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self-revelation on politics

2004-06-30 21:25:24.559673+00 by Dan Lyke 31 comments

While it's easy for me to pile on to all the Bush hatin', as I listen to the various Kerry positions I keep having these twinges where I remember some of the badness that came out of the Clinton years. The Supreme Court strike to COPA (one of many bad Clinton era laws) reminded me that all was not sweetness and light.

But it was reading today's Mark Morford column on the (non?)renewal of the "assault weapons" ban after hearing Teri Gross interview Simon Sebag Montefiore about his book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar on Tuesday's drive up to Santa Rosa that I had a sudden reminder that put politics into perspective: Both sides still trust the notion of a powerful government. Whether it's the right wing wacko claiming "there's classified information that justifies this whole Iraq mess, you just don't know" or the left wing "if we just restrict the means of violence to the government we'll be fine", both sides place far too much trust in those processes executed by people just like us that we call authority.

[ related topics: Politics Books moron Civil Liberties Guns Mark Morford ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-06-30 22:51:50.955174+00 by: Shawn


#Comment Re: made: 2004-06-30 22:58:37.113693+00 by: ziffle

I wuz thinkin...

I suppose the idea of an AK47 out 'there' terrifies some people - but for me I feel safer knowing that those guns are available - moreover - I trust the guys who don't trust the government (and all that) - so the guns don't bother me at all.

In fact if we all carried them - well, I remember seeing people carrying guns through the airports - did not want to check them with the luggage cuz they might be damaged; and no one noticed - it was normal[Wiki]. There were no aircraft hijackings then - the bad guys would be killed on the spot and they knew it - hence - all was peaceful. People were polite!

So why is it 'they' don't want us to have guns? I have a theory - only those who see the need to take from some by force and give to others, like thieves or politicians or do gooders or altruists -- only they have something to fear because its they that want us to aquiesce and simply pay up - only those who would not want us to have a way to say - 'hell no' -- and back it up -- only they have some reason to fear a free people. So in the end its the thieves, whether elected or not, who want to stop guns. And having said that it seems so clear.

We must learn to 'ask' not 'tell' each other what we want, and only with gun ownership can we achieve that level of civilization.

Think I'll go shooting this weekend - ahh...

Ziffle of Mayberry

#Comment Re: made: 2004-06-30 23:45:16.268343+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'm not actually sure that more weapons on the street or in the airplane makes me immediately more safe, any more than more cars on the street makes me more safe. Although, clearly, cars are dangerous weapons.

But the more my sense of social dynamics evolves the more I believe that if you're going to count gun deaths in various countries against gun deaths in various other countries, you've got to do it over, say, a century or so.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 00:24:29.465251+00 by: Diane Reese

... the bad guys would be killed on the spot and they knew it

And those times when the over-zealous self-appointed militiaman killed an innocent bystander or was drunk and didn't use care with his weapon or misinterpreted something and killed a good guy whom he mistakenly thought to be a bad guy, well, we'll just have to learn to live with that level of collateral damage, is that right?

We must learn to 'ask' not 'tell' each other what we want, and only with gun ownership can we achieve that level of civilization.

Excuse me? I have no idea what you're trying to say here, but it seems to me somewhat incomprehensible. Care to elaborate?

So in the end its the thieves, whether elected or not, who want to stop guns. And having said that it seems so clear.

Thieves? Clear? Well, now I'm *sure* you and I reside on different mental planets. I would like to stop guns. I am not a thief. I ... Sigh, never mind, I shouldn't have said anything. This sort of thing reminds me of trying to debate a radical evangelical or eco-terrorist. I don't have enough energy anymore. Would anyone else care to join my presumed Wimp side of the argument so I don't feel so alone in Flutterby land?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 00:59:55.453812+00 by: Shawn

How about if I straddle the fence and provide input from both sides, as is my wont?

I think I understand the point Ziffle is trying to make with the ask/tell argument, but in my opinion it's so oversimplified as to be worthless. A gun is just a tool (as we gun nuts (yes I am, depending on who you ask) are fond of pointing out), but that argument cuts both ways. A gun can be used to back up the telling as easily as the asking.

Even setting aside the (pretty significant) point that we're not all agreed on the exact definition of "polite", I don't buy that an armed populous automatically makes a polite one. Fearful perhaps, but then we get into the old "ends justifies the means" concern.

