Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Atrocity

Pardon me if I ramble here, but I have a lot of things I want to say, all at once, and I'm not sure if I can be completely coherent about them, but I shall try.

I will begin by stating that what happened on Friday was an atrocity, pure and simple. It should never have happened, and I am sickened by it.

I also state with the same absolute conviction that, had I been there, I would have given my life to save those children. Full stop. Whether or not I would have succeeded is irrelevant; I would have gladly died trying to prevent the murder of 20 first-graders.

However, I would also have done my damnedest to make sure that [murderous fuckhead whose name is redacted because he doesn't deserve the fame] gave his life for those children instead, because he was a murderous fuckhead who deserved to die and I, of course, am not.

Okay. Hopefully we've established that I'm human here. But as a gunnie, I have to confess -- and I think I can speak for most other gunnies, too -- that we had a moment where we thought to ourselves "Jesus Christ, now comes the dancing in the blood and the yelling at the NRA."

I would LOVE if we could have just come together in a moment of tragedy and, at least for the weekend, to mourn for innocent lives cut short, bury our dead, and slowly come out from the horrifying shock. But that's not how people work.

I understand that many, many people are in pain right now, and that people in pain make emotional responses. I get that. I forgive that. But regardless of logic or lack thereof, because guns were used in this atrocity, the immediate reaction is to get rid of all guns everywhere, and because the desire is to do something, anything, to take away the pain and prevent this sort of thing from happening again, that side can seem awfully sympathetic -- especially if you've lost a loved one.

We, as gun owners, are faced with a Morton's Fork in situations like these. We can be decent human beings and refrain from saying anything political out of deference to the dead -- but when we finally try to address the "abolish the Second Amendment" comments, we seem like we are playing catch-up and have to overcome the political gains they've already made.

Or, we can operate on the premise that most (not all) of the people yowling for our heads are against us anyway, and so if we're going to be thought of as assholes and monsters, we might as well be politically effective assholes and monsters.

Either way, we end up looking like we're guilty of something, and I hate that. I certainly didn't kill anyone on Friday, and neither did the 80+ million lawful gun owners in America, but, as always, now come the calls for us to disarm ourselves and -- the irony is lost on them -- for our deaths, and the deaths of our children.

I have been called some pretty awful things this weekend, including "a murderer from a nation of murderers" and "a cunt", all because I like to lawfully own and operate a certain kind of tool. And in those same breaths, people are saying "Can we have that discussion about gun control now?"  Because, you know, calling me names really convinces me of the rightness of their argument.

So in conclusion, I'm going to say three things here, and I want everyone who reads this blog to think about these points before they leave a comment below.

1) The Discussion
Sure, let's have that discussion (again, for the millionth time). I'll even begin by offering a compromise:

  • You want me to give up semi-automatic rifles. Okay. 
  • In return, I want my concealed carry permit recognized nationwide, and the ability to carry my sidearm everywhere a cop can carry (basically, not into a courtroom or a jail). 
  • If you aren't willing to grant me this, or basically any other concession, then we are not having a discussion; you are instead trying to dictate terms to me. 
  • If you're trying to dictate terms, I don't believe you will ever stop once you get your way -- see the above calls for total disarmament. 
  • If you are trying to disarm me, then I shall quote Michael Z. WilliamsonFirst, in the Heller decision, the Supreme Court stated we do have a right to keep and bear arms. So that means, you are proposing to violate my civil rights. That's a dead end issue right there. If you're trying to find ways to violate my rights only to a certain degree in certain ways, you have to expect that I'm going to fight you as much as any other activist fighting someone who is trying to violate their civil rights. Hating me for that is irrational, and unless you hate other activists for protecting their rights, there's a word for you--the same word that applies to anti-porn crusaders, anti-religion crusaders and anti-press crusaders.

Now then. Are we actually going to have a discussion?  Somehow, I don't think we will.

2) The REAL Discussion
Why don't we talk about the actual problem, rather than just the symptom? Let's talk about how mental health care is in shambles, and has been since the middle of last century. Let's talk about how there's a huge stigma for seeking treatment, and how people who do admit "I sometimes want to hurt myself or other people. This is a problem, and I need help"  usually end up forcibly committed and/or have their rights abridged. This attitude keeps a lot of people from seeking the help that they desperately need, because they don't want to be treated like criminals for admitting that their wires need re-tuning.

