They say guns aren't the problem, people are.
OK, so let's look at gun nuts.
By "gun nuts," I don't mean every person who owns or uses a gun. Plenty of firearm owners, even many enthusiasts, aren't gun nuts. Those are the people who won't defensively bristle at the term, because they know it doesn't apply to them. They are just as worried as anyone else about gun violence, and what reputation gun nuts give to the pursuit in general.
Gun nuts to me are people who elevate their weapons to sacrosanct status. They're the ones who adorn their vehicles with reams of saber-rattling, pro-gun bumper stickers. They work weaponry into most conversations. They brag about their training and their willingness to use guns in protective situations. To them, guns are the tangible embodiment of freedom — and that they solve every problem, especially gun violence. These people constantly fear that someone (usually a Democratic president) is coming to take their guns away any time the question of gun control is raised (and also when it isn't). But most of all, they cannot comprehend why anyone would consider guns dangerous, or why it's a bad idea to pack heat everywhere at all times.
The gun enthusiast who frequents the range or the duck blind (preferably for food), who is trained in technique and safety and who keeps his guns disarmed and locked up when not in use, is someone I trust. Same goes for law enforcement officials. As long as someone is even-tempered and has a healthy sense of perspective about firearms, then they deserve to be left alone. Because they understand, as I do, that guns are not toys. Nor are they a first line of defense. Those notions often get lost in the U.S. gun culture, which is the sickest of all of our cultures. Gun culture glorifies the firearm, to the peril of all Americans.
A gun, as the "people kill people" crowd insist, is an implement. A tool. Something designed exclusively to kill and frequently associated with protecting families. It would seem that a situation in which shots have to be fired in a family home setting would be a regrettable, last-resort scenario. And yet, this is one so frequently parroted in a way that other survival hypotheticals are not. And guns are revered in ways that other implements are not.
It's not hard to see why. Guns allow people to fantasize about themselves being heroes. The gun gives them a power they otherwise lack, a power unique to its singular purpose. These people often cry, "you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands," which is supposedly an ultimatum, but also sounds like a dare. This territorial nature tends to bring with it suspicion of minorities, police, politicians and so-called "gun grabbers" — basically, anyone not like themselves.
So what you wind up with is a person who glorifies an inanimate yet deadly object; is always in last-resort survival mode; sees enemies in the government and in anyone who looks different or disagrees with them; and whose greatest fear in life is not holding a gun in their hand. That is a gun nut.
If it's true that people kill people, then gun nuts are the first people we should worry about. Because they are the ones most capable of turning their twisted morals into frighteningly fast death.