Something Feral

Digging up the flower-beds.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hoplophobia: Fear and Loathing in California

As She Who Must Be Obeyed, alias Mum, is having a varmint problem and I need a smaller rifle for facilitating a CMP membership, yesterday I decided that I would purchase a Ruger 10/22. Knowing California's reputation as a hoplophobic state, I screwed my resolve to the sticking point and got in the car.

First stop: Walmart. Now, while I know Walmart has a bad reputation for this, that and that other thing, they do have consistently low prices. As a percentage on a firearm, that's a significant pile of ducats.

Whilst waiting at the counter, waiting on a sales-clerk, I spy no rifles behind the counter, save for the orange-tip Airsoft toys and compressed-air rifles. Now, I could use a compressed-air rifle to complete the safety exam... But the thought doesn't really interest me. Plus, I already own one, and have access to at least three. So, it's moot.

The sales-clerk arrives. His shirt is hanging out, tie askew. "Can I help you with anything?"

"Yes, I see that you have precisely zero real firearms behind the counter here. If I were to order a rifle, could it be delivered for pickup here?"

He shakes his head. "Walmart in California doesn't do that anymore." A high-pitched shriek from an irate toddler punctuates the denial.

"I guessed as much. Thanks anyway." I leave before the swarm of middle-aged housewives with wailing brats in-tow move to block the exit.

Next stop: Longs Drug; strangely fitting for California. Soon they'll have a single counter for all the State-labeled vices, staffed by part-time "sex-workers" paying into the CalPers pension system. I move directly to the Sporting counter, where on a previous visit I had noticed that they carried at least a rudimentary selection of shotguns and small-caliber rifles. After haggling with the clerk for a bit, I get a walking price. I think I can do better than the figure on my paper-brain, so I take a walk.

Next stop: Big 5 Sporting Goods. The sun is beating down ferociously at this point, and my mood is on the downward slope. I'm not a warm-weather critter, and after two strikes, I'm not enjoying this expedition any more.

Fortunately, the sales-clerk is both competent and helpful. I handle a few models, then excuse myself for a phone conference with She Who Must Be Obeyed. On my return, I inform him that I will be purchasing the rifle. The sales-clerk calls the manager, and they both depart to the office, only to return minutes later with a sheaf of forms.

I count my small blessings. At least the air-conditioning is working.

After presenting the necessary identification, I fill out the paperwork, which asserts that I must be a citizen, have a relatively clean record, have no outstanding warrants, restraining orders, not a habitual drug-user, domestic abuser, felon, or committed a thought-crime against anyone ever, and had never made a mistake on income-tax. Okay, the last two are perhaps pending, but there's little room for anything to add to the list of qualities that are verboten.

The manager tells the sales-clerk that he must fill out the rest of the form in blue ink, same as I had. The sales-clerk eyes the manager. "What?"

"If you don't, they can make the claim that we altered the paperwork, and that's illegal."

I nod. "The federal government has no sense of humor that they are aware of, and they need to justify that covey of bureaucrats in some fashion."

The manager smiles and nods. "Exactly. It's a liability issue. We've had to call customers in after having reviewed the form and finding a misprint, like 'USA' in that box," he points at the paper, "labeled 'County'. Looks like 'Country', but they know that."

This conversation repeats in various forms over the next forty-five minutes, the both of us making less-than-complimentary commentary about the Sacramento-San Francisco-Los Angeles voting bloc, and blue-counties in general.

While the sales-clerk is doing the paperwork-shuffle, two guys, both in their early-twenties, approach the counter. "Hey, I have a gift card, and I'd like to use it today," announces the youngest to the manager.

"Sure thing. What can I get for you?"

"Umm, six boxes of the number-seven 12-gauge shells, please."

"Okay, I'll just need to see some identification."

