06 February 2018

It's Not That Simple: Gun Control For Everyone

There is an overwhelming willingness within the general public to accept and make decisions based on over-simplified information provided by media and by certain special interest groups. As the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre nears, many people are asking why we have done nothing about gun control reform.

Unless you're a special kind of douchebag, you probably agree that there should be some way to prevent baby-killing pieces of shit that do not deserve to be named or remembered on this blog or anywhere else from obtaining firearms. Calls for assault weapons ban, expanded background checks and federal firearm registration are among the proposed measures of reform. Sounds easy enough, right, gun control proponents as well as opposers can find common ground somewhere in there, right? So why has nothing been done yet?

The most basic answer is: Most proposed reforms are simply impossible.
Federal Registration
Say, by some fucked up lack of oversight, the government did pass a federal firearms registration law. The truth is, fuck 'em, it wouldn't matter. Due in part to the vast amount of firearms in this country, there is simply no way it could ever be enforced. 

As I've discussed before, firearms are traced forward from the manufacturer or the importer. Meaning that even if the NTS procured a list of serial numbers for every single Beretta sold in the United States, each serial number would have to be traced from the company to the distributer to the seller to the purchaser and from there to any other seller and buyers. 

If that sounds difficult, but not impossible, you have to consider that we'd have to do that for every single gun sold in America in the history of forever, taking into account that until recently, quality record keeping and paperwork regulations were largely ignored if they were required at all. 

Sure, we can outlaw private sales, which are currently perfectly legal, but there is simply no way to even find the uncountable amount of firearms that have already been sold or transferred in this country. So even if there was a law requiring you to register your guns, if you don't want to, don't bother. 

Mental Health Concerns
Referring once again to Newtown, people want to know why something wasn't done to prevent a certain fuckstick from having access to a firearm in the first place. Some want to blame the mother for having guns in the home with her mentally unstable son. For the sake of argument, let's just go ahead and say that no mother can fathom a situation such as occurred in Newtown. While we can sit here in the present and judge her past decisions, obviously, we don't have a clue what we're talking about. 

Moving past that, there are calls to regulate the sale of firearms to mentally ill people. Which is fucked up, because we already have a measure banning people that have been adjudicated mentally unfit. The problem, really, is that states are fairly cautious about stripping people of their civil rights. 

For example, most states have really specific regulations concerning the involuntary commitment of an individual. Most of them include the language "imminent danger." That means that before a person can be determined to be a danger to himself or others, he must already be a danger to himself or others. 

So while we all know that Uncle Joe is batshit fucking crazy, and we think he needs medication and perhaps a stay on the acute ward, he's going to have to try to kill himself or someone else before the state will force him into treatment. Because, once again, judges tend to take civil rights pretty damn seriously.

Potentially, we could expand the regulation on people diagnosed with mental illnesses. Of course, I'm sure I'm not the only one that would be a bit uncomfortable if my mental health records were supplied to the federal government. And then there is the issue of... When would it end?

Would we report only those with severe illnesses, such as schizophrenia and psychosis? What about psychosis caused by meds? Should we encompass any mental illness, such as depression, anxiety or even ADD diagnosis? More importantly, how does the possibility of being placed on some government list affect the likelihood of people to seek treatment for mental illnesses?


31 December 2015

My Grandfather's Wife

I’ve tried to write this a hundred times, but had a hard time finding the right words. I was very close to my grandmother. She was so loved. She is so missed.

My grandfather sat in a chair near her bed, resting his head on their joined hands. After some time, he stood, smoothed the hair from her forehead and kissed it gently. He stood there for a while, simply looking at her. I could tell he didn’t want to leave her and I felt a bit guilty for witnessing such a private moment. When he finally did leave the hospital room, he came out holding her single shoe as if it were a child. It is a picture of grief I will never forget.

What does someone say in that moment, when they are saying goodbye to the person they’ve shared their life with? I love you. Thank you for loving me, for our sons, for everything. I’m not ready to lose you. I’m sorry.

My own thoughts reflected the selfish side of grief. I’m not ready either. I still need you. Are you proud of me? And later, standing in a department store, trying to pick out shoes through a haze of tears, I can’t do this Grandma. You aren’t here to tell me whether these are appropriate for a funeral or not.

Sitting at the funeral home and watching people come to pay their respects; I thought about how much of our lives belong to other people. Carolyn was a cherished, long-awaited only child. For a time, she belonged only to her parents. Later she was a student, a friend, an employee, a neighbor and a million other things. For many years, as a mother, she belonged to her four sons. As a grandmother, she belonged to us. As a great-grandmother, she first belonged to Trinity, the baby girl she never had. I was happy to share, and am so grateful for the bond she built with my daughter.

