Guns Are Making Us Less Free

So far, the aftermath of the Aurora tragedy has followed the usual trajectory. One difference is that I haven’t heard anyone suggest that if we had just posted the Ten Commandments in the movie theater, this tragedy would never have happened. Although maybe someone said that and I missed it.

I hear people carping about the TSA security procedures at airports. Well, just wait. In New York City it’s common to have to walk through a metal detector to enter many office buildings. Lots of schools have metal detectors now, I understand, as well as courthouses and other public buildings. If we keep going down this road, the day may come when people have to empty their pockets and go through a detector just to enter a mall or a movie theater.

The theory on the Right is that lots of guns in the hands of citizens protect our freedoms. Seems to me it’s turning us into a kind of bizarro police state, where our freedom to go where we want to go may be restricted for the sake of security. That’s freedom?

I take the President didn’t say a word about guns in his remarks on the shooting yesterday. The political reality is that guns have become the real third rail of politics. Whatever his personal beliefs are on gun control, President Obama doesn’t dare even mention guns, especially with an election looming. That’s freedom?

I’ve written before that the NRA is going around pushing whackjob state gun laws that are contrary to the will of the people in that state. But the state legislators don’t dare say no to the NRA. That’s freedom?

The fact is, there is a strong correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of gun fatalities in the U.S. And “stand your ground” laws have led to an increase in homicides. That’s freedom?

In some parts of the country, such as New York City, most people don’t think it’s a good idea to let anyone carry a concealed weapon anywhere he wants. We don’t need shoot-outs on crowded subway cars, thanks much. But if the NRA had its way, concealed carry would be lawful in New York, and the people of New York wouldn’t have anything to say about it. And you might as well retire the metal detectors, because the NRA will see to it that people can lawfully carry concealed weapons anywhere they want. Our life or death will depend on the mental health of the people around us.

That’s freedom?

The fact is, more guns in circulation and fewer restrictions on guns purchases and carrying puts the public at a higher risk of gun violence, which little by little is causing us to rely on security measures that restrict our freedom of movement. Thanks loads, NRA.

Here’s a nice background article on the history of guns in America. Did you know that in the 19th century it was common for guns to be outlawed within city limits, and no one complained about their rights being violated?

27 thoughts on “Guns Are Making Us Less Free

  1. I think they “misremember” – the old saying was, “The price of freedom, is vigilance.”

    I think they read that as, “The price of freedom, is vigilantism.”

  2. I thought about this after I posted a comment to the “Aliens” piece…

    It makes a conservative’s skin crawl to even think about “being together” – as Al Green and Obama sang – with these people. This is why they are perfectly serious in pitching Obama singing this song, as a retort to the “America” ad, which, to them, is all about the glories of their particular tribe.

    What does this have to do with guns? In the conservative’s fearful mind, the only way they’ll ever be free is to have guns so they can wipe out any perceived threat. They’re too psychologically unaware (or damaged) to realize that these fears are exaggerated and are entirely in their own minds. Or that there might be a better way to deal with reality than this fear based approach.

    We live in a time (called the dwapara yuga), one of whose characteristics is that distance (space) is abolished, and nobody is safe. We used to be protected by vast oceans that took weeks or months to cross, but: missiles, internet viruses, cyber-attacks, financial speculators can breach these former barriers, almost instantly.

    Another characteristic of this age, is that the individual gains much more power. The USA, with it’s emphasis on individual freedoms, was the first country born in this age, and epitomizes it. This guy in Aurora Colorado is an example of this individual freedom and power gone awry, and so is Osama bin Laden, in his ability to take down entire empires, the USSR and now the US. Neither of these people could’ve had the impact they did, without modern day technology.

    In response to this, individual people and communities and entire countries, armor up. The anti-virus software on your computer is an example. The gated communities that surround larger cities are also examples. So are power door locks and windows on your car, now commonplace. The increasing ability of people to spend most of their lives in their own protected cocoon – communicating with the outside world via the internet, is another disturbing example.

