2018-03-24

Gun Culture: What Makes America Different?

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by Tim Widowfield

AR-15 Variants (from Wikipedia)

For years, I’ve been meaning to write a book on slavery in the United States. I don’t mean to minimize or oversimplify the issues surrounding the issues of chattel slavery in America, so up front I will say without reservation that the subject is complicated and multifaceted, and that it covers several centuries. It deserves more coverage than I can provide in a single post.

Having said that, I remain convinced that slavery is the fundamental cause of the American Civil War, which is, of course, the consensus among the majority of historians. The weight of the evidence puts the matter beyond dispute. However, whenever we can, we should distinguish proximate causes from ultimate causes.

Saying that slavery caused the Civil War is correct, but insufficient. It would be just as true to say that the election of Abraham Lincoln provoked the South to secede. But why was that the last straw? What did Southerners believe they would lose if they stayed? What did they think they would gain by leaving?

Slavery did not exist in a vacuum. It was not simply an ancillary feature of 19th-century Southern society that, by itself, made them different from the North. Slavery could not exist without the framework that supported it, an interlocking network of structures: Slave society, slave politics, slave economics, slave justice, even slave (pseudo-)science. Religion played a role as well, as Christian clergymen found ready ways to explain why Africans were a cursed race and how slavery was part of the natural order. All of these ingredients working together created Slave Culture.

Slave Culture had its own unique history, as well, which one would expect. That history celebrated the gentleman planter while it warned of the terrors of slave revolt. They were determined to learn the lesson of Haiti. Never let the slave get the upper hand. Always respond with maximum violence.

In a similar way, a large swath of modern America is Gun Culture. I support sensible gun control, including background checks, registries, mandatory gun safety classes, etc. But when gun enthusiasts tell us over and over, “Guns aren’t the problem,” they unwittingly have a point. They are right. For while guns most assuredly are part of the problem, they do not float, detached in the ether. They are not just another consumer product.

We recently had another school shooting. I could have written that sentence last week, last month, or last year. Public mass murder happens here more than in other countries. We know this is a problem, but we cannot seem to agree why. The right wants the answer to be anything but gun control (which they invariably frame as gun confiscation). The left, generally speaking, wants Congress to enact some sort of gun legislation, including the banning of so-called “assault weapons.” (Please do not bother schooling me in the comments below. I know what an assault rifle is. I’m a veteran. I have shot an M-16. I will delete all troll comments.)

The same social, economic, and political pressures that created Slave Culture also created Gun Culture. They are first cousins. The South with its mass-production plantations — first sugar, then cotton — needed firearms and a “well-regulated militia” to ensure safety. We should remember that the South was, in effect, a massive open-air prison for African Americans. And while slave uprisings could happen in Haiti or in South America, the plantation owners resolved that they must never happen here. If they did, the owners would react with total, unremitting, merciless violence.

The willingness to react with unrestrained fury and sudden violence became an admired trait in the South. Visitors from the North would send letters home, in which they would remark with astonishment at how everyone seemed to be carrying a gun and that at the slightest notion that someone’s “honor” had been slighted, fights or duels would ensue. (See, e.g., “The Slave-State Origins of Modern Gun Rights,” The Atlantic, 2015)

The honor culture of the South rested on a framework in which people were ranked by their worth (and their birth). It was a steep pyramid with owners at the top and enslaved Africans at the bottom. Poor whites stood just above the slaves, but “at least” they weren’t black.

Today, those who say the war couldn’t have been about slavery, since the majority of whites did not own slaves, ignore the fact that they all lived in a slave society. The all depended on a slave economy. Moreover, they all lived in fear that a slave revolt would lay waste to that society and their economy.

Mississippi’s articles of secession, which clearly stated, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery,” also warned:

[The federal government] advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.

Stephen F. Hale was more elaborate in his warnings in a letter to the governor of Kentucky, in which he urged secession. He wrote:

Therefore it is that the election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions—nothing less than an open declaration of war—for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans. Especially is this true in the cotton-growing States, where, in many localities, the slave outnumbers the white population ten to one.

