Living Liberty: We’re Doomed, What Do We Do Now?

Recent polls show that only about 12% of Americans believe that the Federal government does the right thing all or a majority of the time; compared to 81% who believe that the Federal government rarely or never does the right thing. Combined with over 50% of Americans who believe that the federal government has lost all legitimacy – we have to begin to ask, “what can we do about it?”

With such overwhelmingly depressing outcomes at the federal level, the American people are left in fear and despair about the direction of the American government: worse, we don’t know what to do about it. We don’t know what we can do about it.

So here we are, pretty much everyone agrees, we’re doomed! So what can we do? Elect an excellent president, of course! Someone who understands the constitution; honors the rule of law; will increase our allies’ trust in our country; who has unassailable moral character; and who can lead our country through these dark times with a clear vision of the future.

Wait…

Who are we choosing between?

Dang.

Well…

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeps bitterly>

Well, I suppose we can retreat to our bunkers and live off of food storage while we wait out the coming apocalypse?

What?

The American people are in more personal debt than ever before, combined with generations of no increase in individual wealth? 

So…. There aren’t any bunkers? 

And nobody has food storage!?!?

Excuse me for a moment.

<Weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.>

<Wiping away the tears, choking back sobs> well… At least we have a congress that is trustworthy!

What? 9… 9% percent approval rating?

Oh. I see. 

Excuse me again.

<Runs out of tissues. Screams loudly>

What can we do? The federal government is so broken as to be an effective kakistocracy (good word, look that one up). And if this election is evidence of anything, it’s that the broken mess is so complete as to be above correction.

Or is it?

Personally, I think we are left with one of two options. I wish I was being a defeatist here, but I’m afraid that (short of someone presenting another option), I don’t see another solution. The first option is a bad one. No, like… literal blood in the street… Bad.

This option is the complete dissolution of the Union. I have variously found myself desiring this option: the nation would dissolve into an handful of smaller independent nations. The Liberty belt might include Texas up through Arizona, Utah, and Idaho: over to Oklahoma and Georgia. I’d be in Texas as fast as an heartbeat. The People’s Socialist Republik of California might include Washington and parts of Oregon. DC might be the seat of the new United Socialist States of America, including New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine. The Dakotas would be designated as factions fought over access to electrical power…. But before any such dissolution, there would be the requisite civil war: literal blood in the streets, and war-caused poverty for a generation (or more). The Liberty States might well become wealthy, at the cost of generational war from both sides as the bitter socialist-leaning states insist on stolen birthright, or something epic like that. In short: this would be bad. I do not support this action. I’ll go a step further, those who (actively) do, are dangerous. War, when there are better options, is a bad thing.

But what other choice do we have?

The founders expected and planned for a day when the federal government had stomped over the protections defined in the constitution. They anticipated a day when the federal government, obsessed with power, took no action to limit itself.

And they defined the ways that power could be restored back to the people: these methods are defined in article 5 of the United States Constitution. The particular section allows for what has become known as a convention of states:

On the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

This convention allows for the people and the states to restore power where it rightfully belongs: to the people, not to politicians and bureaucrats in DC. This convention has support in each of the fifty states, but hasn’t been proposed by each state’s legislature yet (as required… Well, in 2/3’s of them anyway). Over the course of this series, I hope to make the case for changes to the constitution that would restore both power to the people and the faith in Washington. I hope to alleviate the concerns claimed by opponents to the convention. And I hope, most importantly, to restore hope when it is currently so tenuous.

I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert. I am an opinion writer. I, of course, believe that I am right on this solution. However, I implore you to seek knowledge on the topic by those more articulate and better informed than I am: I recommend that you start by reading The Liberty Amendments by the great one himself, Mark Levin. We’ll be back to talk specifics later.

 

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Argument Ad Naseum; What’s the Point?

This is a type of meta post, and it may present me in a negative light. Understand, I am making a point about arguing…. And it this may come across as…argumentative…

The other day I found myself embroiled in a proverbial civil war on Facebook. A good friend (while I find I agree with him less and less, he remains a good man, strong in character, and kind above most) had posted an (unintentionally) inflammatory socio-political blog post. My brother countered the argument our friend was making with another, and I replied to my brother’s comment with a short, sarcastic comment. I meant little by it, but to show support for my brother’s counter argument….

