larry correia

Let’s talk about “assault weapons,” shall we?

I tried to post this in response to a friend’s Facebook post of “for the love of all that is holy, NOW can we ban military-grade assault weapons?”
 
Apparently, my post was too long for a “reply,” so I’m posting it here. Incidentally, doesn’t it say a lot about the fact that Facebook – probably the #1 place where important issues are discussed in all the world – does not permit people to respond in a way long enough to actually properly treat important subjects? If that isn’t a sign of how our ability to really discuss important issues has declined, I don’t know what is.
Anyway, to my reply:
 
Actually, no. One more pre-discussion note: BEFORE you go off your hinges, please understand (and I say this about eight hundred other times in the below, but fully expect some people not to read anything other than a lack of 100% agreement with both their thoughts and their methods) I AM IN FAVOR OF SOME THINGS CHANGING IN RE GUN CONTROL LAWS. But most people on the pro-gun-control side are going about it in an ineffective way from the basic point of view of the vocabulary they choose (as in the above).
 
Now last time I posted something that even tangentially touched on politics, and explicitly said, “I’m not for this PERSON, but I like this SENTIMENT,” a number of people came into the comments, starting screaming and cursing, then blocked me and unfriended me on Facebook.
 
I’m not going to say “good riddance” to those people – then or now. I am sorry to see ANYONE self-select out of my circle of friends, and actually MORE sorry in a lot of ways when it’s someone I disagree with. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, because that’s the secret to stupidity.
 
But… yeah… I’m betting the same will happen here. And as then, I’ll be sorry to see you go. But I also can’t sit by and watch so many of my friends argue such an important thing in a way that is guaranteed to reach a poor result.
 
***
QUOTE: “…for the love of all that is holy, NOW can we ban military-grade assault weapons?”
 
MY RESPONSE:
FYI “assault weapons” is a nonstarter because it’s a nonsense term. The fact that this is a nonsense term is discussed in detail at the bottom of this post, but for now… here’s the problem with using it:
 
 
I am not saying I’m against tighter gun control – I actually lean toward some restrictions, though not many that I’ve seen proposed make any sense from a real world perspective, given the current state of technology and what statistical analysis I’ve seen.
 
But whenever people start talking about “assault weapons,” the very people you want so hard to convince turn off their ears because it convinces them that you are echoing a sound bite rather than doing the basic research necessary to have a competent conversation on the issue. Worse, it actually ENLISTS other people to side with them.
 
The equivalent would be if someone hacked a person to death with a chainsaw and there was an immediate outcry against “high-speed action knives.” The folks at the Craftsman chainsaw division are going to go on the offensive – but so are those from Ginsu, Swiss Army, and Sears.
 
 
Again, PLEASE DO NOT SHUT DOWN BECAUSE I AM SAYING YOU ARE USING THE WRONG WORDS. I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT DISCUSSION TO HAPPEN. But you can’t have good discussion where one side (the gun people, in this instance) understand the technical aspects of the subject under discussion, and so many of the pro-gun-control people don’t even bother to learn the right terminology. Why would ANYONE on the gun side of that spectrum want to bother?
 
 
Example: A rocket scientist has designed a rocket that he believes is to be used for surveillance purposes, and for defensive action in case of attack against US soil. In fact, the rocket has been used to deliver payloads to unsuspecting enemies of the US. YOU know – and have proof that – his product has been turned into a missile/bomb, and is being used illegally and/or imorally! You make an appointment to talk to him, and start off with, “Your pointy airplane is killing everyone! And there’s no use for your pointy airplane, you KILLER!”
 
 
How long do you think that discussion would last? And how unreasonable do you think the rocket scientist would be for throwing someone who shows all the signs of being either an idiot or a nut job out of his office?
 
 
Again, AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN: this is not to say stay out of the conversation. The OPPOSITE – GET INTO IT! But get into it in an educated way, because THAT is the way to get a measurable result.
 
