An Australian View Of Guns In America

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Perspectives from down under:

On a recent trip to the US while filming Unplanned America, we visited three groups of what some may call extreme gun nuts. And for a group of anti-gun Australians, we found them surprisingly hard to argue with.

[ … ]

When I popped my cherry and shot the vintage “Sten” sub-machinegun, the rapid pop pop pop of the bullets down the indoor range was deeply satisfying and the action movie-loving eight-year-old boy inside me was in heaven.

But when the next weapon came out, s**t got real and kick-arse elation turned to sickening shock. Legend has it that the Geneva Convention bans the Barrett M82A1 from being shot at human targets, due to it being a war crime. And while this may not technically be true, the US Army does train soldiers not to shoot it at personnel.

We were speechless. So why does the weapon exist, we asked? Tony replied that it’s to shoot at “material”. Like a building or vehicle or army equipment — even military issued zippers or military issued glasses. And if a human happened to be attached to that equipment, well it might be the case that the massive 50 caliber bullets accidentally ensure that human becomes nothing more than “red mist”.

One by one we leant over the huge weapon and pulled the trigger, and each time everyone within a two meter radius felt a shock wave from the barrel like a punch in the chest. Boom! And the chilling thought of a cloud of red mist left behind was felt in the pit of my stomach.

So why do Americans love guns? Why the hell do they need them? Why do they take such joy in owning and shooting these things, when so many Australians would be terrified to even touch them?

The way Tony explains it is that due to the prevalence of violent crime in the US, and given the remote location of his own home, he’d be crazy not to have a gun. He says if an armed intruder broke into his house to kill his loved ones, by the time the county sheriff eventually got there, he would be trying to solve a slaying, not prevent one.

Secondly, Tony says there are so many guns in the US it would take a government generations to entirely rid the nation of them. And most gun owners would never agree to it, indeed many would respond in violence.

This point is key. Once you consider that the guns might be here to stay, the issue gets infinitely more complicated.

Let’s stop and assess what we’ve read so far.  First of all, self defense is a legitimate reason for weapons ownership, and it’s partly why I own them.  But it isn’t the basis for the second amendment.  Amelioration of tyranny is the reason, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Second, these authors need to get their information reviewed and checked before publishing it.  The Marine Corps Scout Snipers shoot the .50 rifle if needed, and some carry it as their primary weapon.  The Marines have two larger caliber rifles for this purpose, the .308 and the .50.  The Army uses a more filled out version of calibers, including the .300 Win Mag and the .338 (they also employ the .50 as needed, all calibers against personnel).  All of these calibers are used and have been employed for anti-personnel work, and the only reason the .50 is brought up as an anti-material round is because it is most effective for that type of work versus the .308.  Again, the authors need to get their stuff reviewed before publishing it.  Do they have editors in Australia?

The next group of presumed gun nuts we spent time with was the Virginia Open Carry group. Remarkably, in most states in the US it is totally legal to openly carry a firearm on your hip. Without a license of any kind. We could’ve even done it.

This immediately conjures up images of a lawless Wild West that has no place in a modern civilised society. But as we sat down for a lunch of BBQ ribs (what else) with the open carriers we found them to be intelligent and thoughtful in their views.

There was not a nut among them, but each was staunchly attached to their view and their gun and would never ever let them go. It’s the opinion of these guys that the tragic daily mass shootings in the US are the result of a mental health problem in America, not a gun problem and that the government misdirects the issue so they don’t have to tackle the more complex and expensive issue.

Where it gets tricky for our open carry friends however is that while they agree that psychologically disturbed people are the ones that carry out mass murders, they still believe they have a constitutional right to own a gun, and a God given right to privacy that means the government shouldn’t be allowed to dig into their backgrounds when they want to purchase a firearm. Tricky.

Stop it!  Just stop it.  Stop connecting violence to mental health.  We’ve discussed again and again and again and again how this just isn’t the case, so says mental health professionals.  It is counterfactual to say that when a shooter kills people, it was because of mental health issues.  And pimping this falsehood only leads to the conundrums that writers think they find in the gun rights community.  So just stop it.  Don’t do it any more.

The final group we shot the s**t out of a bunch of cans with were the ones we were most scared of before we met them. They were the Texas State Militia — a self-styled army consisting of ex-military men who have armed themselves to the hilt to protect the American way of life.

We were expecting racist rednecks, paranoid about Muslims and Mexicans taking over their country. This was far from the case. When we spoke to Matt, the young leader of the 1100 strong group we found an ex-soldier who feels deep guilt for the things he did in Iraq and thinks that the US wars in the Middle East are based on government lies.

His group for now however is still keen to work with the government like a terrifying Neighborhood Watch, until such a time where the government stops respecting the rule of law.

And herein lies the crux of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, the part that most Australians don’t understand.

