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Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Seven Stages of Gun Violence

 

It’s been two years since I first wrote this on the day after a madman stepped into a darkened movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and started killing people.  Since then more than ten thousand Americans have died from gun violence, three times more than died on September 11th, 2001, more than all the military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have been so many mass shootings between the day I wrote this and now that I’ve lost track, one killing blurs into another and the bloody rampages seem to be our new national pass time.

I got a lot of email regarding this post. 

And a lot of people told me I was wrong.

I’ve updated the text and moved the essay forward in the Stonekettle Station timeline. 

I left the original comments intact.  But because those comments primarily address the Aurora Massacre (e.g. the original impetus for this essay) I’ve added a demarking comment. New comments will appear after that. The line of demarcation should be obvious  //Jim


 

It is easier for a crazy person to get an automatic weapon than healthcare in America.
                                            - Shannyn Moore, Moore Up North

 

 

So, America, déjà Vu.

Here we are yet again.

Another mass killing.

Another hellish scene of smoke and blood and murder.

Another day of death and pain, panic and terror.

September 1999, Fort Worth, Texas, a gunman killed six people during a prayer service, then he committed suicide. October 2002, it was the Washington DC Sniper, ten dead. August 2003, Chicago, a gunman locked six of his former coworkers in a conference room and shot them dead, then he killed himself.  November 2004, Birchwood, Wisconsin, a hunter got into an argument with a group of sportsmen over a trespassing issue, the hunter ended the argument by killing six and wounding two. March 2005, Brookfield, Wisconsin, a man walked into a church and shot seven people dead, praise the Lord. October 2006, Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, a disgruntled truck driver shot five Amish schoolgirls to death and wounded six others before taking his own life. April 2007, Virginia Tech, an angry former student set a record with the deadliest mass shooting in the US in recent years, he killed thirty-two people and wounded fifteen others. Go Team. August 2007, Delaware State University, three students were shot and killed execution style by a 28-year-old and two 15-year-old boys. A fourth student was shot and stabbed. And a month later, September 2007, on the same campus, a student shot and wounded two other students in a dining hall. December 2007, Omaha, Nebraska, a 20-year-old man killed nine people and wounded five others in a shopping mall.  A few days later,  on Christmas Eve, a woman and her boyfriend gunned down six members of her family in their house in Carnation, Washington. February 2008, Chicago, a gunman tied up and shot six women at a clothing store, five of them died. The gunman was never caught. February 2008, DeKalb, Illinois, a man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University. He killed five students and wounded sixteen others. July 2008, Phoenix, Arizona, a former student shot three people in a computer lab at South Mountain Community College.  September 2008, Alger, Washington, a mentally ill man who was released from jail one month earlier shot eight people, six died. October 2008, University of Central Arkansas, gunmen shooting from a car in front of a student dormitory killed two students and wounded a third.  December 2008, Covina, California, a man dressed up like Santa Claus killed nine people at a family Christmas party, then he set the house on fire and shot himself. March 2009, Alabama, a 28-year-old drove through several towns randomly shooting people, he managed to kill ten. March 2009, North Carolina, a heavily-armed gunman stormed into a nursing home and killed eight elderly residents and wounded two more before police killed him. The object of his murderous rage, his estranged wife, was a nurse at the facility –  she escaped unharmed by hiding in the locked Alzheimer ward.  March 2009, Santa Clara, California, six people were shot dead in an apartment building. April 2009, Virginia, an 18-year-old former student followed a pizza deliveryman into his old dormitory, and shot the deliveryman, a dorm monitor, and then himself at Hampton University. April 2009, Binghamton, New York, a man shot thirteen people to death in a bloody rampage at the town civic center. July 2009, Houston, Texas, six people were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University. November 2009, Fort Hood, Texas, a U.S. army major opened  fire on his fellows in the middle of a crowded soldier processing center filled with troops preparing for deployment, he killed thirteen and wounded forty-two. February 2010, Alabama, a disgruntled professor opened fire during a staff meeting of the Biological Sciences Department faculty. She killed three and wounded three more. January 2011, Tucson, Arizona, a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery store, he killed six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounded twelve more including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head.  July 2012, Aurora, Colorado, a masked gunman storms into a packed movie theater and starts shooting, he killed twelve and wounded fifty-eight more. August 2012, Oak Creek, Wisconsin again,  a gunman kills six people at Sikh temple before being shot dead by police. September 2012, Minneapolis, a gunman kills six including himself and wounds five more inside a small sign company. December 2012, Newtown, Connecticut,  a 20-year old gunman with mental problems killed his mother and then shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School and started killing people. He killed twenty small children and six adults and then shot himself.  February 2013, a former Navy officer and Los Angeles policeman declared war on the LAPD, over a period of nine days he killed four people including three police officers and wounded three more before eventually committing suicide by cop.  March 2013, Herkimer, upstate New York, a 64-year old man lit his apartment on fire, then coolly walked into a local barber shop and started shooting. He killed two and wounded two more. Then he drove to another business and killed two more.  He killed a police dog and was subsequently gunned down by the canine’s human partners. June 2013, Santa Monica, California, a 23-year old man went on a killing spree that left six people dead and four wounded and ended when he was shot dead by police inside the Santa Monica College Library.  July 2013, Hialeah, Florida, a man living with his mother lit their apartment on fire and then went on a rampage throughout the living complex, he killed seven before police returned the favor.  Twelve more dead at the Washington Navy Yard.  Another murdered standing watching on a pier in Norfolk.

And now, four more dead, including the shooter, again on Fort Hood, Texas.

Another massacre and bereft families grieving with loss and concern, a nation left shaken with shock and outrage, left wondering why? How?

Another murderous bastard with a gun in his hand and a score to settle.

Yet another bloody horror. 

And it’s a horror that has become all too common here in America. 

It’s a horror that while it still shocks and appalls us, it is no longer a surprise

The fabled gun battles of the American Old West have nothing on the modern slaughter. Gun fuelled mass murder isn’t the exception any longer, it’s as common and as American as, well, apple pie and happens on average about once a month.

What’s that, you say? Oh yes, another grinning nut with a stupid haircut and a personal arsenal killed some people? Tsk tsk terrible isn’t it? Did they catch him this time, did he kill himself, or did the police shoot him down like the dog he was? People say he was a nice guy, quiet, kept to himself, kind of odd but, man, didn’t see this coming, no Sir.  Here’s a picture of him smiling like a crazy guy, look at those eyes, they’re crazy eyes, anybody could tell he was going to snap. He probably tortured small animals and has his grandmother’s head in the freezer. It’s the parents’ fault you know, for not raising him right.  It’s the atheists’ fault for taking Jesus out of the schools. It’s the doctors, why don’t they get crazy people off the street? It’s the goddamned police, they’re never around when you need them. It’s the government. He’s probably a veteran, you know, those guys are all on the edge.  Guns don’t kill people, you know, no Sir, they don’t. In fact a good guy with a gun is the only … Oops, gotta go, Dancing with the Stars is on.

And now? Well, now we Americans will go through the same old oh so utterly predictable dance. 

 

Stage One, Confusion:

Mass killings are still big news. I have no idea how much longer this will be so, Americans quickly grow bored with sequels. Unless the next act of mass murder is done by a guy in a Bruce Willis costume shooting a chain-gun from the back of a crashing stealth fighter in the middle of Times Square, I suspect that eventually we’ll just stop watching. 

Some guy went bonkers and killed a bunch of people? Yawn, I’ve seen worse.

However, for now, mass murder is still the number one news show money maker, guaranteed to pull in a Forty-share.

Problem is, there’s just not enough actual information about the event to fill up the airwaves.

Nobody really knows anything. 

But Americans aren’t interested in facts and they’re for damned sure not interested in waiting.

Americans want their news the same way they want their food, they don’t care if it’s good for them or not so long as it’s quick and it comes in SuperSize.  

So, over the next few days, until America loses interest, the news outlets will each issue at least three versions of the story, all different, all mutually contradictory. Accuracy doesn’t matter, being first is what matters.

And besides, it’s not like those first false reports and poor reporting will be wasted, the conspiracy nuts will print those out and tape them up on their bulletin boards right next to pictures of that grassy knoll and WTC #7. False Flag! False Flag! They’ll shout gleefully and manufacture their own false information fresh from their fevered imaginations and within days the airwaves and the internet will be filled with their wild speculation.

You’ll get interviews with at least four witnesses who didn’t actually see anything, including at least one middle-aged hypochondriac who wasn’t actually there on the day of the massacre but once, way back when, happened to be in the same building, and so had to be hospitalized because she was so traumatized by the close call.

You’ll get interviews with at last three professional victims who weren’t there but were near similar events and whose stories are now somehow relevant.

You’ll get earnest opinions from two experts in fields completely unrelated to anything that actually transpired, and CNN will interview at least one former non-combatant Air Force Major who was stationed in Nevada during the Iraq invasion and now teaches law at a small Women’s college on the East Coast.

Eventually, each news outlet will trot out their one remaining gray haired genuine distinguished Newsman, and in dour solemn tones he’ll ponderously opine on the miserable state of journalism in this modern age – then he’ll condemn all the other stations for getting it wrong.

 

Stage Two, Speculation:

Since there isn’t any real information and by the time there actually is America will have completely lost interest, the important thing is to fill up the media channels with something.

The talking heads and paid conspiracy mongers will wax fat and feculent, they’ll condemn the president and talk about false flag operations, hiding their sly grins behind their plastic outrage while the money rolls in.

News anchors, talk shows, bloggers, pundits, and the endless ill-informed mouth-breathing Yahoo commenter will each and all put forward their opinion:

- The shooter is a liberal. It’s all part of a plot by the America-hating tree-hugging, New World Order to make peaceful, patriotic gun owners look bad, then the government will send Interpol in their sissy blue UN uniforms to take away our guns. Oh noes! To the bunkers!

- The shooter is a Muslim. Of course he is. You just can’t trust those people. They hate America. He probably thinks he’ll get forty virgins in Paradise for every American he killed. We should kill all the Muslims.

- The shooter is a member of the NRA. He’s a gun nut. Those guys are all crazy with their gun shows and gun magazines and gun clubs and guns. We should outlaw the NRA.

- The shooter is a member of the Tea Party. The shooter is a member of the Occupy Movement. Sure. They hate everybody and they can’t wait to start killing us all and tearing down America.

- The shooter was just fed up. He was an Illegal alien. He was a member of Al Qaida. He was a Jew. He was abused as a child, born again, gay.

By the time the sad truth comes out, if it ever does, that he was just another nut listening to the voices only he could hear, nobody will care. The only thing Americans will remember is that he is yet another sterling example of whatever political point they’re trying to make at that particular moment.

 

Stage Three, Comparison:

Speaking of furthering particular agendas:

The conservative channels will start running footage of Columbine, Fort Hood, and Waco. The liberal channels will start running footage of the Giffords shooting and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.  None of those incidents really has much to do with the current horror, but they are images of bodies and blood and bullets and that’s what counts when you’re explaining how this event is what happens when the End Times are nigh or civilization is on the brink of collapse.

It’s important to associate this mass murder with other horrible events in order to shape public perception in the proper manner regardless of the fact that there is little connection or comparison to be had.

All channels will talk about Bath Salts and Reefer Madness and the unpredictable side effects of depression medication. There’s no indication as yet that the shooter was taking drugs, but then again there isn’t any indication that he wasn’t either.

And, of course, there’s the PTSD and, you know, we should expect more of this kind of thing as veterans start to come unscrewed. Especially if they were bullied as children. Or abused. Or into comic books, or video games, or porn. And, well, even if the guy had nothing to do with the military, it’s important to stress that returning veterans are murderously unstable and something should be done.

The simple truth of the matter is that you don’t walk into a crowd and start shooting people unless you’re, at least to some degree, nuts. But that’s just not enough for us, is it?

They can’t just be nuts, or rather they can be, nuts, but it has to mean something. Somehow. Even though the shooter might be completely insane, America will still demand a sane, rational, understandable reason for their behavior.

Which naturally will lead to endless arguments regarding the sorry state of mental health in this country.

Which, of course, will almost immediately devolve into a debate on Obamacare.

 

However, all of this, Steps One through Three are just the warm up act. Next we get to the main event:

Stage Four, Blame:

Let’s blame Hollywood. Violent movies and violent video games and rock and roll music. That’s what it is.

Let’s blame the families. It’s bad parenting, this guy’s folks should have their asses kicked for raising a psychopath.  But since we can’t do that, we'll punish the shooter’s family by having every single news agency in the world camp out on his mother’s front porch, and we’ll ask her important questions such as “what are you feeling right now?”

Let’s blame the Liberals with their liberalism, their political correctness, their communist Nazism, their coddling of criminals, their gun control and the gay agenda.

Let’s blame the Conservatives with their conservatism, their guns and their bibles and their callous disregard of the human condition. It’s their fault, of course it is.

Let’s blame it on the Me Generation, these selfish little bastards, always with their hands out, me me me. It’s social media, it’s Twitter and Facebook and those self centered bloggers looking for attention.

Let’s blame the Muslims and the godless goat humping atheists and Fast & Furious and bad teachers and Benghazi and Obama and the secret manipulations of the Illuminati.

The politicians and their supporters will all, each and every one, gleefully make hay. Oh they’ll all, each and every one, wax poetic over the dead (with the exception of certain predictable talk radio pundits who’ll insinuate that the dead had it coming for being unprepared and unarmed and ungodly), and they’ll even wipe away sorrowful bitter tears and pause for a moment in patriotic remembrance with their hands over their flinty black hearts with the flags waving and crackling in the cold breeze at just the right camera angle, and they’ll condemn the other guy for politicizing the tragedy, and then they will make just as much political hay out of this as they can because somebody is damned well to blame for this mess.  And it sure isn’t going to be them, no sir, it’s the other guy and his un-American agenda.

Somebody is responsible.

Oh sure, the shooter might have pulled the trigger, he might have planned it all and bought the guns and built the bombs and put on the body armor, but somebody else is to blame. 


Stage Five, Bang Bang Crazy:

And so, once again, inevitably, we circle around the wheel to the perennial American argument: 

Guns don’t kill people, crazy people with guns kill people who don’t have guns.

Therefore, we should ban all guns!

No, wait, if we ban all guns then only people with guns will have guns so they’ll kill the people who don’t have the guns and then there will only be people with guns left and then they’ll kill each other because if you ban guns only people with guns will be criminals and when the government comes to get our guns only the criminals will be free because liberty equals guns! Also what about bears?

OK, then we should give everybody guns!

But if everybody has guns then even criminals will have guns and brown people and yellow people and illegal people and crazy people who don’t love Jesus will have guns and they will break into our houses to steal our guns and rape our women and eat our babies and take our liberty so then police and the military will need bigger guns to keep us safe from those people but then we’ll need even bigger guns because otherwise we won’t be safe from the cops who will use their guns to take our freedom!

