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By technician (Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 12:07:52 PM EST) (all tags)
I'm probably the least qualified person to write anything about this, given how violent my responses to things are.


I work with these guys who speak at times like a NRA post on facebook. Their emotional delivery and the content of their language is written for them by the lobby they've aligned with. This isn't unusual; we're dominated lately by a very us versus them climate in the US.

I've been reading a bit lately about how we think, and the ways we get to a decision or an emotion. All the biases and shortcuts our brain takes, all the ways that it can be influenced, the bizarre psychology surrounding the way belief is marketed to the masses. It's no secret, it's not magic, and there's a huge body of work out there that describes methods and means to influence a body of people to do things that they wouldn't necessarily depend on doing. Voting against their best interest, claiming belief or magic as fact, lying to themselves and everyone else about the condition of their lives and the motives that guide them, most of it entirely unintentional.

One of the more interesting things that I read was an account of a guy known to neuroscience as Elliot. Elliot had a tumor in his orbitofrontal cortex. Before the tumor, he was a successful accountant with a normal life (house, car, kids, wife, etc). After the tumor, he could not make decisions easily. He lost the ability to make snap decisions, which rely heavily on emotional and moral content. Present Elliot with a menu for dinner, and he'd agonize over every selection, weighing measurable merits against measurable results. Give him a selection of shirts to wear, and he'd be transfixed while his now purely rational brain worked over the consequences of each item. His emotional brain was cut off from his thought process. You can imagine, this destroyed his life. As a purely rational computer, he was incapable of working in a world dominated by emotional humans.

So we make decisions, even ones we believe to be rational, based at least partly on emotion. Now, you can guess how easy it is to manipulate emotion, and with the right sort of priming, a person can be made to believe that their response to a situation is their own, and rational.

Thanks to things like the Third Person Effect we tend to believe that our decisions and opinions are based on experience or facts and those who disagree are less experienced or stupid (or have been misled or lied to). Like anyone I like to think that what I know and believe is true, or as true as I can make it out to be, and people who have opposing beliefs are misled at best.

These guys I work with, they regurgitate script that I've read on the message boards. They cite stats and figures directly from their party's web sites. With guns, specifically, they go from calm and unemotional to what I read as passionate, crazy emotional in one small step. Primed to react with blinders on, they spout the words marketed to them with religious fervor, waving banners and proposing that anyone who doesn't believe is an enemy, is a patsy.

These are the guys who have scenarios, plans for what will happen when they are attacked at home by a gun toting thug (or an army of them). These scenarios, these stories, they are often repeated and always surgically precise with regards to tactic and location: "When they bust down the front door, well, I have my .380 over by the easy chair, and they'll get that first. Then I move to the back of the room where I have the .45s. From there, that sonofabitch keeps coming so I have two .357s in the nightstand. Finally when they push through to the closet, they'll meet a twelve gauge stacked with slugs, double-aught, and flechette rounds, and I have two M4s with about seven thousand rounds."

No shit. Almost every one of these guys has a scenario, a story that they've filled with life or death. "If one of them is trying to rape my daughter, she'll meet him with her Glock 17, she keeps it in the nightstand."

I've written about this before, because it is remarkable to me that anyone lives with that much fear in a country as developed as the United States. To a certain extent, the prophetic fear of gun violence is self-served: there are more gun deaths in the US than in any other developed country, and that statistic alone feeds the argument that we need to defend ourselves from ourselves using the tools that we kill ourselves with.

Why the fear, though? Do we have such a complete lack of belief in our country that we feel the need to be strapped to the teeth? How free and brave can we be when we're constantly cowed by fear of violence?

Our culture seems to breed fear, and we relish in violent justice. I've read comments from reasonably normal people on message boards and facebook that shocked me with their content, and I'm pretty jaded when it comes to things like that. One of my born again cousins who posts with regularity about how much God has filled her life with etc. recently posted some joking thing about killing Casey Anthony (certain circles have a long memetic memory with regards to celebrity murderers) with her bare hands, choking her "until her eyes popped out." Despite the commandment against such things.

What drives that? Where does all this fear come from? Why are we the most well armed populace in the known world? And what do we intend to defend? Is it rational for a man to own, say, four semi-automatic handguns and two rifles (one of which is a precision rifle capable of hitting a target at over 500 yards)? That's me, by the way. I also own an 1845 single action revolver and a WW2 rifle. Why?

