I don’t know about you, but the shooting at Margaret Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL has been the main topic of conversation between myself and my friends for over a week now. We are horrified that our children are still being mowed down by mentally disturbed gunmen who have obtained their assault rifles legally. We argue between ourselves as to what is the bigger problem: access to assault rifles or untreated mental health issues.
I tend to fall on the side of banning assault rifles. I’m not really that fond of guns in general, and I really don’t like automatic weapons.
However, when I expressed my opinions about guns, my friends who live in disadvantaged communities pulled me aside and asked me if I had any idea what it was like raising children in an environment rife with gun violence, gangs, and drug dealing. They were adamant that they needed their second amendment rights if they were going to protect their families and keep themselves safe.
I had to be honest with them: I have never experienced challenges like that. I raised my children in a middle-class suburb of a large urban city. I sent my children to schools where the tax base was secure and the somewhat diverse but still largely white populace was unafraid to vote for additional city taxes to fund schools because we all had the income to support the additional taxes.
I had to admit to my friends that I had no idea what it was like to buy a gun out of desperation and fear that my family was in danger. After listening to them detail their struggles, I promised that I would support them by voting for additional funds from the state for police support in their neighborhoods. I also pledged to support additional state funds for their schools because their children deserve an education that is equal in quality to the education my children receive in the suburbs. Finally, I pledged to support their second amendment rights because no one should have to fear who will come through their front door or their windows while they sleep.
I refuse to let my privilege make me unwilling to see the plight of my urban brothers and sisters who struggle with the drug activity and gang violence that is so common in the poorer urban neighborhoods.
I have to admit, though, that all this has made me wonder what is it that drives my brothers and sisters in rural areas to fear that the government will take their guns. What are they afraid of? What challenges exist in their communities that make them feel a need to arm themselves to protect their families?
Are they the victims of gang intimidation and gang violence?
Have organized crime syndicates moved into their area, controlling local businesses and harassing local citizens?
Are they experiencing repeated home invasions?
People who live in urban areas are always aware that burglary is a major risk. The black market is alive and well. Stolen goods are an easy source of money for drug addicts and petty criminals. But those of us who live in cities need to remember that guns are far more lucrative than any electronics or jewelry that can be stolen from our homes. Stolen TVs only sell for about a quarter of what they are worth brand new, and stolen computer equipment must first be hacked to eliminate password and fingerprint protection before it can be sold, otherwise it is useless. That just isn’t cost efficient. Jewelry doesn’t pawn for as much as you think it will, either. Guns, on the other hand, are worth big bucks. The more guns you own, the more attractive your home is for burglars, and of course, burglars are aware that rural homes are far more likely to have guns than urban or suburban homes (that are more likely protected by a security company.) It turns out that quality firearms sell on the US and Mexican black market for between 150-500% of their retail worth when bought legally.*** The percent of increase in the price reflects how far the gun has to travel before it’s sold. Firearms have a much better rate of return than stolen TVs, computers, and jewelry…so owning these weapons actually increases the chance of a home invasion or a burglary. Obviously, there must be a very good reason for increasing their risk of home invasion or these gun enthusiasts wouldn’t be willing to stockpile such attractive items for theft in their homes, especially since the entire reason for stockpiling weaponry is to protect yourself and your family. So…
What is the terrifying threat that consumes them?
Invasion by urban liberal snowflakes?
Are farm animals rising up to prevent their wholesale slaughter for food?
Have crops animated and started attacking the farmers?
Are these folks cooking meth?
Seriously, are they cooking? Because if they are, let’s be honest: you need major firepower if you are cooking meth. Walter White understood this implicitly. You cannot defend your cooking operation if you don’t have sufficient firepower; other dealers will kill you and take your stockpile of ingredients and steal your customers. You have to have a couple of high powered guns to protect yourself if you are going to cook.
What I’m trying to say here is that I cannot help my rural friends defend their second amendment rights if I don’t know what it is that they are trying to protect themselves from. I can’t know how to vote and what to vote for if I don’t know what the problem is, and I just can’t seem to perceive the problem, you know? All I’m doing is trying to help; I’m trying to be sensitive to their needs, trying to be supportive and aware that as a liberal snowflake. I’m trying to remember that I can make a difference if I’ll just use my white privilege and my liberal agenda to protect others.
So tell me, rural brothers and sisters…what is it that you are so afraid of that you need an AR-15 to keep your family safe?
I have to be honest, I’m betting that they need all those guns because they are cooking.