    There are really two paths ahead, that are becoming ever more stark in contrast – the conservative fear response, which is to hide behind their walls in fear with their guns (some “freedom”, as you point out), or the approach of love, “let’s get together” – which absolutely terrifies conservatives. Because humans are social animals, and we will do a lot of strange, unconscious things in order to relate to other human beings (even fly airplane-bombs into buildings, or blast away in a packed movie theater), the conservative approach, while seemingly safe on its face, is really the path toward death. The approach of love, while on the face dangerous and foolhardy, is really the only thing that will ultimately work.

  3. “the approach of love, while on the face dangerous and foolhardy, is really the only thing that will ultimately work.”
    The last guy who took that path got nailed to a big wooden cross. Oh, the irony!

    ‘seems to me that the big problem is young men with identity issues and easy access to guns. That and the glorification of military style weapons, violent video games, rampant stupidity, and disregard for life in general.
    I find it amusing that when defending ownership of assault (style) weapons, the arguement is they are no more deadly or powerful than others, but that’s not the point.
    I think a youthful male is far more likely to drive fast and furious in a hot sports car as opposed to mom’s Crown Victoria.
    I’d like to read a detailed analysis of the shooters in recent mass shootings. It seems like once the shock of these events wear out there is little, if any follow up.

  4. erinyes,
    Oh, there’s follow-up, alright.
    But, IT’S BY THE NRA!

    They’ll double-down on telling people that if MORE people were armed in that movie theater, that killer might have been stopped – or, at least, the carnage, lessened.
    And the fact that not even Dirty Harry would have been able to stop someone dressed head to toe in bullet-proof Kevlar attire. But that won’t matter to the Dirty Harry wanna-be’s, who figure they can out-shoot the shooter.

    And where we see carnage and death, the NRA will see opportunity and profits.
    They’ll tell gun-manufacturers that they need to make handguns with greater muzzle velocity, and bullet makers that they need more and cheaper armor-piercing bullets.

    And coming soon, to a WalMart, K-Mart, or Target near you:
    Bullet-proof clothing!

    Casually-styled for an evening at the movie theater, mall, or work.

    Children’s clothing will also be available for grades K-12, to thwart maniacs who want to shoot-up schools.

    And for those in corporate settings, Kevlar suits for men and women’s suits – perfect for outsourcing’s, lay-offs, and firings.

    And all, of course, with hidden gun pocket’s in shirts and pants, and hunting-knife sheath’s in socks and gloves – all available for everyone from tykes, to tycoons!
    But aren’t your loved ones worth it?
    What kind of a parent send off their child to school without bullet-proof clothing, a Glock or two, and a couple of sharp knives?
    And you don’t want your neighbors to know you’re a LIBERAL, do you?

    And if you think I’m kidding about bullet-proof clothing, or think it’s a great idea and want to be the next great fashion trendsetter, and get loads of NRA sponsorship money – think again!
    It’s already being made:

    But don’t worry, soon this clothing will be available at a low enough cost for parents to buy at retail stores nationwide.

    Kevlar Clothing – “Don’t Leave Home Without It!” Also available in pajama’s, nightgowns, robes – and kiddie sleepwear, to ward-off home invasions.
    And soon enough, Victoria’s Secrets will come out with Kevlar naughty-wear, and torpedo-bra’s with a 22-caliber in each cup, and a sexy 6-shot magazine in each, to push that bra up.
    And for the men, ‘fully-loaded’ Kevlar boxers and briefs – leading dates to ask. ‘Is that a fully-loaded Colt with a large magazine in your drawers, or are you just happy to see me?’

    And the madness continues, unabated…

  5. Excellent comment moonbat. Absolute Freedom will end up leading to Absolute Slavery. We do this all the time in this country, because we are fearful that someone will take away my right as an individual to, really, do whatever the hell I want whenever I want. I’ll insist on my gun even though it will open the door for every lunatic to get one as well; IT’S MY RIGHT.

