Monday, May 05, 2014

"Did IQs Just Drop Sharply While I Was Away?"

Those of you who are science fiction movie buffs may recognize that line spoken by Sigourney Weaver in the classic film Aliens. It's a great line, and it is useful in many different situations, such as this one which transpired last week in the nearby town of Rockville, Maryland ...

You can read the entire story in all its awesome stupidity here, but this is the Readers' Digest version: the owner of a gun shop in Rockville decided to offer newly-engineered "smart guns" - handguns that use an embedded electronic chip to recognize the legitimate owner, and cannot be fired without sensing the proximity of a watch-like device coded to that particular weapon ... a combination that would prevent guns from being stolen and used illegally.

You would think that this would be good news to gun enthusiasts who become hysterical at the thought of any restrictions on the possession of firearms ... a gun that can only be used by the person who owns it! It would prevent criminals from stealing and using guns, it would prevent tragic accidents involving children who decide to play with their parents' guns, and it would not involve any limits on gun purchases. You'd think it would be a win-win situation.

But you'd be wrong.

The owner of the Rockville gun shop was bombarded with threats against his store and his life if he went ahead with stocking and selling "smart guns." The threats were so many and so violent that he actually spent nights in his store to protect it from callers who had threatened to burn it down. In the end, he made and posted to his Facebook page a cowering video apology, agreeing not to stock and sell the offending weapons. In the video he said to the bullies who had threatened to kill him and burn down his store,

"I did not know I would be screwing you over ... I’m terribly sorry ... You don’t have anything to worry about from me.”

It's the sort of thing that makes you proud to be an American, isn't it?

Regardless of how you feel about the actual original intent of the Second Amendment, the courts have ruled that you can legally own just about anything short of a thermonuclear weapon* for personal defense. Worshipful belief in absolute gun rights is about as close to a national religion as we're ever likely to have. And as with most religious beliefs, it tends to be absolute. It is completely impossible to have a rational discussion on the subject of firearms safety and public welfare, because a very loud and very angry minority, its rage stoked by irresponsible politicians and pundits who believe that government is the enemy, no matter what it does, have made up their minds and are impervious to argument. Their clue chutes have been retracted, locked, welded shut, and painted over to prevent the intrusion of the smallest unwelcome thought.

Now, to be fair, the paranoia of the gun advocates was probably fanned by a 2002 New Jersey law that mandated that only smart handguns could be sold in the state within three years of their being offered for sale anywhere in the United States. Although the intent of the law was a good one - to prevent the sale of weapons that could be used without permission by other than their owners - it smacked to the firearms community of the first step toward limitations on the ability to own whatever firearms anyone wants ... which is clearly what the Founders intended with the Second Amendment, right?

Some of my friends on the political right will read this and will accuse me of being a flaming liberal ready to sell out our God-given right, enshrined in the Constitution, to "keep and bear arms." This, of course, is not the case. As I've often pointed out here, I have owned guns in the past (although I don't own any at the moment), and I support everyone's rights under the Second Amendment (as interpreted by the courts) to own firearms. But I also support common sense. I don't think it makes sense to interpret the Second Amendment as allowing (and even encouraging) guns to be carried in schools, churches, airports, and bars, as the recently-passed "Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014" in Georgia** does. You don't have to be a genius to recognize that allowing guns to be carried in bars is probably not a particularly good idea. And you have to wonder why the Georgia legislature in its wisdom allowed guns to be carried in schools, bars, churches, and airports ... but not in the state capitol***.

Common sense just isn't very common any more ... especially when it comes up against a topic that stirs such visceral reactions.

Have a good day. You can feel safe knowing that just about everyone is packing heat and has only the very most altruistic of motives for doing so. Or not.

In my case, not.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* And you'll probably be able to own those too, if the GOP takes over both the Senate and the House in the next election.

** It's known colloquially as "The Guns Everywhere Law."

*** Maybe they're not as dumb as I thought.


KathyA said...

1) That line also reminds me of the line in THE WEST WING when President Whatzhisname says, "When I stepped out this was still the United States".

2) I just don't understand this. It defies logic. To be crude (justifiably, I might add), What the F*%@ is wrong with these people?

Mike said...

Makes you want to open a small gun store that only sells smart guns.