Thursday, May 29, 2014

"No Crimes Allowed" Sign Fails To Stop Crime

Every time we are confronted with a tragic mass shooting, most of the left and some of the middle light up with cries for stricter gun control.  But just what is "stricter gun control"?  And could making it “more strict” have helped stop any of these mass shootings?

First, let’s look at the facts.  In this latest shooting in California, the guns used were all purchased legally in a state that has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.  They have bans on high capacity magazines.  They have “assault weapon” bans.  They have bans on most small handguns that could be easily concealed.  Each firearm purchase must be made through a Federally Licensed Firearms dealer, and the purchaser must submit to a thorough county, state, and nation-wide background check.  The purchaser must wait a ten day waiting period, as well as pass a written test on firearms safety.  These are most of the “stricter gun control measures” that the anti-gun crowd wants to see imposed, nation-wide.

And they didn’t work.

Harsh gun laws didn’t stop the shootings in California.  Or Connecticut.  And the state with the absolute most restrictive gun control laws in the country, Illinois, is also the home of the gun-murder capitol of the country, Chicago.  The laws don’t help there.  And why is that?  Well, simply put, criminals don’t follow laws.  That’s why they are criminals.  And insane people have this disturbing ability to act normal in public; often times charismatic.  You don’t know they are crazy until they start shooting people or setting off fertilizer bombs full of nails at marathons.

So, what additional gun control do these anti- gun-rights folks think is going to end mass shootings?  Well, so long as people have a way to buy guns, then, unfortunately, a crazy person is bound to get their hands on one eventually.  Whether they purchase the weapon legally themselves, have a friend purchase it legally then give it to them (a straw-man purchase), steal the weapon, or buy the weapon illegally on the black market, they will still get their hands on the weapon. 

The only way to stop just MOST of the mass shootings is a complete ban on legal guns.

This will never happen in America, nor should it.  My point is only that an absolute ban and forced confiscation of all legally owned guns would be the only way to make mass shootings less likely, and even the most ardent anti-gun people aren’t even suggesting that.  Besides, here’s the rub: mass shootings are the least common type of gun murder, or murder in general for that matter.  You are far more likely to be stabbed or shot by a street criminal than gunned down in one of these rare but shocking and sad mass shooting events that garner national attention.  Last year, Chicago had 100 gun murders by the end of April… more dead in four month, in one city, than by all the mass shootings in the rest of the US for the entire year combined.  And that’s in the city with the most stringent “gun control” measures in the entire country. 
So, while mass shootings might have a serious decline in the face of a total ban on legal firearms, this would have little effect on the real violence problem in America: the street criminals and the gangs.  And these criminals would still have access to the tens of millions of illegal guns on the black market.  Also, disarming the population would be an open door for an increase in personal, violent crimes.  Mugging, assault, rape, home invasion… the less concerned criminals are of meeting effective opposition, the more brazen they become.  You are 300 times more likely to be physically assaulted in Great Britain than in the US.  Their street punks and hooligans know they can attack people without fear of armed opposition.       

So, what can we do?  What will make the mass shootings stop?  We need to recognize that mass shootings are a uniquely American problem.  There are other countries with high levels of gun ownership that don’t have citizens losing their shit and killing classrooms full of children several times a year.  There is something wrong here.  Is it media?  Mental health?  It can’t just be “access to guns”, or else Canada would have just as many mass shootings as we do.  I don’t know how to keep mass shooters from getting guns.  But I have some ideas of how we could all be safer.

Concealed carry permits and “gun free zones”                      

California is a “May Issue” state, meaning you can only be approved for a concealed carry permit by your county’s Sheriff by proving “good cause” for needing one.  General self defense is not recognized as “good cause”, so basically, most people are denied a permit.  But if someone does manage to get a permit, they are then hampered by “gun free zones” all over the place.  Concealed carry could and should operate as a deterrent to criminals.  But, rather than allowing licensed people to conceal carry their legal guns where ever they like, we instead put up signs literally announcing to criminals and would-be mass shooters that every law-abiding citizen under the imaginary reach of the sign is sure to be unarmed.  Gun free zones are an illusion of safety.  Whether it is a campus, an office building, a military base, or a park, the only people who will follow the instructions of the “gun free zone” or “no guns allowed” signs are people already obeying the law.  They are not the people causing the trouble.  But they are the people who will die defenselessly if a mad man with a gun shows up. 

