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Citizen Lars

Guns: More a Cult than a Culture

“I’m depressed,” the acquaintance posted. You’ve probably seen similar testimonials. Someone shares a deep secret on social media. In this case, as expected and warranted, friends offered their support, their love.

It was one of those moments when you think social media can be a beautiful thing.

Then, a week later, the same guy posted about wanting to buy a gun. His friends began offering tips on what handgun would be best. The same so-called friends who one week ago promised support for his deep depression were offering advice on how he might purchase a firearm.

It was one of those moments when you think social media can be an awful thing.

I didn’t know the guy well. “Friend” would be too strong, “acquaintance” more accurate. Still, I felt I had to say something.

A generous conclusion would be his friends were oblivious. Maybe they didn’t remember all the bro-hugging about support and depression from the previous week. I hesitated. Would this be an over-stepping of some kind?

I thought about it overnight. The man’s safety was urgent enough that I was willing to risk our acquaintanceship. I couldn’t be silent.

So I replied to the gun request. In essence, I said this: “How dare you help your friend buy a gun when he just said he’s depressed!”

The replies came back much as I feared. I don’t need to tell you what they said. You already know. They were the same logic-free NRA talking points that have been circulating for years.

  • “He has a right to a gun.”
  • “If he’s going to kill himself he’ll find another way, so why does getting the gun matter?”
  • The one I remember most was the context-free one: “We don’t want to become Europe.”

Who said anything about Europe?

I wasn’t discussing gun control issues in any way. I was mentioning a very practical matter: our acquaintence/friend here man openly spoke of how he struggles with extreme depression. Then he expressed interest in buying a gun. You decide to help him get the gun.

What about that sequence sounds okay to you? The depressed guy answered my comments with some mush about appreciating “both sides” of the discussion.

I wanted to say, “You need some new friends, stat.” But it never came to that.

Because soon after his “both sides” comment, the depressed guy deleted it all. His request for gun-shopping advice, my post telling him to not get one, and his dumb “friends.”

That was the last I heard of it.

I hope I made a difference but I’m not optimistic. Since he was but an acquaintance, I de-friended him. I did not want to be around should the obvious happen. And there aren’t two sides to keeping weapons away from the severely chronically depressed.

I’ve heard American society described as gun culture. It may be more accurate to describe it as in thrall to a gun cult.

I shared this in the hopes that should anyone be in a similar circumstance, they too push back against the gun cult. Or maybe someone in the gun cult will recognize that their noble ideals of self-defense have been hijacked, and it’s themselves and their friends that are in danger.