Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guns and Adverbs: Part 1

I'm not a big fan of guns. I never have been. Well, that may not exactly be true. I suppose, when I was a kid, I liked guns. I do know that I wanted to go hunting. Everyone in my family hunted. Well, all the men did, at any rate (along with one aunt), which included my cousin who was three years older than me and my childhood idol. As far as I can remember, he always hunted, and, for all I know, that may have been true (knowing my uncle (because it was his wife that was the hunting aunt)). What I do know is that my cousin was hunting by the age of seven, because he got a deer that year. So I wanted to hunt, too.

For whatever reason, my mom really just blocked the whole thing, like she did with me playing any kind of sports when I was a kid (my brother both hunted and played sports). I got this whole thing about how I couldn't hunt until I had my own gun, but I couldn't have a gun until I learned how to handle one, but I didn't have a gun, so I couldn't learn how to handle one. It was all very frustrating to me as a kid. By the time my grandfather decided to just take me out hunting despite the fact that I had never held anything more powerful than a BB gun, I had really lost interest. That was middle school, probably 8th grade, in fact. I took a comic book with me, an edition of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
which was nice and thick so that it would keep me busy for a while, and we sat in the deer stand. We didn't see anything. I sat and read until it got too dark to see, then we walked back to the farm. I never went hunting again. I never learned how to use a gun.

Because I don't know how to use a gun, I don't own one. Of course, I have no intention of using one, so it would be rather superfluous to bother to have one in my house. That would just be asking for trouble.

I'm pretty sure most people don't approach the whole gun thing that way, though. After all, they look pretty simple to use, right? TV and movies make them look easy to use. Just point and shoot. Of course, the truth is  they are not easy to use, and they are certainly not easy to use responsibly. This leads to all sorts of problems too numerous to mention, but, if you're reading this, you're probably aware of gun issues whether you approve of them or not.

And that's the catch, because there are so many issues with guns, people are tempted to call the gun itself bad or wrong. The gun, though, is just a thing. As long as no one's holding it, it just sits on the table doing nothing.

But! But, to keep people from using them inappropriately, what we want to do is to say "no one should use guns." Forget being educated on proper usage and safety, just don't do it! And you know what, I get it. I understand that temptation. It's oh so much easier to prohibit than to teach.

Of course, there are legitimate uses for guns, not the least of which is protection against other people misusing them, not that I'm advocating owning a gun "for protection;" I'm just saying. The truth is that if I ever needed to use a gun, I mean needed to use one, I would be unprepared, and that would not be a good thing. That makes me think that gun safety courses should possibly be mandatory just like drivers education is mandatory.

Of course, it might not do much good; look at the number of automobile accidents we have every year.

At any rate, the point is that a gun is a tool. It's the user that determines what happens with it, which is the same for any tool. The problem with guns is that they are so powerful. Like pit bulls. [Pit bulls have not been shown to be any more violent than other breeds of dogs; however, when there is an incident with a pit bull, the victim tends to fare much worse than in other dog attacks because the jaws of a pit bull are so much more powerful than those of other dogs.] Because gun usage can end up being an all or nothing affair, people tend to react with an all or nothing attitude.

What we end up with is a bunch of people running around saying, "Don't use guns! Don't use adverbs!"

"Guns are bad! Adverbs are bad!"

Yeah, I just threw adverbs into the mix, because adverbs are just like that gun lying on the table. A thing. Neither bad nor good but very effective when used properly and very damaging when used improperly. But adverbs are so very easy to misuse and can destroy a manuscript, so what you get are people saying, "Don't use adverbs! Bad! Wrong! No!"

However, the correct position on adverbs is not abstinence but education.


  1. I think I'm going to join a 12-step program for using adverbs. Sometimes you just have to recognize that you're not a person who can use them sparingly, and as soon as you let one little one in it's like drinking the whole bottle and then selling your TV so you can get another fix. Hmmm. Analogy's getting weird. Anyway, I know I'm one who needs to learn to use adverbs responsibly.

  2. I was wondering how adverbs were going to fit into the picture. We have a very different policy on guns in Australia, meaning very few people have them. We have the same problem with adverbs though...

  3. I'm in Canada and, like Cally, we have a different policy and attitude towards guns. I have to say I feel a great deal safer here, in a place where almost nobody has a handgun. Whenever we come across somebody having a bit of road rage I always thank my lucky stars that these people don't have guns in their glove box.

    I agree that a gun is just a tool and harmless on its own but what scares me is that people with hairtrigger tempers have access to these things and innocent people wind up dying.

    I always like how you tackle these big issues, Andrew. Good for you!

  4. Ha! Love that you threw in the adverb comparison at the end. My hubby and I were actually discussing the gun issue the other night. He was saying how (though we don't own one and I don't really like the idea or feel the need to have one in the house right now) in the days of early America and in the Old West, it was pretty much guaranteed that everyone had a gun in their house and knew how to use it. A home was a person's property, and they were ready to protect it--everyone from the wife to the young kiddos could shoot if defending the home became necessary. Hubby was just wondering if break-ins to private homes would lessen if it was widely known that every home you sneak into to steal something is going to have a big old gun and someone who knows how to use it. Would it make a burglar think twice? We didn't get into answers, but it was an interesting conversation.

