Guns — Lots of Guns

neo
Keanu Reeves as Neo

W.J. Astore

In The Matrix, Neo (played memorably by Keanu Reeves) saves Morpheus by breaking into a heavily fortified facility guarded by special agents.  When asked what he’ll need to pull off this longshot rescue, Neo says, simply: “Guns — lots of guns.”  It could serve as America’s new national motto.  In God we trust?  No — guns.  And lots of them.  Somewhere north of 300 million guns are currently in private hands, enough to arm each and every American, the tall and the small, with at least one firearm.

So it’s not surprising when Donald Trump references Second Amendment rights.  (It seems the only amendment he knows.)  He likes to assert these “rights” are in danger of being curtailed, but gun sales are still booming and there are no serious efforts at gun control.

As one of my friends whose barbed humor I enjoy put it: “There is only one amendment — the second amendment.”  Mull that conundrum for a moment.

Back in World War II, America was known as the arsenal of democracy for all the weapons we supplied to allies like Britain and the Soviet Union.  Now it’s just an arsenal.

The brutal truth is we’re stuck with all these guns.  There is no political will to buy them back, even military-style assault weapons, and indeed what will there is centers on selling more of them.  Back in 2017, several articles appeared noting how black women were buying guns in increasing numbers.  Last week, NBC Washington ran a report on women of color becoming licensed gun owners in increasing numbers, partly as a response to police violence.  “Peace of mind” is bought with a gun.  Talk about racial and gender progress!

Speaking of the police, small wonder that America’s cops are edgy.  When we talk about police violence, which is all-too-real and all-too-deadly, a factor we should consider is the reality that America is awash in guns, making every police call a potentially deadly one.

So, as much as Trump tweets about “LAW&ORDER,” what really rules America is money — the money to be made by selling lots of guns and ammo, as well as the cultural ammo you can always count on when hippy-dippy liberals like me start rattling rhetorical sabers about gun control.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but an AR-15 trumps both in this man’s America.

I’ve owned guns myself and have shot everything from a pellet pistol to a .44 magnum, but I’ve defunded my modest gun collection, so to speak.  I decided happiness is not a warm gun and that there are amendments other than the 2nd one.

For once you start shooting bullets, there’s no way to recall them.  And, as far as I know, the only guy able to dodge bullets is Keanu Reeves as Neo.

46 thoughts on “Guns — Lots of Guns

  1. Sad commentary — I won’t render an opinion about its predictive power. I also can’t argue with the stated facts. The epidemic of use of lethal weapons has spiraled in direct consequential relationship to the desertion of our collective humanity. Sure, guns have been with us for centuries, and they’ve always represented the amoral and ignorant choice of human beings to exert force instead of using reason and compassion, of using that greatest evolutionary trait: language. Just as the United States has long engaged its “enemies” in ceaseless competition for more weapons and greater lethality – a demonstration of state terrorism — is it any wonder that its citizens continue to exploit the law to arm themselves against domestic terrorism carried out by the thugs and goons who do the dirty work for capitalism? I don’t see human beings, at large, coming to their senses, and sometime, perhaps soon, the big “guns” will be rolled out to exterminate a very stupid species.

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  2. Though I find the Gun-Freak-Wingnut crowd reprehensible, I have to admit that there is legitimacy to the argument that the citizen should have the right to defend her-/himself against the government. “The government should fear the people, not the other way around.” Unfortunately, the most fierce firepower (assault rifles and who knows what else?) is heavily concentrated in the hands of those who would like nothing better than to replace our present form of government with a flat-out totalitarian regime. Provided THEY get to make all the rules, that is. Conversion to their brand of “Christianity” would be mandatory, abortion would be a Capital Offense with no exceptions allowed, etc. I’d say “the big ‘guns'” have been pounding away for quite a while now, and I don’t mean ideological “guns,” though that’s also a phenomenon. I’m talking about the destruction of the global environment, which will only accelerate going forward. The ultimate stupidity of Humankind lies in its “willingness” to continue to be ruled by those whose short-term greed encourages them to deny, and urge us to deny, the REALITY of what’s going on all around us.

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    1. Yes — always a vital point — the war on the environment, our ecology, our climate, our oceans, our planet.

      The “big guns” have been trained on the earth for decades — and the planet is starting to scream. And so will we all, even perhaps the rich, though the richest have their bunkers and so on.

