The Culture of Violence

There is a vast cadre of people in this country, mostly men, who belong to a de facto group called “Preppers.” In the 1980s, we called them survivalists. They are the guys who spend all their extra time and money developing tactical systems, which start with firearms. Their stated goal is to be prepared for SHTF, an amazingly common acronym for “Shit Hits the Fan.” Their real goal, in my opinion and observation, is to feel a sense of power, importance and belonging that is inescapably and increasingly missing from our society. These people harbor heroic fantasies about their guns: they protect their families from zombies, they prevent murderers from storming churches, they hold an oppressive government at bay, and on and on.

They don’t ever do any of these things, of course. They spend fortunes of time and money collecting ammo and perfecting accessories on firearms they really have no business owning, weapons that really only belong in the hands of soldiers. They make YouTube videos and blog posts about which ammo has the best penetration or the best knock-down power, as if some day some high school principal will come to him and beg him to “take out” a suspect at 400 yards.

You think I’m kidding? Go to YouTube and type the word “Tactical” in the search box. You will find hundreds or thousands of people who want to be soldiers or cops, with screen names like “Humans 4 Targets” and “Never Enuff Ammo,” and who are yearning for society to break down so they can put on their vests and helmets and rifle slings and extra magazine pouches and … wait. Who can we cite who recently actually did these things?

This isn’t an anti-gun post. It’s not even really a reaction to the past year’s gun violence. It’s more of an observation of a bigger trend in the West, one that leads us not just to worship the empty power of firearms, but the production of foods that make us fat, of technology that makes us lazy, of entertainment that alienates us from compassion, of a mentality that thinks our most important rights are to possess devices that can do little else than destroy us.

Message to these gun nuts: Barack Obama isn’t going to take your guns away. You are.

Another item that illustrates this is a video by gun vlogger NutnFancy, a very outspoken gun advocate. He titled this video “Firearmageddon,” and in it he shows us the frenetic buying frenzy at his favorite gun store. It is a vulgar display of selfishness and panicky idiocy in a society filled with people who always put themselves first.

Abby and I are gun owners. We enjoy shooting as a sport. Abby’s been shooting since her childhood. But we have never, not once, talked about killing other human beings.

“Why do people continue to blame the implement and not the perpetrator?” -Vlogger tnoutdoors9

Simple answer: the primary purpose of firearms is destruction. tnoutdoorr9 is a reasonable man, but like a lot of people too deeply immersed in their hobby, he has become myopic and self-referential. He can’t see the forest for the trees.

Gun violence is out of control in the United States. As much as I enjoy our firearms, and despite my belief in the validity of the second amendment, I am chagrinned to say that it is probably time for some kind of reasonable, moderate legislation that addresses everything about firearms violence, not just the firearms themselves. This is a vastly more complex issue than simply banning guns or their accessories. How, after all, can you watch television and play video games and read the news online without receiving the message over and over: violence equals power.

I don’t believe the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” was originally intended to protect gun nuts’ rights to own 6000 rounds of military ammunition, and I don’t believe the constitution was meant to protect the rights of hicks in ball caps and Confederate Flag t-shirts to own devices that enable them to bring death to anyone and everyone in their realm.

To the one-dimentional liberal, the solution is obvious: gun bans. To the one-dimentional conservative, it is equally obvious: gun ownership is worth the violence it brings. You and I fall somewhere in between. But try saying that in the comments section of a vlog entitled “Preparing for a gun ban: What should you do.” No one is moderate in those discussions.


  1. That is one grandfatherly knife on your belt there, partner. How can you be a “me, my skills, and my knife” type guy with such a puny little-man blade?

  2. Also, let me add this about assault rifles, a quote from the movie We Were Soldiers: “Come time I need one there’ll be plenty of ’em lying’ on the ground.”

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