Saturday, April 21, 2007

God isn't the Only One Who Moves In Mysterious Ways

Things I Found On The Way to Looking Up Other Things

Odd Googles

God really isn't the only one who works in strange and mysterious ways. It seems the internet does also.

A couple of days ago I was in the process of completing a sale of some small arms ammunition. It was an interstate transaction and while ammunition seems to be only mildly regulated I thought it wise to check on the laws for the state to which I was sending the ammo.

For those who get into this kind of thing, you know that it is very difficult to prove a negative. In the same way, when searching the internet, it can be very difficult to pin down what is not out there. In other words, if there are no laws regulating the sale and shipment of small arms ammunition, it is going to be very hard to find that out for sure. Very few writers or researchers make it a habit to comment on what doesn't exist.

What I did find was what seemed to be a very good, very complete site regarding state firearms laws. It was surprisingly extensive and detailed. While it didn't have anything to say about ammunition, sometimes that's the best you can hope for. If a site is extensive and complete about gun laws, you can mildly infer that if there were any wild or onerous laws restricting ammunition, these laws would be mentioned as being of interest. At least one hopes.

Be patient. We're coming to it.

As to how internet searches can move in wild and mysterious ways; as I was reading the gun laws for the state I was interested in, I noticed that the site had quite prominently given the state a Grade for its gun laws. I hardly noticed this at first, but then it struck me. The grade was a D-. Yet I found the laws to be eminently reasonable. I was surprised by the D- and my attention was diverted from my study of the laws to a quick look at just what kind of a website this was.

As it happens, if you haven't noticed, internet searches can be rather narrow. I'd searched for a concise report on the gun laws of a particular state and that's what I got. It just turns out that this site was not listing those laws for the convenience of firearms owners, the laws were listed and graded for the use of anti-gun advocates. The site was These are the founders of "Hand Gun Control" the, I believe now defunct, first organization started by the Bradys. Naturally, they gave the state's gun laws a grade which was exactly the opposite of the one I had in mind. (If that's seriously disturbing to anyone reading this, fear not. My sister's vote on these matters balances out mine.)

Anyway, the lesson to be learned here is that information is where you find it. Even organizations that are at cross purposes to your goal can be of use when searching for fact. Don't be so slow to investigate the opposition. - © 2007 The Chewed End All rights reserved.

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Seamus O'Bròg is an artist and freelance writer who tries to turn life's irritations into life's lessons.

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