Shootin’ Straight in Gila Bend

NEW SLAUGHTERGila Bend, Arizona

It’s a special feeling to be as close to the center of a specific universe as we were on Gun Appreciation Day. While the Constitution I clutched was only in my mind — and in jibbered-up fragments, since I’m terrible with memorization and can’t even get lines of movie dialogue straight beyond, “New shit has come to light, man” — I did have the company of “Your Gun Talk Radio Station” nearly all the way from Phoenix to Gila Bend, had I been able to endure it longer than its puny AM signal lasted.

Given the moment, post-Sandy Hook, threats/promises of new gun laws in the air and Barack Obama’s second inauguration set for a couple of days down the line, the conversation was pretty much as you’d expect. Tyranny is afoot. As predicted by both Nostradamus and Wayne LaPierre, liberals are coming to “grab your guns”, and the only sane response is to get yourself to the next gun show — which in Arizona will always be tomorrow morning, somewhere  — and stockpile up, while you still can.

But for some reason it was the commercials that struck me more as we finally departed the Phoenix sprawl and angled southwest toward I-8, San Diego and La Jolla, (where “Gun Talk” apparently isn’t syndicated, though everyone there looks to have a hell of a lot more to protect).

One three commercial block featured, in order, an ad for some kind of liquid “chelation” therapy, maybe in a 16 oz. can, of a science-y sounding gunk that promises to  “clean plaque out of your arteries”, without all that pussy-ass exercizing, rabbit-food eatin’ and yoga mat shit.  (“Hell”, I thought, “why  not just put that stuff on tap, and serve it to us at two-for-one happy hours”). Next came a spot for “restless leg syndrome” and a local “medical professional” (or at least guy who played one on the radio) who had found a cure-all the pointy heads at Johns Hopkins somehow missed. Finally, we had a spot for a bail bond service, for those times, I assumed, when you’ve been unconstitutionally hassled for exercising your right to swill chelation therapy beer while your restless leg hammers the accelerator to the floor and, imagining one more step, you road hunt with your Bushmaster for terrorist/immigrants coming through the Sonora.

Now, I’ll give the station, and its target audience, the benefit of the doubt that assume that somewhere else in the course of the broadcast day the ad breaks are wall-to-wall Audi-Mercedes-Biltmore weekends and Scottsdale gallerias. But, well hell, knowing a couple of things about what advertisers expect to find in certain radio audiences, artery-clogged bail-jumpers was probably about right for the “Gun Talk” crowd, so I doubt you’ll ever hear a pitch for the Audi S7, even in “Gun Rights” drive-time.

As I say, the callers and conversation were pretty much exactly what you’d expect, with a lot of reiteration of the “tyranny” thing and the currently popular assertion of “expertise”. This “expertise” business is always brought by way of posing a stark contrast to nattering “libtards”, silly know-nothings who get all freaked out and emotional at the sight of 20 shot-up first-graders and start running around breaking down doors and “grabbin’ guns”. The boys — all men calling in, but you already knew that — repeatedly emphasized to the host and each other, how much they knew about arcane firearm performance details. Muzzle velocity. Barrel dynamics. Flux capacitor ratios. It was pretty eye-glazing.

Since they all claimed to be experts I don’t know who they were trying to impress with the “more expert than you” shtick, but it was a prominent feature.

To anyone outside the “Gun Talk” bubble, which is a pretty healthy chunk of the population, this constant self-acclamation of “expertise” is about as impressive and counter-reassuring, in a “they doth acclaim waaay too much” way as the get-a-life football experts calling in to sports talk shows with their obsessively researched battle, excuse me, game plans for the Super Bowl. Both camps really need to find something else to do with their time, although in terms of posing any mortal danger, I can’t recall the last time some football nerd’s obsession nearly killed his granddaughter coming in after curfew.

By the time we reached the ocean — where we later learned Mitt Romney was also chilling, avoiding any pretense of being a good loser by attending the inauguration — local TV was running video of “gun enthusiasts” at some San Diego-area “Gun Appreciation Day” show.

Go ahead, describe for me the demographic make-up.

Time’s up.

If there was a black face in the otherwise all white, over-40, but mostly over-60 milling mob of white guys with a curious affinity for fu manchu style facial hair, he was selling Pepsi off in the wings.

Nor did I see a booth for the miracle chelation therapy drink, or bail bonds.

But the bottom line point is this: While Joe Biden and Obama and Diane Feinstein have a long, long way to go to get wobbly-legged Democrats — like Minnesota’s Tim Walz — to repudiate the NRA and get on the right side of history at this moment, the crowd deep in the “Gun Talk” bubble is losing by erosion of support and increased marginalization. Heightened media exposure — which will continue for months, if not years to come (we all know another mass slaughter is only days away) — is a steadily encroaching disaster for their “cause”. The more the broader public hears of the off-putting “expertise”of “Gun Talkers”, and sees of the weirdly homogeneous crowd fondling handguns and stroking rifle barrels in preparation for some imagined Armaggeddon, and reacts to that crowd’s glee at staving off bans on assault rifles and 100-bullet clips, the more the public consigns them and all their sympathizers to the same social compartment, labelled, “Nutty/Creepy — Keep a Distance”.

