I hate guns

Okay. I have nothing to lose, so I’m going to go all the way out to the edge on this gun issue.

In 2005 I watched as my friends at Red Lake were traumatized, killed, and besieged by reporters, then forgotten after a confused and alienated kid drove a car into the front of the school where I had worked, before pulling out an arsenal of guns and killing 7 people.

I am, as I write this, on a plane back to my home in Portland, 180 miles north of the mass murder site in the town of Roseburg, where I used to buy car parts when I lived in the Oregon woods many years ago, and where I have stopped and let my dog play in the dog park as we drove south through the magical Oregon country side.

I shop at the Clackamas mall where one more confused white kid brought out a gun and killed three people for no reason that any of us can fathom, or should have to fathom.

And all the politicians, no matter how pained and grieved, are dancing around the issue of guns with vague platitudes about the need for mental health services, background checks, the necessity of enlisting the support of responsible gun owners, and on and on.

But, let’s cut to the chase: it’s guns, pure and simple. Guns.

So, let’s go to it.

What is it about guns that so obsesses Americans? Yes, I know all about the second amendment and how it supposedly protects our rights. I know all about the perceived slippery slope into governmental control of our lives. I know about beard boys in Idaho wearing camouflage and facepaint and crawling through the woods to hold out against an upcoming takeover by a fascist and totalitarian government, and about frightened fathers and mothers keeping guns in their houses in cities and suburbs to protect against intruders. I know about all of this.

But forget all of that. Tell me about guns.

There are otherwise perfectly normal human beings in northern Minnesota where I lived who can barely feed their families but have 25 rifles, pistols, and semi-automatic weapons in their closets.

Why? You don’t have 25 refrigerators, or 25 pipe wrenches, or 25 anything other than perhaps baseball caps and pairs of shoes, and those things are questionable enough in themselves. So, what is it about a gun? Is it some feeling of power? Is there some crypto-sexual thrill in holding it? Shooting it? Stroking it?

I know I’m being a bit demeaning, but, damn it, I simply can’t understand. And, frankly, I don’t want to. I am sick of hearing arguments for these cruel and lethal objects. They scare me, they disgust me, and it makes me ashamed that such an adolescent and selfish obsession can be one of the few sacrosanct things in our country.

What drives it? Why are we like this?

Sometimes I think it is part of this culture of fear that comes with our out-of-control capitalist society where every advertisement is based on fear and perceived deficiency, and a gun is just the physical embodiment of a sense of control.

Sometimes I think it has a subterranean racism at its heart, where fear of the terrifying black man at your door drives white people to want to have the fantasy of a protective weapon at hand.

Sometimes I think it is the residual frontier ethic. But the Canadians have every bit as strong a frontier ethic, and they don’t share this cultural mental illness.

And, yes, that’s what it is — a cultural mental illness, fomented and fanned by an armament industry that needs, or, at least, wants, every man, woman, and child to be packing a weapon in the name of freedom or security or whatever abstraction they can sell us.

But, my God, children are dying, and they are dying from guns. No amount of counseling or monitoring or background checks is going to stop this. People will get guns like teenagers get beer, and no amount of laws will stop it.

Consider the sheriff in Roseburg. He stated quite forthrightly that he would not enforce any  federal gun laws, nor would he allow his deputies to do so. And now he is looking in the faces of the mothers and fathers and husbands and wives of the dead. How can he sleep at night? Is he at least a little conflicted?

Sadly, probably not. To him, it wasn’t a gun that killed all those people. It was a person. And the fact that it was a gun in the hand of that person, just as it was a gun in the hand of the killer at Red Lake and the killers at Columbine and the killer at the Aurora movie theater and the killer in every other mass murder in America doesn’t register with him or people like him. It is a mind-boggling disconnect that simply beggars the imagination.

So, what will stop it? One and only one thing: getting rid of guns on our streets. And this is no easy task. It cannot be done by fiat, it cannot be done in one legislative swoop. It can only be done by changing hearts and minds, and that takes time.

There needs to be incremental change – make it illegal to own handguns and semi-automatics for starters, then begin confiscating them as they come in contact with the legal system. Stop the manufacture, or, at least, the sale of them. Then get beneath this and start to educate our children to the reality that compassion will eventually trump fear, and there is nothing magical or mystical about a piece of metal (or, sadly, plastic) that can kill at a distance. In fact, it is simply sick to look at them as problem solvers.

So, go ahead, unfriend me, refuse to buy my books, write me enraged emails filled with the tired old tropes.

But, for the love of Jesus and Mary and Buddha and things that go bump in the night, take a look in the mirror and ask why this piece of metal that is essentially a killing machine is so damn important to you.

Red Lake. Clackamas Mall. Columbine. Sandy Hook.  Roseburg. Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

And you will be shocked and you will be surprised and you will say, “This was such a nice quiet community. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen here.”

Well, sorry. They aren’t supposed to happen in your particular “here,” but they will. And if you prevaricate and trot out tired old bromides and talk about abstractions while another child gets its face blown off by a gun, the blood is on your hands.

Guns are an American sickness, and it is a sickness that must be cured.


