_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 14: The Cowardice of Responsibility


Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses…
-- George Washington Carver


It began, as it often does these days, as a series of tweets.

Another school shooting.

Another all too familiar day in America.

Another mad scramble by gun fanatics to dismiss the tools of mass murder, to deflect and deny, to make excuses for why nothing can be done. To avoid responsibility.

One of these excuses in particular caught my eye.


image


So, I ....


What?


What's that?

Shooter? School shooting?

Oh, right. Riiiiight. Sorry. You’re right. You’re right. I got ahead of myself. The school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. That’s the one. Given there was more than one school shooting yesterday, or attempted school shooting, and given the increasing frequency of these events, I should have been more specific…

You again, what now?

The snark?

Yes, you may expect that to continue throughout the article.

Good? OK, then let’s continue.


Starbuck is a modestly well known writer, producer, and director who has done some interesting work – and lot of less than interesting work. His tweets often slide by in my social media feeds without leaving much of a ripple, but his comments yesterday caught my attention.

The shooter did not legally possess the guns he used or the pipe bombs he had so what makes anyone think that any law would’ve stopped him from this evil act? Obviously he was not concerned with following the law. He’s a determined killer willing to use any means to do so. The real questions we need to be asking are: • How can we better identify, report and act before evil people commit these mass shootings? • Can we make teaching empathy and kindness a part of nationwide curriculum? • How can we safeguard the entry and interior of schools?

I think the questions Starbuck asks are valid: How can we better identify, report and act before evil people commit these mass shootings? Can we make teaching empathy and kindness a part of nationwide curriculum? How can we safeguard the entry and interior of schools? Sure. Those are reasonable questions, worthy of further exploration on the national stage. Absolutely.

But I don’t think they’re the “real questions we need to be asking.”

No, it’s the first part, that bit about laws.

Laws don’t stop crime.

No shit, right?

This comes up every time. Laws don’t stop crime. No law we can pass will totally eliminate gun violence. So, we shouldn’t talk about more laws, or new laws, or even fixing the existing laws. Criminals don’t obey the law, see? So laws only “punish” law abiding citizens.

You don’t see this … reasoning, I guess I have to call it, in any other area. You don’t see conservatives saying, hey, illegal immigrants, they don’t follow the law! So we shouldn’t even talk about more immigration laws!

You don’t see conservatives saying, hey, you know who doesn’t obey the law? Women. Yeah. Women. So there’s no point in passing any more abortion laws…

No, it’s only guns where this “laws don’t work” argument comes up routinely.

And so I wrote a long response, which on Twitter became a fifteen part thread of related thoughts chained together.

image

And that became a longer and more detailed Facebook post (if you’ve already read it, feel free to skip over the comments in blue):

Laws don't stop crime.

The killer is in custody.

If there weren't any laws against shooting people, we couldn't prosecute him. We'd have to let him go.

Laws don't stop crime and never have.

We have laws regarding murder, theft, rape, fraud, etc.

And yet, we still have murder, theft, rape, fraud, etc.

We pass new laws to address evolving problems, such as electronic crimes. Or things some folks wish were crimes, like abortion.

But, laws don't stop crime.

Laws don't stop crime. It would be nice if they did, but that's not the law's function.

Laws give society legal recourse when its members engage in anti-social actions. If you didn't have law against murder, you couldn't do anything (legally) about it when murders happen.

The shooter did not legally possess the guns he used. This is true. But that doesn't mean laws don't work.

The question is: How did the shooter get those guns?

Somebody has to be legally responsible for those weapons. So how did the shooter get them?

If the shooter got his weapons from his father as rumored, then the father should be legally responsible for failure to properly secure the guns. But that only works if there are enforceable laws in place regarding storage and access in the home.

If that law doesn't exist, then it should.

Such a law would not prevent any responsible citizen from owning a gun. It doesn't infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. It simply requires that the gun owner be held legally responsible for his or her guns. If Adam Lanza's mother had properly secured her weapons, she'd be alive today, along with the children murdered at Sandy Hook. Adam Lanza was mentally ill. He could not be legally responsible. She knew that. Her own irresponsibility cost 28 people their lives.

Laws don't prevent crime, not all of it anyway.

But they can reduce crime by modifying society's behavior over the long term. See Drunk Driving laws. Obviously, those laws don't stop drunk driving, but they did drastically reduce it by changing irresponsible behavior.

Now, Making driving while intoxicated illegal does not keep anyone from drinking if they want to. But we prosecute irresponsible intoxication. We hold those who enable it responsible, even bartenders and liquor store owners. Those we catch violating the law go to jail.

And we are draconian about enforcing these laws. We had to be. We have campaigns about how draconian we are. We put up signs along the highways and we have cops go to schools and lecture kids about it. And as a result people have become significantly more responsible about their behavior when they otherwise wouldn't be.

If gun laws addressed specific irresponsibility, such as failure to secure your weapons, and we held those responsible to the same degree as drinking, and we promoted gun responsibility the same way we do responsible drinking, then you'd see a marked reduction in cases like this one. We know this works, because it works in every other area that it’s been tried in.

Where'd the shooter get his guns? Excellent question.

The answer isn't: Laws don't work.

The answer is a law that specifically addresses the problem identified by the question and holds those responsible to strict and mandatory account. Every time.

If we started holding guns owners responsible for their guns to a degree no more stringent than gun manufacturer guidelines and the NRA's own rules for safe gun handling, then you'd see gun owners start properly securing their guns. As they should.

I'm NOT talking about taking your guns away.

I'm a gun owner too. I'm sitting right now within three feet of two gun safes. MY weapons are secure when not on my person. Period. No exceptions. Ever. They are my guns. I am responsible. No one else. Because I was trained that way.

Laws don't stop crime.

But then neither do guns.

Laws don't stop crime and never have.

But the right laws make crime far less likely by modifying irresponsible behavior and by giving society legal recourse to hold its members accountable for their actions.

We'll prosecute the shooter, sure enough.

But we must also prosecute those who enabled him.

Now, nothing I’ve said above is a new thought. I’ve written about this ridiculous “laws don’t stop crime” argument here before, in this very series. You can find the links at the bottom of this article.

But, you know, my comments really weren’t even about the law.

They were about responsibility.

That’s what laws are ultimately about: Responsibility.

Responsibility, by definition, requires accountability. If you’re not ever held accountable,  well, then you’re not really responsible, are you? I mean, if there is no mechanism holding you accountable, then what’s the price for irresponsibility? Nothing. You screwed up, people died, oops. Shrug and move on, right?

Responsibility is about accountability.

We used to teach that to Navy leaders when I was in uniform. Authority. Responsibility. Accountability. When that ideal declined, so did Navy leadership.