The manager fumbles with six boxes of the shells, and elbows the stack up to the counter-top. The other youth is holding the gift-card at this point while the manager inspects the driver's license of the former to his satisfaction. "I'll need to see his identification as well," the manager nods in the direction of the youth holding the gift-card.

"What? I'm not buying the ammo! It's his gift-card!"

The manager frowns. "Regardless, it's state law, not the policy of Big Five. I have to check your ID before I hand the boxes to you."


At this point, I'm wondering if the youth is "hearing-impaired", as they say here.

"They're not for me," he reiterates. in a considerably louder voice. "It's his gift-card!"

"I understand that, sir. However, I have to check all of the IDs. It's state law. Please don't be this way, I have no choice in the matter."

Sulking, he produces the identification. I attempt to lighten the mood. "Well, look at it this way: at least you don't have an eleven-day waiting period for the shells."

The manager smiles again, and the youths are on their way. "You know," he says to me, "In Los Angeles they do have a waiting period on ammunition sales. All that gang violence, you know..."

This catches me off-guard, having (proudly) never lived inside the confines of that cesspool. "You don't say? Don't they know that they'll just go outside the city limits to buy ammunition?"

He nods. It acknowledges the logic of the argument, the uselessness of the law, and the plight that the city continues to make for itself by throwing worse laws on bad ones. All that he can really do at this point is adhere to the legalities.

He sighs. "Most of the ammunition used is .22, anyway. It's impossible to track."

I shake my head in disgust. "And yet, you and I, lawful citizens, are the ones that pay. Typical, isn't it?"

"Right you are, sir."

We finish the paperwork, and he thanks me for being patient. "Not a lot of people like to sit through this, we appreciate your patience in the matter."

"Well, ain't much to be done about it. If I want the rifle, I can spend a little time. Throwing a fit about it without taking constructive action is for children."

"Have a good day, sir."

I thank him, pay the cashier and leave.


Freud is often misquoted as having said, "The fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." However, the popularity of the misquotation seems to indicate that it has some grounding in popular sentiment, if nothing else. Jeff Cooper, the originator of the term "hoplophobia", describes a condition similar to that of the Freud misquotation, namely, "... the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart from that of their user."

Generally speaking, there are two distinct varieties: the most original sense of the term, the irrational fear that firearms are miniature golem, wont to sow destruction unless kept on a firm leash by Authority; the other is that the firearm is something to be feared for what it enables the People to accomplish through proficient use, i.e., the Tyrants' Argument. The second is a far more insidious form of the mental disorder (I'm calling it as I see it; the naked will-to-power that follows this kind of ambition is the sign of a diseased mind), as it enables and encourages the first form through disinformation and agitprop, and occasionally through the flatly-applied edict.

As often as this is repeated, it needs to be heard until it sinks in:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

You may not license a Right, as a license may be arbitrarily denied. Period. End of story.

Evidently, the bar for reading-comprehension for law-school graduates and congressmen has fallen low in the last century, or we may call them traitors. One alleges mere stupidity, the other premeditated, willful malice against the People.

And lest I be remiss in my duty, this goes for the other nine Amendments as well. Everywhere is a "free-speech zone". The right to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects is not violable without a warrant. The rights enumerated herein are not exhaustive, and the powers not specifically delegated to the Federal government are reserved to the People or the States.

These freedoms have been abridged deliberately and incrementally, slowly bleeding the public in the name of security, safety, and civility. Now, with the advent of an imminent economic coma and a rapidly-metastasizing police-state, people will suffer greatly in the years to come, for years content to suckle at the teat of the State in the assurance that vigilance against tyranny was yesteryear's paradigm.

The Devil has come to collect, and he will have his pound of flesh.


Triton said...

Excellent post.

Enjoy the rifle. :)

Something Feral said...

Thanks, and will do. I'm overdue for some varmint-control quality-time.

Plus, it's enjoyable for the zen of it, and it hones a eminently useful skill in any walk of life: marksmanship. One shot, one kill; no more, no less.