Personally, as a start, I'd like to see a better training/licensing model. I had a concealed weapon permit at one time. All I had to do was submit to a background check (which I'm all for, by the way) - no training whatsoever. Years later I attended a training course for becoming an armed security guard (you have to prove approved training before you can carry a gun on the job). My primary thought throughout the class was "I should have gotten this information as a standard gun-carrying civilian" - which is really all an armed security guard is anyway.

But I think outright banning of gun ownership is far too draconian a proposal.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 01:32:14.879976+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

This thread also brought to mind a speech given at K's recent graduation ceremony, by Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. The title was "How Not To Get Indicted."

His point was that laws are the lowest common denominator baseline for our society. They are not a goal to aspire to (you should be shooting much higher), but rather the lowest bar - below which we say, "ok, you need to be punished now". I would ammend this to point out that this is what laws should be.

I find that the disagreements I have with those who denounce me for a Conservative (while the conservatives tell me I'm so open-minded as to have my brains falling out) boil down to this distinction. All of them (so far) have felt that laws should be enacted to bring about desired behavior - above and beyond the minimal bar.

It's about manipulation (although I imagine some will argue that amounts to theft of freedom) and, as Dan has pointed out, both parties are steeped in the belief in the "need" for it.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 01:40:56.820193+00 by: Larry Burton

>> I would like to stop guns. I am not a thief.

Diane, I don't believe you to be a thief nor do I believe you have anything but the best wishes for society in your desire to stop guns but...

You knew that was coming, didn't you.

... if by stopping guns you believe that my guns should be taken from me then how is that different from thievery?

It is my personal belief that any form of gun control should start on the local level and become less and less restrictive as it goes up to the federal level. In other words, I think my neighbors are more in the position to decide whether or not a gun strapped to my waist is appropriate than the rest of my state and my state is in a better position to decide how guns are sold in my state than the federal government.

It's also my personal belief that it is behavior that should be regulated and not things. It seems that both major parties believe otherwise, which, I think is what Dan was getting at to begin with.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 12:06:32.754113+00 by: meuon

I guess I need to jump in here.. First, my point of view is from a person with a rifle and pistol collection that includes 3 'assault rifles' (I like my Stainless Mini-14 with folding stock the best) and some good pistols, with my favorite being an H&K .45 Tactical with threaded barrel and a silencer (legal). I have also been involved in several shootings, at least twice being well armed saved my life, and worked hard to have the 'hood on E. Main and Central where I lived and worked, fear me. I have a concealed weapons permit, and practice at an indoor and several outdoor ranges (and often outshoot cops). - I am probably what Diane would refer to as a 'self-appointed militiaman'.

If guns are banned, as my collection and ownership is legal and registered, they'll come get mine (or I'll turn them in). They won't get the guy on 14th street (the 'hood) that had a sawed off shotgun down his pants and tried to rob me. They won't get the guy with the .38 that broke into the building when Deb and I were working late one night.. or the second one when all I had in my hand was the small pocketknife I was stripping wires with. They won't get the guy that tried to run me over in front of WorldCom at 1am. 15 rounds of 9mm will NOT stop a large old Buick, the cop said "Mike, you need a bigger gun", they did find the car a few blocks away overheated from the radiator draining from the holes...

And although I can go on and on for other reasons, I end up with a couple of other favorites: I want my government to fear us a little, I want other governments to fear us more.

What I am against is 'anyone' being able to buy a gun. Like a drivers license process (only much much harder), I think you should be required to pass written tests as well as practical ones with firearms. I meet people whom have yet to fire their pistol, and had no clue how to safely handle them, let alone the legal ramifications of actually carrying or using one.

And more on topic, I think my bumper sticker on my truck sums it up well: "Real Americans Question Authority" - But that does not mean we do not recognize it when appropriate.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 12:28:17.8911+00 by: polly

gun control? so, the general public should not be allowed to have a gun, yet, the bad guys can get a gun anytime they need one, so they can take whatever it is they are wanting by force?

i believe there are more "good guys" with guns/permits without using force than "bad guys" using guns with force. i don't believe that a gun is supposed to be used to "back up" a view, as suggested by shawn. a gun is for protection and as such should only be brought out when you are personally threatened. although, there have been instances that a private citizen, with a permit to carry, has come to the defense of innocents being threatened by a "bad guy" with a gun. i remember one incident in florida. people in a restaurant were threatened by a bad guy with a gun. as the bad guy was threatening people, and i believe, shot somone, a senior citizen shot the bad guy. after all the smoke cleared away, the senior citizen was hailed as a hero...end of story.

