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..who desperately believes there has to be a conversation and an attempt to get both sides talking and - above all - listening.

I live in Washington, DC, and do not have or want a gun.

But I own a property 2300 miles away, and have family members living there. It's an entirely different world....below the fold.


My family has a small farm/ranch in Fresno County, CA. The area is rural, and abuts he escarpment of the High Sierra. There are poisonous snakes, coyotes, bears, and the occasional mountain lion. We don't hunt and don't like to kill wild animals. We hear coyotes most nights and keep them out with fencing. We have seen bears go through the garbage, which happened all the time at our old place atop the mountain. My cousins, who run the place, are quite liberal, but they know that you cannot reason with a rabid or distressed animal, and they keep a gun. And it is not under lock and key, because we simply don't know when we might need to use it.

Our place is about an hour from Fresno, and there are meth labs, gangs, and other problems encroaching. We also have two mastiffs among our five dogs. The dogs are sweethearts with the kids and grandkids, but strangers don't have to know that.

We are not paranoid, but we are twenty minutes from the nearest police station. Everyone near us has dogs to warn them and guns to protect them.

There is crime. There are home invasions.

I pray that we never, ever use that gun, but we need it. Al Simpson used to say that his mother, Lorna, kept a gun under her pillow until she died at age 94. She never used it. We're like that, and you can take away that gun when you pry our cold, dead fingers off of it. We need it for our own protection and that's our decision.

Fresno County has nearly 20% unemployment, and there's a lot of crime, despair, and fear. Our neighbors are all conservative, all fearful, and all pro-NRA.

I'm not sure how to reason with them. Even telling them that current gun laws allow mental cases and even terrorist sympathizers easy access to heavy weaponry and body armor doesn't seem to penetrate their political shell.

I feel that gun control advocates don't appreciate the need we have to keep guns for our own protection and don't understand the fear that millions of Americans have about government going after their guns.

I feel that gun enthusiasts don't appreciate that the guns they use for hunting and self-defense will never be taken from them (the Second Amendment isn't going anywhere), and they still don't appreciate the carnage caused by the current lack of restrictions.

It has become a dialogue of the deaf.

Don't talk to me about how "we" are right and "they" are wrong. Been there. Done that.

Tell me how to get both sides to listen, especially when the other side points out there are half a billion guns in this country and any time a criminal wants to get one, they can.


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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll agree (5+ / 0-)

    that in your location and living situation you have a legitimate need and use for a certain type of gun, say a 10 or 12 gauge shotgun with a variety of loads, maybe a .38 special or .357 revolver, an auto loader .30 rifle with a 10 round clip. Something like that. I would have that, too, in that locale.

    But your "cold, dead fingers" characterization kind of belies your reasonable approach. I'm sure there are some anti-gun types who would begrudge you the right to own any firearms. I don't know of any and haven't talked to any.

    But my next door neighbor in my suburban setting has no such legitimate need. And he certainly has no need for an AR-15 or a Glock 19 with a 30 round extended magazine or anything remotely like that.

    Give up the cold dead hands rhetoric and maybe there's a chance we could talk. But with that rhetoric, you have nothing to add to a conversation.

    Thanks for contributing.

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Nucleo
    I feel that gun control advocates don't appreciate the need we have to keep guns for our own protection and don't understand the fear that millions of Americans have about government going after their guns.
    All I can say is that I desperately hope that you and your neighbors lose this debate. Besides, Your dogs will protect you much better than your guns ever will.
    •  My dogs won't protect us from poisonous snakes... (6+ / 0-)

      ...and who will protect them from rabid or distressed animals?
      And you simply do not know our surroundings and our situation.

      Have you ever seen a pack of coyotes - in the middle of the day - trying to lure away a dog? Have you seen a bear going crazy with delight over a used tube of toothpaste in the trash?

      And the political reality is that the pro-gun lobby has the votes in Congress - and always will - so those of us who favor reasonable restrictions on guns can never win this debate. We must persuade the middle and the other side.

      One of our neighbors, the widow of a college professor, argues that income tax started out with only one percent of the public paying it...and now just about everybody does. That school desegregation started with Brown v Board and eventually became forced busing.

