Monday, August 19, 2013

Gun Totin' Amish Folk

Over the last few weeks, I've been traveling and vacationing, and the combination of time in aircraft and time at the beach has given lots of time to read.

There's been theology, the one Culture novel by the dearly departed Ian M. Banks that I'd not gotten to, and then a sequence of fiction and nonfiction books about the Amish.  The latter were as additional research for an ongoing novel project, and were both helpful and a bit confusticating.

Though I'd done research into Old Order communities as part of my senior undergraduate religious studies seminar at U.Va., that's old data.  I've also been doing online studies of both agriculture and home life, but wanted a bit of literary immersion.

The books...written either by former Amish or in consultation with active members...were helpful in that they will help me create a better mis en scene for the novel, trading the appearance of validity for a much more accurate representation of day to day Amish life.   They were "confusticating" in that they surfaced the wide variance in Old Order practices, which are as wildly different as the practices of other Christian communities.

One thing I didn't expect to encounter: the Amish are frequently gun owners.

They aren't, of course, at all interested in guns for self-defense.  Nor could they care less about the Second Amendment, which exists in its original intent for the purposes of collective defense, no matter what the SCOTUS might say.

An Amish gun...simple shotguns and hunting rifles, mostly, despite the entertainingly absurd picture above...typically serves the purpose of hunting deer or other creatures for food, or for ridding a garden of creatures that are consuming the produce that your family needs to survive.  They are tools, not instruments of violence.

This produces an interesting oddment.  An Amishman may have a shotgun, but if you break into his house, he will not use it to stop you.  The entire fear-driven dynamic of gun ownership in America means nothing to the Amish.