Archive for August, 2011
If you are not a frequent watcher/listener/reader of news outlets in and around Wahington, DC then you’re probably not as familiar with the local tendency to blow things way out of proportion… no pun intended. So even though we’re several miles in land, the local news outlets will have you believe our experience during Blowmageddon is worse than anyone else.
Power has gone off and on a few times now. Fingers crossed for good luck.
No, I don’t mean Al Gore, it’s hurricane Irene and with it the flood of bureaucratic actions by those who feel themselves high and mighty.
The usual panic declarations (h/t to Only Guns & Money). Plenty more is surely coming which will protect us from ourselves. It’s not the hurricane or storm surge, it’s the government actions before, during and after the ‘cane which I fear the most.
I once had a co-worker who was having an animated disagreement with a federal government employee who kept interrupting my co-worker any time he was attempting to talk. Finally, after letting the federal employee vent for several minutes, my co-worker offered in his usual, charming way:
“I never learned anything while I was talking”.
The below article was submitted by Pat Webb, of the 2nd Amendment Sisters, written by her daughter Catherine Webb.
By Catherine Webb
On Monday, August 8th, I attended a forum hosted by the Second Amendment Foundation and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. As a college student myself, I was intensely interested in the issue and was impressed by the caliber (no pun intended) of the speakers, many of whom were near my own age. During the five hour long event, the audience was fortunate enough to hear the stories of concealed carry holders who have been victimized by gun violence after being legally (but not necessarily Constitutionally) disarmed, panels of academics and legislators, and speakers with a variety of backgrounds to offer their own unique points of view on the subject of concealed carry on college campuses. The most interesting to me, though, and the focus of this article, was a debate between Colin Goddard of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and John Lott, who is the author of More Guns, Less Crime.
Colin Goddard was shot during the shootings at Virginia Tech, and he was invited to speak so that at least one opposing viewpoint was represented at the forum. He is due great admiration for his courage; it is not easy to stand in front of a crowd of people that is clearly of a different mindset. For Mr. Goddard, it must have been like walking into a lion’s den. It is comparatively easy to address an audience when you know that they support your ideas, but this was not the case for him. Nonetheless, he spoke well and was professional and composed, and we should all be reminded by this that we should not reject a person simply because they disagree with us, but we should instead welcome their opinions and listen intently to what they say so that we may learn from it.
In fact, I would say that I learned more from listening to Mr. Goddard than from anyone else in the forum. The right to self defense is a subject for which I have a fierce interest, so the points which were brought up by the majority of the speakers were, although valid and compelling, mostly information that I have already heard and researched myself. For example, Dr. Lott began the debate by pointing out that while firearms do make it easier for bad things to happen, they also make it easier for people to protect themselves when those bad things happen. Most of us would agree with that statement, and many of us have said something very similar ourselves. Dr. Lott also discussed the impact of anti-gun legislation, the results of overturned gun bans such as in Washington, DC, and the shortcomings of traditional law enforcement, especially in multiple victim public shootings such as the one at Virginia Tech. All of these points were concise, compelling, and backed by meticulous research, but because of my own personal background as an avid supporter of concealed carry and a student of Constitutional Law, there was not much new information there for me. The value that I got from hearing Dr. Lott was a reinforcement of what I already knew and a better ability to articulate my own opinions after hearing them voiced by someone else.
Listening to Mr. Goddard, though, I was struck almost immediately by a new idea. As he was telling his story, I realized that the people who oppose concealed carry on campus, and in general, are not against self defense. They want the same things that we do, but they see the world an entirely different way! They are not unreasonable people and do not mean any harm to us, and, at least in Mr. Goddard’s case, do not believe that guns themselves are evil. They are simply focusing on a different area, thinking that bad things can be prevented from happening altogether and the need for self defense can be eliminated. It is a noble idea, wanting a better world, but it is lacking in practicality.
