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rrneck's Journal
rrneck's Journal
January 13, 2013

But that's not what I asked you.

I asked you if laws against public nudity were justified. I could just as easily have asked you if laws mandating burkas were justified. Or if the sign at the sandwich shop mandating shoes and a shirt was justified. All of those social customs exist, and some of them are mandated by law. Some of them are reasonable and justified, some are not. The fact those laws exist is not germane.

As far as public safety goes, not only does mandating public carry not solve any problems if they exist, it doesn't even address them.

Part One: Icky Gun Talk

Whether or not a gun is carried open or concealed is immaterial when it comes to the mechanics of self defense either by the person carrying or the person targeted. You can draw a gun just as fast from under a sport coat as from open carry, and either way if somebody wants to shoot you it won't matter if you see him wearing the gun or not.

On the other hand demanding people fuss with a handgun to satisfy your sense of public decorum is more of a danger to public safety than concealed carry. The only time you should touch a firearm in a holster is when your life is threatened and you need to shoot somebody. The use of a gun, like any other physical interaction in the world, requires the development of muscle memory through practice. The simpler the physical interaction, the easier it is to master and employ. Thus, drawing a gun from a particular spot and under particular circumstances is the safest and most effective way to use it. When you place arbitrary restrictions on the way people carry a gun, you are demanding they adjust the way they dress and requiring them to fuss with the gun unnecessarily to conform with conflicting social norms. It's more dangerous for everybody concerned.

There is a youtube video at the end of this post if you want to check it out.

Part Two: What the conversation is really about.

Your concerns have nothing to do with public safety, the disparity of force, the mechanics of self defense with a firearm, tactical response to an active shooter, or the price of eggs in Germany. The problem you are trying to solve is one of public decorum. And your objective is to stigmatize people you don't like. Your mistake is you have no rational reason to dislike them.

While you say you don't care about public nudity, your use of that for an example is telling. Illegal nudity in public is called indecent exposure. You obviously feel that the sight of a firearm on someone's belt is indecent, but rather than demanding it be concealed you want everyone to see it because people who carry a gun in an urban area aren't "normal". And you want community standards to coalesce around disapproval for people who, according to you, are "not normal".

But how do you know they aren't "normal"? If you are interested in facts, here are some. You don't know where that person with the gun on his or her belt was before you saw them. You don't know where they are going after they leave your sight. You don't know if they are living under some threat that requires a protective order. You simply don't know the circumstances of their life or why they may feel the need to carry a gun. In fact, the only fact about your position is you don't have any.

Now, I said you had no rational reason to dislike someone carrying a gun. I didn't say you had no reason. Your reasons for disliking public carraige of firearms are arational and perfectly legitimate.

Guns have tremendous symbolic power for obvious reasons. Wearing a gun in public is fairly rare in this culture. Hang a gun on your belt and you are shouting some sort of message to everyone that can see it. That message will depend less on why the gun is there than on why people think it is there or why they think you put it there. That's because while you may have only one reason for its presence, those that see it will be able to free associate a whole constellation of assumptions about you that have no basis in fact. It isn't fair to demand people draw attention to themselves that way to satisfy your sense of decorum. It makes no more sense than demanding they be nude.

When it comes to the symbolic power of guns in politics they are a giant flashing neon sign. Guns symbolize everything liberals hate or can't deal with, and everything conservatives love and specialize in. I can't think of anything more polarizing. If you think conservatives are misguided fools and those who are doing the misguiding are lying assholes you are right. But that doesn't mean that someone wearing the conservative totem on their belt is a member of either one of those groups of people. Demanding they display the totem of people you dislike is like pointing to some random stranger on the street and shouting "deluded Republican asshole!"

You are perfectly free to make all kinds of assumptions about someone wearing a gun. You are not free to mandate those assumptions by law.

January 12, 2013


I'm not afraid of you or somebody wearing a gun. I don't think what somebody is wearing, or not wearing, is necessarily indicative of their character or their intentions toward me or anybody else. A single aspect of their appearance is a part of an overall evaluation of what kind of person they are assuming I take time to make that evaluation. I don't waste a lot of time "sizing up" everyone that falls into my field of vision.

