Dec 182012
 

Annabel,

First, for the most part I agree with much of the Coffee Party ideals that you’ve laid out over time.  As a Libertarian, my primary motivation is to lessen government control and invigorate personal freedoms.

This morning I read your post regarding your responses to pro-gun folk.  Unfortunately, I think you’ve responded to some of the more hyperbolic claims (though not all without any truth), which makes the pro-gun crowd seem a bit absurd.  I’d like to take this opportunity to rebut some of your comments, and hopefully add to the discussion.

Dear friends who can’t tolerate anyone bringing up gun control

In this section, I feel some lines are blurred.  The primary point that you are making, however, appears to be that regulation and a ban are different.  I agree with this.  However, regulation can effectively ban things.  For an example, let’s look at the recent BuckyBall fiasco (or click here for additional info).  In this case a federal body with no legislative authority, the CPSC, effectively shut down a company because a few children were injured by their products, despite warnings on the packaging.  These magnetic desk toys harm far fewer people than many other every day items – certainly fewer than guns.  This kind of reaction from the government is exactly what the seriously pro-gun crowd fears.  Sometimes hyperbole is more than paranoia.

Dear friends who say that calling for better gun laws is like calling for a ban on cars

Fair points.  Except that I would say that only a very specific selection of guns are created to kill people.  Most are made to protect people or to hunt animals.  The only guns explicitly made to kill people are assault rifles and sidearms designed for the military and various militia around the world.  This is a relatively small fraction of guns that are manufactured.  Just because something can kill people does not mean that it’s made to kill people.  Tasers are “non-lethal,” but still kill people with an oddly high probability.

Dear friends who say that Newtown is about mental illness and we should only discuss improving healthcare for the mentally ill

Perhaps “only” is too strong of a qualifier, but this is not an unreasonable approach.  A foundation of our country is supposed to be personal responsibility, for better or worse.  That includes placing responsibility on those responsible for actions.  Smith & Wesson doesn’t kill people as a company.  The guy who runs the local gun shop?  Probably doesn’t kill people.  The legislators who don’t create more stringent gun laws?  The judges who uphold our Constitutional rights?  Also probably not out slaying random citizens.  Just like in rape cases, we need to blame the person who is directly and immediately responsible for committing the crime.  Just like it’s not a woman’s fault for being raped because she dresses “provocatively,” it’s not anyone else’s fault but the shooter’s that people died by his or her hand (hand, and not gun, being imperative language here).

Dear friends who say the problem is the person not the gun

Well yes.  But this is also a bit of a misnomer.  Just like a terrorist will find a way, so will a lunatic.  I often joke in an agitated way about the TSA and it’s regulations.  I find it amusing that somehow matches are okay and a lighter is not, despite the fact that they both create fire.  Or that I can bring my keys on a plane, but not nail clippers.  I’m fairly confident that if I intended to physically harm someone on a plane, my keys would make a better weapon than nail clippers.  It’s about placing blame in ways that allow people to feel safe.  The problem isn’t the gun or the person with the gun, it’s the person who wants to kill people.  I’m additionally confident that if he couldn’t get a gun, he could’ve built a pipe bomb, or stolen a car and run kids down after school, or any number of other ways to harm others.  How can an inanimate object be to blame?  It’s simply a logical fallacy to believe that it possible.

Dear friends who say we need guns to protect ourselves from the government

I think, perhaps, you’d be surprised to find out that we wouldn’t need tanks and fighter jets and rocket launchers to overthrow our government.  We’d just need people and guns.  I’m a combat veteran with six years in the U.S. Army and a tour in Afghanistan.  I know first hand how resistance can be utilized with lesser equipment.  The Taliban don’t have tanks or Apaches, or armored vehicles, or a nuclear arsenal.  Yet they continue to kick our collective butts on their turf.  The American Revolutionary War was fought by some guys against the King’s Army – and we won (with a little help).  Look to the Arab Spring to see a multitude of examples or how regular plain old people without modern/better equipment or training have overthrown governments.  We just need ourselves and our guns.  Legitimately.

Dear friends who treat the Constitution as some holy scripture from God and who think they have divined the correct, original, literal, interpretation of it

This is a double-edged sword.  If we allow too much leeway in interpretation, then the government holds to power to eventually interpret it however they choose.  With legislation like the USA PATRIOT ACT, apparently many members of Congress feel they can mock the Constitution to begin with – why give them additional ammunition?

Dear friends who think we need more God in the classroom

On this, I agree wholeheartedly!

Dear friends who think we need more guns in the classroom to protect our children

Now you’ve turned the hyperbole train on yourself with: “Why stop at arming teachers? Why not arm children?”

First, children don’t have the frontal lobe development to discern appropriate actions where violence is concerned.  Simple biology and psychology tells us this.  But why NOT arm teachers, even if it’s only some?  Or allow/require schools to hire an armed guard?  A teacher friend of mine disliked my stance on this over Facebook, and asked why the police couldn’t just step up patrolling.  It’s interesting to me that teachers seem to not realize that they get paid exactly in the same fashion as police officers.  If there isn’t enough money for enough teachers, there probably isn’t enough money for more officers.  Maybe we can have one FEWER teacher at each school, and one ADDITIONAL officer to protect them all.  I bet the teachers would love that, too.

Dear friends who fear that your guns will be confiscated

While I agree that the NRA leadership isn’t exactly helpful in making things safer, I understand the fear that they harbor.  I’m not paranoid.  I highly doubt that in my lifetime the government will ever come for my single assault rifle (that I legally own).  However, I do fear that sometime in my children’s or grandchildren’s lifetime that this could happen.  Protecting the future of our country is as important as protecting the present.

So, there we have it… my piece of the discussion.  Annabel, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my comments.

-Jesse

Dec 102012
 

As some of you may have heard, last week saw a prank call by radio personalities in Australia to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine “Kate” Middleton) is being seen for severe morning sickness.  Apparently, however, the nurse that took the call and passed it along to the ward where the Duchess was staying committed suicide on Friday, and all indicators point to this being caused by the prank calls.  Now there is a cry out against “shock jocks” (a moniker often reserved for the likes of Howard Stern, who certainly is more shocking than a prank call pretending to be the Queen Mother) and finger-pointing at the two Australians behind the calls.

Frankly, I think this is just insane.  It was a prank phone call.  It’s awful that Ms.  Jacintha Saldanha decided to take her own life over the issue, but is blaming these two radio personalities the answer?  If someone commits suicide because they lose their house, and it’s because they were legitimately not credit worthy, is it the bank’s fault that they took things to that level?  I say no.  What do you think?