after being attacked by a man in the wal-mart shopping center parking lot, i went to a safety class, learned about my gun, the law, how/when to use it, and got my permit to carry. that was 3 years ago. i've never pulled it out to use on someone, and i will NEVER pull it out to make a point or as a show of force UNLESS i intend to shoot someone threatening me or trying to commit physical force upon my person.

i do wonder as to why someone would need an AK47 to protect themselves. it is not a user friendly gun that you can carry in your pants pocket or in your purse. it is definatly overkill as a method of protection when attempting to shoot someone in self defense. why would you need an AK47?

maybe we need a stricter/harsher judicial system when it comes to punishing the bad guy. now, the bad guy knows he is going to get out in A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME after doing the crime. my bad guy was given 3 years because he threatened me with a gun. he served LESS THAN eleven months. he is back on the street, probably still looking for extra child support money, the easy way. AND he knows that if he gets caught, he gets a warm bed, food regularly, a work out gym and lots of television. yippee, lets all break the law and get taken care of by the taxpayer, then do it all over again. there are a LOT of professional bad guys out there who have been "working" the system all their lives.

heck, bad democrats, bad republicans, they are all easily misled or misbehave once they are in office. they are just like us. i wonder how ralph nadar would act if he were president? presidential elections are just like playing the lottery. some win, some lose. we just hope for the best, straighten out the messes and move on.

by the way, any time a parking lot posts signs that say "security cameras in use", don't be fooled into a false feeling of being safe. those cameras are WORTHLESS after dark. the police CANNOT see a thing on them. they are only good during the day. beware.

ummm, mayberry, are you saying that if we disagree with the government that we just need to shoot them?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 14:09:04.547272+00 by: Shawn

I suggested no such thing. I said a gun can be used to back up a point of view - when inappropriately employed.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 14:24:06.362607+00 by: ziffle

Lets see-- Dan - the issue is not 'what makes it safe' but the rights of a free people. So more cars/ more guns is not the issue IMO.

Diane - "over-zealous self-appointed militiaman" this says something to me - it appears we are not talking about gun ownership but an emotion ... I have never met nor seen one of these - does California have them everywhere?

"We must learn to 'ask' not 'tell' each other what we want, and only with gun ownership can we achieve that level of civilization." This means others, and the government (being just a group of others) should ask us what we want and not tell us. Gun ownership by individuals levels the balance. Currently only the government has guns and they blythly pass laws taking from the citizens. The same issue existed in 1776, except all had guns - this led to the overthrow of the oppressive government. No I am not advocating overthrow. But an armed population is asked not told what to do.

And its the knowledge on the part of the government of 'what can they do if we pass a law they don't like -- nothing', which causes laws to be passed we don't like, like the Patriot Act.

And my contention is that those who are against gun onwership are ok with all the laws restricting freedom and they want the guns taken away because it makes it easier to continue those oppressive laws which take from some and give to others, without asking. It makes it all so much simpler to do.

Why do you want to stop guns?

Polly - ahhem - its 'Ziffle' (_of_ Mayberry) but anyway <g> --- no certainly no shooting the government. But a valid government would not pass laws we would have to disagree with. They would 'ask not tell' and there is no conflict, which is my point. So simple, yet profound.

In our over regulated world simple truths like this are hard to integrate bacause we adapt/adjust to the cradle to grave system that has evolved, but they are moral goals worth following. We would not presume to 'tell' our neighbours how to live, why should our government?


#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 15:44:30.751237+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ziffle, concepts of right and wrong hold no sway in the greater court of public opinion, history has gone to the tribe that people felt safest allying with. Using arguments of ethics over pragmatism sway only a small portion of the populace, and that portion will be wiped out when it comes to conflict because they'll actually fight fair. Yes, I've become that cynical realistic.

Diane, what drove my most recent realization home was noting that I'm very unhappy with the current administration; I think they're a bunch of thieves and crooks. If we ban weapons for the general populace, we are, essentially, limiting the ownership of weapons to thieves and crooks. And if we're going to compare collateral damage and attitudes about government to murders in other countries, I believe that we have to do that over the long haul, and if you do that Europe has a far higher gun death rate than the U.S.

As for collateral damage in general, far more random people are killed by the irresponsible waving automobiles around than by those brandishing guns.

