For a while now JMM has been on a tear trying to bump up traffic by printing "thoughtful" pieces by his readers. I've been almost uniformly unimpressed. His essay on his thoughts on the "tribe" of gun people which was a similar form of trolling cum log rolling was tediously self absorbed and it was followed by more touchingly self absorbed faux sociology and philosophy of the imaginary divide between gun owners and gun-not-owners. To me the whole exercise reeks of the eternal attempts of religious people to lecture atheists on what atheism is or is not. Or heterosexuals who only use the missionary position lecturing gays and lesbians on how they "just don't understand."
No, really, we get it: you see atheists, gays, and lesbians grow up in a world saturated with images, ideas, and the facts on the ground generated by our imaginary "opposites." Speaking as an atheistical Jew, for example, I don't "not get" Christianity--I've been soaking in it for about 2000 years. I am deeply conversant with the knotty ins and outs of its theology and I even grew up eating Fish on Fridays since I was living in a State that made that accommodation for our many Catholic neighbors. I've been to more Christian weddings and funerals than I have to Jewish ones. I've studied more Christian theology in school than I have Jewish. And as for lesbians and gays not "getting" what heterosex is like most of the lesbian women I know passed through a period of intense self doubt and dated extensively so, yeah, they probably "get it."
Comes now one of Josh's pets--not one of his correspondents from foreign lands like the Midwest but a cherry picked "thoughtful" essay on a topic "we" are presumed not to understand--the phenomenology of emotion attached to guns.
Growing up around guns and owning them as an adult affords a person memories and experiences that strangers to guns may have trouble understanding. The divide is phenomenological, not political (or not political until it gets to be), like the gulf between those who’ve had sex and those who haven’t or those who smoke and those who’ve never lit up. Pulling a trigger and being prepared to do so cuts patterns in the self. Depending on the nature of your social life, which time around guns can shape and color in ways that I’ll describe, you might forget that these patterns are even there, because you’re surrounded by people who share them—until someone or some even challenges you to answer for your thinking.Oh, no, honey. Let me break it to you--I am not afraid of guns or of triggers. I'm also not afraid of mice or any other little story you guys tell yourselves about women, or people in cities, or liberals, or people who never owned a gun. I'm afraid of people--I'm afraid of people that I know exist in this world. People who are variously careful, careless, stupid, ill informed, angry, short tempered, lacking in foresight, paranoid, living in close proximity to relatives and friends who may be all of those things, raising children who may be all of those things--people who forget their keys and where they put their rifle, people who punch the walls when they get excited and may pull the trigger under the same impulse, people who leave their guns out where toddlers can grab them and kill themselves.
People are unreliable and people who own guns have something very serious and powerful with which to play out their personal dramas: job loss, old age, dementia, divorce, adolescent angst, quarrels with neighbors.
This is not really that hard to understand. There aren't two kinds of people in the world: people who have fond memories of dad and huntin' in the back forty and the rest of us "know nothings," gun owners and non gun owners. There are simply people who acknowledge that on balance people are not reliable 100 percent of the time--they are not in control of their own emotions, let alone of the circumstances in which they may find themselves. We have to legislate for the safety of the majority, not for the pleasure of the minority.
We routinely control, as a society, many things that give people pleasure--drugs, sex, property use--hell, you can't even burn leaves in my town--because in society one person's pleasure may lead to another person's harm. If you want to make a Second Amendment absolutist argument be my guest--but if you want to make in on the grounds that your hazy memories of feeling safe pulling the trigger with daddy gives your gun ownership primacy over my hazy memories of being able to drop my kindergartners off for school well, fuck you, you don't get to make that argument without some pushback. We get it, we get it, but we don't respect it.