I really don't have any idea. I like target shooting, but I barely do it anymore; time and expense prevent me from hitting the range. I don't hunt. I like the weapons themselves...the mechanism and the precision are interesting. But what's the underlying motivation?

Where does this fear come from?

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Violence. | 70 comments (70 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Lots of thoughts by riceowlguy (4.00 / 2) #1 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 12:31:23 PM EST
and I'm not exactly rational about this topic, either.

I read James Fallows's (of The Atlantic magazine) blog.  He's got interesting things to say on a lot of topics but I'm particularly interested in his views on general (non-scheduled-airline) aviation, for obvious reasons.  In the wake of Aurora he has opined that there is absolutely no reason for somebody to own an AR-15, being that it is a civilian version of a military assault rifle.

I'd love to try and convince him otherwise; I'd love to have the chance to rationally explain to him that the National Match rifle competition ever year at Camp Perry, which is pretty much the premier event in rifle marksmanship, is pretty heavily dominated by the AR-15 and it's kin due to the specialized nature of that competition.

I'd like to try and point out to him that there are millions of Americans who think that he doesn't have any business owning and flying his own aircraft over their homes, either.  But in his mind, an airplane is a transportation tool and source of recreation, not an instrument of death...because he's familiar with airplanes, and he knows pilots who fly very safely every day without committing acts of terrorism.  And I know you and my dad and some of my friends and myself who have guns and go shooting at clay targets or paper every once in a while and aren't running around planning to kill anybody.

My impression of the situation in Britain is that they've more or less made it very hard for crazy people to obtain guns by making the shooting hobby incredibly inconvenient and expensive.  Pretty much like flying.  The UKian HuSers can comment.


Familiarity. by technician (4.00 / 2) #3 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 12:53:54 PM EST
That's a good point; not many people would argue that you shouldn't own a car despite the fact that so many people die on the roadways. Now, a car isn't used primarily to kill, but I certainly didn't buy my guns with the intent to kill anything. Hrm.

My grandfather, and dudes of his generation, abhor violence. I don't think it was just the exposure to a horrific war, but that probably had a lot to do with it. Still, can you imagine the reception of a film like, saw, any of the Saw series in, oh, 1930's America? "Faces of Death" got an X rating and was straight up banned, and that was the 70s. Violence was shocking to the point of revulsion, and to this day the sight of blood on TV makes my grandfather turn the channel.

So maybe familiarity with violence breeds an indifference to it. The car thing again: back when they were first introduced, there was much hand wringing about the death and destruction they would cause. It was only after proper licensing and laws were put in place that sufficient numbers of cars would hit the streets to desensitize the public; fear of the actual object was exchanged for caution about the driver. Education was key.

In certain European countries where shooting sports and / or hunting are allowed and encouraged, the weapon isn't the obsession. The result of the weapon is. Combine that with a culture that isn't steeped in fear and violence, I suspect the average Norwegian rifelman has an entirely different take on the reverence of the object and the circumstances of it's use; s/he probably isn't having active fantasies of defense, probably doesn't have a lot of scenarios built around how to successfully murder an intruder, because social violence isn't the reason the rifle exists.

Hrm.

[ Parent ]
Switzerland by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 01:14:30 PM EST
It's only a matter of time before someone points out that gun ownership in Switzerland is sky-high, and they don't seem to have as many people going postal.

[ Parent ]
They also have... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 05:15:56 PM EST
compulsory national service... and you don't get your gun without that training...

I think that helps with the accidental deaths.

Worth noting that according to Wikipedia Switzerland has roughly 46 guns per 100 residents.
The USA has about 89 guns per 100 residents.



[ Parent ]
That's true by Herring (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:08:59 PM EST
But look at the the gun homicide rates: Switzerland 0.31/100,000 (per year) US 4.6/100,000 per year.

Guns don't kill people, Americans with guns kill people. You have to ask yourself though: why is it so easy for a crazy person to legally acquire such a massive arsenal.

The NRA people need to be upfront about this. They need to declare that "yes, these incidents will continue to happen and that's a price we are willing to pay for our rights".

Personal opinion: I grew up in a farming area and know people involved in that line of work. They own (and have a legitimate reason to own) shotguns, rifles etc. I'm fine with that. I'm fine with people shooting for sport or shooting to hunt (providing they eat what they kill). I know, however, that if I were in charge of a licensing authority I wouldn't give myself a permit to keep a handgun at home.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Right... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #27 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:26:19 AM EST
2x the guns results in over 10x the deaths.

The problem with the "massive arsenal" is that it was a grand total of 4 guns.

