Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fred Pohl Has Been Lied To

...But haven't we all? Thing is, Mr. Pohl's been lied to about a specific subject: firearms.

And since neither personal inclination nor geography (spent most of his childhood/early life in the NYC/NJ area and has been been living right handy to Chicago, IL of late) has led him to dig especially deep, when he sits down to write his personal reaction to a tragic event -- the outrage in Tucson -- he relies on (probably) the newspaper and therefore tells us the Glock is "a rapid-fire weapon that can accommodate a 30-bullet clip, ands it has only one real use. It’s of very little value for hunting or for Grandma to keep under her pillow to repel burglars. What it is good for is the killing of groups of human beings by a single shooter, and for nothing else. For that reason, it was outlawed by federal statute until 2004, when that law expired..." [due to NRA lobbying].

Yeah, he's wrong about everything except who pushed for a sunset provision in the AWB. Hold your horses, it gets deeper. (Don't you go over there and set him straight; it's already been done and discussion has moved on. For a prime example of the difference between a bright guy who doesn't much like guns and a knee-jerk reactionary like "japete," you could not find much better: comments are unedited, run about 5:1 pro-gun and generally stick to addressing facts. Fred never gives 'em the la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you treatment, either).

But back to quoting; next para., starting from a flawed set of factiods, comes to a false conclusion: "Since no conventional rifle or pistol could have murdered so many so fast, it is entirely due to the work of the National Rifle Association that most of this current crop of victims are dead."

...And if you started with the same lies he was handed, if you'd grown up in a time when cops walked a beat with a revolver on their hip, in a place where firearm ownership was expensive, difficult and uncommon, you might have come to a similar conclusion.

This is the kind of anti-gun activity it is worth discussing. I've argued against debating outright antis for a number of reasons: their minds are made up, they have no new arguments and all you're doing is helping to sharpen their debate skills.

I wouldn't go debate Fred Pohl even if discussion was still open: you're not going to convince him to be a pro-gun guy, not against a lifetime of experience and inclination. But I don't think he's the kind of man who likes to be misinformed, either, so I'm glad there were plenty of SF fans ready to step up and share the facts:

- A full-sized Glock is very little different to, say, the .45 pistol American soldiers carried in WW I and II. It has a longer and more definite trigger pull but can be fired just as quickly -- and no faster -- than the WW II handgun. The frame of the Glock is plastic but it is still mostly metal by weight. They are a popular weapon for police departments.

- Either one (Glock or 1911) is a pretty good choice for Grandma's self-defense if her hands are big enough, though I'd advise a safer place than under the pillow.

- Glocks have never been outlawed in the United States.

- Large-capacity magazines have never been outlawed, either, though the manufacture of new ones was prohibited during the "Assualt Weapons Ban." The only effect this had was to increase the price of existing stock of such magazines.

- It is a nasty little secret that "extended-capacity" magazines are less reliable that the ones the gun was designed for (normal capacity for the 9mm Glock used in Arizona is 17-some rounds). If the crazed murderer had to use normal-sized magazines, his gun probably would not have malfunctioned as it did. It takes a couple of seconds to swap out a magazine; the death toll could have been a lot worse.

- The National Rifle Association is not actually in the the business of ensuring lunatics and lawbreakers are armed; they are out to prevent peaceable, law-abiding citizens from being disarmed.

So, I guess in answer to Mr. Pohl's query -- he wondered if NRA members were proud of themselves after Arizona (yes, sir, I am, especially since a lawfully armed American was among the first to respond to the crime) -- I have a question of my own: who told you all this arrant nonsense about Glocks, and are you proud of having your argument undermined by untruths?

'Cos Fred Pohl is bright guy; he's probably got some interesting and original thoughts about the role of privately kept and borne arms in society and I would like to read them even though we are unlikely to ever agree. But he was lied to, produced near-gibberish as a result (grammatical, well-written gibberish) and bedamned if I can make head or tail of what his reasoning might have been had he been in possession of the facts.

I may get a chance; in his follow-up posting, while he asks everyone to drop the subject for now and accurately describes comments as "vigorous," he adds, "I think there’s a lot to be learned from the discussion, and so I’ll try to come back to it soon."

It is possible to have a firm opinion and an open mind at the same time.


Lupis42 said...

I am reminded of something an Appleseed instructor once said: "When an honest man who is mistaken, is confronted with the truth, he will either cease to be mistaken, or he will cease to be honest." - PHenry

Anonymous said...

"Glocks have never been outlawed in the United States."

What about Massachusetts?

Oh, wait, you said the United States.

Shootin' Buddy

Ritchie said...

Kudos to Mr. Pohl for being open to new ideas. But then, that's his line of work. Of course, the primary effect of firearms is to poke holes in things. The creation of the repulsor field is a secondary effect.

WV: buracksf-well we're livin' it now. Science effects technology effects society effects science.

Roberta X said...

In re GlockMass: not all of 'em.

Ken said...

To lay Tucson at the feet of anyone other than the perpetrator...

I can't even say. It would be entirely ungentlemanly to say what I think of a morality that would compass that.

parabarbarian said...

With the qualified exception of the HeeChee stories, I never cared much for Frederick Pohl's writing. If Science Fiction is a magic mirror we can look into and see the possiblities of the future, then Frederick Pohl reflected a future where the unique branch of civilization born in America was headed nowhere but an increasingly opressive police state. His apparent vision was of a kinder, gentler fascism than those of the past but it was no less fascist.

Eck! said...

I'll use japetes own line on this idiot.

So Mr Pohl; Whoa there. Are you sure you want these comments committed to writing?

I say better to let them open their beaks and be known a fool then sit quietly and thought a fool.


Anonymous said...

Well, Fred is getting older. I have enjoyed much of his work in the past fourty years, the HeeChee series in particular. However his opinions on guns must be considered a Pohlish joke.

bruce edwards

Roberta X said...

"Older?" He was born in 1919!

Which is another reason why I'd rather read his blog than argue with him; we could run out of Fred Pohl before we ran out of argument. 'Druther read what he has to say about SF and writers and other such issues.