A friend of mine posted the following article on Facebook: “Sweden may have the answer to America’s gun problem”, from Vox.
As we face a firearm crisis in America today, it’s time for hunters to stop hiding behind the Second Amendment and claim the moral high ground as our nation’s responsible gun owners.
The nation demands some action, and we, more than 13 million gun owners who hunt, are in a unique position to lead the way. Firearm registration as part of our normal licensing process could both strengthen our hunting tradition and at the same time help break the national logjam of inaction.
I started writing a response and it got too big for Facebook. So, blog post it is. 🙂
So… many interesting things about this article.
First, the underlying premise of this article is about hunting. The thing is, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution has NOTHING to go with hunting. And trying to relate Sweden’s hunting culture to the US – where, frankly, hunting culture is fading away – and the article’s premise fails because the author really fails to understand the totality of the circumstance.
It’s speaks about how guns and hunting are a healthy part of Sweden’s culture. Great! But here in the US, hunting is still alive, but today’s social standing frames hunting as evil. I mean, look at how hunters are routinely vilified, doxxed, and generally their lives destroyed by the “social warriors” these days! That’s not a healthy Sweden-like culture. As well, for most people in the US, their ONLY exposure to guns is in the news, in movies, and video games – and those things RARELY present firearms in a healthy manner. So is it any wonder that so many in the US have the viewpoint they do? So how can you really compare this to Sweden? There’s a large cultural rift, and without that underlying cultural foundation, the author’s proposal really can’t work.
As an aside, I’m not sure the author understands his own gun laws. He makes statements saying “in Sweden you can’t own a gun if…” and implies that in the US you can. I wonder if he’s ever looked at a Form 4473 before. I digress.
But really, the key premise of the article is — registration and licensing.
What the author fails to demonstrate is how this will actually solve the problem.
Because we all know that Chicago gang members are into licensing and registration…. right?
And they all use deer hunting rifles and duck hunting shotguns too, after they’ve come back in from the field (I see all sorts of gangbangers wearing blaze orange saggy pants). So the author’s desire to “start with hunters” seems to be… curious. What WILL this accomplish, apart from perhaps someone feeling good like they are “doing something”? and are somehow then morally superior (the author makes it clear that moral superiority is a desired goal), while effecting little true improvement in the problem? I mean, the author spells out that the hunters registering their hunting rifles will be checked by the game wardens, and if it’s not registered they lose their hunting privileges. Gee… that really takes a bite out of that inner-city Chicago crime.
In fact, registration schemes such as this fail to do anything useful (witness Canada’s recently dismantled system). They do waste a lot of time and money tho.
Remember: ultimately we all want the same thing: peace. None of us want innocent people to die. Where we differ is in how to achieve that end. Me? I’d like us to consider solutions that might actually achieve something, instead of trotting out the same failed solutions or solutions that have no demonstrable ability to progress us towards the desired goal. Ideas like “registration” mean nothing because CRIMINALS – you know, the people that are actually doing all this killing – will NOT abide by registration and licensing. So how will such a scheme actually help? I mean, maybe it’s just the engineer in me, but when we have limited time, limited money, limited resources, I want to pursue ideas that actually could solve the problem. To pursue known failed solutions (that will just fail again), or solutions that have no reasonable ability to affect the problem, that’s just irresponsible – because while you chase these useless solutions, people are still dying. Please, stop.
However, one place I strongly agree with the author? that knowledge and demonstrable skill are important. Of course, I’ve spent the past 8 years of my life as a professional firearms instructor. I have hundreds upon hundreds of hours of training, many certifications, thousands of hours of teaching and thousands of students taught – so I deeply understand the value and importance of knowledge and skill. I see LOTS of people whose basic firearms handling skill scares the shit out of me (I’ve had many guns pointed at me, and no it’s never fun), and what’s worse is they all say the same thing “I haven’t shot anyone”… yeah… yet. They all think they are awesome and safe, but you know… Dunning-Kruger.
Name me one place in life where more education is a bad thing, where more knowledge is a bad thing, where more skill is a bad thing! I would LOVE people to get lots of training, demonstrate proficiency, etc. (and not because it would generate revenue for me, but because ignorance kills). And frankly, a lot do that. Here in Texas, to get your hunting license you must pass a hunter education course which covers lots of useful things AND has a shooting test for proficiency demonstration. And of course, here in Texas to get your Handgun License (to allow you to carry a handgun in public, openly or concealed), you must take a class that covers topics like the law, and non-violent dispute resolution, and again you must pass a shooting proficiency test and a background check (complete with much fingerprinting). So hey, these things do exist.
But it walks a tightrope, because self-defense is a human right. And when you start to do things like mandating training, mandating licensing, etc. you create a poll tax, and we determined long ago that’s a bad thing.
I’m all for the increased responsibility the author speaks about. But to do that, we’re going to need to revisit the underlying tone of his article – one of culture. If he thinks Sweden has the answer, then we need to get closer to a Swedish culture in this regard: one where hunting is respected and a part of everyday life. If education is to be so important, then we should do things like bring hunter safety and firearms safety into our K-12 schools. Help people understand how to be safe with firearms. It may not address the criminal aspects (that’s another topic), but if we want to fulfill the author’s premise, I think it’s going to have to start with a change in the US’s cultural outlook on guns, not as bad things, but just as things.
Everyone keeps expecting gun owners to compromise on this issue. Well, compromise involves both sides making concessions.
What are you willing to concede?