Why are you so mean?

Periodically, someone asks me why I’m so direct with my replies regarding civil rights such as self-defense.  They get angry because I say what I mean, without cushioning it for their feelings.  I’m not impolite, I just (quite some time ago) lost patience with caring about certain people’s feelings if I tell the truth, back it with facts, and state my conclusions from it, and they get all angry because their defense is purely emotional, with no rational basis.

“Why are you so mean?” I hear. Continue reading

“Mass Shooting”

I see that after the events in San Bernadino (actually, in several politician’s cases, during the events in San Bernadino as they felt no need to actually wait until they had an understanding of the situation), a number of people have decried “gun violence” and many others have vehemently argued that “mass shootings” are horrible (absolutely true) and that Something Must Be Done About All These Mass Shootings.

(If there was a font available that adequately conveyed the sense of smug self-righteousness combined with cloying fake concern and elitist condescending behavior most often demonstrated by people who Talk In Capital Letters about such things, I’d use it.)

It is everywhere—“310th mass shooting in the U.S. this year,” “we must take action to stop gun violence now, what happened in San Bernadino must not be allowed to happen again,” and my personal favorite “I say this every time we’ve got one of these mass shootings; this just doesn’t happen in other countries.” (…which was great since Obama said that while standing in Paris.  Ahem.  Mr. President, do you know what happened several weeks ago in Paris?  Just curious.)

Seriously, comments like that are everywhere.  Suddenly (and again) many people who have no understanding of crime and violence (hint:  being alive in a city in which crime occurs doesn’t actually give you an understanding of violence) have The Solution (or at least a serious complaint that Something Must Be Done!) for “gun violence” and “mass shootings.”

So many comments.  Attempting to refute them all using actual facts seems like the labors of Sisyphus, particularly because the minute you try, an emotional reaction is what you get back, instead a discussion.

Here’s the thing:

If you think “gun violence” should be an issue about guns,


…if you think “gun violence” is something that can be solved by removing guns from law-abiding citizen’s hands,


…if you think “mass shootings” as a category adequately covers terrorist acts, gang-related drive-by shootings outside of clubs, AND murders by mentally disturbed people all at the same time, and also believe that there is a single fix for this category, then…

…you are too ignorant to discuss this with respect to the topics of crime, violence, and mental health.  (Whether you are stupid or not depends on your reaction when faced with your ignorance:  If you attempt to find facts to reduce your ignorance, you are not stupid.  If you attempt to argue emotionally from the depths of your ignorance, you are stupid.)

There isn’t anything wrong with being ignorant, per se.   Ignorance is fixable.  However, thinking that even though you are ignorant regarding the subject matter 1) your opinion is valid, and 2) your opinion should be respected by others, is ridiculous.  (And you should probably stop blathering until you reduce your ignorance.)

Terrorist actions, gang activity, and mental health issues leading to violence are all huge subjects, and incredibly different in terms of causes, actions, and possible defenses/solutions.  If your blanket “solution” for all of these things while calling them “mass murders” is “more gun control” then you LITERALLY are too ignorant to have a conversation with on this topic.  You know so little about any of those topics that attempting to discuss them with you would require starting from from square one, because you currently don’t know anything.

The question is, knowing that you are ignorant, are you going to fix your ignorance?

Or are you going to be stupid?

(By the way, love the idea that a “mass shooting” is defined as four or more people shot when you count the criminal as a victim of shooting, and also can’t apparently count all the way up to four when tallying your numbers.  Excellent work, reddit.  This, by the way, is why crowd-sourced “facts” aren’t considered good enough for anything remotely scientific requiring precision and accuracy.)


It is good that we have Sheeple, in a way…

“I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.”
–Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, post 12 May 1780 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/

I don’t really like the term “sheeple” because it is a derogatory term towards people who (mostly) haven’t done anything wrong.  Previous generations fought, built, and worked so that many people now have lives so good that it doesn’t occur to them that personal safety is something they should be responsible for.  In a strange way, it is a tribute to the people who have fought so that so many citizens of the U.S. believe that they don’t need to worry about their own personal safety, that defense is something that can be handled by others.

