I am taking a break from blogging … although, that was probably obvious since I haven’t posted in a while. I’m just sick of talking about politics and firearms and everything related to both that is currently going on in the country. No point in saying the same things everyone else has been saying. And I don’t really have anything else to write about that I don’t write about on Facebook.

You can still find me on Tumblr where I share the occasional post.

February 5, 2013 at 3:15 AM 3 comments


December 21, 2012 at 11:17 PM Leave a comment

We the People

A couple of days ago, I signed two petitions on the We the People page, this one, asking the President to support law-abiding gun owners, and another one about not reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, which is no longer on the page. Today, I received this message in my email as, I’m sure, has everyone else who signed the petition:

A Message from President Obama about Your Petition on Reducing Gun Violence

By Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden

In the days since the tragedy in Newtown, Americans from all over the country have called for action to deter mass shootings and reduce gun violence. Hundreds of thousands of you have signed petitions on We the People. I’m writing you today to thank you for speaking up, to update you on an important development, and to encourage you to continue engaging with the White House on this critical issue.


On Wednesday, the President outlined a series of first steps we can take to begin the work of ending this cycle of violence.This is what he said:

“We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.

But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.”

Vice President Biden has been asked to work with members of the Administration, Congress, and the general public to come up with a set of concrete policy proposals by next month — proposals the President intends to push swiftly. The President asked the Vice President to lead this effort in part because he wrote and passed the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in America. That bill included the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

As the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, I’m going to do everything I can to ensure we run a process that includes perspectives from all sides of the issue, which is why I wanted to respond to your petition myself. Two decades ago, as domestic policy adviser in the Clinton White House, I first worked with Joe Biden as he fought to enact the Crime Bill, the assault weapons ban, and the Brady Bill. I will never forget what a key role the voices of concerned citizens like you played in that vital process.

The President called on Congress to pass important legislation “banning the sale of military-style assault weapons,” “banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips,” and “requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.”

An issue this serious and complex isn’t going to be resolved with a single legislative proposal or policy prescription. And let’s be clear, any action we take will respect the Second Amendment. As the President said:

“Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.

But you know what, I am also betting that the majority — the vast majority — of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I’m willing to bet that they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas — that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone’s criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown — or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.”

The President said it best: “Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it’s going to require the help of the American people — it’s going to require all of you. If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans — mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals — and, yes, gun owners — standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of our kids.”

So let’s continue this conversation and get something meaningful done. If you have additional ideas and are interested in further engagement with the White House on this issue, please let us know and share your thoughts here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/share-your-thoughts-reducing-gun-violence

Thank you for speaking out and staying involved.

Since I’m not able to keep my mouth shut had meaningful thoughts to add to the discussion, I went to the link above and shared my thoughts regarding reducing gun violence and why reinstating the assault weapons ban would be utterly pointless. This is what I wrote, in case anyone would like ideas regarding what they could submit:

I read thoroughly the response I received in my email regarding the petition I signed, which was a petition to respect the rights of law-abiding firearms owners like myself instead of coming down with a bunch of “gun control” measures as a “quick fix” in response to the tragedy that occurred in Newtown.

Reading the response, I realize that the majority of our law makers do not understand the assault weapons ban, nor what it meant, nor what a “military-style assault weapon” is.

Make no mistake: the AWB has done NOTHING whatsoever to reduce firearms crime in the United States, something that FBI statistics consistently back up. The latest of those was released in 2011 and speaks for itself – less crimes have been committed with rifles of any kind than with shotguns, knives, and fists. Yet lawmakers continue to focus their efforts on “assault weapons.”

The assault weapons ban has done nothing except ban cosmetic features on firearms – which have nothing whatsoever to do with how the weapon functions. In effect, you’re telling law-abiding gun owners they can’t have a weapon that LOOKS scary, even if that weapon functions the exact same way than a weapon that looks less scary. That’s what the AWB did – it banned cosmetic features.

