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It’s not what you think…

Liberty is always at risk, always under attack, always imperiled. The threat, though, doesn’t really come from where many of us think it does.

I am a retired military officer and a Cold War era veteran. I am, because of when I was born, how I was raised and where (and how) I decided to spend a good part of my life, predisposed to dislike and distrust communism and socialism. As they are experienced in this world, I believe they are vile, disgusting and ultimately immoral systems that devalue people and degrade their character. And yet…

Neither communism, nor socialism, nor fascism, nor progressivism, nor liberalism, nor conservatism, nor any of a thousand different “isms” are the real threat to liberty. The people who adhere to one or more of those are threats to liberty, and yet, the communist is not a threat to liberty because he is a communist. The fascist is not a threat because she is a fascist. Certainly, those and other systems can give power to the ones who adhere to those political and/or economic philosophies. But they are not where the real threat, the most basic and fundamental threat, lies.

The threat to liberty is not determined by where a person or philosophy falls upon some modern version of a left-to-right political spectrum. The fundamental threat to liberty comes from neither the modern leftist nor the modern rightist. Instead, the threat to liberty comes from where it has always come. It comes from the authoritarian and the busybody. It comes from those with a fundamental need to tell others what to do. It comes from those with an unhealthy interest in the lives and activities of others. These are the people who threaten liberty. Regardless of party, regardless of political philosophy, regardless of ideology, these folks have always been and always will be threats to liberty.

I am not an anarchist (C’mon. I was a Navy officer. I like order). I believe the drive to have government of some sort is part of the human condition. There are things for which we need a government. And yet, I recognize that it is the nature of government, all government, to seek to increase its power and control – and for some people to use the power of government to increase their own power to tell others what to think, what to do and how to live. The challenge, then, for those who would be free, is to find a way to limit the power of government and the ability of the authoritarian and the busybody to use it for their own ends. Allow me to suggest that at least in the US, instilling in successive generations a greater regard for both freedom and the Constitution is a good place to start.

I occasionally mention “three things” as a way of illustrating that something can be simple (though not necessarily easy). For this topic, I offer three questions.

  1. Would you rather be wealthy or free?
  2. Would you rather be at ease or free?
  3. Would you rather be safe or free?

If we ever get to the point that a majority of people will answer each of those with “free,” we will have achieved a great thing.*

*Albeit perhaps only for a generation. D.H. Lawrence put it well when he wrote “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”

Oh, thank you, m’lord

From The Hill on Twitter

Beto O’Rourke: “If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely. I just don’t think that we need to sell anymore weapons of war into this public.”

That you, Sir, one of the Special People, will condescend to allow me, a mere citizen, to keep something fills me with a gratitude and appreciation for my place in our society I can hardly express. I accept that my rights, including the rights to personal property and to defend myself, my family and my home all proceed from the largesse of government and those in power. I acknowledge both my lowly estate and your rightly exalted one.

In other words…

You lack an understanding of both war and its weapons. I neither require nor seek your approval of my actions. I am impressed by neither your condescension nor your paternalism. You, good sir, are cordially invited to go pound sand.

Name calling makes me look clever

Or something like that.

This is the fifth in my “there are no new pro-gun control arguments” series. You can find #4, along with links to the first three, here. Today’s “argument,” much like #4 is not so much an argument as it is an accusation. It also happens to be one I find particularly amusing, for reasons I’ll get to in just a moment.

This accusation possesses such rhetorical power as to render impotent any attempts to respond or object. It achieves this thru the use of a single word, so imbued with power as to render mute any who would differ. I refer, of course, to the word “ammosexual.”

Mocking people on the basis of their sexuality, real or supposed, is hardly a new thing. It has, I suppose, been around about as long as there have been people. For the gun control advocates who use the term, especially those who identify as progressives, it is a term fraught with danger, as are terms like “gun fondler,” “gun humper” and, of course “gun fetishist.” See, if you are a progressive, or simply a decent human being (the two are not mutually exclusive), you use such terms at your own risk. If the person you’re addressing chooses, even as a debate tactic, to embrace the term, what do you do, then? If that person goes further and says something along the lines of “I was born this way. Don’t judge me” how do  you respond? Oh, you can deny that they are being serious, of course (and perhaps they are not being serious), and that can work. Remember, though, that there are over 325,000,000 people in the US. What is the likelihood that there are at least a few who have some sort of sexual fetish involving guns that does not proceed to the point of causing any sort of psychosocial distress and that has no detrimental effects on their lives? Based upon my experience in psychiatric/mental-health nursing, I’d say the odds are pretty good, though admittedly I haven’t met such a person (that I know of). At this point, the person using one of the terms has a problem. To wit he or she is mocking people on the basis of their sexuality. As a nation, we are moving away from that, at least in general. Should gun owners choose for it to do so, this approach can only hurt the gun control advocate who uses one or more of the terms.

