Skip to comments.Snipers, Guns, and Lightsabers (good read)
Posted on 10/31/2002 7:45:26 AM PST by Sir Gawain
The recent murders around Washington DC have been defined by the media as important news. Statistically, this makes little sense. Even if you lived in Washington DC, the risk of being killed by a deranged loser with a rifle was minuscule. Guns are selective instruments; one gun simply cannot kill very many people at one time. If you want to increase your lifespan, you need to worry about heart disease, aging, cancer, etc. After that, a few precautions against weapons of mass destruction would be in order. Then you could start with precautions against car accidents, falls, prescription drug interactions, etc. Random shootings, as opposed to attacks from people who know and dislike you, would be somewhere a little above the risk level of lightning strikes.
Now, there is no reason to be complacent about an indiscriminate murderer, especially not one who was trained by the same terrorist organization as Timothy McVeigh. If he had put down his little .223 carbine and walked into a home-beermaking store, he could have brewed up a good batch of drug-resistant, Shigella-and-ricin-toxin-secreting E. coli and killed thousands... or millions, who knows. Or he could have purchased some agricultural chemicals (e.g., parathion and DMSO) and made a poison-gas bomb more toxic than any World War I gas attack. Or he could have used a fertilizer bomb to blow up a dam and wipe out a whole residential neighborhood. Or he might have pointed his browser to http://www.mostlymissiles.com/ and acquired a gross of 98mm hobbyist rocket engines with 2685 pound-seconds of thrust apiece, more than enough to power small W.W.II-style bombardment rockets. There are hundreds of old and new destructive technologies available for random killing. This will always be true, because it will always be easier to destroy than to create. Blame entropy; what the heck, pass a law against it.
So why is the so-called sniper news? Why are ludicrous proposals for fingerprinting all guns (as though deliberate murderers wouldnt simply replace or firelap their barrels) being floated? Why are governments everywhere (well, OK, except Switzerland) so concerned about this antique technology? It is not because guns are powerful weapons; they are not. Guns are among the weakest and least efficient killing technologies. But guns are in a special class of weaponry; unlike the Soviet-modified Marburg virus, the lithium deuteride H-bomb city-killers in ICBMs, or VX nerve gas, guns can safely be carried for defense. Like the mythical lightsabers of Star Wars, guns can in principle be used responsibly.
The safest areas of the US are Midwestern rural areas. Rural areas are full of guns. I grew up in rural Ohio in the 1960s. There was a gun in every farmhouse. In my parents house, there was a loaded pump-action .22 rifle leaning by the back door. Every now and then one of the adults would pick it up and shoot a starling or crow out of a tree in the yard between the house and the barn, then replace a round and put it back. I remember that rifle being there from the time that I was four years old. Trigger locks? Not only had we never heard of them, no one would understand what they were for. That rifle was the least dangerous item on the farm for me (a lot safer than those Ayrshire bulls)... because I never touched it until I was eight, and then I was taught how to use it. The same was true for the majority of farm children. In a county where nearly every farm child over ten carried a .22 or a shotgun, murder was practically unheard of.
Modern Washington DC is built to exactly the opposite model. Ordinary people are disarmed to the greatest extent possible. Even adults, let alone children, of the productive class dont openly carry weapons. Yet murder is common. Both the numerous prohibited-drug salesmen and the storm troopers who enforce the drug price supports have fully automatic weapons and dont hesitate to use them in heavily populated neighborhoods. Still, the mad sniper apparently felt safer in disarmed DC than out in the prairies or pastures, where there was just the slightest possibility that he would face someone who could shoot back.
One would think that most people would prefer the Midwestern crime rate and friendly-neighbor lifestyle to that of inner-city DC, but it is the DC model that is presented as the politically approved ideal. Media and legislators are working together to give children gun-free childhoods, with the openly admitted objective of producing a gun-free society.
Defenseless children are herded like Warsaw Ghetto Poles into prison-like schools with armed police guards and Gulag-style security. Privacy is considered a crime, every childs person and possessions are searched at will by dogs, electronics, and guards. Then when something like Columbine happens, the disarmed students and teachers are slaughtered. And the slaughter is used as a propaganda tool for further victim disarmament.
