An Exercise in Absurdity

In particular, the absurdity of Gun Control and its language.

This has turned into an uber-post of sorts, but do be patient and stick with me. It has many parts, but it concludes eventually.

Plus, there are cool pictures! (click them to enlarge)

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When those who have an irrational fear or hatred of firearms get in front of a camera or speak to a reporter, they lose their ability to speak intelligently. They begin spouting phrases such as “Assault Rifle”, “Cop-Killer Bullets”, “Large Capacity Clips” and even “Spray Firing Bullet Hoses”. This always charges the conversation with emotion, possibly with the hope that in doing so those using this odd language will be able to confuse people’s logic center and win them over to the irrational side of the argument.

For a moment, please take a look at the three comparisons I am going to make between sets of objects, then read a little bit further as I explain the reasoning behind the comparisons.

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This is an acoustic guitar. More correctly, it is an Epiphone FT120 built in 1974.

This is a “Grand Concert” style guitar. It has a D shaped neck and short, narrow frets. The Mahogany and Spruce in the neck and body have dried with age to the point of near perfection.

This guitar is perfect for chord work. I have been playing it and had to stop for just a moment in appreciation of the sounds emanating from the guitar because they were so very nice. I cannot wait to record with it.

This is a rifle. More specifically, it is a lever action Winchester 1894 in 30-30 Winchester caliber.

While this is a modern example of the rifle, the model number 1894 itself comes from the year it was patented. This rifle is so synonymous with the “Old West” that all rifles of this type, no matter their manufacturer, are generally called “Winchesters” by the uninitiated.

It is also generally regarded within firearms circles as one of the most deadly of all rifle designs and calibers because of its ubiquitous nature and use in hunting of medium to large game. To assume that this rifle is any less capable at taking care of what ever job is at hand because it is an old design is folly.

In this next comparison we have an Epiphone Les Paul Junior Special

While similar to the an actual Les Paul model guitar, this Junior model has a Mahogany neck and flat-top body with no arched Maple cap. It also comes from the factory with P90 pickups, which are very large single coil pickups. The neck is slightly slimmer than a standard Les Paul and the fretboard only has the standard dot inlays instead of trapezoidal Mother of Pearl inlays.

It is, in essence, a budget-priced guitar that is designed to look and feel similar to a more expensive instrument. A guitar you don’t have to worry about bumping around and possibly dinging up. Cheap to manufacture and cheap to buy while still feeling solid. It is definitely not a toy. The controls are simple and easy to use and it stays in tune, which is all you can really ask of a guitar that costs slightly over $100.

I have taken using another term frequently used by those with an irrational fear of firearms to name this guitar my “Saturday Night Special”, because I bought it at 8PM on the Saturday night prior to New Year’s using my Christmas gift cards. Using an in-store coupon, I walked out with it for only $109 + tax. I  am rather enjoying the raunchiness of the P90 pickups. I’ll be using it to practice with and take to lessons since I have become afraid of putting even the tiniest scratch on the next guitar in this post.

Here, we have an AR15 variant.

To some, this rifle looks scary with all of the accessories attached. Caliber wise, the .223/5.56 cartridge is on the small side. While it is suitable for small game, such as Prairie Dogs, and even medium sized animals, such as Coyotes, most states will not let you hunt large game with this cartridge. And even with this caliber, most long range hunting with this caliber is done with heavier than standard projectiles.

The AR15 platform modern sporting rifle was modeled after the AR10 rifle designed by Eugene Stoner in the late 1950’s. The AR10 was originally chambered in .308 Winchester/7.62×51 cartridge. It was scaled down by Colt Manufacturing to chamber the .223/5.56 cartridge and sold to the US military where is was designated the M16.

The M16 was a selectable-fire, full-automatic self-loading rifle that used a 20 round capacity box magazine. Since its adoption in the early 1960’s the M16 has seen many modifications, improvements and variants. The model currently in use by the US military forces is the M16A4. It retains the selectable full-automatic firing system and it now uses a detachable box magazine whose standard capacity is 30 rounds.