  1. Claudia Srok says:

    Hi Kent, I couldn’t agree with you more!! I remain on your side as always, loving to reread all your books. Thanks for taking a stand!

  2. knerburn says:

    Sadly, Sam Colt did not make the trusting, hopeful little children at Sandy Hook equal.

  3. Kenneth says:

    Thanks for this, it was published on the Opinion page of the Star Tribune.

    People are too stupid to have guns. That is a proven.
    Other countries have just as many mentally ill people, per capita, as does the United States. Yet, we are the world “leader” in mass shootings. It’s the guns, stupid.

    But good luck making any progress on this, the Red State citizens love their second amendment rights.

  4. Peter says:

    If I understand you logic…

    Ban all future guns and remove all current guns. Then people will be safe? That being said it would be, dare I say, an impossible task.

    As an intellectual, you must see the complete contradiction with historical data.
    How many guns were used on 9/11? Did we ban box cutters?
    How many guns were used during the Boston Bombing? Did we ban pressure cookers?
    How many guns were used at Franklin Regional School? Did we ban kitchen knives?
    How many guns are used while 10,000+ people a year are killed by drunk drivers? Did we ban beer/wine/etc or did we ban cars?

    The endless examples are used to highlight that people above all else cause death and destruction. The history of the world has been riddled with violence, long before the black powder was invented.

    If your focus is protecting children, I would be interested to read your scathing attack on Roe v. Wade and further on Planned Parenthood for the 700,000-800,000 abortions (of children) every year.

    However, if you have written no such piece yet, I would be interested to see your logic as to why not. Why have you not written “I Hate Abortions” and stated that you don’t care to understand the culture, that you are disgusted by them, that the people the perform them and the women that get abortions are “mentally ill”.

    I would welcome a dialog with you regarding your self proclaimed hatred for firearms and your silence regarding so many other objects that brutally slaughter kids.

    Thank you,


  5. Suzanne says:

    I appreciate your willingness to put these words out there – into the newspaper. I don’t understand why there is not more uproar about these shootings which seem to be happening on a weekly basis. I am stuggling to find a starting point to deal with this in a constructive way towards reform. I know that the arms industry is HUGE & I fear that they hold the most power in changing this horror story in our country. I am forwarding your article to as many people as I can. Thank you.

  6. Judy Harrington says:

    I just saw your editorial in the Star Trib and wanted to say “thank you” for your impassioned plea to consider the violent culture we as Americans appear to have complacently accepted. I have read and reread several of your books and Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace is one I go to often. Hence I could literally feel your anger and outrage in this editorial. Your suggestions were good ones. How/where do those of us who agree join forces to affect some change?

  7. Lori Clovis says:

    WOW…What a powerful piece. I am sharing and using it in my class (asking permission??) when we discuss gun control. Wishing things to change is not going to make a difference. We need to start doing something, and I think your suggestions are spot on. Where do I sign up???

  8. Ivars says:

    Thanks, Your article is exactly what I have been thinking for years. It is like a fetish for some, gun fondling.

  9. kathy says:

    You know, in my opinion, people are so concerned about their rights according to the constitution until these incidents occur in their school, mall, home or to their own children, grandchildren, or even themselves. People now have the right to carry guns into church. What is with that??
    I don’t want to be injured or killed nor do I want that to happen to anyone else that I love or know. But when people compare gun ownership to alcohol or drugs or try to justify owning these guns, they don’t realize that what you’re saying is that we have to start somewhere to get control over all of these situations. No, drunk driving isn’t forgotten and neither are the any of the horrible crimes that our society commit, but we have to start somewhere! Why not gun control?
    Each of the offenses can and should be addressed and certainly will when people begin, as you did, to step up and begin the process.
    I’m with you!

  10. Karen says:

    I also just saw your editorial in the Star Trib. Very well said. Your reactions, questions and ultimate plea to see the insanity of our gun culture in the US reflect my own perspective very closely. Guns are killing machines, nothing more, nothing less. It does make you wonder how long & how many deaths it will take for people to wake up from their outrageous obsession with guns. I’d love to think words could make a difference; however it appears that the true change agent is to have a family member killed by gun violence. How sad.

  11. knerburn says:

    Permission granted, gladly.

  12. Jim Dolan says:

    Re your piece on the insanity of America’s gun culture — Bravo! Eloquent, clearly thought through, and devastatingly accurate. Thank you for saying so well what so many of us have thought and felt for years. What is wrong with us, that this extremism has seemed so normal to so many people for so long?

  13. Nick Armstrong says:


    I just read your article in the Star Tribune and I felt compelled to write. By the way I graduated from Hopkins High school in 1965 and my memory is a little fuzzy but I seem to remember that you attended Hopkins as well but I’m not sure about that. But I do recall you attending Bemidji State when I was there.

    I appreciate the fact that you had the courage to address this gun issue head on instead of dancing around the edges. For the life of me I cannot fathom the love affair that we seem to have with guns in this country. To describe it as a cultural mental illness is spot on. People in other countries must be looking at us and what takes place each and every day and say when the hell is the U.S. going to wake up and realize how wrong headed we are about our attitude towards guns.

    We have to keep talking about this issue not just following the latest mass shooting. Change in this country takes time and I am optimistic that the level headed amongst will prevail.