You can’t have responsibility without accountability, to yourself, to authority (whatever that may be), to society (however you define it). That’s what law is.

But … well, it’s funny, isn’t it? Whenever you mention accountability, the gun fetishists – the very people who angrily rush to assure you just how responsible they are – begin screaming that you’re trying to take their guns away.

And why is that?

Why is it that they always, every time, equate “responsibility” to “confiscation?”

Why is it that whenever you talk about personal accountability, they always – every time – attempt to deflect that responsibility onto somebody else?

Case in point:

image


This guy was more coherent than most – which is why I chose him to use an example.

And he managed to get most of the predictable talking points arguing against responsibility all in one place.

So, let's walk it through, shall we? Point by point.

My response to your most recent post since I am unable to respond on the actual post itself for some reason.

My Facebook page is fairly popular, as such things go. Roughly 150,000 people read what I post there every day. Often it’s a much larger audience, depending on how widely my posts are shared – and that’s what social media and in particular platforms like Facebook are for. Because of the size of that audience, and because of the things I write about, and because of the nature of the average social media user, I limit commenting to “friends” (as defined by Facebook). That’s about 5000 vetted people, give or take, on my personal page. This way, I don’t have to daily deal with the trolls, lunatics, moochers, shit-stirrers, and the various other unsavory and non-housebroken denizens who inhabit the bowels of social media. Why just 5000? Because that’s the limit set by Facebook. If I was allowed more friends, I’d allow more commenters. (Note: I also run a closed Facebook Group called “Stonekettle Station,” where most of my material is reposted and far more people (a bit over 30,000 right now) can join in the conversation). I mention all of this here as a convenience to myself, since I get literally dozens of questions about this every single day.

So, so this guy, let’s call him “Tony,” couldn’t respond directly to my post on Facebook because we are not Facebook friends (and given the rest of Tony’s missive, we are unlikely ever to be such). Thus, he emailed it to me via Facebook’s messenger system.

Good so far?

Great.

I assume he cut and pasted this from elsewhere, given that he switched to the third person on the second line.

"I agree with some of the things he says."

Well, that's good. That’s good.

Their are also some flaws in some of the points he's trying to make [Sic]

Oh boy. I can't "weight" to "here" about my flaws (You may, if you like, picture me pouring myself a fresh one at this point).

If someone takes my car without permission and runs someone over with it, am I liable? The same answer applies to if someone took one of my guns without permission to murder someone else.

YES.

Yes. You can be held liable depending on circumstance.

Tony might want to check the laws of his state.

You see, in many states failure to properly secure your vehicle does make you liable under the law – not to mention, being grounds for claim denial by your insurance company.

For example: In nearly every state it is illegal to leave a running car unattended, even on private property, even if the the door is locked, and in some states even if you use a remote starting system with anti-theft lockout capability.

If you leave your car unsecured, with the keys in the ignition, you can be held liable for its theft and subsequent use in a crime.

Likewise, if you loan your vehicle to somebody unauthorized to operate it, or who is impaired, or who is not covered under your insurance, then you are liable for whatever happens with that vehicle. You are most certainly liable if your kids take your car and kill somebody because you left the keys where they could get them. You’re responsible for both the kids and the car.

However, if you take reasonable steps to secure your vehicle and to keep it out of the hands of unauthorized users, then the law generally does not hold you accountable if someone steals your car.

This is no different whatsoever from what I suggested.

Hell, I didn't even suggest a particular method of securing your weapons, though I personally prefer a purpose-manufactured gun safe. No, I left it up to you to decide the best method for your own situation, just as the law does with cars (i.e. the law does not require you to have a secure locking garage, or a fenced driveway, or a car alarm, or even a working lock on your car. You decide).

The person liable is the person that took the item without permission and harmed someone else with it.

I agree.

I think we all agree.

Who suggested otherwise?

Go back up there and read what I wrote. Look at the penultimate line. Did I in any way whatsoever suggest that the murderer was not liable? Did I? If you're not capable of that basic level of reading comprehension, then you're (or in Tony’s case, "your") not cognitively advanced enough to be in this conversation in the first goddamned place. So either step up or stop wasting my time.

I mean, more than one person can be held liable in a crime, you all know this, right? You must know this.

Look here, if I'm too intoxicated to drive, if I am obviously too intoxicated to drive, then obviously I’m liable if I drive. But, if the bartender continues to serve me alcohol knowing there's a reasonable chance I'm going to go out and get in a car, well, then the law also holds that bartender liable. Likewise, if the bartender doesn't check my ID and make reasonably sure I'm old enough to drink in her establishment then the law again holds not only me liable, and the bartender liable, but also the business itself.

Goddamn, man, how do you not know this?

"Everyone has moments where they are irresponsible or could have been more responsible."

Always, it comes to this argument.

Always, every time. They always arrive here: you just can’t expect someone to be responsible all of the time.

And yet, that’s exactly what we do expect, from the guy driving your kid’s school bus, from surgeons, from airline pilots, from the military, from the courts, from our leaders, from the guy who operates the Staten Island Ferry and the cook who’s supposed to wash his goddamned hands after taking a shit. We not only expect these people to be responsible every single time, we demand it under penalty of law. Every single time. Because failure of responsibility for even a second can have serious consequences. And you’re going to try and tell me that guns should be regarded as any less of a responsibility?

Please.

Everybody has moments where they are irresponsible, Tony says. Yes, and if you have a moment of irresponsibility that results in the death of another, we call that manslaughter. And it's illegal. And you're held accountable. And you go to jail. I mean, are you seriously suggesting to me that a parent who "has a moment of irresponsibility" and leaves their baby in a locked, sealed car on a hot day resulting in that child's death should be dismissed with a shrug and an "oh well, she didn't mean to kill the kid. Shit happens! People can’t be responsible all of the time." Hell, we'd hold that person responsible for their criminal irresponsibility if they left a fucking dog in the car.

And here you are trying to tell me that guns should be held to some lesser standard of responsibility?

Come on.

Why is it that supposed "responsible" gun owners always – always, every goddamned time – argue so strenuously and so ridiculously against actual responsibility?

Why?

We’ll come back to that. Stick around.


Look here: you can't have responsibility without accountability.


You can't have responsibility without accountability.

If you're responsible, then you're accountable. It’s as simple as that.

And isn't that, accountability, the entire premise of your religion? Sure. Right? You've got free will, but if you don't follow your god's law, you go to your final judgement and get held accountable, so you'd better be good for goodness sake? Right?

No? No, I suppose not.

Be that as it may, don't try to tell me that you're a responsible gun owner if you're unwilling to be held accountable for that ownership, because you're just full of shit and you don't even understand what the words mean.

