I had these arbitrary rules that I set for myself about blogging when I started. Try and be nice (especially when reviewing someones book or game or even point of view) And avoid highly polarizing topics of opinion. I’m getting better at the first one. I don’t write the scathing fuck you reviews and comments I used to. No one writes a book or a blog post to be critiqued or run down by somebody they’ve never met before. I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to do that… lets call it the impertinence of youth (and the associated things that come with that) These days I prefer my comments to be more of a homage than a long list of perceived deficiencies in someones work. And if I really hate it I generally won’t comment.
So… Joeys thoughts on gun control (or how to piss off everyone… since I fall mostly on the pro-gun side, BUT I am likely not pro-gun enough for most of those denizens who dwell on that side of the divide) I am clearly bored today…
It should probably start with some caveats. I am not a gun-nut. Guns for the most part don’t really interest me other than I accept that they are a tool that serves a function. (its not an accessory that I’ve pimped out, it doesn’t define me and I don’t argue the minutiae of velocity and hydrostatic shock). However, I am almost permanently armed. I carry a Glock 22 (.40 S&W) and at least two knives, a Zero Tolerance 0301 and an Emerson Super Karambit. (Sometimes I further supplement my general bristling-with-weapons-ness with a derringer chambered for .38 special)
I should also mention (right near the beginning) that I am actually a firm believer in the most extreme interpretation of gun control. Ie. That nobody should have a gun. Not individuals. Not the police. Not the government. No one. Since that is NEVER EVER going to happen I have to be a slightly more realistic in what I believe. (Spoiler alert, I have NO real solutions, I’m just rambling)
Let me also start with a story of why I am the way I am because I think things like this should be framed from personal experiences.
When I was eighteen I was living in single room studio at the back of my parents property. They also have a cottage, which at the time was being rented out to a (somewhat eccentric) hairdresser. He occasionally worked on clients at home. One day two elderly wealthy patrons came to have their hair cut and styled. Decked out in their finery and driving a new BMW they attracted the attention of some less than desirable individuals who followed them.
These two ladies oblivious that they were being followed rang the bell and then drove into the property, followed, before the gate closed, by said undesirables. I was playing games and eating Fruit Loops, when I heard what I thought was a scream. I paused my game and retrieved up my venerable Walther PPK (which I inherited from my grandfather). Still in my Pajamas I wandered off to go see what the commotion was about. I was not prepared.
A white BMW stood there, all the doors were open, two women stood off to one side having their rings and other jewellery ripped off them. In total there were four robbers, and from my quick glance (before I ducked back behind the wall and into hard cover) at least three of them were armed with handguns (likely Torakevs and Norincos) and the other one… I wasn’t sure.
I stood there, perplexed, Walther PPK in hand. ‘Fuck…’. ‘What was I going to do?’ I probably had the WORST gun for this type of situation. I had seven (low powered) rounds in my Walther and no spare mag. My opponents were about ten meters away, some behind soft-cover, with two civilians in area of engagement.
I couldn’t do anything I realized. (mostly because I am not Bruce Willis or Steven Seagal) I’ve obsessed about my inaction for years and played this scenario over and over in my head. In the end I made the right decision (I think). After they’d stripped the two woman they hijacked their car and tried to make their getaway. They however didn’t realize that this wasn’t their house, and that these two women didn’t have a remote for the gate. They were trapped. (its not a gate you could just ram open) They had another get away vehicle outside, and between them they managed to force the gate open just enough that they could all squeeze through and escape in the other vehicle, abandoning their newly acquired BMW (but not their loot)
Theoretically I suppose they could have put two rounds in the head of each of the women before they drove off and I would have been guilt ridden for the rest of my life. Or our weird tenant could have come stumbling out and gotten blown away (he’d locked himself in the bathroom). How would this have changed my actions or inaction? I don’t know. I’ve managed to stop theorizing about this day and hardly ever think about it anymore.
But for a long time this event was burned into my brain. I never wanted to feel like that again. Helpless and useless. Never. That’s not to say if I’d had a better gun I would have used it and the outcome would have been different. All I wanted was better options. Having a gun shouldn’t make you less reasonable.
This day, combined with the work I did with the police and in the Commando in my twenties, and other incidents that have required the use of firearms has cemented in my mind that the world has some real motherfuckers in it. (I don’t really believe in the concepts of good and evil, but certainly some people are largely useless to society and seem intent on imposing themselves on my and other peoples liberty)
Let me underscore, that if everyone magically gave up their guns. And therefore no guns existed, I would be the first to sign up. Unfortunately that is not and will never be the case.
