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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘second amendment’

Gun Appreciation Day Is Coming – Do your Shopping Early

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

I received an email from the folks at Gun Appreciation Day – which takes place January 19, unless there’s a massacre.

“We’re marching towards Gun Appreciation Day full steam ahead, and already the liberal gun control crowd is using every trick in the book to try and stop us.”

Ah, the liberal gun control crowd, those conniving bastards refusing to be shot on sight by a good old American armed militia, as it is specifically being commanded in the Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The Supreme Court and I differ on what the above statement means in reality. In my opinion, this is the foundation for a citizen’s army, which is ready to stand up to an invader from overseas or from Canada and Mexico. Should those red coats dare come down into these United States once more, thousands of citizens would swiftly pull their muskets off the wall, grab the bags of fire powder and iron balls, as well as their trusted muzzle loader, and rush off to defend our farms and plantations.

The Supreme Court, on the other hand, decided the same Second Amendment means you can sling an AKA 47 on one shoulder and a bazooka on the other, as long as you can show a library card with your name on it at the counter.

The Gun Appreciation folks are circulating their email around because they need your financial support in the war against liberal haters: “No matter if you can afford $5 or $500, anything and everything will make a difference.”

I don’t appreciate guns. Secure in my masculinity, I have never seen a need for either a sports car or a gun. In boot camp I schlepped around a Belgian FM rifle that had to be cleaned daily, whether I had used it or not. I nicknamed my rifle Ginger—it failed so many inspections, I started to believe those red spots were the result of shame as much as rust.

Ginger weighed a ton and fired a huge caliber bullet, with the recoil of an elephant gun. She was more like those patriotic muskets than the rapid fire monsters lonely American young adults are using these days to reduce our student population.

Yesterday, I also received an email from the National Rifle Association (why am I on all those email lists I have no idea), reacting—quite furiously, by the way—to the passage of a bill titled S. 2230 in New York

Apparently, what bugs the NRA are the undemocratic aspects of the way NY State passes its bills.

Join the club… In NY State we’re not so much a democracy as a plutocracy. The only way you can get rid of a NY State politician is if they become president of the United States, or gets caught doing something unspeakable on Twitter. Otherwise they’re there forever – because we, the majority of the folks in their districts, keep voting them in.

Anyway, the NRA is upset that S. 2230 was “hammered out in a backroom in Albany, was quickly drafted and released 20 minutes prior to the Senate vote. It passed as the clock ticked toward midnight.”

So? Over here we call it standard legislative process…

And what is it that S. 2230 actually does?

It lowers New York’s magazine capacity limit from ten rounds to seven.

That means that after a kid living in his mom’s basement has finished shooting into a crowd of students seven times, he has to pause and reload.

Ah, the humanity…

“It also greatly expands the state’s existing ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms, and will require New York gun owners to undergo background checks on ammunition purchases,” bewails the NRA.

If you ask me, this will actually mean great relief for UPS drivers, who won’t have to schlep quite as many cases of “ammo” to Joe’s hut in the woods, right above the high school building.

“These gun control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime,” argues the NRA.

According to data from The Violence Policy Center, these are the states with the highest death rates in the nation:

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.

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.

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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