A week after the Aurora, Colorado shootings I wrote a piece about gun violence.
I never intended it to be an ongoing series.
But then there was another mass shooting.
And so I wrote a follow up.
And then there was another mass shooting. And another follow up.
And another after that.
And here we are, a year and six essays later and I can't see where it ends or how many more installments I'll have to write.
The only thing for certain is that there will indeed be more entries in this series – and in fact I’ve already started writing part seven.
Tens of thousands of people have read these posts - or at least pieces of them - and left hundreds of comments here on Stonekettle Station. They've shared some or all of the series across Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and on the various blogs and forums they haunt. I've gotten email, boy, have I gotten email, some in support, some in vehement disagreement, some threatening violence or even legal action (beats me, I'm still waiting to hear from their lawyers). Not a day goes by that I don't get messages from people I've never met pointing me toward reports of more violence, or the NRA's latest hysteria, or even examples of how guns save lives and enrich the perennial American experience. People that I know personally and have been good friends with for many, many years have completely lost their minds over this issue, and they forward me one panicked chain-email after another describing in 24pt bold underlined italic font how the “gun grabbers” are destroying America. I've lost friends. I've lost readers (and gained a few too). I've been asked to speak in front of a number of different groups and I've accepted a few offers to do so. I hear from gun lovers and gun haters and I've been called everything from a "typical America hating liberal" for what I've written here to a "murdering Bush conservative" because I happen to be a veteran and gun owner myself, from a "true American patriot" to a "fucking Nazi traitor" with stops at every point in between.
Not even Jesus and Abortion can get Americans, Left and Right, riled up to the level of frothy insanity the way guns can.
And it's not just the gun nuts you know.
It's not just the gun nuts who are bang bang crazy.
Nor is it just the gun grabbers either.
And it's not just those hardcore yellow-eyed fanatics who have elevated the Constitution to Holy Writ and the Second Amendment to divine license.
It's the other folks too, the ones I’m about to piss right off.
Seems there’s plenty of bang bang crazy to go around.
Apparently it just depends on the target of gun violence:
- Just another ruse by the conservatives in an effort to show the public that minorities are not to be trusted in a position of authority. Even those that deceive the public with their selfless contribution to country and state..
- Poor guy never got to tell his side of the story. They took him out, before the real truth could come out. R.I.P.
- It was a single shot from a sniper ... Why you think they set the cabin on fire . There was no intentions on letting him surrender period !!!!!.
- Just the First Battle of America's beginning Class War primarily between the ultra arrogant government Bully Class and the Working Class.
- The First Battle in America's Second Civil War, a Class War, has been fought and there are casualties. [he] had been in a Higher Class and was crushed down into a lower Class. After five years he realized that his life was ruined. He declared War on the Upper Class. Like most Class Wars this War will be a War of No Quarter and No Mercy.
- What killing rampage? It was all a hoax..
- Hope they don't kill him to keep him from talking. Cops and the military have a history of doing that.
These comments are of course talking about the violent death of Christopher Dorner, ex-navy officer, ex-cop, serial killer, domestic terrorist, who held Southern California at gunpoint for the last week.
On February 12th, Dorner died in a burning cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains - exactly how he died is still under investigation as I write this. Initial reports indicate that he was shot in the head, whether by his own hand or somebody else’s has yet to be determined. But, he didn’t burn to death as some would like to have it. I don’t know if that makes it better or not, but it seems to me that “burned to death by renegade police” is martyr country, “shot himself in the head to avoid arrest” isn’t. Others may certainly see it differently – and obviously do.
However he died, a significant number of people are suddenly willing to promote Christopher Dorner to hero status.
He stood up to an oppressive government! He fought to the death with honor and courage and dignity! He fired the opening shots of a new civil war, rich against poor, black against white, freedom against The Man, downtrodden against elite, the oppressed against the tyrants!
If these people spontaneously break into a rousing hard rock rendition of The Hero of Canton (The Man They Call Jayne) I won’t be even vaguely surprised at this point.
