Category Archives: Police

Thirteenth, a Netflix Documentary.

“There has never been a period in our history where the law and order branch of the state has not operated against… the black community” Kevin Gannon, Thirteenth

This was a hard film to watch, especially as a white man living in a Southern state.  A Southern state that will probably go for the self-described law and order candidate. Thirteenth is a documentary that horrifyingly depicts the long-term effects of a single clause in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The hardest thing to accept about this film isn’t the graphic depictions of blacks being killed at the hands of police at the end of the film. It isn’t the detailed narrative that traces the effects of the end of slavery through Jim Crow to the admission of a Nixon official that the drug war was wholly conceived as a method to end the 1960’s era of black rights activity, concluding with the election of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton all under the coded language of law & order candidate, all promising and fulfilling that promise, to continue what we now know to be a racially motivated war on crime and drugs.

No, the hardest thing about watching this film was knowing that the group that would profit the most from this film would never sit down and give it a chance to change their minds.

The people who will go to the polls and vote for the lying real estate developer (but then I repeat myself) who speaks in coded language, language whose code is known by everybody by this time in history, promising to jail people whom we know are innocent, prosecute people who have done no crime, exclude people who are demonstrably dying by the hundreds.  The people who will vote for that guy, the Orange Hate-Monkey, the Birther-in-Chief, the people who don’t understand that #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, Those people? They’ll never watch this film. They’ll never watch it because they are afraid.  Afraid of being wrong. Afraid of having been wrong for longer than most people have been alive on this planet.

But they, above all other people, need to understand this film.  Because when their candidate loses (and he will) it won’t be because the election was stolen from him.  It won’t be because their voices weren’t heard.  He will lose because the vast majority of Americans are not afraid of the future. We embrace it, as we always have. They need to understand that they are part of history.  They are a part of history that we want to leave behind in history. 

Right to Travel vs. Right to Bear Arms

If I had a nickel, as the cliche goes.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this false equivalency, I’d be a very, very wealthy man.

You can license driving because it occurs on public roads. You cannot license people for firearms because there is a right to keep and bear arms.

This has taken on new and more troubling implications in the years since the attacks on 9/11, with the development of the no-fly list for terrorists that the government barely admits exists on the one hand, and their willingness to apply it to other things like weapons purchases so that suspected terrorists can be kept from buying guns as well as not being able to fly on the other. That latter proposal, weapons purchases, has its own share of problems, many of which echo the core problems in the title and the argument quoted above.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I have a serious problem with cognitive dissonance on the subject of firearms.  But when it comes to contrasting travel with firearms, I have a few things I think I can say without reservation.

Occupy Posters

Just to be clear what the subject is here, it really isn’t travel vs. firearms. Even though most gunnuts (ammosexuals) want you to think about the subject in these over-broad general terms, the subject is properly generically stated as travel vs. self-defense or more specifically driving vs. firearms.  Public transit vs. firearms in the case of the no-fly list.

And right off the bat we run into this glaring problem.  Travel generically is a more important right than owning a firearm, specifically. Travel is instrumental in the ability to defend oneself, the ability to remove from one location, where your life is under threat, to a new location where it theoretically is not. Access to public transit, which includes air travel, is far more important than even being able to drive.

The ability to move is just about as fundamental as it gets. It is why the human species has adapted to so many different climates on this planet.  We travel and set up shop somewhere else where there isn’t already ten thousand other people trying to live. Where resources aren’t already owned. Where our lives are not threatened by a greater number of others who want what we have and/or need to survive. A classic defensive strategy, not to be where your enemies are looking for you.

Travel is a right. Limitations on travel without due process is a violation of our rights, what the government is supposed to be safeguarding for us. So the existence of the no-fly list outside of due process is a constitutional violation of our rights.  I’ll get back to that.

First let’s tackle the specifics of driving and firearms. I want to draw some parallels to illustrate why the arguments I’m about to present are not some wingnut conjecture. An automobile is deadly. It may not be designed to kill, but it is a very effective killer all the same. It is a tool designed by humans to serve humans as a replacement for large animals who were used in a similar fashion before the industrial revolution.

fivethirtyeight.com

A firearm is another man-made tool. This tool serves a specific purpose, or a variety of purposes all related, much like the automobile was designed to serve a specific purpose. Refined and perfected over the years, modern firearms are some of the most effective killing machines we’ve ever invented. They fire repeatedly and use standard rounds that can be purchased almost anywhere.

