the two problems of gun laws

The culture of guns in the American population is not one culture. Though I am not a gun owner, I am a part of the culture of guns; if you live in the US, you are too. It has become in recent years a defining cultural element, including everyone, everywhere. I live in a major urban center–the Twin Cities–where gun violence is prevalent, unfortunately. I am infuriated at times over the manner in which gun-salesman and NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre discusses the issues of guns in America. He sees American gun culture as monolithically defined by an organization that represents about 1 % of the country. And even within that 1%, there is nothing monolithic about their positions on gun control.

Likewise, I am sure that folks of LaPierre’s ilk would be disinclined to enjoy the manner in which I discuss the same issues of gun control (were they to ever find their way this blog, which remains unlikely). Really, this is because we’re talking about two different things.

The US needs comprehensive national policies that will make it more difficult for guns to get into the hands of those who will use them for ill. We need to create laws that will make murder less efficient when those guns do end up in the hands of criminals. I believe this fully.

Others do not. Not just Wayne and the NRA, but many Americans who worry about encroaching governments, or record keeping, or however they choose to frame the issue. I can live with that. My rural and agricultural family members do not agree with me. They are gun users. They hunt with them, shoot gophers on the farm with them; in many ways they enjoy firearms. Their firearm use is not a problem that needs legislating. Gun violence is.

I don’t know the policy solutions. Background checks are a start. That anyone opposes background checks makes it difficult for me to breathe, let alone have a rational discussion on the merits of background checks. But this gets at the heart of the problem, the problem that is not being discussed.

In an urban environment (though the problem is obviously not only an urban one), in populous places where gun violence is daily and gun murders occur on too regular a basis, gun control advocates are talking about a specific issue: gun violence. The problem is here, now, real. Outside of these environments, in rural American rod and gun clubs for example, this problem may be essentially non-existent.  In that environment, the problem is not the constant presence of gun violence, the problem is a government restricting gun ownership.

These are two separate problems, dealt with by two separate groups of people, that are going to be impacted by the same policies. I don’t know how to make a single set of rules to please everyone. But we still need a single set of rules that will help protect people while trying to address both of these problems.

I don’t know what those rules should be but I hope they are not made by Wayne LaPierre.


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