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Debunking the Intellectuals

I read an article, "Virtue and Guns" posted by Tuhon Tom Kier  which he shortly touched on.  This article is exactly what is wrong with the "intellectuals" who sit around all day and think instead of going out and doing.

The author of this article, Michael Austin starts off by asking:

How do guns shape us? That is, what is their impact on our hearts, minds, and souls? And do they have any impact on our character?

Austin writes in his first paragraph:
For most of the 20th century, the focus of gun owners was on hunting and shooting for sport as a recreational pursuit. Receiving a rifle became a rite of passage for many young boys. Hunting, target shooting, and collecting guns are still important aspects of gun culture in the United States.
The fact is that prior to 1970 there are no hard and fast numbers which anyone can possibly go by to determine any of this to be true.  What we do know is that gun ownership in the USA has always been about 50/50 and has only decreased in the late 90's due to Clinton's Assault Weapons Ban and has recently been back on the rise to the middle. (Source)  Hunting has been an American staple from the very beginning and according to the same Gallup link above, 30% of those polled believe people own a firearm for hunting and that is only second to 60% of those who own firearms for self-defense/protection, which seems to have always been the real and direct reason for owning a firearm in America.  13% say they own firearms for recreation/sport and only 8% for target shooting. 

A hundred years ago, when shooting sports did not exist to the level which they do today, the need for feeding your family via hunting did more so, and the fundamental right of every American to defend themselves and their communities was taken seriously.  Evidenced by the armed citizen (Allen Crum) who responded to the University of Texas Tower Shooting, and many others.  The fact you could mail order full auto machine guns (now all but banned in the US) with no issue at all clearly supports the concept that Americans wanted, and owned, all sorts of firearms for the purpose of self-protection and the protection of others.
However, according to David Yamane, there has been a shift from these to a focus on guns as a means of self-defense, a shift from what is called Gun Culture 1.0 to Gun Culture 2.0.⁠ The focus of Gun Culture 1.0 is recreation. The main focus of Gun Culture 2.0 is armed citizenship. The majority of gun owners now cite self-defense as their primary reason for owning a gun.
He then proceeds to answer it by partially referring to Gun Culture 2.0 which is based on a piece that a professor of sociology named David Yamane wrote in 2017.  David Yamane most likely has never shot a gun in a training environment in his entire life and I would highly doubt that the Michael Austin has done so either.  Yet they both believe they are qualified to write on a topic about firearms, the firearms community, industry and ethics behind it all.  They are both clearly mistaken and they neither have the experience, nor the capacity, to understand the subject matter which they seem to believe they do.

*Article update 3/24/19 @ 410pm*
I am being told that David Yamane does in fact attend classes and does participate in the gun culture.  Which means the twelve people I sent this article to didn't know him and my hour worth of googling didn't yield any links to any of his content. I do not mind correcting my research when presented with new info.  All of the content in this article stands.  We run in different circles and clearly have different concepts.  I seem to have skipped his site in my googling, my mistake, shit happens.

If "Gun Culture 1.0" was considered previous culture, and "Gun Culture 2.0" is current culture then they have it backwards.  The focus of American firearms ownership has always been about self-defense and protection, of their families and of their immediate communities.  The majority of Americans have always cited self-defense as the primary reason for owning a firearm.  This has always been true from the moment the first shot was fired at Lexington and Concord, and it will be true until the end of this republic.  

To the extent that the Gun Culture 2.0 instills in people a willingness to kill, it can be harmful to their character.⁠ My claim is not that owning and using a gun necessarily compromises character. But if one does so, and adopts much of what Gun Culture 2.0 involves, it can have a negative impact. Let’s look at why.
A willingness to kill, can be harmful to character? He cites an article by Franco Trivigno, “A Virtue Ethical Case for Pacifism" which is just laughable.  

