Tag Archives: NRA

Rayguns don’t kill Zorbians, Zorbians kill Zorbians

Driving home tonight I heard a radio story about efforts by gun rights group to “make sure” that “we” don’t overreact and over regulate gun shops and gun sales.  And so, I decided to blog about it.

I know I haven’t written in a while – the combination of the bar exam, a new job and a pregnant wife. All good things.  And meanwhile, I thought I was missing out on commenting on this political story or that one.  On the election. Over before it started.  On the fiscal cliff. But as momma always says, if you don’t have anything nice to say…

And then…Newtown, Connecticut.  

Even though I felt compelled to write, I couldn’t.  It would have been a bad idea.  For starters, it hit really close to home.  Because we live about 15 minutes away from Newtown, almost everyone in our area had a connection to those taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It was a bittersweet day.  A friend and co-worker’s daughter (a 3rd grader) was hidden by her gym teacher and survived the assault.   Our dear friends lost their nephew (a first grader).  So, it was not a good idea to enter the public discourse.

I think I’m passed that.  I think I have something different to say that is not reactionary and (hopefully) not personal.

Back to that NPR story and the idea that we need to “be careful” to avoid the over regulation of gun sales. I’m going to expand the idea (slightly) simply to make a point.  It’s a market. A market that sells legitimate sporting guns, semi-legitimate recreational guns and illegitimate assault weapons. We left regulation up to the market.  Minimal regulation based in a constitutional right, but nonetheless we committed to minimal market regulation. And the market failed.

The market failed to self regulate.  The market failed to work.  Supply and demand is way off. It’s laughable to me that after a major market failure, the market participants have the nerve to caution the rest of us about knee-jerk reactions and the “ignorance” of supporting gun control. 

Well, I have bad news for you. This is the world we live in. And there is no turning back. Ask Ron Paul.  As much as we want the libertarian world of personal freedoms and strict consequences for violating others’ rights, all we can do is influence the status quo.  The behemoth is lurching forward.  Practically speaking, we work within the system we’re given. There is no revolution.

In this system, when market actors prove that the market cannot regulate itself or the failure is so severe that the survival of a class or economy of people depends on emergency funding, the government steps in. We might not like it, but its reality.

Crude oil tankers. Autos. Investment banks. 19th Century steel mills.

Did the government solve everything? No. Of course, not.  But the government made a difference.  Government acted when no one else would (or could).  Regulation comes in two forms and both are reactive (but only one is retaliatory). The first is emergency stimulus-style spending that aids an entire industry.  The second is Dodd-Frank style oversight that penetrates an entire industry (for better or worse).  

Either way, it is a reaction to a crisis.  And we have a crisis. Gun violence.

The gun industry has proven that it lost control.

Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. Webster.

After a “market crash” like this, there will always be increased regulation.  The NRA (read, all pro-gun lobbyists), the Second Amendment Foundation, common sense American sportsmen and even the (slightly misinterpreted) Second Amendment itself are not enough to stop the tide.  The financial industry, the true market (itself), could not win a deregulation argument in the face of a breach of the public trust.

This is not a liberal agenda.  This is the world we live in.  In the days after the Newtown elementary school shooting, I heard more than one commentator (and some friends) claim that we live in a violent world and nothing we can regulate will stop true evil.  This claim – there is no stopping truly determined child killers – is true (in some sense) but is disingenuous.  We can slow them down, we can make their “goal” much more difficult.  Likewise, I would say, this is the world we live in.  The government is going to get involved in industries that cause (or at least don’t stop) major crises.  There’s nothing we can do.  This is the price of major societal failure. 

We do not have to wait to decide what to do about guns.  We don’t have allow a “cooling off” period.  There was no cooling off period as GM was going out of business.  There was no cooling off period during the bank bailouts and Dodd-Frank negotiations.  And there is no cooling off period today.  (And by the by, when is the last time cooling off worked?)

I know the response to this idea is going to be some variation on “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Government overregulation in one market doesn’t justify the same in another.  I disagree.  This. Is. What. We. Do.

Like it or not, the only legitimate response we have is to add layers of bureaucracy.  Make it more difficult to evade background checks.  Make it harder to get a gun. How? Paperwork. Our answer to everything.

