18. April 2007 · Comments Off on Our Peculiar Local Institution · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Rant, World

OK, now I am in the mood to thump the head of a spectacularly ignorant commentor….

“Being able to walk into a supermarket any time day or night, and buy a gun and bullets is obviously too much for the weak-minded American. It’s basic stupidity. Surely, surely the US can no longer deny the fact that their “freedom of protection” is a load of crap. Or must thousands more innocents die?”

Emily, Cape Town, South Africa, comment on Sky News thread, via commentor Dylan Kissane at Tim Blair’s place

Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit, if that doesn’t qualify in my book as purely the stupidest, most ignorant and bigoted statement I have run across in regards to the recent sad events. Of course, I have charted a careful course to avoid some of the deeper and most notorious fever-swamps in the blogosphere. There may be more densely concentrated blocks of ignorance out there, but fortunately I am not moved to hunt them down… stumbling over that little example was enough to get the bile ducts going like Old Faithful.

That and the fact that South Africa, as dear little Emily must be aware, has a hell of a problem with home-invasion robberies, rapes and violent carjackings just puts a nice shiny gloss on the phrase “freedom of protection”. Wasn’t South Africa the place where an inventor had worked up a flamethrower that shot out from either side of the car, scorching the hell out of anyone standing there and menacing the driver or passenger? Why, yes it was. Doesn’t look like it was popular for too long, though. Must have been hell on the poor squee-gee guys, too.

As a matter of fact, you cannot buy guns and bullets from a supermarket, any time day or night… either that, or I have persistently missed seeing that aisle at HEB Grocery, or Smiths or Kroeger. Nope, sweetie… not even in Texas.

You can buy ammunition during the wee hours at Walmart, though… and guns from those Walmart outlets which have a well-stocked sporting goods department, and they are open twenty-four hours a day, but it’s stretching things a bit to call Walmart a supermarket.

Here’s what the Constitution says about our “right of protection”, Emily dear…
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Savor the taste of the words “security of a free state” and “Right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. So, the part about “well-regulated militia” is a little loose and lumpy… somewhat like Michael Moore, come to think on it. My point is that a lot of common, ordinary Americans think of guns as tools… sort of like a band-saw, or a power drill, the sort of thing that a do-it-yourself enthusiast has around the house.

Because we are still, for a variety of reasons, a do-it-yourself kind of people… kind of prone to take care of stuff ourselves, especially in those places which do not boast 24-7 private security. We’ve been that way for a while… and sometime it gets ugly when it happens, but the odd thing that I keep noticing, is that it happens in the w-a-a-a-a-y biggest ugly way in those places…oh like Darfur, and Somalia, Kosovo and Zimbabwe, where the means of providing Miss Emily’s , “freedom of protection” is a little on the sketchy side. For the foreseeable future though, we are all stuck with the existence of unbalanced losers who want to go out in a blaze of glory and 24-7 news coverage, as well as the distain of people as exquisitely well-informed as Emily from Cape Town. It’s tragic and horrible… but it happens in other places than the US. And when some raving loony, or some hopped-up robber is disuaded by a do-it-yourself good citizen, it’s a couple of lines on the local police blotter… maybe on the local TV newscast for an evening.

I don’t own a gun, myself, and even though I have lived in Texas for a dozen years now, this last weekend was the first time I had seen a lot of people walking around with a surplusage of side arms. Even in the Air Force, our SPS were held down to one major weapon per person, two at max. Most of the antique firearms enthusiasts I saw this last weekend were dressed up in old West costume, and they were having fun plinking away at metal targets. It’s just not my cup of tea…but it amuses me as much as it would probably horrify Emily from Cape Town, to think that my own neighborhood may be as well equipped, weapons-wise as many small European militaries. (Say, San Marino, or Monaco? Do they even have militaries?) It guarantees that violent home invasions and car-hijackings in Texas are refreshingly not as frequent as they might be in those places where everyone has decided that “freedom of protection is a load of crap”.

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