Read this excellent article by a mother with a mentally disturbed child, and how her only options are to have him put in jail, or take him home and run the risk he will kill her or himself or someone else in the family.

Was Murderous Fuckhead mentally ill?  I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. My initial response is "Anyone who kills 20 innocent first-graders definitely has something wrong with them."  I mean, either he was deranged in some way, or you have to admit that He Was Evil.  Either one works for me, frankly.

3) What We SHOULDN'T Be Discussing

The Murderous Fuckhead's name, or his face, or anything else about him except as it possibly relates to point #2. Charlie Brooker had an excellent point about this:

Thank you for listening to me ramble. Thoughtful discussion is encouraged; name calling will result in banning.


  1. The discussion most people are unwilling to have when discussing firearm related deaths is how half or more are suicides; it is a mental health issue and so many ignore discussing it as such.

    The discussion seldom pays attention to the 10's of millions who own guns and are safe, sane and responsible.

    I've had to defend myself or family with threat of gun use and in none of those events was anyone harmed. The anti-gun set can't explain how things would have cone out better were I not capable of making that threat. A moron actually had a knife to my brothers throat, an unkown person was trying to break into my apartment in the middle of the night while my wife and infant children slept (and didn't stop until i made it clear I had a gun), in another instance a car full of hooligans poured out of their car with weapons in hand within sight of a police station because i had the nerve to voice my displeasure in being cutoff in traffic. In those situations no one ended up hurt and no one can explain to me they would have come off better for anyone involved with the lack of a gun.

  2. To date, I think I have demonstrated pretty conclusively that I can be trusted to own firearms, any sort of firearms, and I refuse to be punished because someone else, a long ways away, is defective.

    That is all the conversation I would have on the subject, if asked. Unsatisfying, perhaps, but I have nothing else to offer those using this atrocity to push their particular political bugaboo. God bless and keep those poor little children.

  3. I think you nailed it in one take.

  4. Erin,

    You missed one small point.  We *had* the discussion you are talking about in 1934, when the government effectively banned automatic firearms from anyone who wasn't rich and willing to be investigated.  We had the discussion again with background checks.  We had the discussion again with the 1986 ban on newly manufactured automatic firearms.  We had the discussion again with magazine size and cosmetic features on semi-automatic rifles.  Now you want to have another discussion about semi-auto rifles?


    No more compromises.

    I understand where you are trying to go, but we need to have a sense of history, here.  "We give up something, they give up something" might make them go away this time, but they will be back the next time there is some horrific shooting in the news, and they'll ask for something else.

    The answer is, "No, you may not have my firearms, and I will not cooperate with any additional restrictions you wish to enact."

  5. I'm aware of this. 

    I just got tired of being told "We aren't going to take your guns away" and then in the same breath be told that there was no reason, period, end of discussion, for a civilian to own an AR-15. 

    So I said, "Fine, let's see how serious they are," and made my proposal on various forms of social media. I mean, if they were okay with me having guns for self-defense and were ultimately committed to ridding the country of semi-auto rifles, you'd think they would at least have considered it. 

    It will come as a shock to no one that not a single person said "Hmm, that might be worth considering."  Which pretty much puts the lie to their claim that they aren't really out to ban all guns. 

    You see?

  6. The problem is, they won't respond to you on social media.  They won't engage in the discussion.  *They know they lose when they do that.*  There aren't any honest folk willing to have an honest discussion anymore.

    What they will do is quote you to your Congressperson: "You want me to give up my semi-automatic rifles.  Okay."  They'll leave out the rest, and they'll do it in a smoke filled back room that you will never hear about.  "No compromise" was a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

  7. Hmm, okay. That's something I hadn't considered. I guess I have yet to learn all the hard lessons. 

    Thanks for commenting. 

  8. As I said in the first post, I understand what you're trying to do.  Under other circumstances, with more honorable opponents, it might even work.

    Ask yourself why things stopped at mostly-banning automatic firearms in 1934.  There's a clear demarcation between one-shot-per-trigger-pull and fires-until-magazine-is-empty.  If you pass that line, what next? 

    In 1994, they were able to ban a few scary pieces of non-functional metal and plastic because people thought they were banning machine guns and forgot that machine guns had already been effectively banned in 1934.  That was their first step towards banning semi-autos.  Suppose they succeeded.

