Tag Archives: guns

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Dead horse at the OK Corral

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I do hate to beat a dead horse — or a live one, for that matter — but there was a shooting today at Lone Star College, a community college near Houston.

That’s in Texas, in case you didn’t catch the “Lone Star” bit.

This wasn’t your typical “crazy guy with an AR-15 walks onto campus and starts shooting” kind of shooting. This was two idiots getting into some kind of idiotic argument and at least one of them deciding shooting was the best way to resolve it. One bystander, a school maintenance man, was wounded, as well as one of the arguers. Another person apparently had a heart attack.

Nevertheless, Rep. Ted, Poe, RWNJ-Texas, immediately hit the airwaves to explain how “defenseless” the poor students at LSC were and how students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons so they can defend themselves.

But apparently, that’s exactly what happened.

Reports now indicate that at least one of the two idiots arguing was a student, and at least one was illegally carrying an concealed weapon. By Rep. Poe’s reasoning, if other students had been carrying concealed weapons … well, I don’t know. If more students had been carrying concealed weapons and started shooting, I’d guess more people would have been hit, maybe even killed. But that’s just a guess, y’know. Has no basis whatsoever in reality and is probably just a bunch of fallacious reasoning to boot. Because it’s certainly not logical to think that if two idiots arguing equals three wounded people, then, say, four people shooting at each other might equal six wounded people. And how many wounded people before you get one dead? Two dead?

Of course, maybe ole Ted is right. Say there was only one guy with a gun, and the guy he started shooting at was a student. But the student didn’t have a gun, so he got shot, along with the maintenance man, who also didn’t have a gun, while the shooter ran off into the woods, where he was later found by police.

If only that student and the maintenance guy had had guns! Then it woulda been the OK Corral all over again … well, maybe not. Some of those guys were law enforcement, hired to back the businessmen of Tombstone, Arizona, against the Evil Rancher Cowboys and … oh, never mind. That’s more than 100 years ago. The only reason I brought it up at all is that those nine guys who’d been feuding with each other for a very long time back in 1881 fired about 30 shots in about 30 seconds, and in the end three were dead, and three were wounded. Of course, they were all shooting at each other, and in a narrow lot between a couple of buildings (not the OK Corral at all), which probably prevented any bystanders from being hit.

These guys at Lone Star College were out in an open courtyard.

My point, and I do have one, is just this: Think it through, people. We don’t live in Deadwood. We don’t live in the Tombstone of the 19th Century. There’s a reason they called it the Wild West. And the Earps and Clantons didn’t have AR-15s.

Once upon a time, in a whole ‘nother life, I owned a gun and frankly wasn’t a bad shot. But I’ve grown up some since then, and my owning a gun just isn’t something I want for myself or for anyone who comes in contact with me.

But in case you’ve not heard me say it before, I don’t favor banning guns. I favor humanity willingly putting down the damn things because we finally understand that killing people is a bad thing to do, whatever the reason. And no, I’m not some whacked out idealist who actually expects this to happen anytime soon — but it will, eventually, provided we don’t blow up the planet first.

There are no good reasons, however, to block some kind of regulation. If you want to own a gun, you do not need to own an AR-15 or armor-piercing bullets unless you plan to kill people wearing armor, and if you plan to do that, I’d suggest psychiatric help. Oh, and NRA, children in elementary schools aren’t usually wearing Kevlar, although I suppose that is something you think would be a good idea.

And one more thing. Some folks like to blame violent video games for the crazy people who go out shooting other poeple, but I think they’ve got it backwards. It’s the whackos who think that arming everybody on the planet will end gun violence are the ones inspired by video games. Think about that one for while, until I find another dead horse, possibly in the OK Corral.

It’s a joke, right?

kidswithguns

Sadly, no, but British news had to remind its viewers of that tonight as they played clips from Wayne LaPierre’s news conference, if by news conference, you mean “insane ramble about turning our schools into armed fortresses because the world is a scary place filled with bad guys just waiting to kill all our children.” Or something like that.

