The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic. — H.L. Mencken
Those who regularly read this blog might be thinking right now, “who the heck is Tom Diaz and what does he have to do with libertarianism? Also why on gods green earth is this unabashed gun enthusiast called Hesperus talking about a book advocating gun control?” Well mr Diaz has absolutely nothing to do with anything resembling liberty. The man comes across as a very sad and angry fellow. Perhaps the most hardcore statist I have ever heard of in my entire life. Eclipsing even the various flavors of communists I have known. If only because the communists I have known understand that political power either grows from the barrel of a gun. Or it is the gun. I imagine an anarcho-capitalist therapist could have a field day with this author.
That’s just my opinion, intended more as a suggestion to get help than an insult. But it doubtless came across as insulting. To such people everything that is not fawning praise is an insult in my experience.
No, I want to talk about books, and myself. This persons over the top statism was something that changed my life. I read one of this chaps books years and years ago just I before I started to come out of my militant socialist phase. As a militant and a teenager I was fascinated with firearms. Their appearance, their use, their engineering and their terrifying implications. While I lived in Eugene Oregon I was told repeatedly by almost all adults around me. Excepting my father who was rather ambivalent about guns. That my interest in firearms was wrong, dangerous and downright perverted. Sometimes those telling me to not be interested in guns were gun owners themselves. Chew on that thought for a little while. I sure did.
In an attempt to understand this and a few other blaring contradictions practiced by the adults around me I went down to the local library and went looking for books about gun control. Luck of the draw meant that I grabbed, “Making a Killing, the business of guns in America.” By Tom Diaz.
Like the ignorant, public school educated, silly little boy I was back then, I took this book at face value. At the time you could have probably told me that 2+4=chair and if you had been vehement enough I would have believed you. I was impressed by the huge number of endnotes and the references to articles and papers published by the gun industry itself. I wholeheartedly accepted that the gun industry, the NRA, certain politicians and various other actors were bound together in a vast criminal conspiracy to provide villains with industrial quantities of military grade firepower to commit their villainous acts. Undermine the democratic process. And perhaps most heinously, make money. OOH, so evil!
Fortunately my journey towards being a much more sane human being had already begun. Ironically one of the books that set me down this path was a book called the seven myths of gun control that I read. Specifically as a counterpoint to Making a Killing.
For years I had been told that having an interest in firearms was wrong. That it meant that I was nothing but a murderer in the making. That I was a bad person just for being curious about an inanimate object. When I became informed that my interest in firearms was perfectly normal, I became much more at peace with myself. It didn’t drive me sane overnight, but it was a start down the road that led me here and to who knows where in the future.
A few days ago I was thinking about this transformation and I wanted to reread Making a Killing so I looked it up in the local library database. I have moved several times, my library did not have Making a Killing. It did however have the authors latest book, The Last Gun. So I checked it out, half hoping that the author had also progressed as a human being over all these years.
It doesn’t look like he has. Unless you are reading this as a reference. To really speak the language of statists as it were, I can’t recommend it. A flat 1 out of five. From a technical perspective, it’s not bad, it’s not ridden with typos, flows well and it’s fairly short. But it’s message ranges from wacky, to disgusting, to horrifying, to enraging. At one point my roommate politely requested that I stop reading it because he was worried about how angry I was getting.
The Last Gun is a moldy gumbo of self satisfied arrogant political liberalism. Racism poorly disguised as political correctness. Complete ignorance of operations like the Justice Departments infamous Fast and Furious operation. Half truths and whole lies. The less said about this books treatment of the D.C. V Heller Supreme Court case, the better. It claims that the gun industry is dying. Sure doesn’t look like it from where I am standing. It seems like every time I go to a gun show there is another new company opening up to sell firearms or accessories to firearms.
Here is an excerpt.
“To the denizens of this dark universe, a gun is an amulet that magically transforms the bearer into a righteous and invulnerable defender if all that is good, right and holy, not a human being carrying a lethal weapon who is full of the emotions and chemicals that drive rage, fright, depression, anger, revenge, and jealousy. In the real world, that “120 lb.” mother is much more likely to be shot and killed by her “250 lb.” husband or boyfriend than ever to use a gun to defend herself from a criminal stranger.”
This book is chock full of little gems like that.
The author spends quite a bit of ink talking about Nidal Hassan. The infamous Fort Hood shooter, when I first heard of the Fort Hood shooting my response was. “I’m sorry, I think I had something crazy in my ear, someone shot up a military base? Why didn’t they turn him into cat food with their own weapons?”
Now as crazy as all that sounds, those soldiers. Whose job it is to work with weapons that can obliterate a whole town, aren’t allowed to carry operational weapons outside certain prescribed circumstances. And that dozens of soldiers died because of that criminal stupidity. Mr Diaz seems to suggest that Hassan was an utterly unremarkable specimen. A grumbling, sad but otherwise harmless officer of the US army. With no obvious access to any weapon more dangerous than a butter knife. Until one day he went into a gun store and asked about getting a handgun. An advanced and powerful handgun. Then he laid his hands on an FN Five seveN automatic pistol and he turned into a goddamn werewolf.
He trains with this weapon, going from being awful to highly proficient. Which I think is quite an implication of the incompetence of the US army if one of their officers was incompetent with a gun. He acquires a large amount of 5.7 armor piercing ammunition, which Diaz claims is widely available in this country. I have maybe seen it for sale once at a gun show. I could be wrong, but given what the ATF does to sellers of AP ammo I would be surprised to see 5.7 AP for sale anywhere. He acquires magazine extenders turning his deadly 20 round mags into 30 round volcanoes of mayhem. Then he tears through an army base full of victims with an unbelievably potent weapon which annihilates everyone in his path like Godzilla squishing Bambi.