Good luck returning from that compartment.

78 thoughts on “Shootin’ Straight in Gila Bend

  1. bertram jr. says:

    Happy to hear that your trip to the chakra bead / sweat lodge/ Obama chanting circle / indigenous peoples study group is going well.

    When you return, however, Bertram Jr recommends some counseling for the psycho-sexual stereotyping you seem to be victimized by when it comes to anything gun related (“stroking of barrels”, etc.) .

    A remedial course on the Constitution, and American history vis a vis liberty would’t hurt either.

    Gun Talk is one of the fastest growing shows in American radio. It used to be on here in the Land of Ten Thousand Taxes before the numb-nuts folks who also dropped Laura Ingrahams show axed it.

    Why don’t you stop in and have a chat with the sheriff in Gila Bend about whether he is planning to entertain “enforcement” of Barry’s silly “gun violence” initiatives?

    Closed circuit to Ellen – quick, what is the diifference between a clip and a magazine?

    For extra credit what is the difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic? What does .30-.06 mean? Describe a folding stock and a pistol grip in terms of application and common usage?

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      At the risk of bringing on a case of brain hives, BJ, old sock, I offer this New Yorker article on the history of the US military.
      This particular excerpt was telling of the immense change in US attitudes, not only regarding the military, but guns in general. Give it a go…

      Six years later, the United States entered the First World War, and the staggering devastation of that war raised both new and old fears about the business of arming men. In 1934, the publication of “Merchants of Death,” a best-seller and a Book-of-the-Month-Club selection, contributed to the formation, that year, of the Senate Munitions Committee, headed by Gerald P. Nye, a North Dakota Republican. Not coincidentally, that was also the year Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which, among other things, strictly regulated the private ownership of machine guns. (Keeping military weapons out of the hands of civilians seemed to the Supreme Court, when it upheld the Firearms Act, in 1939, entirely consistent with the Second Amendment, which provides for the arming of militias.)

      http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2013/01/28/130128crat_atlarge_lepore?currentPage=all

      1. Erik says:

        Ahem.

        1939 Miller v US found that the NFA was not a violation of the 2nd amendment. The material question was, could sawed off shotguns be outlawed.

        The court found that they could…because sawed off shotguns aren’t of any use to a militia. Thus, they could be banned from public use.

        It’s not a good court case.

        Just trying to help with some expert insight.

      2. Jim Leinfelder says:

        The larger point, Erik, is that the attitudes toward an armed populace that you guys consider to be so static and sacrosanct so that you can overthrow the government is, in fact, a more recent fad among disaffected white guys.

      3. Erik says:

        I don’t see how you can see how that can be right.

        Heller v DC and then McDonald v Chicago were the culmination of 40 years of 2nd amendment scholarship, the effort of which was to demonstrate the historical underpinning for the individual right, and establish its source to the founding.

        I paraphrase, but this concept of the individual right and its provenance was basically acknowledged 9-0 in each case, with say Breyer and Stevens and the left of the court merely disagreeing that DC and Chicago could still ban handguns under the circumstances.

        These efforts to dismiss the historical sanctity are consistent, but lightweight by comparison. You’ve got an assertion there that basically collapses when compared to the scholarship that was cited to bring Heller and McDonald to court.

        This was a similar assertion.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arming_America.

      4. Minnesotan says:

        Jim/Brian/PM/ et all –

        This is a serious question. With millions of “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines already in existence in the US, what effect do you think a “ban” will have on stopping another mass shooting?

        And perhaps a more important question for the context of this discussion…if the next mass shooting involves something other than an “assault weapon,” do you think that style of weapon will be the next one targeted for a ban?

      5. Erik says:

        Without providing a citation at this time, I’d also assert that the 1934 NFA was not the result of an overall shift in the public’s philosophy. Rather, it was an acute reaction to the St. Valentine’s day massacre and Dillinger, the Barkers, and the Barrows running amok in the country for a time with Thompsons and BARs.

        It is now as it ever was. Same old..

    1. PM: The irony here is that Obama’s (accurate) comment about the media fixating on the “outlandish” things people say about each other in DC works to his advantage in keeping gun control in the media’s focus. Is the White House deft enough to calculate when it needs a fresh infusion of “hysteria inducement”, thereby guaranteeing a resurgence of coverage? That said, there are people who have taken the very public stand that “this time is different” that it may actually be different … at least in terms of sustaining a long fight.

      I am very thirsty.

  2. Minnesotan says:

    Never listened to Gun Talk, and don’t doubt the advertising on the show is targeted to an older, male demographic.

    However, a recent Gallup poll (Oct. 2011) shows gun ownership among women is growing quickly. Twenty-three percent of women report that they are gun owners, that is up from 13 percent in 2005.

  3. bertram jr. says:

    A Gun doES not “assault” anything. They EITHER operate or fail, like any other tool. Some operate in one way, others operate in other ways.

    Bertram Jr and millions of other citizens, will simply not countenance the left’s, as per usual, attempt to use “language” to gerrymander the real issue(s). Especially when they have no knowlege of the subject of that issue, in this case a gun or guns being used by nut jobs to inflict terrible violence on innocents.