Once you buy into the NRA stuff, it's hard to see how you can prevent people owning at least 2 (one + one spare)...
So yeah, I think you're right about people being honest about "a price we are willing to pay." 

[ Parent ]
My dad used to have a number of guns by lm (2.00 / 0) #28 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:52:12 AM EST
Two different shotguns he regularly used for hunting depending on what season it was. A smaller shotgun that he kept around to teach kids to shoot. A .22 rifle. A pistol.

For someone who hunts more than a few different game animals regularly, the number of guns that are expedient goes up pretty quickly. I don't know that the number of guns per person is a really good metric.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
That's what I was saying... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #32 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:04:49 AM EST
it isn't a good metric.

But the reason I'm saying it's not a good metric is that 2 per person is not an unreasonable number and 2 is enough to make trouble.



[ Parent ]
Yeah, I was mostly agreeing with you by lm (2.00 / 0) #33 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:07:45 AM EST
Just supplying a personal anecdote to help paint the picture.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
yep by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #39 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:36:27 AM EST
Dad's got the following

a newish .22 for plinking
the old .22 is still hanging around

a small bore shotgun for birds
a larger bore shotgun for deer

a deer rifle

So if you hunt at all, 4 guns is kind of your starter set.

[ Parent ]
Not so much the number of the guns by lm (4.00 / 1) #29 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:53:30 AM EST
It's the type of gun and the accessories like 100 round barrel magazines for semi-automatic weapons that let you get off over 100 shots within a minute or two.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
also by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #40 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:37:40 AM EST
You don't get to keep the ammo for your army gun.

[ Parent ]
Do they restrict it's sale? by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #41 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:43:46 AM EST
In Soviet Canuckistan I can buy .223 ammo by the case, not sure about NATA 5.56 but the .223 will definitely fire in those rifles.

A buddy has a Ruger mini-14 .223 semi, it is one helluva toy.

[ Parent ]
American riflemen have rational thoughts too by jaxom green (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 03:20:53 PM EST
I suspect it's just a vocal minority of American gun owners that have the elaborate fantasies of defending their homes and loved ones from violent attack.  As a firearm enthusiast myself I don't have detailed fantasies about what I'll do when someone breaks the door down.  I think that's more typical of the gun owners I know.  I even participate in one of the action pistol sports (USPSA/IPSC) and the friends I've made through that are much the same.  Maybe it's a southern thing vs a New England thing, I doubt it's military vs civilian because a large percentage of any group of firearm enthusiasts have military backgrounds.

I suspect it's a group identity and bonding experience.  I'm not sure if that makes the thought train you identify more frightening or less though.



[ Parent ]
Not directly on subject... by ana (4.00 / 1) #2 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 12:53:48 PM EST
but you made an interesting comment on the nature of belief and disagreement.

There are lots of folks who are left of center who seem to be of the opinion that the answer to all of society's ills is education: namely, if people are properly educated, they will of course agree with the speaker.

This is, of course, completely wrong. Well-meaning, well-informed, people can have honest disagreements. 

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

Aboslutely. by technician (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 02:10:13 PM EST
In fact, I'd say an appeal to education isn't enough. Indoctrination, maybe.

[ Parent ]
What ana said! by lm (2.00 / 0) #35 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:19:19 AM EST
Absolutely. But I think what you see on the left wing of US politics is really just a special case of something more general. It's human nature to think if you really understood what I was saying, then you would agree with me so if you do not agree with me, then you are misunderstanding or being willfully obstinate.

The `liberal' approach to correcting such a state of affairs tends to seek to educate (or re-educate) the reprobate. The `conservative' approach tends to be to discipline the reprobate. In either case, the same malady lies at the core.

It's a hard thing to step outside of yourself and admit you might be wrong.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Which is counterproductive by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #48 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:54:59 AM EST
...as no one likes to be lectured at.  Or disciplined.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Interesting how it'as all guys. by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #5 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 02:07:54 PM EST
From here:
[Males between 14 and 24] make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

200 years ago,... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 02:30:50 PM EST
...a gun was a useful tool. The need is gone, but the desire to have them still remains. Now that need doesn't play as much part in the gun purchasing decision, bigger, crazier, more extravagant weapons don't seem as silly. I'd like to own a Krag-Jorgensen, but I sure don't need one.

