Civilian Guns: A Peculiar Feature in American Mentality
According to some believable sources, nearly half of all civilian guns in the entire world are in America, which inspires to look at it as a world phenomenon, if not something at least odd in the mentality of the American folks. As a matter of fact, out of 195 countries on this planet only in three of them are civilians granted constitutional permit for firearms---the US, Mexico and Guatemala.
Something may instantly appear as a strong argument against the popular explanation for that peculiar massive armament---like somehow "protecting them from possible domestic or foreign oppression".
Really? For, we are not hearing from the global news anything about those gun-less westernized societies suffering from any form of oppression. Now, truth be told, "oppression" is actually a little tricky word, because it's not any secret in most of the so called "free world" that democracies are merely a "tranquilizing" front behind which those richest and their political puppets are doing whatever they please.
So, we could talk about different forms of "oppression", which would raise the question pertinent to our topic at hand---how do you figure that handguns would be a match to the force of a hypothetical oppressive, even fascistic rule, if it ever came to that need to defend yourselves from it?
Let's see, what would be the strategy? The scenario that comes to mind is a sort of pathetically humorous---a bunch of overweight dads and grandpas with their pistols against the "mightiest military in the world". Of course, again, we are talking about hypotheticals, and yet, they have their realistic note in people's explanations for why they buy guns.
O.K., so that would be only a part of the boogieman story, but there is more to it, as we are about to see.
Sparta the Greatest
What next comes to mind is the old adage---not necessarily universally correct: "Like father like son". Playing with symbolisms a little, why not see "father" as a Big Daddy the government, and "son" as Us-the-People.
Well, whether it has become obvious by now or not, but for quite a number of years, say rather some decades, America has been turning into a modern day Sparta---a warring nation. Sorry folks, I don't really mean you-the-people, but the Big Daddy.
However, before we start drawing some saintly glowing circles around your heads, we can't deny that the Big Daddy's image somehow affects the Kids. I think that's why the ancient Spartans kept their arms at home in a constant state of readiness---their kings inventing all kinds of "sinister forces conspiring to kick their proud asses".
Of course, paranoia was strong enough to overshadow the fact of the kings' ambitions to spread their influence and to fill their royal sacks with gold pieces. Can you make a little conversion in your head by seeing a black, sticky liquid instead of the yellow metallic crap?
O.K., you don't have to thank me for a little lecture in ancient history, which---after all so reminds of these present political times that we can only say it along with that smart dude:
"History only teaches us one thing---that it has never taught us anything".
Killing Season Never Stops
And it could all be quite funny if it was not so sad. For, there we go bombing the crap out of those Middle East folks, and then we call them "terrorists" when they dare to retaliate by killing a few of our own innocent people. So the paranoia perpetuates itself by its prophecy being fulfilled with each side "getting even" in a never ending lunacy.
What do we do about it---We-the-People? What else, we arm ourselves, and as the paranoia rises, handguns are not enough, assault rifles with scopes are so much more promising to protect us from that Eastern Evil. Hey, that super-paranoid militia even purchases those M-16s and tanks from the military surplus. NOW they are really safe, naïve bastards!
As for the rest of them armed folks, some of those trigger fingers get over-itchy, so every now and then we hear about a deranged individual slaughtering some school kids, movie-goers, church-goers, concert attenders, bar guests...well, does it really matter who gets to be the target when someone goes nuts?
And, as if that was not enough, those nasty accidents happen---kids find guns in the house, and they kill their siblings, parents, friends, themselves...again, does it really matter who gets to be the target when a pre-school kid has a gun in his hands? That for no other reason but---because the gun was right there and available as a toy.
Another Emotional Crutch to Lean On?
Now, there are those things that we want to buy which we don't use very often, but they'd better be around for "just in case". Like, it's O.K. to buy a plunger, for "just in case" that toilet can't accommodate a big family that's full of it. Or a flashlight, for "just in case" of an electrical storm hitting a nearby transformer.
But, "just in case" of what do we buy a gun? Who are we kidding anyway? Most of those who would potentially be after our ass are almost as a rule more experienced and proficient at attacking than the most of us are experienced and proficient at defending.
Indeed, as statistics are showing, even a skinny kid can seriously hurt you if desperate for his drug money. And that gun on top of your closet will help you just like your wife's old hat that's covering it from the eyes of kids.
I am not kidding either. I don't read about any instances where someone's gun came handy in all those cases of muggings, rapes, home invasions, forced entries, molestations, dog attacks...you name it.
Maybe we should address it as a mental defense mechanism at work---along with smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, over-eating...that kind of stuff, because the possession of a gun gives us that extra sense of security, or readiness to face the world.
Indeed, stresses of life can be overwhelming. Some experiments with rats that were placed in an overcrowded environment showed them displaying massive symptoms ranging from discomfort to arrogance. So, every little emotional crutch helps when we have to face again our boss, traffic, or our mother-in-law.
Then, on top of this already over-demanding life that's throwing us daily in the den with lions, we get inspired by our governments to go for that heightened sense of power---so we buy guns, rifles, what's next, just to feel safer, and somehow "powerful".
How About Some Deep Breathing Instead?
During my frequent walks at huge malls I entertain myself casually observing faces. O.K., if a young and good looking chick passes by, I may not stay at the face---you know, at this age of 73 I have to replenish my testosterone, and any inspiration helps.
But then, not every of those faces will raise my testosterone levels. Not because some folks are downright ugly, but because many of them have that facial expression of a tight "readiness for the worst".
Honest to goodness, they look like life has been doing nothing to them but continually hitting them from all sides, so that the very presence of the crowd feels like life-threatening.
That would include those macho-types with stern faces which you just can't imagine smiling---like the whole life is a battlefield and they have to win one battle at a time, still sweating from the last one.
I have just described---although in a caricature form those folks who need guns. Hey, dudes, we were not born with a tattooed guarantee on our little asses for our life-long safety. Just about anything or anyone can do it to you, from a microscopic bug to a tractor trailer humping your little Toyota on a freeway.
What kind of life is it anyway to constantly be in a state of readiness? Ever heard about something like letting go, about dropping your guards, about stress management?
You don't have to believe me---and somehow I don't think you are quite ready to---but a little habit of a deep and regular belly breathing can do more for your sense of security than that gun. And by the way, that Magnum doesn't make you "more of a man" than a water pistol would.
Recently, at our last visit to our Californian family someone displeased with my calm and relaxed reading a book in psychology said: "You know, I am not a psychologist, I am John Wayne with guns". Well, he is also a fellow whose chronic self-inflicted stresses were probably contributing to the cancer that he luckily beat.
To Each Their Own
Certain kinds of articles need something that would sound like a disclaimer, and to some eyes this could be one of them.
So, for my finishing words, let me assure you that I have absolutely nothing against the American folks. Actually, I find them quite nice and interesting people---just with a peculiar mentality when it comes to this obsession with guns.
Since I am not a normative dude, I don't really care what others choose for themselves, because nobody really needs my approval and blessing for their choices. Just like I don't need theirs.
At this point I would really like some of those gun owners to use the comment space below and educate me about their need to have a gun. Of course, I don't mean jewelry stores owners, or anyone who for any rational reason is a potential target of a violent attack.
I mean those ordinary folks running a normal clean life, not attending night clubs or living in bad neighborhoods---why they opt for having a gun. I need that explanation to maybe correct my present view, or maybe to reaffirm it.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Vladimir Karas