      Millions of Americans believe that government starts small and gets bigger and bigger and this is their fear with gun restrictions. They would rather have none than risk too many restrictions. That's the rub.

      You can't outshout or outgun the other side - or tell them that they are wrong  - or that their dogs will protect them better than their guns will.

      That hasn't worked since 1968, when this argument began in earnest. And it ain't gonna work now.

      •  Anyone who thinks a mountain lion (4+ / 0-)

        is going to be taken down by a dog has another thing coming.

        California is filled with mountain lions. Seriously. And yes, coyotes as well. And racoons have rabies, ech. You don't want your dog chomping these.

        Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

        by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:49:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If the dogs are quite large and there is more (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TKO333, mahakali overdrive

          than one, I wouldn't sweat the dog v. mountain lion issue. I live in mountain lion territory and not once have we had a dog attacked by a cat OTHER than when the stupid goat owner didn't put a top on his goat cage and the dog was in with the goat.

          Most bears are scared off by making a racket. These are black/brown bear, not griz or anything. You are better off with a shovel than a gun for a poisonous snake, but on he other hand, we snag em, bag em and release them in a safe area.

          I understand the need of just in case, in this instance, but it wouldn't scare me into over weaponizing or living in fear.

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

          by cany on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:17:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wouldn't risk it (0+ / 0-)

            I've seen two mountain lions up close and personally in my area. They're bigger than me!  

            Coyotes, obviously less scary. But having a pack of dogs on your property poses its own issues, especially if you have a smaller house. If they get out on their own, you're fully responsible for them. They're notorious for killing dogs around here too.

            Agreed about the snakes and bears. Rattlesnakes can be fast, of course. Bears are not that smart. I've seen plenty of bears both out here and back East.

            My grievance? Racoons. I used to raise chickens. Racoons were the worst chicken thieves in the Universe. I'm not a dog owner. I kind of don't like dogs (no offense to dog owners). I grew up with them but am not into having them around. Stinky. Needy. Noisy. Not my thing at all.

            Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

            by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:47:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Mind you, I currently live in a residential (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              area. This was when I lived on ranch land and farm land, which was on and off for some years. Now, I'm stuck in a duplex. Miserable.

              Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

              by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 08:49:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  I think you overstate how useful guns are (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TKO333, 207wickedgood, greengemini

        for a private citizen.   Rural <> "needs gun."

        Have you ever actually shot an aggressive bear?  If you can't hit one of a few specific areas of the bear in the 10 seconds that you have before it reaches you all you are going to do is piss it off even more.   (Bears can reach 40mph almost instantly.)    If the bear is not aggressing against you, why mess with it?

        A forked stick is better for snakes.   You are not going to protect yourself from a close rattlesnake encounter using a gun unless you can draw your gun and shoot it in less than half a second.    If you are not close enough to be struck then there is no reason to mess with it.

        As far as methheads, you have to know that they are there for a gun to be useful.   In an encounter I had recently all the gun would have done was given them something to shoot my wife with, after hitting me on the head while I was climbing the ladder.   (Fortunately I decided not to climb the ladder to investigate the noises.)

        Cell phones are much more powerful (where they work, I live in a rural area too.)   With a simple three digit call I had lots of armed, trained men on my property.   At least with the cell phone you won't end up shooting your cat (or wife/son.)

        Deer are another story.   Those four legged terrorists know no language other than violence.    If I lose one more fruit tree....

        •  I don't know where you live but when I lived in (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, Homer J, buddabelly

          rural Texas, if you had a cell signal to begin with, by the time any cops would show up...the sun had set and risen again.  

          People who live in the rural parts of America can and do shoot things in much less than 10 seconds and they know since about the age of 15, exactly where to hit them to make a first shot kill.

        •  No I haven't shot an agressive bear, although I've (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          high uintas, BobTheHappyDinosaur

          seen them rummaging through our garbage, and going crazy with joy over what was left in an unused tube of toothpaste.
          (Never more than one at a time)

          There are plenty of them around, and we're not afraid of them, but if one becomes aggressive for some unknown or unexpected reason, a gun is your only hope.

