Monday, December 31, 2012

Guns, Guns, Guns

The bodies of the innocent children and teachers in Newtown, CT hadn't begun to cool before people started pointing fingers and placing blame about the causes of the shooting and how to prevent new ones. There was also the token moonbattery from people who look for a conspiracy under every rock, and can't accept that sometimes Bad Things Just Happen. The most significant part are the calls for new gun control laws, apparently much more ambitious and draconian that what was passed in prior decades. Essentially, anything that fits even remotely into the "assault weapon" category will be registered, banned from further sales, and "grandfathered in," so that when a person dies or wishes to get rid of the rifle, it will be turned over to the government.

Of course, there are quite a few problems with that idea. Does easy access to guns make it possible for a mentally unstable person to kill easily? Maybe, but plenty of mentally unstable people drive cars (road rage, anyone?). Do the actions of a miniscule number of people justify banning items that are safely and lawfully used by the other ninety-nine percent of people who own them? People might point toward violence in the inner cities and suggest that guns should be banned because of this, but will miss the point that drug prohibition fuels most of the violence there (in fact, if you factor out drug-related gun violence, our murder rate is fairly modest).

The other side of the coin is that gun bans are likely to meet with massive non-compliance and there is where things might get "interesting" (in the same way a shipwreck is "interesting"). The "militia movement" got a real boost back in 1993 when the "Brady Bill" went through, and attracted even more interest and membership in 1994 when the first "Assault Weapons Ban" was signed into law. Only the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 cooled enthusiasm for it. Things were considerably different back then -- the economy was still relatively on track, and we did not have the polarization and sense that things were starting to go "terribly wrong." Whatever his other failings, Bill Clinton was a good politician and was not "tone deaf" to what people were saying, unlike what seems to be the rule with both parties in Washington lately.

These days, we have talk of the "fiscal cliff," two (currently dormant but potentially radical) social movements in the form of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, painfully high unemployment, an economy that cannot get going again, a president who insists on "change" at a time when people are trying to "endure," real inflation, no way to value assets like real estate or stocks, the end of retirement, pick something. Trying to add gun control into the mix -- when most people tend to see their guns as the only real form of power or security that they have -- is at some point going to have a predictably and ugly result as people start talking to each other and agreeing that they will not follow the law.

Will all that talk lead somewhere? I don't know, just as I don't know if gun restrictions will have much of any effect on mass murder or if the proposed laws will survive the process of getting passed, or if they will survive a court challenge. However, it seems there is real potential there for people to completely disengage from active citizenship, and to being re-adopting the "militia mindset" of the nineties. I'm not talking about being generally frustrated with the situation in Washington, joining the Tea Party or OWS, etc, but actually considering the use of violence or real domestic terrorism as a "last resort." The fantasy of gun owners rising up against an oppressive government in a 1776-style affair is silly, but consider what effects there would be on the stability of the country if some people began shooting first and not bothering to ask questions later. Would entire regions simply decide to go their own way? I don't know, but significant changes in a nation usually come when people feel they are out of options, and it would be one step further down the road to social collapse.

As for readers of this blog who are looking for practical advice regarding firearms, if you already have these kinds of weapons and want to sell to avoid future hassles, the market is pretty hot right now. Insanely hot, as a matter of fact. If the laws pass and you keep any weapons on the list, even money says that they will eventually be confiscated anyway in a few years, after a mass shooting or two with a "legally registered weapon." On the other hand, the genie is out of the bottle and passing a law banning guns will by default only change the behavior of those willing to follow it. Criminals will eventually find it harder to acquire guns and ammunition, but I don't think it would be realistic for there to be any net effect on availability for at least a generation or more. Keep in mind, though, that the point of the Leibowitz Society is both to study our ongoing collapse and to preserve knowledge through the next Dark Age, not to get into random gunfights, so take that into consideration when doing your planning.

Finally, I just want to point out that these events should remind us of the value we place on the lives of those around us. Don't be a stranger, too. While we are often limited in what we can do to help others, turning away from people who are "on the edge" and ostracizing them may be a contributing factor in what they choose to do. Be connected and be involved in your community, and remember that love very often drives out hate.


