Category Archives: Guns

Coming For Your Guns

Before I start this article about guns, I want to assure you that I’m not here to take away anyone’s gun. I respect the Second Amendment and I myself am a gun enthusiast and an avid hunter. I’m only here to advocate for some small, common sense regulations to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, not to in any way infringe upon the rights of the millions of responsible gun owners like you and me!

Do you believe that? Do you want the truth?

What I just said was complete, utter bullshit. I don’t actually mean any of it. It is simply the mandatory apology that some unwritten consensus has dictated must preface any suggestion of even the smallest, sanest gun regulations.

“First sir, let me assure you that in no way do I wish to suggest that you do do not have every legal right to spit on the floor, and I respect your traditions and in no way want to abridge your enjoyment of our restaurant, but could you perhaps, please agree to at least spit into a napkin – if it is not inconvenient in any way…”

Here’s what I actually believe. I believe that if you want a gun, you have failed the mental health test and are too crazy to be allowed to have one (see more here). I believe that if you can rationalize that somehow your right to own a gun is worth the life of even one child blown to bits in a mass shooting, you are morally sick and should never call yourself a Christian. I believe that your gun doesn’t demonstrate your strength, but rather it exposes how pathetically cowardly and insecure you really are. It is not merely that bad people use guns, guns create supervillians (see more here).

Further, I believe the Second Amendment should be abolished. Erased. There should be no private gun ownership at all. If I were Thanos, I’d click every single gun out of existence. If I were a benevolent dictator, I’d end all private sales and then go house to house, confiscate every one, and melt them for scrap. Guns should be limited to law enforcement professionals or temporarily checked out, like ski rentals, from regulated gun rental agencies for limited-time hunting or recreation (see more here).

As I write this, I can feel all the common sense gun reform advocates clutching at their pearls and gasping for breath. Oh my, oh my, now he’s done it! He’s put in writing exactly what the gun advocates have been saying we really think all along! He’s set our long struggle for modest gun reform back 50 years!

In reality, the gun nuts are both right and wrong about this.

They are wrong that gun control advocates want to come after their guns. I don’t know how many, but I suspect that the vast majority are sincere in their Stockholm syndrome defense of gun rights. I think the most prominent leaders of the movement are especially sincere, because you cannot get to be a leader of a mainstream gun control movement today if you are not authentically supportive of gun ownership as an inviolable right.

At the same time, the gun nuts are correct however, because they instinctively realize that none of the “sensible” gun control measures put forth will actually make much difference. They intuit that the only solution to increasingly horrific gun carnage is to drastically limit gun availability. They know, even if gun control advocates do not, that as “sensible” controls prove inadequate, even sympathetic gun control advocates will be forced to advocate for more restrictive measures.

Look here. Beyond all the time-worn, rehashed arguments, this gun debate really just falls in to two positions. There are those who, like me, believe it is unethical, selfish, and cowardly to cling to guns in the face of all the devastation they cause. And there are those who somehow rationalize their desire to own weapons of murder, regardless of their tragic cost to individuals and to society.

In between those two are the practical, sensible, gun control advocates who, sincerely or as a tactic, bow and pledge allegiance to fundamental gun rights before making any qualified suggestion for modest gun reform. As to their sincerity, I put that down to a lifetime indoctrination into the gun culture of America. As to their tactics, I only point out that deference to gun rights has not worked for them or for us despite decades of trying.

Perhaps it is time that more people, particularly leaders, grow a spine and say enough is enough. We are not going to genuflect before the Second Amendment any more. You should not have guns and if you do you are crazy and immoral in that regard. We should try playing hardball instead of softball. Force the gun nuts to accept some limited concessions when the alternative is ending private gun sales in America and making the industry liable for the damage their products inflict.

Hey, could a hardball stance really be any less effective than the deferential, milksop approach we have taken so far? We need more leaders willing to stand up and denounce guns utterly and completely and without equivocation (see more here).

Any less from gun control advocates is tantamount to collaboration in mass murder.

Let’s Stop Glorifying Soldiers

Today is Memorial Day. This holiday does make me reflect upon the many soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the military. Without doubt it brings great comfort to many. But for me, those thoughts unavoidably drift far beyond merely acknowledging and appreciating their sacrifice. I’m forced to ask, is this level of glorification justified? Is it a good thing? Does it go too far? And does it cause unanticipated and undesired harm?

How justified really is the extremely high level of recognition we ascribe to soldiers on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, at more routine events, and in the many popular references and acknowledgments that are so pervasive throughout our culture? Many may say it’s far too little and too perfunctory. But many others feel our reverence for and romanticization of the military is borderline pathological.

Yes, some soldiers die during their service. But we have many professions that suffer from similarly high death rates, in fact much higher if you only count combat deaths (see here). And if we look at harm to health and well-being more generally, the terrible cost suffered by other professions is even far more pronounced.

