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  1. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Gun control ...then and now

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by jannert, Apr 23, 2018.

    I don't normally enter the Debate Room, and don't start threads here. But I was thinking the other day, reading all the hee haw surrounding the gun control (in the USA) offerings on Facebook and elsewhere. And thinking 'what has changed?'

    I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan (born in 1949) where most families had guns for hunting purposes, including mine. My dad had a deer rifle (deer hunting once a year was a sport he looked forward to) and various small arms for bird and small game hunting. He did not have a handgun of any kind, nor did anybody else I knew outside of the police.

    We were taught that guns were dangerous. I was taught to shoot clay pigeons and used to accompany my dad on his small game hunting trips ...duck, rabbit, etc. We ate the meat. My dad had two sayings about guns that stuck with me.

    One: a gun is always loaded.

    Two: never point a gun at anything you don't intend to shoot.

    He was incredibly safety conscious. He did not keep his guns locked up, however, because it would never have entered our heads to go and fool around with them.

    We played cowboys with play guns. We all wanted a cowboy/girl suit to play in, that included a set of 'six shooters.' We had a target with a gun that shot rubber-tipped bolts, and played with that. We had squirt guns, cap guns, etc. We understood that these were make-believe items. The same as a plastic sword was a make-believe item. We didn't want real ones when we grew up. TV shows and movies routinely showed characters with guns and shooting other characters with guns. However, we seemed to be able to separate reality from make-believe when we watched these shows.

    Criminals had guns, of course. Violent criminals always arm themselves with something—and always have done. The Mafia had/has guns. Robbers had/have guns. Bad guys had/have guns. And yet ...our town was quite peaceful. I only remember one gun murder the 24 years I lived there, and it was never solved. There were hunting accidents I'd heard about, and some people became really stupid during hunting season ...getting drunk and making 'noise shots' at underbrush, etc. But this was a huge exception, and was down to carelessness, not intention.

    We played in the streets, even after dark, left our doors unlocked unless we were away from the house overnight, we kept our windows open at night during the summer. The biggest threat to our safety was getting hit by a car on busy streets.

    We never had a school shooting, nor did any other town I ever remember hearing about. The worst danger at school would have been fire, for which we had numerous drills so we'd know what to do.

    So ...what has changed? Why is it suddenly 'necessary' for people to have handguns and carry them everywhere? Why do people need to own weapons that can shoot umpteen bullets in a matter of seconds? Why are people entering schools with weapons designed for modern warfare, and mowing down teachers and pupils? And what's more ...why is such a large segment of the population determined to allow this to keep happening?

    What/when did this happen? I left the USA for Scotland in 1986, and I don't remember this mentality at all. It seems to have happened since I left—including the incident last month that ended up closing my old primary school for the day, and the guy with the gun escaping down my old street in town. (Thankfully nobody was injured, but the guy is still at large, and still probably a threat.)

    I'm just curious. What has changed? Whatever it is, it's certainly changed fast.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  2. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    It would take hours to answer that question completely, but I'll toss this out there: one thing that has changed is that we now have news coverage 24/7 on TV and the Internet, and a large number of dead kids is very good for ratings/clicks. Most of the school/church/workplace shooters number narcissism among their mental illnesses and do what they do, in part, for the notoriety. I'm convinced that, if the media simply refused to publicize these incidents, they would end in short order.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I have no doubt that's certainly part of it. We're a copycat society aren't we?
     
  4. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributor Contributor

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    First of all, I appreciate the post, @jannert. Our upbringings, though I'm younger than you, are not dissimilar. I've been shooting guns since before I knew how to ride a bike, I played with all the same toys as you (we had riotous fun with our cap guns), and I was even taught the same two rules (verbatim) for firearm safety your dad taught you. I grew up with loaded guns in the house. Like you said, it never entered my mind to use one irresponsibly, let alone with evil intent. I'm a part of what some people refer to as "gun culture," and I always have been.

