The gun rights movement and its lunatic fringe

I am not a gun person, but I don’t consider myself an enemy of  gun owners or gun rights advocates.

I’m philosophically in accord with much of what the gun rights movement says, while not in sympathy with some of its manifestations, including people in public places who carry around deadly weapons as if they were fashion accessories.

I believe that:

  • Self-protection is a fundamental human right.
  • The Constitution gives Americans an individual right to keep and bear arms.
  • Firearms have useful and legitimate purposes.
  • Ownership of firearms by responsible, law-abiding people is not a social problem.
  • Down through history and across many cultures, denial of the right to own weapons is a defining mark of a subjugated people.  (The other is denial of the right to testify in court).
  • Guns are an icon of American culture, just as swords are an icon of Japanese culture.

A lot of gun-related legislation seems to me to be “security theater”—aimed at making people feel safer even though it doesn’t actually make them safer.

Here in New York state, where I live, the SAFE law requires a background check on the private sale of a firearm to someone not a close relative.   Which means that if someone in rural New York sells a hunting rifle to a neighbor down the road he’s known most of his life, he has to go through the rigamarole of a background check.  That is a big nuisance and adds little, that I can see, to public safety.

I haven’t followed the Open Carry movement in Texas, but it does seem to me illogical that if you can carry a concealed handgun and you can openly carry a firearm much more deadly than a handgun, you can’t openly carry a pistol in a holster.

open-carry-txWhat I don’t understand is why gun rights advocates insist on bringing the deadliest and scariest-looking military-type weapons into public places where they have no useful purpose.

If I saw one of these guys come into my favorite diner while I was eating lunch, my reaction would be to wonder whether I was about to witness a holdup, or the next psycho gun massacre.   The person might say he was making a political point, and the gun is actually unloaded.   How am I supposed to know that?

Besides, one of the main things my father taught me about guns is that the most dangerous gun is the one you assume is not loaded.   Guns have a way of going off when you don’t expect them to.   That’s why they should be treated with respect, as you would treat any other potentially hazardous machine.

I’m well aware that gun deaths are declining.  So are deaths in motor vehicle accidents.  The latter fact does not reduce my responsibility, as a motorist, to drive with care.

Gun ownership in the United States is declining.   I don’t see how the gun rights cause is advanced by its supporters behaving in a way that alienates the public.

There is a lunatic fringe to the gun rights movement.   I am certain it does not represent the majority of gun owners, and I hope that it does not represent the gun rights movement as a whole.  Its effect on public opinion is not to make people more favorable to gun rights.

Added later:  Here is an example of what I mean.


The man on the left is Justin Bourque who allegedly killed three police officers in Canada and was apprehended yesterday. I have no idea who the man on the right might be, but most people would react to the two in identical manner.



Gun rights advocates, is this how you want people to think of your movement?



Tags: , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “The gun rights movement and its lunatic fringe”

  1. lwk2431 Says:

    “What I don’t understand is why gun rights advocates insist on bringing the deadliest and scariest-looking military-type weapons into public places where they have no useful purpose.”

    As you noted it is illegal for a civilian in Texas to openly carry a handgun. These people in the picture are making a political protest to gain publicity for their cause which is to make open carry legal in Texas. I would agree with you that perhaps it was not the most well thought out plan for a political protest, and given the proclivities of the media, likely to backfire on them (which is my impression of what happened – guess we’ll see if legislation changes which may ultimately be a sign of success or failure).

    Please note that in your picture of the activists in Texas all firearms are slung over the should and the people are not carrying them in a posture indicating they have any intent to use them to threaten or shoot anyone at the moment.

    That latter point is important in Texas because the law says you can carry a long gun openly as long as it is not done in a “manner calculated to cause alarm?” Now I do understand some people wet their pants at the mere sight of a gun not in the hands of police, but from an objective standpoint I don’t think they are acting in a manner calculated to intimidate, nor do I believe that is their purpose. Again they are making a political protest to gain publicity (which also again may no be the brightest way to do it).

    Now if look at the two other pictures (two men carrying long guns in two pictures side by side) labelled “how do you tell the difference” both men are carrying firearms in their hands, and the guy on the right appears to be ready to use it the way he is bearing it. The guy on the right might bet arrested in Texas doing that. But you said you don’t actually know the context of that picture.

    I don’t have a huge problem with you calling this behavior a little bizarre. The NRA said the same thing.




  2. theabstractdetail Says:

    Reblogged this on The Abstract Detail.


  3. Patricia Harwood Says:

    I do not understand why so many young members of the community have to die, due to the gun laws. Is it not time that the people of USA changed the laws, perhaps that is why Americans are coming to live in Australia!


  4. lwk2431 Says:

    “due to the gun laws”

    Maybe someone ought to go back and examine their premise that the root of the problem is ineffective gun laws? When I was a kid up til 1968 you could buy surplus battle rifles and ammunition from WWII (picked up off the battlefields of Europe) by mail order from an ad in the back of a comic book and the only “check” was that your check didn’t bounce.

    Guns were dead easy to acquire then if you wanted one. In rural schools kids might bring a .22 rifle to school. But we did not have these shootings.

    So I think the problem is something other than just guns.




  5. philebersole Says:

    I sometimes wonder if more people might learn how to handle guns responsibly if there were gun safety education courses in the high schools, similar to driver education courses.


  6. lwk2431 Says:

    “I sometimes wonder if more people might learn how to handle guns responsibly if there were gun safety education courses in the high schools, similar to driver education courses.”

    I have suggested we do that many times. Even a few, very few, liberal types have agreed. Of course then we wouldn’t exactly have a Gun Free School Zone, would we?

    But absolutely, it makes sense if far too many ways for it to ever become a reality.




  7. Jaye Says:

    Nobody ever said freedom was as safe as a socialist cocoon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: