Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Bloomberg to Gun Culture: “Help Me!”

Thank you, Michael Bloomberg, for finally admitting that gun owners are correct.

Oh, I’m certain that he didn’t mean to do it; after all, the non-opinion piece titled You Just Panic-Bought a Gun. Here’s How to Handle It Safely was written by Alain Stephens, not Bloomberg himself, but as it was published in Bloomberg's anti-gun organ The Trace on March 20th, and as Bloomberg is its owner and publisher, that means he owns, in every sense of the word, what it says.

I imagine that galls Bloomberg terribly, since he has told us for nearly two decades that no one needs a gun. Now, despite his best efforts, his anti-gun magazine is acknowledging the awkward truth that people want guns to protect themselves and their families in a crisis where the police may be late to arrive (if in fact they arrive at all, given how many city police departs are stretched to the breaking point with many officers out sick) and so in acknowledgement of that fact, The Trace is reluctantly giving these new gun owners advice on how to safely handle their new firearm.

The irony of this situation is that neither The Trace, nor any other anti-gun organization, nor even Michael Bloomberg himself has experience in this regard. His position has always been abstinence-only when it comes to firearm education, and like an abstinence-only parent who discovers that his child is having premarital sex, his choices have become “Ignore the situation and hope it goes away” and “Accept reality and seek advice from a professional.” As ignoring the situation almost always leads to unfortunate consequences like unplanned teenage pregnancies or negligent discharges which result in injury or death, Bloomberg, has decided - most likely unintentionally, and almost assuredly to his great gall - to take the mature course of action and seek the advice of experts.

Unfortunately for Bloomberg, those experts whose advice he has sought are precisely those people whom he and his various anti-gun organizations (Everytown, Moms Demand Action, March for our Lives, et al.) have vilified. After the article’s obligatory references to “numerous studies” about the inherent dangers of gun ownership, the first given piece of firearms safety advice are the Four Rules of Gun Safety:
  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of the firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Don’t place your finger near the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  4. Always identify your target - and what lies in front of and behind it. 
Accompanying these rules are a link to the blog of Springfield Armory, a manufacturer of semi-automatic weapons including the much-maligned AR-15 rifle, a firearm which Bloomberg would dearly love to make illegal.

What’s more, in that same blog post Springfield Armory is quoting Colonel Jeff Cooper, the man who not only created the Four Rules but was also a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association. Yes, you read that correctly: an article in Bloomberg’s anti-gun The Trace just went to the NRA for help. Isn’t it curious that, after years of calling the NRA and its members awful people who value guns over safety, the very first piece of firearm safety instruction comes from the NRA? Thank you, Michael Bloomberg, for admitting that the NRA actually teaches firearm safety.

Oh, but the hits don’t stop there. Not only is there a link to an instructional YouTube video titled How to Use an AR-15 by Lucky Gunner (the ammunition drop-shipping company which was sued by the Brady Campaign after the Aurora, CO shooting), there are also links to other YouTube videos made by the Tactical Rifleman and Legally Armed America channels. Thank you, Michael Bloomberg, for endorsing the instructional content of  YouTube gun channels.

This whole article has been a parade of amazement, but the part of it which left me most amazed was that its paragraph on safe storage did not take the opportunity to state that firearms and their ammunition must be stored separately. I don’t know how this tacit admission that it’s a terrible idea to keep your self-defense firearm locked up separately from the ammunition needed to operate it ever made it past the editors, but it did, and I find myself worrying about the future career prospects of The Trace’s editor-in-chief.

Unfortunately this article, and therefore Michael Bloomberg, never actually took that final step of admitting that in a self-defense situation the time needed to retrieve ammunition kept separately from a firearm can result in the death of innocents, but given all of the other admissions in this article I’ll gladly forgive this oversight. I will also take this opportunity to state for the record that if your self-defense weapon is a pistol kept properly holstered on your body, not only can you keep it loaded and ready to deploy to defend yourself or loved ones, but you are also keeping it safe and out of the hands of your children, thereby negating the need to lock it up during the day.