    To answer your questions:

    Two things:
    1) I don't know that this is "suddenly" a new thing. I think it's largely a result of where you live and what you do for a living. For example, I know farmers who always carry a gun because they shoot pests on the farm. It's just a natural thing to also bring their guns into town since their guns are always with them anyway. I've only visited, but the stereotype about Texas, to use another example, is that cowboy culture never really died out. It's certainly not the norm, but it also wasn't exactly a rarity to see people wearing ten-gallon hats and six-guns on their belts when I vacationed there.

    2) It isn't "necessary" to carry a gun most places most of the time, but consider all the other things we do and carry with us when we're out that aren't "necessary." Talking about guns in terms of "need" and "necessity" isn't the right approach.

    A few things here as well. People CAN'T own machineguns (not easily, anyway), and the other guns that are generally thought of as ones that spew tons of bullets very quickly aren't fundamentally any different than the semi-automatic rifles people owned in your Michigan community when you were a kid, whether or not you were aware of it. In fact, the public had access to more dangerous weapons in the 1920s than they do right now, despite what you might read online. It was possible to purchase a Thompson (the "Tommy gun" you've probably seen in gangster movies) via mail order! And again with the "need," which is my personal pet peeve. Why does "need" enter the picture at all? I can't think of a single other popular item in America we crinkle our noses at and say "Well, nobody NEEDS one of those." Nobody needs a sports car. Or a speed boat. Or cigarettes. Or alcoholic beverages. Or a deep fryer. Or a drone. These things all have uses of various importance, as does a firearm.

    They are NOT wielding weapons designed for modern warfare. That's another misconception that is totally untrue. Why we've seen a rise in the frequency of school shootings over the last ~40 years or so is an interesting question, though. To @Earp's point. the media glamorization of mass violence is certainly part of the issue. Media contagion is an observable thing. I'm aware of at least one shooter who explicitly expressed his desire to be immortalized via media coverage. Americans are also under the impression that violent crime is higher than it was 20 years ago, when in fact violent crime is much lower than it was 20 years ago. News media at its finest.

    I'm not sure what you mean. Nobody wants mass shootings to continue to happen, regardless of how they feel about guns. The battle between those in favor of gun control and those against is about other things. Namely, why the law-abiding--which is 99% or more of us gun owners--should be penalized for the actions of a deranged few, and what the best way to stop mass violence is.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    This certainly didn't happen when I was living in the USA 30plus years ago. I never saw ANYBODY openly carrying any kind of gun around outwith hunting season, unless they were a cop.

    This is macho posing. 'Gun as fashion accessory.' However, these are real weapons, and with them being on show all the time, in inappropriate places like grocery stores and your local cafe or fast food outlet, I'm sure the urge to use them is much more common than it used to be. Back when they weren't in your face and on show all the time.

    However, if that's what Americans want these days, fair enough. I'm just glad I'm no longer an American. People ask me ...wouldn't you like to go back someday? I say 'but why...?'
    https://www.google.com/search?q=gun+carrying+shoppers+photos&client=firefox-b&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=RizGOOlUXfA1sM%3A%2CjO9LMF8vlOQNFM%2C_&usg=__FJZr32J6XS45EsuLUpN3ZhCRT3s=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihzJLS-9naAhVNZ8AKHdZgBtkQ9QEIMDAA#imgrc=Kz6dSny7R_6MMM:
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  6. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributor Contributor

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    Open carry is dumb for a number of reasons, and the people who open carry AR-15s are generally making a calculated political statement, but I don't understand why that would affect "the urge to use them." Like, do you mean for murder? To open carry a firearm, people usually need to get a permit (not in Vermont, though, and probably not in a few other states), and to get a permit one's record need be squeaky clean. That's why, statistically, concealed carry permit holders are one of the most law-abiding demographics in the entire country.

    It is true that concealed/open carry is rising in popularity, which is, I am sure, part of why you didn't see people carrying guns 30 years ago, but it's also probably the case that people were doing it and you just weren't aware. And as long as we're just going by anecdotal personal experiences, I can tell you that I have personally never seen anyone carrying a long gun (rifle, shotgun, etc.) in public like the people in those photos, and I live in a rural-ish, pro-gun community.
     