OK, well then how about a reasonable common sense compromise?

We all agree that as Americans it’s our basic right to keep and own firearms. But also, some people really, really shouldn’t be allowed to own even a Nerf slingshot, let alone a machine that can punch a couple hundred fist sized holes in a room full of people in under a minute. How about we maybe talk about some kind of reasonable way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and crazy people?

What! Communist! Nazi! How dare you? Second Amendment! Second Amendment! Every red-blooded true blue American has the God given right to own a fully automatic meat-grinding bone-shattering blood-spattering high capacity killing machine if they want to, the Founding Fathers said so! USA! USA! Dead kids? Mass murder? Blood in the streets? That’s the price you pay for freeeeeeeeedom! Besides if there had only been one, just one, god fearing patriot with his own concealed meat-grinding bone-shattering blood-spattering high-capacity peacemaker there at that massacre, why he’d have stood up in his genuine American made American Flag Shirt of Patriotic American By God Freedom and fired up his laser-sight and he would have put that animal down right goshdarned there! Remember, when seconds count the police are only minutes away and idiotic empty NRA platitudes have saved more lives than Charlton Heston did in all those bible movies. Booyah, Baby, give me a Glock Nine and an extended mag any day. Also, we need more Jesus.

 

Stage Six, Acceptance:

By the time it’s determined that the shooter was just plain nuts and his bloody motivation was just plain incomprehensible to sane reasonable people, most Americans will have long since changed the channel and forgotten about it.

Meanwhile Congress, ever eager to do something, will yet again stage a mock vote to defund healthcare in America because they are completely unable to do anything that actually matters other than squabble amongst themselves like spoiled petulant children.

Nothing will be done about the real problem because nothing can be done.

That’s the price you pay for freeeeeeeeeeedom: crazy people with guns.

 


Besides, it probably won’t happen again.



Stage Seven: Déjà Vu:

See Step One.

 

 


Afterword:

Nothing, and I mean nothing not even religion or abortion, generates the hate mail that any article on guns does.

As I’ve said here many, many, many times, and will obviously have to say many, many, many more times: I’ve spent my entire life around weapons, all kinds of weapons – some of which you can’t even imagine. I started shooting when I was about four or so. I got my first deer at 14 and I still own the rifle I shot it with. I helped design, field, and test weapons and I used them for real in the combat zone. I likely know more about weapons and their use than any other ten people you’re likely to come across. I wrote US military war fighting doctrine regarding certain weapon systems. I own guns, all kinds. I’m rated an expert shot with either hand.  I teach guns. I’ve taught guns for nearly 30 years now, I am a professional Rangemaster trained by Smith&Wesson. I used to shoot professionally, I trained with law enforcement and military instructors. I spent my entire life in the military, in warzones around the world. I have a Concealed Carry Permit and I used to have an FFL (I got tired of paying the annual fee, so I let it lapse).

I know something about guns.

I’ll tell you something: the ignorant, illiterate, and cognitively challenged NRA nuts who troll this site every time I post something about guns are the very last people I would allow on my range or allow to handle weapons anywhere near me or mine. If you’re taking orders from Ted Nugent, you are fucking insane. These people are every bit as insane as the murderous lunatics described in the text above who thought that guns were a solution for their own personal inadequacies.

These people have taken the Second Amendment and perverted it all out of recognition.

However, for the record, the post above does not, repeat does not, advocate for or against any additional laws, regulations, bans, or any other form of gun control.

What I actually said was that all the arguments were oh so tediously predictable. 

What I said was the usual folks would call for gun control.

What I said was then in response the usual folks would scream about Nazis and fascism and explain why nothing ever can work and how dead kids are just the price you pay for freedom.

What I said was that nothing, absolutely nothing, will change. The slaughter will continue. The argument will continue. And nothing will change because we will not let it change, we would rather die than allow a reasoned conversation to take place, let alone any action of any kind.

What I said was that we can’t even have the conversation.

And that is exactly what is happening, because that’s what always happens. Every. Single. Time.

Both sides are perfectly convinced that they are right. That’s it and that’s all. Period. No compromise. No no no. End of discussion and fuck you, Liberals. No, fuck you, Conservatives. 

You cannot reason with unreasonable people and the people on both sides of this ongoing monkey shitfest are profoundly unreasonable people.

People called me a cynic.

They said I was wrong.

But it’s been more than two years since I wrote the original version of this essay. How many mass murders have happened in that time? How many Americans have died in front of a gun muzzle?

And nothing, not one goddamned thing, has changed.

I think I’m entitled to say I told you so.

 

 


The follow-up series, Bang Bang Crazy, explores certain aspects of the insanity that is the American obsession with guns in more detail.

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

185 comments:

  1. "The reasons for the terrible events in Colorado are clear - theaters, seeking profits over safety, have installed seats too small for people to sit comfortably while carrying the handguns that are their constitutional right. We call on the American people to demand wider theater seats, so that families can enjoy feature films while fully armed and protected by ballistic vests and gas masks. It is the only possible response to this terrible tragedy."

    - the NRA, any minute now

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's ridiculous. The seats are fine. I have plenty of room for my concealed-carry weapon(s). They're very comfortable.

      Delete
    2. Yes, it was only ridiculous because the seats are fine. It wasn't a ridiculous comment for any other reason. Good catch.

      Delete
    3. Yes... It's ridiculous only because the seats are fine. It wasn't a totally ridiculous premise in the first place. Good catch sparky.

      Delete
    4. "Weapon(s)"
      Of course, carrying one semi-auto is never enough. Have to have a second back-up. Have you thought about a third? Back-up for the back-up?

      Delete
    5. If we could get wider theatre seats in the deal, I might even sign on to this one.

      Delete
  2. As usual. Spot on

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm taking down my Facebook post and sharing yours instead, because you just said it so much better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm taking down my Facebook post and sharing yours instead, because you just said it so much better.

    ReplyDelete
  5. As I've said before, please, Dear Grue, unless you have actual combat shooter training, don't attempt to shoot the bastard because more than likely you'll end up shooting me in the ass as I run away screaming like a little girl.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This deserves, no, requires sharing everywhere. I'm posting on Facebook. Thanks in advance for permission.

    This was spot on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have at it. All of my posted are typically posted via links from my facebook and twitter accounts, you're more than welcome to friend and follow if you like, makes it easier to share.

      Delete
  7. >James Holmes walked into to a packed Colorado theater, apparently through an unlocked emergency entrance

    FYI, according to one media account I read (so, no guarantee of accuracy), he bought his ticket, walked into the theatre, left through the emergency exit but somehow chocked* it, went to car, geared up, then re-entered through the exit he had left through and chocked (* method unspecified.)

    And coddling has two D's.

    That said,

    Jesus, Jim.

    Well written, Chief Warrant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Codling: A baby cod. Liberals and their codlings. That's totally what I meant.

      It's fixed

      Delete
    2. Ooh, beer-batterd, fried codling, with proper fresh made tartar sauce, and chips with malt vinegar.....

      Delete
  8. Fan-boy. That's what Holmes is. A copycat. Told cops (I read earlier) that he was The Joker from the earlier Batman movie, and that his apartment was booby-trapped. Copied the film's weapons and style.

    Now many fans do eccentric things like dress like stormtroopers or Manga girls or whatever. Some fans like Civil War re-enactment. They have guns, too, unlike Star Wars fans. But they're not loaded to kill.

    Something went very wrong with this particular fan-boy, to want to re-enact a Batman scene, and to start shooting during a bang-bang scene of the film, so that people were slow to react. A very intelligent person planned all this to the last detail. But he isn't speaking for anyone but himself.

    Without a criminal or psychiatric record (I'm guessing here) there would have been no viable way to stop him from buying weapons. So that leaves this question: How can we stop this without stepping on the rights of a great many other citizens?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How can we stop this without stepping on the rights of a great many other citizens?

      And that is a very good question indeed.

      The problem is that we can't even have a rational discussion how we might answer that question.

      The NRA and the gun lobby are already geared up and ready for a fight and there isn't going to be any, repeat any, encroachment on gun rights, period.

      Americans are bang bang crazy when it comes to guns.

      Understand something here, I'm a gun owner. I've had extensive training and experience with guns of all kinds, from small arms right on up to US Navy Main Guns. I've taught small arms for more than twenty years. I've used guns against other human beings. Likely I have more direct experience with guns than anybody you're likely to meet, I'm a strong advocate for the 2nd Amendment - and I firmly believe that we need some kind of rational gun control in this country. But guns and rational aren't concepts that go together in America. Period. And, as I said in the article, so it goes. Cynical? Perhaps, but please show me where I'm wrong.

      Delete
    2. 1) A fully-funded and widely available mental healthcare system that can identify, evaluate and treat people like this before their cheese slides completely off their cracker.

      2) Firearms codes that require checks and safeties and provide for the prosecution of gun sellers who can't be arsed to use them before supplying a nutbag with his own private arsenal.

      3) A national training and licensing system similar to the way we train and license people to drive motor vehicles (and for the same reasons).

      4) A return to the use of reason, science and common sense in the handling of such issues instead of allowing the paranoid to control the discussion.

      What can I say? I grew up in Texas. I'm a liberal. I'm a gun owner. Crazy people with unfettered access to guns and ammo scare the piss out of me.

      Delete
    3. Andra, In reference to 1): I wish it could be possible to catch 'em all before they get to this point. I have a lot of wishes, and like most of them, I'm afraid we do not yet have the technology.

      Even fully funded, we don't know enough about the mind. I'm not saying we should just give up, but don't expect it any time soon.

      The rest of your list, I think we do have the technology, if only we had the infrastructure, (if that's the right word.) I'd vote for it if possible, just need to get it on the ballot. I agree with Jim, too many people are just too crazy when it comes to guns. But I agree that I'd like to be able to have a rational discussion about it.

      Delete
    4. We do have gun control in the US, but most people for some odd reason don't know that we do. My husband is a licensed gunsmith and firearms dealer, and before we sell a gun to somebody we have to do background checks. Every state is different, but even here in gun-loving Montana we have laws to prevent somebody from walking in and buying an entire arsenal. If we even think somebody is a little weird, we don't have to sell them a gun. If the ATF finds out we've sold a gun to someone that failed a background check or bought more than 2 guns in a week, we can get in some seriously deep doo-doo. We also have to keep records of every single gun that comes in. There's not much more you can do until some sort of mental health database is created, and even then, this guy was 24. The likelihood he'd been hospitalized or even received psychiatric medication is low, given that most serious mental illness doesn't manifest until your 20's. Sometimes bad things happen. Making more laws won't protect you.

      Delete
    5. Andra Barrow.. . Right on!

      Tiffany... people buy guns at gun shows, and on the internet, people can sell privately and don't have background checks. Isn't it only gun shops that require some sort of background check, and how long does that take, how long before they can buy a gun to take home? There is NO reason for people to have automatic combat style guns, large magazines, or massive amounts of ammo. Stop those guns that are clearly designed to kill people and do so quickly, hunting guns are a different matter. I suspect that unless someone has committed a crime due to their MI's, then there medical records are confidential. It isn't only people with diagnostically significant MI's that are mass shooting or committing any crime. Yes, they will stick a label on him, but post crime labels, don't stop them buying guns in the first place.

      Delete
    6. Kimm,

      Your questions are impossible to answer as laws change state to state. In Montana, you cannot sell a gun through the mail except to a licenced gun dealer. Period. Even guns sold at shows have to have paperwork filled out.

      My question to you is.. What guns are "clearly designed to kill people and do so quickly"? Since you have to be specially licenced to own an automatic weapon (and this kid did NOT use an automatic weapon), that arguments is moot. Is my SKS a weapon you would ban (I hope not since that is the only rifle I own that my wife can use for hunting)? Is my Remington 724 semi auto 30-06 a weapon you would ban? Fact is, my Remington "hunting rifle" holds just as many rounds as my SKS and my Remington can reach out and touch someone from quite a lot farther than my SKS...

      This is the trouble with knee jerk reactions. The emotion overrides the logic or reality of the situation. Does something have to be done? Probably. What shouldn't occur is a responce based on emotion. That kind of thinking gave us the Patriot Act.

      Delete
    7. Except that any real fanboy would know the Joker's hair is green.

      Delete
    8. Thank you for knowing the the Joker has green hair. My teeth have been clenching every time.

      Delete
  9. Rational discussions? No, no, no, that's the old America. Rational is history dude, long gone down the Dixie highway and hiding under a church pew.

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  10. ::sighs::

    Unfortunately... yes.

    Maybe it is me, but I remember this happening a lot in the U.S. Why doesn't anyone else?

    Here is Canada, we flip out on the RARE occasions this happens. And yes, we have our gun-toting kookoos as well. But our kookoos don't get guns easily.

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  11. It seems to me that since all the shooters have been men, and most of them have been men under the age of 30, we should enact legislation so that they can't purchase certain types of guns and ammunition. Would love to say all guns but I'm somewhat a realist.
    If the powers that be can enact legislation that singles out women, it seems to me fair play that men of a certain age can be singled out as well.

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    1. Jane, all the shooters have NOT been men: http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/flashbacks-mall-massacre-1985

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    2. We could start with internal medical examinations - absolutely unwanted and unnecessary as a prerequisite to purchase a gun. Might even work - given your age suggestion - as most legislators are over 30. Folks don't like this type of legislation if they are impacted - but it's quite OK to impose their will on others.

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  12. While I hate guns, and would happily see them all banned! I know that is not reasonable! BUT the NRA and other Gun nuts insist that ANY regulation is an infringment on the sacred 2nd Amendment (which I think is very misinterpreted by the gun rights people and does NOT say you havea right to won guns! It says we have a right to a well regulated malitia....) BUT anyway, my point is, IF the two sides would be reasonable and see that no one realy needs to own guns that have NO purpose except to kill other people and that checks and regualtions might stop even a FEW of these nuts who go on killing sprees, everyone would be safer and better off! But that will never happen, since you have people like the head of the NRA who has publically said that President Obama is secretly planning to take all the guns away (even though there is NO evedence he has any intention of doing do and could not if he wanted to) so whenb the head of such an organization makes statments like that, you know he and his followers will NEVER except any rules! We are all doomed :(

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    1. Clearly you have never read the 2nd Amendment. It does NOT say we have a right to a well regulated militia. It says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

      Also I'm DYING to know what regulations you think would have prevented this massacre.

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    2. Funny thing about that, we actually have laws that make it illegal to drink and drive.

