Tag Archives: guns

Why we need guns, even in the wake of yet another school shooting.

17 Dec

With the advent of another school shooting, gun control is back in the spotlight.  The focus of much of the debate revolves around assault rifles and high capacity magazines. I’ve heard people argue that we should ban both high capacity magazines and assault rifles. The proponents of this argument reason that neither are used for hunting, but instead have the sole purpose of enabling someone to kill more people faster. While this is true, the proponents of the ban are wrong in their assumption of what the 2nd amendment was intended for. The 2nd amendment was not written for hunters, it was not written for collectors, it was written for a specific purpose. Here is a simple fact of life:

Government authority is derived from violence.

Like it or not, the government claims a monopoly on socially acceptable violence. (Whether they are justified or legitimate in doing so is another issue.) A government’s laws only have weight because they are backed by the threat of violence. This threat may be very well concealed by formalities like a bureaucracy, but ultimately, if you resist a chain of laws long enough, you will come face to face with an individual with a gun acting on behalf of the government who’s laws you are breaking.

Given that violence equals governmental authority, what happens to a government’s people when they are relieved of their ability to use violence?

They lose ultimate authority over their government.

It is possible for people to exercise authority over their government by voting, but this is not the same as ultimate authority. People can vote about something all they want, but if other people show up with guns, the ones with the guns are going to have the final say. I realize this might sound absurd to someone living in a first world country, but the reason it sounds absurd is because first world countries, by in large, have a relatively good track record when it comes to adhering to the will of their people when the people exercise their will through voting. This track record, however, has varying degrees of length depending on the country.  You only need to look at now first world countries during the various hot and cold wars of the 19th and 20th centuries to see governments repressing their people. (Franco Spain, Vichy France, DDR Germany) It can happen. It does happen. It currently is happening across the middle east. Syria, Egypt, and recently Libya are good examples of where the government swept away any illusions that ultimate authority rested on anything other than violence. It is also here that the people have attempted to reassert their ultimate authority through violence. When the 2nd amendment was written, the colonists in the newly formed United States had just thrown off an oppressor with violence. They had attempted various non-violent means previously, but fond them to be ultimately powerless. They used the last recourse available to them: violence. Having learned this lesson, they drew up the 2nd amendment to ensure that their people would never again be powerless in the face of an oppressor.

The 2nd amendment exists to ensure a people’s ability to use violence against the government.

It is for this exact reason that weapons like assault rifles and their extended magazines are needed. They are designed for you to fight a war scenario and kill people. When someone argues for banning assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and other implements designed specifically for war scenarios, what they are actually arguing for is the removal of a people’s final say over their government.

Children dead, media eager for misery, society’s double standard.

15 Dec

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard of the new school shooting that happened in America yesterday morning; this time in an elementary school by yet another deranged individual. Every time there is some horrific tragedy like this the American media collectively orgasm in their pants with excitement. They love it when this type of thing happens and they’re fucking sick human beings for it. They need tragedy, they need grief, fear, and human misery to keep you glued to their “coverage.” Clinical psychiatrists have come out time and time again pleading with the media not to cover these stories because they inevitably inspire copy-cat killers and just fuel the ego of the sick individuals who perpetrate these acts. Does the media care what the clinical psychiatrists say? Fuck no. It’s not about stopping these acts, it’s about ratings. Ratings, and consequently the money the earn from those ratings, is more important that human lives and suffering. Fucked up and disgusting, but that’s the truth. The “news anchors’ these pampered, dolled up husks of human beings will describe to you the misery of others with a twinkle in their soulless eyes.

In the rush to be “first” to cover a heartbreaking story, facts don’t matter. The media named the killer Ryan Lanza when it was his older brother Adam. Not only was Ryan suddenly confronted with the horror that his brother just murdered his mother and a bunch of children, but now he was quite possibly in danger for his life as well. Within minutes  there were multiple Facebook groups condemning Ryan to hell.

