Why Do Gun Nuts Like Me Buy Guns?

I like to do my Black Friday shopping the day before Thanksgiving, so when I finish this column, I’m going to drive to the ol’ gun shop and buy myself a gun.  I haven’t bought a gun in a few months, so it’s time to maintain my membership in what the researchers at Harvard refer to as the ‘super’ gun owners, or what The Guardian calls the ‘hardcore super gun owners,’ i.e., gun nuts like me who have at least 17 guns lying around.

              When this study was released back inn 2016, it provoked the usual hue and cry from the usual organizations laboring mightily to reduce violence caused by guns.  How could it be otherwise?  After all, everyone knows that the more guns lying around, the more injuries caused by guns.

This narrative has no reality behind it at all.  The ‘average’ size of the arsenal owned by the hard-core gun nuts is 17 guns?  Are they serious?  I currently own maybe 60 guns (actually I’m not really sure of the exact number) and in the world of hard-core gun nuts, this makes me kind of light.  The two brothers who ran my gun shop probably had 200 guns stashed in the family home, and one of my customers had at least twice that number of guns lying around here and there.

Know why I opened a retail gun shop?  Because back in 2000 my wife informed me that our house didn’t have enough room for her shoes and my guns.  And the shoes weren’t about to go. You think there’s any intrinsic difference between my dear wife buying shoes and me buying guns?  If you do, then you have absolutely no understanding about why people like me (hard-core gun nuts) buy guns.  If pressed, we’ll come out with the usual nonsense about protecting ourselves from an ISIS invasion or strengthening our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  But when gun nuts get together, you’ll never hear them say anything about any legal issue except to bitch about the fact that every time they want to buy a gun from a dealer, they have to fill out one of those friggin’ forms.

Today I’m going to buy the new Sig P320 pistol, the civilian version of the new military gun, the Sig M17.  What makes the P320 a ‘civilian’ gun as opposed to the weapon that will be carried by our troops in the field? The model name, that’s it.  Otherwise, it’s the exact, same gun.

I’m buying the Sig because I want to buy a gun.  Six-hundred and change – no big deal.  If I take the family out to dinner tomorrow night I’ll pay just as much for a slice of dry turkey, some mashed-up vegetables and a piece of ‘homemade’ pie.  Maybe I should cancel the dinner and buy another gun.  Get my point?ow

Here’s the real point. Recall that back in 2008 my dear, departed friend, Tony Scalia, decided that handguns deserved Constitutional protection as long as they were the types of weapons that were ‘commonly’ found in the home.  His opinion exempted weapons manufactured for military use, such guns being designed for battlefield exigencies, not for self-defense.

The fact is that just about every handgun Americans use for self-defense, as well as for shooting someone who gets in their way, happens to have been designed and manufactured for military use, viz., Glock, Beretta, Colt and a few more. The decision to allow civilians to own such guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and it’s the reason we suffer from gun violence and other OECD countries don’t.

So here’s my Thanksgiving thought for all my gun-control friends: Stop the nonsense about how much you respect the ‘right’ of other people to own guns as long as they follow some ‘sensible’ rules. Take the bull by the horns and say what we all know to be true.

If you want to end gun violence, cut the bullshit and get rid of the guns.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!


Want To Take On The NRA? Make Sure You Know The Facts.

I bought my first real gun when I was twelve years old, have maybe owned 300 to 400 guns since.  Don’t ask me why I’m a gun nut, I just am.  Now a report has been issued which, for the first time, attempts to quantify the size of the gun nut population, or what is called social gun culture.  And based on a ‘nationally representative’ survey of 4,000 respondents, the number of gun nuts is roughly 14 million, which is based on what the survey believes to be 13.7% of the 100 million Americans who own guns.

Wowee – Kazowee!! Can there really be 14 million other gun nuts like me?  If this were true, I’d have lots more gun shows to visit every weekend, lots more gun shops with guns I just have to own.  The problem, however, is that I don’t think these numbers are true because I’m not persuaded that the survey questions which elicited the data are the questions that should have been asked.

gun nuts              To begin, the survey reports that 29.1% of the respondents answered ‘yes’ to one of six questions used as indicators to capture the number of people who own guns.  One of the questions asked whether the respondent had attended a gun safety course; another asked whether the respondent advocated gun safety.  I happen to live in the only state (MA) that requires a safety course prior to the purchase of any kind of gun, a majority of states require no course at all, so the response to this question from a ‘nationally representative’ sample is meaningless at best.  As for advocating responsible gun ownership, 606 answered ‘yes’ and 3,394 answered ‘no.’  Since 1,200 respondents are presumed to own guns, does this mean that at least half of all gun owners would say they were against responsible ownership of guns?  Give me a break.

As to the overall number of gun owners and, by extrapolation, the number of those owners who are gun nuts, again I don’t get the warm and fuzzies from the manner in which the research team analyzed the results.  Again, the survey was based on a ‘nationally representative’ sample, so I have to assume that every respondent lived at a different address. Which means that the 29.1% who were identified in the survey as gun owners was really a count of households which contained guns, and not a count of individual gun owners themselves.  If the survey counted gun-owning households, then the 29.1% figure would be similar to what other polls have recently found.  And if 14% of these households contained one gun nut, then we are down to around 4 million of us gun nuts, which happens to be the official membership figure claimed by the NRA. And yes, I’m a Life Member of the NRA.

Don’t get me wrong.  My criticisms of the report should not be taken as a lack of respect for the work and diligence of the research team which conducted the survey and analyzed its results.  My concern, rather, is the degree to which the attempt to define gun culture and the behavior of gun owners may not reflect a clear understanding of what guns mean to the people who own guns, use guns and define themselves in terms of guns.

Want to figure out who likes guns?  Ask how often someone has been in a gun shop over the past six months.  Because people who make multiple trips to a gun shop really enjoy their guns.  Dropping “the wife” off at Wal Mart and spending a half hour playing with guns is a much better indicator of gun culture than whether someone bases their opinion about someone else because the latter person does or doesn’t own guns.

If understanding gun culture, in the words of the report, is important for developing “prudent” gun policies, then you’re stepping on the NRA’s turf in a very big and direct way.  So you better make sure that your information is fundamentally correct.  In this respect, the new report falls a bit short.