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January 11, 2013 at 3:33 PMComments: 8 Faves: 1

The Way of the Gun

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

I am an American. I am a writer. I am an atheist. I am a scientist. I am a nerd. I am a gamer. I am a husband. I am all of these things, and on this day I wish that it helped at all, for I can not seem to make sense of the space I occupy. No longer from the corner of my eye do I see the lunatic fringe invade the more logical spaces of my mind, but from every angle, every direction, every place. I want out. I want off this freight train destined for our own destruction, but it shall not be so, for I may call myself many things and in doing so I accept the culpability of those who would do the same.

I am an American, and for years we have worshiped an ideal. This ideal has come in many forms: the frontiersman, the cowboy, the mercenary, the cop, the soldier, the spy, the rebel...the hero. All the different names, all the different creeds, all the different colors, and the character has remained the same throughout; stoic, uncompromising, inherently good despite many a dark deed, but most importantly...just.

gunslinger1In the beginning, this character had depth, and in this depth there was something insanely attractive about the way the character (for the sake of ease and a personal thank you to sai King, let us call this character "the gunslinger") interacted with the world. The gunslinger was both a character of the law and one who stood outside the establishment, a protector and justice incarnate. Those who stood against him stood in fear, and those who stood with him did so without an ounce of the same.

Within this visage, the American populace grew to worship this character as the ideal. No philosophers and great thinkers for America, no, give us the uncompromising law officer, the courageous soldier, the gunslinger. Despite the many changes in cultural ideals, the rise and fall of economic powers, and the swell of dogmatic teachings, the gunslinger archetype remained; stoic, uncompromising, inherently good despite many a dark deed, but more importantly...just.

Why has the gunslinger not fallen to the passage of time? Because he served as the American ideal and as a justification for every action taken by our country during its rise to power. In our very young minds we represented the character of justice, the law bringer, the harbinger of doom for those who would dare stand against the freedom of democracy. And why the hell not? We had the courage, we had the fortitude, and most importantly we had the power...or so we thought.

The Cold Fall

For a very long time, the gunslinger archetype was held true by both the American government gunslinger2AND the American people. That was, until the Cold War began. It was then that the people began seeing their perfect vision of a gunslinger government begin to tarnish, and the mask of the fear mongering, greedy villain begin to shine through. In the minds of the people, the gunslinger would never boast or bicker about power, he used it when it was needed, never more. The gunslinger didn't threaten, he acted. The gunslinger never hid behind the gun, he was the gun. The gunslinger would never sacrifice the safety of the people he protected to save face. Never.

What happens when a hero fails? Another must rise to take his place. Enter the fairy tale gunslinger, wearing much different garb, enter the anti-hero. For years the gunslinger was pure, he was Captain America, he was Superman, he was wholesome and good, he worked within the confines of the society in which he lived. With the birth of the anti-hero, no longer was the law a concern for the gunslinger, what mattered most was brutal justice, even vengeance if the situation called for it. Collateral damage? Who cares, the job got done. Cost? Who cares, the job got done. Personal image? Who cares, the job got done.

The anti-hero gunslinger had all the attributes we loved about our old favorites, but he didn't have to listen to authority, didn't have to feel the sting of consequence. He got things done, no matter the cost. The anti-hero embodied the idea of ends justifying means, and the American people ate it up. This character represented their anger at the established way of doing things. This character was liberating.

gunslinger3The Modern Gunslinger

Fast forward to 2013, kids are dying in schools, people are dying in malls, and anti-hero fans are getting shot while in worship. Our first response to this loss of life is to point the finger at any external source of violence and the weaponry purveying said violence upon its many victims. Guns, mental illness, violence in film, violence on TV, violence in video games, violence in prose, anything and everything other than ourselves. Enter the modern gunslinger, boisterous and full of fear.

For so many years the intrinsic values held by the original archetype were what held him aloft, but the rapid expansion of technology and consumerism erased the honor bound characters, leaving only their violent actions. Time had moved on. Our modern gunslinger points to the media as an explanation for this loss of value, but this is far from the truth.