To purchase an automobile you need to have a license to drive. There are cases in which you can buy a car without a license; methods to circumvent regulatory guidelines allowing you to buy a car without a license.  But the regulatory purpose of the driver’s license is clear, and only those intent on obfuscation offer arguments to the contrary.  The purpose is to restrict vehicle operation and ownership to those people who have demonstrated a proficiency with the dangerous tool in question.

We license and regulate drivers because automobiles are dangerous and not because roads are public. You will find sovereignty arguments all over the place that make noises about common modes of travel, public conveyance, etc. None of them amount to anything in the face of a police officer who wants to see your driver’s license.  You can operate machinery on your own property without a license because law enforcement officers cannot enter your property without probable cause. It is actually illegal to drive on private property without a license in many jurisdictions. Not in Texas, apparently.

Now we come to the right to keep and bear arms, the murky waters created by the second amendment to the United States Constitution.

The second amendment is perhaps the most misunderstood piece of legalese still in place in the Constitution. It ranks right up there with the attempts to legislate the value of Pi or what we call rising sea levels in Florida. It has caused at least as much harm as it has good especially in the modern age of repeaters, automatics and semi-automatic weapons.

The problem here is two-fold. The ability to defend oneself is primary. This is demonstrable, as I illustrated above. Self-defense though is not limited to and may not even include access to firearms generally. But the right to defend oneself is not mentioned in the constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is. This is most likely an outgrowth of the views of the time. Dueling was still a common practice. Although it was made illegal around the time of the revolution in many places, it’s practice continued well into the middle of the next century and became the basis for the near-mythical quick draw gunfight. It is worth noting that some Western municipalities attempted to put an end to dueling with some of the first gun carrying restrictions in North America, the precursors for modern gun control.

Hunting with long guns (rifles were not yet invented) was commonplace and essential for many Americans if they wanted to eat. Between these two purposes, self-defense and hunting, it was rare to find a man who did not know how to shoot. On top of this we have the demonstrable attempts by governments all across the world, down through history into the modern day, to render their populations defenseless.  It is easier to control people who do not understand how to defend themselves. Historically this has been done by hoarding weapons under the guardianship of the local authority. If the authorities know where all the guns are, they will know who can and can’t defend themselves.

There are other ways to defend yourself, short of firearms. Denied access to firearms and even knives, it is still possible to mount a defense if you know how. Knowledge is power, in more ways than one. Revolution need not be violent in order to be effective. So the question is, what role do firearms play in modern society, how do we secure our right to defend ourselves while at the same time avoiding becoming the victim of the very same weapons we keep for defense?

unregulated militia

The second amendment speaks to two things; a well regulated militia and the right to keep and bear arms individually. The recent Heller decision struck down blanket bans on firearms that had evolved from the earlier attempts at gun control I mentioned previously.  Personally I think that is an accurate reading of the second amendment. What remains to be realized is that we need licensing and regulation of the citizenry for firearms proficiency. That is what well regulated militia means in the modern age.

The militia are the people, the citizenry. There has been a historical disconnect between the concept of militia and what the militias became as government evolved over the last two centuries. What the originating documents of the United States called militia we would probably see as the various state guards and national guards today. In those days all able-bodied men and boys were expected to participate in guard duties to some extent or other, a practice that fell to the wayside as our cities and states became more populous and our experiences more segmented and separated.

However, the language in the Constitution still states a well regulated militia, and since there is an individual right to keep and bear arms, that means that we the people have to decide what well regulated militia means in the scheme of all of us potentially being armed at any given time. Regulation is necessary. We want to keep the Trayvon Martin encounters to a minimum. We definitely do not want cities of Zimmerman‘s stalking all the suspicious-looking people they don’t like, just waiting for a chance to act in self-defense. We do not want a return to the old West stereotype of guns at High Noon, or pistols at ten paces. A near-certain death sentence with the accuracy of today’s weapons.  Just as there are limitations on who can drive or travel in what kinds of cars and trucks, limitations based on objective standards, so too there should be limitations on who can own a firearm and what kind of firearms can be owned.

Now we’ve come full circle, you readers who are still with me. we’ve circled back to the initial parameters of the argument; driver’s licenses, firearms licenses, and no-fly lists for terrorists.

In the light of objective standards as a guide, the use of the completely subjective no-fly terrorist list to also ban firearms purchases is essentially a patchwork way of applying suspicions more broadly whether those suspicions are well-founded or not. Automobile ownership and weapons ownership are almost identical for comparison purposes, but the right to use public transit should not be so easily infringed. With no way for the list to be challenged, no standards beyond mere suspicion by a federal agency, the use of this list should be stopped altogether, not applied to another related subject.

