.

How To Go From NRA Parroting To Independent Thinking

As numerous young adult males emerge to manhood, the issue of gun ownership is a major consideration. Wise advice will help them to determine their position on that and their place in society.

At a gathering recently, I heard some young men and their fathers discussing the ‘joys’ of gun ownership. One young man was cajoling an older woman to let him kill at least one of the deer she enjoys on her property. Then, during dinner, three of the young men and I discussed/debated the issue of owning guns. It seems that a continuation of our conversation might be of use to other young men, as well.

Dear Fellows,

I enjoyed our discussion on Christmas Eve about the NRA-gun situation in America because we spoke respectfully, though some of us differ, in exchanging ideas and opinions. As we spoke, I noticed a few things which I’d like to pass on to you now.

I noticed that in the arguments of those of you who approve of multiple gun ownership, certain phrases kept cropping up - “my right”, “liberal media” are some. I didn’t hear anything about social responsibility; yours or the NRA’s. Only your asking me whether I thought the “corrupt, corporate-controlled” Federal government or the States should control gun and ammo allocation.

I sensed that, as emerging adults, you weren’t really thinking so much your own thoughts, but repeating words you’ve heard again and again from adults (I picture a number of swaggering adult men in your life, bragging about the number and power of their guns), repetitions from your conservative Fox News and, of course, the high priest of all - the NRA leaders, who blame everyone but gun owners for the incredibly high incidence of gun-related murders in the United States of America.

I realize that numerous gun owners relate more to 18th century necessity than they do to our 21st century society. They equate democracy with owning guns for ‘protection’. And with their masculinity. Maybe it would be wise to think that through.

At the end of our discussion, I asked you to try and make the argument for the opposite position from yours - in your own thoughts, not to be mentioned to anyone else - so that you can better understand. I asked you to evaluate your position objectively. Continuing that thought, I would further suggest that as you think about it you remove all cliches, labels and adjectives from your internal discussion; just stick to the bare facts.

When you fully understand the other side’s position, then you can decide on your own whether you will stick completely to your original ideas or you can see merit in assuming some of the values professed by people who oppose or wish to restrict ownership of guns.

You are decent young men, and as you are inclined to refer to yourself and other gun owners as “sane, responsible citizens” (the exact words continually repeated by NRA leaders), you include your social position in that. Ask yourself if the gun issue defines you, or if you are more dimensional than that. What is your role in the betterment of society? Just to marry, earn a living, pay taxes and raise children? 

When you think about it, you might realize that you can do those things and so much more to really fulfill your potential. 

One of you is a college student majoring in Political Science, and you say you’re on the way to becoming an educated person. Well, education is not just acquiring knowledge; education results from weighing words and experiences of others with your own values and experiences (inner and outer) to determine your positions for yourself. Education is the combination of knowledge and wisdom.

Remember, in just a few years you will probably be a father yourself; you will want to be prepared to guide your children in their thoughts as well.

Finally, learn to see things as they really are. When you are thinking that the NRA’s objective is to protect your rights as a gun owner, remember that the gun industry is a lobby - no more, no less - worth $13.6b, and their sole objective is to protect their wealth. Eight years ago, Wayne Lapierre’s compensation package was $1m. What he earns today is not publicly known; we can only imagine. 

Why do you suppose they pay him so much? Where do those funds come from? You might also ask yourself if their real objective is protecting your right to acquire more guns so that they can increase their profits.

If they were to achieve their objective of putting guns in every school in America, wouldn’t that increase their bottom line! After the schools, would come shopping malls, churches, sports stadiums - until every aspect of our American lives would be gun-related and NRA leaders would be wealthier than we can even imagine. Is that the country, more importantly, are those the values you want to pass on to your children?

One of the most important lessons you can teach your sons is that growing into real manhood only begins with the maturing of your important parts, and your size. What marks the difference between adult children and real men is courage; the courage to follow your own values, even if they move away from family tradition. Even if you move away from the friends and culture in which you were raised. As I’ve learned, sometimes the child (you) can even lead your elders.

Back to the gun culture; if every home and venue were to have guns for protection, that would mean everyone is living in a fear-driven culture, and I can’t see much pizzaz in that. For me, a courage-driven approach is much more exhilarating because that way shows us how much more we can achieve and enjoy than we might have, at first, thought. I’m not talking about reckless, impulsive actions; I’m talking about a real, well-thought-out courageously optimistic approach to living.

