Saturday, 15 December 2012

Gun Culture Shock

Yesterday's shooting in Connecticut left me shaken in a way no tragedy has ever affected me before. I just cannot imagine how the parents, children, and the community at large will move past this and resume their lives. If I was there I would want that school razed and another built somewhere else in the community.

Much is being said about American gun laws and gun culture and how nothing seems to change. If anything the trend towards an armed camp society is increasing, and frighteningly so.

While gun laws are becoming more liberal, the discussion at hand has many wondering if American society can, or will, reverse itself.

Gun culture in the US is different from everywhere else. There is a fetish, a worship almost, that is at odds with the concept of a peaceful society. I was introduced to guns as a young teen. My grandfather gave to me the single shot .22 rifle that he used to teach my uncle to shoot with. I was seen as the most responsible of the grand children and was entrusted with the responsibility of owning and using a firearm. Once I was a little older, he gave me a 12 round pump action .22 rifle as well. Later on, my neighbor gave me a bolt-action .22 repeater with a scope.

Once I had my drivers license, my friends and I would head out to a farm or a disused gravel quarry and shoot ground-hogs (a pest to farmers) or homemade targets. We didn't do it a lot, but it was something to do, and no parents thought it odd or strange that a bunch of teen males would head out with firearms for fun. We used them in a responsible manner, and it was just part of growing up in the country. No different then heading out to the local river to do some fishing.

I appreciate a gun, and do enjoy the power and possibilities of modern powerful firearms. But not as means of delivering death, my appreciation is more similar to appreciating a large earth mover, a freight engine or a large airliner. The male fascination with "more power" as Tim Allen used to put it.

Like many people, I am a big fan of the TV show Myth Busters, and quite frequently their myths will center around firearms. This clip is very typical, and the mini-gun in that clip has appeared in multiple episodes and is used in the opening title sequences of the show. It is moments like that where the differences between Americans and the rest of us become readily apparent. As a viewer, the raw testosterone inducing machismo of the moment is appealing, and part of the draw of the show.

An even more distinctly American show is Sons of Guns. This is a show that I have only been able to watch a few times. As stated earlier, I do appreciate and enjoy a well crafted firearm. But this show just crosses my invisible line from appreciation to worship. But it is broadcast in Canada, and so we Canadians again get to enjoy the stranger aspects of American culture without fully embracing and adopting them up here.

As the gun debate rages once again in the US, I do believe that shows like this that celebrate firearms are the canaries in the gun culture mine. Will Mythbusters continue to enthusiastically test firearms related myths? Will Sons of Guns (or something similar) continue to air?

This is the attitude and culture that has to change before gun laws will change in the US. The laws will follow from US society's desire to control guns, to reduce their importance as part of the social fabric. People will follow the laws when they believe in the reasons for the laws. And until they accept those reasons are valid, nothing much will change.

Update: Discovery hit ‘American Guns’ canceled as Hollywood wrestles with links to gun violence

1 comment:

Gloria z said...

Thanks for your article. i am shock with the entertainment of these people. You write "This is the attitude and culture that has to change before gun laws will change in the US" and may be true; however, to change the attitude will take generations. How it can be expected when nobody cry that the drones kill innocents in other countries and a list of people to be killed is on the hand of the president of USA.