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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Gun Control’

Obama’s Threats

Monday, January 21st, 2013

In his quest to raise the debt ceiling, President Obama issued a threat in his press conference last week that troops won’t get paid and veterans’ pension payments will be delayed.  He warned of delays in Social Security payments as well.

It’s important to understand that these comments constitute a threat (which may or may not be a hollow one).  Obama is not stating some inescapable reality, to which he along with the rest of us is subject.  If retirees and vets see a delay in their payments, it will be because Obama himself decides to hold the payments up.  Moreover, Obama is not caught in a trap when it comes to paying the troops; he can make sure they get paid, if it’s his priority to do so.

The payments to retirees are going to go out unless Obama stops them.  The debt ceiling doesn’t prevent those payments from being made.  It requires that other types of federal expenditures – current-year operating expenses like federal purchases, welfare outlays, payrolls, etc – be suspended or managed differently.

The two Social Security Trust Funds (one for old-age benefits and one for disability benefits) had nearly $2.7 trillion in assets at the end of fiscal year 2011. The most recent for which a trustees’ report is posted online.  The funds are used every year to ensure obligated pay-outs to beneficiaries, and have been borrowed against many times by Congress, under routine fiscal circumstances.  While repayment of any amount expended during a government shut-down should be part of a debt-ceiling deal, the trusts allow Social Security payments to be made on time during a shut-down – unless Obama decides against that.

Likewise, the Military Retirement Fund had about $428 billion in total assets at the end of fiscal year 2012, three-and-a-half months ago.  The fund’s assets can certainly be used to make on-time pension payments to veterans in early 2013 – again, with a repayment plan as part of the debt-ceiling deal.  In fact, military retired pay is already programmed for electronic distribution throughout FY2013; it takes active intervention to prevent it from being distributed.

Active-duty military pay is a current-year expenditure, and would be directly jeopardized by a government shut-down.  But whether or not the troops get paid is up to Obama’s leadership.  He could agree with Congress to set aside enough to pay the troops while the negotiations continue – a move that could well require cutting or suspending expenditures elsewhere in the federal government, in order to remain under the debt ceiling until a deal was reached.

Obama could also get a read from his attorneys on the precedents for and propriety of borrowing against one of the big trust funds to meet the uniformed payroll during the government crisis.  Paying the troops, especially when the military is forward-deployed and much of it is in combat in Afghanistan, ought to be politically unifying.  It’s hard to imagine Congress trying to impeach or otherwise hobble Obama over the actions he might take to ensure the troops are paid.

What Obama is doing, in effect, is issuing threats about what he will do, if Republicans don’t give him what he wants.  But he’s representing the threats as a consequence for which the GOP lawmakers would be responsible.

This kind of mendacious demagoguery flourishes when the press is biased and/or cowed, and fails to challenge the political leaders.  Every appeal from the leadership gets to be emotional; government is discussed in unaccountable, irrational, and even hysterical terms, as when the president postulated, in his speech on gun restrictions during the same press conference, that the victims of mass shootings had been “denied their rights” by the shooters.  The distinction between committing crimes against individuals, which the citizens can do, and denying the people’s rights – which only government can do – is one of the most important concepts underlying the American system of government.  But Obama elided it out of existence on last week, in his quest to depict the use of firearms as, principally, a means of injuring others.

Parse, parse, parse, my friends.  This president doesn’t speak in the terms of American political philosophy, which holds government and its leaders accountable for meanings both philosophical and practical.  It is not our practice, in American government, to shrug off misleading demagoguery.  That’s not “business as usual” for us.  Our president is supposed to bind himself to constitutional meanings.  He is supposed to depict the actions of government honestly.  It’s a big deal that this one doesn’t.

Every Jew – a .22?

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

I have not yet addressed the horrific tragedy that struck our nation a little over week ago in Newtown, Connecticut. The truth is that this is the kind of thing that I do not usually discuss since it is not a Jewish issue. Even though there was one Jewish victim, the tragedy is much larger than one victim.

But the fact is that the issues raised by this tragedy affects us all – Jew and Gentile alike.