What needs to happen is for there to be actual discussion of these problems. What is needed is standardized national identification for the purposes of travel (there is a twisted can of worms) so that citizens can be assured that they will gain access to public transit. Me personally? I’m tired of that argument.  Let me just use my palm print. Mark of the beast be damned, I just want to stop standing in lines everywhere I go. Can we just get over this crazy notion of anonymity? Make a provision for those people who really need to remain anonymous? I have no problem with driver’s licenses, and I say this as a guy who will likely be forced to surrender his license in the next decade or so, as my ability focus and balance is degraded by disease.  Subjectively I resent not being about to get around on my own; objectively I have to say most of you will be safer if I can’t. If this disease gets worse.

I’m not even going to try to broach the discussion necessary to outline what objective standards for firearms proficiency might be. I’ll leave that argument to people who have more education and understanding of the subject. People like Jim Wright over at StonekettleStation (yes, him again)

Over time, just like with the drunk driving laws, enforcing the NRA’s own rules, the same basic common sense rules that are used in the military, in law enforcement, on civilian gun ranges, and were taught to most of us by our fathers, will change our culture from one of gun fetishists to one of responsible gun owners. And that will reduce gun violence, just as the same approach has significantly reduced drinking and driving.

Go over and read the article once you stop screaming at your computer screen. You might learn a thing or two from the (more than a dozen) articles Jim has written on the subject of America’s gun culture; or as he refers to it Bang, Bang Crazy and Bang, Bang Sanity. He has far more patience for the gun fetishists that surround us than I do.

I do want to make one thing crystal clear before ending. The second amendment is a two-edged sword, in more ways than the one I’ve just outlined. The other argument which can be (and has been) made is the original intent of a well regulated militia. If the people tasked with keeping us safe deem that the requirement is impossible with the rules now in place, they can and probably should conscript all able-bodied persons into the military for the purposes of weapons assessment.

That is one sure-fire way to make sure we know who should and shouldn’t have a weapon. I’m as opposed as I can get to the idea of a return to the bad-old days of the draft, but if anyone can have a weapon, and if no other laws are possible to fix the problem of weapons in our midst, then the only remaining solution is the one where everyone is trained and everyone is armed to their proficiency. What we need to decide is, which kind of America do we really want to live in? The time for that conversation is rapidly passing us by.

Quentin Tarantino Doesn’t Hate Cops

One of my online comments on this article over at the Washington Times. The title alone was enough to set me off;

“Quentin Tarantino called police on home intruder less than two weeks before anti-cop speech”

For instance, the speech wasn’t “anti-cop”, that is simply repeating the misinformation spread by the police union representative. So even the title is inaccurate on its face. Tarantino had an interview on MSNBC yesterday in which he spelled out the context of his speech, and the reason why he used the term murderers in relation to the specific murders which have been committed by cops.

The hysteria surrounding the population’s willingness to film and confront police officers who are clearly not acting in the best interest of the general population is just that. Hysterical. As in, hysterically funny.  My response to this is to start a Quentin Tarantino viewing marathon.  To plan on watching his new film even though I hadn’t even heard of it until this story broke.  Congratulations fear-mongering police supporters, you’ve made money for Tarantino with your stupidity on this subject.

Good Guy With a Gun

Jim Wright asked this question on his Facebook page recently;

Responsible Gun Owner Exercise: You’re in a public place. Lots of people. Guy in camo walks in with a pistol on his belt and an assault rifle in his hands.
Quick, is he a good guy with a gun or a murderous nut?
Well, which is it?
Come, come, seconds count, no guessing and don’t fuck it up. How do you KNOW? Is there a secret hand sign? A T-shirt? Does his phone emit an IFF signal? Which is it, good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun? For full credit, you MUST answer BEFORE HE STARTS SHOOTING. Show your work.
Extra credit: How does he know YOU’RE not a bad guy with a gun?

He followed it up with a (very long) response addressing the various answers that he got. The answers are almost irrelevant. Of course there is no way to know what the intentions of this person are.  As another Facebook friend pointed out as a counter you don’t know what anyone’s intentions are if you are just now seeing them.

But that isn’t the question. The presence of the firearm alters the equation. This is a known fact, that visible weapons alter the behavior of people. It is true, as that same Facebook friend pointed out, the person could be carrying invisible weapons; a suicide vest, anthrax, firearm in his pocket, knife in his shoes. You name it. But that also isn’t the question.

The question is simple. You are armed, you see another person that is armed. Do you shoot him or don’t you? You have to answer this question before he starts shooting other people, or you fail the test. This is a very valid point that Jim has been trying to illustrate for several years and over about a dozen posts on Stonekettle Station; all of which I’ve read. The question isn’t whether guns are bad or not. The question isn’t whether we should be armed or not.

