Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.

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I don't get guns. At all.

So, I wasn't going to write about this. It irks me when I feel the need to respond to the latest community fad. But it got under my skin and now I feel the need to offer my perspective, biased and unpopular though it may be. I am talking about the latest issue of guns, gun possession and gun control that's doing the rounds.

I could write about the Pagan perspective of this, I could give you an opinion the ancients Greeks may have had on guns, but I won't. Because guns aren't a 'Pagan thing', they are a human thing, crossing the boundaries of religion and politics. Trying to explain why guns should be allowed or banned by citing religious or political reasons only serves to muddle the subject and provide excuses to hide behind. So what came before and what follows is all my opinion. It's not Hellenic, it's not anything but me, on my soapbox.

It started with a post by Literata, writing about the toxicity of guns to their environment. Then another blog post arose, written by Lauren DeVoe. This time, the post was in defense of gun possession. What I am about to write is not about these authors; they are merely sharing their own side of the coin. As I will do. This is about the issue at large.

I wrote about war and the military life before. I grew up in a household which abhorred both, as well as the possession of guns. No one I know owns a gun. It's harder to get one here, although it is possible, and we have had our fair share of assholes shooting up malls and politicians. Thankfully we have been spared a large-scale school shooting so far.

The Netherlands has strict gun control laws and most often, the weapons used in shootings here were procured illegally. This does not make them any less deadly. In my opinion, gun possession leads to only two things in the end; death and/or civil disobedience stemming from a (false) sense of superiority.

The problem with guns is that any idiot with a liter of vodka in his or her stomach can fire a gun into a crowd and hit at least one person, especially if that gun is an automatic rifle, if they have access to it. It's a lot harder to do the same with a knife or baseball bat. Guns kill from a distance, which makes them overpowered, unfair and, most of all, incredibly deadly. This also sets in motion the vicious cycle; in order to defend against a gun, you need a gun. It becomes an eye-for-an-eye mentality which only ends when one or none are left standing.

People buy guns for home protection, automatically accepting the fact that they might one day end up taking a human life. Even that mental step is completely beyond me, but what I hear even more is that when 'they' come knocking, the gun possessor will be ready to stand up for their rights--even if those knocking are the people who have sworn to uphold that very law the gun possessors are so adamant about.

Would I sit idly by, waiting to be persecuted for being any of the minorities I am a part of? No. I would not. But I also wouldn't try to shoot my way out. And really, if police officers or military personnel came to your door to drag you away, would you try and take as many out with you as you could before they kill you in front of the family you bought that gun for to protect? And who are 'they', anyway?

Gun ownership for protection seems like a logical thing to do. I understand wanting to keep your family safe, I really, really do, but I also trust my government and the police force. This might sound like a very naive thing to do to some, but that is what we pay them for, so I might as well trust that the government and its police force have our protection in mind. I don't need a gun, I can use a burglary alarm, a phone and my hiding skills. Also, I can be pretty sure that whomever enters this house will not have a gun... because you can't get them here unless you're willing to jump through a bazillion hoops. Of course, this might be different where you are, and you may live far away from the protection of a police force, but it also stands to reason that no common burglar will visit your house if you're that far out into the wilds.

When I think about guns, gun possession and gun control, all I see flashing before my eyes is this:


and this:


and this:


and any of a hundredth other examples. There is no blame to place here; those who fight for second amendment rights to own a gun are not responsible for this, but there is a cycle at work here. There is demand, so there is supply. And that supply is available to any who pay enough.

And no, people who use their gun(s) solely for hunting and property protection but who lock up their guns any other time will mostly likely not go around in a murderous rampage. I get that. But this sense of entitlement to a gun--for whatever reason--leads to the availability of guns for those who might not be mentally stable enough to know the difference between proper gun management and murder.

I realize that had I been raised differently, in a different country, with different experiences, I would feel differently about this. But I wasn't. I was raised in a pacifist household, with the realization that people, if pushed to far or under the influence of enough mind altering substances, will do the stupidest things. And yes, I think that the stupidity of the few should influence the many. I believe that in banning the private possession of guns, many deaths by those (temporarily) beyond the scope of they mental facilities can be prevented.

With this, I don't just mean large-scale shootings like these videos but also kids, who shoot themselves toying around with a gun left around the house or thrown away in the bushes, people who fall into a bout of depression and shoot themselves because the weapon is easily available, bystanders or shop employees who get shot during robberies, husbands shot by wives, wives shot by husbands, family members who are mistaken for burglars. The list goes on.

Bullet wounds kill; instantly if the shooter is good or lucky. There are no take-backsies or do-overs when someone is shot. I trust myself to do the right thing, but I still won't own a gun. I couldn't live with myself if I accidentally shot someone or my carelessness caused the death of another. I don't want guns around my loved ones, I don't want them around my future children and I don't want to go out into the streets in fear of getting shot by someone holding a grudge towards a 'them' I may be a part of.

And no, for me, buying a gun to alleviate that fear is not the answer. What the answer is? Beyond the destruction of every distance weapon out there and the banning of further construction of one, I don't know. What I do know, is that that ban on guns is never going to happen; because we are all afraid. Afraid of the big bad outside world, of our neighbors whom we don't know or understand, of our individuality which caused us to lose our community. We fear what we see on T.V., what we see in games, what we picture in our minds. So we try to make ourselves feel safe, and for some, that means owning a gun. And I, no matter how hard I try, do not understand that, because in doing so, you become someone whom I fear.

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Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' (www.littlewitchmagazine.com) in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BaringTheAegis

Comments

  • Wendy L. Callahan
    Wendy L. Callahan Friday, 17 August 2012

    This is precisely how I feel. To me, guns exist only to harm another creature.

    While I realize other people feel safer or more comfortable with guns, or think they're fine for sport, they simply are not something I want around me or my sons. I do want my sons to understand how guns work, so they will know to avoid them, and how to handle them if they are ever in a situation where it could save theirs or someone else's lives (like how to safely remove bullets and such). But I'd prefer not to have weapons in my home.

    I'd love to feel that this, like so many other matters, is a "to each, their own" issue. However, I'm not so sure about that.

    We simply cannot know who is going to use a gun for its ultimate purpose of causing harm until it is too late.

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