The less you need something, the more rationalization goes into convincing someone to get one. That's where the fear comes in. The entire American consumer/advertising process is built around it. If you don't have Product X, you will (or will not) have Condition Y (white teeth, a beautiful mate, healthy children, whatever). The News unwittingly reinforces this fear. We live in a country that's so safe, that almost violent felony can possibly merit regional or even national attention, reinforcing the myth that there is danger around every corner.

Then of course, there's the Judaeo-Christian ethic of "an eye for an eye" when it comes to justice. But that doesn't mean what they think it means. That's a case of something taken out of context. When Hammurabi's Code posited that idea, implicit in it was a rational, uninvolved third party who could coolly judge what was going on. It specifically didn't intend for one of the parties to go out and avenge themselves upon the other. But the phrase got cherry-picked, misinterpreted and perpetuated. Go fig...

Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with owning weapons. I think anyone who is not a criminal or mentally incapable should be allowed to own one or more if they wish. I also think there should be better controls and more investigation into people who want to purchase them and more heinous punishments for those convicted in gun crimes. But when it comes down to it, there will always be shootings. Sometimes, with all that, you can't predict when something can happen. If a man walks into a store and starts beating people to death with a hammer, we're not going to outlaw hammers. You can only do the best you can with guns: make sure the person doesn't have a violent background, hope you find out about any mental instability, and, barring any pre-existing red flags, give the person a chance to prove that they can be a responsible, capable citizen with their new firearm.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

remember by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #17 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:34:47 PM EST
Not everyone lives in a city with a grocery store right down the street with cheap processed meat ready to buy.

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
True, but... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #43 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:33:52 AM EST
...thanks to Sam, almost everyone lives with short driving distance of a Wal-Mart. Am I wrong?

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Weirdly, by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #45 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:44:11 AM EST
though I live in a city, with a number of grocery stores in a very short distance from me, a mall that's a short driving distance away, and a couple of Targets that, while not exactly convenient, are somewhat nearby, getting to a Wal-Mart is a pain in the ass. The only times I've gone to a Wal-Mart since I've lived in MA has been when I've visited North Carolina. I'm sure it has something to do with the price of real estate, the lack of space for gigantic stores and even more gigantic parking lots, with probably not a small amount of MA politics thrown in, but I was mildly shocked when I realized that for the first time since I was a little kid, there wasn't a Wal-Mart within ten minutes of me. As a result, I end up shopping for Wal-Mart type things (mostly household supplies) at locally owned hardware or garden stores. To be honest, I wouldn't have a clue where to go to buy a gun here.

So yes, you're right, almost everyone lives within a short driving distance of a Wal-Mart, unless you live in the greater Boston area, I guess.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Middle class elites by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #49 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:56:25 AM EST
True in my area as well.  In fact, my town has been very active at keeping Wal-Mart out, as have some of the surrounding communities.  It's a class thing.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Wal*Mart sells them. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #59 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:13:56 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Depends on what you mean by "short" by lm (2.00 / 0) #47 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:50:30 AM EST
I know where a few Targets are within 5 to 10 miles (and a 10 to 20 minute drive), and a Sears, K-Marts, and Costco.

I don't recall seeing a close by Walmart anywhere. Of course I haven't been looking.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
True, but... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #55 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:22:46 PM EST
depends by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #58 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 09:01:14 PM EST
for the longest time, a lot of places in central PA had one Wal-mart in a 50 mile radius.

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
I'm not saying there is no hunting... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #62 Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 11:13:02 AM EST
...but I think we can both agree that most of the hunting in this country is more for sport than sustenance.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Depends on what you mean by that by lm (2.00 / 0) #66 Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 07:17:39 AM EST
I'll readily agree that these days there are relatively few people that hunt because that is the only way to put meat on the table. I'll also readily agree that the number of families that live in areas where hunting for meat ends up being more economical than buying meat at the store is on the decline. I'll also concede that things might be different in Texas than my experience growing up in Ohio.

That said, everyone I've ever known that hunts, or at least the ones that I know that they hunt, eats what they kill. This doesn't necessarily mean that they don't hunt primarily for the sport of it and see eating it as a fringe benefit. But many people when they think of hunting for sport think of those who hunt entirely for trophies and either let the meat spoil or donate it to food banks.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I see what you're saying... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #68 Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 12:05:16 PM EST
...and it's possible that it's just the people I know, but all the hunters I know or have ever met hunt for the joy of hunting and enjoy the meat as a secondary concern. I've never met anyone who goes hunting for food and has opted to enjoy the chore.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
I dunno. by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #69 Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 05:13:30 PM EST
We've always eaten everything we've shot. From squirrels to bear.

