Monday, January 28, 2013

My “Master Teaching”, the Reality of Guns, and Why Chad Tatum Isn’t Bangable

By Matthew Schafer
copyriht 2013, All Rights Reserved

I have long known that I’m rather opinionated; I have no problem with that as I believe it is how you go about being opinionated that determines whether or not you become one of those people that walk down the street and have others grimace and say, “Shit, here comes that guy.” I’m actually quite careful about expressing my opinions because I learned early on that most people couldn’t care less what you have to say. Therefore, I largely limit the expressing of my opinions to my wife and through written word. I feel this is acceptable because regardless of what I write people have to voluntarily read it so if they don’t want to hear my opinions they just don’t read what I write, and my wife, well...she kind of has to listen to me because that’s the way it works, she’s trapped.

My wife, Mary, listens to my opinions and she either finds them interesting and it lead to a discussion, disagrees with me to a large part which also leads to a discussion, or she is disinterested but like the dutiful wife she is she sits graciously and pretends to listen all the while in her head she contemplates things like what character from the movie “Magic Mike” is the most bangable. The only opinion I have about this topic is that no one named “Tatum” can be bangable; say “Tatum” to yourself a few times...I bet each time you say it, it becomes less appealing. The word makes me think of either a potato gum or a gum that comes from your taint. It’s like going through the school lunch line and seeing the lunch ladies in the kitchen drop fistfuls of warm tater tots down the back of their pants and then do deep squats until the potatoes are smashed together between their underwear and bare oversized buttocks forming a potato paste that’s drenched in ass sweat. Just as you’re about to vomit the person next to you says, “Really? Tatum again? I have yet to get a scoop of Tatum without at least one hair in it!”

Anyway, I want to talk about the actual benefits and the reality of guns. (That’s right, it seems like my segue from potatoes covered in ass sweat to a hot topic like firearms is the simple and solitary word “anyway”) First, it really bothers me when people make the use of firearms special. Every time I hear the terms “gun violence,” “gun crime,” or “gun deaths” it is like nails scratching on a chalkboard. Why do these terms exist? Why don’t people just say “violence,” “crime,” and “deaths?” Why include the word “gun” as if it makes the crime special or unique.

There needs to be a distinction between violence and criminal violence, crime and violent crime, but why is there a distinction between violence that involves guns and violence that doesn’t? As I’ve mentioned numerous times more people in the US are killed with baseball bats than any other weapon so why don’t we say “baseball bat violence”, “baseball bat crime”, and “baseball bat related deaths?”

When you get right down to it there are three main classifications of weapons: 1.) impact weapons like a bat or a stick, 2.) edged weapons like a knife, razor, or broken bottle, and 3.) projectile weapons like a bullet, arrow, or missile. (there is also chemical and biological weapons but that is off topic) In the US more people are attacked with and killed with edged weapons then bullets so why aren’t edged weapons special? To me it makes no sense to make guns special and it only serves to single them out and put the connection in people’s minds that guns equal violence, crime, and murder.

That is a very important point. Our brains work largely on associations, which mean that it likes to connect something new to something old and it likes to connect things with other things in general. If I say the word “General” and ask you to give me another word there is a good chance that you’ll say “Motors.” Why, because people often see the name General Motors and a connection in the brain builds between the two worlds (you could also have said “electric” or several other things, that isn’t the point) If I show two words together constantly you will start to think of one when you think of the other. So, if someone says “gun” then there is a good chance that violence, crime, and/or death also pops up in your mind, often without you knowing it. It works the other way too, if you say “crime” there is a good chance somewhere in your mind the word “gun” also comes up. The human brain is quite easy to program and marketers use this all the time to tie things together like beer with sex, the act of being beautiful with certain brands of makeup products, or certain clothes with a high level of athletic ability.

In terms of causing injury there are four main benefits of having a gun. First, if I have a gun I can cause injury from a greater distance; without a gun, if I want to injure someone that is on the other side of the road I have to walk over there first and get them at a close distance so they are in my “work area.” However, if I have a gun and I can effectively use it then I can stand where I am, fire across the road, and get my injuries from there.

Second, it is a labor saving device. You don’t need a gun to cause injuries, in fact every single injury that a gun can cause you can cause without one, by simply throwing the person on the ground and repeatedly stomping on them. The reason getting shot stops people and sometimes kills people is because the bullet injures the central nervous system (the spine, brain stem, or the brain) so the body cannot communicate with itself and it shuts down and/or the bullet tears a hole and causes internal bleeding which, if left untreated for long enough, can cause loss of consciousness and death.