          As for snakes, you gotta be kidding. We've got grandkids on the property. If we see a rattler, a forked stick provides no guarantee it won't come back with the kids in the yard. Blasting the serpent to snake heaven gives you the guarantee that you need.

          Thank goodness that hasn't happened. Yet.

      •  You really think a gun is needed for a snake? (0+ / 0-)

        A shovel is probably as effective.  A snake is not exactly a large target to begin with, so it's not like it's a great candidate for shooting.  

        Other than that, you've basically summed up where the thinking on guns has gone.  So, the reality is we can just accept more and more atrocities to happen.  If nothing changes then that is the simple conclusion to reach.  

    •  Not so (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Homer J, buddabelly

      You don't send a dog after a grizzly bear,a mountain lion or even a coyote not to mention a poisonous snake.

      The dog will be dead, the wild animal will be injured and will be a danger to others. Not to mention dying a slow and painful death itself. The best way to handle the occasional animal that shows up looking to hunt on a farm is a gun. It is far more humane than any other option.

      I desperately hope they win this debate and sanity prevails. People who live in bubbles that think their way of life is the only way and their ideas are the only ones are the problem on both sides.

      It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

      by PSWaterspirit on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 05:58:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Don't Know (9+ / 0-)

    If guns are needed to keep you safe in Fresno Co.

    But I grew up in small towns in the rural West. All our neighbors had guns. I knew because they all went hunting during hunting season.

    But I never saw one of their guns.

    They weren't brandished in the streets. They weren't used to intimidate people.

    A Facebook friend from a small town in rural Oregon was fielding comments from her hometown friends about the shooting. They were saying things like, "Keep your guns in a locked gun cabinet!"

    Well, rural folks have gun cabinets with locks. They know how to clean guns because their parents showed them how. They know about gun safety. There is a culture about where guns go and where they do not go.

    I've never been around urban or suburban folks who have exposure to any of that. Around here, you keep your handgun in a drawer and a rifle, if any, in the closet.

    There definitely is a big difference in culture around firearms depending on the region.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:31:28 PM PST

  •  It's not about outlawing guns (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, ladybug53, efrenzy, Homer J, alain2112

    it's about regulating them to the point where we can reduce the 'leakage' into the black market. Sensible gun control laws will allow for people who need that particular tool, and maybe even for hobbyists. They won't disappear instantly, but if you stop pumping them into the population the problem will never go away. Of course the manufacturers of such devices will beg to differ .. they need wars and paranoid people to maintain profits for their shareholders ..

    "Electronic media creates reality" - Meatball Fulton

    by zeke7237 on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:31:45 PM PST

  •  OK. I'm listening (0+ / 0-)

    So, tell me how we should reason with your neighbors and penetrate their political shell.

    And/or - tell me what to do about the fear that millions of Americans have about the government going after their guns.

    NB.  I will not be responding.  This is not because I don't have opinions on this subject, but I want to keep with the spirit of your emphasis on listening as an important part of this process.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:41:13 PM PST

  •  Is this a typo? (0+ / 0-)
    current drug laws allow mental cases
    did you mean drug laws or gun laws?
  •  You don't need AK 47 (5+ / 0-)

    To fend off critters and protect your home from invasion.  We need to ban assault rifles and automatic clip weapons.  No one is trying to take away a hunting rifle, target pistol or small arm for defense.  

    My Brothers Keeper

    by Reetz on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 02:57:50 PM PST

  •  I reject the "it's too late" argument out of hand (3+ / 0-)

    The now-expired assault weapons ban worked. There's no reason to believe that it wouldn't be beneficial if reenacted. It's never too late to make it harder to get a mass murder weapon. Say it with me: mass murder weapon. That is what we are talking about.

    Gun control advocates--most of us--understand the need for self-protection. We also understand unwarranted fear. I live in a ridiculously-safe suburb with ridiculously-fast police response time. I don't need a gun. I get it that others are not as fortunate as I. What I don't get are people who live where I do (or similar places,) who also live in fear and have intrusive lights shining in their backyards (and mine) and think they need an arsenal to protect them from the 11 PM local news.

