Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Confessions of a Gun Nut … and the Lies of the NRA

with 10 comments

I admit it, as a young man I was a gun nut. I mean, yeesh, it was easy. Walk into a store, give them money, walk out with guns and ammo. Drive out to the desert and shoot everything in sight, how could I resist? I didn’t, I must have fired thousands of rounds through dozens of guns in my day. Even worse, I was an irresponsible gun nut. There were times and places where I should not have been shooting, and there were times and places where I stored or used guns in a terribly unsafe way. I can recall two accidental discharges where it was only a matter of inches and a terrible tragedy would have resulted. So I was a lucky gun nut, I grew up and became a responsible gun owner before something terrible happened.

I look back now, and yes, it was too easy for me to get guns. And some of the guns I was able to easily get were dangerous or completely beyond any reasonable sporting or self defence need. And the “education” I was required to get in order to buy and use these guns was a joke. There were reasonable and practical laws and regulations that would have made me a much safer gun nut. I wasn’t some lunatic who was determined to get a gun and kill people; and if I had been, yes, laws and regulations wouldn’t have stopped me.

Which highlights the first and possibly the biggest lie the gun lobby uses to derail discussion of gun regulation. The claim that “criminals and lunatics will be able to get guns no matter what the laws.” True. As far as it goes. The problem with this “argument” is twofold. If a law makes it harder for criminals and lunatics to get guns without taking away law abiding citizens rights, that’s a fucking problem? Arguing that criminals will always be able to get guns so gun regulation is useless, is literally saying “we should make it as easy as possible for criminals and lunatics to get gets.” Excuse me, but that’s fucktard insane. As Mr Holmes and many like him have more than amply demonstrated.

Secondly, and more insidious, the “criminals will get guns” argument completely ignores the fact that a tremendous amount of gun violence does not involve criminals or lunatics. More than half the gun deaths in the USA are suicides, over 15,000 deaths a year. And there’s more 20,000 accidental gunshot injuries in the USA every year, including over 500 deaths. Again, if laws and regulations might make some of these suicides and accidents less likely, there’s a problem with that? Wait some are saying, if someone is going to kill themselves, they will find a way, how can gun control prevent those deaths? Listen closely, because this is something that a lot of people don’t want people to know gentle reader. A lot of human behaviour, and that most certainly includes suicides, is impulsive.  It’s not planned, it’s not premeditated, it’s just a spur of the moment combination of opportunity and impulse. We know this, both from people who survive suicide attempts, and from the fact that when “suicide magnets” like the Golden Gate Bridge are made suicide proof, local suicide rates go down. And, obviously, a certain percentage of homicides have to be impulsive events as well.

And let’s look at the accidental deaths thing a bit more. A lot of these are children. Again, if we can reduce these deaths without infringing on anyone’s rights, what the hell is the problem? In fact (look it up,) the gun industry has managed to  insulate itself from most simple product safety law. It’s, literally, as if the automobile industry was able to prevent mandatory safety glass or seat belts. A great example, the Ruger company for several decades until the seventies manufactured and sold “Old Model” revolvers. These were revolvers built to a nineteenth century design. They were simple, they were elegant, they were beautiful … and if jarred or dropped, they would fire. At least 600 deaths, many children, have resulted from this company’s decision to market an unsafe gun. To this day they have avoided being required to recall them. Americans have a right to buy unsafe guns? Give me a break.

Speaking of infringing on rights, the NRA and it’s supporters ignore the fact that a few years back the Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment means that Americans do indeed have a right to bear arms. They continue to rant (yes, that’s the word) about how liberals and/or Obama are going to somehow confiscate American’s guns. Can’t happen without changing the Constitution, and that’s not about to happen anytime soon. Their hysterical preaching encourages Americans to buy and stockpile guns and ammo. One would think they were just a shill for the gun industry. Actually, that’s exactly what I think. I’d call them a prostitute for the gun industry, but that would be an insult to prostitutes.  They do everything they can to glorify guns, and wrap themselves in the flag while they are at it. The NRA was once a fairly responsible organization, I know, I was a member for years.

