Sunday

If the creators and communicators of pop culture were as ignorant and careless in their portrayal of the mechanical functions and proper use of automobiles as they are of firearms, we would have people blasting down the freeways at 85 miles an hour in reverse, starting their morning commutes by negotiating over the front lawns of all their neighbors, and habitually parking their cars on top of their own rose bushes.

Of the two reasons why most people need professional training in the use of their carry guns -– one being to learn how to operate it properly -– the more important reason is to unlearn all the misinformation and disinformation and outright lies about guns that have been coming our way in endless waves since time immemorial. You could hardly have avoided the endless assault from blissfully ignorant hack writers with gnarled knots of clich├ęs for brains, maliciously anti-gun Hollywood directors, TV producers who wouldn’t know a hollowpoint bullet from a flu shot, politically correct newspaper editors and network news readers, political commentators with the bug juice of reactionary socialism for blood, air-headed bimbos, nutty professors, whacked-out rock ‘n’ rollers, and the whole parade of self-righteous writers, editors, directors, producers, entertainers, newscasters, stand-up comics, girlie-men politicians and, of course, professional Sarah Palin haters.

The fact is, there is more slip-shod misinformation, as well as deliberate disinformation, about guns than any other common everyday object known to mankind.

No, a snub-nosed .38 will not blow a 200-pound psychopath across the room and through a plate-glass window. No, neither will a .45 automatic. No, a so-called assault rifle is not any more powerful or deadly than the typical small-caliber gun used by farmers to eradicate harvest-hungry rodents from their fields. No, the .50 BMG rifle was not designed specifically to penetrate Henry Waxman’s chauffeur-driven limousine. No, most law enforcement officers are not particularly well trained in firearms technique, marksmanship, tactics or strategy. No, guns are not nearly as dangerous to children as bicycles, horses, household cleaners, swimming pools, bathtubs or five-gallon buckets. No, six-shooters do not hold ten rounds of ammunition. No, it is not a cop’s job to protect you from violent assault, only to try to find out who did it after it has already been done. No, you do not hold a handgun like a teacup or a frisbee or a waterhose or a basketball. No, you do not carry your gun with an empty chamber. No, state-of-the-art high-tech guns do not kill any quicker than simple old-fashioned guns. No, there is no such thing as the criminals’ weapon-of-choice. No, extensive target shooting does not make you better prepared to defend yourself with a firearm. No, restrictive gun-control laws do not reduce crime one iota but do, in fact, increase it. No, promoters of such anti-gun legislation are not acting heroically when they do everything in their power to limit the capabilities of American citizens to defend themselves.

Yes, people who own and carry guns are safer, more secure and far better protected than those who don’t, and so is everyone around them. Yes, Americans use guns to effectively defend themselves and their loved ones millions of times every year even though the pop culture media never utters a word about it. Yes, gun-ban laws in places like England, Australia and South Africa have caused violent crime to skyrocket in those countries, way beyond anything the U.S. has ever experienced. Yes, no matter how much they may try to cozy up to you at election time, so-called liberal politicians want to disarm you, take away all of your guns, leave you totally defenseless and entirely dependent on a government of brain-dead bureaucrats for your survival.

Do most people need firearms training? Damned right they do, but not nearly as much as they need un-training and re-training. Does it matter where you go to get your training? Damned right is does, because you don’t take lessons in defensive combat shooting from a game-playing target-puncher any more than you take classical ballet lessons from a pink hippopotamus.

A few days ago I had occasion to watch a group of neophytes go through a basic firearms familiarization class. These were young people who were not entirely unfamiliar with the importance of an aggressive mindset, but it quickly became obvious that, with a gun in their hands, any basic fighting instincts they may have had were completely overridden by conditioning from special-effects-infested Hollywood movies and TV shows. Without even thinking about it, these kids launched into imitations of cartoon movements invented by twentysomething film directors who have never been near a real gun in their lives. The trouble with shootouts in la-la-land is that stances, moves, grips and attitudes that are cleverly choreographed, computer-enhanced and never have to actually work in real life are completely unrelated to reality at any level whatsoever. You could see that it would take days or weeks of intensive un-training before these media-saturated kids could even begin to learn how to shoot.

It’s not just the image-is-everything half-wits who are to blame. Even novelists with literary pretensions who are known to thorough research virtually every tidbit of reality they touch upon in their narratives are generally and equally lazy, ignorant or deliberately dishonest when it comes to guns.

For instance, David Baldacci, best-selling author of Absolute Power, Total Control and many more so-called blockbuster novels some of which have been made into movies, has done extensive research on Secret Service and FBI organization and procedures, CIA culture as well as their electronic gadgetry and many more subject areas covered in his books, but it is quite apparent that everything Baldacci knows about guns he learned from reading comic books. He doesn’t know the difference between an elephant gun and a sniper rifle. He believes the 9mm is about the most powerful handgun cartridge ever invented and is somehow even more powerful when fired out of a Glock pistol than any other kind. He constantly confuses the functions of hollowpoint (which he archaically calls Dum Dum) and full-metal-jacket bullets. He doesn’t even realize that law enforcement personnel have standardized agency-issued weapons rather than carrying any old thing they feel like. And, the dead giveaway that tells you immediately whether the author has his head down his muzzle or up his breach, he doesn’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine. While Baldacci’s professional law enforcement characters are constantly using guns to save innocent lives, the author can’t resist using his editorial bully pulpit to ridicule civilians who do the same. He seems to think that the tiny American gunmaking industry is as big as the tobacco industry and all of the automobile companies combined and that they are all out to get you. Writers like Baldacci research what they admit they don’t know anything about, and remain in pitiful ignorance about the subjects they think they’ve learned everything there is to know about from reading other writers who don’t know any more than they do.

Novelists who actually know a lot about guns can be counted on your fingers. Tom Clancy knows what he writes about. Crime writer John Sandford (author of Winter Prey and that whole series) usually gets his gun facts straight. And, of course, there’s John Ross (author of the pro-gun novel Unintended Consequences).

An old friend of mine, who is retired from TV cops-and-robber writing, tells me that when he was working in Hollywood it was a rigid if unspoken policy among most all TV producers and directors that no civilian ever be shown using a gun in a positive fashion. I know from good authority and personal experience that movie people, daily newspaper editors and TV news producers all follow the same rule.

When gunplay is shown on film, you’ll most often see gun-handling techniques drawn from old Western movies where all the shootout scenes were written by the same frustrated baton-twirler the studios kept locked up in the jailhouse set on the backlot, song-and-dance CDs made by bumbling gangs of overmothered druggies who punctuate their unintelligible mumblings by shooting people they are not aiming at, and law enforcement technical advisors whose departments no longer allow them to go out on the street alone.

If it were not for all this static in the air, training people to shoot would be pretty easy. I’m reminded of what Englishman George Herbert said around the turn of the 17th century: Living well is the best revenge. In our case, teaching somebody to shoot well is the best way to blow all those Hollywood boobs and newsroom nincompoops out of their costume department combat boots.