A lot of people can claim pieces of the years she spent on Earth. But as I watched my grandfather, bent over her recently closed casket with his head in his hands I realized that most of her had belonged to him.

I was humbled and a bit ashamed that I’d not considered her life before it included me, aside from the vague understanding that she’d had one. I imagined my grandparents when they were young, bringing home their first baby, buying their first home, building the family and life we all claim as our own now. I’d never before thought of them as being the same people that they’d been when they started their life together. I only truly understood the enormity of my grandfather’s loss then, when I realized that for everything she was to others, she’d spent the largest portion of her life, 58 of her 76 years, being his wife.


It was a strange moment of understanding. Not unlike the first time a child realizes that teachers are real people and have lives outside of school. When I looked at my grandmother in her casket, I saw the woman I’d always seen. I imagine that my grandfather saw much more. I’d imagine he saw his high school sweetheart, the girl he married, the mother of his children, the woman who made a home and life with him. I’d guess that when my grandfather looked at my grandmother
in her casket, he saw his whole world.

31 December 2014

Douche-Bagging America

There's been so much talk about the pussification of America. Personally, I have the feeling we're creating douchebags. 

You see, there I was walking down Bourbon Street in NOLA, and there's some poor bastard camped out in the middle of the street, between the blockades. I asked the guy if he was okay where he was, or if he needed help to get to the sidewalk. He said he'd rather be on the sidewalk. I attempted to help him stand up. 

While I was holding this guy's hand and trying to help him stand, some fucking kid walked by and pretended to kick him in the head. Having already had more than a few shots of tequila, I informed the kid that he was a fucking douchebag. To which, the kid replied, "I was just joking. I'm really a nice guy." He asked the street guy if he could help. I told him I'd shoot him if he touched the street guy again. 

I felt like if I didn't, at this point, inform the kid that he was a ridiculous piece of shit, probably no one in his life ever would, so I did. I also may or may not have threatened bodily harm. 

And what does this have to do with douche-bagging America? Fucking everything.

 We keep telling our kids that they're so special, and making sure they feel like they're worth something that we forget to teach them that they aren't the only worthwhile people in the world.

We forget to tell them that they're lucky to be here instead of "there," wherever "there" might be. I don't care if the dude in the middle of the Bourbon Street gets hammered and camps there every night. He's still a person. At some point, he was someone's son; maybe he was someone's brother, father, uncle or husband. I don't know what brought him to the place he's at now and I don't care.  

I can teach my children a lot of things, but I can't imagine anything more important than teaching them compassion, empathy and responsibility.

And also mostly just not being fucking douche-bags. 

03 September 2014

Ferguson, Cows, Racism and Pickles

The chief of police in Ferguson says that there isn't a black and white divide in the city. Apparently, that guy is an absolute moron. There's a black and white divide everywhere. Hell, there's an everything divide everywhere. Whether there should be or not is a moot point. It isn't going to change. Most of us are inherently racially biased, which is not to say that we're all lynch-mob, ignorant fucks.

Babies, who are by nature, selfish little pricks, learn racial bias by the age of nine months. I'm no doctor or anything, but I'd assume baby thinks something like this:
         Oooh. That face looks like the face attached to the booby milk. I'm going to look closer and see for sure before I manipulate it by being all cute and shit so it'll continue to feed my helpless self. 
Baby studies face intently. Then another face comes into view, a face that is a different race than the booby-milk face.
What the....doesn't matter, not the booby-milk.
And so, by the age of 9 months, baby learns that faces who belong to the same race as the booby-milk are good things. And since babies see everything as an extension of self, they would recognize this group of people as us. And other races as... meh.

It's not that we all grow up to dislike people of other races, it's more like we just don't see them. Which is why black people all look the same to white people, We've conditioned ourselves, as infants, not to record the information as important. Because, once again, babies are assholes. See, here's a study.

I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that as much as we want to pretend otherwise, race will never be a non-issue. Most of us agree that racial oppression is a bad thing and that we all, as humans, are entitled to certain basic human rights, but most of us reserve our outrage for violations of such rights for our own races. 