  6. I advocate a balanced rewrite of the 2nd amandment. There is a vast majority who believe as I do in the individual right to keep a weapon for self defense so a rewrite needs to affirm that without the current ambiguity about militias. There should be a clear list of grounds for lifting that right, felony conviction of a violent crime, mental incompetence. The most important provision of an amemdment would require anyone who gets a gun to learn how to use it, and understand the huge liability and responsibility that goes with that steel. The completion of training gets you a permit. Posession of a gun w/out a permit would be a federal crime. Last, selling guns would be regulated just like selling cars. You can’t buy or sell w/out a permit. There would be different classes of permits which restrict the ownership of assault weapons and could impose restrictions such as an appropriate locked storage unit. I would like the basic permit to be free, and allow the user one or two guns, low capacity mags, and/or hunting rifle. (A deer rifle doesn’t need a 24 round mag. The deer notices after the sound of the first shot. I have never heard of a hunter making a kill with a second shot if he missed with the first.) The cost of a permit for a gun nut would go up as would restrictions for education and storage. As with automobiles, if you buy and sell more than 4 in a year, you become a gun dealer, with a whole new load of restrictions.

    Bottom line – Constitutional amendment. Affirm the right of individual ownership. Educate gun owners. Require additional education and higher levels of permits for hi-cap weapons. Monitor the sale of all guns. Bans and prohibitions will not work. Education and regulation that won’t impinge on individual rights can work and can be sold to the public. (IMO)

    We will need a series of senseless massacres in close succession to lay the groundwork. I have no doubt that Obama’s reelection will trigger these. Replace the 2nd ammendment.

  7. Haven’t heard any calls for placing the The Commandments at movie theaters, but Rick Warren did blame the shooting on the teaching of evolution. “If you teach people they are no different from animals, they behave like animals.” Yadda yadda.

  8. Only animals carry guns, ohollern 🙂
    Or, rather, shoot them? Now I’m a bit confused.
    If I have to arm myself to go to the movies, I won’t be going to the movies.

  9. Never mind innocent kids, never mind innocent adults, never mind cops and emergency workers – I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we’ll get real gun control, is when people start shooting rich people and their bosses in the home, the streets, and their workplaces – and more than one politician at a time, like Congresswoman Giffords, who was a Democrat, and easily poo-poo’d by the right and the NRA because neither SHE nor nor her staff was packing heat.

    Also, let someone go into NRA HQ’s and shoot and kill a few dozen people, and we may hear them singing a different tune – I’m sure not everyone working there is packing heat – especially if the shooter is wearing full body-armor.

    Guns are too accessible for that NOT to start to happen sometime soon – especially if this economy gets worse, and people get more desperate.

    Believe me, I’m not advocating that.
    I’m just saying that until the rich and the politicians become targets for people with easy access to guns, and lax, if any, gun laws, the song will remain the same – a dirge.

  10. Pingback: Links 7/22/12 | Mike the Mad Biologist

  11. I don’t understand how I ought to feel more safe with MORE guns floating about rather than LESS guns.

    This idiotic logic (which is so deeply rooted in U.S. culture) is really just the promotion of out-and-out escalation: the odds are things will be only worse, and more dangerous with the greater availability of unregulated weapons– the same principle behind the nuclear arms race.

  12. w
    Well, the more piles of poop in the park, the better the odds of stepping in one.

  13. Good analogy, erinyes. The part about it being deeply rooted in the American culture – well, the culture I am from and live in today does not believe guns are an essential part of life. We are a large group as well – I have moved around and lived with various people and only rarely come up against this obsession with firearms.

    But I am very tired of trying to explain my point of view, online, to paranoids who do the equivalent at yelling at me, as if saying the same things over and over would make them somehow true.

  14. My random sampling from my redneck roots confirms the abundance of such logic. Don’t get me started. Uh-oh, too late.

    That sort of logic very quickly turns into justification for lawlessness. If we could all be little kings ourselves and mete out justice wherever and whenever we saw fit then… hey, isn’t that anarchy?