The political class in the US has a vision of the future that doesnt include kids with .22s; it is a vision of domesticated people. Washington DC is closer to that vision than anywhere else in America, but the steady salami-slicing of the Second Amendment brings the whole country closer every year. If you want to see the US of the future, look at England. Not only guns are illegal, but swords, knives, and pointy sticks. Lightsabers, could they be constructed, would be right out. People who defend their houses or persons by wounding attacking intruders are prosecuted. There are 1.5 million police surveillance cameras, yet crime is steadily rising. Government mercenaries and criminals are the only armed and privileged classes. Productive people are mere game animals, trophies for criminals, tax cows for the official parasitic class. The British political class sees productive people, people who build things or cure diseases, as helpless animals to be owned. If a few of them have to be robbed, killed or raped by criminal predators to make the world safe for the political class, that is irrelevant.
Crime is not even the main issue. No one who studies the history of the German Jews, the Ukrainian kulaks, the Chinese peasants, or the Khmer can be unaware of the larger dangers of disarmament. Once people become fully domesticated, they can be wiped out on a massive scale beyond any private crime. Politics is a negative-sum game, and there is always a way to gain power by extermination: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and a hundred lesser 20th-century great men were all political necromancers. In the final analysis, the course of evolution is always against the disarmed. No higher organism stays alive very long without some sort of weaponry.
So do I think that we can solve all our problems by just handing out Winchester rifles to inner-city public school inmates? No. Guns are morally neutral; they cant think. Giving massive amounts of firepower to gang leaders in the inner cities would be like giving modern weapons to gang leaders in the Middle East, or Afghanistan, or... any of the other political gangs that the US government arms with weapon technology centuries ahead of their local culture. Now if Drug Prohibition were ended, street gangs would have no money for weaponry, and hip-hop music lyrics would turn to celebrating the glories of Unix programming. Without government price supports for drugs, the inner-city economy would be business-driven. And then, yes, Id feel safer in a city where all inner-city children had weapons, not just the employees of the drug cartels.
To tell the truth, guns arent the perfect weapon for personal defense in built-up areas; theyre better than cruise missiles, but there is still a lot of potential for collateral damage (as city police many places in the US are demonstrating, Glocks can miss more times per minute than older weapons, and shoot through a lot of sheetrock walls). A city where every old lady had a H&K PDW in her purse would be a better city, but not a perfect city.
To allow people to defend themselves, personal weapons must be allowed to evolve. There is no excuse for laws which selectively disarm victims; but neither is there any excuse for laws which force the use of lethal technology instead of nonlethal. For instance, in California it is legal to own a rifle that shoots a .50 caliber machine-gun round that will blast through light vehicle armor at 500 yards... but it is not legal for a little old lady to carry Mace spray. Nor is it legal to tie two sticks together to whack a mugger or rapist; medieval Okinawan rice flails are illegal to carry in a state that has let whole neighborhoods be taken over by rioters.
Rather than trying to legislate technology, laws should apply to people and their rights. It should be illegal to kill, rob, or rape, and you should be liable for damage you do to other people. A legal system based on individual rights would drive the development of weapons less clumsy and random than even a lightsaber. Nonlethal chemical weapons, for instance, could easily be made much more powerful and reliable if they could be blasted out with smokeless powder charges instead of sprayed out of aerosol cans. Little old ladies could carry umbrellas or purses that fired cartridges loaded with pepper spray, orange marker dye, vomit gas, and skunk juice (mercaptans). Sonics, chemical-loaded bean bags, foams, gas-spraying robots; who knows what the market would produce if producing new non-killing weaponry were legal? Houses and cars could be defended with similar nonlethal weaponry, making carjacking and home invasion far less attractive as a career. And with nonlethal weaponry, the consequences of accidental discharge are far less tragic.
Presently, of course, government reflexively prohibits the development of new nonlethal defensive armament. Even purely defensive body armor is viewed with suspicion and fear by a government which is terrified that it might not be able to shoot its citizens. A government which prevents women and old people from defending themselves with nonlethal weapons is more of a Criminals Guild than an association of free individuals. The prohibition of new nonlethal weaponry is the most pathetic of the many victim disarmament laws.
New lethal weapons are needed too. Not every criminal will come close enough to be hit with a rice flail, and not every government extermination pogrom can be fought off with pepper spray. The National Rifle Association has cooperated with the political establishments policy of steady disarmament for decades, by never proposing that any new personal weapon technology be made legal. Every year the ancient projectile weapons allowed to the citizens grow more obsolete, less able to counter those of the criminals or the storm troopers. Ancient weapons and hokey religions are no match for a good blaster at your side, and thats been true since before the longbows brought down the knights.
So. We have two classes of possible futures. In one, individuals own blasters and lightsabers, and Grandmas handbag is stuffed with little flying robots that buzz out and spray vomit gas on muggers. There is an occasional mad sniper (who is quickly tracked and disgustingly incapacitated by Grandmas minidrones), perhaps the odd duel. In the other type of future, people wear little collars running Oracle people-tracking software. There is the occasional Holocaust when the people who control the collars order millions into the gas chambers, perhaps the odd World War. Which type of future do you prefer?
