Friday Firesmith – Guns and Comments

In the five-plus years I’ve been writing here, there are a couple of subjects that cause a lot of people to leave a lot of comments, and it always gets emotional. Guns, gun laws, and school shootings, are subjects that bring people to their keyboards and there’s been hurt feelings, some deleted posts, and some people demanding that I be fired. Jon has held the line, not choosing sides, mind you, but choosing instead to choose to let me, and you, talk about the subject, as long as it didn’t get too weird or too personal. Or both.

In case you missed it, on Valentine’s Day, 2018, a young man walked into a High School in Parkland Florida and started shooting with an AR-15. After murdering seventeen people he very calmly walked away and was arrested nearby.

Almost immediately, Troll Programs, whose sources come from outside the United States, began swarming all over Social Media posting Anti-gun posts and pro-Second Amendment essays, with material designed to cause people to violently disagree with one another. The fire was set, and it rages still.

Once upon a time, back in the late 1990’s, I was a troll. I set fires on the internet and then watched them burn. Perfectly good chat rooms were destroyed and hard feelings lasted into the realm of reality long after I had moved on to the next target.

This is how it works. Take this sentence: “The Republicans have sold their souls to the NRA and they’ll bathe in the blood of children before they allow any meaningful gun control laws to be passed.”

It presents not the first bit of factual information at all. It’s a sweeping, specious, spurious, and inflammatory generalization that is designed to do one thing, and one thing only; cause a reaction.

Or maybe this one, “Obama and the liberals are going to use the deaths of those kids as an excuse to take away our rights to bear arms!”

Again, there isn’t one piece of factual information in that sentence. It’s as wayward as the previous was, and is, and its design is perfectly mirrored by the other.

I wrote both those sentences. I designed them both. Those two sentences have nothing at all to do with the discussion on gun control. They were built to get a very specific reaction out of a very specific group of people and get this, it will work nearly every time, everywhere, and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

Right now, even as you read this, what I have told you did happen is still happening. The computer programs out there churning out these types of sentences have one goal and one goal only; to polarize the American electorate. It’s working beautifully. And it is going to kill this country if we keep allowing it to happen. It’s already killing our children.

Okay, take a breath. No, really, take a deep breath right now, and then take some time to try to figure out which side of this issue I’m trying to promote. If you came into this thinking one side or the other, fine, if you know me that’s good. But suppose you didn’t know anything at all about me. How did I make you feel when you were reading this? Did you feel like I was leaning to one side or the other? It’s possible to piss everyone off, and that’s when it’s a damn good sentence.

That’s what trolls do. That is what they are doing right now.

Remember this: I’ve already explained that neither of the sentences that you’ve read on the subject of gun control has any facts in them. Are you emotionally investing in something here? Are you gearing up for a fight? Have you already decided that you will agree or disagree with one sentence or the other, even after you’ve been alerted that I presented you with nothing of substance to form an opinion on?

There is nothing there. Stop swinging at it.

It is time, people… no, the time is way past due, for there to be a calm, logical, and constructive debate on the issue of gun control and ownership rights, without it turning into a screaming match. We have to come to an agreement that we can all live with and make laws that protect everyone. That’s how America is supposed to work. There are countries out there who do not want America to work. They are the ones winning this debate.

Stop wasting your time in endless and mindless debate with people online who may only exist inside of a computer program. Stop rising to the bait, and sit down across a table from someone with whom you disagree and talk about this.

This isn’t about gun control. This is about mind control. This is about emotional manipulation as a form of espionage that I saw in action decades ago.

Don’t feed the Trolls. Don’t condemn those with whom you disagree. Stop the noise and start presenting your thoughts in a manner that actually means something.

Because if we don’t, if both sides cannot stop what they’ve always done, then children will keep being murdered and that means we have failed them, again, and again, and again. It doesn’t matter who you blame because it keeps not getting fixed. How many more? How long before we, the adults, step in and do something?

We’re failing the kids. Start right there, with that thought, sit down, and talk to someone who you cannot agree with, and find a way to stop failing.


Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

21 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Guns and Comments”

  1. I think it’s important to note that it’s still legal to own a machine gun.

    So why couldn’t weapons of the same nature used in the most recent school shooting be put under the same restriction? It does, after all, still allow an individual to own one.

    The only other suggestion I would add is to require liability insurance for each gun. After all, victims or families of victims have no monetary recourse, especially if the shooter dies.

  2. I don’t own guns. I have no problem with people who do own guns. When I say “rapid fire weapons that have one purpose: to kill as many people as quickly as possible and they should be banned” gun supporters seem to think I want to take every single gun from every single person and melt them down to make a sculpture of a kneeling football player. Keep your guns. Get rid of weapons of war. Why can’t gun owners make that distinction?