Good grief, have we Americans truly fallen so far that this is the kind of guy we look up to?
Suddenly a mind boggling conglomeration of lefties and righties and various conspiracy nutters are coalescing around the idea that somehow Christopher Dorner is some kind of hero.
Honestly, how is that possible?
- Where did you get all this info on the people he is suppose to have killed??? Oh yeah, The LAPD, ones directly associated with Dorner's wrongful termination for whistle blowing!!! I was like you the first day, mad as heck he could justify killing the daughter but then I started looking around and realized chances are he never killed anyone except cops that shot at him first...
Well, yeah, except for that part were Dorner himself said he’d “have to kill to clear his name.”
Or the part where he was identified by numerous video cameras and witnesses which included the various people he assaulted, car jacked, tied up, and shot at.
Or the fact that even his own mother and sisters have reason to believe it was him and that he did everything the police say he did.
But yeah, you, Random Outraged Person From the Internet, you know him better than they do. Right.
- they keep saying he went down in a blazing gun battle??? Baloney!!!Dorner hit what he shot at if he had been able to shoot he would have killed a dozen of them...They burned his body up to most likely hide a torturous death. I think they got their hands on him, why else would they order the media out of there and also let all the evidence burn up???.
Except for that part where there was a major gun battle.
Or that part where Dorner didn’t hit everything he aimed at.
Or that part where there’s no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that “they” got “their” hands on “him.”
- Rest in peace DORNER.Wake up dum fuck small time cops.Get a life dum cops.
More than twenty jurisdictions and police departments were involved in the hunt for Dorner, which ones are “dum fuck small time cops” that need to get a life? (Also, if you can’t spell “dumb” I’d be careful using it to describe others, I’m just saying). They were all corrupt, right? Every one of those cops? Even the one that Dorner shot and killed while running into the wood? You know, the one who left behind a wife and two young children?
Funny isn’t it? After 9-11, cops and firefighters were heroes, and rightly so. People across the country wore police T-shirts and sang their praises, and still do. I saw one in the store this morning.
How come the terrorists who felt completely justified in their actions on 9-11 aren’t heroes too? They had just as much complaint against the US as Chris Dorner did, probably more, racism, economic disenfranchisement, occupation, invasion, murdered relatives, how come they aren’t heroes too? Why isn’t a confederation of liberals and conservatives and angry libertarians protesting for their rights on the steps of the New York court house today?
Fickle sons of bitches, aren’t we?
- The $1 million dollar reward was for the capture and prosecution of this guy. From the sound of that, is seems that they had no intention of bringing him back alive. No prosecution, no reward. Sounds a little fishy, this guy must have had some low down on someone. I have never heard of a $1 million dollar reward for anyone since I've been around..
Oh, since you’ve been around, eh? Well, then, since you, Random Yahoo Commenter, haven’t heard of a million dollar reward before, well, obviously it must all be a conspiracy!
Except for that part where there are many, many rewards in that price range, say like that $2 Million dollar reward the FBI offered for Whitey Bulger, or the $5 Million they offer for those on the most wanted list, or the $25 Million they’re offering for Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Maybe you should get around a little more, before commenting, I’m just saying.
- LAPD said they didn't intentionally burn the cabin. Whats wrong with telling the truth. Even swinging dick knows the cabin was set ablaze intentionally!!
Well, sure, except for that part where maybe the truth could possibly be that instead of firing bullets into the cabin, the police fired a tear gas canister into the cabin.
I mean, really, if they wanted to kill him, really kill him, why bother with the tear gas at all?
Now, I’ve only had twenty years of anti-terrorism and security experience but it seems to me that if the police really wanted Dorner dead, for certain, they’d have tossed in a grenade or two or three, instead of tear gas.
Maybe, and here’s an idea, the police were sick and tired of being shot at.
