Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guns and Fear

I’ve been reading news stories, opinion columns, blogs, and reader comments about Obama’s “bitter” comment. The one where he said the hoi polloi turn to God, guns, and turn against illegal immigrants and people not like them because their jobs have disappeared.

There are many editorialists and commenters who defend Obama’s statement even when they agree that it wasn’t well said. They argue that blue collar people are economically desperate and Republicans and others try to distract them with values voting—God, guns, abortion, and gays. They point out that this is the same argument that Thomas Frank made in his book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas.”

My focus has been on the guns part of the comment. For those people who try to justify the guns part of the comment they often argue that fear is the reason people own guns. They believe these benighted citizens fear illegal immigrants, people not like them, and hold a gun like it were a security blanket. See this comment as just one example.

Of course, the people who say these things don’t understand why people like guns. I don’t “cling” to my guns because I fear anyone. In fact, for me self-defense is a by-product of owning guns.

I own guns for two primary reasons: I like shooting them and I like collecting them.

I like shooting. When I do it well, I ease into a zen-like state. I don’t worry about work or anything else. It’s just me, a gun, a target, and the need to make holes where I want them to appear. I also like other shooting “games” such as action-type shooting, skeet, trap, and just plain plinking. My shooting has nothing to do with fear. However, I will use a gun and the skills I acquire to protect myself.

My collecting has nothing to do with fear. If fear were my motivator, I might own only one shotgun, one rifle, and one handgun (or just one gun period). I would not have spent lots of money to purchase guns, house them, preserve them, and secure them. I collect because I enjoy the experience of owning, shooting, restoring, pieces of history. For instance, I can only imagine who may have used my M1Garand made in June 1944, the month and year of D-Day.

It’s the elites and too many “progressives” who don’t take the time to understand why people own guns. I may be just one person and hence one anecdote, but I bet there are many people just like me.

I don’t vote for pro-gun rights candidates because I “fear” they will take my guns, I vote for them because I know too many “progressives” actually want to do so.

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