How can people be so blind?

So I was moseying around on YouTube a couple of days ago, and I ran into an interesting video. Obviously the guys in the vid were trying to make some point about gun control. However I think their perspective is entirely irrational. Here’s the video in question:

The comment I am talking about occurs at about 1:20. And I quote:

So this is the deal right, this is why there is so much instability in Somalia. The NRA’s got it wrong, like, guns don’t kill people, AK-47′s kill people.

Orly? I am constantly amazed by how much misdirection is fed to the general public by the gun control lobby, and those who claim that guns are the source of many of societies ills. AK-47s are the cause of instability in Somalia? So how about poverty? How about greed? Corruption? Apathy?

If any of these folks had actually lived in a poor developing country, gotten to know the people, and made even a token effort to understand how the economics of the country affects the people of any country torn by poverty, civil war and strife, they would realize that these guns are simply a means to an end. Survival. Protection. Control. Nothing more, nothing less.

And if you argue that the proliferation of “cheap” weapons makes it difficult to stabilize the region, then you are simply advertising your own ignorance. Before there were cheaply obtainable firearms, there were machetes, cutlasses and knives, and exactly the *same* amount of violence.  If not worse. It is the poverty, the need to survive, or to fight the oppression that results from corruption and greed, that creates instability. Not the firearms.

In fact, if we look at firearm ownership in the good ‘ol U.S. of A, you can clearly see that it is not simply the presence or abundance of firearms that cause problems. There are an estimated 250 million firearms in the country. And that is not counting military, law enforcement, unregistered, or black market firearms. Now here’s the thing. As of the time of this post there are an estimated 350 million men women and children in the country.

If we count every single gun in the country, that would easily make one firearm per household. In actuality, surveys show that most gun owners own multiple guns, who are estimated to make up anywhere between 25% to 50% of the US populace. And given the recent surge in gun ownership, my guess is that number is probably closer to 50%.

In contrast, in Somalia, for instance, over 60% of a population of roughly 10 million, live well below poverty. They couldn’t afford to buy a gun even if they wanted to. And I would be willing to bet that, out of the remaining 40% living above poverty, only a fraction of them make enough to own a firearm. But even if each and every Somali that could afford it owned a firearm, that would still mean that at most, 40% of Somalis own one.

So given the 10% greater (and that’s conservatively speaking) percentage of the American populace owning firearms, If firearms cause these problems, and lend to political instability, why are we not constantly engaged in constant civil war? Why is America relatively stable? Well, I’d argue that it’s because the guns themselves have no influence on the nature of the people. If the people for any reason, are moved to violence, then it doesn’t matter what weapons are available.

Somalia, and many countries like it, are in civil strife because of the environment, and the people. Not the guns. Poverty, religious beliefs, cultural strife, political power, greed and hatred are what motivate them. And they will continue to war with themselves until the learn how to overcome those internal conflicts. Regardless of whether they use AK-47s, machetes, or sticks and stones.

The truly observant will notice that the kinds of violence we see in poor developing countries only exists in isolated pockets of America. It is seen only in areas where the same level of poverty, strife, corruption and cultural tension exists. It is an easy pattern to spot, if you are really looking to solve problems, rather than chasing ghosts and looking for quick fixes or scapegoats.

It is always disappointing to see how much time, energy and cash the gun control lobby pumps into trying to get weapons off the streets, when the real problems are poverty, lack of education, prejudice, etc. These people are not about making the world better. They might believe that they are, however they are simply trying to eliminate anything that scares them, anything they do not understand. Regardless of how it might affect anyone else.

It is really a shame.

Shotgun or Tire Iron…?

Under normal circumstances, if you were to ask me this question, I might automatically say “Shotgun” without hesitation. However, I would be employing computer game thinking. In most computer games, the shottie pwns, and the tire iron is a weapon of last resort.

In real life, however, things aren’t so simple. I ran across an interesting article that illustrates the truth in the old adage “Bigger isn’t always better”. And as this guy found out, you are always better off choosing the right tool for the job:

A man trying to loosen a stubborn lug nut blasted the wheel with a 12-gauge shotgun, injuring himself badly in both legs, sheriff’s deputies said. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now this one has me stumped. I’m sure McGyver could have figured out a way to get that lug nut off using a shotgun, but I’m pretty certain that firing it at the tire, without protection, at point blank range, wouldn’t have been part of the process.