    “average people” need to go buy guns for protection but it’s the “average people” I’m worried about. Picking 100 “average people” (adults) at random in the USA will yield:

    – 1.1 will be schizophrenic
    – 2.6 will be bipolar
    – 6.7 will have a major depressive disorder
    – 14.8 will have personality disorders
    – 18.7 will have anxiety disorders (more among fox watchers)
    – 2.3 will have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders

    So it’s the so-called “average person” protecting is or herself that scares the bejesus outta me. I’m still waiting for a national “take your gun to school day.”

    The day everyone in the theatre is packin’ heat is the day I stop going to the movies. I’m afraid I might get caught in a cross-fire between the really crazy and the slightly less crazy who might not all be good shots.

    As long as guns = freedom to juvenile minds unable to see past themselves this is what we’re stuck with. I’ve contended as much in my discussions with those who see no solution to the gun problem other than more guns. And I’ve offerend them as proof of why the problem persists and why America cannot change.

  15. This is a quote from Bill Krystal, Fox propagandist. But read it.

    “People have a right to handguns and hunting rifles,” Kristol told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “I don’t think they have a right to semi-automatic, quasi-machine guns that can be used to shoot a hundred bullets at a time.”

    “And I actually think the Democrats are being foolish as they’re being cowardly,” he added. “I think there is more support for some moderate forms of gun control if they separated clearly from a desire to take away everyone’s handguns or rifles.”

  16. I cried over what happened in Colorado and other places. However, I believe in gun rights for those that LAWFULLY own guns, and we all would be better off if we had OPEN CARRY. Not ALL gun owners are conservatives. Not all gun owners are crazy. You need to understand those that want to do harm will do harm with or without guns..for that fact, then knives should be banned, martial arts should be banned, ok, cars and drunk drivers should be banned…where will the ban end to protect people. ACTUALLY, most gun owners are law abiding citizens that have guns to PROTECT THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR PROPERTY, AND THEIR COUNTRY IF CALLED UPON. These radical ideas that guns are bad isn’t the gun, it is the person behind the gun. I think I heard the news state that the government or the police had been watching this guy Colorado or something and in most police cases an ACT of whatever must take place before they can intervene, what is the logic in that, so are we going to have that freedom eroded for the act of one?

    • sha — no. The data tell us the more guns in circulation, the more gun deaths. Open, concealed, whatever. Guns don’t make you safer; they just give you the illusion of safety. Most gun owners may not be criminals, but that doesn’t mean they all make sensible decisions 100 percent of the time.

      The United States is a violent country. By some calculations our homicide rate is 20 times higher than that of other western countries. And I think the attitude that we all have to be armed against each other is a symptom of what’s really wrong. What are you afraid of, exactly? It’s that fear that’s killing us, restricting our freedom, and strangling our country.

  17. Doug,
    Feck Bill Kristol!
    “And I actually think the Democrats are being foolish as they’re being cowardly…”

    Yes Bill, but nowhere NEAR as cowardly as the Conservatives and Republicans.
    And, while the Democrats may be foolish, they’re not sociopathically inclined morons, like the party you support.

    If the Democrats have been an enabler for the NRA over the last decade or so, the Republicans have been their pushers for over three.

    This a one of those, “Only Nixon could have gone to China,” situations.
    The NRA’s propaganda, along with the bullsh*t on talk radio and FOX, and social wedge issues propagated there, are what has kept Republicans within sniffing distance of power in the last 8 years. Without them, they’d be a minority party supported by about 35-40% of Americans.

    So, Billy, don’t expect the Democrats, who’ve been crying “Wolf” about the NRA for decades, only to be eaten by those wolves, election year after election year, to try again – and certainly not during what is going to be one of the most divisive Election years since 1860.

    Why don’t the Republicans make some forms of limited gun control the first sane issue they’ve supported since Civil Rights? – going back to the days, Bill, when you were a child, and your parents looked at what you were becoming, and wondered if either the nurses at the hospital hadn’t either switched babies on them, or dropped you on your head several times?