What ensued, however, was the longest comment thread I’ve participated in (nearly 350 comments). Over the course of the next 48 hours, sides entrenched, and arguments were made. My brother and I found ourselves nearly alone against a barrage of opposing arguers. Our other brother joined the battle occasionally, when he could, on our side. And near the end another joined us still.  The opposing side had a nearly revolving door, except our friend who made the original article: he had the decency to stay through the battle, rather than swoop in and hurl proverbial air support insults at the opposition before retreating to the safety of internet oblivion.

Side note: God blessed my family with great intelligence, even if He didn’t provide us with wisdom…. And even if we haven’t learned humility…. 

I have to say that my brothers and I were equal to the task. We stayed consistent to to our principled stance, and provided substantial logical and factual information to the fight. Of course, I don’t believe the same to be true of the opposition.
I could hear the wives of everyone participating singing with exasperation “still arguing?!?” I can feel their eye rolls as they wonder about the stubbornness of their husbands who argue with friends and strangers alike for 2 days on the same conversation. And I feel their frustration as they point out that their husbands have failed to convince anyone on the other side to their own point of view.  I know that my sister-in law and my wife joined in those frustrations… And I’m sure that the wives of the others involved felt the same. And they aren’t wrong.

My friend wasn’t convinced of his wrongness. My brothers and I weren’t convinced of our cold heartedness. And I’m sure than none of the fly-by pilots chose to settle their planes on my brother’s battlements after surveying the field of battle.

So, like our wives, you might ask: what’s the point? Why argue when everyone is entrenched, and no one will change their minds? I believe I can speak for all involved when I answer those questions. (Maybe not, in which case, I speak just for me).

Why argue when no one will change their mind?

1. Arguing challenges me: how will I know that I am right if I am never challenged? One of the damning principles of modern education is the lie of “consensus.” If we only surround ourselves with those with whom we agree, we start to believe that everyone agrees with us: this builds up unhealthy narcissism. If we are never challenged, and preferably aggressively challenged, we never develope our own thoughts to the point of value to society. Without opposition, our own views become one sided, weak, and arrogant.

2. Sometimes I am wrong. My wife says that I always believe that I’m right. I fail, even after years of marriage, to see this as a bad thing. If I argued principles and points that I believed to be wrong, wouldn’t that make me a liar? Of course I think I’m right… But I am sometimes wrong. Arguing presents information that challenges mine. On occasion, that information, those arguments, convince me that I am wrong.

I remember one such conversation clearly: while on the phone for work, I had a customer delve into the forbidden territory of politics; and I silenced myself to avoid getting in trouble. She asked if my state had universal sales tax, that is, sales tax on every purchase including food. I answered in the affirmative. I believed that any other such tax, or a tax not applied universally, would open the door to corruption and beurocratic nightmare. (I didn’t say this, of course, lest I get in trouble for misrepresenting the company for whom I worked). In one single sentence, this woman, a self avowed socialist, changed my view: “do you think it is okay that you have to be taxed for food; that you need your governmental overlord’s permission to eat?” I found myself legitimately flummoxed (something that I have to admit, doesn’t happen often). In one question, she convinced me of the immorality of taxing food. I was sold; governments  should not tax food. The principle developed further, as I studied it further, but this is to illustrate that I am willing to have my mind changed given convincing evidence and superior arguments.

3. The third point belongs to my brother, and is his answer to his wife when she asked “why are you still arguing? You won’t change their minds.” His response was simple “because they’re wrong.”  He continued (paraphrased) “just because they are entrenched, and because we are entrenched, doesn’t mean that everyone is entrenched. There will be people who read this argument and are swayed one way or the other. There will be people who haven’t formed an opinion, who haven’t taken a side: and of no opposition is offered to the wrong viewpoint, they will be convinced that the wrong viewpoint is correct.”

This answer, my brother’s, is perhaps the most moral reason why arguments must be made. Even the Savior (while I emdeavor to emulate Him, please don’t understand that I am comparing myself to him), even the Savior argued with the leaders of the day. He always won those arguments…. Because He’s perfect… But he argued nonetheless. Especially when the topic is not trivial, it is critical that opposition to the wrong side be presented. Because, though it may seem like it by the commentating class (myself included), by the overtly opinionated (myself included), by the openly argumentative (myself included), not everyone has picked a side. There are those who will be convinced one way or the other. If the right never stand up to the wrong, which side will the unconvinced choose?