--
I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR BALLS! ->clock
[ Parent ]
No doubt. by atreides (2.00 / 0) #70 Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 10:21:35 AM EST
It seems that most people who hunt eat what they shoot for sport, not make a fun time out of hunting to eat.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
I fantasize about home invasion scenarios by lm (4.00 / 3) #9 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 04:12:26 PM EST
But they all involve flesh eating zombies and how to seal off the entire building, my floor, my apartment, and, finally, just one room where I'll make my valiant and heroic last stand.

Our house is routinely blessed so ther is no need to worry about vampires.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
vampires are easy by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #15 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:30:47 PM EST
You just have to make sure your family is trained not to invite people in without vetting.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
It's all fun and games until that sparkly kid ... by lm (4.00 / 1) #30 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:58:47 AM EST
... is invited over for the birthday party and when his mom comes to pick him up someone in the house ushers her into the foyer to wait while her kid collects his things.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
So, howzabout... by ana (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 05:40:50 PM EST
we argue that gun ownership in the US of A nowadays has nothing whatever to do with "a well-regulated militia" (quoting the 2nd amendment), and so, since the founding fathers saw fit, this one time only, to explain why a right was granted, the 2nd amendment is now a quaint anachronism, and weapons can be regulated like other dangerous consumer goods (like cars, for example).

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

2nd ammendment by ucblockhead (4.00 / 4) #14 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:25:33 PM EST
I made this comment on IRC and will expand on it here:

It is a common liberal argument that the problem with the second amendment is that the Founders didn't envision the sorts of high powered weapons we have now.  I think that this is fundamentally incorrect.  I don't think they would have batted an eye at allowing an assault rifle given their theories of the need for that amendment.

They lay the reasoning out explicitly in the "well-regulated militia" clause.  The power of weaponry is not a problem here.  What the founders failed to predict was that the US would have a standing military.

What the founders did not want was a large, professional army, both because they saw the wrong end of it with Britain but also because standing professional armies have a long history of subverting government.    A country needs defense, and if it doesn't have a professional army, it needs an armed citizenry arranged into militias.  Otherwise of course, any neighboring power could just waltz right in.  Note that for this to work, the militia has to have the best weapons it can get.  In other words, the founders would have expected that if something like assault rifles existed, militias would have them.

It's a bit of a misnomer to think that militias are about fending off government oppression.  Remember that in 1789, the US had to worry about not just Britain, but also other powers, like France and Spain, not to mention protection from Native American tribes raiding on their own aims or instigated by one of these powers.  Defense was a very real issue.

What they certainly did not envision is that the US would end up with a standing army of such magnitude that it completely dominates world affairs.  In such a situation, militias are obviously silly.  They are not needed for external threats and are frankly a joke against the state itself.  That is the real reason the 2nd amendment has ceased to be relevant for its original purpose.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Exactly. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 10:02:25 PM EST
The problem with the USA is not its constitution. It's the utter disregard for the constitution which seems to go largely unchallenged by the very people who are supposed to benefit from it.

The Swiss argument is relevant here, since they effectively have a militia.
--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.

[ Parent ]
I don't know about `utter disregard' by lm (4.00 / 2) #34 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:15:00 AM EST
People with very different sets of hermeneutics can start with the US Constitution and arrive at very different conclusions. Consequently, I'm usually suspicious of anyone who says that people they disagree with blatantly ignore the US Constitution. More often than not, they simply have a very different understanding of what it means and, usually, this understanding is based on a different method of trying to figure out what the document itself says.

And one doesn't have to get into serious legal philosophy for this to work. For example, take any legal question. Most people will assume that they have the right answer and that the US Constitution agrees with them. So it's now just a matter of puzzling out the details of how to interpret the Constitution to prove this.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I'd like to know by technician (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:55:10 PM EST
why the 2nd amendment is so clunky. So poorly written.

Also, ignore guns. Totally ignore the guns. What about the violence? Guns make it more efficient, but would an American be less violent without a gun?

Genocides have happened with machetes. It's horribly inefficient, but possible.

Would we maybe be less developed without our guns? If we had to kill one another with axes or nail guns or saws or cars, would that change the game? Would we still be brutal killers?

[ Parent ]
Hm... by ana (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:25:15 PM EST
There's a certain antiseptic efficiency to killing at a distance, with a gun or even a spear or an arrow. Less risk to the shooter, as well.

