Gun Violence and Rural Life (A brief exploration)

The gun rights/ownership debate continues to be an interesting one for me. I grew up rural, learned how to use guns, how to respect them, and what they were used for, and how to store them. If you grew up rural, guns were mostly for hunting, recreation (target, skeet, making noise), and protecting the animals and people from wild animals.

When people who are protesting gun ownership (regardless of type of gun) decry “It’s the guns,” you are not just calling out a tool (regardless of it being a hunting rifle or AR-15), but a reality woven into peoples’ lives. These folks are just as heartbroken about the loss of life as you are, and in fact, rural gun death rates are higher than urban death rates, due mostly to suicides (Daily Yonder) – which is another issue. What we often hear though, is that something we grew up with, something we would never think to use to harm other people, especially children, makes us wrong or evil, because we own them.

Regardless of the nuance below the headlines (just AR-15s or more background checks or better laws around purchasing) we see the headlines. We know that guns can become problems due to the complex realities of life. We know. We we want change too.

We don’t want gun related domestic violence, mass shootings, suicides, homicide, or anything else of the sort. We also don’t want armed guards, lockdown drills, and secured perimeters at the elementary school. There needs to be a conversation about this, but it has to take into consideration the role of guns in varying spaces and communities. Especially, when due to past realities that when broad legislation is passed, often rural places are disproportionately–although hopefully unintentionally–harmed (NAFTA, Affordable Care, TVA work).

I’m not saying we need to remain neutral. Action needs to happen. However, our language and approach cannot be so polarizing that it demonizes people who have a different relationship with guns.


UMC Board of Church and Society

Injury Epidemiology Journal

University of Washington

American Psychological Association

One thought on “Gun Violence and Rural Life (A brief exploration)

  1. Half the households in the US have a gun in them, but it’s not evenly distributed. Either everyone you know owns a gun, or no one does. Those among the latter can’t imagine why the former would need or even want a gun, so they attribute it to dark motives. Ignorant of the true facts about firearms, mass shootings, etc., they also assume that anyone who opposes so-called ‘common sense’ gun control must be heartless or selfish.

    Sociologist, Professor David Yamane, has spoken and written at length to dispel these misconceptions, and to show that ‘guns are normal, and normal people have guns.’


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