Fact is also, again based on FBI studies, that states and cities with the toughest gun laws, such as California, New York, and Chicago, have the highest gun-related crime and murder rates in the country, whereas states with more relaxed gun laws, such as Virginia, have seen a steady decline in gun-related and general violent crimes. This is not a coincidence – criminals will always be able to obtain firearms and it’s easier for a criminal to use that firearm to commit a crime where he or she knows that their victims are likely to be unarmed – which is true for areas with tough gun laws as well as so-called “gun free” zones. It is no accident that these mass shootings all take place in “gun free” zones, such as school campuses and malls.

The real problem our country is facing is one of mental health. We are too focused on making sure people are “rehabilitated” and “mainstreamed” instead of ensuring that they receive the treatment they need, which may and in some cases should, include institutionalization. We’re too focused on pandering to big pharmaceutical companies and medicating people with substances that can often cause them to become suicidal or homicidal. We’re too focused on placing a stigma on those with mental illness – we label them crazy, weak, damaged, and not worthy of our attention instead of ensuring they will be treated with dignity and will be taken care of.

As an Emergency Medical Technician, I see first-hand the damage that our broken health care system inflicts on people. Many people with mental illness go without treatment or without their medication because they cannot afford it. What’s more, hospitals are now reluctant to admit them as many are “frequent fliers”, requiring ongoing treatment that can often only be obtained through being admitted via the ER. Now that hospitals are being penalized for readmitting patients, these people will receive even less care than they previously have.

Banning firearms because they “look scary” will not fix the problem. It will anger hundreds of thousands and legal firearms owners, such as myself, who own these “assault rifles” for purposes of competitive and recreational shooting, hunting (yes, people do hunt with semi-automatic rifles), and self-defense and it will make no difference whatsoever to the criminals obtaining them illegally.

I ask you to consider just the last two big shootings, the one at Newtown and the one at the mall prior. In both cases, the firearms used in those crimes were legally owned by a person OTHER than the shooter from whom they had been stolen by the criminal who used them on their rampage. Why should law-abiding firearms owners be penalized for the actions of criminals, and why should an area that is such a small problem (less than 2% of all gun crime involves an “assault rifle“) take away the rights of the rest of the population to own these firearms they enjoy?

If you look at the facts and at the actual ban, are informed about what all the terminology means that’s being bandied about, you can not help but come to the conclusion that any proposed firearms bans or restrictions are nothing but a band-aid measure by an administration who wants to be seen as “doing something” but doesn’t want to tackle the real, serious, difficult issue of mental health and medical care in this country. Instead, you are choosing to pander to a small group of people opposed to firearms ownership of any kind, who are as vocal as they are uninformed.

I hope that you do the right thing.

December 21, 2012 at 7:22 PM 1 comment

Sandy Hook

I was not planning about Sandy Hook. However, the more I read the news reporting about what happened at the elementary school in Connecticut, and the more I see people forward emails and images purported to be from children at the school or celebrities, the more I feel the need to add my own two cents.

Sandy Hook was, without a doubt, an awful tragedy that placed a small Connecticut town previously known primarily for having the most dangerous intersection in the State, thanks to a large flag pole in the middle of an intersection, on the world map. Sandy Hook was a town where “such things don’t happen”, a place of safety only fifty miles from the big city (New York City).

In the wake of this tragedy, people are asking themselves many things. They ask how this could have happened and how we can ensure this will never happen again.

There is only one correct answer for how this happened and it has nothing to do with a loner, or violent video games, or shooting sports, or a disturbed mind. It happened because some people carry evil and they do evil things. And this is the best and only explanation anyone will ever be able to give.

The question of how we can ensure that this will never happen again is a much more difficult question. Many, reeling from the reporting of the last two days, want something to be done now and immediate – something like stricter gun laws that will keep firearms out of the hands of evil; things such as banning violent computer games; things such as restricting violent movies and TV programs; things such as zero tolerance policies. People want to see their politicians and elected officials do something, anything at all.

