Watership Down and Why I've Given Up on Gun Control

watershipdown1.jpg
You win.

All you guys in Open Carry Texas and everyone else who feels like even the slightest infringement on the types of armaments you can own and where you can take them? You win. I officially surrender, and the reason is Watership Down.

Yes, the book about rabbits, a beloved classic by Richard Adams that is usually assigned in school.

If you've never read the book somehow, the story follows a group of rabbits that flee their warren because one of them named Fiver has a prophetic vision of the warren's destruction by men. All in all a group of 20 rabbits or so leave with Fiver in a quest for a new home.

watershipdown2.jpg
Along the way they come across a prosperous warren run by a rabbit called Cowslip. The rabbits there are large, well-fed, and have an aristocratic air. Every morning good food randomly appears in the fields near their warren, and so they have no reason to forage. Instead, they spend their time making art and poetry, and they never, ever mention the mysterious disappearances of some of the rabbits.

Fiver figures it out. A local farmer has been setting snares near the warren to catch the rabbits. That's why he feeds them his trash vegetables. While standing over the limp body of one of their friends Fiver delivers a speech regarding the arrangement.

"Even to themselves they pretend all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits... for what use had they for tricking and cunning living in the enemy's warren and paying his price?

Instead, Frith sent them strange singers, beautiful and sick like oak apples, like robin's pincushions on the wild rose. And since they could not bear the truth these singers, who might have in some other places been wise, were squeezed under the terrible weight of the warren's secret until they gulped out fine folly - about dignity, and acquiescence and anything else that could make the rabbit believe that they loved the shining wire."

We, too, are living in Cowslip's warren. Except that we haven't embraced guns in exchange for something as worthwhile as food or protection. We've embraced it for the freedom to carry them around and the right to imagine fantastical video game scenarios where we might mow down threats with righteous wrath. We've accepted the death toll from guns, which is higher than any other developed nation, to be an acceptable price.

Some of those strange singers will point that the homicide rate by guns is lower now than it's been since 1993. That's true enough, but if you go back to 1981 you'll see the twisted lie of that song. 1993 was a peak of an unusual spike in violence related to the crack epidemic. Remove that spike from consideration and it seems we haven't dropped the number of gun deaths much at all. It's the same old status quo. Same old number of people who wander into snares.

Or there was that fact was making its way through Facebook saying that there had been 74 school shootings since the massacre at Sandy Hook. Even the folks at Politifact jumped on the chance to sing a lullaby and assure us that by any "real" definition of a school shooting there had really only been 15... as if we should be lulled by having a shooting every two months or something.

At least it's not 74, though, right? That would be insane. We might have to leave the warren. No one should stand for that.

60 people were shot in Chicago over the Independence Day weekend, something the police there attribute to the fact that gun laws in the city can be circumvented by an afternoon drive to less stringent jurisdictions.

Two more were shot in Maine this week. Another at a night club in Ohio. Another on Bourbon Street. Another in Lexington, Kentucky as she sat on her porch. Bang. Bang. Bang. Google "shot" in the News filter. Stories are measured in hours. Go on. By the time this piece sees print all the people I mentioned will be on the third or fourth page of search results.

Every day we try and make cars safer to survive crashes. We fence pools to prevent drowning. We start initiatives to eat better, stop smoking, remove carcinogens from the environment, and made getting a check up free in hopes we'll find a problem before it gets too big. We fight to live.

But for some reason we don't do it with guns. We sing songs of freedom and buy that freedom with pointless deaths. No other developed country in the world puts up with this. We're the only ones who call the wire good.


My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
jabrahamcollins
jabrahamcollins

There is no consequence to making cars safer, fencing in pools or regulating carcinogens. There is, however, a very clear danger in limiting our right to keep and bear arms and that is the threat of tyranny. If you could disarm the military and police 100% then perhaps I would consider gun control, but until then you can forget it.

textopcat
textopcat

The violence spike was the start of gun control laws.

davidh0809
davidh0809

I have a great idea...let's make it illegal to intentionally and with malice, harm another person in the unlawful discharge of a firearm of any type or sort.  Oh, wait...what's that you say? Thats already a law? We just have trouble enforcing it? Why one earth would anyone break a law such as this? Well then, let's enact some form of control measures to make it harder to own a firearm. Huh? Already in place in Chicage, but there are now more gun related deaths there than ever before?  Well, since a few of you out there cannot seem to follow the rules, let's just take away everyone's toys, while we figure this one out.  


I don't own a single firearm of any type.  Never have, probably never will.  Like many of you, I choose to leave that up to the Police, Military and other trained professionals.  I also subscribe to statistics that the majority of gun owners get shot with their own weapons, so I would rather not enhance my chances, or my families chances of gun violence by having one in the house. 


I said all of that in order to say this....our Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms should never be compromised because then it will be open to influence and abuse by those people of our society that it was expressly written to protect us from. Throughout history, gun control is used as a precursor to people control.  