The usual "gun talk" is tiresome, but let's get it out of the way. Your suggestion regarding multiple holsters is absurd. A holster requires a belt (and a good one) so you are suggesting a winter coat have a belt outside for a holster so you will have the privilege of viewing it, and another holster for inside clothes. That won't work, so please try and keep the conversation above such absurdity.

Now for the inevitable car analogy. If you are worried about being around dangerous things while you are in a Starbucks (hey, a twofer analogy) how many cars did you walk in front of to get into the place? Any one of them could have run you down with no warning.

But this conversation isn't really about public safety, it's about atmosphere. You are demanding others create a particular atmosphere around you, a space otherwise known as the commons, for your emotional satisfaction. And you are advocating that courtesy be codified into law. Your desires are no different from the demands that women wear burkas or people not walk around naked. You don't have the right to compel others to create an atmosphere of emotional security around you. You don't have the right to compel the random people that cross your field of vision to offer guarantees of your personal safety. You simply don't have the right to demand others look any particular way to suit your personal prerogatives.

Here's a test. Next time you are in a public place station yourself near the door and ask everybody that walks through it what their intentions are toward you. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, you should feel uncomfortable sub contracting that task to the government.

January 11, 2013

How much of a workout do the bulk of these rifles really get?

It's one thing to take a rifle to the range and do some shooting, but that kind of testing hardly compares with battlefield use.

You're associating three ideas here which not only do not really go together, they should not go together when it comes to the development of military weapons: The Second Amendment, consumerism, and the relationship of the citizenry to the military industrial complex. The combination of those three ideas add up to consumers doing their patriotic duty to buy guns and contribute to the development of small arms for the military.

I backpacked out of a medium ALICE for years. I loved it. Let's face it, fighting a war is basically camping out with intent to kill. When it came time to upgrade, I went with Kifaru stuff. Sounds like you served/serve active duty, so I don't have to tell you what a PALS grid is. Kifaru backpacks are indestructible and versatile beyond imagination. That's why I like them. In fact, that may be the only brand loyalty I will confess to. But at no time do I fool myself into thinking that I am somehow helping the soldier in the field or making America safer by buying one. Nor do I have visions of being out on recon looking for zombies when I'm backpacking. In fact, the only bad part of Kifaru tactical stuff, besides the weight, is the fact that the guy that owns the company is a fundamentalist right wing loon.

The same association of ideas holds true for small arms. If they are popular and effective for civilian use, it's not because civilians are using them in some sort of patriotic consumer based testing program to produce a better rifle, it's because the military has developed good technology that can be applied to the consumer market. An able and well equipped military is indispensable for any nation to survive, but lionizing the military is culturally dangerous. We should support the troops by paying them fairly, taking care of them during and after their term of service, and not sending them into harms way to make rich assholes richer assholes. Buying the right stuff just makes money for the 1% by turning weapons of war into a symbol of consumerist cachet for people who confuse smart shopping with civic duty.

January 7, 2013

I just don't think it will work.

The first place we can start is reinstating the ban on assault weapons. They are not designed for hunting, or that great at home defense. They are, for the most part, eye candy for the gun lover, a weapon that civilians can have that is as close to an AK-47 as is legally possible. We can reinstate the ban on them with little or no problem, given the events of the past six months.

A semi automatic rifle is a semi automatic rifle whether it looks like an M16 or your uncle George's deer rifle. They're all the same. The bullets go in the bottom and out the front. Laws designed to regulate the way something looks are just fodder for the culture wars and burn political capital that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Further, we can instate a ban on high capacity clips and magazines. This makes practical sense, and should be done. The public is in favor of this, especially in light of recent events.

Changing mags is easy, so regulating magazine capacity is a waste of time unless you want to require non detachable magazines. I'm not enough of a gunsmith to know, but I don't think you can effectively load most semi auto rifles from the top like the old Garand. That means you will be outlawing the most popular rifles and pistols in use today. And if you do get it done, M1A's with new stripper clips that don't bite you on the thumb will become furiously popular.

