As a progressive liberal guy, I’m dismayed by the recent shooting in Orlando.  But I also believe that the clowns running the world are going to crash the economy and drive “civilization” into a ditch at which point we may need to defend ourselves against criminal gangs and protect and what’s left of our “democracy”.  As such, I support the 2nd Amendment – at least in principal – but much of the “gun culture” in the US just can’t accept that the most reasonable efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and crazy people isn’t an intolerable assault on our “freedom”.

The woman who shot Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen had a known history of mental illness and yet was able to purchase a gun.  In this day and age when the NSA knows what color underwear you have on, shouldn’t the name of a person hospitalized in a mental institution in another state ten years ago immediately appear on a background check if they were to try to buy a gun in Oregon today? Would it have impinged on anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights if Officer Kilcullen’s deranged killer had been denied a gun?  Does the 2nd Amendment state that men convicted of beating their wives be allowed to buy guns?  What about alcoholics?

Every day, burglars enter people’s homes and make off with firearms that have not been secured.  It would hardly effect the 2nd Amendment to require that anyone wishing to buy a gun provide proof that they have the means to keep the gun secure in their home.  Various gun safes are available – some of them with push button combinations to allow for quick access.  Encouraging the secure storage of guns would also keep them away from toddlers.

In many states, you must be 16 years old before you can drive, 18 before you can vote, 21 before you can drink alcohol.  How about requiring that a person be 25 before he can buy high magazine capacity, semi-automatic weapons?  The insurance industry knows what a risk young male drivers are.  The gun industry should bring similar scrutiny to young male shooters.  For most of last century, police departments relied almost entirely on six shot revolvers and pump shotguns.  Countless hunters favor bolt action rifles.  Young shooters will manage with these simpler, more traditional weapons until they are older.

The biggest issue to address regarding the “gun culture” in the US is also the most abstract and difficult to pin down.  As we evolved as hunter-gatherers, male rage evolved in our species for good reason.  The caveman who could summon the greatest rage could fight off adversaries and predators so that his offspring would survive.  But now Stephen Hawking says that the elimination of male rage is the best argument for genetic engineering in humans.  Countless men, myself included, have a seething cauldron of anger, judgement, fear and countless other neuroses churning away deep in our hearts.  Having been meditating daily for 40 years, I’ve come to see it for what it is, but there are countless men who struggle with such issues and yet have no clue as to what’s going on.  They’re in the bars, sporting events and gun ranges.  Many make domestic violence a scourge on our society.  Not surprisingly, every now and then a man helplessly wracked with psychological issues will snap.  Having unfettered access to sophisticated, military weaponry, we end up with the body counts we see in Orlando.  

One failed attempt by the “shoe bomber” resulted in us all having to take our shoes off when we fly.  But an ongoing stream of mass shooting tragedies fails to result in any enhanced gun legislation.  The NRA’s money-drenched stranglehold on Congress clearly has a role in this, but my own direct, personal experience convinces me that US gun culture’s towering obsession with guns and unshakable, zero-tolerance objection to even modest gun control legislation is influenced by the complicated collection of psychological issues that is part & parcel of being a man in today’s dysfunctional society.  I invite all gun owners to honestly examine their own psychology with humility, bring the discussion of what it means to be a man to new levels in our society and to embrace balanced, reasonable efforts to keep guns strictly in the hands of responsible AND emotionally healthy gun owners.

Now, while I have nothing good to say about the NRA, one area where I agree with the gun enthusiasts is in their insistence that “Gun Free Zones” make no sense.  Whether it’s a school, a public building or a place of business, having a sign on the door saying “No Guns Allowed” is going to prevent law abiding citizens from carrying guns into the building, but do nothing to stop a deranged killer.  Indeed, there’s some indication that mass murderers prefer gun free zones because they know that everyone will be unarmed.  It’s possible that if five percent of the people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had been armed, someone might have been able to stop the killer before the body count got as high as it did.  I would prefer it if 50 years ago, the United States had begun a concerted effort to reduce the number of guns in circulation and that there simply not be the preponderance of high magazine capacity, semi-automatic weaponry in circulation that there is today or that they be safely in the hands of the “well regulated militias” described in the Second Amendment.  But given that the Congress Clowns are not gonna lift a finger to take our country in this sensible direction, perhaps it’s not unreasonable to suggest that some of us ought to take a ‘citizen sheepdog’ posture and be prepared & equipped to defend innocent people.  This implies a big responsibility.  If you’re carrying a gun, you should not be drinking alcohol.  You should have the ability to keep the gun fully secured and safe – whether it’s on your person or stored at home.  You should regularly train.  You must be an emotionally stable enough person that the gun will never find its way into an emotionally charged encounter.  As a taller, straight, white man, I enjoy a greater degree of security and privledge, but if I were a woman or gay or both, I would consider being armed.  If civilization continues unraveling further to the point where I’m prepared for the change in lifestyle that it would entail, I will consider being armed.