  3. To me the discussion on gun control is pretty straightforward: guns are for killing; they don’t really have any other purpose; and killing means taking a life. If we want to stop taking lives, we need to develop respect for others, we need compassion, acceptance and a true understanding of what motivates the other person. A gun gives a someone absolute power, and as we know, absolute power corrupts people absolutely. Without a gun in a person’s hand, that person needs to stop and consider their actions. With a gun, there is little time for reasoned thought. That’s my opinion.
    Mike, I know you’ve mentioned being a troll before, but I find that especially hard to integrate with what I thought I knew about you. Were you going through an angry phase in your life? Were you looking to have a powerful influence over others, to make a difference, not caring if it was positive or negative? Or were you just finding a creative outlet for your genius? I’d love to know what motivated you.

    • Dianne, I own guns. I always have, and as long as the response time from law enforcement to my front door is twenty minutes, and it is, I’m going to have the twelve gauge propped up beside my bed at night. I own a gun for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to kill people. Self defense is the only reason I would, but I cannot deny that’s what that gun is for. Honestly, twelve gauge double barreled shotgun is all anyone really needs to protect their home, in my opinion.

      I’ll address the troll thing in another post, but you’re pretty close to guessing why.

  4. What a thought through write up Mike! You made some great points addressing both sides of the aisle. May I add one thing? You stated “This isn’t about gun control. This is about mind control.” You then went on to explain what you meant by this statement by applying it to those on either side of the aisle. However, could it just as easily be applied to the shooter? I have been reading Jordan Peterson’s book ’12 rules for life’ and he has opened my eyes to something I had never thought of before. That the shooter has actually come to the conclusion that their life is meaningless along with the belief that human beings need to be eradicated from the planet. They then see themselves as the ‘saviors’ to do just that by going out and killing as many of their peers as possible. In a twisted sense, they’ve convinced themselves that they are doing the ones who they kill a favor. And saving planet Earth while doing so. No matter how you slice it, both sides of the aisle need to get into the mind of these shooters to figure out what makes them do what they do. Otherwise, whether we ban all guns or not; whether we confiscate all guns or not; we will never stop the shooter from following through with their way of looking at the world. A world that would be better off if all humans were eliminated to then save the planet. They will just find another way to fulfill what they see as their destiny to save planet Earth.

    • Dave, I haven’t heard the shooter was influence by anyone’s writings, but I’ll look it up. I do agree with you we have to have a better understanding of who these people are any why they kill. Mental illness just doesn’t cover it. I like the way you think. Good comment!

      • You wrote an essay last week about Manson. In that essay you spoke of a damaged individual. Whether by parental up bringing or a society leaving them behind, can one really blame a book that one might use to inflict fear and death upon a society? Doesn’t that desire already exist? “The Turner Diaries” inspired Timothy McVeigh, but his desire to do something most likely existed prior to his reading the book. I think for someone to claim a book, a movie or a song made them commit their crime is ignoring their own sociopathological history. A sound mind can discern fact from fiction. A weak mind absorbs the fiction because it fits their existing thinking.

        Mentally ill is a term being used too cavalier in these times. There are many versions of mental illness, many having no effect on others such as these shootings. Sociopathology is a mental illness, but many exist without killing others. The trait that is most damaging to society in a sociopath is a lack of empathy. Being unable to truly being empathetic to another’s suffering is a harm to society. While SSRIs are to blame in creating that feature, many sociopaths are in charge of companies. The former can be debated of its necessity, the latter is something society tolerates.

        But all that develops into another topic that is thick in opinions and information. The larger point is that mental illness is something that exists throughout the world, yet I find it odd that the same mental illness that is said to be the cause of these shootings in the U.S. disappears when one crosses the Canadian border.

  5. CAI, I doubt we can attribute deadly violence with automatic rifles as an American thing, but it is certainly odd that American shooters tend to go after crowds of people in nightclubs, schools, concerts, and such places as that, without a religious or political delusion backing them. Americans are much less driven by external forces, Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber being exceptions, yet these two are examples of non-firearms killers. It’s as if American shooter shoot simply to kill, without reason, without any sort of plan to promote, as if killing is the thing that they believe will create in them something that wasn’t there before, perhaps, the Uber American Spirit, where being one with the gun is an achievement.

    • I doubt we can attribute deadly violence with automatic rifles as an American thing

      I disagree. How many other countries can you name with a similar amount of mass shootings in the same time period?

