When I was stationed in South Korea, I had to check my M-16 into an armory each day. I wasn’t allowed to have them in my room or carry them around on my person on the base or around town in public. It wasn’t treated like a toy or a cool thing to show off and take to rallies. It was a weapon and it required respect, even from a infantryman trained to use it. Even on the most heavily fortified border in the world, where an invasion from North Korea provides only minutes to an hour to respond. We checked in our weapons.
Even while having the skill to fire hundreds of rounds with my fellow soldiers a few feet to the left and right of my firing line, I checked the gun in.
There were very good reasons to check our weapons in. Though we were highly trained we were young men prone to doing the things that young men do on their off time. Drink alcohol. Get into fights. Show off, and maybe do something stupid with guns laying around.
This country doesn’t even require basic training before purchasing a weapon. That alone makes us all complicit. My first lesson with an M-16 was to respect its power and always handle it with care. There is no respect for the weapon in this country.
Go on social media and it is rife with mostly young, and some older, men arguing for no gun regulations. They provide every flawed argument that the NRA can think up for them.
What they rarely ever do is provide us with an honest answer why they want guns. The truth is our young men are in a crisis. The gun has become an avatar for male power and virility. The NRA has marketed gun ownernship to male adequacy and our young men have tied guns too closely with their own sense of male inadequacy. They believe gun ownership will, however misguidedly, restore their perceived lacking manhood.
That’s it. There’s not more to the story.
Invoking the 2nd amendment is not telling anyone why men need to have a toy to shoot things with. There is a larger issue at play here, and guns are simply the avatar chosen to play this out.
Meanwhile, thousands lose their lives each year for this very simple reason.