. . .

Who can look upon such a picture without a shudder? What Southern man, be he slave-holder or non-slave-holder, can without indignation and horror contemplate the triumph of negro equal­ity, and see his own sons and daughters, in the not distant future, associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality, and the white man stripped, by the Heaven-daring hand of fanaticism of that title to superiority over the black race which God himself has bestowed? (emphasis mine)

Hale warned that in the Deep South, the result must be either race amalgamation or the extinction of one or the other. Amalgamation, the “mixing” of the races, particularly horrified white men, as they continually evoked the image of free blacks roaming the countryside, forcing themselves on their pure wives and daughters.

What does all of this have to do with gun culture? The same deeply embedded racism that “proved” the superiority of whites and the moral and intellectual inferiority of blacks — a necessary myth for keeping Africans in permanent bondage — still exists today. And it manifests itself in the terror of inadequacy, the dread of irrelevancy, the hatred of the other, the fear of being “outbred” by non-whites, and the reliance on guns to counteract all that. Gun Culture exists throughout the United States, not just in the South. It flourishes wherever white men feel diminished.

But don’t take my word for it. Read “Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?” by Jeremy Adam Smith at Scientific American. Here’s a taste:

Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University.

So, who is buying all these guns—and why?

The short, broad-brush answer to the first part of that question is this: men, who on average possess almost twice the number of guns female owners do. But not all men. Some groups of men are much more avid gun consumers than others. The American citizen most likely to own a gun is a white male—but not just any white guy. According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.

These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story—one in which they are once again the heroes

The system (our society, our culture, our economy) has failed these men. But while our system will gladly let them fall through the cracks it at least has trained all of us to believe that it cannot be the system’s fault. And according to the received narrative, it cannot be their fault either. It must be the others in society. So they accuse the “lazy” blacks who live off welfare and drive Cadillacs. They point their fingers at the immigrants — the “illegals” — who came over the border and took their jobs.

Smith writes:

For these economically insecure, irreligious white men, “the gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males are worried about,” says [Paul] Froese. “Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.”

Both Froese and [Angela] Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. “This is interesting because these men tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the ‘nation,’ says Froese. “On that point, I expect that many in this group see the ‘nation’ as being white.”

Even those who don’t hoard firearms in our Gun Culture will often stridently defend a person’s right to own combat weapons. For them, the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. My wife and I were traveling through Oklahoma recently and noticed a mayoral campaign flyer in which the candidate boasted of his strong support for the Second Amendment. What were his feelings on freedom of speech? Of the press? Of privacy? The right to vote? The right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers?

We don’t know. In the alternative reality of Gun Culture, as long as you have enough weapons and ammo, you can presumably secure those other rights by fighting off the illegitimate, oppressive, and (bafflingly) alien government. Voting is nice. The right to speak your mind is fun. But only a gun can make you feel like a man.

If you’re reading this and have never lived in or visited the United States, you may have wondered how we could even be arguing over whether a guy should be able to buy an AR-15 out of the trunk of some other guy’s car with no questions asked. You may be utterly baffled by the fact that ordinary people can buy combat ammunition. It’s useless for hunting game. And it’s a poor choice to protect your home, since it will penetrate the walls of your house and the house next door.

You can only make sense of our strange debates (which, by the way, the advocates of control keep losing) by understanding Gun Culture. A healthy, normal, peaceful, modern society doesn’t have this problem. But we would be missing the point if we called it a “gun problem.” As long as this culture remains in place — along with the widening gulf between rich and poor, the destruction of small towns and rural economies, the slow death of public education, and the persistence of race hatred and the fear of the other — you shouldn’t expect anything to change.

24 Comments

  • Blood
    2018-03-24 18:09:33 UTC - 18:09 | Permalink

    The Second Amendment was always symbolic, meant to emulate the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Absolutely nothing was going to prevent a white plantation owner or merchant from buying whatever he wanted, including guns. The ostensible “reason” for gun ownership — voluntary service in the state militia — was also a smokescreen. There was already a professional “standing” army in place in 1790, and it was growing stronger every year, in contrast to the ever-weakening state militias. So there was no reason for there ever to be a “Second Amendment” in the first place.

