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Despite the best efforts of Alanis Morissette and an entire generation of literarily-challenged youth who grew up believing that a dangling participle was a position in Kama Sutra involving a sex swing and large medicine ball, irony and coincidence are not the same thing. Having 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife isn’t ironic so much as it is unfortunate and a likely indicator that you either have a hoarding problem or work for a company that manufactures plastic spoons, while there is absolutely nothing ironic about dying the day after winning the lottery. This is because irony, or at least the situational irony most folk allude to when calling something ironic, is traditionally defined as occurring when the actual meaning of something is the complete opposite of its literal meaning.(1) So, in order for these jagged little examples to actually be classified as ironic, the outcome of the event in question has to be the exact opposite of what we would have expected. If our hypothetical super lotto winner had died the next day because his car was t-boned by the Brinks truck that was carrying the money he had just won and which was going to be presented to him at a televised ceremony that evening, that would be ironic. Likewise, having 10,000 spoons when all you needed was a knife would be genuinely ironic if the person needing the knife was working as a butcher because knives are the main tool of his trade and there is no earthly reason to suspect that a butcher would possess 10,000 spoons at his shop.

I bring this up, again, because this past news cycle has spawned a rash of these misplaced pronouncements of irony after the suicide of a man at this Saturday’s NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The detail that supposedly provides the irony is the fact that the man, 42 year old Kirk Franklin, used a gun to take his life, shooting himself late Saturday evening in the back of his truck, which was parked in the infield of the speedway. The problem with calling such an event ironic is that, perhaps more than any other major American sport, NASCAR lends itself to the possibility of gun violence. With the exception of The Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Preakness, I cannot think of any American sporting event with a higher threshold for booze-besotten depravity than NASCAR, and it ain’t a coincidence that both horse racing and stock car racing both let their fans sit out on the grass infield of their tracks. Some fans will get to the track in their RV or camper days before a race starts to stake out the best seats and they normally don’t pass the time between their arrival and and the green flag by playing Parcheesi. I mean, imagine if you let the Bleacher Bums out at Wrigley Field bring their own liquor to the stadium and gave them a spot in left field to get hammered for two days before the game even began. Those drunk bastards would be pelting Alfonso Soriano in the back of the head with beer cans and harassing the Cracker Jack guy by the middle of the 3rd inning.

This is how Kyle Busch celebrated winning the NRA 500. I wish this was photoshopped.

It would have been more shocking to me if authorities said alcohol was not factor in Franklin’s death, considering the fact that booze and beer are as integral a part of NASCAR as radiators and restrictor plates. I haven’t heard anything about the man’s blood alcohol content from the media, but considering that the NRA 500 was a night race and that the suicide took place around 10:30pm, it isn’t a stretch to think that Franklin had been drinking for at least 12 hours before he pulled the trigger. Tack on to that the fact that over 19,000 of the more than 38,000 suicides in 2010 were committed with a firearm along with Texas’ extremely lax gun laws and what happened Sunday night isn’t even remotely ironic. If there was going to be a firearm-related suicide in professional sport, it would likely happen in an area with permissive gun laws, at a venue with minimal security, among a population with a high percentage of gun ownership and in an environment with a good deal of substance use. You’ve just described the infield of the majority of NASCAR races.

The unfortunate coincidence of Kirk Franklin’s suicide at the NRA 500 serves as a backdrop for the latest, and possibly final, iteration of gun control legislation in the US Senate. The proposal being debated at the present is the brainchild of Senators Joe Manchin (WV-D) and Pennsylvania’s Joe Toomey (PA-R) and it packs about as much punch as a decaf cup of coffee. The vast majority of the recommendations from the President’s now three month old gun control proposal have been dismissed entirely, while the majority of those that remain are shells of their former selves. Assault weapons ban? Nope. Limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds? Gone. Confirming the President’s nominee for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms? Not yet. Universal Background Checks? Not so much. You see, the Manchin-Toomey billrequires background checks on currently exempt internet purchases and it would close the notorious “gun-show loophole”, but it wouldn’t regulate most other private gun transactions. The bill is essentially one giant concession to supposed “gun rights supporters”, something that comes as a shock to few considering the fact that Manchin, who is actually the Democrat behind the proposal, currently has an A rating from the NRA.

