Friday, October 9, 2015

Gun Control: Why We Can't Get There From Here

We all know the list:

  • Guns do in fact kill people; autos also often kill people... indeed, most of any day's local evening news in Houston is about who was killed by a gun that day and who was killed by an auto. But we regulate autos and drivers through a fairly dense web of laws, while we regulate guns and shooters very little if at all: there's not even a reasonable effort to address the problem of people killed by guns.
  • We have whole departments of motor vehicles to enforce state auto laws; but for firearms, we have overworked bureaucracies that may or may not effectively carry out the scant legally mandated regulations but in no case, it seems, prevent people who shouldn't have access to guns... violent convicted felons, young children, demonstrably emotionally disturbed people, etc. ... from obtaining them. 
  • Guns are everywhere until you look for them in the hands of dangerous people; when you do see them there, those people are already busy wreaking havoc in the form of massacres and mass murders. And more massacres. And more mass murders...
  • The gun lobby has a sufficiently full treasure chest of arguably indispensable campaign cash and hence a sufficiently large stable of tame members of Congress to prevent the passage of gun laws which the American people, progressive or conservative, R or D, young or old, of either sex, residing in any state, want passed, according to survey after survey.

Everybody wants a change. (Well, almost everyone.) So why can't we get there from here? The Editors at The Nation do a respectable job of explaining why. Read and see if you concur. Gun nuts may as well save the time it takes to read the editorial; I mean, what if they actually ended up learning something...


  1. We can't get there from here because too many Americans are part of a death cult that worships guns and revels in the death they deal out, pure and simple. There is no other explanation necessary.

    1. You may be right, 'Tux, and when I say "gun nuts" those are the people I'm thinking of.

      Unfortunately, as a grandchild of farmers, I understand that some people have a legitimate need for firearms: my mother's father farmed that red-dirt part of East Texas (not the state's most fertile land by any means) and had four kids (three sons and a daughter, all with healthy appetites). Feeding the family securely meant supplementing the farm produce and very few cattle with my granddad's hunting in woods in the nearby commons within walking distance. His guns, a couple of rifles and a shotgun, were working tools he used in providing for his family. (Before anyone here stereotypes Pop, he also read a lot of papers out of TAMU's crop research arm and signed up to participate in some of their farming experiments including some new varieties of some plants. I remember some corn one year... but I'm getting sidetracked; my point is that Pop was anything but a stereotype.)

      What I have trouble with is the people who assume that guns in this day and age are still associated with some preconceived right of revolt. Let's face it: in an era in which defense is half the national budget and weaponry requires years of training to use, there is functionally no possibility of successful rebellion against an obsessively well-armed federal government, and if by some miracle one of these "patriot" (sigh) groups were to succeed in driving a substantial part of the feral gummint to dysfunction, the resulting social chaos would drive the nation to ground; i.e., there is no such thing today as a successful revolution in the manner of the one our nation's founders fought. But the gun-loving nut-jobs don't even contemplate that: they fixate on the theory of revolution to the exclusion of the possible practice. Wreaking havoc doesn't give them a moment's pause.

      And so here we are. We have a personal arsenal more vast than our founders could have imagined, a Supreme Court determined to say the 2nd Amendment means something our founders never in fact imagined, and a gradually accumulating sack of nuts not amenable to reason as a means of dealing with the issues they feel threatened by. Someday, some spark will set off the metaphorical explosion and the resulting non-revolution will destroy our nation as a civilized entity. I can only hope I am dead before all that happens.

    2. Even in the late 1700's guns were not part of any preconceived right of revolt. The whole *point* of the U.S. Constitution was to create a central government strong enough to put down revolts like Shays' Rebellion. They built a revolution into the Constitution itself via the right to vote, not via the 2nd Amendment, the creators of the Constitution were appalled by Shays' Rebellion and wanted nothing of the sort to be the standard of the new nation, they saw what that kind of unrest had done to Poland (turned a superpower into a basket case that was in the process of being divided up between Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Prussia), and wanted nothing of the sort to happen to the United States. Instead, they wanted the vote to determine who ruled. Thus why Thomas Jefferson called his election as President in 1800 as "The Revolution of 1800" . By sweeping out the Federalists who under John Adams had increasingly violated people's rights, the new nation proved that the vote was how to deal with a government that had become autocratic and somewhat dictatorial.

      As for the gun nuts today who think their pop-guns would allow them to take on the government, I'll just remind them of the words of Governor Earl Long of Louisiana when the Louisiana legislature urged him to resist a court order to desegregate Louisiana State University: "Are you crazy? We're talking about the Government of the United States of America. They got the goddamn *ATOMIC BOMB*!". All that'll end up happening if they actually do try their stupid stunt of taking up arms against the government is getting a lot of people very dead. Armed revolt in this day and age rarely manages any goal other than to make it expensive for foreign powers to occupy your country, but there's no foreign powers interested in occupying the USA even if they had the capability (which they don't, since the USA spends more money on its military than every other major power *combined*). Hell, President Assad of Syria was presiding over a nation that was utterly bankrupt and where half the army revolted against his rule and nearly five years later he *still* hasn't been overthrown, even with vast resources being poured into the country by the US and others who want his rule to be overthrown....



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