There have been a lot of links to the new New Republic recently. Apparently the magazine has a niche to fill. This article/memoir/reflection is a good example of that.
It's the reflections of a gun owner who is reasonable. He understands the need for background checks and sees no need for AR-15s in civilian hands. But he also explains - really lucidly - how gun owners feel part of a fraternity (or sorority) and how they also feel under siege.
I think there are a lot of gun owners out there like him. Apparently the vast majority of NRA members want universal background checks. This aligns nicely with Kirn's point about being a gun owner being a powerful responsibility. As he put it "It's the power the power of the gun."
But there are three things standing in the way of responsible gun owners embracing responsible gun laws.
First, the NRA is an arm of the weapons industry and fear is good for business. LaPierre's job is not to make sure more kids are killed, it's to make sure more guns are sold. And frankly, when kids get killed, more guns get sold. As violent crime in general declines but rampage shootings increase, that corresponding sense of powerlessness in the face of evil makes people want to arm themselves. Ca-ching!
Second, gun owners feel under siege and given the feelings that make them gun owners - it's a dangerous world and you're on your own - the last thing they want to be is reasonable. Again, Kirn outlines this nicely in his piece.
But the third one is the most fascinating to me. It's the apocalyptic set, sometimes called Preppers. These are people actively planning for the end of the civilization. And as Kirn points out, civilization is the antidote to these killings. But these people are anticipating the collapse of civilization.
Now, obviously, I entertain some idle thoughts about the zombie apocalypse. These are entirely idle fantasies, even further removed from reality than "What if I won Powerball?" or "What if I could go back and do college over again?" We have some bottled water and batteries in our basement. That's about it.
But there are people who morbidly and eagerly prepare for the ending of the world as we know it. They just know that they will need that AR-15 to ward off the swarthy takers who will come to rape their women and steal their MREs.
Adam Lanza's mother was a Prepper.
And that fear at the heart of the gun debate just won't be moved by reason.
Even worse are the people who think their government is somehow going to "get them". Despite the fact that no efforts to resist the government with force have ever worked - the Whiskey Rebellion, the Nullification Crisis, the Civil War, the Homestead Strike, Waco - they cling to this Red Dawn fantasy that they can take down a powerful military/police state with their personal horde of ammo.
I'd pity them if they weren't so freaking dangerous.