NOTE AGAIN: even though I have made it SUPER CLEAR that I’m not against gun control, and that the purpose of this post is to HELP PEOPLE WITH GUN SAFETY CONCERNS BETTER ARGUE THEIR CASE, AND DO SO IN A WAY THAT MORE GUN-USE ADVOCATES WILL RESPECT, I fully intend someone to start arguing about why gun control is good here. They will miss the point and lash out at anyone who disagrees with them in any way – even if it’s not in substance, but just in the ineffective way they are dealing with the subject. Worse, those people will likely start screaming about “assault weapons” and echoing the other talking points – which is the entire point of this (tl;dr) post.
 
This is the way spoiled children react when told they don’t get a toy because they haven’t bothered to read the instructions and will break it. I would hope it is NOT the way most of us want to reach decisions in the most important questions of our day.
 
 
Engage, engage, engage! But don’t go into someone else’s house (or the place they perceive as their house, which is reasonable since they are the only ones who seem to want to be there), and start arguing with them in a made-up language. Speak to them in words they understand, and words that actually MEAN something.
 
 
**
PROBLEM WITH “ASSAULT WEAPONS/ASSAULT RIFLES” AS A TERM:
 
 
The following is quoted from a really good article on gun control issues, written by my friend Larry Correia.
 
For the record: I DO NOT AGREE WITH EVERYTHING IN THE ARTICLE. But Larry is extremely smart, and extraordinarily knowledgeable on the subject. More than that, he will actually engage – POLITELY – with anyone who has shown they have educated themselves on the subject and want to talk about why they think he is wrong.
 
He will also mock and then excoriate people who walk in under the assumption that their reading a newspaper article gives them the necessary knowledge to competently argue the very technical issues of gun laws.
 
But he is kind and considerate to others who show HIM kindness and consideration – even when he disagrees with them. I have seen this. I put all this ahead of the definition so you will know that a) he is an expert, b) I don’t always agree with him, and c) he’s shown a willingness to talk to me about any and all things that concern me – even to the point of taking me to a gun range to show me details of shooting everything from handguns to the things most folks would definitely think of as “assault weapons.”
 
In other words, he’s a good example of a “good” gun nut (and I call him that with a measure of affection, especially since that’s what he calls himself). You want people like HIM to believe you – especially since they are the movers and shakers (the below-linked article is the #1 most-shared internet article on gun control in the history of the internet). If you want to change things, you have to change THESE minds, and you have to do it at a level of competence and thought that folks like him will respect – because it shows that you respect both the subject, and respect them as people.
 
 
The link to the entire article (which contains an exhaustive list of his qualifications, as well) is below the excerpt:
 
 
And a final note: if all this is “too long,” then I would suggest you TAKE YOURSELF OUT OF THE DISCUSSION. I believe, strongly, that the issue of gun safety, gun availability, proper use of force, and gun control is one of the most important questions of this generation. But most people think “one of the most important questions” means: “I will scream and yell about it (on both sides), but can’t be bothered to do research. That’s too much like school, and who needs that to deal with something as EASY and OBVIOUS as gun control?”
 
 
Well, if it was that easy and that obvious, it wouldn’t still be a problem. Not unless you believe that over fifty percent of the U.S. population is both stupid and evil (not to mention the rest of the world). And in that case, we are well and truly screwed no matter what.
 
 
I choose to believe most people are good, and most people are smart. But experience has also taught me that I have to talk to people in a way they understand and respect if I hope to provide them with good advice that they will actually take.
 
 
***
by Larry Correia
 
 
 