On Friday morning, December 14th, 27 people were massacred at the Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza, a mentally ill 20-year-old with easy access to four semi-automatic weapons. Twenty of the victims were very young children and at least two of the adults, one a teacher and the other the school principal were murdered while attempting to shield children from the hail of bullets.

Like just about everyone else I was stunned by it. I could not imagine the sudden grief that parents, friends, and families must have felt. The idea that a group of six-year-old children were so quickly massacred in this way is unimaginable. So terrible is this to me this that my mind is mentally blocked from putting myself into the shoes of those parents. I think I would have a mental breakdown if I did. I was basically numbed by it. The President was visibly moved to tears when he first made public comments about it.

My immediate thoughts were about the guns. I thought it was indeed the easy access to guns that was the problem here. Those guns were legally obtained by Lanza’s mother, an avid gun enthusiast. Unfortunately for her, that attitude cost her her life at the hands of her own son just before he went on his killing rampage and suicide. The state of Connecticut is reputed to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. It didn’t matter. The guns were there at the disposal of a mentally deranged individual.

Personally, I wouldn’t go anywhere near a gun. Guns scare me, frankly. To me the dangers of someone getting accidentally shot far outweigh the improbability of my using it for protection, which would be the only reason for me to own one. I am reminded of a former employee of mine whose son was killed by a gun carelessly placed on a table in her home by a friend who was police trainee. The boy found it, started playing with it and he accidentally shot himself in the head.

I believe that the massacre in Newton would never have happened if guns were made illegal.

It happens to be the case that in England gun ownership is very strictly controlled. If I understand correctly the police don’t even carry guns. It also happens to be the case that the gun homicide rate there is one of the lowest in the world. If we could do the same here in America, this massacre would very likely never have happened.

The trouble is you can’t do that here. It is a constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms. And there is some truth to the slogan of gun rights advocates that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. It is therefore quite understandable that some people feel the need to own a gun for protection.

If I recall correctly the founding fathers believed that confiscating guns from the citizenry was a first step towards tyranny. Which is one reason they introduced the 2nd amendment. But is that still the case? In my view making all guns illegal would be a huge step towards solving this problem. But the only way that can be done is to repeal the second amendment to the constitution. That is not going to happen. Although using England as an example I think it should. Will outlaws still have guns? Of course they will. But I would differ with England in that I would still allow law enforcement to carry them.

Gun enthusiasts of course would vehemently protest any such move. They use guns as toys… for target practice and the like. And then there are hunters. Perhaps an exception could be made for single shot rifles for hunting purposes. But I would outlaw all private ownership of all handguns and assault type semi automatic weapons that can take a large magazine clip filled with bullets. I would certainly outlaw those large ammunition clips. This is the type of gun and clip used by Lanza to shoot and kill so many victims so quickly.

But then I had another thought that went in an entirely different direction. I couldn’t help thinking that if the principal who had encountered him at the beginning of his shooting rampage had a gun with a conceal/carry permit, was well trained and proficient with firearms – that she could have shot Lanza before he did so much damage. I don’t know if she would have gotten to him before he killed anyone. But she surely could have saved many of those children and herself. Lest anyone think this is ridiculous, there are schools in Texas where all or most of the teachers are trained in firearms and carry weapons.

But I have to admit that the thought of a teacher who carries a gun in the classroom teaching my child is a scary thought. Teachers can be – or become – deranged too. With a gun at the ready, there could just as easily be another shooting of this type. Only this time by a deranged teacher.

Then there is the proposal by the NRA. They want to station armed police guards in every school. While many people are outraged by this, I don’t see it that way. If properly trained they too could have prevented the Newtown massacre had they been there.

The NRA points to Israeli schools who have this exact situation. Israel as we all know has been frequently subjected to terrorist attacks by suicide bombers. I don’t blame them a bit for protecting their schools in this way.

It would put my mind at greater ease to know that Israeli trained sharpshooters were on alert in my child’s school for any terrorist that might enter. Israel’s attitude about guns is more along the lines of the NRA. It is also true that a civilian carrying a handgun is a fairly common sight there. I also believe there has never been an incident like this in Israel’s history… where in the US it seems like every Monday and Thursday we see one.

Are armed guards a viable option here in America? I don’t know. Counter claims are being made that it would be ineffective. Columbine had an armed guard that was somehow eluded and students were massacred there by other students.