Bill Walker is a Research Associate at the Shay-Wright lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
This guy thoroughly wrecks his credibility by centering his article on a gross factual error. The mad snipers committed precisely ONE murder in Washington City, in an area where (on the ground) finding the DC-Maryland border is difficult. The bulk of the murders were committed in Maryland, which although subject to eggregious victim disarmament laws is far from being gun-banned DC. The rest of the murders were committed in Virginia, which is a shall-issue CHP state.
The best part has to be, "Productive people are mere game animals, trophies for criminals, tax cows for the official parasitic class."
And THAT is the real reason to prohibit body armor.
Gee. That makes us neighbors! (Check my profile page.) I've also lived in PG Co., Maryland. There's a huge difference between the two, and even more between even PGCo (former home of Parris Glendenning) and the District. Manassas isn't like Fairfax City, either. Yeah, there's lots of weenies here, but far from all. You have FRmail
Anybody have a response to the above? I don't know anything about the area, but is it possible the surrounding metro has more gun restrictions than the rest of VA or MA? From what I've read, conceal carry does have an overall effect in reducing mass killings, but I don't know about snipers. I believe these guys gave zero thought to local conceal carry laws (and how those laws might better help citizens to stop them).
Thanks for the post.
MD, where most of the shootings occured, is less restrictive than DC proper, but they prohibit loaded firearms in cars, open carry will result in arrest, and there is no "shall issue" CCW.
Virginia, where 3(IIRC?) shootings occured, is "shall issue" CCW permits and is not much different from the rest of the south in terms of gun ownership.
The problem with turning this discussion over to theorists on both sides is that the debate tends to get sidetracked from the real world into a little either-or fantasy land where the only alternative to everyone being disarmed is everyone being armed - the "OK Corral" scenario so beloved of gun-control propagandists. In fact, neither is the case, and I think that public policy that does not recognize this is bound to be poor public policy.
Carry can be a pain - ask anyone who's ever tried it - and the majority of people won't do it. The idea is to make it so that enough do carry to dissuade persons of criminal intent from the assumption that they have easy marks in fron of them. And this is much more a reflection of what happens in the real world than every granny with an Uzi in her purse ("not that that would be a bad thing...") It is potential, and not actuality, that cuts crime statistics.
For a would-be armed robber, which bus is more intimidating, the one where you know everyone onboard is unarmed, the one where a solitary policeman dozes in the front seat of an otherwise unarmed bus, or the one in which any, or none, or any portion of the passengers may be packing heat but you don't know who? This is the real world - which is the scenario most likely to give the fellow pause?
But legislation is seldom written with the real world in mind, it is written in an attempt to create a perfect world by people too silly to realize the futility of the attempt. Accidental shootings? Legislate a perfect, i.e. electronically-personalized, gun. Hijackings? Legislate a perfect, i.e. unarmed, airplane. Burglary? Legislate a town wherein every home is armed and make it mandatory. Or legislate one in which no home may be so. All solutions in search of a perfect world, and all doomed to practical failure. Unfortunately it seldom occurs to legislators just to leave the damn thing alone. They're not elected to leave anything alone. That would be "disempowering." To them, not to the people who elected them.
But how many people actually died at the OK Corral?
Looking at the cartoon in #11, I am struck by the idea that the rifle is for the empowered and the pen for the powerless, just the opposite of what is presented.
What is your take?
Stay Safe LDD !!
>>Blame entropy; what the heck, pass a law against it.
Thanks for the excellent post!
Even purely defensive body armor is viewed with suspicion and fear by a government which is terrified that it might not be able to shoot its citizens.
As such, we civilians are prohibited from owning the mentioned H&K PDW (aka HK MP7) and similar weapons (FN P90). Not just simple prohibition, but comprehensively overlapping restrictions and prohibitions. You are hindered or prohibited from owning an MP7 because it:
- is a select-fire machinegun
- is a short-barreled rifle (collapsing stock)
- fires armor-piercing handgun ammunition (as legally defined)
- semi-auto version would be an assault weapon
- requires a $200 tax to own
- requires approval of local chief law enforcement officer (who is not required to approve)
and probably some others I forgot.
Why is this important? The latest generation of firearms - the first major advancement since the development of the AR-15 in the 1950's - can easily penetrate practically all body armor via a very compact package. And the government won't let you have one...go figure.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.