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Who likes guns?

Posted by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM
  • 20 Replies

Guns and green chile

As much as I'd like to wax effusively about the delights of the Frito Pie, a shamefully delightful flavor bomb that pleases in equal measure to its feeling in the hand like a steaming dog turd, I suspect what people are going to talk about when they see our New Mexico episode is the sight of me -- socialist sympathizer, leftie, liberal New Yorker -- gleefully hammering away with an AR-15, an instrument of mayhem and loathing that also has the distinction of being America's favorite weapon.


I like guns.


I like shooting them. I like holding their sleek, heavy, deadly weight in my hands. I like shooting at targets: cans, paper cutouts and even though I'm not a hunter, the occasional animal. Though I do not own a gun, I would -- if I lived in a rural area like, say, Montana -- consider owning one. Whatever my feelings about gun regulation and my worries, as a father, about what kind of world my daughter will have to live in, I think I should have as many guns as I like. Even Ted Nugent should have guns. He likes them a lot. They make him happy -- and as offensive as I may find a lot of what comes out of his mouth, I'm pretty sure, based on firsthand experience, that he's a responsible gun owner.


You, however, I'm not so sure about. And my next door neighbor. I'm not so sure about him either. I'd like to know a bit more about him before he takes possession of an M-16 and a whole lot of extra clips.


If we accept the proposition that that a gun is simply a tool -- with potentially lethal properties -- it follows that it's not too different from a vehicle. And I would like to know a LOT more about you before I'm comfortable putting you behind the wheel of a 16-wheeler.


I'd like to know if you're a maniacal drunk or crackhead before allowing you to barrel down that highway with three tons of trailer swinging behind you. If you favor an aluminum foil hat as headgear, I would have concerns about entrusting you with so much power to harm so many in so little time. That's a reasonable thing for a society to ponder on, I think.


The upcoming New Mexico show is not about guns. Though there are, as in much of America between the coasts, many guns there.


This show is about the American cowboy ideal, about the romantic promise of the American West, about individuality and the freedom to be weird. New Mexico, where Spanish, Mexican, Pueblo, Navajo and European cultures mix and have mixed -- at times painfully and lately, more easily. New Mexico, where everyone from artists, hippies, cowboys, poets, misfits, refugees and tourists of every political stripe have interpreted the promise of its gorgeous, wide-open spaces and the freedom that it offers in their own, very different ways.

New Mexico is an enchanted land, where people are largely free to create their own world.


Americans are traditionally, by nature, suspicious and even hostile to government. Whether we admit it or not, we were, most of us, suckled on the idea that a "man" should solve his own problems -- that there are simple answers to complex questions. And that if all else fails, taking the situation into one's own hands -- violently -- is somehow "cleansing" and heroic. Whether playing cowboys and Indians as a child or watching films, those are our heroes and our icons: the lone gunman, the outlaw, the gangster, the ordinary man pushed too far.


That's a uniquely American pathology. And even the ex-flower children who've escaped the cities of the East to put Indian feathers in their hair, turquoise around their neck and a battered pair of cowboy boots on are, on some level, buying in to that ethos of a mythical West.


In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun -- anywhere -- is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it's perfectly normal. I've walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada and Texas where absolutely everyone is packing. I've sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where -- at end of dinner -- mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the backyard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan's idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that's a facet of American life that's unlikely to change.


I may be a New York lefty -- with all the experiences, prejudices and attitudes that one would expect to come along with that -- but I do NOT believe that we will reduce gun violence or reach any kind of consensus by shrieking at each other.


Gun owners -- the vast majority of them I have met -- are NOT idiots. They are NOT psychos. They are not even necessarily Republican (New Mexico, by the way, is a blue state). They are not hicks, right-wing "nuts" or necessarily violent by nature. And if "we" have any hope of ever changing anything in this country in the cause of reason -- and the safety of our children -- we should stop talking about a significant part of our population as if they were lesser, stupider or crazier than we are.


The batshit absolutist Wayne LaPierre may not represent the vast majority of gun owners in this land -- but if pushed -- if the conversation veers towards talk of taking away people's guns -- many gun owners will shade towards him -- and away from us.

Gun culture goes DEEP in this country. A whole hell of a lot of people I've met remember daddy giving them their first rifle as early as age 6 -- and that kind of bonding -- that first walk through the early morning woods with your Dad -- that's deep tissue stuff. When people start equating guns -- ALL guns -- as evil -- as something to be eradicated, a whole helluva lot of people are going to get defensive.


