Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shoot

Ever since the shooting on Saturday in Tucson, the back-and-forth between gun lovers and gun control advocates has gotten heated back up.  This is one of the stupidest arguments I've ever heard of.  If you think about it logically in a risk vs. benefits type of way, guns, especially handguns, are the stupidest idea in the world.  It's a tiny cannon that you can carry in your pocket, and if you don't accidentally shoot your own balls off, you can go into a crowd and kill twenty or thirty people in a few seconds.

One of the arguments for guns is that the right to bear arms is protected by the constitution.  So is owning slaves.  The constitution is fantabulous and all, but it was written when the most technological weapons around were muzzle loaders.  Do you know how much time and effort it takes to fire a muzzle loader?  And the accuracy is horrible.  If you wandered into a crowd of people with a muzzle loader you'd be able to kill one person at most (and it would be a lucky shot, probably not the person you were aiming for) before everyone would run for their lives while you reload.  Technology has rolled right along in the last 200 years, and now you can stand at the edge of a crowd, or in the door of a classroom, and pretty accurately kill several people before anyone has a chance to react.  I don't think that's what the founding fathers had in mind.  

Muzzle loaders were an important tool when our country was young.  You could shoot at the British, or bears, or runaway slaves.  All important to the man of the 1790s.  What's the use of a handgun today?  The only thing it is for is killing people.  Bears aren't much of a problem to the modern man, and runaway slaves are a thing of the past. Why does anyone want a tool specifically made to kill other people?  And why do we want to let the crazies who do want it have it?  I think the reasonable people are just afraid of being shot if they get too loud about it.

Another argument gun defenders use is that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."  They say that this kid who went on a rampage, and the other young men who have gone on rampages in the past several years are mentally ill and would kill people anyway regardless if they had guns or not, but they all had guns.  Maybe it's true, but it would be a lot harder to stab 20 people than it would be to just point and pull a trigger.  It doesn't take a lot of thought or imagination to load a gun and shoot.  I think the first time that crazy person grabbed another person and sunk a knife into their flesh, it would maybe seem a bit more real and a lot grosser and horrifying and less glorified than they built it up in their mind.  (Also, as a teacher I think it would be good for the crazy kids to think of more creative ways to kill their classmates than to simply bring guns into school.  Come on crazy kids, do a little thinking!)  If you're going to go so far as to kill another person, you should at least have to get a little dirty doing it.    

I've heard that people keep handguns for "protection."  Protection from what exactly?  Who is after you?  Do you think maybe you might be just a tad paranoid?  Is it worth keeping a deadly weapon around your family because of the one in a million chance someone will threaten you to the point where a gun would be your only solution?  If someone did come into your house and threatened you, is your gun handy?  Can you get to it in time?  Is it loaded?  And if it is loaded, what the hell is wrong with you keeping a loaded gun in your house!? And if it is handy and loaded, what would keep this obviously desperate person from simply snatching it out of your hands when you hesitate at the thought of killing another person, and shooting you in the brain?  

13 comments:

  1. Your a fucking idiot.

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  2. Thank you for your well-thought-out response! You have totally made me see how wrong I am! You are so brave to leave it anonymously too! Oh, and you spelled "you're" wrong, moron.

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  3. You are an idiot...but it has nothing to do with this blog it has to do with you being my sister and making a chant out of "Beth the dope is dumb" when I was a child.

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  4. I agree with you Sarah. I guess we are fucking idiots together!

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  5. I agree with Beth....although my thoughts about your idiocy have to do with you making a chant out of "chewy-chewy-chewbacca-chewy-chewy-BACCA!!!" when I was a child.

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  6. That was perfect.
    Welcome to America where our craziest, stupidest, angriest people are armed with automatic weapons.

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  7. Dude, apparently Anonymous #1 doesn't know you very well.

    While I understand your opinion, and respect your right to it, I have to disagree with you on most of this one.

