Fascinating NYT essay on a man's journey on guns

There is a fascinating essay in The New York Times on a man’s journey from absolutely hating guns to enjoying being around them. The piece was authored by Greg Gibson who lost his son to gun violence in the early 90s. Gibson is no 2nd Amendment advocate – he wrote last year how there needed to be more laws to keep disturbed individuals from getting guns – but the piece is still worth reading for the fact it’s written by someone who is doing more than just paying lip service to the notion of people owning guns.

Gibson admits something at the beginning of the piece: no one – on either side – wants to have an actual conversation about weapons which does not end in actual understanding.

I’d been told repeatedly by gun owners — often from the back of whatever crowd I was addressing — that my arguments for gun control had little credibility because I knew nothing about guns or gun culture. Eventually I came to see some truth in that assertion. If there was a gun culture of Second Amendment zealots, there was also an opposing gun-control culture made up of people who knew little about guns except that guns were bad. People, in other words, like me.

It’s a shocking revelation in a sense because hardly anyone seems willing to acquiesce this point and actually mean it. A part of this problem is the fact people sometimes use the worst methods to advocate for one position or another. Texas ran into this problem in the most recently completed legislative session where a bill on constitutional carry was killed after a 2nd Amendment activist decided to visit the homes of Texas House leaders. The bill sponsor ended up posting a Facebook video explaining the “right way” to push for bills. A woman was arrested on Saturday for throwing a drink at Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. These are great examples of what not to do when pushing some sort of position.

Gibson’s piece, if anything, is an excellent reminder of the importance of training – something 2nd Amendment advocates agree is important for anyone looking to own a weapon.

My lessons proceeded apace, and after 20 hours of instruction and at least 30 more of practice on my own, I was comfortable enough to park my loaded gun in a hard plastic “appendix holster” inside my belt, beneath my shirt, pressing into my groin. I learned to extract it rapidly and safely, and shoot it more or less accurately, and reload and fire while turning, crouching, ducking in and out of concealment, never, ever, presenting a stationary target.

There are still problems with the piece – as one would no doubt expect. The wild notion violent video games are one of the reasons why people decide to go out and kill people is mentioned. An idea rebutted in February by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein in Royal Society Open Science.

Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour. Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour. Sensitivity and exploratory analyses indicated these null effects extended across multiple operationalizations of violent game engagement and when the focus was on another behavioural outcome, namely, prosocial behaviour.

One shouldn’t worry about their child playing a game where the object is to kill other players or zombie. The theory violent video games lead to violence is still one accepted by the general public and the media. Everyone apparently needs something to blame for the ills of society whether it’s big business, guns, immigrants, or video games.

Gibson’s other problem is the belief government is a solution to gun violence.

As with school safety, there are things we can do to reduce gun deaths. Some of them will require education and cultural change, some can be addressed through legislation. Would every Second Amendment zealot have to lose a child in a preventable gun death to understand the sense in this?

It would be curious to see what government solutions Gibson supports. New York attempted a “mentally unstable” database in 2014 which Jazz noted violated the Constitution because it allowed an anonymous medical professional to report people they believed were a danger without due process. These types of “solutions” are no solution at all.

Gibson’s piece is still worth reading because it is a meaningful attempt by someone who was against guns to understand their worth. He comes off as someone who desires an actual conversation on guns and potential solutions towards reducing violence – which don’t involve government. Gibson did mention culture change and education and it would be interesting to see what he meant by those words.

It’s doubtful Gibson and I would ever come to an agreement on gun control laws – as I see gun ownership, to quote St. George Tucker, as a “palladium of liberty.” A talk about non-governmental solutions is certainly more interesting and, possibly, more fulfilling.

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