Let’s ban all guns forever

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This is going to be a rant. Like everybody else, yesterday’s shooting in Newton, CT has me livid and sad, and doing a lot of soul-searching. I’m not a fan of political discourse (frankly, I’m just too stubborn), but the conversations that have spun out of this tragedy have only frustrated me further. I’m choosing to write my thoughts here, but it’s not with an eye towards promoting discussion, or even being particularly cogent. Consider yourself warned.

The most salient discussion that has spun out of yesterday’s events is about gun control vs. gun rights, but I feel like both sides are missing the point: guns should just be banned outright. This isn’t about restrictions on killing machines or some misguided notion of a right to own killing machines, this is about killing machines being a fucking terrible idea in the first place. I won’t accept that that maniac could have killed them with a knife — he could have smothered them with a teddy-bear if he wanted to — but the fact is, he walked in with two devices specifically designed to kill things. This wasn’t the abuse or misuse of a tool, this was an act of using that tool to its fullest potential. They simply shouldn’t exist.

For my own understanding, I’d like to lay out and dissect what I see as the case for gun ownership in order from least compelling to most compelling.

1. Hunting

I hate to begrudge anybody their pastime, but if giving up something I loved could have prevented yesterday’s tragedy, I would gladly do it. If banning baseball could somehow prevent any future school shootings, I would absolutely advocate for that. Or giving up ice cream. Or comic books. If banning guns means hunting becomes a casualty, so be it. Those kids’ lives are worth more than whatever you do for kicks on the weekends. I’m not sorry about this at all. Also, try bow hunting, you lazy ass.

2. Protection

I’ve heard arguments that perhaps tragedy could have been averted in Connecticut if someone else in the school had had a gun. I suppose it’s possible that adding another gun to the situation could have somehow resulted in a peaceable cease-fire, but it also seems possible that more guns and more ammunition could have lead to much more death. (Also, if we’re just wishing for ways things could have been different, why not wish the maniac didn’t have any guns? Then nobody needs guns in the scenario at all.)

More importantly, this isn’t how guns work. They don’t magically prevent you from being shot. I haven’t looked up any statistics, but I can pretty much guarantee that the vast majority of gun violence victims in history died holding a gun. You want protection from gun violence? Buy a bulletproof vest. I’m not advocating for the banning of bulletproof vests.

3 Guns don’t kill people, people kill people

This is equally true of EVERY WEAPON EVER. Why is nobody advocating for their right to own surface-to-air missiles or sarin gas? Those are also just “tools” people use to kill each other. I could at least understand if people were advocating for the notion that everybody should have all access to every weapon ever invented, ever. It’d be crazy to me, but at least it wouldn’t be so contradictory. The middle ground — that semi-automatic weapons are cool, but Scud missiles are bad — makes no fucking sense to me. I honestly have no idea what the difference is between those things and guns. Is it because those things can kill MORE people? How many dead people is too many? Is 18 schoolchildren really an acceptable loss?

4 If we ban guns, only criminals will have guns

Again, this is true of EVERYTHING THAT IS ILLEGAL. Pipe-bombs are illegal. Some criminals make and use them. That doesn’t mean everybody should be allowed to. Criminals already have access to guns now. Wouldn’t making that a more arduous, expensive process keep at least SOME guns out of their hands? Sure, massive criminal organizations could afford to import them or whatever, but the meth-head on your corner sure as hell couldn’t. THAT SEEMS BETTER TO ME. I get the impression that people are more worried about random muggings or robberies gone wrong than accidentally getting mixed up in gangland warfare, in which case, making guns difficult to get would solve these problems.

5 It’s our right

I’m not a constitutional scholar. I’m not going to debate that the second amendment does, in fact, guarantee the rights of individuals to own weapons (though it seems clear to me that it is debatable). What should be clear to everyone, however, is the reason the second amendment exists in the first place. The text in full:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The order of clauses is a little weird, but its clear to me that the reason “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” “shall not be infringed” is because “a well regulated Militia” is “necessary to the security of a free State.”

Again, I’m not a constitutional scholar, but my understanding of the “Militia” that it refers to is independent of the US Armed Forces, and in fact, may fight the US Armed Forces if the government ever became oppressive — the very same way Washington’s Continental Army had risen up against the British Army. This notion seems a little paranoid in my mind, but even if we accept that necessity, every State and local militia has been woefully outgunned for over half a century. Never mind that an individual city or state or group of states that rebelled would be facing the single largest militarly power in the world, the US also has THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of atomic weapons. I’ve never heard of anyone advocating that States, local governments, or private citizens should be allowed to own nuclear weapons, but literally anything short of having 8,000 nuclear bombs means your militia doesn’t stand a chance.

