published Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Cook: In guns we trust

"I have, like, 10 of them."

This is my friend talking. My good friend. And he's telling me about the high-capacity magazines he owns for his guns. The kind that holds 20 or 50 rounds of ammunition.

It's only a few days after Connecticut when he says it.

"Guns aren't the problem," he claims. "This crazy [expletive] society that's gone to hell is the problem."

I've heard these words a lot lately, especially since my recent column arguing for more gun control. Like banning the assault rifle and high-capacity mags. Longer waiting periods. Stricter than strict background checks. No gun show loopholes.

"You sound as if guns have a mind of their own," one reader emailed. "We need to deal with people problems."

At its purest, this argument boils down to seven simple words: Guns don't kill people. People kill people.

"Your article might reach more people in a positive light if it had been about the failure and moral decay of today's society," one reader said.

Failure. Moral decay. Our society, in a hand basket. Evil, made in America and personified by school shooters.

So are guns in America an antidote and answer to this?

Or a cause?

In the days following the Connecticut shooting, many of us scrambled for solutions. NBC anchor Ann Curry challenged people to commit daily acts of kindness equal to the number of murdered Connecticut kids. (Her tweet has gone viral).

One man in Philadelphia is fasting for 27 days.

"One day for each life lost in Newton -- including the gunman's," Dr. Charles Howard, chaplain at University of Pennsylvania, wrote on Huffington Post.

For some, firearms are part of the solution. An armed America is a better America.

My friend, the one with the big clips, believes guns make his family safer and more self-reliant. I trust him with anything under the sun, so I listen -- genuinely -- when he tells me this.

"If my vote becomes more and more meaningless, and my country completely moves away from me, or if government fails completely, how might I protect myself and my family, and the way of life to which I have become accustomed?" another friend emailed.

For part of my life, guns were not uncommon. I've owned them, shot them, hunted with them. Half of me understands that guns do not kill others. People -- depraved, tragic, lost -- do.

But guns are not neutral objects. Guns -- 300 million of them in private ownership in America -- have an effect on the spirit and psychology of our nation.

And I do not believe it is a good one.

Possessing a 10-gun personal arsenal distorts the psychology of a person. Carrying a handgun wherever you go changes the way you see the world.

The only gospel preached through gun show culture is an isolating one. An over-armed citizenry tends to fuel itself on self-crippling paranoia and nativism, neither of which are integral to the creation of what Lincoln called "a more perfect union."

No other object -- not even the Bible -- is clutched as tightly in the American grip as our weapons. No other object -- certainly not a bald eagle -- is as suited to symbolize our society as a firearm. It's as if we cannot be Americans without our guns.

"I think our nation would be a much more dangerous place with all its law-abiding citizenry unarmed," said one reader.

I don't disagree.

But imagine instead if we were talking about spades, shovels and garden hoes. Not Bushmasters, but blueberry bushes. Imagine if each of us owned seed collections as voraciously as we owned gun collections.

Or if the NRA disappeared, and in its place arose an organization devoted to the promotion and defense of, say, breast-feeding. Imagine what America would be like if we cared as much about maternal care and breast-feeding as we do firearms.

Or childhood education. Or clean water. Or civic education.

Yes, there is crime to protect against. Gun ownership is a right. Guns can be fun to shoot. And without question, the most serious problem we face comes when immorality drives the bus and ethical foundations turn to rot.

But guns are such a ... reaction.

This week, so many of us will sing hymns about peace on earth. Goodwill toward men and women. Joy to the world.

I never picture firearms as part of the map for reaching that land.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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VisaDiva said...

You make some very vaid points. One thing some people miss is that gun collectors and recreational, tactical competions in a controlled, sanctioned environment are reasons to own weapons, even high-powered ones. It is a way to hone one's skill and compete with others. I wonder how many casual gun owners, even ones with carry permits requiring training, could shoot a single person in a crowd without endangering others, especially with adrendline flowing, surrounded by frightened, shouting people?

But how does one "take back" all the weapons people already own? Those who do violence with high-capacity guns (usually stolen) will do it anyway, or with multiple guns or bandoliers of bullets. It is a shame that so many people fear for their lives and carry a weapon. You are correct. It steps across the line from cautioness to paranoia. But if the other person is ready to kill me or my family I wouldn't hestitate to shoot them. I would hate it and it would haunt me the rest of my life, but defending against someone who is so determined to kill is a justifyable situation.