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The mindless mob then went on the witch hunt for anything remotely connected with the person wrongly accused of the committing the massacre. For example: Ryan “Liked” the video game series Mass Effect, a series I, myself, am very fond of. Well the public, whipped into a frenzy by the media, started to decry the evils of this video game they knew nothing about. (click to enlarge)

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In a nutshell, Mass Effect is a science fiction roleplaying game about saving the galaxy from a race of alien robots. It has nothing to do with anything remotely connected to a school shooting (but since when have facts mattered?).  Before all the information was available, the governor of Connecticut pleaded with the media not to speculate on the number of dead. Wolf Blitzer, of CNN, reported this and then immediately started to speculate about the rumored death toll, all with a straight face and without skipping a beat. FOX news, not to be outdone, even went so far as to try and interview a child about the trauma she just witnessed, a trauma she’s most likely unable to even comprehend.

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How much you want to bet FOX news got a parental release formed signed by Sofia’s parents so they could interview an 8-year old about her classmates being butchered? The victims are not human beings to these people, they are tragedies to be exploited for profit. It’s fucking sick. While reading over a discussion of the media’s reaction to the shooting on Reddit.com, I came across an insightful comment a user made quoting Robert Ebert (a movie critic) talking about his review of the movie “Elephant.”

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

The main focus of this post is on the tragedy that unfolded yesterday in Connecticut  but I would like to point out something else I find interesting, something that is likely to upset a lot of people in a very particular way. I imagine many will react with ‘now is not the time!”, however it is precisely at times like this that the contrast I’m trying to elucidate is so clear. We have a refined sense of selective outrage in this country. There’s a quote from the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight” that encapsulates this very succinctly. In this scene the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent about plans, chaos, and society:

You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!

Even if the plan is horrifying.

We, as a nation, routinely murder innocent civilians, including children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut. However, when we murder civilians, we do it with flying drones and laser guided missiles in far away lands. We watch them die on little CCTV monitors and go about our day. 98% of the people we murder are not the people we intended to murder, rather, they are collateral damage. Perhaps I was wrong in saying “children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut.” There are some glaring differences between the children in Connecticut and the children overseas. The children overseas are of a different skin tone, religion, country, and speak a different language. I guess that’s enough to make their lives not matter. Never mind everything they have in common, most importantly of which is being human.

Amelia, over at Imaginary Playgrounds, has a section in a post that I believe sums up why such selective outrage exists.

Within a sick, violent society, all people are taught violence. We are told to look at those who commit violence as role models, so long as that violence takes place within certain relationships where violence is culturally sanctioned. Violence is socially acceptable when authorized by a legitimized authority, and considered unacceptable when performed outside of an authority’s approval. To give an example, a police officer shooting an unarmed person of color is often overlooked, and when it is brought up, excuses are made, and the blame is placed on the victim. Yet, when a person of color defends themselves against police violence and injures a cop in the process, it is viewed as a heinous, irredeemable act of violence. Violence is socially acceptable when performed in service of dominant social ideologies, and unacceptable when it disrupts or subverts dominant social ideologies. A straight, cis man can kill a trans sex worker and get away with it, often being able to use her trans status as a justification, but when a trans woman of color defends herself against a racist, transphobic attacker, she is charged with murder and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In this case it’s a man killing a group of school children with a gun versus a man killing a group of school children with a rocket fired from a remote controlled plane. In our society, as long as the violence is directed in a direction we’ve been taught is acceptable, irregardless that the end result of the violence is just as horrifying independent of who’s doing it to whom, we have no problem with said violence. It is only when such a heinous act is committed against a group of people we haven’t sanctioned for suffering and death do we cry foul.

Ban all the guns!

24 Jul

Last week another crazy struck again and massacred 12 people in a movie theater with an assault rifle. Predictably my favorite progressive podcasts start screaming about gun violence and how we need tighter gun control. Every time something like this happens we go through this same tired old back and forth with both sides talking past each other. Why I find conservatives to be grossly wrong on so many issues, gun control is the one issue I agree with them.