_____We should ban Assault Rifles!_____
 
 
Define “assault rifle”…
Uh…
Yeah. That’s the problem. The term assault rifle gets bandied around a lot. Politically, the term is a loaded nonsense one that was created back during the Clinton years. It was one of those tricks where you name legislation something catchy, like PATRIOT Act. (another law rammed through while emotions were high and nobody was thinking, go figure).
To gun experts, an assault rifle is a very specific type of weapon which originated (for the most part) in the 1940s. It is a magazine fed, select fire (meaning capable of full auto), intermediate cartridge (as in, actually not that powerful, but I’ll come back to that later) infantry weapon.
The thing is, real assault rifles in the US have been heavily regulated since before they were invented. The thing that the media and politicians like to refer to as assault rifles is basically a catch all term for any gun which looks scary.
I had somebody get all mad at me for pointing this out, because they said that the term had entered common usage. Okay… If you’re going to legislate it, DEFINE IT.
And then comes up that pesky problem. The US banned assault rifles once before for a decade and the law did absolutely nothing. I mean, it was totally, literally pointless. The special commission to study it said that it accomplished absolutely nothing. (except tick a bunch of Americans off, and as a result we bought a TON more guns) And the reason was that since assault weapon is a nonsense term, they just came up with a list of arbitrary features which made a gun into an assault weapon.
Problem was, none of these features actually made the gun functionally any different or somehow more lethal or better from any other run of the mill firearm. Most of the criteria were so silly that they became a huge joke to gun owners, except of course, for that part where many law abiding citizens accidentally became instant felons because one of their guns had some cosmetic feature which was now illegal.
One of the criteria was that it was semi-automatic. See above. Hard to ban the single most common and readily available type of gun in the world. (unless you believe in confiscation, but I’ll get to that). Then what if it takes a detachable magazine! That’s got to be an Evil Feature. And yes, we really did call the Evil Features. I’ll talk about magazines below, but once again, it is pretty hard to ban something that common unless you want to go on a confiscatory national suicide mission.
For example, flash hiders sound dangerous. Let’s say having a flash hider makes a gun an assault weapon. So flash hiders became an evil feature. Problem is flash hiders don’t do much. They screw onto the end of your muzzle and divert the flash off to the side instead of straight up so it isn’t as annoying when you shoot. It doesn’t actually hide the flash from anybody else. EVIL.
Barrel shrouds were listed. Barrel shrouds are basically useless, cosmetic pieces of metal that go over the barrel so you don’t accidentally touch it and burn your hand. But they became an instantaneous felony too. Collapsible stocks make it so you can adjust your rifle to different size shooters, that way a tall guy and his short wife can shoot the same gun. Nope. EVIL FEATURE!
It has been a running joke in the gun community ever since the ban passed. When Carolyn McCarthy was asked by a reporter what a barrel shroud was, she replied “I think it is the shoulder thing which goes up.” Oh good. I’m glad that thousands of law abiding Americans unwittingly committed felonies because they had a cosmetic piece of sheet metal on their barrel, which has no bearing whatsoever on crime, but could possibly be a shoulder thing which goes up.
Now are you starting to see why “assault weapons” is a pointless term? They aren’t functionally any more powerful or deadly than any normal gun. In fact the cartridges they normally fire are far less powerful than your average deer hunting rifle. Don’t worry though, because the same people who fling around the term assault weapons also think of scoped deer rifles as “high powered sniper guns”.
Basically, what you are thinking of as assault weapons aren’t special.
Now, the reason that semi-automatic, magazine fed, intermediate caliber rifles are the single most popular type of gun in America is because they are excellent for many uses, but I’m not talking about fun, or hunting, or sports, today I’m talking business. And in this case they are excellent for shooting bad people who are trying to hurt you, in order to make them stop trying to hurt you. These types of guns are superb for defending your home. Now some of you may think that’s extreme. That’s because everything you’ve learned about gun fights comes from TV. Just read the link where I expound on why.
I had one individual tell me that these types of guns are designed to slaughter the maximum number of people possible as quickly as possible… Uh huh… Which is why every single police department in America uses them, because of all that slaughtering cops do daily. Cops use them for the same reason we do, they are handy, versatile, and can stop an attacker quickly in a variety of circumstances.
When I said “stop an attacker quickly” somebody on Twitter thought that he’d gotten me and said “Stop. That’s just a euphemism for kill!” Nope. I am perfectly happy if the attacker surrenders or passes out from blood loss too. Tactically and legally, all I care about is making them stop doing whatever it is that they are doing which caused me to shoot them to begin with.
The guns that many of you think of as assault rifle are common and popular because they are excellent for fighting, and I’ll talk about what my side really thinks about the 2nd Amendment below.
 
 
 
Posted by mbc@writteninsomnia.com in Life Advice

Gun Control: Necessary?

