January 17, 2013

Speaking for My Tribe

Speaking for My Tribe | TPM Editors Blog:
Well, I want to be part of this debate too. I’m not a gun owner and, as I think as is the case for the more than half the people in the country who also aren’t gun owners, that means that for me guns are alien. And I have my own set of rights not to have gun culture run roughshod over me.


steves said...

I think he makes some good points, but it is difficult when we talk about rights. How do we reconcile this? I would certainly be happy to have a dialog and I respect his honesty and candor.

One thing from his article stands out:

"There’s a lot of bogus research (widely discredited) purporting to show that if we were all armed we’d all be safer through a sort of mutually assured destruction, pervasive deterrence. As I said, the research appears to be bogus."

This is patently not true. I have read a lot of this research, on both sides. It is not widely discredited.

Jay said...

I agree with Steve that those statements about the research are too strong. Yes, a lot of the research on both sides can (and should) be questioned about whether the results meet a given standard of rigor and objectivity. But a blanket statement calling them bogus and discredited is quite a bit too strong.

The part of this piece I question, which otherwise does an effective job of encapsulating my views on guns, is whether we really do have the right to "not to have gun culture run roughshod over" us. What specific right protects us from that? There are clear and codified rights to bear arms in this country. If there are clear and codified rights not to be run roughshod over by this or any other culture or group (except I suppose the government itself), I'm not sure what or where they are. Do they exist? Or is this another example of someone not quite grasping (or expressing) the distinction between what they think is a good idea and what is actually a right?

Streak said...

I would like to hear Josh respond on the research. I am sure he is getting letters.

but about his rights, this is, again, my big frustration with the gun discussion. I get the second amendment rights, and even support them to a point. but even here, I have been told that I should not have any gun free zones. I can't even choose them. If I were to attend church, Steve says people should be able to carry guns there. Others are saying that the local school should be a carry zone.

I teach college courses, and my community college has armed police. They bug me, but I appreciate the attention to security. But in Oklahoma, the gun rights people want my students to carry in the classroom. It doesn't matter that that scares the bejeebus out of me.

What I think Josh is discussing, (and he is a bright guy, btw, with a Phd in American history--fwiw) is probably the wrong use of the word "right," but he is tapping into a sense that gun rights people are bullies. It is part of why we distrust the NRA, and it is why so many people on that side bug me. We disappear in that discussion and what we want or fear doesn't count. Their rights to guns trump who we are, almost completely. I have seen this same frustration in many of my non-gun friends on Facebook. They are angry that their absolute horror at the school shooting is met with "we can't stop that without more guns," and any discussion of it soon becomes a very self-centered discussion about the individual gun person talking about what he likes to do with guns and why he should be able to do it.

It isn't just self-defence, either. It is for sport or for fun. There is no right to sport or fun either, but we hear that all the time.


Jay said...


I get all of that, and agree with the spirit of everything you say there. However, when talking about legislation and government action, the conversation is different than when individuals discuss it. When you, Josh, Steve, or anyone else says "let's talk about what bothers me about the gun culture in this country" then all of that stuff is and should be on the table. But when the conversation turns, as it almost inevitably does, to "well, what can we do about it" then the definition of a right and the distinction between a right and a "good idea" or "what is fair" or even "what we agree would be a reasonable course of action" can still be huge.

I like that there are discussions, many of them civil, reasonable, and informative, about opposing viewpoints on this issue. But while we are comparing a codified right against that other stuff, what can actually be done to "solve" the problems or even to arrive at any sort of compromise solution becomes an incredibly unequal exchange. Because as it stands right now, guns are a right. The other stuff is not. And limiting a right is, and should be, a big deal.

It bugs the crap out of me that this is the way it is. But in the absence of research results that meet a very high standard of rigor and objectivity, I just don't see how substantive changes are even possible, much less likely.

steves said...

Jay, I agree, but any right is subject to some restrictions. We should be careful, though. I also agree that we have no right to be free of emotional discomfort.