Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Heartsick Man in a Sick, Sick Land

When the unthinkable becomes a damn-near weekly occurrence, something is seriously wrong with our society. Four days ago, ZRM put up a post which posed the questions:


Huh? How many times will a loosely-bolted-together near-human take an easily available weapon and large amounts of nearly-unregulated ammo to turn a random mostly-safe community space into a bloodbath of passers-by?

What the fuck does it take, Wayne LaPierre, you greedy intransigent gun-lobby whore? How many innocent people have to needlessly die?



Yesterday, he posted the follow-up.

Unfortunately, the weasels in the government and the media are unwilling to address the "elephant in the room", which is the easy availability of high-powered, high-capacity firearms in this country. The gun lobby is just too goddamn powerful for the lilly-livered lapdogs in the corridors of power to oppose... they merely wring their hands and whine, "It's too soon to talk about gun control. Think of the families!" These families just had their young children killed, talking about gun control won't make them feel any more grief. Eighteen dead children? What the hell does the ghoulish Wayne Lapierre care about eighteen dead children? Wayne Lapierre is raking in too much blood money to be concerned with eighteen dead children.

Of course, gun fetishists will insist that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, but that is a crock of malarky... as I noted in my last post about a mass killing, the gun nuts typically omit the first clause of the Second Amendment. In its entirety, the Second Amendment reads:


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.


Here is my proposal... call it "Second Amendment strict constructionism" to make Conservatives lose their shit: If you want a gun, you must be a member of a well regulated militia, and not a nutbag Turner Diaries LARPer bullshit militia. You would have to register your gun, and show up for periodic (monthly or quarterly) muster, receiving training, safety instruction, and an evaluation of your fitness to bear that weapon. No regulation, no arms. It's as simple as that. Having no regulation of arms is the unconstitutional position... "conservative" distortions notwithstanding.

Later this morning, I'm going to be surrounded by dozens of children the ages of the children who were killed in the Newton, Connecticut massacre. After our classes, everybody- children, parents, coaches, counsellors- will be assembling for a lovely party to celebrate the holidays, before the program goes on hiatus for two weeks. While I surely hope that the kids will be blissfully unaware of the horrors that unfolded sixty miles to the northeast, I will make a point of greeting each of them by name, and bidding each of them an individual farewell before we part. All the while, I'll know deep down that, even though my friends and I have been giving them the wherewithal to deal with bullies, the guy whose instruction will really be helpful if they encounter a really dangerous situation is Jerry, the track coach.

POSTSCRIPT: Riddled's Smut Clyde, in a comment at Snark Central, posted a depressing assessment of American society, one which I, sadly, cannot refute:


When there is a thriving market in weapons specifically designed for killing lots of people in a short time, when you have the industry and its lobbyists and its affiliated political movement encouraging the purchase of weapons and ammunition, then it seems odd to label the people who buy and use the weapons according to directions as “disturbed”. It’s a form of disturbance that is in tune with your society


I fear you nailed it, old chum... it's this sickness that makes me so heartsick.

18 comments:

zencomix said...

If they want go by the "Founders' Intent" bullshit, great, they're all entitled to keep and bear single ball muskets.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

In one of the Firefly episodes, a bounty hunter named Jubal Early posed a question to the doctor, asking whether he had ever been shot. His thinking was that the doctor needed to know what being shot felt like, so he could properly treat his shooting wound victims.

Perhaps that training could involve something similar. Can the member of a militia properly deal in death if he doesn't know what it feels like to be shot? Does that seem right to you?

mikey said...

Your heart's in the right place, Mr. Bastard, and I sympathize with your conclusions, but, in the interest of actually accomplishing something of value, I'd like to challenge them to some degree.

First, your Constitutional interpretation is ultimately flawed - there are differing interpretations from legitimate Constitutional scholars centering on the meaning of "Militia" at the time of the founding, and the meaning of "the people" as used throughout the Constitution. You can certainly disagree, but your interpretation is not in any way absolutely correct. And even that is ultimately beside the point, because the courts have determined that the Second Amendment actually DOES guarantee a right to firearm ownership. We're stuck with it, and railing against it merely guarantees that nothing will happen once again.

So what shall we do? Type bans have never worked - no assault weapon ban has ever actually restricted the availability of powerful military grade rifles. Type bans can't work because as soon as your legislation defines the type I can design a firearm that falls outside of your restrictions - ask yourself why no "assault weapon" ban ever covered the Ruger Mini-14, a rifle that fires the same round as the M-16 from a removable magazine. Speaking of, high capacity magazine bans are even more useless "feel good" legislation - a magazine is an aluminum or plastic box with a spring in it. You can make them and ship them anywhere. A third point would be that while mass shootings have a high profile, our real problem is the 20,000 deaths every year by handguns. If we squander an opportunity to enact real regulation on scarce, expensive, un-concealable rifles we can pat ourselves on the back for our good policies while thousands of children continue to die every month.

Our problem is a market problem - a commodity that is too cheap and easy to acquire. Effective firearms regulation must focus on the manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailer. It must be designed to increase scarcity and drive up the price. There are lots of ways to do this - the Constitution guarantees you have the right to buy a gun, it says nothing about how you have a right to be able to AFFORD to buy a gun.