Completely leaving out all mention of the police officers who heroically stopped Hassan. At great physical cost to themselves, with their own firearms!
Also leaving out the fact that the Five seveN is not a very potent weapon. Portraying it instead as some hyper advanced piece of technology which the human race is not and will never be sufficiently evolved to use safely. The main reason why so many died at Fort Hood appears to be because he was able to pump multiple rounds into helpless targets. A great many people escaped with bullets in their bodies, able to run away from the villain. Had he carried, say a military issue M4 the damage would have been considerably worse. If Hassan had a collection of actual military small arms. Not a niche toy like the Five seveN, something like a rocket launcher or M-240 machine gun or a bushel of grenades. Along with one, two or a dozen other guys, with better training than those jack wagons in Mumbai. The damage would have been apocalyptic. They would have been unstoppable, until snipers waxed them. Or perhaps the authorities would have just called in an air strike.
These thoughts don’t really warrant thinking. But they do spell out one of the points that voluntarists and libertarians often make, that a standing army. A force of people, trained, equipped and honed for years to kill people and destroy property. Can be much more dangerous than one lone nut with a semiautomatic weapon.
But back to ze book, what irritated me the most about this book was the endnotes. As a devotee of the Trivium method, which I think is even more important than the nonaggression principle. Because the Trivium, properly used will lead you to the N.A.P. but the N.A.P. does not always lead one to true intellectual freedom. I am a big believer in being able to reference and prove your work. The bulk of the footnotes of this book lead back to the violence policy center. Which simply cannot be considered a neutral source for anything. For instance their list of crimes involving 50 calibre rifles, I have seen no convincing evidence that the victims at Waco used 50 cal’s against federal stormtroopers. Which they cite as fact, and most of the rest of the cases cited were either accidents involving idiots. Or villains who happened to own a 50 cal. But did not use them in the committing of their crimes.
If a mugger robs me with a knife, and in the course of the investigation he is found to legally own a rubber chicken. I do not consider that to be a criminal use of a rubber chicken.
The major premise of this book appears to be that thousands, perhaps millions people are waiting for the smallest relaxation of the law. The tiniest loosening of the straitjacket that keeps society from shooting itself to ribbons in a greed driven spree of violence. This thought process is best reflected in my opinion by the internal monologue of Judge Gray on page 136 of the Boston T Party book Molôn Labé. This is an incredibly old fallacy that laws are all that keep people from committing mass rape, theft and murder all ding dong day. Combined with an either childish or bizarre belief that guns can be un-invented.
I could spend dozens, or perhaps hundreds of paragraphs ripping this book apart. But I don’t want to, I really don’t want to expend any more electrons on the martyrdom of Saint Skittles. Which naturally is referenced in The Last Gun. So I will try to keep it short.
Those who are capable of a modicum of logical thought know that Criminals Don’t Follow The Law! That’s what makes them criminals, if a person has reached the point where they are willing to take lives they won’t give a flying cockroach about what tool they use. If they are willing to kill they won’t care if there are 20 or 20,000 laws saying that what they are doing is wrong.
In the much better book Freakanomics the authors come across as classic university liberals who are fans of gun control. But are able to face the facts of real research. They conclude that political gun control is practically useless. Mostly because guns can’t be un-invented, cities with strong gun control have terrifyingly high gun crime rates. And the “won’t someone please think of the children!” argument falls to pieces. When a much greater number of children are killed in this country by swimming pools than firearms.
I lived in southern Idaho for five good years. A place where almost everybody has a gun, or if needed can get one fairly quick. In that time I heard of 2 cases of children being shot. Both were very weird, one was an incident where a fellow in his late teen years was shot by the police after he had a psychotic break, or something. He threatened his family and police with a bayoneted, but unloaded, Arisaka rifle. The only case I have ever heard of a bayoneted weapon used in a crime. The other was when a freaking idiot was cleaning a Mosin-Nagant and it went off, wounding. But fortunately not killing, his pregnant wife and unborn child.
However every couple weeks I would hear of an incident where some child. Or adult, would go into an irrigation canal. Or a river for a swim, and not come back up.
One can consider the odds of getting hurt or killed by a gun all day long, and some sad people do. But what is the most unbelievable thing about this book is the title itself. The Last Gun, this suggests that the author wishes that he wants to have every last gun in the country, if not the world, destroyed.
This is a practical impossibility for several different reasons. The big one being, if you wish to un-invent an item. Be it a gun, a car, a Boeing 747, or a pepper grinder, don’t you have to round up and destroy every single item? The means to make them, and then kill everyone who knows how to build said item? Such an act would probably require taking us back technology wise to the dark ages. Or perhaps the Stone Age because a gun is essentially just a very sophisticated way of throwing a rock. The author also completely ignores impending advancements like high powered lasers, electromagnetic rail guns and, oh teh noes! 3D printed firearms.
One final note, mr Diaz doesn’t take internet trolling well at all. I don’t think what I have written here is trolling. I think it is a fair criticism of a pair of extremely dangerous books. But in the highly unlikely event he ever reads this and it is interpreted as trolling please address your threats and accusations of cowardice at me. Not at all voluntarists, certainly not the host of this blog, leave a comment below and if you really want to cross wits. Or perhaps challenge me to a duel with 10 pound fish at high noon.
But even if the state and statists voluntarily disarms completely. Which will never happen, I respectfully decline to do the same. Here is why, from the gods of the copybook headings by Kipling.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”