    Nick Armstrong

  14. John says:

    Thank you for writing this. For this terrible epidemic to end, it is going to take courageous individuals like yourself to reveal the insanity involved with America’s perverse obsession with guns. You have inspired me to no longer sit back passively, not sharing my views of the consequences of this escalating problem. I have shared all the same views you wrote about with like minded people, but have not shared them with with my NRA Republican neighbors. I hold almost all of the member of the Republican party responsible for using this issue, regardless of the consequences, to draw in voters who least benefit from their policies. Thank you again.

  15. Pam POmmer says:

    AMEN! It IS mentally ill!!!!!

  16. patricia karasov says:

    Just read the article in the Star Tribune. Thank you.

  17. Douglas Smith says:

    I am the person who posted the Sam Colt adage. Your response both makes my point and misses the larger implications. In our society we do we expect our children to be responsible for their safety. That is our job as adults. And had the teacher in the room at Sandy Hook (and the rooms next to that one) been armed, there “may” have been less carnage. Note the “may” in that sentence. There is no perfect solution to bad people will do bad things. They always have, and they always will.

    You asked a question in your essay and I answered it, albeit in an indirect way that was meant to make you ponder both the consequences, and the reality of the situation. Let’s start with the reality – there are over 300 million guns in America today. Neither you, nor anyone else is going to eliminate these guns. Opining on how great things would be if just got rid of the guns is a waste of time. Now let’s look at the consequences. I like the Sam Colt adage because it isn’t some theoretical pondering about our society. Back in the mid to late 1800s much of our country was lawless in the sense there was no law enforcement outside of larger cities. Relatively inexpensive handguns helped keep the peace. It wasn’t perfect – many innocents were shot and killed. Many women, many children I am sure as well. Very sad consequences indeed, but we made it through that time. We as a society did not devolve into a violent mayhem. There was violence, no solution is perfect, but we made it through those times. Today is not so different. With all these guns, there is no way for law enforcement to be everywhere, all the time.

    Let’s also get out of the way the feel good notions of “better gun laws”. Specifically larger magazines, assault rifles, and semi-automatic weapons. Few of the mass killers use large magazines (they simply bring many smaller ones). Few people understand that so-called “assault” rifles are simply rifles that have plastic or metal molding that some find scary looking. They are no more, or no less deadly than any other rifle. They are also rarely used in mass killings because of their size and weight. Few people also understand that “semi-automatics” are not machine guns (those are illegal for civilians). Semi-automatics are guns that do not require reloading after each shot. Almost all guns today fall into that category.

    Your view from the porch in Lake Oswego is a tiny slit from which to preach this intelligentsia naivety. There is a reality here in America with respect to guns and gun violence. It is isn’t a pretty reality, and it’s consequences often mean someone or some group of people will get hurt and or killed. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try and deter those that would want to hurt us. Please don’t “awe shucks” our way into loosing our personal liberties to protect our families and ourselves.

  18. Jim says:

    From a pragmatic standpoint your goal is impossible without first eliminating the 2nd Amendment, the 4th Amendment and parts of the 5th Amendment.

    A look at the real life hurdles you would face is found in a law review article by Nicholas J. Johnson entitled “Imagining Gun Control in America: Understanding the Remainder Problem” 43 Wake Forest L. Rev.837 (2008). It is available on the internet here:


  19. knerburn says:

    Interesting article. I don’t deny the near impossibility of what I propose from a pragmatic standpoint, but perhaps by standing up against the insane paranoid bullying of the gun folk, buttressed by their problematic and suspect interpretations of the very amendments you cite, a few hearts and minds can be changed. My goal is to push back against the aggressive, borderline psychotic response of gun owners that has cowed those of us whose hearts break at the deaths of children and refuse to wrap ourselves in these tortured interpretations of what should be seen as a living document. In short, I make no apologies and I respectfully submit that the interpretation the article cites is exactly that — an interpretation. Other legal scholars see it otherwise, and I stand with them. Thanks for sending a reasoned response, though. I appreciate it.

  20. Al says:

    Kent –

    Its nice that you care about society – but very sad that 1) a lack of parenting and 2)places for mentally unstable people to go or be committed to — are the root of this epidemic. Not guns.

    Another huge issue – the media themselves that have created this hellish fad that has every mentally ill and poorly parented copycat person thinking about things they should not be.

    Research all the killing spree’s and you will see these issues are at the root of why these people are doing these heinous acts. Not guns.

    Cure these 3 issues and you are a genius.

    Write about that instead of taking away a right – or in my mind applying a band aid to a cancer. Fix the root of the problem and the guns will not be a problem – pretty easy right.



  21. Peggy says:

    Thank You Al! I agree–we need to look at the root cause. I started to write a comment last night, but I knew a cooler head and heart would prevail if I slept on my thoughts overnight.

    I have found that the easiest answer–in this case, take away weapons–never solves the root cause of a problem. Yes, it might make us feel better because we have a ready and seemingly good solution to ease our pain. But the pain will only be prolonged and precious resources and energy will be spent on band-aid solutions.