In the wake of recent mass-murders/shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, a lot of my friends have been debating gun control vs. no (or less) gun control (for obvious reasons). I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, but the below captures one of the most important parts of my “gun philosophy”:

A recent study showed that mass shooters in the past decade or so all have one thing in common – not race, not terrorist ties, not mental health issues, none of the usual bugaboos. What the study showed is that all were disenchanted outsiders looking for a cause. In some cases that need was sated by extremist religious beliefs. In others, it was met by the belief that “a statement must be made” (and the fact that the media’s reporting DEFINITELY impacts and foments mass shootings is a whole other ball of goo), and the statement was going to be made via mass murder.

I think that the arguments over gun controls, the extents of the second amendment, etc. are all useless in the end. Because no matter what, more and more people WILL find a way to commit these atrocities. There has never been a law so perfect that it could mandate sanity or even common sense, or that absolutely prevented evil from occurring. Often, indeed, such laws just feed the fires of the ill they seek to prevent (if you don’t believe that, think about whether or not you think at least SOME of the United States’ foreign policy decisions lead to increased anti-American sentiment abroad).

So legislation is not the answer. Sorry.

What we need is to look at ways to increase connectedness and faith. Not “I believe in Jesus” faith, necessarily, but rather faith in larger purposes. A life where the only human interactions are electronic (as was the case with many of the shooters) strips any sense of connectivity to the tribe of humanity, and increases selfishness. If our community encouraged more selflessness instead of self-promotion, service instead of self-satisfaction, then I think we’d see a dramatic drop in mass shootings.

Unfortunately, as long as we continue to steer ourselves toward a place where we look to help ourselves to more more MORE things things THINGS, we are going to lose sight with the non-things (i.e., “people”) in our lives and will thus view those non-things as unimportant and, ultimately, expendable.

It is not religion or hate that guide many of the shootings, I think. It is the absence of humility, the pervasiveness of selfishness, and the lack of belief in things greater than ourselves.

Posted by mbc@writteninsomnia.com in Life Advice

The 2015 Hugo Controversy – A Few Thoughts

I usually don’t get involved in online “discussions.” Partly because so much of what we “discuss” happens on Facebook – the equivalent of trying to teach recalcitrant students rocket science exclusively through the use of bumper stickers.* And partly because I’m busy, you know, writing for a living.

But a number of events have come together to… ahem… encourage me to jump in. One is that I’m currently sitting here with ice on my junk and in too much pain to feel like working on my current work in progress (the product of an enthusiastic infant who thinks my groin is really a trampoline… ahhh, the joys of fatherhood). The other is that I just have too many friends who are supporting something that I find personally reprehensible.

A bit of history:

The Hugo Award is one that is given for excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing. A group of
people calling themselves the Sad Puppies (a name they took to make fun of liberal causes du jour) started
a few years ago to encourage people to vote for books that were not (to use their words) “message
fiction,” but rather simply fun books, books that “normal people” (whatever those are) like to read.
Anyone who wants to and is willing to slap over 40 bucks can vote for the Hugos, and the Sad Puppies
actually got a few of their works on the ballot.

The Sad Puppies were the brainchild of Larry Correia, the New York Times bestselling writer of the Monster Hunter International series. Larry is also so right-wing he “throws away the left Twix in every package” (this is pretty much word-for-word from his site).

This is important to the narrative.

Correia is not a white guy. He is of Portuguese descent. Also important.

Fast forward to this year. The Sad Puppies were still supported by Correia, but were taken over by another author named Brad Torgersen. Brad is a sci-fi author who has won numerous awards. He has also been married to a black woman for about 20 years. This, too, is important to the narrative.

Along with the Sad Puppies, another group sprang into being. Latching onto the success of the SPs, they called themselves the Rabid Puppies. The person who birthed them goes by the online moniker Vox Day and, from what I can tell, he has said some pretty nasty things about pretty much every racial, sexual, and other minority possible.

The Sad Puppies made it clear from the beginning they were not happy with the Rapid Puppies using their name, but because there is little they could do to stop it – short of actually beating up Vox (which, based on what I can tell of his persona, he might have enjoyed) – the RPs kept on keeping on. So did the SPs, telling people at every turn that they were not affiliated with and by and large did not agree with the RPs.

