Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On The Events Last Friday

It was a hot summer’s day at Fort Bliss, Texas during my basic training in 1984 when the drill sergeants herded the other trainees and me into the old building serving as the place for our instruction on the fundamentals of combat first aid. If I remember correctly, it was rather late in the afternoon and after a horrendous session where Drill Sergeant Bogen and Garcia smoked the hell out of us with a couple of hundred push-ups and the same amount of mountain climber exercises for some stupid transgression. Because of the heat and activity, all of us trainees were slightly nauseous and ready for the forthcoming period where all we were supposed to do was sit at desks and listen to the army medic acting as an instructor and watch a slideshow.

As much as I was personally ready to sit at my desk and go into my patented daze which even the toughest and smartest DI’s could not tell if I was awake and paying attention or asleep with my eyes open the material we had to watch kept my full attention. The slideshow turned out to be pictures of human bodied suffering from various wounds by assault rifles including the M-16A1.

To avoid all the gory details I will simply write that most assault rifles, and specifically the M-16 and ALL its derivative models use rounds designed to fragment inside body tissue producing massive wounds. The pictures I saw that day were both horrendous and terrifying. The wounds they showed had more in common with what comes out of a slaughter house meat grinder than human beings whether they were friend or foe. Even for a bunch of guys who for weeks had been indoctrinated in the glories of being a soldier the pictures of massive gaping wounds was enough to not only wake us up but turn our already raw stomachs. 

Simply put modern assault weapons are meant to serious maim more than kill. This produces a side “benefit” of forcing another trooper to provide care resulting in two people rendered combat ineffective. When you combine the destructive power of modern assault weapons with their enormous rate of fire for soldiers in a combat situation it makes them highly effective.

Unfortunately, we have an extremely surreal situation in America where fools living under delusional ideas of patriotism or manhood and others suffering from apocalyptic paranoia have created a market for such weapons among civilians. I write surreal because I cannot go to a drug store and buy a full-strength sinus medicine without having to show my identification and some record of my purchase being made.

Of course, this is because criminals have in the past bought mass quantities to make highly addictive methamphetamine. But you can buy all the ammunition for any pistol or rifle you want and talented right-wing media types and fancy lawyers will proclaim it a right protected under the Second Amendment. I will not even begin to write about how all sorts of professionals working with much safer equipment than a weapon have to go through periodic recertification and evaluation. Somehow, a weapon of mass killing is thought of along the same lines as a computer or microwave oven.

As anyone can guess, I am writing this over the terrible events that happened in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday when an insane individual using a Bushmaster assault weapon his mother legally bought slaughtered twenty children and seven adults. The Bushmaster is a civilian version of the M-16 family of weapons and with the high capacity, thirty-round magazines the assailant used he turned those children and adults into pictures of carnage I remember from my basic training days.

As the days since that massacre have passed whole collections of misguided idiots and paranoid fools have come out of the woodwork screaming about how unfair or wrong it would be to ban their favorite adult play toys. The misguided idiots wrap themselves up in the American flag crying about their Constitutional rights even as the blood of those children lay drying in their classroom floors while those who believe in black helicopters and rampaging zombie hordes huddle in their bunkers with their precious firearms waiting for some doomsday.

The funny and disgusting thing for me in all this is that at one time I bought into all the mass hysteria over civilian assault weapons and the “right” to own one for protection. Time and more constructive interests like SCUBA diving and surfing took me and my money away from that insanity. Still though since I was raised in the southern gun culture where it is a religion in every since of the word I generally ignored those who continued with the crazed pursuit even though they often irritated the Hell out of me with their zealotry. This included several close family members who have now effectively disowned me.

Like many others, the events in Newtown have shattered my casual indifference and I will join or work with any group that seeks to ban further civilian purchase of assault weapons and the outright elimination of high capacity magazines that allows such rapid-fire carnage. Rabid Second Amendment types will of course whine about their rights and how the purposed assault weapons ban will leave those weapons only in the hands of nasty criminals. That would be a valid point if the Newtown massacre and the ones before that were the result of someone using an illegally procured weapon.

