Sam Harris On Guns + My Own Thoughts

Anybody interested in the problem of gun violence and America’s unique relationship to firearms (should be all of us), should take the time to listen to this podcast by Sam Harris. It’s probably the most sane and level-headed analysis I’ve heard on the subject in a media landscape dominated by hyperbolic zealots on either side of the spectrum. It’s one-and-a-half hours well spent.

Let me share, briefly, my own feelings on the subject. To set things straight from the get-go, let’s agree to the following: It is indisputable that America has more guns per capita than any other western civilized country we care to compare ourselves to. It’s also indisputable that we have more gun deaths (total and per capita) than any other advanced  nation. It is much easier to get hold of a gun in America than in any other modern, first-world nation. The correlation between the number of guns in our society and the high occurrence of gun violence can hardly be denied. If we cannot agree on these things, don’t bother reading further; you are not a reasonable-minded person.

Still, a few years ago, for whatever reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to own a pistol. The local gun shop in the neighboring town of Monroe informed me that the state of Connecticut requires one to have a gun permit in order to buy a handgun. They kindly offered to provide the training necessary to get the certification. After a six-hour course, including firing a total of twelve shots (the only shots I had ever fired in my life at that point) with a .22-caliber revolver at a shooting range, and passing a 30-question written “test” (open-book, discussion with the other people taking the class allowed, and self-grading of said test), I was given a diploma certifying that I had fulfilled the state-mandated requirements. At the local police station I submitted my application and finger prints for a criminal background check and after about six weeks received notification that I could pick up my pistol permit at the state police facility in Bridgeport. I now had the state’s blessing to own and carry a gun in public.

That very same day I headed off to a gun shop and, on the advice of the store clerk, bought a 9mm Springfield XDM semi-automatic pistol with a total capacity of 19+1 rounds (legislation passed after the Sandy Hook massacre now prohibits me from loading it with more than ten rounds when not on my property, which is rather good news for the 11th person I plan on killing).

Next stop was the shooting range where I had previously “qualified” by shooting a revolver twelve times. The inadequacy of this qualification soon became apparent when I discovered that I didn’t know how to load the magazine of my newly acquired pistol; small wonder as this was the first time I’d ever held a semi-automatic pistol in my hands. Let me repeat this since it’s not insignificant: I was licensed by the state to own and carry any kind of legal firearm, yet I had never operated, and did not know how to load my pistol.

No matter how hard I tried I could only stuff a couple rounds into the magazine before it jammed. I finally sought the help of the range officer on duty, and after he also failed to load up the magazine, he finally discovered the problem: the store clerk had sold me two boxes of .40 caliber ammunition to go with my 9mm pistol.

What I’m trying to say here is that even in Connecticut (and even after Sandy Hook), the requirements to own and carry a pistol, are woefully inadequate. It is absolutely crazy to allow somebody with the training I received to own, buy and carry, openly or concealed (which is the law in CT) any kind of firearm.

I agree with most, if not all, of what Sam Harris said in his podcast, and have become more convinced than ever that what I said in a previous post is true: we need to repeal the second amendment of the US constitution. Or rather, repeal and replace, since I don’t want to ban guns. But the way 2A is worded makes it very difficult to come to any kind of consensus as to what it actually means in practical terms. The gun nuts (the Ted Nugent fan boys) will always point to “the right of the people” and “shall not be infringed”, while the gun grabbers (Bloomberg et al.) will emphasize “a well regulated militia”, and they will both be right. My own vision for a revised 2A might include words to the effect that gun-ownership is indeed an individual right, but not any gun for anybody at any place, and the power to regulate requirements and limitations is given to congress. I believe Sam’s analogy to the requirements to get a pilot’s license is appropriate and sound. I say this knowing full well that any member of Congress who proposes a repeal of the second amendment will have committed political suicide more effectively than declaring an unbelief in Jesus.

 

Withdrawing Support for Connecticut Citizens Defense League—Repeal The Second Amendment

I am removing my link to Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) from OGNDY.

