factor, if not for current gun owners, for the next generation of potential buyers.
Listening to D. Watkins, author of The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America, interviewed on Fresh Air, I was reminded that, in addition to alienated rural white men, there is another set of people among us for whom the gun is a very present reality. For young men, usually of color, in neighborhoods where the drug trade thrives, guns just part of a precarious life. Here's Watkins describing how he came up:

... I had a friend - a really, really close friend - he's passed away now - but he was being bullied. He was being, you know, he was being picked on. He got beat down like three times by these same - by the same group of guys.

And these guys, they were notorious in East Baltimore. They used to roll around in packs of, like, 35 or 40. And they used to come through neighborhoods and, you know, I got beat up by them before. They used to beat us down. But, you know, my one particular friend, they beat him up, like, a couple of times - three or four times.

And the last time, he was just - you know, he couldn't take it anymore. He was frustrated. And we're, like, 12 and 13 years old around this time so one day - you know, we used to hang on this corner called Robinson Street - the corner of Robinson and Orleans Street - and we was outside, there was some girls outside, there was some people outside. And, you know, it was a regular summer night. We were having a good time. These guys bend the corner, you know, and they - so many of them. And they walking down the block, and, you know, they spot him, and they see him, and they walk up on him. And, you know, there was about 10 of us so, you know, we swelled up and just stood up. And it was like, you know, like, you know - you know, it's more of them than us but whatever, let's do this.

And, out of nowhere, you know, I - none of us expected this. We didn't even know he pulled a gun out. And he just started busting shots at the crowd. I, you know, well, he was behind me when he did it, so I felt, like, bullets pass right past my head. And, you know, I hit the deck. And he ended up shooting his cousin in the hand by mistake.

And those guys - those same guys - they didn't pick on him anymore. But that was our most, like, one of the worst situations for him because after he did that, you know, it was no looking back. He carried that gun like, you know, like that was his best friend. And it ended up being the way he died.

The gentrifying San Francisco Mission District is not immune to this sort of gun problem. We had a young man around our little church last year who was trying to leave the gang life, who was trying to make it by working a job ... and his former mates shot his girl friend dead next to him. It happens.

This kind of gun violence is not what organized gun owners and manufacturers are defending. But we have relatively good gun laws around here. Yet the thugs get the guns because there are all those other jurisdictions where rabid gun absolutists fight to make availability easy. Guns leak to where people want them.

Caging Black and brown people into neighborhoods where kids have to learn to avoid the guns -- that strikes me as the height of uncool.


Rain Trueax said...

It would also help if we tried to make young people not see violence as their first response in an argument. With the recent stabbing in Sacramento it's easy to see how using a weapon in any altercation has become acceptable and a first resource. I still see this as a problem of entertainment and our wars. We as a nation also have seen violence as a first choice by a sizable segment of our population. A lot of that comes out of our history and the only thing we can do about that is quit putting out that exceptionalism b------- and tell the true story of a lot of the greed and violence that allowed one group to run roughshod over another. For awhile though it seems we are in for it with a lot of rage running around-- stirred up by the left and the right.

Hattie said...

False equivalence. The hate is coming from the right.
What a lot of us over here on the left fail to understand is how devoted gun owners in suburbia and exurbia are to the way of life that gun ownership implies. My relatives in Boise are like that.They bond over hunting and fishing and love target practicing,male and female alike. They are thriving, outdoorsy,like themselves tremendously,consider themselves to be exemplary Americans. I can't imagine a change of heart taking place soon with them except to allow that maybe crazy people shouldn't carry weapons. My brother in law would feel castrated without all those guns in his gun closet. A friend of mine was able,though,to get her partner to get rid of his guns as a condition of living with her. This terrible sacrifice has given him kind of a hangdog air.I don't think urban blacks have that kind of love for guns.
It's probably too late. Americans love them some guns.In Australia the government confiscated all the guns. That could not work in the U.S.A.
Maybe I'll buy myself a bazooka.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Hattie: insofar as there is data, most urban black and brown people DON'T like guns at all -- they are just stuck living in neighborhoods where the drug trade means there are way too many guns and too many shootings. There is a small movement toward thinking gun ownership is okay at the moment in Black communities (and the NRA is shouting from the rooftops about it), but majorities still just want the guns away from the kids.

Here's a demographic overview.

Hattie said...

So put the Pew stats together with my anecdotal stuff and the situation is clear.

Hattie said...

Sorry for the double posting. My Kindle Fire gets the hiccups sometimes.

Rain Trueax said...

I live with guns and have all my life and have no love for them. They are a tool and a needed one as I see it. I guess we could poison coyotes who attack the sheep but that would also kill the eagles and vultures who feed on that poisoned carcass. The latest shootings on two college campuses so far look like rage out of control. What causes that? why would a wife run down her husband with a car or vice versa? Anger is rampant here and I still say it is on both sides from what I read. The question is from where does it come? what feeds it? Lately even the mass shootings have often fed off some rage perceived rightly or wrobngly

Rain Trueax said...

