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For What Purpose?

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After the slaughter in the Baptist church in Texas, I heard it again: the appeal to illogical comparisons, to parallels that are not parallel. On television, a politician defending “Second Amendment rights” asked his interviewer if he would ban trucks because a truck was used in the recent New York terrorist attack or ban airplanes because they were used as weapons of terrorism on September 11, 2001. To his credit, the interviewer tried to interject the idea of design by pointing that AR-15s are designed to kill people, many people in rapid succession, but the politician talked over him, repeating his false comparisons.

In this post, I hope to discredit the illogic of these false comparisons between a semi-automatic weapon and vehicles or other implements that can be misused as means for killing people deliberately. Instead of using the concept of design, I choose the somewhat broader, I think, question of purpose because it raises two concerns: the purpose for which the gun is designed and manufactured and what purpose I might have in mind if I chose to buy one.

Transportation is the purpose of cars, trucks, and planes. Can they be misused to commit murder? Yes, indeed they can, as we have seen. So can a pencil, and decades ago I was told by a witness to the results of a boy who was held down by other boys while one shoved a pencil through his eardrum and into his brain. He died. So, the illogic goes, since many ordinary objects can be used to kill, no type of gun should be restricted or banned because the person is the one who commits the murder, as though the choice of weapon were merely incidental. The argument, however, does not stand up to the question of purpose.

The purpose of an AR-15 is to kill people. Can it be used for other purposes? Yes, I suppose it can, but it’s a large, expensive, and unwieldy paperweight. Target practice? Sure, but there are better choices for that purpose, and anything that propels a projectile or becomes a projectile when thrown can be used for target practice. The AR-15 is designed and made to kill people.

Illogic does not give up easily. “I have one for home defense.” Okay, and how would it function at need for home defense? Would you offer it to the home invader if he promised to leave? No, it’s purpose is to shoot the invader if necessary. It’s made to kill people. By the way, I’ve read more than once or twice from people purporting to know about such matters that a shotgun would be a much better choice for home defense.

What’s special about the AR-15 is that it kills people in rapid succession. In contrast with a shotgun or a hunting rifle, it’s made to kill many people quickly. That’s the weapon’s purpose: to kill many people in very short time. So, the purpose for buying and owning one is to possess the ability to kill many people in a short time or to outgun someone in a gunfight. Why? Why does a person want that ability?

It’s not about hunting. I have been assured by a staunch defender of “Second Amendment rights” that it’s not about hunting and, further, that the Supreme Court has confirmed that it’s not about hunting. What, then, is it about? For what purpose does a person want such a weapon? I suggest further conversation about these weapons needs to begin with that question.

Please, no more nonsense about cars, trucks, and commercial or private airplanes which are not made or sold for the purpose of killing people. Or pencils, either. Then, too, swords are sometimes mentioned. While knives have various designs and purposes, many of which lead to the kitchen and food preparation, swords came into human history for the purpose of killing people, but how would a person wielding a sword kill more than fifty people in a crowd and injure some 500 more without being stopped? Besides, there are restrictions on swords, and open carry is not a thing with them, at least not in places I’ve lived.

The purpose of the AR-15 and anything similar remains: to kill many people in rapid succession. Again, why would a person buy one?

Insurrection?
Intimidation of groups not liked?
Guerilla warfare?
Fire power for illegal activities (to outgun police)?
Fear of a race war (“when they come”)?
A sense of empowerment (with, maybe, no intent ever to use the thing)?
Fantasies?
Something else I haven’t even thought of?

We need to talk, and we need to listen as respectfully as we can. In doing both, it would be helpful to stay logical and honest. We need to stop deflecting. We need to stop labeling and then dismissing whoever offers something more than a deflection. People are being slaughtered with terrible efficiency, in large numbers, and I see no signs that the carnage will stop if all we do is keep repeating our slogans and deflections.

Web Site Crisis? No More

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Google threw me a curve ball. For years, I have used Picasa (which Google had acquired) to put my photo albums onto the Web so I could share them with friends and family. When I wanted to put photos onto my own Web site or the Bridgeton church’s, I did so by linking to the album on Picasa.

Our son Jonathan is a graphic designer who taught himself Web design, and when he made me a new personal Web site, he designed and built it in Word Press. At my request, he found a plug-in that displayed photo albums on my site by linking to Picasa.

Two changes have rendered that arrangement unworkable. Google has called halt to Picasa (effective in May) and migrated all Picasa albums to Google Photo. The designer and owner of the plug-in has suspended support for it, which means it will not be updated to link to Google Photo. Boom. There goes the Photography page on my Web site as well as the display of photos on my home page.

Now I more fully appreciate the work Jon did in his design and construction of my site. I was on my own for solving the problem, but the means were in place, and I did not have to do any computer coding. All I had to do was search a list for a new Word Press plug-in that promised what I wanted (and received good reviews), download and install it, then set it up on my site. That last step was a fairly big one, but I did it in one afternoon and evening.

All the photos for my albums (now called galleries) reside on my Web site, and so I am free from the vagaries of Google or any other provider of online photo storage in the cloud. I can add photos or new galleries as I wish. The plug-in, Photo Gallery, displays them as sets of thumbnails the user can search, enlarge, or run as a slide show of that Gallery.

“I did not have to do any computer coding.” Right there is the key Jon had searched for – the key to unlock Web site maintaining and updating for personal users and small businesses that neither have Web pros on the payroll nor can afford to hire contractors each time the service is needed. Did I need to “know computers,” as people say? Yes, but I did not have to know CSS, PHP, Java Script, or even HTML. Is that alphabet gibberish to you? There’s my point.

Curious about the results? Click here to see them.

My New Web Site

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My new WordPress site was designed by our son, Jonathan Sindall, who is also a graphic designer and illustrator. When Jon added Web design to his freelance capabilities, he encountered a problem frustrating small business owners and managers: updating.

A static site, one that is rarely or never updated, is merely an online brochure offering potential customers no reason to return for another look. Businesses change.

Businesses change.

They offer new products or services while discontinuing the old ones. They run specials. They rearrange their shops or showrooms to entice returning shoppers to stay and look around again. Otherwise, people poke their heads in the door, see just what they saw on their previous visit, and move on. Been there, seen that.

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