Previously in this series:
- “A Case Against Gun Control”
- “The Cultural Roots of a Gun-Massacre Society”
- “A Veteran on the Need to Control Civilian Arms”
- “‘Show Us the Carnage,’ Continued”
- “Only in America”
- “Show Us the Carnage”
- “The Empty Rituals of an American Massacre”
and before that:
- “Why the AR-15 Is So Lethal”
- “The Nature of the AR-15”
- “Why the AR-15 Was Never Meant to be in Civilian Hands”
- “More on the Military and Civilian History of the AR-15”
- “The Certainty of More Shootings,” from back after the Aurora massacre
- “Two Dark American Truths from Las Vegas,” with included video.
Today, readers on the culture, psychology, and politics of regulating guns.
Really, pay attention to Australia—white-male privilege and all. Several previous messages have referred to Australia’s modern experience with guns. In short: After the mass-casualty “Port Arthur massacre” of 1996, a conservative government (technically, the Liberal party) changed gun policy, and since then Australia has had its share of gun violence but no remotely comparable massacres. By contrast, the five deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, and 7 of the 10 worst, have all happened since 1996.
Earlier a reader in Melbourne described the experience of living with the normal range of urban concerns but not the fear of being shot. Another reader who emigrated to Australia writes:
I read your Melbourne reader's comment with intense empathy, because it exactly describes my experience.
I lived in the USA for almost five decades. From the age of 14 to 49, I owned my own guns. There was never a period in which I did not own a gun. I even put one to good use at the age of 15, throwing my mother's boyfriend out of the house after they argued. The gun in my hands made him leave. At various times in my adult life I would carry a pistol, when I deemed it appropriate.
When I immigrated to Australia of course I had to sell off my arsenal. By that point it was down to two pistols (my assault rifle had been stolen years ago).
After my first year here, I noticed there was something different. I felt odd, as if something were missing. It took a road-rage incident to realize it was the absence of fear. No matter how mad someone got at me, no one was going to shoot me. My three decades of martial-arts training would not be trumped by a drunk with three minutes of target practice. My choice to be engaged with the people around me, even when they seemed angry, would not put my life at undue risk.
The irony is that I know almost as many people here (2) that own guns as I did in the USA (3). Hunters and sport shooters can and do have guns. It does involve a fair amount of paperwork and some expense, but not materially worse than owning a car. But the guns are different: single-shot, small caliber rifles or shotguns, not assault rifles and automatic pistols.