Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Confidential to gun loons of America: No matter what right-wing meanies say, your penis is probably within "normal" size range


It's a strange beast, the human mind, what with all those things we don't know that we know we don't want to know, and things we don't know we know, and things we know that aren't true, and . . . [Don't forget to click on the comic strip to enlarge it.]

by Ken

There seems hardly any point in writing about guns again. TheI last time I did, "Is it time yet for sane gun advocates to separate from the total crazies?," the news peg was the release of a poll -- taken by the heavy lifter of right-wing polling -- by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) showing that "NRA members and other gun owners support sensible measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:
"Our coalition of mayors understands that we can do more to preserve the freedom of law-abiding citizens to own guns, while still keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists. It's not surprising that the NRA's members and other gun owners share our sensible approach. Since we began this coalition, we've said all along: Americans share an enormous amount of common ground on the issue of guns. This poll provides the irrefutable proof, and we hope it will serve as a wake-up call to Congress."

Now, in the wake of the Tucson shootings, the news is that, um, Mayor Mike is, um, trying to drum up support for sensible measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. (Today he's welcoming Daniel Hernandez, the intern who probably saved Rep. Gabby Giffords' life after she was shot, to New York "to support Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Bloomberg’s coalition [he's actually co-chair -- Ed.], in his latest attempt to use the Tucson, Ariz., shooting as an argument for more widespread and effective background checks.")

Fortunately for fans of gun violence, a new deep thinker has emerged to debunk the wild notion that easy availability of guns has anything to do with it. As Raw Story's Sahil Kapur reported Tuesday, " Arizona State Senator Linda Gray said shootings are spurred on by violence in television and video games, as well society's acceptance of abortion -– but not by the ubiquitous availability of guns."
"The problem is not the gun, but about respect for all human life, from the unborn, a 9 year old child, a senior citizen or a political leader," Gray told Raw Story, in response to an e-mail. "The shooter had no respect for the value of any these innocent citizens who were injured or killed."

Gray said the Tucson shooting rampage this month that left six dead and a dozen injured, including a Democratic congresswoman, should not lead to stricter gun laws, as numerous national lawmakers have since proposed.

"Our children are bombarded with TV programing showing a multitude of killings," she continued in the e-mail. "Children are given games to play in which they earn points for killing people. Where are the TV programs that promote good role models? ... Children are becoming more desensitized and complacent toward their own violent acts and those of others."

Gray backed off a comment she made Monday on George Washington University Radio's "Political Pulse," tying the Tucson killings to the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. . . .

I may have overspoken somewhat when I wrote the other day about "shocking (!) evidence that the lapse in the limited assault-weapons ban has led to -- can you imagine it? -- increased deaths from assault weapons! Man oh man, who could have foreseen that?" I should have gone back and looked more closely at the reported findings:
Va. data show drop in criminal firepower during assault gun banaccording to a Washington Post analysis.

More than 15,000 guns equipped with high-capacity magazines - defined under the lapsed federal law as holding 11 or more bullets - have been seized by Virginia police in a wide range of investigations since 1993, the data show.

The role of high-capacity magazines in gun crime was thrust into the national spotlight two weeks ago when 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun outside a Tucson grocery store, killing six and wounding 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Authorities say Loughner used a legally purchased 9mm Glock 19 handgun with a 31-round clip and was tackled while changing magazines.

Of the seized Virginia weapons, 2,000 had magazines with a capacity of 30 or more bullets. Some states still limit magazine capacity. California, for example, limits them to 10 and Maryland to 20.

Last year in Virginia, guns with high-capacity magazines amounted to 22 percent of the weapons recovered and reported by police. In 2004, when the ban expired, the rate had reached a low of 10 percent. In each year since then, the rate has gone up.

"Maybe the federal ban was finally starting to make a dent in the market by the time it ended," said Christopher Koper, head of research at the Police Executive Research Forum, who studied the assault weapons ban for the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Justice Department. . . .

The pattern in Virginia "may be a pivotal piece of evidence" that the assault weapons ban eventually had an impact on the proliferation of high-capacity magazines on the streets, said Garen Wintemute, head of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis.

"Many people, me included, were skeptical about the chances that the magazine ban would make a difference back in 1994," Wintemute said. "But what I am seeing here is that after a few years' lag time the prevalence of high-capacity magazines was declining. The increase since the ban's repeal is quite striking."

Guns with high-capacity magazines have appeared in Virginia crimes ranging from the mundane to the murderous. The Post found that 200 guns with high-capacity magazines figured in Virginia homicides . . .

