Crazy from the Start: A History of Gun Nuttery in the United States

(Originally published a couple of shootings ago at at

Yeah, another massive tragedy. I’m almost numb. So I can actually think. And it occurs to me: We Americans don’t go about Yosemite Samming because we have lax gun laws. We have lax gun laws because we’re Yosemite Sam.

A couple of shootings ago, I heard a YouTuber I generally enjoy—Atheism is Unstoppable—going on about how Americans might catch up to the civilized world if we ever had civilized gun laws:

To be fair, I guess he has some common-sense ideas about slowly easing the US out of our current gun law situation that aaehhh, might work if you had enough money to enforce them, and we weren’t all crazy… but the whole enchilada seems to be predicated on the notion that causality runs from bad gun laws to insane firearm attitudes and behavior.

If you look at history, however, my guess would be that, unfortunately, the causality probably runs in the opposite direction. Americans aren’t gun crazy because of our gun laws; the gun laws are lax because we’re gun crazy.

This country had a frontier-conquering situation happening just when that firearm thing was getting going. There are very few countries you can say that about. It’s very deep in our culture: YOU NEED A FIRE STICK. HERE THERE BE GRIZZLY BEARS. I don’t know what you’re going to do about that foundational assumption, unless you have a time machine.

(Every country had a frontier culture at some point; once upon a time, there was nobody in Japan except those adorable flying squirrels. But the squirrels were millions of years away from being able to operate a firearm. Not only did all of the varieties of Europeans who were trying to colonize America have to deal with the Native Americans, they had each other to kill as well. England and France weren’t all that far removed from the 100 Years’ War when they met each other here, and what we call the “French and Indian War” was just the western front of the Seven Years’ War, according to many historians. No other country has a past this nuts.)

As I’ve written before, the gun debate usually sounds like a retard fight to me. One side thinks we can use the government to get rid of guns; the other thinks we can use guns to get rid of the government.

For those of you who think gun laws will protect you from maniacs: Prohibition always fails, morons. Think of the drug war. Americans love guns the same way we love whiskey and drugs, and look how easy it was to get rid of them! (WE HAVE HEROIN.) Like most do-gooding, this may make things even worse.

For those of you who think the Second Amendment will protect you from tyranny: The government will always make you its bitch, retards. (THEY HAVE NUKES.)

Nukes, tanks, you name it… The Bundy Brothers were armed to the teeth, and how long did they last? On the other side, Chicago has some of the harshest gun laws in the country, and yet our sunsets are all augmented in color by the haze of gunsmoke that hangs over the city. Only the criminals get the good guns this way — just like how criminals get to do heroin, while the rest of us have to be content with liver cirrhosis.

These problems — our entrenched love for crazy violence and our entrenched dependency on a rotten government — may well nigh be insoluble. But no one ever wants to hear that life just stinks, or even that a particular problem might be something we’ll have to live with. As long as there are miserable psychotic souls who don’t fit in or stand out but think they deserve to, there will be mass killings. As long as 350 million people are being governed by the same entity, it’s going to be corrupt.

Gun nuts and anti-gun nuts may realize this somewhere under all the hopes and dreams, but that only makes them scream at the other team on the Internet all the louder. That feels gooooood, all that lovely screaming, and it helps you build engagement and likes and backlinks with fellow nodes in the human caterpillar.

But no change in laws either way is going to fix the crazy in American culture, much less the despair of anomie and the behavioral sink. Once in a while you have to admit that nothing will shoot your bête noir dead. Why do you think I quit trying to talk anyone out of having kids? The horror continues. Have a nice day!