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Old 12-23-2012, 05:40 AM   #1
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Gun Culture

Over here in the UK, the recent tragedy in Newtown has highlighted, once again, our own obsession of how America's love affair with firearms reaps the seeds it sows and how the world would be a better place without guns, just as we have. (In the UK there are no gun shops or whatever they're called). But on the other hand, it didn't stop Michael Ryan killing 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 or Thomas Hamilton killing 17 people in Dunblane in 1996 (and that was also a school massacre). Meanwhile, in France they have a very much laissez-faire attitude towards guns with the idea that man should be the hunter. And you know what? There must be some people out there, but I'm not aware of any French guy going nuts with a gun and making world headlines, so is it a case of culture versus the gun or gun verses the culture?
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:10 AM   #2
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:21 AM   #3
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But on the other hand, it didn't stop Michael Ryan killing 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 or Thomas Hamilton killing 17 people in Dunblane in 1996 (and that was also a school massacre).
That's a gap of nine years. We're lucky if we get a few months respite these days.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:22 PM   #4
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. (In the UK there are no gun shops or whatever they're called). But on the other hand, it didn't stop Michael Ryan killing 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 or Thomas Hamilton killing 17 people in Dunblane in 1996 (and that was also a school massacre).
Certain guns were actually legal to own in the UK at the time of those shootings. It was in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre that guns were banned in the UK:

In response to this public debate, the then-current Conservative government introduced a ban on all cartridge ammunition handguns with the exception of .22 calibre single-shot weapons in England, Scotland and Wales. Following the 1997 General Election, the Labour government of Tony Blair introduced the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, banning the remaining .22 cartridge handguns in England, Scotland and Wales, and leaving only muzzle-loading and historic handguns legal, as well as certain sporting handguns (e.g. "Long-Arms") that fall outside the Home Office Definition of a "Handgun" due to their dimensions


The Dunblane killer's four handguns were all legally held at the time of the shooting.

It's worth noting that the one major mass-shooting incident since Dunblane - the Cumbria massacre in 2010 - was also carried about by a licensed firearms holder.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
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There's a difference between owning a gun for hunting and sports, and carrying a gun because you constantly think somebody may be out to get you. There's also a difference between using a gun as a tool and fetishizing it the way some American gun nuts do. Most hunters don't really think of their guns as something that can be pointed at people, too.

Remember Bowling for Columbine? There's one aspect I found very enlightening. And considering Moore didn't spend a lot of commentary hammering that point home, I'm willing to assume that's an actual find and not one of his ranty montages. He asks both Maerican and Canadian gun owners what guns they own. The Americans all tell him exactly how many guns, which caliber and build and brand, all the details that show a true fan. The Canadians just say things like "two rifles and a couple of pistols". No fetish here.

Also, I don't really know about France, but in Germany there are strict laws about how to store a gun. You have to keep it locked away and separated from the ammo. The point of this is to keep it as far removed from being your first choice when something happens as possible. Compare that to somebody who carries a loaded gun in public. Somebody even looks like he's threatening him, part of his brain will urge him to use the thing. (I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. Good training?) A German gun owner will have to got hoime first and load the gun - plenty of time to think about it.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:18 PM   #6
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There's another thing. The US has a thriving black market. So even if they banned guns, they could still be had by people who want them. Whether or not that would change with a total ban, I don't know.

I personally like to go shooting and target practicing. I don't like hunting. I would like guns to stay for those reasons, but the madness of killing sprees is also a good reason not to.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:31 PM   #7
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Probably very few countires in the world are safe from gun violence. Rather than blaming the action on a love for America's gun fetish it might be wiser to come to the realization that guns are everywhere, as are mentally deranged people. Sometimes they come in contact.

Let's try to deal with both in a sane (no pun intended) manner and do what we can to prevent further outbreaks, realizing that a complete shutdown is impossible.

I'm not sure how many of these events have been prevented. Kid in Canada was just caught with a gun in backpack because he failed to check it after deranged felon dad had used it. Probably a good thing the kid had it rather than the father.

It seldom makes the news, and never for days on end when something is prevented. That may be part of our problem. No crazy who pulls one of these things off should EVER be identified by name or have his picture in the news. Really it should be treated as a local news story by the press while police and mental health should have ample access to try to devise fixes in the future.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:32 PM   #8
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There's a difference between owning a gun for hunting and sports, and carrying a gun because you constantly think somebody may be out to get you. There's also a difference between using a gun as a tool and fetishizing it the way some American gun nuts do. Most hunters don't really think of their guns as something that can be pointed at people, too.
I have a hunter friend that's incensed about using pistols, assault rifles and such for hunting. He says they're immoral tools because hunters are not supposed to be in the inflicting cruelty business. One shot, one kill, and every time you have to track game to finish it off with another shot, you've failed - that's his philosophy.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:42 PM   #9
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I have a hunter friend that's incensed about using pistols, assault rifles and such for hunting. He says they're immoral tools because hunters are not supposed to be in the inflicting cruelty business. One shot, one kill, and every time you have to track game to finish it off with another shot, you've failed - that's his philosophy.
All common philosphy of hunters .. unfortunately, I'm not sure the majority of gun owners a hunters.

