Remember the One About the Frog…?

There is an old story–a fable, actually–about the most effective way to kill a frog. You just put that little creature in a pot of water and slowly but steadily increase the temperature of the water. Eventually, the frog is boiled to death, but because of the slow, incremental elevation of the heat, it doesn’t realize the danger until it’s too late.

I think that story is an uncomfortable analogy to contemporary America’s political situation.

Yesterday, several news outlets and blogs carried this story:

Republicans want to limit the number of bullets federal agencies can purchase so American gun owners can buy more.  Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas have introduced a bill that would prohibit every government agency — except the military — from buying more ammunition each month, than the monthly average it purchased from 2001 to 2009.

The purpose of this bill, according to the reports, is to prevent President Obama from making good on his plan to have government agencies buy up all the bullets so that patriotic gun-owning Americans won’t be able to buy them.

Think about that for a minute. And then think about that frog.

When I ran for Congress in 1980, I was pro-choice and pro-gay-rights, and I not only won a Republican primary in very Red Indiana, I was accused on several occasions of being far too conservative. In the years since, the GOP has moved steadily–to the Right, then to the far Right ,and then to the far far Right–and finally to paranoid conspiracy fantasy-land. The party of Bill Hudnut and Dick Lugar is now the party of James Inhofe and Ted Cruz.

In 1980, if any political figure had made the sorts of statements that our elected officials–mostly but not exclusively Republican–routinely issue these days, the media would have called for the men in the white coats. But the progression into delusion has been relatively incremental. Lawmakers have slowly but steadily progressed through the stages from ideological rigidity, to extremism, to bat-shit crazy.

The media and the electorate are the frogs who haven’t noticed that the water has gone from warm, to uncomfortably hot, to boiling.


  1. OMG, that is the only thing running through my mind about the possibility/probability of passing that bill; OMG!

  2. Thanks SK. Perhaps one solution would be OPEN Primaries. The Republicans do not seem to be able to stop the crazies in the primary process. The crazier they are, the better they do in the Republican primary. From Dog Catcher to President. Maybe OPEN primaries would let the entire country weed out the crazy people earlier in the process. Failing that, it is up to the Republicans to dial back the crazy. Will they? Not too likely for now.

  3. Just a picky distinction. It’s “ammunition”, not “bullets” that is at issue. Ammunition is the generic term for the end product, comprised of four components: a cartridge, a bullet, a primer cap, and gunpowder. It is ammunition that seems to be difficult to come by these days, and as most people do not have the time or energy to assemble their own, demand is outstripping supply (an argument for regulation and micro-economics).
    Sorry, but it just makes me wince when people use an incorrect term in this manner, as the lack of precise terminology might allow the discussion to fly far afield.

  4. I think a more fruitful discussion would revolve around WHY we need that much ammunition. It’s accepted fact that we have purchase orders for enough firepower to wage a decades-long conflict. Considering so much of it is hollow-point, more expensive in bulk and NEVER used in training, the real question becomes “why ELSE would they be buying it?”

    I get the schtick of name-calling, even resorting to cursing. That’s fine but it doesn’t bring closure to the actual issue. That a very large purchase has occurred in very lean fiscal times is very much a real, decided upon fact. Nobody is disagreeing with it at this point. Yet at the same time one side doesn’t want to have a cogent discussion. Why? My guess is it has more to do with DHS recycling extra funding to make sure they can qualify for the same amount next year (that would explain buying the more expensive rounds as well.) Yet once again instead of having an intelligent discussion it’s slurs abound. Ugh.

    Much of it comes down to trust, distrust, and lost trust. The folks running the show have lost the trust of anybody with an open mind willing to examine many of these issues.

  5. I want to know why one group of people think that people with a government job are somehow better stewards of guns and ammunition than those who don’t have government jobs.

    Also, and I know it’s more conspiracy sounding, what if the government is doing this to manipulate the price of guns and ammo to keep them out of citizens’ hands? People have more of an incentive to sell their firearms right now and less of an incentive to use them due to the price of ammunition. Just wanted to bring that point up.

  6. What if the government is manipulating the guns back to the general public (See below, Cut and Paste from the Guardian)

    Arizona cities and counties that hold community gun buyback events will have to sell the surrendered weapons instead of destroying them under a bill signed into law by governor Jan Brewer.

    The bill was championed by Republicans in the GOP-controlled state legislature who argued that municipalities were skirting a 2010 law that was tightened last year and requires police to sell seized weapons to federally licensed dealers. They argued that destroying property turned over to the government is a waste of taxpayer resources.

  7. The people in government who use and carry guns are, for the most part, soldiers, police and, to a lesser extent, even the guys in the black helicopters and security people who don’t use them willy-nilly, and don’t act on their own personal conspiracy theories. These are your neighbors with families, who understand that they are not the Lone Ranger, just because they carry a gun. If they do use the gun, like the police and military in Boston, the bad guys don’t have a chance, 200 bullet casings for one guy notwithstanding. And if you are one of the bad guys who is delusional and paranoid, not only are the police and military against you, the people want you dead, too. Any day, I would prefer one of the people with a “government job” over a delusional guy who thinks the black helicopters are after him because that guy is truly dangerous. Even the idea that a “citizen” with a gun is going to successfully overthrow a government, with which he may disagree, is fundamentally silly if not crazy. The chances of him shooting one of his family or himself are so much greater than the tiny chance that the “bad” government will, for some weird reason, want to overrule his “need” for “freedom” that such a perception is just not within any scope of reality. Just how important does he think he is? It’s the sort of fantasy connected with space aliens building the pyramids. People who actually believe that stuff, and invest money in that sort of perception need to get a life and start trying to do something to help people who are truly suffering, rather than borrow trouble. Life is short.

