Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sometimes the memes just write themselves


I've pretty much stayed away from the subject of the terrorist attack in Orlando as far as the Intertubes goes.  Other than saying I feel really sorry for all the people that were killed, which really doesn't help, I've got nothing useful to add to the noise.

But locally, oh boy, locally.

One of the local small-town "newspapers" basically stepped on its male member this week while attempting to write an editorial.  It started off as "Automatic weapons deserve ban" but after quite a few of us pointed out the author's gaffe, they at least got it corrected to "Semi-automatic weapons deserve ban".  Still after you read the thing, it's nothing more than a sophomoric collection of emotional feces, flung by a monkey at its digital cage wall.


Well then.  The online comments and apparently a lot of phone calls moved the executive editor  to write "Error in editorial on guns leads to stereotyping comment".  Note that he isn't concerned about the mistakes in the original as much as his is that one caller in essence stereotyped him as a hillbilly.  (Please note that I'm not going to name him, just so he can't go ego-surfing around here.  He's going to have to look for proper links back to the paper he manages, just like a real journalist.)

Why, the nerve of some people!  Just because his family was from the mountains they thought he'd know something about guns.  I think he may be the first person I've ever heard of from the mountains who doesn't know anything about guns--and is proud of it.  Takes all kinds, as my mother would have said.

At any rate, seeing as I haven't done any proselytizing for the Second Amendment out amongst the heathens lately, I decided I would write a letter to the editor.  Then my innate sense of caution kicked in, since doing such thing can have various foreseen effects such as burglary and employment issues.  (Sidebar:  Daughter recently changed jobs and they ran a background check on her.  Would you care to guess what was in the information that came back?  Yes, the fact that she has a concealed carry permit.  She got the job but had to acknowledge that her employer has a policy of "no guns at work".  She keeps it in a lock box in her car.)  So I decided to post it as a comment, which had to be broken up into 4 pieces due to limitations of their commenting system.  As I'm modestly proud of this particular piece, I thought I'd share it with you.

Chad, I for one won't stereotype you in the manner you seem to find unseemly.  Instead, I'll stereotype you as something else—dangerously uninformed.  

You tell us that you do not hunt and that you have no knowledge of guns.  I’m happy to accept your self-assessment.  But given that, why should your completely uninformed opinion be given any credence in a discussion in which you don't know even the most basic of facts?  Example:  "Automatic weapons have been banned since 1934 in the United States."  As I and others have previously pointed out, the National Firearms Act of 1934 did no such thing.  It regulated and taxed them, no more.  Automatic weapons in the United States are still legal in the vast majority of localities, including North Carolina, if one wishes to jump through the legal hurdles and pay the exorbitant prices they now command.  Later laws have restricted the available supply, but those that are available are still legal to own.

You also state "...I don't think too many want to ban guns completely."  You are far from correct here as well.  My best estimate, based on the national polling I've seen, is that somewhere around 20-25% of the US population would quite happily rip the Second Amendment from the Constitution and allow Senator Nancy Pelosi to have her moment in the sun, saying "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in."  By the way, just for the record, she made that statement in 1994.  The gun banners, as we call them, have been at this for a long time.

Now to address what you say is the overall point of the editorial. "Certain types of weapons aren't needed in the public sphere for legitimate uses like self-protection or hunting."  What types of weapons are you talking about?  If it's semi-automatic rifles, you might be interested to know that the first one of those was invented in 1885.  The first magazine-fed semi-auto came shortly after, and both found modest success--in civilian markets.  Semi-automatic rifles did not see wide-spread use in any military until World War II and the US introduction of the M1 Garand.  If it's magazine fed semi-automatic rifles that concern you, these are really rather old hat, technology wise.  The main difference between the various models at this point is simply in physical appearance.

Perhaps you're more concerned with the AR platform rifle, the most popular rifle in the US in terms of number sold.  Developed in the late 1950s, this rifle has been sold in the civilian market since 1963 (with certain changes, notably the removal of the select fire or as you would call it, machine gun, capability).  It is used, in various calibers, for hunting everything from varmints to large game, in firearms competitions that draw competitors from around the world, and yes, by people like me to defend their homes.  Eugene Stoner designed a very reliable and flexible platform, and the dual facts that it is the longest serving main battle rifle in US military history and capable of so many diverse uses in its civilian incarnation are a testimony to his genius.  

You or anyone with access to the Internet could have easily discovered these facts, but instead you launched an emotional appeal full of inaccuracies and you've been called on it repeatedly.  I can't imagine that's been a pleasant experience for you, but I hope it's been a learning one.

Now to address one final item.  You seem to have an issue with our desire for anonymity.  Let me give you the view from our side of the street.  We gun owners have a long history of distrust of the media.  From our point of view, you’ve earned it.

As an acquaintance of mine has put it, we can usually win the interviews but we can’t win the edits.  Latest case in point, Katie Couric and her latest gun “documentaries”.  I’ll allow you to plug that into Google.  Luckily for the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League, they had their own copies of the interviews in question.

Couple that with certain dirty tricks, such as publishing some time back of the names and addresses of holders of North Carolina concealed carry permits, which put those people in a bad position. “Hey, spousal abuser!  They got a carry permit and they are living here now!  Happy hunting!” or “Break in here for guns!”  Oddly enough, when some of our folks published the reporter’s, editor’s and publisher’s addresses, they were pretty upset.  We, on the other hand, were supposed to just take it because it was “public record”.  Thankfully, the legislature didn’t see it like that, and those records are now not public.

Then there is the fact that we are gun owners, and we’d like to keep that quiet for any number of reasons.  For example, despite gun safes and burglar alarms, some individuals might still break into our homes looking for guns.  My home has been broken into, and while no guns were stolen, it wasn’t fun dealing with the mess after.

There’s also outright discrimination against gun owners in the workplace.  We aren’t a protected class, so we’ve learned how to keep our mouths shut when it comes to our politics and our hobbies.  I, for example, have spent over 20 years working for employers where my politics, my ownership of guns and my advocacy for the Second Amendment could have easily caused repercussions including losing my job.  I like to eat and I need to keep my bills paid.  I stay anonymous within the known limits of the technology we use to communicate.

I hope missive meets your civility requirements.  Your publication rules do not allow for anonymous letters to the editor, so you leave me little recourse but to drop this note here and hope you see it.  Cheers.

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