I joined the National Rifle Association (NRA) after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school right here in Newtown where I live almost 3 years ago. That might sound like a counter-intuitive move from a guy that by no means is a die-hard gun enthusiast. Although I am a gun owner, I don’t identify as such; it’s not who I am. Politically most people who know me would say I’m a (far) Left-leaning, liberal/progressive with a dash of Libertarianism. I wouldn’t be offended if you added some kind of Socialist to the mix.

The reason I joined the NRA was in response to the dishonest politicking that took place in the wake of Sandy Hook, nationally in general, and more specifically here in CT where governor Dannel Malloy used downright unconstitutional bully tactics to force through meaningless, feel-good legislation.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the NRA prior to becoming a member, but I quickly discovered that they were a bunch that held values so far removed from my own that I didn’t want to be associated with them.

Then I tried Gun Owners of America and dropped them quickly for the same reason.

Finally I discovered CCDL, who, on the surface seemed like a less rabid organization, a local group of people who promoted safe gun-ownership, sensible gun laws and a polite way of conveying their ideas. I made a small contribution, put their sticker on my car and linked to them on my blog

I later found out, through various interactions with other members, that the same vitriol, the same hatred, the same fanaticism that is the trademark of the NRA, also permeates CCDL, but I didn’t disown them formally and kept the sticker on my car.

After Thursday’s shooting in Oregon at he Umpqua Community College I had to ask myself why it was important for me to belong to an (any) organization that promotes gun-ownership. I couldn’t come up with a reason. There are more important things for me to do than spend time and money to support the cause of private gun ownership in America.

I’m not strong pro-gun. I’m not strong anti-gun. I’m not getting rid of my guns (even though I haven’ fired any of them in almost two years), but I could live a happy, fulfilling life if I got rid of them all this minute. However, I do see quite clearly that America has a problem with guns. There are a lot of guns out there—I’m not going to say too many, but I am saying too many in the wrong hands. I will also say that the level to which some people fetishize their guns borders on a mental disorder.

To deny that America has a gun problem is to be delusional in the extreme.

Let me be clear: I don’t know what the solution is. The reason we have evolved this gun culture peculiar to America is historical. There is no easy fix. I do know (by my own reasoning; I’m not going to link to polls and academic studies) that limiting magazine capacities, expanding background checks and imposing registration (all of which I have no objection to) will make a very small dent at best in the number of gun killings. I also know that there is an obstacle that will hinder any legislation that will significantly and within reasonable time reduce the level of gun violence. That obstacle is called The Second Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

This is one of the most shoddily written pieces of legal text we have and practically begs for a wide range of interpretations, all the way from regulated militias, and only regulated militias (conveniently leaving out what constitutes a militia, much less a well regulated one) has the right to own guns, all the way to a free-for-all to own and carry whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. The current interpretation (by SCOTUS, the only one that counts) is that gun-ownership is a personal, individual right. My right (and yours) to own and carry firearms, is protected by the Constitution Of The United States. Do you begin to see why gun-control reform is an uphill battle?

I cringe when I hear fellow Liberals argue against guns, argue for stricter gun control laws, cry about dead babies, and in the same breath say they’re not for bans or abolishing 2A. This is cowardly, distasteful dishonesty at best, or downright stupidity at worst.

As long as The 2nd Amendment stands, there is zero chance of any meaningful change to our gun laws. So let me be the first Left-leaning gun owner to say: I support a repeal of the 2nd amendment.

I understand that it is a next-to-impossible task, but just like the obscene amount and importance of money in politics will always stand in the way of a functioning government, so will 2A always stand in the way of meaningful reform of our gun laws.

  • Get rid of money in politics or accept that our democratic institutions are bought and paid for by corporate interests.
  • Get rid of the second amendment or accept that mass shootings is the new normal.
Spot the difference.

Spot the difference.