So while yes, over the period of the study, "200 guns with high-capacity magazines figured in Virginia homicides," this figure by itself doesn't prove an increase in assault-weapon-related homicides. We would need previous-period numbers for comparison, and also, I guess, proof that the users of those guns wouldn't have been just as successfully homicidal if they'd had to use, say, slingshots. Because we know, after all, that guns don't kill people, people kill people -- the inanity that the NRA and its cohorts have sold so effectively to a gullible, and perhaps violence-loving, American public.

Naturally the merchants of death-and-maiming, represented above all by the mighty National Rifle Association (NRA), are as shocked and appalled as pea-brain Arizona State Sen. Linda Gray by any suggestion that gun regulation has any role to play in averting disasters like the Tucson one." The Post's David S. Fallis and James V. Grimaldi reported:
The NRA has announced its opposition to proposals that limit magazine capacity.

"These magazines are standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of Americans," according to a statement on its politics Web page, and in a letter circulating to members of Congress. "Law-abiding private citizens choose them for many reasons, including the same reason police officers do: to improve their odds in defensive situations."

The firearms industry also opposes the proposal. "The tragedy in Tucson was not about firearms, ammunition or magazine capacity," said Ted Novin, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry group. "It was about the actions of a madman. Period."

They're just kidding, of course. They're not that stupid. But as middlemen between the powerful American weapons industry and the American public they hold, as it were, by their balls, it's their job to tell those fibs that the aforementioned American public likes to hear.

After all, the notion that either for self-defense or for hunting anyone needs assault weapons is, well, insane. Which, come to think of it, ought to disqualify anyone who believes it from owning a gun, since we do actually officially sort of frown on gun ownership by the insane. Still, the selling job has been done with a public that has been gulled into thinking that its manhood is at stake in the right to pack heat. Yes, these are real manlymen (and manlywimmins), who've been terrorized -- as only right-wing propagandists can terrorize -- into thinking that their penises are so tiny that they need all the mechanical firepower they can muster to prove their manhood. After all, with the flick of a finger they can snuff out life! How manly is that?

Is it necessasry to point out that it's by and large these same people who lyingly proclaim themselves "pro-life"?

So let the killing and maiming continue.

In an excellent piece report on the NFL's "concussion crisis" in this week's New Yorker, "Does Football Have a Future?," staff writer Ben McGrath raises the question of whether the violence isn't essential to the appeal of football.
Buzz Bissinger, who came away from his yearlong experience reporting “Friday Night Lights,” in Odessa, Texas, in 1988, with a strong sense that the priorities of football culture were warped, declared in his Daily Beast column that he had since changed his mind. “It may be time for the Times to move on,” he wrote. “Violence is not only embedded in football; it is the very celebration of it. It is why we like it. Take it away, continue efforts to curtail the savagery, and the game will be nothing, regardless of age or skill.” Tiki Barber, the former Giants running back, and a man who boasted, in his playing days, of listening to the BBC, voiced a surprisingly similar sentiment when I spoke with him last fall. “They can’t try to do more,” he said. “They can’t afford to change what it is: an aggressively fast, physically brutal game.” He added that he believes he will die with traces of C.T.E. [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] in his brain tissue; he now views C.T.E. as “a necessary side effect of contact activity. . . . It’s scary.”

But McGrath declares himself I’m "not so convinced that violence fully explains football’s popularity as a spectator sport, or that the language of war that suffuses the game (blitz, bomb, sack) is meaningfully connected any longer to actual, rather than notional, bloodlust."
The game is more narrative than any other. It unfolds at a pace that is at once slow enough for us to unpack (we spend more time watching replays than watching the live action) and fast enough, in bursts, to rattle our nerves. Go to YouTube and search for “Austin Collie 3rd Concussion.” Look at the faces of the fans, many of them with their hands instinctively covering their mouths, as medics attend to the felled Indianapolis Colts wide receiver. Those aren’t expressions of morbid curiosity. They reflect a guilty fear that, one of these days, millions of us are going to watch a man die on the turf.

Fair point about the simple "narrative" of football. But I'm not so persuaded by those looks of "guilty fear." Don't we often feel guilty fear about things we're ashamed of wishing to happen?

I always think of those NASCAR and other auto-racing fans who are so horrified when an actual death occurs on the track. Isn't this, when you get down to it, the attraction of their "sport," or any other "death-defying" activity? You can't have death-defyingness without at least the occasional death. Of course you're going to feel guilty when it actually happens, because you didn't really want it to. You just wished it might. It gives, I guess, meaning to otherwise potentially meaningless existences.

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At 1:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If the NRA is so "stupid", as you so eloquently put it, why are they on the winning side of gun control?

And hey, if the gun laws here aren't strict enough for you, you can always move to Australia. They have, for all intents and purposes, a complete ban on firearms, some of the most strict firearm laws in the world, but yet the country is literally being torn to shreds by a upward spiral of crime and violence.

Explain that.


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