DANAGRAM

Politics and Culture in the Comic Zone

Daniel Rigney

Daniel Rigney
Location
New Texas, USA
Birthday
August 01
Title
free-range writer
Bio
In this writing workshop and citizen's blog I'm exploring various short forms, often from a satiric angle. My interests include politics, culture and the human comedy; old and new media; social theory and urban ethnography; the commercialization, corporatization and tabloidization of everything; sustainability; Unitarianism (UU); coffee; and writing (sorry, I mean providing content). Turtle stamp is from Tandy Leather. Interested in republishing a piece? Contact drigney3@gmail.com.

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DECEMBER 19, 2012 12:56PM

Shaming the Gun Culture

Rate: 3 Flag

By Daniel Rigney

If you reside in one of the gun states (those with the highest per capita gun ownership), you’re probably living in North America’s red belt, a geopolitical formation in the shape of a long-barreled six-shooter aiming toward the sky, its barrel descending from the muzzle of Alaska through Canada’s conservative western provinces and continuing downward through the sparsely populated western states to Texas.

At about Dallas or Houston, the barrel joins the handle and the gun turns rightward through evangelical SEC country to South Carolina, birthplace of the Confederacy.

This gun-shaped formation is loaded with members and political supporters of the NRA.

Most of the American red states (and gun states) lie approximately along this formation. For the mathematically inclined, RB (red belt) = GB (gun belt) = WW + OC  (Wild West plus Old Confederacy), give or take a state here or there.

It  shouldn’t surprise us, then, that the geography of gun deaths by state reflects the geography of gun ownership, and that these death rates tend to be highest in the politically conservative or libertarian (conservatarian) red states of the old South and West, and especially Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada (now a swing state), Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona and Alaska (the "A" states).

Critics of our relatively unregulated gun culture have generally sought legislative solutions to the problem of gun violence in the United States. But legalistic approaches have their limits. Foremost among these is that the U.S., with a gun population of more than 300 million nonmilitary firearms -- nearly one gun per person in the United States – will be awash in already-existing guns into the foreseeable future no matter what laws we pass.

To borrow a cowboy phrase, it’s a little late to be closing the gate when the horse is already out of the barn.

Better, perhaps, to complement legal advocacy with a 21st-century public campaign that shrouds the NRA and its political and cultural agents in memes that pointedly shame the gun culture’s worst excesses. And by that I don’t mean hunting.

A shaming campaign would not require the passage of a single law, though it would certainly not preclude legislative action. It could, however, pose some of the same risks that anyone faces in the exercise of constitutionally-protected free speech under the First Amendment (e.g., harassment, loss of friends, job, or worse), especially if you live in parts of the country where the second half of the Second Amendment is literal scripture, and seems crazily regarded by some as the centerpiece of the Constitution.  

It won’t be easy to stand up to extreme gun culture in public or private encounters with people for whom happiness is a warm gun.

Shame campaigns have been used effectively, in tandem with legal sanctions, in efforts to curb smoking, drunk driving, and a host of other public health hazards. Yet we have barely begun to use the weapon of shame in meme campaigns against the worst excesses of the gun culture.

This is not a campaign against hunting or sport shooting, or against those with understandable personal security concerns. It is a campaign, already underway in many communities, against those (such as the NRA) who exploit these defensible practices by using them as memetic camouflage, behind which delusional individuals and groups accumulate arsenals of automatic and semi-automatic weapons designed for no other purpose than to kill and maim people.

The founders of our new republic could not possibly have foreseen, and would likely have been horrified by, the lethality of such weapons of mass destruction.

The NRA has waged an effective, destructive and industry-funded meme war for decades with slogans like these:

 

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

"I’ll give up this gun when you pry it from my cold dead        fingers."

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be        infringed” [omitting the the Second Amendment’s                   founding premise : “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state ….”]

 

Meme weapons like these deserve to be answered with countermemes:

 

“Guns don’t kill people. Gun nuts kill people.”

“I believe in the original intent of the Second Amendment -- the right of a well-regulated militia to keep and bear muskets.”

 “The NRA is not a well-regulated militia."

"What kind of hunter needs a semi-automatic?"

“You’re from where? Is that a gun state? Isn’t that in the gun belt?”

 

How far is too far in this meme war? Submitted for your consideration and comment ….

I’m sorry, my kids can’t come over. Your house is a gun house.

 

 

For more on the gun culture from this author, see :

Unconvenventional Worlds: The Gun Show

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Your "Unconvential Worlds: The Gun Show" is A MUST READ for all! It's loaded with great detail & terrific insight.
"Armed Security" at Gun Shows - Now that's an oxymoron! R
Thanks, Marilyn. I'm back on OS after a month "on hiatus," as you show business people say. Nice to hear from you again, and thanks for the good word on my gun show diary. I'll be catching up on your posts!
I really hate the stranglehold NRA and guns have on this country. I fail to see how regulating the sale of assault weapons is an affront to our personal liberties.
Daniel, I think a shame campaign is a great idea. Also making it shameful to invest, similar to what took part in divesting S. Africa. Maybe it's already started, with the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which is trying to get rid of a firearm company it owns (maybe because the California teachers' union said they would invest their pensions elsewhere?). Also, I was happy to hear that Dick's sporting goods said they are putting their modern rifle sales on hold for now out of respect for the murders...hopefully they will make some long-term changes. And then there is Mayor Bloomberg, with his no holds barred speech NYC Mayor Bloomberg. He says gun control does work, as he proved in NYC. Maybe a combination of making it shameful to make profits from weapons made to kill civilians, plus sane laws, will finally bring about some change. The Children's Defense Fund has a slogan, Protect Children, Not Guns...that's a good way of putting it, too. The gun craze is fueled and promoted by everyone who stands to make a profit from it, pure and simple. Just like all the pink Disney princess stuff, which is everywhere, only more lethal.
p.s. Mayor Bloomberg is also part of the Demand A Plan.org started by 750 mayors across America...
Thanks again, Rachel, for your comment. You and I live in what I think of as the "dogleg" of the red belt, where wild west and deep south converge. No wonder there's a regular gun segment on one of the local news channels, and gun shows coming through town several times a year.

Clay, you've given readers a wealth of good leads regarding the emerging shame campaign against the gun industry and its NRA lobby. I hadn't heard the "Protect Children, Not Guns" slogan, but it certainly packs a powerful message into four little words. And good for Bloomberg for speaking up. Thanks again.
"I’m sorry, my kids can’t come over. Your house is a gun house." I agree with this 100%. I always told my kids if they ever saw a gun or heard about a gun in a friend's house to leave right away.

I would also refuse to send them to a school with armed teachers! Which option, mercifully, was never even contemplated during their school years.

And, I've always been puzzled by the hunting argument for these super weapons. Shame, indeed, it would seem to me, if, as a hunter, you needed such overwhelming force to bring down your prey!
"I’m sorry, my kids can’t come over. Your house is a gun house." I agree with this 100%. I always told my kids if they ever saw a gun or heard about a gun in a friend's house to leave right away.

I would also refuse to send them to a school with armed teachers! Which option, mercifully, was never even contemplated during their school years.

And, I've always been puzzled by the hunting argument for these super weapons. Shame, indeed, it would seem to me, if, as a hunter, you needed such overwhelming force to bring down your prey!
I'm surprised you could find this, Kathy. OS has been so cranky lately, and almost unusable. Thanks for commenting!

Teaching at St. Mary's, I once asked my students whether they would feel safer if everyone in the room were packing heat. They laughed at the absurdity of the idea.

Best to the StMU Book People.