With that in mind, I have chosen this somewhat dated video for inclusion in this post.

***

More seriously, I don’t much care what someone calls me. Attacks on my sexuality, real or imagined, indicate an inability to formulate an intelligent argument. They are 6th grade tactics being utilized in what is supposed to be an adult discussion. If that’s the best a gun control advocate has, he or she doesn’t have much.

 

 

Finally…I hope

CC_975CC_QUIET22_50CT_Lm

If it will reliably cycle my .22 semi-autos and has anything approximating reasonable accuracy, I am already a fan.

So…many…assault…rifles…

I’ve resisted the urge to comment on the asinine law (I-1639) passed recently in the great state of Washington, for a couple of reasons. First, since I live in Texas, it doesn’t really apply to me. Second, it was clear it was going to be subject to immediate lawsuits. Still, at least one part of it is worth comment, even at this relatively late date. To wit, the definition the law uses for “assault rifle.”

“Any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. “Semiautomatic assault rifle” does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.”

Many years ago, on a very special Christmas, I received my very first “real” gun. It was a Marlin Model 60, much like the one shown here.

where-are-the-squirrels

Over the years I used it for hunting rabbits and squirrels and for plinking. It brought a snot-nosed kid from North Carolina more hours of joy than anything else I have ever owned. “Okay, but what’s the point,” you ask. Simply this.

The rifle you see in the picture has now, through the magic of a specious and overly broad definition, achieved the status of being an “assault rifle,” at least in the state of Washington. Is it annoying? Yes. Irritating? Of course. It has also led to some amusement on my part. Consider, if you will, the following: Marlin has manufactured something in excess of 11 million of these beloved rifles. Ruger has produced over 5 million of its famous 10/22. Other manufacturers, including Browning, Remington and Savage, have also produced a lot of rifles. I am told there are multiple billions of .22 LR rounds manufactured every year. It is these things that lead me to chuckle. Think of it. Untold millions of suddenly assault rifles…in millions of hands…unregistered…locations unknown…billions of rounds of ammunition…all “somewhere out there” with many of them being fired every day of the week. It is, I suspect, enough to induce a case of the vapors sufficient to produce uncontrollable pearl clutching on the part of some gun control advocates. That can only be a good thing.

You don’t love your kids

That’s today’s “there are no new pro-gun control arguments” posting. It is the fourth in a series. You can find the numbers 1-3

  1. here,
  2. here,
  3. and here

The one I’m dealing with today is not so much an argument as it is an accusation. The title of this posting doesn’t really do it justice, though. Typically, it takes some form of “you love your guns more than you love your kids,” or perhaps “guns are more important to you than kids. Occasionally, you’ll get a true gem like “your toys and murder weapons are more important to you than the lives of innocent children.” How do you respond to something like that?

First, recognize, again, that it’s not an argument but an accusation. It’s an accusation with a purpose, though. It is intended

  • to produce guilt
  • to provide cover for the accuser who has no real argument to make (think of it as a supposedly adult version of “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re stupid and you stink! So, there!”)
  • to forestall anything approximating real, reasoned discussion

That’s it. That’s all it’s for.

Perhaps you are thinking you could respond with one of the following:

  • I value liberty over the illusion of safety provided by a government that cannot guarantee my safety or that of my children
  • It is, in part, because of my love for my children that I am armed, because it is my job to protect them
  • I want my children to be free, not merely “safe”

I have bad news. None of those will matter. Once a person, especially one who does not know you, chooses to attack your character, you can be assured there are no arguments you can make that will sway him or her. That person is not interested in discussion, but only in feeling good as a result of attempting to force others to accept his or her point of view. People like this will lie and engage in any kind of outrageous character assassination in pursuit feeling good about themselves. That’s simply the nature of authoritarians and busybodies (two largely overlapping groups) – others must agree and comply.

There is, however, a response that can be effective, depending on the setting. It takes some effort to phrase just right, and the argument is rather involved, but it goes something like this: “Fuck you.”*

The reality is that people who make such accusations are probably best dealt with by allowing their words to accumulate over time. Others will, hopefully, come to see them for what they are. Sometimes, though, the temptation to lash out, if only verbally, can be a little overwhelming. The problem, of course, is that it leaves you playing their game and unless you’re willing to engage in total war tactics, you’ll likely come out looking at least as bad as the other person. If you do (verbally) kill everyone, poison the wells and salt the earth, you just look like a jerk, which sort of limits your ability to reach any fence-sitters.

