Won’t somebody think of the guns?

Ah, the good old National Rifle Association. On the one hand, they oppose a national database of gun owners, citing privacy concerns and some crazy fear of the federal government. On the other hand, they want a national database of people with mental illness. No privacy concerns there, I reckon.

Like other denialists, they don’t let facts get in the way. According to the Washington Post:

“Turns out, many states are ahead of him: 38 states require or authorize the use of certain mental health records for use in a firearm background check, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that tracks state level gun legislation.”

Then, just when I think I can stop shaking my head, the NRA puts out this iPhone app to teach kids how to shoot guns. Though “the app is aimed at users aged just four and above,”:

“It doesn’t just allow you to shoot things; according to the app’s description, it’s “the NRA’s new mobile nerve center,” where you’ll find “one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources.” All of these things are available via the app’s main menu, but as noted by The Next Web, all they do is link to the relevant sections of the NRA’s website.”

Alright, well, as long as it doesn’t just glamorize guns. I mean, the NRA is just looking out for the kids, right?
However, it seems to me that the NRA is thinking of the guns, just not in the way you think they’re thinking of the guns. Why? Because they’ve vowed to not let the city of Tucson, Arizona, melt down a whole bunch of recovered guns. Check this out, after a gun buyback program was successful, this is what happened:

“Anna Jolivet had four old rifles she didn’t want: “They belonged to my husband, and he passed away four years ago, and I haven’t had any success in having someone take them off of me since then. So I thought this is a good time to turn them in.”
That’s exactly what Republican Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik expected when he asked the police to do the buyback. What he didn’t expect was the response after he announced the event.
“I’ve been getting threats,” Kozachik says. “I’ve been getting emails. I’ve been getting phone calls in the office trying to shut this thing down or ‘We’re going to sue you’ or ‘Who do you think you are?’ “
Todd Rathner, an Arizona lobbyist and a national board member of the NRA, may sue. He has no problem with the gun buyback, but he does have a problem with the fate of the guns once police take possession of them.
“We do believe that it is illegal for them to destroy those guns,” he says.
Rathner says Arizona state law forces local governments to sell seized or abandoned property to the highest bidder.
“If property has been abandoned to the police, then they are required by ARS 12-945 to sell it to a federally licensed firearms dealer, and that’s exactly what they should do,” he says.
That way, Rathner says, the guns can be put back in circulation or given away.””

I bolded that last part to emphasize what the NRA really seems to want. They want “gun safety” alright, but it’s all about keeping the guns safe from people… Not the other way around.

And, if the NRA doesn’t get its way? Well, here:

“”We just go back and we tweak it and tune it up, and we work with our friends in the Legislature and fix it so they can’t do it,” Rathner adds.”

I wonder if the legislators work for their friends or for their constituents?

You don’t need the government until you need the government

Whew! That’s was a crazy little hurricane. Several people dead in the Caribbean and in the United States. Lots of property damage. Schools and businesses closed. It was a mess, and it will probably continue to be a mess for a while.

I was listening to the local radio this morning, and they were interviewing a woman from Delaware who stayed in her house on the beach despite the mandatory evacuations issued by the governor and local officials. She said that she was flooded, had raw sewage in her basement, a neighbor’s house was gone, and that she was basically isolated because the only road to the peninsula where she lived was gone. She was also very angry because no one was coming to her aid. She said that she was a taxpayer, and she expected her taxes to pay for her rescue. When she was reminded that she chose to stay despite the evacuation orders, she said that the people who decided that the evacuation order was necessary were useless.

On the one hand, she needed the services of the government she helps fund. On the other, she didn’t pay attention to the expert recommendations of the government she helps fund.

If this sounds familiar, it should. This is the mindset of the conspiracy theorist, the hardcore anti-vaccine person, and all sorts of other individuals and groups. But let me stick to what I know best: the anti-vaxxer.

The anti-vaxxer will typically point to a study as evidence of their fears on vaccines. Said study will be conducted by some academic institution or government agency. However, if the study disagrees with the anti-vaccine worldview, then whatever organization conducted the study is said to be “pharma funded” or have some other “conflict of interest”. The anti-vaxxer wants it both ways.

Likewise, many anti-vaccine organizations will point to records in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) as evidence that vaccines cause harm. Then, in the same sentence, they will demonize the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for hiding the “truth”. Well, it happens that VAERS is maintained by epidemiologists and staff from CDC. Again, they want to have it both ways. When asked if the CDC lies or not, the answer is “it depends”, and it’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out at the level of hypocrisy displayed.

And that’s how it goes. If something agrees with their fears, the run with it. If it disagrees, then that something is part of a big conspiracy. Just like many people who are against “big government”, they don’t want it interfering in their lives, until they need it to interfere in their lives… Until they need to be saved.

It annoys me.

Vaccines and Raw Milk

There is a facebook group that I belong to called “Anti-Vax Wall of Shame”. It’s a group of people, myself included, who take screenshots of the ignorant, stupid, crazy, astonishing things that anti-vaccine people write online. We post the screenshot, have a laugh, and then fire back something witty — albeit coated in science — to counter the anti-vaccine message. It’s a great group of people… For the most part.

One of the long-time members of the group, Ren (known to you as “Epi Ren”) left the group yesterday after having an exchange on the page with people arguing about the regulation of raw milk. Some people were arguing that it was very much their right to choose what to drink, and that it didn’t matter that there was plenty of evidence that pasteurized milk was better in terms of preventing infection from contaminated milk. Someone went a step further and asserted that they were not concerned with unpasteurized milk because anyone drinking that milk did not pose a public health threat.

If those arguments sound familiar to you, they should — especially if you’ve been reading this blog for a while. So let’s take them on one at a time, the way it should be.

One of the big arguments of many in the anti-vaccine camp is that they have some sort of a right to refuse vaccination while still having a right to public education and other services that are conditional on your vaccination status. Yes, they do have a right to refuse vaccination. In fact, I will go to war (figuratively) to defend their right to refuse any medical intervention, so long as they are well-informed and in full use of their mental capacity. The second part of that, the right to public services that are conditional on your vaccination status, is not a right.

Why? This is the land of the free, right?

Well, yeah, it’s the land of the free, but we all also took a vote and decided, based on tons of good evidence, that vaccines are good to keep some really bad things at bay. And we’d like to keep it that way. Don’t want to cooperate with us solely because of your “philosophy”? Then don’t. Homeschool your kids or find a school that doesn’t care that they’re one snotty kid away from an outbreak of something evil.

What about the raw milk crowd? It’s pretty much the same thing. They seem to think that they live in some sort of a vacuum where their drinking of unpasteurized milk harms no one. Well, tell that to the parents of an unfortunate child who acquired hemolytic uremic syndrome as a result of an E. coli infection from a hamburger he ate at the home of and prepared by a neighbor who, as you should have guessed by now, drinks raw milk. The E. coli would be eventually traced to the farm where the neighbor got the milk.

Here’s an interesting fact about E. coli, ladies and gentlemen. It lives in the gut of all cows. Not just some cows but all cows. And if it’s not the one that humans carry in their gut, then it is pathogenic (capable of causing disease) and sometimes deadly to us. Just because the farm is “clean”, whatever the heck that means, or because they claim to be organic or some nice-sounding name like that, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be free of pathogens.

So, no, drinking raw milk is not just about you. Neither is vaccination.