  1. conveniently ignored by gun advocates who say guns don't kill people guns do ,is the simple observation that guns are a more efficient technology for people to use so that they can kill people more conveniently,in greater numbers.This obvious to any sane person,without an agenda,and the mental clarity to accept the facts.Ever since mankind has invented more efficient weapons-disasters of all kinds have followed in their wake.the world is awash in weaponry supplied by the us empire.sure people have killed each other without guns,and modern military gunnery.but they did at much lower levels of destruction.the idea that we just have to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people is a hallucinatory diversion from the reality of the destructiveness of ALL guns military,and civilian.We need to get rid of all of them now,and forever,and melt them all down,and stop their manufacture forever.Mankind,and life on this planet will benefit enormously from their absence

    1. Uninvent the a-bomb while your at it. Good luck.

    2. Using it would uninvent it. Or like smallpox, the last bit kept in a bottle, as a jinn?
      Who would reach for it in an emergency? If life on Earth depended upon knowing how to split an atom for any reason, would you open that bottle? Leave those neutrinos alone !

  2. Gun ownership is a touchy issue, whatever side of the fence a person is on. If anything, I guess guns have democratized the killing process (in the sense of making them available to all people). An 80 year old woman can take on a 20 year old man and have a chance of winning. Likewise, a conscript pushed out into the field after 8 weeks of training can have a shot (heh) at taking out a veteran enemy soldier. Neither situation would have existed before guns were widely available.

    On the other hand, firearms were largely perfected in the early 20th century, and what has happened since then? The mistake that gun advocates have made in their arguments is the assumption that because there is egalitarianism in some cases, that this rings true all across times and places. I think the general sense is that most people want their own access to guns to be unfettered, but feel less comfortable when people of other classes, nationalities, religions, whatever, have them.

    A simple moral question could be answered as to whether or not the good that guns have brought outweighs the bad. I'd say that there is a definite question mark around that. After all, gun ownership, for example, hasn't made social, political, and economic policies change in any way that would favor a sustainable existence and post-fossil fuel transition. On the other hand, guns may have changed the face of European society forever -- no longer was a knight on a horse a nearly invulnerable "tank."

    I don't know if the genie could ever be put back in the bottle, though. It's getting easier for the average person to make their own gun (3d printing). Ammunition is a little harder to come back (banning ammunition instead of guns would make far more sense to those seeking a ban -- while people can reload, the components used like primers and powder are far more difficult to make). Still, as long as any guns exist anywhere, people who mean ill will find a way to acquire and use them.

    I guess the most rational to look at guns in society is to realize that they will continue to be a presence in the industrialized world for at least the course of our lifetimes, if not longer, and to find ways to deal with them as best we can. At the same time, it also makes sense for people to learn how to use things besides guns to defend themselves, for times and places they don't have access to them. I remember a person once telling me he had no need for martial arts or other means of self-defense because he had a carry permit. I then asked him where his gun was at that point and he said it was locked in his car because he couldn't bring it in to work. Point taken, I guess.

  3. Mmmm I respect that you are trying to reach for clarity over these issues with a degree of originality. Here's a contribution. Fear is the operative emotion which governs the whole debate, whether this is acknowledged or not. Fear of attack by individual criminals, fear of attack by uncontrolled government goons, fear of attack by concerted government forces. Without addressing this basic human emotion and trying to get into the minds of gun owners, and by this I mean surfacing the things they are afraid of but would never admit to being afraid of, the bedrock of understanding will not be there to shape the solution to the problems.

    1. Alex,

      Good observation. I think the issue of fear is a two-way street, too. Those who support gun control are often looking at guns through a prism of fear as well, such as attack from an armed robber or being shot in a mass shooting, to a general unease around guns. Likewise, those in politics also view them with unease, probably worried about the odd John Hinckley Jr. or Jared Laughner popping up out of the woodwork.

      Anyway, while Obama was clearly targeting the fund-raising crowd when he made his "bitter clinger" comment, there probably was some truth to that. People operate from a center of fear these days, part of it I think stemming from the realization that a lot of things are gone, and what we still have is on uncertain footing.

      We have the choice to either look ahead, or to sit in place and hope that things don't fall out from under us. While I strongly feel that we are in deep trouble as a nation and culture, there is still always the point that we are an innovative species and seem to "beat the odds" now and then. Expect a crash on one hand, figure that it also might not happen for some unforeseen reason. However, either way that path goes, there will be uncertainty involved. Maybe we just become fearful when we have everything to lose?

  4. Those are very outstanding logo. For plastic business cards
    go to it
    is helpful for all.

    I'm so happy by visit this site that i'm already bookmark this site and I will come back again . thank for great post.