Too many pistol owners actually think they might have to kill a human someday with their gun, even thugh the liklihood is extremely low. Aside from true collectore, many of the assault type gun owners I know seem to have a screw loose somewhere, but are also unlikely to ever actually use their weapons against people.

That leaves crooks and crazies which is where the problem lies.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:17 PM   #10
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All common philosphy of hunters .. unfortunately, I'm not sure the majority of gun owners a hunters.
It does come up quite a bit in these discussions. "We can't ban these guns because of hunting". I'm not for a blanket ban on guns because in my country the hunting community actually perform a very valuable function environmentally. With the lack of apex predators like bear and wolf (who have been pushed out of most of the country) the big herbivore population just grows unchecked.

Animals like deer and elk need to be controlled, and the hunting community does this. But they use manually loaded specialised hunting rifles with ammunition suited for the task. Anyone that shows up with an assault rifle, provided they were even legal, would not have been invited to the hunting party.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by PorterStarrByrd View Post
All common philosphy of hunters .. unfortunately, I'm not sure the majority of gun owners a hunters.

Too many pistol owners actually think they might have to kill a human someday with their gun, even thugh the liklihood is extremely low. Aside from true collectore, many of the assault type gun owners I know seem to have a screw loose somewhere, but are also unlikely to ever actually use their weapons against people.

That leaves crooks and crazies which is where the problem lies.
I really want to know where 'I have a screw loose', since I happen to be an AR-15 owner. (They aren't 'assault weapons').
That is a political tool used to scare the uneducated.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:23 PM   #12
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Why do you feel you need to have such a weapon?
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:56 PM   #13
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I really want to know where 'I have a screw loose', since I happen to be an AR-15 owner. (They aren't 'assault weapons').
That is a political tool used to scare the uneducated.
Actually, many of us are quite educated about guns. I'm an ex-cop and a gun owner.

Assault rife is a perfectly accurate term for weapons whose primary function is to provide the ability to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time.

You may disagree about this, but it's not the opinion of someone "uneducated."

Whether people who feel it necessary to own an AR-15 have a screw loose is also a matter of opinion, I guess.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:56 PM   #14
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I don't know this for a fact, but it's a sense I get from participating in these discussions frequently: I suspect that actual hunters are a very small sub-set of the whole set of people who raise the "we need these guns for hunting" argument. Hunting is often raised as a legitimate exception to proposed gun restrictions, and therefore I think many people who want no restrictions on guns at all try to attach the idea of hunting to all kinds of guns.

As for crooks and crazies, good regulation on legal trade in guns, including serious background checks, training requirements, registration, and waiting periods would help weed out many crazies as well as amateur crooks (wannabes, desperate people, stalkers/abusers, etc), and may very well assist in giving law enforcement better tools with which to address the black market.

No system is perfect, but very few systems would be worse than what we're doing now.

As for the gun culture, that needs to be addressed separately, I think. It will be a much slower shift in attitudes, and I think it's the part where we, the creative media types, can contribute most effectively.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:58 PM   #15
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All common philosphy of hunters .. unfortunately, I'm not sure the majority of gun owners a hunters.

Too many pistol owners actually think they might have to kill a human someday with their gun, even thugh the liklihood is extremely low. Aside from true collectore, many of the assault type gun owners I know seem to have a screw loose somewhere, but are also unlikely to ever actually use their weapons against people.

That leaves crooks and crazies which is where the problem lies.
I understand what you are saying, but I don't think it's fair to write off people who own guns for protection as whackos, as a blanket statement.

Do young kids in many neighborhoods across the US where they are threatened by guns on a frequent basis have to be mockable yahoos to want their own gun? If you had gangs roaming your neighborhood and you were a young man immersed in a violent culture your whole life, might you feel differently? What if your neighborhood was like a war zone, truly?**

And then there are folks like me. I'm scared of the crack addict up the street. You can hear him rampaging from houses and houses away, so there really is warning when he goes off. He has guns.

I've gone target shooting with my dad since I was a child. I know gun safety. I have a gun here for the coyotes, bobcats and wild dogs (they attack pets here -- my cats, specifically).

Is it completely insane for me to think that it's OK for me to have my gun in this case? I'd go through any check anyone proposed. I am for tough gun laws. But I do have a gun, and it is for various forms of protection (the pets, mainly).