One troubling aspect of violence is that gay bashing, and especially murders of transgendered women, are often brutal, violent, bloody, and up close and personal. Like 20 stab-wounds personal. The perp certainly was covered in blood, but miraculously goes free more often than not.

And I think there's something about the Wild West legend deeply ingrained in our self-image. Don't like what's going on? Shoot somebody.

I think your analysis of the 2nd amendment being about military weapons, so that citizen soldiers could form up and defend the country against a world power, is absolutely on target.

I'm sure it would be enlightening to read the supporting documentation for the amendment, see what compromises were made, what the intent of the Congress was picking that particular wording. 

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
There's a lot by technician (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 09:00:28 PM EST
in the wiki entry for the second amendment that speaks to what Hamilton wrote.

It's a very clunky thing, that amendment. I can imagine that I understand why it is so poorly written, but those old white guys were into documentation. So, maybe it was just a normal thing to miss commas and leave things hanging all strange-like. "The right of the people to form a militia, and to own guns to serve said militia, shall not be infringed" would be way more direct.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I'm reading the Federalists papers by lm (4.00 / 1) #31 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:03:13 AM EST
It's a long term project of mine. As best I can figure, Hamilton saw a standing army as a threat to government and hoped a militia would be sufficient but it could not be a normal militia because the military-industrial complex would ensure that any standing army of any nation could roll right on over a rag tag group with hunting rifles and no training.

So I half way get the feeling that Hamilton would have encouraged individuals to own the equivalent of assault rifles and perhaps even artillery.

Anyway, I have to wonder if requiring membership in a state organized and trained militia in order to own certain firearms might not be a bad idea.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
private ownership by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #52 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:10:33 PM EST
I think the expectation wasn't so much that a farmer would have a cannon in his barn so much as that the farmers of an area would create some sort of voluntary group that jointly owned cannons that one or more keep in their barn.

It is a subtle distinction. 
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
If I wasn't so lazy and ... by lm (4.00 / 2) #36 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:23:14 AM EST
... didn't suffer from writers block, I'd have a blog entry up on just that topic. Federalist 8 (or is it 9) predicts the rise of the military industrial complex and describes how a normal militia has no chance to defend itself so that standing armies become a necessary evil.

Hamilton doesn't say this outright, of course, but an exception to this is if you live in Fortress America which is naturally guarded by the seas and has (or, rather, had at the time) a very well armed and organized militia.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Wasn't this written sometime before 1787? by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #63 Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 11:36:13 AM EST
While it is certainly true that a standing army could defeat a militia in open battle during the late 18th/early 19th century, all this meant was that federal or state troops could hold the cities. It might mean that converting cash crops could be an issue for some time, but a US industrial army would have even less advantages than a British one.

The poorly industrialized South was able to drag out a losing war during the 1860s. Had they waited a few more decades then the Winchester and barbed wire would be invented, forcing them to fight WWI with a medieval economy. Also, there is a reason the Winchester is "the gun that won the West". The indian wars were almost purely militias vs. US standing armies, and the US needed that level of technology to win.

I wouldn't be too surprised to see an understanding of where industrialization was heading in such papers. I would be shocked if anyone expected to hang an argument that requires someone accept such technological development before accepting their main argument.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
It's not just military technology by lm (2.00 / 0) #65 Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 07:09:32 AM EST
Rather military technology combined with a system of commerce.

From Federalist 8:

``The means of revenue, which have been so greatly multiplied by the increase of gold and silver and of the arts of industry, and the science of finance, which is the offspring of modern times, concurring with the habits of nations, have produced an entire revolution in the system of war, and have rendered disciplined armies, distinct from the body of citizens, the inseparable companion of frequent hostility.''

That is to say, what standing armies have that regular militias do not have is the backing of the twin engines of wealth and industry of the state. What Hamilton almost certainly has in mind here is the British government which used its permanent debt as an incredible tool to finance not only the production of arms but also salaries for its soldiers and sailors.

I'm presently trying to flesh out an essay that goes into a bit more depth. But basically the problem that Hamilton sees is that (a) there is a natural propensity to war between neighboring states and (b) innovations in finance and industry give rise to a military-industrial complex.j Together, these produce (c) standing armies with organizational and technical superiority to anything that a normal militia might  be able to put on the field.

In context, the civil war era south was just as much subject to this development. While they may not have had the heavy industry of the north, the Confederate government certainly did not lack any of the financial mechanisms to which the US government had recourse.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I don't think it was... by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #51 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:07:25 PM EST
at least not from the perspective of the authors.  Think back to their world.  In 1789, guns were an important tool.  Wilderness was not far, and anyone anywhere near it needed a gun for protection, both from animals and Native Americans.  Many needed to hunt for sustenance.  I suspect that the idea of banning personal firearms didn't even occur to them.

