Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Idiots

We gun enthusiasts hang out with other gun enthusiasts. Moreso than other segments of the population. So we run into all kinds of gun owners. Most of the gun folks are good people and come in all shapes and sizes. Exercising their rights safely and responsibly.

However, we all know that one guy. Maybe more than one. Some knucklehead that is a gun owner and is so irresponsible that you wouldn’t trust them with a slinghot that had a broken elastic within 1 mile of you. He’s not a criminal (or hasn’t been caught) and hasn’t hurt anyone with his negligence yet, but it’s just a matter of time. He can buy as many guns as his wallet will allow, but rarely hits paper at the range. He thinks nothing of drinking and shooting. (For those that are confused, it goes like this: Shooting THEN drinking. And never the twain shall mix. Same reason you don’t store sodium in your shower stall with the leaky faucet. Oh, and drinking AND shooting is criminal most everywhere.)

It is guys like him (and it is usually guys) that give the whole gun culture a bad name. Anti-civil-rights people use the type (thankfully, there aren’t too many of them) to beat us over the head politically.

These types are a nightmare to us. It tempts staunch gun proponents to holler for gun rights, “Except for that guy. Take all his away and never let him touch another again. CERTAINLY don’t give him a CCW permit. He’d probably be end up hurting himself or other with sheer negligence.”

Which is why most of us accept the whole concept of shall-issue permitting regimes.

It does leave a bad taste in the mouth. ‘Permit’ is root for ‘Permission.’ As in, “you need permission to exercise your natural individual right.” I don’t need government permission to put my thoughts on this blog. Me and the local Newspaper don’t need gov’t permission to publish my letter to the editor. I don’t need a piece of paper to allow me to convert to Buddism. I don’t have to apply for some special ordinance to go to court to fight an automobile moving-violation.

I want a reasonable standard in law, not beholden to the judgment of individuals. We live in a nation with the rule of law, not rule of man. To have to rely on the judgment of a bureaucrat to determining whether I am worthy of such a privilege as exercising my right is abhorrent, and what we have to endure in Maryland. We have a standard in this state, but that stand includes a high bar and a JUSTIFICATION requirement. My justification is I want to be able to defend myself if attacked, as is my right. And the justification bar is set too high here.

But. THAT guy… That irresponsible, mall-ninja, Operator wannabe with a warped sense of self, cavalier attitude, and ignorance of basic operation of his weapons fellow. He has every right. If he meets the standards he can own and even carry around town in most places. (and the antis paint most ALL gun owners with the same color brush. Jeff Cooper, Tam, Todd Jarret, Sarah Palin, are the same as that Yahoo to the Bradys.)

So what to do? I have no real idea. It’s hard to discourage such types in our own ranks. Certainly prosecute him to the full extent of the law if steps out of line and unjustifiably hurts someone, yes. Certainly we can shun him. Shame might not change him, but it may discourage others from becoming like him. We can do this NOW. Don’t encourage gun idjits. Do encourage responsible behavior. Get training yourself. Think about the weighty responsibility you have as a citizen and act accordingly.

All this is why I sort of support the shall-issue CCW permit regime. Just for the training requirements. It won’t alleviate the burden irresponsible yahoos have on all of us, but it may help.

Perhaps it’s a marketing problem. Instead of calling for a permit, call the whole thing a “Safety Certification” which could include a proficiency test. We couldn’t let the certification requirements get too onerous and impossible to pass. That’s one way gun confiscators could get a backdoor ban. 1000 hours of classes is a bit much, but not out of the realm of something they’d try to impose. And they could extend the certification as a requirement to mere ownership. Or try to. The training should be as stringent as police training with firearms. Less so, as we are not training in the same levels of use of force because, unlike the cops, we aren’t required to endure the same level of close long term interaction with bad actors. Our use-of-force equation is much simpler.

It’s still a reprehensible Permit for a Right, but it doesn’t concede that we NEED a permit at least.

And responsible gun owners seek out training, or train themselves, and already try to cultivate the proper mental self-discipline over a lifetime.

Lack of a Safety Cert could impact insurance levels, and the capitalist financial incentives take the State our of the equation a bit.

