Why I need a gun (and you do too)

If you had lived in Germany before the Nazis came to power and a time traveler had told you how history would play out, what would you have done about it?

The nation was reeling from a massive economic depression after a decade of war exhaustion. In this troubled time, a charismatic democratic socialist ran on a platform promising to share the wealth of the top 1% (the Jews) with the rest of the nation. Violent protesters routinely disrupted his opponents’ political rallies. People in general were fed up with the political system and were eager for a change.

Obviously, there isn’t a 1:1 parallel between 1930s Germany and 2010s United States. But let’s take a quick look at some of the policies that the Nazis successfully championed:

  • Nationalized healthcare
  • Centralized education
  • Taxpayer subsidized abortion
  • Government mass surveillance
  • Arbitrary limits on free speech

And finally:

  • Abolition of private gun ownership

Can you see the chilling parallels between what the Nazis did and the agenda that the Left has been pushing for the last eight years?

Right now, the United States is reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history. The perpetrator was a domestic terrorist who pledged allegiance to ISIS, just like the last mass shooting which happened in San Bernardino. But instead of focusing on the radical Islamic ideology that motivated these shootings, the national discourse is focused on gun control.

This is patently ridiculous.

When a teenager commits suicide because of online bullying, is the solution to censor the internet?

When people spread lies and false rumors on social media, is the solution to place general restrictions on the use of social media?

When a battered wife is stabbed to death with a kitchen knife, do we call for regulations on the length and sharpness of all kitchen knives?

When large numbers of people die in car accidents, do we enforce a ban on “high-capacity” cars that can drive faster than 45 mph?

Better yet, do we allow car owners to sue the manufacturer if they ever get into an accident? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that wasn’t in the terms of the last government bail out.

We’ve had this debate over gun control many times before. Whenever we have a mass shooting in this country, the bodies of the victims are not yet cold before all of the old arguments on both sides are trotted out. So let’s go to the moment when the emotions were hottest, in 2012 after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary:

In an interview with Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro later said that Piers Morgan had actually brought one of the kids from Sandy Hook onto the set to come on in the second segment of the show. The kid was in a wheelchair, and Piers was going to use him as political prop to make a cheap appeal to emotion. Of course, after Ben called him out for standing on the graves of children, Piers’s whole debate strategy fell apart.

This is my response, which is currently the top comment on YouTube:

“Do you genuinely believe that your own government is going to turn on you in a way that you require an AR-15 to challenge them?”

Holy flying fuck, Piers Morgan. Do you have no self-awareness at all? You are talking to a Jew, Piers. A JEW. As in, one of those people who were systematically exterminated by a tyrannical regime called the Democratic Soc—sorry, the NATIONAL Socialist German Worker’s Party. Also known as the Nazis, Piers. The Nazis.

You are familiar with the Nazis, are you not, Piers? You know: the smartly dressed German guys with the swastika flags who bombed your homeland relentlessly for 3+ months back in 1940. If I remember my history correctly, you fought something of a war with them, did you not? Or are you as bad at history as you are at US constitutional law?

People like you are the reason I need an AR-15, Piers. Crybullies like you in the mainstream media who stand on the graves of children as they browbeat the rest of us into giving up our rights and liberty, all in the name of leftist ideology.

And you know what, Piers? When I do get an AR-15, I’m going to name it in your honor. I’m dead serious, Piers. I’m going to etch your name right on the barrel. I’ll keep it right next to François, my Mossberg shotgun (which I named in honor of another anti-gun wanker).

And you know what sound it’s gonna make when I fire it, Piers? That “ratatatat” when I pull the trigger?

That’s the sound of Liberty.

Here is why you need a gun:

When the founding fathers drafted the Constitution, they envisioned a political system unlike any other in existence at the time—one where the government exists only by the consent of the governed. This, they rightly believed, was the way to ensure Liberty.

In order for the system to work, however, the people had to be able to live without fear of the State. In other words, the government had to fear the people instead of the other way around.

The Declaration of Independence had already set the precedent that it was the right of the people to overthrow their government if it ever became tyrannical. The only way for that to happen was for the people to have the right to bear arms.

