[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]
This week we’re taking a sharp left turn into the world of guns and hunting. “But Sarah, I thought you were vegan?” you might be thinking. Yes, I haven’t consumed animal products for years, for myriad reasons, the most tangible being that I don’t believe factory farming is sustainable. I know the havoc it wrecks on the environment, and my humble opinion is that factory farming is just kind of…gross. I’m vegan, but I believe people should be able to hunt, for no better reason than hunters at least earn their meat. I’m pretty damn liberal, but I believe people should be able to own guns. The seeming contradictions inherent in the above statements exist in all of us, I promise.
I’m not afraid of guns, but then again, I’ve never stared down the barrel of one. Where I’m from, guns are a means to an end. Guns were for shooting clay pigeons and wild game. Guns meant my family had meat in the freezer. Guns, in short, meant food. I remember attending a gun safety course with my dad and brother when I was in grade school. Guns were treated with gravity: “they are tools, but they can also be weapons,” we were told, “wield this tool/weapon with care.” I learned early on to respect guns and use caution around them. When I was 18, I moved away to larger cities where guns were treated differently. Guns were weapons, and shootings were common occurrences.
Controlling guns is hard, and controlling illegal guns is even harder. I don’t know a good answer to the problem of gun control, but I do know the right answer is somewhere in the middle. The answer is not “guns for everyone!” and it’s certainly not, “all guns are illegal.” Most Americans agree that there should be stricter gun laws and required background checks for gun purchasers. In a May 2019 Quinnipiac poll, 91% of Democrats said gun laws should be stricter, as did 59% of independents, and 32% of Republicans. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents also said more needs to be done to address gun violence.
An October 2019 Gallup poll showed the same thing: 64% of respondents agree with stricter gun laws. In addition, the American public has a fairly negative view of the National Rifle Association (NRA), with only 18% of respondents scoring the NRA “very favorably.” And when Gallup asked gun owners WHY they…