And while on the topic of glorifying guns, Hollywood has a lot of blood on its hands too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the single person gun massacre is a late 20th century phenomena in the USA. Endless movies glorifying gun violence, and more importantly, glorifying retribution on your enemies by getting mad and shooting a bunch of them is a central theme in Hollywood. A meta-study of 5,000 studies looking at the the link between media and violence found that all but 18 of them found some linkage, and 12 of those 18 were funded by media interests. Sure, normal healthy people aren’t going to run out and shoot people because of violence on TV or in the movies, but not everyone is normal and healthy! Basically it’s a fact that media violence plays some role in inspiring real world violence, monkey see, monkey do.

My point, is that gun violence encompasses a vast array of violence with multiple and complex causes. It’s  simplistic and wrong to claim that guns are the problem, though frankly not as simplistic and wrong to claim that guns aren’t part of the problem. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” may sound all righteous and holy, but how the hell does that translate into “We shouldn’t do anything to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics and criminals?” It doesn’t of course, and there’s all sorts of things that could be done to address the problem without infringing on anyone’s rights. Which will be the topic of a upcoming post.

And yes, I decided to post this blog today because of yesterday’s mass shooting in Wisconsin. The details aren’t all in yet, but we do know that Wisconsin has some of the most permissive gun laws in the nation.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. That’s a recent cover of the NRA’s magazine, which used to be called “The American Rifleman” back when it was a reasonably responsible organization. Replace “election” with “organization,” and it describes the contemporary NRA quite nicely.)

Written by unitedcats

August 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

10 Responses

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  1. You project your own thoughts and feelings into the situation… You acted like an idiot, ergo everyone must… Ive been using guns since I was 13, never had a AD, ND or any problem… I respect them, theyre tools, and like any tool, if used improperly, they can be dangerous.
    Your statistics are skewed, and logic is flawed. While I agree that there is a need for more education about weapons use, the fact is that the vast vast majority of gun owners are responsible, and MORE guns, not less, is the answer.
    You think Im wrong look at England and Australia- gun murders soared after they were made illegal for everyone…

    Steve

    August 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

    • In Australia the gun violence rate has been steadily declining, from a low base, since the gun law changes. There is debate about whether the changes have contributed to the decline, or whether they would have occurred anyway. Nobody here thinks that the law changes increased gun violence. That is a myth put about by the NRA based on statistically insignificant variations in specific areas. The overall figures are clear and show a decline in gun homicides. Note that the gun ownership rate in Australia was always low, so it was not a case of the population suddenly being disarmed. They were never armed.

      Hamish

      December 6, 2012 at 11:04 pm

  2. Look at Canada, we have much stricter laws on guns and our murder/homicide rate for guns and gun violence is much lower. Doug is not taking about making the guns illegal he is talking about making the gun laws make sense and making it safer. Everyone has their own point of view, no ones’ logic can be flawed if that is what they believe to be right. Just remember that in the States you have every right to voice your opinion, but you also have to let someone who totally disagrees with you voice theirs.

    Jennifer Goodyear

    August 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

  3. Any technology has its social cost. Automobiles kill a lot of people every year as well. Drinking contributes as well, we add controls to alcohol yet we tolerate a lot of social costs. You can only ‘regulate’ so much.
    In my view, far more disturbing is the popularity of dark media such as Batman.. Its a cultural problem, not a ‘things’ problem. There have always been, and will be, the occasional nut bar who destroys lives, be it by automobile or gun.
    We ought to address the cultural root of the problem and ask who take six year olds to midnight premier movies that dwell in darkness? Who ?

    John Galt

    August 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    • Agreed. It is ultimately a cultural problem. Remove or limit one potentially destructive tool and another will take its place. It’s not as if fewer guns alone will result in greater peace — we lack peace because we celebrate and glorify senseless violence, excessive competition, thuggish power hierarchies, and deliberate manipulation and use of others to satisfy our own ends. Guns didn’t cause these problems, and prohibition alone won’t stop them. The problem is in us and the culture we collectively embrace (especially youths who’ve been raised saturated on fantasy violence, my not-so-young self included).