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      1. The billionaires can hunker in their bunkers, but experiencing Nature via holographic images (“Ah, the good old days!”) may get tiresome for them. Maybe they can even go shoot an elephant or white rhino “vicariously”! To quote Carly Simon: “THESE are the Good Old Days!” We gotta enjoy them while we still can.

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  3. The most sobering thought concerning guns is that they are possessed by (other than hunters) Americans who are thinking of using them against fellow Americans.

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  4. Not to mention Reeves’ dedication to violence via guns and other methods in the John Wick series. And yet, he’s the antithesis of violence in his personal life and philosophies. Meaning, I guess, that he’s a very good actor.

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    1. When it comes to Keanu, I’ll be kind and say “He’s a better actor than most folks give him credit for.” But in the Movie Biz, it’s all about the paycheck, let’s face it. When I heard that Tom Cruise had signed on to do a (really belated) sequel to “Top Gun,” I almost lost my lunch! I’ve never seen the original, and have no plans to ever watch it. Ronald Reagan and a youngish Donald Trump probably loved it, though.

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      1. If you’ve never seen Top Gun I recommend keeping on with that winning streak. I’m an aviation fanatic and even find the military aspects of aviation interesting but Top Gun is flat-out wretched. Clumsy and repulsive propaganda too. A really good man, Art Scholl, was killed in an accident when filming it too, which adds a vicious sting to the experience.

        Moving to guns, personally I find them interesting on the engineering and design level and I do enjoy shooting (for many years though all the ones I own are airguns designed for high level competitive 10 meter target shooting – not that my skills are anywhere near those of the shooters who compete at the Olympics!) but I notice a drastic difference in the culture around guns and shooting in the US versus here in Canada. Not one of the many gun owners I know up here look upon their guns as a means of self-defense. It’s not even considered a legal, legitimate primary purpose for owning a gun in Canada except in very rare exceptions which may be allowed by the government in the case of specific individuals. Conversely, many of the gun enthusiasts I know in the US seem to spend a lot of time thinking about how big a hole they can make in another human being with their guns. I know a few who even seem to be just itching for the chance to do so. I remember one young lady who came here from the US on an assignment from her employer that lasted just under a year. Shortly before she was to return home she mentioned that she felt unsafe and vulnerable here without the TWO pistols she regularly carried at home – the main one and the smaller backup.

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        1. RMO–Interesting. In Canada, does an individual have to persuade the police that they have a “legitimate” need to carry a handgun, concealed or openly, such as “I’m a dealer in precious gemstones,” in order to seek a permit to do so?

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          1. “20 An individual who holds a licence authorizing the individual to possess restricted firearms or handguns referred to in subsection 12(6.1) (pre-December 1, 1998 handguns) may be authorized to possess a particular restricted firearm or handgun at a place other than the place at which it is authorized to be possessed if the individual needs the particular restricted firearm or handgun

            (a) to protect the life of that individual or of other individuals; or

            (b) for use in connection with his or her lawful profession or occupation.”

            This (and other sections of the act and regulations) boil down to allowing some security guards being armed if the company they work for is approved to have armed personnel and the possibility exists (I believe it needs authorization by the Governor In Council) for specific individuals to be allowed to carry under part (a) – the examples I have heard involve things such as informants or witnesses in organized crime trials etc. – and I don’t actually know of a single case of that happening. It would be on a case by case basis. I’m sure it has been used but as far as I can tell it’s so rare as to be practically nonexistent. You’re fairly restricted on how firearms can be stored, transported and used in Canada. Even when you’re taking them out for hunting or target shooting they have to be at least unloaded and equipped with a trigger lock during transport. Similar conditions apply to storage at home. Probably the only way that you could end up being in a position to “defend yourself” would be if someone tried to mug you in the middle of the forest while you were hunting or by trying to stick up people at a shooting range. As you can imagine that’s as likely as being struck by a meteor.

            The legal differences between the US and Canada are fairly large when it comes to firearms ownership but I find the cultural differences even more stark. As I said, of the Canadian gun owners I know myself not one of them (and they range across the spectrum from those who only see them as a tool for hunting to real gun nuts with large collections, and all across the map of right to left wing politics) really think of them in terms of self defense or protecting their liberty/freedom. I’m not saying people like that don’t exist here, just that they seem extremely rare. This isn’t true of my US firearms enthusiast acquaintances.