    To disarm the innocent and law abiding by falsely blaming and seeking eradication of a tool is the height of not only hypocrisy but of pure and malevolent hatred and utter stupidity. If you are not an experienced woodworker, why would I listen to your opinion on how best to use a router or a circular saw? STFU.

    Go look up the homicide total for January in Chicago. Off to a great start, with the most restrictive gun laws of any city, and dancin’ Rahm, the “Mayor”, is doing what? Pressuring banks to not do business with lawful businesses that happen to be…..gun makers?

    What country is this?

    The media is complicit in protecting the enemy within.

  4. Fear of a Black Gun Owner
    Ironically, the NRA used to support gun control — when the Black Panthers started packing.
    (The Root) — It may seem hard to believe, but the modern-day gun-rights debate was born from the civil rights era and inspired by the Black Panthers. Equally surprising is that the National Rifle Association — now an aggressive lobbying arm for gun manufacturers — actually once supported, and helped write, federal gun-control laws…

    It is ironic that the modern-day argument for citizens to arm themselves against unwarranted government oppression — dominated, as it is, by angry white men — has its roots in the foundation of the 1960s Black Panther movement. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale became inspired by Malcolm X’s admonishment that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of African Americans, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.” …

    The Panthers responded to racial violence by patrolling black neighborhoods brandishing guns — in an effort to police the police. The fear of black people with firearms sent shockwaves across white communities, and conservative lawmakers immediately responded with gun-control legislation.
    Then Gov. Ronald Reagan, now lauded as the patron saint of modern conservatism, told reporters in California that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” Reagan claimed that the Mulford Act, as it became known, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The NRA actually helped craft similar legislation in states across the country. Fast-forward to 2013, and it is a white-male dominated NRA, largely made up of Southern conservatives and gun owners from the Midwest and Southwestern states, that argues “do not tread on me” in the gun debate.
    http://www.theroot.com/views/fear-black-gun-owner

    1. Ellen: Conventional journalistic wisdom seems to require that the discussion over a heavily armed citizenry revolve entirely around “rights” and lofty-sounding interpretations of laws and a “living” or “dead” Constitution. But I’m serious when I say a valuable line of inquiry — for a mainstream newspaper series or “Atlantic”-style magazine article — would be a psychological examination/profile of the truly gun-obsessed. Along with the palpable sexual transference issues, the reflexive “intellectual” point of view, parsing court rulings, in the wake of these regular slaughters strikes me as more than a little misanthropic.

      1. Erik says:

        The shorter Lambo: real journalists at reputable publications should write and publish articles that legitimize my quack bigotries.

  5. PM says:

    Minnesotan:

    (sorry for replying here, but that string was just too lengthy and unwieldy)

    I kind of doubt that an assault weapons ban will prevent the next massacre from taking place. In fact, i doubt that there is anything that we can do that will prevent another massacre from taking place, short of actually confiscating all weapons (which is not going to happen).

    There are things that we can do to make it more likely that there will be fewer massacres (than if we did nothing)–and restricting the number of weapons that people can easily get ahold of is one of those things. It is just too damned easy for anyone to get hold of a weapon–it is too easy to buy them, too easy to steal them. Too easy for people who are mentally unstable to get weapons, too easy for people who have a criminal record to get weapons. in a society where weapons are commonplace, access to weapons is simple, and it is easy to misuse them.

    It would be harder for people to get weapons illicitly if there were fewer weapons, if there were more background checks, waiting periods, yes, even registries and forms to fill out to track sales of weapons. Even more taxes on the sale of weapons would probably help. One thing that bureaucracies are good at is control, and more control will likely result in fewer shootings.

    Perhaps some crimes would not be committed if the potential criminals were more fearful of being caught, but that probably would not stop the massacres.

    1. And just for the hell of it, what if, horror of horrors, the “gummint” did “ban” all firearm sales? How long do you think it’d take to wear down the existing stockpile of 300-plus million guns? Two hundred years?

      I was doing a radio show the other day and the inevitable caller got into … the government confiscating deer hunting rifles. (This was after his Sean Hannity-deep explication of the “dead Constitution”). Fools like that deserve the paranoid hell they’re living in.

      A bona fide, credible background check would give authorities easy access to the most alarming and potentially dangerous gun owners, namely those “collecting” multiple-to-dozens of guns and large amounts of ammo. We have watch lists for airlines. We should have watch lists for anyone who somehow believes they need that much firepower.

      1. Minnesotan says:

        Brian – where else are you comfortable providing the government with such “easy access” into your personal life and purchases?

        The watch list for airlines is a pretty weak analogy. Lets toss out the pesky 2nd Amendment for a second. Based on your analogy, should frequent fliers should come under greater scrutiny because they pose a greater threat to the public than others?

        We get it Brian, you’ve made it abundantly clear you don’t like guns and like to disparage those that don’t agree with your take on how unnecessary they are today. You’ve questioned their “sexual transference issues,” intellect and mental health in too many blog posts to count.

        What do you call someone who’s fetish is belittling those they deem as gun fetishists?

      2. PM says:

        Probably just easier to tax them–maybe a sliding scale that goes up the more you have?