Thank you, Michael Bloomberg, for admitting that guns keep us safe, that citizens can responsibly own the AR-15, that firearm education is necessary, and that gun owners were right all along. Now it is up to you to decide if you wish to keep to this new philosophy or revert back to your abstinence-only worldview once this crisis has passed. As you do so, please keep in mind that many new gun owners will be doing the same, and now that they have skin in this particular political game they may no longer be as receptive to your old views as they once were. Bear that in mind, lest you alienate a now-growing segment of your readership.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 095: The Madness Abounds

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about a defensive gun use that stopped a potential mass shooting, then discuss the assorted nuttery happening in relationship to the COVID-19 quarantine;
  • Loveball returns to the show to talk about what it's like to be a Kindergartner under social distancing;
  • Weer'd fisks Igor Volsky's pearl-clutching "NowThis News" segment on the recent quarantine-fueled run on guns;
  • and Steve the House Dick breaks his radio silence to bring us a tale about about how the Trunk Monkey got nailed in the trunk in Detroit.

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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Wednesday Night Wackiness: The MA37 Assault Rifle (Standard UNSC Rifle)

I've mentioned before how I adore people taking fictional or absurd topics and giving them full-length, super-serious analysis?

Yeah, this is one of those. In this case it's a well-known gun vlogger talking about the battle rifle from the Halo  series of games.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Little Dream Analysis

Most of the time I don't remember my dreams, but when I do they're usually remarkable; for them to be ordinary is in fact quire extraordinary.

Last night my brain gave me a neat name for a character. There was no context to it whatsoever, just the name "Titch Gamalol" which was then modified to a more ethnic "Tich Gamaliel". I know that Gamaliel is a Hebrew name and I was hoping that Tich (which in my head was pronounced with a long E sound and the ch of chutzpah) was a name or nickname in Hebrew or Yiddish or German, but so far my research hasn't turned up anything. I hope it does, because I'm always delighted when my brain absorbs something subliminally and then releases the info to me late at night in a dream. That's how I learned that the word for cowboy protective leg gear is called "chaps". No lie.

However, I promised you dream analysis and there's nothing to analyze in a name like that. Instead, let me tell you about a dream I had last week and the analysis thereof.

In my dream I was a competitive ice skater. I don't know if I was at the Olympic or another event, but I knew it some kind of contest or championship. Everyone knew I was transgender but they didn't seem to care that I was in the women's division. Security was on high alert because there was some alleged threat about Russians -- the dream never said, but in context it was clear they meant spies or saboteurs or some other kind of bad actor, not just "people from Russia" -- and it was believed they had infiltrated the event to disrupt it in some way. I learned this from a lesbian political analyst who is my RL friend and might (or might not) have been my lover in this dream.

I know that I went onto the ice to do my routine, bu I don't remember what it was. All I can tell you is that I was wearing something cute with a fluttery skirt and it was sparkly -- I can't even tell you what color it was -- and that at some point during my routine I twisted my ankle badly. Maybe I fell and knocked myself out, because the next thing I remember is waking up in a synagogue(!) full of old Jewish people, who gently fussed over me and my injury.

Then they told me it was time to leave. I tried to go out the front door, but that was a door to a mall (and indoor mall, not a strip mall) and there were people out there and an old lady told me that we needed to go out the back door like the employees and service personnel. I was still having trouble walking, so she gave her cane to help me, and her cane was made of bones suspended in clear Lucite.

As we got ready to leave, all the men went out first. Then I was told to go next, then the women went out. I don't remember what happened after walking through the door.

So, let's analyze this.

Me being an ice skater is very unusual, as I don't know much about the sport at all. My mother LOVES it, though, and it's on a lot during the winter months so I'll see bits and pieces as I walk through the living room. I'll occasionally stop to admire a pretty girl or a cute outfit, but that's about it.

I'm pretty sure this represents my hopes and dreams -- I'm pretty, wearing a pretty outfit, considered a woman despite being trans, performing in a heavily gendered sport which my mother enjoys -- all of this is about being accepted as a "legitimate" female by society in general and hopefully by my mother in particular.