So, if you come home and find someone about to rape your spouse (men do get rapped) you may decide that in order to stop the rapist you want to puncture their liver, crack their ribs, create massive internal bleeding, and then reassess the situation. If you walk over and throw them on the ground and start stomping on them you might be able to accomplish that in 10 seconds or less, but if you had a labor saving device like a baseball bat you might be able to cause that 2 seconds, and if you had a firearm you might be able to cause that in less than one second (maybe, bullets are very unpredictable). You are very capable to causing the same injures but the firearm lets you get inside their body faster than you can with your bare hands.

The third benefit is it allows you to engage multiple threats rapidly. If you have a gun and four attackers you can fire at them in rapid succession to hopefully injure all of them quickly. This does take a bit of training and hopefully you have a semi-automatic handgun with 15 rounds (or better yet a rifle with a 30 round magazine) instead of a 6 shot revolver because even if you don’t miss you will most likely have to put several rounds in each person (like the woman that recently shot an intruder in her home while protecting her two daughters, she got lucky because after shooting at him 6 times not only did the guy not drop dead but she got lucky because he got scared, ran to his car, and drove away even though he had 5 bullet holes in his head, neck, and shoulders). You can certainly engage the same four attackers with your bare hands and prevail but it will requires far more training. It is far easier and safer to keep your distance and engage them with a firearm or a non-lethal weapon like pepper spray (not mace).

The fourth benefit to a firearm is it requires less intent to do the same amount of work (get your injuries). In most altercations is it the intent to cause injury or death that tips the scales either in your favor or out of your favor. America is quite unique because here where a private citizen can own a gun and be as well armed as the criminal element it is only, in most cases, intent that gives the criminal their advantage. The criminal quite often has no special training and no special...anything really, but what they do have in the intent to grab you by the throat and squeeze until the last drop of life leaves your body. The average citizen doesn’t possess that and so they just stand there and do nothing while they are murdered.

Since most people lack the basic and proper intent to cause injury to their fellow man in extreme situations they have three options: 1.) they can do nothing and end up being an accomplice in their own murder, 2.) they can come to people like me learn it (it is a perfectly learnable skill and has nothing to do with “right” or “wrong” and won’t make you a more aggressive person in your everyday life) so now they respond to the murder’s intent with their own intent and now instead of just standing and being strangled to death they might do something like simply reaching overtop their grip and easily pulling the hands of their throat (it’s simple physics and very easy), breaking their jaw with an elbow, breaking their wrist, dislocating their shoulder, and then looking around to reevaluate the situation, see if you have to do more, and if there are more threats in the area; or 3.) they can buy a gun and get properly trained so instead of doing all that physical stuff they can just fish out their gun and pull the trigger a few times (and pray because it is rarely that easy).

A gun reduces the amount of intent a person needs to have, and this is easier on most people both physically and mentally. It requires a lot of intent to be confronted by a violent criminal who is most likely bigger and stronger than you are and who is coming at you with murderous intent and to be able to look back at him and see his throat, his eyes, his neck, his knee, his groin, his...whatever...and say to yourself, “Ok, I don’t care what this guy plans to do to me, because THAT belongs to me!” and then step in and make your entire world consist of nothing but breaking that one thing that you’ve chosen, and once you’ve broken that and this guy is screaming or laying on the ground clutching a body part you do that over all over again and as often as necessary to make sure that that violent criminal is no longer physically able to harm you. Unpleasant at that is, that is what it takes to save your life. Even if you have a gun it may malfunction, you might be out of ammunition, or whatever the case may be, guns don’t always work or may be not be readily available and that is why competence in hand-to-hand combat is paramount.

If I could boil all my teachings down, if I could distill the last 26 years of my life into one master teaching that would save people's lives it would be this: intent is the heart of hand-to-hand combat; if you have sitting within you the intent to cause serious injury to another living thing and perhaps kill it if you ever needed to, to save your life or the life of someone else, then you’re on an equal playing field with the criminal element and every altercation you go into starts with a 50/50 chance of you coming out alive. However, if you lack that you are at a huge disadvantage and in any altercation you get in with a violent criminal you probably have less than a 5% chance, and I hope you’re not cornered in a room because you’re best bet at that point it start running as fast as you can and hope for the best. (Luckily if someone pulls a gun on you and you turn and run 95% of the time they won’t try to shoot you and if you do shoot at you they probably won’t hit you and if they do statistically you have a 97% chance of surviving, provided you’re only shot once) An instructor of mine once told me that if we could just bring in a big 50 gallon drum of intent and pump it into us he could simply hand us a diploma and send us all home.

