Why does "gun culture" have to be a culture?

When I was a freshman at Boston University in the 90s, one of the guys on our dorm floor was the dorm’s token Republican—you know, That Guy who worships the Rat Pack and likes to argue politics with all the hippies and hipsters. This guy was smart enough to out-debate most of us on most issues, and he had a dark sense of humor. When December arrived, he bought a couple strings of Christmas lights and put them in his window, spelling three letters for all of Nickerson Field to see: NRA.

At the time I found the stunt amusing, but in the wake of this morning’s tragic school shooting in Connecticut, the image of that window came back to me like a vision from a terrible dream. On Twitter and Facebook, my liberal friends have been preemptively dismissing the arguments they’ve learned to expect from the NRA and its supporters in the wake of such events: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Guns keep us safe.

Did that guy in my dorm genuinely believe that gun control laws were a bad idea? Maybe, but from his side of the political spectrum, there was hardly a possibility that he wouldn’tsupport the NRA’s pro-gun policies. He was (and, I presume, still is) a Republican. Republicans are against gun control. It’s part of the package. For that guy to put “NRA” in his window was only a slightly more provocative version of spelling “GOP.”

That was at the height of the Culture Wars, during which the right tried to tie political orientation to a set of “values,” to an entire lifestyle that was positioned in opposition to that of decadent liberals. I recently wrote hopefully about the end of the Culture Wars, and we can fervently hope that gun control will now become one of those issues—like women’s rights, like immigration—that ceases to be a wedge issue between the parties. We can hope that Americans from both sides of the red-blue divide will realize that sane gun control laws save lives, and that knee-jerk opposition to gun control in the name of abstract principles—or a misinterpreted constitutional amendment—is a deadly dangerous game to play.

There’s an awkward fact I’ve been skirting: that pro-NRA guy wasn’t just another guy, he became one of my close friends in college. The following year, along with a couple of other friends, he became one of my roommates. The rest of us never came around to his political views, but we liked him as a person. He was a good friend, and though I haven’t seen him in years, I hope he’s doing well. I hope he’s reexamined his views on gun control, and I wish our political culture would make it easier for all the other conservatives in this country to do so without being made to feel like they’re somehow betraying our country’s soul. If you have a soul, how can you consider this morning’s events and decide that what this country needs is more guns?


Originally published in The Tangential

  • White males are a group that feels very isolated and they are losing their economic position and today they are losing - by Roger Ricketts on Sat, 12/15/2012 - 5:05pm

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Jay Gabler's picture
Jay Gabler

Jay Gabler (@JayGabler) is a digital producer at The Current and Classical MPR.

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This is insane!!! You people

This is insane!!! You people want a the government to take guns but you either completely ignore or are unaware of the fact government is hardly the answer. Government can't even manage to balance its own check book and refrain from over spending what it takes in. It then offers no viable solutions in cutting spending and our disturbing amounts of debt and the only thing it offers to address the issue is "Higher Taxes" and "More Spending" So that is check one of governments failures. Now for the real kicker is our own government schemed up some horrid policy where it thought it would litearally "ALLOW" about two Thousand military grade guns fall into the hands of the most dangerous of criminals "The Cartel" and as a result a border patrol agent and unknown scores of hundreds of Mexican citizens have died as a result of these guns that our own government allowed to fall into the Cartels hands. The government managed to get back a whopping......500 guns which means at least 1400 of these guns are still in the hands of the Cartel. So our government can't manage its check book and keep us out of debt inspite of all the money it brings in and it can't keep guns out of the hands of criminals. What happened at that school is horrible but where were you people when Fast and Furious broke!?!?!?!?! Please tell me. You then attempt to try and belittle or even demonize entire groups of people as if they had anything to do with what happened at that school. And lest I need to remind you that our 2nd amendments has little to nothing to do with Hunting or Sports Shooting as you people try and claim. It is to allow the citizens to be the ultimate form of "Checks and Balance" against the government incase it ever gets out of hand and even potentially Tyrranical. Can you honestly tell me that you know for a fact that will never happen??? Of course you can't and if the citizens are disarmed it makes it all the more easier for the government to oppress the citizens and our armed citzenry has also been a primary factor as to why we have never been invaded.

Point of fact