This is why the second amendment is the second amendment, not the ninth or the sixteenth or the twenty-eighth. It’s also why the second amendment never specified what kinds of arms should be allowed. The idea that founders’ original intent was to restrict gun ownership to muskets is patently ridiculous:

In my experience, people who favor stricter gun control laws generally fall into one of two camps: those who are simply afraid of guns, and those who want to vastly expand the powers of the State.

The first camp of people are generally well-meaning, if a little bit sheltered. Most of them have probably never owned or fired a gun of any kind. Their arguments for stricter gun control tend to be rooted in emotion. When a mass shooting happens, they feel like they need to do something to prevent this kind of massacre from ever happening again.

Unfortunately, these people have been spoon-fed lies from the second camp, which wants to disarm the general public NOT to reduce gun violence, but to vastly expand the powers of the state.

These people are fundamentally opposed to the idea of a government that exists only by the consent of the governed. They want to tear down the Constitution because it prevents them from using the power of the State to advance their political agenda. The principle of Liberty is a roadblock to them, and they want to abolish at every turn, not only with the second amendment, but the first, the fourth, the ninth, etc.

One of their main arguments is that there is no place in this country for private ownership of “assault rifles.” The argument is that these are “weapons of war,” and that therefore they have no place in civilian life.

To someone who has never owned or fired a gun, this is a pretty convincing argument. The term “assault rifle” is never clearly defined, but it effectively conjures up all the fears of guns and gun violence that many of these people have. To push the envelope even further, gun control advocates always associate “assault rifle” with AR-15, the most popular rifle in the United States.

The AR-15 is a de-clawed version of the M-16, which (unlike the AR-15) is fully automatic. That means that with an AR-15, you only get one bullet for every time you pull the trigger. AR-15s are most often chambered in .223/556, a round that is smaller in diameter than the most common handgun rounds. The reason it’s a popular weapons system is because it’s the Mr. Potato-head of guns: you can swap out basically all of the moving parts, or build one from scratch. No matter your needs (hunting, home defense, recreation, competition), you can adjust an AR-15 to meet them.

It’s actually not a scary gun at all, if you know how to use it properly. And judging from how many of them are circulating in the market, responsible gun ownership is the rule, not the exception.

Is the AR-15 a “weapon of war,” though? It can be if you want it to be. That’s kind of the point. Remember, one of the reasons for the second amendment was to enable the people to stand up against a tyrannical government. Without the right to bear arms—broadly defined—you cannot have Liberty.

This is where we get back to the Nazis. There is a reason why totalitarian governments always ban private gun ownership before they commit their worst atrocities. In the words of Mao Zedong, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” When the guns are in the hands of the people, the people have political power and influence over their government. When they lose their guns, they lose that power.

But Joe, do you really fear an American holocaust? Do you genuinely fear that your government is going to turn on you in a way that you require an AR-15 to challenge them?

Yes, I do.

We tend to have this idea that the Holocaust was a historical aberration, a nasty horrible thing that never happened before and has never happened since. That simply is not true. Systematic interment and murder by tyrannical governments is actually the norm throughout history. The only thing that made the Holocaust any different was German efficiency.

Look at the sack of Carthage by the Romans. Look at the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols. Look at all five times that Jerusalem was destroyed. In our modern era, look at the excesses of the French Revolution, the genocide of the Armenians, the British concentration camps in South Africa—indeed, look at the concentration camps IN THE UNITED STATES that were set up by FDR. Even before that, we had our own horrors like the Indian Removal Act and the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

And lest you think the world learned its lesson after Auschwitz and Dachau, read up on the Soviet Gulag and Chinese organ harvesting of political prisoners. There is a reason why the wait time for a kidney transplant in China is so ridiculously low.

The flipside of the coin of liberty is responsibility. In order for a people to be free, they need to take the responsibility of governing themselves. Part of that responsibility is learning how to defend yourself, not only from criminals, but from an overreaching, tyrannical government.

That is why you need a gun: because there is no Liberty without the means to defend it. That is also why I bought my first gun this past week (François) and why I’m building an AR-15 (Piers). Whenever there is a systematic effort to take away your fundamental rights, it becomes your duty to exercise those rights before they get taken away.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

A little family history

Holy crap, it’s been a long time since the last blog post. I wish I could say that things got busy, but the truth is that things just got disorganized. We’ll see how quickly I can put things back in order.