So as I understand it, there are two basic premises. Someone can use a gun to curtail someone else’s liberty (death being the most extreme). This can be as simple as a robber using a gun to steal something that belongs to you. Or the police coming to arrest you because you haven’t paid your taxes. Both use the threat of violence to insure your cooperation. If you resist, I will kill or injure you with this gun.
We get obsessed with the gun part. We could just as easily insert machete, claw-hammer or HB pencil.
The flip side is, that if we ban guns, my liberty is curtailed insofar as you take away the options I have to defend myself from someone with an illegal gun. Sure, with two gun armed combatants with equal skill (Ceteris paribus) it could go either way. Take away my gun, and the odds massively favor the other combatant. Who are you to curtail my liberty in such a way? So unless you can make ALL guns go away (and maybe ban machetes, claw-hammers, HB pencils and automobiles while you’re at it) I can’t get behind a ban. Sorry.
I can however get behind control. (although the comic book nugget, who watches the watchmen, I think applies)
Guns and cars. One requires a licence and training. The other, not so much.
So who decides who should be allowed to have a gun and who shouldn’t. What criteria or metric do we use? Mental health? How about only white men should have guns? Or only Mormons (they’re responsible aren’t they?). This gets so very murky so very quickly. Someone has to decide these things. The government maybe?
The NRA love to point out that Hitler banned personal ownership of firearms. And look what happened there. The NRA is my opinion are (for the most part) a bunch of motherfuckers. Plus this story is not entirely factual. The Weimar Republic was initially responsible for German citizens not being allowed to own firearms. The Nazis further disarmed ‘unreliable’ persons (mostly Jews) but relaxed restrictions on ‘for-realsies’ Germans to own guns. You know, former brown shirts and other sane and reasonable people.
Some governments tell me I can’t dry out and smoke a naturally occurring plant. If I do, people with guns will come, lock me up and put me in a building with murders and rapists…. for a crime with no apparent victim (other than myself apparently) That seems like a very reasonable organization, pretty sure I trust them to decide whether my schizophrenic neighbor who twists the heads off stray cats should be allowed to own an an AR-15 (but doesn’t smoke marijuana).
This is where things start to get even less clear cut for me. Assault rifles.
I have during the course of my life owned several of these (an FN-FAL and an AKSU-74) and I’ve used R4’s and 5’s in the commando (essentially Israeli made Galils). But really, now that I’m older I often wonder what the point of these weapons, in a first world middle class suburb environment, are? If you want a weapon for self defense get a pistol and and a 12 gauge. That will cover you for about 99.9% of scenarios in the 0.1% chance you actually need a weapon to resolve the situation.
Its difficult to justify an assault weapon for self defence. Baring a full scale breakdown of society. (then you totally want an assault weapon). Is that likely to happen? No, probably not. (Not if you live in the continental United States anyway… if you live for example, in Rwanda I am less certain of this assertion) In any event a lot of wealthy suburbanites in first world countries obsess about this eventuality and act accordingly. Statistically speaking it makes no sense
I suppose it’s become the case of bringing a knife to a gun fight. Clearly you want to be the guy with the gun. In the same way, in a gun fight you want to be the guy with the gun with the highest cyclic rate to improve your odds at survival. Ergo if the other guy has a hand gun you want the assault rifle. The arms race is as old as humanity.
Unfortunately this also speaks to my libertarian tendencies… the army can have assault weapons, then why can’t I? Because the army needs these weapons to fight wars and foreign armies… History is littered with the corpses of the citizens who trusted that the government (and army) had their best interests at heart. But this is modernity and is unlikely to happen again right? Eh… well… I’m pretty sure there are Yugoslavians and Syrians that thought their own government had their best interests at heart. That wasn’t so long ago… in ‘civilized’ cosmopolitan places.
In an ideal world, I would like to decide who has access to firearms. (hint, it would only be me) the rest of you can fend for yourself with pointy sticks and rocks. I think this has something to do with the way we are hardwired.
The United states however presents its own set of issues. I’m inclined to believe that the problem is less about gun control. And more something on a cultural level. I don’t know what that is… and I have no idea how you would fix it. I don’t think you can fix it with legislation though. Even worse its morphed into this awful partisan issue, with peoples identity warping into this weird for-or-against mindset. I don’t know how you fix anything without some level of cooperation from everyone… and until you take a moment to realize the person across from you isn’t necessarily some heinous degenerate that needs to be opposed in any way possible just because he has a different point of view from you… nothing is going to happen.
I love Thomas Jefferson. Probably in my top five favorite people of all time. Along with Theodore Roosevelt (definitely a gun-nut). And I totally get his reasoning with the second amendment. I wish he was still around, I wonder if he’d be horrified to see where humanity has ended up? And perhaps more importantly what he would suggest we did about it. I also wonder if people would listen to Thomas Jefferson these days. I kinda get the feeling probably not.