    What's the difference between a semi-auto handgun and a semi-auto rifle?  Well, you can conceal the handgun and much more crime is committed with the concealable handgun, and you can buy (large and clumsy) magazines of similar size, so ok, let's ban the rifles too.  What's the difference between a semi-auto and a revolver?  Well, umm, still one shot per trigger pull, you can reload almost as fast with a little training or carry two of them.  Now we're back to bolt-action rifles, pump shotguns, and single-shot dueling pistols.  Do you really *need* those other three or four rounds if you're shooting a deer?  You can just fire the one shot and either you hit it or it runs away, right?  Besides that looks sort of like a sniper rifle.  And that pump shotgun looks kind of like a street sweeper, and gosh it shoots 8 or 9 pellets, it's like a musket on steroids, and we know the redcoats used muskets don't we?  It's a military weapon!

    No compromise.  We can't afford to give up any more ground.

  9. Pump action shotguns are already in the same class as semiautomatic firearms here in Germany. Every time some idiot goes on a rampage restrictions get tightened, unless the weapon(s) used weren't obtained legally, then it's a non-issue.

  10. You seem to be taking the negative press really hard. I hope you're okay, internally. I try to remember that there are other gunnies, way more seasoned than me who have weathered worse storms than this and for longer. It's blogs like yours that keep the spirit of normal people, exercising their rights, alive.

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  12. Very good post. Although I am with Mike James.

  13. No one aspires to become "an anonymous mass murder". I wonder
    if liberal pundits like George Will or Rachel Maddow - whose histrionic
    invective against guns and the second amendment nauseates responsible
    gun owners - will support president Obama if he takes Col. Grossman's
    recommendations to heart and moves to ban FPS video games, or limit
    violence on TV and movies, or censor all news outlets, prohibiting - by
    threat of license revocation - all publicly licensed broadcasters from
    revealing mass murders' names. (Requiring entirely anonymous reporting
    of mass shootings would deny all future emulators the personal
    notoriety publicity confers, thus removing one powerful motivator of
    such infamous mayhem.) Somehow I doubt the "liberal" press' strident
    calls for immediate action will be half so passionate if that action
    manifests as restrictions on first - rather than second - amendment rights.


    And here's two concessions I'd like from "the other side" which don't directly or immediately "enhance gun rights".

    1.  Let's stop talking about this for awhile. If the gun owners of
    this country are willing to limit magazines to, say, 10 rounds - then in
    return they get a provision absolutely banning legislative consideration of - or even public discussion of - any further reductions in magazine capacity: for 100 years.
    The same for every concession on weapon style, function, lethality,
    registration, ammunition, background checks,  . . . whatever. Creating a
    circumstance where gun control would not be revisited
    within the lifetime of anyone present would force those whose real
    agenda is complete prohibition to put up or shut up; admit their true
    intentions or get out of the discussion. And it would reassure gun
    owners that "incremental prohibition" - while not strictly impossible -
    will be glacially slow.   2. A constitutional amendment providing for states' orderly withdrawal
    from the union - like the process historically used for US territories'
    admission into statehood - but in reverse.
    I am not a 'secessionist', but I'm sympathetic to those who are. And I realize this would not be
    easy: issues of federal military bases & reservations, national
    parks & forests, social security payments, foreign military presence
    on newly minted 'sovereign soil', etc. would all have to be addressed.
    (Even if they're not one of the United States we really don't want S.
    Dakota renting its missile silos to N. Korea.-) 


    But the benefits would be worth the effort. The peaceful
    Balkenization of the US would recreate 'the frontier' as states dropped
    out and founded their own versions of paradise. And like the original US
    frontier (and Europe's "new world") it would provide the social safety
    valve now so desperately needed: giving intractables on all sides of
    this (and other) issue(s) a reasonable alternative to stubbornly
    standing their ground, or imposing their mad beliefs on unbelievers. If
    we can't live tolerably together - we should live apart. Without another
    civil war.


    As for the mass-shooting maniacs: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
    Many school districts require all teachers be CPR certified because -
    in a rare emergency - it's a critical lifesaving skill. Maybe it's
    time CHL was also a required credential - for the same reason. 

  14. We have a provision absolutely banning legislative consideration of firearms bans.  It's called the 2nd Amendment, and it doesn't seem to stop them.  Outside of constitutional amendments, one session of congress cannot make a binding rule for future legislation: such a promise would be worth nothing. 


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