First, a vast majority of us have a deep psychological resistance to killing other people. This is obviously a good feature of human nature. It is grounded in human empathy that recognizes others, including our enemies, as human beings. How we think about, value, and use guns may prevent us from fully appreciating these truths.

Austin refers to empathy and how it should be recognized in others, especially our enemiesand how firearms prevent us from "fully appreciating these truths."  Except that throughout the last one hundred years we have seen a complete lack of empathy on the behalf of governments and those who are hellbent of exterminating a particular type of person, from Jews to Rwandans to modern day Christians in the middle east and Africa.  The only way they stay alive, as proven repeatedly by history, is to be armed and fight back.  This is what Israel does on an almost daily basis and the most obvious example that empathy potentially only works one way when looking down the barrel of a gun.

The vast majority of people have never killed anyone, this is not the same as having a "deep psychological resistance to killing other people."  It is not a "good feature" of human nature, it is a bad feature, if a feature at all.  The fact is that the current level of American society is an anomaly and throughout all of human history a "good feature" of human nature was to actually kill people when the situation required it.  Simply explained, there has never been a society which experienced the American way of life and the moment firearms are legislated out of American hands that way of life has a strong possibility of ending. Along the centuries there were concepts created which advised people to take a moment and consider if there was justification for killing, Ten Commandments, Hammurabi's Code, Hittites Code, Draconian Code of Athens, and all the derivatives.  It is actually part of human nature to harm others, we are biologically developed that way.  Firearms provide a leveling of the field and no longer has the most physically strong been the dominant persons in a community.  

One way that this can occur is by dehumanizing our enemies. This dehumanization can then overcome our natural resistance to killing another human being.  In military contexts, this can occur in a couple of ways. First, it can be done by conditioning a person to fire a gun at another human being without really thinking about the action that is being performed. This could occur by training soldiers to fire at human-like targets and providing rewards or punishments based on success in such exercises. The hoped-for result is that soldiers will develop quick-shoot reflexes, not thinking about the fact that they are killing another human being at the moment of the conditioned response. This is a sad necessity of war. Many later feel revulsion at what they have done or struggle with it in other ways.
Austin goes on to talk about soldiers being trained to kill and the preferred results, citing feelings of revulsion for their actions.  This is another Hollywood myth, the PTSD soldier home from war, unable to re-assimilate to a citizen's life.  PTSD only effects about 8% of all US citizens (Source) and they are not all war experienced soldiers.  New Yorkers reported having PTSD after 9/11, not having been in the city or near the site.  Children have reported having PTSD from having surgery.  There is also the inconvenient truth that over-reporting PTSD statistics may get more government funding routed to a particular organization for treatment purposes.  Ask some veterans about it, ask them how many of them, or how many of their friends who served are suffering from PTSD.  I work with, and personally know, a lot of veterans who have seen combat, I only know of two who have had treatment for PTSD and still struggle with it.  Not that my experience is a metric by any means.  The fact is that "There is no evidence that suffering from PTSD was the genesis of their committing violent or other serious crimes." (Source)  More over, there seems to be a blanket use of the label of "PTSD" on anyone who experiences a traumatic event and then has trouble with it later.  That is the bigger issue here, and intellectuals like Austin use the ambiguity as a wide brush. 

We do not have a natural resistance to killing another human being.  This is a Hollywood backed myth and completely false.  There are people who are killed by others every single day in the US, most are gang members killing other gang members, or criminals killing other criminals during the commission of crimes, something in the area of 8,000+ out of 11,000, depending on year. (Source / Source) The majority of American do not go around and kill people, why not?  Because they do not need to.  It is not an aversion to killing which drives it, but the laws, repercussions and overall lack of necessity to kill anyone around you to survive.  Both of these things can be true at the same time, that people do not have an aversion to killing and that most people do not kill other people often, if ever, in the US.  The fact that we live a very comfortable life in the US is a clear example of that, if you do not believe that, look at Los Cabos, Caracas and other South American cities which have a higher than 100 per capita murder rate. (Source)  In the US we also value life more than other countries, that is not because we have an aversion to killing, it is because we have an aversion to killing other American citizens, other places do not share the same type of patriotism.  