    All this is ultimately rooted in the Scots-Irish borderlands immigrants of the early 1700s and their mentality of “popular sovereignty,” which is a hatred for government — any government — and a love for self-sufficiency, including the right to resolve conflicts by physical violence or duels, not formal Latin courtrooms and Cambridge educated judges. This attitude ironically dovetailed nicely with the Southern aristocrat slave culture. As long as the slaves were black, and not Scots-Irish, these otherwise natural enemies could enjoy a kind of truce, as long as both were fully armed, and the black man disarmed.

    Not much has changed since 1700. The rural white man still believes he has everything in common with the wealthy white man, as evidenced by their enthusiastic election of Trump.

    • thom adams
      2018-04-26 16:10:42 UTC - 16:10 | Permalink

      I disagree with the premise and content of your comment. While it’s inextricably true that gun ownership and slavery in the south engendered a population of gun owners, the militias were not weakened by the federal standing army. The purpose of the militia was not originally purposed to defend against foreign invasion, but to maintain the status quo on a local level; namely, most often to squelch slave revolts which were a constant threat.

      The framers of the Constitution were well aware of this situation, but having just endured their own rebellion against a tyrannical government utilizing the militia with a standing army, sagaciously realized that slavery was only successful due to the gun ownership by most citizens. The shoe, so to speak, was on the other foot. Where one side has guns and the other doesn’t… slavery is inevitable.

      While i neither voted for Trump or own a gun, the Second Amendment’s guarantee may be the ONLY reason we are still free-ish.

  • Paxton Marshall
    2018-03-24 18:50:06 UTC - 18:50 | Permalink

    Sounds about right. Two quibbles.

    In the US the earliest plantations employing slaves grew tobacco and rice. Sugar was earlier, but confined to subtropical areas mostly outside the 13 colonies. Cotton came later, after the Indians were driven out of the lower south.

    Along with putting down slave rebellions, an armed white populace was needed to exterminate Indians. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, much of this was done by Scots-Irish on the frontier as mentioned by blood.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2018-03-24 20:19:24 UTC - 20:19 | Permalink

      Sugar was earlier, and it eventually did find its way to the banks of the Mississippi by the early 1800s. An example of a sugar plantation in North America is the Evergreen House.

      http://neworleansplantationcountry.com/plantations/evergreen-plantation

      I should have mentioned rice, especially, because if its typically harsh working conditions. The cotton “whipping-machine” of the deep south was probably the most violent place to work, but as far as conditions go, the sugar plantations were probably the worst — as you mentioned, in the heat, humidity, and diseases of the south sea islands were legendary.

  • 2018-03-24 19:33:24 UTC - 19:33 | Permalink

    Considering Vermont (historically, by far the most liberal U.S. state on racial issues) has historically had the least strict gun laws in the U.S., I find any link between U.S. gun culture and stances on racial issues to be tenuous, at best. Similarly, Maine (not exactly the heartland of the Confederacy; in fact, quite the opposite) voted down an expanded gun background check proposal by 3.6 points.
    https://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?fips=23&year=2016&f=0&off=61&elect=0
    “So they accuse the “lazy” blacks who live off welfare and drive Cadillacs.”
    A slight majority of perpetrators of gun homicide in the U.S. are Black. Over 80% of gun deaths among U.S. Blacks are homicides; over 80% of gun deaths among U.S. non-Hispanic Whites are suicides. Given the overwhelming majority of pro-gun-control rhetoric focuses on homicide, shouldn’t you at least mention these simple facts?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2018-03-24 20:38:38 UTC - 20:38 | Permalink

      The post deals with two things:

      1. Gun hoarding by disaffected whites who feel the need to accumulate weaponry in order to feel better about themselves. “Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms.”