It takes a lot of intent and training to be confronted by a violent criminal and then instead of cowering in fear like he expects you to do, you step in, grab his wrist as hard as you can, and then use your body weight to snap it like a twig. It requires little training or intent to pull a trigger which is why firearms are so useful and attractive for self-defense.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that gun owners shouldn’t have training and intent because having training and intent will only make you more effective at using your firearm and more efficient at handling it and the real experts have lots of all of the above, but from a purely physical standpoint someone with no training and very little intent could still pull a trigger. Perhaps that person with little intent that pulls the trigger is a violent thug or maybe it is a 76 year old grandmother whose physical limitations prevent much anything beyond pulling a trigger to protect her from some thug who has just broken open her front door.

When you get down to it I guess people preface “violence,” “crime,” and “death” with the word “gun” because it reflects their own fear. Although most people probably can’t articulate it the way I did, most people realize the radically lower amount of intent that it takes to pull a trigger and that scares them. What I’ve found over the years is that anti-gun people are usually scared of the idea of themselves owning a gun. If you ask them to describe why sooner or later it comes back to them not feeling they could handle the responsibility of owning or even handling a gun and because that scares them they project that fear to everyone else and therefore they’re scared of other people having the responsibility of owning or even handling a gun. After all, if it is too much for them then surely the person down the street couldn’t handle it either.

Question an anti-gun person, or perhaps that isn’t fair, so lets say a person who only thinks guns themselves, in inanimate objects that they are, are very dangerous so only certain people should own (not talking about criminals and the mentally handicapped) and sooner or later pretty much everyone will talk about not wanting a gun in their own hands. They often picture an evil gun sitting in their innocent hand and they’re instantly uncomfortable because they don’t want the responsibility of that perceived power a firearm offers them. They want that perceived power away from them because it is too much so they want to send it out of their hands, out of their homes, their neighborhoods, and even out of the hands of a responsible gun owner.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that most people who are anti-gun are really anti-gun because they fear the perceived power and responsibility that they would have if they owned a gun and so they don’t want one and don’t want anyone else to have one either. The good news is that this really boils down to a lack of education and training; I have also seen that most people that are properly introduced to firearms and are educated and trained in their use not only lose their fear but find their prior fear kind of silly. Once you are properly trained and educated you come to the realization that there isn’t too much difference between a gun and a stapler. Both are tools that serve a specific purpose, operate in a somewhat similar manner, and have no free will of their own.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Case For Assault Rifles and Why We Need Them

By Matthew Schafer
All Rights Reserved

Some people ask why the average citizen needs a rifle that can carry over 100 round clips and shoot 1000 rounds a minute, and those kinds of people should be told to go sit down while the adults are speaking because there isn’t anything about that that is actually correct. I understand that is insulting but this is a serious issue so if you’re not really informed you can’t really contribute in a positive manner. If you think the average citizen can go to a gun store and buy a weapon than can do what I just described, and if you think that that is what the currently proposed assault weapons ban is about, then you’re simply not informed.

FDR banned the private ownership of assault rifles nearly 80 years ago and they are still illegal today, this fact should be known to everyone. What the public has available to them today are not machine guns or even actual assault rifles, they are semi-automatic rifles that have adopted many of the cosmetic features of actual assault rifles. The cosmetic features that our rifles today have adopted make the weapon more ergonomic and more comfortable to use and they make it more convenient to operate. Many of the features actually make the weapon safer to own, but what none of them do is make the weapon more lethal.

Before I get into specifics, I want to point out that studies show that when “assault weapons” were banned in 1994 it had ZERO effect on crime! Not only that, when the ban expired in 2003 and people could legally own these weapons again crime when DOWN, not up. In fact, violent crime has gone down 50% in the last 20 years resulting in this being the most peaceful time in human history.

That’s right. Human beings on this planet have never been safer than they are right now. Some may say, “What about mass shootings? We have been hearing a lot about those lately.” Mass killings are a result of mentally unstable people existing on this planet and it is unfortunate but they will always happen. However, those too are at an all-time low. Mass killings in America peaked in 1929 and with one exception they have been decreasing ever since.