I'm considering duck hunting, too. The price of duck has become insane


**eta-- oh, I don't mean those kids should have guns! I just mean that they aren't crazy.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:09 PM   #16
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I really want to know where 'I have a screw loose', since I happen to be an AR-15 owner. (They aren't 'assault weapons').
That is a political tool used to scare the uneducated.

I speak only of the guys I know who own them ... don't even consider you unusual if you don't have a screw loose

I see no reason to further gun control ... it is not part of the problem. It tends only to further limit law abiding people.

I will stand by my statement concerning the people I know who own them whom I have met. I do know a couple of very consiencious owners too. Most of the rest I wouldn't step onto a firing range with. I own guns, and hunt regularly.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:21 PM   #17
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I understand what you are saying, but I don't think it's fair to write off people who own guns for protection as whackos, as a blanket statement.

Do young kids in many neighborhoods across the US where they are threatened by guns on a frequent basis have to be mockable yahoos to want their own gun? If you had gangs roaming your neighborhood and you were a young man immersed in a violent culture your whole life, might you feel differently? What if your neighborhood was like a war zone, truly?**

And then there are folks like me. I'm scared of the crack addict up the street. You can hear him rampaging from houses and houses away, so there really is warning when he goes off. He has guns.

I've gone target shooting with my dad since I was a child. I know gun safety. I have a gun here for the coyotes, bobcats and wild dogs (they attack pets here -- my cats, specifically).

Is it completely insane for me to think that it's OK for me to have my gun in this case? I'd go through any check anyone proposed. I am for tough gun laws. But I do have a gun, and it is for various forms of protection (the pets, mainly).

I'm considering duck hunting, too. The price of duck has become insane


**eta-- oh, I don't mean those kids should have guns! I just mean that they aren't crazy.
I sympathise with you .. and understand your point in urban life. I don't know the answer.

I had a girlfriend who lives too close to Camden, NJ. She has a pistol. I'm convinced that even with basic instruction behind her, she more likely to shoot herself than someone else.

In such scenarios I undestand owning a gun for protection if you have the skill to use it. I'm sure you wouldn't have bought it really expecting to kill someone with it. There are too many who actually think they will have to. Maybe that makes them better prepared if the time comes. I don't know.

and yes, I'd hate to see a society so unarmed that crooks etc don't have to worry about anyone shooting back at them. Of course our friends in Brittain my argue on that one with me.

In the OP we see that such banning has not protected them from the same outrage that flares up in the US from time to time.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:57 PM   #18
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For me it's kind of easy. I am definitely going to shoot a coyote trying to eat a cat in my yard. So the rest becomes foggy and strange.

I know guns provide very little protection against a person. The break-in I had here happened when I was in the shower! My guard dog was who saved the day The cop who got here later (I'm rural) said he recommends dogs first. That is what he sees that helps the most.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:05 AM   #19
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I think there's more to the cultural problem than just the gun culture's fetishization of firearms. I think the unbridled individiualism many Americans pride themselves on is part of the problem, too. Many Americans worry more about rights than responsibilities, and I think that may contribute to the reactions of these shooters to their situations when they feel backed into a corner in life.

The mental health issue is a huge and important aspect of conversation. But it's not like all of the countries that have less of a problem with mass shootings have much better mental health care than the US. I'm sure many people in those countries are just as badly off as here, but probably react differently due to the different cultural mindset. For example, suicide rather than homocide. That's not a desirable outcome either, but I'm just saying I think cultural mindset does make a difference.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:09 AM   #20
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MOD NOTE:

We have several threads going relating to guns, the shootings in Newtown and gun control. Merging them would create an unfollow-able mess. My thanks for folks who, in this thread, keep the discussion to the OP.
[QUOTE=ReallyRong;7828898]Over here in the UK, the recent tragedy in Newtown has highlighted, once again, our own obsession of how America's love affair with firearms reaps the seeds it sows and how the world would be a better place without guns, just as we have. (In the UK there are no gun shops or whatever they're called). But on the other hand, it didn't stop Michael Ryan killing 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 or Thomas Hamilton killing 17 people in Dunblane in 1996 (and that was also a school massacre). Meanwhile, in France they have a very much laissez-faire attitude towards guns with the idea that man should be the hunter. And you know what? There must be some people out there, but I'm not aware of any French guy going nuts with a gun and making world headlines,

so is it a case of culture versus the gun or gun [versus] the culture?[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:44 AM   #21
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I think the mental health policy issue is different from the gun culture issue and should be treated as separate. Although many mass shootings in the US are connected to mental health problems, they are still the small minority of gun crimes. The overwhelming incidence of gun violence and death in the US day to day and annually has nothing at all to do with mental health problems. To me, a lot of the connection between mental health and gun access issues sounds a lot like scapegoating (at worst) and deflection (at best).