      2. The general Gun Culture, which mythologizes firearms and treats Second Amendment as one that cannot allow compromise.

      On the subject of Maine voters rejecting background checks, this is what I mean by our pervading Gun Culture. Recall that the NRA used to call for universal background checks. Now they throw out hysteria about gun confiscation.

      On the subject of black homicides, you quoted me out of context.

      First, if you had read the S.A. article, you would have seen the stats that most people already know: whites kill whites, and blacks kill blacks. Why? Because we kill the people we live around. Sadly, we kill our family members and ourselves most of all

      Second, the blame above (“So they accuse . . .”) has to do with finding a scapegoat for feelings of loss and inadequacy. From the article:

      “When men became fathers or got married, they started to feel very vulnerable, like they couldn’t protect families,” she says. “For them, owning a weapon is part of what it means to be a good husband a good father.” That meaning is “rooted in fear and vulnerability—very motivating emotions.”

      But [Angela] Stroud also discovered another motivation: racial anxiety. “A lot of people talked about how important Obama was to get a concealed-carry license: ‘He’s for free health care, he’s for welfare.’ They were asking, ‘Whatever happened to hard work?’” Obama’s presidency, they feared, would empower minorities to threaten their property and families.

      The insight Stroud gained from her interviews is backed up by many, many studies.

  • Clarke Owens
    2018-03-24 19:38:04 UTC - 19:38 | Permalink

    Noah Harari’s book, Sapiens, observes that the slave trade in America “was not controlled by any state or government. It was a purely economic enterprise, organized and financed by the free market according to the laws of supply and demand.” He says “When the Europeans conquered America, they opened gold and silver mines and established sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations” which became “the mainstay of American production and export.” From 16th [I note this seems a bit early for North America, but that’s what it says] – 19th C. about 10 million African slaves were imported & 70 % worked on sugar plantations. Labor-intensive work. Since the basis of slavery throughout history was not color/race, it is theorized that this became an easy identifier. So I suppose the encroachment of government into the realm of peculiarly Southern capitalism then became the basis for the Civil War [another way of saying slavery was the cause], and also of the concomitant hatred of government characteristic of that segment of the USA today, and of big capitalists generally; and the gun culture appears connected with that idea, to some extent. The only “militias” today are organized often with the specific idea of defense against the government, an absurd idea since the US military machine is inexorable. Just some thoughts provoked by your ideas, Tim.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2018-03-24 20:50:50 UTC - 20:50 | Permalink

      On the subject of capitalism and the Slave Trade, I highly recommend The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist. (https://www.librarything.com/work/14924749/book/120746814)

      In some ways, the closing off of the transatlantic slave trade made life even more terrifying for Africans in the South. Surplus slaves in the upper tier became commodity items. You or your children could be sold from Maryland or Virginia into the Deep South without warning. The images of cohorts marching on foot in chains, practically starving (probably raped along the way, if you were female), are absolutely chilling.

      It is interesting that some economists still want to characterize the Old South as pre-capitalist, when they clearly had capitalism in full bloom. I think some free-marketers are simply too embarrassed to admit it.

    • Scot Griffin
      2018-03-29 06:27:48 UTC - 06:27 | Permalink

      “So I suppose the encroachment of government into the realm of peculiarly Southern capitalism then became the basis for the Civil War [another way of saying slavery was the cause]”

      The US government never encroached upon slavery. If anything, it was the South who worked very hard to spread slavery beyond the South, and what you had before the Civil War were private citizens who tried to stop the spread of slavery and the application of “papers please” type fugitive slave laws in the North. The South started agitating within two months of the Constitution being ratified, they tried to renege on accepting tariffs (the quid pro quo for the North accepting slavery) during the time of Jackson, and they ultimately created an excuse for provoking the Civil War by throwing the election to the Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln (they deliberately split the Democrat vote by putting up their own Democrat candidate; the two Democrats combined received more votes than Lincoln).

      The reality is the venality of Southern elites was the cause of the Civil War. They chose to give up expanding slavery beyond the South (the most Lincoln and the Republicans could have accomplished) in order to have their own state free of the tariffs of the federal government. In other words, the Civil War gave them Lincoln minus tariffs.

