The Puritans and other British dissenters were the first to colonize much of New England. Those black and white attitudes towards human conduct are still a part of the American character. Those individuals who decided to “ skedaddle” to the West created a strong ethic of freedom and individualism. This also is a part of the what makes the United States today.
Europeans especially, don’t “get” Americans. Why don’t they want to have fun and pleasure? Whiskey, wine and beer should be drunk for fun. Food should be eaten for pleasure. Hanging out on the beach either completely or almost naked is pleasurable. Sex, and lots of it, can be both fun and pleasurable. So on and so on.
Americans like to drink, eat, get naked and have sex. It’s just that they don’t talk about it from the perspective of fun and pleasure.
What’s struck me in the gun responsibility debate is that no one on pro gun side has made what I think is the best argument for owning and using guns. They’re fun.
They look dangerous and that can be a lot of fun. They make really loud noises – which is even more fun. And they can really do a number on glass jars, old refrigerators and so on. Firing a gun can wreck inanimate stuff, which, for some people, is a whole bunch of fun.
In your mind you can “play” at being a rough and tough soldier, sheriff or some other good guy. There are even costumes that you can wear. A guy or gal with a gun is the envy of many six year old’s.
Instead of resenting the government trying to limit access to their fun, some gun owners dress up their opposition with talk of tyranny, self protection and rights.
I don’t think that gun owners who make these kind of arguments really mean what they say. Yes, there are a few whack job nut cases who buy those arguments. For many gun owners they are not the reasons they went and bought a gun. They wanted to have some fun.
If you want an illustration of a fun attitude, watch the television program Myth Busters. They have a lot of good clean fun shooting guns and blowing stuff up. Maybe clean is the wrong word.
Of course, hunting is both a kind of fun and, for many, sacred. It feels good to be out in nature and to then be grateful for the animal who gave its life so you could eat. Almost everyone is not concerned about the guns that hunters use.
So here’s the thing. Danger can be fun, and guns are definitely dangerous. However, to truly have fun, what you think is dangerous actually shouldn’t be dangerous – it should just appear that way.
Again, look at Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the hosts of Myth Busters. When they use guns or explosives, they make the situation extremely safe with bunkers, goggles, hearing protectors, remote detonators, bullet proof glass, and more. And they have a lot of fun.
Myth Busters had an accident with an errant cannon ball going through a house in the neighbourhood next door. The show went to extraordinary lengths to apologize and to explain to their audience what safety measures were in place and how they went wrong. It really was a freak accident, but, as the show emphasized, even with the best preparations, things can go wrong.
So, a wandering cannon ball did some property damage. It’s no big deal. Shooting 20 six year old’s, many of them multiple times in the head, that’s a big deal.