But even while acknowledging the actual numbers, we still like to think that military service is special; that soldiers didn’t merely make the ultimate sacrifice in the course of earning a paycheck. We imagine their sacrifice to be more noble because they were selflessly serving their country to protect our freedom and liberty and our democratic way of life.

In reality, that may at times be the big picture result of military service, but many professions likewise serve those same greater goals. But for individual soldiers, claims of noble motivation are highly exaggerated rationalizations. Many studies have shown that the primary motivation for joining the military is simply money. One such study by RAND (see here) identifies five primary reasons that people join the military:

  • Adventure and Travel
  • Benefits
  • Job Stability and Pay
  • Escaping a Negative Environment
  • Job Training

None of these driving motivations have anything to do with defending freedom and democracy. They are all simply based upon personal gain. Now, that’s not to say that serving a noble cause is not important to many in the military. But for most it’s secondary at best and a rationalization at worst.

That is not as true of many other service professions. Teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers, and many in legal, medical, or other service professions do often cite helping others as primary motivations for working in difficult, low-paying, and sometimes dangerous careers. Not so with most of the soldiers who are so honored by our culture.

So then we ask, what’s the harm? Certainly we should not fail to honor one group simply because we cannot similarly honor all deserving groups. Recognition is often not fair. It never can be. And maybe the goal of inducing soldiers to join the military is indeed so important to democracy that honoring them is a necessary pragmatic white-lie we maintain for the greater good.

Well, my concern about this kind of pragmatic logic is two-fold. First, it is not at all clear that the good accomplished by our huge military overcomes the bad. But secondly, I am pretty confident that our glorification of the military does real, profound harm to our social fabric by propagating guns, military dress and equipment, and paramilitary behaviors that are incredibly damaging to our country. Beyond mass shootings, our fetishizing over everything military has become inextricably intertwined with the greatest dangers to our democracy emerging from within.

I have to think that our exaggerated romanticizing over soldiers is a significant enabling factor in the marketing of the real dangers and threats we face as a people. Glorifying soldiers, their equipment, and military solutions only models and ennobles this kind of behavior in civil society. We see this distorted and dangerous military mimicry escalating almost daily.

Maybe military behavior, however noble in theory, has become so corrupted in popular society that it is time to reevaluate our long-standing military traditions and their increasingly theoretical and irrelevant positive values.

So what should we do differently?

My suggestion is that we treat Memorial Day more like a remembrance of people who died in natural disasters or mass shootings. We remember these people as victims, not heroes. Rather than creating romanticized narratives of altruism and self-sacrifice, we should mourn the tragic, often needless, loss of friends and family. We should show icons of hope and renewal rather than parading our flags and shooting off rifles in militaristic displays. We should mourn the foreign policies that have put so many in harm’s way, dismantle a military-industrial complex that drives so many into the military, and stop feeding the delusions of so many disturbed, gun-crazy individuals in our society who are driven by the distorted ideas of military honor that they take away from Memorial Day and other military exhibitions.

Spider-Man Gets It

After being snowed in for a week, I finally got out to see Spider-Man: No Way Home (see here). It was a super fun action movie. But as with all good writing, it also made me think interesting thoughts, such as what makes people bad, redemption, and the effect of superpowers our real world.

The following contains movie spoilers. If you have not seen it yet, and think you might like to, close this article and come back after you’ve checked it out!

With sympathy to those of you who have little patience for superhero stuff, I’ll set up the story really simply. A group of supervillains are brought into our universe by accident. They immediately do what supervillains do; they unleash their terrible powers to create widespread havoc and death.

Spiderman does find a way to send them back to their own universes. Despite intense pressure to do so, and despite the horrible threat that these supervillains pose, he cannot bring himself to effectively deport them to wreak havoc in their old universes. So instead, he tries desperately to help each of them to become better people who can live peacefully in any universe.

Each of these supervillains has a different background and unique challenges that contribute to their evil behavior. Since I don’t have the room in this article to talk about all of them, I’ll focus on just one. That supervillain is called Electro and he is played in the movie by Jamie Foxx.

Electro has the ability to literally siphon electricity from electrical grids and to fire it in lightning-like bolts and bursts. His destructive power is fantastic. But when Spider-Man manages to destroy his electrical emitter, Electro immediately becomes your uncle. Suddenly he is no longer a crazed and maniacal supervillain, but a pretty ordinary next door neighbor. He is no more crazed and maniacal than your typical muffler-repairman and just about as dangerous. In fact, once his power is taken away, it’s hard to imagine that he was ever any kind of threat.

This sudden and dramatic transformation isn’t as unlikely as it may seem at first. Superpowers do actually exist in our real world, and they do induce the same kind of deadly behavior in many otherwise harmless people. Take those superpowers away, and those real-world supervillains are just your uncle, your neighbor, or your muffler-repairman.

These real-world superpowers most typically take the form of public or private office, wealth, or guns.