The civilian AR15 platform rifles share a good deal of their cosmetic features with the M16A4, including the 30 round box magazine. Of course, none of those scary looking add-ons make it any more accurate or “deadly”. In fact, they make the gun weigh more and decrease its maneuverability. Sure, the holographic sight might make targeting slightly more quick and the forward pistol grip better for retention, but the rest of that so-called “go-fast gear” enhances nothing. However, they do not have any of the selectable-fire, fully automatic abilities. In reality, they physically cannot fire fully automatically because the receiver is designed to be too small to fit the mechanical components that allow fully automatic fire.

Despite what you may have heard, it is not just a matter of buying a file or a Dremel tool from Home Depot and gutting the receiver to make them fit. That is a fallacy. You need to have an expensive precision CNC machine and know exactly what you are doing to change the receiver, you otherwise stand to make the gun completely inoperable, or more than likely, unsafe to fire because it will disintegrate while you are holding it. Not to mention that it is a federal felony crime to make those modifications.

For our last comparison, we have another electric guitar. More specifically, it is an Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus Top built in 2011.

That is a very poor picture, so for a more accurate presentation see here.

I have made some upgrades and modifications. The cosmetic ones include replacing the pick guard with clear plexiglass to show off more of the flame top. I have also traded out the standard tophat style volume and tone knobs for cylindrical speed knobs to make volume and tone changes happen more easily (I like to run my amp hot and clean up the sound with the controls on the guitar).

While I am thinking about trading out the standard Pro-Bucker pickups for a pair of Lollartron Humbuckers, this rig just flat out rocks as is. The neck is a 60’s slim taper, topped by a fret board that is ebony-esque in sound and makes the 8-to-38 gauge strings squeal upon request. Some have said to not waste my time upgrading an Epiphone and just buy a Gibson. I think that they probably haven’t seen what a mid-range Gibson is going for lately.

The Mahogany neck and body and the arched Maple cap give the guitar a thicker sound than say, a Stratocaster, and produce more low-end frequencies, even just acoustically.

As a comparison, here we have a Remington 7400 in .30-06 Springield caliber.

It is a semi-automatic autoloading rifle with a standard capacity five round detachable box magazine. It has a walnut rear stock and forearm and is engraved with a beautiful woodland scene. It has also been upgraded with a Burris 4-12×40 scope.

If the .30-30 Winchester cartridge can be generally regarded as one of the most game-gettingest and deadly cartridges of all time, the .30-06 is not far behind. Originally designed for the M1903 Springfield rifle issued to US military personnel during WWI, it was also the standard chambering of the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and the belt-fed M1917 Browning Machine Gun. In WWII, the cartridge also became the standard chambering of the M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle.

From the earliest days of its manufacture the cartridge has been used by millions of American hunters to both put food on their tables and save their lives while in the wilderness.

If one were to do something silly such as try and compare the AR platform rifle to the 7400, with one being “more deadly” than the other, the Remington 7400 would win, hands down. Its ballistic superiority at long distances being only one the first few reasons. The inclusion of a magnifying rifle scope, making the rifle accurate to past 1000 yards, being another. An AR platform rifle, even with a magnifying rifle scope, would be accurate to possibly 500 or 600 yards. Then it runs into a steep ballistic slope. There is a possibility of extending that distance with hand crafted cartridges, but all of that effort would be useless without loads of ballistics research and years of training.

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The AR15 platform of rifle has often been labeled “The Barbie for Men” because you can accessorize the everlovin’ snot out of it, until it weighs 14 pounds and takes more batteries to run than any handheld game console currently in existence. I think it would be safe to say that the only other item on the planet that guys have more enjoyment accessorizing is a 4×4 rig such as a Jeep.

The AR platform rifle has also been labeled an “Evil Black Rifle” by multiple anti-firearms special interest groups, politicians and media people. This, again, is propagandizing language meant to get an emotional reaction from those hearing it. Have you ever heard anyone call a guitar like the black Les Paul Junior pictured above an “Evil Black Guitar”? No, because you would call that person stupid, and rightly stop listening to them.