By this logic he is suggesting that we create criminals out of anyone who unintentionally or even involuntary created an opportunity for someone else who wants to do harm to exploit.

I don't even have to look at Tony’s Facebook timeline to know he wants opioid manufacturers and doctors to be held, at least in part, liable for the current drug epidemic. If it’s drugs, well, we want those who make and sell the drugs held to account, don’t we? We go after the drug makers and the drug dealers, right along with the drug users, don’t we? We’re even going after the doctors.

But guns?

Hell, the only other institution in America equally free of responsibility is the banking industry. But, I digress.

Intention has nothing to do with it – or at least it's not the primary issue.

We're talking about responsibility, not intention.

If I leave my car running in the driveway, I likely didn't intend for it to be stolen. But I'm liable just the same.

If I leave my baby locked in the car on a hot summer day while I run into the store, I likely didn't intend for the kid to cook to death. But I'm criminally liable just the same.

Now to extend the analogy to something closer to Tony’s criticism: If I'm a surgeon and I don't follow procedure, I don't wash my hands correctly or sterilize my tools or I leave a sponge inside you, and you die, you can damned well bet I'll be held accountable.

And the Chief Surgeon will be held accountable.

And the hospital will be held accountable.

And the company who owns the hospital will be held accountable.

I’m responsible. But so are they.

My intentions be damned, it’s not about intention, it’s about responsibility. Irresponsibility – negligence – has consequences in nearly every field of endeavor. From bartender to car owner to airline pilot to doctor to lawyer to accountant to parent. Why should gun ownership be any different?

In short, you're simply making another argument to punish people that had nothing to do with crime committed by the actual person who committed the crime.

Nonsense.

If you failed to secure your gun and that gun is taken by somebody unauthorized to have it and they then use it to commit a crime, you most certainly "had something to do with it." Your irresponsibility is a big part of the problem and, again, why is it that those who claim most strenuously that they are responsible gun owners always – always, every time – work so hard to avoid taking any actual responsibility?

If you have a swimming pool, you are required to have a fence around it. Tony is arguing that he can't even accept that pitiful amount of responsibility for his gun.

Let me make a counter suggestion. Instead of punishing people who did not make the conscious decision to murder someone. How about we increase the severity of the punishment to those who actually commit the crime?

Again, this bullshit. This idea that we don't actually punish people who commit crimes.

But the real money-shot is that part about "conscious decision."

We're talking about guns. Guns. Machines designed to kill people. Machines specifically designed to kill people. YOU SHOULD GODDAMNED WELL BE CONSCIOUS OF THAT ALL THE TIME, EVERY MINUTE, AND TAKE THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSIBILITY. If you're not conscious of that responsibility, every second, then you are not responsible enough to own or operate a fucking gun.

AR-15s have been for sale in the US for almost 60 years yet they've only been the weapon of choice in Mass Shootings for a little over a decade.

I never, not one time, mentioned "AR-15s" or any other specific weapon.

The subject is not the type of weapon. The subject is responsibility.

Stop trying to deflect and start taking responsibility.

Guess what else is pretty new? The leniency we show those who are incarcerated, including those who are imprisoned for harming, raping and/or killing others. If you kill someone maliciously, you die. Or at least never see freedom or be treated as a person again. You should suffer. Is it hard to believe the motivation to kill will decline substantially once people know if they are caught, they will no pain and suffering beyond what anyone can imagine?

Oh for fuck’s sake.

This is the end result of 30 years of mindless conservative talk-radio. Of angry pundits screaming conspiracy theories from TV sets. This is the mindset of an America run by religious fanatics, right here.

Torture. Dungeons. The Pit of Despair.

They must be made to suffer, you see. That’s right out of the Bible.

If I had to guess, I’d say Tony has never been to nations where they do exactly this. Iraq. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Mexico. Turkey. Venezuela. Russia. Thailand. Kenya. You go to prison there, believe me, you suffer. I once had to get an American serviceman out of prison in one of those countries. You really don’t want to know, but I’ll say this: Tony gets his wish because it was certainly beyond anything I could imagine.

You really want to turn America into that?

Really?

But, those countries where prisoners are executed or made to suffer "beyond what anyone can imagine?" Do you actually believe crime is somehow less there as a result? Really?

Because it’s not. It’s worse.

But you want to do that here? 

No? Why not?

Because we're supposed to be better than that, you idiot. 

Because those guns you love so much are supposed to defend the Constitution, which prohibits precisely the kind of cruel and unusual punishment you're suggesting. I mean you must see the irony, right?

I mean, right?

No?

No, I suppose not. No, of course you don’t. Of course you don’t.

That would require a degree of self-awareness I doubt Tony and those like him are capable of.

Why have leniency on those actually committing the crime...

Leniency?

What leniency?

Not one surviving mass shooter in American history has been granted anything resembling leniency.

The closest you could come to making such a case is Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, who were among the youngest people to be formally charged with murder in the US. They were 13 and 11, respectively, in 1998, when they opened fire on a playground at Westside Middle School. They murdered four children and a teacher, and wounded ten more. They are the only surviving mass shooters currently not in prison. And they were only released (at age 21), because Arkansas law required such. Their case actually changed that requirement in Arkansas.

Every other surviving American mass shooter is in prison. Every one.

James Holmes was sentenced to twelve consecutive life sentences PLUS an additional 3318 years in prison. Hardly what you'd call leniency.

George Banks is on Death Row in Pennsylvania. No leniency for him.

Nidal Malik Hasan is on Death Row in a US military prison and I guaran-goddamn-tee you the Army will grant him no leniency whatsoever.

Howard Barton Unruh, the nation's first mass shooter, died in prison at age 88.

Dylann Roof was sentenced to death on federal hate crimes, and to life in prison for nine counts of murder. He's currently serving nine consecutive life sentences.

Do I need to go on here? Or can you do the rest for yourself?

This nonsense that we somehow grant mass murderers "leniency" is pure kark, the kind of unsubstantiated bullshit created whole cloth by likes of Rush Limbaugh and conservative politicians and hysterical fools such as Tony.

... but in return be willing to punish those who had nothing to do with it?

And so we come down to it.

I told you up above, we come back to it.

And here we are.

…punish those who had nothing to do with it.

That’s is your real fear, isn't it?

This right here.

Because you know you yourself aren't responsible, don't you, Tony? Yes you do. You spent a thousand words making excuses, telling me how you won’t, can’t, accept responsibility or be held accountable. And so, this is what you really fear, isn’t it? What you're really afraid of is that you will one day be held to account for your own cavalier attitude and your own lack of responsibility.