High offices are in limited supply. And great wealth is still relatively hard to come by. So while dangerous, people with those superpowers are somewhat rare. While they do exist and can do great damage, there can never be too many Donald Trump or Lex Luthor type supervillains in the world. And also, these supervillains are somewhat constrained by the precariousness of their positions of power.

But anyone today can buy a semi-automatic weapon and become a real-world supervillain that rivals Electro in destructive power. And relative to the rich and the office-holders, many of these people have few constraints that restrain their unleashing of that power – at least one time.

As Spider-Man often repeats, “with great power comes great responsibility.” There are certainly some, like Spider-Man, who take that to heart and strive to use their power, their office, their wealth, or their gun, to make the world a better place.

But it is also true to observe that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And as Spider-Man: No Way Home shows us, there are many who are intoxicated by great power and who, like Electro, would be perfectly decent citizens if not for that power.

So yea, guns.

Guns grant anyone a superpower. By making guns so easily available, we have created a nascent army of actual and potential supervillains.

Many rationalize that guns are not the problem. But that is simply wrong. As Spider-Man: No Way Home shows us, the means to destroy is exactly the problem. When people who can be drawn toward violence are allowed to have guns, it’s like giving Electro his superpower back. Without that power, he is not particularly dangerous. But with that power in his hands, he cannot help but become a supervillain.

For too many people, the lure to use their superpower can be overwhelming. If you could shoot lightning bolts, how could you not? You possess a voice. Are you never frustrated enough to shout out in anger with it? The mere possession of a superpower fundamentally inverts every calculation. With guns, your muffler-repair guy becomes a mass shooter. Without guns, well he’s just your muffler-repair guy.

Electro could not both possess a device of mass destruction and not use it. Modern guns grant less flashy but similarly destructive superpowers. We should not be so foolish as to give everyone access to them. Giving everyone access to Twitter is dangerous enough.

Spider-Man realized this. The weapons are the problem, not the people who possess them.

Spider-Man gets it. Why can’t we?

Trump Exposed Our Stupidity

I have long expressed the speculation that we are probably no smarter than the population of ancient Babylon. Yes, we may have more technology and more knowledge, but brains evolve very slowly and have probably long ago reached intrinsic intellectual limits like the maximum size of an insect with an exoskeleton. Similarly, we are probably no smarter overall than people were way back when.

Given the number of people in our population who believe in any sort of crazy, nonsensical, disproven claim, it’s hard to deny that we have a lot of really stupid people in our population. Despite that, we have long preferred to respect the intelligence of our fellow humans and at worst characterize them as misled, uninformed, uneducated, and so on. Not stupid though. Oh no, we’re not saying that.

When Trump came to power I said that was further proof of how stupid we are. Clearly we are not stupid in all ways, but I was talking about the particular set of “social intelligence” smarts that might allow us to form a just and sustainable social system. As social stupidity exerted itself throughout the Trump era, more and more people found they had no choice but to refer to his supporters as simply stupid.

Still, most continued to resist that harsh point-blank criticism. They hung on to hope that Trump voters were simply misinformed by Fox News.

Then Covid came along. As it became clear that many Trump supporters and some others were continuing to resist vaccines and thereby placing themselves and others at mortal risk, the rest of us have pretty much been forced to admit that, yes, they are just plain stupid. We can no longer continue to pretend that any less critical adjective is sufficient to describe them.

Trump has not made people stupid. Stupid people created Trump. Trump didn’t tell them what to think, he threw out trial balloons at his rallies and he echoed whatever they cheered to most strongly. He led stupid people wherever they told him they wanted to go.

The stupid people don’t worship Trump. They don’t even follow Trump. The moment he tries to take them where they don’t want to go, they rebel. They boo him as they did when he tried to urge them to get vaccinated. As horrible as Trump may be, the real problem is not Trump, the real problem are the stupid people who created and continue to empower Trumpism.

Look, it’s clear we have different kinds of smart and stupid. Some people may be brilliant in lots of ways, but still be quite hopelessly stupid at math. You don’t want them teaching math to your kids. In the same way, we should accept that some people, as smart as they may be in lots of ways, are simply hopelessly stupid when it comes to social policy and they should not be allowed anywhere near making it.

In their excellent book, Hating America, authors Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin document the dire misgivings that many 18th century European intellectuals expressed regarding the formation of a Democracy in America (see here). They warned that a system that empowered uninformed and stupid masses to make critical decisions was doomed to be dysfunctional and destructive. Their concern was elevated by their certainty that America, with all its vast resources, would become very powerful. Putting that much power in the hands of the stupid masses would be disastrous, they warned.

It has taken longer than those European intellectuals feared, but their predictions and warnings are finally coming true. A powerful America, dysfunctional and destructive in its behavior, careening down the road to a calamitous global future with stupid people behind the wheel.