The question is, how do you know what your actions should be? That is all there is to it. The gunnuts are convinced that the solution to the mass murder problem is more guns in more hands, but that just makes the question that much more difficult since it muddies the waters as to who is the bad guy and who is the good guy.  If you shoot the guy before he shoots other people, are you the good guy or the bad guy?

You can’t know. There is no way to know. It is the nature of the universe, the uncertainty principle. You can’t know before the first shots are fired.  If you shoot first, you are the bad guy. But if you’re carrying the weapon to prevent aggression, what good is it if you don’t use it when you should have? What if his first action is to shoot you because you have a visible weapon? What if his first action is to demand that you disarm?  How many hours of time are we willing to waste making sure that each of us on an individual basis are good guys who are supposed to be carrying weapons and not bad guys who aren’t? All day, every day, from now on?

We can’t approach the problem from this direction.  It just isn’t going to work.  This is the reason why laws are made. This is the reason why governments exist. It isn’t for any of the paranoid delusions that individualists envision as they sweat inside their bunkers gripping their pistols in fear.  Laws are written to make sure that standards are met. Government exists to see that laws are followed.


I wrote and then shelved the above months ago. I had some notion that I would riff on a response from J. Neil Schulman who insisted the above question was meaningless.  However Mr. Schulman (surprise) really didn’t have a response to the above aside from putting more guns in more hands.  He has since unfriended me over some trumped up excuse involving calls to use RICO laws to initiate civil prosecutions of climate deniers, similar to what was done to RJR after it was discovered that the cigarette manufacturer was paying scientists to muddy the waters surrounding the effects of cigarette smoke on the human body.

FYI, smoking causes lung cancer, and anthropogenic climate change is almost certainly as real as the findings concerning smoking and lung cancer.  I don’t think it is outside of reason to use tactics similar to those used before in order to bring wayward corporate funded scientists to heel so that we can get down to the business of dealing with climate change.

That isn’t the subject of this post, but the level of denial concerning climate change is reflected in his level of denial when it comes to weapons and who should be allowed to have them.

I had forgotten this little dust-up and almost forgotten this post until last week.  The subject of weapons is one of  the subjects that I suffer cognitive dissonance with; consequently I have a very, very hard time writing coherently on the subject.  I have owned weapons all my life.  My most treasured gifts as a young boy were the weapons that my father gave me.

However, being a good father as well as a responsible gun owner himself, he made sure that I went to classes to train me in the proper handling and storage of weapons before I was allowed to take possession of my first real shotgun.  I still have the certificate issued by the (irony of ironies) NRA for hunter safety training in cooperation with the State of Kansas.

It is a mark of how far down the road to crazy we have come that the NRA no longer thinks weapons training is important enough to be required before allowing weapons purchases, even though their website stresses the importance of weapons training.  I’ve known enough people who sleep with a loaded weapon next to their beds now that I no longer believe the argument that gun owners don’t need weapons training because they’ve already had it.  A common refrain amongst gunnuts.

Then we had the latest mass killing, as well as the several other shootings on campuses across the US, even in Texas where campuses are no longer gun free zones (negating that counter-argument) and it seems that Jim’s question from a few months ago now has recent real-life examples that really do beg the question (no longer a fallacy) how do you tell who the good guys with guns are?

Take, for example, the case of the concealed carry weapons holder who fired on a suspected shoplifter as they drove away in their vehicle.  Not the merchant, who might well have been forgiven for acting in the heat of the moment. No, it was a simple bystander (a good guy with a gun?) who happened to be armed and thought that the thing to do.

Or the guy who shot the carjacking victim, then took the time to clean up his brass before fleeing the scene of the crime? Jim Wright posts one of these types of stories virtually every day on Facebook, a tribute to the stupidity of the average American when it comes to owning and using weapons in a public setting. So these are not isolated events, rare occurrences that don’t deserve our attention.  These are examples of the fact that there is something wrong in the US and we really should do something to fix the problem.

However, the minute you bring up examples of a clear lack of training like the above though, gunnuts (or ammosexuals, take your pick) start screaming about how we want to take their guns away.  I’d like to state for the record, yes.  If you think that the above is a reasonable use of a firearm, I want you to turn in your weapons, right now.  Because you don’t know the first thing about firearm safety.

Gaming The System

I haven’t written on the subject of shootings (justified or otherwise) in quite some time.  Well, that’s not quite true. I’ve written plenty on the subject in other places over the last few years, a smidgen of which is reproduced here.  But I haven’t posted much of what I’ve written on the subject on this blog since I last wrote about the Joe Horn case in Houston several years back.