But still you can’t argue with the success of such a program in Israel. I think it is therefore really a matter of better training. Something the Israelis could help us with.

What about a Jewish school? Should we have armed guards in every day school? That would make quite a sight… something we are all not used to here at all. Or maybe we should all carry guns the way Meir Kahane once suggested. He coined the phrase “Every Jew – 22.” Twenty-two is the caliber handgun he suggested we own. He claimed that had the Jewish people had guns at the beginning of the Holocaust they could have fight back effectively.

That of course is very debatable. It may have made the annihilation of six-million Jews more difficult – but I doubt it would have done anything more than delay it.

Rabbi Kahane said that a Holocaust could happen anywhere; anytime. And we should be ready for it by having our own weapons. That is of course ridiculous. But I understand where he was coming from. He did not want to see us to go like sheep to the slaughter – which is what happens when an armed tyrannical government starts rounding up its unarmed citizens like Germany did to the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

But still, if every Jew carried a handgun – that would include every teacher and Rebbe. That would surely prevent the kind of massacre that happened in Newtown.

Does this sound like a viable idea to anyone?

Some have also suggested that the real issue here is mental illness, not handguns. While I agree – that too is an issue that ought to be addressed here, I don’t think that mental Illness will be cured anytime soon. No matter how much time and energy we devote to it. Although I fully agree that we need to devote a lot more time and money to it than we do now it does not offer any real solutions in the short term.

One thing seems clear to me. One way or the other something needs to change here in a big way. Because if it doesn’t. We may not have seen the last of this kind of thing.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

The Perfect Prison

Monday, December 24th, 2012

There are as many ways to look at a man as there are at a glass of water. Either half empty or half full. Either people are basically good or they are basically rotten. And all theories of government come down to one view or the other.

If people are basically good, then they can also be left to their own devices. They may even be allowed to run their own affairs. If however they are basically rotten, then a system is needed that will force goodness on them. And this system’s own goodness will be protected by strict conformity to an ideology that is also inherently good. Those who run the system can only be chosen from the ranks of the faithful adherents of that ideology.

Arguments for goodness or “badness” are wholly anecdotal. And always have been. A man walks into a school and murders children. A man throws himself under a car to save a woman. Which of them is a definite commentary on the species or the culture? That’s a matter of picking and choosing. Both are arguably exceptions to the rule. But on the whole we have far more people who do not shoot anyone than those who do. Far more who do not steal, than steal. Far more who may not wear a halo, or that we would want to share a long train ride with, but who on the whole could be trusted not to turn on their neighbors if one day every police department within a 100 miles folds up shop.

Gun control, like most liberal social legislation, is a barometer for the state of the human glass. It is a Rorschach test for how we see others. This week’s MSNBC commentary has been the usual notes about the paranoia of gun owners. But if there is gun owner paranoia about being attacked, it seems to be outmatched by the paranoia of gun controllers who believe that every gun owner is a ticking time bomb. Or pretend to believe it when the red light turns on and the commercial break ends.

“How much firepower does a law-abiding gun owner need?” is the leading talking point of the gun controllers. But it could just as well be, “How much cold medicine does a law-abiding sneezer need?” Cold medicine has been regulated to the extent that you need a photo ID if your nose is stuffed up under a bill sponsored by a community organizer from Chicago who stayed briefly in the Senate on his way to bigger and worse things. And people have been arrested for buying too much cold medicine.

If you believe that people are basically good, then they can be trusted with an AR-15. If you believe that people are basically bad, then they can’t even be trusted with cold medicine.

We have come a long way from the muckrakers who headed downtown from their cozy digs, toting along heavy cameras and notebooks to document the conditions there. And proposed reforms. Some of the reforms were even salutary. Others were cruel and capricious. The reformers saw to it that a woman walking alone in 19th Century New York City could be arrested for prostitution. Because if you believe that people are basically bad… then you already know the rest of the story whether it’s cold medicines, guns or a woman walking down the street.