You can’t empathize with the victims of violence, instead you identify with those who are responsible for it and that’s goddamned telling. Yes, it is.

But this isn't about the killers at all, is it?

It's not even about guns.

No. It's about you.


A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
-- Bob Dylan



Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
Part 12, Excuses, Excuses
Part 13, Stand and Teach

What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity


Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 13: Stand and Teach



Rant: to speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way. A tirade.


clip_image001[4]


Rant.

This veteran’s rant about arming teachers is going viral.

This veteran being me, of course. Seems some clickbait site called Bored Panda picked up a thread I wrote on Twitter and declared it a rant. I think they meant it as a compliment, but I can’t help but feel like John Goodman at the end of Atomic Blonde, “Cocksucker? Really?”

Bored Panda wasn’t the only one. My comments appeared on a number of sites and have been shared on Twitter itself thousands of times and viewed by more than 1.4 million people.

And like Bored Panda, a number of people described my comments as a rant.

Specifically, a tirade against guns.

And isn’t that interesting?


But, I’m getting ahead of myself.


On March 12th, President Trump declared (via Twitter):

image

 

Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House. Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!.......

It was his usual 5AM declaration from the presidential toilet, hyperbolic, chock-a-block with non sequiturs, and full of straining and groaning and falsehoods – some obvious, some less so.

But it was the bit at the end, that’s what jumped out at me, “Highly trained expert teachers.”

Highly trained expert teachers.

Now, it was pretty obvious that the NRA would show up before Trump finished wiping his ass. Money would change hands. Favors would be exchanged. And Trump would back-pedal on bump-stocks and background checks and age limits and all the other gun control measures he’d been promising since the Parkland shooting. 

And that’s exactly what happened.

Within a day, Trump was walking back his new found passion for actually doing something while pretending that he wasn’t and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia. Or was that Eurasia?

But not that last bit.

No, not that last bit. The NRA loves that idea. Stand and fight. Put more guns into schools. Arm the teachers.

The “highly trained expert teachers.”

And…

…Wait a minute, highly trained expert teachers?

Highly trained by who?

Experts in what?

Trump never explains himself. He certainly never explained this statement. He just assumes he knows what he means. But does he? Does he? Because Donald Trump has a very long record of not understanding complex topics in any detail whatsoever. Instead, he fancies himself an idea man. The leader. He makes some vague pronouncement and expects everybody else to work out the details.

And nobody ever asks for the details.

You want to arm teachers?

You want to let teachers carry guns in the classroom?

Highly trained, expert teachers, you say.

Well, then I think we need to ask for the details.

Yes, I think we need to ask some questions, demand the answers in detail.

I mean, hell, if you wanted to teach evolution, or women’s health, or civil rights, parents would have questions. They’d show up and demand answers.

But guns?

Nothing. Go ahead, arm the teachers, let’s see what happens.

clip_image001[28]

We won’t know until we try it out, he says. Why would that be so bad?

Tell me, are you willing to test your theory with your children?

Or were you planning on risking other people’s kids to find out?


So I asked.


I wrote a 23-part thread on Twitter – which was itself based on a Facebook post I wrote the day after the Parkland shooting, asking the following questions:

“Highly trained expert teachers" Highly trained Highly trained by ... who? Who designs the training. To what criteria? To what standards?

It matters, you know.

You don’t just pull training out of your ass.

Not if you want it to be effective. And we are talking about guns here, aren’t we? In classrooms, with your kids.

Training is designed to meet a specific requirement, to achieve a specific goal.

These people are teachers. Would you stand for it if they just winged it, when it comes to math and science and home economics? No? That’s right. There’s an approved curriculum, designed for each specific grade, that takes into account things like material appropriate to age group, whether or not there was any previous education on the topic (i.e. you don’t start math with AP Calculus in kindergarten, there are prerequisites), and whether the subject is practical or abstract (big difference in the objectives of shop class and the aforementioned AP calculus. One teaches a practical skill, the other abstract thinking). And so on.

Building curriculum is a skill in and of itself.

When you talk about training teachers to carry guns in the classroom, you’re talking about a lot more than just facility with a firearm.

Let me give you an example: When I went through the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, which trains military and law enforcement to be Firearms Instructors, much of the class was focused on the practical aspects of teaching professional firearms handling and shooting. You had to already be an experienced and trained shooter to even qualify for the class in the first place, coming from the military or from law enforcement. Because we were training to become professional firearms instructors, we spent a lot of time on the range at Springfield ourselves, practicing professional shooting techniques under close supervision. But we also spent a lot of time in the classroom learning not only the theory of firearms instruction but also such things as liability and case law for firearms instructors, along with how to develop training plans, both practical and classroom, tailored to the specific needs of our particular environment. I trained with cops, with federal nuclear materials guards, with armored car guards, and members of various militaries. Each of our requirements were different. When we became certified instructors, our students’ requirements would be different. Thus, the objective of the training was to give us the skills, knowledge, and expertise to safely tailor firearms training to the various needs of our agencies. The certification was to make us legally responsible for it and for whatever happened under our tutelage.

Police officers, guards, military personnel, how each uses a firearm varies greatly, depending on many, many factors.

A police officer’s rules regarding the use of deadly force are very, very different from the military’s Rules of Engagement, which often vary between conflict zones and are subject to change within each zone depending on phase of conflict, political considerations, international agreement, and so on.  Prison guards, armored car guards, and those guys I mentioned up above who guard nuclear facilities have very different requirements, very different considerations, very different priorities.


clip_image001[12]

So, when I ask you: these teachers will be highly trained by who? Don't just say, "the local police department" or something similar.

That’s the wrong answer, or at best it’s incomplete.

You’re talking about armed teachers. Not cops. Not Marines. Teachers. You’re talking about putting a gun in a classroom full of young children, teenagers, perhaps college students. You’re talking civilians, kids. You’re talking about a teacher, whose primary job is to teach, carrying a loaded weapon among children. You’re talking about practical considerations far beyond mere ability to shoot straight. You’re talking about responsibility – where failure of responsibility results in dead kids. So, you need to consider all the requirements necessary for that teacher to safely carry a weapon in the classroom on a normal day. A day where they don’t have to pull it out and shoot somebody.


 clip_image001[22]


Above that, you then need to look at exactly what is you expect that teacher to do in an emergency.

There is a hell of a lot more to an engagement than just shooting straight. This isn’t the firing range. It’s also not a military battlefield and not the mean streets patrolled by cops.

You need something beyond the military’s rules of engagement and the cop’s rules of deadly force.

It’s a special circumstance with unique requirements, priorities, and considerations.

You can’t just wade in with guns blazing.