Remember that the pinnacle of all societies in Earth's history is the current American society, which was founded on the blood of those who would do violence to further the American way of life.  Men, women, soldiers and citizens alike, killing and being killed for the republic is why we have what we have today.  If you do not believe me, go visit Arlington cemetery, go visit a Revolutionary, or Civil, War preserved battle field like Valley Forge.  Read the monuments, understand that the American way of life did not happen by accident, it happened because patriotic American leaders like George Washington killed a lot of people, and his character was literally beyond reproach or question. 

This is relevant to Gun Culture 2.0, insofar as a big part of that culture involves firing at human-shaped targets. For example, in one account of a "rolling thunder" shotgun drill, a line of shooters stand 10 yards away from steel plates, shaped like human silhouettes.⁠ The point is to practice reloads and manipulations so that the shooter is prepared for a home invasion. In order to do this, the first shooter at the one end of the line waits for a timer. When it goes off, she emergency loads a shell and fires. After she fires, the next shooter does the same, and so on down the line. Then, the first shooter tube loads a shell and emergency loads another, firing twice. The next round, each shooter tube feeds two shells, emergency reloads one and fires three. Next, each tube feeds three, emergency reloads one and fires four. In this exercise, rewards and punishments are present, depending on how successful each individual shooter is:

"Rolling Thunder is a great way to hone your shotgun skills. It adds a unique stress because not only are you competing against yourself, you’re working as a team to move as quickly and accurately as possible. If even one shooter fumbles his reloads and/or botches his shots the entire line suffers as the final time for the drill rises. Bonus points if you hone your dual, triple, or quad loads during the drill."

Another example of a rolling thunder drill involves a line of shooters with handguns, about 10 yards or so from paper human silhouette targets. It is nighttime. A person with a flashlight shines a light on the first target, and once his target is lit the shooter immediately fires. This is repeated down the line. These types of competitions and other forms of shooting practice involve creating a quick-shot reflex, which can weaken the natural resistance to killing another human being.
I think that in the above paragraphs Austin just found an aggressively sounding term/phrase of a drill and used it to try to prove his point.  Except that I have numerous experiences of using this drill for competency under stress not for some weird "paper human silhouette target" which weakens our "natural resistance to killing another human being", I even documented it during a HiTS class with Darryl Bolke and Wayn Dobbs.  During this particular "rolling thunder" drill by the end the target was mostly gone and you weren't even remotely focusing on target acquisition and were directly focused on manipulation of your shotgun.  There was zero weakening happening, and there was definitely a challenge of your competence with that particular firearm.  I have done variations of this particular drill, one of which included a low/no light drill which was done using weapon mounted lights on rifles.  Five shooters on the line, one round per mag, you have at least 5 mags on you with one round each, as you can figure out, this is a very fast drill with the shooters reloading their rifles quickly and that's how the drill goes.  It tests your speed, competency in reloading, accuracy at night with a weapon light and working through your gear choice.  We used NRA B8 targets at 25 yards.  No "paper human silhouette target" to weaken anything.  