While the Zimmerman case was being argued in the court of public opinion and later in actual court (to little effect) I wrote extensively on Dan Carlin’s bulletin board system about the problems with Stalking and Shooting, the categorical description of the behavior that Zimmerman engaged in.

Zimmerman made a affirmative SYG case, so SYG has everything to do with it. The problem with Trayvon Martin, the problem with Marissa Alexander, is that both of them have black skin. Consequently they are looked down on, even by people who have the same color skin. This fact is borne out by statistics. So Trayvon is threatening simply because of the color of his skin; it certainly wasn’t the presence of a sidewalk, 20 feet from where he was fatally shot. Marissa was assigned a duty to retreat because she had the double curse of being female and being black. Women are routinely jailed for daring to defend themselves.  

The problem with SYG is specifically this; we SHOULD have the duty to retreat in public places.  Zimmerman had no business profiling and stalking that teenager. No one should expect to get a “get out of jail free” card simply because they claim self-defense. EVERYONE (including cops) should be  subject to trial when someone dies at their hands. Had Zimmerman not been emboldened by what they lyingly said he was unfamiliar with, he would have stayed in his car, and Trayvon would have been alive today. 

How we get to the point where we legally ‘have to’ allow women to defend themselves, is a separate discussion. Clearly special laws are required, since general laws yield outcomes like Marissa‘s. Special laws giving women permission to shoot abusive men. Yeah, that’ll happen.

Being the briefest of brief rehashes of content posted to a 42 page thread, and that typed up and added as a comment to an article on Reason Magazine’s site concerning the attacks on Stand Your Ground Laws that occurred after those laws were so horribly and hypocritically applied in Florida and elsewhere.

But this latest slew of problems isn’t about SYG as a perversion of an offensive action into a defensive one.  It isn’t even necessarily about guns, since one of the deaths in question involved a choke hold, not gunfire. It is about police using their unique relationship with their local prosecutor’s office to make unjustified homicides look like justified ones, allowing the offending police officers to claim vindication in the courts, when no court trials have occurred.

This was all brought back to mind when I wrote and posted yesterday’s entry on calling torture torture and not some other nicer sounding phrase. I wrote the line Police officers are filmed strangling and shooting unarmed men, and remain unprosecuted and wondered if I’d ever get around to writing that piece.  This is that piece.

Much like the torture post, this post remained unwritten because the solution to me was so obvious, and has even been related by talking heads on various news outlets.  The prosecutor’s office in nearly every county and city in the US works closely with the police, or as Jon Stewart observed at about 7:50 in this clip;

Yes, it’s Law & Order, and a serious (but humorous) oversimplification, but still it has to be observed that police departments have internal investigations departments (and all of them should have) there really need to be special prosecutors appointed specifically to prosecute cases against police officers. There should be citizen oversight everywhere there is a significant police department, too.

Prosecutors work too closely with the police to be able to effectively prosecute cases against them, all of their protestations to the contrary. It is a breach of trust to even allow them to bring cases against police that they work with.  The real surprise to me is that it has taken this long for this conflict of interest to be brought to the public’s attention.

This has been true for awhile now, as many people more versed in the subject than I am have pointed out, over and over again. I’ll just point to Radley Balko as one shining example.  Time and again he has documented how police excesses go unchecked, and how most people turn a blind eye to the real costs, because it is too painful to witness.

Well, if torture hadn’t come along to interrupt the outrage, we’d still be talking about this mess.  We will probably be talking about it again after the New Year’s passes, because it isn’t going away anytime soon unless we do something to fix this broken system of ours.

You might well say, what do these police cases have to do with Joe Horn, or Zimmerman or that other case?  If you really have to ask that question, the answer of skin color probably isn’t going to sit well with you. But it is true all the same. In all these cases, the public dialog has gone out of it’s way to give latitude to the aggressor.  The dialog in Joe Horn’s case was largely supportive of his actions; and I still think he was legally justified to take the actions he took, even if I would have listened to the operator’s advice myself and let the cops handle it (because they were there and witnessed the shooting) still, his victims were black, making them easy targets to dismiss.

It’s not the race of the shooter that is in question, because the statistics show even black cops distrust black faces. It is the race (skin color) of the victim that allows their deaths to be easily dismissed.

Outside of the black communities who are protesting and outraged over the dismissal of charges against the police, the attitude still remains largely dismissive of the victims rights, of the needs of survivors and family members to see justice done, to have their day in court.  FOX (as Jon Stewart and others point out) seems willing to lead this parade of monkeys consistently seeing no evil, hearing no evil, but managing to sound pretty evil all the same.