  5. That was really, truly, absolutely, undeniably a good correlation between guns and adverbs. But I really do wish we had fewer of both.

  6. I've never fired a gun, and I assume if I tried, I'd hit myself in the face with the recoil and give myself a black eye. No thanks.

    Also, don't show this post to Stephenie Meyer, queen of the adverbs. She would disagree with you, and I think she knows a LITTLE bit about high quality writing.

  7. I personally don't like guns. I have been "almost" witness to a child accidentally shooting himself. I knew the father very closely. The child found his gun, didn't know what it was, and ended up dead.

    It was very heartbreaking. There was no reason for that gun to be in the home. I just can't say enough how much I am opposed to guns.

    I am a democrat, and I believe the country needs tougher gun control laws.

    I'll run out now before people egg me.

  8. I've known a lot of folks that have ended up being involved in gun incidents. I'd rather see fewer of them, myself.

    I think your dead right about adverbs - but I think that probably started with slush readers getting overwhelmed with manuscripts that were full of adverbs. It's easier to just make blanket statements and be done with it than it is to try to make a nuanced one that a large percentage of folks would ignore.

    That official handbook to the marvel universe - the first run anyway - was about my favorite thing in the history of comics. Later editions got increasingly lame in my opinion.

  9. Cool segue from guns to adverbs. Gotta agree with you though. We are told not to do so many things in writing, but my motto is 'everything in moderation'. I told myself I couldn't wait to get published the first time around, so that I'd be free to do pretty much anything after that.

  10. BTW - Your mom was just trying to keep you safe. I'd probably work the same angle on my son.

  11. General Note: I just want to make this clear, because I didn't really do it in the post: I am not "for" guns; I am just opposed to making them illegal. I'm opposed to anything that restricts the freedoms that have been granted to us in the Bill of Rights. That means I am as opposed to making guns illegal as I am to restricting free speech. That, too, doesn't mean I believe that all people should be saying the things they say.

    neal: Well, wait for part 2; there will be some guidelines.

    Cally: The adverb part will become more clear. And I'm sure many agents wish writers would have their adverbs revoked.

    Cathy: People do scare me. However, it doesn't take a gun to cause people to scare me.

    Jess: I'm not sure that it was gun ownership that kept people out of other people's houses, so I don't know if that would make a difference. There are a lot of conversations about these issues; I'm not sure how many of them have answers, though.

    L.G.: LOL! I love your adverbs there. I am for few guns, but I think, with adverbs, I'm just for them being used in a better manner.

    ABftS: Oh, man, that made me laugh so much. I'll tell you what, I won't show this post to Ms. Meyer if she will agree to not show me any of her work.

    Michael: I'll point you up at my note. And I'll reiterate: I don't -like- guns. They are too easy to misuse. However, I think that classes being required for gun purchases might make things a slight bit better where guns are concerned.

    Rusty: I wish I still had my copies :( I made the mistake of allowing a friend of mine to use them for something he was doing for an RPG, and he trashed them to the point where I refused to take them back. I was not a happy camper.

  12. J.L.: I might agree with you about my mom except that she let my brother start hunting at around age 7 or 8. That was probably what prompted my grandfather to take me; he didn't think it was fair that they were letting my brother go when I had never been.

  13. L.G. seriously, really, extremely stole my joke.

    Like Cathy, I'm Canadian. The gun portion of this post seems like a particularly American conversation, so I won't comment in great detail, but I will point out that violent crime rates in the U.S. have decreased in the last couple of decades. They've decreased in Canada too, but less rapidly. Yay for everyone.

  14. My hubby is a hunter, so my feeling is that Guns in the wrong hands, are bad and Out of our 4 kids only 2 like to hunt. Gun safety was very important to him and his hunting rifles all have locks on them bcuz of grand kiddies. I guess I have never factored in the whole gun vs adverb before. :/ I sat in the back of the class beside a guy who used to catch flies and eat them. :( I guess missed out on some things. :) Enjoyed reading your post though!

  15. Elizabeth: It's true that violent crime rates inexplicably dropped during the recession. Law enforcement agencies doesn't understand why, because they expected the opposite to occur.

    G_G: He must have caught them quickly and carefully to be able to eat them. At least if he liked to eat them intactly. :P

  16. I love this post! So true--what we use is made bad or good by how we use it. Like marshmallows. Appropriate in some recipes, death to food in others.

    As a history dork, I guess I use guns and adverbs in a similar way--decoratively. A brace of flintlock pistols looks lovely on the mantle, and a properly inserted adverb can make a paragraph sparkle.

  17. Good analogy.
    I'd have no idea how to use one but I never want the right to use taken away from me.
    And if forced to kill my own food, I'd probably become a vegetarian.

  18. Rowenna: Well, over my mantle, I think I'd rather have swords, but a nice brace of pistols doesn't sound that bad now that you mention it. Thanks for coming by!

    Alex: Exactly. There should be the freedom to choose, even if I never plan to own a gun.

  19. This was an interesting start and I'm curious to see where this goes. Sorry that I've been out of the loop lately. I've slowed down considerably with visiting blogs and leaving comments.

    Now I'm going to assiduously attempt to catch up to what I've missed here.

    Wrote By Rote

  20. Lee: We all get out of the loop at some point or other :)