4. Speaking just for myself: it’s fun. Mankind’s history has always been met with combat and competition. When society has changed, the forms of competition have too: including competition of status (winning in the workforce, to be able to “humbly” show your fellow man how much better you are by driving a nicer car, or wearing an Armani suit or otherwise “winning”). Man’s bloodlust hasn’t satiated over time, it has just changed. I am not convinced that this competitive drive is wholly unrighteousness, so long as it is curbed and controlled; not allowed to consume and define the man. I’d love to admit that I am free of that competitive desire: but I am not. I like winning. Being physically broken, intellectual debate provides the last area where I can be the competitive equal of my opposition. Intellectual argument is the last proverbial arena were my manly desire for combat can be satiated with the (again proverbial) blood of my foes.

So what happened? Who who the argument?

Some may want to know the end result of our bitter ideological entanglement: I will oblige. Understand, that a participant in a debate is never a fair judge of it, and so my view is far from unbiased.

If ours were a moderated debate, werin the rules of civilized debate were adhered to and counted for or against the arguer: my brothers and I won the debate. We worked hard to avoid personal attack and logical fallacy. The opposition, contrarily, bounced from one fallacy to then next (I joked that they had read a list of the logical fallacies and were trying to incorporate each into a single argument…. but the joke wasn’t without cause). One of the opposition insisted, no less than 5 times, that I was ignorant without once providing reason for the insult nor countering my points to show my ignorance.

Ifs the were a bloody arena combat, I have to say that the battle again favored my brothers and me. Our arguments were consistent and principled, as opposed to the our opposition who abandoned theirs as frequently as we defeated the arguments , rather than defend them with new information or reason). This method is called the shotgun approach: get as much lead downrange as you can, and see if you hit something.

If the object was to convince the bystanders, I cannot speak definitively. I hope that my side, working hard to keep from personalizing our attacks, maintaining the higher ground; combined with consistent argument and unrefuted information: I hope that ours was the more convincing argument.

If the objective was to convince the other side, we all lost. I am sure that no one who participated, was convinced.

As for friendship; I feel that some friendships were damaged. My friend was first my brother’s friend. Growing up, I looked to them (more him than my brother) as the definition of charismatically cool. In adulthood, my limited exposure to him has lead me to define him as my friend, irrespective of my brother. Their bond is unassailable, despite frequent socio-political grievances. However, during the course of the debate, our friend made a conclusion based in the assumption that I disliked him. This error, I must wholly own. My opposition to his politics (of which, like me, he is very verbal) has lead him to the incorrect beleif that I dislike him. In short, I have failed to communicate love and admiration during heated debate. In this cause, I have lost. And it is a loss that I mourn.

So why do we continue to maker arguments when everyone has already picked a side? Because not everyone has picked a side. And just like battles of old, friendships are often the casualty of the war. I regret these casualties most of all. 

Broken Covenants; Unrepentant Sin; and Atonement

The gospel of Jesus Christ is full of individual responsibility, personal covenants, distinctive action, and one on one choice to follow the will of God. This holds the basis of Salvation: that each soul must choose for themselves whom they will serve. As Joshua so eloquently challenged: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Inharently in Joshua’s command is the individual choice to serve God. 

However, a handful of nations have gone above and beyond this command of individual worship and covenant. 

Israel had made the covenant with their foundation. Having rejected it, they spent years in chastising bondage. Before returning to their home, Joshua warned them that he covenant not be taken lightly, and they made it again:

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” 

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” 

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied. 

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 

On this continent, following a similar apostasy of the covenent people (who were a lost branch of the Israelites), the faithful leader Moroni called for a similar renewal of Godly covenent:

 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
Now this was the covenant which they made, and they cast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression.

Here, a similar covenent was made after years of hardship, termoil, and oppression:

On May 15, 1776, shortly after the Continental Army’s initial arrival at New York, months before the British invasion, Washington prepared his men. Not only did he prepare them physically, but spiritually. He called them to the covenant. In a General Order, he declared:

“Instant to be observed [on Friday the 17th] as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the Arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America, upon a solid and lasting foundation.”
Then again on July 2, Washington in another General Order would remind his men that “the fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is.” Two days later, in Philadelphia, these same sentiments would be immortalized by the Continental Congress in the Declaration of Independence, which concludes, “And for support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Washington was so convinced of his utter dependence upon this covenant relationship with God that he would continue to extend reminders and calls to repentance. On July 9, Washington issued another General Order in which he called for chaplains in each regiment to ensure that the soldiers “attend carefully upon religious exercises.” The order concluded with the following: “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger-the General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a good Christian soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

In each of these cases, and many others, the sincere covenent with God has lead to victory of His covenent people: militarily, economically, in peace, in happiness, and in liberty.