I bet that right now, he’s wishing he had just got someone to get him some WD40…

Best to use tools when loosening lug nut – [Yahoo/AP]

More handgun mayhem.

A recent case regarding whether an Oregon school teacher could bring her handgun to school has been decided:

Shirley Katz, who has a legal permit to carry a concealed handgun, argued she needed the Glock semi-automatic pistol to protect herself from her ex-husband. She sued the school district when it told her carrying a gun was against a district policy prohibiting guns.

Circuit Judge G. Philip Arnold agreed with the district, saying “The District has a right to enforce this policy.” he noted that employees “accept their jobs subject to, and knowing, the policy.” – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Well now. That’s too bad. I can sympathize with the need for the district to remain in control. But this ruling won’t prevent any disgruntled students, irate ex-husbands, explosive bearing gang members or crazed faculty from bringing firearms on campus either.

Unless the district installs metal detectors. And hires some really burly security guards. But of course they’d have to arm the security guards, ’cause they would be useless against an armed assailant if they didn’t have a projectile weapon of some sort. Like a taser. Or a firearm. Except your average taser has an average range of about 15 feet. And is single shot. Not much help against a firearm wielding opponent. Unless they are less than 15 feet in front of you, and you are a crack shot.

It seems to me that while the district seems to be ignoring the basic fact that these rules do not protect the ones who follow them. Only the ones who break them. They do not prevent anyone from bringing a firearm into the school, unless the rule is supplemented by active security measures, such as metal detectors and random spot checks that physically prevent them from being broken. And that just breeds an atmosphere of oppression. Not to mention that even those measures can be circumvented.

So what exactly is the point of such a restriction? At the end of the day, it seems entirely easier to just arm the teachers. It would be much, much cheaper, and orders of magnitude more effective. If not with firearms, then at least with tasers. Sticking ones head in the sand in a gunfight only guarantees that ones hind quarters will get shot off…

Teacher loses fight to take gun to class – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Old school robbery gone wrong…

What does a 70 year old man, a 50 year old non-working handgun, a bandanna, a grocery bag and a local bank add up to? Prison time:

Police say a 70-year-old man told them he tried to solve his financial problems with a grocery bag, bandanna and a 50-year-old handgun that doesn’t work.

Instead, Donald Cesare is in the Erie County Prison on federal bank robbery charges stemming from a holdup Thursday at the First National Bank in Millcreek Township. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now obviously, this guy was desperate. Seriously, who tries to hold up a bank with a 50 year old, non functioning firearm? But he seems like a nice guy. Probably didn’t really want to hurt anybody. Even wanted to apologize to the teller.

Pity he couldn’t figure out a better way to deal with his financial woes. If I had a broken, 50 year old hand gun, and nothing to do, I’d hold up a bingo hall. “Please put your left hand in the air, and with your right hand, slowly pass all of your bingo cards forward…” That would be totally cool…

Man, 70, charged in Pa. bank holdup – [Yahoo/AP]

Guns, violence, and you…

There’s an interesting case taking shape in Washington. It involves guns and the second amendment. Looky:

The justices are facing a decision about whether to hear an appeal from city officials in Washington, D.C., wanting to keep the capital’s 31-year ban on handguns. A lower court struck down the ban as a violation of the Second Amendment rights of gun ownership.

The prospect that the high court might define gun rights under the Constitution is making people on both sides of the issue nervous.

Are they now…?

Critics say the law has done little to curb violence, mainly because guns obtained legally from the district or through illegal means still are readily available.

And I just so happen to be one of those critics…

Heller said Washington remains a dangerous place to live. “People need not stand by and die,” he said in court papers.

And I would tend to agree…

He said the Second Amendment gives him the right to keep working guns, including handguns, in his home for his own protection. -[Yahoo/AP]

We shall see. To be perfectly honest, this whole debate makes no sense, and really overlooks the fundamentals of the problem at hand.

