Showing posts with label gun control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gun control. Show all posts

07 August 2023

Tired of Gun BS

I saw this piece on FB and it really struck a chord with me. Because we still have not passed even the simplest gun restrictions:
A-restrict ownership of AK-47, assault style, bumpstock, high-velocity rifles meant for warfare.
B-background checks for felonies or assaults with a weapon.
C-30 day delay in granting permits.
D-passing a gun safety class.
E-must be 21 before any gun purchase.
F-Gun shows & online sales follow same restrictions as gun shops.


Our children & young people are being slaughtered. No other way to say it.

- Jan Grape


by Leonidas Christian Mixon (used with permission)

We have a gun problem and a bullshit problem in the United States. Let me start by saying I am a gun owner. I have been since I was 6. I’ve had jobs that required me to carry a weapon. I’ve been shot at more than once. I’ve disarmed people who were trying to kill me. This isn’t coming from someone who doesn’t understand guns. It’s precisely because I do understand them that I’m going to call out the bullshit that stops us from having the reforms to gun laws that we needed years ago. If you want to debate any of the points below, I have no problem. These are simple facts.

1) I need an assault rifle for home defense. No, you don’t. A short barreled shotgun is the best tool for home defense. And that only counts if you’re insanely proficient with it and you get incredibly lucky. The likelihood you will get the chance to use it is next to zero. If you do, you’re very likely to kill a member of your family accidentally. In a REAL altercation, you don’t get to choose your field of fire. It happens incredibly fast, usually in the dark. If you’re popping off with a rifle, you are going to hit things you don’t intend to. Guns are tools. Period. Assault Rifles are intended to be used on a battlefield. Battlefield tactics don’t work in your house. It’s a bullshit argument.

2) I need to protect myself from a tyrannical Government... Holy Shit that’s stupid. That idea was from a time when the state of war was much more level. It isn’t now. At all. If an armored transport shows up on your front lawn with a 50 cal on the roof, you and your AK are fucking toast. Soldiers train, and their weapons are an extension of their body. You will instantly lose. And before you bring up guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan or Iraq... you need a reality check. Those people were born in a country that was at war, on their soil, for their entire lives. You don’t compare to that on your best day. And they die in FAR greater numbers than they kill.

3) Gun registration, background checks, etc are a slippery slope to confiscation. Bullshit. We register cars. We have to prove proficiency to operate them. We are required to have insurance in the event we cause damage with them. It’s been that way for decades, and no one is “coming to take your car”. Making sure people have the barest minimum of responsibility doesn’t lead to loss. Fear of loss leads to fundraising and bullshit. It’s not rational.

4) My gun is a right that can’t be modified. Again, utter bullshit. You can’t own a howitzer unless the barrel is full of concrete. You can’t own a cannon manufactured in the last century. You can’t own a fully automatic weapon without a FFL. That’s why those things are rarely used in crimes. And all of that is based on an amendment to our constitution that can be changed if we as a country see fit to do so. We have changed amendments before and we will again. If you don’t understand that you need a history lesson and a dictionary.

Creating common sense laws that put speed bumps in the way of lunatics helps. Every time. Automobile licenses, speed limits, etc don’t end accidents, but they make them less frequent and less deadly. It’s a proven concept. The time for bullshit excuses is over. It’s time to step up and take responsibility. Fuck this stupidity.

05 June 2022

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Obsessives make me cringe– drugs, religion, politics, hero worship. The literal meaning of idée fixe suggests the rational brain has locked up and passion has seized control.

In gun control arguments (the late, great ‘debate’ was strangled in its sleep), I haven’t seen admissions about feelings and the emotional relationship of gun ownership. Denial of feelings represents a fundamental dishonesty.

May 1968 American Rifleman

A rare exception is the Beatles’ song, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ on their White Album found in an ammoerotic movement called ‘The Gunman’. Inspiration came from a May 1968 NRA American Rifleman article called, what else, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’.