Economist John Lott is widely regarded as the foremost expert on the subject of violent crime and firearms. Years ago after he began his study of the subject he authored a book called “More Guns, Less Crime” and this book, now in its third edition, is the most precise and involved study of violent crime and firearm use in the world. This book does not contain any opinions but rather contains real data and statistics that show one thing: when gun ownership goes up violent crime goes down.

The FBI, which has studied this since its creation, has been telling us the same thing. The ONLY thing violent criminals fear is getting injured or killed, and if they know that citizens in an area are likely to be armed they will stay away from that area. Largely as a result of the work of John Lott the majority of US states passed laws allowing private citizens to obtain a license to carry firearms concealed upon their person and the result surprised many. When the bill was purposed many shouted from the rooftops that allowing people to walk around with guns would result in the streets turning into bloodbaths, violent crime would skyrocket, and society would turn into a version of the movie “The Road Warrior.” What happened was exactly the opposite; violent crime rates dropped, gun violence dropped, and communities became safer.

On the subject of concealed carry, called “right-to-carry,” John Lott said, “All the results indicate that violent crime falls after right-to-carry laws are passed …. There is a large, statistically significant drop in murder rates across all specifications. The before-and-after average comparison implies that right-to-carry laws reduce murder by roughly 20 percent. In all cases, right-to-carry laws cause the trends in murder, rape, and robbery rates to fall.”

So, how did this whole witch-hunt start? Those uneducated about firearms noticed in the 1980’s that legal and publically available rifles were starting to look like military style rifles (adopting cosmetic features) and the mistake was made that their local gun store was selling fully-automatic assault weapons. Unfortunately, a large group of Americans who have more than likely never handled a firearm let alone fired one and have received all of their firearms training from TV shows and movies didn’t understand the difference and decided that modern semi-automatic rifles look too scary and they need to be made illegal.

I am not going to make an argument that we need assault rifles because that is a moot point, assault rifles have been illegal for nearly 80 years, but I am going to make an argument for why we need modern semi-automatic rifles.

My first argument is the very simplistic: why wouldn’t we need modern semi-automatic rifles? The only difference to the average person between a semi-automatic rifle and a bolt action rifle is you can carry a few more rounds and you can fire quicker. That is it. It is not some godless killing is just a rifle. What I have found is that most people don’t understand what an assault rifle is and they are confused about its capabilities.

The truth is that if you go to the gun store and by a .223 caliber rifle is may have a cool sounding name like a “Bushmaster AR15” and it may look like the military M4 assault rifle but it is not. Most states have laws that limit magazine (what people incorrectly call a “clip”) capacity to 10 rounds or less (you can get higher capacity but depending on your state it may not be legal) while the M4 assault rifle can carry 20 rounds to over 100 rounds depending on how it is fed. The M4 can shoot in bursts (it will fire 3 to 5 rounds every time you pull the trigger) and it can often fire on fully-automatic (it will keep firing as long as the trigger is depressed and there are rounds in the magazine). The .223 you bought at your local gun store can legally hold about 10 rounds and can only fire once every time you pull the trigger, because it is a rifle…that is all it is, it’s not a machine gun.

Government compiled statistics show that semi-automatic rifles, while scary looking, are used in less than 1% off all crime in the US. So, what are we getting bent out of shape about? Even if you just look at mass shootings like what happened at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook you’ll see that semi-automatic rifles are rarely used. Most mass shootings are accomplished with handguns and shotguns.

The simple truth is that semi-automatic rifles are not very attractive for the criminal element. Why? First, why get a semi-automatic rifle when you can get an actual assault rifle? Criminals don't’ get their guns legally and they can get their hands on actual fully-automatic assault rifles and submachine guns so why would they bother will semi-automatic weapons?

Second, they are more expensive. Most criminals either get their firearms by stealing them or they buy them from other criminals for extremely low prices; for example, a criminal might sell you a revolver for $100, a semi-automatic handgun for $250, a shotgun for $150, and then a semi-automatic rifle for $800. Most criminals will stick with the handguns and shotguns every day of the week and statistics prove it.

Third, they’re complicated to use. Most firearm experts would consider the average police officer barely proficient with their weapon so how skilled do you think the average criminal is? Most criminals fire their weapons rarely if ever, they instead use them to intimidate their victims. Criminals are often great at violence but have little to no training. The most common firearm used by criminals is a revolver (Smith & Wesson .38 to be exact) and that is because they are cheap, easy to use, and easy to operate. In a semi-automatic weapon there are different levers and such to manipulate and if your gun jams you have to stop and manually clear it, but in a revolver you just put your rounds in and keep pulling the trigger and that is all there is to it. Criminals don’t train and most of them don’t know to properly shoot a gun so a semi-automatic rifle is the last thing they would want.