If you ask Manchin or Vice President Biden about the reasons for these tremendous concessions, they will cite pragmatism as the motivating factor. The logic goes that some change is better than no change and that keeping a hard line and risking Congressional rebuke is worse than caving in and giving your opposition the farm to get something productive out of the deal. Normally I would disagree vehemently with logic based on my belief that, a) 95% of the Republican Party is allergic to reason and largely incapable compromise and, b) gun control advocates never have more political clout than after a mass shooting, especially considering the scale of the tragedy in Newtown and the fact that the victims were all small children. If gun control supporters in Congress don’t take full advantage of their newfound political cache, they’ll find that they won’t have that level of public support again until the next tragedy strikes and, since the entire point of this legislation is to stop atrocities like the ones in Newtown and Aurora from happening, it would be a cowardly act to settle for legislative table scraps that would do little to prevent more mass shootings from occurring in the future.

“This isn’t gonna pass, is it Joe?” “…Nope”

With all of that being said, I am not going to chastise Senate Democrats for watering down their gun control legislation in an effort to garner bipartisan support and get the bill passed. Frankly, there’s no need because the milquetoast legislation isn’t going to pass the Senate anyway. According to The Washington Post’s Ed O’ Keefe, gun control supporters only have 52 of the 60 “yes” votes required to jump through all of the procedural hoops required to get the amended legislation through the Senate. Of the remaining 48 eligible votes, 40 are confirmed “no” votes, while 7 senators remain undecided (the 100th vote belongs to absent NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg, who may or may not be able to make the vote due to his recent health issues). As it stands now, all 7 undecided Senators would have to come down in favor of the legislation (6 if Lautenberg can vote) for it to pass, and the prospects for that don’t look likely. Of the 7 swing votes, 5 of them of Democrats who are either up for re-election in 2014 or from a right-leaning state that is seen as being very gun friendly.

Without the full support of the Democratic Party, pretty much any gun control legislation has no chance at passing and it appears that Manchin and Toomey know this. The duo has been talking with rural democrats like Alaska’s Mark Begich and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, trying to win their support through amendments to the legislation that would exempt certain rural gun sellers from having to conduct background checks, provided they are a set distance away from a federal firearms licensee needed to complete the process. All of this is in addition to the fact that the Manchin-Toomey Bill actually makes it easier for folks to sell guns over state lines and that the guns rights lobby is trying to amend the legislation to facilitate the sale of firearms to people with mental illness and allow for “national reciprocity” with regards to conceal and carry permits, allowing residents of states possessing conceal and carry rights to transfer those right across state lines, even into states that ban the practice.

Look on the bright side. When the Manchin-Toomey legislation crashes and burns later this week, at least you’ll know that it wouldn’t have done much good in the first place. A gun control bill that might actually make it easier to access guns? How ironic.


1Did I just use Ethan Hawke’s character from Reality Bites as my primary source for the definition of irony? Yes, yes I did. I also tell people that I want to buy the world a coke whenever people ask me what I’m planning on doing after grad school, because, if there was one thing Generation X perfected, it was being disaffected and snarky.

Originally posted to Virally Suppressed on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  You're either lying or seriously uninformed... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, theatre goon
    With the exception of The Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Preakness, I cannot think of any American sporting event with a higher threshold for booze-besotten depravity than NASCAR, and it ain’t a coincidence that both horse racing and stock car racing both let their fans camp out on the grass infield of their tracks.
    For the Derby you cannot get in until the morning of the event, and then you have to go through very thorough searches before you can even get through the gates. When it's over everyone has to leave.

    Just because you don't like something, or whatever your issue is, please try and refrain from your feeble attempts at degrading an event that you either know nothing about, or just decided to make up your own "vision" of the event.

  •  Background checks for ammo - the Boston bombs (0+ / 0-)

    apparently were gun-powder bombs.  As in 'you could drain bullets for it' or just buy it for reloading them.

    So, how 'bout it Thugs: you gonna filibuster background checks for bombs too?

    •  better background ck bleach and peroxide too, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      don't forget diesel or sugar or ammonia either....

      fucking please.....