I don't think American gun culture is going to change to something socially healthier unless Americans find a cultural icon of strength and power that is not a gun. This is where I think the icon-makers, the authors and artists of the creative media, have a chance to change the way we think about guns, conflict, resolution, combatting evil, etc., and eventually offer symbols that speak to our national image but are not focused on guns or other lethal weapons. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I don't see how we get rid of something without filling its space in our culture with something else.

I think a potential place to start is with that fetishization of guns. We were discussing this around the dinner table the other night. We didn't reach a conclusion. It's too complex a question. But one thing I focused on was the difference between dramatically valid violence and gratuitous violence in entertainment. It was what I called the violence-porn question. There are movies and books of extreme violence which, to me, deliver a story message that leaves me thinking seriously about violence. There are other movies and books in which the violence itself seems to be the point, and reading/watching feels more like wallowing.

It's a question that applies to violence in general and not just gun violence, but to focus on guns for the moment: I drew a comparison between two examples -- Dirty Harry and Unforgiven. Both are Clint Eastwood movies, both involve a lot of gun violence.

I argued that Unforgiven used violence to explore themes about revenge and/versus justice and the price people pay for living by violence, whatever their purpose or goal. The scope of the violence in the movie carried forward those themes, and for me, the movie was a moral tragedy that left the impression that violence results in a hell of human suffering and the disconnection of the violent individual from society, no matter what the context is or how noble the intentions.

Dirty Harry, on the other hand, did not need the level of violence it used to tell its story about police corruption. Because the violence was gratuitous and did not inform the story in any particular way, it overwhelmed the story. The characters became shallow, the message lost, and all we were left with was the image of Harry and his B.F.G. blowing people away and seeming like a big individualistic hero, whoopdedoo.

To me, Dirty Harry was violence porn that glamorized violence in and of itself, while Unforgiven was a moral drama about violence that delivered an anti-violence message. I am strongly of the opinion that creative pros should take on the responsibility of drawing that distinction in our own work. I really believe the use of guns and violence in popular culture will make a huge difference in addressing our cultural assumptions about guns and violence over the long term.
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:48 AM   #22
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I don't think American gun culture is going to change to something socially healthier unless Americans find a cultural icon of strength and power that is not a gun. This is where I think the icon-makers, the authors and artists of the creative media, have a chance to change the way we think about guns, conflict, resolution, combatting evil, etc., and eventually offer symbols that speak to our national image but are not focused on guns or other lethal weapons. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I don't see how we get rid of something without filling its space in our culture with something else.
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:57 AM   #23
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All gun control related threads have been closed in P&CE. I think opening this topic might be against the wishes of MacAllister in that announcement, ReallyRong.

EDIT: My mistake, Williebee's already visited. In that case, I'd like to mentioned that the UK's gun control laws were a lot less strict before Dunblane. Dunblane led to a massive crackdown. CNN has a decent article on it here -- from what I've gathered out of very light research, before Dunblane gun ownership wasn't actually illegal in the UK.
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:58 AM   #24
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Remember Bowling for Columbine? There's one aspect I found very enlightening. And considering Moore didn't spend a lot of commentary hammering that point home, I'm willing to assume that's an actual find and not one of his ranty montages. He asks both Maerican and Canadian gun owners what guns they own. The Americans all tell him exactly how many guns, which caliber and build and brand, all the details that show a true fan. The Canadians just say things like "two rifles and a couple of pistols". No fetish here.
So there's something good about owning a gun but not knowing a lot of details about it? I don't get this.

Yes there are people in the U.S. who know a lot about guns, but they are a minority. The vast majority of people here know very little about guns. Yes some people know a lot about guns and it's an interest of theirs. Those are usually the kinds of people who don't go out and kill other people. They go to the range, they practice, they often are responsible with guns. I don't see anything wrong with them knowing a lot about the make and model of their guns, any differently than a car enthusiast knowing a lot more about cars than the average person.

It's more often than not that mass killers know a lot less about guns. They just want to kill people, they aren't interested in the history or make or model of a gun more than their need to kill people.

A person who really has a fun time going to the range, and knows a lot about calibers and makes and models, usually doesn't have any interest in murdering people. There's no connection there, except for a general fear you might have of gun enthusiasts, which I would say is irrational.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:01 AM   #25
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All gun control related threads have been closed in P&CE. I think opening this topic might be against the wishes of MacAllister in that announcement, ReallyRong.

EDIT: My mistake, Williebee's already visited. In that case, I'd like to mentioned that the UK's gun control laws were a lot less strict before Dunblane. Dunblane led to a massive crackdown.
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