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Gun Control Perspectives: Am I a Defeatist?

The new politicdefeatismal-newspeak-flavor-of-the-month is swirling around the gun control debate, and that word is “defeatist.”  I’ve been called that several times over the past week, always from Democrats who support stricter gun control regulations and even firearm bans.  Just the other day, I read an article in which President Obama actually used the term “defeatist,” which pretty much solidified that word in the vernacular of every blue dog Democrat who loves using political buzzwords.  Instead of calling it the “gun control debate,” perhaps we should resort to calling it the “War on Defeatists,” since such catchy phrases like that seem to rule the discussion.

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The term bothers me so much because there’s such a depth of arrogance and ignorance behind it.  First, to call someone a defeatist, one must believe that there is a real alternative to admitting defeat.  Whatever the problem is, there is a solution, and we the “defeatists” are just too lazy/scared/whatever to persevere in the discovery of said solution.  “Defeatist” is a term of derision meant to spur people into action.  No self-respecting American likes to be called a quitter.  The term is so infuriating because those who use it are clearly practicing willful ignorance to everything they know in their hearts to be true.

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The other day on Christian Fearing God-Man, I posted a youtube video of a guy who stole a tank from a national guard armory and went on a rampage through San Diego with it (1995).  Let that sink in to your brain for a moment . . . the man stole a tank.  He stole it from a national guard armory.  This man was so determined that he went into a military installation and stole a huge piece of hardware.  He didn’t care about the laws he broke, and he certainly didn’t care about the lengths he would have to go to in order to accomplish his task.  Yet somehow we “defeatists,” are supposed to believe that although the law and regulations can’t stop a man from going on a tank rampage, the law and regulations will stop someone from getting a gun and going on a shooting spree?

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Forgive me for snidely laughing at such an idea.  There’s so much wrong with the logic behind this that it’s maddening.  First of all, if a man has made the conscious decision to mercilessly slaughter school children, then what makes us think that procuring and owning contraband is somehow going to be a moral issue with him?  They’re trying to convince me that although the man is totally okay with murdering a five-year-old child, buying a gun off the books–circumventing the regulation process–is something he would just not be willing to do.  Somehow, breaking the law by illegally obtaining a gun is just crossing the line to a psychopath.

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Secondly, they’re not thinking about the manpower involved in all of this.  There are calls for better mental health care in this country.  I agree with that, but there’s just one problem: how many of you are willing to work with the crazies every day?  It’s not as though there are droves of people lining up to be mental health clinicians and social workers.  Even the most devoted and capable mental health professional can get burnt out.

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I do work force development for people with disabilities.  A good number of my clients have been people with significant mental health issues.  Fortunately, most of the mental health clients I’ve dealt with have been what I like to call “the lucky ones.”  I characterize these people as those who are lucky enough to have treatment plans that work for them.  Their treatment plans almost always involve medication, usually some heavy-duty anti-psychotics.  Although they remain a bit quirky and occasionally difficult to deal with, their symptoms are under control so long as they’re on their medication.  But not everyone is so lucky.  I’ve worked with mental health clients who are on medication but still can’t seem to get their symptoms under control.

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And I’m not talking about some guy who has anxiety attacks.  I’m talking full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.  They hear voices that tell them to not go to work.  They wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats, needing to be calmed down by whomever they live with (usually a parent).  There are some people who are broken beyond repair, and they will remain that way for the rest of their lives.  The only way to ensure their safety and the safety of society, would be to lock them away forever.  That might sound cold and callous, but it’s the truth.  Many of these people are not violent and generally won’t hurt anyone–but you can never be completely sure.  If you heard voices in your head all day, every day, you’d be hard pressed to not snap yourself.

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So am I a defeatist?  No.  I’m a realist.  I understand that no matter what we do, no matter how many laws or regulations we have, the world will continue to be a dangerous and unsafe place.  Am I saying that we should just throw our hands up and get rid of the law altogether?  No.  What I am saying is that we need to stop kidding ourselves about the efficacy of law and order in human society and start examining the human condition realistically.  Plato said something to the effect that laws are useless to good people, because they don’t need the law in order to do the right thing.  They’re also useless against bad people because they will just break the law anyway.

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My fear is that the “defeatist” argument will be used against me and others in order to perpetrate odious infringements on the rights of American citizens.  They want to make it more difficult for me to own a gun (FYI: I do not own a single firearm).  They want to tell me that I’m somehow wrong for watching movies and playing video games that “glorify violence.”  They want me to believe that somehow, because .0000001% of American society goes off the deep-end and commits unspeakable acts of horror, American society as a whole is somehow sick and twisted.

