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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guns and Ammo

A friend to this blog -- call him D -- is a gun owner and would probably describe himself as a Second Amendment fundamentalist. Nevertheless, he sent me the following message. I decided to share it with you, simply because I feel these words may spark some new thoughts. Everything below the asterisks is D's work; after that, I shall return.

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I don’t know if you caught it, but the popular magazine “Guns and Ammo” which is an old and well respected opinion shaper in the shooting world, just summarily fired one of its longtime and best editors. The poor bastard got the ax because he had the temerity to pen a levelheaded and exceedingly moderate Op-Ed piece floating the perfectly reasonable suggestion that perhaps prospective gun-owners should be required to obtain some minimal competency and gun-safety training in order to own a firearm. Here’s the piece.

Additionally, G&A's editor-in-chief suddenly announced he is taking an "earlier retirement than planned", clearly due to the fact that he dared to break ranks and run that Op-Ed bit of heretical wrong-think, instead of tossing it down the memory-hole. My assumption is that both men being old hands, and on the verge of retirement anyway, must have consciously made a joint moral decision to rebel and speak a little truth. Despite what they now claim, I find it preposterous that they would not have acutely appreciated that they were placing themselves in serious jeopardy of being banished to Siberia.

Way too many gun owners have this delusional belief, more faith really, that the NRA exists to defend the 2nd amendment rights of America’s citizenry. What hooey. Perhaps that might well have been the case 50 or 60 years ago. The reality today is that the NRA is lock, stock and barrel a heavy-hitting PR and brainwashing instrument of the US ammunition and firearms industry. The NRA and the domestic and international commercial gun-lobby are one and the same. Its primary purpose is to preserve and defend the health of American gun sales. NRA members are merely the means to that end, in much the same way that mass-media audiences are little more than eyeballs, simply the means for raking in advertising dollars.

To me these firings are nothing less than a churlishly grandiose display of NRA muscle, as well as an example of the gun-lobby’s paranoid intolerance of anything that deviates from the standard NRA articles of faith. I’m afraid that bodes ill for everyone. It’s the sort of self-righteous, Stalinesque purge that dangerously engorges the egos of gun-lobby powerbrokers and their acolytes. At the same time, it pointedly sends a message, a very threatening message to the shooting world’s many apparatchiki and all those individuals down lower in the gun-world social structure who feign slavish loyalty to NRA dogma in order to fit in, but who still retain some actual capacity for engaging in independent critical thought, -- and that threatening message snarls: Free thinkers are enemies of the cause. Do not deviate from the party-line or you will be ostracized and destroyed!

But, this display of raw power, this brazenly public demonstration of intimidation and coercion by gun-lobby autocrats is also dangerously self-destructive, because it insults and alienates those many gun owners who, contrary to facile stereotyping, are not unquestioning thralls. And just as importantly, because it feeds valuable propaganda material to blindly militant anti-gun crusaders who are ensconced within the larger ranks of those seeking reasonable and workable gun-reform. These militant anti-gun fanatics make no secret about being hell-bent on establishing draconian firearms restrictions with the ultimate objective of forcing a complete elimination of all civilian ownership of firearms.

When tyrannies finally topple, it often happens pretty suddenly. When so, they typically fall fast and hard, leaving behind a power-vacuum. Were that to happen someday to the NRA’s hegemonic rule, a large portion of the void would most likely be rapidly occupied by the forces of the zealously motivated, sanctimoniously devout sour-pusses who passionately loath and fear guns with the secular equivalent of religious fervor.

In such an event, a determined siege to force a repeal or nullification of the 2nd amendment would ensue. Once legally disarmed, we as a free people would never again possess the right to know the virtue and dignity that comes from being trustworthy of being an armed citizenry.

I believe that as Americans we have profoundly lost that all-important trust in ourselves, which earlier generations of Americans had a much firmer grasp of. Rather than rushing to embrace infantilization, we need to patiently work together to rebuild that communal sense of mutual-confidence in ourselves that we've let become dangerously weak. Yes, doing that would take considerable time and require real work. On the other hand, we would gain little more than an extremely false form of security by treating ourselves like little children, were we to foolishly abolish one of the greatest and most noble characteristics of a stable, truly self-governing society of free men and women: The capacity, under law, for every adult to exercise the option, if they so choose, to be safely and responsibly armed.

