The problem with much of the gun-control advocacy activities that have become more frequent over the last several years, is that most of the people who get involved in the movement to reduce gun violence don’t have much involvement, interest, or experience with guns. Which means that most folks who work on solutions to an ongoing problem which accounts for more than 125,000 preventable deaths and injuries every year, have absolutely no understanding or awareness of how guns are owned or used.
You can gain some very perceptive insights into this issue by reading a new book, American Druthers, written by Michael McNaney, who describes himself as a “highly trained, gun owning and otherwise ‘everyday’ American,” who was born in Iowa and later lived in South Georgia, two places where basically everyone has a gun.
By the time McNaney was twelve, he had gone hunting with family members countless times and had started shooting one of the 22-caliber rifles that was around the house. He bought a 30-caliber M1 carbine and a shotgun at Kmart when he was sixteen, and at nineteen bought a Ruger 22-caliber target pistol as well as an Italian-made copy of the 9mm P-38.
The first 20 or so pages of this book-memoir lead up to what the author describes as a “definite turning point for myself and guns.” Prior to that point in time, which was November, 2012, McNaney had owned, borrowed, shot, and sold countless guns, for years he had a whole arsenal of weapons, at other times he was unarmed.
In reading the accounts of his life and his guns, what comes out is how normal and typical he believed guns and gun ownership to be. He always knew gun owners, he often talked to others about guns, but most important, he never found it necessary to question whether or not he needed or didn’t need to own a gun. He also never thought about whether guns were ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They were just something which was or wasn’t around.
These first pages of his book, what he refers to as the ‘pre-Utah’ period of his life, should really be read by everyone in the gun-control community, particularly those who, as I said earlier, haven’t been owners or users of guns. What comes across in this text is not only the normalcy of guns and access to guns, but how this normalcy would never have made McNaney think about guns one way or the other, until one afternoon in early November, 2012 when he was shot four times.
I’ll let you read the details of the shooting, suffice it to say that it’s a true miracle that McNaney is still alive. It also was the case, not very frequent in gun assaults, that McNaney had been sitting and minding his own sweet business in the moments just before the assault took place. Most shootings between to individuals grow out of long-time, continuous disputes. In this instance, McNaney had gone out of his way to avoid contact with his assailant prior to the attack.
The rest of the text, and the book is an easy and pleasant read, are McNaney’s ideas about what we should do with our guns. He’s not opposed to gun ownership, the fact that someone tried to kill him for no reason whatsoever has not turned him against guns. But it has made him commit to the following goal: “All firearm owners in the United States to be highly trained, non-threatening and perfectly respectful with, and ultimately responsible for, their firearms.”
How McNaney believes we could get to that point is explained in a series of proposals which are found in a ‘Solutions’ chapter near the end of the book. I’ll leave it to each reader to decide whether McNaney’s on the right track.
I liked this book for one simple reason, namely, that the author is a decent and honest man. And no matter whether I agree with them or not, when it’s honest, I’m always willing to hear what they have to say.
The book is available on Amazon.