2013: apparently it’s going to be lectures all the way down

so after the tragic events at the Washington Navy Yard, we once again have the president on the news lecturing us about how “we’re going to have to change.” to be honest, aside from some events that have been bright spots here and there, 2013 has been a pretty disheartening year for myself, what with gun rights being SO near and dear to me, simply because it’s been nothing but an exhausting series of lectures about what an awful person i am. i don’t care how confident you are in your self-image, that’s just exhausting.

Aaron Alexis
fuck you, Alexis, fuck you. now i have to get lectured AGAIN because i own a couple of guns

now, i remember back in 2008 when Obama was running for office: many pro-gun people i know were going to vote for him because they didn’t like McCain, they REALLY didn’t like Palin (i’m with them on that one) and frankly, they thought that Obama was going to be so centrist and pragmatic that he wouldn’t act on guns. you could certainly make that case after his first term, when he really didn’t say ANYTHING on the matter, even thought that term included the shooting at Aurora. i have never trusted the guy on the topic since he always had an anti-gun pedigree and frankly, as long as the Democrats keep the call for an assault weapon ban (and more) in their national platform, i will never trust ANYONE they run on this issue. but i saw the case.

…until Newtown and this term, when you could argue he’s feeling safe in his second term and ready to act on guns. this failed (unless you count it buoying movements in states like mine that managed to fuck over gun owners on a state level when they couldn’t do it on a federal one), but it still resulted in a combination of lectures and tantrums, the latter coming most spectacularly when the Senate rejected Obama’s gun control desires. i still maintain there’s something funny about a president who says that a poll claiming 90% support for universal background checks (a conveniently vague phrasing) means senators should vote for whatever Obama wants, while a poll claiming 90% did not approve of his Syria schemes means senators should ignore the poll and vote for whatever Obama wants, but it’s also “funny” in a way where it doesn’t make me laugh.

anyway, the lectures boil down to the same basic concept: if you don’t support whatever Obama wants on gun control –however vague or ineffective that might be– you’re a bad person. i’m not actually sure if he’s more trying to browbeat moderates who didn’t bend his way earlier into FINALLY doing so or trying to shame people who flat-out disagree with him on this issue into feeling bad, and maybe it’s even a little of both. but what i DO know is that he wants to make the point that if you if don’t agree with him on gun control, that:

#01. you’re the problem;
#02. you don’t have compassion for victims, consideration for society, etc;
#03. you should feel bad.

because really, when the shooting at Newtown happened, we talked about mental health… but we’ve really said nothing more about that, although we DID get lectures about how awful gun owners are. or when we see a big shooting in Chicago, we don’t talk about poverty or the drug war… but we DO get lectures about how awful gun owners are. sure, there’s some lip service about “a common-sense way to preserve our traditions including our basic Second Amendment freedoms and the rights of law-abiding gun owners” mashed into every lecture, but i always ask myself the same question: what do these guns actually DO that promotes preserving those freedoms and rights? because all i hear is stuff about banning guns, confiscating guns (if we could, anyway), and so on.

perhaps what it boils down to is this: i’ve owned guns for many years and never used them to commit a crime. but i DO get a lecture every time someone else does something awful with a gun, no matter what gun it is, no matter why they did it, no matter what other factors may have played a role. i get to listen to people who are paid by the Brady Campaign act as simple outspoken victims while anyone remotely affiliated with the pro-gun side is deemed corrupted by the NRA. or listen to NRA money being seen as buying elections, despite the fact that it’s a national organization with millions of donating members, while a billionaire like Bloomberg dropping even MORE money is seen as, well, nothing of consequence.

here’s an example: we always talk about having a “conversation” on these issues. so when Maryland pushed for a huge gun ban, pro-gun guys basically tried to take people who they feared would vote for the ban to firing ranges and explain what various guns really WERE, what the features did, etc, etc. and when this looked like it would result in the bill being watered down –by which i simply mean the ban would have been less severe– our anti-gun governor threw a tantrum and demanded a blanket ban on AR-15s because he wanted it. they’re not used in crime in MD, but he wanted it.

often in the last year or so, i’ll say things like, “one day, i’d like to live in a country where i feel the president gives a shit about me.” i’m NOT claiming that outlook started with Obama’s election, because it didn’t. but he’s definitely proven that’s the way i’ll feel for all eight years of his time in office.

fundamentally i know this is me being salty about being lectured and i understand that other people don’t feel the same. some probably ENJOY getting lectured by the president when he’s unhappy. i just want anti-gun people to remember this when they’re wondering why we’re so unwilling to compromise.

side note: while commenting on the fact that Colin Goddard presents himself as an “outspoken survivor” of the shooting at Virgina Tech when he should REALLY be identified as a paid employee of the Brady Campaign, i learned that remark is apparently over the line for the Washington Post comment section. live and learn, i suppose. but we should be clear that that is, in fact, what he is.