But in each of these cases, we can also see the consequence when the people in question have defied or broken their covenant with God:

The Israelites, turning from God, were chastened with millennia of torment at the hands of the Canaanites, Persians, and the Arabs. After the final rejection and crucifixion of their God, they were dispersed entirely spending nearly 2000 years in exile for their failure to uphold their covenant.

The Nephites spent the better part of the next 1000 years being reminded of their covenent by falling and returning to God; accepting defeat and victory according to their faith. Ultimately they were completely destroyed in a genocidal war because of their failure to return to the God who protected them.

The Americans failure to keep their promise to God, and provide liberty to their fellow men, became embroiled in a civil war that nearly cost the nation, and remains to be the single most deadly war in their history. The following generation saw a turn from God, until they wer chastened by two generations of war, and returned them to the faith of God. However, the current trend is the most blatant rejection of God in American history: no longer do we openly enslave people by race, but we have committed an evil sacrament to Satan which has resulted in the murder of over 50 million innocent children: and we have called that sacrament good. We have turned away from our covenant and called it evil. We have selected leaders to guide us that we know are evil and unrighteousness actors, and called it inevitable.

America, like Israel and the Land of Nephi before them (and others) is ripe for just destruction. We have openly defied the God whom we promised to serve. Ours is a nation that has fallen into the worship of Baal and the grove, just as completely as our predecessors. And the Godly covenant gives us our promised consequence: obliteration.

But there is hope now, as there always has been. Israel is restored: they have turned back to the God who made them, and they have defied all external enemies (see the 7 day war…. And every other Israelie conflict in modern history….) the United States need only return to her Father for the promise of redemption.

Atonement must be made. Christ has made it, but we must accept that atonement, or we will make it ourselves again. That road leads to destruction.

As Joshua, I call on my readers to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The salvation of your individual soul depends upon your choice.

But as the Israelites, the Nephites, and the Americans before us, the return to God as a people; the restoration of our covenant; predicates our national security, our collective peace, our economic stability, and our cultural longevity. For the sake of our children, we must choose worthy leaders to lead and guide us. Like our spiritual ancestors, we must declare firmly that “We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.” 

Let’s Talk Firearms: Gun Basics

In the light of any firearm related murder, the news returns to a handful of disgusting tropes. The first is the assumption that the murderer is a bigoted white man, followed by the accusation of right wing extremism, and always, always, always, followed up by a call to do something about those easily accessible scary assault weapons (a made up term to instill fear). One self purported ‘gun owning’ “journalist” called for a ban on all “AR-14’s.” He meant AR-15, as the Ar-14 is an a score model not known to… Anyone….But while gun owners roll our eyes at the ignorance spewed from the media, and even from the White House (the president recently said that the Orlando shooter had a “Glock, which had lots of clips in it…”How did this anomaly work at all?!?), as we grind our teeth at the absurd calls for the ineffective and unconstitutional bans on certain firearm types, we are left to shout at our TV’s whenever the talking heads imply that the second amendment has anything to do with hunting. The anti-gun crowd insistently repeat their drivel as if they have any concept of what they are talking about. But in the middle we have those who don’t know firearms, who didn’t know to laugh mercilessly at Tom Brokaw’s ignorant AR-14 comment, who might think that the ‘common sense gun control’ measures sound reasonable, and that couldn’t tell the difference for between a shotgun or a rifle: this post is for those people.

If we are to have a real conversation about guns, we should at least all have some idea what we’re talking about.  I don’t have any resentment to you if you are ignorant: not knowing something has no shame…. Until you try to use your ignorance as a weapon, then I have a problem.

To the knowledgeable:

So we are going talk about the basics of guns for a few minutes. There are literally tens of thousands of firearm types, models, caliber, etc. Even the most knowledgeable experts can find themselves ignorant in certain areas. So I’ll be speaking in generalities. There are always exceptions to these generalities (with tens of thousands of gun types, of course there are), but let those go, mister internet warrior 🙂 – I’m giving a rundown of firearm basics to those who don’t know.