      Now, most certainly those laws do not prevent drunken driving, just as laws against underage drinking don't keep kids from getting their hands on booze. But those laws do significantly reduce the incidents, and they empower us to check ID's before selling alcohol, and make bars and bartenders liable for serving drinks to intoxicated people and kids, and we do prosecute people for the crime. And law enforcement is actively looking for it.

      Further more, we can discuss drinking and driving without people going all frothy and insane and that National Party-down Association and Booze Lobby don't start screaming that we let everybody drink and drive, nor does MADD go insane and demand that cars and booze be completely outlawed for everybody except police and the military, and maybe even them.

      Your comment is a false comparison, Anonymous. Try again.

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    3. While I agree with your answer, Jim, it still doesn't answer the question asked by Mr. Second Amendment. Given what we know now about the shooter, I, too wonder if any of the regulations (short of a complete ban on certain weapon types) would have had any effect in this case. The shooter purchased the weapons over a period of months (so obviously a waiting period wasn't an issue), he had no criminal record other than a speeding ticket, he was enrolled in an advanced medical program at a respected college and - at least at this point - there appears to be no history what so ever of any kind of mental issue prior to this incident. His crime was methodically planned and executed.

      Which brings me to my point. If someone is determined to break the law - even to the extent that this individual went to - they are going to find a way to do it. Bans on weapons, waiting periods, questionaires etc will only effect those that are willing to follow the rules. Individuals like this are - by definition - willing to break the rules with impunity. Nothing about this instance gives any credence one way or the other to the issue of gun control even though both sides of the equation will try to make it about that issue.

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    4. Which is precisely the reason I ended this post with "And so it goes."

      Perhaps there are things we can do, perhaps there are not, but we can't even have this conversation because neither side is rational about it. And the only time we can even come close to having this conversation is when we're wading through the blood of yet another group of slaughtered innocents. I've heard all the arguments, in nauseating detail, from both sides. I spent my entire life swimming in it.

      A number of folks have written to point out just how cynical this post is. They're right. I am extremely cynical when it comes to the issue of guns in America.

      Frankly I'm getting tired of tilting a windmills.

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    5. And here I thought you said, "And so it goes" because you liked referencing Vonnegut.

      However, you did mention that the NRA is already crafting their response, which will unsurprisingly dovetail with their established political agenda. I, like you, am a veteran (although Army, not Navy) and have extensive training in the care, handling and use of weapons even though it was not my primary duty when I served (I was MI, not combat arms). I strongly support the necessity and logic of the 2nd Amendment. The problem I have with the NRA and groups like them is that they have lost their way. They claim to be supporting 2nd Amendment rights but in practice they no longer do so, largely because they have forgotten why the 2nd Amendment is there in the first place, if indeed they ever knew.

      The express purpose of the 2nd Amendment is twofold: to more easily give the populace the ability to defend the nation when invaded by an established foreign power and to be the "final check" on the unconstitutional excesses of our own government. Neither of these situations are applicable regarding what happened in Aurora and if the NRA was in reality a pro-2nd Amendment organization they would know that instinctively. What the NRA has become has nothing to do with defending the nation from invasion or even checking the excesses of our own government. If it were they would have been screaming mad most every day from 2001-2006. What they've become is a well organized group in support of vigilante "justice" and instead of opposing the overreaching power of big-government they're instead supported becoming the auxiliaries of a big-government where they believe they will be in political favor.

      So, yes, the NRA is indeed part of the problem but not because they support the 2nd Amendment. They're part of the problem because they don't support it. Their excessive political influence needs to be broken and replaced by a genuine pro-2nd Amendment organization that is competent and actually dedicated to the mission of defending our constitutional rights in practice...all of them. The NRA, it its current form, can never be this.

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    6. Damnit. My first comment on this thread up above was supposed to be in reply to a comment further downstream, the anonymous commenter replying to Ephena. I was tired apparently and it ended up in the wrong place. Since my comment sparked the several comments below it in this thread, I'll leave it in place.

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  13. Great post and I hope you do take up writing full time.

    The carrion-eating talking head on NBC tonight was interviewing the doctor who treated the victims. She was obviously exhausted and upset. She was asked what would she say to Holmes if she had the chance. The Doc was taken aback by the absolute stupidity and insensitivity of the question but rallied and mumbled something as a response.

    This guy obviously had some kind of psychotic break, what a stupid bloody question to ask anybody, especially a doctor.

    They were chasing his father at the airport as well, probably asking him how he felt. He was dodging them and beetling out of there.

    Makes me sick.

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  14. I have no comment today, but thank you, yet again, Mr. Wright.

    bd

    ps I wish there were more people who think like you in the world, and in power.

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  15. As a crazy person, I can verify that it indeed would be a hell of a lot easier for me to get a gun than it is for me to get health care. After all, I don't have a criminal record (although, for as much as I tend to write my various political representatives, I may possibly have an FBI file somewhere that says "Angry Liberal" somewhere. I'm OK with that.) I don't particularly want a gun & only ever considered getting one when I was briefly being stalked by a known sex offender. Still, hunting has always been a big thing in PA (to the point where the first day of deer season is a holiday)so I understand that & as someone who likes to shoot archery, I can understand the fun of target shooting. Guns used to make me incredibly nervous until I worked in a leather shop where the owner was both a black powder enthusiast & general gun nut as well. When you can open up any random tool drawer & find a .45 in with the decorative stamps, you kinda get used to having the things around everywhere.

    Something in both this incident (doesn't that sound like a gross understatement?) & the Arizona shooting has struck me, though-- in both cases the shooters had bought extra-extra-massive capacity clips & super-insane amounts of ammunition in a very short period of time. Shouldn't *that* have set off a warning bell somewhere?. Clearly, the extra-huge magazines/clips should be flat-out illegal since those clearly are designed simply to make it easier to kill a shit-ton of people as quickly as possible but they should probably tracking ammo sales even more closely, with the focus being on where things are being delivered & who to so as to prevent someone from ordering from multiple sources to cover what they're doing. Of course, that'll all be next to impossible to get by the Fuck-Yeah-Guns! crowd because you're absolutely correct about our complete inability to have a rational discussion on gun ownership in this country. But then again, we can't seem to have rational conversations on much of anything in this country these days.

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    1. As Chris Rock said, "We don't need Gun Control, we need Bullet Control!"

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    2. I shoot in a target club, shooting 100-300 rounds per match, with weekly matches, add in some practice sessions, and range time with the family and friends, and 6000 rounds of ammo is less than a full year's supply. And you do buy in bulk, partly for the price break, partly for the same reason you buy all the paint for a room at the same time, you want the same lot numbers, so things are consistent. It is starting to sound like his "extra-extra-massive capacity clips" actually saved lives, those things are notorious for jamming up, and his did. I'm not a fan of big clips, I think they induce a spray-and-pray mentality in a shooter.

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    3. Stuart. You shoot in a target club, and probably you've been doing it for a while. Holmes apparently was a newbie. So why did HE need over 6,000 rounds, and why didn't this accumulation light up any alarms anyplace?

      If he was buying it on the internet, he was using a credit card to pay for it. Last summer, my bank called me to ask about some unusual purchases on my debit card. Were they mine? Five hundred bucks' worth of flowers? Not hardly. Perfume? Even less likely. I had to sign an affidavit to that effect, so they could be prosecuted.

      But when Holmes started buying expensive guns and ammunition, why didn't anyone notice? If I withdraw or deposit over ten grand in my banking account, the feds get notified. If someone other than a shooting range or police academy starts buying thousands of rounds of ammunition, perhaps someone ought to get a heads-up, too.

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  16. I'm a Canadian, so read whatever bias you want into that. I'm also fully mentally ill, again rev up your stereotype machines.

    If you have essentially unfettered access to high powered assault-style weapons, you will have mass shootings like this. There is no way around it. According to some statistics I have seen on various news sites (take with the appropriate grain of salt) there are approximately 20 large-scale attacks like this every year in the US.

    It's not like we don't have gun violence in Canada. This weekend Toronto had the worst one-time gun violence we have ever seen - 2 dead, dozens injured. That's one, and it's the worst we've ever seen.

    I would say to gun enthusiasts, and the wingnuts who oppose any restrictions at all:

    If you want the guns, then you have to be willing to accept the consequences.

    I don't want to take away everyone's guns. It would be nice if you would give up your obsession with weaponry, but I'm crazy, not stupid, and most of the time I'm not delusional. All I'm saying is this, think about the outcomes you are choosing. If you want to keep going on the same path, at least be honest about it.

    Admit that you are choosing to live with policy that leaves thousands dead each year. I might be a bit judgmental, feel free to slag me for that, but if you are looking clear-headed at the numbers and can, without hyperbole and resorting to misquoting the 2nd Amendment, say that you are ok with this then I can't argue with you. Stop wrapping yourself in your righteous rhetoric and just come out with it: You are ok with the level of gun violence if it means you can own any gun you want.

    I'm sure that wouldn't go over well, but if someone want to make that argument without over the top batsh** craziness, then really, who can dispute it.

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    1. Are you ok with the level of alcohol related vehicle deaths? Admit that by driving a car you are choosing to live with policy that leaves tens of thousands dead each year.

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    2. Bunch of crap.

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    3. For clarification, my reply was to Anon 6:44 directly above me. Certainly not to you ephena! You, I agree with completely!

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    4. Anon@06:44 - Funny thing about that, we actually have laws that make it illegal to drink and drive.

      Now, most certainly those laws do not prevent drunken driving, just as laws against underage drinking don't keep kids from getting their hands on booze. But those laws do significantly reduce the incidents, and they empower us to check ID's before selling alcohol, and make bars and bartenders liable for serving drinks to intoxicated people and kids, and we do prosecute people for the crime. And law enforcement is actively looking for it.

      Further more, we can discuss drinking and driving without people going all frothy and insane and that National Party-down Association and Booze Lobby don't start screaming that we let everybody drink and drive, nor does MADD go insane and demand that cars and booze be completely outlawed for everybody except police and the military, and maybe even them.

      Your comment is a false comparison, Anonymous. Try again.

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    5. Amazingly, the self-described crazy guy can make articulate and logical arguments far better than most.

      Delete
  17. Knowing a bit about your background, Jim, I was curious to see how you would react to this story. As I expected, your training and experience gives you a practical perspective and a respect for the potential danger of weapons that many people having a knee-jerk reaction to the shooting clearly do not have.

    Although I am not a gun owner and don't personally like the things, I recognize their purpose in many situations. I have family members who are hunters and others who live in parts of the country where the coyotes and cougars outnumber the human neighbors. I have shot both rifles and handguns myself and even a laser-equipped shotgun (although I couldn't bring myself to shoot at an animal even though it was a picture on a screen!).

    I believe that most reasonable people on the left, including myself, don't want to ban all guns, contrary to the popular conservative claims. However, I simply cannot understand the objection to banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. There is simply no reason for anyone not in law enforcement or the military to possess these types of weapons, beyond making themselves feel like Manly Men.

    While making them illegal would certainly not prevent anyone determined to kill from doing so, it would make the sheer volume of carnage that much less when someone does go off the rails.

    I also cringe at the many comments I've read from people (including a US Representative) claiming that someone in the audience with a gun could have stopped the shooter. I find it hard to believe that anyone could shoot accurately in a crowded theater, blinded by smoke, at a black target, jostled by people desperate to escape and, oh yeah, penetrate full body protective gear. The ONLY thing they would do is increase the body count.

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    1. The ONLY thing they would do is increase the body count.

      Perhaps, despite the claims of infallible accuracy under fire by the gun people. They dream about it, about being heroes, saving the day, gunning down the bad guy in a hail of lead. Funny thing, in all the shootings, none of these heroes ever seem to be about - well, unless it's an unarmed black kid on his way home from the store, but I digress. However, when it finally does come to pass, you can sleep easy knowing that those killed and maimed by the patriotic citizens who returned fire went to heaven in righteous defense of freeeeeeeedom (say it with a Mel Gibson Scottish brogue). Think of them as casualties in the War of Independence.

      There is simply no reason for anyone not in law enforcement or the military to possess these types of weapons, beyond making themselves feel like Manly Men.

      Well, there's the whole manly man thing true, but the real reason is that a true patriot needs those high capacity magazines and the automatic assault rifles for when the Liberals come to take away freeeeeeeeedom. You're right, the only thing those weapons are good for is killing people, and that is just exactly what they intend to do with them, kill people, just as many as they can, just as soon as the revolution they're all waiting for comes.

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    2. You know, that would be funnier if it wasn't true.

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    3. Let's hope Blogger doesn't hijack my post this time! I am thinking, Jim and Thorvaldr, that this scenario may just play out. If the Occupy movement really thinks about what it is doing, and what the logical extrapolation of their occupation is, they will come to a point at which they will either embrace violence or give up. If it goes that way, it will prolly take years and years. But look, already there is a Black Bloc associated with them. The right may get their fight. The haves will not give up their goods without a bonny brawl. And contrary to what Gil Scott-Heron said, the revolution probably will be televised. Or you-tubed.

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    4. "Funny thing, in all the shootings, none of these heroes ever seem to be about - well, unless it's an unarmed black kid on his way home from the store, but I digress."

      ...or a senior citizen in a cybercafe in Florida.

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    5. Someone tried to use the "I'd shoot back to distract the guy and give people time to get out" on my Facebook page. My response:

      "The flaw in the logic is that possession of a firearm by someone in the crowd would have somehow given them some extra level of control over the situation. The reality is that creating a crossfire would have probably just gotten more people killed. When panic kicks in, most humans become nervous reactionary apes. While Americans like their myth that anyone can be an Action Hero under pressure, the sad fact is that unless the person in the crowd with a gun was a highly trained and skilled professional of some kind (you know, the kinds of people who specifically learn techniques for controlling and channeling their adrenaline-fueled stress reactions), there's a decent chance that the second firearm would have been discharged in a blind panic, at other people, in an effort to clear their own way out.

      Furthermore... I want you to think of the circumstances, dude. Fucking Batman movie premier. People in various costumes literally EVERYWHERE. You're seriously telling me that the idea of someone dressing up as a movie character in full mask and costume, and then choosing to bring a REAL WEAPON and LIVE ROUNDS doesn't give you pause? Take the shooting out of the equation; the thought of someone dressing in costume for a night out and packing real heat isn't alarming all by itself?

      It's easy to say "I would have done this", but Mr. Adrenaline listens to your shoulda-coulda-woulda and says "LULZ it's cute how you think I'll let you think that clearly"."

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    6. I've a high school classmate who insists he could have dropped the gun man before the second shot.

      Won't even discuss it with him. We are now both in mid 60s, I don't have the reactions and accuracy and in high school I was the better shot.

      Delete
  18. I read and write voraciously, dissecting constantly the grammar the pace the content ... that was one of the most amazing pieces I've read in some time. I salute you Sir ...