Take, for instance, these freedom fighters who are threatening to take up arms against the government if more gun control laws are passed, or those threatening to begin "killing people" for the same reason. These are our modern gunslingers, scared and pathetic. For in the face of countless innocent deaths, they would respond with more violence in the name of preparedness and self-defense. In the face of death, they would take the cowards path, hiding behind the gun, not any true principle.

By Any Other Name

The truth is, we are a people of violence. Those who have accepted this truth have the capacity gunslinger4to move beyond it, though most choose to wallow in the fear of it, puffing out their chest and spitting in the eye of any who would call them coward.

People kill people, so the saying goes. It doesn't matter if death comes by a stick or an atomic bomb, there was a human behind the destruction. Until Skynet comes online, there will never be another explanation for destruction by design.

You may be thinking that the recent escalation of death has nothing to do with you, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are all responsible for the deaths of the innocent children and citizens, and there is no amount of finger pointing that will erase that responsibility.

The way of the gunslinger is devastatingly seductive, but his end is inevitable. Live by the gun, die by the gun. That is the fate of all those who would desire the gunslinger's life. Well America, you are dying. Are you happy watching your children being slaughtered? Are you pleased to see the fanatical philosophy you have clung to for so long come to fruition? No? Nor am I. Perhaps we should stop pointing the finger and start looking in the mirror.

If you desire an end to death by the gun, stop living in the shadow of the 'slinger.

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8 Comments

  • "Take, for instance, these freedom fighters who are threatening to take up arms against the government if more gun control laws are passed, or those threatening to begin "killing people" for the same reason. These are our modern gunslingers, scared and pathetic. For in the face of countless innocent deaths, they would respond with more violence in the name of preparedness and self-defense. In the face of death, they would take the cowards path, hiding behind the gun, not any true principle."

    I wonder what you would have called the founding fathers if we lived in their time. From the sounds of that paragraph I would laugh if you called yourself a patriot. The issue on gun control is an issue on our rights written by the founders of our country after our successful uprising as "Freedom Fighters". We can go into statistics about gun deaths versus gun controls (which favor gun rights), but the basic conversation is should “we the people” have this freedom; guaranteed to us by birth on this land, or should we allow the government to march on yet another one of our constitutional liberties in the name of our security. I choose to keep my weapons and if you want to call me a coward hiding behind my guns that's your right protected by our first amendment.

    When it comes to your point on the gunslinger mentality I can partially agree if I understand it the way I think I do. You're very articulate and I am the opposite so with that said the chances of me misinterpreting your position are highly probable.

    The "gunslinger" mentality dying has a lot more to do with attention whoring and a complete lack of values and responsibility being indoctrinated into this generation. It doesn't take more than a simple search through the comments on youtube to see that values have been completely kicked out of the car while fighting for attention takes the wheel. Stupidity and lack of responsibility are what we promote in the media this generation. We're all competing for likes and thumbs up daily. Even on this blog we're both looking for attention from people that may agree with us and tell us how smart or dumb we are. People want to get noticed, and when they don't we get an Adam Lanza, or a James Holmes. These failed morons who wanted to get noticed by others so bad that they go on heartless shooting sprees and achieve the holy grail of attention, MASS MEDIA. It's interesting how they always pick gun free zones as their locations to commit these crimes, but that's not the point. We’re conditioned to remember the killer’s names over the victims. How sick is that?

    You're right about looking into the mirror to see the true culprits. It is definitely us. When we have mindless idiots watching programming such as Jersey Shore teaching us that being rude, stupid, and irresponsible will make you millions. Rap song that consist of three words; two of them curse words, topping the charts. Basically it boils down to the more substance something lacks the more it sells. That applies to our food as well. We have a government that demonizes hard work and success, instead of promoting it. "Work hard and pay more because that's doing your fair share." We have a winners and winners society, and trophies for the losing teams because we can't fathom hurting someone’s feelings telling them they failed, but that they need to get back up and try harder. We don't promote self evaluation and self improvement anymore, but instead teach blaming others for your failures. That’s how you know our country is screwed up! To prove my point, who do we blame for this? THE GOVERNMENT, but then what do we do after blaming them? We reelect the same people to run it again because they said they were going to do better this time and we fell for some stupid catch phrases, one liner, and “Fact check”.

