Skip to main content

Gun Control

Gun Control - 2008-07-02 16:19

Gun Control in light of the recent Supreme Court decision -- a fair and balanced review

The late great science fiction writer Robert Heinlein spent years advocating mandatory gun possession for all adults, feeling that our society was built on the twin foundations of laws and property rights, and that individuals with guns were needed to enforce these rights. He called these “pillars” and the  “essence of freedom.”

He also felt it made people more polite.

It doesn’t take much to imagine a perfect storm of property rights, law and guns all meeting up one afternoon at the local Department of Motor Vehicles for a test case of this philosophy.

And, is the definition of politeness to be found in the abject fear section of the dictionary?
Web sites such as and seem to fundamentally agree with Heinlein, but both take a different, more legal approach to their arguments.

Prominent on both sites is the 2nd Amendment, the holy justification of the absolute right for individuals to bear arms.

The argument seems to be as follows. In a free society, the government owes its existence to will of the people. If the people don’t like the government, they get to “take it back.” And, this is key; the people might have to use force to do it.

That’s where the gun thing comes in.

To sum up a bit, gun ownership on these sites is seen as more a responsibility than a right, or as Malcolm X once said, “You can’t give a man his freedom; if he’s a man, he has to take it.”
And freedom is hard work, and guns can be helpful in that work.

For those advocating for guns, the collateral damage—the death, fear and loathing, are all seen as a necessary evils—a sort of cost-of doing-business; deplorable but unavoidable.

The site clearly showed a bias against gun- especially handguns. Because James Brady was shot in the head by an illegal handgun using special “talon” type bullets, this is to be expected.
The site also had some interesting statistics and reports about what the cost of guns actually is in America.

This fact:

“In 2000, more than nine young people aged 19 and under were killed a day in gun homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings in the United States,” is taken from the sites “fact” area.

And this one:

“In 2000, suicide by all means took the lives of 29,350 people in the United States: of this number, 57% (16,586) were completed using a firearm,” both show a bit of the statistical cost of guns.

The use of statistics can really confuse an issue—both and are chock-a-block full of statistics, and if you look closely at them they seem to say opposite things. cite a study of guns in Australia favorably for its pro-gun stance. cite the same Australia study as an example of its anti-gun stance.

Using the approach that everything is probably exaggerated in these partisan sites, it still seems like a whole bunch of people die accidentally and on purpose from firearms in the United States each year. What that actually means is really what the sites seem to be finessing.

Another interesting approach to the truth about guns is to examine Lonely Planet’s travel site for warnings when traveling to different countries.

In Rome the warnings concern pickpockets and style thieves, physical crimes against people are noted to “Not be a significant problem.”

In Florida, the warnings concern violent crime targeted against tourists, with a special section on “careful rental car usage,” citing people getting shot to death. Lonely Planet has another special chapter in its guidebook concerning America’s violence problems.

The National Rifle Association web site avoids obvious statistics and focuses on being helpful. The tone is non-confrontational, and it offers many helpful hints to children and women.

There is also a special notice that the temporary FEMA housing provided post hurricane Katrina now allows for the residents to keep guns in their new housing, thanks to the NRA’s lobbying efforts.
So really which side of this debate you are on comes down to a few simple ideals.

If you think that thousands of deaths outside the normal channels of death are a fair exchange for living in a free country that remains faithful to its founding fathers probable ideals—you come down on the pro-gun side.

If you feel that the cost is too high in terms of actual people; if you think that maybe there is a better, less painful approach to living—you come down on the side of humanity.

Being polite can be taught by caring parents, it doesn’t take a mutual assured destruction algorithm for us to make nice with other people.


Popular posts from this blog

Wedding and Funeral

Went to a wedding and a funeral this weekend with Mary. Sacramento, Santa Rosa, then home– a whirlwind trip through weekend bay area traffic. The traffic was horrible – life changing horrible, but not unusual.
As with most things, it’s a balance of an the unnamed terror and an easy chair in a padded room that rocks. 
The wedding was delightful, part of an interconnected strong woman’s club that marries off their daughters to provably weaker men. And so, the cycle continues, but the company was nice and I’m too old to wonder at the process anymore.
The funeral was for another interconnected strong woman, who, by hinkey or dinky, was a scary woman that I used to work with as a nurse. She would have been surprised that I outlived her, much as Charles the cat was. Please pay attention out there – this is how life works.
(To be fair, she didn’t put up with shit and I liked to throw handfuls of it around as if I were Christ standing on the back of a broken piƱata heaving candy cigarettes to the…

Only once

For clarity, I think I will write this only once.I do not write confessional poetry, and I do not write things down as a form of therapy. I write because I have something unique to say in a unique sort of way, a way that I think is universal in an analogous manner, not as any sort of literal telling of the truth.  I trowel spackle onto pages with a straight edged blade, I don’t paint aging widows with a brush. (My soul has been psychedelicized, but this shit’s not about me.)It comes in this form – that this relates to that, in this way – A form that I think illustrates things that are too true to be looked at straight on – personal truths that are usually discovered through interactions with other people – truths that are often relational, unreliable and subject to the weavings and debris of human beings. Truths that sneak out and become a miraculous surprise of insight – like a Zen master hitting you on the head with a baseball bat at just the right time.I don’t think I’m the only on…

How do I know when I'm done?

I left a message on Facebook for someone I care about that ended with the words, “one won”. I did it just because I thought was funny. That led to a whimsical discovery that I no longer had to place a period at the end of my sentences – in fact to do so would be rude and identify myself as an old person. 
It seems that, for online use anyway, a period has become a loud shout -- a purposeful exclamation point useful only in drawing unnecessary attention, or as a way of making an angry burp of anti-social angst. Sentences no longer end, they gently back out a side door when no one is looking -- they’ve become bars without a jail, or that angry driver just ahead of you who hesitates before moving through an intersection just to make a point of how stupid you are.
Since a period is no longer an end to a thought, its new function has evidentially become nothing but a stuffy ritual of formality that writers can now use to mark up or down generalized feeling of huffiness, or perhaps a way to s…