If something good is to come out of yet another tragedy, it would be actual effective regulation that will start us on the path to reducing our gun violence problem. If we waste that opportunity shouting for policies that are politically or legislatively impossible or worthless, the window will close and we will have accomplished nothing...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Chris Rock says we need to tax the fuck out of the bullets. If a round costs $1000, who wants to spend that kind of money on someone who you mildly disagree with?

BBBB, thanks for the linkage at RR. Big bump in stats from that locale today.

But between you and me, can you linky-love one of my happy posts some time? You're just encouraging me to write more rage-zombie screaming fit posts.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Also, whenever a gun fetishist says it's not the guns, it's the crazies who use the guns, I respond that I am so happy we agree that mental health treatment has to be destigmatized and fully publicly funded in this country (like it is in civilized places) and that my best proposal for doing so is a tax on guns and ammo.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

and the meaning of "the people" as used throughout the Constitution.

It's amusing to see how quickly Angry White Guys get all gun controlly when "the people" becomes "those people". Like when the Black Panthers started exercising their Gawd-given right to carry in public back inthe 60s...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

BBBB, thanks for the linkage at RR. Big bump in stats from that locale today.

Of course, no comments. But whatever...

mikey said...

Chris Rock says we need to tax the fuck out of the bullets. If a round costs $1000, who wants to spend that kind of money on someone who you mildly disagree with?

This is true, in every sense. It is also true, however, of the gun. Sixteen year-old kids leave the house packed 'cause if they use their gun or have to toss it they know they can just get another one tomorrow. If, however, they deemed that gun as irreplaceable, or at least extremely difficult to replace, people would be much less likely to put it at risk by carrying it around with them...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Have you seen this link, mikey?

>So let’s state the plain facts one more time, so that they can’t be mistaken: Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.

The people who fight and lobby and legislate to make guns regularly available are complicit in the murder of those children. They have made a clear moral choice: that the comfort and emotional reassurance they take from the possession of guns, placed in the balance even against the routine murder of innocent children, is of supreme value. Whatever satisfaction gun owners take from their guns—we know for certain that there is no prudential value in them—is more important than children’s lives. Give them credit: life is making moral choices, and that’s a moral choice, clearly made.<=

It reminds me so much of the health care debate. "SO WHAT if other countries have solved this problem with single-payer. We can't do it here, because SOCIALISM!"
~

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Well, if reason and rationality won political arguments, the Republican Party would have died out long ago.

It is worth noting that even in the case of firearms regulation and health care, other countries did not enact their solutions in one swell foop, but rather by working their asses off to make incremental changes.

M. Bouffant said...

"Scab of a nation, driven insane."

mikey said...

It seems to me that the main thing a fully hardened ideological argument does is tends to make its various adherents absolutist in their policy agenda. Just like the Norquistian NO TAX OR REVENUE INCREASES EVER FOR ANY REASON EVEN THOUGH OMG THE DEFICIT WILL DESTROY OUR NATION, anyone who thinks about it rationally can see a vast gulf between the madness of our current firearms policy and some kind of ban/register/confiscate regime. We could easily develop reasonable restrictions on the sale, distribution and possession of firearms that would be completely compatible with the 2nd amendment, but if it is considered a viable political position to say that no regulation is acceptable than we are not having a real discussion, we are having an ideological discussion. And what's even worse is our extreme right wing is actually driving legislation that ENCOURAGES firearms ownership, possession, and even use. The main reason I am so pessimistic about the continued success of human culture is that we keep knowingly and voluntarily CHOOSING to do remarkably stupid and counterproductive things...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

The main reason I am so pessimistic about the continued success of human culture is that we keep knowingly and voluntarily CHOOSING to do remarkably stupid and counterproductive things...

Say what you will, that is the only thing that is keeping the FTL species in the universe from stopping in to say hi...

Smut Clyde said...

our extreme right wing is actually driving legislation that ENCOURAGES firearms ownership, possession, and even use

Every shooting death is further evidence that the police cannot protect you, and that only moochers and losers expect protection from the police, so everyone needs more guns.

The rightwing are walking a narrow line between their authoritarian desire for an ever stronger and better-armed police force, and the idea that the police are useless and should be disarmed because the "state monopoly of violence" is a quaint historical curiosity like the Geneva conventions. I am sure they will manage, however.

Smut Clyde said...

"Scab of a nation, driven insane."

There is much to be said for building a wall around the US so that you do not drag down the rest of the world into the same hell.

paleotectonics said...

Aw hell, Mikey, some amazing stuff has come out of stupid and counterproductive things, things that should be spread among the stars. Beer pong, for one.

My pessimism/fear is derived from the fact that we are so focused on our tribes, whether they are ethnicity-, religion-, whatever-based, that we are totally unable to do anything good for us as a whole.

Magic wheat that can feed the world? Hold it, fuckers, ADM holds that patent.
Do something about the likely oncoming greenhouse process? Bullshit, money don't grow on trees. But those comparitive few what has the dough can build desalinization plants and greenhouse up Abu Dhabi for their own amusement.
Teh Book O' Jeebus has a lot to say about helping yer fellow man? I guess the word 'help' means different things to different people. I'd have thought food and shelter, myself. I totally missed reparative therapy and 'Name It And Claim It.'

Shit.

mikey said...

Say what you will, that is the only thing that is keeping the FTL species in the universe from stopping in to say hi...

Something, something Fizzicks something something Relatives and Tea something something mass n energy n shit...

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

mikey haz buttons, I pushes dem....