      Slavery, of course, was part of Southern venality, as it was bound up in their form of capitalism, as you say.

  • Marty
    2018-03-25 00:17:11 UTC - 00:17 | Permalink

    Tim, Per this post I would have to agree your not ready to write a book about slavery in America. You would not be able to give it a reasonable and balance, none bias effort.

    I think you are very miss guided on trying to link Slavery and the gun debate. A short reading of history shows what happens to a people when they have an oppressive government or dictator. 22 single shot rifles and 12 ga. shot guns might have been great against the muskets in the 1700’s they will not compete against your m-16. So as weapons get more advanced, both sides must advance or all men will loose their freedom. However, a single shot AR-15 or AK 47, even a knockoff will compete against the m-16. This is happening all over the world today.

    As per you quoting Stephen F. Hale! He was quite the Prophet, wasn’t he!

    Twenty years or so ago, I sought out a history teacher who’s expertise was in the “Civil War” -“War of Northern aggression”, “war between the states” or any other name you want to refer to it by. I wanted the name of some of the best books on the time period. She walked over to her bookshelves and proceeded to remove ten of the best works written on the subject. I read them all, returned them and over a pot of coffee we discussed the material.

    Here is my opinion of the subject and time period. First off, I agree with you, the time and the issue of Slavery in America is a very complicated subject!
    My Impression of the 10 best books on the subject: It all lay in the hands of 5 or 10 men who had the money and power in the 1850-60 time period. Slavery was already waning and given time it could have been slowly legislated out and there would have been no need for the death and destruction that followed. If that time period would have been handled with more wisdom their would have been no reconstruction with all its destruction and their would have been no need for M. L. King, because the black man/women would have had their complete freedom by at least the 1900”’s. In MHO!

    But, the gun debate is similar to Slavery in this respect. Those 5 or 10 self serving, greedy bastards that run this country are going to keep this subject going till, the cat is out of the bag and their will be a repeat of history.

    Please answer this, Why is it always a gun problem and their is never any justice for the families/victims? Why is it that they never talk about putting these Godless bastards to death? Take a life pay with your life! Its a real simple mathematical equation. But, the spineless, stupid politicians are more concerned with the power and MONEY Not only in America but also in Canada!

    During the year I spent in China a man planned to spend his morning taking care of his problems. So he got a hammer and took care of 6 people all over town before they stopped him. The authorities got him. They tried him, convicted him of mass murder and hammered his ass into extinction inside of six months. A promising music student at the local university hit a young women on her bicycle late one evening. In stead of getting her medical help, he dragged her over to the ditch and left her to die. They caught him, tried him and convicted him and hammered his ass into extinction all within six Months.

    The above is what America (and the world) needs, swift justice. Not more gun laws. We have enough and they never stop someone wanting to break the law’s. A weapon is a tool, just like a hammer. One can choose to use it correctly or they should pay with their life for taking the life of another as a homicide.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2018-03-25 00:59:19 UTC - 00:59 | Permalink

      I will never impressed by an argument that insists our problem is that we demonstrate insufficient violence. We incarcerate more per capita than any other country. We still dole out punishment in this country via state-sponsored murder. If deterrence worked, our prisons wouldn’t be bursting a the seams.

      I am continually amused by people who trust the government to pick the right people to kill when they don’t trust that same government to deliver a letter across town.

      • Arkenaten
        2018-03-25 10:36:25 UTC - 10:36 | Permalink

        Anyone reading Marty’s opening paragraph and his approach to sentence construction would be left with little doubt what was likely to follow.
        He did not disappoint.

        The phrase Face Palm springs to mind.

    • J. Quinton
      2018-03-25 01:06:19 UTC - 01:06 | Permalink

      If you’re worried about fighting a corrupt government, AR-15s are not going to save you. You might as well own a slingshot for all the good fighting against a corrupt USA government would do you.

