22 December 2012

More Guns Blazin' - School Shootings, Part 3

Those who expect a tightly organized, concise and cogent essay on The Answer to shootings and violence in America are not merely overestimating this wretched scribe - They are living in wolkenklukklukshein: “cloud koo-koo land.”  

There is one of the first conclusions that might be good for Americans: That the violence problem is so pervasive and so complex, that it has so many causes, and that the mixes of potential solutions have so many unpredictable effects, expecting a short discussion or a fixed battle plan is just idiotic.

Mind you, were I an advocate of the “it’s all about guns” school, I would be doing exactly what the real advocates are doing.  The Connecticut case has given that “side” a cause celebre, and created a gaping hole in the political and social solidarity of the “gun bloc.”  Moreover, the response of the “gun bloc” has been (largely) inept, even given that a response based on reason hasn’t nearly the drum-beat of emotion which is giving the discussion its current life.

All I can do tonight is continue the musings, chuck these potato peelings into the stew of the discussion, and hope that we as a society savor all that is in the pot.

To those in the “gun community” I say, guys, I hear you about giving them an inch and they’ll take a mile.  I like that ol’ Second Amendment, and I enjoy shooting sports.  But these fucking 30 round magazines are about to be shoved into our rectums, and that’s going to hurt.

“Shooting sports.”  OK, there is a good bit of sport or hobby-intensity to firearms.  Handling firearms takes skill which is both hard to develop and extremely culturally significant here in West Virginia.

Presenting firearms as “sporting implements” exclusively is one of the inane things that “firearms enthusiasts” have been doing for the last 50 years.  Every time pro-gun folks take a stand which denies or de-emphasizes the fact that firearms are dangerous weapons, we look like Neanderthal dorks.

Primer: Firearms were created as weapons to be used in war.  The science of edged weapons and maximizing human-powered mechanical advantage had reached nearly its highest level.  (The only real improvement I can think of in the modern day is the compound bow, where cables and cams permit the storage of significantly more human muscle power.)  Armor and fortifications were somewhat effective against muscle powered weapons.  The firearm introduced energy from a new source, deflagrating chemicals.  Those chemicals powered projectiles from man-carried weapons which could defeat most man-carried armor.  Moreover, bringing a combatant to a level of effectiveness with a firearm was lots easier than doing the same for someone using swords, etc.

Ere long, it was obvious that firearms also did a superior job of hunting game.

Live with it.  Firearms are weapons.

Most uses are either for violence to living things, or preparing for violence to living things.  That’s why the damn things were invented.

Although the Dark Prince of Hypocrisy, Mayor Bloomberg, may think it “dystopian,” the fact that there’s lots of violence in America and lots of people bent on evil things is a fact of our national life.

A lack of violence is preferable.  If evil violence is presented, avoidance is preferable.

Yes, avoidance.  Only a moron civilian goes out seeking to do random justice by force of arms.  In courses of instruction for citizens who carry firearms, one of the first lessons is to avoid the fight at nearly all costs.  If it means running when that does not put you or others at risk, run.  If it means backing down, back down.

If evil violence cannot be avoided, it has to be overcome.  Often with weapons.  And people get hurt or killed by weapons.  Back in the day, I cared for gunshot wounded people who were righteous and some who were unrighteous.  And nearly as I can remember, they all hurt about the same.  Saying that firearms are merely sporting implements or dipped in the righteousness of the Lord does not change their lethal character.

And that’s OK with me.  If you carry a firearm and do not think of it as a lethal weapon, you need to lock it away and quit carrying it.

Mass shootings - or for that matter the fact that criminal gangs are now very violence-capable - occur in part because semi-automatic weapons can fire quickly.  Large magazines (the boxes which hold ammunition in the weapon) make the pause to reload less frequent.  (On another day, we'll have musings about the many, many causes of violence.)

From a sporting perspective, I suppose it’s enjoyable to fire off a 30 round mag.  Once, in my experience.  And then, you realize that you are spending a hell of a lot of money on ammunition and that unless you are shooting at very short range, your accuracy will suck.  Senator Manchin has drawn fire (see how martial metaphors abound?) for saying on a Sunday news show that he never has had more than three rounds at a time in his hunting rifle.  What’s the problem?  That’s the truth.  

Large magazines in semi-autos are most useful, then, for short-range gunfights with humans.  Huge magazines - the 100 round variety - may be useful for attacking theater audiences, but little else.  (OK, if you are a nitwit, you can use one to ruin a barrel from heat.)

And if the gun community draws the line on the other side of protecting big mags, they/we are going to get our asses kicked.  And rightfully so.

Generally, Second Amendment protagonists (me included) don’t have a problem with the prohibitions in 18 USC §922 concerning what constitutes a legal weapon.  We don’t have a problem with excluding from general sale machine guns, exploding ammunition or sawed-off shotguns.  If we can identify other products for which there is greater danger than utility, we should be open to taking them off the general market.  

Here will be the acid test of the responsible gun community.  Who will frame that side of the conversation?  If it is the “hold ‘em at all costs” crowd, the conversation will be a fierce debate with no winners and lots of losers.

Haven’t we had enough of no-compromise, no-hold’s-barred political and social warfare?

Oh, part 4's a-comin’.

1 comment:

Jim N said...

Your thoughtful approach on this issue is helpful, Roger. Would another way to describe the problem vis a vis gun control is that the various factions are coming from a top-down methodology, assuming that each speaks from a position of absolute truth rather Pharisaical)and everyone else needs to simply understand the "right" answer as handed down. Too bad the halls of Congress, churches, and other social insttutions can't seem to strive for genuine dialog.