As I was walking down the street to attend the public meeting last week about the Chattanooga Village I saw 4 magazines on the sidewalk on 11th Street. Going back to the car to retrieve my cell phone, there were some empty cartridges and some unshot bullets. This is directly across the street from the courthouse! I doubt there was target shooting involved. I have never been in a part of town or a situation where I felt carrying a gun would be to my advantage, but that shook me a little. In broad daylight? Very sad, and a bit frightening.

December 23, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.
Sailorman said...

Mr Cook

Going on the assumption that you're intelligent (obviously) and open-minded, I'm going to ask that you take the time to read the attached link

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

Mr Correia is one of the leading experts in the field. He is well qualified on the topic, certainly more so than most us discussing it and that includes me. You can write it off as more gun nut ranting or well, you can decide. But you will do yourself a disservice by dismissing it out of hand. Thank you

December 23, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.
GMills said...

Mr Sailorman, I did read the blog attached. One thing I noticed about the author was he has no pratical experience. He has always been an instructor, never a player. I searched for info on his service in the military... none. Service as a Law Enforcement Officer? None. My point is until that bullet is whizzing over your head, you really don't know squat. When the blood is coursing through your veins, time is distorted, and tunnel vision is the norm, you find just how well you really shoot. That experience can only be found in reality, not at a shooting range. So for all his classrom experience, I’d say a rookie cop in Detroit could show him a thing or two.

December 24, 2012 at 10:28 a.m.
jesse said...

Your right GMills!

Everybody that wants to know what the reality of a "combat"situation is ,from a Cops view point should read "No Second Place Winner" by Bill Jordan!

I had the honor of meeting Bill at the "National Police Combat Championships" in Jackson, Miss . in 1971! He WAS the REAL deal!

Jordan was a border patrol agent who pretty much invented the modern concept of "gun fighting"!

here's a link for anyone interested!

December 24, 2012 at 12:05 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Sailorman, I read Mr. Correia's article, verbose and pompous as it was. Bless his little ol' gun-lovin' heart, he tries so hard to rise above the knee-jerk responses and bumper-sticker slogans that he accuses the gun control crowd of being guilty of, but he is guilty of his own irrational bias. Instead of putting it on a bumper sticker he somehow manages to take 10,000 words to say it! And he assumes that because he is so knowledgeable about guns and their terminology, he is somehow better suited to offer a pragmatic solution to our gun problem ( er, excuse me...I mean societal/cultural problem of violence. Never let it be said that we have a “gun” problem, right?). He has looked at the world through the prism of a gun for practically his entire life and the thought that his perception may be skewed because of his bias doesn't even seem to enter his mind. More guns in the hands of more people is not a solution. That's just a bogus rationale for the gun lovers to justify getting to live out their cowboy fantasies.

December 24, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.
jesse said...

Look up idjit in the dict.see what roo looks like!

Man hasn't had an original thought in his entire life!!

December 24, 2012 at 2:23 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Jesse,

You're a freaking moron. LMFAO!

December 24, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"Look up idjit in the dict.see what roo looks like! Man hasn't had an original thought in his entire life!!" - jesse

So says the man who knows no other word than "idjit" when it comes to put-downs and name calling. If I had a dollar for every time you've called somebody an "idjit" I could retire in comfort. Jesse, you need to come up with a little originality of your own before you accuse someboy else of a lack of it. You're nothing but a broken record, old man.

December 24, 2012 at 6:29 p.m.
jesse said...

It is one of my favs!just seems more descriptive than "idiot"!

But you know how it is,you just run what you brung!

December 24, 2012 at 6:50 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Rick

Pompous & arrogant are traits you should be very familiar with - a perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Don't be so hard on jesse - you two are mirror images

December 24, 2012 at 10:17 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Pretty sure "Sailorman" is Conservative.

December 24, 2012 at 10:53 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Easy

And you would be as wrong as you are about most things

December 25, 2012 at 8:50 a.m.
Sailorman said...

" One thing I noticed about the author was he has no pratical experience. He has always been an instructor, never a player. "

By that criteria, Obama should have never been elected.

December 25, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
jesse said...

Maybe we are just breeding more sociopaths and mentally defectives then we ever have before!

December 25, 2012 at 5:56 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

"And you would be as wrong as you are about most things"

You're proving my point.

