Gunaholics Anonymous

Note: This post is part of our League Symposium on Guns In America. You can read the introductory post for the Symposium here. To see a list of all posts in the Symposium so far, click here.

by zic

I would like to see a discussion about unhealthy gun obsession. I suspect the vast majority of gun owners are reasonable and responsible people. But like alcohol, video games, the internet, or porn, there is always the potential of extreme interest that inteferes with a person’s ability to function within normal and acceptable parameters. Maybe it’s time to examine this, much as we’ve examined alcoholism. With that, I offer the following, a fictional movement, GunAlhololics Anonymous. This my fictional example of a screening they might offer to potential members; it is not founded in real research on the subject.

 

GunAholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from gun addiction.

Gun-addiction screening:

  1.  Do you own more than 3 guns?
  2. Do you own more than 5 guns?
  3. Do you own more than 10 guns?
  4. Do you feel suspicious of people in general, or uncomfortable around people who don’t own guns?
  5. Have you ever thought of brandishing a gun to end an argument or confrontation?
  6. Do you spend more than 5 hours a week on gun forums or reading about guns on the internet?
  7. Do you stock pile more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition?
  8. Do you feel your unsafe when you’re not carrying a gun?
  9. Have you purchased guns for family members or loved ones even if they did not want one?
  10. Do you always have to have the ‘latest’ in new gun technology?
  11. Have you ever left a loaded and unlocked gun around you home or vehicle, just in case?
  12. Do you spend more than $5,000/year on guns and ammunition?

 

If you answered ‘yes’ to 4 or more of these questions, you may have a gun addiction and pose a threat to your family or neighbors. The nearest chapter of GunAholics Anonymous (GAA), a 12-step program for helping gun addicts face their addictions can help.

GAA is not a religious organization nor is it affiliated with any religious body. It welcomes members of all religions, agnostics and atheists alike. You don’t have to sign up or achieve anything to be a member. You’re a member of a group if you choose to be. You can come and go as you please. No one is “in charge” of a group. We work through the offer of help and suggestion only. No one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

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23 thoughts on “Gunaholics Anonymous

  1. Great photo, Tod. Looks like a wine cabinet.

    And I want to re-emphasize this part: I suspect the vast majority of gun owners are reasonable and responsible people.

    And a brief explanation: when I googled ‘gun addiction,’ posts on gun forums showed up. And each and every time someone expressed concern that maybe, just maybe, they had an unhealthy interest, the were belittled. Harshly.

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    • Interesting thus far that comments focus on the problem — gun addiction — and not he solution — gun owners/reformed gun owners.

      Yet we keep hearing that gun owner need to acquiesce to any solutions.

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  2. Um….guilty.

    1) Yes

    2) Yes

    3) Yes

    7) Probably

    11) Yes

    I would protest though. I have different guns for different game animals. That accounts for seven guns in my collection. I inherited a couple more. I have a pistol for self-defense. I have a couple guns I bought just for fun. I don’t think that’s cause for concern.

    The extra ammo is also because I hunt a lot of different animals and I target shoot. One session of sporting clays is close to 100 shells. One day in the dove field can be 50 shells or more. It just makes sense to buy those in bulk.

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      • Zic,

        I took no offense. I’m trying to think of criteria that would really concern me about a ‘gun addict’. Obviously anyone that was mentally troubled i.e. potential spree shooters. Then there’s the George Zimmerman types. Beyond that, even most of the militia guys don’t really scare me because they are really just boys with toys. It’s part fantasy, part hobby.

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        • Anyone without friends, who actively fantasizes about what’s going to happen if we ever have civil unrest.
          Not only are those people dead men walking, they’ll just be providing guns to the real gangs, if there’s ever any trouble.

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    • Hey, Mike, just out of curiosity (seriously, I just joined this discussion)- do you know anyone like this, or whose interest in guns seems excessive? I’ve known a handful of gun owners, but I’ve got to admit that I’ve never known anyone who owned and maintained more than one or two guns max. Might just be my interests though.

      (Also, I played grammar nazi on this post via my editing abilities. Probably unnoticeable though.)

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      • Rufus – personally, no. I know several people with collections of 40 or more firearms but for these guys it’s more about having the collecting bug than anything else. It could just as easily been comic books or belt buckles. Most of the guns they buy get shot once or twice and go into storage forever.

        I don’t know anyone of the survivalist / militia bent with guns. I only know one gun owner who gives me concern about his guns and ironically, he is a reservist in the Army. The problem with him is even after a lot of training from Uncle Sam he still seems very awkward around guns. He is sloppy with his gun handling. He goes deer hunting with his AR even though he owns a much effective deer rifle. He’s a good guy and I have zero fears of him ever intentionally harming anyone, but accidentally? Let’s just say you will never see me in the woods with him.