Mr. Goddard blamed his wounds on missing records in the shooter’s background check. He feels that the shooter could have and should have been prevented from obtaining a weapon, and that by having his mental health records on file, the shooting would have been prevented. It did not occur to Mr. Goddard that the shooter would have likely obtained a gun anyway through illegal channels – there are no background checks on the black market.
He then pointed out that it is easy to imagine what you would do in a hypothetical situation, but if and when that situation actually occurs, your reaction is likely to be much different than you imagined. I agree with this entirely! I have often said the exact same thing, but I said it in support of firearms training. Firearms training which simulates a disaster situation is necessary for the same reason that schoolchildren have fire drills. I have never heard anyone argue that fire drills are ineffective because there is not a real fire, and the children will likely react differently if there is a real fire. Practice in a controlled simulation forges in your mind an automatic reaction that you can rely on in a real emergency. Without the practice, you are more likely to freeze, which is exactly what Mr. Goddard and most of his classmates did during the Virginia Tech shooting.
I also agreed with several other points that Mr. Goddard brought up: that it is not necessarily a good thing to have a concealed carry permit if you have no idea how to use a gun, that it is much more comfortable to be around someone with a firearm if you know they are qualified to use it, and that it is easy to avoid a background check if you don’t want to have one. Although I agree with his statements, I disagree with his conclusions about those statements. Whereas he feels that the solution to being around people with carry permits who don’t know how to shoot is to make it more difficult to obtain a carry permit, I would say instead that it should be easier to get firearms training. Mr. Goddard may feel that a police officer is more qualified to use a gun than I am, but I can assure you that I have had more range time than many police officers and likely have more knowledge of safe firearms handling. And as far as background checks go, intensifying the ones which are already in place and adding new ones is not going to alleviate the problem at all, because the easiest way for a criminal to avoid a background check is to steal a gun or purchase a stolen gun. We know by now that it is already against the law to steal, but adding more laws regarding theft don’t stop thieves.
Mr. Goddard is focused on the prevention of gun violence, just as Second Amendment supporters are, but he has an entirely different view of the world. He referenced concealed carry and self defense as “trying to control an event at the point that it becomes the most uncontrollable.” I understand his point of view. I can sympathize with it. I wish it were as simple as passing laws that stopped bad people from doing bad things. Mr. Goddard even suggested double doors into classrooms, bulletproof glass, and other “preventative measures” that would make classrooms safer. The intention is good, and is, in fact, the same intention that the Second Amendment Sisters have: a line of defense against criminals. If only the world worked the way that Mr. Goddard sees it. He spoke of being proactive instead of reactive, which is a great idea in theory. The problem is that the only way that one can actually be proactive about crime is to stop somebody before they break the law…and that doesn’t work in the spirit of the United States legal system. We live in a country where we are lucky enough to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and I refuse to be treated as if I am a criminal if I have not yet broken any laws. Law enforcement in this country is reactive, and yet Mr. Goddard does not oppose law enforcement. Why, then, should he oppose my own personal reaction, my defense?
We should all be lucky enough to get a chance to listen to someone with an opposing viewpoint as I got a chance to listen to Mr. Goddard. Galileo Galilei once said “I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” Take the time to listen to anyone who disagrees with you, really intently listen, and you may be surprised by what you might learn. For me, it reinforced my own faith in my beliefs, and it made me realize that we all want the same thing: security. Now that I know where other people are looking, I can better lead them towards a more realistic view of the world, and instead of arguing, which always leads to nowhere, I can instead let the other person find the flaws in their thinking for themselves.
David Codrea is right on the money about wasting political capital. I think a better way to say it would be squandering political capital because I think the NRA effort David is talking about has more than one goal.
What would the NRA(-ILA?) benefit by you filling out the survey? The survey at http://www.nramedia.org/t/138258/39135479/5914/0/?ae80f22f=MDAwMDgxNTU5Mjcw&x=c9ada609 (deliberately not hyperlinked) For starters, if you are a new RKBA activist, you will probably want to help and you will feel good that others feel the way you do. You may be inclined to fill out your personal details and sign your ‘name’ – such as it is electronically to the effort. You might even contribute money. What happens when you do these things?