To the unknowledgeable:

If this feels overwhelming, keep with it. I’ll try to talk in basic terms as much as possible, but even for those of us in ‘the know,’ the substantial quantity of information can be overwhelming. Be patient, reread, and even ask questions!

My qualifications:

I like to joke that I was born with a rifle in my hands. I don’t think that I was actually, but I don’t remember for sure. We’ll have to wait on my mom to weigh in on the topic. I became a NRA Certified instructor for basic courses in 2007, and have maintained those certifications since. I’ve been the range master for literally millions of rounds fired: and never had an accident on one of my ranges. I’ve studied independently most of my adult life, being fascinated by the topic. I was a police officer, and qualified top of my academy class with the tactical shot gun, and in the top 3 with a handgun. While I am not an handgun instructor, I am a gifted shot. Despite these things, I still feel like a 3 year old in an advanced physics course when my father-in-law and I talk: he’s been doing this a lot longer than me, and with much more gusto… And even he finds areas of ignorance on this topic: it’s a massive amount of information!

Types and classes:

Let’s define some terms: these may or may not be commonly used terms, but for the sake of our conversation, these are the baseline.

A firearm type, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the gun’s function and defining characteristics.  A firearm  class, in our conversation, will refer to the basics of the rate of fire. Both are important.

Firearm classes:

The first class of firearms are called ‘Single shot‘ firearms. These guns need to be reloaded after each shot. These are popular types of guns for some hunters and for learning how to shoot. On my ranges, I use single shot guns almost exclusively as it keeps a person from firing rapidly and learning sloppy habits.

The second class of firearms are called “semi-automatic” firearms. Almost without exception, when you hear someone in public office or in media talking about ‘automatic’ guns, they are referring to semi-automatic guns (but ‘semi’ makes it sound less scary). The “automatic” part means that the gun re-loads itself after each shot, assuming that it has ammunition to use. The ‘semi’ part means that, like the single shot, the trigger must be pulled once for every shot fired. You cannot just hold down the trigger and ‘spray bullets,’ as is commonly claimed. This type of firearm is by far the preferred firearm for most applications: including hunting, personal defense, target shooting, and shooting sports.

The final class of firearms are called “automatic,” or sometimes “fully-automatic,” firearms. Like the semi-automatic guns, these guns automatically reload after each shot, but unlike semi-automatic, one can hold down the trigger and continuously fire. Most fully automatic guns have a switch to choose between semi-automatic fire, 3 round burst (or 5 on some guns) and continuous fire: the semi-automatic option means that the trigger must be pulled once for every shot. The burst fire means that one pull of the trigger will fire 3 (or 5) rounds, and continuous fire means that each pull of the trigger will fire non-stop until either the ammunition runs out, or the shooter stops pulling the trigger.

The terms “machine gun” and “assault rifle” are exclusive to the fully-automatic class of firearm: these are legal terms and cannot rightly be applied to any other class

These guns are primarily used by military and para-military forces. Some hobby shooters have them as well, but these guns were made effectively illegal during prohibition. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to become licensed to own an automatic weapon. Whenever you hear someone say that a shooter used a “machine gun” or “assault rifle” to commit a crime, you can be sure that these terms are used incorrectly. If you hear a talking head say that anyone can obtain a “deadly assault rifle” without a background check or through some sort of loophole, you can be sure that that talking head is talking out of their backside. These guns are, if for cost reasons alone, so prohibitive as to be nearly impossible for even the most avid collector to obtain. Golly, I’d love a fully automatic gun… But I can’t afford the roughly $25,000 in licensing and about the same amount in purchasing the gun itself… (Sigh)… Maybe when I’m rich… (A guy can dream, right?)

Firearm types and those common uses:
There are 3 key types of firearms – the handgun, the rifle and the shotgun.