Instead, they were worried about avoiding a professional army and so needed to promote militias.  Their fear was that if a government restricted arms (and by arms, I mean military arms, like cannons, etc.) then a standing army would be required.  This is where the text came from.  "Because we need militias, there can't be restrictions on arms".

In other words, it is written like it is because they didn't really conceive of hugely urban environments and completely pacified natural areas where guns were superfluous.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
The root cause of America's larger problem by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #13 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:09:23 PM EST
is the unaddressed Dunning-Kruger Effect.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Indeedy. by technician (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:49:54 PM EST
We seem to be an amplifier for cognitive biases and behavioral heuristics.

But why? What's the draw to that fear? Is it what we come from? I'm thinking that Joe Bageant was right, that we're all these Scots Irish ballast with a deep need to serve our owners.

[ Parent ]
Home defense by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #16 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 06:34:15 PM EST
I'm personally convinced that a large, well-trained dog is better for home defense in nearly every respect.

That said, I think that issues of class, the drug war, etc. have a lot more to do with the US murder rate than the presence of guns do.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

And that's what I'm getting at. by technician (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 07:47:36 PM EST
Guns or no, what causes us to feel that we need them? In a discussion elsewhere, I mentioned that the intent can't be regulated; guns in the hands of bad guys is a symptom. What makes the bad guys, and what drives the desire for the weapons?

Why are Americans so violent? My guess is that 1) our constitution requires it and 2) the forces that control us are very invested in our desires and our fears.

[ Parent ]
indeed by gzt (4.00 / 3) #22 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 08:37:14 PM EST
if you have a dog, the police will shoot your dog.

if you have a gun, the police will shoot you.

[ Parent ]
seriously, though by gzt (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 10:55:26 PM EST
police shoot a lot of dogs.

[ Parent ]
In a thread on reddit by technician (4.00 / 2) #38 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 09:13:16 AM EST
about a dog shooting here in town, one of the participants was a cop. In one of my replies I wrote  "What can we, as the citizens in your sights, do to mitigate the whole 'don't shoot my dog, bro' thing? My dogs live inside (they're outside at times). If an officer comes to my door, should I secure the dogs in their crates while he shoots them, or should I shoot them myself?"

[ Parent ]
"Why the fear, though?" by jayhawk88 (4.00 / 3) #24 Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 09:58:59 PM EST
This is the heart of the matter really. I know some of these types IRL, not to the extent you describe perhaps, but still. It's constant Facebook posts about home invasions or armed robberies and such, and while it's left unspoken, you can definitely read between the lines. They want this kind of thing to happen to them. It's fantasy, just the same as if someone else might fantasize about screwing Elle McPherson or waking up with super powers. Hell, you had people openly fantasizing about scenarios with this whole Aurora thing.

Several years ago, I went down for back surgery. Was off of work for like a month or so. As it happened, Kansas passed a conceal/carry law that went into effect during my down time. So I head back to work and the school has those "No firearms allowed on the premise" signs that popped up on damn near every business after the law was passed. I remember joking with co-workers, "Damn, and here I was going to bring my .45 for show-and-tell". The idea that someone would really want to bring a handgun to a medical school was ridiculous. These days though....I sometimes catch myself wondering. "What moron thought he needed to be packing heat to come eat at Outback tonight?"

I don't know where this comes from either, especially since damn near every crime statistic has been in free-fall for years. Easy to blame the media and it's increased pervasiveness, and it's probably a factor, but there does seem to be something more to this. Maybe it's somewhat of an offshoot of the extreme sport movement, the need for some people to introduce danger into their lives when none naturally exists?

Recently on liberal Martha's Vineyard by johnny (4.00 / 3) #37 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:27:12 AM EST
A man, aged 60, cut the phone lines & broke into the vacation house he owned with his estranged wife, age 61 or thereabouts, who had announced her intention to divorce him and was living there. He had a shotgun. He shot her, but mostly, thank goodness, missed. She then shot him with a handgun and he died. She was treated for her wounds at Martha's Vineyard hospital and released four days later.

In the hours immediately after the shooting, it came out that the wife had a handgun permit and had taken handgun training. Also, she had recently requested, and been denied, a restraining order against her husband.