For clarity: I am not advocating banning guns. I am simply pointing out that our problem with guns can’t be solved as long as the nation’s founding document specifically lists gun ownership as something akin to a natural right imbued in us by our Creator (don’t get me started). Personally, I see no good reason for a modern, advanced society in 2015 to have such a statute on the books. In 1791, yes. 2015, no. But that’s just me.

Gun Control And The Latest Mass Shooting In Oregon

“Here we go again, singing the same old song…” The latest mass shooting in Oregon, The Young Turks’ call for gun control, and my response to The Young Turks.

gun-control

Gun control: do we need it, and what form should it take to have any effect?

I watched the TYT video below (I sometimes watch TYT videos when I’m happy and tranquil and feel the need to be miserable and angry) and felt compelled to respond. I like my response so much that I thought I’d share it here.


Other countries have plenty of guns. Granted, not nearly as many as America, but still enough to create way more havoc than they actually do. The problem is easy access to guns coupled with an uninhibited willingness to use them on fellow human beings. Per capita gun-ownership is much higher in America than in any other country we like to compare us to, but per capita use of the guns available to them is much lower in those countries. We have, plainly speaking, a much more murderous culture than other Western, civilized nations.

It’s always amusing to hear the liberal armchair-intelligentsia like Ana Kasparian and the rest of The Young Turds say, “we don’t want to BAN guns, just have ‘common sense’ gun legislation”. Be specific please. Exactly what kind of common sense gun control that doesn’t involve an outright ban or something close to a ban do you think would affect a dramatic reduction in a short amount of time of guns in the hands of people willing to use them on other people?

You’re being disingenuous if you’re not calling for some sort of ban or severe restrictions. And to achieve that, you must get rid of 2A. This is the most important part. Current interpretation of the second amendment to the US constitution (however much you might disagree with SCOTUS, and I agree 2A is shoddily written in the extreme, but the supreme court of the United States has the last word) is that gun-ownership in America is an individual right. I, as an individual, have a personal right to own and carry guns that is protected by the constitution.

I have (at least) two things that Cenk Uygur, Ana and the other turdish sidekicks don’t have. 1) A gun, and 2) a piece of plastic that shows that I have been vetted by the federal government (FBI), the state of Connecticut, and local law enforcement; that I have been fingerprinted and photographed; that searches have been made in all available databases, and found that I have no criminal history and am not a violent person. I am, as far as the government is concerned, a documented good guy. Gun control has been applied to my person and I have been found fit to own and carry guns. Also, I’m not a cuntish, weasel-faced liar.

Go after 2A or SHUT THE FUCK UP! I would respect you for doing so. It’s a (the only) reasonable approach to what you want to achieve. I might even agree with it. Personally I see no reason in a modern society why it should be a constitutionally protected right to own and carry guns. You can come up with all sorts of feel-good laws that make it more difficult for me to enjoy my hobby, but will do exactly zero to address the problem at hand. I am willing to sacrifice some of my rights, but only if the solution proposed has a chance of making a real difference. If you think that stronger, universal background checks would make even a tiny dent in gun violence in this country you’re either stupid, a lying self-serving cunt, or both.

So, to summarize: You need to dramatically reduce the number of guns floating around, and you need to change a culture that fosters and glorifies violence. Whining like little bitches on YouTube doesn’t count.


Bye-Bye NRA

I got an e-mail today from the NRA. It started out as such:

Dear LARS:

Your NRA membership has officially expired. I’ve e-mailed you several times and I haven’t heard back from you.

If you have a problem with NRA that’s keeping you from renewing your membership, please let me know what it is, and I pledge to you that I’ll do whatever I can to fix it.

It was signed by Wayne LaPierre and there was more to it, but this is the part that mattered. Below is my response.