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        • When my old man was teaching college in rural NY state (Houghton College), every deer season featured plenty of “Buffalo Hunters”, ignorant saps who came down from Buffalo and Rochester to annoy the locals.

          We lived in an old farmhouse owned by the college. Maybe 150 acres across the road were in corn, a local dairy farmer worked the land and raised feed corn on it. A long dirt road went through the fields down to the Genesee River. A group of hunters were trespassing and left their station wagon on that dirt road. The local farmer stopped by with his honey wagon, opened the tailgate and filled it with manure.

          A few weeks later, the valley echoed with dozens of shotgun blasts. Up and down the valley, lights came on and cars started moving in the general direction of the ruckus. Turns out a bunch of Buffalo Hunters had gotten drunk and were trying to work out how many shotgun rounds it would take to blast a stump out of the ground.

          If there’s one aspect of gun control I’d like to emphasise in the course of this discussion, it’s this: not every gun owner is a safe gun owner. Gun ownership may be a right, unlike any other tool in the shed, I’m not going to argue with that aspect of the problem. I want to see unsafe gun owners severely punished, at least as seriously as DUI offenders.

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          • One county over from where I grew up, one of the biggest problems with deer hunting season was asshole drunken idiots with guns pre-emptively culling the herds of dairy farmers and goat farmers.

            They also tended to not be too kind to the housing on the farmers on whose lands they were trespassing. My second cousin’s house had a number of spots where bullet holes had been painted over and they had to replace at least one pane of window glass each year. They’d call the cops out and sometimes the idiots would actually be caught, but more often than not would be let go because the police couldn’t prove which of the half-dozen drunken morons had actually fired the shots or killed the livestock and the trespassing charges weren’t good for more than an overnight sober-up stay without a previous court order to tell them to stay away.

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        • it’s more about having the collecting bug than anything else. It could just as easily been comic books or belt buckles.

          This was my thought too. The cases where “collecting” shades over into “hoarding” could be a concern, just from a mental health perspective; otherwise I’d just assume it’s a hobby. People often just take a shine to something and start collecting it. Records, old cars, Hummel figurines, shoes. It can be anything. I had the record/music-collecting bug for a long time (I’m mostly better now, with the occasional relapse) and I had more music than I could ever listen to; I sometimes bought duplicates because I could not remember that I already had something; I spent a lot of money and time and effort on the hobby, and to an outside observer, the investment I made probably seemed kooky. Just stacks of records and CDs everywhere. Why did I need all that music?

          Do that with records or stamps, and you’re eccentric; do it with guns, and people worry. But there is no *inherent* reason to do so, other than the exact same factors that should concern people if you only have one – are you mentally/temperamentally suited to own and use even one? Do you store and use it safely and responsibly?

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          • I have a very old friend that I grew up with who always loved any kind of action movie. His favorites when we were kids were anything with Chuck Norris and the old Death Wish series. When we were in our preteens he used to get an airsoft gun every year for his birthday and for Christmas. He must have had 20 of them under his bed. Never took them out and the rest of his friends coveted playing with them.

            Today this guy is 37, single, well-employed and has a lot of disposable income. He buys a LOT of guns. He likes cheap knockoffs of machine guns that are actually just .22 and do not fire on fully-automatic. I tease him about them and he says, “I’ve just always liked wicked-looking guns.” Interestingly he almost never shoots them and still doesn’t like anyone to mess with them. He just buys them, puts them in his gun safe and there they stay. He could easily be mis-diagnosed as a danger but he’s simply a guy who never outgrew one of his childhood hobbies.

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  3. I heard about a guy, from somebody who worked for me, who lived in ruralish Alaska town. He had easily tens of thousands of rounds of ammo stocked up and hundreds of gallons of gas for an emergency. The local volunteer fire department told him if his house caught fire they would let it burn. It would be to dangerous to get close to it to try to put out the fire.

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  4. When I was a kid it was uncommon for a surfer to own more than one or two boards. Now it’s not uncommon for a serious surfer to have five or six in regular rotation, plus a few more that have been purchased for whatever reason, plus those that have been kept, even thought they’ve been replaced in regular rotation.

    When I fished more regularly and in an area with more diverse species and conditions, I had about a dozen fishing rods.

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  5. 13. Were you ever involved in BB gun war under the age of 11?

    It was a time before airsoft, paintball, laser tag or xbox. Denim jeans required, no flip flops, no shooting above the waist, no close ups, no more than 3 pumps, 4 at distance. I don’t remember time before guns. It is good to see Airsoft on the market, fewer kids digging BBs out of their thighs and calves.

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