Sunday, September 13, 2009

On the utility of arms... the post 9-11 world...
Catching up on my blog-reading after a busy last couple of days (Fridays REALLY suck about this time of year), I see my blog-friend Bob S. wrote of his reaction to the events of Sept. 11 and how it inspired him to get more involved on all levels. Several commenters to his post spoke of how they took up arms as well, and got more people to the range. And here, resident troll MikeB really outdid himself:

I don’t know how to say this without ending up calling you all names. I think your response to 9/11, as expressed above by almost every one of you, is the stuff of a type of paranoid fantasy that you encourage each other to believe in. Imagining yourselves like the 18th century colonists, fighting against incredible odds with grit and determination, is probably some kind of a psychological stage of development that young boys go through, except some never get through it.
I call this grandiose victimism. I mean, really, we’re talking about terrorist attacks on the international level, flying planes into skyscrapers, maybe next is a nuclear device smuggled into an urban center, and you guys are shooting your little pistols at the range and hoarding ammo.

One wonders why he chickened out and didn't call us names, considering he's libeled us all in worse ways before, and you see how in the above comment he was quite a nasty little asshole. I suppose the plane hijackings and smuggled nukes might make for a legitimate point; but the thing about that is, those aren't the only ways a terroristic act is going to be committed. Indeed, I've heard it said that the the specific method of terrorism perpetrated on 9/11 -- hijacking a plane and crashing it into a building -- was rendered more or less obsolete on that day for myriad reasons, among them being the measures that were to be taken in the future and the reactions of the passengers on United 93. (If you haven't seen the film, YOU NEED to. Every American needs to.)
In fact, as I went on to point out, just days ago Austin-based intelligence group STRATFOR released a study which found that terrorists were shifting their focus to softer targets such as hotels and shopping centers. We all saw one such attack carried out in India less than a year ago. And it's in those types of situations that the utility of private citizens bearing arms, the idea of the citizen militia as put forth by George Mason, makes all the sense in the world. From what I've read about India gun laws, they make Massachusetts and New Jersey look like Texas, which more or less means that the force was on the side of the terrorists in that attack -- for more reasons than just the gun laws.
What reasons would those be, you ask? Well, part and parcel of denying people arms and the carriage thereof is to say, "you don't need guns, the police will protect you." And to the extent that attitude takes root in people's psyche, it makes them sheep, as defined by Dave Grossman in this essay. Grossman said he meant nothing negative with the term, but there is something near-fatally wrong with the characteristics of the sheep. When they're confronted with danger, the sheep will cower, figuratively if not literally, in the face of the wolves coming at them, and their fates are more or less sealed unless the sheepdogs come to protect them or the wolves run out of ammunition. Eric S. Raymond also touches on this mentality in his excellent essay Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun:
...the dignity of a free man is what makes one ethically competent to bear arms, and the act of bearing arms promotes (by teaching its hard and subtle lessons) the inner qualities that compose the dignity of a free man.
Too many of us have come to believe ourselves incapable of this discipline. We fall prey to the sick belief that we are all psychopaths or incompetents under the skin. We have been taught to imagine ourselves armed only as villains, doomed to succumb to our own worst nature and kill a loved one in a moment of carelessness or rage. Or to end our days holed up in a mall listening to police bullhorns as some SWAT sniper draws a bead...
To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self — in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from the dignity of a free man would be rather hard to imagine. It is as a way of exorcising this demon, of reclaiming for ourselves the dignity and courage and ethical self-confidence of free (wo)men that the bearing of personal arms, is, ultimately, most important.
The nut graf of Raymond's work, though -- and of this post, even -- is this:
Joel Barlow, a political theorist of Jefferson's time, wrote tellingly: [The disarming of citizens has] a double effect, it palsies the hand and brutalizes the mind: a habitual disuse of physical forces totally destroys the moral [force]; and men lose at once the power of protecting themselves, and of discerning the cause of their oppression.

One could very well say that one of the effects of the palsy of the hand Barlow wrote of is the mentality of "the police will protect us." Which is, of course what the anti-gunners tell us all the time -- which, when it goes to its ugly extremes, leads to things like the Mumbai attack, and on a personal level, leads to them impugning the emotional maturity of those of us who bear arms, as seen in MikeB's nasty comment. Which is quite ironic, when you think about it, because if anyone's emotionally immature it's those who would wait for the police or the military as opposed to fighting back with the tools at their disposal -- even if it's little more than (MOVIE SPOILER ALERT) your bare hands and a drink cart. I d find the actions of those on that flight inspiring still, though; as Ambulance Driver put it, "If America is still capable of producing citizens like the passengers of Flight 93, we are still strong indeed. I suspect there are many thousands more just like them, found pretty much anywhere in America outside the DC Beltway."
I honestly do wonder why so many out there want to make us all sheep, though. The only reason I can think of is that they don't want to feel so bad about being sheep all by themselves. They don't want to be eaten alone. Which is all fine and good, but there are millions of these sheep people, and they want to make us all sheep with the force of the sheepdogs. Which really makes the lines blurry here...who among those sheep are really just toothless wolves, and who among the sheepdogs will turn into wolves? And why do sheep like MikeB want so badly to find out? Do those creatures have some sort of death wish? More and more, I wonder...