      Americans are much less driven by external forces

      That’s debatable. I might put my money on notoriety. Maybe not for all, but certainly for many. As it was said in your previous essay, people are driven by the need for attention. When a life reaches a point where they feel like a nobody…

  6. C.A.I. Many of your comments resonate, my favorite being, “…yet I find it odd that the same mental illness that is said to be the cause of these shootings in the U.S. disappears when one crosses the Canadian border.” I am quite sure that most people are aware that mental illness is equally prevalent in Canada. However, what is not present to the same degree is access to guns. Without a gun, no one can be shot. Certainly people do get shot in Canada, but without the assault rifles, bump stocks or other weapons or accessories for mass murder, the same deadly toll cannot take place.
    “Deadly violence with an automatic rifle” is absolutely “an American thing”, Mike. CBS News reported on a study which concluded that “Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher.” It also found “Even though it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, the United States accounted for 82 percent of all gun deaths.” Good Lord, that sounds pretty convincing! The author stated, “”These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us.” [Whole article:
    For many shooters and others who commit ‘shocking crimes’, the entire plan is to “make a difference”. Every human being wants to to make a difference, to have an effect on the world, to demonstrate that they are not invisible, powerless beings. Most prefer to make a positive difference, but in the absence of that ability, any difference will do. That is one of the reasons that bullying is so devastating. While it gives the bully what they need, it creates a further sense of powerlessness in the victim. As you were mentioning last week, Mike, neglect, emotional abuse, lack of control over one’s life all lead to the need to demonstrate some sort of influence – sometimes with devastating results.
    By the way, Dave Brown was saying that he had read about shooters and what may motivate them. He was not suggesting that the shooter himself was motivated by a book. Just FYI 🙂

    • However, what is not present to the same degree is access to guns.

      This is obvious, but to put anything in the context of denying a gun slut their gun, would have them screaming, “You’re taking away my freedom!” My option is to maintain the legal status, and just make it more expensive and more paperwork to get it. That has worked well for machine guns, hasn’t it? You haven’t seen a plethora of shootings with a machine gun have you?

      I am quite sure that most people are aware that mental illness is equally prevalent in Canada.

      Labeling mental illness as the real issue is pure BS. Many, if not all, the mass shooting killers had nothing on their records to call attention to this. (Besides, the GOP passed a new law allowing mentally ill to have guns). Speaking of laws, because Florida has virtually no rules in buying a gun, the FBI or local police could do little to prevent the shooting. He only first broke a law the second he put a bullet into somebody.

      The author stated, “”These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us.”

      The fact is, owning a gun increases the likelihood of suicide, killing a friend or family member or an accidental discharge that kills or injures someone and all are greater than actually having used it defend oneself.

      For many shooters and others who commit ‘shocking crimes’, the entire plan is to “make a difference”.

      Make a difference or get attention. Po-tay-toe/po-tay-ta

  7. You mention that the GOP passed a law that allows those with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. Isn’t it ironic then that “…the Trump administration is studying an Indiana version of a law that would allow firearms to be confiscated from people found to be at risk.”? Wouldn’t that in many cases, be the same people? How exactly are the authorities going to determine which citizens pose a risk? By the time they do, wouldn’t it often be too late? Plus it concerns me that any officer who shows up at a door to confiscate someone’s firearm may well be putting their own life in danger. Honestly, pro-active vs re-active would save so many more lives.
    Thanks for the discussion!

  8. The “law” was actually a repeal of an executive order. The conservative argument was that the order restricted those with something as basic as an eating disorder. Needless to say, that is a lie. The EO lists a variety of stipulations but nothing as benign as an eating disorder is even mentioned.

    The “red flag” law you speak most likely would involve the individual in question being in court first for an unrelated offense, where the state would deem the individual unfit. However that label can be temporary and the guns can be returned at a later date. It’s odd that you mention Indiana, as their lax guns laws ends up with a neighboring state crossing lines to make gun purchases to be used in more restrictive state. I understand the “state’s rights” issue, but gun laws should be nationwide simply because they are so easily transportable across state lines.

  9. I want all the stops pulled. All of them. I want people who keep saying that “guns don’t kill people” to have a nuclear warhead in their garage, and also tanks, and surface-to-air missiles. I want it all. And I want the crazies, the deranged, and the angry to have them. I also want every government building in this nation to allow you to carry anything you want inside of them. Anything! And then… just then… for a beautiful moment in time we will all feel as free as we could possibly feel before we all get wiped off this Earth and let the next “intelligent” species try again. Because we failed miserably and we don’t deserve anything.

  10. You are one angry duuude! But I agree with your premise. People want what they want and will make any ridiculous argument, blaming someone or something else, in order to justify their wishes.
    It’s interesting that you mention allowing guns to be carried into government buildings. If guns don’t kill people, then why are they banned? Mmmm … maybe because the PERSON carrying it might use it to kill someone? Just like every other gun being carried by anyone anywhere? Funny how certain logic is applied selectively according to who is going to benefit in the end.
    C.A.I. The potential federal ‘red flag’ law wouldn’t even have stopped the Florida shooter then, would it? He wasn’t previously in court, so there would have been no opportunity to deem him unfit at that point. Meanwhile, he was repeatedly labelled mentally unstable, cruel, violent, and he tortured animals, yet buying a gun wasn’t an issue for the State. Unbelievable.

  11. Jonco … O.M.G. … How can that go unchallenged? Whatever circumstance they fear may happen at the convention, they are not wiling to admit could happen at a mall, at a restaurant, on the road or absolutely anywhere? Unbelievable.


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