Why now? I mean, the stupid people who support Trumpism – if not Trump himself – have always been here. They spewed nonsense in ancient Babylon, they owned slaves in America, and lynched free Blacks more recently. They have always hated government, believed in nonsense, proudly flew their Confederate flags, denied climate change, and rejected vaccinations. But we have managed pretty well so far. We have made progress despite them. So why worry about them now? What makes them more dangerous today?

I’ll give two reasons why our stupid population is more dangerous today – social media and guns. Social media gives them the critical ability to mutually-reinforce their stupidity, to coordinate, to rise up in online or real-world mobs, and to take over our government through coordinated action or even under threats of violence. Social media promised to empower the masses, and unfortunately it has succeeded.

And guns give these people the real power not only to mobilize, coerce, and threaten, but to exert their will through with profoundly horrifying violence and destruction.

It is long past time that we all accept and acknowledge that we have, and always will have, a socially stupid and dangerous fraction of people in our population. We must further accept that no amount of education, media campaigns, or empathetic outreach – or even fear of death – will dissuade these people from their stupid behavior. We cannot “bring them around.” We rather must find ways to moderate them, disempower them, and achieve a fair and sustainable society despite them.

We need, as George Will has said, sane and rational people in our representative form of government who can moderate our worst, stupidest, passions. But social media, and increasingly guns and threats of violence, are installing stupid people in our government who then gerrymander and create other pathways to bring in even more stupid people.

Eliminating, or strongly controlling, the two major enablers of stupidity, social media and guns, is essential if we are going to survive our socially stupid population and prove those European intellectuals wrong about the unavoidable fate of a Democratic system of government.

We Can Transform Our Gun Culture

GunCultureI was inspired and encouraged by our local “March For Our Lives” event in Tacoma, and by those held concurrently around the world. A number of speakers conveyed their passionate optimism regarding our prospects for implementing “sensible gun laws.” Some cited our eventual acceptance of seat belt laws, despite tremendous initial resistance, as one example of how important change can and does happen.

And there is an even more compelling precedent for optimism. I grew up in the 1960’s. At that time smoking was epidemic. Every indoor space was visibly thick with noxious, stifling smoke. Every tabletop was marred by ashes and burns. Beaches, park lawns, and other public spaces were strewn with disgusting butts. Workplaces and restaurants were more like Marakesh hookah bars than the clean, safe, and wholesome places they are today. Smokers could not be persuaded to change their behavior regardless of the cost to themselves let alone to others. Their right to enjoy unrestricted smoking was fueled by a powerful tobacco industry and protected by a complicit government. The result was that no one, even non-smokers, could find safety from the horrific health toll that this unrestricted smoking claimed. And certainly, few people believed there was any realistic chance to challenge the seemingly unassailable right and all-powerful compulsion of so many to smoke anywhere and everywhere they pleased.

Their arguments and excuses were much the same as those used in our current gun debate. But all those who said that significant changes in our smoking culture were impossible… were wrong. And they are wrong today about the hopelessness of achieving significant gun control.

But the relatively smoke and butt free world we enjoy today, that younger people thankfully take for granted, did not come about naturally or by accident. It came about because people fought for it. It came about because some ignored all those who maintained that smoking was too ingrained in our culture, that smokers could never be persuaded to curtail their habit to any extent whatsoever, and that in any case big tobacco was far too powerful to fight.

Big tobacco, as invincible and all-powerful as they seemed, lost that war. Smokers, as uncaring to suffering as their addiction made them, did eventually accept dramatic restrictions of their previously unrestricted right to smoke. And once the culture shifted under them, dramatic and fundamental change did not take long.

So don’t let anyone tell you that the NRA is too powerful. Don’t let anyone tell you guns are not the problem. Don’t let anyone tell you that gun owners will only allow their guns to be pried from their “cold dead hands.” Don’t let anyone convince you that the world will not be a far safer place with fewer guns. And don’t accept that our goals must be limited to “sensible gun restrictions,” because by taking this very meek approach we implicitly concede that guns are good and reasonable things to own – except for say crazy people or known criminals.

Rather than enumerating who cannot own guns, we should enumerate who can own them. The right to own guns should require proof of exceptional need. Such exceptions allowing ownership can include authorized facilities who “loan out” guns for controlled sporting or hunting activities, for guns held in secure armories for the use by “well regulated” militia groups, and for people with exceptional security needs.

Lest you think that such ambitious goals are impossible, consider that New York City has largely accomplished them. A little over a year ago we moved from New York City to Washington State. Despite the far greater population density, we frankly felt safer there. This is partly due to their very restrictive gun control laws. You are not allowed to own guns in NYC unless you can demonstrate an exceptional circumstance. Their laws effectively make gun ownership the exception. This has arguably contributed greatly to reducing gun violence, unarguably made us feel safer, has been accepted by the population, and has survived Constitutionality challenges in the courts. If such significant restrictions can work there, then there is no reason to accept any less nationwide.