I find it strange that those on the left, who are correct in their logic about drug control and birth control suddenly abandon their logic when it comes to gun control and instead start parroting arguments that conservatives use against legalizing drugs and providing more access to birth control, but with the words drugs and birth replaced with “guns.” Crazy people are going to kill people. They always have and always will. When I went to see The Dark Night Rises I took my gun with me in case there was a copy cat killer. Banning guns or making them much harder to get isn’t going to solve this issue. Better mental health facilities will. But I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole here. There is something else I wanted to point out. My fellow liberal friends often completely misunderstand the point of guns in the 2nd amendment. Sometimes they understand the notion of self-defense, or hunting, but not the real purpose.

 

The purpose of gun ownership as outlined in the 2nd amendment is to enable a citizenry to violently overthrow their government.

That’s not what I’m advocating, but that was the purpose of the 2nd amendment. We had just violently overthrown our government at the time and the founders wanted to make sure the people would be safeguarded from yet another oppressive government. It’s not about hunting, it’s not about self defense from criminals, it’s about overthrowing the government.  It is for this reason that assault rifles and high capacity magazines are important. The purpose is to enable you to have some degree of level footing in a war scenario. Whether or not that’s possible in an age where the government spies on all of its citizens and has drones in the sky is another matter, but it’s the thought that counts. Yes this tragedy is horrible, yes people will be murdered every now and then by some psycho, but taken together it is not enough to warrant removing an entire populace’s final recourse to dealing with an oppressive government.

 

Guns

11 Jan

Last weekend I took my conceal carry class required by the state of South Carolina in order to be issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Given that gun laws are one area where I most often disagree with my fellow liberals, I thought it pertinent to touch on the topic.

The strongest argument I have for why I feel gun ownership is good among responsible adults goes something like this:

If you’re a liberal (like I am on the vast majority of issues), you’re probably familiar with conservatives trying to get rid of something by banning it. Historically conservatives have taken aim at prostitution, abortion, drug use, alcohol, and gambling, just to name a few.

As liberals, we often point out that these are things that you cannot stop. People have done these things since the dawn of time, and will continue to do them no matter how much you try to stop them. Instead of wasting time and money trying to prevent the inevitable, why not legalize it, regulate it, and tax it to limit the damage and promote the public good?

The same it true for guns.

Just as teenagers have always had sex, just as people will always gamble and use drugs, there are people who will always commit violent crimes. In light of this reality, I feel that the best way to address it is to allow the would be victims the ability to protect themselves if necessary.

Disarming a populace does nothing to stop criminals from committing crimes. If anything, it makes it easier as they do not have to worry about people shooting back.

One friend once made the point that, “Guns only escalate the violence.” I disagree. If a person with malicious intent pulls a gun then the violence level has already been escalated dangerously high. A second person pulling a gun in response does not significantly raise the violence level. The worst case scenario either way is that someone gets shot and dies. I would argue that a second gun provides an incentive to lower the violence level. (Mutually assured destruction)

What are the possible outcomes of a senario where a gun is involved?

Say person A pulls a gun with malicious intent (violence level escalated)

1. Person A shoots person B (or multiple people)

2. Person A is somehow talked down by unarmed person B (or multiple people), however, this is unlikely given the power dynamics introduced by the gun in the scenario. Person A is clearly in control, and if they are unstable enough to pull a gun with malicious intent, the likelihood that they’ll listen to reason is slim.

3. Person A pulls a gun with malicious intent. Person B (possibly including others) pull their gun(s) in response. Person A fires, Person B (and possibly others) fire back.

4. Person A pulls a gun with malicious intent. Person B (possibly including others) pull their gun(s) in response. Person A backs down, others back down in response.

In a perfect world, nobody would be pulling a gun on anybody. In every situation the violence level is escalated by Person A pulling a gun. Situation 1 is arguably the worse, where Person A is able to kill people without fear of immediate reprisal. We’ve seen this at school shootings across the country. People are butchered like fish in a barrel.