In this year’s Hugo voting period, the SPs suggested to their “followers” (I have no better name than this) that certain books be considered for the Hugo awards in most if not all the categories. Among those requested for consideration were works by women, minorities, and people of both straight and homosexual orientations. They also included some of the top-selling and most respected writers working in sci-fi fantasy today.

The books suggested were vetted primarily by Torgersen, and came with the exhortation that the books a) be read, and b) only be voted for if the people voting thought they were worthy.

The RPs also suggested works. There was some overlap.

Come Hugo nomination time, between the SPs and the RPs, their slates pretty much swept the major categories. Though there had been campaigning before with regard to the Hugos (some of it quite open), no group or groups had ever before organized a slate of this nature, and certainly no group had ever organized a slate of works that were nominated on this scale.

People who had supported previous winners and people ideologically opposed to the SPs and/or RPs immediately began crying foul. Saying that the Hugos had been used and ill-used by evil people (and I am not exaggerating when I say “evil”). There was a piece written in Entertainment Weekly that claimed without basis that the SPs were racist and sexist. A retraction was later published.

Still, the claims were picked up and repeated. Add to that claims that the SPs/RPs (for the two are most often conflated as if they are two heads of a single hydra) are homophobic, white men who have a desire to subjugate those with whom they do not agree and turn the Hugos into an exclusively white male offering.

Among the claims made were that Torgersen, specifically, is a racist and a homophobe. He eventually pointed out that he had been married to a black woman for over twenty years and had a child with her. The response: that his marriage was a sham and his wife and child were “shields.”

Through all this, Torgersen and Correia kept posting on their blogs, repeatedly calling for opponents to provide hard evidence of their racism, sexism, etc. To my knowledge, none was provided. That said, they certainly got angry at times – Correia, in particular, has made a name for himself as being very… hmmm… abrasive at times. And certainly whenever someone posted something mean in a public forum about the SPs and/or RPs, their supporters tended to flood comments with statements ranging from reasoned arguments to wrathful screeds.

Later, an editor at Tor named Irene Gallo published the following on her personal Facebook page (for those who don’t know, Tor is one of the premier publishers of sci-fi fantasy, and several of its authors are up for Hugo awards). This was in response to a question re who the SPs were:

“There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.”

This caused an uproar. Many SP and RP supporters wrote to Tor calling for action against Gallo. Eventually the head of Tor, Tom Doherty, wrote an open letter in which he stated that Gallo’s opinions were her own, but that she had not made that clear and had been remiss in doing so. Further, that that fact had been impressed upon her anew and that Tor employees generally had been told to make clear when they spoke for themselves, and when they spoke for Tor.

A few portions of the letter:

“The Puppies groups were organized to support a slate of authors for the Hugo Awards, given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. Media coverage of the two groups initially suggested that they were organized simply to promote white men, which was not correct. Each Puppies’ slate of authors and editors included some women and writers of color, including Rajnar Vajra, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson and Amanda Green. Some of the authors on the Sad Puppy slate have been published by Tor and Tor.com, including Kevin J. Anderson, John C. Wright, Ed Lerner and Michael F. Flynn. Many, many Hugo Award nominees and winners are our authors too, including Kevin J. Anderson, John C. Wright and Katherine Addison this year and John Chu, John Scalzi, Cherie Priest and Jo Walton in past years, just to mention a few.



Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves.”

Subsequent to this, people (many of them my friends) began posting on Facebook that they supported – or did not support – Gallo. Some stated that the SPs had ganged up on Tor and “made” Doherty do this. Others claimed it was a dark day for women in sci-fi fantasy, as though the letter had been a product of gender bias (whether on the part of the SPs, the RPs, Doherty, or some combination of the three, I do not know). Still others claimed explicitly that they refused to deal with whether or not Gallo’s claims were true, but that she was an important voice standing up to the bullies that are the SPs and/or RPs. There are others, but these are the ones that most stand out.

Now, some of my impressions and observations. And, by the way, if you’ve stuck around for all this, kudos.

1) The SPs as evil.

I simply can’t address this in its totality. I suspect that they are people. That some of them are nice, that some are not. I suspect they run the gamut of humanity.

