Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lock and Load

The battle for hearts and minds in regard to gun control rages. Sometimes it's the little things that jump out at you. Last night, I was channel surfing and came across Shooting USA's coverage of this years Shot Show™, in Las Vegas. I confess that I sometimes watch gun night on The Outdoor Channel. Shooting shows mostly lean to the right, though I skip the seriously Ted Nugent stuff. Always interesting to see what new products are out there in the way of boomware: Guns, ammo, grips, holsters, magazines, bags, clothes, scopes, the show offers 'em up.

Of course you don't need to be a cynic to notice that the sponsor's products are front and center. If Hogue and Crimson Trace back a segment, you can book it that the boys on the floor will hold up their sponsors latest toys and wax enthusiastic. Hardly unexpected–I've worked for animated shows that were essentially one long commercial for the kiddies Christmas stocking: Did you miss Chuck Norris's Karate Kommandos Korvette, with Disk Action Shooter™ ... ? I've even done product placement in books on some of the work-for-hire projects

But back to the Shot Show™:

One thing I noticed right off. There are a whole bunch of new AR rifle platforms for sale, from big-bore .308, to a convertor you can use to practice with .177 air. And the name has changed. 

A cynic might say that the gun makers looked up and saw a huge market among those worried these things are going to be made illegal. 

Here is a fact: Every time anybody in government mumbles the words "Gun control," sales of guns and ammo go through the roof. Every time. Ammo shelves clear out, people stand in line to get into gun shows. 

The gun industry should mint a gold medal and and give it to President Obama, because he's made them more money than Wayne LaPierre has. Seriously. 

For everybody on that side of the gun control issue, the AR, the civilian version of the military's combat rifles–M-16, M-4, etc.–is an assault rifle. For everybody on the other side of that stance? There is not a whiff of anything that connects them to the Army or Marines now. 

Now? They are known as Modern Sporting Rifles.  

Every time one of the three hosts held one of these up, and they did it a lot, that was how they referred to them. Modern Sporting Rifles. 

Notice the spin? 

Just like "pro-choice," or "pro-life," are terms meant to convey to somebody that one's side of the debate is the the more benign and reasonable one, we field "assault" and "sporting." 

Both sides of the gun debate have bought a carload of lipstick for this pig. And Porky's make-up is transparently obvious no matter who applies it.

What's in a name? A rose would smell just as sweet by a different handle, right? Well, yeah, but if you called a rose"vulture vomit," probably fewer people would be growing, them or stopping to smell them.

Hey, Larry, nice vulture-vomit bush in the front yard there ...

Glaser Safety Slugs™ are probably more defendable in court than Heart Shredders™ even if they are ballistically identical. Black Talon™ ammo one day turned into Ranger SXT. (And the joke was, SXT stood for "same eXact Thing.) Cut somebody's carotids with a Death Ripper Tactical knife, that just sounds ever so much worse than if you use a Girl Scout Pocket Knife, even though the guy is just as dead ...

This debate over hardware is, much like other deeply-held beliefs, driven by the far left and right. The crazier and smaller the group, the louder it tends to be, and that about-to-fall-off-the edge polarization leaves, as often as not, the middle in a place that makes it hard to get comfortable, since the middle pisses off both yea and nay. 

The if-then options: 

A) If we let them take our Modern Sporting Rifles™, then next thing you know, they'll come for Grampa's .22 squirrel gun!

B) If you own a gun, then somebody is going to break in and steal it and murder a busload of children with it!

Really? Those are the only choices? 

The problem I see, as I have said here before, is that the left wing loons and the right wing nuts don't speak for most of us. And we have to decide what's best for us and stand on it, rather then allowing ourselves to be herded like sheep by either side. 

If you think that "responsible gun owner" is an oxymoron, or your T-shirt says "Pry my thirty round magazine from my cold dead fingers," you don't speak for me. Nor for most people who live where I live. 


William Adams said...

The thing that concerns me about gun control is implementation, and how easily it potentially makes an honest person a criminal.

If I shot at the range more frequently, I'd pretty much have to get a concealed weapons permit, so as to be certain of not being afoul of the law when a state of emergency is declared, which includes weather, 'cause it's illegal to have weapons in one's vehicle during such unless one has a permit. Most people ignore this, and in theory, returning home would be legal, but that requires a bit of understanding on the part of the police and more careful management of my routing than I want to deal with.

A magazine is just a box w/ a spring in it --- how does one prevent people from making them? What happens if one makes a firearm which takes one size of ammunition, but w/ a barrel swap can then take a smaller size and the magazine capacity increases w/ the smaller size? (that's my next gunsmithing project btw). How is the public made safer by outlawing things like the Marble Game Getter in a manageable barrel length?

John Browning's first fully automatic machine gun design was a converted lever action rifle --- conversion of pretty much any weapon to full auto verges on trivial (okay, I'll grant doing it safely / controllably is a bit more complex, but still, it's far easier than most people believe).

Steve Perry said...

That's the thing with laws -- pass one, then anybody who doesn't obey it, knowingly or not, is a criminal by definition. There are shitloads of statues that a lot of us break unknowingly every time we step outside; others we know and choose to break anyhow. Ever run a stop sign in your neighborhood when nobody is coming the other ways? Drive faster than the posted limits?

Hit the wrong button on your computer and you find yourself going places you didn't expect: A few years ago, "" took you to a porn site. (One might laugh and say, "Big surprise," but you get the point.)

Well, you know, criminals don't obey laws, so passing a new one won't help. (I used to argue from this stance myself, until the simple truth smacked me upside the head: Going that way means there's no point in making armed robbery or murder illegal, since scofflaws won't obey those rules, either.