Now, I do believe that getting a concealed carry permit should require a more serious show of proficiency with a firearm than they do now, at least from my experience with CCP classes in North Carolina.  And, like police, permit holders should have to qualify at a shooting range once a year.  But, if a law abiding citizen does choose to become a concealed carry permit holder, they should be allowed to carry their concealed weapon wherever they want.  Period.  This hasn’t been tried yet in modern America, but it worked in the old days.  The “wild west” wasn’t really that wild.  Everyone carried a firearm, so you didn’t just ride into a town and start shooting people in the street.  The entire town would shoot back.  Could any of the 900+ lives lost to mass shooters in the past 7 years have been saved by an armed CCP holder?  We don’t know, because almost every one of these shootings took place in a “gun free zone”.  So much for the efficacy of signs and laws.   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

two choices...



And the State of things is set
for yet another broken machine to be repaired by a broken machine.
Lined up from here to eternity; some maintenance required.
And we don’t see the meat and malice
that keeps breaking the robots of social control
and making us the repairmen
Of our own demise. 
And they are getting fatter and fatter
Each time we lay down arms and minds
And run to the aid of our electric masters
In towers like white gods.
To request the privilege of our temporary satisfaction.
Nothing is pretty in this world when everything is for sale
An arms race to browbeat the banal
And exalt what’s still less than extraordinary
And fill the insides with sugar and despair,
And sell us our happiness an hour at a time.
Life passes with time, and time is money,
so money is life when time is spent on things less perfect. 
Yet I am pacified. 
Crime and suffer, time and pay, cower and fear, repent and pray.   
They get you in the end,
Either way.
Doesn’t it make you feel better?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Natural Laws?


What is natural about law?  The idea of laws defies nature.  You want to hear a natural law?  Gravity.  That’s a natural law.  But when it comes to laws we have in society, such as laws against murder, rape, and theft, there are certainly not natural laws.  Nature is rife with murder, rape, and theft.  Some entire species of animals completely depend on theft to survive, like scavengers that wait for the apex predator to leave their kill alone for a little too long and then swoop in and chow down.  Many animals use rape as the only way to spread their seed.  Tree frogs that don’t have an alluring enough croak to obtain a mate, for instance, will lurk around a very strong, vocal male and when the ladies come a hoppin’, the weaker males literally jump on them and go to town.  And murder; do I even need a description of all the murder that takes place in the wild?  Lions kill zebras.  Snakes kill bunnies.  And, most notoriously, homo-sapiens kill each other.   

So much for “natural laws” keeping us in check.  Now, there is some evolutionary reasons  that we know it’s wrong to kill other members of our tribe.  Survival of the individual is contingent on the strength of the group for a pack animal like us.  But as we can see throughout history and prehistory, “thou shalt not kill” only seems to apply to “us”.  The same courtesy need not be applied to strange tribes.  In fact, evolutionarily speaking, there is an argument to be made that being too altruistic in tribal times could have been a weakness that would cause a tribe to die off at the hands of more ruthless tribes, therefore ending the more altruistic tribe’s genetic effect on the human population.  

