Review:The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of Firearms

The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of FirearmsThe Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of Firearms by Iain Overton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poignant, thoughtful, and surprisingly balanced, which isn’t something you see very often with a topic as divisive as guns. Author Iain Overton travels around the world to understand the gun from the many, many different people whose lives it has affected: victims, killers, traders, creators, hunters, enthusiasts, and doctors. He doesn’t hold anything back; if the best way to understand hunting is to be a hunter, he goes out and does that. His expression of remorse and regret after killing an animal on a hunting trip in Africa was particularly emotional and heartfelt.

This is a book I would absolutely recommend to people who want to dive into the discussion about firearms and their place in the world. Overton doesn’t hold back on any aspect; he acknowledges that guns are power incarnate and that shooting them can feel very, very fun. He acknowledges that they can be collected and can be valuable and historical. But he also faces what they do to people, what they do to bodies and lives. And the result of his experiences are a decidedly less sanguine feeling about them as a whole, even as he understands them.

Unfortunately, Overton’s experiences tell us that guns aren’t going away. Not soon, maybe not ever (or if they do, it’s only because something more powerful replaced them). Nevertheless, understanding them can help come to terms with their role in shaping our world and for that reason alone, this is a book I think you should read.

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Immortality At The Pull Of A Trigger

Quantum immortality is one of those ideas that’s managed to burrow its way into my thoughts and has remained there stubbornly every since. I’ll sometimes pick at it in my mind much like you might worry a loose tooth with your tongue. It’s an idea that balances just enough logic and insanity that I doubt I’ll ever come to a personal resolution.

I don’t have a science background myself, so I only really understand the basics of everything I’m talking about. To actually articulate what’s going on, you’d need somebody who can first explain quantum physics in a meaningful way; I chose to use a silly video, so there you go.

Here’s the short version, which is still several paragraphs long. We’re going to assume that quantum physics mean we don’t live in a universe but rather an infinite multiverse. In the multiverse, there are an infinite number of different versions of reality. There’s a reality where I ate breakfast this morning and one where I didn’t. There’s a reality where I’m actually named Zaphod Beeblebrox. There’s a reality where I’m a Republican. There are an infinite number of different versions of myself just as there are an infinite number of different versions of yourself. And those are just the small differences. There are versions where humanity didn’t exist, where Hitler won the war, where Coke comes in blue cans, and so on.

Infinity, man.

So, in this multiverse, there’s the current thread of experience that believes itself to be me. As far as I’m aware, I’m the only version of me that exists; I’m closed off from all the other infinite mes. The reason for this has to do with probability and the states of electrons, but I don’t have enough authority to articulate the specifics. Let’s just assume this is the way it is.

Each time a choice occurs, my personal thread of existence chooses one option and follows it. I am now living in the reality where I ate breakfast this morning. This means, however, that my action also spawned a new reality where I didn’t take that action. Thus, my thread of experience has fragmented and spawned new threads, one for each choice and each variable of my life. The number of variables is incomprehensibly large, but we’re talking about the infinite.

Quantum immortality is the idea that my thread of experience will shift accordingly to continue itself. Basically, whenever a variable occurs where one choice will lead to the termination of my experience thread, I will shift to the version of reality where that didn’t happen. In theory, I could test this very easily by putting a gun to my head and pulling the trigger. If quantum immortality is correct, I should experience a misfire every single time, no matter how statistically improbable. I should note, however, that the idea only guarantees that  I’ll survive; I could very easily survive the gunshot itself and be crippled without violating the principle idea. You can understand why I’m not eager to test it out.

There’s another reason why testing it out is unfeasible. Even if I do perform the experiment, I’ll now exist in a version of reality where I pulled the trigger fourteen times and survived unharmed. But each of those attempts will spawn more and more versions of reality where I pulled the trigger and died. Youthe observer, with your own thread of experience, will almost certainly not progress to the same version of reality I do. You will almost certainly be in a reality where I died, if not the first time then the second, third, or fourth time, and so on. It’s virtually impossible that you’ll end up in the same version of reality that I do, where I make it out alive.

Of course, there would be a version of you in the reality where I do live, and you’d be correspondingly impressed (and probably pissed about such a rash action). But that version of you wouldn’t be the you that is reading this article now, because each you has its own thread of experience that doesn’t overlap. You are thus almost certainly not the you in this hypothetical miraculous survival scenario. This explains why we don’t currently live in a universe where someone else has performed this experiment successfully. Anybody who does will almost certainly die from our perspective, because the experience of immortality is only true for the person pulling the trigger.

Since the idea is based on probability and your consciousness shifting to the variable that ensures its own continuation no matter how unlikely, I imagine you would still die of old age due to the fact that eventually, the probably of your survival becomes zero and there is no further version of reality for you to shift into.

Or maybe not; maybe you just shift into the version of reality where you miraculously discover the fountain of youth and keep on living. Who knows?

Arizona: A Great Place To Be A Gun

The news today was great if you’re a gun. Or if you’re a person who makes and sells guns. Or if you – well, you get the point. Let’s talk about Arizona’s Gun Buyback program first.

The plan was to try and get some unwanted guns out of people’s homes with the guarantee that those guns wouldn’t end up in the hands of those who might do harm. Not an unreasonable concern, considering how easy it is to acquire a firearm without a background check of any kind. It was going to be a drop in the bucket anyway compared to the number of guns still out there, but you never know; one less gun could mean the difference to at least one person. It was, you might say, a symbolic action in the same vein as Bisbee’s proposed civil union law.

And like Bisbee’s symbolic civil union law, the gun buyback program has been blocked. Well, not blocked exactly, but gutted all the same. You can still turn your unwanted gun in. However, the city or county now must take that gun and sell it to a federally licensed dealer instead of destroying it as was intended. Guns seized by police already have to be sold in this fashion, per Arizona law, which means that, as Bob Christie notes in his article, “the gun used to shoot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords might end up back on the street.” Great law, that.

Here’s the thing that really brings my blood to a boil:

It’s not about protecting Second Amendment rights, it’s about protecting the taxpayers,” said Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria. He also argued that the state doesn’t require the destruction of cars involved in fatal accidents, so requiring guns to be destroyed is simply a feel-good measure that protects no one.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Look, I get the fact that as a Republican, you have to bow to the almighty power of the gun lobby, but at least be fucking honest about it. Stand up and cop to it; you’re opposing this because the NRA demands that you oppose everything that even has the faintest springtime scent of gun control. Admit that this is what you’re doing, because it’s agonizingly obvious to the rest of us that this is what you’re doing.

Furthermore, the argument Rep. Murphy uses to justify his bullshit rhetoric is that we don’t require the destruction of cars in fatal automobile accidents. This ignores the fact that in many instances, a collision severe enough to kill a person is usually enough to destroy the vehicle involved. So, you know, you have that working against your claim. Furthermore, you’re not even addressing the same fucking issue! This isn’t even about the law requiring the state to sell seized guns. This was about a program designed to take some guns off the street and keep them from circulating.

Democrats argued that Republicans complain about the federal government when it requires the state to take action, yet they’re quick to force local governments to do what they want. “We hate it when the federal government mandates it to the state, and we’re doing the same thing,” said Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, D-Yuma.

How the hell anybody can argue that the Republican party is the party of small government is beyond me at this point. This is not the action of a small government philosophy! These are the blatant actions of a party that has capitulated to its most powerful lobbying group because to do otherwise would mean the effective end of the party as a political entity.

I get why they’re doing it. I guess at this point, I’d just appreciate a little bit of honesty as they do it.