American as apple pie

Happiness is a warm... gun

Is anybody else as tired as I am of the phrase ‘gun violence’? Is gun violence worse than other kinds of violence? If I club a guy to death, is that somehow not quite so bad as shooting him?

Of course the phrase is meant to engender support for gun control laws — not abolition, of course; hell, the cops and the soldier boys and the people with enough political juice to get pistol permits clearly need them, right? How would they shoot us, otherwise? But control. Ordinary crazy people shouldn’t have guns. Only official crazy people should have guns.

Personally I’m fairly unexcited by guns, one way or the other, though I grew up in a gun culture, and learned how to shoot quite early, and was rather good at it, oddly enough. Guns don’t scare me, and they don’t much excite me, though there is a certain pleasure in the sounds they make — not so much the final bang, but the complex many-voiced click of the round being chambered, for example.

Even so, if I were Emperor For A Day, and could indulge myself, I’d prohibit all guns except single-shot bolt-action rifles and double-barrel shotguns, suitable for hunting venison and duck, and for dispatching varmints.

I would, of course, completely disarm the cops. Heh. Bottom rail on top dis time, Massa.

But what deplorers of ‘gun violence’ seem to miss is that the abundance of guns here in the City On A Hill is in fact one of its few triumphs of electoral ‘democracy’, as that phrase is understood on these shores. If you like legislatures, and elections, and so on, then you’ve got to accept your creepy neighbor’s arsenal of a dozen assault rifles as an entailment of our extravagant Ptolemaic system of elections: community boards, school boards, city council, not one but two houses of the state legislature, ditto for the federal.

Gun nuts are a minority; but they are more committed to having guns than non-gun-nuts are about taking them away. Consequently the gun nuts are more powerful, electorally speaking, than their neighbors who would only sorta kinda rather people didn’t have guns. This is the way electoral politics works. And it’s the reason why, if you’re going to go in for elections at all, you should decide what your single issue is, and not vote for anybody who isn’t good on your issue. Take a lesson from the gun nuts.

My issue is imperial war. I won’t vote for anybody who’s for imperial war. Of course in New York, where ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ both love imperial war, this means I don’t have anybody to vote for. Therefore I don’t vote.

Other kinds of democracy are not only envisionable, but historically attested. There is, for example, the scheme of picking legislators by lot from among the public, and dispensing with elections altogether.

I’m liking this one more and more. One of the things we would certainly get out of it is gun control; and I bet we’d have less imperial war, too.

23 thoughts on “American as apple pie

  1. I was going to leave a comment, but it took me so long to register and log in that I entirely forgot what it was I had to say. No doubt best for all concerned.

    • So sorry! Any time I have a stray notion about the theory of voting, your name comes to mind, since you’ve actually given the matter some thought.

  2. The obvious answer to the first rhetorical question, perhaps to obvious to merit this repetition, is that gun violence is quicker and easier than other kinds of violence, and possibly statistically more lethal.

    Is it your take then that the causes you tend to espouse (those not militated against by structural considerations, like anti-imperialism is) generally rouse less fanaticism?

    • Yeah, the quicker-and-easier part is the logic you’d hear from somebody who is particularly against *gun* violence. This strikes me as a kind of crackpot realism. Okay, we’ve got all these homicidal madmen running around, but hey, let’s not make it *easy* for them. There’ll still be as many homicidal madmen, but they’ll be more frustrated and less effectual. Hey, maybe they’ll enlist and go kill towelheads’ schoolchildren intead of ours.

      But the Great Democracy has given a decided verdict in favor of the gun nuts; that’s quite clear. Maybe the best thing is, don’t send your kids to school. I’m kinda sorry I ever did.

      Mine never got shot up, thank God. Their school did have a slight trauma, however, when a failed hedge-fund manager killed himself, his wife, and their two children, both inmates at the school at the time. He was a cultivated Upper West Sider, and no doubt a strong advocate of gun control, so he didn’t use a gun; carbon monoxide. So tidy. The apartment could go right on the market, with a minimum of cleaning.

      Fortunately, professional experts were called in to deal with the surviving students’ grief. So all was well.

  3. I think the logic is that anyone can potentially get thrown into a homicidal rage, so it’s better if the potential murder weapons around at when those times come are less efficient. It does seem to be the case that where there are fewer guns, at least in cities, there’s less murder overall.

    Buying the premise that they are out there, for the sake of argument, what would you do with the potentially homicidal madmen (and madwomen)? I don’t think we need much encouragement to build more prisons.

    • Nothing that dramatic happened at any of my schools. A classmate tried to kill herself, once, and the teachers had a talk to us all about it, but that was it.