Newtown & TOK on Facebook

The question was asked on TOK, Newtown massacre, one year later: have gun laws made us safer?

My initial response was,

What gun laws? There hasn’t been a single national law passed that deals with restricting gun access to people who have demonstrated proficiency and mental stability. It’s too early, and the areas too limited, for there to be any demonstrable effect from the various state laws passed.

This was the only reply I received,

When guns are highly regulated it won’t help. When mostly only government has guns you WILL have tyranny and dictators. And when only government and criminals have guns you have private citizens as victims (because cops can’t get there til after you have been violated and sometimes the cops do the violating like you are seeing all over the news.

 Now, I don’t know about you, but reading that comment made me think that someone needed a bit of counseling. I mean, open parens, no close, no sentence structure, no relation to the subject matter?

I really wish the gunnuts could stop sounding like actual nuts and present reasoned arguments for why a well-trained well-armed populace is a benefit. That would, of course, predicate the idea that training and screening would be required in order to have guns, which is probably why they don’t make those kinds of arguments.  

…training and screening would exclude them. Because they are nuts.

My next comment had to defend the use of gunnuts,

Ad hominem? I call a spade a spade. Gunnuts are what you are; and there was a time when gunnuts were happy to wear that label. Now that you have real gun nuts suggesting that the unborn be issued weapons to prevent abortions, or the certifiable Wayne La Pierre insisting that the answer to gun violence is more guns (as examples) I’m sure the label does rankle. 

One solution is required training in the storage and handling of weapons, something that would have saved the children of Newtown. Registration of all weapons so that owners who do not secure their guns can be held accountable for their use in crimes, etc. These are the specific common sense kinds of measures, though, that send gunnuts through the roof. 

…So I’ll counter with the equally sensible but even more drastic measure of simply re-instating the draft. Everyone will go through military training, since the Wayne La Pierre’s of the world think we all need more and better guns. If you are deemed incapable of responsibly owning and using a weapon by the military, it should be a simple thing to get that exclusion represented by law on a national basis. I’m sure you gunnuts will love that proposal. 

ANYONE who thinks that a shrug of their shoulders is the appropriate response to Newtown doesn’t understand the situation that lead to Newtown. There were plenty of warning signs which the mother SHOULD HAVE taken seriously. That his doctors and teachers SHOULD HAVE taken seriously. The mother should never have had guns in the house, should never have encouraged him to use firearms. The result achieved was an absolute failure of the mental health profession, teaching profession, and his parents. Shrugging and saying “he never bought a gun” is to ignore those other failures, as well as the multiple and damning incidents of other mass shootings where the shooter was mentally ill and did go out and buy guns to conduct their mass murders. Someone should be held accountable for putting weapons in those peoples hands, as well as holding the mother accountable for giving her (demonstrably) dangerous son access to weapons.
If additional sensible restrictions are not agreed to, and soon, there will be more mass shootings, which will end in even more draconian and less sensible restrictions on guns. Mark my words, this will occur.

Lost in the flood was a comment relevant to the Newtown shooter, if not where he got his guns from,

The Newtown shooter was actually diagnosed with an issue, one that clearly should have kept him from having guns. Gunnuts are convinced that no laws are needed, and yet it’s perfectly clear that additional laws are needed in order to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. 

Your arguments are demonstrably fallacious. Every act that is illegal is still committed; yet we wouldn’t want murder to be legal simply because murders are still committed. Weapons by definition should be restricted to the people who have demonstrated proficiency and mental stability. Anyone who argues differently simply doesn’t or doesn’t want to understand the problem.

I wasn’t prepared to refer to gunnuts as ammosexuals at that point in time. I’ve since decided that ammosexual was the correct name for them, although I prefer the more scientific sounding word armaphile (the opposite being armaphobe) because they are sexually aroused by weapons and ammo. The initial commenter was joined by another, thankfully.  He blew his wad over the next few dozen replies and then satisfied with his mess he fucked-off wherever it was he really should have been in the first place.