Tougher to do, but still probably doable are closing the gunshow loopholes and beefing up background checks, especially mental health checks. We can also get more support in order to actually apply the gun control measures that are already out there.

"Closing the gunshow loophole" is supposed to stop straw purchases for people who should not own guns. So in actuality, you're not regulating guns, but relationships. A straw purchaser is just somebody who knows somebody. Sales from FFL's are regulated relationships between a dealer and a customer. They occur in a brick and mortar facility and the dealer has to record every firearms transaction he makes in a "bound book". That facility and that book have to be available to the BATF for examination. Chain of custody has to be documented for any registration scheme to work. That documentation has to bring with it penalties and the possibility of prosecution in court for it to mean anything.

Do you think you could walk into a gun store and borrow a gun? Do you think the owner will ever give you one as a gift? Not likely. You don't have that kind of relationship with him. Outside the confines of that store, the range of human relationships is beyond anything that should or could be regulated by the government. If you husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/buddy/date/cousin/acquaintance wants to loan/give you a gun, and you make a cash donation right back to him earmarked for his favorite charity, there really isn't much way for the government to regulate that. I don't see how it can be done anyway, even if the political will were there to do it.

If you want to regulate private transfers of firearms, you will have to use something like the FFL licencing and regulation system for private individuals. That means you will have to turn every gun owner in the United States (about eighty million of them) into firearms dealers with all the rights, responsibilities and liabilities that go along with it. And their homes will be the brick and mortar facilities that will have to be opened to inspection by the ATF. Do you really think people will sit still for that? Do you think our political opponents will ignore the opportunity to tell them about the ramifications of that legislation?

Regulation assumes enforcement. I don't know of any way to enforce the regulation of firearms transfers between private individuals that is not a burdensome intrusion on thier privacy or simply impossible for the agency tasked to implement and enforce that regulation.
December 28, 2012

Culture that is easily consumed is easily discarded.

The tools used to easily consume content do not contribute cultural value. Touch pads are designed to consume content, not produce it. IPods make it easy to store and consume vast quantities of production music. Digitized images can be churned out and copied with almost no effort.

Our culture, meaning the arts, are increasingly intended to be easily distributed rather than offer a deeper insight into the human condition. There is no money in content production, but there is a boatload of cash to be made in distributing content that is easily consumed. The more easily it is consumed, the more the consumers will want to replace it. Thus we have production music designed to be earworms with hook lines, lol cats, blogs that are written to go viral, and McRibs.

If you want to actually get something out of an image, go to an art gallery or a museum. If you want to appreciate music, attend a live performance. If you want to read a book, go to a book store and invest in a book that has content you want to keep.

But truly, the best way to appreciate and enjoy culture is to produce it yourself. The producers of cultural content do so because they want to explore, but they are not special, magical shamans who have some insight into the human condition any more than anybody else. They have just given up the luxury of having others answer those questions for them. Anybody can do it. The human voice was designed to be able to sing. Human eyes are designed to make sense of the world around us. Our ears can hear just the right note. All it takes is practice and sacrifice.

December 28, 2012

Every firearms dealer has a 'bound book' that is a record of every gun he has bought and sold.

The BATF can walk into his store at any time and demand to see his bound book, and god help him if his inventory doesn't match up with his records. That's how businesses get regulated.


Bob and Alice have been married for twenty glorious years. Bob wants to take up target shooting so Alice decides to give him a gun for his birthday. Alice goes to the store with the make and model of the gun he wants, fills out the paperwork pays for the gun and leaves. She gives him his present over dinner that evening.

Bob and Alice have been living together for five years. The neighborhood is going downhill and they can't afford to move, so they decide to get a gun. Since Bob is a truck driver and is often away from home, he tells Alice what to buy and she makes the purchase.

Bob and Alice hooked up at a rave and fell madly in love. Bob thinks guns are cool so Alice goes to the store and buys him one.

Bob and Alice broke up because Alice found out about Cathy. She kicked Bob's cheating ass out but kept the gun. Alice meets John and falls madly in love with him and gives him the gun as a gift.