When you dig up enough dirt, then everyone looks dirty and the justification is there for a mandatory clean-up program. That is what the reformers and the muckrakers accomplished by displaying an image of a broken society. Their work was selective and biased, and they insisted on defining the city by its worst parts, and the entire country by the city. Their grand achievements have culminated in a national system of one-size-fits-all legislation. Lanza is America. America is Lanza.

Mayor Bloomberg is right that New York City has a problem with gun violence, but it’s not a problem caused by guns. Still talking about guns is easier than talking about shooters. Urban mayors are waging war on gun shops in more rural and better behaved parts of the country as if urban social problems come from those gun shops, when if anything it’s the other way around.

The Sandy Hook Tragedy

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

The 26 murders at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday have triggered yet another nationwide debate over how something so horrific could happen in the United States.

We’ve seen similar discussions after other mass killings, but usually they are forgotten in a matter of weeks. Perhaps the Newtown massacre, with its sheer number of dead and the heartbreakingly young age of most of the victims, will prove to be different.

In the immediate aftermath of the atrocity, most are still focused on the adequacy of gun control measures and the attention paid to the special threats posed by the mentally ill. And these concerns are obviously on point.

Yet far too little attention is being paid to the steady diet of violence and depravity – including depictions and even celebrations of murder, torture, dismemberment and rape – being served up to our young people in movies, song lyrics, video games and of course on the Internet.

While more details about the Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, are sure to become known in the days ahead, we already know he spent an inordinate amount of time behind closed doors playing violent Internet games.

Understandably, as a nation that revels in free speech we tend to be reluctant to dwell on these matters, but a clearer understanding of the long-term effects of this kind of exposure would seem to be crucial in understanding and possibly preventing such unthinkable violence.

In the meantime, we join our fellow Americans and indeed the rest of the world in expressing our deepest sorrow and sympathy to the families and friends of the children and teachers whose lives were so senselessly ended last week.

Gun Control and Gun Control Culture

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Hardly had the blood been scrubbed off the floors in Newtown than everyone who was anyone had begun shifting the blame from Adam Lanza to some intangible social failure.

Back in 2002, Michael Moore trundled his bulk over to Colorado to exploit the Columbine massacre for a general rant about gun culture, American foreign policy and how hard it was to find a shop selling bacon grease by the ton at two in the morning.

In his film, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary, Moore gave his audience what they wanted, lots of scenes of “hicks and hillbillies” buying, selling and giving away guns all over the place to illustrate the murderous ravages of American gun culture. Some of those scenes were staged, but it didn’t matter since Moore was catering to an audience that had nothing but contempt for working class Americans and would believe any awful thing about them.

What did gun culture have to do with a plot by two disgruntled dorks upset over being called “Faggots” a few times too many? About as much as gun culture has to do with Adam Lanza, another award winning product of the, “Maybe some people deserve to get beaten up” club.

Your average school shooter is unhappy and angry, irreligious, incapable of fitting into a community and filled with rage that he exercises through violent fantasies. His culture isn’t gun culture. It’s loner culture. Video games do not cause him to kill, but they are how he entertains himself until he can get a taste of the real thing.

Adam Lanza, Dylan Kleibold, Eric Harris, Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes, One L. Goh and Jared Loughner had as much in common with what the Michael Moore Fan Club thinks of as “gun culture” as Michael Moore does with the working class. Whatever gun culture they had was not the American Scots-Irish culture of the hunter, the rancher and the militia member, but the urban posse of emasculated men of no worth that brandishes weapons as a way to get respect.

The gun culture of the school shooter is the lobby scene in The Matrix, the frag or be fragged multiplayer gaming culture of Halo and Doom, and the Joker killing his way across Gotham. None of these products of mass entertainment make one a killer, but they are also far more illustrative of the type of gun culture that defines school shooters, than anything that Michael Moore and the MSNBC talking heads mean by gun culture.

For most Americans there is no gun culture, only the ownership of guns. To the extent that any gun culture has developed it was in response to a gun control culture that sought to demonize the ownership of firearms. The traditional and religious culture of the American gun owner has little in common with the power fantasies of the school shooter. To the gun owner, a firearm is a necessary tool. To the school shooter, it is a way to stop feeling powerless, a way to get beyond the ersatz joys of killing bots and avatars, of watching Keanu Reeves spin through the air while filling a mob of policemen full of lead, with the joy of the real kill.

