Monday, June 30, 2014

Tactically Deluded

An English writer recently found fault with American "gun culture".  To his credit, he is not anti-gun and he understands that banning firearms in the States is unrealistic.  He does think we ought to be better and more thoroughly trained.  Unlike some of what are clearly my brother Americanus Redneckus making comments, I think Fiske-Harrison takes a generally reasoned approach to the subject -- though I disagree with him in a couple of points.

This gentleman believes that Americans are foolish to think that we can resist the FBI or the American military armed with AR-15s.  He's right in that in direct confrontations, a single citizen, however well-armed, is not likely to come off victorious against whatever tyrannical authority lines up against him.

What Fiske-Harrison seems to miss is that the more rational among us do not expect to win.  We expect only to die fighting, as opposed to begging.  We consider Solzhenitsyn one of our heroes.  What would he say about resisting government tyranny?

And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

One of the reasons we oppose registration is that we do not want the government to be able to isolate and systematically target owners of firearms.  Keep them guessing.  Keep them worried.  Obviously Americans don't want this kind of conflict at all.  There are no winners.  We do, nonetheless, want the government to be uneasy about the prospect.  We do not trust the government.  This brings me to the next point upon which Mr. Fiske-Harrison and I disagree, that government should have a monopoly on violence and the tools of violence.

It is easy to document abuses by the police and various government agencies.  I believe Lord Acton was an Englishman as well, and he rather famously said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  A monopoly of any kind of power is a bad idea.  The Founders did not like the idea of a standing army for that very reason.  Some of us still do not like it, especially when it takes the form of quasi-military forces wielded by government bureaus and departments that operate against our fellow citizens. 

Another, perhaps lesser known quote from Lord Acton seems eerily appropriate these days, "And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that."

Then there is Fiske-Harrison's apparent faith in the "superior" training of the professionals, which seems just a bit naive in light of the frequency with which innocent bystanders are hit in police shootouts or the number of rounds expended in such encounters.  The professionals make a lot of mistakes.  The first, last, and only time I ever picked up an AR-15 (as of this date that is -- though I have no use for it, I sometimes consider buying one just to be part of the crowd), I qualified with it on a law enforcement course.  It was unimpressive but adequate.  That I could do that leaves me somewhat skeptical of the quality of law enforcement firearms training.

The clowns elite operators that dressed up in digital camo on city streets and terrorized law-abiding residents to hunt for the Boston Marathon bomber then proceeded to riddle a citizen's boat after he found the little punk for them are the only people we should trust with the tools of violence?  The guys that shot up a blue Toyota Tacoma driven by two Asian women thinking it was the charcoal Nissan Titan owned and driven by the black and male Chris Dorner are the ones we should allow to have a monopoly on violence?  And by the way, we thank God that those idiots highly trained members of the LAPD were such lousy shots as they expended at least 100 rounds in the general direction of the pickup striking one of the ladies twice in the back, non-fatally, and injuring the other with shattered glass.  There looked to be about fifteen or twenty rounds that actually struck the back of the truck, if I remember the picture correctly. 

There is way too much of a monopoly on violence on the part of the government.  Government should fear its citizens.  Not the other way around.  I know that's not European, but it's right.

I agree that we have too much violence in this country and far too much of it involves firearms, as I have been saying recently.  I wish I had a way to resolve it.  Fiske-Harrison charges the NRA with being "repugnantly racist" for suggesting that most of our homicides are the result of gang-related, inner city violence.  I have a hard time seeing how it is racist for anyone to point to the fact that a lot of our problem is occurring in a particular subculture.  His accompanying remark about a lack of respect for the rule of law is even more mystifying.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is on a higher intellectual plane and talking over my head because that makes no sense to me at all.

What I do understand and what I find extremely amusing -- this is the reason I'm writing this -- is this gem by Mr. Fiske-Harrison who, still speaking of the NRA and calling them "tactically deluded", says the NRA "assume[s] that as long as someone has a pristine Sig they’ve no training with in their bedside drawer, they’ll stand a chance when battle-hardened, tooled-up gangbangers come through the front door. They won’t."

Sorry, man, you've watched too much TV and listened to too much rap music.  That's just laughable.  The average cop can't hit the side of a barn.  The average "hardened gangbanger" can't hit the side of barn standing inside the barn.  The Mexican drug cartels rely on volume rather than precision.  How much more the doped-up, teenage gang member with his "Glock" held sideways.  Criminals are not looking for fire-fights.  They are looking for victims.  They try to catch the weak and the vulnerable -- like all predators.  Put up a fight, or even look like you are capable of putting up a fight, and these punks won't slow down for ten blocks.

That's the way it is now.  That can change as society deteriorates, and parts of our country start looking more like Mexico.

I would be the first one to tell anybody that a firearm without training in safety and effective use is a recipe for disaster.  In this Mr. Fiske-Harrison and I are in total agreement.  As an NRA member, I know that members are encouraged to participate in shooting matches to sharpen their skills.  The majority of NRA members are probably like me -- mostly paper punchers.  I still hunt a little when I have time and dispatch the occasional pest or varmint, but mostly I just like to shoot.  I would venture to guess that the NRA member with "no training" is a rather rare bird. 


  1. You need a special licence to own a hand gun here in NZ. I had the opportunity to fire a Glock at a remote location many years ago - They are issued to the Police here who keep them in their cars. Officially they are unarmed.

    I realized very quickly after firing the Glock, that if I was in a hostage situation, the last thing I wanted was a well intentioned cop attempting to take out the bad guy with his hand gun.

    I eventually managed to hit the target by the way. :-)

  2. It's tough especially under stress. I usually leave my guns at home and just carry three knives. Innocent bystanders are hardly ever struck by a stray knife.

  3. What's that saying about taking a knife to a gun fight? :-)

    I've visited the US many times, usually in large cities on both coasts, and also down south. I have never really felt unsafe out of an evening although I was often with a few work colleagues. Do you carry knives just as a precaution, or with a real sense of possible personal danger? And why three? Do you mind my asking?

  4. No, I've never felt threatened anywhere, even when I traveled routinely through downtown Dallas. The three knives is kind of a joke between my nephew and I. He always carries a three-blade stockman, and says, "I don't like a knife with just one blade." I say, "You carry one knife with three blades; I carry three knives with a blade each."

    I just like knives and tools of various kinds. What I will carry a lot is a Swiss Army Knife or my much loved Leatherman Wave, and then I almost always have one of my tactical folders clipped in my pocket. It's a long ingrained habit. On the farm growing up, I probably used my pocketknife every day. I don't feel like I am dressed without a knife.

    As far as using a knife defensively, I've never been in a situation where that was necessary or appropriate. I guess, as I get older and less intimidating, if it came to that, I suppose I would use one.