I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Guns Are the New Tobacco

My Facebook status field posed the question this morning "What's happening, John?"  It made me feel all warm to know my Facebook page was so friendly.  I started to write what was on my mind but soon realized that nobody on Facebook (at least nobody I know) wants to spend a lot of time reading when pictures, games and gossip are much more fun. I'm having a hard time shifting gears from blogging to Facebook and Twitter.  Online communication is being condensed since there is so much more of it so I'm working on saying more with fewer words. But as the reader can see, I'm not having a lot of success. Anyway, this is what came out on Facebook.


This is how I see the challenge of guns. Conversations about the Second Amendment, civilian security, self-defense, hunting, founding fathers, the Constitution and gun collecting as a hobby complicate a debate that should be getting easier, not harder, to understand.

The language of substance abuse explains the challenge we face. The country is facing an addiction problem of historic proportions. The numbers are declining, fortunately, but large numbers of people addicted to guns, together with an even larger number of enablers, now face the down-side of that addiction.

As most people will admit (particularly those in support of that addiction) guns are not the problem. The problem is the misuse of guns by irresponsible, sometimes deranged individuals. The challenge we face as a society is not how best to control guns. The challenge is how best to control their abuse.

Tobacco provides an interesting comparison. I was born in Kentucky into a family which raised tobacco as a cash crop. My cherished childhood memories include watching the adults burning the tobacco beds, setting out the new plants, cutting and hanging them in the barn, and following my grandfather on hands and knees along the barn floor as he lit little piles of smoldering sulfur to cure the crop.

Both my parents smoked unfiltered Lucky Strikes for forty years and only stopped after my father had a heart attack. He was a man who respected authority, so when the doctor told him to quit he stopped at that moment, never looked back and never complained. Years later I took up smoking in the Army but when my first-born was two I tried to stop. Only then did I fully appreciate how damn hard it is to stop smoking. Even now, when I visit my Kentucky family, I know to be careful how I speak about Tobacco. I don't know about now, but I remember years ago that they would let you know that the tobacco they sent to market was good, clean product. And if the cigarettes were causing all the health problems that have been blamed on tobacco it had more to do with the chemicals they added than the tobacco itself. Pre-Columbian records don't mention a lot of cancer or breathing problems among the Indians.


I'm gonna stop here. Too much blogging has got me addicted to using too many words. Addiction is a really hard demon to fight, but at least I'm aware of this one in my own life. I think most readers are smart enough to see where this is headed.

Those of us from Kentucky know a lot about sinful habits. We grew up with the fastest horses and the best whiskey in the world as part of our heritage. We are well aware of the dangers of gambling on horses, or becoming alcoholic from abusing alcohol. Not a family I know who has been free of those vices. They are not called vices for nothing. Unless you have seen the power of a shop vice to hold onto something being bent, twisted or welded you can't fully understand the meaning of that word.

A few families seem to fight one or all of these vices, including tobacco, as though it were a genetic trait. One school of thought is that addictive behavior is exactly that, an inherited trait, something like freckles body shape or male pattern baldness.

So far I haven't heard anybody advance the idea that guns are addictive. But all the evidence points in that direction. Anybody who has had first-hand experience working with substance abuse, either their own or that of someone else, will instantly recognize the similarities. This post will now be tossed into the Facebook Swamp and vanish like a sand-dollar in the ocean. But I needed to say it and get it off my mind. Thanks for reading.


  1. When I was living in Japan I slowly started getting angrier. It got worse and worse over months and I realised each time I got annoyed and mentally vented my anger it only served to make the next episode easier to induce. It was a positive feedback loop, not a release. Once I consciously stopped fuming about small events (at least), my anger levels fell right off.

    I suspect fear is exactly the same. And maybe owning a gun is a physical amulet that makes the fear seem to go away but actually concentrates and focus it. How can you forget your fear if it's sitting right there next to you in cold hard steel?

  2. Good observation. That "amulet" is also called a talisman. Many religious people are more comfortable with physical reminders of their faith. Observant Jews have phylacteries and mezuzahs, Christians wear crosses and feel a bit sinful if they are not carrying a bible, Sikhs wear five articles of faith.

    The more I think about it, the more your point makes sense. Maybe guns have become a religious relic, an icon so sacred that anyone outside the faith who suggests touching them is a threat to the entire faith. Advocates for gun control become more than political opponents; they are iconoclasts.

    1. Aha. yes, talisman. That was probably the word I was hunting for. And not just some inert, useless relic but something that actually, functionally enables the fight back against "Evil" should it rear its ugly head. No faith required. Empowerment! How tempting in this functional world...


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