Removing guns from the picture will not remove the threat of violence. The Brady bunch seem to think that guns are a big problem in our society. They are wrong. Our society is jacked up. That’s the biggest problem with our society today. They need to focus on fixing our societal problems, not treating the symptoms of the these problems.

Even if they are to make all firearms illegal in the US, criminals who need weapons will simply get them on the black market. They are simply making it difficult for law abiding citizens to acquire guns. The criminal element doesn’t use legal channels to procure firearms anyway, so it won’t make any significant difference to them. And while this is a secondary issue, violating another’s rights just so your irrational fears can be assuaged is sheer, unadulterated nonsense.

And no matter what any law makers say, law enforcement officers cannot possibly protect everyone. The result? Law abiding citizens of the good old U.S. of A. will be left defenseless, while the criminals remain armed. If an armed robber breaks into my home while I’m in bed one night, I would consider being unarmed a darned bad position to be in. But somehow this group of illogical, emotionally blinded gun pacifists seem to think that this won’t ever happen if they make firearms illegal.

The funny thing about these people is that most of them are so focused on the “guns” that they don’t seem to be able to see anything beyond that. Let me give you an example to illustrate how some Brady folk think:

A man is robbed at gunpoint. When asked what the most heinous thing about the experience is, he responds: “Having that gun pointed at me was so scary. He could have shot and killed me! We need better gun control laws.” OK. That sounds rational doesn’t it? But wait, it gets better. A week later he’s robbed at knife point. When questioned again about the experience he proclaims “It’s a good thing he didn’t have a gun. He could have just shot me and taken my money!”. Aaalrighty then. I suppose knives can’t kill then. Right.

A week later this same man gets beat up, in the same area he was robbed twice before, by a high schooler with a baseball bat, then robbed, stripped naked and left bleeding in a ditch. Later, queried once again, he replies, “At least he didn’t have a gun. He could have shot me.” Heh. Sure thing. If you aren’t at least chuckling to yourself at the narrow mindedness of this perspective, you should slap yourself. Twice. Really, really, hard.

Seriously, the man was robbed three times, almost stabbed once, and beaten half to death with a baseball bat, and yet all he could think about is “I didn’t wanna get shot.” Yes, OK, you got me. This story is fictional. But it accurately illustrates the error of the many arguments gun control lobbyists are using. Guns do not cause violence. They are simply a tool, like a knife or a bat.

You are no safer if guns are outlawed because they can still be obtained illegally. And more importantly, you can still be killed, quite easily in fact, without the benefit of a gun. Banning anything that can kill you is a senseless endeavor. Even as you sit there now reading this, there are at least 10 non-firearm related items in your immediate vicinity, that can be used to kill you. Trust me.

Honestly, I think the only people that can make these arguments are people with a blind, abject, paralyzing fear of guns, unable to see nothing else. But the problem is that these people will still continue live in fear, even after guns have been make illegal, and will proceed to try and ban anything and everything they can think of.

Whereas, on the other hand, there are actually some very tangible benefits to everyone being armed. I think a criminal would think twice about robbing some random people on the street, if they though there was a good chance they might get shot in the process. But that could just be me.

Now truth is, I don’t keep a gun cocked and loaded on my nightstand at all times in case of a break in. Primarily because my little cave isn’t likely to get burgled out here in the middle of nowhere. And also because nothing I own is irreplaceable. But I don’t see where I have the right to do anything to prevent others who live in more dangerous neighborhoods from taking steps to defend themselves against a break in. That just isn’t right. And that is where I have a problem with these people.

OK, I’ll stop preaching from atop my pile of automatic rifle crates now.

Supreme Court could take guns case – [Yahoo/AP]

Spotted!: Hello Kitty SpecOps…

You may remember a post I did a while back about Thailands “Hello Kitty” brigade. Well apparently, Hello Kitty operatives have been around for much longer. I finally have proof that there is actually an honest to goodness Hello Kitty anti-terrorist SpecOps team in operation:

Hello Kitty Ops XM-8
[view full size]

Here we see a highly trained Hello Kitty Operator with the highly experimental XM-8 HK, the Hello Kitty Variant of the new XM-8 combat weapon system. We have no information on where or when these pictures were taken, but it is apparent that these guys are highly trained and use the latest cutting-edge weaponry.