      • Tim Widowfield
        2018-03-25 01:21:40 UTC - 01:21 | Permalink

        Amen, brother.

        • thom adams
          2018-04-26 16:30:26 UTC - 16:30 | Permalink

          I suppose you brainiards would just roll over rather than fight for your freedom? Or, would rather throw stones at your oppressor? It doesn’t take a history professor to understand history, but it takes courage and foresight to see where it leads without sticking your head in the ground; as if saying it ain’t so will make it that way.

      • Roger Lambert
        2018-03-27 16:39:32 UTC - 16:39 | Permalink

        The North Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Afghanis might have something to say about the success of under-powered armies against the U.S.

        So might the Founding fathers, who were pretty darn explicit about guns and the necessity of their ownership by “the people” because of their usefulness against tyrannical governments. The Supreme Court has repetitively made it crystal clear that “the people” means individuals, not the States or the National Guard, or standing armies.

        To say that semiautomatic weapons are too underpowered to fight against a government army is not an argument against gun ownership rights, it is an argument that the Founders would therefore require more powerful arms should now be made legal. Lest we forget, citizen militias did have access to cannons, which were kept under lock and key in local armories.

        But the Supreme Court has already said that the 2nd Amendment refers to small arms, not cannons or nuclear bombs. Perhaps we should count our blessings.

  • 2018-03-25 13:51:44 UTC - 13:51 | Permalink

    Thanks for the post. I had not thought of there being such a connection between gun culture and slavery. I appreciate the links you provided. I will do more reading on the topic.

    Many gun advocates oppose any type of gun control because it is seen as “the next step” in eventually taking all guns away from the populace. I think this is a well earned response to a distrustful government, although not helpful in engaging in any meaningful dialog.

    It just so happens that within the last few week, I talked to my daughter’s mother-in-law, a customer who is 68 years old, and a lady who is 87 years old. All 3 women are white and said they have a conceal carry permit, and gun. (FYI: I know this about these ladies through casual conversation, not because I was doing anything such that they felt the need to inform me they were holding 🙂

    I have always wondered why there has not been a concerted effort by our government to educate inner city blacks here in the USA. And not just ‘graduate from high school’ kind of education. But education that results in the ability to learn, freedom to make choices, a better quality of life, a sense of accomplishment, achievement, and self sufficiency. The up side in so many areas of our society would be incredible. I obviously see education as a path to well being. I’m wondering if not doing so is also a reflection of the past slave culture?

  • Michael J. Alter
    2018-03-25 15:28:07 UTC - 15:28 | Permalink

    Hello Tim:

    Thank you for your timely and thoughtful article.

    You wrote:
    “Today, those who say the war couldn’t have been about slavery, since the majority of whites did not own slaves, ignore the fact that they all lived in a slave society. The all depended on a slave economy. Moreover, they all lived in fear that a slave revolt would lay waste to that society and their economy.”

    The working data can be seen in Randall & Donald – The Civil War and Reconstruction pp. 67-68. The source is available on line at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=inu.30000006665826;view=1up;seq=90 … In brief:

    Number of Slaveholders in the US in 1850
    Holders of 1 slave each 68,820
    2-4 slaves each 105,683
    5-9 80,765
    10-19 54,595
    20-49 29,733
    50-99 6,196
    100-199 1,479
    200-299 187
    300–499 56
    500 or more 11
    TOTAL NUMBER of SLAVEHOLDER 347,525

    Thank you for your thoughtful words.

    Michael J. Alter

  • Bob Jase
    2018-03-25 16:20:08 UTC - 16:20 | Permalink

    Well done!

  • Roger Lambert
    2018-03-27 16:58:40 UTC - 16:58 | Permalink

    I think that modern America’s love of the gun might have something to do with slavery thinking, but I would posit it has more to do with romanticism of the American frontier. We have very significant portions of our geography where people still today walk around dressing and talking like cowboys. The stupendous success of the pickup truck in the U.S. is because it is the modern equivalent of the horse.