The choice of targets is very important when training.  It has been a serious issue in law enforcement training to have bowling pin outline targets and accepting only center mass hits, which are actually lower than center and cause timers to be hit instead of switches.  A shot organ will not immediately stop a person in their tracks, that's a timer, as it will eventually stop them from a loss of blood or oxygen (that's how we die).  During this time an assailant may still be capable of continuing the deadly actions which caused them to be shot in the first place.  Switches, like the brain stem, hard bone structures, brachial plexus, and the like, will almost immediately "turn off" a part of a person or that person entirely stopping the deadly threat.  The more realistic the target, the more realistic and accountable the training, the better off an officer will be.  This is why having as realistic a target as possible is important and becoming increasingly mandatory.
There is another way that the resistance to killing can be thwarted. When we are encouraged to see others, be they military enemies or other members of our own society, as morally inferior, they are dehumanized and thereby easier to kill. This can be done through racist epithets, as was the case in Vietnam and Iraq. It can also be done by seeing the enemy as evil, as morally inferior and deserving of death. Some in the gun rights movement refer to criminals as “wolves” and themselves as “sheepdogs” protecting the “sheep.” The wolves are the bad guys; the sheepdogs are the good guys protecting the innocent but defenseless sheep.
The most hilariously weak part of this entire article is the explanation of the sheepdog concept.  No one worth listening to in the "gun rights movement" will ever refer to themselves as a sheepdog, they will not refer to criminals as wolves and they will not refer to general public as sheep.  We are all Americans, we have a universal natural human right to self-defense in the best and most practical way possible, this is something which the writers of the Constitution understood very well and "intellectuals" miss completely.  Those of us who take up the American tradition of, not just firearm ownership, but carrying of firearms for their defense, the defense of their families and the defense of their respective communities understand that we are all Americans and it is not just our right it is also our duty to be responsible armed citizens.

Austin goes on to explain another way our "natural resistance" to killing other people can be overcome, he cites that we can see others as enemies, as morally inferior, dehumanized, through racist epithets, also by thinking the enemy is evil and deserving of death.  This did happen in the US within the last hundred years but it had absolutely zero to do with firearms and almost everything to do with the racist Democrat backed KKK.  This is a conflation of concepts that can both be true at the same time, and in my opinion make for an intellectually dishonest claim.  The only thing Austin seems to have left out here is the religious aspect of certain radical religious affiliations which allowed for such evil acts like the Florida nightclub shooting. 

But how, in particular, can this harm character? If our resistance to killing others is weakened by conditioning or seeing them as morally inferior, empathy for them is weakened. Many psychological studies show that empathy is connected to altruistic acts and to acts involving helping others. It also plays a role in preventing aggression and violence.
There is no correlation made between having your character harmed, firearms and how all of that relates to killing.  What psychological studies is Austin referring to which he does not cite?  Altruistic acts, may not by their very nature, require empathy; nor do acts of helping others.  True Altruism involves the necessity to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, to possibly take life and possibly give your own life in the process.   What exactly plays a role in preventing aggression and violence? Why would a responsible citizen, want to prevent aggression and violence in themselves?  A responsible citizen needs to accept aggression and violence as a fact of life and cultivate it properly for when the need arises for it there should never, ever, be a moments hesitation due to inability or lack of confidence. 
In short, empathy is important for good character. Weakening empathy by dehumanizing others in these ways harms our character. It makes it more difficult to have virtues that are deeply connected with empathy. Compassion, sympathy, and kindness come to mind. If we see others as less than human, this can lead to moral vices, including callousness, cruelty, and malice.
Empathy, just as compassion, sympathy and kindness are all parts of being a good person in some capacity.  What does dehumanizing others have to do with a persons empathy, compassion, sympathy or kindness towards those who he holds dear, like a family, a community, or tribe?  Again, both things can be true at once, we can see some people as less than human, we can have moral vices, we can be callous at times, cruel and have malice towards others and yet we can still be good people who do not have any issue using violence against others.  Many people believe that a pedophile, once convicted should be immediately put to death or castrated.  Some believe that a pedophile, once convicted, should be shot to death immediately.  A woman who is being raped kills her attacker by using a firearm, she survives her attacker dies.  Does that mean their character is harmed in some irreparable way?  Of course not, yet that is exactly what Austin is trying to say here.  