What people do not want to do is understand how this could have happened.

Like in modern medicine, we are often too focused on treating a symptom – in this case what inspired (for lack of a better term) the killer and what tools were available to him – instead of treating the disease. This was not a normal, healthy, happy kid. With no exceptions, anyone the news media has spoken to has described him as a quiet kid without any friends who kept to himself and was very uncomfortable being called on in class. He sat in the last row. He had no photo in the yearbook. Some people described him as having a personality disorder while others described him as having Asperger’s Symptom, a type of high-functioning autism. Some Asperger’s children are very violent. But even with the things that are known about him, it’s difficult for people to understand what may have caused him to commit this horrible crime. One can speculate, of course – many types of medications are linked to suicidal or even homicidal thoughts, for example. It’s possible he was on some of them. It’s possible something else was going on that nobody knew about it. I’m sure as the case will be dissected ad nauseam, more details will emerge.

Unlike information about the killer, one thing has very clearly emerged in the wake of this tragedy: that the media cares little about reporting facts once they have been verified and cares everything about being the first, the fastest, to report the breaking news as it happens second by second, regardless of whether the information is correct.

Directly in the aftermath of the shooting, the media, most notably CNN, reported that the killer was 24-year-old accountant Ryan Lanza from New Jersey, plastering photographs taken from his personal Facebook all over the news pages, even causing Facebook to delete the profile. Ryan’s crime? He wasn’t the shooter – he was being targeted by a media so intent on getting the latest information they didn’t check to make sure they had the right man. Ryan is the killer’s elder brother.

As most people get their information from the news media, and more commonly these days from the social media, a lot of people have reacted directly to what’s been written and posted – whether that information is factual or not. Ryan, who lives away from home and has nothing to do with his brother’s crime, has received death threats, has had his picture plastered across the Internet as the killer.

But, more importantly, there’s a segment of the population who is using the false or inaccurate reporting of this case, and similar ones, to immediately push an agenda against legal gun ownership.

To those people I have to say this: you are despicable to exploit such a tragedy to further your political agenda. You are especially despicable for relying on the shoddy media coverage to cite a horrific crime that would have not at all been prevented by tougher gun laws.

I will tell you why.

People have been saying that this killer would not have been able to commit these crimes if a couple of different safeguards had been in place: I have seen them asking on websites to have tougher background checks, a longer process to own handguns, a ban on assault weapons, a ban on any high-powered rifles, and a variety of other things.

The thing that should stand out most for anyone who has actually read the reporting, is that no tougher gun laws would have prevented this crime from happening. Period. Full stop.

The reason it would have made no difference is that the killer did not own or purchase any of the weapons he carried with him into this school. No system of background checks or permit process had failed.

As a matter of fact, the killer attempted to purchase a rifle several days prior to the shooting but was denied. He was denied because he did not want to wait the required 14-day period. Many people may be surprised about the 14-day waiting period. What people do not realize is that Connecticut is among the states that have the toughest gun laws in the US. Not only is there a waiting period to purchase any firearm, including a rifle, that extends beyond the time it ordinarily takes to complete and submit a background check to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), but there are additional requirements, such as extensive bans on certain types of weapons, and local permits that are obtained through, most commonly, the Chief of Police. In Connecticut, you can’t just go to the store and buy a gun.

All of the firearms that were used in this crime were legally owned, registered firearms. They belonged to the killer’s mother, Nancy Lanza, a shooting sports enthusiast who took her sons to the range and enjoyed “the art of shooting.” This may seem like an unusual thing to many people who have not grown up with firearms, but shooting sports are enjoyed by a huge amount of the population and are brought to youngsters across the country at local rod & gun clubs, in 4-H Shooting Sports, the Boy Scouts of America, and the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program, among many others. I wish I still had the link – maybe someone else can post it for me? – but studies have actually found that children involved in organized shooting sports have little to no involvement in crime, whether that be gangs, drugs, etc. (where guns are usually glorified).

