Thursday, February 15, 2018


I admit, I'm fascinated by guns, especially by contemporary double-action revolvers, I don't own a gun, I don't plan to acquire one, but I think about them a lot, daydream, even. For example, I have a recurring daydream of being a Sheriff in the southwestern US, somewhat like the character played by Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men. I've spent some time in stores looking at the revolvers in the display cases and talking about them with the people behind the counters. When I was a kid I upset my pacifist family by buying and carefully studying a few gun magazines. Shooting Times was the best one, in my opinion. There were also thick annual reference guides listing every sort of gun you could get; I think they were published by Shooting Times. My Mom wouldn't let me get those annual volumes. We couldn't even have toy guns.

I don't want to hurt anybody, much less shoot them. In the fantasies about being a Sheriff in some place like Arizona or semi-rural southern California, I sometimes have to resort to carrying a gun to protect the citizens whom I have sworn to protect from a bear or mountain lion. I imagine that some other government agency calls me and angrily tells me to stand down: they want to capture the animal and return it to a place more far away from people. I tell them that I hope they succeed in doing exactly that, but that I am still sworn to protect the people in the area, and if I get to the mountain lion or bear before they do, rather than risk a person being mauled and perhaps killed, I will shoot it. My office has a live satellite image of the animal, and we're glad to share it.

To those who have a zero-tolerance policy against shooting animals, whether by hunters or law enforcement, I ask whether they are vegetarian, or at least only eat meat which was raised free-range. I flunk that test, and I know that a lot of meat and poultry is raised under conditions much more cruel than anything anyone ever did when they were hunting.

I'm in favor of much stricter gun control. I think that people who show tendencies to violence or the potential toward violence or potentially violent mental instability should be separated from guns with all reasonable and unreasonable means.

And I'm autistic. And some people who've gone on mass-murdering shooting sprees may or may not have been autistic. So some people think that autistic people should be at or very near the top of the list of those who need to be kept away from guns.

I don't think autistic people are more likely than average to go on shooting sprees, in fact, I suspect that we're less likely, and that those shooters mentioned above may not actually have been autistic. I don't think I'm crazy. I don't think that autistic equals crazy, or dangerous, or mentally unstable. Autistic people may sometimes seem crazy or dangerous or unstable, but, for the most part, that's because we're different and difficult to understand, and if and when we are better understood, we reveal ourselves to be mostly quite gentle and harmless.

So this leaves me with the very uncomfortable question of how I should react when -- I think it will be when, not if -- greater gun control comes to the US at long last, and it includes restrictions applied to autistic people. On the one hand, gun control is needed, badly, and I shouldn't try to slow it down. On the other hand, if we autistic people are kept away from guns, because we're thought to be crazy, does that also mean that we'll be prevented from driving, or having bank accounts, or from holding certain professions for which we may be well-qualified?

Life is sloppy and imperfect, and in emergencies -- the lack of gun control in the US is a huge emergency, just in case it wasn't entirely clear that that is my opinion -- in emergencies, some people's rights and privileges tend to get stepped on. Wars have collateral damage. We try to minimize it.

Today on Facebook, someone sarcastically said: if it's too soon to talk about yesterday's school shooting in Florida, can we at least talk about Sandy Hook now? That made me wonder whether Smith & Wesson have a Facebook page, and whether yesterday's shooting was mentioned on it. They do, they have a very popular page, and yesterday's shooting is not mentioned on it. Weak. And, unfortunately, hardly surprising. In the 1990's, an executive at Colt mentioned in a magazine interview that he was not opposed to all forms of gun control, and the gun buyers' backlash and boycott to that was so severe that it very nearly put Colt out of business permanently. Much like the Republican party, in its relationship to the NRA and Trump and many other things, the gun industry has very few people with the guts to stand up against the nuts. And that's truly shameful.

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