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And why would they need to do that? Read it here, if you like. Or, if you’ve the stomach for it, watch it:

By the way, the National Rifle Association has more web sites than the US government. OK, that’s an exaggeration. But their web site is really confusing, and finding any one particular piece of information is next to impossible without Google. Just sayin.

And if you’ve tried to read and/or watch some of LaPierre’s nonsense by now, you can go ahead and stop. Just read this instead.

I suppose the irony of all this is that the news conference was held today, of all days — December 21, the supposed end of the world. Obviously that didn’t happen, since I’m sitting here typing, and I never expected that it would.

But maybe, just maybe, this blatant display of pure mind-boggling insanity will help push us toward an end of the world as we know it — an end to the fear-based, insular ideology that so much of the fearful right insists that we all live under.

Oh, I know, plenty of people will buy such clever lines as “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” hook, line and sinker. Or maybe the correct analogy in this case is “lock, stock and barrel.”

LaPierre blames the media and the “political class” for all these shootings, and I’d actually agree with him, at least partly, if he didn’t say it’s because journalists and politcians are “so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners.” And right after that he notes that “a lone, unarmed school principal” died to protect the children of Sandy Hook School from “evil monsters.”

See, that’s another thing. Adam Lanza wasn’t an evil monster. Adam Lanza was a sick kid, living in a gun-obsessed house in a gun-obsessed community. It’s not his mom’s fault either, although she really shoulda been thinking about having all those guns in a house with a son like that. But she was a single mom who probably really didn’t know how to deal with the situation — because as a culture, we stigmatize mental illness to the point that we’re all at least a little bit mentally ill.

But to Wayne LaPierre, the mentally ill are evil monsters, and it’s horrible that we don’t have a national database of mentally ill people because, you know, all mentally ill people are potential killers.

Think about that for a minute. And then think about Wayne LaPierre’s little speech. I have to give it to his speech writer. It was calculated to reach the most unevolved and fearful of us, to strike terror into our hearts, much in the same way George W. Bush et al did after 9/11, and, of course, using a lot of the same kind of lies, exaggerations, debunked theories, misquoted statistics and outright fabrications Bush et al used back then too.

“Incomprehensible loss.” “Unspeakable crime.” “For the safety fo our nations children.” “Insane killer.” “Utterly defenseless.” “Monsters and predators.” “Genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack or some other natural or man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.” “Copycats.” “Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community.” “Vicious, violent video games.” “Blood-soaked slasher films.” “Ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty.” “Moral failings.” “Demonize lawful gun owners.” “If we cherish our kids more than our money or celebrities.”

And then, he said, because you’re terrified and can’t be bothered to actually think and discuss whether or not anything he actually said is true or even makes any sense whatsoever:

There’ll be time for talk and debate later. This is the time, this is the day for decisive action.

We can’t wait for the next unspeakable crime to happen before we act. We can’t lose precious time debating legislation that won’t work. We mustn’t allow politics or personal prejudice to divide us. We must act now.

People, being this scared just isn’t necessary. We don’t live in Deadwood. But if you think we do, by all means, arm yourselves to the teeth. But please, stay out of our schools, our malls, our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, our doctors’ offices, our post offices and anywhere else sentient beings go.

Because you’re not one, and you haven’t been for a very long time.

Guns don’t kill people

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More than 60 people have been killed this year by “deranged” gunmen in America — nearly half of them today — and there’s still a couple weeks left to raise that number. I’m talking the kind of shootings where someone walks into, say, a school, and starts shooting. Not counting the deranged assholes who decide to shoot their whole family up because, I don’t know, maybe they lost their jobs and are about to lose their houses. Or the ones who get the bright idea to rob a store, then freak out and start shooting when it doesn’t go the way they think it ought to. Or the ones who just thought it was a good idea to shoot somebody to death.

If I were counting those, the number would be well over 10,000. The number of firearm related homicides comes to about 3 for every 100,000 in population, which ranks the United States behind such peaceful countries as El Salvador, Jamaica, Swaziland, Colombia and Mexico but well ahead of such uncivilized countries as Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Qatar and Chile.

Of course, what makes today’s senseless bullshit more painful is that 20 of the victims were children. Actual children, in elementary school. None older than 10. But ultimately, that won’t mean a thing. Because it was just some crazy guy, y’know. A crazy evil guy.