Watching the horrific events in Paris yesterday, I saw that “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” immediately decried the “gun violence” showing that not only are they divorced from reality (apparently those killed by bombs don’t matter, nor does the reason for the violence or anything other than gun violence matter) but they will immediately attempt to take anything and twist it to their agenda.

At the same time, I read numerous comments from other people in America saying “We wouldn’t let that happen here.”  I saw people quoting the Japanese admiral  “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass” and I saw people talking about how Americans weren’t like that, that it simply wouldn’t happen that way is someone tried.

And I wished that were true.

America is a harder target than Paris, yes—but that isn’t the same thing as saying it is a hard target.  We have been so successful at reducing violence that many people don’t understand violence and simply don’t see any reason to take responsibility for their own safety anymore–and as a consequence of that, don’t understand people who do, and have made laws making it difficult for people to do so.  The “sheeple” (and this time I mean it as a derogatory comment) have decided that their lack of understanding of personal responsibility is sufficient reason to reduce other people’s ability to defend themselves.  (Hence the derogatory term.)

There are thousands of people in the U.S. who are trained, capable, and willing to be responsible for their own personal safety.  None of those people would have been allowed to carry firearms into a concert in a night club, or to a large-scale sporting event.  As such, in those venues, the initial results would have been similar to what happened in Paris.

People in other places, however, would have had choices.  And it probably would have made a difference.  (How much? I don’t know.  But I DO know that if people are resisting, that will make a better outcome than if violent murderers are allowed to continue to kill with nothing to stop or slow them down.)

People who deny reality, who think violence is a function of inanimate objects, who think that safety is something that government should do for us—these are the people who make it difficult.  Plenty of other people who simply don’t understand the issue aren’t really the problem—we have created these people by making a nation in which self-defense isn’t something that most people have to worry about.  (Though in certain aspects over time, this is changing.)  Many people who don’t understand don’t attempt to make it difficult for those who do.  They may be “sheeple” but they aren’t the problem, really—they are a sign that we have done well in making the nation safe.

But they aren’t prepared to take responsibility for their own defense, and the defense of their loved ones.

Tamara Keel as always, said it very well:
“I ain’t goin’ out like that. Whether it’s some Columbine wannabe who’s heard the backward-masked messages on his Marilyn Manson discs, distressed daytrader off his Prozac, homegrown Hadji sympathetic with his oppressed brothers in Baghdad, or a bugnuts whackjob picking up Robert Frost quotes transmitted from Langley on the fillings in his molars, I am going to do my level best to smoke that goblin before my carcass goes on the pile. I am not going to go out curled into a fetal ball and praying for help that won’t arrive in time.”  (That was back in 2006, by the way:  http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2006/09/i-aint-goin-out-like-that.html)

A lot of us think that way also.  We don’t want to shoot anyone, we don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to have to do anything like that.

But unlike the people whose lives have been sufficiently safe that they don’t feel the need to take responsibility for their own defense, we will.

America isn’t a “hard target” for terrorist attacks the likes of which occurred in Paris.  It certainly could happen here.

But I ain’t goin’ out like that.  And there are thousands of decent, law-abiding people who think the same thing.  And that WILL make a difference.

I need a gun to feel like a man?

Awhile back, people locally made a number of comments on a local mall’s Facebook page about the mall’s proposed policy to make itself a “gun-free zone.”  The comments were fairly standard, saying that if the mall didn’t want to allow them effective self-defense, that they wouldn’t shop there.  Almost all of the comments stayed civil and factual from the pro-self-defense side.  (Not quite all—there are always idiots on every side.  But almost all.)

Whereupon a number of people commented back with things like:

  • “I’m not paranoid enough to need to pack a gun when shopping.”
  • “I’m glad that people who think they need guns will stay away.”
  • “Why are you so scared?  Why do you need a gun just to go out in public?”
  • And my favorite:  “I’m glad the freaks who need a gun to feel like a man will stay away.”

….and the comments went downhill from there.