But that has not stopped anyone and everyone from opining on the great malady of American gun culture. Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse basketball coach, took the time out to blather on about it for ten minutes. A Washington Post writer named Max Fisher claimed that American gun culture was “unique” because Americans own a lot of guns. That is roughly the level of fact-based discourse on gun culture that you can expect from gun-control culture which asserts that ownership is identity.

The Battle Creek Enquirer ran an editorial which asserted that “The gun culture in this country is insane” and then failed to define what that gun culture consisted of except to say that, “The insanity of America’s gun culture is that in the face of staggering evidence to the contrary, the gun lobby successfully peddles the lie that we are safer when we ease access to firearms.”

The definition of gun culture insanity then is believing that when a dork who has seen the Matrix or The Dark Knight or blood splatter on his monitor a few times too many comes bearing lead, it is better to be able to defend yourself than to be a target. It’s absurd, of course, we are told by gun control culturalists, to believe that ordinary civilians can do anything in such a crisis except wet their pants and hope that the SWAT team doesn’t get stuck in traffic.

Chinese Government Demanding Stricter US Gun Control

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

You have to wonder if anyone understands anyone else on this planet any longer. A case in point is this heartfelt call by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua under the title: “Innocent blood demands no delay for U.S. gun control.”

“Twenty-eight innocent people, including 20 primary students, have been slaughtered in a mass shooting at an elementary school in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Their blood and tears demand no delay for the U.S. gun control.”

Let’s not bicker over the difference between “primary school” and “primary students.” This demand represents the essential nightmare of every Second Amendment loving American, from the sober hunters of New England (well, maybe not so sober) to the nuttiest survivalist in Appalachia. The Chinese are going to take away our guns!

Even I, an adamant advocate of gun control, got the urge to go buy me a six shooter in response to that idiotic item.

Brandon Darby, writing for Breitbart, points out that the Chinese government has reported a number of U.S. mass shootings but failed to mention they were either stopped by a citizen legally carrying a firearm or otherwise only occurred in the controversial gun-free zones that critics say make prime targets for madmen.

Darby adds another point not willingly made by the government of the Communist People’s Republic of China: the fact that over the past 60 years, give or take a year, it killed between 40 and 70 million people in “starvation, executions, and re-education camps.”

So, it’s been established, no matter how wise they may think they’re being with those demands for stricter gun control, none of us, Americans, are prepared to receive advice from Red China. And those among us who have been stocking up on ammo and even more guns, in fear of an inevitable decree from President Obama to give up our guns – this next passage in the Xinhua manifesto wasn’t particularly helpful:

“Obama said of the latest tragedy the country had ‘been through this too many times,’ and it was time to put aside political differences and ‘take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.’ Some people have noticed Obama’s tougher tone this time, compared to the Colorado shooting, when he called for ‘prayer and reflection.'”

Yes, news of Obama who’s tougher on guns, that’s going to work.

And, in conclusion, our caring Chinese comrades suggest that “Action speaks louder than words. If Obama wants to take practical measures to control guns, he has to make preparation for a protracted war and considerable political cost.”

A protracted war? You mean like with black helicopters and federal marshals showing up outside your survival camp to rip the rifles out of your cold, dead hands?

It’s what we needed, to facilitate a mature and introspective debate over gun use in America: an intervention from one of the most oppressive, bloodiest regimes in human history.

Guns, Guns, Guns

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

If you’re the biblically minded sort, then the trouble began when a jealous Cain clubbed Abel to death, but if you’re evolutionary minded, then it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ question. Violence had no beginning, except perhaps in the Big Bang, it was always here, coded into the DNA. If people are just grown-up animals, more articulate versions of the creatures who eat each other’s young, and sometimes their own young, there is as much use in wondering about the nature of evil as there is in trying to understand why a killer whale kills.

But debating how many devils can dance on the head of a pinhead is largely useless. We are not a particularly violent society. We are a society sheltered from violence. No one in Rwanda spends a great deal of time wondering what kind of man would murder children. They probably live next door to him. For that matter, if your neighborhood is diverse enough, you might be unfortunate enough to live next door to any number of war criminals, all the way from Eastern Europe to Asia to Africa.

