Thursday, September 24, 2009

Picking up bullets

American gun nuts are running out of bullets. It’s not that they don’t have enough, it’s that they can’t buy enough because of ongoing shortages: The gun nuts are hoarding ammunition.

According to America’s National Rifle Association, Americans buy about 7 billion rounds of ammunition a year, but they’re now buying at a rate of 9 billion rounds per year. The reason? Oh you know, there’s a (black) Democrat in the White House, the Democratic Party has a majority in both houses of Congress and did you know the President is a (black) Democrat?

Gun nuts themselves have been claiming that hoarding of ammunition (and buying guns themselves) soars when Democrats are in control, but they provide no evidence to support that. What we know for certain is that far-right websites and organisations—along with supposedly “mainstream” Republicans—claimed in the last election that President Obama would “take away guns”. Apparently lacking in their education, many gun nuts didn’t realise that’s impossible.

However, some gun nuts did realise that and instead insisted that President Obama and the Democrats would focus on restricting ammunition as back-door gun control. Apparently they haven’t noticed that no one in government is making any moves whatsoever to do as the panic merchants said they would and, in fact, the president has said repeatedly that he supports gun rights and common sense on gun laws—like the vast majority of Americans.

I’m not a fan of allowing nearly anyone to own as many guns and as much ammo as they want. Allowing just about anyone to stockpile a huge, unrestricted personal armoury cannot lead to good things. But neither the president nor Congress share my concern.

So we have a bunch of well-armed folks who don’t know the first thing about what’s really going on in Washington, but who believe any crackpot conspiracy theory that comes along, trying to become even better armed. And they wonder why some of us might be a bit concerned for the future of the republic.…


Roger Owen Green said...

I think it's a bit of self-fulfilling prophesy. They THINK the Democrats are going to take away their guns and they create their own shortage. Sorta like when Johnny Carson created the toilet paper shortage.

epilonious said...

Um, So let me get this straight... you're railing against gun owners and calling them names, making presumptions that they are too dumb to understand how government works, all to support an accusation that they're hoarding for Ill Purposes...

I'm sorry, but it appears you don't know what the fuck you are talking about...

Yes, there are irresponsible people who do stupid things with guns (get too many, don't maintain them, get drunk with them, let kids play with them)... just like there are irresponsible people who do stupid things with cars (get too many, don't maintain them, get drunk with them, lock kids in them)... and in both cases, the horrible people make the responsible ones look bad... and the easiest way to cause hoarding behaviors for ammo/fuel is to start bandying about future shortages and/or artificial price hikes.

Democrats traditionally support gun control from the reasonable (no, normal people don't need sniper rifles or automatic weapons for generic home-defense needs) to the unreasonable (full-on gun bans; So while they can't "take away" your guns... if you shoot the burgler who just killed your dog and took a knife to your partner's throat... you go to jail or get kicked out of school or get fired for having the naughty weapon that the government in your town decided they didn't like that year).

So naturally, people who like guns and own guns will start placing advanced orders for traditionally scarce ammo when a Democrat becomes president. Even more will do it when congress is Democratic too.

This doesn't necessarily mean gun owners are stockpiling. All my gun owning friends go to a shooting range at least once a month because, like cars, guns need to be used regularly and cleaned regularly and making sure one's aim and handling are up to snuff ain't a bad idea. Thus, if they hear that shortages are coming, they'll do well to put in orders in advance.

Granted... You probably meant "gun nuts" as a concatenation for "irresponsible gun-owners who really shouldn't be allowed to own any guns whatsoever"... but if you did, then your premise that 'gun nuts' are allowed to collect as much ammo and weaponry as they want is a bit flawed. Irresponsible gun owners tend to do stupid things that get them in trouble. This means buying contraband from gun shows... or forgetting to get concealed carry permits... or using a gun to carry out a crime... and just like people who get behind the wheel of a car with too much alcohol in them, 'gun nuts' usually lose their right to buy and own guns, and are in lots of trouble if/when they are found with them after that.

Furthermore... if you're going to lambast people for not providing the chart that shows ammo and gun sales surging upon Democratics entering office... Where's your evidence that the surge this time is because it's a (Black) Democrat?

Really, that assumption is just in poor taste at best and just plain racist at worst. My impression is that you weren't looking very hard either way.

