Essay: Owning a Gun Is Part of What It Means to Be an American

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Alpha Designer/flickr)

In an essay mixed with listener responses, host John Hockenberry attempts to answer a simple, but at the same time limitlessly complex, question: Why do Americans own guns?

Hosted by:

John Hockenberry

Comments [4]

Hugh from NYC

I'm 67 years old. I held a rifle once in my life at a shooting range in the Boy Scouts, and a revolver that a friend of mine owned. I was robbed at gun point once in Central Park. What was amazing about that was that I couldn't find a cop for 45 minutes to report it. By that time, the robbers were long gone.

I've never been in a gun store. Never had a desire since childhood to own a gun and then it was cap guns.

I can't imagine feeling safer in New York subways carrying a gun. When I think of all the minor disputes that turn into screaming matches in the subway or on the streets, I am happy that none of those people ever seemed to have a gun on them.

Dec. 24 2012 09:53 AM
Jane Marcus from Middletown, NJ

The most nauseating essay I've ever heard on NPR. We are not a more violent "society" than others, we just have more guns. Guns are not part of "our"national identity, or the fabric of our society. Please do not reinforce this destructive myth any more. If I want to hear b.s. about "macho" America, I'll listen to Fox news and conservative talk radio.
"We compared the United States to the other First World countries. We looked at both genders and all ages, but here are the statistics for 5- to 14-year-olds. A child in the United States compared to a child in Finland or France or New Zealand is not 20 percent more likely to be killed in a gun homicide, or 50 percent more likely, or twice as likely, or five times as likely. It’s 13 times higher.

Our gun suicide rate for these children is eight times higher. Our non-gun suicide rate is average. For unintentional gun deaths, we have 10 times the likelihood of death [compared with other developed countries]. These children are at risk. When you do surveys across states or cities or regions, you find that where there are more guns and more permissive gun laws, people are dying.

We can do so much better. Other countries have done so much better."

Dec. 20 2012 10:19 PM

If I understood J. Hockenberry correctly, he owns a gun, and uses it on small animals, in order to feel lord of his manor, which I think is fair to say, manly.
To cause agony to other mammals for that reason shows such a lack of empathy if anyone really thinks about it it's sickening. Here's a thought experiment offered to try to force some empathy on people who use guns this heartless way: if you want to use a gun to hunt because you enjoy it, or to shoot animals in your garden, or because it makes you feel more macho in your home, then would you be willing to feel the level of pain you are inflicting, so that you understand what the animal feels before you inflict such pain for no good reason? I didn't think so.

Dec. 20 2012 06:05 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I owned a gun for a long time. I recently got rid of it... I have two little kids and until they are old enough to know how to handle it, I didn't want one around the house.
I had it for protection, and in case I had to go to the woods and survive on little animals, like my Grandfather did during the Holocaust.

I realize that if another Holocaust happens, I'll figure out a way to get a hold of another gun, there are sure enough of them around... I wonder if people somehow were all raised by my Grandfather who used to say,"You don't know what can happen." He used to say it in a very hushed Clint Eastwood kind of way, as he cocked the gun, shot a little animal, and left me to skin it, and cook it in the woods.

Dec. 20 2012 11:49 AM

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