Rare Arms

Culture, Justice, Media, Plus ça change motherfuckers, War and Politics

Second Amendment jurisprudence is high on the list of the great national embarrassments foisted upon us by our embarrassing federal judiciary, who continually accept the ahistorical interpretations of people who actually claim that a Constitutional government enshrines the right to armed insurrection against itself. Not even the framers, who had actually and recently fought in a revolution, imagined it meant such a thing, but here we are. America’s quasi-religious fetish for its own Constitution is in any event a strange national obsession. The Constitution is a hash of archaic bylaws whose principal strength is that it’s so vague and badly worded that it can mean whatever we need it to mean at any given time. “A well regulated…”

Well, gun advocates have done nothing if not given us a pithy slogan expressing exactly how incoherent they are: guns don’t kill people; people kill people. This is like saying cars don’t drive on roads or hammers don’t pound in nails. That a tool requires an operator to do its work begs the question. Guns were made to kill things, people chiefly among them. They’re a very good tool for this purpose. It’s possible to nail wood together without a hammer, but much easier with one; it’s possible to commute 30 miles to work without an internal combustion vehicle, but not easy; it’s possible to kill a whole lot of people all at once without a gun, but crossbows and broadswords do lack individual efficiency. Guns are machines for killing, and they kill a lot of people.

Refocusing from the implement to the actor also lends itself to our current absurd scapegoating, in which “mental illness,” never specifically defined, becomes a legitimate target for legislative intervention; Congresscreatures publicly imagine they can legislate sanity, and yet they can’t conceive regulating the purchase and ownership of an industrial product. How a nation that requires a $25 co-pay for a blood pressure and reflex test that you have to wait five months to book intends to provide universal, ongoing, robust psychological care to its 300 million souls, many millions of whom don’t have sufficient insurance and are therefore on the hook for more like $150 if they ever want to visit a regular old doctor, is unclear. Meanwhile, much of the gun violence in the country—not the mass shootings of white people that make the news, but the daily killings of one here, two there in places like Chicago—isn’t a question of mental health, not as the gun debate defines it anyway.

But. There is a kind of moral credulousness on the part of the Nice Liberal critics of our national gun culture, and there’s something intolerably amoral about a politician like Barack Obama assuming a pose of high moral dudgeon to snipe at conservative gun rights advocates while he presides over, among other atrocities, the bombing of a neutral hospital—literally, a war crime. (And the bombing of the MSF hospital is just one war crime among many; we just happen to note it because its victims are Western, professional, media-savvy, and English-fluent.) This isn’t cheap whataboutism; if you ask how we can be such a violent society and exclude sixty years of uninterrupted global warfare from your analysis, then your crass factionalism is showing.

It’s true: blaming domestic gun deaths on America’s violent, aggressive imperialism is a little like blaming it on mental illness; it identifies an approximate rather than a proximate cause and spins its wheels wildly away from a practical mechanism for mitigating the problem here and now. I do, however, wish that those who advocate for stricter gun control in this country would evince a more convincing and universal pacifism, rather than crying out in passionate horror each time some nut shoots up an elementary school but merely regretting each time their president blows one up.

21 thoughts on “Rare Arms

  1. yes! just as sexual predators are pornsick products of rape culture, murderers may well be products of a war-hungry, authoritarian death cult.

    the gun controllers focus on mass shootings, combined with the politicians’ calling “mental health” each time will prolly result in an incremental victory for both gun controllers and the powerful in the form of restricting gun access for people with certain mental health diagnoses. like the surge of school kids being labeled with ODD and other anti-authoritarian ‘disorders’ these days.

  2. It’s true: blaming domestic gun deaths on America’s violent, aggressive imperialism is a little like blaming it on mental illness; it identifies an approximate rather than a proximate cause

    I think you do your thesis too little credit. America’s military-industrial complex supplies and demands a lot of weapons. Those weapons have to go somewhere – why not into the consumer market? Give every householder a hammer and let them decide what is or isn’t a nail.

    I’m 1/3 of the way through a popular history of Glock’s dominance of the American handgun market, and it’s acted as a useful lens. The Glock started as a dark horse entrant for the Austrian army’s sidearm, submitted by a knife manufacturer with a defense contract. Market forces then guided the Glock into the rest of the European market, then the American law enforcement community, then the consumer market. It’s now one of the most prevalent handguns in America, due to its incredible cheapness.

    Say’s Law tells us supply creates its own demand.

  3. Of course you know this, but Liberals don’t really care about the victims of gun violence. Not even a little. That shit happens to Other People. The only thing they care about is taking every opportunity to lord it over Conservatives in the most self-righteous way possible. Mass gun violence provides such opportunities. Obama’s mass violence does not. Hence, Obama sermonizing about gun violence while simultaneously racking up his already impressive civilian body count by blowing away a hospital.

    It has nothing to do with morality and it never did. There is no morality. The only thing that matters is winning.