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    1. Thankfully I fixed all those damned typos before you showed up, Catherine :)

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  19. This was enjoyable. A friend linked to your site so I came and read about you, read your rules, liked most of it so in I wandered. When the news of the shooter broke, I was sitting there, confused in Connecticut, asking my housemate why they were making it about the movie. What did it have to do with the movie? And if his mamma said, "You've got the right guy," right off the bat, why the hell didn't anyone but her know the dude was going to be go all wobbly?

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  20. Guilty, as charged, with steps 1 through 7. Perhaps I'll learn... I'm told I'm educable. Thanks for a well written lesson.

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  21. I have a simple solution: Tax guns and ammunition like the other killers in the U.S: tobacco and alcohol. End of story.

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  22. Right on, Jim.

    I'm with you re: reasonable checks on gun ownership, as in background checks, waiting times, and gun safety classes. Not that I think those things go far enough, but they're such obvious basic 'stupidity prevention measures' that any argument against them referencing 'Freeeeedom!!1!' will only get me pointing and laughing.

    I doubt such measures would have prevented this latest outrage, but then, that's not what they're for. I see them as reminders to the 'Freeeeedom!!1!' types that gun ownership may be their 'right', but that doesn't mean they get to be soppy, sentimental assholes about it.

    As an American who lives in Canada, I've seen both systems -- and seriously, folks, the per capita gun ownership is *higher* in Canada, with something like one-tenth the death toll, adjusting for population. That isn't because of registries or wait times or the RCMP: that's because Canadians aren't soppy, sentimental assholes about their guns. Gun ownership here isn't a right, it's a privilege -- one that a great many people take advantage of (see per capita gun ownership, above.) However, it is also seen as a responsibility. It isn't part of some mythologized Canadian manhood thing (see the movie Gunless for an amusing take on mythologized Canadian-ness). And it sure as hell isn't some flag-wrapped, patriot-flavored (or flavoured) means of entry into the great game of Swing The Dick.

    I don't know why Holmes went bugfuck on that theater. He knows, and my namby-pamby soft-headed death penalty-hating liberal self hopes that he spends many, many years behind bars explaining in excruciating detail to interested law enforcement and psychiatric persons just exactly what, why, and how. I hope that he gets sick of explaining himself, so sick that he regrets doing it. Somewhat. At all. But mostly, I hope that those interested law enforcement and psychiatric persons learn from him, so that they might, maybe once, spot one of these blockheads before they blow. I'd really like that Holmes' ultimate legacy is that because he blew, this phenomenon got rarer.

    No, I ain't holdin' my breath. I look good in blue, but not in that particular shade.

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    1. "...the great game of Swing The Dick."

      Renee, you couldn't be more 100% correct there. Every damned gun nut I've ever talked to has gone on and on about how powerful their guns are and how no one better break into their house or start any shit with them, because they think they're the God Damned Man With No Name or something.

      I own about half a dozen guns, none of which hold more than 6 rounds, and that's plenty good enough for me. I don't brag on them (except for a 1917 Enfield 30-.06 from WWI, which I just really like as a historical piece, but, much like Jim, I tend to digress), and I don't consider that they make me more powerful or potent than I would be without them. But then, I know the difference between masculinity and machismo. The Republican Party and NRA's flat fucking loaded with machismo. They need to recognize when it's time to put their dicks away for a second and start thinking with the right head.

      Also, Jim, great post. Once again, you say what I mean to better than I do myself. Well done sir.

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    2. An American living in Canada???? Canadians are Americans also.

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  23. Excellent post, Jim. (Especially since your views on this are 100% congruent with mine.) But I do disagree with your characterization of yourself as "cynical." You're not so much that as realistic on where we are as a nation when discussing guns. And yes, so it goes and will go.

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  24. While I still think the (interpretation of the) Second Amendment is the basis of most gun-caused deaths, since the 22nd of July 2011 (note the year) I am convinced that you don't *need* a similar amendment to your (whoever) constitution to have a massacre where most victims will die of firearm-induced wounds.

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  25. Wow! Jim, as a "Columbine parent" (daughter was shot and paralyzed), your logic, your realistic perspective is something I've been trying to sound for a very long time now. WELL WRITTEN! I tried in a couple local message board forums to do what you are talking about (i.e., rationally discuss the issue of guns), and got lambasted to the max, mostly by pro-gun advocates. I'm also a Navy vet. I grew up with guns. I don't even have a problem with the wording or interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. I do, however, have a problem with extremists on both sides of this very divisive issue. How to address that? As you stated so well, "And so it goes".

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  26. You want a resonable restriction on Guns?

    Try this on for size:

    All rules apply to non-law enforcement persons, in the course of their daily lives. This includes those persons who are currently actively serving in the Military. These rules do not apply to firearms and weapons used for display or collections that have been rendered unuseable by a serving military arms specialist.

    1. No technology or materials whose advent was after 1915.
    2. No caliber firearm of greater than .50
    3. No area denial or anti-personnel devices
    4. No fully automatic weapons
    5. No bullet magazine of more than 5 rounds
    6. No shell capable of penetrating currently used law-enforcement body armour

    This will not prevent some nut from showing up at a movie dressed as the villian, pulling out a couple of guns and shooting a few people. But it will dial down the damage.

    Welcome to the real world.

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  27. The book "Glock" has an good presentation about gun control. Glock, the company, made a ton of money because of the ban on large capacity weapons and magazines. The gave police depts new weapons - large capacity - in exchange for the current police large capacity equipment. Since that equipment was grandfathered Glock has a big supply of large capacity equipment they could sell to the public. I am not dinging Glock for doing this but am dinging the legislation that leads to unintended consequences.

    The book also notes that Glock attempted to setup a more rational counterpart to the NRA and a number of weapons companies supported the effort. Of course it failed.

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    1. Ya know what, Rud? You're right.

      If you try to solve all problems with a series of laws, you will undoubtedly include some very serious unintended consequences.

      With this in mind, I've redone my suggested laws:

      1. No civilian firearm shall have a magazine capacity of greater than 5. Active law enforcement persons shall be exempted from this rule.

      It's not enough, but its a start.

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  28. As always, love your logic and your overview and your perspective.

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  29. Amyzon the OracleJuly 22, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Graham Linehan posted this on his blog Why That's Delightful when there was a school shooting in Britain. I think it holds relevance now. http://youtube/l8rMYyegT5Y


    I feel horrible for his parents. Everyone is going to blame them for this. When the police came to his mother's door, she knew he had done. I have a feeling that he has a history of mental health problems. But this is the problem, the system is designed to do something AFTER something happens. Doctors won't do anything until you have a major break. You can't just say "I think he's going to crack and do something bad." The mental health system doesn't work that way. The justice system doesn't work that way either.

    I may be reading something into it, because I'm stepmother to someone who has severe mental problems. I had to hospitalize him at nine because he just lost it. He takes a raft of medication. We've got him in therapy, and he sees his psychiatrist on a regular basis. His therapist and I are convinced that he's going to crack soon, but convincing his psychiatrist is hard. He's in the realms of normal behavior, but he's having a hard time keeping it up. Getting him hospitilized before he actually cracks is almost impossible. And it's not all their fault. There are very few places that treat things like this, and getting space in them is very difficult. We're doing what we can, but it may not be enough. And I live in fear of a news crew or police knocking on my door someday. That I tried and did my best, but it wasn't enough.

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  30. Clearly you don't understand the aesthetics of how much better a gun looks with a high capacity mag sticking out underneath.

    Dr. Phil

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  31. Yup Jim, all the above and then some. As noted, one of the common refrains from the parent's basement dwelling, mouth breathing, "24" and FNC watching righty crowd is the "If everyone were armed, then this would not happen!" dream sequence. As if most gun toting fools are trained or experienced in the effective use of firearms under duress.

    OK, imagine this then - You are in a darkened theater with 200 other folks, watching some fast action, shoot em up with a loud booming soundtrack. All attention is on the screen and all senses overloaded. Some guy enters, tosses a smoke/gas device in the screen lit room and starts shooting a carbine at a rapid clip. Screams and shouts, smoke, bodies hurling everywhere, poor visibility.

    And you, good concealed carrying citizen pull your piece of choice, quickly locate and track the perp, find your stance, safety off, front sight, center of mass, sight alignment, settle, sqeeeeeze....double tap in the chest to be sure. Perps wearing kevlar, still moving, double tap. Close with the perp and double tap again until your target stops moving. Secure the perp's weapons, ensure that he is down and not able to continue shooting.

    All that in the darkened, smokey room full of mayhem and screaming, hurt and dying people. You are the calm center of the well prepared citizen doing his duty. Good for you. Until the rent-a-cop from the lobby responds to the gunfire, sidles along the theater wall, counter flow to the exiting crowd, locates the source of shots, finds a clear sight picture and puts two rounds into your own chest or head. Oops. That's not supposed to happen in your fevered dreams of the public avenger rising to defend freedom.

    When Gabby Giffords was shot along with her constituents in Tucson, there was an armed bystander who responded to the gunfire. But, he might have shot an innocent man and hero holding a gun, who had just disarmed the real murderer, Jared Loughner. A fortunate decision, backed by familiarity with weapons, stopped concealed carry guy from compounding the tragedy by mistake. And this occurred outside, in daylight in a parking lot.

    Imagine establishing any sort of valid situational awareness in that Aurora theater that would have permitted a concealed carry hero to act correctly or quickly enough to limit the carnage. In addition to the cops storming in looking for ANY threat. Are you the shooters partner? Are you another cop? Do you know how to identify yourself and your intent to the police before they neutralize another guy in the dark theater holding a gun. Or maybe a concealed carrier exiting with the crowds who decides to take out his weapon and look for threats as he is leaving?

    The concept that a "well regulated militia" of armed civilians would ensure our freedom from occasional crazy people taking sudden charge of our fate is laughable. Except for an imaginary scene of unlikely circumstances permitting you to be the hero and "do the right thing" (and not get subsequently shot by the police afterward), you Mr. Concealed Carry Good Shooter Citizen would piss your pants with the rest of the targets.

    You may as well remain in the basement listening to Rush, Michelle and Glen, playing your shoot-em-up games, dream your dreams and remain in charge of your own fate. S/F - Tommy D

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    1. well said. but why you gotta dis Rush? They are a wonderful band! ;)

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  32. Well said, as usual. We need better mental health laws and treatment. Jared Loughner who shot Gabby Giffords had long-recognized issues, but was allowed to refuse treatment that any rational person could see he badly needed.

    We all have to submit to eye exams in order to get a driver's license. Why not a psych eval before being licensed to own guns, renewable every few years?

    I think in any discussion of NRA reaction to these (and other) events, it's important to remember that the NRA is, first and foremost, an industry lobbying organization. The reaction from this group is designed to sell guns. Nothing less, nothing more. 2nd Amendment & Patriotism-my ass.

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    1. The NRA's priority is lobbying for gun manufacturers???? Oh, pshaw!

      You mean the same organization that nearly wet their collective corporate pants after President Obama was elected and they managed, without any proof whatsoever, to convince thousands of gun owners that their weapons and 2nd Amendment rights were going to be taken away at any moment?

      You mean the same organization that continues trying to convince said gun owners that, despite all evidence to the contrary, President Obama, if reelected, WILL take away their guns in a super-secret, nefarious, librul plot that he's been planning since he was an infant in Kenya?

      You mean the same organization that threatens politicians that not supporting nearly limitless private access to assault weapons designed for military use and high capacity magazines will result in millions of dollars going to defeat them in the next election?

      THAT organization???

      Yeah, clearly the money and the power are far more important to them than the lives of a 6-year-old in a movie theater or a 9-year-old meeting her Congresswoman in a Safeway parking lot.

      Delete
    2. I live in rural IL. The day Obama was elected, 2 of my neighbors were literally getting ready to dig holes in their yards to hide their guns because "Obama is comin' to git our guns". Their wives started laughing when I couldn't stop myself from saying "Obama isn't coming for your f----g guns. He doesn't even know you exist and hasn't ever heard of the 2 square block village we live in". And these were 2 older gentlemen retired from Caterpillar and union members.

      Right now, there is some NRA infomercial running on all the channels around here about "foreign tyrants coming, guns will be taken away, save yourself" hysteria. When it first came on, I wondered what the hell the hysterical rant was. After the first 45-60 seconds of mind-bending rant, it says something about brought to you by the NRA. It got switched immediately. But since last week, it has popped up on various channels. And this was before the tragedy in Colorado. I would say the NRA is in full swing.

      Delete
  33. After reading your ranting I don't know who is crazier you or the Guy who killed all those innocent people!!!! Sheeeeesh

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    1. You're the special kind of troll, aren't you?

      Please feel free to fuck right off back to wherever it is that you came from.

      Delete
    2. Jim is also that special kind of crazy. The type who's prone to basing his opinions on facts, evidence, and experience, using critical thinking and cynical realism. The kind of dangerous, unbalanced individual who just called out both sides of the Gun Debate on their cycle of political bullshit and apparent lack of ability to decipher the conundrum of Gun Freedom vs. Gun Control in order to live sanely and reasonably with each other and our guns without worrying about getting our heads blown off on a trip to the mall.

      Clearly Jim is unbalanced and out of his mind with Reasonableness. I'm going to go make sure the logic traps around my property are still set and oiled, just in case he decided to come for me.

      Delete
  34. Just a bunch of gibberish you bounced around more than my old supper ball I used to play with!!!! Could have been a good read if it wasn't so slanted towards your anti-gun stance. You might wanna redo your piece to include both sides of the issue and let your readers make an informed decision with the facts and not your opinion!!!!!!!!! Try again maybe!!!! Thanks,Barry

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    1. Needs moar exclamation marks.

      Delete
    2. Ah yes, my well known "anti-gun" stance.

      I'm not anti-gun, I'm anti gun nut. I'm anti-gun violence. I'm anti-crazy people with guns. See the difference?

      And the next time I need advice on how to write, I'll be sure to look you up, Punctuation Boy.

      Delete
    3. >"I'm not anti-gun, I'm anti gun nut. I'm anti-gun violence. I'm anti-crazy people with guns. See the difference?"

      Jim, I am SO stealing this.

      Delete
    4. I'm here for the opinion.

      Delete
    5. He must have missed that part where Stonekettle Station is a blog and not a News outlet. I'm sure the rest of his observations are just as sharp and spot on.

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  35. Well written and well reasoned. Good work.

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  36. You always write well, and I appreciate the gist, however, I am disappointed that you not only failed to debunk the "automatic weapons" canard, but actually repeated it. I will also note that since the tragedy, the Brady bunch has sent me 2 e-mails, the NRA, none. More than the gun lobby is trying to twist this tragedy to their own profit. This guy had the chemistry background and access to build something like a phosgene or sarin bomb, his guns may have cut the possible death toll by a pretty big margin. I'm very surprised the exit doors are un-monitored, that opens up not only a security hole, but potential loss of revenues from people sneaking friends in.