Well, you can, but you’re going to regret it.


clip_image001[14]


You’d just turn training and certification over to some private contractor without asking any questions?

You’d let some private contractor train teachers to carry guns in a room with your children, and you think asking questions is stupid?

Well, then let me ask another stupid question: how do you hire the contractor?

I mean, have you ever been involved in a government contract? The school district is a government agency. You want the agency to hire a contractor – using your tax dollars. What’s in the contract? I mean, if you don’t ask any questions how do you know what to put in the contract? Moreover, how do you hold the contractor to the contract, if you haven’t specified in detail what the requirements are?

If you’ve ever dealt with this sort of thing, then you know that these kinds of contracts must specify every detail. And there are massive repercussions if you miss something. It can end up costing you millions, or worse.

Look here: if your kid’s school wanted to start some new extracurricular activity, sports team, band camp, Challenger center, you’d ask questions, at least I hope you would. You’d expect the School Board to ask questions. Who’s running it? What is their training? Are they certified? By who? How much is it going to cost? Where does the money come from? If this requires travel, who’s doing the driving and what’s that guy’s qualifications? Kids staying overnight somewhere, boys and girls, and what’s the protocol here? Will the school’s insurance cover this? And so on. This is basic stuff. If you as a parent are too damned dumb to ask the questions, guaranteed somebody in the school staff is asking or you need a new school board, Administrator, and school district lawyer. And the answers to those standard questions tell you whether or not you can do it.

If you don’t ask the questions, how do you even know if you can afford the training?

I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

clip_image001[16]

Tell me, what’s in a concealed carry class?

What concealed carry class teaches you to face down an active shooter in a school full of children?

Show me that class.

clip_image001[18]


Please describe how the requirements of an Air Marshal, i.e. a trained, certified federal law enforcement officer who typically operates undercover and whose primary consideration is the safety of aircraft in the air is in anyway whatsoever similar to a civilian teacher whose primary goal is teaching and who operates as an overt authority figure in a classroom full of kids.

Note also, that an air marshal’s training was developed to very, very specific requirements and requires specific prerequisites such as a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Criminology, or similar, and requires several years experience in law enforcement before you can even apply. Were you planning on leveraging that training on a teacher’s normal education and accreditation? Well? Something tells me this person didn’t even bother to look up the requirements for Air Marshal before making the suggestion. And again, we’re talking about putting guns in the classroom with kids, you can’t just pull it out of your ass.


clip_image001[24]

Again, a pilot’s requirements to carry a weapon in the cockpit are very, very different from a teacher in the classroom.

A pilot’s primary legal responsibility is to maintain control of the aircraft. Even if it means everybody in the passenger cabin dies. It’s not to shoot it out with a terrorist in coach. A pilot carries a gun only to ensure the security of the cockpit.  Because if bad actors get control of the aircraft, all lives onboard are forfeit. The US military will shoot that plane down before it can become another weapon of mass destruction.

Now, how is that similar to a teacher’s responsibility in an active shooter situation? Does she worry that the shooter will take control of the school and fly it into a skyscraper? Or is her duty to protect her students? The priorities of these situations are completely and totally different and to suggest they aren’t displays a profound ignorance of the subject.

But he wasn’t done:


image

clip_image001[26]


I find it interesting that when I ask a simple question: who does the training? What’s the curriculum? The responses are “your hysterical rant” and “you’re a fucking idiot.”


We’ll come back to that.


The simple truth of the matter is that there is no training for arming teachers in the classroom.

We don't train soldiers for that.

We don't train cops for that.

So we're going to need special training, beyond the mechanics and theory of combat arms to include the psychology of killing a child in an active shooter situation.

Do you think you could do it?

Kill a child?

Even one pointing a gun at you? Do you really think you could do it?

Turns out a lot of people do, apparently, believe they could kill a child without hesitation. No guilt, no remorse. Like a terminator.

clip_image001[32]

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to kill a child. Depending on size of course. And color, I’m guessing, given that this is the standard “but the black kid looked big and scary for his age” excuse used every time police shoot another African American youth down in the street.


clip_image001[34]

Get a grip, killing people is easy. Killing kids, why we do it all the time. Doesn’t require any special training. It’s easy. Get a grip.

And I wonder how many of these people have actually shot another human being?

How many have taken fire themselves?

Easy, they say. Easy.

I guess that’s why the VA wards are full of PTSD cases. Because shooting people is easy.


clip_image001[36]


clip_image001[38]

This guy claimed to be a Marine.

I have little doubt he was telling the truth. He talks like a Marine. He thinks like a Marine, in terms of acceptable losses and killing the aggressor.

clip_image001[40]

Some kids are going to die. Hopefully just less, he says. Hopefully not yours, I guess.

That’s a very military mindset. A necessary one on the battlefield, the brutal reality of war, the cold equations that all commanders must face.

But is that the mindset you want in the classroom?

How many dead kids are an acceptable loss?

clip_image001[42]

So, we’ve established the minimum acceptable loss, one innocent kid per 17. What’s the maximum? Two, four, ten? I’d love to see this debated and a ratio established at your next school board meeting. I would love for the president to face the nation and tell us what the acceptable loss ratio is. How many kids are you willing to kill and still call it victory?

“If that coach had shot back and killed the shooter but accidentally killed a student so you had one victim instead of 17 you wouldn’t be good with that?”

No. Hell no. No, I wouldn’t be good with that.

Not even if it was your kid.

Your kid shouldn’t have to be sacrificed because you’re a goddamned idiot. The hell is the matter with you? We’re talking about kids here, not Marines. Up above somebody said I’d be amazed at how easy it is to kill a kid. That doesn’t amaze me. What amazes me is how willing these people are to sacrifice other people’s children.

Do you really want a teacher with a gun in your classrooms who thinks in terms of acceptable losses?

You wonder if maybe that teacher is thinking about which kids can be sacrificed and which ones can’t?

You wonder if maybe one of those sacrificial kids is yours?

Generals have to think this way.

Not teachers.


And you? Are you maybe starting to see why military training isn’t the right training in this situation?


Police very often develop a distant relationship with the public. Us and them.

Sometimes, depending on the situation, that can become a siege mentality.