I dunno, maybe the police hoped to drive Dorner out of the cabin so that he could be taken alive without any more people other than Dorner getting killed. And maybe those tear gas burners were the best way to accomplish that. Sure would be nice if tactical tear gas canisters didn’t require heat, but they do. That’s just the way it is. But, then again, I’m sure everybody on the CNN, Yahoo, and Fox News forums, and those protesting in front of the LA Mayor’s Office this morning, know that because they’re all obviously experts in special weapons tactics.
But yeah, Random Person With All The Answers And No Actual Experience, you’re probably right, cops should have to just stand there and take rounds.
Sure. Good luck finding somebody to fill that job, because really, fuck you.
The simple truth of the matter is this, it isn’t TV. Gary Sinese isn’t going to show up and offer some squinty eyed pithy platitude and the bad guy just curls up and admits everything. It just doesn’t work that way. Dorner was crazy mad, he was determined, and he was well aware of how this was going to go down. There was no way he didn’t. He was trained that way.
The police finally had Dorner cornered and they damned well weren’t going to let him escape. Which is exactly correct. And you, the public, should be goddamned grateful that it worked out exactly that way, because it usually doesn’t. They had Dorner cornered. They had him cornered by himself. No hostages. Hostage taking was something Dorner repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to do. Along with allowing innocent people to suffer the consequences of his rampage.
There was, and would be, no better time to end it without any further risk to the public. Something you’ll recall is a police officer’s sworn duty, to protect the public.
Standard procedure in such a situation is to end it, with the suspect alive if possible, but end it nonetheless. And end it without any further police or public lives lost. Period. And that is just exactly what happened.
Again, ex-police officer Christopher Dorner knew exactly how that standoff was going to go down. There was no way he couldn’t have known. And he could have changed the outcome at any time, but he didn’t.
That’s completely and totally on him and nobody else.
- Notice how Dorner didn't kill any of the others he encountered. He could have made it if he had killed the cleaning ladies or that carjacking victum. He was no monster at all. He beef was entirely with the LAPD and anything spawn from it!!!
- I love you Dorner. I am going to find out where you are buried and bring roses and other special gifts. You stood for the weak and suffering when the odd man would have just walked away!!! Nothing good is coming for the LAPD in the future; strictly regarding this incident. I also pry for the cops who died while just doing their duty. But all others were fail game!!!
I love you Chris.
He didn’t kill anybody that didn’t have it coming.
He was no monster at all.
I pray for the cops who died just doing their duty, but all the others were fair game.
Right. Except for that one little part where Dorner begin his campaign of retribution by killing Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence for no reason other than to take revenge on a cop he maybe had an imagined beef with. I guess you forgot about that little detail.
Answer me this, in what bizarre fantasy land does the hero go around offing the innocent children of his enemies? What hero shoots a woman and her boyfriend while they’re sitting in a car? People who did nothing to him. Nothing. What hero plots this, for five years? The only reason for this is to make the father suffer, to exact terrible revenge, to engage in terror.
This wasn’t justice, it was retribution.
It was cold blooded murder and terrorism of the very worst kind – it was killing kids to punish their parents.
No matter how wrong Dorner may or may not have been done, nothing justifies his actions.
Nothing, nothing, excuses this. Nothing.
While you’re at it, answer another question for me, how do you tell the cops that were just doing their duty from the ones that had it coming? Because I’m a little hazy on that whole part. Especially there at the end where it was the San Bernardino Police that surrounded the cabin but somehow it’s the Los Angeles Police who have divine retribution coming for killing Christopher Dorner, how’s that work exactly?
Christopher Dorner murdered people. Murdered them. He wounded others. He carjacked a guy at gun point. He tied up an 81 year old man. He broke into people’s houses and tied them up and and stole their property. He’s responsible for all of it. Him personally.
I guess we’re all just supposed to be grateful he didn’t do worse. After all, he’d been maybe, probably, could be, wronged. So that excuses it, right?
What a guy. What a hero.
- This stinks to HIGH HEAVEN! There is a cover up, misdirection, inconsistent stories, and the MURDER of the suspect at the end! I fear "we" will NEVER get the truth about what Dorner knew about the LAPD! Can you say Waco? I knew that you could.