You give up your privacy, you add your name to numerous marketing lists, including the NRA, NRA-ILA, PVF, and other acronym soup, and they get access to you. Will their “survey” help oust a cabinet appointee? There’s always a chance but to call this a “Hail Mary” would be to insult the likes of Doug Flutie who has far more “Hail Mary” street cred. So if you fill out the survey, join the mail list & contribute your money the NRA has a resource they can go back to for money, more surveys, money and oh yeah… Money.
However, what else might happen? Well, for starters it keeps people talking about the Gunwalker scandal. This is good because most RKBA activists know the mainstream media is actively trying to ignore, bury or spin Gunwalker into a need for more gun restrictions and more BATFE funding. While Congressional inquiries into Gunwalker have exposed criminal wrongdoing on BATFE’s part, it is extremely unlikely that anyone will be punished. We’ve already seen promotions for Gunwalker alumni. The Congressional inquiries, as much as we want more dirt uncovered; they are not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts folks. They sense political “blood in the water” and they’re circling the partisan sharks so they can score points in polls, surveys and ultimately elections. It’s in the best interested of the US House to keep Gunwalker in the news with sensational headlines and scandalous accusations for as long as they can get mileage out of it. Let’s not forget who we are dealing with (in Congress). So not all of the NRA communication on ‘Fire Eric Holder’ is wasted effort.
HR 822 has 242 co-sponsors and has been mentioned more than once by NRA-ILA alerts this year. Only 218 votes are needed to pass a bill in the House and this bill has 242 co-sponsors. This is only a few dozen short of veto proof, and it’s more than enough to pass. Undoubtedly because gun owners OVERWHELMINGLY want all the states to recognize their CCW permits. So how does a bill with so many co-sponsors languish in committee, particularly when the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, an overwhelming majority of it’s 4 million members and other powerful groups want this bill passed?
Let’s take a look at previous efforts like the “protection of lawful commerce in arms act”. This was a very good example of the NRA-ILA working to get a bill passed at the federal level. For months on end it was front and center of NRA-ILA alerts and ultimately it passed–
to the exclusion of other very good gun bills which if given equal opportunity would have passed also.
HR 822 has gotten only mild support from NRA-ILA alerts. Why? Surely it is not a lack of available political capital.
Is it the lack of political will? At least part of it is the membership who have hired NRA-ILA to do their bidding professionally in Congress. Just as you you check up on the work for mechanics you hire, or yard workers, maids, contractors, you have a duty to follow up with organizations you send membership dues to for any kind of advocacy. If you don’t, how do you know know what they’re doing with your money?
Is HR 822 a bill intended to just create political cover? Surely the Co-sponsors have a nice game going here because they can honestly report back to their pro-RKBA constituents that they “co-sponsored HR822″ but that doesn’t tell the whole story, does it? Putting your name on the list of co-sponsors does nothing much to get it out of committee, on the floor and passed now does it? But it sure looks good to pro-RKBA folks. Congress is very good at saying a lot and doing nothing or very little but so are we, the constituents. We say we support these pro-RKBA bills, but how many times have we called, faxed & emailed support for them? How many times have we called the NRA-ILA and told them to get off their duffs with our money and get this bill passed?
We sort of disregarded our oversight responsibility to Congress for generations and we can see how that turned out. We need to pay better attention to our hired help in the private sector too. Used car salesmen aren’t the exclusive users of “bait and switch”. Many variations on this theme exist legislatively and one that exists in all legislative bodies in one form or another is the “submitted at constituent request” offering. It’s phrase some legislators use to tell other legislators – ‘hey, I’m getting political heat to introduce this so that’s what I’m doing. You guys please kill this for me so I don’t have to vote on it’. We have to stay on top of these people we hire, setting measurable goals for them and when they’re not met, we need to fire them. That’s our job and if we let them run roughshod over us, we’re not doing our job.