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America's Gun-Culture Problem

美国枪文化问题



Since the September 11 attacks, attitudes around weaponry have transformed into something unhealthy.

自911爆发以来,美国人对拥枪的态度已经发生了负面的变化。

In the weeks since the deadly school shooting that killed 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida, it really has seemed as if American voters might finally start punishing their elected officials for inaction on legislation that might make such incidents less likely or less frequent.

佛罗里达州帕克兰德17名学生和教师惨遭枪击事件发生后的几周里,美国选民似乎终于开始了对控枪不作为以及枪支立法落后官员的谴责。 这些举措本可能降低这类恶性事件的发生率。

Those same elected officials, of course, such as Florida’s own Senator Marco Rubio, have been quick to point out defensively that there is no one legislative fix that could both respect the Constitution’s Second Amendment protections and also keep firearms out of the hands of the people who might use them to murder their fellow citizens.

当然如佛罗里达州的参议员马尔科·卢比奥等官员已经指出,没有一个控枪法案符合宪法第二修正案。同时呼吁防止枪支落入那些可能利用枪支谋杀同胞的人之手。

These elected officials are as correct as they are ridiculous: Countless others have already pointed out that on no other policy issue would Americans accept such excuses for inaction. There’s no single fail-safe legislative fix for terrorism, for example, that respects constitutional rights, yet an elected official would be laughed out of office for suggesting the kind of policy fatalism that infects the political debate on firearms. The same goes for health care, or climate change, or any other issue that demands a series of legislative changes before the needle begins moving in a new direction.

这些在任官员的发言既正确又荒谬:无数人都已指出,美国人不会接受这种为不作为开脱的拙劣狡辩。也不存在所谓既能预防恐怖主义又同时符合宪法第二修正案的法条。但如果有官员提出控枪议案,他绝对会被提出议院。这也同样适用于医保,气候变化或者其他实施前就有可能带来一系列立法变动的议题。

At the same time, though, there is something about the problem Americans face on guns that will be more difficult to address, and which does defy legislation, and that’s the cultural side to this. Watching reactions to the Parkland shootings, I am more confident than ever that America has a bigger problem with gun culture than it has with guns themselves.

然而于此同时,美国人在控枪问题上确实还面临着更难以解决的难题,控枪违反了宪法,甚至还牵涉到文化背景因素。对帕克兰德枪击案的观察使我更确信美国人的枪支文化问题比控枪本身更严重。

Now, this is the unfortunate point in the argument where I have to make the disclaimer you often see in op-eds and articles, which is that I myself am the owner of multiple firearms, grew up thinking it not at all unusual that my father’s house had several loaded rifles propped up in the corner of the living room, and first learned to shoot on a single-shot Winchester rifle when I was around eight years of age. When my eldest son was born, in fact, a package arrived (via the U.S. Postal Service) three days later: Enclosed was the same Winchester rifle with which I will someday educate my own sons about the proper handling of and respect for firearms.

关于这场辩论我不得不在这篇专栏文章里申明我的观点,即我本人是多种武器的持有者。成长在起居室摆放着装满子弹的步枪环境里,使我对枪支司空见惯。八岁时候我第一次学会了射击温彻斯特步枪。我大儿子出生时,我就通过美国联邦邮政接收了一个包裹,里面有一只温彻斯特步枪。我将来会用它来教育我自己孩子如何掌握并尊重枪支。

But after the September 11 attacks, I spent several years at war and then lived abroad as a civilian for another several years. And when I finally returned to the United States in late 2008, I noticed something different about the gun culture in the country to which I was so eager to return. For one, driving with my mother from our home in East Tennessee to Nashville, I noticed how many billboards on the side of the highway advertised guns. And not just any guns—these were not .30-06 hunting rifles or shotguns, but rather, the kind of tactical firearms, including assault rifles, that I had carried in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why in the world, I thought then, would anyone have a need for such weapons?

但911袭击爆发后,我打了几年仗之后又以别国国民的身份旅居海外数年。最后2008年我返回了美国,我发现使我着迷促使我回国的枪支文化发生了改变。例如我和母亲一起从田纳西州东部的家开车到纳什维尔时,我就注意到路边无数广告牌在宣传出售枪支。不仅仅是30-06步枪和猎枪,还包括突击步枪在内我曾在伊拉克和阿富汗使用过的战术武器。我当时想,为什么世界上会有人需要这样的武器呢?

At the time, I wrote a lot of what I saw off to canny gun manufacturers preying on the irrational fears among my fellow white Tennesseans of the liberal black president America had just elected. And I’m sure that does explain a lot of it. But as my friend C.J. Chivers and others have pointed out, a bigger shift is in play: The 2004 expiration of the 1994 ban on assault weapons and the post-9/11 infatuation with so-called “tactical” weaponry have combined to drive sales in the kinds of weapons that would have appeared frankly insane for the individual gun owner just a few years earlier.

那时我就把我所见所闻写信寄给了枪支制造商,劝告他们不要利用田纳西白人对新当选黑人总统的恐惧提高销售业绩。我觉得这番解释劝告会有用。但正如我朋友C.j.Chivers以及其他人指出的那样,一个巨大的转变正在发生:1994年颁布的禁止攻击性武器出售禁令于2004年到期,而9·11事件后人们对所谓“战术”武器的迷恋推动了这类武器的销售,这些武器则会在短短几年内让持枪者神志不清。

Many other returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, in fact, found such weaponry insane. Yes, the military itself arms teenagers with such weapons—but only after careful selection and intensive training. Former Marine Corps infantry instructor Paul Szoldra noted that the military makes young recruits spend weeks training with their new weapons before they are fully trusted to handle firearms properly.

