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Guns, Relativism, and Observations from a family holiday gathering

Part of the fun (or dread) of the holidays is seeing family and discussing controversial issues...right?!

I have a smart, well-educated 38-year-old cousin that works in the medical field. She is a mother and a super nice person.

I also have a middle-aged uncle that has enjoyed firearms as a hobby for nearly all of his life and still does. He is also a super nice person.

Due to his hobby the issue of guns came up casually in a conversation after dinner.

The following is a rough transcription with my observations (*) breaking up the interactions:

“Why do you need an automatic weapon?” The cousin asked.

“What?” The uncle replied, immediately perturbed by the use of the term ‘automatic weapon.’

“Why does anyone need an automatic weapon? If you go hunting with an automatic weapon there won’t be anything left of what you shoot. I don’t think people need those things.”

*First, the cousin repeats the propaganda and disinformation she has heard on the news or from friends – who knows where she heard it or if she came up with it on her own, but it mimics what is being disseminated through various media outlets.

“First of all, you aren’t using the proper term. The weapons they are talking about banning are semi-automatic, meaning that you pull the trigger once and one shot is fired – the gun does the job of expelling the spent casing and reloading a round in the chamber, but you can’t just hold down the trigger and fire away. One trigger pull equals one bullet fired.” The uncle explained.

“Well, ok, but why would you need an automatic weapon?” The cousin pressed.

Cleary angry, “It is not an automatic weapon that they are talking about in the media, an automatic weapon must be registered with the government, they have to look you up one side and down the other before you are allowed to purchase it, you have to pay over $200.00 in registration fees and they can come into your home unannounced at any time and if your weapon isn’t properly stored they can immediately confiscate it and do basically anything they want to you. If you are going to talk about this at least use the proper terminology…”

Interrupting, “ok, fine, I didn’t know any of that, but why…”

Interrupting, “I know you don’t know – most people don’t – and the media doesn’t want you to be educated about it.” I smirked at this remark by my uncle and immediately I was in the conversation.

Cousin continues, “Ok fine, then why does anyone need anything more powerful than a handgun or a hunting rifle? Why do you need to have so many bullets in a single magazine?”

*Second, notice the signs of the ‘complex of superiority’ exhibited by the cousin; we all have this to a certain degree from time to time: she thinks that no one needs these things because she has deemed them unnecessary. This common attitude often manifests itself in discussions of moral issues. During an argument this is used to compensate for when facts/research/reality is not in an individual’s favor, but the individual still believes that they are ‘right.’ The individual will almost instinctually resort to a superiority attitude that, despite their incorrectness, makes them feel as if they are in the ‘right.’

*Anyone suffering from this complex can be identified quite easily.
Most people, especially the rebellious or independent minded, do not respond well to this superiority tactic.

Someone else interjected. “What if you are hunting for something bigger than a deer? What if you’re hunting bears or something else?”

The cousin countered, “ok sure but the vast majority of people don’t even hunt, so why does anyone need those automa…I mean high-powered weapons? I don’t see the need. I think you can live without them.”

*The point about hunting is not overly effective though it is a valid and reasonable point to make. All reasonable and valid points, no matter how ‘knock down effective’ they may be, will not permeate through the ‘superiority complex’ that itself is unreasonable and often times invalid – the cousin tips her cards with the phrase ‘I think you can live without them’ – no reasonable argument will change her mind because she has already decided for herself based on a combination of disinformation, emotion and only GOD knows what else.

*How can an unreasonable person be reasoned with? And how can the individual with mind already made up based upon their own relativistic understanding and way of thinking ever be persuaded by another way of thinking, even if it is the truth of reality?

*The problem is that relativism alters reality for an individual – definitions change, viewpoints change, facts change, history changes – suddenly reality is framed not by truth and what actually is, but instead reality becomes defined by whatever angle the individual decides to approach reality from.

After a few more minutes of an exchange of examples in which semi-automatic weapons would be useful and ‘but why?’ retorts between cousin and uncle, I was prepared to pounce with the ‘knock down’ argument about the 2nd amendment and what it truly means, but I hesitated.

I hesitated because the individual probably thinks that the barbaric proclamations of some guys in the 1700’s (notice the relativistic interpretation of what was actually written contextually when the 2nd amendment was penned) do not mean anything in ‘today’s world.’ Since ‘things are so different’ the individual probably isn’t going to respond positively to a 2nd amendment argument.

There was a break in the conversation, and I interjected, “Listen _____(cousin), what we’re talking about isn’t really an issue of high-powered weapons vs. low-powered weapons or hunting or firearms – the real issue, which we could apply to anything – is this: why does anyone have the right to tell me what I can or cannot have, so long as I’m not hurting someone else or violating any pre-established laws?”

Silence fell over the family.

The cousin was dumbfounded.

The uncle wore a look on his face that made me think that he had never thought of it like that before.

Disengaged listeners stopped watching commercials on the TV in the background and turned their heads.

I think they were surprised that I, the stereotypical quiet one, would speak up at all.

Deep down I hope that their interest was piqued because it was a damn fine question to ponder.

I continued questioning the cousin, “You like to drink soda right? Like Diet Coke or something? I don’t like those things, but I would never try to pass a law that would make drinking Diet Coke illegal. What about Big Macs? It could be anything. I don’t think it matters what the object is - we could talk about guns or drugs or raw milk or Diet Cokes or anything else – and the real issue is still: how can it be ok for someone else to tell me what I can or cannot do, consume, think or say?”

It was glorious. I didn’t say all this as polished as I’ve made it sound here, but it was close. I’m not the type to speak up and I was proud of myself, but most of all I was hoping for the conversation to shift towards Liberty and whatnot.

It didn’t.

Someone grumbled about how ‘the government would never outlaw a drink or food’ and before I could bring up New York and the ban on large sugary drinks or the injustice being directed at raw milk drinkers, the coffee was ready and pie was served and the football game came back on and no one really wanted to discuss tough questions that would require some introspection and deep thought beyond ‘what I feel’ or ‘what I’ve been told’ so we ended the conversation amicably and moved on to some other forgettable and inconsequential topic like the NFL playoffs.

These were my 3 takeaways, 3 patterns I see constantly in individuals:

1. Acceptance of propaganda over individual thought/truth (due in part to lack of education/experience along with an overabundance of information both good and bad)

2. Superiority/tyrannical complex (“I know better than you. I am right.”)

3. Relativism (reality becomes malleable depending upon what channel an individual watches, what websites they read, what they do and what they were taught – suddenly truth is no longer unchanging, it is conditional.)

Has anyone else experienced similar interactions or noticed any other patterns?

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Good story.

This confirms once again what Michael Rivero so succinctly put into perspective for me. I add it here simply to add to your thought processes when dealing with folks.

"Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one’s self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all." ~ Michael Rivero


That's deep.

I guess it is easier to 'protect' oneself and others by remaining silent in the face of tyranny and hoping to go unnoticed than it is to protect oneself and others by speaking out against it and drawing attention. At least that's what I got out of the quote.

Thanks for the comment, good stuff.

"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle."