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Why I'm Tired of Hearing About Why People Own Guns
Published on February 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

Since the mass shooting in Aurora over the summer, I've been noticing a lot of articles examining the various reasons why people own guns. I even thought about writing one myself - interviewing local gun owners, hearing them talk about why they own guns. But I've grown weary of these stories. They take great pains to explain the motivations of gun owners, but you seldom see such thoughtful stories explaining why people don't own guns. As I've tried to make clear, people who don't own guns are also making a lifestyle choice - one that often reflects the culture of their community or the family in which they were raised.

An article on gun ownership posted today by the Christian Science Monitor raised a number of red flags for me. My first problem was the headline, which makes a big assumption - that there's a misunderstood majority of gun owners. I'm not sure I believe this, and the article doesn't actually provide any evidence for this assertion. Even more bafflingly, the article opens with some dude named Nick Brinley waltzing into a state capitol with a loaded AR-15. "Instead of menacing the public, though, Mr. Brinley joined about 350 other gun enthusiasts waving signs saying things such as 'Don't mess with the Constitution, it ain't right – [signed] Me' to protest a post-Sandy Hook gun-control package being floated in Congress, and backed by President Obama."

For some reason, it doesn't seem to have occurred to the reporter that just the sight of a crowd of men wandering around a public square with loaded weapons might be menacing for some people. Like me. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't have any patience for open carry activists. If I saw someone wandering down my street with a gun, I would call the police. My main experience with guns stems from being mugged at gunpoint, and I'm not comfortable with strangers invading my space with their guns. In any case, someone like Nick Brinley is menacing to someone like me, despite the Christian Science Monitor's assessment that he isn't. In fact, I'd say that the article could actually use some perspective from a victim of gun violence - someone who might not be so impressed by a bunch of dudes carrying guns and "Don't Tread on Me" signs.

Brinley is portayed in the article as some kind of centrist, simply because he's not sure people need 100 round magazines and has a good job. And yet he's out there at a gun protest with his AR-15, which leads me to believe he's not too concerned about the NRA's opposition to the completely reasonable idea of universal background checks for gun sales.

The article talks about all the new types of people getting guns, but downplays the fact that fewer than half of Americans actually own guns, according to studies and polls. Perhaps the next time we visit this topic, we could interview some of those people - the people who aren't running off to get concealed carry permits or hanging out at the range. The people who are living life quite happily without guns, and who want to continue to do so without being shot, killed, held up or robbed by someone with a gun.

Helpfully, the Christian Science Monitor has also published an editorial explaining how guns affect the people who won them - how it makes them feel like they can defend themselves, or feel better prepared for the collapse of society. The headline: What A Gun Can Do To You. Blah blah blah. I'll tell you what a gun can do to you. It can make you wonder whether a complete stranger who just stole your wallet is going to murder you because he's holding a gun to your temple and saying threatening things. At least, that's my experience with guns. And the experience of many other people. Not that you'd know it from reading the Christian Science Monitor.

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