“Gunpowder Lust”

A commenter on the thread about the London Olympic Games’ initial decision to exclude shooting sports from its ticket giveaway to schoolchildren inadvertently makes the point I was getting at:

Another post today I am missing the point of. Are we now supposed to be outraged when other societies do not share our gunpowder lust?

The problem is precisely with the sense that anything having to do with guns must be a sign of “gunpowder lust.” The shooting sports aren’t Olympic sports because of “gunpowder lust,” just like archery isn’t an Olympic sport because of “arrow lust.” It’s an Olympic sport because it’s a highly demanding athletic event (though it demands somewhat different forms of athleticism than, say, basketball), and — secondarily — because it’s an event with a long historical link to a tradition of military service. Dismissing respect for the sport, and the desire that children have an opportunity to learn about this sport, as a manifestation of “gunpowder lust” strikes me as a form of prejudice against guns that’s hard to rationally defend.

The same is true, though for other reasons, when people dismiss support for private gun ownership as “gunpowder lust.” But I don’t think we need to focus on that in confronting objections such as the one I quoted: Whatever one’s views of gun control policy, sneering at the shooting sports as reflecting “gunpowder lust” reveals a loathing of guns that makes little sense.

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