Does this mean that killing another in self-defense or war is never justified, grounded in concerns about character? No. Nor does it mean that soldiers or others who engage in these actions have bad character. Such an act may be morally justified, but it is nevertheless tragic. The morally virtuous person who, as a last resort, kills an assailant in self-defense (or in defense of another person) may not be guilty of a morally unjust act. Nevertheless, if that person has good character, is empathetic, compassionate, and loving, she “will feel regret at having been the agent of killing.”⁠4
This paragraph is what we refer to as a "cop-out" since Austin made a whole case based on circumstantial concepts and now he walks it all back saying that "Such an act may be morally justified" and that the person in question "may not be guilty of a morally unjust act."  If the act of killing someone "may be" morally justified then that means all the rhetoric in this article was improperly attributed to the concept of violence, killing and firearms.  Also, I do not know who "she" is but if she regrets having been "the agent of killing" then she should have done more training and understood that when "she" did violence upon another person "she" was justified in it, or "she" should not have done that violence.  
The loss of life, even if necessary to protect other life, will be a source of pain and regret.
Absolutely wrong. The death of an active shooter during a school massacre is not going to be a source of pain or regret from most, especially those doing the completely justified killing. Can there possibly be a situation where a police officer would have to shoot and kill someone during a suicide by police type situation where the officer had no choice but to fire due to the immediate threat of deadly force or when an officer may need to shoot a younger person of early teens or of that nature due to a complex situation which ended in that young persons completely justified death by an officer. That officer may feel pain, and regret, yet those particular situations are so uncommon that they could essentially be referred to as statistical anomalies. Better train officers properly to develop good skill sets derived from the requirements of proper mindset which are going to support those officers properly in most foreseeable situations. The chance of a responsible armed citizen having to get involved in something of that nature is almost null, show me a case of such an incident and we can discuss but I cannot think of any off the top of my head.  No, the Zimmerman case doesn't count, stupidity compounded doesn't qualify.
What are we to make of all of this? Guns may not damage the character of their owners. But if we use them in the ways much of Gun Culture 2.0 encourages, we risk harming our character in serious ways.
Now firearms "may not damage the character of their owners" but if we use them the way Americans have always used them we may harm our character in serious ways.  Incorrect and unsupported through this article and through the Austin's non-experience on the topic.  

If you want to discuss the character of those who carry and train with firearms, they are some of the most ethical and moral people in the country.  It is more than just a great responsibility, it is a lifestyle concept which cannot be overcome without full commitment.  Those who casually carry a firearm lack a serious level of the mindset required to logically apply violence when needed.  The end result of that logically upward spiral is when a citizen understands that they have a fundamental responsibility, not just to themselves, but their families, their community and their tribe to always carry a firearm.  It becomes a moral and ethical responsibility which can never be shunned or disregarded once understood properly.  Those people who fall into this pipeline are statistically the least likely to commit any crimes, "among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 officers. Among permit holders in the rate is only 2.4 per 100,000." (Source).  Carrying a firearm, generally speaking, means you follow the law and do everything in your power to do so properly, ergo those people are moral and ethical by their very definition.  In the firearms industry the person who commits a crime, even a non-firearms crime, is almost immediately shunned and cast out of any firearms related circles.  This very rarely happens in any other circles, especially academia or Hollywood.

In conclusion, this article is a perfect example of how academic "intellectuals" see the firearms industry/community and those who would do violence upon others for a noble cause.  They clearly do not have the requisite experience to speak on this topic, as most things in the firearms industry go, if you do not have direct and applicable knowledge of a concept in reality you are likely not going to be able to add anything useful.  This article, and its clear lack of applicability to reality are concise evidence of this disconnect.  I challenge Michael Austin or any of those who he cited to come out to a class with top instructors like Bill Rapier.  They will immediately realize that what they sat and thought about without having to experience it was based on fallacy, and not based in reality.  The issue, however, is that the academic "intellectual" types only want to sit and talk instead of do.  The firearms industry and those who carry firearms, on a daily basis, actually do the thing which they cannot or will not.  The difference here is that they can jot down articles without experience and be applauded because of their university positions, instead of being laughed at because those who applaud them also lack any understanding or experience in these particular concepts.