I spent most of last week either working a landscaping job or doing family history. Until now, I haven’t really blogged much about family history, but it’s something I’ve been working on fairly consistently for the past six months. My ultimate goal is to find all my first generation immigrant ancestors, which may well take a lifetime, but I’m off to a decent start:

JV fanThe fan chart shows six generations, starting with me at generation zero. I’ve outlined with a sharpie where all the lines hop the pond. My paternal grandfather’s side (blue) is all from the Czech lands, under the Habsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My paternal grandmother’s side (green) goes way, way back to colonial America, with most of the lines still needing to be researched.

On my mom’s side, there are only three lines that go back to colonial America, and those are the ones I’ve been focused on. Joseph Moroni Wight goes back to Massachusetts and the Pilgrims, and has been fairly well documented back to the early 1600s. Nancy Jane Rose’s father was cursed by a Mormon apostle, which is just about the only thing we know about him. He’s a brick wall, but her mom’s side goes all the way back just like J.M. Wight.

The other line is Archibald Benjamin Stephenson, which has some colorful history including a brief stint with the Strangites. Unlike all my other Mormon lines, this one has not been thoroughly researched. I’m trying to find out why that is, and to push back further if possible.

My ultimate goal is to specialize in early American research, from the original colonies to the pre-Civil War era. With family history, you really have to be a jack of all trades and a master of one. I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the basics, but I still have a lot of work to do before I develop any sort of mastery.

Of course, my work with family history isn’t going to replace or supersede my writing. If anything, it’s feeding into it. There are tons of interesting family stories I’m uncovering through this research, which makes for excellent writing material. For example, my 6th great uncle Lyman Wight once looked a murderous mob in the eyes and said: “shoot, and be damned.” I’m definitely working that into Gunslinger to the Stars.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. There’s a chance I may branch into historical fiction as I get more involved in family history. For now, all of the story ideas gnawing at my head are science fiction, but who knows what will happen in the future?

I’ll leave you with a little something from the Austrian connection in my family history: Roses of the South by Johann Strauss.

Life without social media

It has been more than a week since I’ve posted here, which is a bit surprising. Then again, I did decide to take a short break from writing, which pushed blogging a little further down the priority tree. The much higher priority has been finishing my friend’s basement before his wife has a baby next week (they’re inducing labor on the 14th). Twelve-hour workday sure are brutal.

In any event, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the craziness of politics these days, and the role of social media in that craziness. Without getting too deep into Trump vs. Clinton vs. Bernie, it seems sometimes that the supporters for each candidate are living in entirely different worlds.

Perhaps that’s because they are.

According to Pew Research, three out of five Americans get their news from social networking sites, with one out of five getting their news from social media often. For Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, the majority of users get their news from the site.

But these sites are not politically agnostic. Far from it, in fact. Just last month, the story broke that Facebook may be censoring conservative viewpoints, with the head of Facebook’s trending news manager maxxing out his donations to Clinton’s election campaign. Compare that with #RIPTwitter and their Orwellian “Trust and Safety Council,” populated almost entirely by left-leaning groups that oppose free speech.

Do Twitter and Facebook have a right to be politically partisan? Yes. They are private businesses, and as such should be allowed to participate in politics just like any other business (of course there are issues when they lie about being politically agnostic, but that’s a different issue).

The problem is that people have come to rely on social media so much that it completely warps the reality that they live in.

Every online community is, to a greater or lesser extent, an echo chamber that amplifies the viewpoints that the members tend to agree on and suppresses the viewpoints where most of the members disagree. This is why we have Godwin’s Law: because intellectual laziness is easy when everyone thinks you’re right. As online communities grow, the culture becomes even more self-sorting, developing complex narratives to reaffirm and reinforce the rightness of the group.

Essentially, humans are tribal, and the trend is for online communities to be more tribal, not less. Social media accelerates this trend by enabling users to fine-tune their tribes, blocking out any uncomfortable or dissenting viewpoints and creating a “safe space” where the user’s core beliefs are continually reinforced.

When people spend more time with their carefully curated online tribes than they do with people in the real world, the online reality becomes their reality. Instead of facing uncomfortable truths about the way the world actually works, they craft their own worlds where they don’t have to be responsible for their own actions, and their beliefs are always correct, even when they’re based on a failed ideology.