Situation 2 is the best outcome, but also the most unlikely.

Situation 3 is terrible, but is better than situation 1 since there is now at least a chance that the damage done by Person A can be limited by Person B stopping him. People often point at school shootings, like the one at Virginia Tech, and ask “What if a responsible adult was carrying a firearm? There would have been at least a chance that they would have been able to stop the shooter from murdering 32 people.”

Situation 4, like situation 2, is one of the better outcomes. (Nobody dies) Here at least there is a strong incentive for person A not to proceed down the path they chose by drawing a gun.

I feel the biggest crux of this issue is responsibility.

I am not in favor of handing the mentally ill firearms. I don’t believe in passing out handguns to children. I believe responsible adults should be able to protect themselves.

The question then becomes “What classifies as a responsible adult?”

I would say that a responsible adult in terms of handling firearms is someone who:

Is trained in their proper use and saftey.

Does not use mind altering substances while carrying the firearm.

Does not boast about or brandish their firearm.

Knows that the firearm is the last resort option to be used in life or death scenarios  only.

Attempts to avoid confrontation whenever possible.

The fact of the matter is that some people are always going to commit violent crimes. If someone has decided to commit a violent crime they already have no regard for the law. They are going to get a weapon and commit the crime no matter what the laws say. The only people who obey the law are responsible adults. Disarming law abiding citizens does nothing but make the society a victim rich environment for criminals to prey upon.

If you feel that the outcome in situation 1 is somehow better than situation 3, then there really is nothing I can say to you. Both outcomes are horrible, but I feel situation 3 is the lesser of the two evils given that there at least exists the possibility to stop the attacker.

That’s the personal defense aspect of guns. The second aspect is the political one. At the time the second amendment was written, the colonies were breaking away from their government. Guns were needed to overthrow that government. The second amendment was written partly as insurance should the newly formed government become tyrannical.

Nowadays someone might object to this reasoning and point out that the US military’s weapons are vastly superior to anything a civilian has. True. Back when the 2nd amendment was written, weapons were more of a level playing field. Sure the army had more of them, and more trained people using them, but a musket was a musket and the government could not drop precision air strikes from unmanned drones in the sky.

Again it comes down to giving people a chance. While a civilian’s weapon might not be able to kill as quickly and efficiently as a soldiers, it still kills. French resistance fighters in WWII used cheaply made guns to ambush and kill Nazi soldiers, whereupon they took the better weapons. I am not saying that the American people would be able to overthrow the government with their weapons should the military turn on civilians like they do in Syria (something I just can’t imagine anyone in our military doing), but at least the people would have a chance.

Revolutions never come about from peaceful marches, rhythmic drumming, and being massacred. Revolutions are only successful when the rebels pick up guns and start fighting back. We can only speculate on how rebellions like the Green revolution in Iran would have gone differently if the populace had had the ability to fight fire with fire.

The question of “well how do we know if the rebels are just in their attempts to overthrow the government” is something that ultimately will be left up to the rest of society and the historians.

Libertarians and conservatives…

24 Feb

Earlier today I got a nasty comment from someone bashing me and my blog without attempting to put forth and real ideas or counter arguments so I deleted it. What struck me afterwards was that the person called themselves a libertarian and in the post they were bashing me for I was decrying big government’s involvement in people’s personal lives. This really puzzled me because the supposed difference between libertarians and conservatives is that libertarians don’t want big government controlling what you do with your body, who you marry, and when you have children while conservatives will gleefully enforce their version of morality on the rest of the population through big government.

