Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Guns of November

Over at Balloon Juice, TimF wonders why Republicans appear to want a) a totalitarian police state, but b) also want people to be able to anonymously purchase assault weapons.

Actually, it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Any totalitarian state depends upon a plentiful supply of anonymous “brownshirts” to enforce their rule. Furthermore, any totalitarian state relies on the fact that people with moral qualms are less efficient and effective at using things like assault weapons and less likely to purchase them than amoral people who enjoy killing. The net result is that any “successful” totalitarianism relies on the support of anonymous amoral murderers for its “success” in keeping the remainder of the populace under control, and by and large does not mind that the majority of the population is heavily armed, because the minority of amoral murderers has far greater combat effectiveness due to their willingness to use their weapons and the fact that there is no list of who is one of the “brownshirts” thus you can’t know whether any particular person you encounter is a “brownshirt” or not. See: Sadaam’s Iraq, where everybody had an AK-47 in the bedroom and an RPG launcher and extra ammo buried in the garden, but Sadaam generally had no problem staying in power as long as he paid off the amoral murderer minority by giving them special privileges and goodies.

In short, there is no contradiction between a nation flooded with firearms and dictatorship. As long as the dictatorship provides special privileges and such to the minority of people who are amoral murderers, the amoral murderers will then keep the rest of the populace in check no matter how many weapons the rest of the populace possesses. It’s much like the reason why despite owning firearms I do not carry a firearm in public, even back when I lived in a state where they handed out concealed weapon permits like candy. The reality is that in a face-off between me and an amoral murderer, I would still be trying to figure out whether the situation called for deadly force at the same time that the amoral murderer was plugging my plump penguin ass. Those “moral qualms” things just don’t make for effective use of firearms, which is why one of the first things that the military does with new recruits is make sure that any moral qualms about use of firearms to kill people get quite thoroughly squashed under layers of training.

-- Badtux the Gun Penguin


  1. one very effective lesson i used to give my young pollywogs while teaching the finer points of pistol shooting was to have them strap the whole web belt, holster and magazine pouch on. i'd let them feel the weight of that big ass colt 1910A, how the four spare magazines in the pouch were a nice counter balance. i'd also scan them to see who was getting all gunfighter squinty eyed and shit.

    then, i'd glare them into silence and let that last long enough to become uncomfortable.

    then i'd say

    gentlemen, the first and most important thing you've accomplished by putting on this pistol to that you have increased your chances of being in a gunfight by one hundred goddamn percent

    even in the wild west, town like tombstone, tucson, bisbee, showlow, tumcumcari, dodge, abeline, and langtry all had fairly extreme gun control ordinances. it barely slowed the real pistoleros down. they'd just dry gulch you on your way out of town. or, like the clantons, if the fight they were spoiling for was with the law, they break that law and fight it out right there.

    guiliani offering to blow the whole NRA convention was disgusting. damn near as disgusting as watching fred thompson talk about shooting with moses. . .

    fuck it, republicans are fucking disgusting.

  2. I've been involved in various "situations" before, and can't think of any of them where a gun would have resulted in a better outcome. All that it would have accomplished would be to make the other guy go for *his* gun, or force me to kill the other guy when he tried to disarm me and turn a simple fist-fight into something deadly. Thus why I leave the weapon at home. The death penalty for being a drunk violent asshole seems a bit... excessive.

    But then, I walk city streets without cringing in fear, and that, unfortunately, does not apply to most of the NRA crowd, To them, the unfamiliar brown-skinned people that they encounter in The City are possible enemy to be surveilled and taken out if they make the wrong move, not human beings. They project their own violence and insecurities upon entire populations and use that to justify their own violence and insecurities. If they'd been involved in the "situation" that I encountered a few days ago dealing with homeless people on a park bench overlooking a beach, someone would have ended up dead. Instead, one guy got gently nudged away by his friends after the other guy was down, and the other guy (the one who lost the fistfight) got told to get lost because he wasn't welcome there anymore, and a few minutes later everybody was talking and laughing again (except the guy who lost the fight, who was sulking on the other side of the street waiting for a bus). All that a gun would have accomplished in this situation would be to make sure that someone was dead. Given the ambiguities involved (when you get cranked-up homeless guys their already erratic behavior becomes even more erratic, so it's not clear who was in the right and who was in the wrong in this situation), someone being dead certainly would not have been the most appropriate outcome here.

    Now, if I was in combat or some other situation where someone was trying to kill me, I'd most certainly want all the weaponry I could get my hands on. But the NRA guys aren't in combat, and generally aren't in situations where someone is trying to kill them. They're just violent amoral people who want weapons in order to turn ordinary situations into situations where they can indulge their "Death Wish" fantasies and "kill darkies". And it's no mistake that the Republicans have absolutely no problem with that.

  3. The Republicans already have their brownshirts: Blackwater mercenaries.

    They're not soldiers, so they're not subject to posse comitatus rules. They're not cops either.

    So, if they need some civil rights bent or broken, who better to use than a paramilitary force that answers to no one?

    More scary facts: they constitute the largest armed force in America, located a mere stone's throw away from the capital of the country.

  4. Any police state relies not only on storm troopers (which is what Blackwater is), but also on local enforcers who know their neighbors and can enforce political heterodoxy upon them either by narcing them to the storm troopers or personally. No local enforcers = no effective control unless you have enough troops to put a pair on every street corner, which is horrendously expensive. That's why the disaster in Iraq has been such a disaster, you need people inside the community enforcing political heterodoxy, and in the case of Iraq the people inside the community who enforce political heterodoxy, the heavily armed and violent people that any ruling class must depend upon to enforce its rule, hate our guts.


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