Walter Kirn Wants You To Surrender Your Gun Rights To Appear “Reasonable”

d358walter kirn 600x400 Walter Kirn Wants You To Surrender Your Gun Rights To Appear Reasonable

Over at The New
Republic, Walter Kirn (author of Up in the Air, among
other works) penned
an essay on guns that is alternately informative, touching,
self-contradictory and craven. He’s a good writer, so he’s up to
the challenge of jamming all that, however unfortunately, into one
piece. His take is that guns are fun, useful and empowering, but
that owning them is somehow transformative, and that giving in to
some of the proposed gun restrictions, no matter how pointless,
will make gun owners look “civilized” and “reasonable” to
non-owners.At one point, Kirn describes gun owners as “a loose fraternity
of people who feel embattled and defensive and are primally eager
to win allies.” There may be some truth in that description, but it
seems just as apt a take on Kirn himself. Despite a life-long
familiarity with firearms, from a childhood Iver Johnson .410
shotgun to a .38 revolver he owns now, Kirn goes to pains to assure
his readers that he’s not like other gun owners who might
consider him a “traitor and a weakling.” Those others include an
Army captain friend (probably former friend, after this) who he
paints as a bit off because of his fear that the U.S. government is
becoming more authoritarian. “PTSD,” cautions Kirn. When you own
guns, “[y]ou start to entertain scenarios that might not occur to
you if you didn’t shoot.”Kirn also describes defending himself and his kids with a .22
pistol, but then warns that “[s]tatistics on the dangers guns pose
to the health of their owners and those who live with them suggest
that I’d be safer selling my guns than reserving them for
Tombstone II.” Nevermind that nobody bothers attributing
those statistics anymore because they all seem to come from the
much-debunked Arthur
Kellerman, who has revised downward his own claims about the
risks of owning a gun, and is largely responsible for the
controversy over whether the Centers
for Disease Control ought to be allowed anywhere near research on
firearms, given a politicized history when dealing with the
topic.That’s right, Kirn defended his family with a gun, but warns
others against doing the same, based on bogus data. But he was
hired just last year for this gig, and may be “eager to win
allies.”Kirn is clearly aware of just how arbitrary and bizarre firearms
laws can be, having been coached on their intricacies in the course
of a concealed-carry class.
It’s flattering being recruited into an ethos of responsibility.
It makes you want to walk the line. It also reminds you how
arbitrary some lines are. Cross the wrong state border with your
gun or wake up one morning to new legislation or a new presidential
executive order, and suddenly you’re the bad guy, not the good guy.
No wonder some gun owners seem so touchy; they feel, at some level,
like criminals in waiting.
And yet … He goes on to embrace that arbitrariness, and the
delusions and falsehoods behind it. “Will there be fewer murders
with tighter gun laws—the modest laws that might actually
materialize rather than the grand ones that probably won’t but will
surely rev up the rhetoric and the hoarding—or only fewer or
smaller massacres?” But what makes him think there will be “fewer
murders” or “fewer massacres” just because we’ve drawn more
arbitrary lines? Why wouldn’t there be no change? Or even
more murders?The specific arbitrary line that Kirn embraces is one that would
be drawn around “the cult of maximum firepower that draws
harder-boiled folks to stores and gun shows to handle Bushmasters
and similar weapons with death-dealing, quasi-military designs.”
Kirn doesn’t even address the almost non-existent usage of these
guns in crime, that the Congressional Research Service reports
(PDF) a survey of prisoners who had been armed during their crimes
found “less than 2%, used, carried, or possessed a semiautomatic
assault weapon or machine gun.” What matters to Kirn is that
“[h]orror and panic themselves are forms of violence, and
diminishing them, restricting their dimensions, is itself a
civilizing act.”But “horror and panic” are subjective and often irrational
reactions. Kirn’s “civilizing act” boils down to nothing more than
appeasing the mob with a gesture of surrender so that “the
gun-owning community can demonstrate precisely the sort of
reasonable public-mindedness of which some believe it to be
incapable.”Gun owners shouldn’t object, continues Kirn, because “assault
rifles are functionally similar to ordinary semi-automatic rifles,
differing chiefly in their sinister
cosmetics, not in their underlying ballistics. This being the
case, what will be lost by giving them up?”It’s all about appearances, you see. About looking “civilized”
so that nobody can call you a “nut job” as a former girlfriend once
called Kirn when she saw a few loose cartridges in his desk.Eager to win allies, indeed.Walter Kirn describes gun owners as “a loose fraternity of
people who feel embattled and defensive” and proceeds to justify
their feelings. But as a writer as well as a gun owner, would he be
so willing to surrender free speech rights if those, too were
embattled? Actually, he might. The word “rights” is evoked only
twice in his essay — rather dismissively, both times. But the lack
of “reasonable public-mindedness” Kirn says gun opponents attribute
to gun owners might also be described as principle. Gun owners
stand on their rights in the belief that freedom shouldn’t be
surrendered without very good reason.An argument that gun owners should give ground for the sake of
appearances doesn’t come off as good reason.

Source – 

Walter Kirn Wants You To Surrender Your Gun Rights To Appear “Reasonable”


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