Monday, January 2, 2017

Wounded TX Politician Wants Nanny Gun Law


"Shoot fire."

It's not a redundant command.  It's a colorful expression we've got here in Texas, and you pronounce it "chute-fahr."  As in, "Shoot fire, that sure was a dad-gum stupid thing to do."

(Chute-fahr, that shore wuz a dad-gum stew-pid thang ta dew.)

A Texas state legislator got hit in the head by a bullet during New Year's festivities yesterday morning, so now he's contemplating a new law that will limit celebratory gun shots.

Yes, the politician got hit in the head, by a bullet, but nobody shot at him.  But he did get shot.

It seems like just about every New Year, we Texans hear about somebody who gets injured - or killed - by bullets falling back to earth after being shot straight up by partying gun owners.  This tends to be mostly a Hispanic tradition, with the idea being that shooting guns into the air is harmless fun, while making a lot of racket, which is also fun.

But the obvious corollary to firing bullets into the sky seems lost on the folks who perpetuate this nonsense.  Gravity is still in effect, meaning that what goes up must come down.

And fortunately for Armando Martinez, representative of District 39 in far South Texas, home to many Hispanics, the bullet that came back down and hit him on his head didn't kill him.

"A couple more millimeters," Martinez explained to a reporter, "and we wouldn’t be having a conversation today."

He's being released from a hospital, grateful to still be alive, and brandishing a new-found respect for projectile trajectory physics and ballistics science.  In fact, he's so sobered by his close call, he believes a new law is just the thing to protect others from risking a similar wound - or worse.

It's the nanny-state mindset at work, of course.  And in this case, a law telling people something that should be obvious also helps Martinez avoid the delicate political dance over the fact that Hispanics are the people group who disproportionately practice the thing he wants to outlaw.  Martinez is a Hispanic male, and culturally, Hispanic males are expected to brandish a swagger of "machismo" that traditionally validates their masculinity.

And if you think that's a bigoted assessment of Hispanic masculinity, you try to find data on the number of Hispanic women who celebrate New Year's by shooting their guns into the air.  Although, to be fair, this isn't just a male Hispanic problem.  Across the Middle East, for example, gunfire into the air has become a staple of wedding and Eid celebrations.

For Martinez, back here in Texas, legislation probably provides a way to avoid marginalizing his own machismo.  But is it necessary?  For one thing, within the boundaries of virtually all municipalities across Texas, it's already against the law to fire a gun.  Period.  Unless you were shooting something or someone in the course of protecting life or property, the cops have every right to haul you off to prison.  In Martinez's case, it sounds as though he and his fellow revelers were likely on some unincorporated land, away from an urbanized area, but so far, nobody has bothered to report on whether or not the person who fired the gun whose bullet hit Martinez had broken any existing laws - or whether anybody drove home inebriated.

Nevertheless, at what point do we stop writing laws that should be obvious?  And if it's not obvious to many members of the Hispanic community, why is it apparently so politically incorrect to saturate Hispanic-centric communities with the common-sense message that "shooting guns into the air means bullets fall down somewhere."

Since Martinez claims to be a representative of and for Hispanics in Texas, would he consider it an insult to his masculinity to launch a state-wide campaign to educate his fellow Hispanics - men, particularly - on the potentially-lethal results of "celebratory gunfire," as he calls it?

"Everybody knows better than to get a gun and fire it up in the air because what goes up must come down,” Martinez says.  But if that were true, why was he out there early Sunday morning with all the other folks shooting guns into the air?

Or is Martinez saying that nanny-state laws are the price people pay for not taking personal responsibility for their actions?

A bullet falling back down to the ground doesn't make nearly as much noise as when it was initially fired, but it can still cause significant collateral damage.  Kinda like nanny-state laws, as they accumulate, using threats to discourage behavior by people who should otherwise be able to make good decisions on their own.

Over time, our individual incentive to make good decisions proactively risks being marginalized by a government more interested in conformity than integrity.  It's as if the government can justify its existence by pointing out that, without their intervention, people would still fire bullets into the sky with an expectation of impunity.

As if the bullets disappear into outer space or something.

Come on, people!  Apparently it's the same type of magic as expecting legislators to be selfless public servants.


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