Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Don't Live The Stereotype

LGBT students question their safety on Texas college campuses

Greg nails it. Perceptions are important, and so is our need to reach out and connect to those who are absolutely foreign to firearms but who share our penchant for being marginalized, or those who believe in defending those rights that our forefathers struggled to define during the Age of Reason. Too often, potential allies have to be prodded to remember the Bill of Rights had ten original amendments, not nine. As a board member of my state bicycling advocacy group, I have reminded bicycling advocates of how powerful the NRA is and wondered why we cannot motivate cyclists to protect cycling interests as we firearms enthusiasts mobilize to protect our own rights.

Pink Pistols
 “I can’t stand up for my transgender friends, because if I do and someone gets pissed off all they have to do is pull out a gun.”--from U. of Houston student Robyn Foley in the Buzzfeed link. But really. The person you have to worry about is not someone who goes through the hoops to get a CCW permit, which implies a certain amount of maturity (I hope). Its the person with a chip on his shoulder big enough to build a deck and who is carrying anyway. College shooters don't stand on ceremony when going off the rails. People need to choose between the chip or the gun, but should not have both.

But too often, those active in protecting the 2A paint themselves into a corner and too often, those on the left drink the kool-aid and are convinced that we in the gun community have horns growing out of our heads and indeed, are trigger happy. Sometimes we help each other out with the stereotypes. Some commenters responding to Greg's essay, for example. But recall, if you will, that one of the firearm community's most powerful friends during the recent attempts to add the secretive Terror Watch List/No Fly List to the NICS instant background check process was that bastion of liberalism, the ACLU.

I don't know Greg except for his blog, a whole bunch of Tweets, and a couple of emails, but wonder how many of his students know him in a form other than as an English professor and how many know him as a writer for his blog. No one in his classes would have to worry about rhetoric being decided by doses of atomic number 82. In my own case when I was on a university faculty as a research geoscientist, a lot of my colleagues and friends knew me as pretty liberal, as a vegetarian, and as a pretty lousy bicycle racer, but fewer knew me for my range membership or ability to put 45 ACP rounds in the the black part of the target. Some were quite taken aback when I was made an honorary member of the Hawaii Rifle Association after some of my 2A writings were published in the Honolulu press. We are, after all, complex creatures. I stood for gay rights and gun rights.

Convincing others (and ourselves) that we, and they, are more than the stereotypes that we are often painted is a good starting point for rational discussion and disarming the fears that drive some of the more egregious anti-gun and Maslow's Gun agendas and fears. Its in our interest to break down those barriers rather than fling anti-gun folks the rhetorical bird. Sure, sometimes it means we go away frustrated and mad. But we can go away with pride in our ability to speak powerfully for our interests--and trying to make a positive difference.

None of this should be interpreted as saying that the answer to violence is more guns. You don't let your house become a firetrap and solve the problem by adding fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are supposed to gather dust and the same should be true for self defense firearms. Instead, you clean up the mess. The firetrap that is the US needs to solve this problem by addressing decades of festering decay resulting from the flight of labor type jobs overseas, the failed war on drugs, rising income inequality and its culture of greed, and divisions based on notions such as racism, religious intolerance, and hatred of the LGBT community. Adding more guns to this mix as a solution to social violence would be like putting out a house fire with streams of gasoline. Sure, the fire will eventually go out, once the house is consumed. Guns are tools. So is education and jobs. Use the right tool for the job.

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