There are no natural laws that say we shouldn’t kill.  Hell, in nature, you can die the moment you are born; eaten by a wolf for instance, and there is no great arbitrator that is going to punish the wolf for breaking a “law of nature”.  As a matter of fact, that wolf may live on to become stronger because of that meal of an infant animal, and father a litter of strong cubs that will one day kill other cute baby animals as well.  In effect, nature rewards the wolf for devouring a baby.  It sounds awful, but that is the reality of nature.  I am glad we are an advanced enough animal to realize that nature is cold, morally neutral, and rarely fair, and so we make laws and ideas that keep abusive people in check and try to create some sort of fairness in the world.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burning fossil fuels to find a place to hike


The monsters are here and we are programmed to be one of them
To breed and then tell our creatures who they are. 
The truth we choose not to understand can’t save us now…
Make up a fable to ensure the future is one where they have to look up
To our faces and praise. 
We need devotion because we can’t become frail
Without hook line and sinker sunk to protect us
From new ideas of temporary discomfort.
Demand devotion and consume the land with fire
And the air with smoke.
The acrid sting is so far entwined it becomes honey and wine
to noses less animal and more human than humane. 
Understand this: nothing else will do.
No new act can be performed.  This repetition must be maintained
Because we were never wrong. 
Don’t show us who we really are.
Why would we want to see?
What good is shame?  Or starting again?
These towers keep us in, where we can be safe from the things that want us dead.
The monsters are here,
And we are them. 
Don’t change a thing, you beautiful disaster.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

blatant immorality


There persists an imagined benefit of religious morals that seems to keep religion viable in an ever shrinking world of ever expanding knowledge.  Even many educated atheists and agnostics will give a nod to religion as holding some special protected position as arbitrator of right and wrong.  There is a bit of conceit in those who think that way; a sort of “they need it but I don’t” view of the unwashed masses.  But, there are those that contend that religion does more good than harm and that the Bible(s) is a good place to draw morals from.  So let’s look at what we should consider “moral”. 

In his new book “The Moral Landscape”, author and PhD neuroscientist Sam Harris postulates that morality can be quantified by the suffering of conscious beings.  The more suffering a system causes, the less moral it becomes.  With that as a simple guideline, let’s look at something many religions claim is immoral.  Homosexuality is said to be immoral, and in fact, based on the churches’ own doctrine, is an act punishable by death.  Now, with Sam’s simple view of morality, is homosexuality immoral?  No, because the act is morally neutral.  It doesn’t harm anyone for someone to be gay.  If you don’t like gay sex, don’t have any gay sex.  

Now, dragging a man, helpless, into the street, inciting a mob around him, cursing at him, and then bludgeoning him to death with big rocks, making his last moments alive wracked with pain, sadness, fear, and misery seems like a very immoral act to me.  And any god that would rejoice in or demand such an act is beyond disgusting.  But if you read the bible, stoning people to death was the preferred way to carry out religious mob justice throughout the ages.  It still happens today.  And stoning people to death is not an exaggeration or an extremist interpretation of the holy books.  It’s right there in black and white.  If someone, even your own child, tells you they believe in a different god, you, as a good Christian, are suppose to stone them to death.  Period.  It’s in the bible.   

Let’s look at Deuteronomy 13: 

“6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.”  

You can’t deny what the words say.  So what is the justification for picking and choosing what parts of the Old Testament to follow literally?  One of the more common Christian arguments for this is that Jesus changed everything when he came to Earth, so old laws like the above are defunct.  Really?  Why does god need to change anything in his Divine Plan?  Is that an admission of fallibility?  And that he didn’t have it right the first time?  Why should a master plan need a second-act rule-change?  But I’m getting off topic here.  The point of the above is to display just how grossly immoral the bible is.  

In the Good Book, god requires men to do all of the following in various passages: rape and murder women, rape and enslave and/or murder children, stone and murder people for their ideas, go to war with people for their beliefs, steal territories, torture, kill, and burn animals for his pleasure, and beat women and children for various reasons.  Furthermore, god himself murders women and children, sends plagues upon populations, destroys towns and cities, drowns millions of people and animals, and, worst of all, sends a vast majority of the population to a place where they will suffer forever.   I would not consider a book that promotes such ideas to be a good place to find morals.  This is a view of god as a megalomaniac terrorist psychopath.                     

