Friday, June 16, 2017

The Scalise shooting

Ooooh, a windmill!  I think I'll tilt at it.  I passed on this yesterday to address the reveal that Trump is under investigation, but I just can't pass up the chance to poke at everyone with a mass shooting.

A mass shooting just happened.  Please don't revert to pre-fabricated arguments that are intended to apply to every shooting, and don't actually apply to any specific incident (or, really, ever).  This applies to pretty much everyone.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Shootings and gun control bring out the stupid.  Liberals use the incident to advance generic "gun control" (as though there were any such thing), and conservatives just delude themselves into thinking that they can be the heroes of action movies.

I'll start with the liberals, because they are more important to prod here.  Every liberal's favorite policy on guns is the background check, and every liberal's favorite observation in a case like this is the history of domestic violence for offenders like Hodgkinson.  James Hodgkinson was a scumbag before this happened.  And a Bernie-bro.  This is the point where I make a joke about Bernie, and somebody else tells me, "too soon."  To quote Matt Jarvis:  "The road to hell is paved with people asking:  too soon?"  Regardless, the relevant point for people trying to shoehorn a background check argument in here is that Hodgkinson was never actually convicted.  He was charged, but not convicted of battery and "aiding damage to a motor vehicle."  Charges were dropped.

Now, suppose you introduce some law, with a more elaborate background check that looks for a history of domestic violence, which Hodgkinson had.  You've got a big problem, constitutionally speaking.  He was never convicted.  Unless you write a law that allows sales to be blocked for people who weren't convicted, that sale would go through anyway, and if you block sales for people who weren't convicted, um... have you ever heard of a little thing called "due process?"  And that's before we get into the question of whether or not background checks do fuck-all besides send buyers into the black market.  So, yes, Hodgkinson was a scumbag but any law about domestic abuse and firearm sales would either fail to catch him or run afoul of due process, and that's my point about the problem with pre-fabricated arguments.  (And again, that's before even addressing whether background checks do anything other than send buyers into the black market, which is another matter completely).

On the other side, take Rep. Chris Collins.  He is just a particularly prominent example of the mentality that you need a gun with you at all times to protect yourself from this kind of thing.  He said, after the shooting, that he will always carry a gun because he thinks he'll be safer.  That is predicated on two mistakes-- one shared with the liberals, one different.  The shared mistake is the overestimation of the danger of being the victim of something like this.  After the Pulse shooting last year, I posted this, trying to put things in perspective in terms of the scale of death.  You aren't going to be shot.  If you are worried about this happening to you, you are worried about the wrong things.

That goes for you, too, liberals.  Quit it.

Now, Members of Congress, and people in the public eye have a little more to worry about, true, but that brings me to the second point.  The tough guy fantasy.  Shooting a gun takes practice.  Go to a range on a regular basis, and you can get your aim down.  Doing it in a high-stress situation?  Nope.  Ain't gonna happen.  If you are a regular person, you are going to hurt yourself, or someone innocent if you are stupid enough to pull out a gun during an incident like this.  It isn't just the aim.  It is the tactical training and the nerves.  Why do we still know who Sully Sullenberger is?  Because he is a supreme, superhuman badass.  Why?  Because he kept his calm when any normal mortal would shit their pants and kill a plane full of people.  Because he kept his calm, nobody got hurt.  That's what it takes, and you don't have that.  No matter how much you practice at the range, unless you drill with a SWAT team, you'll never have that.

Mass shootings bring out the stupid in everyone.  Mass shootings are extremely rare.   You won't be shot.  Relax.  Whatever policy you have in mind, it wouldn't have done jack shit to stop whatever just happened.  Also, your nerves suck.  If you pull out a gun, you'll probably hurt yourself, or someone innocent.  Gun control makes people stupid.  I don't mean that guns make people stupid.  I mean that the issue makes people unable to think rationally.

And that's before we get into the stereotyping and the fact that the shooter was a Bernie-bro.  Now, as a Bernie-hater, I personally have no cognitive dissonance about that, but I raise it as an observation that the way people think about guns and culture does not break down along the lines one expects.  Of course, in the Senate, Sanders had a voting record on gun control that bothered some liberals.  Why?  He represented Vermont, where there are a bunch of hunters in the largely rural state, and Sanders is more of a sell-out than he would want you to believe.  Yeah, culture and expectations on guns.  That's part of why nobody thinks rationally about the topic.

As an aside, if anyone wants the short version of a gun control debate, read the comment thread in yesterday's post.


  1. {insert reference to yesterday's comment thread that totally ignores the fact that the main post references it here}

    1. {Insert comment on the nature of meta-references and the absurdity of modern internet culture}