(As a side note, this is why gaslighting is such a big thing nowadays: it’s the art of crafting someone else’s online reality, without them realizing what’s happening. It’s a tactic that we see very often in today’s online politic debates.)

So what happens when one of these social media junkies comes out of their online echo chambers?

Whatever your position on LGBTQ issues, you have to admit that Steven Crowder absolutely destroyed Zack Ford in that debate. It wasn’t even close. The Twitter warrior was woefully unprepared to answer even the most basic criticisms of his underlying assumptions, and seemed frankly shocked that those assumptions were under debate.

This is what happens when you live in a virtual world. When you can simply block or unfollow any viewpoint that’s inconvenient to your preferred narrative, then the narrative becomes your only truth, no matter how false it actually is.

In its extreme form, it’s just as scary as the worst propaganda of the 20th century. In fact, it’s even more scary, because we’re doing it to ourselves.

I feel like I’ve got a unique perspective on this issue because, for most of the last year, I’ve been living without social media. I deleted my Facebook back in 2014, and disengaged from Twitter back in March.

(Since then, I have gone back to Facebook in a limited way, only because there’s a particular church group where the only way to keep up with events is to be part of the Facebook group. But I’ve only friended family and close friends and liked only a couple of political pages, and even then, I’ve felt the pull. When I’m no longer a part of this church group, I will delete my Facebook again and leave the site for good.)

Life is a lot different without social media. It’s a lot less stressful, a lot more satisfying. I get out more. I have deeper and more meaningful conversations with my friends. I no longer feel like I’m perpetually caught up in imbecilic arguments with twats and idiots. I feel a lot more free to pursue constructive things, like my writing.

At the same time, it really does feel sometimes that I went to sleep ten years ago and woke up in a different world. It’s like everyone else is crazy, and I’m the only sane one (until I discovered Ben Shapiro). I’m not sure how much of that has to do with leaving social media, since I only did that recently. Perhaps it was only by leaving social media that I realized how much everything outside of that echo chamber had changed.

I’m actually a lot happier without social media than I was with it. At the same time, I feel a lot less connected with what’s going on in my country right now. But is that only an illusion? Is it kind of like how you always feel like your writing sucks just as it starts to get better?

Whatever the case, I do know that if I were more active on social media, I would definitely be the guy that offends everyone with my political views, including a lot of potential readers. I suppose I could roll with it like Larry Correia, but I’m not quite passionate enough about politics to make that my shtick.

Though with the way things are shaping up politically, I may do a fisking or two on my blog. On that note, I’ll leave you with Ben Shapiro bringing some sanity to the news cycle:

Coming right along

I’m making good progress on The Sword Keeper, but I keep having to push it back to help a friend remodel his basement. His wife is having a baby in a couple of weeks, and he needs to get things finished before his mother-in-law comes over. There have been a ton of setbacks and delays, mostly having to do with the shoddy construction work done by the guys who built the place, but we seem to have passed the biggest hurdle which is to install the bathtub. Now, it’s mostly a matter of installing insulation and putting up drywall.

There’s this really fantastic game that I’ve been looking at called Stellaris. It seems like a combination of Masters of Orion and Europa Universalis. Really really tempted to play it, but as of right now, I’m holding back. When I finish this WIP, though, I may just treat myself.

Also, I recently signed up for a 30 day trial of Instafreebie, a site that (among other things) lets authors do ebook giveaways in exchange for readers’ email addresses. I’m running a giveaway for Genesis Earth, which you can pick up here if you haven’t already gotten a copy. Depending on how things go, I may sign up and run a few more campaigns in the future.

I’m really, really itching to get back to work on Gunslinger to the Stars. That will probably be the next full-length novel that I publish. In the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of short stories that should be coming out soon, starting with a Sad Puppies related piece that is sure to make a lot of people smile. Look for that one in June.

That’s pretty much it for now. Thanks for reading!

The Self-Sufficient Writer: Varieties of Collapse

What does a collapse look like?

The first thing most people think of is the zombie apocalypse. Which makes sense, considering how popular zombie stories are. The signs of collapse are clear and present, with no room for ambiguity. The world has come to an end, and the only thing left is to pick up an improvised weapon and fight.