As with seat belts, and more dramatically as with smoking, change can happen. New York City shows us that such change can be more transformative than we may believe – even when it comes to guns. The rallies and marches today give me a new sense of optimism that meaningful and significant change, akin to our transformative changes in smoking behavior, may be on the way for our insane gun culture. We just have to keep working to make it happen.

For other blog posts on our gun epidemic, click on the Guns category on the right!

 

The Supreme Court Must Ultimately Save Us From Second Amendment Genocide

gunlawsWe are trapped in a nightmarish, escalating civil war in which gun nuts, bolstered by the otherwise sensible people who support them in this national insanity, battle against those who recognize that we can we never hope to acceptably reduce gun violence until gun ownership is dramatically reduced.

Yes legislative action can blunt the damage a bit. We could and should prohibit semi-automatic weapons, as well as deadly ammunition and large capacity magazines. We could and should improve our mental health testing and strengthen background checks. We should stop shielding gun manufacturers from liability. But honestly, even all of these would not do nearly enough. These sort of legislative actions are merely the band aids we apply since we know we have no chance to obtain the life-saving cure we desperately need. In the case of our gun epidemic, that panacea is a radical gun-ectomy to remove all cancerous firearms from private hands.

Some think that repeal of the Second Amendment is a cure. But the reality is that we are so collectively obsessed with guns that we will never repeal our Second Amendment, no matter what the cost in lives. We could parade piles of bullet-ridden corpses down every American street every day and we would still stubbornly insist that no cost is too high to ensure our god-given right to bear arms. And even if we did, removing this right would do nothing affirmative to limit guns. States would only be free to pass their own similar gun-protection amendments.

But I think there is one slim hope that we are not sufficiently considering. That hope is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, with the stroke of one landmark decision, could reinterpret the Second Amendment so as to not only open up legislative options but to force legislators to enact them. Keeping a sensibly interpreted Second Amendment in place would be far more valuable than simply repealing it.

To refresh your memory, the Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is an extremely vague statement. Our forefathers made much of their writing intentionally vague so that future courts could reinterpret them in the context of their changing times.

Certainly times have changed with respect to guns. Since this amendment was ratified in 1791, guns have obviously grown in destructive power like the growth of a fire-cracker into a nuclear weapon. The population and our proximity to each other have also grown dramatically. The days of hunting as a necessity are long past. And the number of guns, as well as their destructive power, has grown millions of times over.

Yes, I know that just back in 2008 the Supreme Court ruling in Columbia v. Heller tremendously strengthened Second Amendment protections. Although that ruling was actually very narrow, it has been extended to justify the most generous interpretation. It can be argued that this ruling was as indirectly disastrous for sane gun reform as Citizen’s United was for campaign reform.

But the Supreme Court can, should, and does evolve on important, deeply held issues. It seemed that the Supreme Court had spoken clearly against civil rights in Dred Scott v. Standford and Plessy v. Ferguson. But they did eventually do the right thing in Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia.

If our system is to work at all, we must not give up on the Supreme Court. We must hope eternal that at least one conservative member, in light of our exponentially deteriorating situation with regard to guns, might be willing to agree to subtle but dramatically consequential changes in our interpretation of the Second Amendment.

For example, the Supreme Court could rule that the phrase “a well regulated militia” is key and that it requires a far more limited distribution of weaponry. They could rule that the definition of “arms” must be far more restricted than our current interpretation. They could rule that “infringement” does not mean anything close to the current carte blanche in place now. They could clarify that their ruling in Heller does not justify extreme gun protections nor does it speak against sensible gun control.

Is this likely? Of course not. Is it possible? It certainly is and the impact of such a ruling could be huge. What we must do is not give up on this avenue even as we simultaneously pursue others. We must find justifications to bring a never-ending stream of cases before the Supreme Court to give them opportunities to put forth a modern, ethical, and rational interpretation of the Second Amendment. We could ask them, for example, to rule whether our current lack of gun control might actually violate our Second Amendment right to a well-regulated militia. We could ask them to rule whether it is consistent with the Second Amendment to allow certain weapons to be available for sport purposes only when provided at an approved facility.

Who knows, there may be a Justice right now who might now be willing to bend on this issue, if only given one more opportunity to make such a ruling. In any case, the reality is that until they do our Second Amendment genocide will continue to worsen.

Reinterpreting, not repealing, the Second Amendment is our best way out of this gun crisis that we have brought upon ourselves. Neither voters nor the repeal of the Second Amendment will force lawmakers to control gun proliferation. Just as with slavery and segregation, only a Supreme Court ruling can both allow and force them to do so.

