Category Archives: Guns

I Saw A Police Officer Discharge His Weapon

Chalk this up to strange things you witness that will never again be seen by me or most people.  I was driving down Harlem around 130ish and there were police lights up ahead in the left lane and a car in the median coming from the other direction with some damage to it.  Oh, great, an accident.  Traffic’s still moving though so I figure it must not be too bad.  I get closer and the officer grabs something from his trunk and stops our single file line of traffic to walk over to the shoulder on our side and starts investigating something just off the side of the road in the grass.  Traffic starts moving slowly again until the officer once again signals us to stop.  We’re stopped for five seconds or so and then there’s the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being discharged.  TCHHHH!  He walks back across traffic, stows his weapon and lets us proceed.  I hate gaper’s blocks so I didn’t get a terribly good look at the animal that he put out of its misery, but it didn’t look terribly deerish, which was my first guess given the area.  But who knows what a car mangled and bloody deer would look like laying in the grass on the side of the road in the dark.

Doing Science While Black

Most of you are probably familiar with driving while black; being pulled over not because you did something wrong but because of the color of your skin.  Here may be the first case of doing science while black.

A 16 year old black girl, Kiera Wilmot,  performed a simple science experiment (mixing toilet bowl cleaner with strips of aluminum foil) that caused a small noise and a bit of smoke and was expelled from school.  School administrators issued a statement saying that Kiera needed to learn that actions have consequences.  Not only that, she has been charged by the district attorney with a felony as an adult for performing this incredibly common experiment.  Talk about a gross overreaction!

The same district attorney recently declined to press charges against a white boy who deliberately pointed a BB gun at his brother and pulled the trigger killing his brother.  The boy thought the BB gun wasn’t loaded.  This, in the mind of the DA was just a tragic accident.  Which it certainly was.  That boy is going to have to live with the fact that he killed his brother for the rest of his life.  Not filing charges was absolutely the correct call.

But why the disparity?  Why charge a 16 year old black girl with a felony when no one was injured when a 13 year old white boy actually killed someone and was not charged?  Is a three years difference in age grounds for handling these two cases differently?  If he did the same thing when he was 16 would he have been charged with murder?

Was Kiera’s experiment dangerous?  Very mildly.  Should she have performed this experiment without supervision?  Definitely not.  But now she’s going to be scarred for life for the simple act of having a bit of inquisitiveness.

Lesson learned?  Experimenting bad!  Doing exactly as you’re told at all times and draconian results if you don’t, good!

Kids do stupid things.  This is a feature, not a bug.  Overreacting to their stupidness dulls their curiosity.  Show me a kid that isn’t allowed to do stupid things and I’ll show you a boring adult.

Stating The Obvious To the Oblivious

What happens when you come to a conclusion even a child can understand it?  You get subjected to the vilest racist and sexist attacks, of course.

Q: Shouldn’t women be able to carry guns to protect themselves from being raped?

A: You shouldn’t put the onus on women to protect themselves any more than you should tell women to dress a certain way or look a certain way to prevent rape.  You should focus more on the rape culture.

That’s the gist of the conversation.  For that, Zerlina Maxwell was subject to an enormous amount of harassment.  But god forbid you suggest that guns aren’t the answer.

What’s annoying is that, like every argument for guns I’ve ever heard, it’s a stupid question.  First off, women usually know their rapist.  Thus, their guard is already down and the gun is likely not even on their person (unless, I guess, they’re gun fetishists).  Second, strangers don’t go running up to women screaming, “I’m going to rape you!”  Guns require some sort of distance to be effective.  But maybe women should just assume everyone is a rapist and pull their gun on anyone that makes them nervous?  Third, wouldn’t pepper spray or a knife be just as effective and not as deadly a deterrent?

David Mamet, American Buffaloed

David Mamet has an article in Newsweek calling for a State with maximum guns.  He starts out quoting Karl Marx so you know where this is going.  And fast.  It is chock full of gems like this:

Violence by firearms is most prevalent in big cities with the strictest gun laws. In Chicago and Washington, D.C., for example, it is only the criminals who have guns, the law-abiding populace having been disarmed, and so crime runs riot.