For the possible, but very few right-wing types who read my crap I am not talking about repealing the Second Amendment, I own a semi-automatic pistol and a small caliber rifle that I keep hidden along with my tiny amount of ammo, which is in a separate location. A total ban on all civilian ownership of firearms is both impossible and wrong; countless millions of responsible adults hunt and own a weapon for protection. I say again, I am all for the Second Amendment as I am all for free speech which is protected under the First Amendment but like everyone knows no one has the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater. I believe the same thing about the Second Amendment, while responsible adults have a right to own a pistol or rifle military grade firearms DO NOT belong in the hands of civilians under any circumstance and I will work to see them banned. I cannot deal with seeing any more pictures of slaughtered innocent children because of the fears and delusions of a few.


Windsmoke. said...

What i reckon needs to happen is more stricter gun control and laws to prevent massacres like Newtown from happening again. Down here in Oz after the slaughter of innocent children at Port Arthur which is in Tasmania many years ago all semi automatic weapons were banned throughout OZ. You now need to apply for a gun licence to own a gun of any kind and a very, very good reason, protection is not a good enough reason.

lime said...

thank you for this. i believe your military training gives you knowledge and experience above that of the average NRA member. you know my family hunts so of course we own rifles for each hunter as well as a couple of handguns for protection. i agree there is no need to assault rifles to be in the hands of civilians. it just seems absurd to me. what possible need could a civilian have for such a weapon?

Sue H said...

Over here, in the UK, the only gun shops we have are generally for sporting/hunting rifles. There are very strict laws and licensing regulations. Even our police are not routinely armed - although there are specialist armed divisions which can be called upon when necessary. (I know the senior firearms officer for our region and he's told me a little about the amount of extensive training procedures he has to conduct - and the criteria he has to abide by in order to issue orders for an armed response unit).

When I was over in New England visiting relatives a couple of years ago, we went into the Kittery Trading Post in Maine. Along with all the usual outdoor pursuit paraphernalia, upstairs there was the firearms emporium. At first I thought it was like being on a film set - racks and racks of rifles and stacks of cased ammunition; I could sort of understand that, as they could be used for hunting as a sport or for food.

However, what I wasn't prepared for were the displays of handguns and what looked like military-grade automatic weapons.

Surely there is only ONE purpose for a such a weapon - to maim or kill another person. That's what I and so many people here in the UK find so hard to understand!

It does beg the question - if such items were not so freely available, would these terrible mass-killing assaults diminish?

But then - there was an American reporter on UK TV on Sunday who admonished the TV presenter, who took him to task over the issue of guns, who said "yeah, well - you just don't understand our(US) culture!"

Quite honestly, no - we don't!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Yes, I can see where your argument has many quite valid points. After all, did not Prohibition bring about stronger family units and a greater peace to our society in general? Oh, and just think of how many brain-dead zombies would be wandering our streets at all hours of the day and night if marijuana is ever legalized?

Akelamalu said...

Being from the UK I echo what Sue H says. I really don't understand the need to own a gun. :(

B.E. Earl said...

Interesting take. Just curious as to how you will work to ban military grade firearms. Besides their choice of elected official, what can John Q. Public actually do on this matter? Protest? Support the Brady Campaign with donations/volunteer work? I'm actually curious.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Yeah Beach, we need to work for a ban on private ownership of assault weapons. Did you see this on last night's news?

Randal Graves said...

I think my favorite part about this from the ultra zealous wing of gun owners is the fear of The Man taking their guns. Given the rampant militarization of cop departments from sea to slimy sea, if they actually did decide to take your guns, you'd be outnumbered about 5 million rounds to 30.

Beach Bum said...

Windsmoke: Australia proved itself to be a rational and forward thinking nation for taking such swift actions to prevent another such incident. That it took the brutal murder of twenty small children to even begin to think about taking action after several other shooting rampages were ignored shows how ignorant the general public is and self-absorbed the irrational but powerful gun owners are.

Lime: Being caught up in that military gun culture for several years I can write that the nutcases believe all sorts of doomsday scenarios that involve them playing a combination of Rambo, Arnie, Norris, and Willis as some evil horde tries to end all that is good.