Dear WAYNE:

The NRA is no longer a single-issue organization (if it ever was). I have come to understand that you are a full-fledged political manipulation machine supporting candidates and values contrary to mine. There’s more to life than guns. I don’t define myself as a gun owner. I joined the NRA in the wake of Sandy Hook reacting to the dishonest argumentation from those you would call the “gun grabbers”. But your own rhetoric when arguing your case(s) is so dishonest, vile and vitriolic, and some of the spokespersons (e.g. Ted Nugent) you hold up so repulsive and beyond the extreme, that I choose not to be associated with you and your organization for my own good name and reputation’s sake and will not be renewing my membership.

Get back to me when you’ve addressed these issues and we can talk.

Lars Dahl

I will be severing my ties with the National Association For Gun Rights for the same reason. I still support Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL).

Connecticut: Lawsuit Filed in U.S. District Court Challenging Constitutionality of New Firearms Law

Not to sound repetitive, but I just want to make sure the word gets out that we’re not taking governmental abuse and overreach lying down. I’m not saying “from my cold, dead hands“, but I strongly oppose the manner in which, as well as the content of, Governor Dannel Malloy et al’s recent attempt to circumvent democratic process and undermine the 2nd Amendment. If you have an agenda, promote it openly, don’t try to sneak shit past the electorate with lies and deception. Just sayin’.

From my in inbox, courtesy of The National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action:

Connecticut: Lawsuit Filed in U.S. District Court Challenging Constitutionality of New Firearms Law

Bridgeport, CT – Yesterday, a widely-anticipated lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, challenging the constitutionality of the new firearms law that was passed hastily by the Connecticut Legislature in response to the tragic shooting in Newtown by a disturbed individual. Despite this new law being called “An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety,” Connecticut’s new firearms law makes Connecticut citizens less safe. This lawsuit seeks immediate injunctive relief and a ruling declaring the new law unconstitutional under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It alleges that Connecticut’s new firearms law violates the Second Amendment, and makes both citizens and law enforcement less safe by depriving citizens of modern firearms that are in common use throughout the country for self-defense.

Brought on behalf of individual gun owners, retailers and Second Amendment groups, this lawsuit seeks to vindicate the constitutional rights of citizens who are harmed by the broad prohibitions and unworkable vagueness of the new law. This legal challenge focuses on Connecticut’s ban of more than 100 additional commonly-owned firearms, demonizing design features that provide improved safety, accuracy and ease-of-use features, including magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. This lawsuit also challenges the practical bans imposed by the new law on an even broader array of firearms due to the new law’s vague language and interpretative confusion combined with severe criminal penalties.

Plaintiffs bringing this lawsuit include an elderly widow who lives alone in a rural area where the emergency response time of a lone resident trooper serving the area is 45 minutes, a Rabbi whose synagogue in the Bridgeport area was broken into by intruders, a young professional woman whose efforts to defend herself are made more difficult by the loss of an arm due to cancer, among other individuals. In addition, retailers whose businesses have been severely harmed by the law have joined this lawsuit, which was conceived and organized by fellow plaintiff organizations: the Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League (CCDL) and the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. Both organizational plaintiffs represent large numbers of Connecticut citizens whose rights to own the firearms of their choice for self-defense and other purposes such as sports shooting and hunting has been infringed upon by the new law.

Bob Crook, Executive Director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, says, “This law will do nothing to prevent a tragedy or solve the problem of crime committed with guns. Instead of violating constitutional rights, we need to get serious about addressing violence and mental illness.” He continued, “Two recent independent studies by Pew and the federal government have just revealed that gun homicides are down almost 40% and general crime involving guns has dropped a whopping 70% since 1993, which corresponds with the elimination of the federal assault weapons ban. In contrast, the few areas of the country where gun crimes have increased dramatically are the very places where local or state governments have banned or severely restricted gun ownership by law-abiding citizens.”

This Connecticut lawsuit, along with similar legal challenges in New York and Colorado are expected to better define the extent of a responsible citizens’ right to own a commonly used firearm of personal choice for self-defense, defense of family and other lawful uses. Each of these states has enacted new firearms laws that, despite law-makers best intentions, make citizens and law enforcement less safe against criminals and the mentally ill who do not obey these laws.