      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:32:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You'd be hard pressed to "drain bullets" (4+ / 0-)

      for a bomb.

      Smokeless powder can't be used to make bombs... it's not an explosive. Black powder can, but there's precious little commercial ammo loaded with it. There's a few revolver rounds for the Cowboy Action Shooting folks, and an even smaller number of obsolescent rifle rounds for black powder cartridge silhouette competitors. And the vast majority of those folks load their own ammo.

      Every time I've bought black powder, I've had to sign an ATF form with my address and other personal info. Black powder is classified by ATF as a low explosive, there's more paperwork.

      You can also make your own black powder. It is apparently not difficult, but nobody bothers because homemade is not a consistent as commercial, nor does it burn as well. But if you're making a bomb to kill innocent strangers, you're probably not concerned about getting the most consistent velocity and accuracy, and you can overcome the burn efficiency issues by making your bomb a little bigger.


      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:50:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Details don't seem to matter in diaries (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theatre goon

        around here anymore. Just stretch, obfuscate, or outright lie about anything if it fits your agenda.....or it could be an innocent mistake, I suppose

        •  Most likely an innocent mistake. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kentucky Kid, theatre goon, FrankRose

          I imagine that most non-gunnies wouldn't even know that there are different kinds of gunpowder, let alone what the differences mean in terms of the properties of the substances or the regulations on each.

          The news isn't explaining the differences, not that I'd expect them to.

          So I figured I'd do it.

          As a shooter and reloader, I have to know the differences between various gunpowders... my life and the lives of people I shoot with are depending on my not fucking up.

          Load smokeless pistol powder into one of my black powder revolvers... I get to learn to write left-handed, if I'm lucky.

          Grab the can of Green Dot (fast burning pistol powder) instead of the BL-C(2) (medium-burning rifle powder) and dump 49 grains of it into a 7.5x55 mm cartridge for my K31 Schmitt-Rubin... insta-dead.

          I don't see anything nefarious in the post I responded to... just lack of information. And fairly specialized information at that.


          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 09:42:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know what you mean. It's just very frustrating (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            theatre goon

            to me here lately when the topic is "teh guns". Even with an informative post like yours, if this was an "hot" diary, it's hard telling what all negative / lame snark responses you would've been given......Hope I didn't just jinx you

          •  Ur wrong. Newsreports specifically = smokeless, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Glen The Plumber, MGross

            NOT black, powder used.  The smoke plume certainly seems to confirm that.

            Here's the FBI explaining how smokeless powder can be used in an IED:

            Scrolls down to 'Improvised Explosive Devices'.  

            As a shooter, I've seen bullets explode.  You're peddling nonsense if you don't think you can make an explosive out of smokeless powder - what do you think a ammo round does?  Hint: its a frakking explosion.  It's just got a convenient exit - the bullet - instead of the gases blowing the cartridge into flinders.

            Now, go peddle your propaganda elsewhere.

            •  Didn't know that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              theatre goon, FrankRose

              Here's where I think I went wrong:

              Smokeless powder is not an explosive, it's a flammable solid. It is incorrect to say that the burning of the powder in a cartridge is an explosion. It isn't, it is a very rapid burning. Pressures can get quite high, though... I've seen pressure testing of intentional overloads in the 90k psi range.

              Black powder is classified as an explosive, and is still used for that purpose in some applications.

              Granted, if you're standing in the path of the fast-moving hunks of metal, the difference is academic at best.

              Still, it looks like I was wrong in saying that smokeless powder can't be used in bomb making.

              No propaganda... and I can't for the life of me figure out where you found any.


              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:08:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Smokeless is a propellant, not explosive (0+ / 0-)

                You were kind of right.  Smokeless isn't inherently explosive like black powder.  Smokeless requires confinement to generate the force.  If you light a pile of smokeless on a side walk, it will just "whiff."  Take a can out to the range and shoot at it...not much will happen.  Do the same thing with black powder and the can will blow up.  Used in an IED, smokeless produces more of a "pressure bomb" than a true explosive device.  I think it might be considered more of a deflagration versus a true detonation.  

                I lived in Nepal in 2001 and the Maoists used pressure cooker bombs even back then.  Two kids at an orphanage near my area were playing near one as it went off.  We took care of the kids at the hospital where I worked...similar thing happened to them...major damage to the lower legs.  