There is nothing more “Evil” about the AR platform rifle than the other two examples, or the guitars they are compared with, because it is just a tool. Exactly as my guitars are tools. Anyone who labels an inanimate object as “Evil” has no interest in rational conversation. If they truly believe a rifle can be evil, they should really get their head checked.

Personally, I use my AR platform rifle for shooting competitions and to help acclimate new shooters to the sport. I also would not hesitate to use it for home defense. During competitions I use the standard 30 round detachable box magazines to keep my time down and my score up, because stages during these competitions can be quite long and involved. Usually, mulitple magazines are needed to finish.

Take a look at this rifle

Can you guess what kind of rifle it is?

If you guessed that it is a Remington 7400, pat yourself on the back. Someone has bought a new stock and forearm and some aftermarket magazines for it. Do any of these items make it more “deadly”? Not on this planet. In fact,  a good number of aftermarket magazines have a tendency to not work properly causing the rifle’s action to jam and not be able to fire, and the over-height scope mount is at such a distance above the barrel that it is likely less accurate than the previous example. I am sure that to some it may look more menacing than the 7400 with wood stocks and engraving, but that is them letting their emotions overtake their brain’s logic center.

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I am certain that these comparisons between rifles and guitars have led more than a few to think that I have made a large leap of logic, because a guitar is designed to “make music” and a rifle is designed to “kill”.

To this I can only say that all of my firearms must be broken, because in over 30 years of shooting, none of my firearms has killed anything. Also, that my guitars must also be broken because even after a year-plus of continuing lessons and practice, some would definitely not call what I play “music”.

While I do not hunt game, I do shoot a good deal. I shoot steel targets, cardboard targets, paper targets, and once a year a very kind gentleman named Joe Huffman and his family and friends give me the opportunity to shoot at targets that explode. I shoot targets at close range (25 feet) and I shoot targets at long range (1000 yards), as well as all distances in between.

I am just like every other law abiding firearms owner. I do not shoot firearms to train myself to be better at killing people. I shoot firearms for the same reason people practice shooting basketballs: For fun.

If you think watching a quarterback make a 50 yard connection to his wide-receiver is cool to watch, imagine threading a projectile the size of a pencil eraser into a pool cue chalk cube at a distance of two football fields. Hearing the gasp of those watching you immediately after making the hit when they see the chalk cube explode into a cloud of dust is its own reward.

For no other reason that I can fathom other than propaganda purposes, politicians and the media also like to go around calling the AR platform rifle an “Assault Rifle”. It is nothing of the sort. “Assault Rifle” is a term made up by those with an irrational fear of firearms to scare people with. I pity my wife at times because I am certain she gets tired of hearing me practice the same guitar riff over and over again. Can I call it an “Assault Guitar”?

The AR platform rifle has has been America’s top-selling modern sporting rifle for over a decade. It does the exact same thing that any other firearm is designed to do: Put a projectile at a point at which the person operating the firearm has aimed it.

The gun itself doesn’t care what it may be pointing at. It can’t. It is an inanimate object. You pull a lever, that lever releases a pin held back by spring pressure, the pin goes forward and sets off a cartridge, the cartridge explodes with gas pressure and pushes a projectile wherever the operator has pointed it. It really is just that simple. The firearm has absolutely no say. Because it can’t, because it is an inanimate object. And despite what you may have heard, whether the firearm holds five rounds or fifty rounds makes no difference, either. A deranged or criminally minded person is going to do the most damage they can with whatever they can get their hands on. In the early 1930’s, Clyde Barrow of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame made some very unconventional modifications to the firearms he was able to get his hands on to make them more “useful” to him.

On a quick side note, the writers at The Nation have their facts wrong in this article. They state that WalMart selling the AR platform rifle made it popular. In reality, WalMart only started selling the AR platform rifle after it was already popular. But I guess when you and your readership have an irrational hatred of both WalMart and firearms, facts don’t really matter.