    Fear of government going after your guns is really fear of needing to fight a revolution to overthrow the government. Those of us without tinfoil hats see that as silly. More guns don't make us safer. If they did then we'd be the safest nation in the world. We're not. Not even close.

  •  Yep, I'm in a similarly rural area (5+ / 0-)

    where guns are really mainly used to keep livestock from being eaten by predators: coyotes, mountain lions, dogs, and not infrequently, raccoons. Yes, we have rattle snakes around too. I'm not so far from Fresno County.

    I was reading an article earlier today about five types of gun owners, one being the rural gun owner, and yes, often for this reason. There are really no politics involved for folks like us. I got used to shooting on a ranch where you could see hundreds of yards off since it was just flat, golden fields with no trees in sight.  

    This area is agricultural. I've never known anyone who died from a gun but everyone owns some. I do think, after this shooting, we need to consider that there are crazy people loose out there who could get these firearms and cause mayhem. It's never happened in my world, but I'd guess the same was true over in Sandy Hook. Now, that's not an agricultural area, and the visibility is a lot lower, and there aren't so many predators, although there are bears that got into town once, but cops dealt with that from what I've read. So that must be an area where people tend to own more for self defense.

    After all this, I very much feel we need to realize that all gun owners can't be responsible because guns can get into the hands of really crazy people. Therefore, I think keeping it to well-registered and licensed rifles with tests like a driver's license would probably be fine, more or less, except in a few cases, although I don't really know one way or another.

    I don't know the in and outs of gun laws. I do know that they haven't been a huge problem here other than the occasional gang stuff. The cops kill more folks than anyone with weaponry. That's an issue that I know of.

    But since all areas aren't the same, I say a national dialogue is critical.

    I do want to figure out how to keep high powered weapons from getting into the hands of anyone mentally unstable like this kid. Even if we have coyote issues with all the chicken ranches up here.

    Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

    by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:47:33 PM PST

    •  Also, bob cats and foxes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Homer J, buddabelly

      I forgot to even mention these.

      But I just read online that over 60% of all livestock deaths in California are due to coyotes alone. So if you live in a livestock heavy area, this will probably make sense to you. If not, it likely won't. Up in rural parts of the East Coast (where I've lived), I think it's more bears and wolves. These areas are generally far less livestock heavy though than California, where it's chickens, cows, and sheep as far as the eye can see, more or less.

      Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

      by mahakali overdrive on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 03:54:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yepper. Predators aplenty. We've lost livestock. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        high uintas

        The divide between rural and the rest of America is greater than it's over been. Farm life is strange and exotic to most of us.

        I knew nothing of septic systems or propane or feed stores and though soil amendments were something the Ag Committee took up in Congress  - until we bought the place in California in 2002. Then I learned about all that, and water wells and aquifers.

        The more I learned, the more I realized how little I knew about living out on the farms and ranches of America. And I am learning more and more about how farm living in our part of California has little in common with Iowa, or Nebraska, or Ohio.Not just crops, but water, predators, fuel, and everything.  

        Food grows where water flows, and where we're from, they'll kill you over water rights.

        These areas were foreign to me then. And I would venture to say they are foreign to the vast majority of Americans. And that would certainly be the case for the majority of Kossacks. Oh, and I still have a lot to learn.

      •  yotes are a killer, I lost another hen and 2 cocks (0+ / 0-)

        in the last couple weeks, drug through the fence even....and the last yote juked just as I pulled the trigger.....I will get him soon though as he is getting too bold.....

        And the rabid skunk a while back was a lot scarier than the lion tracks in my yard......

        Guns out here are the difference between safe and at the tweakers/sicarios mercy.....nearest cop is at best 20 minutes away and 40 on the weekdays where there is not one out here....

        Altar Vally, absolutely beautiful and you couldnt drag me into town again but it has its problems too, like the heaviest smuggling corridor in the country and now the mules are accompanied by armed sicarios.

        I truly feel for the parents and loved ones in this sad situation but the only blame lays on Lanza and imo no type of gun control will stop a maniac who wants to hurt and get their 15 minutes at the same time....I dont even blame our ridiculous mental health situation as these parents had the money to get help for their kid....these arent a pair of poor working stiffs doing 120 hours a week with no bennies needing the medical safety net.....