I guess what it comes down to is this – people can, do, and will use a horrible tragedy such as this to use it for their own political gain, whether that’s to ban firearms or restrict their use. This case is an awful example because there were no firearms here that were illegal. No system had failed to pick up the killer’s mental instability. No background checks were too lax. No loop-holes needed to be closed.

An evil young man in Connecticut took firearms belonging to his mother and turned them on other people – first on his mother (who was still in bed), then on innocent people in an elementary school, and finally on himself. Whether he understood his actions or whether we can understand his reasoning is unlikely. Evil cannot be understood, nor can it be legislated.

Most people who truly mean well instead of pushing an agenda just want a difference to be made, but that difference doesn’t begin or end at gun control, banning violent games, or censoring television. That difference begins with parental responsibility and access to mental health care.

We live in a country where children routinely are drugged from everything from the common cold to being unable to sit still, from having headaches to being badly behaved brats. We, as a society, seek to diagnose and medicate instead of looking for a true fix. Nowhere is this more true than in the mental health field where there’s a stigma associated with any kind of treatment sought or requested – people seeking help for depression are painted as “sad” and “unhappy” when it’s much deeper than that. Soldiers seeking treatment for PTSD are seen as “weak” and “damaged” by their superiors at best, a “danger” to themselves or others at worst. When attitudes about mental health change and people receive the treatment they need, rather than the drug of the day, maybe then we’ll have set into effect useful, helpful change.

There is no quick fix for Sandy Hook. But what fixes there come and are built upon must start with mental health care, and with parental responsibility, which includes the responsibility to ensure that they receive the necessary care. (Something Nancy Lanza did not due, according to friend Dan Holmes.) They do not start with banning firearms.

December 16, 2012 at 2:39 AM 1 comment

Thanks for the Reminder

I was reminded today why I haven’t ordered from the Exchange Online (formerly the AAFES website) in a very long time: it’s because the entire process fucking sucks and so does the customer service.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my local PX, which started carrying a lot of 5.11 Tactical clothing sometime last year after doing a test run and noticing that it tends to sell really well. For some reason, they’re unable to stock up on the sizes that sell out all of the time – for pants, those are 36″ waist with 32″ inseam. That rack is always empty in every style they carry.

I really liked the covert cargo pants they now sell and I needed another set of khakis, so I decided to try them on. They’re super-soft but a nice, durable material, and I really liked them – except the only length options in both the 36″ and 34″ waists are 30″, 34″, and 36″. So my options are either having pants that fit in the waist but are too short, or pants that fit in the waist and are too long. Not a great option either way because I know I won’t wear them if they don’t fit right.

So it was the online mall to the rescue.

The way the Exchange Online is set up is this: there’s the actual Exchange catalog and website through which you can order. Any items you order through that are shipped directly from AAFES. (Or not, as in the case of my Air Force PT uniform – not only did it not ship because it wasn’t in stock, nobody ever bothered to send me an email saying, “Hey, the uniform you just paid $100 for? Yeah, we don’t have any of those and don’t know when we’ll get it again. So, like, maybe in a couple of months, ok?”) And then there’s what they call the Exchange Online Mall, which has Specialty Stores and Online Mall links. These go to special military-only pages accessibly only via the Exchange Mall where you can buy those products at a military discount. It includes businesses such as 5.11 Tactical, Danner, Brigade Quartermaster, etc.

I ordered a set of pants and a set of boots and waited. Orders filled this way tend to average about 10 days because AAFES takes your money, then places the order with the vendor, and then has the order shipped to you. They’re basically playing the middle man. Eventually, you get what you ordered. In my case, I got a perfectly fitting pair of pants and a too-big pair of boots. Okay, easy enough – return the boots for the correct size, right?

I went back to the 5.11 Tactical page on the Online Mall for a point of contact. Military-specific page, specific point of contact, right? Well, not really. The contact information listed on the page is actually for the Exchange Catalog section, not actually 5.11. I called them after an email to them went unanswered for two days. I explained why I’d called and they informed me I could just return the boots to my local PX, which would handle the refund, and then I could go ahead and order the right size via the Internet. Well, that seemed convenient – return them, get my money back. And I wouldn’t have to wait a week for them to ship back and all that.

So today, after a follow-up appointment at my doctor’s office, I headed to Fort Drum. I had a couple of things to accomplish that would take me in the general direction anyway, so it wasn’t far out of my way. I went to Customer Service with my box of boots and paperwork from the shipment and spent about half an hour waiting in line because everyone and their brother was sending Western Union moneygrams around the country yet nobody sending money apparently knows what forms to fill in and can’t be bothered to look before getting in line , and only one person at customer service apparently knows how to send it. Fine.

I eventually got my turn and explained the situation to the customer service representative. She inspected the boots – gotta make sure I haven’t worn them – and then the paperwork, and called the Exchange Catalog for information on how to handle the return. She got the necessary information from them and told me that it would take a little while to get it done, so I could browse the store and she’d call me when they were done. Okay. Off I went and about a half hour after that, I got called back … only to be told that they can’t do that type of return at the store at all and I’ll have to return them straight to 5.11 Tactical.

Having wasted an hour and a trip to the PX to find out I couldn’t return them there even though the Exchange people were the ones who sent me there in the first place didn’t really put me into a pleasant mood, but I had the good sense to take a deep breath before expressing that this didn’t exactly surprise me at all and taking my boots back home.

Luckily, 5.11 Tactical has excellent customer service. I spoke to them on the phone for probably five minutes and they’ve already emailed me a return shipping slip to send the boots back for free via FedEx, and they’ve already put a pair aside in what will hopefully turn out to be the correct fit.

As far as I’m concerned, AAFES’ customer service can go pound sand. It’s all they’re good for, anyway.

December 14, 2012 at 7:44 PM Leave a comment

On Gun Reporting

One major gripe I have had with news reporting for some time is that much of it seems more emotion-based, trying to elicit a reaction from the readers and viewers, than reporting-based, trying to convey the facts of a story. The majority of news stories these days seem to be more about the reporter (or the station) pushing their viewpoint of what happened, rather than taking the stance of the impartial observer who is reporting the facts, especially when there’s more than one side to the story.

This recent article about a Sheriff’s deputy who shot a shoplifter is one example of the story.

If you read through the story, you’ll find that it is very difficult to pick the actual facts from the emotional narrative. Let’s just look at the headline: “Walmart security guard shoots ‘shoplifting’ mother dead in parking lot as she tries to escape with two young children.

In just the headline and the three subtitles below that, the author makes it very clear where he stands. Instead of pointing out that the shooter was a uniformed Sheriffs Deputy, he calls him a security guard, implying to the readers that this is some local yokel with minimal, if any, training who has no business carrying a firearm. He portrays the woman as not-really-a-shoplifter by putting the word shoplifting into quotation marks and identifying her first and foremost as a mother. Never mind that she was watched shoplifting and had been previously convicted of such, which is mentioned at the end of the article. He also makes a big deal about children being in the car but does not point out that these were not her children and that they had apparently been left inside the vehicle the entire time.

Picking out just the facts from the narrative, here’s what I came up with as the nuts and bolts of the story: Walmart security watched the three women stuffing items into their purses and informed the Sheriffs deputy. He was in uniform and also identified himself as a law enforcement officer when he tried to stop the women as they were leaving the store. As he tried to stop them, one woman struck him with her purse, then all three of them ran from the store and to the vehicle. The officer followed them and grabbed for the unlocked door, opening it and telling the driver to get out of the car. Instead, she put the vehicle in reverse, attempting to run him over, and then sped away as he fired a shot at the car.

I asked a law enforcement friend, himself a Sheriffs Deputy, what he thought about this case. He said: “Most years there are more officer deaths from automobiles than guns. She attempted deadly force first to avoid a charge that is little more than a ticket (unless she had outstanding warrants or was on probation). The officer used deadly force effectively and with good justification.”

I tend to agree with this.

I love how some of the facts are buried in the story, particularly toward the very bottom. Facts like: this woman should have never been inside any Walmart store because she’s been banned after being previously caught shoplifting this very same year. Or that the children were not her children and were apparently inside the vehicle in the parking lot the whole time. Or how about the fact that after she was shot, her friends drove all the way back to their apartment complex before bothering to call for an ambulance to help her.

However, it’s very obvious from the article’s wording that the author is trying to take a specific stance, which is additionally reinforced by the choice of photographs – several of the woman who died and several of her crying mother. It’s also obvious that this seems to work on a lot of people who read the article and commented – half of them appear to believe that the police officer was a “rent-a-cop” security guard or that the children in the vehicle were those of the woman killed.

Another example of how reporting is used to sway opinion is this article from the Associated Press.

The article is titled: “Boy, 7, shot to death at Pa. gun store” and subtitled, “Joseph V. Loughrey, 44, of Sharpsville, was getting into the truck when the 9mm handgun discharged.”

It’s clear that the author of this article has an agenda in the way he is writing because he always makes the handgun the cause of the shooting. He writes that “the handgun discharged,” that “it went off while he was holding it”, that “he reached to put it into the center console when it fired.” But the fact is that handguns and firearms in general don’t just fire by themselves. A gun itself is not a dangerous thing, nor is it a sentient being that chooses when to fire or go off – it requires someone to make it dangerous and to do something that causes it to fire. It’s not difficult to make a gun dangerous – it’s made dangerous because someone loads it, takes off the safety, doesn’t keep his finger off the trigger. And it fires because a round is chambered, the safety is off, and someone or something causes the trigger to be pulled.

There are many things that have to fail in order to make a handgun a dangerous thing and in order for a tragedy like this one to happen. In this case, we have a father whose inattentiveness and lack of safe firearms handling knowledge caused his own son’s death. It was not the firearm. It was a number of things this man failed at: his weapon was loaded, it was not on safe, and it was not pointed in a safe direction when he was handling it.

What makes this particularly unforgivable is the fact that there’s no reason this weapon should have been loaded at all – he was not carrying it for self-defense, where carrying it loaded would have been explainable. Instead, he’d brought it to a gun shop to sell it. Yet a round was loaded – why was this weapon not without a magazine, with the chamber cleared, before it ever entered the store? You don’t carry a loaded firearm into a store to sell it!

And even if it was loaded – there are plenty of ways to safely carry a loaded firearm. Tens of thousands of concealed carry permit holders do it daily. They ensure there’s not a round chambered and that their weapon is placed on safe: two basic fundamentals of firearms ownership and handling.

Yet the news reporter is blaming only the firearm and not the father for the fact that this little boy was shot and killed. Heck, it even reads as if the author is blaming the gun shop for the boy’s death – why else would he even mention it, considering the boy was killed in the parking lot and by his father, and this really doesn’t have anything at all to do with the gun shop.

I don’t believe labeling an incident like this as an “accidental shooting” is accurate. An accident is when a mechanism fails – like when a safety does not work, or a firearm blows up in your face due to a mechanical malfunction of some kind. When you’ve got a loaded weapon, off safe, and cause the trigger to be pulled, that’s negligence. This was no accidental shooting, it was a negligent shooting, and this father is going to have to live with it. Had his shot killed someone else – would he be charged with manslaughter? He certainly could be.

There’s honestly nothing difficult about firearms safety. Keep it unloaded when it’s not on use, keep it on safe, keep your finger off the trigger. If you can not be bothered to learn about gun safety and adhere to basic safety rules whenever you are handling any firearm, please do the world a favor and don’t own one. Safe handling would have 100% prevented this tragic incident.

December 10, 2012 at 11:50 PM Leave a comment

A Gun Rant

A reenactor friend of mine recently shared this graphic on his Facebook page and I shared it on mine.

