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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.

Bruce Springsteen as observer of life?

I enjoyed my military career…most of the time. Of late, I have some fear that I am in danger of becoming not just “that guy,” but even worse “that veteran.” You may have met him. You know, the one who is more than happy to regale you for hours with tales of his time in the Navy/Coast Guard/Marine Corps/Army/Air Force. The guy (or woman) who was, most likely, not quite as high speed and low drag as he or she remembers; not quite the “lean, mean, fightin’ machine” of legend.

That’s not who I want to be.

There’s so much more to be done. More to accomplish. The trick seems to be not allowing myself to focus on what was or to be daunted by the absolute truth that I have far less time ahead of me than I had way back when. I must focus on doing now, today, in this moment, what I can, knowing that the doing is in many ways its own reward, regardless of what it brings about in the long run.

Being active. Being involved with people and not allowing myself to retreat into that self-centered, reclusive and backward-looking existence that consists more of self-pity than anything else. Not all that easy for an introvert but absolutely essential.

*Sigh* Definitely a low energy day.

Intimations of mortality and all that.

Of licensing cars and drivers

No. Not really. This is the second in what will probably be about five postings dealing with arguments I frequently (as in almost inevitably) encounter when discussing the right to keep and bear arms (RKBA) and gun control. The first posting in the series can be found here. Oh, and my apologies to Francis Bacon.

I call today’s pro gun control argument the “we license cars and drivers so we should license guns and gun owners” argument. I don’t know exactly when I first encountered it, but it was a long while ago. Like I noted in the first post of this series, “arguments for the ongoing efforts to further restrict the right to keep and bear arms…are never new.” This is just one of many that occasionally rears its ugly head, brought up by yet another fresh-faced gun control advocate (GCA) who is convinced he or she has discovered The Argument. That is, the one that will justify severe restrictions (euphemistically referred to as “common sense”) on a specifically enumerated and protected right. What’s interesting about this one is that it covers so much ground, including registration and licensing of cars, licensing of drivers and state-mandated training. The argument is normally introduced something like this:

GCA: Well, we license and register cars. We license drivers – after they take a driving course and pass a written and practical test. We do all that to keep people safe. Shouldn’t we do AT LEAST as much with guns? After all, we’re talking about a deadly weapon, here.

There is so much there to be unpacked, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with this: to many people, this seems to be such a strong and reasonable argument. And it is. Until you scratch the surface. So, let’s do that. Let’s scratch the surface.

“We license and register cars.”

We do indeed do that. It is important to understand that the primary purpose of doing so is to generate revenue for the state. Taxes, regardless of the form they take, are always accompanied by one or more benefits we are assured they will provide. After all, it would be political suicide to declare “we’re going to take more of your money” and not suggest people will get something for that.* In the case of  the taxes or fees paid to the state DMV, a common use and justification is public road maintenance. This doesn’t seem too terribly applicable to gun ownership. GCAs, in my experience, are not inclined to mandate that the state spend funds to maintain my private gun range. What I’m usually told is one of two things. Either registration will help recover my property if one of my guns is stolen or it will help identify the owner if the gun is used in a crime and recovered.

Nonsense.

There already exists a method by which a stolen gun can be identified if it turns up. We call it the serial number. There is no stamp or tag affixed to a gun. If one is found, the only way to identify it is by its serial number. Registration would not change such a thing. I submit, then, that the whole “it will help you recover your stolen property” argument, at least as regards firearms, is bogus.

I am not a big fan of comparing what was done in country A with what was done in country B. Countries have their own cultures, which make comparisons suspect, at best. It is worth noting, however, that Canada abandoned its flirtation with gun registration due to cost and its failure as a crime solving tool. I’m calling the crime-solving benefits we are assured will arise from gun registration bogus, too.

In most states of which I am aware, do you know when cars have to be registered and licensed? When they will be used on public roads. You know, the roads for which the license and registration fees help pay, as opposed to the private roads that lead up to a hunting club’s deer cabin or someone’s farm or ranch.

Ultimately, of course, the idea of gun registration presumes the state has any legitimate need to know what specific items of personal property one owns. I am unaware of any such need. It is at about this point that someone will usually argue that “guns can be used to harm others” as justification for registration. In the hands of someone inclined to harm others, this is true. It also happens to be true of the commonly available items that make black powder, in the hands of a person inclined to harm and kill dozens or multiple score at a time. Think of a computer in the hands of a pedophile. All of those are bad. Some, so repugnant as to defy description. And none of them justification for the state knowing what items of personal property you own.

