Will the Trigger Happy Drive the Post-Newtown Gun Debate?

Categories: Schutze

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Sometimes it feels like we grab the gun issue by the tail instead of the head. It's always about ultimate constitutional rights and last-ditch defense measures. But the real face of the gun question isn't some kind of semi-reluctant insistence on a necessary evil. It's sheer joy.

The real issue is trigger happiness. Look at the comments here and other places where the issue comes up. Some people just love having their fingers on that trigger. Got my finger on the trigger, what a world, what a life, I'm in love. That's what we're really talking about.

It's where the divide shows up among gun people who hunt and gun people who buy guns for self-defense. For hunters the gun is a tool like a fishing rod. For some portion of the self-defenders, we have to assume the gun really is a reluctant concession to unpleasant reality. But for the B-movie cowboy crowd -- and they seem to be the most strident of the anti-gun-control voices -- it's all about being plain old trigger happy.

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They're the ones who can't wait to tell you what they'd do if some son of a bitch kicks in their front door. They get all excited and shiny-eyed about it, like they've been practicing it in their minds, like they're kind of hoping it will happen one day so they can use their stuff.

C'mon, admit it. Trigger happy is a part of our culture. In fact an argument could be made that we as a nation can be sort of trigger happy at the macro level.

Look at the debate forming up already on President Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel. Texas Senator John Cornyn told a Wall Street Journal blog two weeks ago that Hagel's wimpy penchant for diplomacy over war makes him an unacceptable choice: "Some of Sen. Hagel's positions would either render America weaker or create ambiguity in regard to our role in maintaining security and peace," Cornyn told the Journal.

David Brooks of The New York Times has a piece in the paper today whispering behind his hand that Hagel is a squishy-squish, chosen because the president wants to damp down defense spending so he'll have more money to pay everybody's medical bills. Oh, and what a horror that would be. Imagine an America that spends more of its treasure on the health and welfare of its own citizens than it spends blowing up people in mud huts with drone strikes. How could we show our faces?

But that's really what it's all about, isn't it? Can there be happiness and honor without a finger on the trigger? We like the look, the feel, the sheer pheromone-infused smell of that trigger up against our finger when we talk.

Well, I shouldn't say we. Somebody does. Many of us do not. Some of us -- including those of us who would defend a hunter's right to keep guns, who would also defend the right of individuals to arm themselves for self-defense in a given set of circumstances -- only oppose the trigger-happy crowd. We disdain trigger-happiness at a personal level. We despise trigger-happiness as an emblem of our national character.

To us, trigger-happy people are weak, not strong. They are simpleminded, not subtle or astute. They express the bottom of human nature, not the top. They are the last people we would want to see in charge of anything.

And that is really what this gun debate is all about. In the end, our response to the Newtown massacre will turn entirely on the kind of people we want to be, the kind of person we would listen to, the kind we will put in the driver's seat on this issue. Do we turn to another B-movie cowboy, tall in the saddle with shiny prop pistols on both hips? Or a wise philosopher under a shade tree? Who's our real daddy, now that they're shooting our kids?

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106 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

The author SAYS that there are gun rights advocates out there who are against arming crazy people. But in all the years of discussing this issue with those people - not once has one every taken a stand against ANYONE getting a gun.

At best, they might casually mention (when confronted) that it's not something they want... but then they always turn right around and contradict themselves with a littany of reasons why they believe everyone should have free access to assault weapons.

I challenge the author provide one, JUST ONE, link to a conversation in which Republicqan gun-rights advocates openly support limits on who can obtain a weapon?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

"The Second Amendment is not about sportsman, duck-hunting or target shooting. Guns in the hands of citizens temper the ambitions of an aggressive government. That is the purpose of the amendment." a letter to the editor - DMN today.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Jim:  It's really NOT what the debate is all about.  The debate is about whether the majority of people who are NOT trigger happy can reap the reward of the 2nd amendment to protect themselves.  Just because the "trigger happy" may be vocal does not mean they are either a majority or even "representative" of the rest.

Consider environmentalism.  Would it be fair to label all environmentalists as "radicals" just because a loud, vocal few are in groups such as the ELF and other terroristic organizations?  No.  Same is true for 2nd Amendment folks, I would hope.