        (just playing with you, Erik….)
        😉

      3. Minnesotan: It’s YOUR analogy to frequent fliers, not mine. Frequent fliers aren’t on watch lists. Potential terrorists are on watch lists, people our vaunted Homeland Security has decided for a variety of reasons need a special level of surveillance. Very much … like “fetishists” who stockpile dozens of guns, presumably for “self-protection”. There’s every good reason to presume such people are unstable and need special surveillance. … unlike frequent fliers.

        But please, go on with your interpretations of the Second Amendment.

      4. Minnesotan says:

        That’s OK. He’s obviously no fan of the 2nd Amendment. But apparently he doesn’t care for the 4th Amendment or “innocent until proven guilty” either. Advocating government surveillance on citizen who have broken no laws, and simply purchase legal products above what he deems adequate, and only “presuming” they might eventually break a law, is going pretty far off the depend end if you ask me. Not sure he even realizes it, but his positions are as extreme as the gun nuts he chides.

      5. Erik says:

        You’re giving him credit for knowledge and contemplation he’s never displayed. He writes The Glean for $100 a day. If he had the chops to do real writing work, you figure Kramer or someone else would have him doing it. He’s incoherent because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Eric Black he ain’t. A fellow at MN2020 he ain’t.

        There’s an archetype of a writer’s voice that tries to do a truth to power shtick that’s some blend JD Salinger, Hunter Thompson, George Carlin, and 80’s Dennis Miller. You know, dry, acerbic, ironic. But the guys that latch on to this voice with nothing else to say inevitably come off as execrable douchebags. That’s The Glean. That’s Lambert to the Slaughter.

        The ‘gun guys are compensating for their small penis’ thing is probably 40 years old or more. I suspect a Carlin act or Rolling Stone article as origin. Yeah, ha ha, it’s not incomprehensible that it draws a laugh within appropriate crowds. If you’re trotting that one out every couple days like Lambo, it would seem you’re the one stuck in your compartment with creepy fetishes.

        No?

      6. PM says:

        Do you ever read what you write about Lambo, Erik?

        You sound just like the caricature that you are creating. I’m not exactly certain if that is some weird form of projection, but it is kind of creepy. Maybe, if you are very lucky, you could get $100 for it. maybe.

      7. Erik says:

        Meh.

        At a minimum, as Lambo’s Jay Carney you’re probably obligated at this point to weigh in on his redneck penis theory / fixation. What say you PM?

        When you guys lunch, how fast does he turn the conversation to redneck peni?

      8. Erik says:

        And I’m not saying it’s a gay thing and I wouldn’t care if it was. In my years of posting here I haven’t been interested enough in ‘gay’ to post a single comment as far as I would remember. Just saying.

        You go back to the Mike Kennedy flap a few weeks ago, there’s this premise by Lambo that he doesn’t have to cite an argument when challenged. That’s true in a literal sense, of course. But its bullshit.

        This sexual transference / Redneck penis thing is a monumental piece of quack bigotry. It might as well be saying black people can’t swim because they aren’t buoyant. Yet we’re apparently to be swayed that the Atlantic could do a very fine journalistic expose on it if they were of a mind. But you know, the Carlisle group prevents that or something.

        Lambo obviously wants to talk about this. Let’s hash it out. Make his argument PM.

      9. PM says:

        Erik:

        I’ve never heard Lambert talk about penises–yours, his, or those of rednecks. Frankly, this fascination thing seems to belong to you at least as much. And why are you bringing up “gay” issues?

        And, btw, i’v had lunch with Mike more than with Lambert. (mike never brought any of this up either).

        Finally, while I have certainly had issues with your claims to expertise about gun control issues, you are far more authoritative there than you are in the area of psychology. I’d stick to what you know, if i were you. Here, you just look like a troll, with an unhealthy fixation on Lambert.

      10. Erik says:

        Wise words, probably, but we’re talking merely ribald blog comments.

        I don’t claim to be a psychology expert. And it’s not necessary that I be one in order to challenge the ‘sexual transference’ argument as a piece of bigoted, quack wisdom.

        What do you think of this ‘sexual transference’ observation PM?

      11. PM says:

        I suspect that there are psychological power issues that play a role in gun ownership for some people–looking for something to even out power imbalances, whether personal or political. The self perceived underdog/victim looking to get even, looking for revenge/justification. It is a pretty common theme in westerns, and in other areas of our culture (including the links Jim and Ellen have given us about the Black Panthers and guns).

        Personally, i tend to resist equating power issues with sexual issues. Whether valid or not, i don’t think taking that step adds a lot to the analysis. I am pretty confident that there are some cases where that step is appropriate, I’m just not certain how widely applicable that is as a general rule, and I do not think it always adds a lot.

        When someone else does that, however, I am more likely to chuckle than to become indignant. When you read too much into that and start taking offense/becoming resentful, you are giving it (the sexual analysis) and them (the person doing it) credibility and power over you. Life is too short. lighten up and have some fun. Laugh–at them and yourself.

      12. Erik says:

        Again, wise or not unwise words, but I get the feeling you’re dismissing my point a bit with “aren’t you being a little sensitive there? Snicker snicker.” As pseudoscience and bigotry, the argument ought to be assertively rejectable like anything else. That’s the standard most of the time, so I have no particular hang ups about doing so here.