Some people (members of the NRA) don’t believe in a world where background checks and government systems can keep the mentally ill from obtaining dangerous firearms.  Some people (many people who aren’t members of the NRA) don’t believe in a world where good guys with guns have safe, successful shootouts with bad guys with guns and no one except the bad guy gets hurt. So, if I had to err on the side of one imaginary world or the other, I’ll take my chances with government regulation.

We had a major failure, we have a crisis and now we will get government involvement in the market.  If you didn’t want the government to get involved, everyone should have done a better job when they (we) had the chance.  Now, it’s too late. 

And our only savior is a good guy with paperwork (sorry, I couldn’t resist).



Guest Author, Douglas White

My friend Doug White requested the opportunity to try his hand at a blog entry because he got fired up about the state of education in Texas.  I was happy to oblige his desire to exercise his University of Mary Washington political science degree and add a different perspective for Pickle readers to consider.  I doubt it’s necessary to add some disclaimer about these being the beliefs of Doug White only and not necessarily those of the Potter Political Pickle.  When it comes to politics and religion, beliefs tend to be personal and unique; this is no exception.  Also, I think it brings up an interesting topic – separation of church and state, one that I look forward to covering in law school.

Without further adieu:

Does history repeat itself and if so, how would we know?

By Douglas White

Last week Texas’ School Board opened the door for radical change in the way Social Studies is presented in public schools. In votes that were generally split 10-5 (10 Republican members, and 5 Democratic members) the School Board decided to present American history with conservative, Christian values receiving heightened attention.

Some of the more controversial measures call for a downplaying of Thomas Jefferson in history – as Jefferson is a noted Deist, and not “as Christian” as other founding fathers. The vote also opens the Constitutional idea of the “Separation of Church and State” for debate. One member, David Bradley said, “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state.” Other changes would emphasize conservative movements in history, including the defense of Senator McCarthy and the conservative resurgence of the 1980s, and highlight groups like the NRA and the Heritage Foundation. As the board moves to include more conservative history into the Texas curriculum other groups received the ax. Culturally significant movements from the left, like hip-hop, will not be highlighted and Texas’ significant Hispanic population will also receive less attention. Board members said these changes reflect the country’s Christian founding, and that history has long been painted with a liberal brush.

When this story first came to my attention, I must admit, my first reaction was “of course, why wouldn’t Texas want to re-write history to favor the Christian-right?” Texas has always had an independent streak, there is the Texas way and the wrong way, but after cooling down and putting some thought into it, I realized I must be fair and examine what motivates these actions, and see if there is any justification.

I must say, I am an outspoken atheist with very liberal leanings, and the idea of a curriculum being shaped around Christian values sent a shiver up my spine. But, as a student of history, their arguments are not out of left field (or in this case right field). History is as diverse as we are. My interpretation of September 11th is different from my neighbors, whose is different from millions of other Americans. A historian’s job is not only to collect facts but often involves interpreting those facts for everyone else. This can lead to historians trying to impress or satisfy the 300+ million Americans who will remember read or remember the story. This is no easy feat. Americans are diverse; our interpretation of events is viewed through the lens of our political persuasion, personal experiences, and yes, as much as it pains me to say, our religious affiliation.

What has happened in Texas is that a group of conservative Christian are reacting to the feeling that their point of view is subordinate when it comes to American history. This is not the first time a group has felt like this. In fact, it is these very movements that have spurred on a more complete view of history. For decades our country overlooked the accomplishments of African-Americans. Through the action of historians, millions of students across the country are now taught the heroism of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others. The late Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States brought the plight of marginalized citizens to the attention of readers across the country. This effort by the Texas School Board is another link in the chain of history. They are striving to highlight another narrative in the story that is America.

The problem is, while they are attempting to balance Christianity’s role in our country (which is no small role), they are doing it by over-shadowing the true contributions of other  groups or narratives. While trying to emphasize the role of conservatives, Texas educators are adding a political spin that appears to overcompensate. History should be as inclusive as possible. The people that shape this country should be recognized in our texts and classrooms – that includes the conservatives who have shaped history. The problem begins when an attempt to present history as occuring ONE way, and to present no alternatives, borders on fascism. A history lesson that I recommend the Texas School Board revisit.