Not always, and not all the time, but it’s pretty common and you don’t have to look very far to find it. Nowadays, in a lot of places, the police feel themselves under attack. They’re not wearing all that body armor for nothing you know. And even in the most benign of situations, a cop always has to be at the ready, suspicious, alert. A routine traffic stop can turn deadly without warning.  Drugs, intoxication, mental illness, domestic violence, any encounter with the public can go sideways. It makes a lot of cops paranoid – and the ones that don’t develop hyperawareness often end up dead. How many stories have you read where cops shot a suspect who was reaching to pull up his pants? A dozen? Two? Including the infamous case in Texas a few year ago where cops shot a man crawling in his hands and knees. Why? Well, because cops don’t want to get killed. In situations like that, they are hyper-alert, amped, and anything that appears a threat results in reflexive gunfire. And in a lot of cases, later, it turns out they’d shot an unarmed man. I trained with cops. I was trained in similar procedures. I taught it. But don’t take my word for it. Do the research yourself, there are a hell of a lot of studies on this subject. A lot of cops worry about it, worry about becoming paranoid and detached and shooting some poor chump who was just pulling up his britches.

And there’s no good answer, because being a cop is a damned tough and dangerous job – particularly given that much of our population is armed with military grade weaponry.

So, you’re going to have a certain degree of paranoia and detachment.

Is that the mindset you want in a classroom?

Is that really the mindset you want in a teacher? One where they must regard all children as potential threats, potential enemies, potential targets? Where they must be prepared to kill children at any moment? Imagine where that goes over the long term, that siege mentality – hell, you don’t have to imagine it, look at your increasingly militarized police departments.

Police training isn’t the right training either.

Cops are cops and teachers are teachers and they have very different outlooks, responsibilities, and priorities.

If we are to arm teachers, then we need something new. Something specifically designed for their unique requirements.

Who pays for it?

Combat arms is a perishable skill, so how often is refresher training and re-qualification mandated?

And again, who does that training? Who provides certification? Who does the background checks? Who does the psychological screening? Who decides who can and cannot carry in a school?

clip_image001[44]

Ah, our taxes pay for it.

Well, then why wouldn’t we get a say in how that training is conducted? And to what standards. And how often. If our taxes are paying for, then it’s no longer a matter of some private citizen carrying concealed on his or her own time. If our taxes pay for training teachers to carry firearms in our schools, we’re are de facto creating a whole new armed service, like the Air Marshals or Homeland Security or the National Guard. Those people answer to us via our government. You damned right I got questions.

And if our taxes aren’t paying for this training, if we make the teachers pay for it themselves, can you then mandate the specific details of the training?

These aren’t frivolous questions. Without very specific guidelines and legal controls, if you don’t ask the questions in advance, well, then the system can be abused. If taxes pay for training, what’s to keep teachers from defrauding that process for their own benefit? Flip that around, what’s to keep a liberal school board from leveraging so many requirements on training and certification that no teacher can afford to pay for it out of their own pocket?

You didn’t think of that, did you?

Don’t think any of this would happen? You haven’t been paying attention. This kind of stuff happens all the time.

If a teacher wants to be armed, but is judged by whatever authority to be unfit for whatever reason, what are legal repercussions? Can the teacher sue to change the judgement? Who is the final arbiter? Who pays for the legal challenge?


clip_image001[46]


Really? Mrs. Johnson keeps leaving her hogleg in the bathroom by accident. Mr. Smith keeps dropping his gun on the floor because he can’t afford a decent holster. You have to take them to court to prevent them from carrying in your school? And if your school can’t afford that, then what? You just let these two goofs continue to mishandle their weapons around your kids?

What if the teacher is a Muslim? A Black Panther who has expressed what his white neighbors consider anti-American sentiment? But he’s an upstanding citizen with an excellent record and he’s got a concealed carry permit and he’s passed all the classes … but the authorizing agency turns him down for his skin color or religion or because he took a knee during the Anthem? Don’t think it will happen? It will. And then what?

How do you control who can and cannot carry in your schools fairly, without that process being abused or corrupted?

You tell me that’s easy. Great. Let’s see your plan. The one approved by your school district lawyers.

What’s that? You don’t have one?

No, of course you don’t.

Who do these "specially trained people" answer to in an active shooter situation?

Is the principal also the commanding general? Or is the school police officer now part of the chain of command? What's their training to direct a tactical response by amateurs in such a situation?

What's the doctrine for armed teachers in an active shooter situation?

Remain in their classrooms? Take to the halls to conduct sweep and clearing operations? Are they trained to work together? Or are they Lone Wolf McQuade?

You have to have a plan before the shooting starts



clip_image001[48]

You see it?

The assumptions.

Well, of course, there will be a chain of command!  These people will train together, he says confidently, and know who to answer to and what to do. And that person, whoever it is, will be qualified to command. Of course they will. Specially trained by … somebody. To some vague undefined standard. With your kids lives in the balance. Hoorah!

You ever wonder why the military is structured the way it is? Why there are officers and enlisted? You ever wonder at the reason for an officer’s commission? The legalities of it? Why officers and enlisted swear the same oath with one crucial difference? Do you even know what that difference is and why it exists? It’s about legal authority, about legal responsibility, about legal accountability. The military chain of command has very, very specific authority, responsibility, and accountability under a special set of laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Failure, dereliction of duty, abuse, incompetence, all have strict legal penalties.

Cops have something similar, though they answer to civilian law.

So, this chain of command for teachers, the one that can order and direct deadly force, what legal authority is that based on? What are the limits of that authority? What are the responsibilities? Who is accountable?

This guy, the one in the tweet above, he claims to have been a Marine. If true, it would have to have been a fairly junior one. A rank that never had to worry about ordering men to their death, ordering them to kill. His job was to point and shoot, kill on command without concern, to do and die and never wonder why.


Is that what you want in a teacher?


How do you insure the school?

Because you going to have to insure the school.

Are the specially trained people personally liable for their fire? If they hit an innocent kid, if they kill an innocent kid or cripple a child for life? Or is the school responsible?

Can the armed teacher be held responsible for failure to stop an active shooter? You can certainly be held accountable for failure to stop an aggressor in the military. You can be as a police officer too. So, what about teachers? If the teacher was "highly trained" but failed to stop the shooter, when the grieving parents sue, will the school hang the teacher out to dry? If the teacher was outside, like that cop in Florida, and didn’t go back in after the shooter, are they accountable? Particularly if we paid for their training?

Beyond accountability, how do you insure the liability here?

No. Don’t roll your eyes. My wife was an administrator for one of the largest school districts in America. She dealt with this stuff every day. So I asked her. School insurance is complicated, extremely so. And very expensive. And required by law. And there are only a handful of companies in the US that provide this type of coverage. And some of them have already announced they won’t insure schools that allow teachers to be armed. So what’s your plan in this case?

You can’t just put it off. You can’t just dismiss the question. You have to answer it. How do you insure your schools?

The Marine again:

clip_image001[50]


I’m not an insurance expert, but I’m fairly sure you shouldn’t bring up words like “crossfire,” “shooting stance,” and “shoot into the crowd” when your administrators are negotiating next year’s contract with the insurance company.

