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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Juan Cole on the history of the Glock

So-called authority "on the Middle East, History and Religion" Juan Cole renders an ill-thought-out set of conclusions regarding the Glock and the ideas for the Glock regarding its intended consumer base.
The Glock semi-automatic was developed in 1982 for the Austrian army. It was not envisioned that it would be bought by millions of citizens. It is not in fact bought by millions of civilians anywhere but in the United States. The gun should not be singled out for demonization; there are lots of semi-automatic pistols, and lots of semi-automatic rifles, and all of them are widespread and legal in the United States.
But it is worth underlining that Gaston Glock probably did not envision that you and your neighbors would just go into a shop and purchase his weapon.
First of all there was already a consumer base in 1982 that purchased and enjoyed semi-automatic pistols; many civilians already owned semi-automatic handguns since 1911, when the Colt M1911 was manufactured. The notion that a newly invented semi-automatic handgun would not become owned by the same sort of people that owned seventy years worth of semi-automatic handguns is absurd on its face. Second of all the reason that companies invent, refine, and manufacture these things are not simply to fill a hypothetical order that is limited in its nature but to make as much money as possible. To that end I have very little doubt that Glock intended to sell weapons to civilians if possible. Third is more of a question than conjecture. Did Glock really produce only so many handguns so as to fulfill projected needs of the 1982 Austrian Army or did they produce enough to sell as many as possible?

(Now I am not actually deriding Professor Cole's qualifications to be seen as an authority on the Middle East and he certainly is not going to care about what I say.  He is certainly more qualified than I to speak on the Middle East).  He is, however, not very capable of synthesizing educated and logical ideas concerning weapons and policy regarding private ownership.

In the meantime Professor Cole commits what we can call "statistical murder" where he brings up a slew of horrific events events and suggests that this represents a cost that is too high to justify the balance of what I call "good things".
Gun advocates might argue that these mass shootings are relatively rare and exact a relatively low death toll in a country of 310 million people. In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the US, which killed 88 persons and wounded hundreds. We polish off 14,500 Americans a year with murders (around 9000 of them via firearms), and 30,000 a year in auto accidents. There are also something like 18,000 suicides a year by firearm in the US, about half of the total; perhaps large numbers of those people would still be alive if it hadn’t been so technically easy to take their on lives. Anyway, mass shootings as a subset of lives taken by firearms are a tiny proportion.
One problem is that mass shootings produce a national trauma, and probably are designed to do so. We were all, from President Obama on down, crying for the children yesterday. Isolated murders of adults, however tragic, don’t upset us the way a madman shooting down children does. Although they are few and the number of victims only account for 1% of those murdered by firearms every year, the mass shootings deeply disturb us.
It is also the case that mass shootings are arbitrarily defined as those in which 4 or more people are killed. For those affected, three is pretty “mass.”
Public policy is often made on the grounds of what we find unpalatable. You will note that we are also upset by airplane crashes, and we insist that they are always completely unacceptable. We don’t feel the same way about whacking 30,000 people a year (and injuring like 300,000) in auto collisions.
The problem is getting worse. 10% of all mass shootings since 1982 have occurred in 2012, and 12 percent of the 543 victims since that date have been killed this year.
No one should argue and no one is arguing that the slaughter of innocents is palatable or should be palatable. But I also cannot believe that the death of innocents is simply a cost paid in exchange for people legitimately protecting themselves.

The thesis is that Juan Cole declares himself a particular sort of moral authority.  He judges the Glock to be a "Military-style weapon" and in fact the title of the piece is his thesis; "Semi-Automatic firearms are Military Weapons" and since they are military weapons they are weapons for the military and therefore not for you, if you are a civilian.  As they are military weapons and we are civilians we therefore cannot have a legitimate use for these weapons.

In his view certain kinds of objects are only for certain kinds of people.
Personally, I don’t understand why civilians need semi-automatic pistols and rifles at all. 
I'd rather not indulge in the many practical and recreational purposes of semi-automatic weapons but it is telling that the people most interested in telling us the proper disposition of our stuff are the people that possess the least understanding of that stuff.

Professor Cole tends to bring up bits of data and circumstance but never really follows up on the idea(s) properly.  Let's start with his reference to gun crimes by committed/affiliated bad guys.
some 2,000 of the 9,000 firearms murders a year are committed by drug gangs and other criminal gangs, and these are primarily using semi-automatic weapons to commit these murders. 
He wishes to create laws in the belief that laws will deter "drug gangs" and "criminal gangs". I'm not going to directly invoke a cliche so much as I will indicate that among the reasons people join "criminal gangs" it is because there is a tendency, inclination, or intention towards evading, ignoring, or dismissing laws.  Leftist ideology holds that the supply line for criminal elements leads through the gun safes of law-abiding citizens.  So erecting new laws and therefore creating new restrictions on those most likely to obey these laws and restrictions will create a choke point making it more difficult for the criminal to obtain a weapon.  At that point though Professor Cole leaves left-wing dogma in the dust and asserts a statistic that I have never heard.
used guns are seldom the problem. Most used guns are in people’s safes. The new ones are the problem. Most people who commit mass shootings seem to go on a buying spree first, and gang members likewise most often like to purchase new weaponry.
How do criminals get their new weaponry legally? What new law will deter these new sales of new weapons?  I hear over and over how gun shows and the secondhand market are the sources for weapons for bad guys, as the government-installed controls are at their most lax at a gun show.  Professor Cole insists that by and large the used weapons are not the problem because the worst of us simply prefer a new weapon.  Setting aside my belief that criminals are getting bulk shipments of firearms from different places than your average sporting goods store the Professor needs to provide hard data regarding these "buying sprees".  It is lazy at best to assert the charge without the support.  I know for a fact that Adama Lanza stole the weapons he used to murder children.

This conjecture is not quite as blindingly stupid as the mechanically incorrect assertions suggesting guns that do not work.  He wants to create semi-automatic pistols in a special way.
So how about we propose a law specifying that ... that such weapons for the civilian market be constructed so that extra magazine drums cannot be attached?
Why is he talking about "drums" as if we're describing zoot suiters wielding Thompsons?

One of his commenters noted that
a semi-automatic firearm cannot be constructed in a way that won’t allow 'extra magazine drums to be attached' without it being unable to even use the 10-round magazine you’re talking about. this is fine if you’re ultimately advocating selling only unusable firearms, but still indicates we’re not really familiar with the guns we’re talking about.
Invariably I do not think Professor Cole, nor many of his followers, know what they are talking about.

The final step in Juan Cole's solution: "we ban semi-automatic rifles altogether."  That is only reasonable if you don't know what that means.