Sue H: I don't really understand the paranoia myself. Many American have just come to believe in all the myths and fables about the strong-willed, independent individual out to conquer the world.

Jerry: There are twenty dead children in Newtown whose murder demand some sort of action. I ask you why is the United States the only country these types of murderous rampages happen on a regular basis? We already have the most privately-owned firearms in the world here, by the general logic of ignorant gun nuts we should already be the safest place on the planet. There is NO rational reason for civilians to own military assault weapons.

Your Prohibition example lacks any rational basis, bottles of bootleg alcohol simply does not have the ability to slaughter twenty small children in the space of ten minutes!

Akelamalu: Hunting has a long and respected tradition here in the States. Millions of people safely participate in the sport to feed their families. As for self defense, with the United States a far more spread out nation there is a legitimate concern about protection.

B.E. Earl: The ban would work along the lines of the one Bush let expire in the early 2000's. Those who already own assault weapons would have to register their weapons and to sell them have some third party do a background check on the possible buyer.

Understand, I have no delusions that this would end rampages like the one in Newtown, nothing can do that, but we must do something to make these incidents rarer. Another part of the answer is the ammo situation like I mentioned, I can't buy full strength sinus medicine without showing ID and a record being made of the purchase, commonsense seems to suggest buying ammo should be handled the same way.

Doc: I'll have to check it out.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Absolutely! I swear man, I have whined about probably ten-million times but if I had the ability I leave this country and move somewhere else. While I have been called things like a half-wit maybe its quality and not quantity that matters. This gun shit is insane.

Mr. Charleston said...

The problem with the argument that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will own guns is... none of these mass murderers were outlaws.

Pixel Peeper said...

Thank you for this comment you made to Jerry: We already have the most privately-owned firearms in the world here...we should already be the safest place on the planet.

This is what I'm going to say to those people who argue that we need more armed citizens.

Mike Williams said...

I can't wrap my head around this to comment coherently so I'll just say thanks for doing it for me. Oh, and Jerry if your not part of the solution your part of the problem. B.E. we can speak up, we can be outraged, We can use guilt and shame against those who would put their so called right to own an assault weapon above the welfare of their children. We can disband the NRA as inimical to the welfare of the citizens of the United States. And we can vote.

Beach Bum said...

Mr. Charleston and Pixel: Absolutely, in fact if the NRA's answer to gun violence is even more guns that is a dystopian vision that rivals anything Orwell wrote.

Mike: What scares the shit out of me is the number of people who actually believe the shit the NRA puts out. I've read a few places that at one time the NRA was a responsible socially responsible organization. As hard as it is to believe I read that worked to ban civilian ownership of fully automatic weapons.

While I could be greatly mistaken to me the backbone of that group appears to be filled with anxiety ridden white folks scared over how fast America is changing and becoming more diverse. Their paranoia over all sorts of conspiracies involving the federal government taking away their weapons reflects that.

Mike Williams said...

The American answer to the fear propaganda put out by the NRA and their masters the weapons manufacturers is always to build, buy and use better weapons.
Last night Drones were spotted over Norfolk.

Leslie Parsley said...

Obviously the NRA, like the GOP, has been taken over by a bunch of paranoid extremists who are more interested in whoring out to the gun industry than they are in protecting the lives and safety of innocent American citizens. Since when does the right to own weapons of mass destruction supersede the rights to live a reasonably normal life?

I don't think there's any one solution though and I certainly don't think the NRA should be invited to the table.

Excellent article.

Collin Hinds said...

Good article. I whole-heartedly agree that assault weapons, designed only to maim and murder other human beings, really have no place in the hands of civilians in a civilized society.

Rose L said...

I see no reason for anyone to own semi-automatic weapons. They are nto for hunting and only for maiming and murder. It is too easy for those who are ill mentally or have other problems that make them want to hurt others because they hurt to get these weapons.

Life As I Know It Now said...

It is indeed sick that anybody would defend as their right to own these kinds of guns and as much ammo as they like for those guns as well. These aren't for hunting or self protection==these are guns for killing and causing as much damage as possible, period. The law banning them ought to be reinstated for sure.