Happiness is a warm gun.
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot
When I hold you in my arms
And when I feel my finger on your trigger
I know nobody can do me no harm
Happiness is a warm gun.
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot

I bring this up because from a young age, I felt comfort, I felt empowerment when I holstered cap pistols and later, a Peacemaker Colt B.B. replica. I didn’t grow up with the television exposure David Edgerley Gates wrote about, but I absorbed it in school. I’d tramp through forest and farm and field unafraid.

Industry lobbyists and politicians promote that illusion, that a gun keepa you safe, it protecta you. They like to forget that when you rode into Tombstone or Abilene, you checked your guns. The Earp brothers understood that, but a century and a half later, we fail to internalize the simple concept that we’re not safer.

1839 Colt Paterson
1839 Colt Paterson

American engineering in the latter 1800s was brilliant and Colt Arms was no less so. The 1839 Colt Paterson had one of the cleverest safeties; the trigger remained invisibly tucked inside until the hammer was cocked. The 1847 Colt Walker that followed set the blueprint for the Navy Colt and Army Colt, and the six-guns that won the West.

They were also peculiarly seductive. The heft seemed natural. The grip fit either hand without effort, better than today’s pseudo-ergonomic designs of, say the Colt Python. I surmise its grip’s rear convex curve may help it not snag on clothing if you’re rushing to shoot your wife’s lover, but the concave tang of an 1800s Colt grip feels more secure in the hand. Like I said, seductive.

1847 Colt Walker
1847 Colt Walker

Some people take that literally. I'm pretty certain a squirmy little security guard at a client found great excitement and, er, pleasure in his acquisition of a dodgy Saturday Night Special. And we've written about a Florida woman who also took great pleasure in a motel parking lot with a loaded, yes, loaded automatic. If people fetishize bridges and bicycles, the leap to a Beretta might be smaller than we admit. Nothing like proximity to death to get the blood pumping.

1851 Colt Navy
1851 Colt Navy

Then there's the religiously obsessed, the true believers who massage warm oil into their current love and find it impossible to converse without bringing up the latest gadget to convert their AR into a fully automatic rifle. In chat rooms, they discuss which ammunition they should use to liquefy brains or flay muscle from bone, because hollow-points and explosive tips are so last season. There was a type of shotgun round that spread in flight, a whirligig of sharp metal and tiny wires that was touted to inflict incredible damage to the human body. But let us not forget the holy grail of gunnery, finding a way to encapsulate a drop of mercury in a lead slug for theorized maximum expansion.

1860 Colt Army
1860 Colt Army

Many of these wishful warriors look forward to eliminating 'libtards' from the landscape, without being certain quite why. Hate radio, of course, and the venerable NRA American Rifleman regularly feature articles about 'the war on guns' or some such fear.

Most listeners and readers don't realize thirty years ago, the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution was treated very differently. While it was never uncontroversial, a couple of events changed the terrain.

Weapon manufacturers took over the NRA hobbyist club, turning it into a political lobbyist powerhouse. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reinterpreted the 2nd Amendment to mean open season.

1980 Colt Python
1980 Colt Python

With a math and science background, I’m more likely to regale readers with the horrifying bullet points of American gun ownership, • how we kill nearly a thousand of our fellow countrymen a month, • how we average more than a multiple/mass shooting every day of the year (we’re way ahead this year, 233 mass shootings in 150 days), • that the US population is 330-million but every American man, woman, and child owns a total of 400-million guns– twice as many as the armies on the planet combined.

But gun control advocates overlook the heartfelt feelings of gun ownership, the deep-seated relationship between a man (or woman) and his/her gun. Statistics aren’t meaningful for them because he– or she– is different. The averages don’t apply to them.

Yet the spilling of visceral feelings are a frighteningly small step from spilling one’s viscera.

The TL;DR summary means we need to find a way to deal with the deep emotions of gun ownership.