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

The left: Punish people who have committed no crime, protect the people who have. 

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

I really wish Jim would stick to local affairs.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

from the article about the Colorado theater shootings"

In the two months leading up to the movie massacre, suspect James Holmes purchased four handguns and nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition online and in person, an investigator testified Tuesday morning

any reasonable person would agree the purchase by an individal of this quantity of ammunition is not done in a normal course of conduct, nor necessary for any rational use.

regulations of firearms and ammunition are not only prudent but legal. if there were measures in place to regulate this person's access and signal the desire of the individual to gather this quantity of ammunition the possibility this tragedy would happen could be reduced to almost nothing.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

A good portion of our societal machismo can be summed up by a simple sentiment expressed by the ever popular, gun-firing Yosemite Sam mudflap: BACKOFF!


Well, those and Truck-Nutz.

ruddski
ruddski

Hagel as I recall was one of those guys who was gung ho sending my son to war, but when the fighting started, he, like fellow traitor Harry Reid, attempted to offer aid and comfort to the troops by declaring defeat and attempting to surrender. He aso, like fellow military strategist Generalisimo Obama, was against the troop surge, another great indicator of strategical acumen.

But his relevance to the 2nd amendment is anyone's guess. Since he is admired by President Mighty Pen and Jim "Sound the Alarm" Shutze, he's likely as keen on that as he is gays and Jews.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

"We like the look, the feel, the sheer pheromone-infused smell of that trigger up against our finger when we talk" says the guy standing on his front porch waving a shotgun.

Let me be the devil's advocate, here. I've done a tiny bit of shooting and, yes, there was a visceral thrill to pulling the trigger and watching a tincan pop off a fencepost or a bottle shatter. Once upon a time at a shooting meet, someone put a pistol in my hand and pointed me at a target. I shot amazingly well. It gave me a daylong hgh. So, yes, happiness is a warm gun.

Any argument against guns that sidesteps this truth is doomed to failure. People -- not just testosterone junkies -- love to shoot and they want the satisfaction of hitting something when they do. (There were a fair number of Brits at the shooting match I attended. And there was something touching in their eagerness to get their hands on a gun. Apparently in England you can't go near a firearm unless the Queen herself signs off on it.)

The only way out of this is that ancient political expedient, so often denied of late: compromise. You can have you guns -- not the rapid-fire, big-magazine child-killers -- but reasonable weapons, good for hunting, admiring up there on the rack, and the rare threat, real or imagined. But in return you're not going to carry it around and intimidate your neighbors. Don't take your gun to town, son. And we want to know who you are and a little about you. Do you tend to fly off the handle? Are you under medication? Have you ever robbed a liquor store? Do you believe the government of the United States is your enemy? Do you have Rambo fantasies? 

I think, as usual, we are caught up in a shoving match between the extremes, the nut-cases. The perpetual scolds on the one hand who don't like anything that makes loud noises and who grow shrill whenever someone, somewhere is having a little innocent fun; and on the other side the drooling sociopaths to whom every man is his own police force, judge, jury and executioner.

I say to hell with both extremes. Some arguments are not worth listening to. Pass some sensible and realistic gun legislation. Enforce it vigorously. 



keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@bvckvs How about a link to one lefty gun grabber who actually openly supports institutionalization of the "mentally ill?"

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@holmantx Yeah - for anti-government right-wing psychos, the 2nd amendment is about being able to murder government employees.

ruddski
ruddski

Jim's job is to drive traffic to this website.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@James_the_P3 And, Jim, put down that damned shotgun of you're going to lecture us about being trigger-happy.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@mavdog Interesting how you emote all over the page while nattering on about "reason."  

 Back when I used to compete, I bought ammunition by the pallet-load.  I would also purchase reloading components in bulk.  

I no longer compete, but if I had the spare cash, I would ensure I had a minimum of 10,000 rounds of each cartridge type for which I own a firearm.  It would help to weather the times when ammunition prices fluctuate and be a store of value readily made liquid in times of financial distress.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog You are absolutely and totally wrong. 