All of those we spoke to believe that it is a citizen’s duty, as explicitly stated in the founding document of the United States, to be armed in order to keep the government in check. They say that the country was founded after their British rulers became corrupt and an armed uprising saved a whole nation from tyranny. They say it will happen again, and they’re ready to protect their freedom if and when it does.

And they might stand a decent chance, given there’s more guns that people in the US right now.

So we are at the crux of the issue, yes?  These folks explained why the second amendment exists, and why we will never give up our guns.  That would run contrary to the very justification for having them in the first place.  As to the soldier who feels guilty for his participation in the war, I wish I could talk at length with him and explain why he has no reason for such guilt.

If only they could find a way to stop turning their weapons on each other. Ending gun violence is one of the most serious and complex problems this country faces. And the most unique to the “land of the free”.

As a note to the authors, in case no one talked to you about this, the gun violence America faces is primarily an inner city black-on-black problem due to the breakdown of the family caused by entitlements (see here and here).  Guns aren’t responsible and bear no relation to the problem.

 


Comments

  1. On February 25, 2016 at 3:22 am, Odysseus M Tanner said:

    Still, mental health is the thing when it comes to what matters most to people: mass murder.

  2. On February 25, 2016 at 5:43 am, FiftycalTX said:

    Yo, fool, “mass murder” is SO RARE as to be almost NON-EXISTANT!

  3. On February 25, 2016 at 6:32 am, TexTopCat said:

    The unsupported idea that mental health is a big issue seems to come from the fact most of us can not accept that there are individuals that actually kill innocents. It would seem that if mental health was the issue that at least most of these would have been identified as dangerous and adjudicated as such.
    What we do have to understand is that having an armed good guy present when violence criminals start killing is the only known solution to lower the body count.

  4. On February 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    I don’t doubt that there is such a thing as “mental illness.” But too many times, it seems that people want to explain bad behavior by diagnosing “mental illness” instead of acknowledging sin.

    My guess is that the people who reflexively attribute bad behavior to mental illness do so because they don’t want to acknowledge the sin that they know lies within them.

    And the State? The State cannot admit the existence of sin, because by definition, sin is against God, and Caesar will countenance no challengers for that role. So the State tells us that people behave badly due to poor education, bad parenting, economic disadvantage, mental illness … anything but sin.

  5. On February 25, 2016 at 7:56 pm, Ned Weatherby said:

    If that’s what mattered most to people, the people would disarm governments. If you put government officials into the context of crazy-assed mass murderers, you may have something. Check out Government murder during the last century, vs some crazy fellow with a gun. Guess who wins by a margin of tens, or perhaps hundreds of millions of victims?
    Why is it, do you think, that this blog continually illustrates why tyrannical governments cannot, and will not, protect you? Give me some “crazy” person with a gun over any government mass-murderer any day.
    Mental health issues? Right. What I’m, SO concerned about…

  6. On February 25, 2016 at 8:32 pm, Fred said:

    Statism is the most violent and dangerous religion this planet has ever seen.

  7. On February 26, 2016 at 2:54 am, madoradataman said:

    Like!!

  8. On February 25, 2016 at 8:58 am, madoradataman said:

    Some brief points that have already been made elsewhere, but are worth repeating:

    1) “Mentally Ill” people are no more a threat for mass shootings, or other shootings, than “sane” people.

    2) The danger with the focus on mental health (besides #1 above) is that being declared mentally ill, or dangerous for mental reasons, does not have the due process requirements that apply when one is charged with a crime. Any “nutty” doctor or whatever can decide you are mentally ill (because you want to own guns!).

    3) Poverty, dysfunctional families, etc., don’t cause shootings either. The truth: We all have agency to choose; and SOME PEOPLE JUST CHOOSE EVIL.

  9. On February 25, 2016 at 11:23 pm, Odysseus M Tanner said:

    But disproportionately mass murders go with mental illness.

  10. On February 25, 2016 at 11:37 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Well, that’s what the media tells you and the politicians assume. But that’s not what mental health professionals tell you.

    As for me, I say it’s a function of original sin, best defended by other people carrying guns everywhere.

  11. On February 26, 2016 at 2:50 am, madoradataman said:

    While we are all affected by “the fall,” I don’t even attribute it to ORIGINAL sin particularly. We each choose our own sins, for which we will be individually accountable. The Atonement allows us to be washed clean with appropriate repentance.
    In any event — agree with Herschel above: We must be prepared to defend ourselves as long as the earth and its people remain in a fallen state.

  12. On February 25, 2016 at 9:22 am, Parnell said:

    Why the hell do Australians feel that they have some “god-given” right to comment on and pass judgement on America’s gun rights? Let them do what they wish in Downunderland and leave us the hell alone!