The best view of god as a psychopath is probably 2 Kings 2:23-24 where he sends bears to rip a bunch of kids apart. 
 
"And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them"

LOL!  That god… always good for a laugh!  Some children called a man “bald” so they got mauled!  And not just a few kids; no, 42 of the little scamps!  Well, shit, that’ll teach ‘em.  

Can you imagine a conscious being finding it reasonable to have bears rip children apart for making an impolite joke?  Just try to imagine the horror these children would have experienced; their little arms being ripped off, their ribs cracking, the bear’s teeth pulling their insides out, all while they are still conscious enough to experience the dread and pain before finally dying.  And can you imagine the parents falling to the floor in despair at the loss of their own flesh and blood, sobbing uncontrollably? 

What a monster this god is. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pro gun progressive


Liberals have been conditioned to react.  Always on the prowl, listening intently to every word that vibrates the air near them, they pounce at the first audible sign of racism, ethnocentrism, or any other redneck associated agenda.  And somehow, over the last 100 years, pro-gun has, to some liberals, become synonymous  with big dumb rednecks who have big dumb trucks with gaudy American flags painted across the entire back glass with pictures of an eagle clutching the constitution and a revolver with some simplistic, easy-to-remember-and-base-your-entire-political-beliefs-on monosyllabic pseudo-patriotic neo-con statement.  You know, right above the “stickman” plus “stickwoman” equals marriage bumper sticker that’s next to the Jesus fish which is under a picture of a fetus being aborted which is adjacent to the “keep honking, I’m reloading” sticker.  Gasp!  These are the pro-gun people?  Well clearly, then, I should be anti-gun, right?  Well there's your problem.  Not only are those people the minority and a stereotype, they also do not represent the true pro-gun folks.  But here’s how I think some liberals became scared of guns and created this negative association. 
                There is no doubt that big city folk tend to be more liberal than rural folk.  But why is that?  It may have to do with city people being exposed to more ideas.  Where there are higher population densities there are more fresh ideas being circulated and more races and religious groups and sexualities having to learn how to get along with one another and try to understand and care for each other.   By contrast, in a rural area, the same ideas are perpetuated day after day, year after year, generation after generation and anything different is immediately suspect and scary.  Now, with the internet and TV, rural folks are more exposed than they use to be, and there is a lot less of what New York liberals imagine as "rednecks".  But still, a good extreme microcosm of this rural idea would be to look at jungle tribes.  They know absolutely nothing outside of their own beliefs and superstitions.  They are so afraid of outsiders that if you were to stumble upon a tribe in the jungle, they may kill you out of fear, or worship you out of fear.  In rural areas, guns have always been a part of life because of the need to hunt and because of the comfort they afford the possessor that they can protect themselves from outsiders.   In a big city, there is no need to hunt so less and less people grew up around guns.  Instead of learning how to hunt, kids were learning about other cultures firsthand.  So for many city dwellers, their only knowledge of guns would be reading about crimes committed with them or accidents or suicides.  To them, guns became a distant, dangerous, scary, archaic thing that only police and military should handle.  And as time wore on, guns became more and more associated with both crime and the anti-progressive rural folks. 
So, no one likes crime.  But the city folk also don’t like rednecks.  And their only association for guns is crime and the socially backwards.  And if you don’t like a group or type of people, what better way to hurt them than attack something that they value?  Big cities always have the worst restrictive gun laws and these laws always seem to slowly seep outside the cities into the legislation of the entire state.  Basically it’s one group of people imposing their will on another because of something they dislike and fear.  Is this not the same reason that some rural religious people hate homosexuals and regularly impede legislation that would give gays more rights?  Shouldn’t liberals, who are supposed to be defenders of personal freedoms, be against any laws that reduce the rights and liberties of anyone?  You would think so.  But the right to bear arms is not a right that they hold important because they feel it doesn’t pertain to them anymore, and, maybe most importantly, it’s one of the biggest issues that conservatives care about.  So every liberal, it would seem, is predisposed to being anti-gun just because the gun has become synonymous to them with what they imagine as rednecks; big, homophobic, alpha-male, anti-intellectual, racist, dangerous rednecks.  Of course I do not mean to imply that all rednecks are such.  That would make me no better than any garden variety racist.  No, this is simply the type of person that liberals have been conditioned to believe are the only pro-gun people (or the only people who are conservative, which is also wrong.). 
I am extremely pro-gun.  I am also very socially liberal.  So when I talk to a conservative about politics, as soon as they discover that I am pro-gun, they become much more receptive to other ideas I have.  There are plenty of good, intelligent people that vote conservative and are not homophobes or racists.  And some of them vote almost entirely on the basis of gun control and don’t even know what the rest of the right’s agenda is.  I use to be one of those people.  My knee-jerk reaction was to agree with the agenda of anyone that was pro-gun.  I didn’t actually know much about politics, so I just assumed that people that thought like me about guns were probably right about whatever else they believed.  Of course as I got older and actually started to look at the issues, I realized that I didn’t agree with any other aspect of the political right.  Had I not decided to learn about politics, I could still be a pseudo-conservative.  I was a fence sitter that didn’t even know I was on the fence.  And there are a lot of people like that.  All it would take to get them on the left side would be to get rid of the extreme anti-gun nuts and have a pro-gun or even just gun-neutral agenda.  And if you think about it, this rarely works the other way.  There is no one out there that’s really socially conservative but votes liberal just for gun control.  Who are all these anti-gun liberals anyways?  There really aren’t that many liberals that have a real strong point of view about guns.  Most liberals I know aren’t anti-gun, they are more gun-apathetic.  But they do have that negative association that only rednecks want guns and/or that guns are scary and don’t care to do anything about the anti-gun people that they are lumped in with.  But how many more people could be on the voting side of social progress if the left didn’t have the extremist anti-gun people scaring away the pro-gun fence-sitters?
                       