    I talked with my Mother last night and found out that she won’t put her Juris Doctorate degree to work and get a real job because she'll lose her UI benefits. How backwards is that? She doesn't take responsibility for being in poverty anymore. She blames the economy and the "evil rich" for her failure. She watches MSNBC by the way which might explain this new attitude of hers. She feels she's justified in this belief. I can't help but imagine that is the majority of this nation when they reelect a president that has created the most government dependent populous this country has ever seen. 47% of this country is on government assistance of some form and no one cares! This president is still blaming his failures on the last administration. So he falls right in line with the people our current generation.

    The "gunslinger" mentality used to be the get it done at all costs attitude. The "gunslinger" mentality used to be self reliance is key to success. People used to follow the "gunslingers" because they were respected leaders and heroes. Sadly the "gunslinger" mentality is no longer existent. It died with the entrance of the "Damsel in Distress" mentality. "Notice me! Help me! I can't do it on my own!" they scream. The death of the "gunslinger" mentality was ushered in by the increase in “Damsels” for the gunslingers to care for. The demise of the “gunslinger” has allowed for the entrance of the mass murderer; the man with the black hat. The media has brought this upon us because it’s what we watch. It's what we vote for. It's what we want to see, and what we pay to see. Of course what do I know? I'm just some immature 24 year old Graphic Designer who needs to hide behind his guns and constitution.

    P.S. this post was edited a few time Brotha.

  • @ Garchow: Let me get this straight. If I agree with Wollof, if I feel that the 2nd Amendment has been grossly manipulated since the advent of modern weaponry, I don't love my country? That means that I'm not a patriot? Or is that just because my views don't align with yours?

    Wasn't America founded on opposing viewpoints? Oh wait, my bad. This country was founded on shotguns, moonshine, and racism.

    Isn't the beauty of the Constitution its fluidity? Oh wait, my bad. The beauty of the Constitution is that people can use it as a crutch upon which they can frame their irrational thoughts 226 years after it was ratified.

    Wasn't the 2nd Amendment put in place to protect the people against the potential for tyranny? Oh wait, my bad, the 2nd Amendment was established to allow citizens to carry machine guns in case a school needed to be shot up every now and then.

    Are you a member of a state militia? If so, I apologize for my remarks. If not, read the text of the document.

  • The constitution was meant to be taken as literal not fluid. It's adaptable to new laws via amendments not via interpretation. No law is to counter the constitution unless the constitution itself is amended and ratified via 2/3 majority in Congress. It is the supreme courts job to maintain that no law is unconstitutional. All bills must pass its qualifications in order to become law. Liberals would like you to believe it your way, easily trampled and playable, because most liberal ideals are in fact unconstitutional, such as progressive rate taxation. Republicans have also distorted the constitution with laws like the Patriot Act which virtually eliminates your right to due process. Now the president has via executive orders the ability to make "law" that doesn't need constitutional approval. President Obama may outlaw the purchasing of ammunition as early as today. Biden is in fact giving his plan to the President today. Executive orders are to be used only in times of war. What a coincidence that we are at war. The war on terror.

    I'm not arguing for M60s in peoples homes. You taking it to that level is a pretty childish and a clear over exaggeration of the right every American has. We all agree some weapons are not to be in the hand of civilians, and to keep it on your level we'll say nukes. Citizens should not be able to have nukes, predator drones, YF-22 Jet fighters, etc. The 2nd amendment does not limit guns to militia forces. Sorry buddy, but It allow civilians to own guns, AND gives civilians the right to maintain a militia that is within regulated guidelines. The point of the militia is to be civilian run not government run because that would defeat the entire purpose of the militia.

    I do believe that every gun owner should pass a weapons training course and background evaluations in order to be firearm certified. I'll even allow for classes for different types of firearms to make it more difficult. I'm not arguing for burst or full automatic weapons because those firing modes on a rifle are pretty worthless if you know anything about shooting.

    You have the right to disagree with me, but you do not have the authority to limit me. That job falls to your congressman so take that up with them. Until an amendment is passed that negates the second I'm keeping my guns, and I'll buy more if I see fit because its my RIGHT that you have no AUTHORITY to limit and vice versa. Remember that you also have that right and just because you choose not to use it doesn't mean you have an ability to negate it.