        Maybe if every possible media outlet didnt go wall to wall, giving the illusion of great power and fame if only the sick kid pulls the trigger a few times, there might not be as many copycats....but we have always glorified thugs, por ejemplo, Bonnie and Clyde.....

        Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
        I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
        Emiliano Zapata

        by buddabelly on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:54:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  tell me something, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    efrenzy, TKO333, greengemini
    We're like that, and you can take away that gun when you pry our cold, dead fingers off of it. We need it for our own protection and that's our decision.
    is that gun a military-style assault weapon? probably not. i'll go out on a limb, and guess those guns are probably bolt-action, single shot, .30-30's, or .30-.06's, with a 5 or 6 round clip. possibly a double-barrel, or over-under .12 gauge shotgun, loaded with bird shot. just a guess mind you.

    you see, i grew up in a marine family, lived on base as a kid. i had guns all around me, all the time. some were really big guns, with planes attached. my dad had to qualify, annually (as all marines do, even the commandant) at the range. he sometimes brought his issued weapon home (a big, damn m-14, then an m-16), to clean it between his two days on the range. others did the same. that would be the only time military-grade hardware entered any of their homes. for those that hunted, they had those sturdy bolt-actions, or shotguns.

    of course, those guns your family owns (and has a legitimate use for) are not the weapons anyone wants to "pry loose, from your cold, dead hands", because those weapons are rarely used in spree killings. you, and the NRA, know this, or should know it. trust me, if the government really wanted to take your weapons from you, you would quickly have cold, dead hands, Red Dawn not withstanding.

    so, that's the real issue here, military-style (and easily adaptable to full-auto) assault weapons, with magazines of 30-50 rounds, not something ordinarily used for hunting, other than other human beings.

    •  You would be correct.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..about the weapon. It's something that a 66 year old semi-disabled Marine reservist, his 65 yard old farm wife, their daughters, and 16 year old grandson are all comfortable using. It'll fire a few bullets. Just enough to take out a big cat or a coyote, even if you miss once or twice.

      Everybody in our area has one. They just don't talk much about them.

      About nine or ten years ago, a seriously disturbed teenager killed a policeman in a suburb of Fresno and fled to our area.

      A huge manhunt took place, with hundreds of cops and dozens of choppers, and it last a week. Of course, there were plenty of TV types, interviewing our neighbors. No one expressed any fear, saying "our dogs will warn us if he shows up, and we have our guns." That was the mantra, and everyone repeated it, because it was true. The dogs bark. The guns work.

      Eventually, the cops caught up with the kid on a local tribal reservation. Shot him. Something like 34 times. It was a horrible, senseless mess.

      You see, the kid had been sniffing glue, and huffing and hallucinating and his parents had sought to get him treatment. But there was a shortage of money and beds, and the judge actually held his court hearing two hours early, and by the time his parents got there, he had been released and was out on the courthouse steps, with his stuff in a plastic bag. The judge turned him away to kill, and then be killed.

      A couple nights later, the kid was high as a kite, and he shot at a guy on a street sweeper. That guy called the cops. The kid then shot and killed the first cop who responded.

      I guess they saved money by not treating or institutionalizing the kid. But it cost the life of a cop. And they spent a bloody fortune tracking down the kid and administering frontier justice.

      Another kid with mental problems. Another gun. Another tragedy. Guns DO kill people. Especially in the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.

      Perhaps that's where the serious discussion could begin. How do we keep weapons of war out of the hands of people who are unstable and may use them?

  •  The shooter lived in a safe SUBURB (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your situation is very different from the shooter and his family's. The mother owned several guns as a collector and, supposedly, a "survivalist". She wasn't protecting herself from snakes, bears, or meth heads. She didn't only own single-shot weapons. I don't think that most gun owners have a survivalist mentality. But here's the point: She THOUGHT she was safe with all that weaponry, and her own son shot her to death. The guns did not protect her.

    The civil rights, gay rights and women's movements, designed to allow others to reach for power previously grasped only by white men, have made a real difference, and the outlines of 21st century America have emerged. -- Paul West of LA Times

    by LiberalLady on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 07:46:20 PM PST

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