Tag: living in Oregon

Being Anti-firearms in a Mostly Pro-firearms County

I think firearms and explosives are the worst things the human race has ever invented and the use of them is cowardly.  If you must kill another human being you should have to look them in the face when you do it: up close and personal.  You can, of course, kill people at close range with handguns, but generally speaking the point of guns is to put as much distance between yourself and your “opponent” as possible while still being able to inflict fatal damage.  That is what firearms were invented for.  They have one single purpose in their design and that’s TO KILL LIVING BEINGS.  It is most likely that if you kill someone at close range with a gun, the other person was not armed or you have disarmed them, in which case, you have killed an unarmed person which I think is wrong.

Before moving to Yamhill County the only two people I’ve ever been aware of having guns is my father in law (who I believe inherited them from his deceased brother) and a former friend who is mentally ill, unstable, and paranoid.  The only gun I’d ever seen in person was the one belonging to the former friend who shouldn’t have been allowed to have one in the first place (and for the life of me I can’t recall if hers was registered or not).  I liked that most people I knew didn’t have guns and those who had them never flaunted them, discussed them, or wore them on their person.

I hate firearms and though I’ve never voted for any legislation to remove the rights of people to own them, I am ashamed of the gun culture in my country.

After having lived in Yamhill County for six years I have seen a lot of guns, heard about a lot more guns than I saw, and I have even gone shooting twice myself.  In previous posts about this I have said that shooting is fun.  And it is.  There is something satisfying about hitting a target whether it’s with a bullet, an arrow, a rock, a fist, or a foot.  There’s no denying that being able to hit a target well with any weapon is fun.  I was glad to have the opportunity to handle some guns and shoot them for the sake of my writing.  I know what it feels like to discharge a 12 gauge shotgun with buckshot.  I know what it feels like to shoot a semi-automatic .22 handgun.  I know what it feels like to shoot an old fashioned 38 six shooter.  I know what handguns and rifles feel like to hold and I know something about how they work now.

There is a seemingly common belief amongst firearm owners that if you become educated about them, if you learn to use them, and learn enough statistics about them that you will respect them and not fear them or be against them.

This is not true, at least for me.  After six years of being literally surrounded by gun owners who are very vocal and proud of their firearm collections and prowess, I can say that I despise guns now more than I ever did before.

I once heard a story told by someone who, in the process of getting a certified for some wilderness job, shot a bear.  The bear, it seems, was brought out on a lead and then let “loose” and this person was very proud that she killed the bear (maybe with one shot?).  Her enthusiasm for killing a bear disgusted me.  The fact that she was not actually in any real danger, she didn’t even have to go looking for one, it was just brought out for her to kill – it made me ashamed of humankind.

But I suppose the main point for me is that the bear was killed just to certify that a human can hit a target.  Fuck that shit.  You can prove that on a range.  That was not valor.   That was not skill.  It was just killing.

I think the most horrifying thing to me is that many of the people who own firearms around here do not just own a handgun for protection, they own military grade rifles, both semi-and fully automatic.  Most of them don’t own just one.  It’s a “hobby” to collect them.  But most of the people I’ve met who own such weapons are extremely paranoid about the power of the government to take away their freedoms and this is obviously a way they are making themselves feel protected.  They want to make sure that if the government comes to get them they’ll be ready for full scale war.  While they’re scared of the government – I am more scared of them.  There is a very thin line between reasonable protection of self and making yourself into a military unit as a family.

That expectation of violence is what really truly gets under my skin.  It’s the whole arms race on a small scale.  It’s a never-ending escalation of fear of and expectation of and MUTUAL THREAT of violence.

They have a nuclear bomb so we need one.  They have two nuclear bombs so we need three.  They have a hundred thousand heat missiles, we need eight hundred thousand.  It doesn’t end.  My neighbor has a handgun so I’m going to get a bigger one.  My neighbor has an M16, so I need to get an AK47 or three.

When I went to pick up my laptop from the place that fixed it I got into a conversation with one of the tech guys about the book I wrote and then about how I learned to shoot so that I could write more realistically about it.  I mentioned how I’d never known so many gun-fanatics before moving to Yamhill County.  This guy, who’s supposed to be a tech nerd, whips out his phone and shows me a picture of himself holding his two macho M16s across his chest like a gangsta and he’s clearly proud of his weapons which obviously make him feel like a tough guy.

It was disappointing.  Yet another person in this county with a cultish love of firearms.  And yes, turns out he’s got paranoia issues too.  There are, of course, quite a few people here who don’t own guns, but they don’t make up for the ones that do as far as peace of mind goes.

