I’ve come to realize after the Sandy Hook shooting that the reason we can't have a rational gun debate is because the anti-gun side pre-supposes that their pro-gun opponents must first accept that guns are bad in order to have a discussion about guns in the first place. Before we even start the conversation, we're the bad guys and we have to admit it. Without accepting that guns are bad and supplicating themselves to the anti-gunner, the pro-gunner can't get a word in edgewise, and is quickly reduced to being called a murderer, or a low, immoral and horrible human being.He said a lot more than just that, but for this piece, that's the pullquote. But if you haven't already, go read the whole piece and all the links. This one will wait.
Hell with it, I'll add this excerpt too:
Gun people don't trust anti-gun people because I and many of us are what they call "sheepdogs" and we’re proud of that. Yet anti-gunners make fun of us, calling us "cowboys" and "wannabes" for it. Wanting to save lives and being willing to sacrifice one's own to do it used to be considered a virtue in this country. Anti-gunners think they have the moral outrage, but the moral outrage is ours. I have never expressed any of these feelings openly to anyone because they are private and deeply personal. Screw you for demeaning us and motivating me to speak them.I'm serious - go read it.
Now, while I was at the NRA Annual Meeting over the weekend, I spent some time observing the other people walking around with "MEDIA" badges. One such, I'm pretty sure, was the New York Daily News's Bill Hutchinson, who came to my attention Saturday morning as I was on my way into the venue. On the sidewalk outside the entrance he was interviewing (or at least engaged in conversation with) a very nice lady who was there protesting in her own way. I'm deeply sorry that I did not get her name (I gave her one of my cards and invited her to debate), but I've been waiting for her to pop up in a NYDN op-ed, so that's how I came across a couple of pieces there that inspired this post.
The first one was National Rifle Association's 'culture war' convention opens in Houston. Opening graf:
Houston buzzed Friday with tens of thousands of gun owners revved up for the National Rifle Association's first convention since the Newtown school massacre and a pro-firearm victory on Capitol Hill.Ya think? But the piece that triggered this post followed on Sunday - YOU'RE KIDDING! NRA pushes guns on kids as young as Newtown victims in sick 'Youth Day'. This was the work of a team, one of which was the aforementioned Bill Hutchinson, and it merits a fisking. Before I begin, let me mention that, interspersed between the paragraphs of the op-ed and the "frightening" pictures of kids handling guns were no less that three links to Newtown related pieces, two of which were to the same set of photos from the Sandy Hook massacre. Other links went to the piece I mentioned above, and one on incoming NRA President James Porter ("TOP LOON" "Worse than LaPierre!") just so you completely understand where we're going here. Let us begin:
But as the event got underway, it sounded more like a mustering of forces in the "culture war."
The National Rifle Association capped its annual convention Sunday by hosting a "Youth Day" — enticing youngsters to attend by offering free six-month memberships.As an aside, on Saturday Hutchinson came by the table where a group of gun bloggers were sitting to ask us if we knew the name of that 3-year-old. For this piece, I assume.
Billed by the NRA as a family-fun outing, the event drew hundreds of kids. Some of the attendees were the age of the Newtown massacre victims, others too young to know the difference between a toy gun and a real one.
"Spend the day exploring 400,000 square feet of exhibit hall containing over 550 exhibitors from across the country. Share the excitement with spectacular displays and fun-filled events for the entire family," the NRA wrote on its website.
The event was staged a day after the NRA welcomed its youngest lifetime member, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan, whose grandfather purchased the membership.
Activities inside Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center prompted outrage outside.Among the dozen or two protesters.
"They shouldn't be teaching kids how to use guns. What happens when they get older? They might become like that Connecticut killer," said Cal Castille, 24, of Houston, referring to Newtown gunman Adam Lanza.Or they might become police officers or soldiers, or concealed-weapons permit holders who are more law-abiding as a group than the Mayors Against Illegal Guns! Hey, they give kids sex education, does that mean they might become prostitutes?