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And besides, and former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee reminded us, if you take away all the guns, somebody will just use a bomb.

If only those teachers had been carrying. Then it wouldn’t have happened. Just like in Aurora, Colorado, where if only theatre-goers had been armed, they could have shot down the black-clad, semi-automatic weapon carrying, kelvar dressed whack-job who opened fire on them in the dark. I can see teachers whipping out their guns in a classroom, can’t you?

Unfortunately, owning guns didn’t help Nancy Lanza. She owned three. The three her son Adam used to kill her and then go to Sandy Hook Elementary, where he killed those kids and a few more adults.

There oughta be a law.

I’m not stupid enough to say we should outright ban all guns, although I do agree with the sentiment. I’d rather we as a species would realize the futility of living in an armed culture and just.plain.stop. But that’s not gonna happen. Sadly. We’re just too enamored of our guns, and too scared to live without them, not realizing we’re scared because it’s too damn easy to get a gun.

It’s also too easy to decide that killing people is the answer to our problems, and too easy to pretend we don’t have any problems that might lead us to make that decision. Or that our neighbors don’t. Or our friends. Or our children.

We’ve got quite a volatile mix here. Mental illness is a stigma (or evil), getting decent medical care for it is next to impossible and guns are for sale at Wal-mart, while our politicians pretend that the National Rifle Association isn’t a bunch of crackpots with thick ties to gun manufacturers and regressive racists who fear we’re headed toward a New World Order. Hell, the NRA opposes legislation to require gun owners to report it if their weapons are lost or stolen.

Meanwhile, our children are targets in their schools, teenagers going to the movies are targets in their theater seats and mothers who own semi-automatic weapons are the first ones to go down.

I’m sure we’ll see a rash of metal detectors and armed guards in schools now, because that’s such a better answer than actually looking at the very real problems we have in this country. We’re awfully good at the bandaid method of problem solving, which is to say we never actually solve the problem because we never actually address it. That would require much deeper thinking, much more painful soul-searching than we’re willing to do.

Like, for example, why the United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s people, owns nearly 50 percent of its guns. And to what “well-regulated militia” Nancy Lanza belonged that she had those guns her son so easily confiscated for his own use.

Now there’s a culture war at which we really should be taking a closer look.

WWWMD?

Leave it to The Onion to publish the definitively cynical, black humor journalistic piece on the Aurora theatre shooting. It was so funny it wasn’t.

According to the nation’s citizenry, calls for a mature, thoughtful debate about the role of guns in American society started right on time, and should persist throughout the next week or so. However, the populace noted, the debate will soon spiral out of control and ultimately lead to nothing of any substance, a fact Americans everywhere acknowledged they felt “absolutely horrible” to be aware of.

With scalpel-like precision, the American populace then went on to predict, to the minute, how long it will take for the media to swarm Aurora, CO, how long it will take for them to leave, and exactly when questions will be raised as to whether or not violence in movies and video games had something to do with the act.

The Onion did leave out the teddy bear and flower memorial at the theatre. And of course, it wasn’t violence in movies and video games my colleagues obsessed over. This time, they got down to the gun control battle almost immediately, with the usual, emotion-driven, completely unreasonable results.

Can’t we just mourn the tragedy without one side immediately blaming lax gun laws and the other, equally quickly, calling for more concealed weapons in public?

asked one of my colleagues on Facebook, and the answer was quickly clear, from another: “No, we cannot.”

Well, I know one cable television news anchor who wouldn’t take part in the usual bullshit. Will McAvoy. Will McAvoy would be sensitive to the victims in the tragedy and still not get bogged down in the either/or, emotionally charged garbage that passes for news in this country anymore.

Yeah, Will McAvoy, my beloved colleagues. The guy on Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show The Network that you keep laughing about. Nervous laughter maybe? Because you are the very ones decrying the bullshit that the fictional McAvoy is taking head on. The bullshit that you complain loudly about and never lift a finger to stop.