I could write scenarios like that all night. There is no way the guy selling the gun to Alice will know what kind of relationship she has with Bob or anybody else. There is almost no way to distinguish a legitimate relationship between two people and a straw purchase at the point of sale.

Now, if you want to require background checks on firearms transfers between private parties, you have to record chain of custody. Which is to say, you have to turn every firearm owner into a firearms dealer with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. Even if you make access to the NICS system available to private citizens, anybody who wants to circumvent the system will do so unless you attach some means of verification and penalties for non compliance. Otherwise when the cops come knocking people will just say "I gave it away/there was a tragic boating accident/it was stolen/I dunno what happened to it" or whatever other lie they can think up and nobody will be able to prove otherwise or prosecute them for selling the gun to the wrong person.

Remember the bound book? If you turn every firearm owner into an FFL you will have to allow the BATF to have access to their private residence at any time. The government can walk into your home at any time and demand to see your records. That idea will go over in this country like a turd in a punchbowl. Any political party responsible for that law will get a one way bus ticket to the political wilderness.

Corrections and amplifications of how the firearms distribution systems works are warmly solicited.
December 27, 2012

It doesn't matter what I think.

It matters what the court thinks. As I recall, you have to be adjudicated mentally incompetent to lose your right to own a gun. But that could vary from state to state. In California they could "5150" you.

The concept of mental health is fungible. That makes it difficult to adjudicate. It also creates an opportunity for political oppression.

Psychiatry possesses an inherent capacity for abuse that is greater than in other areas of medicine.[10]:65 The diagnosis of mental disease can give the state license to detain persons against their will and insist upon therapy both in the interest of the detainee and in the broader interests of society.[10]:65 In addition, receiving a psychiatric diagnosis can in itself be regarded as oppressive. In a monolithic state, psychiatry can be used to bypass standard legal procedures for establishing guilt or innocence and allow political incarceration without the ordinary odium attaching to such political trials.

Now, that was the Soviet Union, one of the most repressive dictatorships in one of the most barbaric eras in human history, so the concept of political oppression through psychiatry is absurd, right? Thomas Eagleton ran into some difficulty because of allegations regarding his mental health. Running against a guy named Richard Nixon. Remember Daniel Ellsburg?

In August 1971, Krogh and Young met with G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt in a basement office in the Old Executive Office Building. Hunt and Liddy recommended a "covert operation" to get a "mother lode" of information about Ellsberg's mental state in order to discredit him. Krogh and Young sent a memo to Ehrlichman seeking his approval for a "covert operation [to] be undertaken to examine all of the medical files still held by Ellsberg’s psychiatrist." Ehrlichman approved under the condition that it be "done under your assurance that it is not traceable."

Given the realities of the George W. Bush administration and the even more disquieting reality that the Republican Party ran an outright fascist for president in the last election, the importance of properly adjudicating the rights of people in a court of law that depends on proper representation and the presentation of evidence to a judge should be obvious.

So, to answer your question whether or not you should be able to own a gun I would say I don't have a clue. Nor should I. It's none of my business. I think a court of law should make it my business. If you're having trouble, I would that you had a proper support network including friends, family, a functioning health care system and a culture that values something more than how much money it can make off you.

December 16, 2012

We all have more in common than we think.

We're all human. I think sometimes we forget that. I think we have a tendency to defend ideology over humanity. We think we know how to make the world a better place and we become so attached to our plan we think it will do anything. And we would be wrong. But in an effort to apply a solution where it doesn't belong we treat others unjustly. There are very few truly evil people in the world, but there are plenty of misguided consumers.

I guess I've heard the entire spectrum of gun control ideas here in the last four years. I haven't heard a single one that would work. Not one. And most every proposal was presented with the fervor of a tent revival with hosannas all around. Unfortunately, the praise was not for the efficacy of the proposal, but for it's expression of liberal ideology.