    I have the deepest sympathy for the families, friends and communities at the heart of these tragic events. I am deeply troubled by our country’s and the world’s eroding sense of community and family, and the lack of caring for and serving one another. I do want the best for every being in this world. It has been very sad and given me great despair to watch the sense of community with which I was raised, steadily decline over the past 30 years. It’s like a part of my spirit is dying. I was raised and taught to be a good family member, a good neighbor, and a contributing member of my community and society. This taught me humility, accountability to my fellow man, and gave me a fundamental sense of purpose. Today, one of the ways that I contribute to the fabric of our community is by volunteering with young people. We have so, so many young people that need role models, a sense of purpose, and real (person to person, not just smart phone to smart phone) meaningful human connection in their lives. I also lend my support to the local mental health association. Mental health issues and conditions seem to be so misunderstood. We can all be part of the solution, all it takes is a little bit of your time and care–the greatest gifts that you can give to someone else. Plus giving of yourself and serving others will in turn give your life purpose. Blessings and peace always…

  22. Molly Strong says:

    Thank you so much. This deeply touches my heart. I am sharing. Thank you.

  23. Iris says:

    “People” may be responsible for the killings, but America is giving them the tools (guns).
    Just as there is a limit on the number of dogs you can own (in some cities), there should be a limit on the number of guns a person can own. One for protection, one for hunting (for food). That’s it. Nobody needs any more than that. No one needs automatic weapons, period. They are manufactured for one reason only…to cause death or great bodily injury. Enough said.

  24. Just read this, can’t agree more. I have not read the many comments so I may be repeating them.

    OK, maybe getting rid of all guns will not work. What we are doing isn’t working either.

    So why not just try it? Get rid of all the guns.

  25. Katie Scott says:

    As an Australian, from the outside looking in, I find U.S. gun laws unfathomable.We see stories on the news of children being killed in your schools, brutally gunned down in mass killing sprees, and simply can’t understand why there is still such resistance to change. Honestly, it breaks my heart.

  26. Carol (Mrs. Dale) Streimikes says:

    I love your writing and have several of your books. It is with all due respect that I have to take issue with your paragraph on Sheriff John Hanlin of Douglas County, OR. In an interview shortly after the Oregon legislature passed the gun law requiring background checks on anyone buying a gun in a private transaction, Hanlin (and several other rural county sheriffs) said he would not be actively enforcing the law as it is very difficult to monitor for compliance and to enforce. Where has he said that he would not enforce any Federal gun law?

    Oregon’s rural timber counties face an ever diminishing county budget and all of our county departments have had to make severe budget cuts – including the sheriff’s department. Hanlin’s point was that there are many other serious issues to which he will assign staff before he would assign anyone to monitor that particular state gun law. He said he would enforce it if evidence should present itself in the investigation of another crime.

    I believe Hanlin to be a man of strong principles and the guts to live by them. I hope he sleeps very well at night as the tragedy at UCC was in no way related to him or the job he does. The murderer owned 13 or 14 guns which he obtained legally. Perhaps his Mom should have raised a red flag when she noted that he was having mental problems and knew that he had guns in the apartment. But, then, who exactly would you call in that situation in this day and age? Perhaps his Dad should have taken responsibility for his son and stayed in his life to teach and guide him. We all have our versions of ‘shoulda, would, coulda or I’da’.

    We live in Roseburg and love it. Guns are a part of the landscape here. I know people who depend on them for their meat. Most people who own guns would never, EVER raise them against another human being. People who would change our Constitution and support getting rid of all guns really, really scare me!

  27. Ruth Spetter says:

    Thanks to the Lake Oswego Library I have suddenly been introduced to you and your writing – and that is kind of wonderful.

    Looking forward to learning a lot more.

    Thanks for your writing on the gun topic. Ruth

  28. Ruth Spetter says:

    A very powerful statement. I have shared it with someone who is working very hard on this issue.

    Gun owners, who lost family members at the Clackamas Town shooting, want gun control.

    The internet is full of fools shooting themselves (or their dogs shooting them by mistake (Google Trigger the chocolate lab.)

    I think you are right – the laws are a start but not enough. There are just too many guns. And, incremental changes will have to be the way b/c there is so much fear.

    How will you take the guns out of the hands of some when they are available on the streets of every City? You start slow. No machine guns, glocks and armor piercing bullets just for recreation or hunting. That might be the place to start. And, get them out of movies and TV.

    I recall watch Little House on the Prairie one night when I was a child. There was a knock at the door and Michael Landon answered it and I expected him to be shot. I’d seen that so often. I can get behind a ban on automatic weapons for the general public.

    Your statement is clearly a cry from the heart and I appreciate it.

    It’s fall now. I sit above the Willamette and suddenly, a shot and then geese calling in panic. I wonder where the shooter is – I live close to town. I imagine the birds rising, like a darkened cloud – desperate. No – I do not like guns.

  29. Robert says:

    Dear Mr. Nerburn,

    thank you very much for your clear words. They ring oh so true and it saddens me to see those comments here that criticize you that even more confirmed how true and real your description of the situation is.

    Thank you for your courage to write these lines. May they make more people think about their position.