Anti-gun protesters, reading names of gun-violence victims across the street from the convention center, said the NRA event was akin to "brainwashing these kids to love guns."Uh, the kids don't need any help with that. Kids make guns out of their fingers, or even Pop-Tarts.
"This is indoctrination," said Jose Sequeiros, 67, of Houston. "These kids are too young to see that guns are wrong."Aaaand there it is: "...guns are wrong."
Yet we're supposed to have a debate on the topic.
Heather Ross, 27, said organizers of the event were tone deaf, given the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.And yet you found some, Ross! And no, Heather, it wasn't tone deaf, it was the business of the NRA, carried out as planned well over a year in advance, in the full knowledge that tens of thousands of their supporters would be coming. The difference is, we know it COULD happen to our kids. That's why we want to be armed, and why we want someone in the schools to be legally armed.
"It agitates me that these people don't think it could happen to their children," said Ross of Austin. "This is just beyond words."
In the convention center, pint-sized gun enthusiasts, some taught about the Second Amendment before they learned to read, perused the latest makes and models of firearms.Just like the NRA said! Imagine that!
"I like guns because guns are fun," said 9-year-old Kaykay Mace, who attended the NRA Youth Day with her dad, Scott, and big sister, Calla, 11.
Scott Mace, 37, called the event "a fun thing to do."
"If a child understands how to properly and safely shoot, then they become much safer," he said. "In a bad situation, they will understand what needs to be done."Like this 12 year-old?
Calla Mace said she enjoys going to gun ranges and bragged, "I'm a pretty good shot."And currently the most popular firearm sold in America. But let's ignore that and keep hammering on Sandy Hook, right?
"I've shot a .22 rifle before and a handgun," Calla said.
The convention floor was packed with little girls and boys with guns in their hands.
One blond girl in camouflage tights and pink skirt, who appeared to be about 7, gripped an air pistol as an instructor gave her tips on her aim.
Another young girl, with help from an adult, practiced aiming a rifle nearly as tall as she was. It was only an air gun that shoots pellets, but was made to look like an menacing AR-15 assault rifle — similar to one used by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook.
Trent Mattison, 51, of Beaumont, Tex., watched proudly as his 5-year-old son, Cooper, practiced shooting at the air-soft rifle range.As opposed to the smell of marijuana, I suppose.
"I like it because I like the smell of gunsmoke," said Cooper.
East Orange, N.J., high school teacher Ron Fierro, 62, was volunteering at the rifle range to show kids like Cooper how to shoot properly.In the Dark and Facist State of NEW JERSEY? (That's the GeekWithA.45's appellation.)
"I'm passing the tradition on to the next generation," Fierro said. "Guns are tools. You have to teach kids how to use them safely. When you teach gun safety, you reduce the amount of gun accidents."
Ray Ruley, 39, of Bay City, Tex., brought his six children and was thrilled they all received six-month free memberships in the NRA.But, but... guns are BAD! And SIX KIDS?!? He's one of those people, the ones who buy big jars of mayonnaise!
"I believe in our Second Amendment rights and want my children to appreciate the safe handling of firearms so the next generation doesn't easily give that freedom up," Ruley said.
Adults as well as children learned something at the event.Pincus' words have since been twisted into NRA speaker Rob Pincus advises parents to keep guns in kids room.
In a seminar, gun instructor Rob Pincus advised parents that the best place to put a home gun safe is in their children's bedrooms.
"Here's my position on this: If you're worried that your kid is going to try to break into the safe that is in their bedroom, with a gun in it, you have bigger problems than home defense," Pincus said.
You know, throughout that whole piece I could picture the authors, Bill Hutchinson and Daniel Beekman nodding their heads sagely when New York Times columnist David Carr called flyover country "...the dance of the low-sloping foreheads."
Barry Snell is right to an extent, but it's actually worse, in my opinion, than he states it. The Other Side™ doesn't think we're the "bad guys," they think we're a different species. Dehumanizing is necessary, don't you know.
There are, at the time of this writing, 655 comments to the piece. I don't have the stomach to wade through them. Forgive me.