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Should 18-year-olds be able to buy semiautomatic rifles? In Georgia, two young men who want to be the ‘good guys with guns’ try to decide.

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  1. soks_n_sandals
    Sharing this because I think it's an interesting look into the reasoning and outlook of two young men in the South regarding firearms. I find this to be a crucial part of the article: It can be...

    Sharing this because I think it's an interesting look into the reasoning and outlook of two young men in the South regarding firearms.

    I find this to be a crucial part of the article:

    [Evan] started watching Tucker Carlson, trying to make sense of a confusing world. He discovered an app called iFunny, which is Russian-owned and has been used as a recruiting tool for extremist groups, and which Evan described as full of disturbing videos, soft porn and people who are “Biden haters, Trump haters, authoritarians, left wing, right wing, sideways wing, nothing-wing.” He found videos that convinced him the 2020 election was stolen. He found what he described as “a lot of enthusiastic people in the community of the right wing, talking about ‘Man, I can’t wait for this revolution to happen,’ ” and found himself wondering what that was about.

    He also learned about a subculture of hypermasculinity in which men tried to be “Alphas” and “Sigmas” and “Giga Chads,” which Evan said was partly a joke — “Like, a Giga Chad wakes up and shaves with a hunting knife, waterboards himself, does 5,000 push-ups and is ready for the day at 2 a.m.,” he said — and partly serious.

    It can be extremely difficult as an impressionable young man to see this kind of material and parse out your own ideas about masculinity vs. the caricatures being presented. I remember being on Tumblr a decade ago and being influenced by the anti-SJW bullshit con-artists. I got out of that environment, stopped consuming that media, and took a different path. I think I'm fortunate to have been surrounded with folks that helped me see through those ideas, as opposed to getting entrenched in backing something I didn't really understand.

    On one hand, I'm taken pleasantly surprised by the self-awareness of Evan (the 18-year-old profiled) and that maturity it takes to do the self reflection he's doing. On the other, I can't help but see him as young and focused on the wrong aspects of toughness and masculinity.

    He says the following on getting his first handgun:

    “I felt like a kid who got a new PlayStation,” he said. “I had it with me the whole day in the house. When I went upstairs to play games, I had it on the bedside table with me. When I was in the kitchen making a bowl of cereal, I had it in my pocket with me. The barrel was kind of digging into my hipbone. I felt tougher. I know that’s the adolescent answer, but I felt tougher.”

    It's encouraging that Evan has an older family member serving as a sort of mentor, and is not afraid to reinforce safe gun-handling:

    “I’m sorry,” Skylar said sharply. “I don’t mean to cut you off, but you know what you haven’t done with that thing?”

    Evan shrugged.

    “Take it out, take it out,” Skylar said, becoming irritated.

    “This?” Evan said, pulling the pistol out of his waistband.

    “Yeah — what have you not done yet?” Skylar said.

    “What are you talking about?” Evan said.

    “Have you cleared it?” Skylar said. “I ain’t seen you clear it once.”

    “I cleared it this morning,” Evan said.

    “I’m talking about every time you take it out,” Skylar said.

    “Oh,” Evan said.

    “Do it. Every. Time,” Skylar said, motioning for the gun.

    “Here’s what I was talking about — one, you handed it to me like this,” Skylar said, demonstrating that Evan had the gun pointed at a wall instead of down at the floor.

    “Do it like this,” Skylar said, pointing it down.

    He pulled back the slide to expose the chamber where a live round could be.

    “Look in there,” he said.

    Evan looked.

    “No, look all the way down,” Skylar said.

    Evan looked all the way. It was clear.

    “It don’t have one,” Skylar said. “But all it takes is one mistake, buddy, then someone’s hurt.”

    He handed the gun back to Evan.

    And Skylar's right about this. I grew up hearing the phrase "stupid hurts" more times than I can count. My father was dead-serious when he taught me to shoot, and was as stern in reinforcing these principles as he could be. And so for a long time I wanted to own a handgun. I bought into the rhetoric and culture of having a gun to protect oneself or one's home. And then, the less media I saw about it, the less interested I became. Now, I live somewhere that getting a handgun registered is such a monumental pain in the ass, I haven't thought about it again.

    January 6th did reignite some of that interest, but again, after consuming less of the media that stokes these fears, it's out of mind.

    My point in posting this and writing out these thoughts is to say that we should allow space for young people to wrestle with these conversations, so long as there's ample challenge to the ideas being presented. And, to draw attention to the need for positive mentorship and the precipitous place radical online messaging can lead people. There always needs to be an anchor to the real world.

    9 votes