      As a society we Americans send so many mixed messages. On one hand violence and bullying is supposedly wrong, and yet nearly every popular film and television show contains it. Rap songs are mean-spirited, but lets be honest, so are plenty of the old country tunes (Johnny Cash’s “Delia’s Gone” springs to mind, though I do love the song). Can’t ban all of that, not that it would do any good to try. Our sex has turned violent and calloused too (do adults realize or care how much porn moving into the mainstream impacts the sexual understandings and expectations of youths?). Our economy is being ran by little more than gangsters in suits, as is our government. Our military openly exercises violence to “protect our way of life,” which is to say it protects our “freedom” to mindlessly consume at the expense of everyone else on the planet. What part of what we have going on today sends the clear message that violence should not be tolerated, that we should come together in peace and learn to cooperate? Whispered platitudes on the sidelines of a violence-obsessed, self-aggrandizing, money-driven society is all talk of peace has become. We don’t live that way, don’t raise kids to understand that way, and oftentimes we openly ridicule others who try to walk that narrow path of decency and civility. Again, the problem is in us, not merely in the weapons used to reach our aims.

      As someone who supports our right to defense (with guns or any other useful tools), I’m not a fan of the NRA — a rich white people’s lobbying group if there ever was one. When speaking of gun rights I think focusing only on what’s mentioned by members of the NRA skews the matter to one side, leaving out the voices of the majority of gun owners whose interests aren’t being represented fairly by that association. Kinda like how focusing on what Republican politicians say has little to do with what many, if not most, conservative-leaning Americans actually believe and wish to bring about. People affiliate with these groups because they’re attracted to the power they wield and wish to be represented among their ranks, but they’re not. They’re just being used in the numbers game and misled. I think most folks realize their interests aren’t being seriously taken into account by these political groups, and more will wake up to this reality over time, I hope. And this right here is part of the problem: being used and misled by political factions leads people over time to feeling helpless, cynical, and jaded, which only serves to put more coals on the fire of social contention. That leads some to eventually lose all hope (and unfortunately their will to live) and others to prepare for their own defense in a world that makes less and less sense. Some take it further and believe a good offense is the best defense, which is the thug mentality in a nutshell. And here we stand, up to our hips in the muck that comes in a society where trust and moral standards are eroded.

      wakemenow

      August 9, 2012 at 9:29 am

  4. Gun laws that make sense and making it safer… Sounds alot like Hitler or Stalin. I’m 100% with John Galt on this… Maybe a bit more strident. Oh btw Canada forbids its people to own guns now…

    Steve

    August 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    • We are allowed to own guns, the weapon has to be registered and if you have a criminal record you are not permitted to have one. If you are caught improperly storing the ammo or the weapon, you can face fines, confiscation or jail time. Maybe you should do some research. Millions of Canadian own guns…moron.

      Jennifer Goodyear

      August 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

      • LOL Well put. Facts and Steve were not friends, research neither. And one of Hitler’s first actions was liberalizing gun laws. Thanks for reminding me about Canada though, might post on that, good example of how guns alone do not mean a lot of gun crime, it’s more complicated than that.

        unitedcats

        August 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm

  5. Guns are what keeps our Nation free. I believe Jefferson said, ” if you’re willing to give up freedom for safety , you deserve neither” . You confuse law abiding citizens with criminals. Crime is already banned in every state. A criminal can’t has no legal way ti obtain guns. If way to buy a gun. You say “unsafe guns” … Not really sure what you mean by that. If you are referring to guns being dangerous, you’re right. Guns are inherently dangerous. Anything that would make guns less dangerous would put law abiding citizens and police at an unacceptable risk, would it not? As far as statistics go, both the Brady organization as well as the NRA produce statistics, and neither of them match, or even come close. Anti rights groups such as the Brady campaign, and you seem to tackle the gun or magazine instead of saying we need to enforce the laws on the t. The Brady campaign and the media have been attacking hardware such as magazines that accept more than ten rounds. Ok let’s examine this. How many rounds would you give a grandmother who is being attacked in her home? How many round does she deserve to protect herself? What would you base that number on?

    Shouldn’t a lawful citizen that has never committed a crime be afforded the same protection as the police?
    After all, we face the same criminals on our streets.

    How would strengthening laws make it tougher for criminals to obtain guns?

    Richard Smith

    September 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    • It was Franklin that said a similar thing. But you also forget that Franklin was using the term in a specific scenario (If I remember correctly it was during the French-Indian War). He wasn’t referring to arming citizens. That being said, the Founding Fathers didn’t agree on much anything. Jefferson didn’t even want the Constitution, he only accepted it after it inserted the Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments. Madison was in favor of repealing an amendment. Thomas Paine advocated heavier taxes and a spread of wealth (sorry Glenn Beck, its true).

      CentristApproach

      July 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm


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