  13. On February 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    “Why the hell” etc.

    Because everybody has a God-given right to hold views on all manner of topics, as well as to share those views with others. Freedom of speech isn’t just for Americans.

  14. On February 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm, Parnell said:

    Fine. Let them worry about their own country and stop trying to impose their thinking on us. If they want to ban guns in their country, that’s their business.

  15. On February 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    I read about experiences, perceptions, and things learned by hanging out with American shooters. He even made some sympathetic comments.

    Maybe I missed it, but where did the commenter “try imposing his thinking on us”?

    And what do you have to lose by hearing another person’s perception and experience re. anything?

  16. On February 25, 2016 at 6:03 pm, Parnell said:

    What I lose is my temper at the “civilized” rest of the developed world deciding what we in America should think and do. I’m tired of the daily rants in The Guardian and the Australians and British who voice their opinions on the Internet. I also weary of people like you who act like I have to listen to and understand where they are coming from. Quite frankly I don’t care about their opinion and I have to say I don’t care about yours either.

  17. On February 25, 2016 at 8:05 pm, shawn said:

    We’ll see how civilized their little corner of the world is over the next couple of years.
    It will become very apparent to them who’s society is civilized, and who’s is not.

    And maybe then they’ll realize why we prefer to be armed citizens rather than subjects to a government that’s bent on civilizational suicide.

  18. On February 26, 2016 at 2:52 am, madoradataman said:

    According to posts I’ve read, this is already happening.

  19. On February 26, 2016 at 1:20 am, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    Lighten up, Francis.

    Back to my original question: Just what did these particular Aussies say that’s put your knickers in such a knot?

    Or is it really that they simply had the UNMITIGATED GALL to visit America, hang out with some shooters, and write / produce a TV show about their experience?

  20. On February 25, 2016 at 10:07 am, Fred said:

    Psychiatry is human kind’s latest iteration of the village witch doctor. It is not science. The know it all pinheads declare themselves the diviner of the human state of evil. oogah, boogah, throw your first born virgin in the volcano.
    The State cannot recreate the garden. That time was ruined by sin. We live here! Now! I pray government would stop trying fix everything under threat of force. That we won’t give up our guns does not make it “infinitely more complicated.” It makes things real simple, leave me and my guns alone. The only possible complication would arise from attempting to take them.

  21. On February 25, 2016 at 10:39 am, Herschel Smith said:

    You brought up a point I was going to make and forgot (because I do this late at night), and that is that the statement “more complicated” is 180 degrees out. It makes it much simpler. That we have many, many guns and much ammunition means that the government should go find something productive to do rather than harass us.

  22. On February 25, 2016 at 12:07 pm, Fred said:

    Yep, that sentence caught my eye as well. It reveals the true heart of the writer, I would think.

  23. On February 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    “As to the soldier who feels guilty for his participation in the war, I wish I could talk at length with him and explain why he has no reason for such guilt.”

    I sincerely hope you will consider doing a post about that sometime soon, Herschel.

    I spent four years in the USAF (Jan 80-Dec 83) right out of high school. The “Second Amendment light” never came on in my head until 1987, when, having been burglarized, I started researching handguns for home protection. (Until then, I’d been a “three-quarters Fudd.” I saw no use in owning an AR-15 because “you can’t hunt anything with it,” but I didn’t think I wanted to prohibit others from owning them.)

    I was involved in the militia movement in the mid-90s. Received an M1 Garand through the CMP around then, and sold it shortly thereafter to put the proceeds toward an M1A. I truly anticipated encouraging my three sons (born between 88 and 92) to serve at least one hitch in the “real” military — the Army or Marines — when they came of age.

    But 9/11 (as they say) changed everything. While I understood our actions I’m Afghanistan, I witnessed the illegal invasion of Iraq first being advocated, and then happening, right before my very eyes. Iraq had neither attacked us, nor did they pose the imminent threat required to justify the launching of a pre-emptive war. We invaded them because of what Saddam Hussein might do someday, with that as-yet nonexistent WMD program of his. And in the process, our troops killed tens of thousands of Iraqis — men who weren’t necessarily loyal to Saddam, but who were defending their homeland from a force of foreign invaders. (If China invaded the tomorrow, none of us would be fighting the invaders because of our loyalty to BHO.)

    Anyhow, following the invasion of Iraq, I began counseling my sons not to volunteer. If I lost a son fighting a just war, I’d be sad, but proud of his sacrifice. If I lost a son in an unjust, Bravo Sierra war of foreign intervention, I’d be pissed as hell. Plus, considering that the US military is more likely to be used to enforce US policy around the globe rather than to defend the United States, I could not see putting my sons in a position of having to disobey God and violate their consciences by killing people who’d never lifted a finger against the US. (Other than defending their homes against US invaders, that is.)

    Saying all that truly breaks my heart, because I do think that any nation’s young men should stand prepared to defend it. I’m no pacifist, by any means.