The newcomer did decide to throw facts and figures around, which required me to go in search of a few facts of my own,

You are seriously mistaken.  The number of mass shootings has been at an all-time high http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/17/mass-shootings-us_n_3935978.html the government was warned (more than once) that Bin Laden was planning to fly planes into government buildings http://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-warned-of-suicide-hijackings/ so your comparison of preventing 9/11 to preventing any given mass shooting falls flat.  Law enforcement would give anything to have the kind of warnings that the Bush administration ignored prior to 9/11.  Similarly, Lanza being an adult has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he should have be exposed to weapons, his mental health problems should have kept him from ever touching a firearm http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579220383570598944 reaching adulthood doesn’t necessarily entitle you to access to firearms.  His mother should not have been allowed to keep firearms in the house, at all.  She should have had the sense to know this herself, since he killed her with her own weapons, and she should have known he was capable of this action.
…again.  Failing passing laws restricting access to firearms on a national level, to people demonstrating proficiency and self-control, I’m 100% in favor of reinstating the general draft for the specific purpose of determining who should and shouldn’t have access to them.   I’m done (and most Americans are as well) arguing with people who simply don’t want to address the subject, or accuses anyone who suggests common-sense reforms of being ‘gun grabbers’.   Some people are going to loose access to weapons.  The crazier the gunnuts get, the more of them will be in that group.

If you actually endorse training prior to allowing people to purchase guns, you are a gun-grabber according to Wayne La Pierre, Ted Nugent, and any number of other nuts out there.  That’s how crazy it has gotten on the subject.

The problem that has arisen since the Newtown massacre is that there are no official statistics on gun deaths in the way that the federal government maintains statistics on every other manufactured device on the market in the US. There aren’t any official statistics because the House of Representatives has specifically forbidden their collection. Consequently what happens when you start talking gun statistics you get a battle of the statistics which then proceeds to occur,

[Your] Author denies an upward trend, but if you smooth out the dataset, you still end up with more incidents recently than you had in the past; although that can be attributed to increased population as easily as anything else. What is left out of that picture is that while mass murder rates have only slightly increased, crime in general has dropped dramatically.  

Even the author, correcting Mother Jones’ data set, comments that the common beliefs that mass murders are on the increase “…have encouraged healthy debate concerning causes and solutions.”  

He proposes that there would be fewer mass shootings in 2013 than in 2012 based on statistical projection. He was wrong. There have been 30 shootings in 2013 by the time of this compilation http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/16/mass-killings-data-map/2820423/ and there were only 20 in 2012. So the number of shootings continues to rise. Statistically it should flatten off, but will we all wait to see if that happens? Or should we engage in what your cited author agrees is “healthy debate” about causes and solutions?

The link to the original research is broken, just FYI. That is how much veracity there was in the statics from Professor Fox. Not enough for him (or the Daily Beast) to maintain a link to them.

 The citation was for James Allan Fox, if anyone was interested. His article is at http://www.boston.com/community/blogs/crime_punishment/2013/01/mass_shootings_not_trending.html not the Daily Beast article that copied his data and left out his feelings that debate about gun policy was something we should engage in.

Oh, yeah. imagine that, the professor who took issue with the facts I cited actually thinks we need more gun laws. Go figure?

[T]he author you cite himself says that additional laws may be needed, and debate is warranted.  

FOX news is BY FAR the worst transgressor factually when it comes to reporting the news and having it be absorbed by it’s viewers; http://www.mediaite.com/online/yet-another-survey-fox-news-viewers-worst-informed-npr-listeners-best-informed/ I wouldn’t take anything reported by a TV news source as factual, no matter the source. …On the same day that the Sandy Hook Massacre took place, a rampage took place in China, the assailant used only a knife; 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenpeng_Village_Primary_School_stabbing all of those children survived. Tell the grieving mothers of Sandy Hook how we are better off with easy access to guns. 

My designated combatant then continues to prevaricate and offer defenses for why the Newtown shooter wouldn’t have been stopped by more gun laws, but frankly reinstating the draft (while draconian) would have kept him from having access to weapons since he would have been bounced out of the military or killed during training.  The last comment worth posting is this one,

You consistently make excuses for the murderer, and you consistently DO insist that no new laws are needed. You’ve done this repeatedly over the course of this entire thread, make excuse, backtrack, suggest that it’s not weapons at fault. Make excuse, sidestep, suggest that we all need family counseling.  

…Add that to your insistence that FOX is better than NBC (which at least has a track record of owning up to errors, rather than pretending they never made them as FOX does) and I have to conclude that you are not an honest actor here. You simply post here to waste my time in endless replies to you inane assertions that what you say isn’t what you said.  

Admit it. It’s the guns and easy access to guns that have put weapons in the hands of killers all over the US. Now the solution is either to require licensing and training before purchasing weapons, tracking of weapons so that their owners can be held accountable for crimes committed with those weapons; or meeting resistance to these common sense approaches to the problem instating the draft I mentioned earlier in order to make sure we know who can and can’t handle firearms.  