Your NRA will continue to work in Connecticut and in other states across the nation to support and protect our Second Amendment rights.

PS
I realize that I may start to sound like a gun nut to some, and that I will have to diversify the targets of my ire to maintain my cred as a sane member of society. Stay tuned.

Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League Litigation Update 05/22/2013

From my inbox:

Lawsuit Filed in Connecticut U.S. District Court

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, Hiller Sports, MD Shooting along with several individuals have filed as Plaintiffs in a legal complaint that is intended to overturn the recent ban on guns of common use in the State of Connecticut.

Here is the official filed complaint.

Here is the official Press Release.

This is a big day for gun owners across Connecticut!

CCDL Executive committee has been advised to not discuss the case publicly.

We are also asking our members to not discuss or debate any aspect of this legal action on our Facebook page, or any other social media that may be controlled by CCDL. This is for the good of the case

I am cautiously optimistic, but not in the short term. The Machine is growing bigger and more unruly by the day, and is getting closer to acquiring a will of its own, independent from its makers.

How Much Does Newtown Love Their Children?

After the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14th 2012, the entire nation has been up in arms about how this event was the tipping point, that we, as a nation, must take prompt and meaningful action to prevent future tragedies. If twenty dead children and six dead teachers doesn’t move us to take the necessary steps to protect our children, then we are all morally bankrupt. I firmly agree.

Politicians and activists all the way from the President himself down to grassroots activists on a local level, have made the rounds, parading parents of the victims around the country promoting stricter gun legislation, banning this and banning that, making teary-eyed speeches lobbying for “common sense” laws in the name of dead children.

On Tuesday April 23rd voters in Newtown rejected a budget that added $770,000 to the school and town budgets to hire extra police officers and unarmed security guards in all of the town’s private and public schools.

That’s how much Newtown loves their children.

Newtown is a fairly affluent town and the combined total of the school and town budgets were $111,000,000.

Gun Control Myths – Facts Matter

This is the reason why bans on high (aka standard) capacity magazines will not work. Never mind the strong likelihood that a criminal will disregard the ban in any event. Facts matter. Don’t believe everything your elected officials tell you.

Connecticut: Attention Gun Owners and Sportsmen—You are Immediately Impacted by the State’s New Draconian “Gun Control” Law

From my not-really-so-good friends (final status still to be determined; currently I’ve signed up for a one-year protest membership against the hypocritical, dishonest and self-serving politicians on both sides of the aisle, both locally here in Hartford, CT and in Washington) over at the NRA, here is the short version of Connecticut’s new gun law.

Parts of the law went into immediate effect on April 4th, but I had to wait for an email from the NRA to get a decent rundown of what the new law actually means for CT residents and gun owners.

I have a conflicted relationship with the NRA (I’m warming up to them, though), and at this point still will not recommend anyone to join, but will instead provide a link to Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) for those who want to become active and/or support the cause locally. If you want to join the NRA I’m sure you can find them on the Internet on your own.

Here is the text of the legislative alert email I received from NRA-ILA (National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action):


On April 4, Governor Dan Malloy (D) signed Senate Bill 1160 into law and, as expected, this law contains many onerous and damaging provisions that will only penalize responsible gun owners and sportsmen in Connecticut. Some provisions of this law are effective immediately, while others will go into effect in several months.

It is critical that you stay tuned to www.nraila.org to understand the impact of this new gun control law. Your NRA is doing everything in its power to reverse this dangerous law that has no affect on criminals and only impacts responsible gun owners and sportsmen in Connecticut.