I know dozens of competition shooters who go through far, far more ammunition than that in two months.  (They shoot anywhere from 1K-3K a WEEK.)  As for four handguns, it's less customary but by no means unheard of.  Most mass shooters don't need four pistols -- they only need one.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski 

being a patriot does not mean always supporting the decisions of our government, sometimes being a patriot involves speaking publically and vocally when our government is wrong.

chuck hagel was NOT "gung ho" about the Iraq war, in fact he was not a supporter. Yes, he did vote to approve the bill giving Bush the go ahead for the war, but he stated a great deal of opposition to the attack and as this quote from the time says he did vote yea with reluctance:

"There were two reasons I did it," Chuck Hagel explains. "I believed what the administration said, that war would be a last resort, and the second thing is, at a critical time like this, the president needs a strong hand, and to some extent, you've got to trust him, until he lies or screws up or something. Is there a gamble in that? Sure.

well, one of those caveats hagel mentions was real.

also, hagel has never shown to be anti-semetic. the slur you hurl his way is not accurate and reveals more about you then it does about him.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski Does being against Obama necessarily involve being completely clueless when one sits down to blog-comment? 

Hagel is a combat veteran, twice wounded. He carries shrapnel in his chest. He rescued his brother during a combat operation and in turn was rescued himself. He knows what war is all about, unlike certain shoot-from-the-lips cabinet members of the Bush administration, who never served a day in their lives. His position on sending your son or anyone else's off to war has been consistent: don't do it unless its unavoidable. That includes Iraq, a war nobody's son should have been sent to fight.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel 


"I say to hell with both extremes. Some arguments are not worth listening to."


People on both sides will tell you their arguments are not extreme, you'll probably not characterize your positions as such.

I think you'll find the arguments for these civil rights, if they do not correspond to your arguments, will seem de facto extreme to you.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@bmarvel Right, just as soon as everyone compromises on the abortion issue as well ...


The Gun Control Act of 1968 and the National Firearms Act of 1934 already define what sort of firearms can be owned without a special license.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@bmarvel When you think those restrictions are good ideas for freedom of the press, then you'll have a little more credibility when it comes to freedom of self defense.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps 

well, as I said "any reasonable person would agree".....

I wasn't discussing the number of guns he bought, I referenced the amount of ammunition.

obviously if someone were a "competition shooter" they could easily comply with standards incorporated into said regulations so they could source enough supply for their addiction to shooting bullets.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel @ruddski 


"involve being completely clueless.."

Every fact you state after this statement, I am aware of. Assuming cluelessness is, well, clueless.

The number of times Hagel was wounded, the number of people he killed or saved does not make him immune to poor decision-making, it does not increase his IQ, it does not change the positions he has taken which I and many people who have matched his bona-fides you cite find wrong.


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski @bmarvel "People on both sides will tell you their arguments are not extreme." 

They'll be wrong, of course. Arguing that there should be NO regulation of gun ownership is, by definition, extreme. So is arguing that gun ownership should be banned. A suggestion that some regulation is in order and that the subject be re-examined is not, by any rational definition, extreme. Of course, there has been very little that is rational on either side of this issue.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @bmarvel Former Paul: Perhaps you can explain the relationship between gun ownership and abortion, but I doubt it. Just to be clear, though, I'm against killing defenseless human beings, in the womb or out in the world.

observist
observist topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @bmarvel Yes, we should restrict freedom of the press because so many people are killed by magazines and newspapers, especially illegal ones.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@keepcensoringDO @everlastingphelps @mavdog The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 people.  He went through at least 17 magazines doing so, a mix of 10 and 15 round mags.  When you are reloading that often, it shows that it doesn't really matter how many times you have to reload.  

Why was he able to reload so often?  Because his victims had been disarmed.  When he saw someone else coming with a pistol, he shot himself in the head.

Limiting magazine size didn't stop him.  He was doing fine with 10 round mags.  Putting another gun on the scene stopped him.