But I can say that I know Larry Correia and, to a lesser extent, Brad Torgersen. I know them mostly through conventions and writing symposia we all attend, where I bump into them with fair regularity. At these things, you cannot throw a stick without it hitting someone who is a) of a different gender, b) of a different sexual orientation, c) of a different whatever-it-is-than-you-are.

As far as I can tell, neither Larry nor Brad care at all. They are universally courteous – even Larry, who is so much nicer when you meet him in person that you wonder if he has an evil twin locked up and who he lets out solely to write angry blog posts when the situation demands.

I have seen them interact with people of color, homosexuals, cosplayers, even authors, and they are nice to everyone.

I have observed up close the fact that Larry is not a white dude. Though he is big and often has an amazing beard, under it he is kind of olive-y. Can a Portuguese guy be racist? Or is that not sufficiently far enough from white to keep him from being evil as a matter of course? I don’t know the rules these days (and no, that’s not a joke – some people have rules that come down color lines and I really don’t know them).

I have also observed how Brad treats his wife, and to call him a racist is ludicrous, unless you redefine the word so radically as to render it useless as a descriptor.

2) The slate as a concept is evil.

I can’t really opine on this. I don’t know enough about the Hugos. I can say that, speaking as one on the outside, gaming for awards is nothing new (the Weinstein Company is famous for garnering Oscars, for example), and to act shocked that it occurred is either naive or disingenuous.

That said, the SPs and RPs as groups seem to have a lot in common ideologically and seem to enjoy a lot of the same things as their respective leaders. So for either to say, “Hey, this isn’t just a pro forma thing – we told them to read everything!” also seems a bit disingenuous. People follow recommendations by people they trust. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s the basis for much that is good of civilization! But it does imply a strong possibility that many of the books that made it to the ballot made it on the recommendation of a person, not the reality of the content.

3) Gallo’s words and Facebook and Doherty’s response.

Okay, for this one I have to preface everything with the fact that I was a business owner. I was a lawyer for ten years and part owner of the law firm for a while. And if one of my employees got on Facebook and said something that might impact my business, she and I would have words. Serious words.

This has nothing to do with gender, or color, or orientation. This has to do with the fact that no matter how “personal” a Facebook page is, it is also a public place. Talking to your friends on Facebook is not talking to them in your living room. It is more akin to gathering them about in the park, then standing on a soap box and shouting back and forth: sure, the conversation is personalized, but it’s very easily overheard by others, too.

Doherty responded very well, I thought.

First, an employee had possibly libeled a group of people. And when people like that are sued, the employer is often brought in as a “deep pocket.” It’s just a reality of litigation. So he had to make it clear she was not responding for Tor as a matter of financial protection. This was especially crucial since, even though she made her statements on her Facebook page, it was in conjunction with Tor-related announcements.

Second, an employee had bad-mouthed the company’s own product by calling the entire slate – some of whom were Tor authors, remember – “bad-to-reprehensible works.” This is anathematic to the purpose of the business itself, and if she were speaking as an employee, it probably would have been a basis for dismissal. By making it clear she was speaking of her own accord, Mr. Doherty might have acted to save her job.

From my point of view as an ex-lawyer and business owner – and someone who tries to act professional – Gallo acted wrongly, and Doherty acted extremely professionally under difficult circumstances.

4) The upshot.

It all makes me sad.

I remember reading books that said “Hugo Winner” on them and thinking they’d be great. I remember looking at certain people and thinking they would be above name-calling, ad hominem attacks, an apparent lust to hurt someone simply because they disagreed with them.

I can think neither thing now.

The Hugos are tarnished. Not because a slate won a set of nominations, but because of the way the community that purports to hold the Hugos up as sacred reacted. Anger? Fine. Outrage? Human. Slurs, innuendo, baseless attacks, tarring people with such a wide brush that it would be impossible not to hit innocent bystanders? This is what I find the most disturbing. This is what I find truly tragic.

I will no longer look at Hugo Award winners with such excitement. And I will be wary of certain people. Because what if someday they disagree with me?

* This analogy courtesy of my father.

Posted by mbc@writteninsomnia.com in Life Advice