Shaun JohnstonBritish, now living in Hudson Valley NYEmail address
Gun control strategy
NEW IDEA: limit gun ownership to guns available at the time the constitution was composed. Flintlocks, muzzle loaders, etc.ORIGINAL IDEA: Pit against gun ownership the fear guns rouse in the rest of us.By encouraging expression of that fear, and finding ways to have it validated--making it the “new normal”--we make gun ownership something to be ostracized for, embarrassed about, setting the stage for much stricter limits to be set on gun ownership.The problem with gun ownership, we emphasize, is not the people who own guns, it’s the fear the rest of us feel when in the company of people who own guns. That’s the problem we’re addressing.This has no relevance to constitutional rights. The rest of us are quite within our rights to declare ourselves afraid of people who want to own guns, and to work for measures to cope with that fear. For example, we can ask that there be places where we can be assured there aren’t any gun owners, with or without their guns. It’s what their need to own guns says about what they think of us that makes us fearful.SLOGANS:“It’s not guns I’m afraid of, it’s gun owners.”“It’s why gun owners want a gun that frightens me.”“Why should I have to trust gun owners’ judgment of who to shoot at?”TACTICS:Make the expression of fear of gun owners a social obligation, as was done with second-hand smoke. Make it a sign of courage and responsibility to others to admit how frightened one is of gun owners.Make widely available badges announcing “I am afraid of gun owners” and “I need to know if you’re a gun owner.” Establish how disabling that fear is. Get magazine articles published about how fear of gun owners being present limits people’s free participation in society, how it makes parents set limits to their children’s participation in out-of-school activities. Link this fear to post-traumatic stress disorder. I saw an article recently in which someone prone to depression begged the government to make it hard for people like her to have access to guns. That sort of thing.Call for government agencies to recognize fear of gun owners as a disorder calling for remedial measures. The FDA could set up seminars for physicians on how to deal with gun-owner phobia, emphasizing the need to validate their fears, how they should not feel they are weird or crazy, given the loss of life in America from people owning guns.Call for spaces to be set apart for people afraid of gun owners, as we do now for people who don’t want to share space with smokers. Government offices and restaurants could set off a space for people who don’t want to share space with gun owners. Note: this is not restricting gun owners, it’s restricting those who don’t want to be with gun owners. But every time gun owners are faced with such a choice they are reminded that they are feared and that they admit to causing that fear by where they sit.All guns and ammo carry labelling asking gun owners to not intrude in areas set aside for people afraid of gun owners. Then they cannot escape knowing that such fear exists, and they are the cause of it.Once fear of guns is the new normal, insurance companies can be asked to offer a small discount for non-gun ownership, that can be cited as evidence that the presence of guns is an actuarial risk factor.THE DEEPER THREAT OF GUN OWNERSHIPThe first object of this campaign is to set a climate in which limitations on gun ownership become seen as natural and necessary because of the fear it “naturally” arouses in those whose fingers are not on triggers. But there’s a second object, which is to counter a threat to civil liberties posed by the NRA: the division of society into those entitled to have guns and those not so entitled--the young, the psychologically irregular and those judged irresponsible. The NRA advocates a society in which gun owners guarantee safety because wherever you are, where there may be a young man about to run amuck with a gun, there’ll be someone armed and capable of shooting that person down. A system of background checking will limit gun ownership to only those found qualified.Such a system implies there be a nationwide system of assessment that distinguishes between those who qualify as first class citizens--psychologically sound and socially responsible, who can be trusted with a gun--and the rest. This suspiciously mirrors a division between white and black. Today it adds in a distinction between the normal and the outlier, outliers being whoever those in control of the system think untrustworthy. Shades of McCarthy! The way to fight that system is to identify with those who would discriminated against by it. Acknowledging a fear of gun owners also implies, “I fear being a victim of your judgment about who is and who is not OK. I don’t want a distinction made between who’s thought qualified to have a gun and who doesn’t.” The fear I advocate expressing is not only a fear of being the inadvertent victim of a gun accident, but also of a system that says who’s OK and who isn’t.