    First, while Articles I, IV and V of the constitution were written in part to codify the holding of slaves, the thirteenth amendment made the practice illegal. Likewise, if the second amendment, or parts of it, was found distasteful enough for a 2/3 legislative proposal and a 3/4 vote, it too could be mitigated by amendment. That hasn't happened to date.
    There are a lot of interpretations of what the second amendment means; mine is that it was enacted to protect the populace from its own government, should that government become oppressive or dangerous to its constituency. I think that's a valid reason to have such an amendment. That said, I don't really think gun ownership is something I should have to justify with an amendment saying it's okay for me to have one. I just think the wording of the constitution is often interesting and imminently open to interpretation, which I like.
    The argument that advancing technology is a valid argument against [modern] gun ownership is a very slippery slope, in my opinion. If the answer is to ban guns because they're too dangerous in their current, advanced state of engineering, I can think of a couple of counterarguments: (continued in next comment)

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  8. 1. What happens when home computers, iPhones etc. are also considered too dangerous to be held by the general population. I have a couple of acquaintances in EOD [along with most of Homeland Security] who would be glad to debate how dangerous those devices can be.
    2. There is a wide variety of extremely low-tech materiel that can be used to inflict massive damage by non-technicians - even at remote distances. Tim McVeigh and company blew up most of a city block with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (basically fertilizer and diesel).

    Basically, I don't believe in the argument that the availability of guns makes people more murderous or dangerous just by proximity. If that were true, people would constantly be running over each other in their cars - certainly Humvees - a careful driver could take out ten or fifteen pedestrians with one, easily, all while sitting *in* their escape vehicle.

    As for defending one's home with firearms, I agree that it's unrealistic to expect most people in most situations to adequately do so, and the risk far outweighs the benefit. I kind of find the idea ludicrous, actually. Anyone considering it should look up how many walls their gun will shoot through, then consider where their family sleeps, then most of them should abandon the idea.

    Regarding personal defensive carry of handguns, I'm admittedly on the fence. I have lived in areas where it was probably realistic to believe a mortal threat to myself or my family could exist (I've been threatened with a handgun less than 100 feet from my front door, for instance). Next time you go to D.C., I'll give you our old address and you can check it out :). I can fully understand why a small portion of gun owners might actually feel like their lives could be extended with a license to carry a handgun. On the other hand, I talk to *lots* of people who have gone and gotten their concealed carry licenses after which I'm left scratching my head - these people live in cushy suburban homes where the biggest risk is that the sprinkler system might not kick on while they're away in Cabo, prematurely yellowing their grass. It's kind of absurd.

    Full disclosure: I own a number of firearms. I even own some handguns. I go target shooting with them two or three times a month because I enjoy it. It's a hobby like archery or darts. When I return from the gun range, the guns are cleaned and made safe/inoperable, then returned to their locked case. I rarely take the guns out and prance through the house making "Pew! Pew!" noises. I don't hunt, and I don't think anyone is coming to try to get me, although I trust you would tell me if you knew of anyone who was.

    Okay, enough out of me. It's been a long day, and I just inadvertently made it quite a bit longer.

    Tschüss!

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  9. Jared and Sarah and Eva, thank you so much for your comments! (Amy and Beth, you totally deserved those chants. It was part of my big sister duties. It could have been worse.)

    Jared, Wow, what a lot to think about! As usual, you expressed your side of things very coherently, but unfortunately, I'm not convinced. Here's why:

    1. If our government became oppressive, having a handgun wouldn't do much against tanks and fire-bombing. (Waco) That's a slippery slope we've already slid down.

    2. I can understand how some may think that computers and iPhones and the like might be dangerous, but at least they are tools that are ostensibly for the purpose of non-dangerous pursuits. You can't say the same about a Glock with a 30 bullet clip. The purpose of that is to kill as many people as fast as you can.

    I also understand that low-tech material can be made to be dangerous (i.e. Oklahoma City), but the things McVeigh used were intended for other purposes. He chose to use them and make a weapon. Lots of things can be deadly weapons. I think of all the nice country boys that have gotten suspended from school because they carry a pocket knife with them all the time and don't even think about it and would NEVER use them against another person. A person could just as easily stab someone in the neck with a sharp pencil as a pocket knife, but it's extrodinarily rare. Guns are too easy.

    I agree with you about how lawful we are as a nation. 99.9% of us act with civility every day and don't, for example, use our cars to mow down a crowd of people. Cars are so useful though. I can't really say the same about guns.

    I just think it's silly for us, being soft fleshy meat-bags to manufacture and want to have something that is made for the sole purpose of making holes in our soft fleshy meat. Seems counterproductive.

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  10. Thanks for the feedback, Sarah.

    I'm trying to sort out what our actual differences are, so please tell me if I get something wrong!