      13. PM says:

        Erik:

        why are your comments merely ribald blog comments, while his are pseudo science and bigotry? Why isn’t it the other way around?

        I think that you are blinded by your perspective.

      14. Erik says:

        “Ribald” was meant to address a different point. In any event, the difference is, I don’t traffic in pseudo-science and the quack wisdom of bigotry.

        As I say, there’s nothing new under the sun, and the ‘gun lovers have small penises’ thing probably came out of Rolling Stone 40 years ago for all I know. Linguistically it’s since evolved into a conversational trope, with the douche wise asses who deploy it expecting to cow people out of the conversation by saying ‘well aren’t you just a little too sensitive.’ Projecting, fixated…meh. I have authoritative knowledge, I care about the issue, and I expose intellectual poseurs. I’m not cowed.

        If you’re uncomfortable making the sexual transference argument, that’s an affirmation that it’s bullshit, and as I say, the quack wisdom of bigotry.

    2. Minnesotan says:

      Thanks for the reply PM. As you likely guessed, I don’t agree with your point of view, but I appreciate the thoughtful reply.

      What you seem to be implying is that we can’t confiscate all weapons, so let’s do the next best thing – install as many roadblocks as possible, tax it at an incredible rate, and essentially drive them out that way.

      Also, I would respectfully disagree that bureaucracies are good at control. Drugs, prostitution, etc are all horribly “controlled” by bureaucracies.

      1. PM says:

        Minnesotan:
        I don’t want to confiscate weapons, but i don’t think that there should be as many of them about. Let serious people have weapons–people who take classes (NRA hunter safety, the kind you need in MN for Concealed carry, etc.), people who pay good $$, people who either want to use them seriously or collect them- not people who are likely to leave them lying about, allow children easy access, etc.Get rid of the Saturday night specials, the homicides that are the result of an instants misguided anger (where someone is shot because the gun was just lying there), the children playing with something they don’t really respect/know how to use.

        Let’s face it–guns are inherently dangerous, and far too many people treat guns far too casually (not all gun owners are irresponsible, and not all gun owners should be treated identically). How do you go about changing that? Education is one way. Another is scarcity–people treat things that are rare/scarce with care and respect. If you are a gun owner and your gun is valuable (to you), you simply do not leave it lying around.

        Of course, none of that will prevent a massacre–but other than no guns at all, I am not certain what would prevent all massacres.

        What I am thinking of is more along the lines of tobacco–which is not illegal, but regulated. All the instances you cite (drugs, prostitution) are things that are illegal–look at the difference when liquor was illegal versus when it was legal and regulated. Look what society has done about drunk driving. Why can’t we do something similar for gun violence? Obviously, we will never get to zero drunk driving, but we have gotten less of it. I suggest that we attempt to do the same for gun violence.

        And an assault weapons ban really wouldn’t do much towards that goal–it would be the same approach as prohibition, and not likely to work well.

        At least, those are my current musings on the topic. I am still wrestling with all of this (i don’t pretend to be an expert and know everything).

      2. Minnesotan says:

        I’m still wrestling with these issues too PM. Coming to different conclusions than you, but still wrestling nonetheless.

        But, let’s look at drunk driving. We haven’t banned alcohol, we haven’t reduced access to alcohol or vehicles among people who have never had a DUI. Perhaps greater enforcement and stiffer fines – but those don’t really translate to stopping shootings. We’ve reduced it mainly through public education and peer pressure

        We obviously have some serious civility and mental health issues in this country, and a thirst for violence in many forms. How to fix that is the trillion dollar question.

      3. Erik says:

        How about we end the drug wars?

        Think maybe the drug wars foment violence that otherwise would not happen? Against the whole, how much gun crime is drug crime? A lot, don’t ya think?

      4. PM says:

        Minnesotan:
        Well, we have reduced access to alcohol–basically, we denied access to those who are least able to handle it–all people under 21 (i still remember–fondly–legally drinking at age 18). We have also increased taxes on alcohol, and we restrict sales of alcohol–the controls on the sale of alcohol in MN are very tightly controlled.

        One of the ways that we have reduced drunken driving is thru the insurance system. Can’t own/purchase a car if you can’t insure it. Get a couple of DUI’s, and you can’t get insurance. Maybe if we made the owners of guns liable for the damage caused by their guns, and required insurance and liability coverage, we’d make some progress on reducing gun violence. Made everyone who bought a gun show proof of insurance, with a nice government mandated liability limit, that might make a difference.

        Not completely convinced that such a change would stop all shooting sprees, but then i don’t really think that is the issue–nor do i think that it is possible. I think that what we need to aim for is reducing the overall levels of gun violence in this country–murders, accidents, use of guns in assaults and robberies and rapes, etc. Focus on the real problem. Newtown is important because it brought the problem into focus, but the issue is not just mass murders. As bertie likes to point out, it is the violence in chicago as well (mostly related to a large gang war that is fairly recent there).

        Oh, and Erik: I am all for decriminalizing quite a few drugs, and then regulating/taxing them like tobacco and alcohol. Maybe not all, but lets start with marijuana, and after 5 years, see how it goes. I do think that we could do this with most drugs, eventually. And, yes, i think that it would probably lower levels of gun violence in this country. And it would be good for other countries as well.

