Discoveries of an Anti-Gunner: My Conversion to the Other Side

From A Girl and a Gun:

January 7, 2016

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes wrote that free people consent to give up their individual rights in order to establish a political community, i.e., civil society, which establishes laws so that everyone can enjoy security. Although simplistic, this theory supports the following arguments for gun control:

  1. Private citizens should give up the right to own military-style weapons, so that a violent person cannot get one to use on innocent people. In our First World society, we have police, sheriffs, constables, SWAT teams, reservists, military, Special Forces, and a variety of teams that can respond to an emergency at a moment’s notice. If military weapons are needed, a cadre of weapons can arrive with expertly trained professionals.
  2. Citizens who want guns should give up the right of privacy so that they can be vetted to keep guns out of the wrong hands. If you don’t have anything to hide, you should submit to a background check. The government can keep a registry so that if a gun is passed to a new owner it can be tracked so that it is not used unlawfully.
  3. Gun owners should give up the right to buy large quantities of ammunition, so that a violent person cannot obtain thousands of rounds of ammo. Similarly, gun owners should use smaller magazines to limit the round count so that if someone uses a gun unlawfully there may be fewer fatalities.
  4. Lastly, it doesn’t support Hobbes’ theory, but this argument often accompanies the previous ones: The NRA should be universally recognized as a heartless political engine that is funded by firearm manufacturers for profit and it mocks the deaths of innocent people.

I spent many years making these arguments in support of gun control. I cried out, “Enough is enough!” when another senseless murder happened because of a gun. I reviled politicians who were in the NRA’s pockets. I didn’t let my kids play with toy guns. I wanted to end America’s obsession with destruction and start a new generation of we’re-all-in-this-together, rational human beings.

Then I bought a gun.

After a 10-year conversation weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I bought a handgun. I was suddenly on the other side of the mountain and what I discovered was very surprising:

  • Surprise #1: Gun owners are some of the most family-friendly, kind-hearted people I’d ever met. They welcome newcomers and are willing and happy to teach anyone who wants to learn. It is common to find veterans, active military, and law enforcement men and women at the range. This isn’t solely because of the enjoyment for shooting itself; rather it is the culture of people who enjoy shooting sports. Many shooters grew up in 4H or scouting programs that emphasize good citizenship and working together for the common good, and they’re raising their children in the same values. From a young age children are taught gun safety, responsibility, and accountability, and family times at the shooting range or deer lease create lasting memories and traditions.

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