The Gun Argument

An armed society is a polite society.

Robert Heinlein

We are an ‘armed society’; I’ll let you be the judge of whether our conduct even approaches politeness. From my perspective, we could use a lot more of it.

Most people will never have cause to use a weapon in self-defense. When I tell someone that I’ve twice had cause to need a weapon, much more use it, most of the time the listener is shocked. Gunnuts (pro-gunners) as a rule are convinced they always need more and better weapons, most of which remain unfired in any setting other than the range where it becomes a matter of pride to have the coolest weapon with the best gizmos to go with it.

That is where the AR-15 is used, not as a self-defensive weapon. A self-defensive weapon is a pistol, or a shotgun. A woman would be better served with a can of pepper spray (also a weapon) as she is more likely to be killed with her own gun, statistically, than she is to use it.

Which is the another point that gunnuts fail to notice; that a ‘weapon’ is anything you can use against another person. That ‘self-defense’ is anything you might do to defend yourself. That, in fact, you cannot have a right to something that you cannot make yourself (if the converse is true, then I can definitely have a right to health care) which means you don’t have a right to firearms in any fashion beyond what the Constitution guarantees.

The worst offenders of the right to Self-Defense, places like Chicago and D.C., are what is held up as examples of commonality across the US. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most places (8 of the 10 cities on this list) in the US have very lax gun laws. We have LOTS of measures on the books, and almost none of them are actively enforced, even if they were effective. There is no mandate that someone demonstrate proficiency with a weapon before being sold one. There is no certification of sound mind required before someone can go and buy a handgun.

‘Anyone’ can go to virtually any gun show or private seller and purchase a weapon more lethal than any gun available at the time of the drafting of the Constitution. If that fact doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t a thinking person.

I’ve had arguments with gunnuts that think that Zimmerman was right to stalk Trayvon Martin, that think teachers should be mandatorily armed (as if weapons proficiency is a good skill in a teacher) that think not just semi-auto ‘mock-ups’ of military arms, but full auto military arms and weapons systems (like tanks) should be available for private purchase. They never seem to get the disconnect between a defensive action (removing a threat to you personally) and military actions, requiring the killing of multiple targets simultaneously, indiscriminate of the safety of onlookers, neighbors, people caught in the crossfire. That is a losing argument.

I’m on record saying “I’d accept that training and background checks should be mandatory, if those who want to ban guns would accept that the right to carry common weapons for defensive purposes is guaranteed.” but truthfully when I start having to argue with gunnuts about their weapons fetish I’m to the point where I simply endorse the reinstatement of the general draft. That is how we fix the problems in this country. Reconstitute the militia as intended in the Constitution. Two years of service, military or civil, with mandatory weapons training for all. Gets the kids off the streets, gets people work to do, gets the gunnuts were we can find them and disarm them before they hurt someone.

…or we can fall back on the first sentiment. Take your pick.

Common Sense 121: Beware the Military Industrial Complex

Dan has stated on occasion that he is not a historian, and I freely admit that I know less about history than he does. This is especially true about military history, which I have not actively studied since I was in high school (other than research into specific events) making me that much more removed from the ranks of historians than Dan is. Even lacking Historian credentials, I think I can say that there is a difference between what something is intended to do, and what gets done.

The Army isn’t supposed to exist in peacetime. On the other hand, there’s been very little true peace in American history. If there wasn’t natives to fight, there has always been some foreign dragon to slay. Those who profit from providing war materials to the government have always found excuses to get us involved in another conflict.

However, the military looks significantly different today than it did prior to WWI. The existence of the Air Force alone, much less the impact of other mechanized forces on the other services proves this. The war department was an ongoing temporary affair until 1943 when the Pentagon was finished (which was strangely about the same time as the creation of the Joint Chiefs) creating the permanent military structure we have now.

Prior to WWI (in spite of Lincoln’s unprecedented conscription service during the Civil War) you have a military that understood the truly temporary nature of its mandate. After WWII, the military sees itself as justifying its own existence; that taking the people’s money to pay for weapons we don’t really need and forces we can’t really use somehow makes sense in the scheme of things.

And so we engage in ever more frequent bouts of military adventurism in order to justify the expense of maintaining the military; creating enemies to fight (Saddam, Osama; perhaps even funding the USSR depending on whose tin foil hat views you want to give credence to) when we couldn’t find a home grown bad guy to flex military muscle on.

Given where we are now, I’ll take the temporary military that we had prior to WWI, whether it was really temporary or not. How many times are we going to fall for this type of subterfuge? The Maine and the Spanish American War? the Lusitania and WWI? Pearl Harbor and WWII? Gulf of Tonkin? 9/11 and our new permanent War on Terror? Hear the bell and salivate. Good dog.

Logic dictates that if you keep paying for a large military, a standing army will be used to do what armies do, kill people and blow things up. If that isn’t acceptable, killing people as a justification for the existence of the military alone, then what is being proposed is a welfare program that we must contribute to because not letting our military go adventuring is going to hurt our economy. Burning women, kids, houses and villages because our boys need some paying work to do. I have never seen soldiers as being some part of a welfare program. “We don’t really need you to serve, but we know you need the money?” I doubt that most of them would be honored to serve, willing to serve, under those conditions.

Is it going to be a radical change in government policy to take this action, to end the existence of a standing US army? Not as much as it would have been 10 years ago. The debt keeps piling up, and we have to pay it down eventually; slashing military spending would go a long way towards correcting the problem. The cure will not be as bad as the disease.


Editor’s note. Dan Carlin having bowed to the inevitable and deleting his forums and the archives (The Wayback Machine has some of the content archived) I am glad that I saved so many of the arguments that I engaged in there. Here is another one of those I’ve published retroactively on the date I saved it to the blog for republishing.

Calling in the Military

The story out of N’Orleans today: Governor Kathleen Blanco has activated National Guard personnel to patrol the city. Over the weekend several teens were killed in a drive-by shooting. If you check the stats in the story, there are more cops per resident in the city than there was pre-Katrina. I’m not sure why they would need the assistance of the National Guard, but apparently the Gov. thought it was appropriate to turn the city into a militarized zone over the whole deal.

After Katrina last year, many of the pundits were lamenting the ‘disneyfication’ of N’Orleans; in other words, corporations moving in and changing the character of the city to something more tourist-friendly. This was the justification for much of the outlay of (stolen by taxation) cash for rebuilding the city. Cash that has been subsequently stolen from the gov’t by criminals of less authority. Criminals that are now running rampant.

Personally, I think disneyfication would have been the better option.