  6. bertram jr. says:

    Again, there is no such thing as an assault weapon. That is a term coined and propogated ad nauseum by the left. A musket was the “assault weapon” of it’s day, ditto the Winchester, the Sharp’s, the 30.06 Garand – if one ascribes to the “logic” of the left.

    There is, however such a thing as an assault. It is an action. Using a gun to assault someone, is no different than using a knife to cut some one with. Yet, the term assault knife does not exist. Assault someone with a baseball bat? Ban bats!?? Asssault bats?

    Driving a car into a crowd watching a parade does not render the vehicle “an assault vehicle”, either.

    Fearing guns because one is unfamiliar with them, and projecting that fear, or more insanely, insisting that YOU alone should decide what other people can do or should do, even in the face of blatant evidence of fact, the Constitution ands LIBERTY is the very root of the liberal’s mental illness.

    Rosie O’Donnell, in fact, doth come to mind…..

  7. Gun violence in Chicago has claimed another teenager who only last week marched with her school band in Washington at President Obama’s inauguration, continuing an escalating trend of deadly shootings on the city’s South Side.

    Hadiya Pendleton, 15, an honor student at Chicago’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School and a majorette in the marching band, was killed midday Tuesday while hanging out with friends after exams in a nearby park, the Chicago Tribune reported. As she was standing under a shelter to get out of the rain, an unidentified male jumped a fence and ran toward her group, firing at them. Pendleton was struck in the back, while another boy was hit in the leg. The shooter then jumped into a car and sped off.

    Read more: http://nation.time.com/2013/01/30/chicago-girl-who-performed-at-obamas-inauguration-killed-in-shooting/#ixzz2JVNbow3w

      1. Holy bats, is right. Perspiring also goes up when the weather gets warmer. So does baseball attendance.

        My favorite part of the video is Bill O’s look at the end. A number of years ago, I had a student who was invited to appear on Bill’s fledgling show (student Jeff C. had called B.O. out on something) and he said O’Reilly was a really nice guy..tried to make Jeff comfortable, etc…until the commercial break was over. Then the jabbing started but it was almost in good clean fun.

      2. His show is the only one I sometimes tune into on Fox, and he is completely full of himself, but he is funny, and, like the rest of us, is sometimes right on the money and sometimes totally off the mark.

        What makes me cringe is that this boob (sorry, I apply the term to men, too) supposedly ran a business, granted one that involves beautiful, naked women (I’m just jealous). No wonder it went into the crapper.

    1. PM: Here’s a good piece up today from a (multiple) gun owner (and Minnesota native).

      http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112194/walter-kirn-gun-owners#

      “To certain fellow gun owners whom I was ashamed to regard as fellow anythings, my belief that the public has a right to collective self-defense from those who abuse their individual rights qualified me as traitor and a weakling. To certain purists among the unarmed, my guns marked me as unwholesome, perhaps a “nut job.” A girlfriend had called me this name once, partly in jest, after coming across some bullets in my desk (a few. 22 shells, just pocket litter to me and no more ominous than thumb tacks). I shouldn’t have, but I bristled. This troubled her slightly. Which troubled me.

      You all know how that goes, that spiral of defensiveness when someone questions something you take for granted. Or maybe you don’t, since you’ve never owned a gun.”

      “They push back when they’re fired. That’s the elemental fact involved, the deep Newtonian heart of the whole business. They kick at your will in the instant they also project it, reminding you that force is always two-sided. It’s a shock the first time, an insult to the senses, but once you’ve learned to expect it, absorb it, ride it, recoil becomes a source of pleasure. You’re up on your board turning turbulence to flow. You want to do it again, again—again!—and the urge becomes part of your body, your nervous system. It feels as though it was always there, this appetite, this desire for a small, acute struggle that you can win. Win consistently. Repeatedly.

      Semi-automatically.

      When I shoot at the range, I don’t feel personally powerful but like the custodian of something powerful. I feel like a successful disciplinarian of something radically alien and potent. Analyze this sensation all you want; you still can’t make it go away. But that’s the primitive, underlying fear, of course, which the likes of LaPierre exploit: the fear that it will be curtailed, suppressed, prohibited—perhaps not any time soon, but ultimately.

      Guns alter your reflexes, your neural pathways. The changes are subtle at first, and welcome, like the heightened awareness that posture golf clubs bring. Later, if you’re an imaginative type, the changes can grow more pronounced, more conscious. You start to entertain scenarios that might not occur to you if you didn’t shoot.

      My friend, an Army captain, a tall West Pointer, was just back from Iraq. He’d had a tough time there. We were wrapping Christmas presents. He asked me if I’d ever heard of a law passed under President George W. Bush (he called it a new “order,” actually) that established a formal military command, USNORTHCOM, over the country itself. His tone was dark, insinuating, and I looked at him, concerned. PTSD. We’re all hip to its signs (at least in others), and a moment ago my friend had asked me (oddly, I thought) to turn off a ceiling fan whirling above our heads whose blades kept distracting him as he tied ribbons.

      When I asked my friend what bothered him about the Northern Command, his answer, as I half-feared, boiled down to this: Americans beware America. I pressed him. Did he seriously, genuinely believe that soldiers, our soldiers, soldiers much like himself, could possibly be prevailed upon to intimidate or attack their fellow citizens?