Also, you should avoid terms like “common sense” as a risk mitigation plan, unless you want to get laughed out of the room.


clip_image001[54]

clip_image001[56]

 clip_image001[52]

I’ve taught firearms to military and civilians for 30 years.

Common sense ain’t all that common, Folks.

If it was, we wouldn’t have to have this conversation in the first place.

If common sense was common, none of these school shooters would have access to a gun.

If common sense was common, insurance would cost a whole lot less and we wouldn’t need nearly as much of it.

If common sense was common, we wouldn’t have 30,000 gun related deaths every single year.

Depending on common sense is just about as useful as offering up “thoughts and prayers” after another mass murder.

What weapons?

It makes a difference, you know. Larger, high velocity rounds can penetrate body armor, but also walls, doors, etc., meaning increased chance of collateral damage in a building full of children.

clip_image001[68]

If you don’t mandate what can and cannot be carried, it won’t be long for someone takes advantage of your lack of direction. When Mrs. Jones shows up with an ACR Enhanced-Carbine Bushmaster Coyote in a tactical sling it’s going to be too late. And don’t think it won’t happen.

You’re going to have to address basic gun handling rules, like any other agency that allows weapons – only you are doing so in the middle of a couple hundred kids. It’s one thing for a cop to leave his service piece in his desk drawer when he goes to the can, it’s something else entirely when a teacher does it in a room full of kids.

So, you’re going to have to address basic weapons protocols, carry, storage, condition, type, acceptable ammunition, etc. You’re going to have to provide penalties for failure to adhere. You state’s general carry laws are very likely insufficient for this.

Failure to address this will result in disaster.

There’s no learning curve here. You have to get it right first time, every time.

Or kids will die.

How do the cops know who the licensed and qualified "specially trained people" are?

No. No, don't roll your eyes. Answer the goddamned question. How do the cops know who the bad guy is in this situation? Show your work. Be specific.

clip_image001[58]

clip_image001[60]


More items to be controlled along with the teacher’s gun.

Because if they get into the hands of the shooter, well, then what?

So, you’re going to have to pay for all this stuff, and a secure place to store it. And training on how to use it. And periodic familiarization with the police, so they don’t shoot you.

You going to have to change this stuff periodically, the same way TSA changes up their random security measures each day, to prevent the bad guys from learning your codes and procedures. And you’re going to have to coordinate that. And make absolutely certain, every day, that everybody with a gun gets the new procedures, new identifiers, new codes.

And you’re going to have to get it right, every time.

Or kids will die. Teachers will die. Cops will die.

And tell me, what if the teacher you issued all this stuff to and let carry a gun into your school is the shooter? What’s the protocol then?

clip_image001[62]

What’s the actual problem with turning teachers into soldiers and schools into warzones?

What’s the problem?


If you can’t figure that part out for yourself, well, then the odds are pretty high that you’re the problem.


Naturally, a number of people responded to my comments on Twitter with last week’s shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland, where a 17-year-old kid took his father’s handgun to school. He shot his ex-girl friend and another student (apparently by accident). The kid was then shot and killed by the school resource officer.

A rather large number of people seem to think that somehow answered my questions.

clip_image001[64]

An armed school officer.

Yeah, that’s right. The shooter, a kid, was shot by St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill. An experienced cop, not a teacher. This was his primary job.  And that kid was armed with a pistol, not a military grade semi-automatic rifle. And Maryland doesn’t answer my questions at all.

clip_image001[66]

A 17-year-old kid is dead. Killed by a cop. Two more children are wounded.

Update: And as I wrote this, the parents of the young girl shot at Great Mills decided to take her off life support. And thus the shooter achieved his goal, he took her life and his too.

If you think that’s a win, again, you’re part of the problem.


There should be no acceptable losses when it comes to our kids. None.


Look here: I never said there shouldn’t be armed guards, armed police, trained officers, protecting our schools.

As a matter of fact, I never said teachers shouldn’t be armed.

clip_image001[70]

I asked some very basic questions. Questions any competent professional should be asking.  Questions every school administrator, school board, district lawyer, and parent should be asking.

If you want to put more guns, carried by amateurs, into a building packed full of children, then I don't think I'm being unreasonable here.

When the president says "highly trained expert teachers," we must all demand to know exactly what that means. In detail.

But nothing in my comments was pro- or anti- with regards to arming teachers.

I didn’t rant against guns.

And I never, not once, said arming teachers was a bad idea.

But here’s the funny thing, right here:

clip_image001[72]

clip_image001[74]

A veteran, meaning me, thinks it’s a bad idea.

That’s what they said.

That’s what they all said.

Pro gun. Anti gun. Didn’t matter. When people attempted to answer my questions, they all, every single one, thousands of them, they all came to this same conclusion: Gee, Jim, you’re saying arming teachers is a bad idea.

No, I didn’t.

I didn’t say that at all.

YOU did.




Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
Part 12, Excuses, Excuses

What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity


Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 12: Excuses, Excuses


Every right has its responsibilities. Like the right itself, these responsibilities stem from no man-made law, but from the very nature of man and society. The security, progress and welfare of one group is measured finally in the security, progress and welfare of all mankind.
-- Lewis B. Schwellenbach (1894-1948), American lawyer, politician, and judge.


Headline: 17-year-old Girl Killed In Accidental Shooting at Alabama School.

How many times have you seen a similar headline?

How many? A dozen times? A hundred? A thousand times over the years?

Accidental.

An accidental shooting.

Gun advocates like to say guns don’t shoot people by themselves. Guns don’t point themselves. Guns don’t just go off and kill people by accident.

People kill people. It’s not the guns.

That’s what they tell us.

And yet, every single time something like this happens, it’s an “accident.” The gun accidentally fired. It was an accidental shooting.

Nobody is responsible, it was an accident.

An accident.

Right.

The Associated Press tweeted out their headline: Another young person killed by another accidental shooting. And someone who follows me on Twitter responded to the AP by quoting a point from my (this) Bang Bang Crazy series:


image


As @Stonekettle has so aptly put it, 'There are no accidents with guns. There. Are. No. Accidents. It's a killing machine. You're responsible. Period No exceptions.

That’s a correct quote. Those who follow me here, those who were trained in firearms and combat arms by me on the range and in the classroom, have heard me say this many times. There are no accidents with guns.

There are no accidents with guns.

Guns are killing machines. When you pick one up, you and you alone are responsible for happens next. No excuses. No exceptions.

And if you don’t understand that in your bones, then you will never be allowed on my range or at my back. Ever.

There are no accidents with guns.

Of course, it didn't take long for the first ammosexual to arrive:


image



So when someone is cleaning their rifle but they forgot to check the chamber...it goes off and kills him...that wasn't an accident?

