The Cold War and why we’ll never willingly get rid of guns

Another dude walked into a public place an shot at people today. This time it was lawmakers. So it goes.

I’ve given up on gun debates. If the senseless killing of innocent children at their elementary school doesn’t move people to change, a watershed moment is not coming for gun regulation.

The problem isn’t really about gun ownership either. It’s about gun access. Even the ones we already own. I don’t own a firearm, but I can get behind eccentric hobbies. And if all you ever want to do is participate in shooting sports with assault weapons, there are ways to make that safe for everyone. If guns are kept in guarded, secure, centralized locations, own as many as you want. Enjoy your marksmanship games. Hold up your paper with the bullseyes and smile for Facebook. Then lock your rifle up at the gun bank. (I don’t suggest locking every firearm in a third locaiton, which is why I don’t mention hunting rifles and the like. But assault weapons that can cause such devastation should have a home that is not yours or mine).

The catch: Americans will never agree on whom should be the neutral third party to hold weapons. Ain’t no way the American electorate will ever willingly hand over their guns to their government. And who can blame us, right? As much as I’d love to keep guns off the streets, a Trump administration seizing all the weapons (while telling us that no personal digital information is private) is the prologue of a ham-fisted attempt to cross Kurt Vonnegut with George Orwell and McSweeney’s for a tired sci-fi novel.

Admittedly, “never trust your government,” is sort of the whole raison d’être of the constitution. But what can’t be discounted is the effect Cold War administrations had on public trust of the systems that lead. The first half of the twentieth century was defined by patriotism, civics, and general bipartisan cooperation to make the world better – at the very least, it was these things to white people who, by and large, are the ones so skittish now. But the Cold War poisoned all of that. Rampant delusional idealism, toxic paranoia, and a run of bad presidents led to the revelation that the guy in the foil hat was right. They were listening to conversations. They were toppling governments. They were killing innocent people. They were lying to us. 

You can’t put that woke back into Pandora’s lockbox and pretty soon you have chemtrails, flat-earth truthers, and Pizzagate. If anything can be a lie, everything can be a lie. It goes all the way to the top, man. We live in the Matrix and whatnot.

And now, we have a world where Americans base their trust not on whom they can believe, but on whom they definitely will not believe.

News media, politicians, religious leaders, parents – there’s no one.

In other words, it’s going to be a slow, difficult grind toward gun safety. There won’t be one, or two, or ten, or fifty-eight thousand five hundred ninety-five moments that change the hearts and minds. It will only happen with long-term, consistent effort from those in the trenches, who need our support. 

Because the day is not coming that paranoid, gun-lovin’ white people again trust that their government has their interests first in mind. If it does, it’s not in the kind of world that gives two shits about gun regulation.