December 25, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

"However it is only in the last 30 years that the culture of violence has erupted."

So "violence" in the United States began erupting in 1982? LMFAO! Wrong again, JonRoss.

"The culture of violence was a creation of Hollywood and Progressives / Democrats."

So, according to your logic, Hollywood and Progressives/Democrats got their start in the 80's? LMFAO! You're 0/2.

"Violent entertainment"

There has been violent entertainment since the early 1900's. Westerns, boxing, football, wrestling, etc. Try again.

"the refusal to contain mental misfits,"

What refusal? You're talking out of your ass.

"and the Progressive war on boys all has contributed to the sick culture we live in now."

What is "the Progressive war on boys"? Are you drunk? You're talking out of your ass again. I'm starting to think that's the only form of communication you know.

December 25, 2012 at 10:51 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Easy says:

"You're proving my point."

How so?

December 26, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

I've never see you post here until a few days ago. How is it that you are familiar with anything I have ever said? Riddle me this.

December 26, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss,

"I appears that easy has no concept of the degree of ignorance that he/she/it is displaying."

This is a compliment coming from one of the top 5 most ignorant posters on the TFP. LMFAO!

"I don't know if it is willful or just laziness but it certainly is entertaining."

Funny you say that. I laugh every time I read one of your ignorant, misguided, WingNut propaganda-laden posts.

You cannot even defend your own position. You spew your misinformation and lies and when someone calls you out on it, you just call them stupid.

You're the lazy one. You're the ignorant one. You can't even argue your own position! You lose every debate you find yourself in because of this.

December 26, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Easy

I've been on here since April 2009. Not posting constantly doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. :)

December 26, 2012 at 4:59 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

Again, you're proving my point.

December 26, 2012 at 5:40 p.m.
Sailorman said...

What point would that be, easy, and how does that prove whatever it is?

December 26, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

Are you having problems reading? Scroll up. Read words. Process that information in your brain. Then you might have an answer.

December 26, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Ahhhh I suppose you're offended because I said you're wrong. Well you most definitely are about my being " a conservative" unless you define that in terms of the Huffington Post and DailyKos. As far as being wrong about "most things" that was unduly harsh and I apologize. Let me phrase it this way We have differing opinions on some topics. Isnthat better?

December 26, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

"Ahhhh I suppose you're offended because I said you're wrong."

LMFAO! Not at all.

"Well you most definitely are about my being " a conservative" unless you define that in terms of the Huffington Post and DailyKos."

No, I said you are Conservative. As in, another poster here. Very similar.

"As far as being wrong about "most things" that was unduly harsh and I apologize."

No apology necessary.

"Let me phrase it this way We have differing opinions on some topics. Isnthat better?"

However you want to put it. No skin off my back.

December 26, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
Sailorman said...

You think I'm posting under another name? LOL that's funny right there. And you're still wrong.

You have a great evening

December 26, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

"You think I'm posting under another name? LOL that's funny right there. And you're still wrong."

RIGHHHTTTTT....

December 26, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.
Sailorman said...

Well he** no wonder I was confused. Let me put it this way. Drew Johnson wrote two pieces with which I agree completely: One on gay marraige and one in Drew's Views on guns. The poster named Conservative agrees on guns but came completely unhinged on the gay issue. Maybe he's really Ken Orr. You and I are in agreement on gay marraige. Doesn't make me you. Besides, being thoroughly agnostic, I can't even spell "bibl".

At any rate, believe what you will. As you so eloquently put it - no skin off my back

December 26, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Sailorman,

I was referring to your posting style mostly.

December 26, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.
jesse said...

Sailorman,pay no attn.to easy ,he's our local "nattering Nabob",just hanging around to get in every ones face and make an ass outta his self!

Actually i'm starting to think he's a little light in his loafers,if you know what i mean!!

December 26, 2012 at 9:14 p.m.
Easy123 said...

jesse,

That definition fits you more than me. All you ever do is straddle the fence, jump into a debate, and then leave quickly. All of this while never really stating much at all other than your opinion of the posters themselves.

I'm starting to think you're a a whiny bitch and a coward. Are you scared to address me personally? You seem to avoid it like the plague. What are you scared of? LMFAO!

December 27, 2012 at 3:07 a.m.
NedNetterville said...