And finally, I don't covet guns, I don't own guns... but I respect my friends and family who do and I know they aren't anything like what you've described... I'm guessing you don't have many gun owning friends because if you did you are being REALLY disingenuous to them for the sake of your rant/smear.

Roger Owen Green said...

Certainly the thought that Obama's race is a motivating factor in a gun surge is not new. The report on right-wing terrorists suggested as much.

How that can be perceived as "racist" shows a gross lack of knowledge of what racism is.

epilonious said...

The argument being made is "Racist hoarding gun owners have admitted obama that Obama being a Black Democrat is a factor in their hoarding, therefore all gun owners must be hoarding, and doing it because Obama is a Black Democrat"

It's an inelegant generalization (gun owners are 'gun nuts' who like to hoard ammunition) with racism added on to make "gun nuts" seem extra icky.

Hence I summarized the generalization as being "in poor taste at best and racist at worst"... and while I admit it doesn't pass the litmus test of "Arthur made an assumption about someone based on their race"... it's contains tangential accusations of racism as a means of character assassination ("oh, people who like guns are not only hoarding because a democrat is in office, they're doing it double time because he's a Black democrat! Oooooh, those racist gun owners!")

And if you're willing to infer that a majority of gun-owners are hoarding becuase of latent racism... well, then it shows a gross lack of knowledge about the entire class of generalization fallacies of which racism is a part.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Roger: I agree, and this shortage is certainly "user generated". Thanks, too, for the link. That's precisely the sort of thing that's riling up the right.

And after I wrote my responses, I learned that comments on Blogger have a maximum of 4,096 characters. Who knew?

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

epilonious: I suspected I could count on you to respond, but I have to say, perhaps you should take a deep breath and read the post again, because you clearly took out of it what you wanted to.

I never said gun nuts were hoarding guns and ammo for "ill purposes". I clearly said and implied that their motivations were ill-informed, unreasonable and more than a little irrational. What they plan to DO with their vast private armouries is another topic entirely, and one I never approached in this post.

Also, I didn't call gun owners names. In fact, I didn't even talk about gun owners in general, but instead about "gun nuts" who, I'm sure we can all agree, are a subset of all gun owners. You seemed to understand that, but claimed that my using such shorthand meant my premise was "a bit flawed".

Your support for there being essentially no such thing as gun nuts as I used the term was your contention that such people make mistakes, break laws or in some other way—if you'll pardon the expression—shoot themselves in the foot. But your premise is flawed: Gun nuts can and so obtain all the guns and ammo they want with little or no trouble (apart from them shortages, of course). Gun shows are the most obvious hole in the system, but that's not the only way guns move around and into the hands of gun nuts.

I think it's pretty obvious from the post that gun nuts are between what you call "responsible gun owners" and the frothing crazy people who do make mistakes and so on that prevent them from amassing a private armoury. These gun nuts live fairly ordinary lives, yet their guns have a huge prominence in their lives. These are the people who bring a loaded gun to a teabagger protest outside an appearance by the president, and think that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

I hardly lambasted the gun nuts for failing to provide evidence that hoarding always happens when Democrats are in control—I merely noted it.

I also never said that racism was the motivator for all the hoarding. Instead, I include it as a factor, along with Democrats taking over Congress and the presidency. However, I clearly consider racism—subtle or overt—to be an important factor with at least some people (which is why the reference is in parentheses), and the evidence supports me on this: Many groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, have documented an increase in hate incidents against the folks the right traditionally targets, especially African Americans. Talking about it is never in "poor taste", but dismissing it outright, is.

Having said all that, you made some substantive points. Chief among them, I think you're confusing gun laws with self-defence laws: The latter is not a substitute for the former. The question is, do people have an unrestrained right to defend their property with lethal force? Most people would say no, human life of all sorts is always judged more highly than things.

Now if someone uses a gun illegally—and your responsible gun owners by definition have a obligation to know what is and is not legal in their towns—then, like any other criminal, they must accept the consequences. That's what "rule of law" means. If they don't like the law, they should change it through democratic means, but they shouldn't expect to get a free pass from obeying laws just because they own guns, nor should they be surprised if they have to pay a penalty for breaking a law. This is not about what laws an imaginary criminal also broke—that's a matter for law enforcement, too—this is about other people also acting outside the law.

