L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 80, July 10, 2000
Crimes and Guilt
Why Does My Pistol Flash ?
by Michael T Haggard
Exclusive to TLE
It has been said that the world is divided into two groups. Many splits are offered in jest and in all seriousness. In one of these psudo-segregations, the division is between those who can program their VCR and those who's VCRs constantly flash 12 o'clock.
Being one of those gifted (or cursed, as the case may be) people who can program just about any VCR at first pass without an instruction booklet, I am called upon often do just that. Folks who can never seem to master the fine art of pressing two small buttons at the same time, or some other such arcana, call upon friends like myself to make sure they won't miss taping that GREEN ACRES marathon while they are at work.
You know these folks. They can't set that new alarm clock. They won't learn to use the new microwave oven because it is not just like the last one, and is therefore, "not as good as the old one." These kind do not ever change anything in their computers. Their 486sx Packard Bell still has the "Thanks for buying at Wal Mart" wall paper decorating the Windows 3.11 desktop. If they are so brave as to be on Internet, fear accompanies every keystroke. A new report of a new computer virus causes them to avoid e-mail for a month.
This affliction is a particular kind of fear. It is not a fear of the machine, no matter what they tell you. It is a fear of themselves, of their own possibility of mistake, of being to blame. With every fearful computer key stroke or every frightening miss-set alarm comes the phobia in these kind of folk that something that they will do will kink up the whole works and all eyes will turn to them. Better to let the friend who is good with knobs and switches do things and let them take the blame for any mistake.
The fear of such things is the very same fear driving a majority of the gun control gang. It is not the machine they fear, no matter how much they tell you that it is. What they fear is themselves.
I am not saying that everyone who can't program his or her VCR is a gun grabber. Nor am I suggesting that all gun grabbers are such from fear of ignorance. What I am saying is that the majority of the rank and file gun grabbers (like Rosie and the MMM) are not motivated by fear of a machine. They fear their ignorance of that machine and what they might do with it in their possession that might draw all accusing eyes to them. They then transfer that fear to you, by fearing what you would do in their shoes.
The person who wonders if hackers are rifling through his off-line and unpowered computer and changing his bank accounts that he never entered into his MS-Money, is really little different from the person who sees the pistol on a table and sweats that it might go off at any minute or that its presence will draw violence to it. Both fears are usually calmed with education and familiarity.
What such a one is really afraid of is changing things in a negative way through their ignorant act. Their stroke of a key to send Uncle Tim e-mail might, in their mind, be the badly timed event that crashes the entire Internet and everyone will know who did it. They transfer this to you too. Unless you prove to them an aptitude, they are certain you are just as ignorant. They will be just as fearful as you set their CPU or VCR aright.
Those ignorant of guns are also transferring their ignorance to you. They feel it is best to leave it all to the experts, the cops. Some of you real computer users know how frustrating it is to talk to the TECH HELP LINE. They assume you are ignorant as well. Do you often know more than the geek on the other end? Techs and Cops are the experts the ignorant trust.
It would be interesting and enlightening to find out what portion of the people calling for the implementation of smart-guns (guns that can only be fired by the owner) are also a part of the demographic that cannot program their own VCR to stop flashing "12:00". These would never own a firearm so need never worry over changing the world or looking foolish.