      Affirmative. If ordered to. They’re soldiers.

      The unarmed fear the armed, but the armed are disposed to fear the better armed. Occasionally, in idle moments, as an exercise in guided paranoia, I let myself picture the mythical siege of kicked-in doors and smoky, barricaded streets implanted in my head by my West Point friend.”

      1. PM says:

        Just read it–thanks.

        It is a good article, but i think you didn’t cite the most important section:

        “To civilize, I think, is the key verb. It’s a crossover word, with a cultural legacy and a practical, specific meaning—to order; to, yes, “regulate”—that the gun-owning mind responds to and respects. In westerns, the gun (the gun in the right hands; and the gun owner thinks of his own hands as the right ones, which all who wish to engage him in conversation would be wise not to forget) is a tool of civilization, not a totem. It tames, the gun, but only if it’s first tamed. Those who won’t tame it, or can’t—because they’re unable to tame themselves—must face being disarmed. Especially hard-to-tame types of guns, moreover, must be closely, vigilantly watched.”

        this is, i think, the critical thing. I think that it is silly and foolish for anyone to think that we can defend ourselves by owning guns–either defend ourselves against criminals or against the tyranny of a state. And i think that anyone who disagrees with me on this is deluding themselves. If you want a good defense against crime and disorder, you need to invest in order and in police and a judiciary system. If you want a defense against tyranny, you need democracy and civic engagement. A healthy body politic is the best defense, and the only certain defense. Civilization is what will save us, not guns.

        But that doesn’t mean that there is no room for guns in civilization. Sure there is, just as there is room for golf clubs and cars and beer and tobacco (of all of those, I’d vote to ban golf clubs first). But anyone who thinks that civilization rests on us owning guns is a fool.

        1. Well, the psychological concepts of control, power and exerting effective influence are what fascinate me. How are some people so consumed/confused by this while others are not? And as Kirn suggests, there are emotional triggers (sorry) in gun possession that skew the perception of threat and personal potency.

          And definitely, ban and confiscate golf clubs.

      2. Minnesotan says:

        Personally, I think the most poignant part of his article is the very end:

        “As they have repeatedly pointed out themselves, and as even Wayne LaPierre might agree, assault rifles are functionally similar to ordinary semi-automatic rifles, differing chiefly in their sinister cosmetics, not in their underlying ballistics. This being the case, what will be lost by giving them up?”

        I’m scratching my head how he can come to that conclusion. He’s saying what a few of here have been saying – an “assault weapon” is no different than an “ordinary” rifle, it just looks scarier. He doesn’t see how allowing something to be banned based purely on cosmetics is foolish if you believe, as he seems to, that how the gun actually functions should be protected?

        Just as importantly, based on his explanation that the chief difference is cosmetics – how is “giving them up” going to have any effect on the real goal – actually preventing gun violence? Is the next madman so vain that he won’t use an “ordinary” rife because it doesn’t look as cool or it clashes with his outfit?

    2. I know someone who works with a guy who owns hundreds of guns. No fooling. What’s that about?
      I think it’s important to note from the Wired article (great magazine) that this “composite” shooter and others like him (such as the guy I know) have never served in the Armed Forces. What do you think?

  8. bertram jr. says:

    Ellen, Bertram Jr admires your grace, your charm, and your ability to give birth.

    But this is a forum for guys about liberty and guns. Can’t you write about textile trends for Spring or something?

    Thanks!

  9. bertram jr. says:

    Minnesotan: “sinister cosmetics”?

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Which seems to be a key point here in analyzing the Mrja-arian repugnancy that afflicts certain faint hearted gun haters.

  10. bertram jr. says:

    Don’t hate the tool. Hate the fool who obtains it, and uses it,
    improperly and illegally

    And, dear Ellen, I’m sure you meant GANG violence, not “gun violence”
    vis a vis Chicago.

    I believe the former ballerina Rahm Emmanual is the Mayor there. perhaps you could send him a nice note inquiring as to the situation there.

  11. While this particular discussion of guns/gun obsession and misconceptions of violence has pretty well augered into the ground, here’s an interesting fact sheet for the next time you enter “fetishist” world … http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check

    This one is particularly good …

    Myth #9: More and more Americans are becoming gun owners.
    Fact-check: More guns are being sold, but they’re owned by a shrinking portion of the population.
    • About 50% of Americans said they had a gun in their homes in 1973. Today, about 45% say they do. Overall, 35% of Americans personally own a gun.
    • Around 80% of gun owners are men. On average they own 7.9 guns each.

      1. PM says:

        That is the premise of the article. I thought it was interesting.

        I suppose that you are, in a fashion, part of the “firearms industry”. What do you think of the article? Do you think that the NRA exists to enable the sale of weapons and the various accoutrements? (as opposed to just representing people like me, the gun owners of the USA, which it used to do according to this article). What is your opinion about universal background checks? That seems to be one of the principle points of the article–the NRA’s switch of position on this issue, because the manufacturers opposed this.

      2. Erik says:

        Much of that article is the mundane asserted as the malevolent.