  • Thank you both for reading.

    Kyle M, seems you and I are on similar pages, so I'll just stick with the thanks.

    Kage, just a couple of things bro:

    1.) I respect your right to carry a gun and your right to call yourself a patriot. You can keep both. I am tired of living in a world that has to rely on the gun for strength. I am equally tired of living in a world that doesn't recognize that borders based on archaic categorizations and power are ridiculous.

    2.) Who are these founding fathers? Are they the rebellious traitors to their own country? Are they the people who argued the same things that you are right now and chose to do something about it?

    We have this romantic idea that our "founding fathers" were righteous heroes, when they were just as lost as we are. They weren't patriots, they betrayed their country. If that is the definition of patriot, I hereby declare my desk Wollofinium and call myself a patriot.

    3.) Ask yourself why you need the gun Kage. Ask yourself where the fear comes from.

  • The founding fathers we're people who took action. They stood up for what they believed in and against what they thought was wrong. They didn't enslave people after they had won. They freed people from taxation and martial law. If you don't see the heroism in that then I've lost hope for you. I'd rather follow the founding fathers than any modern figure. These founders drafted a bill that protects you from enslavement, but you go ahead and say they were a bunch of worthless petty traitors. A line you more than likely stole from ACIII.

    As for me owning weapons under the guise of fear. You have the right to call it fear. I call it being prepared, simple as that. Instead of being a victim of a gun crime I'd like to have an even chance, or better odds. People are going to do what they're going to do regardless of the law. It's against the law to murder, but does that magically stop people? Taking guns away does not make ANY law abiding citizen safer, or more enlightened as you feel you are. There are actually more knife murders than hand gun murders. The basic theory behind gun control is purely flawed because it assumes that criminals will obey laws.

    I'm done talking about it. You both keep blaming guns instead of the real problem, that is clearly laid out in my original comment. A lack of responsibility and values. Both of which are founders expected us to maintain yet clearly we fail miserably. One of the biggest hypocrisies of all this is your self proclaimed enlightened nobility to live in a world without guns yet you advocate and play games that utilize them as major features. At least be consistent and only use the crossbow and knife in BF3.

    Sad day when smart people want their government to limit them because they can't limit themselves, but HEY what do I know. I'm just a paranoid, redneck, 24 year old graphic designer with ambition, heart, and drive that haven't and wont be crushed by this system.

  • What else is sad is that it takes an event like Aurora, or Newtown for you to get up in arms about it. If you were this way before those events than why'd you let the issue sit on the back burner. If what you think is correct and you would have reformed the system prior those kids may still be alive.

    Of course we all know that's a pipe dream and he would have done what he did gun control or not. For the case of the Aurora shooter It would have been an even bigger success in his mind because he's an Anarchist idolizing a fictional character that Hollywood idolized! I'm sure you know which one.

  • Kage,

    The founding fathers most certainly enslaved people after they supposedly "freed" us. They actually almost extinguished an entire race of people, while using slave labor to build our country. This isn't heroic action, it is merely what they though they needed to do to survive. For us to elevate their action purely to make the birth of our country look amazing is ignorance incarnate. As for worthless and petty, they most certainly were not that, but they were traitors. Patriots and traitors, equal sides of the same coin, dependent only upon perspective.

    As for owning a gun, what exactly are you prepared for? If you are getting ready to rebel, isn't that in the fear that your government will attempt to take something from you that you feel is yours? If you are attempting to protect yourself, doesn't that stem from a fear of bodily harm or death? Guns are the ultimate fear machine, built exclusively for destruction and nothing else.

    I do play games that involve guns, but I understand that these are entertainment experiences, nothing more. I also played Monopoly when I was a child, yet I don't think I can go sit on a railroad and collect money from every person passing over it. Violence is a part of my life as well Kage, I just choose to channel it away from my fellow humans and onto computerized projections.

    I appreciate the smart person mention. As for this government and system you speak of, I would be fine if both went away.

  • I have believed this for a long time Kage, but opportunity to speak and be heard is a rarity in our day and age. Both viewpoints need to be examined very closely, despite what those who believe them may think of the other. Intellectual discourse is important.

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