  7. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributor Contributor

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    I dunno...in addition to the fact that the public has a right to know what's going on, I don't think the publicity can be that much of a motive. Maybe it's part of it, for some people, but it seems like all these spree killers start with a grievance of some kind and think violence is the only way to address it. The guy who just ran over a bunch of people in Canada was upset because women wouldn't date him, and so on.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    The car killing thing is new as well—and a bit harder to control, as cars aren't normally used as weapons. However, there are moves afoot to introduce control. For example, a fair number of these killers rent the vehicles they use. It's now becoming standard in the UK and the EU to vet people who rent vehicles a lot more thoroughly than they used to do. Criminal background checks, etc. Careful assessment by the people who rent them out of what the vehicle is intended to be used for. It's not rocket science. Yes, people who are motivated to do mass killings because they see other people doing mass killings and have some grievance (there is quite a copycat nature to these particular incidents) will continue to try to do it—at least as long as it's fashionable and in the news all the time. But we can try to thwart them.

    Glasgow airport terminal lobby was attacked by two car bombers some years ago ...thankfully the only people who died was one of the bombers himself when the car went on fire instead of blowing up the building. (Actually, he died later in hospital from the burns he received. The bomber who tried to escape was captured by a baggage handler, who was unarmed.) However, the Glasgow airport terminal building has bollards in front of it all along its length, and people aren't allowed to drive cars up to the building any more. Something was done. So far, nothing more has happened along those lines. That was in 2007.

    What's bothersome about the school shootings is that nothing is really being done to stop the killers getting these kinds of weapons. So it goes on. Surely thorough background checks and obligatory training for people who buy guns, similar to checks and training for other kinds of licences—driver's licenses, for example—and a ban on the kind of weapons NOBODY needs to have in civilian life—would make a difference.

    I'd also be in favour of repealing open carry laws and getting them back to where they were in most places when I was growing up. It might not work ...but then again, it might help to put the issue to bed. Worth a try.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  9. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributor Contributor

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    I guarantee you open carry was legal when you were growing up. People who obtain licenses to carry weapons aren't the problem, anyway.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    It might have been legal—I haven't checked the statistics for pre-1986 gun carry laws in Michigan—but it didn't happen, Dr M. That's my point, really. What has changed? Something certainly has.

    I grew up in a part of the country where nearly every male was a 'hunter' and owned a hunting firearm of some kind—and bought a yearly license to hunt (or fish.) I never saw these weapons, EXCEPT during hunting season. And even then, only on hunting trips. Certainly not walking around in grocery stores, etc. I honestly have never seen a handgun except on a policeman ...to this day.
     
  11. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributor Contributor

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    No, I get what you're saying. I'm just adding two things: First, I feel comfortable speaking for Eastern Iowa, Central Minnesota, and Southwestern Wisconsin when I say that open carry still isn't a thing. It's legal, yes, but people don't do it, at least not where I've lived. In my life, not counting the gun store, the shooting range, or hunting, I've seen one person open-carrying in the Midwest. He had a handgun on his belt, and that was in Iowa in 2013. I am sure you are correct in saying that more people are open-carrying firearms now than in 1986, but I am adding the caveat that it's still such a minute segment of the population that it's been years since I've seen it, and I'm no shut-in. Maybe things are different in Texas or Wyoming, but the Midwest I live in is the same as the Midwest you lived in. It doesn't happen.

    The second thing I'm adding, or rather, I am asking, is why you're concerned about people carrying weapons out in the open. I get that it might be uncomfortable for someone who has never been around guns or has been taught by the evening news that an AR-15 is a fully-automatic death machine (not a dig at you personally, I promise), but statistically, as I mentioned a couple posts ago, people who open and concealed carry firearms legally are less likely to commit crimes than just about any other demographic of people. What's your concern?
     
  12. katina

    katina Senior Member

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    Control is not the answer getting rid of it IS.
     

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