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  37. First off, my heart bleeds for all those people and their families...and for the family of J. Holmes; what a special hell they must be in.

    Second, thank you for your article -the usual bite of sarcasm to wake us up and make us think is always welcome.

    My rusty head gears are lurching and I remember when (harkening back to high school) all debates, essays, etc were being marked -I HAD to fact check to prove accuracy, I had to make sense, I had to lay out my argument in a fashion the teacher felt was acceptable. If not it was FAIL FAIL FAIL. Sadly, post school life doesn't do this, so we get NRA and politician sophistry and (more accurately) bullsh*t.

    A lot of comments are gleefully pointing out how the above groups and the public are going to fail all the logic and fact litmus tests. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, but it not enough.

    The challenge therefore, becomes this: go out and hold them to the standards a simple high school teacher would expect. Repeatedly. Loudly. Publicly. And make sure everyone else does it, too. This is long-term stuff I'm talking here, a conscious, sustained effort. It will make you tired, trust me.

    Sometimes you have to be just as loud as the vocal, idiotic minority and if it isn't your usual style, remember this: it is your DUTY. Yes, being a citizen means you have responsibilities so snap off the TV, nut up and be the change you want to see in the world (thank you Gandhi). Is it risky? Any time you raise your head from the herd, absolutely. Until the whole herd does it. SO JUST DO IT.

    I'll do my part for my corner of the globe. God knows Jim, you're doing yours! Blessings and keep posting.

    ~Jessica

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  38. You are my new favorite blogger in the whole world. Excellent post, and so very, very accurate!

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  39. For the education of the commenters, above, who do not seem to remember the entire second amendment:

    Amendment II
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    That's it, the whole thing. It's not very long, so why do you guys always leave out the first half? I suspect it is because you don't want to admit it exists and has any relevance. It sure cuts a truck-sized hole into the argument against any gun regulation whatsoever (NRA position). A reasonable argument can be made that the meaning of the word "regulated" has changed- I heard it once meant "trained". So why are the gun strokers so against even the basics like gun safety classes?

    In addition, the founders of our country and writers of our Constitution were conscious of the needs of society. This amendment and many others were based on keeping society safe, not just the individual. Gun regulation protects society in a way that the concealed-carry fantasy does not.

    The founders also knew what they wrote was not perfect and needed to change with the times. They did it themselves 10 times. All of the nonsense about having to interpret the Constitution as intended by the founders and no one else misses this essential point.

    Furthermore, in the late 1700's, not everyone could afford a gun. Not everyone who could afford a gun would have been sold a gun, because the gun-smith knew Olde Crazy George, knew he couldn't be trusted to tie his own shoes, never mind own a dangerous weapon. With a bigger society, not everyone knows all of their neighbors, so we need laws.

    No one could possibly walk into a gun shop in 1800 and buy 100 weapons. There was no mass production, so the idea of regulating mass purchases was not even a theoretical concept. With a society using mass production, we need to limit gun sales to what an individual would reasonably need, not 25 AR-15's in one buy (99.9% of whom are selling them illegally to criminals in the next state with real gun laws). Who "needs" to buy more than 1 gun per week, or even 1 per month? Who except for the manufacturers and criminals has a reasonable objection? What, "only" owning 12 or 26 or 52 guns after a year is somehow restrictive? If you own that many in a lifetime, never mind a year, you're either a serious collector or you have "issues". My avid hunter friends have 6 or fewer. And I'm not even talking about ownership limits, just limits on one buy. No, your convenience does not override the safety of society. Try again.

    Objecting to laws (not bans, not "takin' away yer guns" nightmares) but reasonable laws based on safety is just plain stupid. I can kill people with misused alcohol, with misused automobiles, and with misused guns, and only guns are designed to kill people. Why do I need to need to show ID to buy alcohol, need a license to drive, but can get away with neither one (gun show loophole) only with guns?

    Yes, I have read the poorly written rebuttals above. I have read the well-written but poorly argued comments (no facts, just 'you're wrong') as well. There is plenty of space to type. Let's see a comment based on facts that can argue against reasonable gun laws and for the NRA position. Let me be clear- I know how to shoot, so I'm not scared of guns. I'm a veteran, not a pacifist. I'm not arguing against gun ownership, nor against self-defense, nor against hunting, so no strawman nonsense as well. Make your case.

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    1. The comment above isn't the second amendment, it's the NRA motto. Literally.

      Delete
    2. Hi Jim,
      I was replying to Anonymous, far above, who thinks he knows the Constitution by heart.

      "AnonymousJuly 21, 2012 6:50 PM
      Clearly you have never read the 2nd Amendment. It does NOT say we have a right to a well regulated militia. It says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"."

      I get pissed off at people who pride themselves on avoiding reality. Anonymous seems to be one of 'em. As far as the NRA motto, I think they must do a complete manure for brains transplant when they sign up for life membership.

      Delete
    3. That's the one. He's actually quoting the NRA motto, not the 2nd Amendment. Though he apparently doesn't realize it. The motto is the second part of the amendment without reference to the militia. Easy to see where he became an "expert" on the Constitution, isn't it?

      Delete
    4. Holy crap, Jerry. That's *exactly* what I've been saying for quite awhile now. "To keep a well-regulated militia" has always suggested that the right to bear arms also includes the obligation to be responsible with them.

      I had to repost that comment on my Facebook, in order to incite more discussion (strange how otherwise mostly-reasonable people can be entirely psychotic on certain issues, innit?). With attribution to you, of course. :P

      Delete
  40. Good article.

    This is my response to the "If there was one good-guy there with a gun..." comments.

    When's the last time you took training on a weapon? Have you been exposed to tear gas? Are you trained in handling a weapon in a chaotic scene, in the dark?

    Now look around you. Of the people around you, how many would you want in that theater with a gun? Because what would happen is that some portion of them would incorrectly identify the SECOND shooter as the problem. Then we're back to an untrained gunfight in a crowded movie theater, with casualties caused by incorrect and inaccurate gunfire. Unless you're an FBI agent trained in high threat response, and frequent Hogan's Alley more than Quake III, you're not going to be trained to the mission.

    That's why I question the validity of the premise that having a gun beats not having a gun.

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  41. From Wikipedia on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution

    There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with slight capitalization and punctuation differences, found in the official documents surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights.[5]
    One version was passed by the Congress,[6] while another is found in the copies distributed to the States[7] and then ratified by them.

    As passed by the Congress:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.[8]

    The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribe William Lambert and resides in the National Archives.

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  42. Your update is out-fucking-standing. *cheers!!!!*

    And you're officially pimped, for whatever little that's worth, on my own public pages.

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  43. The update is spot on, as was the original post.

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  44. You've been scooped by The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/articles/sadly-nation-knows-exactly-how-colorado-shootings,28857/?ref=auto

    And I don't think the "well-regulated militia" clause is even necessary for a proper gun control argument. As I see it, "[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" talks about having some arms, not having any arms. (I'm sure you guys don't want to hear me ramble on about existential versus universal quantification.)

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  45. The inability to have a rational discussion about this subject makes me crazy too. I realize emotions run high, with the liberals shrieking "but think about the children" and the conservatives worried that any minute Obama and Hillary are going to charge in and take their guns personally. "If only there were more armed people in the theater," has been repeated ad nauseum, ignoring the fact that no one with any sense whatsoever believes that a bunch of amateurs opening fire in a dark, smoky theater against a gunman in body armor would have ended well. I stopped debating the subject because everyone on both sides made me want to scream. Yes, I believe in the 2nd Amendment, and no, I don't think most people need a 100 round magazine.

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  46. I find the lack of rational discussion difficult as well. Here's how I encounter it (though I understand that many on the other side can write similar dialog):

    ME: Wow! That was terrible! We should take steps to make sure that things like this don't happen again.

    THEM: Yes we should!

    ME: Really?

    THEM: Yes! And the only way to do it is to arm everyone!

    ME: Um, I was thinking maybe we could tighten up some laws, get better enforcement, and maybe

    THEM: YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!

    ME: No, I just think that maybe...

    THEM: YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!

    ME: ... that some better enforcement of existing laws...

    THEM: YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!

    ME: ...coupled with closing some loopholes...

    THEM: YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!

    ME: ... and some more consistent gun laws might...

    THEM: YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!

    ME: ... GODDAMN IT, THAT'S NOT WHAT I AM SAYING!!!


    (I'm sure you can substitute a conversation talking about the freedom to own firearms, with the other side screaming "GUNS ARE EVIL!" over and over just as easily)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yep. As I said, you can not reason with unreasonable people. And frankly I've just stopped trying. Their comments get removed from this blog immediately. I'm not going to argue with crazy people, here or in real life.

      Delete
    2. @Gumby: A lot of times it feels like banging yer head against the wall repeatedly. Except the wall is armed, paranoid, and looking for a reason to open fire.

      Delete
  47. I feel gun permits should be like driver licenses with tests, classes (ie hunting, pistol, assault rifle) and practical demonstrations that have to be regularly renewed.

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    1. Nazi! Communist!

      Sorry, couldn't help myself. Joking aside, I feel exactly the same way. Odd that, we must have spent time on similar ranges.

      Delete
    2. Actually, I believe we do have those kinds of tests and classes, as well as levels of certification. Too bad they're only mandatory for Law Enforcement (Maybe military too, not sure about that one, but I would hope/assume so).

      Delete
    3. =) Well to be honest, although we share a branch of service, most of my extra range time was on an Air Force range.

      Delete
    4. Unfortunately, LEO's tend to shoot more people not in need of being shot than armed citizens - not because they are crazy, stupid or careless (mostly) but because they are given little time to make decisions. As to routine testing, well, the cops where I work qualify once a year - the rest of the time they SHOULD take a range day once in a while, but most don't - indeed, some show up for qualification each year with a weapon that has been neither fired nor cleaned and is unfit to fire.

      I am an armed citizen who never shot anyone. The two times being armed has made a difference to me were both times that showing myself to be armed caused the person who would do me active harm to reevaluate his intent. This is the way I prefer it to work.

      I do shoot anything I own several times a year. I enjoy it - and it improves my hand-eye coordination and focuses me so that very little from outside bothers me for the duration of the range time.

      I like high capacity magazines mostly because my 71-year-old arthritic fingers like resting between magazine reloads, and double-stack Glocks fit my hand rather nicely. I don't own an AR-15, although just for myself I still want a Garand and an M1 Carbine, like the one I shot in the Air Force - and maybe if they don't get outlawed I will eventually have them.

      Nobody needs guns - just like nobody needs multiple big-screen TeeVee sets, multiple computers (which I do have), motorcycles (which I also have) or more than one automobile. NEED has no place in the ownership dust-up - if I want something badly enough and it can be acquired, I will acquire it. I can still pick up my motorcycle - when I can't pick it up, I'll not have it any more. If all of our acquisitions were need-based we'd all have fewer toys, and we'd all be bored silly. Please don't presume to tell me what I NEED - sure as hell you don't want me telling you what YOU need....

      Some days I talk too much - but it reflects my thinking - and I prefer folks who think as opposed to those who feel, thinkers tending more to be familiar with things like LOGIC and REASON.

      I have spoken.

      Delete
  48. Man...I just had this exact conversation on FB with a friend (I guess). You can hardly get the word "gun" out of your mouth/down in pixels before someone is coming along to froth about the 2nd A. I don't even want to take them away, just rationalize the preventative framework. As you have repeatedly pointed out, you can't even have the discussion any more.

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  49. Although I live in VA, I work closely with folks at Buckley AFB in Aurora. I was there last week when the shooting occurred and I'll be there next week for another TDY (business trip). One of the dead was a sailor stationed at Buckley; not so weird when you consider the work they do. My counterparts there lost a shipmate and friend. Another of the murdered citizens was well known to folks at Buckley. They are deeply affected by the murders.

    As Jim will know, the military can be a small community. Many of us knew a DIRSUP flier, Recon Marine or SF soldier killed on duty. But, how FUCKED UP is it to lose your life to a miserable fucking worm who has a beef with the world cause they were picked on, or not loved enough or rejected by Suzie Crotchrot?

    Maybe after he got rolled up by the cops, perhaps this idiot thought "Maybe that theater thing was a little extreme", but I'll act all crazy and get through this. OK, Mr. Holmes is an asshole. But, here's the idea I've bounced around since the Murrah Building. If you know you have the perp in custody, and you absolutely know that he pulled the trigger or planted the bomb, then just cut to the chase and execute him right away. Call it expedited due process. Think of the cost savings.

    But the twist is, offer the execution up to the victim's families. And the perp must die in the manner that his/her victims suffered. Tim McVeigh died of lethal injection, laughing at all of us 6 years after his terror attack. I am sure that enough pre-shooler parents who lost their children would have been happy to apply blow-torch, cheese graters, razors and cinder blocks to Mr. McVeigh so that he fully understood what it was like to be roasted, shredded and crushed alive....for as long as possible, until he died screaming and screaming.

    That may be an effective deterrent to knuckleheads who think they can buy a bunch of guns and shoot-em-up, only to get off on the "insanity" plea. Stupid yes, insane no. James Holmes and Jarod Loughner should be dispatched by having one piece at a time shot off of their bodies. As long as possible until we get to something really vital, and then hold off awhile to let the feeling sink in. They will definitely regret their actions then.

    If you televise a couple of lengthy executions immediately after these atrocities, then maybe these idiots will just stay home and eat a bullet to solve their burning issues, instead of taking a bunch of other people with them. Oh right, that's "cruel and unusual" isn't it. How do you think that theater seemed when the shooting was going on? Give cruelty it a chance; many of our friends and allies swear by it. Tommy D

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    1. I saw that the Sailor was a CT, I wondered if I'd ever met him or knew him in some way. But I didn't recognize the name. Still, like you said, it's a damned small community.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous/Tommy D,
      I sympathize with your feelings on the Aurora killings. The murderer is one twisted SOB and the world would be much better off without him. That said, there is a huge difference between vengeance and justice. America is better than that. We may not be better every minute of every day, but we have to try. Our country has a long sad history of vigilante justice, of lynch mobs hanging the outsider or cops nabbing the obvious but wrong guy instead of calm investigations and deliberate arrests by police, and prosecutions according to the law. Think of it this way: it's hard to draw the line between 100 witnesses and 99 witnesses. How about between 10 witnesses and 5; or between 2 eyewitnesses and 1? But somewhere in that range, there are many examples of the obvious being just plain wrong, examples of the wrong person being executed or jailed for 20 years. (See http://www.innocenceproject.org/) When you try to have a country of laws and justice over feelings of vengeance, sometimes the deliberate process feels like a waste of time. Sometimes the criminal even goes free (which is not going to happen here) in the hope that the process doesn't catch innocents. That's one of the costs of aspiring to have a continental or global civilization instead of a hundred thousand howling tribes. I don't remember who said that we're not gods fallen to earth, we're rising apes. I get angry, too, but I want to work at rising, not falling.

