Monday, June 13, 2016

What Would It Look Like If The Media Told The Truth About AR-15s?

It would look like this


Blogger Darius Jedburgh said...

To be fair though, Winst, certain AR-15 owners aren't doing the weapon's reputation any favors.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

How so?

I mean, I think I know the kinds of stuff you're talking about--I'm just not sure.

6:17 AM  
Blogger Darius Jedburgh said...

Yeah, I'm talking about, for example the AR-15 owners who use it to horribly murder dozens of innocent people on a night out. Probably a bigger factor in widespread aversion to the AR-15 than its being smeared by ignorant media types as 'high-powered'. What does it matter that what technically counts as a high-powered rifle is three times more powerful than the AR-15? I mean, it seems to be high-powered enough. This is the lesson of Orlando? That the AR-15 is misunderstood?

9:25 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said... think it's optimal to characterize Mateen as "An AR-15 owner"?

9:45 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I gotta say, WS, that last one smacks of sophistry to me. The dude purchased an AR-15 legally. He's an AR-15 owner.

Of course, Darius, you are critiquing a very large body of people for the actions of a few, and I'm sure you're well aware of positions you yourself likely hold that defend against that tendency.

The fact is: the AR-15 is a very potent weapon. One can use it to kill tens of people in minutes.

The question is: is this beyond the power we are willing to grant individuals in our society?

If we can't agree on that question, we're just going to have to live with somewhat frequent (at a relative national level, at least) mass shootings, as far as I can tell. We do not have adequate technological means to stop murderers with such weaponry while they are committing the acts without seeing many deaths before they are stopped. We do not seek to infringe individual rights to the point at which we immediately jail those who display violent tendencies or hint at future commissions of crimes. And we can't trust citizens to turn in their friends and loved ones when necessary to prevent these sorts of things.

More and more, I'm thinking the only solution is to somehow strengthen and encourage good concealed carry regulations and remain responsibly armed and ready for conflict as frequently as we are able.

It's a terrible thing to have to say, but is there disagreement with what I've put forth above? I don't know how else to view the situation. We aren't going to take away a weapon as ubiquitous and generic as the AR-15. On account of its generic features, there's no way we're even going to target it and weapons like it without taking away everything. People won't stand to be prohibited from owning semi-automatic weapons (and maybe they shouldn't).

So what, pray tell, gun legislation could solve this problem? I guess HRC's idea to prohibit anyone on the FBI watch list from purchasing weapons is an obvious idea, but we'd have to make it pretty expansive to include anyone who was ever on it to have stopped this one (as I understand the shooter was no longer on the list)...

Ugh, I dunno. I have yet to see a real learned, serious discussion between a gun rights advocate and a gun control advocate because these easy, run-of-the-mill distinctions and understandings (as far as I can tell, at least) are always absent.

But for what it's worth, I don't know what level of gun regulation would stop this sort of event from being a possibility short of denying anything aside from single-action weapons to people. And even if somehow everyone agreed to such a thing (never going to happen), such restrictions could hardly be expected to expunge the already-extant weaponry from our society...

It might just be that we have to take our own self-defense into our own hands or hire about 1000% more police officers. I'm sure small-government folks won't like the taxes required for that one, so... get your own weapon?

And I've been to concealed carry courses. I've seen the kinds of folks that get to have those permits. I've heard questions asked about whether or not people who annoy them by leaving trash on their lawn constitute threats to which they can respond with gunfire.

So count me in for some serious revitalization and strengthening of that program if it turns out to be the solution we have to go with.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

> I gotta say, WS, that last one smacks of sophistry to me. The dude purchased an AR-15 legally. He's an AR-15 owner.

I'm not sure how an honest question can be sophistry...

Dude has murderous intentions, runs out and buys an AR-15 ten days before his murder doesn't seem plausible to me to say, roughly "See, AR-15 owners are dangerous!"

Characterizing him as an AR-15-owner seems like this:
Murderer gets a reporting job because he wants to kill people at a political convention. He does it, and we say "wow, journalists are nuts!"

That seems wrong to me.

I'd say that the Orlando shooter is a murderer who bought--ego owned--an AR-15. But characterizing him specifically as an AR-15 owner strikes me as a cheat.

And this isn't to even mention anything else about JD's comment--e.g. that the article was about the AR-15 per se, not AR-15 owners, that AR-15s can still be dangerous even if the media misrepresents the facts about them etc. etc.