  30. Ren says:

    Is the NRA and all the gun cronies that follow their lead ever going to get it through their heads they have had it their way for how long? Is the NRA way working, no it’s not. You all have had your guns and innocent people, for God’s sake little 6 and 7 year old babies just sitting in their class room waiting for 14 days to pass because it will be Christmas. They were slaughtered pieces of them blown apart how about the ones watching as their classmates were being blown to pieces before it was their turn to be slaughtered. You idiots having your guns is not working why aren’t you not willing to try and change gun regulation and make owning an automatic weapon of any kind against the law. You’ve had it your way let the rest of us citizens who don’t like guns have it our way and see if it changes anything.

    And finally NRA and all your selfish followers quit hiding behind people who have mental health issues as the problem of innocent people getting slaughtered these people aren’t mentally unstable they are pure EVIL for God’s sake call them what they are EVIL!!!!!

  31. matcat says:

    When we sign petitions, write letters, send emails, tweet, and talk to others its a good thing. However the realist that I am then takes over. I wish that I did not have to say this…but there isn’t anything that anyone can do to stop the advanvement of guns. I say that because there are already too many guns floating around in society. Also the corporate media controls the message. Our voices are being drowned out.
    The gun people are willing at any cost to force guns on all of us…no exceptions. Don’t like guns, too bad here is my gun so in your face is the mentality they live by.
    The culture of guns is everywhere today. News, movies, cartoons, sports language, clothing, video games, toys, etc, etc, etc. It just goes on and on…..it never stops.
    I’m sorry if I hurt some feelings with my words. If you doubt then try this. Start a no guns club. Find a location, place an ad and see what happens. I already know…..first you will have a problem finding a location. Second good luck finding a newspaper that will run your ad. Even if you do.. prepare for many gun owners to show up with you guessed it….tons of guns.

  32. Arnold Wilson says:

    I truly enjoy your books and style of writing. I just finished Road Angels and have started Neither Wolf nor Dog, with more of your books waiting on the shelf. I also really enjoyed your thoughts on guns. As a member of law enforcement for 39 years, I have likewise been puzzled about America’s obsession with guns, both within law enforcement and among civilians. It has become a cultural mental disorder. Too many people have too many guns.

  33. Kath grech says:

    Well said and totally agree, I live in Australia and our gun laws are very tight, at one time we had a amnesty on guns being surrender to the police,I believe this was a good move. We have had our share of mass killings but nothing like America. I and a lot of our society have never and would ever consider keeping a gun in our home let alone 25. Why Americans feel they need to own these weapons is beyond me. I watch the news and hear over and over the shootings and mass murders that occur in your country,and nothing is done to bring about change. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be pulled over by our police force and told to exit my car with a gun pointed at me. The heavy hand actions of a lot of your police is over the top and most don’t get prosecuted if they kill a innocent person especially if they are negroes. I would never feel safe living there, and I am pleased that I call Australia my home.

  34. S Wellington says:

    I grew up on a rural property in New England and guns were a big part of my childhood. It wasn’t until I became an adult and travelled overseas that my views on guns changed dramatically. I currently live in Australia where the attitude regarding guns is more aligned to my personal beliefs. Below are excerpts from an article outlining what took place in this country after a terrible act of violence where everyone seemed to know someone who was a victim of this crime. Many Australian people used this as the impetus to act and the result was the gun amnesty – an effort to reduce the number of guns in Australian homes.

    The Port Arthur massacre of 28–29 April 1996 was a killing spree in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded. It occurred mainly at the historic Port Arthur former prison colony, a popular tourist site in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia. Following the Port Arthur massacre, the federal government and the states and territories agreed to a uniform approach to firearms regulation, including a ban on certain semiautomatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns, standard licensing and permit criteria, storage requirements and inspections, and greater restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition. Firearms license applicants would be required to take a safety course and show a “genuine reason” for owning a firearm, which could not include self-defense. The reasons for refusing a license would include “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.” A waiting period of twenty-eight days would apply to the issuing of both firearms licenses and permits to acquire each weapon.

    Alongside legislative reforms to implement the National Firearms Agreement, a national buyback program for prohibited weapons took place in 1996-1997 and resulted in more than 700,000 weapons being surrendered. Further reforms were later implemented as a result of agreements made in 2002 on firearms trafficking and handguns, as was a national buyback of newly prohibited handguns and associated parts.

    A large amount of information and analysis is available regarding the number of firearms in Australia and their use in crimes or incidents resulting in death. The most recent relevant report of the Australian Institute of Criminology states that the “number of victims of firearm-perpetrated homicide (i.e. murder and manslaughter) has declined by half between 1989–90 and 2009–10 from 24 to 12 percent.” Recent reports have also examined the number of illicit firearms and firearm thefts in Australia. Among the activities relating to gun control that took place in 2012 was the signing of a new intergovernmental agreement to tackle illicit firearms and firearms trafficking.

    Whether this could work in the US, I don’t know – probably not as different issues exist but something surely has to be done. It starts with the hard discussions and conversations so well done Kent for being so honest.

