OK, it's going too far to say that Sarah Palin's crosshairs prompted Jared Loughner to shoot US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people in Tucson. I mostly agree with Jonathan Chait that an insane individual doesn't need to hear gun metaphors in order to go out and do something insane (though, as I posted before, I'm more concerned about "illegitimacy" rhetoric than violent language, anyway.)
But I think the Giffords shooting has released a lot of pent-up frustration about the glorification of gun culture in the United States. And the worst aspect of gun culture is the persecution complex that kicks in every time there's a mass shooting.
Hey, gun owners: No one is taking your firepower away. Hardly anyone even brings up gun control anymore, even after a massacre like the one in Arizona. You almost always win, and when you suffer a small political loss, you almost always turn things back around to your favor.
So I'm not going to put up a bunch of statistics on gun deaths or post photos of shooting victims. They won't change anyone's mind on the issue. But I do ask one thing of gun advocates: Please leave me alone.
*Don't tell me I need a gun to protect myself. I'm not going to shoot anyone over my wallet or whatever junk I have lying around my apartment, and I'm not going to carry a weapon that could be used against me or an innocent person.
*Don't tell me you need a gun to save my life. If I'm ever near a crazy person with a gun, the last thing I want is to see is a dozen other people whipping out guns to shoot at anything that moves. (Don't be so sure you'd know who to shoot.)
*Don't tell me not to be such a pussy about firearms. I'm not going to a shooting range. And I don't care what the local laws are; I'm not patronizing a bar, church, or bowling alley that has a sign out front saying "Welcome gun owners."
*Don't tell me I have to vote for NRA-backed candidates because the third of Americans who own guns are more politically important than the two-thirds who don't. I'm not voting for someone with a campaign ad like this or certainly not this. Marksmanship is not a relevant qualification for elected office.
*And don't call me an elitist because I don't like guns. Most Americans do not keep guns in their homes, and that's not going to change even with the post-Tucson Glock craze. You might not believe this if you live in a small town and everyone you know has hunting rifles, but guess what? Most Americans don't live in small towns, either. I grew up in a thoroughly patriotic, working-class Catholic neighborhood, and I can't remember anyone bragging about their firearms collection. There's nothing un-American about my mother, and she would never allow a gun in the house.
So let's not waste our breath on each other. If you choose to arm yourself, you don't need my approval. Just respect my right not to be anywhere near you while you're packing heat.
And for God's sake, quit whining.