Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gun makers propaganda

A few weeks ago former GOP presidential candidates Huckabee's radio show propagated gun maker propaganda right and left.

Actually, just "right."

He interviewed the head of Gun Owners of America, which is to the right of the NRA, if you can imagine that.

Huckabee positions himself as the reasonable right winger, but all he's talking about is his tone of voice, which is reasonable-sounding in a preacherly sorta way. However, the words being said in a reasonable tone are pretty much the same as on the shows by the screamers who led to right wing radio being called Hate Radio.

In this interview--in which, of course, all his questions were softballs--he and the GOA prez agreed, chuckling, that Joe Biden was an idiot on the subject of guns. They mocked his saying you should have a shotgun for self defense instead of an assault weapon, maintained that "assault weapons" were really "defense weapons" and described a video on the GOA website that showed small women being knocked over shooting shotguns while another small woman was firing an AR-15 easily, shot after shot. The two pals also concurred that the 1994 assault rifle ban had failed, that universal background checks were a bad idea because they led straight to gun registration which was unconstitutional, and the cops were useless because they couldn't get to your home fast enough, and most homicides were committed with handguns, not rifles, and on an on, lie after lie after bald-faced lie. Baldfaced because with many of these points Huckabee as a veteran gun owner/hunter knew better. Lie because even when what they said was nominally true, it was by cherrypicking the data and making points out of context.

Huckabee bragged about what a gun guy he was, finishing up by saying how sore his shoulder was after a day of duck hunting with a shotgun.

Well I'm sure that a woman wielding a shotgun would have a sore shoulder after a day of defending her home against a horde of zombies attacking. And she'd be knocked over by the blast of a shotgun IF she'd received zero training in firearms. And of course the GOA video showed--as they admitted, laughing--that the women being knocked over had gotten zero training in handling a shotgun. While the woman firing the AR-15 was a trained gun users.

And they didn't mention that the smaller AR-15 round--the .223--is a mankiller round with tremendous muzzle velocity and a bullet designed to wobble destructively as it enters a human body at short to medium range. That's what makes it such an effective assault weapon and such an ineffective sniper weapon.

But it's not so good for home defense because it needs to be aimed more precisely than a shotgun,

Something to say to your uncle Harry the gun nut...

If you're a gun owner and want to address this topic, do your side a favor and address the actual laws being considered now in Congress.  
So don't rant about how you have a constitutional right to bear firearms. You do. OK? Now the issue is what firearms under what circumstances, and what do we do about the issues of bad guys getting their hands on guns. 
For example, don't you think it's reasonable to have a federal law making it a felony to sell or give a firearm to someone who would fail a background check because he's a felon or a psycho and has been officially judged not to qualify for firearm ownership? 
After all, it's becoming clear that the average thug with a gun got it from a "straw man" buyer or one of a minority of gun shops that sell guns by the truckload to criminal syndicates and then "lose" the paperwork. 
Seems to be that the best way to maintain the right of good guys to bear arms is to try much harder to disarm those who have no such right. And the states, by themselves, haven't been able to do it. Modern transportation makes it all to easy to buy a gun in Virginia and take it to D.C. 
Bottom line: it would allay the fears of the majority of Americans who don't own guns if gun owners would start publicly stating that they agree that the Second Amendment does not confer a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. And that they agree that the Second Amendment supports laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. And that the government can and should ban the sale to civilians of particularly dangerous and unusual weapons. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Put nuts in nuthouses

It's true that our former treatment of crazy people--or of people who weren't, but whose relatives wanted their money--was often abominable.

But we've leapt from the frying pan into the fire. People who are full-bore psychotic can't be involuntarily committed for more than 72 hours. Crazy people prowl the streets of major cities and towns, harassing passersby and pooping in the bushes, and cost the taxpayers a fortune in ambulance and hospital fees from regular bouts of OD'ing on drugs/alcohol.

The fact of one extreme (our former treatment of crazy people) does not justify the other extreme (protecting their "rights" at both their and our expense). There is such a thing as the public good. Neither the public nor the crazy people are being served by the current system. One trait most crazy people share is that they don't believe they're crazy. So they won't commit themselves, they won't take their meds...but their craziness does not preclude some of them from plotting and then executing a massacre.

So you can't recide a litany of the abuses of the Bad old Days to justify the Bad New Days. Propose something that guards against the excesses of the past while removing the gaping failings of the present.

Currently society does NOT protect crazy people from themselves, from their families--who often live in terror of a crazed adult son, with the cops telling them their hands are tied--and from society in general.

The shooters at Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech were all psychos, and it was obvious to everyone around them. This isn't always true but it is more often than not (Charles Whitman was not obviously crazy, for example, and I'm not sure the Norwegian shooter showed his psychosis either).

Drugs don't work because they stop taking them even when they do work. That means crazy people should be insitutionalized. I believe we can do this fairly, adding safeguards that didn't exist in the Bad Old Days,

It anyone thinks they have a better way, suggest it. I haven't heard one yet.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Don't give up on gun control

Gun rights zealots believe they will always win--and that the rest of us will always lose. They have nothing but contempt and active dislike for anyone and everyone who advocates any form of gun ownership control, no matter how minor. If pressed, they claim their right to own any kind of gun they choose is based on the Constitution's 2nd Amendment having the purpose of enabling citizens to go into armed revolt against the government, using firearms comparable to those used by our military.Their message to gun control advocates is despair: "You are incompetent to talk about guns, your proposals are unconstitutional, and we OWN Congress (and every state legislature). Give up. We will always defeat you. And you deserve to be defeated, you contemptible worms."

They are that far out.