We are not going to be a nation of Vermonts anytime soon, where just meeting the bar of legally purchasing a firearm is fine for carrying, and no further gov’t chits are needed. It’d be nice, though, if we were a nation of Tennessees or Ohios. If the nation had the same CCW policies as Ohio I’d be very happy. Our rights would be much better and permanently secured. We could argue and clamor over machineguns after, but with our rights more secure it takes a lot of wind out of the arguments sails. Political squabbling over guns could one day reach the level we currently have over a reintroduction of alcohol prohibition or slavery abolition. There are still people calling for banning booze, and slavery exists around the world and is still evil, but neither is very widespread and high up in priority on current party platforms. MADD and Coors doesn’t have the pull of the Bradys and the NRA.

Update: Click this link. Read it.

21 comments:

Bob S. said...

Bolt,

How is "that guy" any different from the parent who acts irresponsibly with their child?

Or "that guy" that drives drunk?

Or "that guy" who uses power tools in a dangerous manner?

I don't see anything that changes because of firearms, other then the perception issue. We certainly aren't going to require a license for parenting or power tools.

Society has the answer to people like that...shunning them. Taking them out of the community. I think that the firearm community probably does as good of a job or better then most groups in that regard. The wannabe operator or Roscoe Ranger finds himself isolated to a large degree, tolerated but isolated because they still have rights.

When the line is crossed, then the law takes over.

Would I wish everyone had the same level of responsibility and good sense, yes but I can't change the world.

I can tell you that training classes and the requirements are expensive. Requiring them would force people to forego firearms or get them through the blackmarket.

It's not just the money but the time factor. Texas requires a 10-12 hour class for a CHL, people charge anywhere from $50 to $200 for the class. A college student, working part time, going to school full time has neither the money or the time for that type of requirement.

What to do? I am not sure other than what we have been. Isolate the idiots, educate where possible and present the positive image as much as possible.

Good thought provoking post

Sailorcurt said...

I agree with Bob...you're making the same mistake as the Utopiasts (Utopians?): Freedom means that we have the freedom to be stupid as well as smart...to make bad decisions as well as good.

A piece of paper verifying that I am not a known criminal and have some idea which end the bullets come out of does not guarantee responsible behavior. It is nothing more than permitting a right.

I believe that you should have firmly, but as politely and "nicely" as possible, corrected the gentleman's behavior. Yes, it would have been uncomfortable for both of you. Yes, he may have taken offense or gotten angry...that's his problem not yours.

But it's no different that letting someone walk around with his fly unzipped...you may embarrass them for a minute, but you save them from being embarrassed for the whole day when, at the end of the day, when they realize they've been walking around like that.

Actually, it's worse...the next time he may kill someone with his ignorance or negligence...if you didn't correct him when you had the chance, did you pass up an opportunity to save a life?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

So you call the hypothetical "That Guy" an idiot and shun him. Have you changed anything? Is he just going to gravitate to other idjits, reinforcing his stoopidoisty?

And he is a hypothetical. Coincidentally, Tam posted about similar folks, secondarily.

"Hell is other people"

Bob S. said...

Or he will learn that certain behavior isn't tolerated by the mature adults.

Either way, it is his right to be an idiot and responsible for his own behavior. Not me.

I can only offer guidance and advice as Curt suggested.

In order to make the requirements equitable just about anyone can and should be able to pass the test or show competency. Testing alone doesn't weed out the idiots and the oblivious; driving on the highway should prove that.

Notice that Tam doesn't call for removing the people from the forums, taking their guns, etc; she just ignores them. Shaking her head in disgust or laughter, but it's not our job to make sure everyone is as responsible as we would like.

Otherwise I'm not sure I would measure up to other people's standards. Are you sure you would?

Mulligan said...

as said above, we shouldn't pass anti-idiot laws, in any arena. People have the right to act as irresponsible as they see fit.

I believe the social repercussions of being an idiot will have to suffice. The anti-idiot wake up comes when they get left out of the gatherings, or clubs due to irresponsible behavior.

If you try to legislate levels of responsibility where do you draw the line? Who decides the difference between qualified and under qualified? Look at all the idiot drivers who have licenses. If the line can move up or down, might it not move up until only a select few are eligible? Even should the line be low, do not those on the other side have a legitimate claim of elitism?