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@pak152 Privacy only exists when it comes to abortion and facebook. 

pak152
pak152

"it is "reasonable" to conclude that a person who purchases such an amount of firepower is worthy of investigation before providing such."

why? what tells you they need to be investigated. what is the reasonable cause? apparently you are unaware that individuals are required to undergo a background check via the FBI's NCIS. get flagged on that and you don't get to buy the gun. so what you are suggesting is that individuals be investigated for no reasonable reason, only because they bought multiple firearms.

pak152
pak152

@mavdog @everlastingphelps wow how many shooters/gun owners do you know? as others have pointed out buying large quantities of ammunition is not unusual. to become a proficient shooter one must practice, and practice takes shooting hundreds if not thousands of rounds on a regular basis. the sad part is that individuals like you spout inaccuracies. let me suggest that you get to know some shooters, visit a firing range. learn the facts

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

no, it is "reasonable" to conclude that a person who purchases such an amount of firepower is worthy of investigation before providing such.

it is unreasonable to believe the lack of investigation is in the public's best interest.

there's no "emotion" involved, except apparently on the side of those who cling to the belief that there is something scared to the right to access weaponry without restrictions.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog @everlastingphelps A reasonable person is someone who is using reason.

You are not.  You are using emotion and gut reactions.

Ammunition is purchased in the amounts you cited regularly.  It's common.  Real common.  A REASONABLE person would not conclude that a common, everyday purchase is somehow a warning sign just because ex post facto it turned out that a mass killer had done so.  You could just as "reasonably" decide to put everyone who dyes their hair orange on a List.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski @bmarvel @mavdog Still waiting for an answer to my question ruddski. I believe it was mavdog who declared you a liar. I'm still open to persuasion.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel @ruddski @mavdog 

Snce you've already declared me a liar, why don't you just move on? I don't consider you worth my time, and I was under the impression you had the same opinion of me, so what exactly are you looking for?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski @mavdog And the evidence that convinces you that he is anti-Semitic is...?

ruddski
ruddski

@mavdog @ruddski 

Tell ya what, I've read much about Hagel, there are things about Hagel I do not like.

One of those things about Hagel is I percieve him to be anti-semetic, this is my perception, comprende?

So, when you call me a liar, you can take that perception and stuff it right up your, as i perceive it, pompous ass.


Have a nice day and keep up the good work!

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

you've been presented with multiple opportunities to provide substantiation to your accusation of Hagel being anti-semitic, when challenged to its accuracy all you do is demur.

you sir meet this definition:

Lie:

1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

2.something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture.

3.an inaccurate or false statement.

hence that makes you a liar.

keep up the good work....

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

you can certainly have an opinion of his qualifications to be Sec of Defense, but to impugn his character by stating that he is anti-semetic is over the line. either show cause or admit you are in error.

ruddski
ruddski

@mavdog @ruddski 

I am not in error, I am fully aware that I'll not convince you of that, and I frankly, like you, do not care, which is why I'll not offer a thesis for your proposal, professor. Fair enough?





mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski 

your error is believing that I intended or cared if you were "convinced".

ther fact that you are in error was the point, and as you can offer no rebuttal the point was reached.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel @ruddski - 

Heh, I'll get right on that poll for ya. They're all combat veterans, but they're highly prejudiced against this CiC, so the poll results are already known, and not likely to impress you. Sorry, I wish we we all less extreme, but thats how she blows.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski @bmarvel Then I suggest you take a poll within that "large circle of Military friends." Ask them, would they favor Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary. Be sure to include as many combat veterans as possible.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel @ruddski 

I would not check his wounds, no. And odd as it may seem, I have a large circle of Military friends and family that like and admire GW Bush as much as you likely despise him, so get off the high horse, corporal.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski @bmarvel Ask yourself, would you rather a man who has seen the worst of combat and distinguished himself on the battlefield (and, if it makes any difference, a solid Republican) make decisions on whether or not to send your son to war, or, say, a Dick Cheney or a Paul Wolfowitz? 

ruddski
ruddski

@observist @ruddski When I lived in VT, it was 47th in income,  red state, same gun laws, and much safer than it is now.

So they have always lived under "extreme" gun laws, but It turns out that these extreme conditions don't lead to violence.

Actually, there is one strong reason for the lack of violence, but that reason is not something to be mentioned on a polite progressive blog.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@observist Ummm ... the statement that more people are killed or injured in automobile accidents than from gun fire is true.  This fact is not hard to look up.


