I believe that the gun thing is an issue that will never be entirely resolved in the United States.
It’s clearly not a simple issue and is as utterly divisive as any, including abortion.
As a person of Jewish descent, I am particularly aware of the feeling of defenselessness that people can have when armed, hostile forces show up at your door, be they Cossacks or Nazis.
And I have read a number of accounts where a small village was happy and peaceful until “the armed rebels arrived.” And can not help thinking that having some guns around might not be a bad idea.
In fact, I have at various times pondered the value of getting my own weapons. But I have never acted on it, for many reasons.
For one thing, in spite of being very mild-mannered, I have on occasion lost my temper so badly while driving that I have stopped the car, jumped out, and screamed at other drivers. Such a person should never carry a gun, nor have access to an assault rifle. And it is clearly that there are lots of people walking around who are at least as explosive as me, and lots who are much worse.
For another thing, I live in a country where the rule of law has generally seemed pretty certain. I have not feared either my own government, nor any organized paramilitary group. The United States has been much more multicultural than 1930s Germany, so the threat of a massive country-wide takeover by white nationalists has not seemed likely.
At one point, in a college bull session, I posed the idea that getting hold of a significant cache of weapons and ammo, and keeping them somewhere hidden might be a hedge against a U.S. right-wing uprising.
Did I ever act on that? Let’s see, where DID I bury them?
But in the United States the safety of minorities of various types relies on the political stance of local, state, and federal law enforcement and armed forces. Right now, I am somewhat sure that most of the police and armed forces will not side with the neo-Nazi movements.
So there are lots of kinds of guns. There are hunting rifles, which, though I myself don’t enjoy shooting animals, I can’t see this country outlawing any time in the next century or three.
There are semi-automatic weapons, sometimes called assault rifles, the ones that are used in the endless mass shootings in schools, churches, movies, stores, clubs, workplaces, concerts and elsewhere.
While it is clearly true that anyone with a bit of imagination and technical skill can kill many more people without help from a rifle, it also seems clear that easy access to such weapons is not working well. Even Reagan said so.
Then there are pistols, which can be carried either concealed or open. There are many who feel that carrying a pistol is the way to feel safe and to be safe.
I have sometimes imagined what I would do if a shooter came into the movie, store, or street in my vicinity. And it seems pretty clear that unless a person is on high alert, that the pistol might not be much help.
Imagine that he door bursts open and a shooter starts spraying automatic weapon fire at you. Maybe, maybe, if you were loaded and on full alert you might get off a shot before you were cut down.
But can you imagine going through life on high alert, fingers on the gun, scanning in all directions for a shooter? Chances are shootouts will occur simply because too many tense people are ready for action.
And then there is the specter of being in a public place where there are many armed people, either concealed or open carry.
If it should come to pass that, in the United States, in the places that I live and travel to, that there are lots of people openly carrying rifles and pistols, I will certainly leave the country. I will not live in such a place.
And one reason is that the sort of person who wants to carry a visible, loaded weapon is often the sort of person who takes a dim view of Jews, people of color, LGBTQ people, and so forth.
I will not respond by carrying my own loaded weapon so I can defend myself against a group of white nationalists out for a good time and some drinks.
Clearly, the rise of our current president and his supporters has brought the gun issue to the forefront. When the Nazis carried their flags in Charlottesville and our president only chided them mildly after being attacked for “good people on both sides” I went on my own non-weaponized high alert.
Was this the beginning of the great right wing uprising that many hoped for?
Clearly the KKK and the neo-Nazis are thrilled with and supported by Trump, and have said so.
I really hope that the country rejects Trump and Trumpism and that we don’t devolve into a semi-lawless country where people are wandering about with guns and open skirmishes are going on.
That would be an even worse way to live than the current one: a generally peaceful country in many places, with regular mass shootings in our schools, churches, stores, workplaces, and outdoor concerts.
Seeing the armed protester protesting COVID lockdown is unsettling, but one hopes that those small numbers don’t represent this country, in general.