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The truth of the matter is that they’re scared.  The Gun Control Nuts don’t want to admit that they truly are helpless to stop the madness; that no matter what they do, at the end of the day they are still at the mercy of the good will of others.  That is, of course, unless you yourself own a gun.  Then you are not so helpless (assuming you know how to use it).  In all honesty, the only thing we can do is continue to punish those who break the law and hope that the crazies get the help they need.  We can probably do a better job at making sure they get help, but no matter what we do, horrific violence will always be a part of the human condition.  That’s reality, and there’s 7,000 years of recorded human history to prove it.

About Jack

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Jack Camwell has written 14 posts in this blog.

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I spent four years as a cryptologist in the Navy, and I graduated summa cum laude with a BA in History and Political Science. My research focus in American history was the characters and theory of the American Revolution. In political science I focused on American government, the Constitution, and the political theory of how democratic thought gave way to totalitarianism in the 20th Century. I don't claim to know everything, but I do know that it's possible for two smart people to arrive at vastly different conclusions. To know that opens one's mind to the true pursuit of Truth. Afterall, "an unexamined life is a life not worth living."

  • I don’t think the goal is to protect children or society from the evil of guns. They know that it is not guns that are evil but that sometimes evil people use guns. They know that more gun control laws will change nothing. They do it because it gives government more control over us and that is all that they are after.

  • Mike

    Most strong gun rights advocates (and I support gun rights but with sensible restrictions determined by the states) assert, as Jim did above, that we need to arm ourselves to protect against a government takeover of our lives. Do you see any legitimacy to the idea that the proliferation of guns only contributes to that perceived end? Meaning, there is now a call, including by several people who responded to Larry’s post, for more security in our schools including armed parents. Another Aurora and there will be calls for more security in our movie theaters. Then in the malls, etc, etc etc. Police state. I dont have an answer but it seems to me that more security will only make strong gun advocates feel less secure.

    • I honestly don’t see this as a power-grab, or a vast conspiracy to create a police state. What I see is a lot of good, honest people who are becoming increasingly fearful because of the frequency of these last three shooting sprees.

      The problem we’re having right now with the gun control debate is that so few people actually have any idea what they’re talking about. The other day, someone got on my case because he doesn’t want to ban guns, but then he says he wants to ban all semi-automatic weapons.

      Semi-automatic weapons accounts for 98% of the guns that civilians own in America. The guy clearly didn’t realize that even a little .22 pea-shooter pistol is semi-automatic. He also indicated that only “hunting enthusiasts” own semi-automatic weapons. I would be willing to bet that over 80% of gun owners in America own at least 1 semi-automatic weapon, seeing as how handguns are what most gun owners have.

      We’ll never get to the point of a police state. There simply is not enough man-power and resources to make that happen. People are looking for something to blame. Since Adam Lanza killed himself, there’s no real justice that can be served. What we’re seeing right now is what happens to a society that feels justice has not been done. They look for scapegoats, they look for a cause to rally behind.

      Nevermind the fact that the real problem is the human condition itself. The real problem is that humanity is full of nut jobs and wackoes, and there’s really little you can do to prevent them from going off the deep end.

      But that’s not a message anyone is willing to accept right now. Right now they need to feel safer, and gun ownership is going to be Adam Lanza’s proxy in this case.

  • Mike

    I dont see “gun ownership” as the target except for semiautomatic rifles (you were a bit harsh on the guy who raised the issue — you know he meant rifles and not handguns) Yes, certainly by strong liberals, but they are vastly out numbered by Second Amendment supporters and thats just not going to change. The targets are easy access, high capacity magazines, registration, waiting periods, purchase limits, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten. I dont think for a second all of those can or should happen but they are the targets not ownership per se. As I said on Larry’s post I really dont understand the objection to requiring background checks for purchases at gun shows. Nor do I understand the objection to banning high capacity magazines. Since semiauto rifles have a large group of opposition would it be so terrible to require regiatration of them but not other types of weapons (lets ignore for now the difficulty of what falls under the specific definition)?

    I completely agree with your assertion that their are nut jobs and there is sometimes just nothing we can do to stop them — in any kind of society. But we can make it a little more difficult without infringing on any basic rights of gun ownership. Thats my line in the sand and I dont see how my ideas cross anywhere near to that line.

    • Mike, you and I will have to agree to disagree here on what the target is. I see the target as the total confiscation and ban of all firearms. I really believe that is the end goal of the gun control advocates.

  • I don’t think you are a defeatist at all. I would call you a realist, as you do. The plain and inescapable fact is this. Evil exists in this world. It will always exist, until God has had enough and brings about the end of the world he created. Until that time, evil is something we are going to have to deal with. Laws and regulations that are based on morality, ie. laws that prohibit someone from doing exactly what Adam Lanza did last Friday, will not stop those who are determined to carry out their evil deeds. Anyone who believes otherwise is more than a little naive.