  35. knerburn says:

    If we had courage, we could do the same as Australia. Our American way is to say, “We can do anything” until we are asked to do something we don’t want to do. Then we begin dividing, fractionating, parsing, and pointing out impracticalities. Just watch now: at least one gun-drunk person will feel compelled to rage at me about my comments. They just can’t leave it alone, and they just can’t accept that there are those of us who do not believe carrying a weapon is a right, that packing heat will make us safer, or that ridding our country of guns is an impossibility. Okay, there I’ve said it again. I hate guns. So, Send me your rage if you must, but, mostly, just polish your weapons and leave me alone.

  36. john cena says:

    you guys dont get it, fools
    guns dont kill people. people do
    75 children die from bathtubs per year
    should we ban them?

  37. Skans says:

    Well, I hate people who claim to hate guns, and who berate people who like guns by trying to make them out as some kind of psycho sexual for having them. How do you “hate” an inanimate object? Either you are nuts, or what you are really saying is that you hate people who like guns. Kent, I believe you really hate people who like guns. You are a hater, and for that reason alone, we gun owners are justified in fearing you and your brand of oppression.

    On the topic of why anyone should have 25 guns. First, having a gun collection is more akin to having a coin collection, a car collection, a pocket watch collection, or a collection of Japanese cloisonne vases. This is America, why shouldn’t we be allowed to have 25 of something if we can afford to purchase it? That’s freedom, Kent. That’s the pursuit of happiness for some people.

    The fact that you even state “…25 anything other than perhaps baseball caps and pairs of shoes, and those things are questionable enough in themselves.” QUESTIONABLE! Questionable to whom? You? Are you the so self-righteous as to think you are the benevolent dictator who can tell others what they can and cannot have for their own good? Do you look upon us as your lovable, but ignorant children? Or, perhaps just your worthless children, like Kim Jong-Un and Kim Jong-il do their subjects.

    Then, you berate people who can “barely feed their family”, but have 25 guns. First, I think you are completely making this up – you’re just spewing nonsense. Second, it’s far more likely that you will find people in the inner city from fatherless families, or who are Meth/Crack junkies who can barely feed themselves. Kent, I guess you don’t want to talk about that, just mythical gun owners who steal money from the mouth of babes to support their gun addiction. Let’s get real, Kent, your rant is based on bullshit on a burning balloon. Heroin, crack, meth, marijuana, gambling, not a problem form Kent Nurbern, but a family man with a gun collection is simply starving his family.

    “Out of control capitalist society” – I see, this isn’t just a rant against guns or gun owners, but all capitalists. I’m an evil capitalist if I work my ass off in school, make good grades so I can go to a decent college, do well in college instead of getting drunk and stoned every night, actually get a job as soon as I graduate, save and invest my money so I don’t have to sponge off the labor of others. I suppose according to Kent, that makes me evil – well, golly Gomer, if enough people like Kent want to oppress people like me because I work hard and strive to accumulate a little wealth, maybe that’s a damn good reason to own 25 firearms and 25,000 rounds of ammunition too.

    But, that’s not all, Kent goes even further. What does Kent really mean when he says I have blood on my hands if I “trot out tired old bromides and talk about abstractions”? What Kent is really saying is that if I express my opinion on why I support gun ownership or the 2nd Amendment, then Kent labels me a murderer. That’s right, Kent Nerburn is willing to declare me a murderer for simply expressing an opinion. Engaging in Speech. Exercising my First Amendment right. Kent wants to shut me up and shut others who have similar views to mine up as well by not only criminalizing my gun ownership but criminalizing my right to express opinions on gun ownership.

    Kent, I have no blood on my hands. But, throughout human history, people just like you, condescending, tyrants who feel the compulsion to force others to think and do as they see fit do have blood on their hands. The blood of millions.

  38. knerburn says:

    Well, I saw that you were convinced I would delete your post. Please know that my editing capabilities have to do with putting posts on, so your post never would have shown up had I chosen to censor it. You misunderstand me if you think I would censor contrary opinions. Your position is welcome, as are all others, though, as you realize, I disagree with your position. One correction, though: It is possible to hate an object, and I hate guns. I don’t hate you, nor any other human being who does not do harm to those weaker than him or herself. Even then, hate is too strong a word. But for guns? No. I hate them and for that I make no apology.

  39. JS says:

    Few topics seem to evoke emotions and wishful thinking as does this gun topic. I had no use for guns, kept them Away from my house and kids, saw only the smallest chance a gun would ever help me but a larger risk that it would injure me or someone. That remains true, but I have realized that guns are here to stay. After Sandy Hook, and the failure to take dramatic steps against guns, it remains clear that our culture, our voters, laws, our courts are not going to eliminate guns. So I have decided to educate myself about guns, their secure storage, their safe use, maintenance, the varieties and risks of different actions, calibers, sights, and endless other details. I thought I should gain some expertise before closing my mind. I’m now attuned to many a gun hater who is lacking in gun experience, but not lacking in absolute opposition to gun ownership by others. I understand the visceral aversion to guns, and of course we hate the killing of innocent people. We crave a simple solution. To claim that a gun free nation is achievable seems poorly informed, even childish. I would gladly get rid of all of my guns, but my sacrifice would not improve public safety, unless disarming was accepted nationally. I’m waiting. Meanwhile, I can judge the degree of risk that I pose to others- infinitesimal. To claim otherwise, to insult a cautions, careful, well informed gun owner achieves nothing, does not reduce gun violence. I understand the hopes and feelings, but anyone trying to shame the responsible gun owner looses my respect. Once I became familiar with proper gun use and storage, and with other informed, cautious gun owners, I recognized how sad are the voices that demand we “get rid of guns” I, too, crave a solution to the violent use of guns, of course. We can’t give up seeking to stop gun violence, but maybe all the energy and thinking wasted in simply opposing guns, could instead achieve some other measures that are actually feasible and effective, and more consistant with reality.