Where my attitudes seem to be really moving is towards compulsory military service: That would base the military on a broader political sample than it's drawn from right now, give everyone a good education in gun safety, and make everyone more aware that government isn't a service that can simply be purchased.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 17:03:37.366067+00 by: topspin

ziffle, you're ridiculous. Your assumption that the US Govt fears an armed populace is nuts. Simply put, the US Govt is FAR, FAR better armed than any group of folks in world.

An armed populace, in the 1700s, could level the playing field. Should the US Govt become despotic and choose martial law for a city, they'll not be marching across the Lexington-Concord bridge in formation. They'll be bringing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and patrolling from the air with Apache Helicopters.

Professional soldiers likely respect folks with AK-47s, somewhat, but in the end.... 25mm guns firing 200rounds/minute deal with "small arms fire" nicely.... bring your Kevlar and watch it get shredded.... and what they can't handle the Hellfire missles can. 'Course, if there's a real "hot spot," nothing says "ass kickin'" like an angry AC-130 circling over your house firing a howitzer.

Yeah, go practice shooting, ziffle. Just understand that somewhere there's platoons of young men with much better weapons and support whose FULLTIME JOBS are to learn to kill folks in urban environments who fire at them. Once you fire on them, it will cease to be.... "Oh shit, I can't kill a fellow American...." and likely be "We're taking some light fire on our left flank. Neutralize it."

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 18:02:02.015587+00 by: meuon

Topspin, you are half-right. The US Govt DOES fear an armed populace, it's asset and threat is even part of basic training in the military. The problem is the same one we face in Iraq, winning the war is easy, occupying and controlling is another matter. The same goes for our own government if things get really bad.

Personally, I'll be voting in November but I sure wish I had better choices.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 18:11:51.813192+00 by: dexev

I agree with topspin. Seeing how easily we dealt with the armed populace of Iraq after we conquered that country, I realize how easy it would be for the US Government to supress an armed revolt in a country ten times that size. I don't think the fact that the soldiers will be fighting their friends and family will have any effect at all. No soldiers would desert and make their way back to fight with their communities -- they certainly wouldn't take all of the fancy weapons they could put their hands on. Soldiers aren't actually real people at all, just coldblooded, brainwashed killers. This is why there's just a smoking crater where the city of Baghdad used to be.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 18:22:20.979549+00 by: polly

dexev? which soldiers are you referring to "coldblooded, brainwashed killers"? i'm sure my brother who is an officer in the army would wonder who you were talking about, he is not coldblooded nor brainwashed. takes brains and logic to fly a blackhawk.

please clarify which or what soldiers you are referring to? thanks.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 18:38:46.390463+00 by: Dan Lyke

Polly, I believe that there was a heavy dose of satirical excess in dexev's tone there...

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 18:43:59.077932+00 by: Larry Burton

Polly, I read a whole lot of sarcasm in what dexev was writing. There is no smoking crater where Baghdad used to be. Baghdad is still standing.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 19:51:12.901853+00 by: ziffle

I read dexev as if he was serious at first - I see he is makiung the opposite point.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-01 20:26:38.312271+00 by: dexev

ahem...yes, sorry for the confusion. On a less caustic note, I'll leave this quote from Japanese Admiral Yamamoto during WWII:

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass."

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 00:57:41.152159+00 by: topspin

Would there be chaos in a "civil issue?" Yes. Would soldiers defect and take some equipment? Yes. Would some remain loyal and attack? Yes. For how long? That depends upon the manipulation of the situation by superiors.

What most of y'all choose to ignore is that just one or two Apaches and a Bradley or two can DEVASTATE the neighborhood in short order. Yes, yes, yes.... many soldiers would never fire on civilians here..... unless, of course, they could be persuaded they were terrorists OR.... and I truly believe this.... unless THEY WERE FIRED UPON BY CIVILIANS.

That's not politics, that's common sense. I've been a good friend of meuon's for years, but as soon as I start firing rounds at him, I'm betting he's gonna write his initials in my chest with hollow points.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 02:45:24.660634+00 by: Larry Burton

Topspin, it isn't about whether or not the civilians could win in this sort of situation it's that this sort of situation could occur as long as the civilians are armed. Politicians are always going to be politicians and a situation like we are talking about is one of their worst fears. Look at the heat the police took over the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia back in '85. Anytime there is an armed conflict between a group of US citizens and police authority there is some degree of a backlash. Politicians don't like backlash. So sure the military would win the battle but the politicians would end up losing the war because of it.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 14:58:30.066554+00 by: polly

as long as the US is a democracy and not a dictatorship, there will always be controversy, disagreement of politics and beliefs, how you raise your children and so on. i'd rather argue about what i believe in, tolerate what you believe in, and still carry my gun and enjoy freedom of speech.