    Your first numbered comment suggests having a handgun will be ineffective in the case of a government gone "rogue". Does that mean you think the second amendment is pointless because the national military is just too powerful to oppose, or just that you don't believe handguns are useful in modern warfare? I disagree on both counts. Almost all combat arms troops carry a sidearm as a secondary weapon for use in close quarters fighting and during mid-near range during reloads of their rifles. It's tactical insurance, in other words.

    I think cases like Waco, Ruby Ridge etc. are poor examples of the nature of the second amendment simply due to their lack of popular anti-government support. Right or wrong, they were not situations where the general population engaged in an organized attempt to subdue the government. If anything, they are better examples of oppression than they are of a cogent resistance to oppression.

    Item 2 is, I guess, a matter of opinion. As I believe I pointed out in my initial comment, I do not consider the destruction of human life to be the only (or even remotely likely) purpose for my [hand]guns.

    The point of my comments (aside from the detour into constitutional interpretation) was/is to assert that there are numerous legal, practical uses to which [hand]guns may be put. Utility is subjective a lot of the time, and I understand it's difficult to champion something when no practical use is apparent - particularly when there's a potential for danger. For instance, I could say I don't see any useful purpose in the consumption of alcohol, and it can certainly pose a serious risk to both the drinker and others in their vicinity. I wouldn't advocate reinstating prohibition, though, for several reasons:
    1. I don't think you can legislate people into acting responsibly.
    2. I don't think it's the place of government to place arbitrary restrictions on the liberties of its people.
    3. Prohibition (per the Volstead Act) was a massive FAILURE since the government lacked the will or ability to enforce it.

    I don't think this is as Boolean a topic as it is often made out to be. Guns and gun ownership are neither good nor bad. Attitudes about guns can be good or bad, as can the intentions of their owners. People are weird, and lots of them are dangerously ignorant, insane or malicious, but I don't think it's appropriate to configure society to the lowest common denominator.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this matter, and I'm not trying to change yours. I'm glad we have different feelings on the matter. It makes me examine my motivations, which is always a good thing.

    J

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  11. Hi again Jared! This is fun! Yes, I think the second amendment is pointless because civilians could not stand up to our military the way it is now, weapons-wise. And yes, I know troops carry sidearms but they are in war where the object is to find other meatbags and shoot them.(don't get me started) If you are involved in a practice of seeing who can kill the most people, guns are the ideal weapon. Which is exactly why I don't like the idea of just anyone carrying them around. This is where I get into a pickle with myself because like you, I don't think it's the government's job to tell us what we can and cannot do and what we can and cannot have. I agree with you that there are plenty of other things around that serve no productive purpose, but if someone wants to drink or smoke, it most likely won't end up with me getting shot in the head. Doesn't England have a ban on handguns? I'll have to look it up and see how that's working for them. Between that and their healthcare, and their lack of horrible winters, it's looking like a good place to retire!

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  12. I would vote for you, if you were running for anything. I'm in Canada though, so I don't think my vote would count. Good blog.

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  13. Setting aside the probability of an all-out armed conflict between citizens and their government - it's extremely unlikely to *ever* happen - it's worth considering what a prolonged period of political unrest or a natural disaster might do to people's attitudes about responsibility for their personal safety.
    During the aftermath of Katrina, affected areas of Mississippi and Louisiana turned into disease-filled, largely lawless zones for *weeks*. Crime (theft as well as violent) skyrocketed. FEMA was, by anyone's measure, wholly inadequate to restore order quickly, as were other government agencies. During that time, people were largely responsible for their own survival, including the protection of themselves, their families and their property. It's interesting to note that during that time the local constabulary in New Orleans, along with the National Guard, conducted warrantless house to house searches and seizures of any firearms. A U.S. District Court eventually filed a restraining order to stop the seizures, acknowledging they were illegal. Afterward, the city disavowed the seizures and attempted to keep over 1000 firearms that had been confiscated.

    I think protection during civil emergency or political upheaval and temporary suspension of public services are very reasonable concerns addressed by the second amendment.

    The U.K. permits rifles, but only in .22LR rimfire, muzzle-loading pistols for now, although it may change before 2012. Shotguns are allowed, although there are magazine size restrictions.
    I'm not sure I would move there thinking they don't have horrible winters, by the way. They aren't nearly as cold as those in Minnesota, but they are very damp and chilly; an uncomfortable pairing if you're not used to it. I wonder if hypothermia plays a role in Parliament's activities in the Fall and Winter months...I'm retiring in Bali.

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I would love your comments.