We license drivers – after they take a driving course and pass a written and practical test

This, too, is true. Overlooked, of course, are the following:

Drivers ed is, in the vast majority of cases, a course that is taken once in one’s life. In all the states of which I am aware, if a first time driver is past a certain age (which varies from state to state), no course is necessary at all. The written and practical tests are both simple and also of the take once in your life variety. I have had a driver’s license, at various times, in North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Arizona and Texas. I took drivers ed, along with a written and practical test, once. In North Carolina. In 1978. Since then, every time I renewed my license, or moved to a different state and got a license in that state, I have merely paid the fee charged by that state.

Those are not the sorts of things the GCAs who suggest “treating gun owners like drivers” seem to have in mind. They typically argue for additional and ongoing mandated training, along with the option for the issuing authority to decline to issue the license for…reasons. Meaning, of course, that they don’t really want to treat gun owners like drivers. It was just a handy way of trying to suck you into accepting what they actually wanted. Besides, driving is a privilege, while the RKBA is a specifically enumerated and protected right. No other right do they suggest licensing.

We do all that to keep people safe.

No, we do all that to generate income for the state to spend. The arguments for what GCAs want for guns and gun owners don’t hold up when applied to cars and drivers (a fair application, given that it is cars and drivers that are used as the justification).

Shouldn’t we do AT LEAST as much with guns? After all, we’re talking about a deadly weapon, here.

Which part of right vs privilege is unclear to you? At what point did you begin to conflate the two? Allow me to suggest that the “deadly weapon” argument provides an enormous clue as to what is going on. GCAs simply do not trust their fellow citizens, nor do they respect them, although the great majority of their fellow citizens will never commit a violent crime with or without a gun. Instead, they reserve their respect, at least as regards access to force and its tools, for government. This in spite of the appalling record government in general racked up during the 20th century in its use of force – against citizens.

Still, I’m willing to discuss treating guns and gun owners like we do cars and drivers, if you’re really serious. Here’s what I want on the table as regards guns, along with a corresponding reference to what we do with cars.

  1. License to carry a firearm and registration of guns – “treat guns and gun owners like drivers”
    1. Shall issue rather than may issue, just like with a driver’s license. I am unaware of  any state that makes a provision for the withholding of a license after a person successfully jumps through all the mandated hoops, including paying a modest (and sometimes nominal) fee.
    2. Renewal shall be contingent upon paying the renewal fee.
    3. Acquiring a license upon moving to another state, shall require paying the fee mandated by the new state of residence.
    4. Each license issued by the state of residence and is sufficient for use throughout that state.
    5. Each state shall recognize the licenses of other states, eliminating the legal risk gun owners encounter when transiting certain states with their home state legal firearm in their possession.
    6. Mandatory training shall be of the same sort as that for a driver’s license, as shall the test. Training can be obtained at a wide variety of state approved providers. After a given age, no such training will be mandated.
    7. No limits upon what guns one can own or carry. Just as a driver can own and drive a car of any horsepower and torque, any passenger capacity, fuel type or capacity, number of gears and type of transmission, there shall be no restrictions upon caliber, ballistic performance, number of rounds, length of barrel or type of action.
    8. No limits upon how much ammo a gun owner may possess, just as drivers can keep bulk fuel.
    9. Just as one can buy a car without possessing a driver’s license, no license will be required to purchase a firearm.
    10. A person can own as many firearms as he or she can afford, just as can be done with cars.
    11. Registration is to be limited to firearms actually used on public property and licensing limited to those who carry them on public property. You know, like with cars. If a person changes the firearm(s) used on public property, the original(s) no longer need to be registered.
    12. Licensing fees will be used to improve the shooting sports and access to them, just as the fees related to cars and drivers are used to do things like improve roads
    13. Any and all insurance shall be determined by the state of residence and shall be recognized as sufficient by any state the gun owner shall visit. If a person’s state of residence chooses to have no insurance requirements (think New Hampshire), then that too is sufficient. Bear in mind that since insurers don’t insure against criminal activity on the part of the insured, insurance is probably not the option GCAs insist it is.

If you are an advocate for “treating guns and gun owners like cars and drivers,” the above should be acceptable. If it is not, allow me to suggest you are either

  1. unaware of the laws regarding cars and drivers, or
  2. blatantly dishonest

FWIW, I could probably add more to the above list, but I think that’s enough to make the point.

*This is not to suggest taxes are never necessary. Rather, the point is that the purpose of a tax is to generate money for the state to spend. Whether the thing on which it is spent is desirable is a separate question.