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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
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Why the NRA wins. (4)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

If conservatives were left to run the country youíd have, well, what weíve got. Theyíre just not very good at it. From human rights, economic parity, environmental protection, and international relations if you study what they do and then do exactly the opposite youíll get it right. But they do one thing very well. They follow orders and fight. Thatís right up their alley. Thatís why theyíre big on the military and guns. Guns have become their sacred totem. They rally around them like moths to a flame and the NRA makes money hand over fist cheerleading for their cause.

For liberals guns have become an anti-totem because they symbolize everything liberals would rightfully like to avoid. Guns are made to kill people, and killing people is wrong every time no matter the reason. If we want to survive as a species we have to learn to get along with each other and share the resources available to us.

Unfortunately, the more we embrace liberal ideology, the further we are drawn from the actual problem itself. Liberal public policy attempts to nurture a way to a solution by progressively micro-managing the economic, social, and cultural chain of custody related to firearms. They are efforts to create a support network that grows from impractical to absurd the more passionately one embraces nurturing as way to deal with violence after the assault has begun.

Mutual support and cooperation between citizens is how successful civilizations thrive. The chaos of violence, whether it happens between individuals or entire countries, is uncivilized, which is to say the network of cooperative nurturing has failed and does not exist. The absence of civilization and a means to deal with it lies beyond the ken most of liberal ideology. We simply donít know what to do when the fight starts. Unfortunately, conservatives sit around and wait for that eventuality.

In the pantheon of human affairs liberal ideology works best almost all of the time. But there is one instance where the conservatives have us beat hands down. And when we venture out of the ivory tower of ideological theory into the real world, we will meet real live people that know that no matter how hard we may try, humans arenít perfect and sometimes we fall to fighting. And the NRA sees the potential in that ghoulish market and exploits it to the fullest. And thatís why they win

Why the NRA wins. (3)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Human beings arenít perfect. Some are a lot less perfect than others. Approximately 1% of the population, about three million people in this country, is sociopathic. Add to this reality the disparity of resources, opportunity, and history in an imperfect world and violence between people in even a wealthy and peaceful country is unavoidable.

One especially tragic form of violence is the mass shooting of people by a disturbed individual. There are few things more terrifying for the public than the possibility of a formerly safe place turned into a shooting gallery. Given the already ubiquitous presence of guns and the reality of disturbed individuals to wield them, mass shootings are a certainty for the foreseeable future. Itís only a question of where and when.

Solutions for this problem have been offered from both sides of the political aisle. The right seems to favor arming as many people as possible for reasons related to economics and the ideology of self sufficiency. The political left tends to favor the restriction of access to firearms to reduce the chances of such a tragedy. Such policy positions follow the underlying morality of authority and nurture respectively.

If the political left had achieved every policy initiative attempted after Sandy Hook, there would still be approximately one gun for every man, woman, and child in this country. And many deadly weapons would have gone unregulated. The most those initiatives would have done is to reduce the frequency of gun violence in general and mass shootings in particular somewhat. Eventually. Maybe.

So sooner or later there will be another mass shooting and the media will be overwhelmed with images of people fleeing the scene, terrified and weeping survivors and family members, impromptu memorials to the fallen and disturbing profiles of some individual that might be typical of someone from our personal experience. And the most that the left could say after a string of difficult and politically expensive legislative victories is, ďIf not for us this tragedy might have happened a little sooner. MaybeĒ. Such solutions that suggest a corrosive effect on civil liberties to problems that may affect any given individual with about the same chance as being struck by lightning offer at most a pyrrhic legislative victory. Such a victory might well result in a one way bus ticket to the political wilderness for any political party responsible for it.

While conservatives with the NRA in the vanguard can point to an actual object that can be acquired by individuals to empower them in the absence of any help from society at large, liberals are left fighting for an abstracted percentage and the hope that legislation will result in a fractional uptick in the odds of oneís survival from assault and the notion that some homicidal maniac will be slightly less efficient. Thatís because the political left is attempting to redefine the problem to conform to an ideology that overlooks a rare albeit important facet of the human experience: sometimes in the real world people have to fight.