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:

  • There is an immediate ban on the sale or purchase of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
  • If you currently have a state Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers, you may only load 10 rounds into your firearm when carrying for self-defense pursuant to a Connecticut permit to carry pistols, even if your magazine has the ability to accept more rounds.
  • You may not carry a firearm for self-defense if the magazine “extend[s] beyond the bottom of the pistol grip.Many commonly owned handguns have magazines with floorplates that “extend beyond the bottom of the pistol grip, and could therefore be affected by the new law.
  • Due to physical characteristics, more than 100 firearms are classified as “assault weapons” and are banned immediately. Click here to see the full list.
  • With limited exceptions, individuals have to be at least 21 to purchase any semi-automatic centerfire rifle. This runs contrary to the current federal age limit of 18 to purchase any long gun.
  • All firearms sales, deliveries and transfers, regardless of where they take place, must go through a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealer or through the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).

EFFECTIVE ON OCTOBER 1, 2013:

  • Individuals over the age of 18 must obtain an “ammunition certificate” to purchase ammunition and magazines.
    • The fee (tax) for this certificate is $35 and must be renewed every 5 years.
    • You will be subjected to a criminal background investigation.
    •  If you already hold a valid state Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers or newly created “long gun eligibility certificate,” you are exempt from this additional requirement to obtain a separate “ammunition and magazine certificate.”
    • You can apply for this certificate beginning on July 1, 2013.

EFFECTIVE ON JANUARY 1, 2014:

  • All currently possessed magazines that have the ability to hold more than 10 rounds must be registered with the DESPP no later than January 1, 2014 under procedures that are still to be determined.
    • Any non-resident who moves into Connecticut after January 1, 2014 will have 90 days to permanently disable, sell to a gun dealer or take out of state, any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds
  • Any semi-automatic centerfire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has specific cosmetic features, certain semi-automatic pistols and certain semi-automatic shotguns are immediately classified as “assault weapons” and must be registered with the DESPP by January 1, 2014.
    • Any non-resident who moves into Connecticut after January 1, 2014 will have 90 days to permanently disable, sell to a gun dealer or take out of state, any firearm that is now classified as an “assault weapon.”
    • Click here to see if your firearm will need to be registered by January 1 under the new law.

EFFECTIVE ON APRIL 1, 2014:

  • Individuals must apply for a “long gun eligibility certificate” through the DESPP to purchase any rifle or shotgun. You are exempt from this requirement if you have a Connecticut permit to carry a pistol or revolver; a pistol or revolver retail sales permit; or a pistol or revolver eligibility certificate.
    • The fee (tax) for this certificate is $35 and must be renewed every 5 years.
    • You must complete a DESPP- approved firearms training course.
    • You must submit fingerprints with your application.
    • The DESPP commissioner will have 60 days after the receipt of your application to issue the “long gun eligibility certificate,” which can then be presented to a licensed firearms dealer to purchase a long gun.
    • You can apply for this certificate beginning July 1, 2013.

It also remains uncertain as to the total implications to out-of-state hunters or individuals traveling through Connecticut. Your NRA will continue to keep you updated as the egregious provisions of this poorly drafted and deeply flawed law are analyzed.

No Longer A Democrat

There’s something sinister going on in Hartford, CT, literally, as I write this. The politicians are using a provision called E-Cert (Emergency Certification) to ram through a bill bypassing the normal committee hearings, thereby also bypassing the democratic process. The emergency provision was certainly not meant for situations like the current issue at hand. Both Democrats and Republicans are in on this scheme.

I don’t know how I will vote in future elections, locally, state, or nationally, but I do know I don’t want my name associated with a bad crowd – and I consider the Connecticut legislature to be just that – and I don’t want a D or an R after my name. The minor parties have mostly single-issue platforms and are irrelevant. Voting in America has become an exercise in choosing the lesser of all the repugnant evils put forth.

america in distress

There goes the neighborhood.

So today I went to the registrar of voters in Newtown, CT, and changed my party affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated, in effect Independent. Fun fact: As a registered Independent in Connecticut I don’t get to vote in primaries. As if the general election system in America wasn’t poorly designed to begin with and broken further as it was, this is no less than an undemocratic slap in the face. Still better than being associated with people with no backbone and poor ethics at best, and downright criminals at worst.