      This is one of the reasons why I don't want the U.S. to go back to the Wild West mythology, with every citizen carrying a concealed weapon. An armed society isn't a polite society (what a stupid expression- that's not politeness, that's terror). An armed society has blood running in the streets- just look at Bosnia or Somalia. There's a reason why Western movies end with gunfights. That reason looks out of my mirror every morning... and yours. Pretty soon it's not a society at all, unless it tames itself. Is it the gunslinger we really admire, or the sheriff who makes angry people put away their guns? Personally, I've always rooted for the lawman.
      Jerry

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    3. You cut me Jerry. You cut me hard. You pulled the "humanity" card. The randomness of life versus the irregularities of legal process, leading to the undeniable but occasionally inevitable miscarriage of "justice". Yep. It is a fact that sometimes they put the wrong guy away. (Usually in Texas.)

      But, we know that Holmes shot the people in the theater, and rigged his apartment to potentially injure or kill police responders. We know that Jared Loughner killed and wounded people in Tucson last year. Open and shut.

      Security is everything. Security permits us to walk our neighborhoods in peace. Drive to and from work or the market staying within the traffic laws. And security occasionally lets our teenage children go to a late night movie premier, with the absolute knowledge that they will come home again. Usually.

      I agree that my idea of public and painful execution is a bit extreme for America. You say this country is better than that. But if we made examples of known criminals in very graphic and physical ways, then perhaps prospective perps would take pause and think "That could be me up on those gallows. That looks very painful. Maybe I won't shoot up that 7-11." And society becomes more secure because one erratic or hateful individual becomes fearful of the personal consequences of what he may do; rather than all of society becoming edgy and wary and scared. It is unlikely that my idea of expedited death sentence will ever be evaluated in the US, but it bears some consideration.

      Justice is funny. Some people get it. Some people don't. When justice doesn't quite do it, then vengeance can bridge that gap.

      To get off topic, Saudi Arabia attacked us on 9/11. After letting OBL go at Tora Bora, the Cheney/Bush boys convinced us to invade Iraq. We did not get justice, but we got plenty of vengeance. You would have thought America was better than that, too.

      To get off topic again, do we know who exactly on Wall Street permitted the 1% to nuke our economy in the last decade? Not really. But, what if we allowed some wrongfully ruined, foreclosed and homeless people to randomly grab a number of bankers and traders from their offices. Pull them out to the financial district curbside and put a bullet through their skulls. That is cruel, unusual and perhaps not even gratifying. But, I guarantee that every single "too big to fail" CEO or trader will think twice about fucking over the nation again. Justice no; effective yes.

      There has to be some control applied to keep the broader public from becoming the general recipient of increasingly stringent security, surveillance and punishment measures based solely on indeterminate fear. Who am I kidding? That would never happen here. Tommy D

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    4. TommyD,

      I might be persuaded to agree to the death penalty for open and shut mass murder cases, but not 'summary justice' a.k.a. vigilante killing, a.k.a. lynching, and never random terror killings. That makes one no better than the guy who opened fire in Aurora. I think mass murderers and the "too big to fail" CEOs are sociopath criminals who should be prosecuted- but randomly executed? Financial regulation enforced by terror? No. Just no.

      Okay, so the civilization argument does not move you. How about utility? It might sound good to you. It might feel good emotionally. Even leave aside the thought that the murderers in Aurora (and Columbine and Arizona and VA/MD/Washington DC) were so twisted that they were beyond rational arguments like "you will be executed if you do this". (Only for the sake of argument.)

      You have the burden of proving that it will or has ever worked. According to statistics on the homicide rates in death penalty vs. non-death penalty states, the death penalty does not work as a deterrent to murder. See http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates#stateswithvwithout

      Since the ultimate penalty, death, is not a sufficient deterrent, then why should graphically violent death be any better? Most if not all industrialized countries no longer have the death penalty. Almost all of those countries have lower homicide rates than the U.S.A. The only countries which still have death penalties, especially graphic ones such as beheadings, are not ones we would wish to emulate (most are not even developed nations), and their murder rates are worse or at least no better than the countries without any death penalty at all. It is not emotionally appealing to many people in the U.S. (even called barbaric) *and* it does not work.

      Jerry

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  50. You are correct Jerry in that my proposal for public executions with maximum effect is unworkable here in the states (for now). The problem of course is establishing and maintaining control on the "special" judicial sentences. Once those in charge realize that they can instill general societal fear and control through the threat of 'extra bad death', well then where does it end? Historically, that sort of regime eventually falls like a house of cards.

    Recent examples of the demise of autocratic (nasty) leaders may be somewhat quick like Gaddafi, or Ceausescu or they may fritter away like Idi Amin. Stalin stroked out and died for a long time in his own piss, puking blood and in agony. But, like many of his counterparts he did have a pretty good run of ruling his country through application of fear.

    Public execution by hanging, drawing and quartering (to include disembowelment, decapitation, burning and vivisection) was ended officially in Britain only in the 19th century. Our good friend and ally Saudi Arabia (of 9/11 attack fame) continues to lop off hands and heads per Allah's blessing. The Taliban made a spectacle of public executions, permitting aggrieved family members to empty an AK-47 into the chest of the condemned and so forth. (A tip taken up by our recent Islamist/Jihadist hostage takers in their execution videos.)

    So, no I do not see this sort of justice being meted out in the US. We used to have the stomach for it, but then we were burning witches and massacring native Americans. We have become more enlightened since those days. Not any smarter though, apparently.

    The US likes to think of itself as a nation ruled by consensus and a living social compact of being excellent to each other, respecting the individual as a member of the whole and assuming that when you lose an election your are fucking beat! So stay off the goddamn TV and go back into your hole......sorry, got off track thinking about Sarah and that old man from AZ.

    Anyway, consensus.....the rule of law....the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.....all that jazz informs us that our security is sustained by the weight of all of us doing the right thing for the safety of all. But that warm embrace of security can be torn apart by an individual or small group. One person can shoot your child and dozens of people in a couple minutes using only his ingenuity and legally available stuff. Or, one drunk or texting driver can ensure that you spend your days alone, gazing at family pictures of spouse and children taken away by bad luck.

    The range of legal definition of what constitutes a horrific murder to a "merely" foolish, but lethal act cannot reduce the pain of those left behind. The anguish is the same when family or friends are killed, no matter the circumstance. Would we feel better by applying brutal justice in those crimes that truly deserve it? Maybe. But, the door would be opened to introduce abuse and eventual tyranny.

    And we are uncomfortably close to opening that door without making snuff films out of our criminal justice system.

    At this point I am feeling like Belushi in the old SNL skit "The thing that wouldn't leave." We have drunk all of Jim's '98 Barossa Valley Shiraz, run up his VISA card on bad pizza and wrecked his truck. He is tapping his foot, staring at his watch and rolling his eyes. All signs that he is spastic. But, also done with this thread. See you on the other side. And watch your six and flanks. Tommy D

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    1. Thanks for the discussion, Tommy. Yes, life is unfair and we lose people close to us for may reasons. Most of the reasons suck, whether we're talking disease, accident, or someone being evil. All you can do is take care of the people you can help in your own way. Don't forget that you can make "family" mean more than what is in the dictionary. And don't forget to take care of yourself. regards, Jerry

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    2. Tommy D--what you are suggesting sounds eerily like Sharia Law.

      Cheers.

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  51. Simply stated, you cannot add even one drop to a cup that is already overflowing. (I believe this is a Buddhist principle but I admit I could be wrong.) Before Americans can accept new ideas, they must first be willing to empty themselves of former indoctrination (and all the bullshit that's been shoveled into us masquerading as 'Truth' and 'The one true way') - and very few will make this sacrifice for the sake of higher learning. Cognitive dissonance is a painful process and it often makes us face great holes in our persons but filling our lives with fact rather than truth is necessary to evolve. Fact is fact and it requires no belief to support it, lies however, can easily become truth if only enough people 'believe' it. Many could benefit by checking their 'beliefs' at the door, emptying their closets of anything they've been told that doesn't have substantial data to back it up and requiring a factual basis for entry into the brain.
    I found your blog through occupyMARINES and I enjoy it immensely. Thank you for your support and logical thoughts, from a military family's kid/wife. jenifer.a.brooks@facebook.com

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  52. I have a short anecdote that I think illustrates some of what's wrong with our current system of gun purchase monitoring and checks.

    A few years ago, I was getting deeper into my hobby of gunsmithing, with a particular focus on checkering, engraving and restoration of antique weapons. I was interested in doing work for a few friends and acquaintances and was informed that I needed to have an FFL in order to work on other peoples' firearms and keep everything legal and above-board.

    So I applied for an FFL. When I received the paperwork, along with it came a letter that informed me that if I was approved for an FFL my name, address and phone number would be published and I would be *required* to facilitate firearm transfers for anyone who asked and could pass the requisite (minimal) checks. This service was not optional and was a condition of being an FFL holder. I made some further inquiries and it was explained to me that not only would I be required to participate in firearm transfers for anyone who asked, legally I couldn't refuse if the person could pass the checks, regardless of what my better judgement might tell me.

    This was a hobby thing for me, and was about learning to be a better craftsman, not being a gun dealer. I also had (have) NO desire to hang around with the black-plastic-ninja-gun, anger-mananagement-issues or born-to-lose types. Further, the idea of having anyone who wanted to lay hands on the odd firearm or two know where I live gave me the willies.

    In the end, I opted to find a different hobby instead.

    The experience, however, stands out to me as an example of how a system intended in concept to enable rational and reasonable firearm activities and prevent the more sketchy ones is in fact skewed exactly opposite.

    -- Mack

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  53. And here we are again. Newton massacre 2012.

    Dead schoolchildren, no make that dead kindergarten kids. And the shooter's own mum who was a teacher at that kindergarten and the sack of shit shooter.

    Fuck.

    Same shit, nothing changes. Too right, Jim Wright. I wish you weren't but you are. Just so fucking awful.

    Is there any hope?

    How many more of these will there be? No end to them?

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  54. Jim, Fact of the matter is that the 2nd Amendment was created only for the purpose of protecting white slave owners [back in the early 1700's] from their slaves. Read up on the STONO RIVER REBELLION 1737. [Thom Hartmann has even proposed that this "protection" of the slave owners by this "militia" eventually morphed into the KKK]:

    THOM HARTMANN
    Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture, syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations. You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/13890-the-second-amendment-was-ratified-to-preserve-slavery

    Here’s the event that led to the writing of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution and why there was the need for a “militia” . . . at the time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stono_Rebellion

    Compilation of “The STONO REBELLION” 1739:
    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_rn=1&gs_ri=hp&gs_mss=the%20stono%20riv&cp=30&gs_id=3e&xhr=t&q=the+stono+river+rebellion+1737&es_nrs=true&pf=p&tbo=d&sclient=psy-ab&oq=the+stono+river+rebellion+1737&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41248874,d.cGE&fp=35aa3d940bc48dd8&biw=1440&bih=715

    Gary H

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  55. _____________________________________________________________________

    Demarcation Line

    Comments before this marker were posted under the original essay in July of 2012 following the Aurora, Colorado Massacre.

    This post has been updated to address mass gun violence overall and not just any single incident. And then moved forward in the Stonekettle Station timeline to September 2013.

    Comments below this line pertain to the updated post.

    //Jim Wright

    _________________________________________________________

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  56. Thank you. I was starting to feel a bit nonchalant about the whole thing. It needs to hurt for awhile longer.

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  57. The Onion does its usual tasteful and accurate job of summing up a new American tradition. Because, y'know. America's most accurate news source and all that. Nevermind me, just got something in my eye.

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  58. I doubt that you will never have to post this again, after another mass shooting, sometime in the near future. But, I can hope. Can't I?

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  59. Here's what I've run into -
    "Its the shrinks fault - all of them, letting those nuts run around"
    "He's gay, right?" (honest to ghu, saw that one! Oy!)
    and every single comment thread devolved eventually to
    "Abortion!" or rather "ABORTION!"
    (and after that, never got back on topic again, once they arrived there.)
    For me, it was still an agony to see it happen. Every single one of these shooting incidents. I pray I never become jaded enough to not feel the pain and compassion and sorrow someone should feel, instead of being swept up in the media craziness and blind idiocy that follows!

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  60. Thanks Jim for taking the time to write the unvarnished truth. Many of us are incapable of expressing ourselves so well. I just can't understand WHY the same people shouting "take my gun from my cold dead hands"(which unfortunately is all too accurate), or "need to defend myself from the liberal dictator coming to take over the country", have no problem with the Patriot ACT. If the government calls you a "terrorist" you not only lose the 2nd amendment but every other right that really matters. However, after WACO TX no complains about the FBI watching fringe militia groups collecting weapons. After, Timothy McVee bombed the Oklahoma Federal Bldg, there are no organizations defending the right to own truck loads of nitrogen fertilizer. In fact, even fertilizer plants now recognize just how dangerous it is, after blowing up most of a small town. We do not allow civilians to own active grenades, pipe bombs, rocket launchers etc...No one is yelling about the freedom to own rocket fuel... hmmm why is that?
    Oh Yeah! It's about MONEY. Gun manufacturers Make LOTS of MONEY by paying the NRA and their lobbyists to keep this conversation irrational. They have sold more guns, more ammunition in the last 5 years than ever before. They can't run enough shifts. Record profits. Anyone recall the fake energy rolling blackouts engineered by Enron and Duke energy? Record profits. We have the legal precedence for saying one person's constitutional right to be murderously reckless does not over ride the other citizens right to life. We do this for driving cars, for seatbelts, for alcohol, for drugs, for doctors, for diving, for fertilizer, etc.. Why? besides being indefensible, mostly because the insurance industry decided to back legislation that saved lives. Any of you read your life insurance policies? They do not cover acts of war or of terror, even as an innocent bystander. If, God forbid, you die by an "act of terror" you probably won't be able to collect your life insurance. Just, as in the Wall Street unmitigated greed debacle, follow the money, the gun money, billions of it. Am I cynical as well? Yup. I am also the wife of a 26 year ret Sr. Chief. The sister of a ret Navy Cmdr. The daughter of a WW II Vet, the niece of a 20 yr Vietnam Army Colonel, another decorated Army ranger from Korea. And the granddaughter of 2 men who served in 2 wars. I also agree with your take on Syria and the Middle East. Thank you so very much for writing.