    The gun was an essential tool of the frontier along with the axe and the knife, and real men knew how to use them to provide for and protect their families. That tradition is quintessentially American, and has been passed down through the Boy Scouts and the rites of hunting and camping which are pursuits still popular with hundreds of millions of people.

    The NRA has also recently made gun ownership – especially AR-type gun ownership – a political statement against the Left. I have read that there are 60 million AR-type rifles owned in the U.S., and their popularity is a direct blowback to ill-conceived gun control efforts. I would urge all of us to be more respectful about the opposition re the gun violence issue, especially in light of the three last Supreme Court cases which have made individual gun ownership rights more strongly and explicitly protected than in any time in the entire history of the U.S, and also in light of the fact there are a huge number of one-issue redneck voters. And that issue is Democrats who want to take their guns away.

  • Alif
    2018-03-29 12:32:33 UTC - 12:32 | Permalink

    Just tu state that the 2nd Amendmunt dusn’t actually GIV the right t bear arms – that is a ‘natural’ right olredy vestid in pepl; the 2nd Amendmunt states that such a natural right SHAN’T be infrinj’d.

  • Rollory
    2018-04-02 18:59:00 UTC - 18:59 | Permalink

    This post is a marvelous fantasy and solid evidence for your total dishonesty (with yourself or with the audience, it doesn’t matter which); but let’s play the game for a minute. If gun culture results from slave culture, how do you explain the predominance of gun popularity in the Rockies, High Plains, and Appalachian plateau? (Most notably W.Va, which fought AGAINST the Confederacy.) If school shootings are the problem, how do you explain the Chicago and Baltimore murder rates? If gun culture – which I’ll stipulate is “a white thing” – is a problem, how do you explain the discrepancy between crime rates in black-majority areas and gun culture areas? If racism (understood here as “a false belief about race-specific behavior”) is the cause of the warnings about black-on-white rape and therefore invalid as an argument in favor of personal defense, how do you explain the disparity (by a factor of about 10000, if I recall correctly) in the Department of Justice’s recorded rates of black-on-white sexual assault as compared to white-on-black sexual assault?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2018-04-02 21:46:54 UTC - 21:46 | Permalink

      You are now on moderation. It’s fine to disagree with people here, but it is not OK to impute nefarious reasons for why they disagree. Accusing your opponent of lying is not productive and not tolerated on Vridar.

      I will answer your questions only because your comment sat here long enough for others to read it. Your words will appear in italics below.

      If gun culture results from slave culture, how do you explain the predominance of gun popularity in the Rockies, High Plains, and Appalachian plateau? (Most notably W.Va, which fought AGAINST the Confederacy.)

      I didn’t say gun culture results from slave culture. I wrote, “The same social, economic, and political pressures that created Slave Culture also created Gun Culture. They are first cousins.” I grew up in a small Ohio town close to the borders of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Racism — including race fear, race hatred, and white supremacy — is strong in all three states.

      As I said, “Gun Culture exists throughout the United States, not just in the South. It flourishes wherever white men feel diminished.”

      Ohio, especially, has a long history of race hatred and violence against “the other.” The hated other also included Catholics, since the white Christian identity movement was strongly Protestant.

      In the 1920s, the KKK was very powerful in the United States – not just in the South. Of course, the Klan – especially in the South – terrorized African-Americans with cross burnings and acts of violence, including lynchings. But in the Midwest, the Klan focused much of its attention on Catholics. Why Catholics? Because the Klan – a hate group devoted to white Protestant supremacy – understood Catholics as not truly American.

      Not only were there more Klansmen in Ohio than in any other state in the nation, but the city of Dayton was a Klan hotbed, with perhaps 10 percent of the 150,000 residents as card-carrying members. Some estimates place membership as high as 25 percent.

      See: https://udayton.edu/blogs/artssciences/17-09-08-ku-klux-klan.php

      If school shootings are the problem, how do you explain the Chicago and Baltimore murder rates?

      I didn’t say that school shootings are “the problem”; I said they are “a problem.” I would hope we all see it as a problem. The second part of your question does not follow from the first, since mass murderers and serial killers are a different kettle of fish.