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          2. Thanks for the info! When I lived in NYC in the 1970s I felt, after being mugged, compelled to carry “heat” for self-defense. And I did, for about five years, carrying a Colt .38 Police Special I managed to, uh, “unofficially” acquire. I didn’t bother seeking a permit, having heard that unless you had a buddy in the Police Dept. or was a gemstone dealer (the example I cited earlier), you weren’t gonna get approved! I had to brandish that weapon on one occasion but did not pull the trigger, thank goodness.

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  5. As has been noted here and elsewhere, the wars of empire over the last 20 years have come home. American citizens now face the same terrors others face around the planet: from the terrifying power of state violence (police) to armed gangs (militia) to drones (surveillance-only to this point).

    And as people buy weapons, they buy the same weapons used by the military. Long gone are the days of revolvers, shotguns, and bolt and lever-action rifles.

    The AR-15 is the most popular choice, along with semi-automatic pistols. But I’ve seen local gun shops where one can purchase a Barrett M82 sniper rifle (fires a .50 caliber round out to an effective range of 1800 meters). Hunting deer in the next county does not appear to be the intended purpose. A civilian (semi-auto) version of the Squad Automatic Weapon is available. What’s next? Rockets and grenade launchers?

    And there is training available that was once restricted to special operations in the military. One local company, that also trains police agencies, takes civilians out for a course where they will plan and execute reconnaissance and raids in live-fire exercises.

    Most of those I see interested in this stuff are probably 40’s and 50’s, with a few older guys. I can only hope the young reject where we’ve gotten to be and lead the country back to some brighter place. For we are in a very dark place now.

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    1. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know about the local availability of the sniper rifles you mention, nor the advanced training. Horrifying! I agree: our hope is that younger generations display the sanity that the gun fanatics over 40 obviously lack.

      A thought, and this has just come to me, so apologies if it’s half-baked, but could it be that, because younger generations don’t assign as much importance to macho-ism, aren’t quite as caught up in the “be a man” memes, they’re more likely to give guns a pass?

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    2. Apparently (I’ve never attempted to access it myself) “the Dark Web” (Internet) can provide most any item one might desire, for a price, often in Bitcoin. Stinger Missiles? No problem.

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  6. An obvious point but one not often made: the expense of guns. An AR-15, the ammo, gun range fees, cleaning kits, and so on can run into the thousands. Many people who buy these guns would be better off buying food, or paying down their credit card debt, or what have you. Or better off keeping some savings in case of a financial emergency.

    But no — a gun is a “necessity.” For “safety.” When for home defense a baseball bat is often just as good, and a lot cheaper.

    I’ve read some sad stories of people using guns for home defense only to discover they’ve shot a family member by mistake or some other innocent. Plus guns in the house, when not secured, are sometimes found by children. Or someone uses a gun for suicide — which maybe they don’t do without that weapon of finality being so handy.

    So much gun violence …

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  7. An astounding degree of ignorance and arrogance related to what people think they know about firearms despite the fact that they have, in most cases, absolutely no familiarity with either guns or guns possessors. Congratulations, you’ve bought the entire pre-packaged product of gun control by the media and corporate elite without ever stopping to consider that that shiny package with all it’s listed, beneficial content might just be a container with nothing but hollowness inside. And that’s exactly what they don’t want you finding out for yourself. Don’t question the meme or examine the product beyond what they tell you it is. They like you better that way ! Dumb and compliant and afraid of whatever convenient Boogie Man they point out next ! You’ll love falling for it all over again because the familiarity of unreasoned fear is such a comforting companion.

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    1. I don’t think you need to worry. There are no serious efforts at gun control in the USA, and in fact gun sales are booming.

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    2. Yeah, we all know that “Guns don’t kill people” and efforts at sane regulations are only pushed by the Effete Liberal Northeastern Intellectual Snob Elitist crowd. Funded by George Soros, probably?

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      1. Actually, you can’t know unless you’re informed and educated. I have demonstrated handling of various weapons to others, and their eyes light up with understanding, some deciding to buy afterwards.

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        1. And you assume that I’m not informed and educated?

          Any weapon specifically designed to kill or maim as many of anything as possible in the shortest possible time has no place outside the armed forces. That’s not a difficult concept. And I assure you that a demonstration of the handling of an assault rifle would not make my eyes light up.

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      1. But you can’t decide for others. That’s our constitutional right. Each law-abiding citizen has the right to obtain whatever they need to protect themselves, their families, and others. And there are some laws making law-abiding, good citizens into criminals by their unconstitutional stances. In other words, there are some unlawful laws.

