But as gun owners and gun advocates, we have to admit guns are a hell of a symptom. To protect our rights and our society's long-term freedom by maintaining the primacy of the 2nd Amendment, we need to answer the objections of those who believe a ban on guns would provide the bromide they seek.
Predictably in the wake of the recent events, there has been the predictable outcry for greater gun control. Most of it is uninformed and reactionary. One exception to this is an op-ed piece in the Oregonian by self-declared anti-gun writer, Reagan Ross.
While I disagree with Ross that gun control is desirable or beneficial to society, it's clear that Ross and pro-gun rights activists like myself have a common goal of trying to create a more peaceful society. It's worth reading Ross's entire article, but I'd like to quote some of what he says here:
While I'm [Ross] a big believer in stricter gun control -- registration, safety locks, automatic gun bans, background checks and so on -- and while the volume of dangerous guns available is distressing, the reality is that if a violent offender wants a gun, he will get a gun. However, I would argue that it is less the availability of a gun itself than a sensibility that jointly romanticizes and glorifies gun ownership and, by extension, accentuates masculinity for these young, angry males. For this reason alone, we need to break through this "gun culture" sensibility and move to a more constricted view of gun ownership. - Reagan Ross, Marylhurst University
Ross's point about the romanticism around guns in America is easy to see. He's also honest enough to report what he knows to be true--it isn't the presence of the gun, it's the cultural attitude toward the gun that leads to gun violence.
But what he says about a "more constricted view of gun ownership" is a good idea--a view that does not include romantic images of a loser redeeming himself through murder of innocents in a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid meet Sam Peckinpah fantasy. In short I'd say we need to make guns more about hunting, political freedom, and crime prevention and less about sex, personal power and instant fame.
Which leads me to an open question to our caucus members:
What steps can we take as gun rights advocates to change the image of guns, gun owners, and gun ownership to create a positive image of guns that will no longer make gun violence an attractive, romantic cliche for the disturbed and impressionable?