As I was driving to the party (an hour-long trip, alone, in rain and fog, a good bit of it on pitch-dark winding country roads), I chatted with myself: ‘I could have just cancelled my visit to stay home where it’s safe, and they would’ve understood.’ But I didn’t; I decided to go ahead, drive a bit slower, and be careful; it worked out beautifully. I tell you this, my young(er) friends, so that you can begin to think in terms of courage-driven lives, and a courage-driven mutually protective society.

When I decided to take up water-skiing (on one ski) again at the age of 70, a lot of other people would’ve thought that was ridiculous; ‘what if something happened?’ they might have said. But, living a courage-driven life, I decided to give it a go, and see what I could still do. What did happen is that now I’m in my third year of training to ski again this summer on Lake Lanier, and I’m having a blast. You can read about my return ski journey on Huffington Post, where it was the featured article in their Post50 just before Christmas.

And, for whatever it’s worth to you, I have lived by this quote from “Around the World with Auntie Mame” (Patrick Dennis): “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving.” Well, my life has certainly kept me filled!

For young men favoring ownership of guns, I have great anticipation for your evolution as independent-thinking, caring young men. If, after thoroughly, objectively analyzing your positions on owning guns, you still decide to own them at least you will be deciding, with your own reasons, to continue - possibly with some modifications in your overall plan. I wish you and all other emerging men that you become the very best you can be. 