其他很多伊拉克阿富汗战场退伍老兵也注意到了这种不正常的武器销售风潮。没错,军队本身就用这种武器武装士兵--但必须经过精心挑选和艰苦训练。前海军陆战队步兵指导员保罗·斯佐德拉指出 在完全确保他们能正确掌握枪支之前,需要花费数周时间进行武器使用培训。

That’s a huge contrast to the position of organizations like the National Rifle Association, which believes that any American citizen should have access to any kind of small arms without any screening or training whatsoever. Retired Army General Stan McChrystal, the patron saint of American special operations, and a man who knows something about small arms, lamented in The New York Times a year ago that “some of our politicians and the people who back them seem to promote a culture of gun ownership that does not conform with what I learned in the military.”

这与美国步枪协会等组织的观点形成了鲜明对比。该协会认为任何美国公民都应该不受任何训练就能获得任何种类的小型武器。 退役陆军将军斯坦·麦克里斯特尔是美国特种作战的专家,对小武器有所了解。他一年前在纽约时报上哀叹道: “一些政客和支持他们的人似乎在宣扬一种与我在军队中学到完全不同的拥枪文化。”

I should note that McChrystal’s successor as the head of Joint Special Operations Command, Bill McRaven, the man who oversaw the hunt of Osama bin Laden and now serves as the president of the University of Texas, is similarly bewildered—and hailed the teenage activists at Parkland pressing their politicians for change.

我也早该注意到作为McChrystal的继任者,新一任的联合特种作战司令部部长Bill McRaven,过去负责狩猎奥萨马·本·拉登的人现在担任着德克萨斯州立大学校长一职 ,他也同样感到困惑--他招致了众多帕克兰德十几岁活动分子的抗议他们敦促政客改变现状。

The second thing I noticed about post-9/11 America, and something I also noticed in the aftermath of the Parkland killings, was the degree to which the accumulation of firearms had become a tribal issue. Self-described conservatives bought firearms like they were merit badges.

911以及帕克兰德屠杀之后我都注意到了一点,即武器的积累量反映的是某个地区居民的原始程度。自诩为保守派的人买武器就像买军徽一样。

People began to accumulate small arms less out of devotion to hunting or other shooting sports but rather because the process of buying firearms was an important cultural signifier. At best, purchasing a firearm was a way to buy membership in “real America.” At worst, purchasing a firearm was yet another way to “own the libs.”

不是出于打猎或参与射击运动而是因为持有武器成为了一个重要文化象征,这一因素促使人们涌入枪支店。好的一面看,买枪支是种融入美国精神的方式。坏的一面看,买枪支是另一种所谓解放的象征。

Witness the conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who tweeted after Parkland, referencing the NRA’s embattled spokesperson: “Going to buy new guns. They're going to be awesome and will name them for @DLoesch and @ChrisLoesch who put up with so much hell standing up for all of our rights.”

看看保守派评论员埃里克·埃里克森在帕克兰枪击案后发的推文。其中援引了饱受谴责的全美步枪协会发言人的话:“去买新枪吧。客户会以 R@DLoesch和@ChrisLoesch命名他们的新枪。他们忍受了众多谩骂,捍卫了我们的持枪权。“

There’s a lot going on there, especially when you consider the combative videos that the NRA spokesperson regularly disseminates to the organization’s followers. I read Erickson’s tweet, and could only reflect on how weird this all was. If your identity as a participant in political discourse in America is this directly tied to your personal gun ownership, a break from either politics, or firearms, or possibly both, might be in order.

当你看到步枪协会发言人定期向该组织的追随者传播好斗视频时,你就会发现其中问题多多。我看了埃里克森的推特,觉得这一切很奇怪。如果你美国政治参与者的身份与你个人枪支所有权直接关联,那就意味着你该脱离政治和枪支,或者两者都该远离。

Now, there will be those who, like the New York Times columnist David Brooks, will argue that what Americans who want to see more gun regulation need to do is be more understanding of their brethren in the gun-owning community, and to the degree that describes  hunters and sportsmen, I might even agree. But in weighing that advice, advocates of gun control need to be careful not to fall into the time-honored role of the moderate who is always, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

现在有些人会像纽约时报专栏作家大卫·布鲁克斯那样,认为想看到更多枪支管制的美国人需要做的是更多地了解他们生活在能够合法持枪社区里的兄弟 。至于猎人和运动员,我同意他们用枪。但是在权衡这一建议时,枪支管制的倡导者们需要注意以免落入圈套。 一些人总是引用路德金小马丁的话,“应更专注于秩序,而不是正义”。他主张消极的和平,缺乏对代表正义的积极和平鼓励。

For now is the time for tension. Gun owners should feel uncomfortable by the atrocities taking place in American schools. American politics should not be dominated by those Americans who play soldier by owning assault rifles or other tactical weapons, and whose insecurity about their own identity is so pronounced that they need to buy more and more small arms to compensate for that insecurity.

现在局势紧张。枪支拥有者应该对在美国学校发生的暴行感到歉疚。美国的政治不应该被那些假装士兵拥有冲锋枪或其他战术武器的美国人支配。他们对自己身份的不安全感是如此明显,以至于需要购买越来越多的小型武器弥补。

Changing culture is hard, and it’s harder still when organizations like the NRA and the gun manufacturers it serves have a vested interest in convincing Americans to buy more and more firearms on an annual basis. But if America wants to reduce gun deaths and preserve gun rights for future generations, it needs to reverse the cultural shifts in attitudes toward small arms that have taken root in the past 20 years.

改变文化背景很困难,更困难的是当步枪协会和它所服务的枪支制造商这样的组织有资本说服美国人购买越来越多的枪支。但是如果美国想要减少枪支死亡,并维护后代的持枪权利,美国就需要扭转过去20年来人们对小武器的文化态度。