And when I feel my finger on your trigger
I know nobody can do me no harm
Happiness is a warm gun.
Bang, bang, shoot, shoot

25 May 2022

The Road to Damascus

I went off to summer camp when I was thirteen, and along with canoeing and lanyard weaving and archery, and swimming in the chilly, tidal backwaters of the Sheepscot, I took riflery.  We might honestly understand, that both in my personal history and in America’s, this was a more innocent age.  Camp Chewonki - which still exists, just south of Wiscasset, Maine – had been around for generations.  Two of my uncles, my mom’s older brothers, went there, and Roger Tory Peterson, the much-celebrated author of A Field Guide to the Birds, dedicated his book to Clarence Allen, who was even in my day the benevolent eminence, a little shaky on his pins, but very much present.  Looking back, Chewonki might be said to represent a lost world, where Saltonstalls and Cabots, among the New England elite, were destined to rule the American imperium; salt water and the Episcopalian catechism were brisk and bracing.

But for the purposes of the immediate discussion, we can narrow the field to shooting skills.
  Chewonki had a rifle range.  We used single-shot bolt-actions in .22 rimfire, at fifty feet.  To qualify for awards like Marksman, or Sharpshooter, and graduating up to Expert, you followed a course of fire – a minimum score in each of the four positions, prone, sitting, kneeling, standing - established by the National Rifle Association. 

The NRA offered these programs all over the place, summer camps, the Boy Scouts, schools and social clubs, and nobody found it odd.  They were a sportsmen’s organization, with no political affiliation.  They also published the only national shooting magazine, American Rifleman, which was for hunters and recreational shooters - handguns featured very little, in those days, primarily in competition.  The craze for military-style weapons and combat-related content was some ways off.   

The year it all changed was 1977, at the NRA national convention in Cincinnati.  This isn’t a date or an event that registers much with the general public, but it looms large in NRA lore, and has had a lasting effect on American gun culture, and the ongoing debate over gun control.    

The short version is this.  Historically, from the 1870’s to the 1970’s, the NRA was recreational, environmentally aware, and committed to gun safety and education.  The coup in Cincinnati toppled longstanding leadership policy, and brought the 2nd Amendment absolutists to power.  Their emphasis was on gun ownership, and a rigid interpretation of the right to bear arms.  They moved the goalposts.  More importantly, they caught the Old Guard off-guard.  Nobody organized any effective resistance.  They didn’t recognize how radical a change was in the wind.  And left a vacuum.

Into this empty space stepped an activist and self-selected lobbying group, devoted to a single issue.  What you might describe as more reasonable voices surrendered the stage.  They let the other guys set the terms of the debate.  Which is where we’re at now.

Now, like the Port Huron Statement, for SDS, or the Seneca Falls Declaration, in support of women’s rights, the NRA wanted to cast their position as about fundamentals.  These are rights denied - more to the point, not exercised, or not affirmed.  Allowed to atrophy.  If you argue original intent, the 2nd Amendment is a bulwark against tyranny, the well-regulated militia.  In the context of England’s wars against the French, or for that matter, against the Stuart pretenders in Scotland, this makes perfect sense.  Troops could be billeted in your home, against your will.  They’d steal the eggs, and then kill the chickens.  Not to mention rape the women.  This is a common-sense precaution.

Interestingly, as the argument warms up, we hear even legal scholars on the Left saying, Oop, sorry kids, but the 2nd actually means what it says, commas and all.  You can’t restrict legal ownership of guns.  And the Supremes weigh in.  An overly repressive DC law is voided.  (In that particular case, a security guard, licensed to carry on the job, wanted to know why he couldn’t protect his home.  The court, quite sensibly, ruled in his favor.)  The problem is not the 2nd Amendment.

Wayne LaPierre, and the direction the NRA has taken in the last fifty years, is contrary to what a lot of us think.  I’m not talking about the drift of liberal opinion, I mean gun guys.  It’s ridiculous to conflate Ruby Ridge or the Branch Davidians or some other asshole who hates the Feds with people who hunt, or shoot, or need personal protection in a dangerous place. 