In Ferguson, MO, a grossly disproportionate amount of white police officers are policing a population where the majority of the residents are black. I can't imagine how this wouldn't lead to an "us vs. them" mentality among residents and officers. Not because black people commit more crimes, but because there are more black people than there are white people. It's something like the full-moon effect. People aren't crazier during a full moon, we just think so because we remember when the full moon is. Our brains seek patterns and often make them up. 

Then we have to consider society's reaction to certain events. Clive What'shisname for example... He broke the law. The government was going to come take his cows. In response to the federal law enforcement presence,  a shit ton of armed militia people showed up. The feds were all like, well hell, guess we lost this one. Let's go home.

In Ferguson on the other hand, a young kid, an unarmed one, broke the law...At some point, we think. I don't even know. Regardless, the local government took his life. Whether it was a good shooting or not isn't for me to say.. And when people gathered in protest of his death? The local government sent this:
Yes, people began looting. I've seen the whole, this is how you mourn a dead kid, by destroying your community's businesses?

Shut up. You're stupid.

This is how they make sure they are heard and seen. We see this one incident as a wake up call, while they see it as a last straw because they live with shit like this every single day.

And while we are on that... what do think would have happened if the government had sent a similar force out to the cow guy's ranch? And on the other hand, why the hell didn't they? There was a guy in a fucking sniper position for God's sake. Ferguson is throwing rocks at cops. And furthermore, where the fuck are the hundreds of armed militia guys and their hatred of big government in Ferguson?

In my humble, non-expert opinion, this is not the time to talk about racial equality, we've been over, under, around and through that issue for so long we don't even know what it means anymore. It's time to acknowledge the fact that we will never "unsee" race. So instead of trying to force an unnatural oversight of race, how about acknowledging the fact that we will always be equal and also separate to some extent and tell Ferguson to hire some black cops for fuck's sake.

On an unrelated note, Mark brought me homemade pickles today, so I'm going to go eat them now. They are, no joke, the best damn pickles I've ever had.

30 April 2014

Babies Shooting... Everything

I got an email the other day from a guy writing an article about firearms. He asked a question about kids and guns, which prompted a rant I'm not sure he was looking for. 
How do we stop kids from thinking that guns are toys? How do we prevent little kids from shooting their parents, siblings, dogs, themselves and whatever else happens to be in front of the muzzle?

Well, in my non-expert opinion (which, thank God I have, because the experts appear to be overwhelmingly ill informed) we can approach this several ways: 
We can use fear to teach children to never, ever touch anything that looks like a gun. 
"Guns are bad. Guns are dangerous. Don't ever touch them."
Which pretty much ensures that these children will be the first to pick up and play with a firearm he knows nothing about. We teach them that drugs are bad, too. Thank God that's never inspired any curiosity...

Or we can approach it the same way we do fire safety in school. "This is a gun. If you find a gun, do not pick it up. Call an adult immediately." Sort of like that whole, "never play with matches" thing. Because, certainly none of us ever played with matches the very same day that the school had the presentation.

Or, we can maybe try a little common sense. 
I have three children.
I also have a Glock.
My older children have been shooting. My oldest knows how to clear a slide and even take down a Glock. She's 12. 

What does that mean exactly? It means that my oldest children's curiosity about firearms has been mostly satisfied. It means that I am somewhat confident that they are informed enough to never point a firearm in an unsafe direction. It means that instead of being afraid of guns, they have developed a healthy respect for the destructive nature of firearms.

It does not mean that I leave them unattended, with firearms laying around on tables and floors. It does not mean that they are aware of where the gun is kept when it isn't on me. As much as I trust my children, I know the appeal of showing off.

And so the answer to how do we stop babies from accidentally shooting shit? Common fucking sense. 
Again. 

Don't leave your guns in your kids' toy boxes. Or on the floor. Or on the kitchen table. If you can't manage this? Don't have kids. 
If you're worried about kids finding guns at other people's house? Teach them.
Don't keep your gun in a shoebox in your closet. Who the fuck does that anyway? If you want to hide a gun in your home, at least put it somewhere inaccessible to your children. 

Most importantly, even if you've taught your children to respect the power of a firearm, do not underestimate the pull of showing off. Teaching your kids about guns doesn't make them tiny adults that know about guns. It makes them kids that know stuff some of their friends don't.  

Again, this is only my opinion, but the number of accidental child shootings in my house? 
Zero.

18 April 2014

Dear New York, Much Safer Now

Dear New York,

I'm writing to express my heartfelt appreciation of the knee-jerk legislation you passed back in January of 2013.