  40. Jim Lewison says:

    I grew up shooting guns. I have purchased and owned many guns. I used guns in the military. I have shot guns for fun, for hunting, for a sense of protection, and for hobby. I have killed many birds, squirrels, coyotes, and various game. I have a current concealed carry license. I carry almost everywhere I go. I live in Texas, where guns are common, and a lifestyle to many. Up until recently, I thought owning a gun was normal.But, my life of guns has been a lie. I have realized guns are not normal, hunting is not normal, carrying a lethal weapon in public is not normal. Many people carry legally in Texas, and now it scares me. We don’t need guns to protect us from each other, we need understanding each other so we can protect each other. Our countries affair with guns has gone too far. Most of the guys I’ve met carrying concealed seem as if they want to shoot somebody. I’ve heard some say they are ready to shoot someone for something as small as breaking into their car. This scares me, and I scare myself. A few reasons why- A homeless man was yelling at my dog, I told him to stop and then he laughed and got louder. I was scared so I pulled my pistol on him, told him to stop. As I walked away he laughed loudly and I thought he was messing with me more, but after a second I noticed he started to cry, he was definitely mentally ill. Yes he could have hurt me, yes he could have been a bad person, but that is not the point. I apologized to him until he calmed down, then gave him all the money I had in my wallet. I asked him to forgive me for pulling my pistol on him. This does not make it better and I feel horrible. I never want to touch a gun again. What is the matter with me? that I would pull a gun on someone, yes I was scared, angry, it’s dark, and he’s a sketchy looking homeless guy messing with my dog. But I don’t want to be this type of person anymore. I do not want to be a person with a gun anymore. The guilt of pulling a gun out on someone sickens me. I am going to throw it in the lake, because I do not want to contribute to anymore guns. I hate guns, I hate myself for owning a gun. Good people are in this world, we just have to open our hearts and eyes. My eyes have been closed for too long. Today a man asked for a few dollars and he was genuinely in need but I said no, because I have given to others that were begging for drug or alcohol money and it made me jaded. I should have given him some helping cash. Then a lady was in my seat on the plane and I ask her to move, she was old and I noticed was in need of a wheelchair when she got off the plane. I should have been more understanding and observent. Then my friend called me and I told him all my small problems, yet his mother just found out she has cancer and I did not ask or listen to him talk once. I am not a decent person, I am selfish, jaded, narcissistic, and I am a mean. Yet I am completely legally able to carry a pistol concealed. This is not right. The laws should be changed. I will no longer own a gun, because if there are more people out there like me carrying, that scares me the most.

  41. knerburn says:

    You may be selfish, jaded, narcissistic, and mean, which I doubt. But you are aware and thoughtful, which is more than most, and willing to change your views, which is rare among all of us. Thank you so much for writing, Jim. It’s an honor to publish your response.

  42. Benjamin says:

    Hi there I just want to say that I am a southern Democrat and I live in south Ms.
    I hear all the time that guns are bad,guns kill people,well I have 12 of them 2 being handguns and they have yet to go out and kill someone. If you want the truth every self respecting true honest god fearing red blooded American should own and know how to use a gun then gutless untought disrespectful uneducated methhead shithooks would be to afraid to shoot up a school a park a theater a mall or anything else for that matter. If someone had a gun that knew how to use it the terror of the shootings would have been short lived but know guns are bad but it’s not guns its people get it right!!!!

  43. Phil Bascom says:

    Great read and thank you for publishing the counter arguements. I enjoyed reading the threds. So true why anyone needs to own 25 of anything. There is something off kilter with that logic. I love being out on the water and have 9 boats, and if I am being honest with myself, I really do not need 9 boats. It’s a little nuts and actually hard to maintain them. Today it was the number 23 that sticks out from the carnage in Las Vegas. The shooter reportedly had 23 weapons in the hotel room. The shooter had no criminal record, no known mental health history, no financial problems, no known grievances with society, possibly some impulsivity related to gambling, but otherwise normal on all other accounts. Where was the smoking gun with this guy? In his impulsive hands, that’s where. It is the guns. It is the guns in the hands of people. I am reminded of a line from “To Kill a Mocking Bird.” Jim says to Abicus, why won’t you let me own a gun, Walters father let’s him? Abicus replies, at some point Jim you will get tired of just shooting for target practice, aND you will get the urge to shoot at a blue jay or some other bird. Just don’t shoot a mocking bird, there job in life is to just make music, it is sin to kill a mocking bird.” Abicus speaks to the impulsivity in us all, some more than others. Impulsivity plays a role in the debate and unlocking this madness. Impulsively is where evil takes a foothold.