Politically I consider myself a liberal with libertarian leanings. As a general rule I do not like big government dictating what its citizens can do. I’m pro gun, pro choice, pro gay marriage, pro drugs, and against the death penalty. However, I do recognize that community is important and that there is a need for government to provide things that support the public good like schools, healthcare, a fire department, libraries, highways, food/water/building/car safety, etc. I recognize that the “free market” is not a perfect system for producing a happy, healthy society. The pure libertarian idea of a free market is too idealistic and makes various assumptions about the players in the market that are unrealistic. America was very libertarian at the turn of the 20th century and the problems we had with robber barons, monopolies, tycoons, tainted food, snake oil salesmen, etc led to the development of protective regulatory agencies.

I also recognize that big government is a tool for ensuring legal equality. Oppressed and disenfranchised minorities in a small community can appeal to bigger government for protection. A small town of racist white supremacists in the south cannot oppress and deny blacks the right to vote because such rights are on a bigger scale than the small southern town. Big government at a federal level incorporates so many diverse people from different parts of the country that it dilutes out discrimination that would be practiced on a smaller homogeneous scale.

So I guess you can call me libertarian lite.

What really puzzles me about the other libertarians I see is just how easily they associate with conservatives. Many of the libertarians I know you would not know they were libertarians and not conservative unless you asked them. They post very conservative posts up on facebook or their blogs, they like very conservative speakers and authors, and they watch Fox “news.”

Why do I never see them railing against anti-gay marriage laws, or abortion laws, the jailing of journalists, or bills like the Patriot Act that strip us of our personal liberties guaranteed in the Constitution? The only explaination I can think of is pretty sickening:

Money is more important than social equality.

If they were concerned with the social equality of all people they’d stay well away from conservatives. I’d see them hanging out with liberals but grumbling when economics came up. Instead they’re hanging out with conservatives and staying silent when social issues come up.

Prayer saved Gabriel Gifford…according to Fox Viewers

21 Jan

A new poll conducted by Fox “news” found that 8 in 10 Americans (aka conservatives who take Fox Polls) believe that god saved Gabriel Gifford’s life. Meanwhile another poll conducted by Reality News found that 8 in 10 people who responded to the Fox “news” poll are morons.

We can all let out a collective groan because here we go again. Just as with the Chilean mine collapse, or the plane crash on the Hudson river, people always find a way to praise their invisibly sky daddy and never blame him. That is just how the game is rigged. There is no possible scenario where they will blame god. Period.

Did gay intern Daniel Hernandez, who held his hands tight on Gifford’s head to control the bleeding and to keep her brains from oozing out, save Gifford’s life? What about the person who jumped the gunman to keep him from shooting more people? What about the emergency responders who rushed to the scene? What about the expert surgeons who spent years studying the advances of science and who spent hours fighting to keep Gifford alive?

Nope. God did it…. but do you know what that means if you want to be logically consistent? It means god had a nine year old girl gunned down… And if you’re not going to admit that then you have to admit you don’t give a fuck about reality, logical coherence, or will ever admit your god did something disgusting.

Proof conservatives and liberals are not equal on violence

11 Jan

Everyone in the media is scrambling to make the false equivocation that conservatives are really just like liberals, that both sides are equally bad and need to tone down the hateful rhetoric. Well that would be a convenient little story if it were true, but the cold hard fact of the matter is that liberals and conservatives are not equal when it comes to blame or violence. Not all conservatives are crazy anti-government wingnuts who shoot police officers, congresswomen, and children, that would be absurd. However! All crazy anti-government winguts who shoot police officers, congresswomen, and children are conservative. All the politicians and media heads that are wrapping themselves in violent gun imagery are conservative. Tough shit. It’s a fact. Here is a list of all the past politically related shootings in the US and the people in positions of responsibility who use violent imagery to egg their followers on. Here’s a hint boys and girls, they’re all conservative.

Am I mad about this? Can’t you tell? I’m fucking furious. Despite reality everyone will insist that it isn’t so. It’s like we’re to appaled and scared of the ugly truth to admit it to ourselves. In the end, we’ll keep telling each other that we see the emperor’s new clothes even though he’s naked, just like we’ll continue to avoid the naked truth that conservatives have a problem with violence.

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