    Stop speaking for Democrats, “Bloody Bill.” And speak for the party you have not only been a supporter of, but one of the key people who’ve led them down this path of insanity.
    You owe it to your father, who, like George Romney, and George H.W. Bush, were far better thinkers and men than the sad, sociopathic sons they spawned.
    Either that, or STFU!!!
    Because if it weren’t for Wingnut Welfare, “Bloody Bill,” you’d be on the lower end of the 99% – because you’re not fit to be the night janitor at at a
    some local bar – you’re too lazy, both physically, and intellectually, for that task.

  18. sha,
    “However, I believe in gun rights for those that LAWFULLY own guns, and we all would be better off if we had OPEN CARRY.”

    Yes, open carry is the solution to everything, isn’t it?
    Even in “The Wild West,” most towns DIDN’T allow open carry.
    What does THAT say?
    Even then, they knew the insanity of allowing armed citizens to walk their streets, go to their stores. bars, restaurants, theaters, bordello’s etc., was an open invitation to some argument escalating into a shoot-out.

    Right now, not only is there little to stop a lunatic, “lone gunman” from purchasing all sorts of weapons, including these assault rifles (which no one uses to assault a deer when hunting, because no one wants to pick bits of lead out of the ground venison what would be the result of using one of these guns for that purpose – these guns are only used to assault PEOPLE!), of all sorts of calibers, with unlimited access to bullets and “Super-sized” magazines – there NOTHING to prevent terrorists, even KNOWN ONES, from purchasing all of the guns that one of your law abiding citizens that you speak of, can.

    Yes, most gun owners are, thankfully, responsible.
    Let’s keep it that way.
    Keep access to guns and rifles limited to people who are licensed, skilled, and know the rules and laws.
    Right now, any imbecile, crazy or sane, can go out and buy whatever their little hearts desire. If not at a WalMart, or a gun store, then at a gun show, where cash talks, and the purchaser walks.

    My solution, if we can’t have sensible gun control, is a 500% tax on bullets – whose serial numbers MUST be registered. And, if “Supers-sized” magazines can’t be outlawed, how about a 1,000% tax on those.

    The 2nd Amendment talks about arms:
    “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.”

    It says nothing about bullets.

    Oh, and, let me ask, sha, what “well regulated Miltia” are you a member of?

  19. Sha, just go to YouTube and do a search for FAST FOOD RAGE. You will get over 1000 results. Now think over how many of those people should not have a gun or be near anybody carrying one they could grab.

    The Bill Krystal quote is truly disgusting, using that left-handed twist to make the Democrats at fault for NRA/Republican doings. If I ever have to depend on that virulently pro-gun crowd for anything, I don’t think it’ll be in a place I want to live. The fantasy of saving the nation with your own private arsenal is a joke, but the creates a persecuted believer group that uncritically accept the suuplied narrative of the manipulators.

  20. I haven’t posted here in a long time, but I have to point out that metal detectors are useless against this threat model – the nut can just shoot up the line at the metal detectors. They can be useful at an office entrance if the threat model is, someone will attack some specific person or office, but there is no evidence this nut actually was trying to get anyone specific. (The same is true at the airport, by the way – the TSA screening simply does not address the threat that people are worried about.)

  21. I can understand memorials for the departed but if it had been me I’d not want wasted tears. I’d want action. In the same way some families say to donate to some charity in place of flowers I’d ask that, if it were me, friends would find a politician who never supported a gun regulation and rip him or her a new one.

    Colbert played a mashup of pundits claiming that the gun issue is decided in America. Don’t you just love it when they tell us what to think?

    This seems symptomatic of a loss of faith in many things like community, our ability to change our laws and even affect elections. Why else would people choose to mete out their own justice whenever and wherever they want? It’s because they stopped believing in justice and protecting it when it’s threatened.

    I have a lot of friends for whom the only solution is more guns so I ask why they throw their own kids under the bus when they could buy a dainty little derringer that fits nicely in a child’s palm. They talk as if Daddy or Mommy’s gun can be everywhere all at once. So regardless of their inflated sense of deterrence their solution is no solution at all.

  22. Good point C-U. We invest so much in that which is not a reality for us because we have so little that is actually in our lives. Many manufacture sentiment because that’s the only way they’ll experience any.

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