  4. Possibly there are fewer madmen elsewhere too. The worst-ever school massacre in the US — I wrote about this a while back :

    — didn’t involve any gunplay.

    Anyway. The interesting thing for me is the madmen, not the guns. Since we can’t do anything about either one, any time soon, we can at least decide what we want to spend our finite time thinking about.

    • Somehow I missed “School Daze”. Liked it. Especially the focus on the perp. WRT today’s piece, to be absurd, if belt-fed M-60s were legal there would be occasional My Lai-like incidents in school and if personal nukes were legal, someone would slip through the “bomb-show” exemption, or is it a “loophole”, and take out a city or a university town. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. Rather than allow all freedom to be squeezed out of society, it would, IMO at least, be better to dump the 2nd amendment and start gathering up the repeating fire arms… as King Smith would do.

      • But as long as we have electoral democracy there will be no King Smith. Perhaps it’s just as well. I could give Mad King Ludwig a run for his money.

  5. ” I would, of course, completely disarm the cops. Heh. Bottom rail on top dis time, Massa.”

    I think we should all settle for sharp sticks and slings. Hell, we can even slather urine and feces on the sharp sticks.

    But the gun horse has long ago left the barn and ain’t no putting it back now.

    If the cops agree to go back to carrying a night stick then I’m all for taking away all the guns.

    Good to see you posting again.

  6. Now I remember: choosing the Doge of Venice!

    Wikipedia asserts that demarchy is the term for the choice of governors by sortition, but it’s a dubious claim. No matter; “sortition” is a happy enough label. The Doge-selection algorithm has much to recommend it, in any case: not naked sortition, but a healthy dose of arbitrary and laudably obfuscatory complexity. Guaranteed whiter whites.

    (Quibble: are our (and by “our” I reference us Usonians) recent wars in any real sense imperial? Certainly not in their effect.)

    • In their intent anyway.

      The Athenians practiced sortition too for many public offices, IIRC. And of course they gave us the word ‘democracy’ — a word of fear to the eiltes, until it got mixed up with elections and so gelded.

    • At a standup show recently, a comic from Staten Island (who looked not a day over sixteen) proposed that elected office should be a form form civil service–like jury duty, a kind of drudgery everyone has to do and no one wants.

      I love the idea, and often advocate it myself. But fear if a procedure for populating the Praesidium with real people chosen by some sort of lottery were ever actually implemented a means would shortly be devised to deprive the institution of effective political power (basically this is true of the House of Representatives already). Short of revolution I suspect mass rebellion is about the only way the US government can be brought, kicking and screaming, to act somewhat in the interests of at least some of those who are otherwise politically powerless.

  7. If it were up to me I would see more people armed with fully automatic assault rifles, anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and light machine guns. Anything necessary to take on the US military and cops in guerrilla warfare. I’d like to see a lot more of this happening:

    I don’t understand the liberal/leftist fear of guns. The wingnuts are uncomfortable in a society where only the government and its agents or criminals have firearms. Liberals and “leftists” are more concerned about some random loon getting his hands on a gun, as if gun control can prevent that. It makes me wonder who I should fear more.

    Over 100 million households in the US own over 300 millions guns. The Gunpocalypse is upon us, yet the predicted holocaust has yet to occur.

    According to Mr. Capone, you can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. When faced with a cop, a soldier or a criminal with intent to do harm to me or mine, I’d like to have something more than kind words to fight back with.

  8. The weapons I’m worried about are the ones being used in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. You’re right, Michael: guns in the USA are as American as apple pie, outsourcing, and nukes.

    Let’s not forget the class dimension: liberals don’t feel comfy with the rubes having guns, but seem undisturbed by the way our Ivy League POTUS deploys his deadly arsenal.

  9. ”My issue is imperial war. I won’t vote for anybody who’s for imperial war. Of course in New York, where ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ both love imperial war, this means I don’t have anybody to vote for. Therefore I don’t vote.”

    As mentioned before, I stopped voting since it was [to me] a clear cut validation of an invalid imperial system – not all that distinct from your reason.

    In my few attempts to discover why most others don’t vote it seems to be reaction to voting for something does not result in that ‘something’ but often the contrary So a sense of disconnect and gradual build of illigitimacy – remember NAFTA. Well, Perot had convinced a large no. of people – others simply thought about the obvious,,,,Sure the U.S. would lose jobs given the extreme wage differential [and less obviously, a major tax advantage to plants relocating to, say, Juarez…maquila capital of Mex then., now murder capital,,,,,,But hey, its all ‘free trade].

    Anyway, like the photo, almost ‘Biker’

    Su Amigo


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