after reading the articles about the "bombing of MOVE", i thought the group sounded like a bunch of hippies living in a commune. unfortunately for them, they weren't out in the desert or living in a part of philadelphia that could care less what they did in their home. i wonder why they thought they needed a bunker on top of their home if they were preaching back to nature, love, peace, and all that? or even why they had assault weapons? for such a small group, did they not realize that their firepower was a LOT smaller than the police's firepower? what a shame for the children who died...they sure didn't ask to be put there.

i believe that japanese admiral had it right..."a rifle behind every blade of grass".

civilians/soldiers firing on each other? i find that kind of hard to believe it would or could happen. local police? sure, happens all the time. a military branch of the US turning on the people it has pledged to protect? that is going to require a truly adverse situation. do you really think we would do that or go that far? we, the people of the US, would not allow it. not to mention what it would do for the US image to the world populace. puts us down on "their" level. i can't see us lowering ourselves to third world standards or jumping into a dictatorship/feudal government with armies to kill its people with (saddam, hitler). larry had it right, politicians would suffer the backlash all the way up to the president.

i guess i'll just go buy another gun...maybe something a little bigger than the glock. then again, maybe i need to change my name to "have gun, will not stand down"

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 16:54:00.233028+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

i can't see us lowering ourselves to third world standards or jumping into a dictatorship/feudal government with armies to kill its people

The government - or more specifically, the military - can [see it].

In the latter years of my service as an Intelligence Analyst for the Washington Army National Guard, our training scenarios invloved a divided United States, with us fending off invasions by California Guard units. (These training scenarios were established when the Soviet Union[Wiki] was officially removed from being our primary threat focus.)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 18:14:12.331121+00 by: polly

shawn, do all national guard units have training scenarios to fight against other national guard units? or is this just something from the west coast?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 18:55:48.097428+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ha! Now that we have elected an Austrian to power we wish to discuss with you how to divide up Oregon. Your governor isn't named Chamberlain, by chance?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-02 19:48:45.185283+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

I don't know what other NG units do. With the reduction in threat from the Soviet Union[Wiki], we needed a plausible, real-world scenario to train against. This is what was handed down.

I don't remember the entire back-story that was created, but it involved some states seceding and order unraveling from there. (The scenarios took place after everything had settled down a bit and North America was left with what amounted to a number of small countries.) I also remember there being lot of dissatisfaction with the nation in general being expressed by civilians at the time. Back then these scenarios seemed a very plausible future (maybe 10/20+ years).

To answer the implied question; no, the Washington NG is not a bunch of bloodthirsty, violent freaks looking for anything to put in their sights. Public reactions to the first Gulf War, Waco, Rodney King, etc. all went into predicting a potential future political landscape and this is what our training exercises were structured around.

Field training does typically involve other units to "fight" against - such an established practice they even have a name: OPFOR (Opposition Force)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-03 07:07:34.939605+00 by: topspin

My point is that it isn't the guns that keep the govt at bay. Being armed is useless against a truly evil govt with sophisticated weapons. Despotic govt scenarios are EXTREME, yes, but so is the notion that an AK-47 is protection from the weapons our govt could use. It's simply not a better deterrent than a shotgun.

Our freedom will not be lost with AK-47s and other "semi-military" weapons not being available to the populace. Hunting rifles, shotguns, guns of that ilk, and even most handguns should NEVER be banned here. They are completely sufficient to insure the "protection" from the govt because, as Larry points out, the govt doesn't wanna have to explain its use of force against civilians and it will likely avoid confrontation which casts it as "the heavy."

C'mon, folks, 80-90rounds/minute? "Needing" that sorta weapon is compensation, paranoia, or pure swagger.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-03 11:30:52.743947+00 by: meuon

It takes serious paperwork and background checks to get an FFL for a full-auto rifle or handgun, even I am limited to a very satisfactory 'as fast as I can pull the trigger'

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-04 01:21:58.757512+00 by: Larry Burton

I just want to know what it is about an AK-47 that should cause it to be banned. I understand that it can be modified for selective fire but then so can any semi-automatic weapon.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-07-05 00:32:45.441169+00 by: meuon

AK-47's should be banned because the bad guys in the movies always shoot at the good guys with them. ;)