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  61. The latest conspiracy theory is that President Bill Clinton, the EBIL DEMOCRAT!! is responsible for disarming members of the military on bases - so be sure to point the finger of blame at HIM! And then I read somewhere else that the timing is a little off on that particular conspiracy theory (FACTS! We don' need no stinkin' FACTS!!) ... Department of Defense directive 5210.56 (http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a272176.pdf) was issued on February 25, 1992 and would have been effective immediately for all branches of the military. Bill Clinton took office on January 20, 1993.

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    1. Yeah, listen, I was in the military long before Bill Clinton came along and we weren't allowed to carry weapons on military bases even back then. I call Shenanigans.

      Honestly, if these people actually think that having every member of the US military and its civilian support force packing heat on military bases will reduce gun violence, they are smoking crack. Crack laced with gun podwer that was fermented in Ted Nugent's lower colon.

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    2. See, here's the part I don't get. The were ARMED GUARDS present. I.e. those "good guys with guns" the NRA is so in love with. The shooter killed them first and took their weapons and used them to kill the civilians. Oops.

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    3. Now, Jim, there you go again with your facts and logic and stuff. What good are they against dogmatic certainty?

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    4. What I read was "...the rule was actually established in response to a 1992 Department of Defense directive, issued during the presidency of GEORGE H.W. BUSH." A "...regulation (was) issued by the Department of the Army in March, 1993 regarding firearms on military bases. While that rule said most soldiers are not allowed to carry weapons, the Army certainly did not ban all guns in those facilities."

      Freckles

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    5. Navy, 1973-79 so a little bit before Jim - and there was only ONE time while on duty I was permitted to have a loaded magazine with my normally empty sidearm on watch. I do not recall what that one occasion was, but I DO recall the stern warning that should the clip with the rounds come within 12 inches of the (empty) .45, I would be up for a courts martial.

      All other times before and since, I had a sidearm that had no clue what a bullet even looked like. I was strictly a show piece. I did have a fully-functional night-stick though.

      When I visited my son on the USS Normandy a few years back, I was rather shocked to see that not only were they carrying, they were carrying LIVE and loaded. And any ship movement, no matter where, was accomplished only when 6 gun points were established, three on either side of the ship - even in US ports.

      That was a hell of a change, but my son got to tell me all the training they received before they were permitted watch stander status. Unfortunately, though he knew how to carry and fire a weapon, I found out later that accuracy was not part of the regimen - I had to teach him to fire smoothly without flinching. Once that was accomplished, he started actually hitting his targets!

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  62. I think the situation is meta-stable, rather than a stable deadlock as you describe.

    On the one hand, the firearms industry is making huge amounts of money selling yet more firearms, many of them marketed to young men explicitly as props to masculinity. Their lobby is becoming ever more powerful; they have just unseated two state senators in Colorado in unprecedented recall votes.

    On the other hand, there has been a slow but steady accumulation of academic knowledge on the sociology and psychology of firearms. If you haven't already read it, you might take a look at David Hemenway's Private Guns, Public Health for an overview.

    How does this end? There are a number of ways I can see that the balance might tip. (1) In some places where the radical-right is powerful, we might see organized paramilitaries taking advantage of the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons; acts of terrorism rather than simple madness. (2) We might have a mass killing in a legislature. (3) We might see technical changes in new firearms that reduce accidents and abuse--for instance, firearms with a disabling device similar to the key immobilizers that have so much reduced car theft might come into wide use. Etc., etc.

    (Side note: discussions like this tend to bypass firearms accidents and suicides, but in fact the people most likely to be shot with a firearm are members of the owners household--that is, IIRC, several times more likely than any self-defense usage.)

    So it seems to me that matters will change eventually. I think all of those are likely, as well as changes I have not yet foreseen.

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    1. Oh yes, Raven, let us argue about what kind of deadlock we've got. While we wait for the changes to come, I mean. Seems we'll have plenty of time.

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    2. Hey, I just explained, twice, in two different discussions that, yes, anthropogenic climate change is real and no, it will not just be an impact on the GDP.

      Got plenty o' deadlock to go around.

      "The window's bricked up, the wall is the view. Might as well look at it." Or perhaps look for weaknesses in the wall.

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    3. Less than 10 years, I think. It is hard for me to see how it can go on longer than that. Then again, it took 100 years to pass an anti-lynching law, so I could be talking through my hat.

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  63. I heard on my local news tonight (not Fox, just the local CBS affiliate) that the man had recently sought treatment for hearing voices in his head, and was being helped by military doctors. On top of that, he'd had 2 gun related offenses in the past, and yet, one of the guns he used was bought legally a week ago. This bothers me if it is indeed accurate. I'm all for legal gun ownership, we own a shotgun or two ourselves for hunting. But someone being treated for mental illness should not be able to purchase a gun. To me, this is common sense. Don't let the crazy person easy access to a weapon.

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    1. The news reports say the Navy Yard gunman bought his weapon in Virginia, a state with very lax gun laws. The right winger politicians in that state simultaneously affirm that crazy people should not get guns, that there should be no money spent on a database to block crazy people from buying guns, that there is no money for treating crazy people, and that the right to bear arms is sacrosanct. Common sense does not even enter into the conversation.

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  64. I am starting to become afraid to leave the house. Seems like the random shooting is an every day occurance and here in SE Texas I hear gun fire in my neighborhood way more often than I like or ever have before. I live in the suburbs, with cattle pastures on 3 sides of the housing edition. I really shouldnt have to be afraid of everyone I see just so a bunch of guys can have a stupid hobby to waste money on.

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  65. And this, which is too good not to share: "New Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Tuesday suggested that 'the left' was trying to make Monday's mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard about 'gun control,' when what the country really needed was a registry to track video game purchases."--Fox News' Hasselbeck: Navy Yard Shooting Shows Need for Video Game Registry, Not Gun Control Apparently the commentators are serious.

    Yes! We need videogame control! I want a new console!

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  66. I would not title you as a cynic, but a realist! once again very well written and thought out, so very happy I found your blog and you have cats too! what a good monkey :) among all the bad monkeys

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  67. .

    ! Find myself agreeing with you.

    It is almost impossible for one to continue one's snot-nose bon mot, "Any club that would have me as a member, I would not join," if one finds you as a member of that club. Outstanding essay.

    One small nit to pick ... Nazi/Benghazi?

    Ema Nymton
    ~ @ : o ?
    .

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  68. I still insist the only possible way forward, given all the implacable givens, is state by state, using the 2nd amendment aggressively rather than trying to do an end run around it. The Congress could pass a law that says we will fund with Big Federal Dollars any state that wishes to declare all resident gun owners as members of their militias, and then well... well regulate them. Same as is done with highway dollars from the feds. It won't solve the national problem, but it would give states that want to try to start to begin to address the problem some, well.... ammo.

    I tried like hell a year ago to pitch this idea to a few Congressmen. Those in favor of any kind of federal solution always reject it because it doesn't blanket the entire country. Those against any kind of federal solution of course rejected it. But given the implacable given of the 2nd, it's the only way forward.

    BB

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. They are already members of the militia, at least men between ages 18 and 45. But they have no duties. Hmmm...the idea of the militia obligation (much hated during the times when it was a live thing) being used to control firearms might make wingnut heads explode.

      One can but hope.

      (reposted for editorial reasons--sorry.)

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    3. But see I don't want their heads to explode. (Plus they have expanding ammo for that.) I want them to feel loved, understood and respected and... well regulated. Somehow in this country we have to get people to understand that well regulated owner ship of firearms does not mean: OH SHIT THEY ARE COMING TO TAKE MY GUNS AWAY!!!!!

      Well. Regulated. Not poorly regulated. Not haphazardly regulated. Not who gives a shit load up on cheap ammo by the hundred gross this week get some extra 'cause you can always sell it on to that twitchy guy with the tinfoil hat down the road regulated. Well Regulated. Regulated Well. So that only Well People have their fingers on them triggers.

      BB

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    4. The first use of the term "well-regulated militia" I am aware of comes from Fletcher's 1698 A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias (last time I looked, I could find the text online.) He apparently meant by that a universal draft & military training.

      Heee.

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    5. Raven,

      Yeah Doh! Every sane person with even a tiny bit of historical sense knows the 2nd Amendment was all about, you know, making sure no laws were passed to stop the states having militias, and had nothing whatever to do with private citizens owning guns. Nothing. Even an old reactionary like Justice Rehnquist recognized that for years, in print, til the Gun Lobby got to him.

      But all that is water way over the damn dam. What is important is the states still have the constitutional right to a) require every owner or bearer of a firearm in their jurisdiction to join the militia, and b. to regulate the hell out of that militia. There is no comeback to that argument, constitutionally. All we need to do is convince the President, or any President, to stop trying to fix the whole country at once, but rather let the states fix themselves -even at Federal expense- one state at a time. Sure Texas will remain a killing field, but give it time and people, sane people at least, will want to live where only sane people are allowed to own sane guns.
      BB

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  69. A ‘Grim Tally’: Abusers, Guns, and the Women They Kill.

    Another aspect of the problem of firearms in the USA that seldom comes up in these discussions.

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  70. The mental health system in America has been broken for decades. back that up with the thought that no one wants to report back to the government that "crazy bobby" should NOT have a firearm.. Poof Magic we have people, who should NOT have firearms, because they want to use them and they are cracked.

    just going from memory Here..
    the Aurora shooter was seeing a mental health professional at the university he failed out of... (they never reported he was likely dangerous to the police)

    the shooting in NM again his girlfriend and brother both begged police to take his weapons and get him help.. NO CAN DO, he has not broken any laws yet..

    the Navy Yard shooter had the police called on him as recently as a few weeks ago for delusional behavior.. oh he just got his secret clearance renewed a few weeks ago as well. (good job Navy)

    why did any of these people have firearms??? I own a number of firearms for purposes, hunting, target practice, and yes self defense. I am licensed to own them, have had my background checked, and have been involved in shooting sports for many years.

    The firearm laws we have on the books are about right, we need to work on the mental health parts of our laws..

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  71. One of my favorite refrains from leadership and pundits after these mass killings is that there was "no evidence of terrorism" in the commission of multiple murders and wounding. Well, that makes it all better.

    Good to know we are still safe from "acts of terror" here in the USA. Tommy D

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  72. Minor correction: "national pastime", not pass time. Oh, and "gray-haired" in the original text.
    I can't comment on this splendid post. I've barely touched a gun in my life and do not understand the obsession some people have for them. I'm not against hunting for sport except for canned or illegal hunting and I believe any trophy desired by the asshole spawn of Donald Trump should be allowed to be taken only by hand-to-hand combat. That way we KNOW the superior species will triumph. And that never-was, no-talent Ted Nugent should be strapped to a target and propped up at his local gun range. If only the herd would cull themselves....
    I hate to say it but I don't think this country will ever get a handle on the God, guns, and cars culture which is so ingrained in so many people here. It's the new, untouchable Holy Trinity. And the worship of it generates a lot of money for those who run the churches.
    Pam in PA

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  73. "These people are every bit as insane as the murderous lunatics described in the text above who thought that guns were a solution for their own personal inadequacies." The mass murder of innocents by members of the NRA have to stop. I read about these NRA members at least every month going on a mass murder spree. We should round up these people before they do it again. Nuff said!

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  74. Jim, thought of this post the moment i heard the news from Washington. What particularly came to mind was the opening - that sooner or later these things won't even make the news unless they set a new high score or produce their performance art in the manner of a Goyte music video (naked but being coloured in as they admit to their total doucnozery)

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  75. Oh, fuck, another one?

    The beatings, er, shootings will continue until morale improves or until at least two Republican Congressmen are threatened, whereupon Republicans will suddenly discover a need to control Democratic firearms ownership.

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  76. After the terrible Port Arthur massacre in 1996,when 35 people were killed by Martin Bryant, gun control laws were dramatically tightened here in Australia.
    We are lucky in that we don't have much of a weapons manufacturing lobby, nor the equivalent of the NRA lobbyists. This meant it was much easier to pass useful laws.
    Since then our overall murder rate has continued its long term decline and we have not seen the terrible massacres that were beginning to be a feature of 1990s Australia.
    The lesson for America from this is? Nothing. I don't think you country has the will or tools to do anything positive about this anymore.

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  77. Oh, just going back in history a bit. Guns. Mass shootings. Well, here I am in March, 2014, and nothing has changed. I'm from the left coast, but I'm spending a 'holiday' in South Dakota, Utah and Colorado. So we LOVE guns. Etc. But I appreciated your post -- nothing is going to change, eh?

    But, I'm thinking, if one of the gunny's parents went out periodically out of their front door and flipped the bird and said something along the lines of, "FU, you sons-a-bitches", it might make things at least a little more....something.

    If I ever lose my daughter or my granddaughter to a Sandy Hook crazy, well, I think I'll do that.

    After all, we all have to plan for this eventuality, right?
    NRubinstein

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  78. Your "Afterword" is the best writing on this subject which I have come across. You are right and no one ever acknowledges the fact. There is no "gun debate" ... no "gun conversation" ... no "gun argument" in this country. Because that would require the processing of information.

    All we actually have is polemic, vitriolic disagreement.

    Greg J. Bennett

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  79. I wish we could have the discussion, but that's scarier to the NRA than the inevitability of these incidents repeating themselves as just happened and as will happen again next month or so. While both sides are rabid in their opinions, I think that the Gun Lobby is more to blame for they seem to feel they have more to lose. Ah, but so what when it comes to blaming; it's useless. I wish I knew what it would take to get the debate started intelligently and kept on track long enough to create some kind of true progress. And what would that progress look like? Hard to tell in specifics but ultimately it'll look like the frequency of these rampages tapering off, and gun violence dropping in meaningful amounts. A girl can dream.

    In the meantime, I'll link and repost, yet again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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  80. As just about always, you're right. We say the same things, do the same things, EVERY SINGLE TIME, and nothing changes. Damn it, here we go again.

    That Other Jean

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  81. Don't forget December 24, 2012, Webster, NY. Gunman set his car on fire, set up with an AR-15 or the equivequivalent and another gun and waited for the first responders to show up. He killed Two And severely injured two more. Multiple houses also burned down due to the fact that the fire fighters could not get to the blaze.

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  82. Your're right Jim again. Especially about Ted Nugent. I read every day about how he and his friends at the NRA go on human hunting parties, and are responsible for most of the gun violence in America.

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    1. That's it, huh? That's the best you could do?

      I've got to be honest, anonymous, I expect trolls to put in some actual effort. Hell, man, you didn't even call me a Nazi or attempt to swiftboat my military career. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed here.