Last time I checked we had gotten the truth about Waco, we just didn’t like it.
I don’t seem to remember much of a cover up. There were plenty of screw ups, but no particular cover up – what with it all happening live and in living color from a hundred cameras and news feeds piped directly into our living rooms.
As long as you’re answering questions for me, how about this one: What do you call it when a guy robs a bank at gunpoint because they repo’d his house and put his family out on the street? And it all happened because the bank engaged in chicanery back when they were offering easy, easy mortgages. Now our robber shoots the bank manager point blank in the head – it’s not the same bank manager who sold him the loan all those year ago, but hey, who cares, right? Bank managers are all the same, rotten to the core. And then the robber publically declares that he’s going to rob more banks and kill more people if given the chance and there’s not a damned thing anybody can do about it … and then he gets shot and killed by the police as he attempts to flee the scene, but not before he manages to kill just one more cop in the process. Who’s the murderer here? The cops? Who’s the hero? Is it the robber? Sure it is, because don’t we all just hate bank managers? And banks? And the whole damned fat cat Wall Street financial system that’s been ass raping the whole damned world for the last ten years?
But, Dorner, right. He’s a hero.
He’s a hero because you, you don’t like the LAPD. That about right?
There must be something deeply wrong with me psychologically, for I cannot help feeling a sense of solidarity with raging madman of the week Christopher Dorner. Here is a guy with a plan, with real skills, and an intelligent message. Dorner is actually out there taking action, trying to make a real difference, however warped and illogical his message might be. It's more than most of us can say for ourselves when it comes acting on causes we feel passionate about.... So what now? Do we all grab our assault rifles and open season on the LAPD? Not exactly. We need to find a middle ground between killing sprees and Facebook likes. Lets bring Dorner to justice for murder, and then collectively press for reform of the LAPD and police departments all over the nation. We have Dorner to thank for this teachable moment.
That’s Wilson Blair at ITHP, home of the survivalist Libertarian.
Politics indeed make strange bedfellows.
A teachable moment. That’s what Blair called this. A teachable moment. And the lesson, well, yeah, murder, but hey, at least Dorner took action! That’s something. Action. I guess the same could be said for Aurora Colorado, right? Or Sandy Hook. Or fucking Charlie Manson – a man of action if ever there was one.
You've got to be kidding me.
And if you are, it's a poor joke in piss poor taste.
You out there, crying over Christopher Dorner, this is who you’re in bed with. Right here. I hope you at least thought to use protection.
Dorner, whatever he was, was no hero, and he's for goddamned sure not worthy of your respect or sympathy or your tears. He betrayed every oath he ever took. He’s a disgrace to the uniforms he wore and the men and women he swore to serve beside. He’s an asshole.
This was no preschooler cut down in a hail of bullets. This wasn't some congresswomen shot in the head point blank. This wasn't just some guy minding his own business in a mall or a movie theater or any of the hundreds of others victimized by gun violence this last year. He's no tragic figure from Hollywood, he's not John Rambo or Will Munny or Django Unchained. He’s a guy who, with malice aforethought, chose to become a murderer. He chose this path. He wasn’t forced into it, he deliberately chose it, he planned it, he declared his intention and he pulled the trigger.
It doesn't make a damned bit of difference if you hate the LAPD.
It doesn't make a damned bit of difference if you hate all cops everywhere and are firmly convinced that The Man is out to get you. And it doesn’t matter even if you’re right.
It doesn't make a damned bit of difference if you think that everybody in a police uniform is a sadistic racist bastard.
It doesn't make a damned bit of difference if every cop in Southern California went absolutely apeshit and swore to hunt Dorner down like a mangy dog.
It doesn't matter if you've got a beef with the government, or you hate Obama, or you hate Conservatives, or whoever you hate. Doesn’t matter.
Those are separate issues.
Now, certainly the police have many things to answer for, but that’s beside the point.
And yes, it will be many, many years of sincere effort for the LAPD to wipe away the stench of racism and brutality that they've so justly earned.
