What do fat kids and guns have in common?
First, a list: one of these things is not like the other, “PowerBar, Oatmeal, egg, Cheese, Cookie, Cake, Candy Bar, AK-47″. See what I did just there? Maybe so. But let’s fire off a few rounds and see what shakes loose.
Patrick Carrube, when writing his article “Why the 1911 Doesn’t Suck” for TheTruthAboutGuns.com echoed a sentiment that I’ve read from other websites, heard from gun enthusiasts, and is generally reflected in the purchase records (such as they are) of gun sales from all over the country. Namely, that a lot of newer, higher yield magazine, higher fire-rate guns are no match for the reliability and accuracy of a gun that’s had basically the same design for over a century.
But along with his testimonials and anecdotes he makes an interesting point about the intensive over-manufacturing of modern firearms. He says their tolerances are sometimes so exact, so laser etched, so gee-wiz ultra high-tech that even ammo they’re supposed to be able to use doesn’t fit. He says that the older, looser, less exacting models are actually sometimes better.
He stands by his M1911, 100 years of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ can’t be wrong, right? Hell, he goes so far as to say that the fact that the safety can be tricky to release, and that the gun takes some getting used to is a strength, not a weakness. That it takes finesse and practice, like good shooting should. My favorite part was this paragraph, “One can argue that reliable 1911′s are actually more affordable than some other modern pistols. What Smith & Wesson pistol of recent manufacture won’t feed hollowpoints? …Glock? SiG? Beretta? Hundreds of them! …My neighbor has a brand-new S&W that jams every other round, and I have had two issues this year alone with brand-new, well-known, and popular firearms.” He doesn’t mention, but he could, a firearm series that’s become a cliche in the gun world. The Remington 700 series, with its “Walker Trigger” is famous for being such a piece of crap that it basically fires whenever it feels like it, safety on or not.
Still remember the list? PowerBar, Oatmeal, egg, Cheese, Cookie, Cake, Candy Bar, AK-47. Let’s soldier on.
After the Sandyhook shooting, and the Batman Premier shooting, and the Virginia Tech shooting, debate centered around firearm limitation. It’s about freedom, 2nd Amendment, a law so important it’s part of the DNA of the document that made us a country, says one side. It’s about insanity, it’s about protecting people from guns and gun violence, it’s about drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘you’re free, but you’re not that GodDamned free’, says another side.
I was asked by a friend of mine after the latest round of “Ban/No-Ban” went a spinnin’ if, once and for all, I favored a gun ban. I answered that I favor tipping points. That from the first, I was talking about violence and masculinity, competition based civic discourse, and that I wanted the whole issue re-framed. “I’m in favor of tipping points,” I said. “And until people see this for what it is, I’m just here to ask questions”. Unfortunately, and much to my chagrin, I find that frequently irks people something fierce.
How’s that list doing? PowerBar, Oatmeal, egg, Cheese, Cookie, Cake, Candy Bar, AK-74. Let’s bang on.
When the full magnitude of the Remington 700 series’ flaws came to light, replete with inter-company memos that went back 30 years showing that they knew all about it killing people accidentally, a news story on Dateline, the works. The call went out and defense attorneys came out of the woodwork to declare that it was a 2nd Amendment issue. “You can’t put manufacturing restrictions on guns” they said, “it’s our Constitutional right!” After Sandyhook, several of my friends bristled at any hint of gun regulation, even on magazine size. And yet, when I asked about it every one of them answered that 75 round drums were worthless, that with proper training a 6 shooter was just as fast as any uzi. None of them owned high cap mags, none of them wanted to. When I asked them why they were defending a technology that was obviously useless and pointless, I got no answer. They just somehow knew that it was important. Like a kid who’d been asked why sugar tastes good.
Speaking of sugar, permit me a moment’s digression, I promise it’s worth it. Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Moss just wrote a book. “Salt, Sugar, Fat” is about junk food, and junk food science, and how companies have spent decades and billions to get you hooked on Twinkies and hotdogs. He even interviewed people in the industry. He related the following on NPR’s Fresh Air, with Dave Davies standing in for Terry Gross: “I was surprised to hear from the former CEO of Philip Morris, who is no friend of government, no friend of government regulation,” says Moss, “to tell me that, ‘Look, Michael, in the case of the processed food industry, what you’re looking at is a total inability on their part to collectively decide to do the right thing by consumers on the health profile of their products. In this case, I can see how you might need government regulation if [for] nothing else [than] to give the companies cover from the pressure of Wall Street.’ ” These are businesses at their core, and they have to show a profit. They can’t be the first one on the block to win the award for ‘healthiest but bland as dog shit cereal’, their market share will drop too far for it to be worth the risk.
So, a guy who made his money on cigarettes and Hostess Cupcakes is asking for the government to step in and help Cambell’s and Nabisco to not be the bad-guy. He’s asking for government to take the bullet. Remember that list? PowerBar, Oatmeal, egg, Cheese, Cookie, Cake, Candy Bar, AK-47.
Depending on what stats you trust, we have enough guns for every man, woman, and child to own 4, and enough bullets to blow a crater in the moon with the collective gun powder. What if, just what if, the gun manufacturers know this? What if they also know that none of them wants to be the first to stop making 100 round drums and 9mm’s that don’t fire for shit but people buy like iPods and are released like the newest video game with state-of-the-art graphics? What if, just what if, we’re as addicted to guns as we are to nutter butters, and the companies know it?
So what’s with the damn list? Egg, that’s what. Of every item on the list, eggs are the only thing that don’t come fully formed from a factory press. They come out of the ass end of a chicken. It’s called Confirmation Bias, through a combination of Serial Position Effect, Availability Cascade, Von Restorff, Spacing Effect, and Repetition we’ve all been told that the shotgun is the stand alone, that it’s not like the others. When the whole time it was about what a chicken can make that we can’t. Eggs are even an essential element in the production of some of the others. Only the egg is the irreducible item.
What if, just what if, AK-47 is exactly like most of the others. What if it’s exactly like that food CEO and Cookie Crisps? What if they’ve been making shitty guns for years because that’s the only way they have of saying, without actually saying, “The NRA leadership has officially drunk the kool-aid, we’ve saturated the market three times over, this has become nothing but a never ending spiral. It’s gotten so bad we’re making them to the standards only a crazy person would want, and instead of cutting off the whole thing you’re helping the crazy people get more!? Take the hint already and do what we can’t to get out of this death spiral.”?
I’m in favor of tipping points. Let’s do this, so we can start talking about why it is that 80% of mass murderers are male, why it is that they go to schools and not Klan rallies, why they use guns and not cars or Molotov cocktails, why they make it personal and not political or anonymous. How is it not blind to say it’s an absolute right for me to own something nobody seems to own, and an absolute wrong to just stop making it?
So, what if the manufacturers aren’t trying to cajole us into doing what they can’t? Well, that’s certainly a possibility. But what would it look like if they were trying…?
What do fat kids and guns have in common?