 

Proud Member of the NRA (National Raptor Association)

BirdOfPreyI am a proud card-carrying member of the NRA. My father and my grandfather were members of the National Raptor Association as well. My great-granddad owned several hawks and a falcon that he used for hunting back in the day so it is a matter of tradition in our family. My collection currently includes a goshawk, a kestrel, two owls, and a buzzard as well as several dozen other magnificent predatory birds.

It makes me so frustrated to hear people who know nothing about birds of prey continually bash those of us who care so deeply about them. I truly love my birds and handle them responsibly. I should not be punished if some less responsible owners allow their birds to prey on cats, dogs, and other house pets. The answer to raptor attacks is not more regulation, but better enforcement the regulations we already have on the books. Raptor owners should voluntarily take classes on raptor husbandry, learn how to handle their raptors responsibly, and keep them well-secured in an approved aviary when not hunting. But families should take responsibility as well and protect their infants and young children with natural cover. Or else they should obtain their own protective birds of prey to repel hungry attacking birds.

VelociraptorI also own three velociraptors that descended directly from the line that were rescued from the destroyed Jurassic Park facility – the first one. These are the original birds of prey. Wingless, yes, but ancient raptors nevertheless. They are potentially dangerous but that is why it is so important that they be kept only by responsible owners like myself.

Our founding fathers owned raptors and they never specifically said that velociraptor ownership should not also be a cherished, protected right. They knew that all raptors are an essential part what makes our American culture so exceptional. Raptors are the only thing protecting our citizenry from housebreakers and totalitarian governments. If we allow the bleeding heart liberals to restrict our velociraptors today, they’ll come after our American Eagles tomorrow. The claim that my velociraptor is far more likely to rend the flesh from me and my family is as absurd as are false beliefs in global climate change or evolution.

Of course I feel tremendous sorrow for the thousands that were lost in the original Jurassic Park massacre. I also pray for all those devoured in Jurassic Park 2, 3, 4, 5, and the many people shredded every day by velociraptor attacks across the country. But this is a small price to pay to protect my god-given right to bear raptors. Such unfortunate events should not be politicized to push for onerous and unnecessary raptor-control legislation. Raptors aren’t the problem. Velociraptors don’t kill people, people kill people. If those intent to do harm didn’t use a velociraptor, they’d just gut hundreds in mere minutes with their own teeth and claws.

In fact, statistics show that murder by raptor is actually higher in states and countries with strict anti-raptor laws. This proves that the only answer to a crazy person releasing a hunting party of raptors into a concert venue is a true American hero with his own raptors – like Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.

Look, I’m not crazy or unreasonable. I do support some commonsense restrictions to keep raptors out of the hands of those who would use them to do harm – like the mentally disturbed, Blacks, and Muslims. But just don’t try to pry my beloved velociraptor’s jaws from my cold dead hand, or I’ll sig em on you!

Thank the lord that the NRA is here to safeguard our god-given rights as true patriots and god bless the United States of America!

 

Gun Liberty Protections

safety-firstAbortion safety advocates have a ton of great ideas about how to protect the life and well-being of expectant mothers. Even though the health risk of abortion procedures is essentially zero, these concerned citizens are so dedicated to health and safety that no legislative restriction is deemed too costly or too onerous. In states all across the country, they are proposing and enacting common sense regulations to ensure that abortion facilities are safe and that expectant mothers are afforded every possible protection.

We should be inspired by their efforts and apply the exact same kind of common sense safety regulations to gun sales to ensure that buyers and sellers alike are afforded their Constitutional right to acquire incredibly dangerous killing machines in the safest manner possible. Following are some proposed gun sales legislations, all modeled upon actual abortion legislation, and intended only to enhance the gun industry and ensure the safety of all concerned in gun sales.

The Gun Seller Freedom Act

  • 14 states require abortion providers to have an affiliation with a local hospital. Although such affiliations offers no benefit whatsoever, we should likewise require that gun shop owners be formally affiliated with a local police department just to be safe.
  • 13 states require that providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital or an agreement with another provider who has admitting privileges. Since guns are far more dangerous than abortions, we should likewise require that gun shop owners have admitting privileges at a local hospital as well.
  • 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. Similarly, we should require that all gun shop staff who sell guns should have to take a 4 year training course and complete a supervised apprenticeship of at least 3 years. After they pass a multipart examination, they may apply to a government-appointed board for a sales license.
  • 18 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point in the process. We should likewise require that a second licensed salesperson assist in every gun transaction.

The Gun Store Patriotism Act

  • 22 states have onerous but according to them, essential, licensing standards for abortion clinics that are comparable or equivalent to the state’s licensing standards for ambulatory surgical centers. We should put in place equally stringent licensing standards for gun stores and require meticulous enforcement by the ATF.
  • 21 states specify the size of the procedure rooms and/or specify minimum corridor widths. We should likewise require that all gun store facilities meet minimum size standards to ensure a safe environment with sufficient evacuation capacity in the event of an event. To ensure safety, all walls and windows should be certified to withstand high-velocity sustained gunfire using the most penetrating ammunition available in the store.
  • 10 states require abortion facilities to be within some minimum distance from a hospital. We should likewise extend this protection to gun shops since they have far more potential for catastrophe.
  • 17 states extend regulations to sites where medication abortion (handing out a pill) is provided, even if surgical abortion procedures are not. We should likewise apply all the same gun shop protections to all stores that sell cap guns or BB guns.

