Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yeehaw!

The Texas Legislature only meets for 6 months every two years, according to our state constitution.  This is why:

Representative Dan Flynn hails from District Two, an area between Dallas and Austin. His House bill is proposing reducing the ten hours the State of Texas requires spent learning things like gun safety, gun storage and dispute resolution to four hours.
 
“It allows more people to have the opportunity to come and take it. They don’t have to take a day off of work to come and take a class. They don’t have to use a whole Saturday. The proof is whether or not you pass the test.”

Right now out of those ten hours, two are spent on a shooting range to prove weapon proficiency. Representative Flynn says that portion of the test will not be impacted by his proposed legislation. However the eight hours of theory would be. What exactly will be covered in those four hours hasn’t been fleshed out yet, nor has the question of whether that’s enough time to get through the material.
Texas schools are grossly underfunded.  There is a lawsuit (another one) in progress on that very issue.  The State Comptroller has announced a surplus in state coffers, and Gov. Goodhair has already declared it cannot be used to educate our children.

And so what we really need to worry about is how quickly we can get to that handgun license.  Of course, not to be outdone on the stoopid:

"The Vice President's committee was appointed in response to the tragedy at Newtown, but very few of his recommendations have anything to do with what happened there.

"Guns require a finger to pull the trigger. The sad young man who did that in Newtown was clearly haunted by demons and no gun law could have saved the children in Sandy Hook Elementary from his terror.
"There is evil prowling in the world - it shows up in our movies, video games and online fascinations, and finds its way into vulnerable hearts and minds. As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children.

"In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally.

The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president."

I actually heard a guest today on World Have Your Say, a man from Arkansas, argue that the deaths of innocents in Connecticut or Colorado, or the 900 President Obama mentioned who have died since Newtown around the country, are the price we pay for the right to keep and bear arms.

This madness has to stop.


15 Comments:

Anonymous Windhorse said...

Jesus wept.

That's all I got on the gun thing. This issue literally obscures the ability of people to think straight or control their emotions. Its effects are like those of the One Ring forged by Sauron on its wearers. Your prescriptions are eminently sensible, but who will take them up? In fact it's because they are sensible that no one will take them up. For many, guns are the final tool which allow them to be fantasists, to live in either a mythical past or indulge and prepare for a fanciful future charged with deep and solemn meaning. They need guns to stave off the awful existential horror of the present at all costs, a present they cannot face because it is scary and uncertain. They can't abide the thought that their Precious might be taken from them or even regulated by someone else.

Idols. Totems. Fetishes. Take your pick. For the frightened, guns become investitures of the real self. Take away their guns and you take away their very identity. That's why there is a great collective screaming of the gun nut Id today across the nation. Gun enthusiasts feel their defenses are being ripped away, though they are not, and political opportunists are egging them on.

This is ultimately a spiritual problem, but you can't legislate spirituality so you "shut off the pump." But clearly at the present the political will isn't there to shut off the gun pump, or the bullet pump. And since even child massacres no longer create that will...what now?

NB: On the Fox and Friends morning show today they cheerfully instructed their viewers over coffee on how to get around an assault weapons ban should one be enacted. Next up: a cute puppy!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Idols. Totems. Fetishes. Take your pick. For the frightened, guns become investitures of the real self. Take away their guns and you take away their very identity.

Been considering that, and starting to compile references to the appropriate scriptures. Yes, it is a spiritual problem. Primarily, though, in the case of idolatry, of a minority of a minority.

Case in point: David Keene (I presume) on NPR this p.m., arguing "assault rifles" are ordinary and common in the sense Scalia spoke of in Heller (the individual right to bear arms case). Keene based this conclusion on the fact there are 4-8 million such guns in existence (in America, I presume. Not sure if that counts guns in military hands, to be honest.). Of course, that is maybe 2% of the 300 million guns in private hands in America. When 2% = "common and usual," words have lost all meaning.

