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Why I'm Sick of Discussions About Guns
Necessary Evil Burnout
With the United States experiencing even more mass shootings than normal in recent years, gun control has been one of the dominant political topics lately. Personally, I have not found this topic to be particularly interesting, and I have not been entirely sure why. It may be partly due to the simple fact that little is likely to change of any significance with gun laws. So like much political discussion, it’s nothing but talk, including the same old arguments on both sides repeated ad nauseam, with few if any people involved coming close to changing their minds. But it’s probably also a reflection of my own ambivalence on the issue. Some of the arguments by second amendment advocates make sense. Gun regulations will likely impact law-abiding citizens more than criminals who, by definition, don’t worry too much about following the law. As a parent, I can understand other parents’ desire to defend their families, particularly those who live in dangerous neighborhoods. And although I am not a hunter, I am in no moral position, as an avid meat eater, to criticize those who find shooting animals to be entertaining and/or nutritious.
I can also think of several reasons why I have no personal desire to own a gun and why I don’t want guns all over the place in society. This does not mean, however, that I am strongly opposed philosophically to the notion of responsible citizens owning guns. So why do I find myself generally annoyed by strong gun advocates, and why do I have little desire to engage in discussions about this issue? The more I think about this topic, the more I realize that my lack of interest/general annoyance is emotional rather than philosophical. The simple truth is that I find guns to be disgusting. The fact that my fellow humans have been compelled to create such a wide array of nasty devices designed to tear other humans to shreds makes me embarrassed to be a member of the human race.
I’m sure that there are many second amendment advocates who share my feelings. They would argue that guns, like wars, are an unfortunate necessity of living in a messed up, sometimes dangerous world. As is often argued, the only way sometimes to stop a bad guy with a gun – or a bad ruler with an army – is with a good guy (or guys) with gun(s). What bothers me, however, is that many gun advocates seem to glorify the damn things, and guns, like many hobbies or fetishes, are viewed as fun playthings, a reflection of one’s toughness, and/or a means of getting aroused. Many Americans, even more than other people in so-called civilized societies, enjoy explosions and violence. Just a quick look at the most popular movies, television shows, or video games confirms this. And firing live ammunition is an even greater rush than blowing away virtual humans or creatures.
I see the same tendencies in war buffs. I can relate, to a certain degree, to their fascination with war. There is no doubt that certain wars have played a huge role in shaping the world. And it’s difficult to not be drawn in by compelling stories of armies going head to head and of terrified people coming face to face with death or mutilation. But I don’t understand the people who either romanticize war or who seem to find it fun to talk about. I also have trouble relating to those who are fascinated with every detail of the various toys that we humans have employed and tactics we have used in order to slaughter one another. Yes, I understand that wars are sometimes necessary. This doesn’t mean that I have to find them entertaining.
As a history teacher who tries to keep up with current events, I am often depressed with the state of the world. And when I come across horrific stories (almost every day) from the past and present, I often wonder what I was thinking when I agreed to bring children onto this planet. Discussions about guns and wars only remind me even more of how screwed up the world can be. I know that escapism, taken to an extreme, can be unhealthy. But without a certain amount of escapism, I would not be able to function. So forgive me if I am tired of talking about guns and wars, or if I have no interest in hearing about anyone’s gun fetishes or tales of military glory. I need to pretend as much as possible that the damn things don’t exist.