The issue isn’t really guns. Guns are how we misspell evil. Guns are how we avoid talking about the ugly realities of human nature while building sandcastles on the shores of utopia.

The obsession with guns, rather than machetes, stone clubs, crossbows or that impressive weapon of mass death, the longbow (just ask anyone on the French side of the Battle of Agincourt) is really the obsession with human agency. It’s not about the fear of what one motivated maniac can do in a crowded place, but about the precariousness of social control that the killing sprees imply.

Mass death isn’t the issue. After September 11, the same righteous folks calling for the immediate necessity of gun control were not talking about banning planes or Saudis, they were quoting statistics about how many more people die of car accidents each year than are killed by terrorists. As Stalin said, one death is a tragedy; three thousand deaths can always be minimized by comparing them to some even larger statistic.

The gun issue is the narrative. It’s not about death or children; it’s about control. It’s about confusing object and subject. It’s about guns that shoot people and people that are irrevocably tugged into pulling the trigger because society failed them, corporations programmed them and not enough kindly souls told them that they loved them.

Mostly it’s about people who are sheltered from the realities of human nature trying to build a shelter big enough for everyone. A Gun Free Zone where everyone is a target and tries to live under the illusion that they aren’t. A society where everyone is drawing unicorns on colored notepaper while waiting under their desks for the bomb to fall.

After every shooting there are more zero tolerance policies in schools that crack down on everything from eight-year olds making POW POW gestures with their fingers to honor students bringing Tylenol and pocket knives to school. And then another shooting happens and then another one and they wouldn’t happen if we just had more zero tolerance policies for everyone and everything.

But evil just can’t be controlled. Not with the sort of zero tolerance policies that confuse object with subject, which ban pocket knives and finger shootings to prevent real shootings. That brand of control isn’t authority, it’s authority in panic mode believing that if it imposes total zero tolerance control then there will be no more school shootings. And every time the dumb paradigm is blown to bits with another shotgun, then the rush is on to reinforce it with more total zero control tolerance.

Zero tolerance for the Second Amendment makes sense. If you ban all guns, except for those in the hands of the 708,000 police officers, the 1.5 million members of the armed forces, the countless numbers of security guards, including those who protect banks and armored cars, the bodyguards of celebrities who call for gun control, not to mention park rangers, ambulance drivers in the ghetto and any of the other people who need a gun to do their job, then you’re sure to stop all shootings.

So long as none of those millions of people, or their tens of millions of kids, spouses, parents, grandchildren, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates and anyone else who has access to them and their living spaces, carries out one of those shootings.

But this isn’t really about stopping shootings; it’s about controlling when they happen. It’s about making sure that everyone who has a gun is in some kind of chain of command. It’s about the belief that the problem isn’t evil, but agency, that if we make sure that everyone who has guns is following orders, then control will be asserted and the problem will stop. Or if it doesn’t stop, then at least there will be someone higher up in the chain of command to blame. Either way authority is sanctified, control or the illusion of it, maintained.

We’ll never know the full number of people who were killed by Fast and Furious. We’ll never know how many were killed by Obama’s regime change operation in Libya, with repercussions in Mali and Syria. But everyone involved in that was following orders. There was no individual agency, just agencies. No lone gunman who just decided to go up to a school and shoot kids. There were orders to run guns to Mexico and the cartel gunmen who killed people with those guns had orders to shoot. There was nothing random or unpredictable about it. Or as the Joker put it, “Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying.”

Gun control is the assertion that the problem is not the guns; it’s the lack of a controlling authority for all those guns. It’s the individual. A few million people with little sleep, taut nerves and PTSD are not a problem so long as there is someone to give them orders. A hundred million people with guns and no orders is a major problem. Historically though it’s millions of people with guns who follow orders who have been more of a problem than millions of people with guns who do not.

Moral agency is individual. You can’t outsource it to a government and you wouldn’t want to. The bundle of impulses, the codes of character, the concepts of right and wrong, take place at the level of the individual. Organizations do not sanctify this process. They do not lift it above its fallacies, nor do they even do a very good job of keeping sociopaths and murderers from rising high enough to give orders. Organizations are the biggest guns of all, and some men and women who make Lanza look like a man of modestly murderous ambitions have had their fingers on their triggers and still do.

