Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Episode 4: The Emotional Problem

If you haven't read the Introduction, Episode 1, Episode 2 , or Episode 3 you should do so before reading below.
"I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."
- Charlton Heston, former President, National Rifle Association, 129th NRA Convention, May 2000
"...1776 will commence again if you try and take our firearms..."
- Alex Jones on Piers Morgan, January 7, 2013
"....if we don't get more restrictive gun laws in this country....we are going to stack up the bodies on Capitol Hill!"
- I made this up. Gun control advocates don't seem to be into violence.
"Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies..."
- Sheriff Tim Mueller, Linn County, Oregon, January 14th 2014
"I have instituted a ban on all handguns and all rifles in my county effective at midnight, January 31, 2013. Citizens in possession of such firearms will be arrested and charged with a Class A felony."
- I made this up too. Apparently, law enforcement officers can only decide which laws to ignore but they can't make up their own laws. I made that up too, they actually have to enforce all the laws and can't make up any. Sheriff Mueller is being theatrical.[1]
Gun control is probably the most polarizing public discussion we've had in a long time[2] [Update: I wrote this before the 2016 Presidential Election. Dayem...]. It makes the fiscal cliff feel like the fiscal curb.

There is a lot of civil discourse on the subject of gun control but there's also a stunning amount of venom; crazy-ass venom. During these five days, I'm trying not to take sides. I'm trying to be on my side. However, today's post is going to focus on some disturbing responses that I've seen from the pro-gun side of this dialogue. It's not because I'm singling them out, it's because I haven't seen similar behavior from the pro-control side. If you have some of that, put it in the comments section below. I'd like to see it.

On Discourse
On the internet, could we please stop name calling, TYPING IN ALL CAPS, and threatening people's lives when discussing the most recent news story regarding gun control. Also, use your real name. militiaman12 certainly has a lot of balls when posting to a discussion forum anonymously. One's real identity is a bridge to civility. It's easy to be an asshole when you're anonymous though some people are also assholes when you get to know them.

I've struggled to find similar postings from pro-control folks on
the NRA Facebook page. From a venom perspective, this one is light.
Extra points to this author for imagination.
Additional points for using his real name which I've blurred
to protect what dignity remains.

On The Rule of Law
I get it that the second amendment is important. However, if Congress actually passes a law that you don't like, your remedy is not violence, it's the courts. Petitions calling for rebellion and insurrection are idiotic.[3] And, they harm the cause of Constitutional Law. Take a note: Alex Jones did more harm than good with his rant. [Update: Alex Jones is still an idiot.]

I think Alan Dershowitz (speaking about Alex Jones' rant on Piers Morgan's show) said it best: "We lawyers refer to people like that not as witnesses, but as exhibits," he said of Jones. "He was an exhibit, like a piece of evidence. You see him speaking and you say to yourself, 'I don't want that man to have a gun.'"

Don't be the exhibit for gun control.

On the Slippery Slope
"If I give up assault weapons the government will want my pistols next. Then my hunting rifle and shotgun. Then my knives. Before long forks and spoons will also be gone. Then I become their socialist puppet." - I made this quote up
An active imagination can imagine all things. There's no evidence to indicate that Congress intends to take the first step in banning any guns much less taking them all away. When the hell has Congress done anything quickly or with certainty? And when has one thing actually led to another? [Update: Even though Obama may still be coming for your guns, he's not]

We declared our independence, freed the slaves, gave women the vote and made myriad changes to our union over the centuries. All, I'm sure, were lamented as doom by someone when the change was made. Doom has not followed. When we act together we seem to go in the right direction though it may not feel so at the time.

There is no slippery slope. It is fantasy.

On Tyranny and Dystopia
"...their paranoid fear of a possible dystopic future prevents us from addressing our actual dystopic present..." - Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, January 8, 2013
If President Obama was intent on becoming a tyrant he wouldn't be hoping that Congress would change some laws. He'd be scribbling them on a piece of paper and handing them to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go implement with the sharp end of a Hellfire missile.

In my opinion, the argument that we need assault weapons in order to protect ourselves from the threat of government tyranny is the biggest bunch of bullshit. It's not the second amendment that protects us from tyranny, it's the first. If the first amendment is under fire, that's when you should be in the streets, peacefully.

You are more likely to need your weapon to shoot a zombie than one of Obama's Secret Police.[4]

And, by the way, the opposite of tyranny is not anarchy. The antonym for tyranny is democracy. That's the correct response to growing tyranny.

On Conspiracy
After 9/11 conspiracy theorists were saying it either never happened or it did and the government did it. There are also those on the Internet saying the same about Sandy Hook and, apparently, any other gun massacre that happens.