I don't think I'd have trouble winning that argument with the family members I know who own guns and use them responsibly. I also think such people are the majority, not the foaming at the mouth minority.

I'm not so sure the political will to do something is not present. The keener question is: what will actually pass, and how much good will it actually do? Maybe we could start by asking why no one owns a FULLY automatic weapon anymore, and what that has to do with "gun rights."

5:11 PM  
Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I'm really looking forward for that Texas as majority minority state I've been told to expect. I hear that's what was behind Jan Brewer's Medicaid decision. It's really bad when your governor is nuttier than Jan Brewer. I know, I've got one too.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Windhorse said...

A minority of crazies, to be sure, but a vocal minority with a lock on many of the levers of power and will obstruct change. A minority with outsized media megaphones and media influence. A minority that is literally calling for insurrection and all that implies over this issue. And a minority that the majority just doesn't seem to have the will to fight on this issue.

Don't get me wrong, I will press on. I am engaging family and friends and internet strangers on this issue. But right now I'm pessimistic and weary and disappointed by humans, and in particular, Americans. I've come down from the mountain with tablets of righteousness and seen people dancing with vicious abandon around a golden calf. One more bible story I get now.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Windhorse & TC: in both cases, I know what you mean.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous DAS said...

I heard a "man on the street" interview today on the radio (forget if it was NPR or one of the local news stations) and the person pointed out that when people die in auto accidents, we don't blame the car, we blame the driver.

Which I thought was odd ... because ... we expect that people do far more to demonstrate their safety/competence to be licensed to have the privilage of driving a car than we do for having the "right" to bear arms.

But also ... cars in fact do need (and are being made to be) safer to avoid auto deaths and injuries: the idea that I should be able to aim a vehicle collision with which could kill someone in a direction where I cannot really see where I am going is to me outrageous. And guess what? Auto companies are finally addressing some of these safety issues (now if only they'd make a car that can go sideways to facilitate parallel parking!). And the fact is that if an auto death resulted from an issue involving the car not working in the safest possible manner, we DO blame the car!

But how do gun companies make a gun less likely to cause shooting deaths?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

But how do gun companies make a gun less likely to cause shooting deaths?

How can they? Guns don't kill people!

Even though, as Stanley McChrystal said, "assault weapons" are made for one purpose: to kill people.

Any other consumer product, up to and including automobiles, that kills people, gets pulled from the market. Boeing's newest jet is being grounded because it MIGHT kill someone. But guns? Guns don't kill people! Planes kill people! Cars kill people! But never guns! Because....2nd Amendment!!!!!

Honestly, it doesn't make any damned sense at all. We're rapidly approaching the point in the argument where dead people are the price we pay for freedumb.

Yes, freedumb.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Windhorse said...

"Christian" lawmaker: guns are an "absolutely essential" part of God's plan. Which is why they're so central to the New Testament message...I guess....

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/17/california-lawmaker-guns-are-essential-to-living-the-way-god-intended/

8:32 PM  
Anonymous drkrick said...

Another case of not being able to logically argue people out of a belief that they weren't logically argued into. Josh Marshall's idea of two tribes talking past each other makes a lot of sense to me. I know I can't make any sense of the role guns play in some of these people's identity and sense of self worth.

There are lots of people who are happy to publicly back the guy from Arkansas when he says that the cost of all those lives really is worth the benefit of relatively untrammeled access to firearms. Maybe if we force them to make that argument out loud and often, the vast majority who disagree will understand that we can't let those folks define what's politically possible.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I think the only political hope here is to expose the extremist argument.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Windhorse said...

I have spent a lot of years beating up wingnuts on political blogs under another moniker. Arguments with gun nuts, as they are a unique subculture of wingnut, usually go like this:

Gun nut: "You're stupid and don't know anything about guns. Blah blah magazine blah stopping power blah defense blah blah just like a knife. Also, X, Y, and Z claims about gun facts in the US and other countries.