Another one for you to look up is the number of people struck by lightning as compared to deaths from nutcase incidents such as the recent Newtown crime as well as Aurora, Columbine and Virginia Tech.


Basically, you are two to three times more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be shot in a situation such as Newtown.


One difference is that we do take precautions against traffic injuries (driving defensively) and lightning (staying away from open areas during a thunderstorm).  These precautions are considered safe, sane and acceptable, yet taking precautions against a nut case gunner by carry a weapon for self defense is considered unreasonable.


It would be as if to reduce deaths from lightning strikes a way to stop thunderstorms would be found; and, to reduce traffic fatalities we would ban automobiles.


As for me, I am more worried about a traffic accident on my way to and from work than I am about a nut case gunner.

observist
observist topcommenter

@ruddski @observist Higher income (19th) lower population density (30th) largest city has a population of 42,000, and a blue state for the last 5 elections.  I'm sure it's the gun laws that make it a safe place to live.

ruddski
ruddski

@observist T

The state is Vermont. The Extremist State.


Seems people aruingg this particular civil right might know that.

observist
observist topcommenter

@ruddski @bmarvel Don't tell us which state it was so your assertions can be confirmed or denied, just make up some gun utopia shit like "more people are beaten to death than killed with guns" or "automobile drivers kill vastly more people than gun owners".

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel @ruddski 

I would call ANY state gun laws or restrictions "extreme", but then again,  lived for 15 years in a state with no laws or restrictions, save those on carrying in a school or courthouse.

It was and is among the safest places to live in America.

It all depends on your perceptions, I guess.


ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@bmarvel @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Ummm ... both abortion and 2nd Amendment rights are subjects that each side of the debate hold dearly while trying to convince the other side of the error of their ways while not recognizing the futility of their own endeavors in trying to sway the opinion of the other side ...

observist
observist topcommenter

@everlastingphelps Yes, yes, I know, you've made your position clear many times:  anything to the left of you is teetering on the precipice of totalitarian mass murder. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@observist @everlastingphelps @bmarvel Goebbels got more killed than Sam Browning.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @bmarvel @keepcensoringDO Reference was to keepcensoring, who seems to imagine I'm some kind of liberal, though he's not clear on what kind, nor what actually is a liberal, nor what my political beliefs might be.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@keepcensoringDO @everlastingphelps @bmarvel Ah! The dreaded word "liberal" again, Phelps. Sorry. You lose. 

Try the argument again but this time without trying to guess my political leanings. (You'd be wrong, anyway.)  Here's a hint. Not all views conveniently fall into the conservative-liberal sort bag (unless you're really simple-minded and don't know a thing about politics.)  Most people's views are nuanced. And besides,their are several different kinds of  what are called, for lack pf a better term, "liberals" and "conservatives." You could look it up, but I doubt that you will.

For future reference, do you mean liberal in the classic 18th Century sense, or perhaps in the early 19th-century "progressive" sense. Or something else, more akin to what we sometimes now call libertarian, but which are really liberal in the old, original sense. And for that matter, contemporary liberals are not loberal at all in any meaningful way, just as those who think of themselves as conservative" are not really. 

Or do you just mean that you don't agree with my views, but don't now how to characterize them?

keepcensoringDO
keepcensoringDO

@everlastingphelps @bmarvel He's intimidated by lawful gun owners and has all sorts of invective for them but feels really bad if anyone says an unkind word about a violent thieving drug addict that tried to run over a cop.

Strange how liberals all seem to hate cops and love criminals and still they want those to be the only ones with firearms. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@bmarvel @everlastingphelps Are you planning to start publishing the subscription lists of papers? 

I'll buy your "reasonable regulations" when you agree to make Planned Parenthood and the Tides Foundation abide by the same rules.  Until then, you are just singling out an Other that you don't personally like.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @bmarvel Fine.Maybe they'll provide the press with a membership list and a complete account of lobbying expenditures. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@bmarvel @everlastingphelps Sorry, the NRA is much more open about its ownership, its partisan beliefs, and its motivations than Village Voice.

We would have to start with The Observer, and then move on to say DMN.

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