‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ in Paperback (on Amazon)

A few weeks back I announced that the collection of essays I co-edited with Thomas Thompson, Is This Not the Carpenter?, was coming out in paperback.  At the time, I had (wrongly, it seems) believed it to be ready for preorder.  Alas!

But then…


…and on Amazon.com ($29.95) and Amazon.co.uk (£19.99) for preorder!  And the prices are, as I had said previously, incredibly reduced compared to the hardback!


Have We Created Our Own Gun-Crazy Dystopia?

Aaron Adair raised a useful point:

[D]o we really want to fear a [dystopia] by making it legal for terrible people to get the sorts of weapons that will rip through law enforcement?

via Looking at the New Gun Proposals | Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars.

That is a frame of mind I think a lot of people have; the government might overstep itself a bit, so we have to be prepared with an entire arsenal of weapons just in case.  Even though in roughly 236 years the government has never done this (although when some parts of the country thought it had, they started a war that cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans).  But just in case, the argument goes, we might have to repulse the government troops!

Good luck with that….

But this concerns me a great deal.  First and foremost, by allowing lax gun laws, we’re creating a government that ipso facto has to have more authority: more guns=more violent crimes=more government policing.  In other words, the gun enthusiasts are like people with Borderline Personality Disorder.  By their very actions they are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In the process of trying to defend themselves against a tyrannical government, they have forced the hand of officials to become more invasive.  The Civil War was a real event that cost the country dearly; the government of the United States has to protect 311 million people–not just gun enthusiasts.

Still, there is something startlingly ironic about the fear soaking up the conscience of our country.  Some have become so afraid that they want to create more loop holes and make it far easier for criminals to get guns.  They might not realize that is what they’re asking for, but let’s face it, that is what they are asking–no, not asking, demanding.  What these individuals don’t recognize is that making it easier for the law abiding citizen to get a gun also makes it easier for a criminal.  Criminals have more often than not acquired guns legally, or have stolen weapons from people who have acquired them legally.

Let me give an example: When Los Angeles issued a buy-back program to get guns off the streets, it was insanely successful.  Over 2,000 firearms were recovered for giftcards to supermarkets.  And guess what was among those 2,000 firearms?  75 military style assault rifles and two… two anti-tank rocket launchers.  Full stop.

Whether or not the shoulder-mounted rocket launchers like the M72 LAW, used during the Vietnam War, contained ammunition (ergo, classified as ‘nonfunctional’), the fact that these sorts of weapons are considered ‘legal to own’ because they are collectables, scares the piss out of me.  Clearly if someone can get their hands on grenades, they can get their hands on ammunition.

Even with these sorts of weapons, I have to wonder, what is it that these ‘preper’ types think they are going to do with a large amount of assault weapons and a handful of rocket launchers?  I hate to be the guy to tell them, but the United States arsenal includes these bad boys:

These have only been shot down four times (officially) but have killed hundreds of people. Even if these numbers are exaggerated, the ratio isn’t far from 1,000 people to every 1 drone shot down (and that is just in one country).

Yeah.  Death from above.  And we have plenty of them.  So let’s stop kidding ourselves.  More guns will not prevent a tyrannical government.  Ever hear of Syria?  Yeah…the rebels have tons of guns.  Not just assault rifles and rocket launchers, but full swivel anti-aircraft cannons, tanks, the works.  Maybe they’ll win, but compared to our country–they actually do have a tyrannical government to take down.  We will never, ever have that type of government–unless the religious right gets its way.  That might be the only instance.

Now I’m not saying all of this to get people to buy more guns–if you’re reading this and your instinct is to go buy an old T72 Main Battle Tank, well,… you’re not much a critical thinker, are you?  No, my point here is to educate the reader: more guns will not make you more safe.  More guns will only make it easier for crazy people to shoot up more schools.

That state of oppression and fear for which you are preparing?  Guess what: you’re living in it.  You’ve created it yourselves with your paranoia, your stash of 200 weapons in a basement cellar somewhere that makes Sarah Conner look like a hippie with a heart, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself.

Indeed, this whole ‘arm teachers’ or ‘put undercover security forces in schools’ is just another example of fear driving a society to subconsciously  limit and oppress itself.   Do you want your school to look like this:

“Nothing gets in, not even liberty!”

Of course someone will make the argument (they always do), “We don’t want prisons, but we want security.”  That is asking for cake but wanting pie.  You can’t have it both ways.  A security detachment, even undercover, would have protocols.  I went to a high school which had security officers at every entrance.  But gang fights happened regularly that officials had to break up.  Additionally, bomb threats were a regular occurrence (and continues to be an issue).

Armed personnel does not limit the threat to students, it does no deter as much bad behavior as some would like us to believe.  It may even be a trigger, a challenge to overcome for someone brazen and insane enough to want to kill people.  And having more guns in schools will only allow for more accidental shootings (like this one).

Drawing attention back to the original question: Aren’t we already living in a tyrannical state (with the gun lobbyists as the tyrants) as a direct result of our own paranoia and fear and ‘what-if’s’?  I believe so.  If you think otherwise, it’s fine… go back ot counting your guns.

An Inside Look at Bart Ehrman’s Second Home!

Presumably (we hope), he rolls around in it ‘Scrooge McDuck’ style.


(Just kidding, Bart)
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