On further thought, I’ll add this third option. The endless repetition of the charge “take our guns” that you echo makes me think it’s actually time to embrace that position. Yes, we’ll simply ban all guns unless the gunnuts come to the table and talk straight about common sense approaches to the gun problem.

I have since given up on TOK for Facebook. Too much stupid, too little time, like most of the internet. This was added to the blog archive on the date I originally wrote the comments, and the context is currently preserved at the TOK links above the comments.

My memory was primed to go looking for comments I had made at the time by Jim Wright’s memorial to Newtown titled Bang Bang Crazy Part Two which he reposted to Facebook earlier in the week. I remember I had said a few things somewhere on Facebook at the time (turns out it was a year later) but I couldn’t quite remember where it was. A hat/tip to Facebook’s native memory app On This Day without which I would generally be clueless about “what did I do today for the last 8 years or so?”

The Gun Argument

“An armed society is a polite society.” ~ Robert Heinlein
We are an ‘armed society’; I’ll let you be the judge of whether our conduct even approaches politeness. From my perspective, we could use a lot more of it.


Most people will never have cause to use a weapon in self-defense. When I tell someone that I’ve twice had cause to need a weapon, much more use it, most of the time the listener is shocked. Gunnuts (pro-gunners) as a rule are convinced they always need more and better weapons, most of which remain unfired in any setting other than the range where it becomes a matter of pride to have the coolest weapon with the best gizmos to go with it.

That is where the AR-15 is used, not as a self-defensive weapon. A self-defensive weapon is a pistol, or a shotgun. A woman would be better served with a can of pepper spray (also a weapon) as she is more likely to be killed with her own gun, statistically, than she is to use it.

Which is the another point that gunnuts fail to notice; that a ‘weapon’ is anything you can use against another person. That ‘self-defense’ is anything you might do to defend yourself. That, in fact, you cannot have a right to something that you cannot make yourself (if the converse is true, then I can definitely have a right to health care) which means you don’t have a right to firearms in any fashion beyond what the Constitution guarantees.

The worst offenders of the right to Self-Defense, places like Chicago and D.C., are what is held up as examples of commonality across the US. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most places (8 of the 10 cities on this list) in the US have very lax gun laws. We have LOTS of measures on the books, and almost none of them are actively enforced, even if they were effective. There is no mandate that someone demonstrate proficiency with a weapon before being sold one. There is no certification of sound mind required before someone can go and buy a handgun.

‘Anyone’ can go to virtually any gun show or private seller and purchase a weapon more lethal than any gun available at the time of the drafting of the Constitution. If that fact doesn’t scare you, then you aren’t a thinking person. 

 I’ve had arguments with gunnuts that think that Zimmerman was right to stalk Treyvon Martin, that think teachers should be mandatorily armed (as if weapons proficiency is a good skill in a teacher) that think not just semi-auto ‘mock-ups’ of military arms, but full auto military arms and weapons systems (like tanks) should be available for private purchase. They never seem to get the disconnect between a defensive action (removing a threat to you personally) and military actions, requiring the killing of multiple targets simultaneously, indiscriminate of the safety of onlookers, neighbors, people caught in the crossfire. That is a loosing argument.

I’m on record saying “I’d accept that training and background checks should be mandatory, if those who want to ban guns would accept that the right to carry common weapons for defensive purposes is guaranteed.” but truthfully when I start having to argue with gunnuts about their weapons fetish I’m to the point where I simply endorse the reinstatement of the general draft. That is how we fix the problems in this country. Reconstitute the militia as intended in the Constitution. Two years of service, military or civil, with mandatory weapons training for all. Gets the kids off the streets, gets people work to do, gets the gunnuts were we can find them and disarm them before they hurt someone.

…or we can fall back on the first sentiment. Take your pick.

Calling in the Military

The story out of N’Orleans today: Governor Kathleen Blanco has activated National Guard personnel to patrol the city. Over the weekend several teens were killed in a drive-by shooting. If you check the stats in the story, there are more cops per resident in the city than there was pre-Katrina. I’m not sure why they would need the assistance of the National Guard, but apparently the Gov. thought it was appropriate to turn the city into a militarized zone over the whole deal.

After Katrina last year, many of the pundits were lamenting the ‘disneyfication’ of N’Orleans; in other words, corporations moving in and changing the character of the city to something more tourist-friendly. This was the justification for much of the outlay of (stolen by taxation) cash for rebuilding the city. Cash that has been subsequently stolen from the gov’t by criminals of less authority. Criminals that are now running rampant.

Personally, I think disneyfication would have been the better option.