      That said, it’s interesting you would bring up Chicago and Baltimore. Do you know which states have the highest murder rates? Every time I talk about gun violence to conservatives, they ask me about black crime in Chicago. You can set your watch to it. So, let’s look at the statistics for gun violence by state. Here are the top five:

      1. Alaska
      2. Alabama
      3. Louisiana
      4. Mississippi
      5. Oklahoma

      If Chicago and Baltimore are the hell holes right-wingers say they are, Illinois and Maryland must be in the top ten, right?

      6. Montana
      7. Missouri
      8. New Mexico
      9. Arkansas
      10. South Carolina

      It turns out Illinois is number 34 and Maryland is number 32.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/21/states-most-and-least-gun-violence-see-where-your-state-stacks-up/359395002/

      See also:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/10/17/does-a-city-with-the-toughest-gun-laws-end-up-with-worst-gun-violence/?utm_term=.926e23a800fd

      http://www.politifact.com/illinois/statements/2017/oct/03/sarah-huckabee-sanders/chicago-toughest-gun-control-claim-shot-full-holes/

      If gun culture – which I’ll stipulate is “a white thing” – is a problem, how do you explain the discrepancy between crime rates in black-majority areas and gun culture areas?

      See above. Your focus is too narrow.

      If racism (understood here as “a false belief about race-specific behavior”) is the cause of the warnings about black-on-white rape and therefore invalid as an argument in favor of personal defense, how do you explain the disparity (by a factor of about 10000, if I recall correctly) in the Department of Justice’s recorded rates of black-on-white sexual assault as compared to white-on-black sexual assault?

      A reasonable person should expect a claim that insists blacks rape whites more often by a factor of 10,000 to be backed up with some sort of evidence. You are saying that for every one rape of a white person against a black person, 10,000 rapes occurred in which a black person raped a white person.

      It’s possible that you don’t understand how math works or that you mistyped the number. But in any case, you are very wrong.

      You might want to ask yourself why your go-to arguments have to do with Chicago and black men raping white women.

      See also:

      https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1042&context=faculty-publications

      https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rhovo1215.pdf

      http://www.sarsonline.org/resources-stats/reports-laws-statics

  • Pofarmer
    2018-04-08 15:08:06 UTC - 15:08 | Permalink

    I don’t know exactly where you’re going, but here’s my perspective. I’m a gun owning red neck mid-westerner. I’m a youth shotgun instructor. My Dad is a Vietnam Vet. Growing up he owned a 22, a deer rifle 22/250, and a Remington 1100 Shotgun That was it. My Grandfather on my mothers side was the most avid bird hunger you’d ever meet. Owned 3 shotguns and .22. This whole Culture of owning large numbers of guns is fairly new. Gun safes are the “hot” item about everywhere. But that’s kind of off the point. I was born in 1970. In the early 1980’s all the law enforcement still carried 38 revolvers. I’d guess most of them didn’t even carry an extra speed loader. Then, in the 1990’s, the 15 rd Glock semi-auto pistols became cheap and ubiquitous, and the police found themselves in an arms race. They needed Glocks too, and then shotguns, and then !R-15’s. IMHO this should have been “handled” 30 years ago when it became obvious that these high capacity guns were a problem. In fact, recent studies in MO and other places show that liberalization of handgun laws has led directly to more gun deaths and more gun related crime.(who could have guessed, right? ) Maybe I’m in the crazy left wing. But, at this point, I’d support restrictions on any firearm that can carry more than a 6rd magazine.(yes, I know that creates a problem for tube fed 22’s. We are still restricted to 3 in the Chamber for bird hunting and for years were restricted to 4 for deer in MO. The “Civilian” version of the BAR has used a type of magazine with a bottom door that restricted the magazine capacity of those guns voluntarily from the manufacturer. I really don’t understand why this would be that much of a hardship. At the same time, it ought to reduce the impact of these mass shooting incidents. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe the Horse is already too far out of the barn and down the road.

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