Hey, I know it’s hard. You’ve got Jane Fonda to think about. Oh, wait. Jane Fonda would be right with you if you really wanted to change things. It’s Fonda’s character on The Newsroom who worries about the money. And threatens to get rid of employees who won’t play the game.

See, here’s the thing. Sorkin, who is not a pleasant fellow but nevertheless does entertaining television, doesn’t give us real life. I’m sure none of you think The West Wing was remotely true to life. It was idealized, the same way The Newsroom is idealized. It’s what we wish would happen but not a damn one of us will do anything to create.

So I’m gonna go out on the proverbial limb here and talk about this like I think Will McAvoy would, and Will — he wouldn’t shy away from the gun arguments.

But he also wouldn’t get into the he said/she said of the pro and anti gun lobbies. Neither will I. Full disclosure: I do not like guns. I do not own one, and I won’t own one. I do not hunt, and I am not so afraid that I feel I must protect myself with a weapon that is much more likely to end up hurting me or someone I love than anyone else. I have fired guns, however, and am a pretty good shot. But I’m older now, and wiser. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns do.

The United States has a pretty high per capita of gun murders, suicides and accidental deaths. It’s significantly lower than, say, South Africa or Colombia, but only slightly below Mexico, and way higher than a whole bunch of countries that have sane gun laws.

Sane gun laws like people should not be able to buy assault weapons. For what earthly reason do you need an assault weapon? It is not a hunting rifle. And 6,000 rounds of ammunition? Seriously? It’s even easier to buy ammo, y’know, than a gun. Except maybe in Colorado or Texas. Obviously. That picture, by the way, is of a couple of SWAT dudes with AR-15 assault rifles and 90-round drum magazines. The Aurora shooter had 100-round drum magazines.

I don’t begrudge anybody who wants to buy a gun for protection, although I do think you shouldn’t oughta do it. I think we need fewer guns, not more guns. We have too many already, and it’s not helping. But no, I’m not for laws banning guns. We need to turn away from them voluntarily.

So naturally, after this tragedy in Colorado, I waited patiently until someone said

If more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns, this guy might have thought twice.

Or at least less innocent people would have been hurt.

Actually, the correct word is “fewer.” Fewer innocent people. Less innocent people — well, maybe the writer actually did mean that — as in, maybe the shooter is “less innocent” than the other people — but I really don’t think so.

Either way, it’s absolutely wrong, unless the “sane, law-abiding citizens” carrying the guns were special ops forces, trained to work against some dude in a gas mask who tossed tear gas into a darkened theatre and then proceeded to use multiple weapons, including the aforementioned assault rifle and its drum cartridges.

No, if “more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns” at that theatre, there’d be a lot more people dead.

But we won’t talk about sane gun laws. We’ll talk about either/or. We should have no gun laws or no guns. Yeah, I’m all for no guns, but not laws to make it so. Just sane laws to keep some of the crazy shit out. But it’s so much more fun and emotional to take extreme ends and pit them against each other on network news. And that’s what the news has become. Emotional appeals. Scare people. Freak them out. Make them cry. But for god’s sake don’t temper that with any rationality.

Yeah, temper it. Not overcome the emotion with impeccable reason. That’s the problem here — and it’s why people like James Holmes and that guy at Virginia Tech go all batshit and shoot up people. It’s simple: We don’t know how to balance emotion and reason. We think it’s supposed to be either/or, and it’s not.

And here, we typically think of emotion as something less — y’know, women are more emotional, and women aren’t as important or valuable as men, who are so much more rational. But what happens when you suppress your emotional side and do nothing to integrate it with your rational side?

You shoot up a movie theatre. Or overdose on drugs. Or become an alcoholic. Or beat your wife. Or kick a puppy. Or put on weird make-up and wear black all the time. Because sooner or later those icky old emotions will show up. Or Wolf Blitzer and a bunch of politicians will punch your buttons and your insides will open up and they’ll just spill out.

We need to learn that heart and mind are the same thing, not two different “parts” of us that can never be reconciled. They ARE reconciled. We’re the ones who keep forcing them apart.

Cuz when you let them be the same … you focus like a laser. You’re unstoppable.

Just ask Will McAvoy.