The U.S. News and World Report noted Monday that the Obama administration, perhaps frustrated at its inability to impose yet more restrictive gun regulation through the legislative process, is once again doing everything it can by executive diktat. This time, the infringement on that which shall not be infringed is to come via proposed new regulations barring hunters and target shooters from millions of acres of public land.
Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.
With candor that has likely not endeared him to his superiors, a Department of the Interior official freely admits that the idea here is not to make anyone safer:
"It's not so much a safety issue. It's a social conflict issue," said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands.
In other words, vast tracts of land--belonging to we the people--are to become Second Amendment-free zones, and without even the attempt to justify it through the fiction of "public safety," but merely to save timid urban herbivores from "freak[ing] out."
And this development may be only one component of a larger campaign to influence policy in favor of the easily and irrationally "freaked out." An article Wednesday in Salon described the practice of open carry (as opposed to concealed carry) as "a new craze," that is "more dangerous than you think" (emphasis in original). To support this "more dangerous" claim, Salon cited psychological studies that purported to demonstrate that the mere sight of a firearm is enough to set people on edge, rendering them more likely to unnecessarily engage in "fight or flight" behavior:
Psychologists watched the behavior of drivers stuck at an intersection behind a truck that wouldn’t budge when the light turned green. Sometimes there was a gun displayed in the truck’s rear window and sometimes there wasn’t. The researchers observed that people honked more often when they saw the gun.
Yes, well-- if the cost of reducing gratuitous horn-honking is further restriction of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, who are we to selfishly demand respect for our rights?
The Salon article never addressed the "danger" posed by public panic at the sight of openly armed uniformed "Only Ones." Perhaps the trappings of government-approved power are enough to counter this supposedly ubiquitous panic reaction at the sight of guns--as if that in itself would not be a frightening illustration of a society degenerated into docile, official authority-dependent timidity.
Salon did at least quote open carry advocates' goal of curing this irrational fear, by gradually acclimating the public to the sight of firearms carried in public without harm.
That sort of fear is what open carry activists say they want to eliminate over time. In an online list of goals, the open carry activists at Come and Take It America say they want “to condition Americans to feel safe around those of us that carry [guns].”
But then we are warned of the supposed potential danger of that:
Habituating people to guns so that they no longer perceive any threat, however, might not be prudent. After all, fear can be a useful survival instinct. “I don’t know to what extent it is beneficial or even possible to reduce fears that are actually very adaptive or normal or useful fears,” [University of Quebec psychology professor Isabelle] Blanchette says. Without a fear of snakes, for example, we might behave more carelessly around them — and get bitten.
In other words, it's useful to be terrified of guns--at least those not carried by the government's hired muscle. That perhaps begs the question of "'useful' to whom?" In seeking that answer, one cannot help but observe that it serves the purposes of the "government monopoly on force" zealots rather well. That, of course, makes it "useful" to the enemies of our way of life.
That should be all we need to know about it.