First piece of the new year.
So, James Yeager got himself on the news. Lovely.
In case you're just tuning in, he recently posted a colorful and profane video in which he said,
I am not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I'm not letting anybody take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I'm gonna start killing people.
Last time I checked, the President was elected by the will of the people, and executive power is still limited by the Constitution. I'm not sure how the label "dictator" applies, but the threat Yeager made is fairly clear.
Apparently, the Tennessee Department of Safety agreed, and they revoked his carry permit. This isn't the first time they've done that to someone for acting like a nutjob in public, but Yeager is using it to generate as much publicity in the mainstream media as he can.
Between Alex Jones' self-serving meltdown and this, the gun control crowd doesn't need to look far for recruiting material. We'd all be better off if Yeager would keep his inane fantasies to himself and pursue some safety training.
Shaving off that wretched goatee would also be an improvement.
Joe Bob is an odious fixture in my life. He's abrasive, frequently profane, and he's chosen fatalism as a political philosophy. In Joe Bob's world view, a ban on semiautomatic rifles and/or standard-capacity magazines is a foregone conclusion. Rather than participate in preemptive political action to prevent this, he prefers to indulge in grim and counterproductive fantasies about how he'll resist the government through force of arms.
I think Joe Bob actually wants calamity to befall us so he can be some sort of hero or martyr. It's all quite tiresome.
His fantasy invariably involves one of two unrealistic and surreal scenarios. In the first one, he holes up under his front porch and snipes at the knees of government stormtroopers who are coming for his guns. That is, until someone gets the bright idea to simply run an APC over the front porch, thereby squishing Joe Bob and his feverish dream of getting into the history books.
The second involves him retreating to some idyllic place in a rural area, where he and other like-minded folks will wait in ambush for the aforementioned jack boots. The whole idea conjures up an image of a bunch of sweaty, overweight guys from one of those weird John Bly retreats who end up eating twigs and berries while they snuggle up next to a campfire with Charlie Sheen in a way that's not the least bit homoerotic.
This isn't 1994, and we have a very real chance of beating gun control this time around. The best part is, we don't even have to resort to violence. If you can't afford to ante up a measly 25 bucks to support the NRA, and you're too lazy to engage in creative thought, I've got a pre-written email you can send to your Senators and Representatives.
We've got a few gun bills currently floating around in the House. Given that Joe Biden's blue-ribbon panel hasn't even issued any recommendations, these seem a bit premature. Irregardless, here's a quick rundown.
HR 34 is this year's iteration of the Blair Holt Act, seeking to require licensing for all gun owners. It has no cosponsors. HR 117 is proposed by a guy from New Jersey named Rush Holt. I've never heard of him, either. This one seeks licensing and registration of handguns. Again, no cosponsors.
HR 65 is an oddball. Citing it as the "Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act of 2013," Sheila Jackson Lee wants to append something about "semiautomatic assault weapons" to 18 U.S.C. § 922, but that term doesn't appear anywhere in existing law, and she fails to define what an "assault weapon" is. So, um…yeah. Also, no cosponsors.
HR 35 is a bill seeking to repeal the 1990 Gun Free School Zone Act. I doubt that one has much of a chance in this atmosphere. Local boy Paul Broun is cosponsoring it, which earns him bonus points. Those points go slightly towards making up for his loopy disdain for evolution and science in general.
The one that I find troubling is HR 93.
Alex Jones was interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN tonight. I don't know where he conjured up the arrogance to presume to be the mouthpiece for the gun culture, but this is an absolute disaster for us all.
I've never liked Jones. He's a rabble rouser and panic monger of the worst order. I've held nothing but contempt for his 9/11 conspiracy theories, but up until now, I've been able to groan and ignore him because of his insular and isolated exposure. That changed tonight.
Those who see us as a bunch of shrill, incoherent ideologues will now have a prime example of that stereotype. He was rude, aberrant, and disinterested in dialogue. When Morgan managed to ask him one question…one, he dodged it. He wasted time on a disjointed rant about "criminal elements of the military complex" and something about a "metal shark in the water." Then he sank to mocking Morgan's accent and mannerisms.
This wasn't an interview or a debate. It was a chance for him to score points off Morgan. He got his Charlie Sheen moment, and he made us all look bad in the process. I hope the ratings are worth it to him.
There's a bit of a trend towards late-1980's nostalgia on the independent scene lately. Bands like Wild Nothing and M83 do a fair job of approximating the work of groups from labels like 4AD and Creation, but the resulting material comes off as more slavish tribute than distinct output.
Frankie Rose deftly avoids that trap. She's not above appropriating a few techniques and flourishes, but her work is her own. The Cocteau Twins would never have been as confident and propulsive as Rose is on the lead single, and her arrangements show a level of competence and wit that just wasn't present back then.
She doesn't limit herself to a specific time period, though. The stunning vocal harmonies on "Gospel/Grace" owe more to the atmospherics of Lida Husik and Lush than they do to anything from the Reagan years, and "Apples for the Sun" wouldn't be out of place on a Boards of Canada record. Closing track "The Fall" is a gauzy piece of twilight that recalls Sigur Rós or Seefeel.
The only criticism I could really level is that things get a bit insubstantial at times, but this is more self-assured and consistent record than anything else in the genre at the moment.