        There are polls, I guess, that say the members would be agreeable to limitations that Lapierre and the leadership are stubbornly opposed to. What goes unremarked on is that the membership is generally very happy with Lapierre and the leadership. The members like the stridency and no compromise. There’s no schism. Guns and shooting are as mainstream as ever. The NRA has burgeoning membership.

        I don’t think there’s as much efficacy / effectiveness to be gained from universal background check as people think. Most people buy retail. This 40% unchecked number has got to be baloney. Would it be a terrible thing? Perhaps not. Thing is, if there’s no registration requirement, the people who have the knowledge to ignore the background check requirement will do so. And there’s not going to be a registration requirement. So it’s all going to be a bit meaningless.

        I don’t see illustration of the flip-flop you describe in the article. Point it out, and I will read it.

      3. Erik says:

        Michael Paymar and Alice Hausman introduced a bunch of gun bills this week. The most absurd of them would limit magazine size to 7 rounds, with some exceptions for .22s, but not a complete exemption. If it’s a .22 with a detachable magazine, like the old Colt Woodsman or Ruger Mark I/II/III, those get banned. Same with the mags for the Ruger 10/22. And these are very benign guns, so as propositions go its the absurdest of the absurd.

        This isn’t going to pass, and it very well might constitute a bit of a false flag. But the thing is, it will get shouted down by people brought together under the network and social umbrella of the NRA. So yes, it does serve the members interests, most of the time very explicitly.

      4. Erik says:

        I don’t know. But obviously we’re supposed to think its hypocrisy or something. I don’t think that’s a persuasive observation.

        15 years ago, the ostensibly choices might have been guns bans or zero tolerance on guns in school. Cuz it’s always basically a binary proposition. Stands to reason then Lapierre would have come down on the side of zero tolerance on guns in school. There’s posturing, and he very well have postured the organization.

        I don’t see that posture as incompatible with professional guards in school by the way. RS would seem to be deliberately oblivious to some obvious nuance. I’m not feeling the hypocrisy angle. I doubt it’s very important.

        You were an aide and a lobbyist, so you know constituent politics very well right? You’d don’t think this article expresses things a bit…. dumbly?

      5. PM says:

        Dumbly? I assume you mean that it doesn’t reflect the reality of the game between elected officials and their constituents?

        Look, one of the things that the article focuses on is how corporations are influencing elected officials, and those officials are responding –all the while they are pretending that it is the will of their constituents (ie, democracy) that they are responding to.

        This is accurate. And, of course, it is not just the NRA that is doing it. Sure, the NRA has a lot of members, but so what? Who really determines what the NRA policies are? In this sense, the NRA is similar to a corporation, like Target, etc. There are professional managers who respond to financial incentives–follow the cash flows. And more cash is flowing in from corporation sponsorships than from memberships. Further, and this is the real, critical difference, the corporations have a very tight, unified political interest. They are focused, while the interests of the membership are diffuse and varied. A focused minority is usually more successful and influential in democratic politics than a diffuse majority–this is the basis of success for all single issue politics. Look at the works of Mancur Olson for support of this, but it is a political insight that goes all the way back at least to Lenin.

        The NRA has been captured by a small group that wields disproportionate influence. Yeah, this is a man bites dog story on one level, but most people are simply not aware of it. This is an expose that is old news to most people who think about politics–but that is a significant minority of the population.

      6. Erik says:

        Fair statements I think.

        But I go back to what I said. There’s no schism between the membership and the leadership, even if the membership is less recalcitrant.

        I don’t think it’s accurate to say the gun business is a big money business… in relative terms. We’re still talking about the votes that can be brought to bear in an election. That’s the big thing.

      7. PM says:

        Well, yes and no. Certainly, the gun industry is peanuts compared to the oil industry or the automotive industry or even the trucking industry. But the work of Mancur Olson and other Public Choice economists like him point out that that really does not matter. This is an issue that is life and death to that industry, and matters not so much to most people. That small group of people have acted together in a skillful way to achieve their goals, at a relatively small cost to all others. Until such time as all the others change their mind and make this a much higher priority, they will continue to dominate the debate.

        There is a schism between the membership and those who run the organization–but how large is it and is the difference that exists meaningful (or appear to be meaningful) to the membership? I agree that you and I are engaging in a bit of semantics here, but i think that we are talking about the same thing. I think that there are indeed real differences, but for those to become meaningful (to the membership), those differences are going to have to be exploited, magnified, and generally brought to the attention of the membership.

        And i do not think that an assault weapons ban is the kind of thing that will do this. Speaking politically, i think that the gun control forces need to shift their focus and pick wedge issues–places where the difference between the membership and the gun industry can be exploited, magnified, and made to be meaningful. Background checks might be a way to do this. Efforts to make a distinction between responsible gun owners and irresponsible gun owners (criminals and drug dealers and people who do not keeps their guns locked up or allow small children to play with them like they are toys, etc.) would be a part of this. Use the police to create “Gun Safe” households, etc. At least, if i was in charge of this, that is what i would propose.

        Anything that makes responsible gun owners feel like a criminal is a non-starter. but why should responsible gun owners be made to feel bad because of nut jobs and criminals? If the NRA is ever seen as being more about protecting the gun rights of nut jobs, then the NRA will start to lose influence.

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