In fact, in this nightmare scenario where the US government is considering deploying nuclear weapons against a rebelling state (lets be clear — I don’t think this would ever happen, but for the sake of argument, let’s go with it), that threat is FAR more likely to cause in-fighting within the milita between people steadfastly standing up for rights, and those who just don’t want to be vaporized. In that case, allowing us to have piddly pea-shooters we can destroy ourselves with is actually in the US government’s best interest. WAY TO PLAY INTO BIG GOVERNMENT’S HAND, GUYS.

Stupid intellectual exercises aside, I think this ties back to my Scud missile example by asking “what is an arm, anyway?” I need a non-arbitrary reason why we should ban rocket-powered grenades but not a 9mm. I’ve never heard one.

Ultimately, I do sympathize with defenders of this amendment. As a big believer in the first amendment, I often find myself defending the freedom of speech after some asshole abuses it. The difference, though, is that if speech is harmful — though defamation or just shouting “fire” in a crowded theater — it isn’t protected. ALL GUNS ARE HARMFUL. Sure, not everybody who uses a gun is going to point it at a school full of innocent kids, and not everybody who spreads lies about a person actually harms their reputation, but I don’t think that’s enough to protect our “right” to defamation OR guns.

What it’s really about

Ultimately, I suspect the arguments I detailed above are simply ways people try to defend the simple fact that they like guns. They like having them, so they feel like they’re a god-given right, even though there are all kinds of other things that they’ll gladly accept that they don’t have a right to own. Here’s the thing, though: even the ickiest feeling that giving up something you like might bring isn’t half as bad as giving up your life, or your child’s. Anyone who thinks their “right” to own a certain kind of object supersedes the right of those parents to pick their kids up from school that day, or for those kids to receive the Christmas presents their parents had already wrapped for them, or for them to just hug their mom one last time, you can go straight to hell. For allowing guns to continue to exist in our society, we all have the blood of those kids on our hands. It’s time to do the right thing. No more pussyfooting about “control,” we just need to fucking ban them outright. We’re far too late in doing this, but let’s not allow this tragedy to repeat itself.

Fairweather Fandom Wednesday: Neglecting my blog

My aversion to blogging was one of the first manifestations of my poseurphobia that I attempted to address with this blog. The fact that this blog exists is ongoing proof that I’ve at least learned to deal with whatever issues I may have with blogging, and the fact that I now have another blog should indicate that I may even enjoy it. Oh, who am I kidding? In the early going, I was so keen to write posts that I had to set-up a schedule just so I wasn’t blogging every night.

In recent weeks, however, the fact that I’ve actually been doing stuff has prevented me from posting very regularly. This is a good thing — another big manifestation of my poseurphobia is my aversion to go out and try new things — but it kind of calls into question what role this blog now plays in my ongoing quest to overcome my poseurphobia. My concern is that the blogging schedule I’ve set up may be making demands of my time that prevent me from trying new things. I may have actually been using this as a crutch; talking about my poseurphobia (while much more productive than not talking about it) is much less productive than actually doing anything about it. I knew the blog itself was a baby step, and I’m starting to think it’s a step it’s time for me to move on from.

Don’t get me wrong — I still think sharing my progress is a great way to keep me motivated and honest about addressing my poseurphobia — I just think the rigorous schedule is getting in the way of actually doing anything besides blogging. It’s tough, because I’ve been more motivated to maintain my blog than anything, and I’d like to tap into that energy to get more done, but I’m starting to think I can’t really do more if I’m sticking to this schedule. I’m a little worried that this may be my tendency to abandon projects halfway through rearing its ugly head (in which case, maybe I should stick it out), but since there were no specific goals when I set out other than addressing my poseurphobia, I’m inclined to think it’s okay to change horses if I think the new one will take me further.

Part of this is coming about because of the experience I had at the SEAMUS conference. On the whole, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, but found myself somewhere between guilted and motivated to start composing more (it also helps that I got some good feedback on my recent post asking for help picking a project). Anyway, there really isn’t much time in my schedule for new (or rediscovered) hobbies, so I need to lose something.

Also on that trip, I was invited to join my old college funk band for a reunion gig of sorts. They’re getting paid enough to cover my travel costs, but the fact that they’re getting paid anything is almost reason enough for me to make the trip. It’ll be a blast, but I haven’t really played trumpet in almost two years. Sure, I’ve tooted on it a bit here and there, but a 2+ hour gig playing lead lines in funk tunes is going to require me to actually get in shape. Again, there isn’t a lot of time in my schedule for practicing, so I need to make it up somehow.

That trip also guilt/motivated me to get out and do more Boston stuff. It’s a great town for new music/culture in general, and I haven’t been taking advantage. Nothing makes me feel more boring than explaining that I don’t really have much of an opinion about Boston even though I’ve been living here for six months. This will have the effect of making me confront my poseurphobia about getting out and meeting people, while simultaneously keeping me from feeling like such a poseur when someone asks me about Boston. Once again, I need to make time for this activity.