Peace.  Quite a few of the firearm owners here claim to believe in “peace” and say they only own the weapons for “protection”.

Here’s something I’ve learned about owning firearms: you don’t own them unless you fully have the willingness to use them.*  Guns are made for one purpose only – to kill things.  Having one requires a will to kill.  Except in the case of people who only have guns specifically made for hunting game and who actually use them for hunting game, nearly everyone who owns firearms has a willingness to kill humans.

Those people who are constantly bringing up the untrustworthy evil government complex whose only purpose is to destroy our way of life believe that the only way to fight an oppressive government is to arm themselves for an uprising.  They believe this is the only way and they will argue you endlessly over their rights to arm themselves.

But I have never argued a person’s right to arm themselves.  Your right to collect as many automatic weapons as you like is not what I’m actually arguing.

I’m arguing that just because you have a right to have an arsenal in your basement doesn’t mean you should or that you need to.  The fact that you do makes you way scarier to me than the government and it also makes you just like them.

Gandhi brought down a nation of oppressors with no violence.  That is true bravery.  He never used a gun.  He never raised a goddamn stick.  People got hurt, of course.  Freedom, as the gunslingers love to say, isn’t free, but it also doesn’t have to be won by shedding your oppressor’s blood.  A willingness (and worse – a desire) to shed the blood of people oppressing you or doing you harm is ignoble.  Maybe human, but not a quality of humanity to be admired or emulated.  A willingness to fight for freedom without violence is true honor.  Gandhi was a man who truly believed in non-violence and lived what he preached.

Then he was killed by a resentful man with a gun.

A person with firearms only believes in peace until it no longer suits them.

I believe in peace, period.

I have thought about my belief in non-violence with regards to self defense and I’m not certain where I draw the line.  I know I don’t believe in killing, period.  PERIOD.  Disabling an attacker, yes.  Getting away, yes.  Disarming, yes.

Living in Yamhill County has strengthened my resolve not to allow firearms in my house under any circumstances.  I have allowed air-soft guns for fun because they can barely do any more damage than sting your skin or hurt your eye (which is why we use eye protection when playing with them).  That’s all I’ll allow.

I will encourage my kid to learn to shoot at a shooting range so that he can be familiar with how guns work, what they feel like to shoot, and so that they are not a forbidden mystery to him.  If he wants to have guns in his own home when he grows up, that’s his choice.  If he wants to own a gun while still living at home so he can routinely shoot at a range he will have to store it in a locker off of my property.

I will go a step further than that – I won’t allow any guests to bring their firearms into my house either.  If you carry, you can leave it in your car.  If you can’t come into my house without the protection of a gun then I don’t want you in my house.  We are on equal footing here.  We are peaceful.  We live with the unwillingness to kill in this house and if you can’t walk into my house with that same faith and good will and trust that we aren’t going to hurt you, then you don’t belong here.

Do I think people who own guns are bad?  No.  I’ve met many really good people who own them.  I love my father in law and he owns a few.  I’ve met people who own firearms whose company I enjoy and who I am able to respect in many ways.  Hating firearms is not the same as hating the people who love them and carry them and use them.

I would like to un-invent all firearms and explosives, but sadly I am not even capable of un-inventing meat glue.  So instead I will simply live my life making choices that support my principles and ideals and hope I don’t get shot.

Please note:

I am not offering this post up as a challenge to engage in debate or rage-ful arguments over firearm ownership or rights.  While here in gun country I have listened to what the gun owners have had to say about why they carry with an open mind and I’ve heard all their arguments about why the right to bear arms is so important and I have NOT poured hate or anger or dissidence on them.  I have done what I could to learn from them and consider their viewpoints.  I have not insulted them for their choices nor shoved my own beliefs into their faces or aired my differing beliefs into their homes when I’ve been invited kindly into them.  I am sharing my experiences and thoughts here on my own personal blog and you may comment as you like but if anyone gets disrespectful or mean IN WHAT IS MY ONLINE HOME I will either delete your comments or I will leave it for others but simply  not respond, as I see fit.  My  mind will not change with regards to firearms so if you are a fan of them and feel strongly about your right to have them and use them and are seeking to change other people’s minds about them – please direct your attention to people who have not yet made up their minds.  Thank you in advance for your respect and consideration for my right to not bear arms and my right to wish everyone else would choose not to with me.

*I suppose the only exception to this is inheriting them and being too lazy to get rid of them.