There are some denyers and hoaxologists who do it for sport; creative writers who like nothing better than to stir the pot. AM radio is full of these folks. Some of these are sick, twisted individuals. It's wrong, but I accept it's protected by the first amendment.

But if you look in the mirror and actually believe that the government is out to get your guns and they're doing it by faking or actually murdering fellow citizens you are a sick bastard. I need you to comment on this post so I may forward your name to mental health professionals in your state. You are disturbed and you shouldn't have a gun.

A parting observation:
  • Extremists who want to preserve their rights to bear arms talk about shooting up the place if they don't get their way.
  • Extremists who want to restrain firearm rights threaten lawsuits or to write their Congressman a stern letter when they're not getting their way.
  • The vast majority of the people sit quietly in the middle saying nothing.

Who would you rather have a gun?

What would you see those folks in the middle do?

Read the final post in the series

1 - What I meant to say was that Sheriff Mueller was being an idiot but that wouldn't be polite so I called him theatrical. And that doesn't mean he's gay; not that there's anything wrong with that.
2 - Who am I kidding, all contemporary public discourse is polarizing.
3 - There's 168,203 names for Obama's jack booted thugs to put first on the list of people to send to reeducation camps.
4 - There are no secret police. Adjust the antenna on your foil cap. Actually, there are, and they're outside your front door. No, I'm just messing with you. They're not outside your front door. They're in your bedroom closet. Nah, that's just me messing with you again. They're actually inside your brain. Readjust your foil cap.


  1. Andy Rooney, on the subject of abortion, once said something to the effect that he agreed with the Pro-Lifers, but that he liked the people on the Pro-Choice side of the argument better. This 2nd Amendment debate sometimes feels this way.

    1. It does.

      I'm in the "pro-gun" camp. But I find the positions and language of the "pro-gun movement" to be largely distasteful. The view that guns cannot be at least part of the gun violence problem or that, if so, there's nothing you can do because of the second amendment is idiotic.

      Not that I want to judge....

  2. As someone who shoots a couple shotguns and target-style smallbore -- who also happens to be a lefty commie pinko on enviro issues -- I often find myself hiding from both sides on this one.

    It's pretty difficult to listen to someone who knows nothing about guns going on at length about guns ("their only use is to kill people").

    Yet I've entirely given up talking about issues like this at the local shooting ranges in my tea-party controlled rural county, where there is no shortage of people who believe Sandy Hook was a hoax, or that the Second Amendment -- alone among the amendments -- is somehow unlimited (as if we should be able to buy Stinger missiles at Wal-Mart).

    In California, we already experience many of the gun-control measures proposed by the administration, and the black helicopters haven't swarmed us yet, and I'm still able to have a lot of fun at the trap range, the smallbore range and even shooting steel challenge with a pistol.

    This stuff should be at the center of a healthy debate (I'd fight tooth and nail against sin taxes on ammo), but it shouldn't be the province of conspiracy theory, threats of violence against the rest of us, or the belief that any regulation is an infringement of the 2nd amendment.

    Now I'm going to go clean my Glock (really) after snowshoeing into the range for some practice over the weekend. It was nice. Nobody was there.

    1. "This stuff should be at the center of a healthy debate (I'd fight tooth and nail against sin taxes on ammo), but it shouldn't be the province of conspiracy theory, threats of violence against the rest of us, or the belief that any regulation is an infringement of the 2nd amendment."


  3. Well said. It's up to us to put it at the center. No-one else will.

    1. True in this case. True in the case of practically anything else.

  4. I've tried to steer clear of this debate because I don't want my next several months to feel like the end of the pre-election debates did. Full of angry nonsense and more vitriol than any one person could handle in a lifetime. Common sense tells me there is a reasonable solution. Intelligence tells me in 2013 American, it ain't gonna happen. Thanks for the thoughtful series of posts.

    1. You're welcome Howard. I think reasonable voices need to be heard. You don't need to dive into the mosh pit. Simply shoot a note to your representative.

  5. Another part of the problem is well documented right here in the comments thread. I too have dodged this issue because, like so many of the important ones, civil discourse seems impossible to achieve with the opposing factions. I have friends, one in particular, who are unable to do anything but spout nonsensical quips that they have picked up from hate-radio. So far I have chosen to not cut some of these people from my life because I know that deep down they are good folks. To do so would widen the chasm. My frustration at not being able to get through to them has until now had me side stepping this argument. We have become such a factious country and it saddens me deeply. I am 59 and choose my battles carefully to best utilize my waning strengths. I would like to print out your five commentaries and use them as a reference point to hopefully begin to sway the conversation with my most bull-headed antagonists. With your permission of course. I am, to engage in complete disclosure, a self-described "gun-totin' liberal.

    1. James, you are free to use and share these essays as you wish. I'm going to make my voice heard with my representatives in Congress and support things I believe in.