And finally, while this shouldn't be about me, I do have gun-owning friends—I don't know or care how many. I'm obviously not talking about them in this post—not one of them is a gun nut as I've used the term, which figures. And, for the record, in the US I lived for a time with guns in the house, though I've never used one and have no desire to ever do so.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

epilonious: Now, as for your second comment, that's your reduction, not my argument. Let me be clear why:

1. I never said or implied that ALL gun owners are racist or hoarding weaponry because of racism. I did imply that it's a factor for many, and the evidence of racism on the right generally, including gun nuts, is pretty clear.

2. Not all gun owners are gun nuts (see above). The gun nuts, however, are hoarding ammunition and some of them are motivated at least in part by racism. To me, hoarding ammunition just because Democrats are in power is icky all on its own.

3. I didn't assassinate anyone's character, certainly not your "responsible gun owners". Once again, I was clearly referring to gun nuts specifically.

4. Since I was referring only to gun nuts, I clearly never said or implied that "a majority of gun-owners are hoarding because of latent racism". In fact, I also never said that a majority of gun nuts were hoarding because of racism. I implied it was a factor—which it clearly is—but I never said it was THE factor.

In sum, you're being reductionist and condescending toward ideas you don't accept, beliefs you don't share and—it seems to me—things that make you feel uncomfortable, racism in particular.

You say racism is part of a class of "generalization fallacies", but what is that but a "generalization fallacy"? You seem to be implying that racism cannot be discussed, and cannot be a factor in anything, because exceptions always exist.

The right in general always utterly dismisses talk of racism because they don't want it discussed, they don't want to admit it exists, much less discuss how pervasive it is or how much they themselves may have personally.

I'm sorry, but talk of racism as a "generalization fallacy" seems to me to be the sort of dismissiveness that Fox Noise, Rush or the Republican Party would be happy to embrace and promote. We ought to be able to discuss racism without one side seeing it everywhere or the other saying it doesn't exist anywhere.

Having said all that, I have some sympathy with part of your reaction to this post: The left in general has often used the term "gun nut" to refer to all gun owners. I don't do that and always try to use terms like that precisely, and the context of my post did make clear how I meant this usage. Perhaps in the future I could add an asterisk to be extra-clear—but, I probably won't.

migratingfishswim said...

Re Epilonius' first comment: Sadly, Western society seems to be racist by default. (There's stacks of evidence on that one, a search in Google Scholar will fine high-quality resources for you.)

Picking-up that some people have objections to Obama because he's black isn't racist, it's the sad truth.

I'm proud of the US for voting-in a black leader, I hope the UK's not too far behind.

epilonious said...

Picking up that some people don't like Obama because he's black may be a sad truth, but saying they are acting on their racism as a means to hoard is pejorative and needs lots more evidence than is provided here.

Otherwise it's a generalization. Just like race-based physical and metaphysical traits... the sort of thing that exists only in provincial lore and should be avoided when making actual arguments.

Arthur, You have done nothing to convince me that your "gun nut" isn't an imaginary creature. You've essentially just made a post designed to "rile up the left" and tried to justify it by pointing at a few posts "riling up the right"

And despite all your words and defensiveness, your lack of credible research shows. All you've done is shown there are a few crazy websites and a few crazy people. You're not convincing me that there is a whole legion of not-reasonable-or-responsible-enough-to-be-really-scary-and-threatening gun owners that everyone needs to be concerned about. All you've done is infer that if they exist they will probably be racist too.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

migratingfishswim: Yes, I agree. No surprises, huh?

epilonious: You cut me to the quick! You say I "just made a post designed to 'rile up the left'". I am so disappointed—really! I thought it was obvious I wanted to rile up the right, the people who stamp their feet and declare, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, there's no such thing as racism!"

I personally don't need to prove that racism exists or that it's a factor in the anti-Obama mania, including among gun nuts. People far more capable than I have done so already, among them, the Southerrn Povery Law Center, which I already mentioned as a source. For the record, their URL is http://www.splcenter.org/index.jsp. The Department of Justice keeps such records, too, as does the Department of Homeland Security (I'm far too lazy to look up the URLs).

I'm sorry you think that gun nuts, as I used the term, are imaginary. They are not. On that point we cannot agree because I will not accept your premise and you clearly will not accept mine (and, by the way, they're not too keen on you or your kind, either).