*Historically, I have been more inclined to use a rejoinder known as a “right cross” but I am told it is not as acceptable as it once was. It’s also not effective on various forums. Probably better to just walk away. But, sometimes, I think “you know, I could set him up with a jab and then…”

 

Who defines purpose?

This is the third installment in my “there are no new pro gun control arguments” series. The first may be found here, and the second may be found here.

At some point during a discussion of guns and gun control with a gun control advocate (GCA), assuming the discussion goes on long enough, it seems I inevitably encounter this argument:

“Guns are made to kill people.”

Sometimes, it takes a slightly different form. That form might be “a gun’s only purpose is to kill.” It might be phrased as “guns are designed to kill.” Sometimes, if dealing with the right sort of GCA, it might be “designed to be what it is – the single most efficient weapon for killing large numbers of people at one time.” All of them, though, are simply variations on the basic theme, that guns are made (or designed) to kill people and that such making or design defines everything anyone needs to know about them.

It’s all a pile of crap.

I have, for instance, seen some guns whose design and purpose was specifically for

  • punching very tight clusters of little round holes in paper at varying distances
  • knocking clay pigeons out of the air
  • shooting steel, clay, wood and paper targets as quickly as possible
  • recreating a rather fictionalized version of the “cowboy days”

I do not know, and cannot know with absolute certainty, the purpose for which the very first firearm was designed and built. Neither does or can anyone else. To suggest that killing is the only purpose for which guns are designed or built, especially with all the information that is available to anyone willing to do even the most cursory of searches, is indicative of either

  • willing ignorance which fears information contrary to what one believes, or
  • a truly astounding degree of dishonesty

Sometimes, you get both from the same person. A two-for-one deal, if you will. So, if you make this argument because you simply don’t know better, feel free to remain ignorant if you wish, but at least be honest enough with yourself to say “I am choosing to remain ignorant because I am afraid I might learn I am wrong.” If you make the argument because you believe it’s a winning argument (it’s not, but whatever) even in the face of information to the contrary, at least have the self-respect to look in the mirror and say “I am a liar, a person who engages in willful, considered deception, because reasons” or something similar.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter why guns are designed or made. Why would I say such a thing? Very simply it comes down to this. Guns, like all inanimate objects, lack will, volition or agency. Hunks of wood, metal and polymer that they are, they have no inherent moral or ethical quality. Assigning them any of those qualities is simply an example of anthropomorphism.

You know what does have those qualities? People. Humans. You. Me. Us. We are the ones who do things that are good or bad. We are the ones who choose to do what is right or what is wrong. Just as we choose what we will do, we also choose the tool(s) with which we will do it. The loner with poor self-esteem who decides to shoot up a school because the world is going to pay for not recognizing his worth and ability has made the decision to do something that is evil and has arguably become evil himself. Most of us recognize that (if you argue that there is no such thing as evil, your problems are far greater than issues like gun control). It would be evil if his choice, instead, was to bomb a Federal Building in Oklahoma, to attack people with an axe or to drive a truck into a crowd.

On the other hand, the mother of three who, while waiting for the police to arrive as her ex is attempting to beat down her door and carry out his threat of killing her and her kids, chooses in that most dire of circumstances to blow his shit away with a 12 gauge shotgun at 10 feet once he gains entrance, has not done anything evil. She has protected herself and her innocent children from evil. Surely, she has done something good (If you argue she was wrong, that she has done something bad and should have tried de-escalation, or that she should have fled her home, you’re an idiot who shouldn’t be allowed to walk around without a keeper).

“Ah,” but you say, “the problem is that their design makes them well-suited to killing or at least to the delivery of deadly force.” Okay. That is not an inherently bad thing.

I am not a violent man. I hope to live out my days without ever again having to “raise a hand in anger.” I would much prefer to spend my time with friends and family, or reading, or in my garden, or trying to write something coherent, than be in any sort of physical altercation. Most other people, whether they own guns or not, are much the same. The problem of course is that there exists a minority who will not cooperate with what the vast majority of us want. You find them from time to time in every demographic group you can name. No group has a monopoly. Sadly, some of those folks understand and respond to only one thing: swift, overwhelming violence (or at least the very real threat of it). For that, there exists only one thing that is the single, most effective physical tool for defense of self and others – the gun. That is the tool with which, when all else has failed, the good of protecting the weak from the strong, the elderly from the young, the infirm from the fit and healthy, and the few from the many can be accomplished.