I got to thinking today about people who want to ban guns. These thoughts reminded me of our second blog post in which I described categories of gun owners.
It might be useful to categorize gun banners too. I tend to think in terms of categories since I categorize information as part of my job. I based my gun-banner categories on motives for wishing to ban all or certain guns. Let’s see what we get when we try to identify groups of gun haters.
True Hoplophobes fear guns unreasonably. They’ve probably never touched a gun. They believe that a gun can go off if they look at it funny, and feel that a gun turns a person into a Neanderthalic killer. Hoplophobes may give money to anti-gun organization and are willing to vote our rights away, but few are not leaders in anti-gun organizations. In fact, most tend to ignore the entire subject. However, if you marry one he or she will make you get rid of your guns.
Pacifists hate guns since they’re made to kill. They don’t necessarily fear guns, they just don’t understand why anyone could own or like to shoot firearms. They don’t recognize any sporting uses for guns, even hunting is bad since people kill Bambi. They believe self-defense is wrong since you might hurt or kill your fellow man. For them, it’s better to turn the other cheek or “be like Gandhi.” Many of them have religious (Christian or Eastern) motivations or are ex-hippies. They won’t rest until they convert all of us to their way of thinking. The editorial writers of the Christian Science Monitor are good examples.
Legal Eagles believe that if they pass enough laws they will end gun violence. Because they are law-abiding themselves, they tend to explain criminal behavior with poverty or a bad childhood rather than accepting a person might choose a life of crime. They blame Chicago’s and Washington, D.C.’s gun violence on other states like Virginia that haven’t reduced gun availability. They are confounded by reports that handgun crime has increased in England despite banning almost everything that even looks like a handgun. Senator Charles Schumer is one example.
Victims have actually survived gun violence themselves or someone close to them was maimed or killed with a gun. They ally themselves closely with Legal Eagles especially, but build bridges with anyone who can help their cause. The want to make sure that no other parent or spouse will ever feel the grief of gun violence. They are the speakers at Million Mom March rallies and include notable gun banners such as Sarah Brady and Carolyn McCarthy.
Opportunists are primarily politicians or “celebrities” who see gun banning as a cause that will help their popularity. They read polls that convinced them that most Americans want gun control. They don’t study the polls close enough to see that public opinion on guns is a mixed bag. For instance, a 2002 ABC News poll states that 73% of Americans believe the Second Amendment guarantees individual rights to guns, but 57% favor more gun control. People want to end gun violence, but they don’t want to end gun ownership at least not totally. Bill Clinton and most of Hollywood belongs here.
Elitists believe that gun ownership is fine for them and their "kind." They stereotype gun owners who haven’t attended the correct schools as troglodytes and rednecks. Elitists own guns, but lean toward fine shotguns and collector pieces. John Kerry is an example.
Statists can be from any walk of life, but politicians pose the most danger to us. Similar to Elitists, they believe that only certain people should have guns, but would limit gun ownership to the military or police. (Kerry could be in this group since he said if you wanted to own “assault weapons” you should join the military; however I think he has no problems with fine guns being in the hands of “his kind of people.”) They believe most Americans are too violent to be trusted with gun ownership. Al Gore belongs with these people.
There is cross-pollination between these categories. For instance, to win arguments a pacifist might borrow language from statists, but I believe most gun banners come to their beliefs through one primary motive. There may be other categories I haven’t identified, but I think my list is a good start.
Once we identify categories of gun-banners we still need to figure out how to convince individuals in each group to change their gun banning ways or how to neutralize their arguments. That will be in my next post.
06/06/05: I wrote the companion to this piece. Click here to read it.