Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh, Now It's "Progress" You're After

["Capture of John Lawson by the Tuscaroras" from ]

My good west-coast friend and noted author of a wonderful book on the lure of Spanish balconies wrote me that much of the problem with guns is but a facet of the larger problem that America is and always has been a violent culture. This is of course plainly true, and really should always be kept in mind when the public conversation turns to some specific outbreak of violence. Stephen Colbert said the other night that for over a century the United States' most dangerous weapon was the mobile small pox contaminated blanket. Indeed, biological war against Native-Americans began long before there was a United States. While there was of course an accidental quality to the early contagions, surely even early colonialists began soon enough to notice that their issues with the aborigines were conveniently mitigated when villages died of pestilence, and a capable graduate student of, say, North Carolina history prior to 1775, might well find the moment when the mayor of Bath sent Poxie George to buy some corn from the Tuscarora. Just sayin'. And not that the Tuscarora were peaceniks either.

I wrote him back, and in thinking about his points it strikes me that one of the odd features of the NRA "argument" is that it accepts the arbitrary mitigation of the Second Amendment as it currently stands, while at the same time asserting vehemently that any "further" mitigation of the Second Amendment is tantamount to the assertion of "Kinghood" by Mr. Obama. Various supporters of large magazines claim, for example, that limiting their ability to defend against home invasion to some small number of bullets is downright cruel and unusual punishment. Lately a Georgia wife has been cited, who allegedly killed an invader using a magazine with ten rounds. Would she have fared so well with only six, the question is asked. And seriously.

Well ok. But surely it's just as obvious that if you change the numbers in the equation, more and more firepower is required to achieve the same result. May I refer you to the hilarious or appalling movie, "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." I don't see any reason in logic why the NRA shouldn't be arguing that any responsible home-owner should have installed, at his pure discretion as a citizen, a fine water-cooled .50 caliber machine gun on a tripod, with a wide range of fire, a full belt of ammunition, and perhaps a sturdy teenaged son behind the grips, just in case the, um, Negroes Tuscaroras come at his door in larger numbers.

Obviously the only reason the NRA doesn't start arguing for our god-griven right to fully automatic weapons is merely the "common sense" wisdom that mostly likely such an argument would allow those sitting on the sidelines to see through the whole NRA artifice. There is no doubt that, generally, in America, "automatic" is good. But in this case the NRA doesn't believe in arguing with the Trooper at the window, who says "You were going a bit fast back there, Sir." It takes the rare individual, the Bill Monroe, who refuses to swerve in the face of unquestionable disaster.

Nonetheless, and leaving aside the quite reasonable theory that the NRA position is actually and in toto generated to achieve maximum economic benefit to the weapons manufacturing sector of Industry and has no serious purpose beyond that end, it is really quite clear that far from being "absolute," the 2nd Amendment has already been circumscribed in a number of ways aimed at limiting citizen access to weaponry, and with apparent implicit NRA blessing. Since all Mr. Obama is doing is suggesting modest efforts to make further circumscriptions, as well as ancillary efforts such as better background checks and records keeping which have nothing at all to do with the 2nd Amendment, the NRA is in plain fact in agreement with Mr. Obama at least on the principle that such circumscriptions are Constitutional.

Otherwise, they are simply hiding their "real" view, as in the Trooper case. Their real view is simply that power wins. They stand with Mao. Oddly, they also stand in line for flu shots, and drive our government maintained highways. We will surely find them at James McMurtry's Uncle Slayton's Family Reunion, dancing in the moonlight with those twins, Ruth Ann and Linda, without a care in the world.

And the real question of the day is, why do these people get to monopolize the conversation?


  1. I chanced on your blog while searching to see if NC is going to drop income tax
    Then I read the NRA hit piece
    I am moving to NC later this yr because of marriage
    and hope I find men who are pro-God pro-life pro-gun & pro small government
    Not sure from your posts you would be one of them
    Like your stone work though

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Editorial policy is such that I have no interest in engaging with this sort of comment in general, and I will be liberal with my use of the delete function. I think, however, that seethelight's characterization of my post as an "NRA hit piece" exemplifies pretty well the ability of rightwingers to immediately flip into defensive mode at any hint of criticism, versus being able to engage in thoughtful conversation. The NRA's efforts in this current national consideration of some modest efforts to stem the horrific gun glut are appalling and evince absolutely no serious interest in dealing with a true national catastrophe. This is a plain and obvious fact--it doesn't constitute a "hit piece." The NRA is betraying their own membership, and apparently assumes loyalty and team spirit trumps even plain reason and rationality. They may or may not be right about that, but if they're right it says something embarrassing about the gun-owning community, a group of supposedly adult, clear-thinking individuals on the whole.