The competitions I attend are a sport. Until the Newtown, CT murders, more than a handful of television networks, including one of the ESPN channels, had shows in development which would have televised these competitions in the same way as Golf (only less boring). They have since sidelined them, which is a shame, because the professional and semi-professional competitors in these shooting sports are just as dedicated to their physical fitness and the maintaining and improving their skills as any other athlete in any other sport.

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I make these comparisons between firearms and guitars for a number of reasons, mostly because they are two hobbies of mine and I know more about both topics than the average person.

Trust me, using either my lack of technical skill in playing or just the instrument itself, I can assault a person with any one of my guitars. The blue Les Paul has a neck like a baseball bat and weighs in at nine pounds and the Junion at just under eight pounds. One clean swing to the melon with either and even a professional boxer will not get up. Or, I could just play until they decide cut their own throat to make it stop.

Now let us quickly go back just a couple decades to another time when “dangerous music” was “killing children” and the recording industry came under the full scrutiny of the U.S. government. There were a plethora of focus groups and panels and hearings in Congress to discuss how best to “Keep Harmful Music Away From Children”.

There were more hearings in which musicians were called to testify about, and in some cases defend, their music. These supposedly low-IQ musicians verbally handed the politicians their posteriors on a plate by the time they were done.

There were also court cases in which parents attempted to sue rock bands in civil court for millions of dollars because somebody somewhere believed that without the music, their darling child would not have tried to kill themselves.

Then there were the profanity trials of Rap/HipHop music. Music that was declared “Too Sexually Profane” for public consumption.

Out of all of this, the best the government-media complex was able to get was a warning label telling parents that they should not let their children listen to certain albums. All these stickers actually did was make kids want the violent/vulgar music more. Firearms and ammunition already have labels about use by minors as well as actual laws mandating that children not be allowed to purchase or handle firearms.

So, is music as bad as firearms. or vice versa?

To this day, there are some that will make the case that music can incite people to kill. They will likely give you Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur as just two examples. While I would not say that their music was the cause, I would like to point out that when you make a career out of talking about all the people you assault and kill as well as how many more people you would like to assault and kill, there is a strong likelihood that you will be dying in your twenties. I would also find it very surprising if gangbangers were listening to Mantovani while they were getting amped up for their criminal activity.

By no means am I saying ban/censor/restrict rap music. That would make about the same amount of much sense as banning/restricting firearms.

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One big difference between my firearms and my guitars is that it is difficult to use my guitars to help me defend my life. Sadly, I have had to do this twice in my lifetime, which is two times too many. You will remember from earlier in this post that I stated my firearms have never killed another living being. I can says this because in one instance simply brandishing my firearm gave me enough control over the situation that I was able to end it and hold the perpetrator until the authorities arrived, and in the other I wounded my attacker. He dropped his weapon, stopped the attack and his also armed accomplices fled.

In both instances, without my possession of a firearm, I would have suffered grave bodily injury and possibly even been killed by my attackers. One happened at my home, the other in my car. Two of the places I should be allowed to feel the most safe.

And these are the reasons why I will fight to the teeth any attack on the ability of the civilian population to defend themselves inside their homes or away from them, with whatever tool they believe to be the best available.

It is also why I support the NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation and the GOA in their call to remove the “Gun Free Zone” legal classification from not only school campuses, but all other publicly owned buildings. I do not support paying an armed guardian force to patrol a campus, but I do support letting any teacher or other government employee who feels comfortable in doing so to carry their personal firearm into the classroom. We can debate safe storage guidelines if you’d like, but telling someone that they have give up their human right to self defense because of their profession is idiocy.

Firearms can do nothing but rust if they are not in the hands of a human being (and stainless steel firearms are still subject to the laws of entropy). It is the intent of the human being that decides how the tool is going to be used. If there are people amongst the society whom cannot be trusted with a firearm, then it is society’s job to find a way to keep them away from firearms. To punish the masses by restricting their access to simple tools because there are a miniscule number of people who are dangerous to themselves or others is not only backwards, but it is unfair and unconstitutional.

Politicians and the media like simple solutions. Simple solutions make their jobs easier. The politician can show off a new law as proof that they are doing their job and the media person can explain the new law in under a minute and get on with reporting something else.