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Cannon here. My response is pretty simple: I don't own a gun myself, but I've befriended a few gun owners. They seemed like fine people; were they otherwise, they would not have been friends. But I've also met a few gun nuts, and they made my skin crawl. I don't fear firearms, but I do fear fanaticism. We've all seen the salivating grin, the quasi-sexual reaction when an enthusiast appraises a certain type of weapon. The firearm treated as fetish object. Hello, Id: Goodbye, Superego.

It does seem absurd that one must jump through all sorts of legal hoops to be considered worthy to operate a vehicle, yet anyone -- even the untrained and the un-sane -- can plonk down some cash and grab a .45.

I've been a liberal all my life, yet I've never met any American who wanted all Americans to disarm. Such people do exist -- they aren't entirely mythical -- but they are far fewer in number than the demagogues believe. I have met a number of people who advocate a few sensible regulations on gun ownership, such as a requirement to pass a safety test. These citizens are not placing us on a slippery slope to total disarmament. Those who make that slippery slope argument are close kin to those wackos who say that raising the minimum wage will inevitably lead to red flags over the White House.
Two things: I question your friends bonafides by the way he links the NRA as the end-all-be-all of firearms. They're not. At all. Seriously. You may not like what they have to say, but they're honestly not this massive boogey man that progressives make them out to be. They are a powerful lobbying group, but they're really not a sinister group of pure evil anymore than the ACLU is a front for Godless commie bastards who seek to destroy America.. Honest!

Two, anyone can buy a car if they have the money. No insurance, hoops, registrations, tags, inspections, etc. The thing is, you have to use it entirely on private property (think farm trucks). If you wanna drive it on a public street, its a different story, but if you wanna cruise around a dirt field you own, feel free to buy the most bitchin', dangerous, and unsafe hunk of steel you want and then flip the keys to a 10 year old.. straight up legal.

Anon (and I wish you had not been anonymous), you speak reasonably, but you're wrong on the latter point.

First, I spoke of "operating" a vehicle. Most people know that means driving down the street.

Second -- I don't know what the situation is in your state, but here in Maryland, things are not so simple, as I know first-hand. The cops WILL hassle you if the reg tags on your vehicle are expired, even if the car is parked on a privately-owned field (with the owner's permission), and even if it has not been driven in months or years. In order to get the reg tags, the vehicle must be towed to an inspection station, where they will cite you for all sorts of violations -- including ones that any normal person would consider purely cosmetic!

I don't know what the gun laws are here, but they can't be THAT stringent. I'm sure it's more of a hassle to own a car than to own a gun.

As for the NRA -- frankly, I think it has turned into an obnoxious pressure group, and thus is no better than any other obnoxious pressure group. The ACLU isn't beholden to an industry; your comparison simply doe snot obtain.
Best numbers I can find show 310 million guns in this country, owned by 70 million gun owners. Meanwhile, the NRA's website claims > 4 million members, which most sources sanity-check as being anywhere from 25% to 35% inflated. Assuming 3 million members, the NRA could claim to represent, at most, 4.5% of gun owners. As I suspect a sizable minority of NRA members support some degree of gun registration or control, in reality that figure is even lower.

So why do we give a damn *what* the NRA wants? I'm not $ure, but I have my $u$picion$...

They can pressure you, but that doesn't mean they have any authority. If you keep your car for use in 100% private property, they have no regulation or control over it.

Now, you cannot park a car which does not meet public safety requirements (registration, insurance, safety inspections, et al) on a public street. Even if you're not using it, it is in public.

The NRA isn't actually beholden to an industry, though. The NSSF is the "industry lobby." The NRA is a lobby for gun owners.

Now, are gun owners beholden to an industry? Sure. The gun makers provide us with the equipment our "hobby" (insert your choice of word there, but let's not quibble over it) requires. But, the NRA isn't an industry lobby.

There are lots of gun owners who are actually willing to compromise on laws, here, btw. The problem really is every time we (gun owners) give an inch to the antis, they response is more more more.

This is why things like "universal background checks" become contentious arguments. You'll find the bulk of gun owners are willing to agree to something, but the downside is teh second its done, you've got the Bradeys, Giffords, and Bloombergs of the world demanding more. Its a slippery slope, and its been proven time and time again.

BTW, as a gun owner, please allow me to apologize for the "open carry" phenomena. There's a time and a place to do it (ie, state won't let you legally conceal, but OC is OK), but generally speaking, its a big bucket of assholery.
Keeping in mind there was never a right to own guns. Americans are misreading their own Constitution.

In the 18th century, "to keep and bear arms" meant" to serve in the military." It was standard legal jargon and had nothing to do with anyone owning anything.
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