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American Gun Culture

In order to find ways to prevent terrible acts of violence from guns, and to reconcile those acts with our deeply-ingrained gun culture, we must first make steps to understand that culture.
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    MIAMI, FL, December 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- American Gun Culture According to 'Mike the Gun Guy'

This article is not an exhaustive, end-of-story discussion on guns and the debate about gun violence in America, especially when it's a subject this complex. But there are those making attempts to meaningfully add to the discussion, including Michael Weisser, who recently wrote the book Guns for Good Guys, Guns for Bad Guys.

Adam Gopnik followed up in the New Yorker with his piece "How a Gun Dealer Sees It." Gopnik proposes that in order to find ways to prevent terrible acts of violence from guns, and to reconcile those acts with our deeply-ingrained gun culture, we must first make steps to understand that culture.

The Gun Dealer's Perspective

Weisser goes by the nickname "Mike the Gun Guy," who apparently writes a regular column on guns for the Huffington Post.

According to Weisser's self-written bio on Amazon, the former economic historian and college professor has been involved in "just about everything" gun-related, from retail and wholesale to hunting and training. In other words, it would seem that Weisser knows a thing or two about guns and the gun trade.

He is, perhaps, entitled to forming an opinion on the matter.

Gopnik, having read the book, makes it appear as though Weisser's perspective is as one who is definitely pro-gun, as a gun dealer and enthusiast, and yet has not entirely swallowed the argument that every American has a right to a gun and should walk around armed. (This is, however, mere speculation: We cannot truly know where Weisser stands on the issue.)

But: "Weisser is truthful about guns and gun violence in ways that underline the essentially cultural [...] nature of the practices involved," Gopnik writes. "[G]un culture is a social fact so deeply grounded in American reality that it is in vain to protest, and that it must instead by understood," as Gopnik views Weisser's personal belief.

How We Come to Understand American Gun Culture

We understand, Gopnik seems to argue, by first coming to the realization that for most gun-owners and enthusiasts a gun is nothing more than a hobbyist's occupation. Gopnik writes that gun violence is, after all, "relatively rare," rarer than other much more common acts of gun violence (suicide) and, presumably, those deaths or injuries that occur as a result of accidental discharge or careless handling of a gun.

There are, however, intolerable risks: Just as our society does not tolerate acts of terrorism, it does not tolerate school shootings - but these shootings happen just the same.

Coming to an "understanding" of American gun culture does not by any means solve the problem of gun violence, but it might remove one major impediment to any rational discussion; that is, by trying to more fully understand the perspective of the person who opposes yours.

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