I was not the least bit defensive—unless you mean I stood up for myself against unwarranted accusations. I am not a journalist—I've never said I was, never pretended to be. Neither am I a political scientist or any other academic. No one would suppose I was. I am, however, a person who—despite what you said initially—does indeed know what the fuck I'm talking about and I have a blog to promote those views. There are plenty of other sites that parrot rightwing talking points (endlessly!), but this is certainly not one of them. If the far right media is entitled to its views, then surely you must allow me mine, right?

At what point in this clearly minor post (first clue: it's short!) did I ever claim it was an exhaustive examination of the racism of gun owners? I did not. So what made you think there would be in the comments "credible research" presented to back what I said (apart from the sources already provided)? I feel no compulsion to prove anything: Some sources already provided do a better job, but if that's what I wanted to do, I would have written such a post.

I note that you chastise me for not proving to you that I am right by providing sources, yet you never once provided a single source to refute what I said. Is there no evidence to dispute my assertions?

Basically, I think you misunderstand what this blog is about: It's an opinion blog, nothing more. It's not my job to search out information that others can find on their own, if they want to. I provide links to what I'm talking about and sometimes to sites that back up what I say—if I want to. Others are free to post comments refuting what I say with citations of sources—if they want to.

This site is a free-wheeling discussion, and I welcome nearly all views (I've only ever deleted what I considered to be extremist rhetoric—well, that and spam). You and I have had many productive discussions in the past, and while I strongly disagree with you on this subject, that doesn't mean I reject what you say (apart from the areas where we clearly have irreconcilable differences, of course). Sometimes, I think, the wisest thing to do is to agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

This sort of discussion makes me sick because you all seem to be ignoring the real issue. Defending a stupid clause in a document written hundreds of years ago which hasn't actually made you safer. You all need to get real. The USA has the highest number of gun related deaths per head of population than any other country on earth. Anyone who thinks this is an acceptable "reality" of a free state needs to get a clue. Epilonious you need to find new friends!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

With respect Anon, I haven't ignored the underlying issue—it just wasn't the point of this post. The most recent post where I talked about that was last year, when the US Supreme Court ruled (incorrectly, I believe) on a Second Amendment case.

Having said all that, I actually basically agree with you.

I'm glad that I now live in a country in which guns are rare, almost no ordinary people own handguns, and even the police don't carry them.

d said...

Yikes...I'm glad your blog is getting more popular, but some of the commenters are just too..eh..nevermind.

Suffice it to say the subject of your post and one of your commenters are just more reasons why we left the US and will never move back.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

D: Yeah, I get where you're coming from. Guns are one issue where there isn't a lot of grey. Still, I welcome all viewpoints here, whether I agree with them or not. But I'll also challenge those I disagree with—well, actually, I try and respond to all posts actually, but you get the idea.

epilonious said...

A few thoughts.

1. Why did eppy freak out so much?Why didn't Eppy just assume that Arthur meant "gun nut" to be an irresponsible, ignorant gun owner like those being talked about by the linked article(s)?

Because I don't feel Arthur tried very hard to make the distinction between them and the rest of gun owners in America: The tone I feel from people who obviously dislike guns using terms like 'gun nut' is "I don't like these people so I'm going to call them names to excuse myself from having to really disclose my individual issues and relationships with them... and further define which subset I am actually scared of". I feel like Arthur set up a scarecrow meant to represent a larger segment of gun owners than he was letting on, and then accused that scarecrow of being racist and ignorant.

Needless to say, I found that rather distasteful... especially from someone who I feel repeatedly posts cases of people he doesn't politically agree-with being unreasonable and hostile, only to opine about such attitudes being an impediment to any sort of effective political collaboration and understanding.

2. Still, eppy was downright vulgar and accusatory in his initial response, it felt like he was being way too defensive in that and subsequent responses.

Yeah, but at the same time, I don't really feel anyone commenting (with the exception of Arthur) was trying to pull the comments back from that level. So.. judge not and all that...

3. But the Constitution was written in the time of front loading ball muskets and America is full of gun crime...

And yet, places that are as ethnically-diverse as America that have outright banned guns are full of knife crime.

4. Racism is saying that people with a certain set of morphological features share other common traits beyond the morphological features... saying that group of people is racist isn't racist

Well, technically no... but wouldn't it be a dilly of a pickle if some of the ammo-hoarding, obama-not-liking gun-owners turned out to have the same color skin as Obama? What if they were Central American immigrants?

Needless to say, this topic is unfortunately tricky... it's juggling two loaded generalizations with boxes of bullets... and lots of people are getting shot in the foot.