Personally, I prefer to retain my "rabbit-ness" and keep my wits about me by having a weapon as an option.  Letting the people who set the snares, control the means of defending against the snares, is not a good precedent.

lorellpeace
lorellpeace

2010


Firearm deaths - 30470


Traffic deaths - 32999


I trust you stay the fuck away from motor vehicles too.

Anse
Anse

There's no doubt in my mind that the gun-obsessives are really less interested in upholding liberty than they are in perpetuating a frontier myth. They want to be the pioneer who strikes out upon the vast uncivilized wilderness to fight the savages and bring order to land, but since they can't do that, they fantasize about shooting a bad guy storming their castle in the night. 


That's not to say that they are bad people. On the contrary, I also have no doubt that none of these people will ever point a gun at another person and really don't care to do that. It's like the guy who watches porn; sure, he fantasizes about having a threesome with two hot chicks, but in real life he's happy with his marriage and wouldn't dream of destroying that happiness by engaging in a half-hour of carnal pleasure. There's the fantasy, and there's the reality. It's just annoying that the gun-toters won't acknowledge this about themselves.


There is a kernel of truth in the assertion that our problem with violence is a cultural one, and that the gun is but a tool. Like the sergeant in Full Metal Jacket says: "it's a hard heart that kills." The question is, why does America have so many hard-hearted people?


We have a cultural problem. What do we do about it? I think gun control is an obvious necessity. These things are killing machines. It's what they're designed to do. To say there should be few regulations over their trade and use is absurd. They should be regulated as least as much as we regulate automobiles or prescription drugs. But even if we accept the usual retort that gun control won't stop the violence, that still leaves the question open: how do we stop the violence? And this is where the real frustration comes in. All of the things we might do to bring the violence to an end are generally opposed by the same people who oppose gun control. Prison reform, rehabilitation, addiction treatments, adult education, subsidized child care--so poor single moms can get jobs and provide an example of responsible citizenship to their children. We can do these things, and they can work, but the right wing has traditionally opposed most efforts to do them.


So it's like we're being held hostage, and that's why it's hard to resist the idea that in fact, they really like the violence. They like the idea that those Others are out there killing each other, and if they happen to kill somebody outside the ghetto, that's an acceptable trade-off for the opportunity for a Good Guy with Guns to kill a bad guy.

Sean Casey Caldwell
Sean Casey Caldwell

"...we haven't embraced guns in exchange for something as worthwhile as food or protection. We've embraced it for the freedom to carry them around and the right to imagine fantastical video game scenarios where we might mow down threats with righteous wrath." That's just ignorant. Way to totally discount hunting, home defense, sport shooting, and recreational target shooting. Debating serious topics and reporting facts don't really suit this writer. I'd stick with the Art Blog staples, like the boobies on True Blood, updates on Kanye West-related ebay items, and Kenny G puff pieces.

Brian Phan
Brian Phan

Maybe it's not the gun but a society that lacks responsibility and/or accountability. Also this article really is stupid and naive.

Julian Garcia Jr.
Julian Garcia Jr.

My dad had a pistol in our closet for 15 years and it never killed anybody.

Anse
Anse

@lorellpeace  Not only do I think most gun owners are pretty nice folks, I also think most of them are fairly intelligent people who repeat dumbass points like this because they are just lazy and think we are too stupid to break down the basic stupidity of the false analogy.


There were 212 million registered automobiles in the year 2012, and over 190 million licensed drivers in the United States. The Department of Transportation estimates that 3 trillion--TRILLION--miles were driven by Americans in November 2007 alone.


So let's ponder this question, comrade. Can we estimate how many guns there are in America? Some guesses go as high as 300 million, but that's a rough estimate. Since we don't have gun registration in this country it's almost impossible to know for certain. But how many of those guns see action in a given year? Do you think you can come up with a number that is in any way analogous to the number of miles driven in this country? You could add up every hunting trip, every trip to a gun range, every random shot fired by a redneck kid at a bird on a fencepost, every self-defense encounter, every crime committed, and every police action, and I cannot believe that it would come to a fraction of the general uses made of the automobile.


So if you insist on making this flatly ridiculous comparison, eventually somebody is gonna have to call you on it. And the evidence is pretty obvious. Automobiles and guns do not belong together in any serious discussion of violence or even accidental deaths in this country. 

Sashira
Sashira

@Anse You do mention that a lot of gun violence exists in truly tragic environments. But what are people supposed to do, have faith in the system and sing the praises of social solutions, when we have no hope whatsoever of these changes ever happening? Conservatives are against social progress, liberals talk more than they act, no one is looking out for the people actively living in hell except themselves.


For the record, I'm a college-educated, relatively economically fortunate white chick. I am statistically less likely to be a victim of random violence based on demographics, yet I got that roll of the dice. I'm also statistically more likely to get the attention of anyone who matters. I went to college for sociology to try to find a way out of all of this madness.