Hello Kitty Operator Training
[view full size]

Here we see a Hello Kitty Operator training a new SpecOps recruit. I dunno if that new recruit would feel particularly comfortable if he could see the look on the instructor operators face.

I don’t know about you, but these guys give me the willies. Terrorists had best flee. In terror. Soon even a glimpse of pink out of a terrorists peripheral vision will elicit uncontrollable fear. Yep, the tables have turned…

We Need BIGGER GUNS!

I ran into another interesting article this morning about a mother who decided to defend her son from bullies. At gunpoint:

The police report says 40-year-old Johnna Briggs pointed the gun at other students getting off the bus and said, “Does anyone have something to say?” – [Yahoo/AP]

Now call me a pacifist if you will but I would have opted to have a few “words” with the bully and his/her parents instead…

But it might be interesting to see the parent of every kid that got bullied in school show up packin’ heat.  It’d be an impressive sight. That’s right. Yeah. Go ahead. Make My Day. Punk…

Mom allegedly flashes gun at bus stop – [Yahoo/AP]

The family that shoots together…

Given the number of times I have made passive references to the futility of gun control in a few of my last posts, I thought it was interesting to come across the following:

The Second Amendment tells us that ‘a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ Two hundred years later, in 1999, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that there are about 215 million guns in America–at least one firearm in half the households in the country. The anti-gun Brady Campaign, however, puts that number at 192 million guns, owned by 39 percent of the population. – [MSNBC]

Now I found this article interesting because I find that I have been ranting a lot lately about how folks like to blame everything but themselves or their society for the problems of the world. The Brady Campaign is one such organization. They have taken it one step further and decided to make an inanimate object the focus of their efforts.

Their site expresses their “outrage” at the increase of “gun violence in America” and whatnot. However, they do not seem to care much about what causes that violence. Their only concern seems to be that firearms ought not be involved. I find that an incredibly narrow minded, tunnel visioned way of thinking.

Ironically, the Brady Campaigns gun ownership statistics were highly skewed when compared to the figures the BATF estimates. Now given that the BATF is a government agency that works with these cases first hand, on a daily basis, and the Brady Bunch would rather not see any guns in existence at all, I’m inclined to think that the BATFs numbers would be more accurate. An unrealistic view of reality, in my opinion, is generally the result of a campaign based on emotion, rather than logic.

It’s a cliched phrase, but it bears repeating. Guns don’t kill people. Ignorant / Unimaginative /Badly raised people with guns kill people. The Brady campaign is focusing all of it’s efforts on reducing the overall number of guns in the hope that this will reduce gun violence. But I believe that only a fool wages war on an inanimate object. They are only tilting at windmills. I’m not going to go over the arguments why this is a waste of time, because you’ve probably all heard them.

However I will say that this is yet another, particularly ludicrous, crutch. According to the BATF, over half the households in the country own at least one firearm. This means that gun owners are not a minority, nor are they limited to criminals, or gun crazed nut jobs.

There has to be another reason for the increase in gun violence. I would submit that it is an overall increase in violence in general. The Brady campaign doesn’t seem to want to even acknowledge that possibility. And they have wasted who knows how much money campaigning to reduce the symptoms of the problem without, as far as I can see, spending a dime trying to diagnose and cure the disease.

Our society needs revamping. Our parenting skills need improvement. Our culture is breeding a new kind of angst. And the victims of this form of self/world hate are not particular about how the decide to get the message across. If there are no guns, they will use improvised explosives. If there are no explosives, they will use knives. If knives are  outlawed (heh) Some could decide to go on a vehicular manslaughter rampage. If cars get outlawed, they will simply poison the water supply. There is no end to it.

The presence of any weapon, is at best only a means to an end. And the means are many.  in order to solve the problem, we have to identify and solve the root causes, not blindly chase after the symptoms.

One nation, under gun – [MSNBC]