The Gun Buyer Defense Act

  • 28 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, up to 72 hours, between counseling and the procedure itself. 14 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure. We should apply these same common sense protections to gun purchasers.
  • 17 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer, the ability of a fetus to feel pain or long-term mental health consequences for the woman. None of this information is actually true, but the abortion safety advocates care so much about women that they want them to be aware of even imaginary risks. We should likewise require gun stores to provide pre-sales counseling to ensure that purchasers are made aware of the potential adverse consequences of their gun purchase decision.
  • 28 states mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion and requires the provider to show and describe the image, or offer the woman the opportunity to view the image. We should likewise require that prospective gun purchasers be shown images of gunshot victims and require that salespersons describe the horrendous gunshot wounds in graphic detail.

The Firearms Integrity Act

  • 4 states require the abortion drug mifepristone to be provided in accordance with the outdated FDA protocol rather than the simpler evidence-based protocol that has been proven to be safe and effective. We should likewise require that sales of any model gun be forced to comply with all safety regulations relating to a Revolutionary War era muzzle loader.
  • 18 states require that the clinician providing a medication abortion be physically present during the procedure, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely. Likewise all mail order or internet sales of guns should be prohibited.
  • Nearly all states limit the gestational age limit for the procedure. We should likewise limit the size of guns sold to the first trimester of gun and magazine size as there is some anecdotal evidence that guns with more than a 6 bullet capacity have some level of self-awareness.

We owe a great debt of thanks to all those dedicated abortion safety proponents for championing these important protections for expectant mothers.  We should join them in solidarity by proposing and passing similar common sense protections for prospective gun owners.

ADDENDUM

I’ve just become aware that at least one great legislator, Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman, has introduced HB 1397 which is exactly along these lines (see here). As of this moment a hearing on this bill is not scheduled, but keep at it Stacey!!

WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO SHOUT!

gunPresident Obama’s press conference after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon yesterday set the right tone – one of barely contained anger and frustration. In appropriately subdued Presidential tones Obama screamed as passionately as he could for people to get angry and make their voices heard by our leaders.

Later in the day, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave his obligatory post-massacre interview on the Chris Hayes Show, he also conveyed evident outrage but his message was substantively less compelling:

Condolences are not enough, we’ve got to do something, we have to stop shouting at each other, we need sensible gun control legislation, and by the way we need to significantly improve mental health services.

Don’t get me wrong. I will vote for Bernie. You should vote for Bernie. He is the only one with any inclination to make substantive positive changes to the status quo. But in statements like this even Bernie merely reiterates the endless feckless calls for “sensible legislation” and again diverts the focus toward mental health. This is nowhere near the level of outrage and action that even the President understands is warranted and necessary.

Look, I’ve railed against guns for going on 40 years. I’ve argued with family, friends, associates, and even random strangers whenever the issue of guns has come up. I write impassioned articles whenever I can (see here). But none of these even begin to “shout.” These are all attempts at rational, reasonable debate about sensible gun control legislation. But here’s the thing. Calls for sensible gun-control legislation have never worked and never will. Any “sensible” regulations accepted by the killing-industry would only be those that actually do nothing at all.

Bernie, here is what shouting looks like…

BAN EVERY FUCKING GUN IN AMERICA! MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO MANUFACTURE, SELL, OR OWN ANY FUCKING GUNS WHATSOEVER! COLLECT THEM ALL UP AND MELT THEM INTO SCRAP AND DROP THE SCRAP DOWN A PIT THAT LEADS INTO HELL. FUCK THE RIGHT OF HUNTERS TO SLAUGHTER WHATEVER FEW NOBLE BEASTS REMAIN ON THIS PLANET. FUCK THE DISTORED AND PERVERTED AND ARCHAIC SECOND AMENDMENT. FUCK THE IDEA THAT GUNS ARE PATRIOTIC. FUCK THE ENTIRE GUN INDUSTRY AND GOOD RIDDENCE TO EVERY FUCKING GUN MANUFACTURING JOB. SUE OR PROSECUTE EVERY FUCKER THAT MANUFACTURES OR TRAFFICS IN GUNS EVERY TIME THEY ARE USED TO CAUSE HARM!

Now that is shouting. See the difference Bernie? The upper case and profanity kind of give it away. Perhaps now you can see that we have not actually yet even begun to shout. But we need to start. Unless we take the most extreme position, and unless we shout that extreme position in every hall of government and on every street, gun-lovers and their merchants of death will never give so much as an inch. The only way we can make any changes is if we are so extreme about gun control that they must crawl to us with hats in hand in the hopes that we might give them an inch. Maybe, if they can pass the background checks and mental health exams and buy sufficient liability insurance and jump through every other hoop we can think of, maybe we will let them keep a gun locked safely away in their house.