  4. as to the claim that a Constitutional government enshrines the right to armed insurrection against itself. LOL

    i prefer the claim that the reason China or Russia don’t invade the homeland is for fear of so many civilians with guns. i mean, that’s the same reason no military power would mess with, say, an Afghanistan, right?

  5. The funny thing about the Enshrined Insurrection myth is how soon after writing the constitution its author class went about putting down revolts. Do American history classes really skip over the Whiskey, Shays, & Fries rebellions, or is there some “well, that’s different” hand waving going on?

    1. Mine (high school circa 2003, in a Gun Proud Town) didn’t skip the Whisky et al. rebellions. We, or I at least (at the time), rather admired them.
      Point of interest, maybe: the Framers are thought of (in that culture) as somewhat akin to Prophets or Pontiffs: the Special Documents are held to be inspired and more or less straight from God; but whatever the merely mortal writer said, wrote or did otherwise, is entirely fallible. So Washington need not be in the right, in putting down the Whisky rebellion.

  6. like when they haul your ass to the FEMA camp, the gun collection will stop them? people, like all of us, who have given up all their other freedoms thinking they are freedom’s last defense by clinging to their guns and GWB’s “goddam piece of paper” are all rather silly ain’t they? except they are clinging to something while most of the country just completely & blissfully caves, does cave, and is caving on the 1st amendment and everything else (many, truthfully, are too harried to worry about it.)

    for which the gun nutters deserve a bit of credit. more than the fucking liberal whiny capitulating morons who say things like, “we regulate immigrants, why not guns?” (hell yeah. animate tools and all that. why not? we can have an immigrant buy back program. make it a crime for immigrants to file off their serial numbers. etc.) and only even know of hospitals being destroyed around the globe cuz some people “like them” happned to be in this particular hospital. they have no safety word for the “regulate me” fantasy play, as long as that “me” is someone else. “oh, god, regulate, please regulate! regulate while i watch! screen them, god please, screen them till i…” well, you get the idea. and we are rather Soviet about this mental health thing, aren’t we? “a well-regulated psyche, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to state-mandated & state-regulated mental health care,.” etc.

    curious: when hand gun deaths are reported, do these stats include cops? start your program of disarming the populace with the cops first, and i might get on board. investment in the State would make a liberal think you were in need of their mental health services for saying such a thing.

  7. guns don’t kill people; people kill people. This is like saying cars don’t drive on roads or hammers don’t pound in nails.

    No it is not, because (in general) killing people is a serious crime. Driving and pounding in nails are not crimes at all. The blame for nail-pounding is not an issue of public concern. The point of the saying is to focus our attention on the criminality required for crimes to happen.

    If we remove the criminality from the result of the gun-tool-use, then we have a parallel saying: guns don’t shoot targets, people shoot targets. Nobody cares.

    Or we might try to think of parallel sayings in which a tool is used in a crime. For example, cars don’t break speed limits, people break speed limits. Should we ban cars to enforce speed limit laws? Or Hammers and clubs don’t kill people, people do. Since hammers and clubs kill more people each year than rifles do, should we ban both of them?

    1. “If we remove the criminality from the result of the gun-tool-use”??? “the criminality required for crimes to happen”??? probably easier to remove the tool or the criminal than the criminality. easier to scan for at the airport too. and sometimes driving is a crime. so is all that pounding & hammering & driving.

  8. Every time I hear the “violent, aggressive imperial power” thing, I’m overcome by the urge to ask: Compared to whom? Has there ever been a gentler imperial power than postwar America? I can’t think of one. Europe’s own history renders its modern kibbitzing particularly ironic; I’m quite confident the Swedes would do no better as a superpower even today. The job carries certain exigencies, and somebody’s gotta do it — nature abhors a power vacuum. Let’s see how the next guy does before we start kicking ourselves too hard.

  9. There were several secret psychoanalytic frameworks of fascism, including by Carl Jung and Wilhelm Reich. Jung was called a Nazi, and Reich was too much of a grungey maniac for anyone to take his writing seriously, although having his library destroyed didn’t help him either.

  10. “Sunstein go away today, I don’t feel much like dancing,
    Some man’s come he’s trying to run my life, don’t know what he’s asking,
    He says guns ain’t in the Bill of Rights, don’t know where he’s going,
    Abortions are, and so are queers? He got cards he ain’t showing…”

  11. Univ of TX gonna have open carry laws on campus next year. Liberal non-gun owners will happily staff the bureaucracies required to register, surveil, monitor, provide mental health screenings for, man the metal detectors/checkpoints for, etc., etc., all the new & old gun crazy conservatives out there. more & more areas of society will come to resemble our schools, military and prisons. maybe this is the plan? but, hey, we can compensate by fingering our glocks. or fingering for uncle sam those of us fingering our glocks.

  12. The logical crazies of the pro-gun folk are too numerous to count (ditto the anti-guns, while we’re at it) but my favorite by far is the notion that we are exactly at the point where we can adequately protect ourselves. The fine line between totalitarianism and freedom is preventing the banning assault rifles. Thank god the insurgents won’t need rockets or tanks or any of the other already completely illegal things!

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