I'm happy to have this conversation... But we've got to start off more sensibly than this...

1:42 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Other than that stuff, I agree, Mystic, as you know.

It's a damnable problem, and I don't know what to do about it.

I'm not wedded to having "assault weapons" available to civilians...but the AWB was ineffective, and there's really no chance of AWB 2.0 being much better.

Someone with a concealed handgun would have had a very good chance of stopping this asshole...but FL law prohibits carrying where alcohol is served. And there aren't enough people with CCWs to make it likely that there'd be someone where a shooter attacks. And, as you say, many people with CCWs are stupid and incompetent. In VA you only have to put like ten rounds into a silhouette at 7 yards--something I can literally do with my eyes closed...

I wouldn't be too mad about smaller magazines...

But that won't do any good unless we can get people to realize that their best chance is to attack, not wait to be slaughtered If the shooter had been attacked *en masse*, there's no way on earth that he'd have killed 50 people and wounded 50 more.

Of course that's easier said than done...but the government and the culture have spent quite awhile convincing people to cower...and that's got to be reversed.

1:48 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Firstly, regarding the allegation of sophistry, it was merely about your quibbling with categorizing him as an AR-15 owner, which he was. Your subsequent critiques, I agree with, I just thought it's probably a bad choice to try to deny the (correct) categorization as a whole rather than simply make the (correct) subsequent critiques. For example: yes, in your imagined scenario, the guy would be a journalist, but no, it would not be right to conclude from that information that journalists are nuts.

Right? Don't contest the accurate characterization, contest the subsequent irrationality. Former sophistry, latter correct. This be my point.

Secondly, yeah, attacking en masse is definitely the way to go if possible; given that most of the patrons seem not to have ever seen the guy, I don't know what can be said about that, but he was holed up in a bathroom with like 10 guys or something, so that seems like an opportunity.

And you're right about the government playing up the don't-defend-yourself-because-you're-more-likely-to-kill-everyone-accidentally card..

And now that I think about your attacking en masse point... maybe it actually would be the best and/or most effective policy we could institute, so to speak, to encourage everyone to attempt immediately to destroy the attacker by all available means. If we could get some sort of social agreement among us, well, it at least couldn't be any worse.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I think the other points are more substantive, but I can't resist ground-clearing points.

And: it's simply misleading to characterize the shooter as an AR-15 owner, for the same reasons it'd be misleading to characterize the imagined killer as a journalist. It's not that there's no sense in which the characterizations are true--it's just that they're misleading.

William James talks about the fact that two men can rob an entire train full of people. He says it's because the robbers know they can trust each other to cooperate, whereas the victims don't.

2:17 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

That right there is a quality William James reference.

And this is sort of off-track, but one thing that has struck me about the now-riled-up denunciation of the AR-15 is's not even the optimal weapon in a scenario like this. I mean, maybe if he was really trying to come up with something that would let him both kill people inside a building and fight off police from outside the building...but a rifle is not a good close-quarters choice. It's less maneuverable, harder to aim at close, fast-moving targets, and someone could far more easily grab and render it ineffective than, say, your pistol. And since you can get pistols with extended magazines, you're not really getting any sort of benefit in some sort of capacity sense.

I'd much rather take my chances in a closed environment such as Pulse against a guy with an AR-15 than a guy with a Glock.

So even if we did restrict the AR-15 from people, it seems to me we'd be doing little more than practically constraining them into superior choices for their armament. Unless you're firing from some sort of shelter or concealment across open spaces, the AR-15 ain't the ideal weapon.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree. I mean, you know what would really make me think twice--or three or four times--would be an AA-12 or a Saiga. Fuck charging a guy with a fucking auto shotty. But we digress...

Anyway, even if the AR-15 is suboptimal, from a mass-murder perspective, it's bad enough and warrants thinking about. Some would say that an AK-47 or knockoff thereof would be better because of a heavier round. At any rate, *no one* on the gun control side is going to be satisfied with banning ARs without banning other similar weapons.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Darius Jedburgh said...

My comment was a joke, Winston. You were like 'Man, everyone's down on the AR-15 and it's all the media's fault!' This seemed to me to be missing the bigger picture at this point, as to why people might be down on the AR-15.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well derp

7:39 PM  

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