- May 12th, 2017
Oh, those gun-crazy Americans… their obsession is a national insanity! What’s with them? It doesn’t take much for this view of Americans to pop up elsewhere in the world; it is usually followed by a little ‘virtue-advertising’ on how much the speaker hates guns themselves.
The funny thing about contemporary liberals is that they are normally fascinated by things they claim to hate… but that is another issue.
Preconceptions and stereotypes are common enough, it is never too hard to find an example that confirms your image of people. With a little digging a crusading film-maker or television producer can find a suitable stereotype, just like Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher could dig up somebody who looked enough like a subject for another Der St rmer feature on the ‘Jewish threat’.
However, so-called ‘Gun craziness” (or whatever) is not confined to Americans. I own a few myself. Some are historical artifacts – or copies thereof — that I keep in working order, and some are just fun to shoot. An old injury debars serious accuracy with rifles, but I like the idea of being competitive with handguns and sometimes even shoot against police and military teams from across Canada.
A year ago, I took my favorite handgun onto an Air Canada flight with me (a routine procedure) and flew down into the US (likewise routine). The four-day defensive handgun course at Front-Sight Academy in Parumph, Nevada was a very useful tune-up to my skills. The academy and that part of Nevada are a nexus of American gun culture.
Hundreds of students at the academy are a boon to Parumph’s hotels and businesses, and we were allowed to wear our gun-belts around the town if we chose. Only nobody did. The residents are similarly allowed to bedeck themselves and tote stuff around. They don’t.
Oh, the guns are around all right, but the first rule is that when they become so commonplace, they cease to be unusual. Society also being what it is, nobody wants to be a dork. Where everybody has guns, wearing one all the time is a sure sign of ‘dorkiness’ — a point to remember next time ‘American gun craziness’ appears as a news feature.
The other social pressure – being especially stressed at Front-Sight – was about safe-handling and responsibility. The day after my course, I was in a local gravel pit expending my left-over ammunition, and I wasn’t alone. But the Nevadans were not behaving irresponsibly, paid close attention to safety, and were otherwise typically American in their affability and openness.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, and wasn’t. My two previous immersions in American gun culture (a break in an academic conference and a research trip to a major gun-show) were much the same. Very ordinary Americans doing what comes very ordinarily to them… and guns are not that extraordinary once you become familiar with them. More people should.
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