  8. History? History tells us that the Revolution was not won by guys shooting muskets from trees, but by armies. History tells us that if it were not for the French, Washington and the others would have been hanged and history would have been different, and the slaves would probably have been freed long before 1860’s by the British. The war was won by soldiers, French and Americans, and only to a much lesser degree by the guys hiding behind trees, but we would still have lots of freedom but many fewer guns. History shows us that we have always depended upon soldiers and suggests that we will continue to depend on soldiers and that we will be ruled by law, not conspiracy theorists who are stockpiling weapons for the “big day”. History also shows us that it’s the rogue crazies that murder political officials along with the people in Boston, Aurora, Connecticut and other places. It’s not the government that’s going to get us.

  9. As a matter of fact, you proved Sheila’s point. Frogs bask in the warm water of fear until they are boiled, not understanding that fear tends to trump reason.

  10. Like liberals’ irrational fear of guns in the hands of anyone other than a government employee?

  11. Not familiar with that sort of characterization, but Sheila’s post makes a lot of sense.

  12. varangianguard; per my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary ammunition is: “1 a the projectiles with their fuzes (Webster’s spelling), propelling charges, and primers fired from guns; b explosive military items as grenades or bombs.” I have not heard or read anything about controlling the number of grenades or bombs the public is allowed to buy. Sheila was correct in specifying bullets. Just my picky distinction.

  13. JoAnn, I stand by my comment. In fact, I agree with the dictionary. Ammunition is the package deal. Without the propellant, the firing primer and something to hold it all together (a casing), it’s just a pile of components. Bullets alone don’t hurt anyone, unless you drop a few thousand on their head or swallow a few hundred, I suppose. Bullets are the “business end” of most ammunition which is the part that comes out of the barrel of a firearm. A lead, or jacketed lead bullet. The best singular term for most ammunition today would be cartridge. The “b” definition is part and parcel with the word being used as a general term. And, owning live grenades (and bombs) is most certainly illegal.

  14. Copied and pasted from WikiAnswers:
    “Can civilians buy grenades?

    It depends on the grenades you wanted.

    Just about anyone can buy a smoke grenade, and for civilians they’re the best kind. They’re useful for a lot of things. Some boaters carry them–if they’re in trouble on the water, they’ll pop a floating orange smoke grenade and throw it in the water, where people can see it from a long way off. You could also use them for special effects–if you wanted your high school football team to come out in dramatic fashion, pop a smoke grenade and have the players hold their breath as they run through the smoke.

    Destructive grenades–frags, incendiaries, white phosphorus–are a totally different story. They are classed as Destructive Devices. To get one you need to file a form, get approval from the sheriff, get fingerprinted, go through a background check and pay a $200 tax for every grenade you want. It’s not worth it.”

    From a sale on Clear Out 6 oz. Tear Gas Grenades, $16.49, just add to cart and complete your purchase on line.

    GOP did away with any chance of stopping the sale of miitary level weapons to anyone with money or valid credit card and are fighting any form of background checks on weapons customers. Quibbling over petty semantics is only a diversion from the proposed GOP bill and a smoke screen attempt to cover up the actual problem and possible solution due to cronyism and big money lobbyists hiding behind the second Amendment.

  15. You are completely wrong about destructive devices. You -can- apply for business use for certain types of propellants (gunpowder) and/or explosives (TNT), but the form you file isn’t for amateurs (review it at the ATF site), and it doesn’t go to a Sheriff, but the Federal ATF. And, it doesn’t include acquiring or posessing fragmentation grenades or their cousins.
    I am pretty darn sure that even acquiring or posessing training grenades is illegal for the general citizenry.
    Smoke and Tear Gas grenades are dangerous, but generally not destructive (unless you let it off in the house and start a fire).
    You really shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet (except, of course, for whatever I say — roflmao).

  16. Yes, yes, this is on the internet but…Google Don’s Guns and Galleries – Cheaper Than Dirt, then search grenades. Unc didn’t get rich advertising items he cannot sell, neither did and countless other on line mail order weapon businesses making money hand-over-fist due to the proposed gun control – which is going nowhere fast. Apparently ATF isn’t doing it’s job if these sales are illegal and being blatantly advertised.

  17. from CNN …

    A Kentucky mother stepped outside of her home just for a few minutes, but it was long enough for her 5-year-old son to accidentally shoot his 2-year-old sister with the .22-caliber rifle he got for his birthday, state officials said.

    A 5 year old gets a gun for his birthday ?

  18. #18 ??

    I saw some pouches that were designed to hold grenades, which are legal because they are just canvas or nylon, and don’t actually include grenades. I saw a smoke grenade, which isn’t illegal, because it doesn’t explode. It’s classified as a pyrotechnic, kind of like fireworks.

    What am I missing here?

  19. OK, my bad about Don’s guns, it wasn’t an actual grenade. does sell tear gas grenades. I have to wonder why anyone sells grenade pouches if you can’t buy grenades to put in them.

  20. Well, there might be several reasons. The easiest being that it is convenient to store other, similarly-sized, stuff. Some people just collect military surplus of any kind.

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