Why the NRA wins. (2)

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

Everything about a gun is authoritarian in nature. Guns are defined by unequivocal closure. You canít call a bullet back. Guns are made to kill and death is about as unequivocal an end as you can get. The authoritarian nature of firearms defines social practices and institutions where they predominate. So, for example, from the four rules of gun safety to the military, if itís about guns itís about following the rules and the authority they imply. It should be unnecessary to point out the authoritarian nature of conservative ideology.

The symbolic implications of firearms attract conservatives like ants to a picnic. Firearms can be seen in the hands of troops in the field and they are inexpensive and ubiquitous enough for almost anyone to own. Guns are an actual object that can be valued beyond their utility as readily as a house or (ahem) a car. They symbolize as few other objects can the realities of survival and the history of a country that was born of violent revolution and has engaged in at least one victorious world war that cemented our place as a very wealthy and aggressive superpower. And you can wear one on your belt. Is it any wonder that conservatives regularly feature them at political events?

If anyone in the lobbyist business wanted to find an object to promote for profit they could hardly find anything better suited to that purpose than a gun. The business model almost writes itself. Itís easily recognizable, portable, ubiquitous, historically significant, entertaining and necessary for survival under certain circumstances.

The NRA and the firearms industry wouldnít mind a bit if people spent every dime they had on guns. Thatís the nature of the free market. Liberals, as the voice of economic parity and defenders of the commons, need to come up with an answer to the basic problem that people are trying to solve when they buy a gun. It doesnít matter whether the purchaser of that gun will ever have to use it or not. It doesnít matter if gun owners are more likely to get shot than non gun owners. People own guns to solve a certain kind of problem and if you want them to seek a different solution, itís a good idea to have one ready for them.

Itís an especially good idea to have a solution ready if youíre trying to eliminate their preferred option while simultaneously telling them that they are irrational, stupid, deluded, cowardly, and sexually repressed.

Why the NRA wins. (1)

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

There can be little doubt that without liberal ideology we would be living in a dystopian nightmare. Liberals have given the United States the greatest advances in social equality and cultural progress in the history of the nation. Furthermore, given the events of the last thirty years, the inadequacies of conservative ideology have been made painfully obvious. I shouldnít have to belabor that point here.

So if the benefits of liberalism are so obvious how does the NRA, which overwhelmingly supports conservative politicians, enjoy the success that it does? Policies that the NRA supports have enjoyed legislative success even in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook. If any event could galvanize support for liberal positions, from the political center if not from the right, the grisly murder of children by a mentally unbalanced young man wielding an AR15 should have done it. It didnít. While liberal policy initiatives moved forward in traditionally liberal bastions of the nation (with the notable exception of Illinois), on balance across the country policy initiatives supported by the NRA have shown considerable success. And even though there are reports of shootings in the media with depressing regularity, the sale of firearms has continued unabated.

As I understand it, scholarship on ideological morality divides liberalism and conservatism, in the very broadest of strokes, between nurturing and authority. Given the fact that liberal policies have proven to be beneficial to our society have at their base been an effort to nurture people through the expansion of material, educational, and social support, the validity of that dichotomy seems to be borne out by events on the ground. And of course the dangers of excessive authoritarianism are equally obvious.

Human lives can be understood as a series of events that occur over time. Those events are governed by relationships with others within the context of a range of variables that have changed little for most of human history. Those variables can be managed by the way our culture is designed and, generally speaking, positive reinforcement by nurturing people is preferable to authoritarian negative reinforcement.

But there is one type of human event where that preference does not hold true. That event occurs between the period of time between the manifestation of a genuine threat to oneís survival and the elimination of that threat. That event occurs after all the preventive measures to avoid it have been taken and failed. Whether that threat is some guy in a dark alley with a knife or an invading army, youíre not going to nurture your way out of that mess.
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