Much was made (in the online comment section of the local newspaper, for example) of how it was a good thing she had had her gun to protect herself.

It eventually came out that while she indeed had a gun permit and had taken training, she did not in fact own a handgun. The one she shot him with was his spare that he had brought with him, presumably in case he missed with the shotgun. But even the best laid plans go wrong, evidently. (Also not figured into his planning was the fact that his wife had a cell phone, on which she called the police while he was breaking the door down. Phone line cutting is so passé.)  So that kind of changed the tone of the comments "But see, if she had HAD a handgun. . ." etc.

By the way, he flew from near Boston to Martha's Vineyard in his personal aircraft. She too was a licensed pilot.

Also, recently on Martha's Vineyard, there was an incident of road rage, in which one party was accused of pulling a gun on another. At the time of the last newspaper article I saw, the police had not yet determined whether the gun in question was real or a toy.

In the last armed bank robbery on Martha's Vineyard, about 25 years ago, the perpetrator used a bow and arrow.

Which proves something, I'm sure, ipso facto, Q.E.D.


She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Hmm. by Herring (2.00 / 0) #42 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:46:45 AM EST
The Guardian published an article from some nut about how far fewer people would've been killed if all the people in the cinema had been carrying. Yes, in a dark cinema full of teargas, a load of people discharging firearms would've made the situation much less dangerous.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
a certain kind of people by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #44 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:36:58 AM EST
are still stroking their barrels in the afterglow of that 70 year old dude in Florida who foiled a robbery.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm9o3vhKoF8

I especially like the final shot fired into the street at the fleeing robbers, what could possibly have gone wrong?

[ Parent ]
Apparently by Herring (4.00 / 2) #46 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:49:56 AM EST
firearms sales are up in Colorado. People are funny. Or terrifying.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
makes sense from a certain point of view by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #50 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:01:27 PM EST
I mean if I am armed to the teeth I must be safer, right? It's all those other assholes with guns who are the problem.

[ Parent ]
Why they go up by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #53 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:14:32 PM EST
"The liberals will use this as an excuse to ban our guns so we better get more while they're legal!!!"
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Even funnier by lm (4.00 / 2) #54 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:15:06 PM EST
Gun sales throughout the US also spiked after the reboot of War of the Worlds was released a few years ago.

You know, because ...


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
American "conservatives" baffle me by Phil the Canuck (4.00 / 4) #56 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 01:12:51 PM EST
They'll fight to the death to protect their constitutional right to own a gun, but they're perfectly willing to bend over and take a Patriot Act straight up the ass.

Only during Republican administrations by lm (4.00 / 2) #57 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 01:36:51 PM EST
Once a Democrat is in the oval office, the PATRIOT act is just another statist plot to take away our freedoms.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Have you seen Bowling for Columbine? by theboz (4.00 / 1) #60 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:34:01 PM EST
This whole diary is kind of a rehash of that film.  I'm not a huge Michael Moore fan, but that one is one that I mostly liked (just fast forward through the theatrics portions.)
- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
Oh, and my take on it by theboz (4.00 / 2) #61 Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:43:31 PM EST
We are a violent people and have been since the beginning.  We are a nation founded upon genocide and slavery, and exploitation of the poor.  The forms of religion that grew here are among the most extreme versions of Christianity, and were used to justify the previously mentioned atrocities.  Unnecessary violence has been too normal here and continues to be so.  I don't think we are somehow worse -- crime statistics are down.  What we are is trying to evolve as a society, but also holding ourselves back.  Senseless tragedies can be limited or avoided to an extent, but they will always happen.

The reason this tragedy is so raw with many of us is because there really isn't anything we could have done differently in that situation.  If you had armed moviegoers to fight back, the building was too smoky so it probably would have just made things worse.  When the cops showed up, they probably would have shot the "heroes" fighting the bad guy because they just knew someone was there with a gun.  Sure, there may be some things we can do, especially around gun control laws, but at this point, that's not likely considering our broken government.
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That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n

[ Parent ]
Laddies and Germs by johnny (4.00 / 2) #64 Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 10:30:57 PM EST
Can we not take the tail and face the bull by the situation and vote this story to the front page?

Yes, this would be two front page stories in a row for technician, but (a) who cares (b) this one is about guns, not rattlesnakes (c) Kuro5hin.

That last item was gratuitous but I felt like it, so there you go.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Best article seen in this round of US gun angst by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #67 Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 11:16:37 AM EST
http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/07/21/the-declining-culture-of-guns-and-violence-in-the-united-states/

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