Gun control will not really control guns, but it will give the illusion of controlling people, and even when it fails those in authority will be able to say that they did everything that they could short of giving people the ability to defend themselves.

We live under the rule of organizers, community and otherwise, whose great faith is that the power to control men and their environment will allow them to shape their perfect state into being, and the violent acts of lone madmen are a reminder that such control is fleeting, that utopia has its tigers, and that attempting to control a problem often makes it worse by removing the natural human crowdsourced responses that would otherwise come into play.

The clamor for gun control is the cry of sheltered utopians believing that evil is a substance as finite as guns, and that getting rid of one will also get rid of the other. But evil isn’t finite and guns are as finite as drugs or moonshine whiskey, which is to say that they are as finite as the human interest in having them is. And unlike whiskey or heroin, the only way to stop a man with a gun is with a gun.

People do kill people and the only way to stop people from killing people is by killing them first. To a utopian this is a moral paradox that invalidates everything, but to everyone else, it’s just life in a world where evil is a reality, not just a word.

Anyone who really hankers after a world without guns would do well to try the 14th Century, the 1400 years ago or the 3400 years ago variety, which was not a nicer place for lack of guns, and the same firepower that makes it possible for one homicidal maniac to kill a dozen unarmed people, also makes it that much harder to recreate a world where one man in armor can terrify hundreds of peasants in boiled leather armed with sharp sticks.

The longbow was the first weapon to truly begin to level the playing field, putting serious firepower in the hands of a single man. In the Battle of Crecy, a few thousand English and Welsh peasants with longbows slew thousands of French knights and defeated an army of 30,000. Or as the French side described it, “It is a shame that so many French noblemen fell to men of no value.” Crecy, incidentally, also saw one of the first uses of cannon.

Putting miniature cannons in the hands of every peasant made the American Revolution possible. The ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution would have meant very little without an army of ordinary men armed with weapons that made them a match for the superior organization and numbers of a world power.

At the Battle of Bunker Hill, 2,400 American rebels faced down superior numbers and lost the hill, but inflicted over a 1,000 casualties, including 100 British commissioned officers killed or wounded, leading to General Clinton’s observation, “A few more such victories would have shortly put an end to British dominion in America.”

This was done with muskets, the weapon that gun control advocates assure us was responsible for the Second Amendment because the Founders couldn’t imagine all the “truly dangerous” weapons that we have today.

And yet would Thomas Jefferson, the abiding figurehead of the Democratic Party, who famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”, really have shuddered at the idea of peasants with assault rifles, or would he have grinned at the playing field being leveled some more?

The question is the old elemental one about government control and individual agency. And tragedies like the one that just happened take us back to the equally old question of whether individual liberty is a better defense against human evil than the entrenched organizations of government.

Do we want a society run by the flower of chivalry, who commit atrocities according to a plan for a better society, or by peasants with machine guns? The flower of chivalry can promise us a utopian world without evil, but the peasant with a machine gun promises us that we can protect ourselves from evil when it comes calling.

It isn’t really guns that the gun controllers are afraid of, it’s a country where individual agency is still superior to organized control, where things are unpredictable because the trains don’t run on time and orders don’t mean anything. But chivalry is dead. The longbow and the cannon killed it and no charge of the light brigade can bring it back. And we’re better for it.

Evil may find heavy firepower appealing, but the firepower works both ways. A world where the peasants have assault rifles is a world where peasant no longer means a man without any rights. And while it may also mean the occasional brutal shooting spree, those sprees tend to happen in the outposts of utopia, the gun-free zones with zero tolerance for firearms. An occasional peasant may go on a killing spree, but a society where the peasants are all armed is also far more able to stop such a thing without waiting for the men-at-arms to be dispatched from the castle.

An armed society spends more time stopping evil than contemplating it. It is the disarmed society that is always contemplating it as a thing beyond its control. Helpless people must find something to think about while waiting for their lords to do something about the killing. Instead of doing something about it themselves, they blame the agency of the killer in being free to kill, rather than their own lack of agency for being unable to stop him.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/guns-guns-guns/2012/12/16/

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