    Today so many killed at a music fest where people were just out to hear beautiful music. My heart is heavy. It truly is a sin to kill a mocking bird.

  44. Phil bascom says:

    Correction: It was Atticus talking to Jem in to “Kill a Mocking Bird.”

  45. andrew says:

    Here’s an interesting history read for those who think the 2nd amendment irrelevant:

    This is a mere 100 years ago in our own nation. If you think that generally available electricity, indoor plumbing and ubiquitous white collar employment has changed base human behavior in the past 3 generations, you probably would agree with the above blog piece. If you read history not to gloat over the ignorance of our predecessors but to learn, you will maybe take away another lesson.

    Pay attention to this paragraph:
    More successfully, Leroy Bundy, a prominent black dentist, organized an armed self-defense force, estimated by some to be several hundred strong. Their guns prevented the advance of the mob deeper into East St. Louis. They received aid from a black mortician, who after smuggling refugees into St. Louis in his hearse, returned to East St. Louis with a load of guns.

    “organized an armed self-defense force” equals “militia.” And this militia was able to defend their community.

    No doubt guns are used chronically for evil purposes, but they are also the most powerful tools currently available to the average citizen should you or your community is in imminent danger. In this historical incident the tide of the riot wasn’t stemmed by the people of East St. Louis who were holding out their empty hands in love, it was stopped by organized, enraged people holding guns.

  46. Sara T Breeze says:

    Thank you, Kent, for this thought full article.

  47. Randall says:


    As a gun owner, I do understand where you and other like minded people are coming from. You don’t own guns. You’re not interested in having one. You’ve seen horrible images on TV again and again of murdered people, dead due to gunfire. You’ve been bombarded with endless opinion pieces in CNN, Huffington Post, etc. about gun violence. And you want it to stop, to go away. Your heart is in the right place. But unfortunately, its a misguided and doomed to failure approach to think that by banning guns, human violence will cease. You see, people were butchering each other LONG BEFORE gunpowder was invented. CNN continually cites merry old England and a shining example of a lack of gun violence since then all but banned guns. Great! But what they don’t tell you is that the U.K., especially Scotland, leads the world in knife murders. I admire your passion to want better for mankind. But simply banning something after a tragedy like in Las Vegas and feeling better that we ‘DID SOMETHING’, will not make us more safe from VIOLENT DEATH which is what we SHOULD be talking about about. Do you REALLY believe that its the gun that makes the person kill, as if putting a gun into the hands of a priest will turn him into Satan? I seriously doubt that my words will even put a dent in your views, nowdays everyone belongs to a tribe with locked down views. But if I convinced even ONE person to pause and think, then writing all this was worth it. Peace and love to all. From a “gun nut” (your group’s words) with a closet full of guns including three evil “assault rifles”.

  48. Nancy says:

    Not one single argument about owing guns, in particular lots of them, makes any sense to me. Especially, “it’s people that kill, not guns.” If people don’t have guns, they can’t shoot them. Guns are too easy to shoot, too easy to use when in a state of anger or helplessness. (And I know some will say they are not easy to use, but when 4 year olds can do it, it’s easy). You can’t kill a crowd of people within seconds with knives or any other weapon that is so easy to acquire.

    For protection, for hunting food for eating (and how many people need to do that nowadays), is what I believe is the purpose of a gun. And just because we have a right to have them, doesn’t mean we all have to have one. That’s not the purpose of the law.

    BUT, until we really believe we can trust each other, (and are trustworthy ourselves) until we love each other, and don’t expect our neighbor or even some foreigner to shoot us and know we wouldn’t shoot them, until we stop believing there are two groups of people here, pros and cons about anything, and just US, then there is no peace here.

    We have soldiers to protect us and our way of life, but they are trained to shoot, to kill if necessary. Is there ever a point at which because they have been taught that, immersed in that thinking, there is a need to actually do it? It they go through their years of service and never have to do it, do they ever feel they missed something? Do some gun owners think they just have to USE their guns? That is what frightens me.

    What is a good reason for wanting to have many guns, and in particular any gun that will shoot so many times? It isn’t just a hobby like collecting stamps.

    ARE PEOPLE SO AFRAID OF BEING ATTACKED BY A FOREIGN ENTITY that would attack in such a way that the private citizen would need to protect himself with an arsenal? And protect maybe his neighbors or extended family and then would be called a hero? with a “thank God you had all those guns?” ! Is that what it is all about? I don’t anticipate such a war. And I would prefer to have a level headed, loving neighbor who would depend on intelligence and love to protect themselves and me, and not guns. (I’m NOT implying that most gun owners are NOT level headed or intelligent or loving, though some of the arguments seem that way).

    I believe that the goodness and intelligence in every one of us can be appealed to. But that sometimes we need laws to guide, protect and love us until we are ready to ascend.

    I would not in our present state of mentality ban all guns. Because the bad guys would find a way to have them. But they should not be so easy to get and not be such a financial benefit to sellers. A small comparison, who benefits from cigarettes? The manufacturers and sellers of them, not the users, no matter how much hype there is about being cool, or independent, or your own boss, or whatever argument is out there. Even sexy. You can sell anything on that argument. Cars, clothing, probably even food. Guns?

    If anybody reads all this, thank you.

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