Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something I Am Pondering

How much of the support for scrapping the long gun registry, while maintaining the handgun registry, is based on the idea that long guns are "our guns" (good,white, Anglo Saxon, Christians); while handguns are "their guns" (name your racial and/or religious minority)? I ask this because I keep reading this same phrase, in some iteration or another in every article:
In particular, he said, they've likely been influenced by vocal critics who contend the registry is a billion-dollar waste that targets law-abiding hunters and farmers rather than gun-toting criminals.
The question is has "law-abiding hunters and farmers" become short hand for "old stock white folks", while "gun-toting criminals" has come to mean "those other scary folks from foreign places"? I am getting the vibe that it has. Am I wrong?
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  1. Depends on how serious you think a charge of racism is.

    If not so serious, ponder away! If deadly serious, better wait for some more data before tossing the accusation out there.

    (Me, I say once racial prejudice no longer has legal enforcement and the sanction of both the state and polite society, I take it about as seriously as John Derbyshire does -- a curious thing to be thought about from time to time, and a strange peccadillo in those so afflicted.)

    But I'd actually take it still another way -- I think this polling data is a sign that the general population is open to the sorts of arguments which have prevailed in public debate Stateside.

    Did you know that in 1959, sixty percent of Americans wanted to ban private handgun ownership? It was over fifty years of persuasion, data-collecting, and sheer stubbornness that the NRA and groups like it moved American public opinion to where it is now, when only 29% of Americans would ban private handgun ownership. (i.e., 71% support law-abiding citizens' right to bear small arms.)

    English Canadians are not very different from Americans in terms of their discourse, their sense of right and wrong, and the arguments which prevail in open debate.

    If people started to make the case, loudly and persistently, for legal handgun ownership, I bet you'd see those numbers move, too.

  2. It is skating awfully close to Reagan's "welfare queens" rhetoric. No race was ever mentioned there either, but the meaning was quite clear.

  3. I read it as "long guns are OUR guns (i.e. Canadians' guns), while handguns are THEIR guns (i.e. Americans' guns)."

  4. Your way is a much less disturbing interpretation but I am not totally convinced. I may be hearing "dog whistles" where there are none, but its a little too "cody" for my liking.

  5. Also Jennie, I have trouble making the distinction between "Canadian" long guns and "American" handguns. There is nothing inherently national about either. The only thing different are the laws and they are getting more similar rather than different. In fact, I would posit that the critics of the long gun registry are adopting the American philosophy of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness", rather than the traditional Canadian "Peace, Order and Good Government" approach.

  6. I think you're hearing things a bit keener than might be warranted.

    The political right has always been against the gun registry. They've (we've -- I'll stake my identity, this being a Canadian blog ;)) just had a few more years to pound away against it. The right always identifies with the law-abiding portion of the population, with the not-so-subtle hint that the other guys are a bit too concerned about the other portion.