Readers, we need to show this country what shouting really looks like. We need to shout so loudly and with so much vitriol that the gun industry shits their pants and finally becomes willing to accept a modicum of social responsibility and accept a bit less profits.

Link this article to join my “WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO SHOUT!” anti-gun movement and show our leaders and the gun-industry what shouting really sounds like.

POST-DEBATE ADDENDUM

The first Democratic Debate was held last night and Bernie doubled-down on his “stop the shouting” rhetoric. His hypocrisy on this issue is incredibly disappointing. His entire brand is the red-faced chest-thumper calling for us to get angry and shout our outrage on a wide range of issues he cares about. But when it comes to the blight of guns, he admonishes us to calm down and stop the shouting. Bernie, we are going to keep shouting until even YOU cannot ignore us!

Not Buying It Hunters

You’ve got to hand it to them. Hunters are doing a really good job of marketing their passion for animal slaughter. Despite the number of hunters inexorably dwindling, despite the public relations debacle of Cecil the Lion, the general public opinion of hunting continues to improve year after year (see here).

This positive public impression is carefully crafted by companies like Danner boots (see here), who caters to gun-loving hunters, law-enforcement, and military types. They have been airing a pretentious series of commercials celebrating hunting. These commercials are reminiscent of those older Marine Corps recruiting commercials. It portrays hunters as the few, the proud and noble protectors of nature. According to the narrator speaking softly over slow-motion shots of hunters in the backdrop of gorgeous nature scenes:

“There’s not enough wilderness left, not on this Earth, nor in the hearts of man, so we hunt. To stand face to face with nature and hold it for as long as it’s allowed. We hunt for balance, for strength, and for a hope that the outdoors will thrive for years to come. Hunting is more than a sport, it’s a calling.”

That’s good marketing bullshit. And the hunting industry is playing a good game on offense too. If you search Google, you’ll find article after article attacking the critics of hunting. They all tout the reasonableness of “science-based” hunting, as if hunters are all thoughtful servants of the planet, out there in the wilderness tirelessly protecting the animals they love – by killing them. Their claim of “science-based” hunting is about as valid as claims of “theological science.” According to Jon Way at Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research (see here):

“State wildlife departments often say they use “science-based management” … their technical way of saying, we want hunters (a small minority of the population) to kill as many animals as possible and as long as they don’t go extinct … then it is science-based.”

hunterPro-hunting organizations have jumped all over this science-based™ claim to portray themselves as the informed, pragmatic, responsible parties. These organizations are highly visible and prolific at spreading all sorts of reasonable sounding arguments to rationalize selling equipment to pander to guys – and increasingly girls (see here) – who love to kill stuff. For example, in an article on Hunting Life, hunter Catherine Semcer makes the following arguments in support of trophy hunting (see here):

  1. Trophy hunting provides fresh meat to local people, improving the lives of children.
  2. Habitat loss is the REAL problem.
  3. Trophy hunting reduces illegal poaching.
  4. Those against hunting just want a “bumper sticker” on their Volvo while Africans suffer.
  5. Africans want trophy hunting, it’s not for people living in New York and San Francisco to decide for them.

Of course these are ridiculous arguments. They are all self-fulfilling partial truths, deflections, and red-herrings that pose false choices. The real truth of the matter is that hunters simply love guns and love shooting stuff with their guns – big living stuff. And the industry that supports them loves making money. As Bill Bryson documents in “A Short History of Everything,” so-called “naturalists” just like them have reveled in shooting animals to extinction for much of the last 200 years. Today’s generation of hunters is no more scientific and nature-loving than the self-proclaimed “naturalists” of the 1800’s who gleefully shot the dodo, the sea cow, and innumerable bird and animal species into oblivion.

Some of you may remember the notable TV series called “Wiseguy” that aired in 1987 (see here). FBI agent Vinnie Terranova goes undercover to infiltrate the organization of mob-boss Sonny Steelgrave. When Sonny is finally brought down, he rages with righteous indignation that the government is the real bad guys. They do far more harm than him. That without him much worse mobsters would have taken over. That he in fact actually helped many people by getting his hands bloody and doing what needed to be done.

Sonny’s rationalizations sound a great deal like the usual arguments put forth by hunters like Catherine Semcer to justify and legitimize what they do.

Not Buying It Sonny. You may want to believe you were a benevolent father figure, but in reality you were just a self-serving thug.

Not Buying It Hunters. You may want to believe you are misunderstood defenders of the environment, lovers of wildlife, but you are just pathetic losers who wanna kill stuff.

By the way, I grew up in a large extended family of hunters.