In the real world, though, collapses are almost never so black and white.

When the housing market collapsed in 2008 and brought down the global economy with it, I was in college. With panicked capital looking desperately for a place to go, gas prices spiked to over $4 a gallon during the height of the summer. Then, as credit markets completely fell apart, retailers were forced to sell at rock-bottom prices just to keep their cash flow problems from driving them into bankruptcy.

So what did that look like? For me, an extremely expensive road trip back out to Utah, followed by a spending spree. I bought a really nice corduroy sports jacket for $15, and thought “hey, I could live with this recession.” Two years later, I was singing a very different tune.

In any collapse, people’s experience of the collapse varies wildly. Take the Euro crisis, for example. A couple of years ago, the Germans I chatted with online dismissed any claim that the EU was on the verge of falling apart. Now, the UK is holding a referendum on exiting the union, and no one really knows which way it’s going to go. Germany has not (yet) experienced the kind of depression-level unemployment that many of the southern countries have. To the middle-class government worker in Athens who lost all their savings in the recession and hasn’t been getting a paycheck for years, the German narrative of Greek laziness as the root cause of the crisis does not conform to reality.

When Ernest Hemmingway was asked how he went bankrupt, his answer was “gradually, then suddenly.” The same can be said of most collapses.

But there are different kinds of collapses. There are total collapses, such as the USSR where the entire national system just completely fell apart. Then there are more segmented collapses, where different parts of the country (Detroit) or sectors of the economy (banking, housing, construction) fall apart, leaving the rest weakened but still standing. Then you have all the stuff that happens on the level of individuals and families, such as bankruptcy.

Each level feeds into the next. If enough regions or sectors go down, it can bring down the whole system with it. Likewise, if the disintegration of families becomes too widespread, every other aspect of society falls apart. We see this right now in a lot of Black communities right now. Police brutality is certainly a problem, but it is a symptom and not a cause.

Very rarely does a super-virus come out of nowhere and turn everyone into zombies. The collapse happens gradually, then suddenly. People who know what they’re looking for can see it coming a long ways away. Everyone else clings to their false and misleading narratives (“the housing market can only go up!” “the rich should pay their fair share!” “Black lives matter!”) because the message is comfortable and doesn’t require them to change.

That is why self-sufficiency is so important, especially for us writers. We cannot afford to be comfortable. We cannot afford not to change. Perhaps there was a time, way before indie publishing, when writers could just sit back and write pretty words all day, but I doubt it. The industry today is changing so quickly that it’s easy to be left behind.

Every career writer will experience a crisis where they will be forced to reinvent themselves or face the utter collapse of their career. That’s according to Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katherine Rush, who have been around long enough that I believe them on this point. If you know that your career is going to collapse at some point, shouldn’t you do all that you can to prepare for it? And if you’re already preparing for a personal collapse, why not take the extra step and prepare for something larger?

Personally, I think that the collapse is already upon us. I’m not yet sure what kind it is, or how total it will be, but I do think that when we look back, we will see the Great Recession as a prelude to the main event. Right now, it is easy to ignore or dismiss because no one’s experience of the collapse is the same. We are all like the seven blind mice arguing about the elephant, whether it is a fan, or a pillar, or a rope, or a spear. That’s what makes this period so dangerous: the fact that there’s no shared experience yet. It creates the kind of environment where false and enticing narratives can thrive.

Will we reverse course and take the steps necessary to reverse the collapse? I’m not optimistic. Ever since the Great Recession, our policies have focused on putting off the pain as long as possible rather than fixing the root causes of our social and economic problems. At this point, I doubt that this nation has the political will to endure the pain necessary to fix our problems. In other words, we’re caught in a vicious cycle, and it would take an extraordinary event (like a war) to break us out of it. That, or hitting rock bottom.

But even if something extraordinary did happen, and we avoided the collapse to enter a new era of peace and prosperity, I would still strive to develop the skills and habits of self-sufficiency. Why? Because not all collapses look like the zombie apocalypse. Sometimes, the collapse is so small that no one experiences it except for you.

No matter the variety of collapse, the best way to be prepared is to be self-sufficient. Independence is the ability to take care of yourself when everything else you depend on fails. For that reason, a true indie writer is also a self-sufficient writer.

The Self-Sufficient Writer (Index)