Monday, June 3, 2013

Putting "Gun Guys" in Perspective

One of the books that David Cole reviews in his article, "Facing the Real Gun Problem," in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books is Gun Guys: A Road Trip by Dan Baum. The portion of his review addressing this book begins with Baum's litany of stereotypes:
Newspaper editorialists called gun owners “a ridiculous minority of airheads,” “a handful of middle-age fat guys with popguns,” and “hicksville cowboys” with “macho” hang-ups. For Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post, gun guys were “bumpkins and yeehaws who like to think they are protecting their homes against imagined swarthy marauders desperate to steal their flea-bitten sofas from their rotting front porches.” Mark Morford of SF Gate called female shooters “bored, under-educated, bitter, terrified, badly dressed, pasty, hate-spewin’ suburban white women from lost Midwestern towns with names like Frankenmuth.”
However, this builds up to a punch line which really caught my attention:
It was impossible to imagine getting away with such cruel dismissals of, say, blacks or gays, yet among a certain set, backhanding gun owners was good sport, even righteous.
In other words, Baum felt it necessary to make is clear that those interested in gun control will only negotiate with gun owners once those gun owners feel they are no longer an object of discrimination that may even count for bigotry. Having endured such discrimination as a Jew (a religious upbringing I share with Baum), I appreciate his point, which we can all still observe in the intransigent stance that Israel takes toward efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. I would even go so far as to suggest that the National Rifle Association goes to great lengths to aggravate that sense of discrimination, perhaps even using the same techniques that one could find among extreme Zionists, particularly in the early days of Jewish settlement in Israel.

There is no simple solution to draw from this argument. One can only appreciate the complexity of the situation. That includes the complexity of what it will take for either side to take a first step towards closing this "discrimination gap."

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