    So yes, I really look forward to your thoughts on why US troops should have no issues of guilt for being used in, um, “questionable wars.”

    For further consideration (from a fellow Christian and libertarian):

    “Guilt, Not PTSD, Is What Afflicts Iraq War Veterans,” by Jacob G. Hornberger, February 5, 2013
    http://fff.org/2013/02/05/guilt-not-ptsd-is-what-afflicts-iraq-war-veterans/

  24. On February 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm, Fred said:

    “We invaded them because of what Saddam Hussein might do someday, with that as-yet nonexistent WMD program of his.”

    This was the public reason. Both Noriega (Panama) and Saddam were under then cee eye A control of daddy Bush when he was the head. They both crossed him later when he was pres. Saddam was told not to invade Kuwait and did. Baby Bush just finished the job, from storm, that daddy started. I forget how Noriega crossed him…Never cross the Bush’s/Clinton’s, You end up dead with your country wrecked.

  25. On February 25, 2016 at 1:25 pm, joe said:

    My recollection about the Saddam invasion of Kuwait is that our Ambassador to Iraq at the time essentially gave Saddam the green light to go ahead ….

  26. On February 25, 2016 at 1:26 pm, Fred said:

    Then what was the reason for des storm? Either we suckered Saddam or the bush’s work for the house Saud. I disagree with both those conspiracy theories.

  27. On February 25, 2016 at 2:40 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    What Joe said.

    April Glaspie was the US ambassador who, when Saddam told her he was considering invading Kuwait because they were “slant-drilling” oil out from under Iraq, told Saddam that the US had no opinion re. Arab-Arab conflicts.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/gulf-war-documents-meeting-between-saddam-hussein-and-ambassador-to-iraq-april-glaspie/31145

  28. On February 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm, Fred said:

    So, let’s say I believe Glaspie…We suckered Saddam, were convinced by the Saudis, or for what other reason did we then start desert storm? I was in desert storm (non combat navy) and I’m still not satisfied that we (the public) understand what really went on? I’m no big fan of non stop war. If it doesn’t come across in writing, then know that, I’m not being argumentative. I’m interested in your knowledge on this

  29. On February 25, 2016 at 4:58 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    First off, no worries on your coming across as argumentative — you’re not. :-)

    Re. my knowledge of the Glaspie meeting: When I wrote my earlier post, I left off a comment about how she was either “in on” the sucker punch, or she wasn’t. I truly don’t know.

    Re. OIF, I’ve read in more than a few varying sources that the real motive was that SH was going to begin selling Iraqi oil for gold instead of US dollars.

    And we can’t have that. /sarc

    ” … I’m still not satisfied that we (the public) understand what really went on.”

    A masterful understatement. Remember those reports of the Iraqi soldiers removing prematurely-born Kuwaiti babies from their incubators and leaving them to die?

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0906/p25s02-cogn.html

    And remember how one of the “post-victory” discussions was how America had finally shaken off our Vietnam-era failures?

    Ya gotta love these little slam-dunk wars against woefully mismatched opponents that serve to remind everybody else who’s boss:

    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” neocon Michael Ledeen (as favorably recounted by neocon Jonah Goldberg) http://www.nationalreview.com/article/205187/baghdad-delenda-est-part-two-jonah-goldberg

  30. On February 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm, Fred said:

    I agree and all we did in storm was to, strategically, prep the battle field for the later invasion. This is plain fact if one has any understanding of US merchandised warfare tactics. I do.

  31. On February 25, 2016 at 5:35 pm, joe said:

    There’s also a theory that’s been around for a while that the real reason for the first Gulf war was essentially to create chaos in the middle east (supposedly to benefit Israel–making them the dominant player for decades to come). General Wesley Clark gave an interview some years back in which he said he saw official DOD plans to take out six or seven countries in the middle east … I saw the interview on YouTube … assume its still there for those who want to look. Anyway, his interview gives substance to the aforementioned theory.

  32. On February 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Well, this one would be involved and complicated, with nuance, voice inflection, eye contact, pauses, stipulations, caveats and so on. It’s more appropriate to do this over a fire in the pit, late at night, with a good cigar and glass of Maker’s Mark.

    You’re not coming my way any time soon are you?

  33. On February 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    Huh. Where’s “your way”? ;-)

  34. On February 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    Incidentally, I think you’re a talented enough writer to overcome the challenges of the medium and address the topic with (to quote Bill Bennett) intelligence, candor and goodwill.

  35. On March 5, 2016 at 5:21 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    RESEND: Do you ever get out to the Inland NW? (Or even Seattle?)

  36. On February 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    PS: Looking forward to exploring the links you shared above. Esp. the stuff re. mental illness.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Gun Control,Guns and was published February 24th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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