You see, I've often bitched about the impossibility of defining the term "assault weapon." Thankfully, you seem to have narrowed it down, once again, to firearms that either look scary, or have certain features that absolutely in no way affect the mechanical aspect of a firearm. Congrats, probably it'll work this time.

Since, obviously, no one in your government has ever seen a firearm before, I'll take the time to explain.

Folding and telescoping stocks are designed to allow the weapon to be fired from a car. Or one-handed, from the hip probably. This is especially true of those semi-auto shotguns. I've found that 12 gauge wounds are far more lethal when fired from a shotgun with a folding stock. The same is true of weapons with thumbhole stocks. I believe the act of placing one's thumb through a hole in the stock of a weapon creates less wind-drag, which increases the velocity of a round exponentially, or something like that.
Don't push me bro. I'll extend my stock and assault the shit right out of you.


And of course, the danger of having a bayonet lug on a weapon. I mean shit, if I'm going to be shot, I certainly don't want to know that the shooter had the capability of attaching a knife to the gun. Plus, I'm guessing that the presence of a bayonet lug allows the firearm to be fired more quickly, seeing as how it's just a piece metal that allows the mounting of a bayonet.

As for the flash suppressors, thank goodness those won't be a problem anymore. I can't even tell you the horror of being shot with a rifle and not having the burning gases displaced. At least I'll have died knowing that the shooter was seeing spots for a few minutes. Probably.  
You see, much safer now. This rifle is practically incapable of hurting anyone. 


I could go on and discuss the grenade launchers and pistol grips, but I'm running out of time and I certainly wanted to give you an "atta boy" over your decision to require these assault weapons be registered. I'm confident you have some way of enforcing this registration thing, other than to say it's a misdemeanor not to, right?

Probably you have some gun-sniffing ferrets or something that are going to alert you to the fact that someone owns a firearm that can be defined as an assault weapon. Surely, you have the manpower and funding to actually go break into American civilian homes to verify that there are, in fact, no assault weapons present. I'm guessing you'll somehow probably find the balls also. 

That must be the plan, right? Since the amount of manpower and funding it would take to trace each and every firearm capable of being defined as an assault weapon that was imported and sold God knows how many times in the history of forever is simply unfeasible. To save argument or any actual thought, we'll just ignore the fact that quality record keeping is fairly new.

Perhaps next time you pass some sort of gun reform, you could consider banning slings as well, especially the military style ones. And maybe require AR-15 style rifles to be painted in bright, happy colors as they'd be less lethal if they weren't so scary looking. Just a thought.

In closing, I'd like to thank you, once again, for responding to an awful tragedy with this totally useless, panicked legislation. I'd also like to thank you for not knowing a rifle from a fucking cupcake, and banning totally inconsequential features. You should be proud, or, um, something like proud. Embarrassed by your total and utter ignorance, maybe?

Sincerely,
Someone Who Knows What Makes Guns Go Pew-Pew




06 February 2014

Hippie Beer, Olympic Committees and More Hippie Beer

In a recent conversation that absolutely did not involve the drinking of Three Floyds Permanent fucking Funeral hippie beer, we found ourselves discussing the upcoming winter Olympics and also the next summer Olympics.

Obviously, this is because we are grown ups and we care about shit like that... or because the whole Russia thing offers so many "What the fuck" opportunities. I had assumed that the countries that held the Olympics were chosen by the same people that get to decide whether Pluto is a planet and come up with ridiculous names for storms.

Not so, it seems. Apparently there is some sort of committee that chooses these countries out of whoever bids on them. And so, in my non-professional and grossly uninformed opinion, this illustrates several things.

1. This committee is made up people that hate gay athletes, as in Fuck it, we should send them all to Russia, they probably won't make it back.

2. This committee is also made up of people that hate Russia, as in Let's do it in Sochi so the whole world can laugh at Russia.

3. This committee also hates people that go to watch the Olympics and also the media, as evidenced in the tweets sent by journalists... My favorite one being the "dangerous face water."

4. This committee also hates poor Brazilian people, or they just enjoy watching drug cartels shoot RPGs at the police helicopters that are circling the ghettos.

5. They probably also hate Russian stray dogs, as well as Brazilian nationals. I can't image why.

And so, taking all of these observations into account, one can only assume one of two things. These people are actually, actively, trying to get fired, or, they really hate the Olympics and are hoping that a series of violent deaths will eventually cause the entire Olympic thing to be canceled forever.

**Sources** T.Rohe, K.Alsman, M.Wadman and Three Floyds Brewing. And probably others that I don't entirely remember speaking to.