                The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

                by Mote Dai on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:25:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, all 'explosives' are same in physics, i.e., (0+ / 0-)

                  they burn, i.e., the chemical reaction is oxidation.  Its just a question of how rapidly.  Those that burn most rapidly are the most volatile, thus easy to accidently ignite.

                  You got hung up on labels applied by the gun industry.  That's propaganda: you might as well say 'its got Hello Kitty on it, its a toy!'  (Tho I will accept that in your case it may have been accidental, and the comment from KK responding to yours pro'ly colored my impression of yours as well).  

                  NB: iirc, there are some few, rare anaerobic 'explosives', i.e., they don't use oxygen.  Again, iirc it would be a mistake to say the reaction is not oxidation, however, as the chemical reaction itself produces the oxygen.  But there might be a few extremely exotic for which its not true, tho I don;t think that would be relevant.

                  •  My confusion came not from the gun industry, (0+ / 0-)

                    But from the ATF.

                    Black powder is classified as an explosive, smokeless is not.

                    My error was in going from "not an explosive" to "not useful for bombs." which, in hindsight, is pretty dumb. Propane isn't an explosive, but the most powerful non-nuclear bombs in our inventory are basically flying propane tanks.


                    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                    by Leftie Gunner on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 08:46:14 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yeah but not 'dumb'. You just forgot that the ter (0+ / 0-)

                      ms as you used them had the meanings you meant only in a specific narrow context that was not responsive to my point.  Its a common mistake, especially with professional jargon.  The narrower and more specialized the profession, the more prone to the error in broader conversations.  Firearms are very specialized, compared to general physics and chemistry.

                      As for the 'industry' vs. ATF, see my the relevant part of my reply below to MD's comment.  By necessity, the industry always predates its regulatory agency, and the agency thus adopts industry terms (tho thier meanings certainly may morph overtime, since law remains protean even as an industry is mature).

                  •  Not sure what you are getting at... (0+ / 0-)

                    Huh?  Smokeless is a propellant not an explosive.  Black powder is an explosive.  Those aren't "labels" applied by the gun industry.  Yes, the burn rates are different.  I cannot take a pile of smokeless powder, put a wick in it and expect it to "explode."  It will definitely burn, but it won't explode...unless contained and pressure builds.  Put a wick in a pile of black powder, and it will explode.  Smokeless and black powder are handled, stored, and used differently because of these different properties.

                    The sequester is the new Republican immigration reform plan. Make things so bad here in the US that no one will want to live here.

                    by Mote Dai on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:12:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  *Nothing* will 'explode' unless contained, bc othe (0+ / 0-)

                      rwise its just very fast oxidation.  Nitro is also handled etc differently.  Not bc of 'different [explosive] properties' but bc of the fragility of the chemical bonds which, in the case of nitro and similar compounds, produces heat when the bonds break - i.e., to put it simplistically, opens an electron shell for electrons of oxygen atoms to exchange/share with thus releasing that potental energy as heat - and that heat causes the rest of the compound to very rapidly oxidize producing a huge amount of energy in very short time.  

                      You're probably thinking that last is an 'explosion' but in truth its just very rapid burning/oxidation.

                      Now as to the 'labels': You have to remember how laws get made.  Laws (and regulations) are made after the product has become pretty pervasive.  The law uses the labels that the industry already gave it.  Again a bit simplistically but usefully, the industry stamped 'explosive' on boxes of nitro, TNT etc. bc it was a heck of a lot shorter than 'extremely fragile and dangerously self-combustive'.

      •  Here's the FBI explaining how smokeless powder can (0+ / 0-)

        be used in an IED:

        Scrolls down to 'Improvised Explosive Devices'.

        You might want to read the Army Feild Manual too.

  •  Judging by how Obama and Democrats are (0+ / 0-)

    behaving lately, they'll pass the parts of the law that weaken gun restrictions like the reciprocity of concealed carry laws and call it a "great day for strengthening America's gun laws".

    Let's not let 2014 be anything like 2010. Republicans only win when we stay home!

    by Tim D M on Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 09:37:25 AM PDT

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