The handgun:

Handguns are great fun for the target shooter, but less than ideal for the hunter. Many hunters carry a backup handgun in the event that they are charged by an aggressive or wounded animal and need to defend themselves in shorter range. However, the primary use of handguns has always been as defensive weapons. With some exceptions, handguns are generally considered short range weapons. accuracy begins to drop substantially outside of about 20 yards for all but the best shooters. The handgun is subdivided into three common categories:

  1. The revolver: This firearm has a spinning cylinder which holds (usually) between 5 and 7 rounds of ammunition. While it is technically classed as a ‘Single Shot’ gun, an argument could be made to classify this gun as semi-automatic. This is the traditional “old west” type of gun. It is typically slow to reload, heavy (being all metal construction) and bulky. Different models vary in how to shoot: the old western movies show the shooter pulling down the ‘hammer’ on the back – some require this action, others don’t. This is a popular style of gun, but it is less effective in defensive uses than the next category, and had thus been phased out of use in law enforcement and military use.
  2. The pistol:This firearm has a magazine holding the ammunition in the handle. This semi automatic firearm uses the force of each round to expel the brass of the used ammunition and load the next round from the handle’s magazine, making this an efficient type of gun. Like the revolver, some pistols have a hammer that must be pulled before the first shot, but unlike those revolvers, not for the next shots. More common, however, is the pistol that doesn’t need to have a cocked hammer. Having either a metal frame of a plastic polymer frame, pistols can be lighter than revolvers, and are usually less bulky. These are easily reloaded, provided one has new magazines ready to use. Because of the effectiveness, speed, weight, and bulk of this gun, it has replaced the revolver in popularity among police and military, as well as among most defensive users, and many target shooters.
  3. The derringer This firearm usually only holds 1 or 2 rounds of ammunition, requires the hammer to be pulled in order to fire, and lacks accuracy and comfort.  While this style is old and common (John Wilkes Booth used a derringer to assassinate Abraham Lincoln), they are not the preferred gun of many. The primary advantages of this gun are that they are lightweight and small, making them easier to carry in a concealed setting…. but they are impractical in almost every other way.

The Shotgun:

Shotguns great for many uses. They are my preferred target gun. Generally, shotguns are the best guns for hunting small game including rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, and all other types of birds. By simply changing the ammunition type in a shotgun, they can also be used effectively against some large game such as deer. Shotguns provide excellent defensive use for short to mid range distances. Depending on the ammunition type, shotguns lose effectiveness between 50 and 100 yards.

Unlike handguns, shotguns are considered a ‘long gun.’ as the name suggests, they are longer than handguns. Generally a shotgun is brought to the shoulder and uses both hands to fire. There are both single shot and semi-automatic shotguns available to the public (fully-automatic exist as well, but are functionally illegal in the US, as previously discussed). These can have several different looks:

7-g930031_1
From the Traditional looking ‘over-under’ double barrel shotgun;
affinity-semi-auto-shotgun
to the more modern looking semi-automatic sporting shotgun:
H5G_Render_Shotgun
To the impressive looking semi-automatic tactical shotgun

Each of the above guns is functionally similar. The top is a single shot gun, while both of the bottom two are semi-automatic shotguns. They are cosmetically different, having different intended uses, but (the bottom two particularly) are functionally the same.

 

The shotgun, unlike both the handgun and the rifle, generally has a smooth bore, which is the inside of the gun’s barrel. This decreases the effective range, but increases the variability of ammunition from a single gun. A single shotgun can shoot dozens of small BBs, called shot, in one round (bird-shot is the smallest, and holds the greatest amount), or can shoot eight or nine 9mm ball bearings (called buck-shot, used often for deer hunting, as a defensive ammunition, and is a favorite of law enforcement), or can shoot a single lead slug which can be almost 18mm in diameter (used for big-game hunting and defensive use: slugs have the greatest range of all shotgun ammunition) – all without any modifications to the gun itself, but simply by changing out the ammunition! This versatility makes the shotgun a favorite for many.

The Rifle:

Rifles are great for all uses. They are a lot of fun for target shooters. For hunting large game, including deer, elk, bear, and large cats, the rifle is the ideal gun. For defensive purposes, this type of gun is the best all around weapon. These can also be used for offensive purposes. The number of rifle types is substantial, and they can be modified to fit the specific needs of their particular shooter. Rifle’s have the longest effective range of the three gun types. I can think of one particular sniper shot, in Afghanistan, which was over a mile! Even excellent shooters, however, typically lose effectiveness outside of a couple hundred yards, depending on the gun.

Like the shotgun, the rifle is a long gun. And like the handgun, the rifle has a twisted bore, called ‘rifling,’ which is were it gets its name. This twisting spins the bullet as it leaves the gun, giving increased accuracy and range vs smooth bored guns. The advent of rifling changed history, and the Kentucky Long Rifle, known for its accuracy and range, helped to win the revolutionary war.