Fourth, they are hard to conceal. If you’re going to rob someone on the street or hold up a liquor store you’re not going to be walking around with a rifle for everyone to see. Criminals rarely use any kind of rifle.

So, why should the public have access to semi-automatic rifles that happen to have a cosmetic appearance similar to military issue assault weapons, other than the fact that there isn’t really a good reason to take them away? People need them for their own defense. It is as simple as that.

It is estimated that every year 2.45 million crimes are stopped by private citizens who own guns. Statistics also show that whenever there's a spike in guns sales there is almost always a sharp decline in gun related crime. We’ve seen over and over that a well-armed public equals lower crime and safer streets; where in America is there the highest concentration of guns? Chicago. What major city in America has the lowest number of gun violence? You guessed it, Chicago.

We’ve seen, over and over, what happens when the general public is denied access to firearms, just look at what happened in Australia; the Australian government had to make home invasions illegal because when people had guns they never happened but as soon as the public was disarmed they happened in epidemic proportions and prosecutors didn’t know how to charge the perpetrators.

Why do we specifically want a modern semi-automatic rifle for personal defense? A small portion is principle because there is no logic in taking away guns that just look scary; however, the main argument is because they are a better more effective weapon than a handgun. I can defend my family better with a semi-automatic rifle than I can with a handgun. It is a better weapon and it is as simple as that.

My family is simply safer with a semi-automatic rifle in the house then they are without one. Hopefully nothing bad ever happens to my family and hopefully I will never have to pull a gun, let alone a trigger, with the intent of taking a life but if I have to I want to have the most effective weapon possible. I have a .38 revolver in my bedroom but in all honesty I wouldn’t go to that weapon if someone was trying to break into home or harm my family because that gun isn’t a very effective self-defense weapon. It is underpowered and not very accurate. When you shoot a criminal that is out to harm you or your family you want to shoot them and stop them right away and there have been criminals shot numerous times with a .38 and not even realized they had been shot. A shotgun would be better but I wouldn’t have the control and accuracy I’d have if I got out a semi-automatic rifle.

A major problem is that often people have been brainwashed by Hollywood and they don’t understand what it takes to put someone down. On average you will have to shoot someone 3 to 4 times in the torso to make them stop and you just might have to shoot them 5 or more times. There are police officers who have had to shoot suspects 10 or 15 times to stop them, and there have been soldiers who have had to shoot enemy combatants over 20 times (with actual assault rifles) to stop them. People just don’t fall down dead when they get shot, you might just have to put 10 or 15 bullets in someone to save your life so why not do that with the most effective weapon possible?

Consider this last argument: if the new “assault weapon” ban passes it will ban law abiding citizens from possessing many semi-automatic rifles and handguns as well (while criminals are largely unaffected because they don’t get their guns from a gun store) and those that already possess them will be allowed to keep them but they will have to be registered under the “Federal Firearms Acts” (FFA). Every single weapon will go through a thorough registration so the government will know exactly what you have in your home. The problems with this are, first, you cannot take those weapons across state lines without permission from the government which currently can take up to 4 months. If millions of weapons were added the strain on the government would be so great it could 9 or 10 months to get approval. So, if you wanted to go to another state to visit relatives (for example) but your concealed carry handgun fell under this stupid ban you can’t just go, you might have to wait 10 months or more until you can do get permission to do something as inane as that. It is absolutely ridiculous to have to plan your travels perhaps a year out in advance.

Second, historically every time a government has required mass registration of firearms a disarming of the public has followed...every time in every country. What will most likely happen if this ban passes is those firearms will be registered, and then nothing will change because there is no logic to this ban and these weapons are not being used by criminals, just like nothing changed under the last ban in 1994, and sooner or later another mass shooting will happen. When the next mass shooting happens, or maybe one or two beyond that, they will say it since things aren’t changing they need to confiscate our registered firearms and those weapons will be taken away. After disarming the public to that degree it won’t be hard to keep going and in 50 years criminals will be running around with actual assault rifles and the general public will only be allowed .22 caliber single shot rifles to defend themselves with. This is not the smart direction to go in or the direction our founding fathers would have approved of.

Bottom line, the only people buying up and using semi-automatic rifles are law abiding citizens. Criminals don’t want them, especially when they can get their hands on the real thing, so it is only responsible law abiding citizens that will suffer if we take them away.