It does not matter to either of them if it is the right solution. It can even be argued that it is actually better for both if it is not the right solution, because it gives the politician another law to write and pass and the media person something more to talk about.

Banning firearms and firearms accessories is absolutely NOT the right answer. It will punish the millions of responsible firearms owners and not stop one single criminal act. In fact, it will likely create more criminals because average citizens who do not speak “legalese” can easily run afoul of some obscure and poorly written law.

That is the magic of being a criminal: You don’t have to follow the laws. You don’t even have to be willing to face the consequences of your actions, because of the way in which our current legal system works, any firearms laws you may have broken will likely be dropped if you plead guilty to the main charge, whatever it may be. If politicians were serious about stopping crimes with firearms, they would increase the penalties of crimes with firearms and write the laws so that these charges cannot be dropped in a plea bargain.

Likewise, if politicians were serious about stopping people of questionable mental stability from obtaining firearms, they would write laws that kept the insane, instead of firearms, away from the populace. Every single day in America, hundreds of average citizens are assaulted, and some are even killed, by those not fully in touch with reality or who have been adjudicated insane. Sometimes these deranged people use firearms.

Our legal system has not been modified to deal with their issues, and the insane are released in to the public every single day. I am sure that they do try to cope, but mental illness is still not fully understood, and “outpatient” style monitoring programs simply do not do the job well enough.

We know that criminals willfully and regularly break the law. We also know that the insane are regularly released into the public, to the detriment of their conditions. Yet the only solution being talked about by politicians and the media to try and stop the next violent act by either criminals or the mentally unstable is to pass laws that punish those who are NOT criminals and who are NOT insane.

This makes absolutely no sense.

I have earned society’s trust through many years of responsible firearms ownership, yet my fellow responsible firearms owners and I are the ones who are to be punished, because we are sane and law abiding?

Explain, please.

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Addendum A:

Since some will still not get the idea of how strange it is to label an inanimate object “Evil” or and “Assault Rifle”, and because every aspiring guitarist needs a guitar covered in stickers, I am stickering up the “Saturday Night Special” Junior. Here is what is sure to be just the first of many.

I have more hanging about and will apply them when I can find them. Yes, they will all be firearms related stickers. If you have a sticker you would like me to apply to the Junior, send me a link and I’ll see if I can get it here. Otherwise, hit me up via email and we’ll figure something else out.

If this gets popular, I’ll bring it with me to Boomershoot. If this gets REALLY popular, I might auction it off for charity there.

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Addendum B:

For those who are going to read this post and attempt to accuse me of using my firearms as some sort of “manhood” extension, I would just like you to know two things:

First, we in the firearms community have a label for your accusation/condition, it is called Markley’s Law. This law works in the same manner as Godwin’s Law, and you have just lost the argument.

Secondly, hit me up via email. We can meet and do a drop test of our pants to see exactly who is lacking in “manhood”. Or, if you are afraid of “dropping trou” in front of another dude, bring your girlfriend/wife/sister/of-legal-age-daughter to the test and let me talk to them in private for a while. She/They can report back to you about my “manhood”. Please make sure they’re at least a “7”.

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8 Responses to An Exercise in Absurdity

  1. Ragin' Dave says:

    If I can find one of my old Molon Labe stickers, do you want it?

  2. Phil says:

    Most certainly!. I’ve used all mine. Thanks.

  3. Mollbot says:

    Ought to toss a Gadsden Flag sticker on there. I just ordered one for my hard hat at work.

  4. Phil says:

    Ayup. Want “them” to know I’m a also right-wing terrorist.

  5. Phil says:

    I like that one, Scott. Where do I get it?

  6. Mollbot says:

    I need to stock up on some 30-30 ammo. My Winchester (the real thing) has been neglected too long…

  7. Ragin' Dave says:

    Email me your mailing address – I don’t think I ever got yours, or if I did the computer I had it stored in got demolished. You’ll have a sticker on the way in no time.

    wraithwulf-at-yahoo-dot-com

Comments are closed.