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        1. Yes, “we” can decide for others. That’s what the legal system is all about. We can decide that it’s illegal to drive 90 mph on the freeways. We can decide that one must be insured to drive a car. We can decide that rappelling down the side of a skyscraper is not allowed. We can decide that a person must be informed of his or her rights upon arrest.

          If lawmakers duly elected by the voters pass legislation (as has been done in the past) restricting the sale and possession of some types of guns, then those restrictions are indeed constitutionally valid, until the Supreme Court (not any individual) rules otherwise. Every law on the books since the ratification of the Constitution is an explication, extension, or modification of its text. That’s the job of Congress and state legislatures.

          As far as obtaining “whatever they need to protect themselves,” unless a law-abiding citizen is expecting to be invaded by a rabid, marauding, bloodthirsty Mongol horde, again, an assault rifle is not necessary.

          I hesitate to open this can of worms, but the text of the Second Amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Therefore, if, as you suggest, you are keeping to the letter of the Constitution, unless you are part of a well-regulated militia and are protecting the State, you do not automatically have the right to possess all the guns of all types you want.

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          1. Absolutely not as far as infringing upon our Constitutional Second Amendment rights. All the words in the world will not change reality and understanding, cause and effect. No amount of rhetoric will change what is necessary.

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          2. Notice how “dolphinwrite” conveniently sidestepped the little hassle of reference to “a well regulated militia” in wording of 2nd Amendment. Typical.

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        2. No one “needs” an assault rifle. They may want one — but they don’t need it — unless they’re in a military unit fighting against a similarly-armed enemy.

          My friends and I used to debate what’s best for home defense. A baseball bat is good. For a firearm, a shotgun is useful. A high-velocity assault rifle is not ideal.

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          1. My husband, a former gunner’s mate, agrees with your thoughts exactly, especially regarding shotguns. He added that, as thin as the walls of modern houses are, if you fire an assault rifle in your own house, you risk the bullets’ penetrating the walls of neighboring houses, injuring or killing innocent people. Another reason that assault rifles should not be in the hands of civilians.

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          2. “What is necessary?” What does that even mean? Sounds as if you’re essentially saying that you don’t care what the actual wording of the Constitution is, you’ll interpret it so that you can have your guns, any kind and as many as you want. The Second Amendment was written to describe militias. Plain English, sir.

            As for your comment about house walls….seriously? You’re wondering if housing materials were deliberately designed to allow the penetration of bullets? Either you’re being extremely sarcastic, totally having us on, or you’re riding the paranoid crazy train over the cliff.

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          3. Gun sales are reportedly up in US nearly 150% last month, compared to June of 2019. Are you happy now? Sure as hell doesn’t make this US citizen feel “safe”!!

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          4. Actually, when most people know their law-abiding neighbors have protection, they feel safer. Look, you will choose to believe what you want to believe. And that’s your right. I’m writing for readers and no one else. But thanks for the platform.

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          5. You can thank Mr. Astore for the platform! I’m just one of those individuals “crying in the wilderness” for a somewhat saner world! Such a world will not consist of everyone walking around sporting personal firearms. [But just for the record, I am a US Army veteran and I do own some personal firearms.] And I do firmly believe that the 2nd Amendment needs to be “updated.” Then again, a nutcase named Thomas Jefferson believed the Constitution would get revised every generation or two as the republic aged. Oops, he missed the mark on that one!

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          6. If you’re waiting for everyone to adopt the same attitude and beliefs, misery will always be a part of life. Freedom means challenges. Freedom means everyone won’t follow suit with everyone else. Freedom means individual responsibility. And the Constitution, as it was written, is the framework.

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          7. I must say this in no uncertain terms, for the sake of those still pondering. The danger of calling anything an assault anything, or stating what can and cannot, is who’s deciding? That’s why the second amendment was very clear that our rights to protect ourselves shall not be infringed. No mistaking the meaning. Law abiding citizens have every right to possess what is necessary to protect themselves from danger, both domestic and abroad, and also against tyranny. I make this very clear. And it’s better if people have more than what any criminal or tyrannical forces have, and training would be excellent. If anything, I would encourage those with protection to train with them, so they’re better prepared. Then, they can be good examples to others, encouraging them to train as well. Freedom.

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          8. Okay, now we’re getting somewhere! Kindly explain where you plan to get the technology that will allow you to outgun the tyrannical force of the state? Do you have a time machine that takes you into the future for weapons shopping trips? Do you have contacts with space aliens boasting vastly superior tech?? Please, inquiring minds wanna know!!

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