The left has been the inspiration for every sociocultural advancement in this country since it's founding. It will continue to do so, and the need for change is increasing every day. The basic social contract of nurturing, compassion, and equitable contribution to the group are liberal ideals and the way a successful society is run. But it isn't perfect, nothing made by human hands is. And when the fight starts, liberal ideology as it is currently understood does not apply.

If you are ever unlucky enough to be confronted by someone who intends to do you harm, the social safety net will have failed. There won't be any help. You won't nurture your way out of an assault. Most people who live in dodgy neighborhoods, work in crappy jobs with no rights, who are stuck in abusive relationships with no way out, or just generally deal with what they call the real world know this. That's because every act of violence is a societal failure. And when society fails, uncivilized behavior is the rule of the day.

There is an inherent classicism in the way portions of liberal ideology are expressed and applied. Gun control legislation is one example. The solutions offered for "gun violence" often as not sound as if they come from someone in a gated community sipping Merlot and sniffing at the crude heathens that can't solve their differences in a more genteel manner. It costs us elections. Here are some examples if you care to have a look.

December 15, 2012

Well, at last count

people were buying a little over a million guns a month in this country, adding to a total of just over three hundred million guns. And they aren't all being bought by teabaggers. In fact, the last I heard the fastest growing segment of gun buyers by political affiliation was Democrats. There are certainly a whole bunch of moderates and centrists who are gun owners. The political realities simply won't allow banning guns, banning semi automatic guns, assault weapons or anything of the sort. It ain't gonna happen. And any political party that proposes such will be handed a one way bus ticket to the political wilderness. Here's why:

If you put a thousand people in a room and told them that three of them would be assaulted, raped, robbed or murdered in a week, five hundred of them would go out and buy a gun tomorrow. A gun has tremendous symbolic power. It is a last line of defense against any threat, real or imagined. People take their personal safety and the safety of those close to them more seriously than anything, and concerns about close threats (like assault) however unlikely, loom much larger than remote threats (global warming/banking crisis) that are more likely to occur. That's just how people think.

Add to that the symbolic power of guns in politics. Guns symbolize everything that is bad to Democrats and good to Republicans. Liberalism is a nurturing ideology. It is defined by the support of others in cooperation to make society work. Conservative ideology is authoritarian in nature and depends on the concept of self reliance. Now 99.9% of the time, nurturing and cooperation are the best way to organize a society. But if you get assaulted, try nurturing your way out of that. It will be just you and him, and self reliance is the name of the game. That's where the other ideology works best. And that's why Republicans idolize guns the way they do. It is a totem to their ideology. It's also why Democrats hate them so much, because guns are an anti totem.

That's why every time a Democrat cooks up an unworkable firearm regulation, it's just giving strength to conservative ideology and pushing those in the center to the right. Whatever law gets passed has to make sense in the real world, and workable firearms laws have been few and far between lately. That's because firearms laws are about as good as we can make them. We can only support people so much, but sometimes they will be left to their own devices no matter what we do. No matter how well or tightly you build a support net, there will always be a few lunatics who will step right through it and hurt somebody. And when they do, there won't be anybody to help you but you.

December 6, 2012

Well, like i said in #158

the inclusion of those terms would not be out of place.

But what would including them actually do? The TOS forbids porn as well. The debate about recognizing porn has raged on and off for decades, and it all depends on whether or not those who would eliminate it are able to accurately judge the emotional responses of others to certain images.

Yes, we know what what the words misogyny and sexism mean. Do we know it when we see it? If we want to recognize misogyny in the speech of others, we have to evaluate their intent. If we decide someone is using misogynistic language, we are evaluating how they feel about women. We are telling other people how they feel. Sometimes their feelings are easy to discern, other times it is not. And on an anonymous internet message board when two hundred words is a Russian novel, fine emotional distinctions are especially problematic.

The only way you can really understand someone is to actually interact with them. Creating increasingly specific restrictions on what may or may not be said is merely outsourcing the evaluative process to others. That's not fighting for yourself, it's demanding others winnow down who you interact with to avoid differences of opinion. Remember, the more you allow others to define the feelings of others for you, the more you allow them to define your own feelings.

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