WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2022
"Gun culture," black and brown: There's nothing "wrong" with adopting "gun culture," until such time as there is.
That said, our nation's gun culture may not always seem to be wholly rational. Here's Charles Blow's recent account of the culture surrounding him when he was growing up:
BLOW (5/29/22): I grew up in a gun culture. If there was a family in my hometown that didn’t have guns, I didn’t know them. One of the required projects in shop class was the making of a gun rack. My own home was filled with guns, and at one point we even had a gun case with a carousel for the long guns in the living room.
Almost no one in my town needed those guns. We weren’t active hunters. Crime wasn’t raging. We were probably safer without them than with them.
Furthermore, people rarely, if ever, practiced shooting. Some guns were owned without ever being fired. People owned guns and had no idea what it felt like to fire them.
Blow grew up in Gibsland, Louisiana, a small town which was very heavily black. In certain basic ways, the local "gun culture" he describes doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
("Some guns were owned without ever being fired. People owned guns and had no idea what it felt like to fire them.")
There's nothing "wrong" with a culture like that, until it turns out that there is. That said, the culture Blow describes doesn't exactly seem to make perfect sense.
Intriguingly, a somewhat similar local "gun culture" may have existed—may still exist—in Uvalde, Texas. We start with a column about Uvalde in Monday's Washington Post.
The writer's name is Neil Meyer. Neil Meyer is a good, decent person. His column started like this:
MEYER (5/30/22): I was born in Uvalde, Tex., lived there recently and love its complex history and people. Like most, I’ve been struggling under the weight of grief to understand the violence that left 19 children, two teachers and a young killer dead last week. But I’m not surprised.
First, you would be challenged to find a more heavily armed place in the United States than Uvalde. It’s a town where the love of guns overwhelms any notion of common-sense regulations, and the minority White ruling class places its right-wing Republican ideology above the safety of its most vulnerable citizens—its impoverished and its children, most of whom are Hispanic.
"Most of" the people in Uvalde are Hispanic, Meyer says.
That's a large understatement. According to the Census Bureau, this town of 15,312 souls was 81.8% Hispanic last year, and was only 14.9% non-Hispanic white.
There's nothing unusual about such demographics in this part of south Texas. That said, according to Meyer, you'd be challenged to find a more heavily armed place than Uvalde.
Uvalde is very heavily Hispanic. Apparently, it's also very heavily armed. According to a portrait of the city in Tuesday morning's Washington Post, some of the apparent oddities Blow described may also be present there.
The piece was written by Bailey and Lott. Their portrait of Uvalde's relationship to guns starts in the manner shown:
BAILEY AND LOTT (5/31/22): Guns have long been an inextricable part of Texas culture, tightly woven into small towns like Uvalde, a predominantly Latino community of about 16,000 about an hour north of the U.S. border with Mexico. Here, children are raised to hunt and shoot from a young age, and many residents, including family members of the victims, say they own guns for their own protection. It is an affinity that cuts across the partisan lines that typically define the gun debate in other parts of the country.
In a town that many residents have described as “heavily armed” and in a state where it is common to see guns openly worn, many appeared to have left their weapons at home in recent days, visiting unarmed the makeshift memorials and attending church services that have popped up across town to honor the dead.
Nothing is, or has been, automatically "wrong" with any portion of that.
Growing up in suburban Boston, we ourselves weren't "raised to hunt and shoot." There were no guns in our home for protection.
Blow never know of a home without guns. We never knew of a home which had them.
That doesn't mean that something was automatically "wrong" with Uvalde's traditional relationship to guns. That said, some of the apparent oddness from Blow's portrait may perhaps be surfacing in this portrait:
BAILEY AND LOTT: Outside Robb Elementary, where he was trying to catch a glimpse of President Biden on Sunday, Edgar Sanchez said his daughter was a fourth-grader at the school but left early that day, a decision that might have saved her life but has left her traumatized. Sanchez said he hopes Biden pushes for tougher gun-control measures, even if that means giving up his own AR-15.
“Honestly, I have one,” Sanchez said, explaining that he had purchased the weapon to keep himself and his family safe. “If they told me the kids would be safer if I got rid of it, I would.” He added, “I’ve never shot that assault rifle.”
As he visited the memorials in Uvalde, [Richard] Small said, he thought of his gun cabinet at home, and one of the weapons in it. Small said he bought the rifle at least 15 years ago but had barely fired it. “I don’t even think I’ve used a full box of ammunition with it,” Small said. Along the back of his gun, he remembered, there was a label. “Law enforcement use only,” it read.
There's nothing wrong with having a gun for self-protection and never having to fire it. That said, we thought we were almost catching a glimpse of the apparently irrational aspect of the "gun culture" Blow described in his Louisiana home town.
In posting these excerpts, we're describing the presence of "gun culture" in communities which are heavily black and Hispanic. This may help us modern "upper-class" liberals rethink the cartoonized versions of "gun culture" we may tend to carry around in our heads and blurt out on cable TV.
For whatever reasons, "gun culture" doesn't appeal to the redneck crackers of our cartoonized dreams and to no one else. And by the way—why did people in Uvalde feel the need for those weapons? Other tribal cartoons may take a hit as we read explanations like this:
BAILEY AND LOTT: [O]thers were wary of seeing what happened in Uvalde turn into a fight over guns. As she sat at the memorial for the victims last week, Amanda Flores said she knew all 21 victims of the rampage, but still does not believe that the tragedy should turn into a debate over gun ownership. Flores, 43, said she and her family members own firearms and view them as essential tools to keep their family safe in “a border town.”
“With all of the problems we have right now with the immigrants crossing over, you don’t know how many fast-speed chases go through here, we need them for our protection,” said Flores, whose grandson was at Robb Elementary when the shooting began but escaped uninjured. “All of them coming in, they are coming in as illegals, they can have guns. And what are we supposed to do? Throw rocks at them?”
By ethnicity, Amanda Flores is Hispanic. She said that she and her family regard firearms as essential tools to keep their family safe, given their fears about the dangers associated with illegal immigration across the southern border.
She even used the term "illegals!" We wouldn't and don't use that term ourselves, but it's even possible that there's something we liberals can learn from that.
Tomorrow, we'll show you how Uvalde County voted in the 2020 election. The full county—population, roughly 25,000, including Uvalde proper—is roughly 73% Hispanic.
The way the heavily Hispanic county voted may help us self-impressed blue tribe members rethink some of the cartoonized portraits with which we approach such matters. Some will say that we fashion such cartoons as part of our constant attempts to find new ways to lose.
Charles Blow described a "gun culture" which possibly didn't seem to make a whole lot of obvious sense. What he described feels like a bit of a fetish, but then we humans aren't "the rational animal," and we never have been.
At any rate, Blow was describing the culture of a black town, and the heavily Hispanic town of Uvalde has long been heavily armed too. There's no ultimate right and wrong to most of this, but something is extremely wrong when we construct cartoonized portraits of the deeply important, and complex, matters at hand.
Spoiler alert! Uvalde County voted for Trump in 2020—did so by a 20-point margin! The silly peacocks we see on TV—the people we're trained to regard as "elites"—tend to be puzzled by such manifestations, and as we submit to their Storylines, we the liberals and progressives are swept toward election defeats.
We humans may not be "the rational animal," our corporate-selected top elites perhaps least so of all. Simply put, we have to stop assuming they have good judgment.
Tomorrow: Our tribe's reactions to Buffalo. Also, propaganda wherever you look