Cities of similar size in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and elsewhere, which leave the citizen the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed in the Constitution, typically are much safer. More legal guns equal less crime.

I had forgotten how many cities of similar size as Chicago are in Texas, Florida, and Arizona.  D.C. is certainly an outlier, but if you actually look at gun deaths by state, you get pretty much exactly what you’d expect.  The States normally associated with gun right have the most gun deaths.

You should also read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “David Mamet and the Irrelevant Meaning of Actual Words” post.  It has gems such as this:

The message one derives from this is that power gives you the privilege of lying. If you are big enough, if your name rings out far enough, you may make words mean whatever you want them to mean. I experience this as a kind of violence against language. If we can’t agree on the meaning of “is,” then we have no ability to talk. And if we have no ability to talk, we really are that much closer to guns.

That is why I have a man-crush on him.  We, like David Mamet, are a people capable of massive intellectual laziness.  It’s no wonder so many of us think we need guns.

That’s Not How Statistics Works

One complaint you will often see from gun rights people is that there are many countries that have banned guns and their crime rates are much higher than in the United States.  Often, Great Britain is used as an example.  According to the “statistics”, Great Britain has a violent crime rate of 2,034 per 100,000 people while the U.S. has a violent crime rate of 466 per 100,000 people.  Great Britain has banned all guns thus banning weapons doesn’t deter crime!  Point.  Set.  Match.

This is what happens when people who don’t understand statistics use statistics.  The problem here is that violent crime in the United States is measured much differently than it is in Great Britain.  The U.S. only counts four crimes as violent: murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.  Our friends across the pond, on the other hand, also count all sexual crimes, all minor assaults like bar fights, and even threats against a person.  It’s no wonder Great Britain looks so violent.

The reality is that, since banning guns, Great Britain’s violent crime rate has plummeted (pdf).  One might want to assume that the banning of guns is related to the drop in violent crime.  One would be wrong.  Violent crime has been steadily dropping in almost every first world country for well over a decade.  There is absolutely no correlation between violent crime and guns.

The United States has, by far, the highest gun ownership rate in the world.  We are also 10th in the world in the number of gun deaths.  Many people would argue that, if guns were so dangerous, shouldn’t we be first?  Look at that list.  Almost every country above us has an active drug war going on.  Drug wars, by the way, that are being fought because of our horrific drug laws here in the United States.  You have to go down to 19th place, Switzerland, to find another country with an extremely stable government.  It should come as no surprise that Switzerland has the third highest gun ownership rate.

Outside of leisurely pursuits, guns can only be used for one purpose: to kill a human being.  And while it is true that murders and suicides will always happen, widespread ownership of guns makes it trivially easy to accomplish.

How Are Guns And Christianity Compatible?

A post from Andrew Sullivan gets to the heart of a question that I have never understood.  There are many Christians out there that think owning a gun for self-defense is compatible with Christianity.  It’s as if they’ve never heard the phrase “turn the other cheek”.

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

I don’t think the Bible could be any clearer that killing someone, even in self-defense, is wrong.  And yet you have people who not only think guns and Christianity are compatible but that they are perfectly intertwined.  That’s why we have an incredibly religious armed forces.  I have news for you.  You can kill in the name of your country.  You can’t kill in the name of Jesus.  That’s not how Christianity works.

If You Outlaw Bazookas, Only Outlaws Will Have Bazookas

I am perfectly fine with individuals owning handguns.  I am perfectly fine with individuals owning shotguns.  I am perfectly fine with individuals owning simple rifles.  I am not fine with people using stupid arguments for owning guns.

You will often hear proponents of guns say, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”  This is a stupid argument.

First off, the Federal Government has not ever tried to outlaw all guns.  I believe the Federal Government will not ever try to outlaw all guns.  The only thing that the Federal Government has ever tried to do is outlaw individual ownership of things which might as well be considered weapons of mass destruction.  I don’t think there are many gun rights people out there that think individuals have the right to own a bazooka or a tank or anthrax or ICBMs.  There are creations of man that just should not be owned by individuals.  So too, the AR-15.  So too, 30 round ammunition clips.  Don’t get me wrong, weapons like the AR-15 have their place.  It’s just that that place is not in the hands of a Michigan “militia” member.  Individuals should have the ability to wield heavy weaponry.  They should just be doing it in the form of enlisting in the Army or the National Guard.