It doesn't exist. We're fiddling while Rome burns. I am convinced all we can do is keep ourselves relatively safe and happy by trusting in ourselves. And hey, there's biometric gun safes these days, so you can get quick access to your backup without having any excuse to leave a deadly weapon lying around in a drawer somewhere.

Sashira
Sashira

@Anse We have hard-hearted people because we are living in a war zone, comrade. Those who have been raped, mugged, disregarded and threatened may have a slightly different view of the necessity of self-defense. Being attacked is not a cowboy delusion; for many Americans, it is a clear and present danger.

textopcat
textopcat

@Anse

Police have no duty or responsibility to protect any individual.  So, as an individual you have the responsibility to obtain training and tools necessary for your protection.  For many (most or all) that involves a gun in the set of tools.  So, you have an obligation to be trained and own guns, unless you are stronger than the total of bad guys you could ever encounter.

odysseusmtanner
odysseusmtanner

@Anse It'll take time for people to get informed on gun matters, given the media's dismal service.  Dispelling the crippling outrage many are stirred to is the first order of business.  The logic and virtues of private gun ownership are not difficult to understand but this requires a sober mind and impartiality.


http://peopleofarms.org/

tchad78
tchad78

I'm guessing 100's of billions of rounds fired at least. And I think guns are used (brandished, not always fired) defensively 6850 times per day according to, I think the FBI. Either way, firearms protect an incredible amount more than they injure or kill.

Anse
Anse

@tchad78 And they are still, statistically-speaking, about a thousand times more dangerous than automobiles, and considerably less useful and essential to our daily lives, whether you own a gun or you don't. Ted Nugent probably fires a thousand rounds a day  all by himself, so that estimate of rounds fired is probably profoundly distorted. I'm willing to bet a majority of gun owners see the inside of a shooting range once a month and probably less.

tchad78
tchad78

@Anse so 30 or so die a day and 6,850 lives are defended and possibly saved.  Ban guns, risk 6,820 lives per day.

Anse
Anse

@tchad78 @Anse I read the DoT chart wrong. That 3 trillion miles was per year, not in one month. My apologies. That 3 trillion miles per year still towers over your statistic, which is wildly inflated. They are based on a study that was done back in 1995, in which it was estimated that a gun was used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. There's just one problem:


"The figure of 2.5 million defensive gun uses is supposed to represent the number of such uses per year. Yet none of the studies aggregated in the 1995 paper measured annual use. Most asked some version of the question, "Have you ever?" Two asked instead, "Have you within the past five years?" The authors of the 1995 study took those latter two surveys, multiplied the rate in the survey by the number of U.S. households, then divided by five to produce an annual figure." --David Frum, on CNN.com in 2012.


The truth is that the NRA and other gun lobbyists routinely inflate statistics to support their claims. Even the NRA's chief researcher admits this:


"The gun lobby lands on mushier ground, however, when it leaps from such / examples into a far broader argument: that more lives are saved than lost by the firearms Americans acquire to protect themselves and their property. The N.R.A. emphasized that claim in a two-page newspaper advertisement attacking TIME for its report ((July 17)) on 464 gun deaths that occurred in the U.S. in a single week, chosen at random. "Legally-owned firearms saved the lives of far more Americans than those lost during ((TIME's)) 'seven deadly days,' " the advertisement stated. "According to noted criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, every year some 650,000 Americans use firearms to thwart criminal assault. That's 12,500 a week."


"Even Paul Blackman, research coordinator for the N.R.A., concedes that the advertisement "stretches the data." He adds, "I don't know of any criminological study that has tried to quantify the number of lives saved based on the number of guns that were successfully used for protection."


http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,152446,00.html


That quote in bold print is pretty telling and calls into question the other stat you threw around and that I addressed above.


If you want to dispute the correlation between violence and gun ownership, you can do that, and I've read some compelling arguments in that regard. What you cannot do is make crap up and say that automobiles are more dangerous than guns. They aren't by a long shot. 

tchad78
tchad78

Civilian cars kill more than civilian guns. Civilian guns save (defend) more lives than civilian cars. That aside, if you dispute the gun defenses statistics, than I hope your #1 goal is to get that data, otherwise all gun control legislation is truly knee-jerk ignorance.

kingpetlo
kingpetlo

@tchad78 I would say civilian cars save more lives per year, you can't rush somebody to the emergency room in civilian gun.

tchad78
tchad78

@kingpetlo - That may or may not be true.  I couldn't find any stats on it.  What I do know is that Tobacco and Alcohol are useless products that don't save any lives (which even a staunch anti-gun person can admit to) - So I'm assuming that if it's saving lives people care about they are splitting their time campaigning to ban tobacco and alcohol - and much as they would want responsible gun owners to do - don't allow any tobacco or alcohol in their homes.


That will always be my biggest argument towards the gun control advocates.  If you take a single drink of alcohol, you are a hypocrite not deserving a say in the matter.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Health & Beauty

Loading...