It may be a small point, but I think it’s a big deal. Everyone knows about the second amendment- the one that guarantees “the right to bear arms.” Only a few people seem to know, remember or care about the rest of the provision: “…the right to bear arms within a well-regulated militia.” And fewer yet know that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—one step down from the Supreme Court—determined that in our current culture, that would be the National Guard. That’s important. The amendment allows for you to bear arms if you’re in the National Guard, not, as fictional president Jed Bartlet once said, one of “three men with assault rifles in a Dodge Durango.”
Okay, we’re almost done whining about the possibly illegal proliferation of guns in America. Okay, just a couple more: when Australia experienced an uptick in the use of firearms, it outlawed gun possession at the close of the last century. The law took some time to apply effectively, but since then the shootings and use of guns in a crime have almost disappeared. I was going to say just one more, but then I couldn’t pick one from the plenitude of statistics available, so I decided against it. I’m not talking about taking any guns away.
With all the debates about gun control, and especially all the fear and rumors about taking guns away or limiting their sales, no one—and I mean no one—really believes that anyone is going to try to pass a law forbidding further gun sales to responsible adults. No one, so stop saying that! Stop thinking that. All I want to say is that there’s an important issue about guns that no one is talking about. It’s not about the results of using guns, either intentionally or by mistake, it’s the psychology of having a gun. It’s about power. Ever have a gun in your hand? I have, and what happened was I got a sudden sense of power. It was an awesome rush of adrenaline, a sense of the power I could unleash with this thing in my hand. Right there in my hand I had… power. Plain and simple. It was seductive as hell and I wanted some reason to use it right then, to fire it. I wanted to feel the awesome power of shooting a missile in whatever direction I chose. I felt sad at the lack of a reason to do that! I wanted to use it. I understand someone getting fearful when they hold a gun, but I think most of us would get that feeling of power, that fearsome surge of adrenaline that means real power. Never mind that sometimes it’s just the illusion of power, it doesn’t matter. It’s a seductive, addictive habit that no one is ever going to let go of.
Have you ever held a gun? If you’re uncomfortable about holding one for the first time it’s the same as when you use one regularly, except for one thing. What’s making you uncomfortable is the power of what you’re holding. Whatever, be it a handgun or a rifle, it’s heavy and it feels… substantial. Substantial? What does that mean? It means that what you’re holding has imbued you with an ineffable but thrilling power. It gives the holder a sense of power, and the only difference between the first-timer and the old hand is the process of sorting out what the hell is going on in your body and mind. After a while, it’s just what it is, but it’s still a rush to put a gun in your hand. Always was, always will. It’s power.
Everyone wants to feel powerful, and some actually are, but there are many, many more who are not. But when they pick up a gun, they are powerful. It has to be primal because … I just can’t see it as a learned response. It’s too deep, too… primal. There I said it.
It’s still a kill-or-be-killed world out there, even though the kill and the prey have changed. We all have responsibilities, and we all have stress about it, and having or looking forward to having a little power right there in your hand…
And yes, it’s great for home protection, although some grieving parents would argue differently, but that’s me whining again. What I mean is that even if you’re not holding it, just having it in the house gives one a sense of security. And what is security? That you having the power to protect what is yours, and that again is… primal.
In a time of such vast gaps between the wealthy and the not, it comes down to those with power and those without it. Few people have any real power in their lives, few choices, few places where they are in control of their lives. Most of have families, bosses and their attendant obligations that mean our lives our not our own. We read about the privileged few, the musicians, the tech giants, the people who run their own lives. We read about the mansions, the staffs, the flying private and the living large, and too few know these lives first-hand. We are bereft of power and when we put a gun in our hands we feel it, many for the only times in their lives. And no one is going to give that up.
Yes, sometimes it’s really about home protection and personal safety, and sometimes it’s about hunting. But we know the limitations in that arguments, even when valid, but who needs an assault rifle to hunt a deer? Who needs fifty rounds a second to hunt small or large game. How large is the game in your neck of the woods?
And that’s all I have to say about guns. They’re an addiction. It’s a shame that no one is copping to this addiction, but in calling a spade a spade, that’s what it is, and that’s why you’re going to have to pry guns from cold, dead hands.