Second, the phrase is completely inane.   Last I checked, police will still have guns.  The National Guard will still have guns.  The Army will still have guns.  ATF.  Secret Service.  The list goes on and on.  So, you’re wrong, plenty of other people will have guns if they did outlaw guns, it just won’t be you.

Get a better argument, folks.  Of course, there really isn’t a better argument.  And that’s why “if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns” is so popular.  It’s simple.  It superficially makes sense.  And most people never bother digging down beneath the superficiality of an argument.

Anything Too Stupid To Be Said Is Posted On The Internet

There is the old quote by Voltaire, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung.”  That needs to be updated to modern times.  I propose, “Anything too stupid to be said is posted on the Internet.”  As supporting evidence to such claim, I offer the following:

Did you know that the Sandy Hook massacre never happened?  That one of the supposedly dead girls was found alive and with President Obama?  That the parents from Sandy Hook look oddly similar to the Aurora shooting victims?  That the principal of the school was interviewed after she supposedly died in the shooting?  Well you are obviously not a Sandy Hook truther!

Holy crap, I feel dirty just reading that article.  I’d probably have to take a scalding hot shower if I decided to follow any of the links to the conspiracy sites themselves.  Who ARE these people?  And how do they function well enough to be able to make it onto the Internet?

The World Has Gone Crazy

Say there was a mass shooting in which scores of children were killed.  What would be your immediate reaction?  Go out and buy as many assault weapons as possible, of course!

There is such a demand for assault weapons and bullets right now that almost every store in the U.S. is sold out of them.  This is not entirely surprising given that there is a decent portion of the population that is of a certain mindset that the government is going to come get them.

There are a few other things in play here, though.  First, Obama was just re-elected.  Gun sales skyrocketed the first time he was elected because everyone thought he would take away their guns.  And he totally did if you consider expanding gun rights taking away guns.  Now, with his re-election, gun sales were already climbing before Sandy Hook happened.  And he’s totally going to take away guns this time.  He was just waiting for a massacre like Sandy Hook to happen to give him an excuse to take away our guns.

At least there’s real talk this time about doing SOMETHING about guns to fuel this Black Friday-like mad dash to get guns.  Even though all it is is talk.  So at least it’s somewhat understandable this time around.

What absolutely baffles me, though, is that people are rushing to buy body armor as well.  Is that the way that people actually think the country is headed?  You must wear body armor at all times to avoid being shot?  Or is this more a “the government is going to come get us any moment now” purchase?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, guess what else is being sold in larger quantities than ever.  Bulletproof backpacks for children.  Here, Johnny, take your bulletproof backpack to school.  You can use it to rush the shooter and take him out!  Of course, I don’t think that’s what the purchasers of said backpacks have in mind.  They think the backpacks will protect the kid as he flees the shooter.  Because kids always have their backpacks with them in school and they’re totally not stored in their lockers during the day.  Oh, wait, it’s the opposite of that, isn’t it?

Who Wants To Reduce Gun Homicides?

Do you want to reduce gun homicides?  Sure, we all do!  There are some really easy steps we can make to accomplish this.

First and foremost among these steps would be to repeal drug laws.

Oh, you mean THOSE gun homicides!  Those mostly affect people who are not nearly as white as me.  Can we get back to talking about preventing white people from getting killed by guns?

Dripping sarcasm aside, repealing drug laws and regulating and taxing their sale would solve a whole lot of our social ills.  Not only will it likely drastically lower the homicide rate, it will also raise governmental income while reducing incredibly costly governmental spending on drug interdiction.

I don’t mean to make this sound like a panacea for all our problems.  Drug addiction is a serious issue.  Repealing some drug laws will likely lead to an immediate increase in drug addiction cases in the short term.  But if that is the price we pay for saving lives, it seems worth it for me.

Using drugs is an individual choice. (I don’t actually believe this in most cases, but it’s a belief popularly held by most people.)  The taking of a life is an act that removes individual choice.  By repealing drug laws we would be reducing the instances of forced removal of choice by increasing the freedom of choice.