  • Mike

    Gary you are correct…I overstated without being more specific. Yes there are significant numbers of liberals who would like to see guns completely eliminated. I just see that as so far beyond realistic possibility that I ignore that fringe in the same way I ignore the significant number of gun rights people who want no limitations on fully automatic weapons. Neither of those things is going to happen — ever. I was talking more about Dems who support 2nd Amendment rights but want to see sensible restrictions. The Brady groups stated mission is exactly that so the realistic targets as I see them are the ones I mentioned. Happy new year to you and your family — keep em safe.

    • The kicker in all of this is that if we give them an inch they will TRY to take a mile. Let them get a toe in the crack of the door and they will try to get the foot in. Let them get the foot in the door and they will try to get the leg in. I know you think the total elimination if firearms is far fetched but us 2nd amendment people don’t want take that chance.

  • Ducky’s here

    “So am I a defeatist? No. I’m a realist. I understand that no matter what we do, no matter how many laws or regulations we have, the world will continue to be a dangerous and unsafe place.”
    And you’ve given up on making it any safer.
    In other words, you are a complete defeatist who hides behind this silly notion that you are a “realist”, whatever that means.

    • Really? Where in my post did I explicitly (or even implicity) state that we should do nothing?

      Ducky, you can do whatever you want. I’ll support every single gun safety measure, regulation, ban, whatever you want. We can do it all. We can “ban” every single type of firearm in this country.

      But the difference is that I’m not kidding myself about the efficacy of it all. It won’t make any difference. Criminals will still have guns (because they’ll continue to get them illegally), and they’ll still use guns to do awful things.

      Didn’t the Columbine shooting happen when the assault rifle ban was still on the books?

      Prohibition certainly worked in the war on drugs, so it’ll definitely work with firearms. Right?

      If you want to continue to pretend like there’s something we can do to stop the crazies, then please, by all means continue to believe in such a fantasy. The rest of us will continue to laugh at you while the world burns.

  • bill

    probably got this posted too late for any viewing much less feedback. haven’t been in touch online since the ‘election’; still in denial. guess i’ve been waiting for the right moment; something like the fall of the eurozone or a ‘dirty’ bomb release in ankara, but the trajedy in sandy hook and the predictable media response along with mr. camwell’s insightful post has drawn me back into the fray. and so mr. jackson i’m here again, but only with a ‘stream of consciousness’ kind of commentary.

    first off; the obvious:
    as the nra has pointed out; only a good guy (or gal) with a gun is going to stop a bad guy with a gun, duh…
    could we at least put a cop or an ex- military in our schools and ‘advertise’ the fact? my research shows that in the aurora theater shooting mr. holmes had his choice of seven venues within twenty miles of his home. he did not choose the closest or the largest; he assaulted the patrons of the only theater that advertised itself as a ‘gun free zone’. tragedies like this do not occur at gun shows.

    do we need to tighten our existing laws and regulate gun show sales at the state level? duh… i’m seriously amazed that virtually ‘anyone’ with the sole i.d. of american dollars can buy weapons at these events with virtual impunity.

    all of the ‘mass shootings’ going back to mr. whitman (14 dead, 32 wounded) in ’66; were commited by folks under 26 years of age, with the exception of mr. hasan at fort hood. should we therefore seek legislature disallowing those under thirty from owning guns? and re: mr. hasan and gabby gifford’s assailant, mr. loughner (age; 22, by the way…) why are they still alive? just ask’n…

    i cannot imagine the pain and suffering the loved ones of these tragedies experience; but i can surmise that to a one the survivors, in hindsight, would have wanted a ‘good guy’ with a gun instead of a sign advertising the killing ground a ‘gun free zone’.

    mr. camwell referenced plato in his post; the exact quote, in context, would be the denouement to a lesson in which his favorite pupil phaedrus was prompted by his mentor:

    “and what is good, phaedrus, and what is not good… need we ask anyone to tell us these things?


    • I don’t think tightening the gun laws will reduce the chances of this sort of thing happening. The men perpetrating these acts of horror are not alone in terms of mental instability.

      Anyone can have a bad day, go off the deepend, and then choose to bring down pain and suffering on his fellow man. That will never change. And so long as there are guns in this country (it would be impossible to eradicate them entirely) gun violence will always be an option for the unhinged.

      Maybe more regulations will help. Maybe getting a handle on gun shows will help. My position is that sure, we should try all of that, but I’m not going to kid myself into thinking we’re ushering in an era of Candyland and good feelings.

      (I’m not suggesting you think that either.)

  • Until now, the NRA has disgraced itself by blocking each of these no-brainer reforms, mostly by putting tens of millions of dollars behind its lies. The best thing Obama did in his news conference was his attempt to drive a wedge between NRA members, most of whom favor reasonable gun-safety laws, and their hardline officers and board of directors.