Moreover, I’m getting my blog-itch scratched over at Retcon Punch, which is generally more fun to write for since it’s collaborative (not to mention new and exciting). I could frame it as having taken over more of my free time, but since it’s more fun and more social, I’m inclined to say that it’s the better investment of my time than spinning essays about how much my roommate bugs me. At any rate, I no longer need the blog for the fact that I like blogging, as I can continue to blog with or without maintaining this one.

The only thing holding me back, then, is the fact that I don’t want to be one of those bloggers with a neglected blog. It’s a really stupid reason, but I took a lot of pride in my regularly-scheduled posts. Taking that away will make me just another poseur with a shitty blog (though, come to think of it, maybe that’s what I’ve been all along). I guess it’s good, then, that my goal is to get over my fear of being thought of as a poseur. I am just another poseur with a shitty blog. It helped me address some of my own issues, and was maybe worth something to the people who read it. I liked doing it, but it’s time for me to abandon the schedule I’d been sticking to for so long.

I’m imagining I’ll mostly post progress reports moving forward, and who knows when the next one will be. I’ll encourage anyone interested in reading that next post to follow this blog so you’ll get an email alert whenever it happens. It’s weird that I’m kind of sad to let go, but I really need to if I want to get any of this other stuff done. Thanks to anyone that’s stuck with me through the first stage in this experiment; now let’s see what happens in the next.

Solutions in Action: SEAMUS

I tend to stay in. It’s hard for me to pinpoint how much this tendency is derived from my poseurphobia, but it’s fair to say that I would probably go out a lot more if I wasn’t so afraid of being judged all the time. In addition to frustrating my socially-inclined girlfriend, this prevents me from participating in all kinds of things I might actually enjoy. I’ve used this blog to motivate me into action before, but I’d like to make it a more regular occurrence, which is why I’m introducing a new Friday tradition: Solutions in Action. Basically, it will be a space to either report on some activity I have done, or to set a goal to do so in the future. As I said, I’ve done this a bit on this blog already, I’m just hoping I can motivate myself to do more if I make it a weekly piece.

I’m writing today from the seat of a Greyhound bus traveling to Appleton, Wisconsin for the SEAMUS National Conference. Now sure, a three-day conference (mostly concerts) on electro-acoustic music sounds like a lot of fun (to me, anyway), but there’s something about the thought of being around so many composers that puts me on edge. I’ve written before about how the world of composition elicits bizarre posturing, which is something I’ve only ever experienced in small doses — I can’t imagine how I might act around hundreds of composers. I don’t like meeting new people in general, but you add all the weird composer stuff on top, and suddenly the conference doesn’t sound all that appealing.

But I’m still going.

Now, to be fair, there are a lot of mitigating factors at work here. This year’s conference is being held at Lawrence University, my own alma mater. I don’t necessarily take every excuse to go back and visit, but I had a friend planning on making the trek from the east coast, and another with a piece on the program, so it seemed like a pretty good excuse. Between the rather robust concert schedule and those two friends (neither of which I’ve seen in quite some time), I figured I’d have a nice, full weekend ahead of me.

Then I realized that I still know a lot of people at Lawrence. I had forgotten how many underclassmen I knew, and hadn’t realized how many of my graduated friends were still in the area. Suddenly, the trip that had me so worried about my interactions with strangers is packed with familiar faces. This is puts my mind at ease — the thought of hanging out with old friends doesn’t make me anxious at all — but it also crowds my schedule in ways I wasn’t expecting. If I schmooze with all these composers, will I have time to buy Provie that beer I owe her for getting her Super Garruda? Will my desire to catch up with fellow cantankerous old men conflict with the concert schedule? I’m sure my inherent frugality will keep me from wasting the registration fee, but will I spend the social time making new friends or enjoying the company of old ones? I know where my inclinations lie, but I’m not certain of my best interest.

I am not a fan of professional networking, and the thought of spending a weekend immersed in it does not appeal to me at all, though at the same time, I am interested in meeting some like-minded composers (I know so few, but value their friendship so greatly). I’m not sure how the social side of the event will shake out, but I’m not sure I could handle all of the registered attendees in one place (no matter how many great things I may hear about the hotel bar). I’m hoping the crowd will break into smaller groups, ones that can be easily stereotyped by their preference of local bars. I worry that finding that group may take several nights’ worth of time, though I know I’m going to want to spend at least one of those nights catching up with old friends.

The situation is helped somewhat by the fact that some of the people I’m so looking forward to hang out with will also be participating in the conference, so I may be able to count on some catch-up time while meeting new people. BAH! I’m over-thinking this and writing it out boringly. Give me a break, I need to occupy my time on this bus somehow.

The point is, I’m getting out this weekend, and am actually looking forward to meeting new people. I realize that this is a simple thing people do everyday, but it requires some fretting for me. The point of this post isn’t to congratulate me for doing something simple, but to keep me honest about actually doing it. If you see me this weekend (or even if you don’t), ask me how many new people I’ve met. If it’s any more than zero, this weekend out will have justified itself.

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