Oh, by the way, have you figured out the key three words? They’re analyze, evaluate and courage. Go get ‘em, guys!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Clicker December 27, 2012 at 01:40 PM
What a condescending person you come across as Molly. You are asking these young men to see things from your point of view. Did you deign to give them that same respect? "You are decent young men, and as you are inclined to refer to yourself and other gun owners as “sane, responsible citizens” (the exact words continually repeated by NRA leaders), you include your social position in that. Ask yourself if the gun issue defines you, or if you are more dimensional than that. What is your role in the betterment of society? Just to marry, earn a living, pay taxes and raise children?" That paragraph alone drips with distaste. You don't think that anyone who owns a gun is allowed to think of themselves as "sane, responsible citizens"? Ask your own self Molly if the gun position defines YOU, or if YOU are more dimensional than that. God forbid these young men should want to marry, earn a living, pay taxes and raise children! The horror of that, right Molly? You should have just stayed home instead of spending that precious hour of your time driving to the party. It's much easier to feel superior sitting on your own sofa while philosphizing about the masculinity of gun ownership. And I know of no one who enjoys having deer on their property, unless they hunt.
Tim December 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Great post Molly...it is always good to read a post online that asks people to see both sides of an issue, to actually think for themselves, and not just parrot what someone else says. This is a complex issue, and by just taking one side and not considering the alternatives is a disservice to our country.
Molly Darden December 27, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Clicker, while I respect your right to hide your identity, I cannot applaud your lack of courage in doing so. This blog reflects my opinions, to which I'm entitled. I very much did ask the young men for their points of view and they had no original thoughts on it; that's why I wrote this; to help them figure out where each of them actually stands on the issue, rather than what they hear adults saying about it. In the sentence about marrying, earning a living, etc. my point is that, while those are admirable activities, they fall short of fully realizing a person's potential. In other words, they can do more with their lives -- to inspire or benefit society. The bitter truth is that the majority of people who kill with guns are white males, and the part about masculinity is not just my opinion; it's the result of a scientific study. Finally, the lady I mentioned in the beginning, who owns a B&B and has treated her flower garden chemically to deter deer from eating them, takes great pleasure -- as do her guests and pets -- in enjoying the deer. Oh, by the way, I have had gun training and deliberated about my personal position on this. I opt for a courage-driven life without guns.
Molly Darden December 27, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Thanks, Tim!
Clicker December 27, 2012 at 02:56 PM
What kind of original thoughts concerning gun ownership were you hoping to hear from these young men? Give us some original thoughts on why they shouldn't own guns. You have failed to supply any of those yourself. I guess unless they become water-skiing grandpas at 70, their lives are failures in your eyes. Having kids and jobs is just not enough. Another of your condescending quotes: "For young men favoring ownership of guns, I have great anticipation for your evolution as independent-thinking, caring young men." In another words, "Until you become a liberal gun-control nut, like me, you simply have not evolved." You act as if everyone that owns a gun is walking around in constant fear looking for boogeymen under every shrub. Ridiculous. But congratulations on your 'courage-driven life without guns' just the same. And it looks like you have found the one person in the state that is able to control deer so ably. You do know that they breed like rabbits and their numbers need to be culled yearly to kep the population healthy right? How do you think that happens - suicide?
Clicker December 27, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Why do you not chastise Tim on his lack of courage to reveal his full identity Molly?
Elizabeth December 27, 2012 at 04:11 PM
I'm always encouraged to stumble across examples of civil discourse that still manage to exist in today's society. Thank you or sharing your thoughts and encouraging critical thinking.
Molly Darden December 27, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Clicker, in this blog, I respectfully invite the young men to learn to think for themselves and make up their own minds. Do you believe that's condescending? I say that we're all entitled to our own opinions, and I respect that right. Is that condescending? You and I may not agree on the issue, but I certainly agree that you're entitled to your opinion. You might notice that, in this post, I've told you something about myself and how I choose to live. You have only criticized. Throughout this blog, I've given my opinions without labelling or name-calling. I've just presented my thoughts. That's the way I believe people can discuss and learn to respectfully live together. You may disagree, and that's your right. If you believe strongly enough that your position is right, then you'll probably have the courage to present it respectfully, without trying to put anyone else down. As for chastising Tim; I haven't chastised anyone; I only said I don't particularly applaud the lack of courage in not identifying themselves. That's only my viewpoint; everyone decides for themselves. I do appreciate Tim's approach, though, that it's good to explore both sides of an issue. That's all.
Clicker December 27, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Yes Molly, I believe the entire tone of your lecture is condescending; it self-righteously drips of it. From the very first sentence when you snicker at the 'joys' of gun ownership. You really think this quote is being respectful? -- "...you weren’t really thinking so much your own thoughts, but repeating words you’ve heard again and again from adults (I picture a number of swaggering adult men in your life, bragging about the number and power of their guns)." You write: "...I would further suggest that as you think about it you remove all cliches, labels and adjectives from your internal discussion; just stick to the bare facts" mere paragraphs after you write "...repetitions from your conservative Fox News and, of course, the high priest of all - the NRA leaders..." and "...they equate democracy with owning guns for ‘protection’. And with their masculinity." And you think your opinions are not condescending? And calling someone a coward for not posting their full name on a blog response is indeed chastisement. Yet I notice those that agree with you are spared this quaint etiquette lesson.
jeff December 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM
"The bitter truth is that the majority of people who kill with guns are white males, and the part about masculinity is not just my opinion; it's the result of a scientific study." I would like to see that study, please link it. I am unsure why you brought race into this discussion though. This article from 2007 shows that blacks make up 13% of the population but make up nearly half of murder victims(The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that from 2001 to 2005, more than nine out of 10 black murder victims were killed by other blacks, and three out of four were slain with a gun.). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/09/AR2007080901964.html
