In James Eagan Holmes Gun Debate, the One Point Lost On All Americans


Last Friday, PolicyMic pundit Lena Kheir wrote a spirited opinion piece that argues against arming women with guns for the purpose of preventing sexual assault. Her piece is a reaction to safety awareness expert Paxton Quigley’s interview with The Daily Beast, who made the opposite argument, and also insisted Tasers, pepper spray, and knives are not as effective for women as firearms.

Before I begin, I must say I side with Lena. I’m a liberal, and liberals find it silly to believe that arming more people makes society safer; if anything, it just makes more killing machines available.

Anyway, I don’t wish to dwell on the same old debilitating debate over superficial fixes. I’d like to piggyback on a brilliant point Lena made that seemed to go over every one of her respondents’ gun-crazy heads.

“The most effective way to reduce instances of violent sexual crimes,” writes Lena, “is to eradicate a culture in which rape is acceptable, even though it’s not the easiest method.”

The emphasis is mine, so that this statement is not totally ignored a second time. In addition to pointing out how lazy society is and how dependent we are on laws and freedoms that only go so far, Lena nails the real issue we need to address.

So, a few disclaimers are in order. I will agree with some of Lena’s detractors: logical fallacies abound in her article. Her connection between the “22,800 violent sexual crimes that took place in the military” and military women’s basic training is a fluff and flawed response to Quigley’s corresponding argument. Also, I refuse to believe Quigley in anyway implied that rape victims somehow reap what they sow; I’m willing to assume shedoesn't  actually blame women for their own victimization. And the truth about guns and me? Well, fact is, I love them. Guns are awesome.

Hoplophobes need to relax and get a life. I’m awed by the physics of gun ballistics, by the insane power of firearms. I especially love guns in movies. I am mesmerized by the dazzlingly realistic and at times even terrifying shootouts in Michael Mann’s impeccable crime films. I love guns so much that honestly, I hope to own a few guns myself one day. I want a Desert Eagle. Those things are badass. I’m always envious of people who own guns and get to shoot away at ranges for fun, and I’ve always been a little jealous of my father, who not only owns several rifles (including an AR-15, the same gun Holmes used), but also for a decent stretch took up the hobby of gunsmithing. In short, I love guns because they’re cool. 

What I certainly am not is someone who glorifies guns out of fear.

My love of guns doesn’t coincide with some desperate drive to gloriously protect my right to own them from the evil government. I’m not motivated by some ridiculous notion that, before the impending apocalypse at the end of the year, my Kenyan-born, Muslim president will issue an executive order, placing sleeper cell Huma Abedin in charge so she can load me onto a train, ship me off to Auschwitz, work me to near-death, and feed me to zombies.

Michael Moore recently appeared as a guest on Piers Morgan Tonight and asked with a great deal of frustration why people are so afraid that they just absolutely need their guns — why they just need to protect the holiest of holy Amendments, that 11th commandment granting them “the right to bear arms.” Honestly, I don’t care what anyone thinks of him, and neither should you when he asks a question that goes directly to the heart of America’s sad obsession with guns — a question too many people (mostly conservatives, libertarians, NRA sympathizers, and nuts) just refuse to ask.

Many of my fellow liberals are hardly off the hook, for they dwell on the wrong questions. They ask, “Why do you need an AK-47 and a clip that holds 30 bullets?” or “Why do we need UZIs?” But that’s b.s. Americans ask leading questions that serve their own narrow-minded opinions, and all we accomplish as a result is deeper ideological division on top of stubborn ideologies. If we can’t agree on the solution to the problem of guns in this country, then maybe we should all come together over common and much more pertinent questions: How do we reform our underlying culture? What is it about us that make us so fearful?

In a perfect world in which there would exist a perfect America, there’d be nothing to fear, and so the only reason why people would love guns so much and own fully-automatic assault rifles with 100-round drum mags is because of how freaking cool they are. Unfortunately, America is utterly imperfect, and we are compelled to have these guns not only because they’re cool as hell, but also because we can’t live without our freedom to have them and feel safe. We’re imperfect because of this laughably paranoid fear for our own safety — and react so vehemently to gun legislation.

I’m not interested in offering another petty interpretation of the Second Amendment. We should all just move on and accept our right to arm ourselves.

What does interest people like Lena and me is getting people to address the nature of the reasons why we feel it’s so important to arm ourselves. It’s important to realize that slapping Band-Aids on present cuts neither prevents future cuts, nor reverses our tendency to bleed. Real solutions to deep-seated problems don’t comprise superficial, short-term fixes.