David Cook: "But guns are not neutral objects. Guns -- 300 million of them in private ownership in America -- have an effect on the spirit and psychology of our nation. (Prove it!) And I do not believe it is a good one. (So what? Your metaphysical beliefs are meaningless.) Possessing a 10-gun personal arsenal distorts the psychology of a person. (Prove it!) Carrying a handgun wherever you go changes the way you see the world. (Prove it!) The only gospel preached through gun show (sic) culture is an isolating one. (Prove it!) An over-armed citizenry tends to fuel itself on self-crippling paranoia and nativism, (Prove it!) neither of which are integral to the creation of what Lincoln called 'a more perfect union.'"

David, I checked your bio. Don't see a degree in psychology or psychiatry, not even one in pop-psychology. So why are you practicing the latter in public? You only demean and embarrass yourself.

Oh, and explain this:"An over-armed citizenry tends to fuel itself on self-crippling paranoia and nativism."

Are you really from the South, as your bio indicates? Your comment is a notorious, effete, Yankee "progressive's" put down of us Southren boys and girls. Don't you know that the Yankee thug whose ridiculous quote about a "more perfect union" sent armed federal troops to slaughter Southreners and forcibly imposed that lousy union, and in the process killed over 620,000 Americans including many-times more precious Southren children than those few who died at Newtown, Connecticut? Do you think it is paranoia for Southreners to be wary of the federal government to the extent that they want to keep a Bushmaster under their beds without the fed-thugs knowing about it through mandated registration? I suppose you also think the American Indians whose ancestors, mostly very old men, women and many little children, were slaughtered like feral hogs by federal troops at Wounded Knee are paranoid because they wont surrender their weapons to Uncle Sam. Mr. Cook, you are obviously suffering from self-crippling naivete or purposeful dishonesty.

I notice in this your second column in just a few days on guns that you are backing away from your position in that first column, in which you called unabashedly for gun control. Was it the speech by the NRA's LaPiere belaboring the futility of such gun-control laws that caused you to backtrack and switch to pop-psychology? His argument, to use an apropos metaphor, blew your argument to pieces.

Remember this David: Gun-control laws don't control guns; they control people. And they do so by force. The heavily armed federal, state and local agents who would be called on to enforce your gun-people control laws by means of violence are more responsible for the slaughter of innocents in Newtown than any inanimate gun. That is because violence begets violence, and they are up to violence on a regular,if not daily, basis.

December 27, 2012 at 10:22 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

NedNetterville, your entire first paragraph of impudent "prove it" retorts is a bunch of hooey. You don't have to be a trained, or even an armchair, psychologist to know that, YES, carrying a handgun wherever you go DOES change the way you see the world; and an over-armed citizenry DOES fuel itself on self-crippling paranoia. I have lived my entire life in a society where I felt safe enough that I never gave a second thought to being shot in public...at least not until all these mass shootings started happening. I don't have to actually strap a pistol on to my person and carry it everywhere I go before I realize what a life-altering thing that would be. If you cannot see how that would change a person's perception of the world, then you must be as dense as a brick. Either that or you are so accustomed to viewing the world through a rifle scope or with a pistol in hand that you don't know any differently. And I'm sure that you and other gun-loving crazies would love nothing more than to see everybody packing heat everywhere we go and armed guards on every corner and in every building. But most sane, rational people would see that for what it is - a police state. Not exactly most people's idea of a civilized and peaceful society.

As for this comment from you: "Do you think it is paranoia for Southerners to be wary of the federal government to the extent that they want to keep a Bushmaster under their beds without the fed-thugs knowing about it through mandated registration?" YES, it is! That is what is called p-a-r-a-n-o-i-a. I am southern-born-and-bred and I have NEVER felt the need to do any such thing. And I am not in the minority. Obviously you and your gun loving buds are paranoid that way, but just because you live amongst a fringe of paranoid loonies doesn't mean that everybody else shares in your overblown delusions.

And finally, gun control laws have not worked because they have not been rigidly enforced. It's easy for anybody, even the most mentally disturbed among us, to get practically any kind of weapon. Admittedly, gun control will never be 100% effective, but no laws will ever stop all crime. But if they help to reduce it, at least that's a step in the right direction. Putting more guns in the hands of more people would certainly please that self-serving whacko LaPierre (the guy even LOOKS whacked out!) and you gun fetishists, but there are more sane people in America than you think, who do not share your notion of a fully armed, gun-toting society.

December 28, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.
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