July 26, 2012

What Else Can I Do But Sit and Watch

I got one of those emails the other day. You know the kind I mean. 18 point font, lots of exclamation points, multi-colored text. And, unfortunately, the sender hasn't realized the function of the BCC window in his email composer, so the entire CC list of 83 email addresses was before me. If I were a nefarious individual, which I claim not to be, I might try to do something nefarious with such a long CC list.

Is this short enough to quote here?

Attorney General Holder says,
Guess they were not happy with the poll results the first time, so USA today is running another one...Vote now...
Attorney General Eric Holder, has already said this is one of his major issues. He does not believe the 2nd Amendment gives individuals the right to bear arms. This takes literally 2 clicks to complete. Please vote on this gun issue question with USA Today. Then pass the link on to all the pro-gun folks you know. Hopefully the results will be published later this month.
Here's what you need to do:
First - vote.
Second- Send it to other folks,
               then we will see if the results get published.
Click to vote:


Sure, why not. In my email, the font is HUGE, and I swear there are five different colors. I voted, and the pro-gun-control folks were taking a shellacking, 98%-2.

This may be the third time I've gotten such an email from this older relative of mine, and each warning is just as preposterous as the one previous. Normally what I do, is I check Snopes.com for the history of the story, and then email everyone on the CC list back, and entreat them not to take such foolishness to heart.

But this gun control discussion, needs to open up. It needs to be a dialogue. We need to find common ground and hold it. So, I wrote back.

Can anyone give me some context for the alleged stance of Eric Holder towards your right to have a gun to protect your castle? Any video, or links to his comments on the matter. As much as I would like to take the original poster's word for it, I have no idea who the gentleman is and you know what Mom said about accepting shiny (or large multi-colored font-laden) things from strangers.

Also, I'd expect the results of this sort of poll to be somewhat skewed as gun rights supporters are the ones who are actively passing this around. I'm also pretty sure that USA Today does not have as wide a readership as one my suspect, but no matter.

I hope you get to keep your guns. I would hate to see on the news what would happen if the police/army attempted to go house to house and pry them out of your cold dead hands. Besides, apart from the time a teenager, pointed a loaded shotgun in my face, I'm sure most gun owners teach their kids to handle weapons responsibly, and the occasional 4 year old that takes one to school and blows away a classmate is just acceptable to ensure our wider freedoms.  I think the guy I knew in college who shot off his Glock in the middle of town, pointing just over the tree line knew what he was doing, because he'd had military training...driving tanks. But I digress. We've made our bed, let's get comfortable in it.

There are tons of stories on the net about people who have interfered with robberies, burglaries, home invasions, attempted rapes, etc. and shot the suspect dead. I know this because it's easy to find these stories on the net. It's just as easy to find stories about kids who take guns to school, or who are accidentally killed by firearms. These two kinds of sites are separated by some great divide where neither side appears to care much what they other one says. Our nation is so polarized and isolated that I think the chances of us getting together and making progress with a national dialogue is impossible because we've accepted the demonization of anyone who believes differently from us. 

I know gun people. I am not one. The ones I know who are irresponsible are by far in the minority. The sample size, however, is extremely limited as I live in Taiwan, where citizens don't have the right to purchase guns. (I've digressed before, I reserve the right to do again...there are stories of soldiers serving their compulsory military service standing on guard duty who have shot each other with their M-16's because they haven't been taught gun safety. The problem got so bad, that the bases stopped equipping guards with ammunition. Gangsters then drove up to the bases and stole the weapons from the hapless guards. There's a lesson for someone in there somewhere.) None of the gun people I know have cases of AK47's in their basements, or have purchased 100 round drum magazines. I think this is because for personal safety, these are not convenient tools for the job of getting the stranger off of your front porch. 

Surely there must be some people, though, in this Cc: list that consider themselves to be ProLife and who pray and struggle every day with knitted brow for an answer to end to deaths of innocents. To stand for something so noble is to be applauded. As the gun industry is almost entirely unregulated, aren't firearms providers just as culpable as abortion providers? 

I voted in the survey, btw. My side is taking a beating. 

Peace and Love to you all,

So I waited to see what might happen. I was immediately inundated with emails!

Apparently, someone's address book isn't up to date, and I got a lot of "there's no such address" replies from robots.

The next day, however, I got a living breathing person to reply. She works for an insurance company and asked me to take her off her  mailing list. Swing and a miss, for dialogue.

The next response was from Caroline H. who suggested the wording of the USAToday poll may have helped to slant the results. She suggested the question be "SHOULD the 2nd Amendment give citizens to right to bear arms?" instead of "does" and she would be hesitant to say yes. Baseball metaphors, while All-American and therefore Good, will not play out very well here because I'm either going to strike out, or get a piece of something. I'm not looking to knock anything out of the park here. If we're going to have a national dialogue, we're going to have to stop arguing and start listening to what the other side's concerns are.

There was another response when I woke up from David S:
First I want to make it clear that I am a Life Member of the NRA (National Rifle Association}.
For those of you that are not aware of a piece of Horrific history, in 1938 +/- a year or so, Adolf Hitler has all civilians turn in their firearms.
This was quickly followed up by the Holocaust!
I strongly urge that we tell the "liberals" in Washington to keep their hands off our Second Amendment rights
It took only three emails from human beings before Godwin's Law was invoked. Still, David and I are on different sides of this vast ideological gap. And he WROTE to me. It could be that I'm taking this email as an attempt to open a dialogue in the same way that I think that the cute Barista at Starbucks is hitting on me. Whether or not, he's typing on autopilot, I wrote back to him this morning:

Dave, thank you so much for writing back to me.