Rifles, like handguns, (but unlike shotguns) shoot bullets, rather than shot (varied sizes of BBs) or slugs.

Like shotguns and handguns, rifles can have many different appearances. And, like shotguns and handguns, can vary in classification from single shot to fully automatic. Here are several examples of the variation between rifle appearances:

To the untrained eye, one might see in the top picture a military weapon, designed for the use in war. The second might be seen as a target shooting gun, or for use in shooting cans. The third, to the untrained eye, may look just like a standard hunting rifle.

But the truth is that the 3 guns above are all functionally identical. The top image has hundreds (or thousands) of dollars worth of extra ‘stuff’ on it to customize it for the owner, the second image is what one might call the “stock options” and the third has replaced the grips and stock with wood finished parts for a pleasant look (I prefer the wood look myself), but all 3 are semi-automatic, AR-15 rifles.

So we see that what a gun LOOKS like is far less important that what the media tells us. If we listened to the talking heads, the gun on top would be the most dangerous by far! But that, again, shows either the ignorance or the dishonesty of the agenda-driven media and the politicians pushing for “common-sense control measures.”

 

Next time I do an article like this, I’ll focus on ammunition types. Like guns, there are tens of thousands of ammunition types, but there are a handful of basic rules

Guns and Going to the Extreme

Let’s talk guns for a minute:

It’s an important thing to carry ones argument to the failing point, and every argument has a failing point. I tend to be more libertarian, but the libertarian failing point is anarchy – when you carry libertarian principles to the extreme, the result is anarchy, which is a failed idea. So, as a libertarian leaning person, I must recognize the failing point, or the extreme, of my values, and then draw a line. Some might say “anarchy is the way to go,” in fact, I remember debating someone with that view in high school – I showed her that the result of anarchy was mob rule, or worse, strong-man rule. She insisted that with no laws, people would be inherently good and treat each other justly. In her mind, all evil stems from the government. I disagree with her fundamentally. I believe that, while most people are good, it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone else: this is the purpose of government – to keep people from harming others or taking their stuff. 

Having gone to the extreme of my viewpoint, I draw the line. For me, the place to be is as far toward the libertarian extreme as we can get, without the breakdown of society. For me, the line is the US Constitution. There are, admittedly, a couple of amendments that I would repeal, given the chance to be dictator-for-a-day, (the 16th and 17th come to mind) and a few that I would add, given that same authority (a balanced budget amendment, for example). I believe that the US constitution, as written, provides the greatest liberty to the greatest amount of people, while still holding together the republic that best protects people from other people.
So to guns – I think the argument has been settled since 1791, but there still seems to be constant questioning, particularly when people die because bad people use guns badly.

So to discuss guns, we ask what are the extremes? 

To the authoritarian extreme: Complete governmental control of all guns; keeping guns in the hands of the military and police forces.

The the liberal extreme: the complete obliteration of all guns, the removal of the existence of guns, and the ability to create guns.

The Conservative extreme: The restriction of armament to the good, honest, emotionally stable

The libertarian extreme: The complete removal of any restriction of armament, up to and including weapons of mass destruction.

So seeing the extreme of each position, I’ll sum up the breakdown of them: The authoritarian extreme fails because it doesn’t allow for evil in government, nor does it truly protect the populous. this is evidenced in Australia, and the UK, who, implementing laws that draw close to the authoritarian extreme, have had a significant increase in violent crime, (though an overall decrease in gun crime…), an increase in *hot* home break-ins (hot meaning that the resident is home at the time of the break-in) and a decrease in overall public safety.

The Liberal extreme fails because it is literally impossible. Even if all guns could be rounded up and destroyed, and all gun manufactures put out of business world wide, guns aren’t really all that difficult to manufacture at a small-scale level, and the black market of home made guns would immediately take off.

The conservative extreme is theoretically lovely, but like the liberal extreme, it’s impossible. How do we restrict the armament of the evil, the dishonest, the emotionally unstable proactively? This is the current question and intent of law enforcement theory, and the science-fiction end result is Minority Report – the removal of rights based on what a person MIGHT do, rather than what they HAVE done.