Molly Darden December 27, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Jeff, sorry; it's not a study, it's the ad for Bushmaster: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2012/12/firearms-ad-equates-gun-ownership-with-masculinity/ If you've been reading new stories of massacres and other shootings, you will notice that most of them recently have been carried out by white males. What I notice most about Clicker's and your replies is that you ignore the basic premise here -- that young adults should learn to evaluate their own positions -- and my suggestion that you present your opposing position on gun control without accusation, cliche, label or name-calling. That would be the intelligent way. Continuing to criticize my approach tells me clearly that you have none of your own. I shouldn't have to keep repeating this, but we're all entitled to our own views. If you believe I'm mistaken, you're entitled to that belief. This blog, which I wrote, reflects my viewpoints.
Molly Darden December 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Correction: news stories.
jeff December 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I'm a little unsure what exactly you want the reader to take away from this opinion. I don't need the NRA to tell me what to think, I have the 2nd Amendment. It is not about hunting. I think the best solution is to allow the teachers and adminstrators carry, if they so desire, heck I'd pay to help one get specific training. That way the NRA doesn't profit from it(your concern) and it wouldn't cost the public anything. A little about me....A young man tried to rob me one afternoon several years ago while I was in my vehicle. I was able to retrieve my handgun from the dash and stop the robbery. No shots were fired, maybe I scared him straight, but I know one thing my gun may well have saved my life. That night I found GeorgiaCarry.Org and learned where I could and couldn't carry. I now carry on my person everywhere I legally can. I also joined GeorgiaCarry.Org that night, so as to work to remove places that are off-limits, because that's where you need the gun the most.......where the criminal has his!
Molly Darden December 28, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Jeff, the main point for the reader to take away is that young people can learn to evaluate their own opinions. That's the main point. The rest is pretty much responding to comments. While I don't agree with your opinion about the teachers and administrators carrying, I can certainly respect and understand it. I appreciate knowing your experience with the would-be robber, and can see how that was helpful to you. In that case, with your responsible approach, I support your carrying. Actually, just because I choose not to, doesn't at all mean I think others shouldn't. I'm just more comfortable with their choices when they have an objective other than accumulating large numbers of these weapons just because they have the 2nd Amendment right to them. And, while I accept the need for culling out certain animals during hunting season, I was disturbed to hear the young man so eagerly asking to kill the deer just to eat, when the lady so obviously enjoyed them. I would like to see more sensitivity to other people's opinions and feelings on this issue from young would-be avid gun owners, and this is what I'm attempting to elicit. I do respect and appreciate your reasoned approach and courteous responses.
jeff December 28, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Mrs. Darden, You stated that "it's the result of a scientic study" that is the study I wished to see. As for mass shootings I agree they are mostly white, but the body count continues to amass in Chicago and other cities that far exceed those numbers. Where is the media, where is the outrage? Also remember that Chicago has the most stringent gun control in the country. As for criticizing you, I don't feel I did that with my above response. I simply asked questions to which you haven't answered. I do think it was uncalled for by you questioning my intelligence though. I was simply trying to engage in a civil conversation, which I thought was the point of this opinion.
Molly Darden December 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Jeff, I'm not sure how you deduce that I'm questioning your intelligence or criticizing you; I was praising you throughout my comment. And, in no way do I feel you were criticizing me. You were respectfully making your points. As was I. As for the scientific study, I admitted to being in error about that, providing the link to the weapon ad appealing to masculinity. You are right about the Chicago murders, of course and as for the media and outrage, that's another issue altogether. With the prevalence of social media today, each and every one of us is the media, and we all have access to network and cable news personnel; Huffington Post and HuffPost Live represent community media outlets. But that's another issue for another day; another blog.
jeff December 28, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Here is where you questioned my intelligence. "That would be the intelligent way. Continuing to criticize my approach tells me clearly that you have none of your own."
JM Hurricane December 28, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Damn your posts are pathetic. Stick to your "18th century, feminine" activity of knitting in front of the fireplace.
Molly Darden December 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, JM; apparently you're not a proponent of young people's learning to think analytically, evaluate and to live courageously according to their principles. Well, live and let live. You're certainly entitled to your approach, as am I. The difference between us is that I express myself respectfully, while you choose insults. Again, your choice.
Molly Darden December 31, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I'm not seeing this comment here, yet: J commented on your blog post, How To Go From NRA Parroting To Independent Thinking: "Molly, you've wasted my time and everyone's time. Your belittling rant assumes that anyone not holding your own "enlightened" views is a hillbilly with an 8th grade education." J, actually, you wasted your own time by not reading the beginning of the blog: It was written to and for teenagers. I write differently for them, than for adults. And my views on the gun issue are not what it's about; it's about helping teens to see another side of the issue so that they can form their own opinions about, not only this issue, but other ones as well. I'm not trying to convince anyone; if the kids really want to learn, they'll do their own research.
Tom Hince January 01, 2013 at 01:56 AM
It appears that alot of peaople feel that there is no need to evaluate opinions.
EJ April 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Are you averaging by incident or mortality? Cho Seung-Hui certainly wasn't a white guy.
Wayne Kelley April 11, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Ms. Darden: Thanks for your thoughtful and respectful analysis. I share your distaste for those who prefer to sit and snipe from the cover of their (imagined) anonymity, rather than to have the courage to stand up and take responsibility for their insulting and demeaning attitudes.
Molly Darden April 11, 2013 at 04:03 PM
EJ, the basic premise here is that young adults should learn to evaluate their own positions on gun control objectively, based on facts only, without accusation, cliche, label or name-calling. Thank you for your question. As to Cho Seung-Hui's not being a white guy, that doesn't change the fact that most mass killers are white guys.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »