Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guns and Ammo

Is anyone else nostalgic for the days when Columbine was a freak occurrence? These days, not a month can go by without some psychotic asshole going on a killing spree, trying to one-up last month's psychotic asshole with the horror and body count of his rampage. Its getting absolutely ridiculous (not that there's anything rational about mass killing to begin with). However, the fact that these scenes are becoming more prevalent offers a definite boon to some. Let's take a look at who the winners are every time something like this happens:

The Media

The media may be the biggest winner of all when somebody goes bat-shit. After all, its a guaranteed ratings boost. The scene is familiar to all of us: a break in regular programming, aerial views of crime scenes with dozens of police cars, tearful eyewitness testimony, etc, etc. Every news network has a vested interest in horrible, horrible things happening, and yet they have so painstakingly and meticulously crafted which terrible crimes deserve our attention. Drug related shooting? Local news. Gang war? Probably not even reported. Mexican drug cartels leave 33 headless bodies on a road to mark their territory? Time Magazine page 52. White man goes crazy and shoots a bunch of people? Cue the fucking President.

Of course the media stations, like any profitable business, are just going with what works. Maybe inner-city poverty/drug-related shootings are just out of vogue right now, I don't know, but its pretty plain to see the hypocrisy, and perhaps even racism inherent in this kind of reporting. If the media was really interested in treating all gun violence equally, they would have absolutely no problem filling their 24 hour news cycle every single day by simply re-broadcasting the police blotters in the capital cities of every state in the nation. But in our society, its expected that inner-city poor people are going to shoot each other to death, while the mass-murderer stands out as the inexplicable exception; worthy of endless debate, discussion, and air time. For this, and many more reasons, urban crime just isn't profitable to the news corporations, and so they've spared no expense to create a very lucrative niche for themselves. We'll watch the events unfolding, then we'll watch the eyewitness interviews. Then (provided the psycho hasn't killed himself), we'll watch the trial, and see the endless stream of googly-eyed mugshots. Then, because trials take a while, we'll forget about it until the sentencing, and then we'll tune back in to see how that plays out. Its a cycle destined to repeat itself until it is no longer economically viable, and there's not much anyone can do about it.

Its would violate the freedom of the press to say, pass a law telling them to limit coverage of mass killings. However, would such a law cut down on copycat killings? Of course it would. You can't copy something you don't know about. Would it cut down on the paranoia in this country? Of course it would. Even though we still lead the civilized world in gun homicides, its thousands of times more likely that if you are going to die soon, it will be because you ate too many hamburgers and got heart disease, smoked yourself to death, or were texting while driving. But no, we can't tell the media to stop doing this and still consider ourselves a free country. We just have to a) hope that someone at each of the major news networks grows a soul, realizes the damage they're doing by creating icons out of these people and fights to bring it to an end, or b) (much more likely) people eventually get psycho-killer overload and stop tuning in for hours every time this happens.

Make no mistake, the media makes celebrities out of these pieces of shit on purpose, which brings us to our next winners:

Fucking Psychopaths and Their Stupid Fucking Wanna-Be Psychopath Fanboys

There is now a clear path to victory for psycho assholes. Its not reaching out to family or society for psychiatric help, because lets face it, self-reflection and improvement takes effort, and who wants to do all that? Its much easier to buy an automatic weapon, walk into a public place and try to kill as many people as you can before offing yourself. You're guaranteed to be a superstar, and even though you won't be around to enjoy it, you won't have to face any of the consequences either, because you're dead.

But just like there are legions of fans out there for serial killers (you know, the fucking losers who write to them in prison about how they "love their work"), you can be damn sure that the next dick to shoot up a college or a mall was at home, glued to the TV set when the last one happened. Its a win-win situation for these idiots; they have nothing left to live for, psychiatrists are practically unaffordable, and there's really no more spectacular way to go out. Or at least that's what we as a society have shown them.

And finally, our third winner:

Weapons Manufacturers...?


Any press is good press, right? 

Actually, while was in the middle of writing this, I saw that the company that manufactures the above weapon, which was used in last week's shooting, is going under or being absorbed or something. I was set to go on about how the widespread coverage of the weapons used acts as free press for arms manufacturers, but apparently I stand corrected in this regard. I suppose in some extreme cases, like a school massacre, or an oil spill that ruins half an ocean, there can be serious consequences that actually affect a corporation's bottom line. So if your company's weapons are used to kill children in some other country, you're in the clear. Just make sure you're not on American soil.

Well, I guess that weapons manufacturers aren't always winners in these cases. But one thing that is certain is the media/social civil war of words that erupts over gun control every single fucking time this happens. And just like everything else in our culture of rapidly diminishing literacy, the same stupid circular arguments keep happening. So now I'm going to lay out my position.

Prone Position

I believe that Americans have the right to own guns. However, I also believe that this right is entirely symbolic in nature as opposed to functional. Yes, guns can be used for sporting, like target shooting or putting holes in the windshield of your uncle's old car. These things are fun, and we should have a right to do them. Guns can be used for hunting. Personally, I think hunting is bullshit, but if it makes you feel like a big man to kill something from 100 feet away with vastly superior technology for lulz, then I guess I begrudgingly accept your right to do that too.

The only other use that a gun has (besides maybe sitting on a mantlepiece to look impressive), is to kill or maim human beings. Whether it be in self defense or plotting a massacre, the fact remains that this is one of the 3 (3.5 if you count the mantlepiece) uses of a firearm. Scout leaders tell their troops that a gun is a tool, not a weapon, and yet it has no constructive purpose. Animal, man, or paper target, its purpose is to destroy. However, I maintain that we have a right as Americans to own them.

This does not mean we get a blank check. I also believe that every person who wants to own one should have to be initially certified and periodically re-certified in the safety, usage, and maintenance of firearms. After all, don't I have the right not to be accidentally shot in the face because Tommy Triggerjamm never bothered to learn where the safety was? Or because Supermale Familyprotectorman  left his .9mm in a Boscov's box at the bottom of the closet for his five year old kid to take to kindergarden? We're not a nation of plantation farmers anymore where you'd have to walk five miles to get to your third accidental shooting victim. Your actions/negligence have real world consequences for the people around you. This concept seems pretty basic to me. I've never heard anybody bitch that their God-given rights were being infringed on because they were required to pass a driving test to get a license. Its the same concept. You have control of a potentially deadly machine, you should legally need some fucking clue how to use it.

I hope to have established here that I definitely believe there is room for intelligent discourse about the gun control issue. However, the following arguments, which I see posted over and over and over and over and over again make me actually want to shoot myself:

"Banning guns won't do anything. The bad guys will get them anyway because they don't care about laws."

Are you fucking kidding me? What kind of stupid, bullshit argument is this? If making laws to keep certain weapons out of the hands of civilians "didn't do anything", how come there haven't been any attacks with RPG's? When was the last domestic massacre that was carried out with an Apache helicopter, or an unmanned fighter drone? Why aren't these psycho killers using briefcase nukes, or neutron bombs? Because they can't fucking get them. Banning weapons from civilian use makes them much more difficult to obtain, and cost prohibitive. See, that's the real key. If something is banned, the cost increases exponentially. Would people still be able to get assault weapons if they were banned? Yes. Some would. But it would be much more difficult.

I understand that crimes would still happen, I'm not a fucking idiot. But doesn't it just make some semblance of logical sense that we, as a society, should make it just a tiny bit more difficult for a guy to go to his mom's and borrow a weapon that shoots 30 rounds a second when he feels like going crazy on a whim like the Sandy Hook shooter did? Then people say "you're only punishing the law abiding citizens!" Oh really? Well keep this in mind: This fuckin guy was a "law abiding citizen" until the second he pulled the trigger. You can be a law abiding citizen and purchase an automatic, military grade rifle. You can be a law-abiding citizen as you drive into a school zone with that weapon in the trunk of your law-abiding car. In some states, you can freely brandish that weapon near said school and still be a law abiding citizen. Then, once you pull the trigger, and only then, you cease to be a law abiding citizen, but guess what... its already too late to punish you because you've already killed a dozen people, and you're just going to kill yourself anyway.

And furthermore, if you're going to use the argument that bad people will just do bad things anyway, why would we have any laws at all? You can't stop people from getting raped, so why is rape illegal? Rapists are just going to rape anyway, so why make it illegal? You can't stop kidnappers from kidnapping people or robbers from robbing, so lets just abolish all laws and the bad people will do bad things and the good people will just have to live with it. I'm sure all you "libertarians (read: anarchists) out there are cheering at this point, but for everyone else, this is where that train of logic leads. News flash: There's not many "good" people out there. That's why we built "society". It sets up consequences for people who decide they should be able to do whatever they want at the expense of others.

"Look at prohibition. That worked really well."

Shut the fuck up. I'm sure there are myriad causes why prohibition was revoked, but one big factor was the fact that you can make hooch in your fucking bathtub. If you know anybody who can build a .223 Bushmaster rifle in their garage, they're probably already employed in something much more lucrative, so good luck with that.

"We need weapons to protect us from the Government."

 Look, I'm no fan of tyranny. I know that around the world, people are terribly oppressed by cruel dictatorships. Fortunately for us, that's not here, not yet. Plenty of people love to dispute this, but let's look at the reality of the world. We have freedom of speech and the press, unlike China. Our president isn't shelling cities of civilians like in Syria.

But that doesn't mean it could never happen, and I wish that having access to high powered rifles could actually give us the security that we were forever safe from tyranny. But it doesn't, because for all your wishes, you still can't shoot down F-14 Tomcats with an M-16. You can't penetrate the armor of a tank. The fact is that our military has helicopters, airplanes, warships, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, the CIA, the FBI, JSOC, the NSA, and the dreaded Osprey.

Behold its wackiness, and tremble!

It spends more on defense each year than the next 26 countries combined. I'm sorry, but a loose affiliation of ex-moonshiners with automatic rifles isn't going to stop the US Military. The only way to defeat it would be if a large portion of the armed forces were to defect to a resistance movement, or if any such resistance were to be supplied by another superpower like China or Russia. The Mujahadeen were only able to kick out the Soviets out of Afghanistan because we provided them with $1,000,000,000 in advanced weaponry. They weren't taking out fighter jets from the back of trucks with AK-47s.

So in closing, there has to be a middle ground. We have the right to own weapons, but we should also have the ability to determine what is essential to our freedom, and what is fucking dangerous to the populace. There is always a fine line between freedom and safety, but when we can see the havoc that gun violence wreaks on this country on a monthly basis, something needs to be done.

Guns don't kill people, people do.
People with guns kill more people than people with no guns.
People with automatic rifles kill more people per minute than people with handguns, shotguns, or hunting rifles.

Its a simple question of numbers.