You are absolutely right about Hitler. However, I think you may be drawing a comparison that is a bit of a leap. I don't think that you are directly comparing our leaders in Washington to Hitler, nor do I imagine that you feel that our men in uniform from the top down would stage a coup and attack civilians at large.

As an NRA member, you're obviously a gun owner. If you've ever made purchases online, I think there's an option where you can round up your total to the next dollar and donate to the NRA. I don't think the battle over gun control has anything to do with taking away your 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms, but more with the NRA's desire to maintain this crucial influx of donations. Call it the trickle up theory if you will.

If you look at the phrase in question, "Gun Control,"--yes, I've seen the bumper sticker about steady hands--there is nothing at all that leads me to believe that anyone wants to take away your right to have guns. But, we do need more controls on what can be purchased. 

There's a reason that you can drive a pickup truck down the street, but not a McLaren F1 race car. Those cars are not street legal. I could buy a Bugatti Veyron, with a top speed of over 250 miles an hour, but if I drove it that fast in the city, I would have troubles.  If I had the money, and new how to fly, I could buy a jet, but I can't buy an F-16. They are regulated. There are certain drugs that can be purchased, and certain ones that have not been approved for consumption by Americans. 

Cars must be registered with the government. Your marriage, your house, your business, maybe farm equipment? I don't know. Elevators must be registered and inspected. Public fountains that feature lighting, must pass government safety standards. Doctors, lawyers, HAIRDRESSERS have to be licensed by some form of government regulation.

Yet, the argument is that registering guns limits your freedom. The purpose of a gun is to kill. And the industry is so loosely regulated that there are millions of guns all over America in who knows whose hands?

Cat's out of the bag. The guns have spread through both legal and illegal channels. They're out there. And there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it.

I understand that in Juneau, Alaska where there is a high percentage of concealed carriers that the crime rate is quite low. I've read those studies, and I do not believe as I once did that all guns were bad. I know that it's a sport, I know that people hunt with them, and that they need them for protection.

What I don't understand is the availability of semiautomatic assault rifles with high volume magazines. An assault rifle, by its name is not a defensive weapon. Does anyone need 100 rounds at their fingertips to do anything except shoot at a lot of .... people?

The reason that I'm worked up and writing about this now--and I thank you greatly for reading this far--is that NONE of the things that would have disallowed this guy in Colorado from making those purchases online. He had no criminal record, he had no documented history of mental illness like the guy at Virginia Tech. In a few weeks, this guy purchased 6000 rounds, body armor, and guns. Are these not signs that he was planning to do something? They were, but we would have no way of noticing them, because...why?

If he had been limited to a 12 round magazine, he still would have killed people. And we would still be saying "What a shame, what a shame." But the body count would not have been nearly so high.

Sorry for going on so long. Thank you for taking the time to read this far. If we can continue to have a discussion on this topic, I would feel honored.

Haven't heard back from him yet. But I would like to ask him or anyone, if assault weapons are acceptable products for sale to the general public, what about hand grenades? Landmines? I almost had a boss who owned a few Sherman tanks, but that was a little different. Where, indeed, do you draw the line?


hermitide said...

I was asked by a French person last week why there hasn't been a revolution yet (about everything) in America. My only explanation was that the power lies within the few who hold all of our money and the rest in who holds our guns. God forbid if people are willing to let that power go, or to listen to reason. The common moral is low in the US at the moment, people are scared and insecure, they hold on to what ~feels~ like power, such as guns and the idea that money can protect you from everything. So sad. What I have heard so far from gun owners has been that it has always been this way, why take away our 'rights'? Where do you start to argue with that? I am just a tiny bit angry at Obama for not holding onto his balls and stand up for what he believes in.

Anonymous said...

Cool post - I stumbled across your blog looking for something else.

This is my $.02 and nothing more, but here it is anyway: The Constitution and Bill of rights was created around the time of political thinkers such as Locke, and around the same time as the notion of the Social COntract. Basically, the theory is that if the govt is not taking care of its people, the people have a right to revolt and overthrow the government (which is exactly what the original Revolutionaries did). The reason why the people need to be armed is not to hunt, or to protect against criminals, but to protect against the govt, and to revolt if necessary.

In that vein, the 2nd Amendment should conceivable allow for any manner of weapons to protect against the govt (including your boss' tanks). But regulations (not enough, imo), have been put in place to regulate certain kinds of arms, and some regulations (finally) passed constitutional muster in the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court decisions (the first and second decisions regarding the 2nd Amendment made by the court ever, I believe). But while that is all well and good academically, it presumes the notion that all people are good and reasonable, and would only use their weapons against the government for the noblest of reasons. I think it's beyond argument that nobody trusts "the other side" with enough armaments to take on the govt.

So the question is "where do you draw the line?" I think the original framers really didn't draw any lines whatsoever. But I would draw the line somewhere around the same place as you would - regulate who can purchase (restricting those with criminal records, mental health issues, children, etc), enabling tracking or gun/bullet purchases, regulating gnarly killing machine type armaments, going through waiting periods, and increasing "chain of ownership" liability (so that the people who run uns to organized crime can be held liable). That's all. Thanks.