Incidentally, Australia did not confiscate all guns. They had a voluntary buy-back program which Portland Or tried and it did not do much. Borders are different here. What it has is tough laws for owning guns with regulations-- what our Founding Fathers wanted-- you know the well-regulated part that the right ignores.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain -- yes, I've just been traveling with Aussies. In general, they seem to think we're nuts, unable to run a country competently. They have a point, though their most recent former PM was a GWBush-style piece of work, as I pointed out.

I was surprised to see gun buy back posters in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco this summer. The police really want to reduce the hardware out there.

Hattie said...

People who want to own guns will find any excuse to keep them. They believe it's their right. The rights of people not to be threatened by guns and their owners: not so important.

Rain Trueax said...

People who want to own guns don't need an excuse nor do those who don't want to own them. It is a free country and I believe well-regulated lets those who are responsible and trained have them. My concern is when they aren't well regulated, therein lies the problem. As my husband and I were driving north, I thought a better word for justification of assault rifles is-- vigilante or mob rule. Individual vigilante law is what we are seeing where one man decides to write wrongs against society or him.

My concern over those who claim they want all guns confiscated is not that it will happen. It's that their loose words will end meaningful regulations, which is what we need!

We're on the road though the backcountry (currently Lava Beds NM which includes Captain Jack's stronghold). No electricity but shockingly a 4G network access. I am though typing on a laptop when I usually use an ergonomic keyboard and worse, my long fingernails are catching keys. Not good for writing much here; so you can see this is an important subject to me. I want regulations that would block someone like the last guy from getting a gun. I like something like I read but couldn't see where SNL with Amy took on ridiculing those who use guns poorly. My fear is nothing will be done as has happened before. Obama will try but he's got a House and Senate against him. He needs the majority of the US who will back sensible regs. As it stands, right and left beat each other up over it and nothing happens.

Rain Trueax said...

right not write lol

Anonymous said...

Most of these "mass shooters" are young men who grew up in single parent homes. The break down of the family is a HUGE part of why these kids are incapable of dealing with life and why they snap.

Other factors that need to be addressed are GUN-FREE ZONES (stupidest concept EVER), the mental health of our nation (and by mental health, I'm not talking about kids with ADHD, I'm talking about hopeless depression, sociopaths, people with diagnosed rage issues, bullying personalities, etc....), the fact that a LOT of these shooters have had a few serious infractions, or numerous minor infractions with authority figures (either authorities at their schools, or with law enforcement), and neighbors or other family members knew in advance that these people were unhinged and they did NOTHING about it.

Looking back at mass shootings since 1985, in SEVERAL cases, the shooter gave written or verbal warnings at least 24 hours in advance, that they were going to shoot people, so WHY DIDN'T THE POLICE TAKE MEASURES TO PREVENT THOSE SHOOTINGS? In MOST shootings, the shooter would pause to reload his gun, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TACKLE HIM AND STOP HIM? In most shootings, the shooter shot himself as soon as he was confronted by someone with the power to stop him. FACT: MOST OF THESE MASS SHOOTERS WENT ON SHOOTING RAMPAGES IN ORDER TO TAKE CONTROL. AS A FINAL ACT OF CONTROL, THEY WILL KILL THEMSELVES BEFORE ALLOWING SOMEONE ELSE TO KILL THEM. In most mass shootings over the years, ONE trained and armed person in the area could have prevented the mass carnage from happening. In most mass shootings, it took over 10 minutes for police to show up and at least half an hour for them to get inside and make contact with the shooter. HOW MANY LIVES WOULD HAVE BEEN SAVED HAD A TRAINED AND ARMED PERSON BEEN IN THE AREA?
(caps were not used for "screaming," but are intended to help the more relevant information to stand out more).

Last thing. Most anti-gun people seem to think pro-gun people are these rabid, gun slinging, savages who will shoot anything that comes in range, and look forward to the day when we get to actually shoot a human being, preferably a liberal.

What a ridiculous notion! I own guns. I enjoy shooting with them. I don't EVER want to have to shoot another human being. I do everything I can in order to avoid being put in a situation where I would have to shoot another human being (keep doors locked, don't go into dark alleys, avoid certain areas, etc...).

HOWEVER.... there are evil people in this world and those evil people do evil things. Evil people own guns. Evil people do NOT get their guns by legal means. Evil people look at anti-gunners and laugh at their stupidity. Anti-gun laws are worthless and do NOT prevent evil people from having guns.

I have four little girls. If you think for a minute that I'll sit back and pathetically beg and plead with one of those evil people to not hurt my babies, you're out of your freaking mind. If I can help it, those monsters will never get within 10 feet of my daughters alive.

I would never harm another human being unprovoked, but if my life, or my children's lives are in danger, I want to be able to protect our lives. I can not do that unarmed.

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