Letter to the editor: Gun generalization

To the editor:

I found Mark Joslyn’s comments about gun owners in last Thursday’s Journal-World offensive.

He says “Guns are not just a possession – it’s an identity. Once you have a gun, you belong to a group, and that group has identifiable traits and it’s somewhat predictable how it might vote.”

Really? An identity? If you believe that, you are saying more about yourself than you are about me as a gun owner.

I think anything that encourages us to look at people as bits of data rather than individuals is a bad idea. Whether it’s religious, racial, gender-based or cultural, stereotyping like this is really not productive.

We all do it sometimes, and it’s something we ought to work to overcome, not legitimize with academic studies. I, for instance, am a 65-year-old white, male, rural Kansas gun owner. Pretty easy to pigeon-hole, right? But if you tried to guess my voting history based on that profile, you’d be wrong nearly all the time. Oh, and for the record, my gun is a possession. I have boots that are more closely tied to my identity.

I have no reason to doubt the statistical validity of Mr. Joslyn’s research, but really, what’s the point? Call it us-vs.-them, tribalism, profiling, whatever you want, do we really need more of it? Couldn’t his resources be put to better use? How about a study on how rational people with divergent views might reach common ground on reducing gun violence? That might be useful.