True, the law doesn't stop crazy, but it gives you recourse when crazy steps up.

The lapse in logic is easy to see, and when you do, you can't go there any more. Do I think we have too many laws that regulate every breath we take? Absolutely. Would I get rid of them all? Of course not.

Locks mostly stop mostly honest people, but do you leave your house and car unlocked? Probably most of us don't, we make some effort to stop thieves.

Anarchy doesn't much work as a way to keep us civil, and most people will obey what they consider a reasonable law.

Sure, you can get a fabber and print your own magazines, all you need is a spring. You can also saw off a shotgun barrel, which is way easier.

Converting a semi- to full-auto isn't hard if you know how, but if you get caught you can be punished, and because it's easy doesn't make it legal.

So lines are drawn, and while some of us would draw them here and others there, the notion of laws is pretty well accepted by most people When it comes to regulation of killing machineries, where do you start?

William Adams said...

Why not identify the machines which kill more people than any others?

Fully 1/3rd of vehicle deaths are attributable to speed --- why not engineer vehicles so that it's impossible to exceed the maximum speed? (It's not inconceivable that in a modern car a governor could be tied into a GPS system and preclude going more than the posted speed limit.)

Each year several thousand people are killed on motorcycles --- why not outlaw them?

I don't want to argue slippery slope, I want a reasonable limit to government and a respecting of the rights enshrined in the first 10 ammendments --- the government which is strong enough to protect your from everything is strong enough to take everything from you.

We could start w/ an analysis of violent deaths in the U.S.:

- how many are by legally-owned firearms
- how many are stolen firearms
- how many are straw purchases of firearms
- how many are by people who are barred from owning firearms (felons, domestic violence, or under 21)
- how many are crimes of passion?
- how many are drug-related?
- gang-related?
- how many are w/ found objects?
- knives?
- how many are suicides?

Here's an image which attempts to put it into a perspective:

Britain is trying to outlaw kitchen knives, and Haiti is trying to track every plumbing fixture on the island so as to attempt to control weapons --- I don't see that that sort of thing is reasonable.

How is a belief in gun control differentiable from the belief that a woman found beaten, raped and strangled in an alley is somehow morally superior to the woman who has to explain to a police officer how her erstwhile attacker got that fatal hole in his anatomy.

Steve Perry said...

Every item on that .jpg -- save one -- has a primary function other than killing large numbers of people in a short amount of time. And cars and alcohol are regulated as to who can and can't use them. Yes, somebody with murderous intent can stab or whack somebody with a rock or club, but if you are sitting in a movie theater or in a classroom, the one that is going to do the most damage in the shortest amount of time is the one designed for that purpose.

No civilian needs a thirty-round magazine. They don't.

Civilians don't *need* assault rifles. Pardon me, "modern sporting rifles."

Just as we don't need tanks, rocket launchers, nor pocket nukes. I'm good with that amount of regulation.

And I'm the first to allow that a lot of things are illegal that shouldn't be, but if you are going to stand and hold your ground for thirty-round magazines, you simply don't have my support -- there's no demonstrated need for such things by civilians. There just isn't.

So why make this the last ditch?

As I have said before, in a perfect world, this wouldn't be a problem. People see guns as part of the problem and, in truth, they are. There's other stuff that needs to be addressed, but you can't shrug off guns as having no part of the problem. They do.

And if they take the high-cap magazines and assault rifles? Some of my hardware has to go away, too. But on balance? I can live with that.

The bullshit about nobility and rape? That's a straw man, I never said anything like that, nor would I. If somebody claims they can't defend themselves, or have fun shooting, or hunting unless they have an AR-15? I don't believe it.

Nobody has shown me any evidence to convince me. You don't believe it, either.

Will it fix the problem if the high-caps and black rifles go away? No. But people want to do something, and telling them we should put governors on cars and hard time for having three drinks and driving isn't doing to get you anything but the fish eye.

William Adams said...

While I'll accept that civilians don't need high capacity magazines, I don't see how one can argue that the militia shouldn't. It wasn't squirrel rifles which the British wanted to round up when they marched to Concord, but cannons and large quantities of powder. Moreover, I still don't see how one can make a good law (one which is simple, understandable and enforceable w/o complex gymnastics) which bans high capacity magazines:

- Congress shall pass no ex post facto laws --- so one can't legislate extent examples out of existence, or require that they all be collected and melted down
- they're a simple piece of metal, and as you note, one can just print one out w/ a 3D printer
- banning them bumps up against people collecting military weapons --- my father's collection was focused on having examples of every firearm which a family member had used while serving in the military

Feinstein's bill had an addendum listing a large number of weapons which were exempt --- who's to determine what gets on such an exemption list and why? How is it to be maintained?

Rather than troubling about symptoms, I'd really like to see some legislation addressed at the fundamental problems of society:

- effective mental health care (but w/ safeguards so that the cranky dowager isn't put away so the kids can grab her inheritance)
- a perception that justice is equally available to all and that one's address doesn't influence the result of dialing 911
- less work being necessary to provide for people's daily needs --- Marshall Brain takes an interesting look at this sort of thing in his novella _Manna_ ( ) --- why isn't there an effort to reduce the work week as was done in during the depression?

Steve Perry said...

You know, I don't disagree with any of that, Wm. I expect there will be some back-and-forth, and in truth, I don't see the feds passing squat any time soon.

Don't have the votes, and I don't see how they can get them unless there is some kind of wholesale slaughter with the military-style hardware.

The states will dick around and do what they do, and if you live in California, you need to lobby for a collector's exception, but nobody is doing things here in liberal Oregon.

Christopher Wayne said...

Mr. Perry, may I link this blog entry from my Facebook page.

Steve Perry said...

Sure, link away ...