The numbers on this graphic come from an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, a Virginia Newspaper, and are originally from a study done by Professor Thomas Baker of the Virginia Commonwealth University, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory. Baker found that even though gun sales steadily increased over the last six years, the amount of time his study spanned, gun-related crimes have dropped. Therefore, he argues, the suggestion that more guns mean more crime is a fallacy.

After I posted this graphic to my Facebook page, I was reminded why adding people from high school out of a sense of nostalgia and reconnecting was a stupid idea. After all, if I had nothing in common with these people in high school and didn’t consider them friends then – which would be all but a handful of people I went to school with – what made me think I’d have anything at all in common with them now?

One of them posted: “This doesn’t have anything to do with freedom and especially nothing with security. Even if those numbers were accurate, how has the number of wounded and dead developed since those 73% have been permitted to wildly shoot around?”

This was someone who has never been able to find that filter between his brain and his fingers and who holds strong opinions about gun ownership that are based on a history of having grown up in a very left-wing family in very left-wing Germany and who has categorically rejected anything American, anything military, and anything to do with firearms. Obviously, his opinion is a little skewed, which doesn’t really explain the fact that he felt the need to share it on my Facebook page. When I read friends’ posts that I don’t agree with (and there are quite a few), I don’t feel the need to post rude comments to their Facebook pages. I just ignore them. Some people can’t tell the difference between their page and other peoples’ pages and just have to open their mouths.

What really gets me is this: the graphic made no mention whatsoever of either freedom or gun rights. It only stated a simple fact: that while gun ownership rose immensely over the past six years, violent crime fell. These numbers can be very easily verified with a little bit of research, like in the article linked above. Of course, those who know me know that I very rarely post or forward anything, particularly anything citing statistics, unless I have been able to first verify it. (I’m sure it’s happened once or twice, but I make an effort to verify before I post.)

Statistically we also know that the majority of places that have very strict gun laws, like Chicago, New York City, and California, have much higher rates of gun crime and violent crime than places that have less strict gun laws. Washington, DC is a more dangerous place than Richmond, Virginia – statistically.

Of course, the question of security or safety is a no-brainer. As a 5’5″ female, am I going to be safer from being mugged or raped if I am legally carrying a concealed weapon or if I am unarmed? Survey says – I am safer if I am armed. That pistol gives me a means to defend myself that does not depend on my size, weight, of physical ability. It puts me on equal footing, regardless of the size of my threat.

It’s also ignorant to assume – but par for the course for most who are categorically opposed to any kind of legal firearms ownership – that owning a firearm means you’re going to “shoot wildly” at things any time you get a chance, or that you’ll whip your firearm out just any old time. Where does this sort of logic come from? I have never pulled a firearm on another person. In the everyday scheme of things, my guns are for putting holes into paper. (Which, I might add, is a very enjoyable, relaxing, fun sport.) If there is ever a direct threat to my life or that of my family or friends, they will be used for the direct preservation of that life. Period.

This exchange has made me realize once again that the anti-gun crowd has only one argument to make: that they believe anyone who owns firearms is a stupid redneck who cannot be trusted to handle a simple tool, like a gun, safely and probably should not be allowed to own guns, cars, reproduce, or do anything else, for that matter, without direct supervision of someone who can be trusted. The idea that a firearms owner could be a safe, well-educated, intelligent person who carries their firearm concealed without harming anyone has never occurred to them.

Yet nearly half of all households in the United States own firearms – you’d think gun crimes, unintentional shootings, and general rampaging would be a bigger problem based on the way the anti-gun crowd likes to portray firearms owners. The thing is, these people completely ignore facts and make an emotional “guns are bad, mmmkay” argument to support their agenda, then get offended when people present them with facts (“But they’re all skewed!”), making any attempt of education a moot point.

As for me, there’s always that UNFRIEND button.

December 6, 2012 at 4:16 AM 2 comments

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