Finally the Libertarian extreme fails because SOME people are evil, SOME people want to kill many people, and allowing weapons of mass destruction into everyone’s hands doesn’t result in cold-war stalemates, but rather mass destruction
Of course, few people sit in any one extreme, (and few will admit to actually being extreme in their position) – around here, we tend to get people who are both conservative and authoritarian in their views. The result is that they trust the government without (or with little) condition, while still desiring allow people their rights. This is an awkward conclusion – a people who support individual rights as directed by the central governmental force (I tend to think that this view is hypocritical, naive, or stupid).

In some areas, the combination is a liberal-authoritarian view (DC and Chicago come to mind) – complete trust on government, paying lip service to individual rights, but refusing individuals the ability to make any decisions – the end result is some of the highest murder rates in the country, general distrust (and riots) against the police, who at best fail to protect the citizenry, and at worst act as tyrants over them.
My view tends to be libertarian/conservative – While I don’t thing that we should have any restrictions on personal armament, I also do not want weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the evil or ill-intending, and am willing to allow for the restriction of those weapons on all individuals.

I used to make the liberal exception: if we could remove all guns from history, and the knowledge of them, we’d be better off. after all, guns are only (or mainly) to just kill people… except, they aren’t. they aren’t just to kill people, they’re to equalize people.

We get caught up in the second amendment being about guns. If the Bill of Rights enumerates God-given rights, surely ‘guns’ don’t fall into that category? Surely, God didn’t give us the right to have GUNS? No, He didn’t. He created us with the right to defend ourselves. There’s an old saying: God made man, Sam Colt made them equal. Guns give everyone an ‘equal’ shot at defending themselves
Of course, not everyone is ‘equal’ – some people are faster, some people are better shots, some are better trained, some are better equipped, but those things are all controllable at an individual level. Even as a disabled person, I can train, practice, and spend my time and money on the best equipment and education to be the best prepared and most equal in defending myself. Without guns, I cannot do that. for all intents and purposes, I’m crippled. I cannot defend myself using martial arts, despite my knowledge of some. I cannot defend myself with a sword or knife or baton, despite being trained to do so with at least 1 of those. And because my disabilities are no longer invisible, I’m at a significantly higher risk of being targeted as a victim of violent crime. A gun gives me a real shot (no pun intended) at defending myself against someone intent on harming me.

(There’s no one trying to get you, some argue – but they are deliberately or ignorantly confuscating the point: I have a right to defend myself period, not just a right to defend myself only if someone is trying to get me)

So back to the first full paragraph: What is the end conclusion, taking into account the extremes? I am in favor of the greatest amount of personal liberty possible. My personal extreme is the libertarian extreme, but the line I draw is for weapons of mass destruction. I’m not sure that the second amendment allows for that restriction. But we’ve a long way to go before we get to that extreme… a long way.
When deciding policy, we MUST define our personal lines. we must define our political lines. Where do we stop? The problem with most proponents of “common sense gun control laws” or other bull-manure fallacies, is that they say “let’s go toward this extreme. we’ll go only a little bit toward it, for now, but next time, we’ll go farther. and the time after, we’ll go farther. and then farther. eventually we’ll be close to the extreme, but at no point will we define where we will stop.” This is why the discussion rankles people like me, we Second Amendment supporters. It feels dishonest, and in the case of most politicians, it IS dishonest. So before I’m willing to have the conversation, the ‘other side’ has to first acknowledge the extreme and put into place their stopping line. 

What is the problem with the Founder’s stopping line? Their line is “The Right of the People to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” It’s the libertarian view. The problem that people have with the Founder’s stopping line is that it leaves room for bad people to do bad things. We naturally want to prevent a San Bernardino, or an Aurora, or any number of other events wherein bad people did bad things. What nobody is willing to admit is that we CAN’T prevent all of those things. That’s not a nice admission. That’s not something we want to hear. But we can EITHER control the actions of every individual in our country, OR we can keep our people free to choose. The first doesn’t work, and it also strips the individuals of liberty AND responsibility. Both allow for bad people to bad things. 

It is hard to admit that in a free society, people will make decisions that we disagree with. People will use their freedoms to make poor choices. They’ll use that freedom to make bad choices. They’ll use that freedom to make decisions that hurt themselves or others. It’s hard to allow people to be wrong. But Freedom can’t exist without that choice.

It’s difficult to make policy decisions that are perfect. But if we can’t be perfect, I’d err on the side of personal liberty.