Me: I'm a gun owner from a family of policeman and have grown up with loaded guns in the home from a young age. I've hunted, gone to the range, and I'm proficient with handguns and long arms. I'm just not a gun fetishist. Also, here are the rebuttals to your false claims X, Y, and Z which you never bothered to fact check."

Gun nut: "You own guns? Then you should know better! Guns don't hurt nobody and only make us safer. Without unrestricted access to the most powerful weapons and largest clips no one is safe! Why, one lady shot a burglar six times and he didn't die right away! Bet she wishes she'd had a Bushmaster!"

Me: "Not true. Here are statistics A, B, and C and arguments D, E, and F which prove that guns don't make you safer and that we need sensible gun safety reform. You idiot."

Gun nut: [agitated] "You liberals think you're so smart! Well you know what? We've got all the guns and you can't stop us! You guys try and change any law and we're coming for you!" [alternately "We will rise up against tyranny and take control of the country" or "Why don't you tell me your address so I can pay you a visit with my .44?"]

The disturbing reality is that the American gun subculture today is shot through with paranoiacs who have stern-daddy issues and can't control their emotions. These are people, often not too bright, who distrust authority and simply aren't going to be told that they can't do whatever they want. They have no use for law, history, reasoned argument, or public safety, and in a weird way they actually want you to come and try and take their guns away from them because they really, REALLY want to shoot someone in order to feel alive. 

And they're always looking for an excuse, any excuse, to overthrow the government in favor of vigilantism, anarchy and self-rule. For individuals who constantly scream about the importance of following the Constitution and rule of law these folks spend an awful lot of time skirting the law and bragging about it while announcing their intention to not comply with new laws. Spend some time on right-wing gun sites and you'll find that one of their favorite hobbies is writing "new" constitutions for the day when the "inevitable" revolution comes and they take control of the country (Free Republic is big on this).  

I'm submitting this to point out that there is no reasoning with these people. The best we can do is get the majority, who are sane and care about their children and themselves, to get behind some reasonable gun safety measures to cut down on the killings, weak tea though they'll almost certainly be given political realities. And once these laws are passed and the domestic terrorists who call themselves Patriots begin breaking said laws they can be dealt with by law enforcement. 

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Windhorse said...

As a supporting anecdote, last night I came to the aid of a Facebook friend who was being attacked and denigrated by a gun nut friend of his over some mild gun control suggestions he'd made. Since I lacked anonymity in that forum I was more polite than I usually am but no less direct, and one by one I dissected this individual's arguments. THE VERY FACT of my rebutting his arguments upset him so much that he grumbled off in a huff and felt the need to obliquely threaten me, warning me that I "better never touch his gun - or else." As if taking his gun was even a remote possibility for an individual I don't even know, some guy who lives who knows where (and who, by the way, has a submachine gun he's just itchin' to use), or a reasonable response to a discussion about gun control in which my suggestions were actually quite moderate. 

The thing is, these people can't even have a discussion about guns without eventually making physical threats because guns are their crutches and guns are their saviors, and in their minds even an abstract discussion which entails some limit on firearms frightens them existentially - because what if they ran into that one scenario where there are thirty attackers and they need that 100 round clip?!?  In the long run, I don't know what we do about this armed, paranoid, and belligerent anti-government demographic, except hope that they fail to pass down their paranoia to their children. 

2:35 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I have a private theory that the mass shooters who kill themselves realize what they have done.

Too late, of course. But I'm convinced we don't need to reason with them, we must override them. Their political power is democracy as mob rule. It is more difficult to do, but we must assert rule by consensus, and that means by majority.

There is no right to an arsenal, nor to unlimited ammunition.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I meant to say gun nuts, like killers, get lost in abstractions.

We can't let their fantasies rule our reality.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Windhorse said...

IWe can't let their fantasies rule our reality.

Agreed.

7:47 PM  

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