What we lost is that we ceded the argument.  We let the other guys get possession, we need to take the conversation back.  Like everything else. 

Enough with the crazies sucking the air out of the room.

11 October 2017

The Devil Loads Empty Guns

Back in the late Bronze Age, when I was a kid going to summer camp, the NRA was a sportsmen's organization. They taught firearms safety, and sponsored marksmanship competitions, and published The American Rifleman, which was pretty much the only gun magazine available, aside from maybe Shotgun News, which was basically classified ads. I learned to shoot at Camp Chewonki - I was ten or eleven, if memory serves - and I was awarded the NRA pins and patches for whichever level I got to.  I think Sharpshooter, that first year. We shot prone, sitting, kneeling, standing. Single-shot .22 bolt actions. Paper targets at fifty feet. Ten rounds. You needed to score in the black. I want to emphasize, though, that riflery was one of a mix of activities, swimming, canoeing, lanyard-weaving, woodcraft. They wanted to keep us busy, that critical mass of boys.
My dad let me buy my own .22 when I was fourteen. He was from Ohio, he'd served in the war, and like a lot of people his age, it seemed perfectly natural for kids to learn basic shooting skills. How not? He and I shot up a lot of tin cans.

I went in the military, then, with a little preparation, and qualified Expert on the .30 caliber carbine. Now, the .30 carbine is a lightweight compared to the M-14 the Marines were still being issued at the time, or the M-16 the Army had transitioned to, and they were shooting at distances out to three hundred yards, but still. Iron sights on a little gun that fired what wasn't all that much more than a pistol load? I thought I did okay.

In the years since that first .22, I've had a few other guns, a couple of single-actions, cowboy guns, a couple of auto-loaders. One of the things I've always liked about guns is their simplicity of function. I'm no good at working on cars, I couldn't take a carburetor apart, but guns are straightforward, mechanically, like a watch. The single-action Army, for example, a design that dates to 1873, has six moving parts, with three springs. There aren't that many more in a .45 auto, the 1911. Guns you can drop in sand, or salt water, and they'll still operate. That's why they were military-issue.

This is prologue. I'm telling you so you know where my sympathies lie. It's a familiar story. Anybody of a certain generation, or anybody with a certain background, is going to say more or less the same thing. They grew up in a culture where hunting and shooting were part of the metric. It didn't make you a nut. Of course, this is also a culture where military service was often the norm. So, it depends on your attitude toward that. If you can't see yourself in uniform, you might be unsympathetic. Same with guns. Or broccoli.

But my actual question here is, What the heck happened to the NRA? How did they shape-shift from a generic bunch of hunters and recreational shooters, back in the day, into this pack of rabid crazies? (Exaggeration for effect, of course, but that's how they're perceived by many.) The answer is that there was a coup, at the national meeting in Cincinnati, in 1977.

Forty years ago, a dissident group led by Harlon Carter waged a floor fight, and voted the NRA board of directors out of office. Carter's platform was simple: on 2nd Amendment issues, there's no room for compromise. Compromise means erosion, and the end result of gun control can only be confiscation and tyranny.

This is how the argument continues to be framed. If the gun-control advocates suggest banning high-cap mags, to take an example, 2nd Amendment absolutists say this is gradualism, a wolf in sheep's clothing. They've got a point. Once you start loosening the bricks in the wall, you hasten its collapse, and gun rights people simply don't believe it, when you tell them these are just common-sense measures. They know your real agenda is getting rid of guns, period. And when you come right down to it, there are people whose real agenda is getting rid of guns, period. It flies in the face of reason and experience to say that isn't true. So the problem isn't just the gun guys. The problem is that both sides believe themselves to possess the True Cross, and Satan rules their adversaries.

Where do I stand, personally? Like more than a few gun guys, I'm for gun control. But the dialogue, if you can call it that, is owned by the extremes, and what's in short supply is trust.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.