a quick one while our motivation is away

let me be honest, i would be lying if i said either of the following things: #1: that i wasn’t sincerely trying to keep our formerly-standing practice of “one update a week,” which to be frank, is about the maximum output i can manage under my solo power; and #2: that, let’s be honest, it’s just not happening, which i find VERY aggravating as we’re winding down 2013 into “whatever is going to happen around these parts in 2014.”

actually, it’s a weird dilemma, because it leaves me in a weird limbo of feeling like i am not getting enough done in terms of updating (which, to be fair, is ALWAYS true) and yet not enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of “eh, fuck it, i’m taking a break from feeling any sort of responsibility for this nonsense” because i really DO feel like i owe some output here and can’t really enjoy not getting it out. so… let’s focus on some other unpleasant thing. why not?

Members of a police SWAT team conduct a door-to-door search for 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev on April 19, 2013
“unassuming, quiet professionals operating without the need for recognition”

SWAT cop says American neighborhoods are ‘battlefields,’ claims cops face same dangers as soldiers in Afghanistan

i’m always really torn about Radley Balko’s current blog, because i love his work (if nothing else, i cannot think of any other non-gun owners who are bothering to really stick up for gun rights), but his current work forces me to link to the Huffington Post (ugh). that’s fine, though, let’s keep it moving. so Balko’s book Rise of the Warrior Cop came out recently and i have, unsurprisingly, enjoyed it. it’s filled with many sad, sad turns in the militarizing of policy, as you can PROBABLY guess from the title and all. anyway, recently it’s been that phase where the book’s out there and feedback on it, as well as Balko’s related work, is getting lofted around. which brings us to this article by Sgt. Glenn French.

now Balko properly rips this and so i don’t want to be redundant, but here are some additional thoughts and invectives and the rest regarding that essay:

“SWAT Operator with Sgt. Glenn French”

so i have to assume that “SWAT Operator” is a PoliceOne.com thing and not something French is using to identify himself. still, as Balko points out with other examples, notice how it’s SWAT [b]OPERATOR[/b] and not something like “SWAT Officer.” i know it’s pretty common to mock the guys fully embracing the ‘tacticool’ by noting how much they consider themselves to be high-speed, low-drag operators, but it works here: even a SWAT team member is supposed to be a police officer, not a special forces operator. i know they’re highly trained, i know they’re not patrol cops, i know many of them are legitimate bad-asses in every sense of the word. but if you want to be a Green Beret, you have to go be a Green Beret. SWAT is supposed to be something else.

French then goes on to actively declare police officers should act like soldiers (“we trainers have spent the past decade trying to ingrain in our students the concept that the American police officer works a battlefield every day he patrols his sector”) and throw out dubious statistics (“The fact is, more American police officers have died fighting crime in the United States over the past 12 years than American soldiers were killed in action at war in Afghanistan. According to ODMP.org, 1,831 cops have been killed in the line of duty since 2001. According to iCasualties.org, the number of our military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan is 1,789”) and to some extent, okay, you have to expect all this, even if you don’t appreciate the deceit. Balko on the numbers:

“Even accepting French’s preposterous premise here, his numbers are wrong. The U.S. has lost 2,264 troops in Afghanistan, about 22 percent more than French claims. Moreover, more than half police officer deaths since 2001 were due to accidents (mostly car accidents), not felonious homicide. Additionally, depending on how you define the term, there are between 600,000 and 800,000 law enforcement officers working in the United States. We have about 65,000 troops in Afghanistan. So comparing overall fatalities is absurd. The rates of cops killed versus soldiers killed aren’t even close. And that’s not factoring in the soldiers who’ve come home without limbs. The dangers faced by cops and soldiers in Afghanistan aren’t remotely comparable.”

now French does, to his slight credit, acknowledge that SWAT teams are often used when they should not be and should strive for professionalism. but he undercuts all his points: he notes SWAT teams are deployed when “unnecessary and, more importantly, unjustified”… but he says that right after claiming they face the EXACT same threats as soldiers, so who can say when they’re truly “unjustified?” he states SWAT teams should be composed of “unassuming, quiet professionals operating without the need for recognition”… but doesn’t ever fault ANY aspect of the police tactics that deploy military-style helicopters or armored vehicles and swarms of men in full battlefield kit on the streets? take the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: was that level of gear truly necessary for the threat faced? and does it represent “unassuming, quiet professionals?”

like Balko, i don’t say any of the above to bash cops, most of whom work unpleasant hours at thankless jobs and who DO face real danger in their work. SWAT teams ARE necessary in many situations. but while that’s all well and good, i don’t think we need this breathless declaration that the average beat cop is stuck in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban when he’s on duty.