The conversation so far has illuminated, instead of any substantial issues, mostly the huge cultural divide between those like me who live in coastal cities with restrictive gun laws and that vast swath of America that lives very differently. We don't understand how they live. And they don't understand how we could POSSIBLY live the way we live. A little respect for that difference might be a good thing. The contempt, mockery and total lack of understanding for all those people "out there" by deep thinkers and pundits who've never sat down for a cold beer in a bar full of camo-wearing duck hunters is despicable and counterproductive.


We are too busy expressing disbelief at the ways others have chosen to live to ever really talk about the nuts and bolts of making America safer and less violent.


No middle ground is possible when even the notion of a sane, reasonable person who likes to shoot lots of bullets at stuff is seen as so foreign -- so "other."


Maybe we would be better off -- safer, kinder to one another -- if we were Denmark or Sweden. But we are not.


And riding across the incredible landscape of Ghost Ranch outside of Sante Fe, seeing the canyons and arroyos that so inspired Georgia O'Keefe and generations of artists, writers and seekers who followed, one is especially glad we are not.


There are a lot of nice people in this country. A whole helluva lot of them, like it or not, own AR-15s. If we can't have at least have a conversation with them, sit down, break bread and talk about where we are going and how we are going to get there, there is no hope at all.


As far as the much more important question of where I stand on the question of red chile or green?


I'm green all the way. And New Mexico's got it best.

http://www.cnn.com/video/shows/anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown/season-2/new-mexico/index.html

by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM
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Replies (1-10):
krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Kind of long-ish, but worth the read. 

I agree with him.

MissmeMissme
by Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:29 PM

I didn't read, but if that is you in the default your are smokin hot!! lol

Quoting krysstizzle:

Kind of long-ish, but worth the read. 

I agree with him.


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM
2 moms liked this

Also, to add: I think part of the reason Bourdain is able to really capture this is because of the fact that he's so well-traveled and has gone into people's homes and eaten with so many different people from very different walks of life. Once you really spend time with those different than you and eat with them? It's pretty darn hard to dehumanize them by putting them in boxes. 

krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

lol, I wish :) It's Willam Belli. 

Quoting MissmeMissme:

I didn't read, but if that is you in the default your are smokin hot!! lol

Quoting krysstizzle:

Kind of long-ish, but worth the read. 

I agree with him.



MissmeMissme
by Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Dang she is gorgeous. Why do I not know her!!

Quoting krysstizzle:

lol, I wish :) It's Willam Belli. 

Quoting MissmeMissme:

I didn't read, but if that is you in the default your are smokin hot!! lol

Quoting krysstizzle:

Kind of long-ish, but worth the read. 

I agree with him.




MsDenuninani
by Silver Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I completely agree with him.

I have no idea what it is like to grow up in a family where guns are given to you at age 6.  (And so many of these gun owners don't know what it's like to grow up like I did, where there was a very real threat of stray bullets and drive-bys.)

Thanks for posting.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Sep. 30, 2013 at 1:22 PM
1 mom liked this

I do not believe that more guns make us safer. I do not believe that most who own guns are fully responsible and expert marks persons. I have known too many people "living on the edge" who adore guns and stockpile them- the kind of people that I expect to see their names in the paper after one of these mass shootings.

I do not think their is a need for a militia- the militia cited in the Amendment did not include women, or people over 45- 

Just like every dog owner that you pass on the trail says that their snarly, growling dog is safe and has never hurt anyone- They all say that. Just like all gun owners want you to believe that they just might be on the next Olympic Biathlon team. 



lga1965
by Ruby Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM
Excellent.

Quoting Sisteract:

I do not believe that more guns make us safer. I do not believe that most who own guns are fully responsible and expert marks persons. I have known too many people "living on the edge" who adore guns and stockpile them- the kind of people that I expect to see their names in the paper after one of these mass shootings.

I do not think their is a need for a militia- the militia cited in the Amendment did not include women, or people over 45- 

Just like every dog owner that you pass on the trail says that their snarly, growling dog is safe and has never hurt anyone- They all say that. Just like all gun owners want you to believe that they just might be on the next Olympic Biathlon team. 



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justinnaimee
by Bronze Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM
1 mom liked this
I 100% agree. I grew up in a hunting family. Target shooting was weekend fun. My husband is a hunter and my 6 year old has a rifle. Were you to see us on the street we would just be any other normal family.
..MoonShine..
by Redwood Witch on Sep. 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM

I love Anthony Bourdain. Yes, I agree with him. (On the green chile thing, too. LOL) 

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