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    2. "If you’re taking orders from Ted Nugent, you are fucking insane. These people are every bit as insane as the murderous lunatics described in the text above who thought that guns were a solution for their own personal inadequacies."

      You said it best dude. Why would I call you a Nazi? I'm with you and Obama, who's actually going to do something about all this violence one day, and it starts with disarming the military, then the American people.

      That guy should never have had access to guns outside of an actual war zone. Military service precludes gun rights outside of foreign or domestic conflicts. You should be for that. These guys are used to shooting first and asking questions later. Mix that with antidepressants, and you have a lethal combination.

      As for Ted Nugent, his murderous record speaks for itself. He's probably offed more people than all the mass killers combined, but the lamestream media hushes it up so he's encouraged to keep it up for the big reveal before Obama's term is up that will bring the end of all those nutters' freedom to bear arms. You know well those crazy racist asses who love their silly guns and don't trust in Obama.

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  83. Spot on Jim. The authorities have word that the gunman had set up a shrine in his closet dedicated to the NRA. A small figurine of Ted Nugent, with a candle affixed to the top of its head, was allegedly neatly placed in the middle of newspaper clippings posted on the wall detailing all the NRA's mass shooting parties chronicled throughout the years. Crazy times we are living in. Keep on Keepin' on.

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  84. I posted this on Jim's Facebook page:

    If it wasn't for the tragedy at Ft Hood, I'd have to conclude it's April the First again. Sorry, carrying weapons around with one up the spout? That's FUCKING MADNESS and a mere step away from an ND (Negligent Discharge). Yeah let's have an ND in the BX, in the Family Quarters site, in the Base Primary School.....

    Oh and before anyone jumps on my case, just like Jim I was a trained Military Range Conducting Officer and Firearms Instructor. I am cleared to run Century Range at Bisley (100 lanes x 600 yds range) with 100 GPMGs (M60 equivalent)! I have fired EVERY small arm in the NATO inventory (and most ex-Soviet weapons). I have also shot Combat Pistol, Combat Rifle and Target Rifle for the RAF in international competition.

    Now. I have VERY specific attitudes towards firearms, fuck up on MY range and you will (at best) get sent home with a flea in your ear. Worst case you will get a (well aimed) boot in the slats. Trust me I HAVE thrown idiots off MY range on many occasions.

    And there lies the rub.

    As a Military Officer, as a PROFESSIONAL, I take a professional approach to using weapons.

    Sadly, the average Spam does not.

    I have been on a range with an ex US Marine and shot,his M4, his 1928 Thompson, and his M1911A1. Working with him I felt perfectly safe because we both knew how to act around firearms.

    Contrast this with going out with another friend, to an outdoor 'Statelands' free shooting area (with bunds at 100m to stop the rounds). TOTALLY unregulated, we go out to shoot an SKS and a Moisin-Nagant (in 7.62 x 58).

    The bund next to us we had an idiot trying to shoot a pistol as if it were a video game, or he were 'Gangsta'. THEN we had a dickhead try to fire an M16 derivative so fast so as to simulate a Military weapon on full auto. I watched the bullet splash. Or, rather I didn't - I saw the splash of 5 rounds climb the bund, the rest went over (who knows where). The result was a fire from a hot round impacting some 300m from us. Your man blamed us (even though we hadn't started shooting) and buggered off.

    We called the Fire Brigade.

    America needs to GROW UP with respect to firearms!

    You might claim that: "Guns don't kill people". really?? I'd say that stupid people, inappropriate people, and sick people with guns kill people.

    The statistics PROVE it to be so.

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    2. Anonymous, go be an ass somewhere else. I don't appreciate it.

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  85. I've often wondered how the most rabid of the Second Amendment paranoid crew thinks that their small arms could seriously deter the US government from "coming to take their guns" if that was really part of a government plot. You appear to understand our military forces quite well and I'm sure you could plan and execute a mission to disarm or neutralize pretty much any group of militia crazies. Given the disparity in firepower between the militia types and fully geared military task force I don't think it would take all that long to disarm/neutralize the crazies.

    Some of my more rabid "gun-nut" friends point to Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc as evidence of government intent to disarm us all. But they miss the real lesson: if you act all crazy while heavily armed and dangerous the "government" (ie, law enforcement) will successfully neutralize your threat, even if it means you and yours will die.

    Like you Jim, I really don't have an answer to the gun violence question beyond simply pointing out the irrationality that springs up around the subject. I wish I did, I really do, but hopefully someone with more smarts than me can figure it out.

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  86. Accepting that the conversation won't happen, still I was brainstorming today. (Sorry, work lent itself to it.) First off, I agree that Moar Gunz is not the way to solve these situations. And I'm one of the predictable group that feels that mental health care and prevention has a role to play. And since this topic deals with humans, and not some mythical constructs made of "pure evil" and "pure perfect" examples, it's not simple, but I'll try to give a boiled-down concept.

    Add to the existing background check an upcheck/downcheck database. Decide if it's a "three strikes" rule or ten strikes or something in between.

    The strikes come from: mental health care professionals, law enforcement, family, neighbors, co-workers and friends. People who know, come in contact with, and are familiar with the person. How many times have we heard the families tell about trying, over and over, to get someone into care, and either could not find a bed, or did not have coverage, or the person (legally) declined treatment? How many times have we heard "we couldn't do anything 'till AFTER something happened, even though everyone just knew s/he was going to snap sometime." Suppose it takes, for instance, three downchecks to prevent someone from buying firearms or ammo. (And perhaps there needs to be some way to store and safeguard any firearms already owned. Perhaps in a gun safe at a nearby range? (if that's even feasible) Since some people collect antique or otherwise somewhat unique pieces, I'm NOT for one moment suggesting wholesale confiscation, but perhaps if there were a way to safely store, and perhaps allow continued target use? Details still need to be ironed out.)

    Because some of those reporters may have an axe to grind, and also because some people really do improve their mental health with care and/or time, upchecks can be earned/logged/reported as well. If your vicious ex lied, there needs to be a way to clear your record. If you really were struggling with PTSD, but have now achieved some equivalent of "normal" there should be a way to mark that down, perhaps with an evaluation from a counselor. If you got a downcheck for being hopelessly clumsy, clueless, and altogether unsafe with anything that can reach out and harm someone, perhaps training and a test at a range can be the path to balancing against that with an upcheck. If a reporter shows a pattern of trying to remove all guns simply because "all guns are eeeviiiillll!" that's not a real reason. This database is about specific people, who for some specific reason really ought not to have access to their own, personal weapons.

    And that's it--as part of the same background checks that already exist, the new database would need to be nationwide. If mental healthcare professionals know that one check, alone, isn't enough to stop someone from buying a firearm, perhaps they would become willing to put their one downcheck on the database, even though nothing has happened, YET.

    We can't stop them all. Maybe we can't stop even half. But if we can't have a discussion we won't stop even one.

    Gretchen in KS

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    1. To clarify: Downchecks could come from physical abilities that would affect safe use--having nothing to do with mental health at all. (ADA Compliance be damned, and call me a philistine, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a bullet from a blind person's gun will still kill me just as dead if they hit me somewhere vital with it.) Downchecks could be pre-loaded, so to speak, if a person has shown no evidence of any sort of training, skill, or safety awareness. But Hunter's Safety and Concealed Carry courses might carry a standard number of upchecks for a successful completion.

      What I consider a key provision in this is the ability to legally have the ability to correct the record. Whether in the case of errors, or changes in status, or simply the fact that time really does heal all-- no, not all, but some wounds.

      Another key provision is that it's not just "going into therapy" that triggers a strike. If you frighten your friends and family, no need for a trip to a therapist, they can, perhaps, call a hotline if they feel strongly enough about it. And getting therapy can get upchecks, if your therapist thinks you are doing better. Granted, that might require a new breed of therapists, since there are SOME in that occupation who are among the fairly-rabid anti-gun lobby at this time.

      There are a lot of folks out of work right now, I wonder how many are suited to work as counselors? Hmmm.

      Again, This is just brainstorming. Which actually works better with more than one person, which implies a conversation. Which isn't possible when people froth at the mouth when the topic comes up.

      Gretchen in KS

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  87. 5% of violent crimes are committed by people with diagnosed mental illness. The other 95% of violent crimes are committed by people who are "normal" or un-diagnosed. Using mental illness as a criteria for gun ownership will only further stigmatize these conditions, and more people will not go into treatment. Furthermore, mental illness is a continuum- anyone who has a brain is subject to brain disorders (firing of synapses/three trillion neurotransmitters)- so a person can lapse into depression or whatever for a few months or years in their lives, but never have any kind of symptoms ever again. Others, don't go to treatment or hide their condition due to stigma. Where is the fairness and equality in using mental health as a criteria? - The stigma behind mental illness prevents people from "coming out". But, I know for a fact - I personally know school teachers, doctors, and everyday people who have "mental illness" and wouldn't hurt a fly. - As David Granirer, mental health advocate says, most people who have a mental illness can barely operate a swiffer. It takes mental cognition and focus to put a gun together and aim it, etc... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TUCjBWV7IA

    Gretchen brings out valid ideas, but what about the "normal" people?

    Yvonne, who volunteers in the mental health community

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    1. Respectfully, I agree that not all mental illness is violent. You are absolutely correct. But can we agree that setting out to harm others for no reason is not normal? Not mentally stable? Whether or not it was diagnosed in advance?

      Furthermore, it doesn't matter if that harm comes in the form of bullets, or envelopes full of white powder sent through the mail, or a truck filled with fertilizer and other misbegotten ingredients, or blankets carefully infected with contagious disease and given to--sorry, that's going back a bit far in history. The minds that think that up are not normal, and tip-toeing around their rights to be eccentric doesn't help society as a whole, once we actually have evidence of intent. (But perhaps, with a database, it might be easier to connect the dots, and find the evidence? I don't know. Maybe I don't want to live in THAT society, either.)

      The background checks that people have to pass to buy a gun aren't the only ones that matter. What about the ones that people need to pass to teach at an elementary school? Or prescribe/dispense controlled substances? Work in Law Enforcement?

      I certainly don't have all the answers. There needs to be conversation, debate, and probably some compromise. The lens I'm seeing through looks a bit like this: I grew up in the home of a mentally ill mother, who was entirely non-violent and vehemently anti-gun and anti-violence throughout my childhood. In recent years she has become delusional and insists that my husband has threatened to shoot her (he didn't) and that our local sheriff threatened to shoot her (seriously?) and told her therapist that she was brainstorming ways and means of killing my husband or paying someone to do it for her. But she expects to "get a pass" since she has always been nonviolent in the past. (And so far, she has. I can't even get a Protection From Harassment Order.) The double standard here just seems a bit unfairly balanced. (And yes, I know, nobody told me life was going to be fair.)

      I agree there is a stigma. But I won't deny that sometimes, family, friends, and co-workers may have insights that might have helped, if they could have had a forum in which to voice them. This is just one idea.

      Gretchen in KS

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  88. I want you to be wrong, Mr Wright.
    I want so badly to drop in here and make a set of snotty "neener-neener" remarks about how we've finally gotten off the dime and started working on this sensibly . Snotty but legitimate.Truly working on this crap.
    But I'm thinking I won't live long enough for it to happen.
    This time I'm not even dropping in on blog places I normally frequent. I'm tired of the 2A types thinking I'm trying to take away their guns and the even-hunting-is-an-abomination types screaming at me.
    I'm an old far-left liberal who grew up in a home where the rifle, the bow and the fishing rod were important tools which put food on the table. Still are.
    Somewhere along the way, whilst raising a family, and working, and all the stuff of everyday life, I missed the increasing politicization of gun ownership until I woke up one day and saw what you articulate so well.
    I've talked a lot with my almost-40-years-old grown son who teaches gun/hunter safety courses at the range in his town. He sees the same can't-get-off-the-dime dealie.
    I hope HE lives long enough to see it happen.
    I'm really pissed you are right, Mr Wright. Really pissed.
    But not at you...

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  89. Actually, mass shootings -- shootings of more than one person by one shooter, occur almost daily in America. The media only reports those where multiple people actually DIE. Consider the list for 2013 for instance. And yes, nothing seems to change. One begins to despair...

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    1. ^^^^ checked out the link, there is a line that states: "The NRA evades the gigantic costs of gun injuries to society and shifts the burden to taxpayers who often pay the costs for the medical care of the wounded." I know several people who suggest, gun-owners require liability insurance. In effect, it would be like registering, but not called that, so it would avoid discrimination against any particular faction; race, cultural background, medical background. The insurance companies would have to figure out costs, but I guess, $50 annual premium would be affordable per person, not per gun. Rates for that person would go up if there is an incident.

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    2. ..or insurance cancellation(!) in extreme cases, so then they couldn't have guns anymore. The owner would be liable for ANY gun they own, even if someone else uses it, so therefore, they would keep them in a safe place so they won't get stolen, and only let people who know how to use them borrow them. And they wouldn't let their small children have access to them. And perhaps, it would help in the case of shootings in domestic violence and hunters who "accidentally" shoot someone.

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  90. Scott the Aussie in Devon.April 6, 2014 at 4:22 AM

    It is a great article and even more relevant today than it was at first publication. I think the folks of the USA have a special relationship with guns, I think Jim said it "BANG BANG CRAZY" and that would be a fair description from what I can see. A few years ago in Australia we as a country sat down and pretty much had a thorough debate about what sort of guns we were willing to tolerate in society - this was after the Port Authur Massacre. And although I remember some wild statements from both the left and the right, (and from a work colleague who said he was burying his semi-autos on his farm "in case the Indos invade man") in the end a change in the law happened and semi-automatic weapons were banned from being owned or used by anyone except a select few groups of professional shooters. And the world kept turning.

    Now another mass shooting has happened in the USA, and as Jim says, soon enough people will forget about it. Except those family members of the victims. It's a mindset an Aussie like me can't quite get a handle on.

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  91. Almost becoming impossible to keep up with the news stories. The three dead in Overland Park on Sunday (4/13/14) hits home for me, especially. I was born in that metro area, my cousin lives in that metro area, and one of the victims is from the town where I live now. That one may not have had a true mental illness diagnosis, but reading up on his rap sheet in the Southern Poverty Law Center records, I'd say he'd be the sort to have needed a closer watch. Too bad we can't do anything about intent. He made his intent quite clear, repeatedly. (And yet, from other reports, it appears he killed two Methodists and a Catholic. At a Jewish senior center. Crazy (though surely undiagnosed) AND incompetent.)

    Gretchen in KS

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  92. It's 9/11. Not 911. Get the easy stuff right.

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    1. Uh huh.

      Please provide a link to any valid set of editorial guidelines or universally accepted grammar/syntax reference which supports your suggested correction.

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