Tag Archives: safety

Guns and Freedom

“Freedom’s Safest Place” is how the NRA styles itself in its current series of self-promoting ads. The ads run on YouTube.com and tend to be linked as preludes to gun-related content.  They also show up if Google searches have associated your internet address with gun interest.

Freedom's Safest Place
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION VIDEO SERIES

Everyone interested in the interplay of gun violence and politics should take time to watch a few of these. They stoke the fears of gun enthusiasts, promote guns as the solution to violent crime and terrorism, and in not so subtle ways reinforce a conservative political agenda.

On August 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was speaking about the prospect of Hillary Clinton nominating the next members of the Supreme Court of the US.  “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment,” Trump said at a rally in Wilmington, N.C., on Tuesday. “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

The facial expressions and body language of those present was alarming. Smiles, glances at companions that said, “Did he really say that out loud?” And, most shocking, nods of agreement.

Apologists immediately “clarified” Mr. Trump’s meaning saying he was only acknowledging the legendary political cohesiveness and clout of the NRA.  But here I will make the argument for a much more sinister meaning.

FREEDOM’S SAFEST PLACE

What does this tag line mean? If you follow NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, it affirms the notion that Americans have not only a right but a patriotic duty to own and be proficient with arms. The idea is that freedom’s enemies, foreign and domestic, would never prevail against the populist will of an armed and ready citizenry. Should the government get out of hand, the people so armed can and will defend freedom; or so the myth goes. If you listen carefully to Wayne Lapierre’s “We Don’t Need You” rant, he’s articulating the anti-establishment, anti-elite anger of what’s come to be termed populism. “I am the NRA, and I’m Freedom’s Safest Place,” he says.

Yes it is a myth.  The stereotypical NRA life member is overweight, over 50, and no match for a squad of modern combat trained troops no matter what his gun collection holds. But more important, which political faction do these latter-day Minute Men represent?

In their fantasy, these defenders of liberty imagine a clearly defined enemy. Someone or some ideology that all good souls agree is Freedom’s enemy, and all are willing to die a hero’s death to repel. Alas, the real world is many shades of grey, full of nuance and complexity, and not something that all unite in recognizing as “the enemy.”

But, the myth has become reality in some dark recess of a few minds. And this is the context for Mr. Trump to refer to them as “the Second Amendment people.”

One observer of the Trump crowd said that there was a pause after Trump said, “By the way, and if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. …”  His impression was that Trump heard something in the shouts of the crowd and responded, as he so often does. We can’t tell just what he heard in the crowd’s shouts, but for sure it was not a nuanced statement about the political cohesiveness and clout of the NRA’s Second Amendment defenders.

Thomas Friedman observes, “After all, an informal Trump adviser on veteran affairs, Al Baldasaro, a Republican state representative from New Hampshire, already declared that Clinton should be ‘shot for treason’ for her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack.” In his column he compares the extreme hatred and anger of Trump’s followers to the climate that culminated in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Is it really hard to decode “…Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” What would a  gun zealot, one of the Second Amendment people, one who hates and fears Hillary Clinton, be expected to think was meant?

God Save America, my beloved country.

Gun Porn

What’s “Gun Porn”?

Television programs, magazine, books, etc. that are regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience. [Usage example:] ‘a thrilling throwback to the golden age of disaster movies—weather porn of the highest order’ — “Porn” as defined in Oxford Dictionaries.

When I began my research for the essay Gun Sense I looked at a lot of YouTube amateur video showing people enthusiastically shooting watermelons, pumpkins, bottles of soda, and even propane bottles. The common factor was the explosion when the bullet smashed into the object. It reminded me of my first gun and how much I loved to shoot stuff at the age of ten.

As of boy I had a Daisy Red Rider 650 shot air gun. I learned the basics of handling a “real” gun safely. I was taught to presume that it always was loaded and cocked and never ever point it at anything I didn’t want to hurt.  Once I demonstrated the proper respect for its care and uses, I was allowed to shoot without adult supervision.

Kids will be kids, and I was no different. Target shooting escalated to tin cans and bottles. I quickly learned that shooting steel BBs at hard surfaces caused them to return from whence they came with stinging force. I survived and never “shot my eye out” as adults often predict when a kid has a BB rifle.

As a teen I attended NRA sanctioned marksmanship courses and learned the rules and practices of firing bullets from 22 caliber guns. On one or two occasions I’ve fired 32 caliber and 45 caliber semi-automatic pistols.  Need I say that the excitement of firing these serious weapons is vastly greater than shooting my Red Ryder?

ADDICTIVE THRILL

There may be an addictive quality about the thrill of using tactical weapons. We live in an addictive society and there are many, many activities that stimulate our senses and give a rush of excitement or other satisfaction. We overeat, smoke, binge watch TV, and so on.

 

 

Video Game Addiction is actually a thing. It’s listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manal of the American Psychiatric Association. Playing video games is exciting and people get a rush from the very realistic simulations. One can develop a craving for that stimulation that makes playing the games become obsessive. The more visually realistic and dramatic, the bigger the rush.

Is it such a leap to think that activities involving the tools of real combat would give a similar rush?   The video clips that follow are selected for hundreds available on the web. As you watch, observe the people in the videos. What’s their affect? Are they excited? Could this become obsessive? Decide for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT DO YOU FEEL?

How’s your pulse?

These are videos of and by adults who have invested $500 or more in a firearm that is not for hunting and, though sometimes used for competitive marksmanship, is being used here as a kid uses a BB gun. It’s the civilian semi-automatic version of the military fully automatic M-16. Hardly a toy.

This is why I think “Gun Porn” is a thing, just like video game addiction, gambling addiction, and other activity addictions.