Ken said...

To buy the premise that "that guy gives us all a bad name" is to buy into a collectivist premise. It is to concede the game at the opening whistle.

I am legally and morally responsible for my own actions and those of my minor children, and no one else.

Not ever.

Crustyrusty said...

In a long-ago day, idiots like that guy weren't an issue, as they would have been ventilated by the populace at the first sign of danger to others.

Anonymous said...

This is a very hard question. We need this guy's vote and should not try to alienate him. The Second Amendment props up a big tent.

Tam said...

Ken,

"To buy the premise that "that guy gives us all a bad name""

I don't worry about That Guy giving me a bad name; I worry about him putting a stray round through my kidneys because he's a tool who won't bother practicing proper gun safety habits.

When I worked at the range, I threw That Guy out. If I go to the range and That Guy is there, I'll sometimes make a polite effort to correct him, or I'll leave.

Chris said...

Carrying a firearm without proper training is stupid.

Banning stupidity is even more so.

'That Guy' has every right to be an idiot. As much as we might wish to, being an idiot isn't against the law. All you can do is make sure he's not covering you and yours.

The laws our 'nation of laws' are based on are intended to deter illegal activity and punish the guilty. We can't (and shouldn't) do a thing to folks who haven't been convicted of a crime.

Tam said...

That's true, and I am foursquare against prior restraint.

Still, what do we do about That Guy?

Surely, not being government-lovin' libruls, we have ideas outside of "Let's pass a law!"

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Well, we can't chop off his thumbs...

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

And I can do that, cuz I got a sharp knife! But that would be rude.

MadRocketScientist said...

I completely understand NJTBs point, that guy can damage all the support and good will that any 50 responsible gun owners can build, because gun owners are still something of a minority and thought of as a fringe.

I also agree with NJTB that if you want to carry concealed, you should need a basic understanding of use of force laws. I don't think any such qualification is needed to buy or own a gun, but it should be there for CCW. If I am not mistaken, hunters have to take a safety course and they operate in areas where a stray shot is a lot less likely to hit someone.

Mulligan said...

"that guy can damage all the support and good will that any 50 responsible gun owners can build,"

I agree with this, BUT, the reason ThatGuy can lower the goodwill level is because stupid is contagious. Stupid people see an irresponsible gun owner in the news and don't know that irresponsible is more dangerous than gun.

the MSM is just a dirty needle with stupid germs

john said...

while we're at it, let's wait for the sh*t to hit the fan, then revoke the voting rights of all Democrats, stupidity and irresponsibility plus a majority voting like THAT GUY has brought us here today.

Does it matter whether they are planted agents reporting to Sarah Brady, or some brainless schlub who "didn't mean to". either way they are going to cost us.

Bob S. said...

Tam,

What we do is counteract "That guy"'s influence by doing what we love. Getting more people involved in shooting, getting more people knowledgeable about the safety, the training, the laws, the consequences of firearms.

Blogs like your, Bolt's and thousands of others are a great counter to that guy. Everyone's efforts to get people out there, to provide instruction is a great counter. Bolt's post also shows how seriously gun owners take the responsibility and our willingness to consider how to keep everyone safe.

Education is the key, it's harder for the mainstream media to portray "that guy" as typical when your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers all know better.

Even taking the time to educate "that guy" is a great counter. I'm a new shooter, I've made a few rookie mistakes- hopefully very few. But each time, someone at the range was willing to step up, risk hard feelings and help me....that is greatly appreciated.


I may not agree with Bolt's ideas, but the discussion is worthwhile and productive.

James R. Rummel said...

There are always going to be people who behave in embarrassing ways.

The solution is to lead by example, and prove that the blowhards are a marginal fringe of our group.

James

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Holy moly! Hell in a Handbasket had a similar blog entry.

James R. Rummel said...

Thank you kindly for the link.

James

Mike W. said...

Still, what do we do about That Guy?

In any large group there will be some "That Guys." The best we can do is try to educate them.

I can think of at least 2 instances where as a newbie I made mistakes at the range. These were quickly and politely corrected by either the RSO or another patron.

That said, some folks will not learn, they will not listen, and they will act irresponsibly. It's inevitable.