Equally far out is their defense of crazy people and criminals being able to get guns. Of course gun rights zealots say the exact opposite when they speak in generalities. But gun rights zealots are, as a group, self-centered and emotionally immature. So they see anything we could do to keep guns out of the hands of nuts and crooks only from the perspective of potential limitations to the zealots' rights to own guns--and to keep government agencies from knowing that the zealots have guns, and knowing which guns those are.

So they oppose changing the current federal privacy and mental health laws, which currently make it nearly impossible to institutionalize crazy people who don't think they're crazy--which is most of them. And they oppose universal gun registration, which would let us track straw buyers who are the source of most of the guns crooks possess.

Don't confuse gun rights zealots with gun owners in general, most of whom support at least some forms of gun control--especially universal background checks.

The only thing gun rights zealots support to deal with these all-too frequent massacres and gun homicides is more guns in more hands, which they say is the only way to more safety.

Of course every nation is an experiment in governance that other nations can study.America has more guns per capita with fewer controls than any other nation with comparable demographics. Comparisons prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that our path--more guns, less regs--leads to four to eight times as many homicides (not just gun homicides) as comparable countries, and the more gun controls, the fewer homicides. It's that simple and that plain. The rate of violence is comparable to that of comparable counties--the difference with America is that here that violence is vastly more likely to result in death.

The gun makers know this, but they have proven repeatedly is that all they care about is profit. Their shills, who lead the NRA, tread a well-worn path after every massacre:

1. Loudly denounce gun control advocates who dare to use the massacre to try to get gun control legislation enacted--denounce them as exploiting the suffering of the victims and their families for political gain. Demand a period of weeks to "respect the victims" before launching any discussion about the massacre, which gives the NRA time to marshall its forces and lobby legislators.

2. Try to slow-walk such discussions--the more time that elapses between the massacre and the discussion, the more time the NRA has to prevent--or gut--any legislation that does ensue.

3. Loudly insist that the ONLY solution to gun violence is more guns in more hands. Claim that the expired assault weapons ban didn't work (a baldfaced lie--it did to a a degree, hampered by the gun lobby gutting the bill). Claim that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns (a baldfaced lie--other countries that restrict guns have their criminals using knives mostly). Claim that massacres happen everywhere (they do--but they do several times as often here, and more are killed in each massacre here on average).

4. Trot out anecdote after anecdote showing how having a gun protected someone. This works because most people are innumerate and thus don't understand statistics (along with most abstractions).

5. Send forth the gun control zealots to overwhelm every newspaper and blog forum that mentions gun control, after stirriing them up with wild accusations.

6. Constantly try to change the subject from gun regulation to gun confiscation, despite the fact that no politician in America talking about gun confiscation.

7. Constantly try to change the subject of gun control to the subject of violent mental illness. It's a valid subject but not instead of gun control--it should be as well as gun control

8. Deny that there's any such thing as an assault weapon--important since the bulk of gun maker profits come from selling assault weapons, despite the fact that they're marketed to gun buyers as assault weapons, using military commando mission atmospherics.

9. Depend on the fact that the million-odd gun rights zealots wake up each morning thinking about guns, and typically associate gun possession with virility, so this group will ceaseless promote their position, while most people only think about guns for a few days or weeks after each massacre.

10. Continue to lobby to suppress any attempt to study gun violence by government agencies (a sucessful effort for decades).

11, Continually talk about video games and violent movies as the cause of massacres, ignoring the literally millions of young men who play such games and see such movies all the time and never commit acts of physical violence, also ignoring the difference between "shooting" cartoon people with a computer mouse vs. shooting human-shaped targets with real bullets fired from a real gun on a real target range.

12. Continually frame the debate as one between patriotic Americans and people advocating foreign ideas that violate the Constitution (talk about Constitution constatnly), bordering on treason. Use inflamed and inflammatory rhetoric, including denouncing the President for having Secret Service protection for his children when he doesn't want that for yours.

13. Try to wear down the other side on every front. Constantly belittle  gun control advocates for being ignorant about firearms and gun violence research (ironic since the NRA has prevented the government from studying gun violence).

Gun rights zealots typically know a lot more about firearms than gun control advocates. I'm not as ignorant about firearms as most gun control advocates, but even so I've found myself having to do hours of research to get up to speed enough to really debate with these guys.

And once I was up to speed I found that gun rights zealots--and the NRA--habitually and knowingly lie to the rest of us in order to advance their desire to own firearms of any type they like without impediments. I only discovered this after I'd done my homework. It was not obvious at first. This was especially interestting because gun rights zealots represent themselves as the most moral, patriotic, upstanding citizens. But in my experience they routinely practice taqiyya (an Arab term "honorable lying to Infidels") with those outside the gun community. If the NRA asserts something, you can safely assume it's a baldfaced lie unless proven otherwise.

For example, NRA membership claims include tens of thousands of members who are no longer alive, along with members whose membership was a freebie including with a gun purchase or gun show admission. It includes a million or so gun rights zealots along with three million or so gun owners whose views differ strikingly from those advocated by the zealots and the NRA leadership.

So when you debate with gun rights zealots, take note of the claims they make, and when you find out they're lying, and exactly how, consider the likelihood that they knew they were lying when they said that to you--and let them know, calmly but inexorably.

That is, use the techniques my spouse used to use when she worked as a collecor for a computer peripherals manufacturer. She never got mad but she never let people off the hook--and she took note of every promise they made, and used that in subsequent conversations, so as to draw the noose progressively tighter and tighter. And of course she never called them liars. She just pointed out what they said, what was factual, and asked them to account for the disparity.

That's the twofer. Never get mad--never relent.

It looks as though the gun makers and their eager shills will mostly win the current fight going on in Congress. But remember how many fights homosexual rights advocates lost before they started winning. Most political victories stand on the shoulders of innumerable losses.

And this is important.