I really don’t understand why people who say those things happen to think that way. After all, surely they have a reason to believe that.  If they didn’t have a reason, they wouldn’t just make up vicious derogatory commentary, would they?  Perhaps they had some information that I simply don’t have.

Recently, I had a friend (we’d been friends for a number of years) post a very anti-gun screed, to which I replied with a large set of statistics (and links for all of the citations where I got my facts, such as the CDC and the FBI)—and the entirety of her response was:  “Scared Thomas? Take your precious guns and move to El Salvador.”

Um, what?  I said:  “Scared?  Hm.  So, your response to a set of statistics refuting your commentary was a personal attack?  Why?”

Her response?  “Are you scared of [sic] someone is going to take your precious firearms away or that I have an opinion?  We get it already Thomas, you love your guns, maybe more than life itself.  Compensate much?”

What?   This was the response to a set of logical arguments backed with statistics on a particular topic?

Is it that scary to actually look at the facts?  It is so frightening that people might need to re-think their beliefs in the face of actual data describing reality?  So upsetting that moving immediately to personal attacks seems to be a good response?

Paranoid?  Compensating?  Scared?  Need a gun to feel like a man?

Why would people jump to those conclusions?  I mean, I know that for many people, cognitive dissonance results in serious emotional reactions—but immediately jumping to ridiculous conclusions that make no sense, giving emotional motives to other people that have no basis in reality?  Seriously?  I mean, I’ve read this article:  Raging Against Self-Defense, but you’d assume that most people would at least START a discussion before immediately reacting emotionally.

You see, when I carry, I like to think it is because I’m prudent, intelligent, and and have taken responsibility for the safety of myself and the people I love.

I wear a seatbelt whenever I’m in a motor vehicle, even though I haven’t been in even a minor fender-bender in years.  I have a fire extinguisher in my home, even though it has never been on fire.  (Well, the outside was once when my neighbor set his lawn on fire, but I was elsewhere at the time.)  I keep jumper cables and a spare tire in my car, though I haven’t needed them in years.    I wear safety glasses when using a power saw, even though nothing has ever contacted the glasses.  When cleaning up my student’s chemistry experiments, I wear protective gloves even though none of the materials they are using are likely to be remotely dangerous.

In a similar fashion, I carry a concealed firearm because 1) I have looked into the prevalence of crime in my area and the probability of my lifestyle intersecting with someone else’s criminal action–and it is low, but not zero, 2) I am aware that no one else is able to protect both myself and my loved ones in a self-defense situation (most likely, no one else would even try), and 3) taking steps for protective purposes (like having a fire extinguisher, wearing safety glasses, and wearing seltbelts) is not difficult—you just make it a part of your lifestyle.

I’m not paranoid—it is unlikely that I’ll ever have to use any weapon at all.  (And that is a good thing.)  I don’t think I’ll “need” a gun—if I thought I was going someplace where I’d need a gun, I’d simply not go–but if I had to go, I’d bring 30 friends with guns, preferably all armed with cannon.  In a similar fashion, I’m not scared to go out without a gun—but like wearing a seatbelt, since it is simple and potentially useful, why not do it?

As for the “feel like a man” comment—it doesn’t really deserve a response (particularly since a number of CCW permit holders I know are female) but I will say:  “Projecting much?”

I realize it derails the whole “trying to be calm and rational in discussion” thing I’m trying for here, but seriously:  I’m tired of attempting to explain my perfectly rational behavior to idiots who prefer to make commentary based on the ignorant emotional projections of people who can’t be bothered to learn anything remotely resembling facts, or use any form of basic logic.

Want to discuss firearms and violence?  Excellent.  I’d be happy to engage in a discussion in which we debate so that we end up closer to the truth in our understanding of the world.  Please read and follow these rules for having a rational discussion, and we’ll have a great time.

Edited to add:

Read this link:  But YOU SAID THIS!!! Or why arguing with crazy people is pointless.

The entire thing is good—-but the last paragraph is completely brilliant.  And quite frankly, leaving out the hyperbole due to frustration, is pretty much spot-on.  (Thanks to Kozball for the link!)