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An individual in thought... Or a country unto yourself?


Within the concept of individualism that has been sold to us is a vanity of self that no longer realizes we are pack animals, yet our very survival is based on the strength of that pack.  If the shit hits the fan, (peek oil?  Technological failure? World war?), how many are going to remember how to work together as a social unit?  What’s funny to me is that so many people think there is this original American ideal to be this big rustic individual.  We were never rustic individuals, in the true sense of the word.  We humans are ill equipped for lone survival.  And individuals who have struck out on their own and survived, such as the earlier west settlers, did so with the tools and knowledge that one can only gain through a society that shares information and develops those tools.  A lone human with no tools, knowledge, or pack is a poor creature indeed.  Were those early settlers brave?  Certainly.  And they were individuals in that sense.  See, I’m not saying we aren’t individuals in the sense that we have our own ideas and feelings and style, etc.  I’m referring to the ill conceived notion that we can each be our own autonomous country of self.  For instance, this ranting about healthcare reform: why have we come so far from our pack roots that we have monetized helping sick people?  In the pre-capitalism tribal cultures, if someone had a broken leg, the group’s “doctor” helped that person.  There was no question about it.  No one had to call an insurance company to make sure the procedure is covered as the injured man flops around in pain with a bone sticking out of his skin.  Taking care of each other should be automatic.  I don’t care if some of my money goes to ensuing that everyone can be helped if they get sick.  Just like I am glad our tax money builds and maintains roads and educates children.  We are individuals in our mind, and some people stand out as brilliant, or leaders, or inventors, or builders, or cooks,  etc.  But the fact remains that we are all dependent upon a functioning society to be any of those things.   We are individuals only in thought; our survival is based on our pack.  So, we all must contribute to the well-being of our pack.  If you don’t agree with that and think you’re not “truly free as an individual” because you pay some taxes, then throw all your clothes away, take nothing with you, and wonder out into the woods.  There.  You’re free.  Must be a blast.  Hope you survive a month.