And most certainly police officers who can't tell the difference between two petite Asian women delivering newspapers or a skinny white surfer on his way to the beach and a six foot tall, 270 pound black man bent on murderous revenge need to be held to public account - or at least need mandatory eye exams and some target identification retraining.
And yes, it sure would be nice if you, the taxpayer, felt like coughing up a bit more of your tax dollars to fund police departments so that they could train and equip their officers with non-lethal weapons, or at least ones that don’t light the house on fire – and yes, there are such things, they just cost a lot more than a standard burner round. You want to pay for that? I’m hip, let’s do it.
But that doesn’t make Dorner a hero.
Christopher Dorner is not a misunderstood rebel.
We all understand him just fine. He’s a selfish, self-centered son of a bitch with an axe to grind – and maybe he was justified in feeling that way. Maybe everything he said about the LAPD was correct. Maybe he was discriminated against. And then again maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was a liar and a scumbag and just exactly the kind of guy people are accusing the LAPD of being, because frankly, a guy who resorts to revenge killing and terrorism instead of legal and lawful actions is very likely exactly that kind of guy. Exactly.
Maybe, and here’s a thought, maybe the LAPD training officer and the review board who kicked Dorner off the force were exactly correct in doing so. Maybe they did their jobs exactly the way they should have.
I don’t know one way or the other, but this I do know: once Christopher Dorner chose to become a murderer all his complaints were moot. I don’t care what his beef was, he’s an asshole and I’m not going to shed one tear over his death.
He’s not a patriot or a symbol of America or some such nonsense.
Taking up arms against your neighbors and former coworkers, taking the law into your own hands, murder, terrorism, kidnapping, car jacking, all are just about as un-American as you can get.
He’s not some poor persecuted whistleblower.
He had his day in front of the review board. He had his appeal. As I said above, given his actions, I strongly suspect that he was removed from the force for a good reason, because he was unsuitable to be the kind of cop we want patrolling the streets.
Be that as it may, Dorner had many, many legal options, many courses of action that he could have taken. Good grief, look at the sympathy he’s getting now, look at how much people seem to hate the LAPD (even people who have never even been to LA) – Dorner might not have won an appeal, but he very likely could have gotten satisfaction in the court of public opinion and maybe even monetary compensation in civil court. And there are plenty of lawyers willing to take on just such a case, because after all, who doesn’t hate the LAPD, right?
If Dorner really had a case, he would have won eventually.
So, why didn’t he? Why didn’t he take it to court? And don’t give me this horseshit about “they would have killed him first!” because the LAPD forgot about him five years ago. Dorner did the killing first, not the police. Dorner isn’t the only guy in the last couple of years to be let go from his job, or even from the LAPD. It happens. And a lot of the time it happens for a good reason.
He is most certainly not a hero in any sense of the word.
I’ll remind you one final time that his first action was to murder an innocent woman whose only “crime” was to be the daughter of somebody Dorner hated.
He killed that exemplary young women and her boyfriend, in cold blood, without mercy, without warning – solely in order to levy retribution on her father.
I don’t care how much you squint your eyes, there’s nothing, not one damned thing, heroic about this act. It’s craven and cowardly and unjustified in any fashion by any social norm or ethical code or moral law.
Dorner was no hero. Period. He wasn’t cut down defending truth, justice, and the American way – whatever the hell that is. He died trapped like a rat in a box, right after he killed a father and a husband and a guy who got up that morning and put on his uniform and went out to protect the citizens of America – that policeman, San Bernardino Police Department Detective Jeremiah MacKay, was everything Dorner should have been, and wasn’t.
Christopher Dorner was a murderer and a terrorist and a kidnapper and a screwed up excuse for a human being who just happened to have chosen as his enemy a widely hated police department.
There’s only one person responsible for Christopher Dorner’s death.
And that’s Christopher Dorner.
Addendum 1: Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity
Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meyer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun. I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family. Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I’m an Alaskan and I typically carry a gun in the wilds of Alaska on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.