Given that I never saw any Russian agents in my dream, I think my subconscious took a leaf from the recent impeachment hearings and used them to represent a vague boogeyman who might not even exist. Given the nonstop media coverage of COVID-19 and my own conflict over what the media tells me vs. what I'm seeing in real life, I think this was my brain trying to reconcile my own pragmatic rationalism with ambient beer flu hysteria.

Speaking of pragmatic rationalism, that was personified by the conservative political analyst as she's the one who told me about the agents. I think the fact that I didn't know if she was my lover or not is important; I'm trying to be rational in these times of panic, but like the "maybe she is, maybe she isn't" love interest I often doubt yourself. So this whole thing is about whether or not I trust myself to make the right decision when confronted with rationality vs. hysteria.

The fact that I don't remember doing an ice routine just reinforces the notion that the dream wasn't about ice skating at all.

The synagogue full of old people like has to do with the fact that my dad's side of the family are old Jews who either fled the Nazis or died at their hands. The mall represents society as a whole, and the service entrances are routes of escape that aren't noticed (or known) by most people. The cane of bones makes this blatant symbolism for "Lean on who we are, and what lessons you learned from us, to get you through this". That I was allowed to go after the men, but before the women, is another "Hey, you're transgender, this is important for the dream" nod because I occupied that in-between position.

So why is the second half of my dream telling me to flee, like the Jews fled the Nazis, when the first half is about me trying to overcome fear with rationality? That's likely because the recurring theme of the whole dream is self-doubt: I want her to love me, but does she? I want to be accepted, but why do I still feel separate? How can I flee if I have a hurt ankle?

I really feel that the underlying issue which my brain is trying to process is "In the face of a global pandemic which may change your life forever, how do I survive and still remain a woman?" Because if I need to evacuate for whatever reason, I will likely need to leave behind not just my feminine clothes and makeup and jewelry, but also my identity as a woman because I'm not yet at the stage where I can pass for female without all that stuff. So maybe my brain was trying to figure out a way where I could be femme without baggage; or maybe it was trying to come to terms with what I might have to leave behind as a way to get over the shock now instead of later.

My point is this: there's a lot of scary imagery being tossed about. It's natural to feel doubts. It's natural to be worried, to feel overwhelmed. It's natural to wonder about what kind of world we're going to be entering -- I couldn't even conceive of it in my dream -- and what we'll leave behind.

We can't all be strong all the time. If you feel yourself weakening, that's okay. Take a rest in a synagogue, let some kindly old Jews fuss over you, and follow their lead -- or, put another way, rest where you feel it's safe, surround yourself with love and self-care, and listen to the advice of people you trust.

We can get through this.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 094: Sure Would Be Nice To Have A Gun Now, Wouldn't It?

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the ammo and gun shortage in reaction to COVID-19, as well as an innovative strategy for keeping people working and happy;
  • David tells us how to swage your own bullets;
  • Weer'd fisks a propaganda film for a March for Our Lives protest you probably never even heard about;
  • and Oddball gives another use for a Raspberry Pi Micro Computer: a Virtual Private Network and a network-wide ad blocker.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Weer'd Audio Fisk:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Guns.Com Interview about Blue Collar Prepping

Lat week I was contacted by Jacki Billings, an editor at Guns.Com, who said that they were doing a series on prepping and wanted to know if I was open to an interview. I was of course delighted to talk to a new (and given current circumstances, much larger than usual) audience about the joys and comforts of emergency preparedness.

That interview was published today, and I think I did quite well. I especially like that I was asked questions such as "What advice would you give to new preppers?" Usually I am asked things like "Aren't you paranoid?" or "How much money have you sunk into this?" and it was a genuine pleasure to be able to help people get started.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday Night Wackiness: Speaking of Les Stroud...

... he is doing a Survivorman web series on COVID-19. It's basically Les satirizing himself.

I found it funny. Check it out!

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