Per the TTA Skype call last night: Guns
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25-01-2013, 03:07 PM
RE: Per the TTA Skype call last night: Guns
I wasn’t part of the Skype session, but I was interested to see a thread on the cultural, rather than the political/legal, aspects of guns in the U.S. So let me add the perspective of someone who’s just about as far to one end of the gun spectrum as it’s possible to be.

Guns are foreign objects to me. I have literally never touched a gun in my life, much less shot one. No one in my family had or has a gun (as far as I know). I grew up in New York City and now live in Los Angeles, in relatively safe neighborhoods. Not one person among my friends or neighbors (again, as far as I know) had or has a gun. I didn’t have toy guns when I was a kid—never played Cowboys and Indians. I wasn’t in the military. And I don’t play video games.

For me, guns are ugly, even loathsome, objects. Unlike knives, the sole purpose of a gun is to kill. I see nothing attractive in that. The idea of collecting guns leaves me scratching my head. I would no sooner collect guns than I would collect guillotines or electric chairs.

Nor do I get the hunting thing. I’m not taking a moral position against killing animals; I’m a big meat-eater. It’s the “fun” aspect I don’t get. Some people obviously get a big kick out of going out into the woods and killing quail and ducks and deer and whatever else is legal to shoot. I will never be able to understand why anyone in their right mind finds that enjoyable.

All of that being said, I realize that those are my personal feelings, based partly on my experience and upbringing and partly on my emotional make-up, and that I don’t have the right to impose my beliefs on anyone else.

But I’m not the only one who feels this way. The gun-positive and gun-negative factions in the U.S. are so polarized, it’s as if we come from different planets, where we can’t even begin to communicate with each other. Par for the course in 21st-century America, of course—abortion, gay marriage, religion, taxation, role of government . . . it’s like two different, hostile countries super-imposed on each other. Compromise won’t be easy.

Just one more thing on the cultural aspect of guns that I don’t see discussed very often: the idea of guns as a rite of passage to manhood and a doorway to masculinity.

Take a look at this Huff Post article published shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre:

It shows an ad by Bushmaster for a semi-automatic rifle, part of a two-year campaign they apparently discontinued after the massacre, with the tag line “CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD REISSUED.” You can find out more about the campaign in the article. The point is that such guns are being marketed as ways of proving you’re a man. (Corvettes as penile extensions are a lot more expensive, I guess.) Skinny, outsider teens who have been bullied and ridiculed by their peers are seduced into believing that owning a big gun will make them into the men they want to be—because, after all, real men are physical and violent and shoot things up. I haven’t seen psychological studies of the Columbine, Aurora, and Newtown assassins, but I’d be surprised if these young men weren’t influenced by the “guns make you a man” culture prevalent in the U.S.

From the Huff Post article:

Quote: In a press release for his 2008 book on the subject of hypermasculinity and violence, UCLA professor of education Douglas Kellner said: "The school shooters and domestic terrorists examined in this book all exhibit male rage, attempt to resolve a crisis of masculinity through violent behavior, demonstrate a fetish for guns or weapons, and represent, in general, a situation of guys and guns amok."

Food for thought.
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RE: Per the TTA Skype call last night: Guns - cufflink - 25-01-2013 03:07 PM
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