Because they quoted me and used my Twitter handle in the exchange, I saw the conversation in my feed. So I answered Mr. Loomis.

No.

That’s what I said. Simple. Direct.

That’s not an accident. No. 

That’s negligence.

Brad’s comment isn’t a counter argument, it’s an excuse.

There are no accidents with guns.

No matter what the training, no matter whose rules, police, military, Boy Scouts, 4-H, NRA, civilian shooting range, the very first cardinal rule of safe weapons handling is this: ALWAYS ASSUME THE GUN IS LOADED AND TREAT IT AS SUCH.

Always treat a gun as if it is loaded. All subsequent gun rules depend from this basic primary rule.

No excuses. No exceptions. You always assume the gun is loaded. Always.

And thus by extension, the corollary: Assume all weapons are loaded until you yourself have personally checked and cleared the firearm. Every single time. No exceptions.

What this means is that even if I witness you unload the weapon in front of me, I will still assume that the weapon is loaded when you hand it to me – until I personally check it clear and safe myself

You check the weapon every single time you pick it up.

Every time.

Every. Single. Goddamned. Time.

Every time.

You. You personally. You’re responsible. YOU. Nobody else.

The order of the remaining rules vary depending on where you're getting your training, but they always include the following: Keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction, Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire, Keep the weapon unloaded until ready to use, Always check to ensure the weapon is in proper operating order.

"So when someone is cleaning their rifle but they forgot to check the chamber...it goes off and kills him...that wasn't an accident?"

No. It’s not an accident.

It's negligence.

We don't have a legal term for negligent suicide or manslaughter resulting in your own death, but that's what this is.

Brad's hypothetical dead man (and not so hypothetical, since this happens with alarming frequency) died specifically because he disregarded the cardinal rules of safe gun handling.

That's not an accident.

When a child finds a gun and picks it up and kills another child with it, that's not an accident.

That's negligent homicide and should be treated as such. No, not the child who found the weapon, the person who left the gun loaded, unattended, unlocked, unsecured, and accessible to a child. It’s your gun. YOU’RE responsible. YOU. Nobody else. If you leave a gun where an unauthorized person can get ahold of it, especially a child, then you are responsible for what happens after that. And you should be tried for negligent homicide and child endangerment and sent to prison and never, ever, under any circumstances be allowed to handle firearms again.

There are no accidents with guns.

You are responsible, no exceptions.

Now, I know what you’re going to say: it is possible for a weapon to malfunction and fire inadvertently.

It is possible. Yes. No matter how careful you are, for unforeseen things to happen. Sure, your hunting dog knocks over your rifle that you leaned up against a tree while taking a piss.

You drop your loaded pistol while pulling it out of the holster to unload it.

You can throw "what abouts" at me all day. But if you follow the rules of safe gun handling, then an inadvertent discharge only sends the bullet in a safe direction. Your dog knocked over your weapon, but because you'd cleared the chamber and took the gun out of battery before setting it down, all that happened was your scope got knocked out of alignment. Because you maintain your weapon in good operating condition and keep the safeties engaged when holstered, dropping the weapon onto concrete did nothing more than scratch the finish. And so on.

Calling negligence an accident is an excuse.

It's an excuse gun nuts like Brad use to dismiss responsibility and nothing more.


Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
-- John F. Kennedy


If you have any doubt about what I'm saying, when confronted with his nonsense, like all gun nuts, Brad moved the goalposts rather than accept responsibility:


image


Yet hammers kill more people annually...you all are a special kind of dense.

Ignoring that last bit where Brad quotes some Old West hanging judge as if he was pronouncing an execution, this a standard NRA canard. A standard response used to dismiss responsibility. Hammers kill more people than guns.

No they don’t.

This is easily proven wrong. And not just wrong, but pitifully wrong. Massively wrong. Utterly wrong. The FBI maintains data on violent deaths by cause. In 2013, for example, 8,454 Americans were murdered by firearms. Four hundred and twenty-eight were murdered by blunt objects (including hammers). You can look at statistics for other years, it’s about the same ratio. 8,454 to 428. About 20 to 1. Roughly twenty people are murdered with a gun for every person murdered by blunt force trauma.

When confronted with that fact, Brad predictably again attempted to avoid taking responsibility for his own statement, for his own obviously wrong information, for his own argument:


clip_image001[7]


Yeah, late and you all jump because I misspoke. Now...if we just banned abortion in cases not involving rape, incest, or if the mothers life is in imminent danger, we would be saving way more lives than guns in total take…

Of course.

The go-to trump card of the pro-gun, pro-life fanatic.

Abortion, ha HA!

He tried to shift the argument to some controversial subject, figuring everyone would jump into that screaming match and just forget all about his nonsensical statements. He helpfully included a graph showing more murders are committed with knives than "assault weapons." Your basic non sequitur logical fallacy.

This is what happens when you use NRA talking points and shallow arguments traded among gun nuts instead of actually understanding the subject in any depth.

He tried to move the goalposts.

He tried to change the subject by diverting the conversation into a kneejerk shitfight over abortion or the definition of "assault weapons" or anything but taking responsibility for his own statements, his own actions, his own ideology.

But what he’s really doing here is literally attempting to excuse willful violation of every primary rule of safe gun handling resulting in death. And he’s trying to do that by dismissing it as an "accident."

This is why gun "accidents" continue to happen.

This guy, this reasoning, this dismissal of responsibility, right here.

I would not allow this guy on my range. Ever.

I would not allow this guy to handle a firearm anywhere near me or mine. Ever.

He’s not willing to accept responsibility for his own words, how could he accept responsibility for a gun?


You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
-- Jim Rohn (1930-2009), writer, speaker, entrepreneur.


Brad was (heh heh) hammered for hours by my Twitter followers.

He tried insults.

He tried moving the goalposts.

He tried playing the martyr.

He tried playing the victim.

He tried playing the patriot.

He tried everything except for taking responsibility.

In the end, he couldn't shoot his way out of the corner he'd painted himself into and he didn't have the moral courage to admit he was wrong, and so he retreated and locked his account. That way he didn't have to face his own bullshit, he didn't have to admit his errors, and he could again avoid responsibility.

Why Brad?

Why pick on Brad Loomis, pro-golfer, regular Joe, gun advocate?

Because Brad chose to make an example of himself.

Because Brad is a metaphor for a larger problem. Because, in thumbnail, this is the entire problem with guns in America.

This, right here, is the entire problem with the Second Amendment.

The utter failure to take responsibility.

And that, my friends, is no accident.

That’s negligence on a national scale.


You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
-- Abraham Lincoln



Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence


The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush

What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity


Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.