The 113th Congress met for the first time today. So far, no bills have been sponsored or introduced. How do I know this? Because it's right here on the internet.
Contrary to popular belief, there is a process to this. A bill is not a law until it has gone through the process. It is introduced, it is given a number and a title, and it gets heard by a committee. If the committee decides not to table it, it gets debated on the floor. Then it goes back for revision. Then it gets debated again. Then it goes back for revision. Then it gets debated again. This can go on for quite some time.
If it survives that far, the House and Senate have to agree on it. If there are differences, it goes to a conference committee to hash them out. If that works, a conference report is written, which must again be endorsed by both the House and Senate.
Then and only then does it go to the President for a signature.
My point? Whatever you're hearing politicians spout to the cameras, it isn't all going to happen tomorrow, next week, or next month. You still have time to contact your elected officials.
Or you can just chant the same hackneyed slogans and gripe about the hopelessness of it all, which is what I'm beginning to suspect most gun owners will do.
In a recent interview, it was pointed out to Al Sharpton that gun regulations may not bring an end to violence in our country. His response? We should then consider regulating knives.
Then you deal with knives. The same thing as if you have a head cold and the same thing you do if you have a head cold and the cold is gone and you have a headache. Then you take headache medicine. The job of society is to deal with whatever problem confronts it.
Skipping past Sharpton's implicit admission that gun bans aren't the answer, we come to the real question: at what point does creeping incrementalism sink to pure absurdity? Should we expect bans on pillows and sacks of quarters soon after?
Perhaps I should start hoarding hedge clippers. They'll be worth eleventy billion dollars at the next lawn and garden show.
I keep getting asked to participate in online petitions on the White House web site. These things are worse than useless.
They're futile because nobody of influence actually reads them, and they're worse because they make people believe they're actually engaging in some sort of meaningful civic involvement. I have yet to see any significant policy decision or legislative initiative come out of them. They're simply a channel for people to vent their spleen and feel self-righteous about it.
You know who reads these? Sandy. She's a legislative correspondent. Legislative correspondents are interns whose job is to rummage through all the incoming diatribes, conspiracy theories, and death threats in six colors of crayon that pour into a politician's office. The pay stinks, and the job stinks.
Once in awhile, Sandy might find a petition that could be of interest, and it gets passed on to some focus group. They look at it, then delegate it to another LC who posts a facile response. None of these guys care how many people want low-flush toilets in the White House.
So, you wrangled 12,000 signatures for this? You want a medal or something? I could start a petition to make the ferret the national bird and have more than that in a week.
How about doing something worthwhile? Take a few minutes to contact your local representative. If the act of writing a letter, putting it in an envelope, and walking all the way to the mailbox seems too daunting, you can find a politician's email address more easily than starting a OMG KENYA SOCIALISM group on FaceBook.
And yes, I know ferrets aren't birds. That was my point.
So, here's the draft for Dianne Feinstein's new gun control bill.
We're looking at a ban on 120 specific weapons, as well as a ban of "certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics." I'm guessing STANAG 2324 rails will be one of those "military characteristics," which will pretty much cover most modern handguns. She also made sure to add thumbhole stocks to the list of banned features (I can't say I'll particularly miss those).
The interesting part is the clause for grandfathering. Under her bill, I'd be able to keep pre-existing specimens of banned firearms, but I'd have to register them through the NFA. Who covers the payroll for that? We're talking about millions of weapons.
In her support, she quotes studies by George Mason professor Christopher Koper, who's long been funded by the Joyce Foundation. Even he has trouble proving that the original Assault Weapons Ban had much of an effect. In fact, the NIJ study [pdf] she provides in support finds evidence "tenuous" at best.
If she'd gone for one simple thing, such as a moratorium on high-capacity AR-15 magazines, she might have had a chance. This bill is too comprehensive, too big, and too costly to meet with approval.
There's been some controversy over David Gregory's possession of a 30-round AR-15 magazine on Meet the Press this week. According to D.C. Criminal Code 7-2506.01,
No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. For the purposes of this subsection, the term “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The penalty is a fine of up to $1000 and a year in prison. Possession of marijuana in the District is punishable by a fine of $1000 and six months imprisonment. Would we be hearing less angst if he dangled a bag of reefer on the air?
I think not.
It's one day after Christmas, and we're off to the races. Carolyn McCarthy is pushing to get her high-capacity magazine ban out of committee, where it's been wallowing in obscurity since January of 2011. Bobby Rush is trying to revive the Blair Holt gun registration bill, as he's done every year since 2000.
I don't give either bill good odds of progressing, but if you've got a Representative on the Judiciary Committee, it's worth dropping them an email. If yours is a Democrat, it's even more important, since most of those on the committee have a history of supporting gun control.
In other news, Dianne Feinstein is proposing a national buyback program on so-called assault weapons. In case you're not familiar with the idea, several major cities offer financial incentives for gang members and drug dealers to turn their guns in for gift cards or pittances of cash.
Never mind that those initiatives are a big expense to taxpayers and that they don't work. New York Governor Cuomo jumped on the bandwagon, telling a local radio show, “confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option."
That's exactly the kind of talk I want the American public to hear on the evening news. It may actually goad folks into some semblance of civic involvement.