Malcolm Reynolds: Well look at this. 'Pears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
Zoë Washburn: Big damn heroes, sir.
- Firefly, Season 1, Episode 7 “Safe”
Ben Carson is a hero.
Oh yes he is. He’s a big damn hero.
Well, maybe. Probably. In his mind.
Yesterday on Fox & Friends, Carson said, "Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all'"
Carson was talking about the shooting at an Oregon community college last week, where yet another angry loser with a gun, mad at the world, murdered nine people and then, as usual, turned his weapon on himself.
In the bloody aftermath, the oh so tediously predictable aftermath, Carson told Fox viewers he wouldn’t have have been a victim.
No, Ben Carson would have been a hero.
A big damned hero.
Carson boasted that he personally would have led the counter attack, charging into a hail of bullets heedless of his own life. Follow me, boys! He can’t get us all! For America! For Freeeeeedom! For mom and apple pie and Republican Jesus!
I mean, it’s not brain surgery. You just shout “charge!” He can’t get us all, right?
Big damn hero, Ben Carson. Now that’s a campaign slogan worthy of a bumper sticker.
Big damned heroes, they’re always ready to give somebody’s life in defense of liberty, you bet.
I’ve met people like this. Wannabe heroes.
I spent more than 20 years on active duty with the US military. I used to have a commanding officer, a Lieutenant, who I am absolutely certain practiced his Medal of Honor acceptance speech in the mirror every morning while shaving his big damned heroic chin. You know that speech? The big damn hero speech? Sure. It’s the one which begins all humble like, “Thank you, Mr. President. I’m sorry every one of my men were killed, but I’m honored, honored, to wear this award on their behalf…” All aw shucks and I wouldn’t call myself a hero, oh no sir. And what’s this? Why it’s a nice little scar that didn’t damage anything vital, just a big damned heroic wound to impress the laaaaadies. Oh yes.
Of course, when the balloon did go up and we were all out there on the pointy end of the stick, Commander Hero Chin (he’d gotten promoted by then) was heroically back in San Diego, heroically risking his life for America making heroic Power Point slides and fresh ground coffee for the admirals.
But man, if he’d been there, why, he’d have been a hero just like Ben Carson. Oh yes indeed. And for years afterward he’d regale anyone who’d listen with his tales of could-have-been heroism, “Man, if I was there, if I was there, man, you’d wouldn’t find me waiting to die, hell no. Why I wouldn’t just stand there and let him shoot me, no sir. I’d step right up and look that bastard in the eye! Follow me boys! He can’t get us all! For freeeeedom!”
That’s how these people think.
They practice their speeches, getting all the patriotic words just right, just the right amount of Captain America modesty, aw shucks anybody would have done it.
They rehearse how it’ll go down in their minds, a clever kick and a swift karate chop and they’ve got the terrorist’s gun and a pithy squint-eyed Dirty Harryism, do you feel lucky, Punk? and bang bang bang, they’re big damned heroes. Well, do ya?
And yet, oddly, guys like Ben Carson, they’re never on the front lines. Whenever it does go down, whenever the bullets start flying and the blood starts spraying and the screams echo in the halls … somehow, they’re nowhere to be found, these big damned heroes. It’s only afterwards they appear, oh, am I too late? Did I miss the battle? Well, let me tell you what I would have done.
We’re a nation of wannabe heroes, looking for our moment of glory.
This week, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit, a customer in a big box store parking lot attempted to help store security stop a suspected shoplifter by pulling out her gun and shooting at the suspect’s fleeing vehicle. The woman, a concealed carry license holder, saw a Home Depot Loss Prevention Officer attempting to stop a suspected shoplifter from getting into his vehicle. The suspect and his companion got away and took off in their SUV. So the woman, who was not a cop, not law enforcement, not involved, not threatened, not in fear of her life, and not defending herself or anyone else, pulled out her 9mm and began firing at the vehicle. What if there were other people in the car? Children say. So what? Who cares? It’s hero time!
Who presents a greater danger to the innocent public here? Some shoplifter who swiped a power drill or a box of screws or the good gal with a gun shooting in a flat trajectory across tarmac into a parking lot with a crowded highway and shopping center as a backstop?
Think about that.
Go ahead and take all the time you need.
While you’re at it, here's a thought problem for you:
Michigan is a Stand Your Ground state. Since the alleged shoplifter wasn't actually threatening this woman. And since she, as an uninvolved third party, menaced him with a gun. If he had a legal firearm in his possession at the time, would he have been justified in standing his ground, i.e. defending himself ala George Zimmerman, since any reasonable person would say his life was in danger? If not, why not?
Two weeks ago, another good guy with a gun apparently attempted to stop a carjacking at a Houston, Texas, gas station. Police say two men attacked a third man as he was pumping gas and then stole his truck. Another man, a good guy with a gun, pulled up, saw the attack, unlimbered his peacekeeper, and started shooting. Unfortunately, he hit the carjacking victim in the head instead of the thieves. The carjackers jumped into the victim’s truck and drove away. The shooter carefully picked up his spent shell casings and took off – not even bothering to check on the condition of the innocent man he’d just shot. Just another big damned hero. Note: there is some conflicting information regarding this story. Some reports say the victim was not actually shot, and was in fact injured by the carjackers who hit him on the head. Even now two weeks later there is no confirmation either way, and none of the original reports have been updated. However, I do note the original reports from local Houston media, based on actual police reports and on-scene witnesses, say the victim was shot in the head. Other media reports, based on secondhand accounts and filed a day or more later, say the victim was not shot. Regardless, all reports agree an uninvolved man fired on the carjackers and victim, policed his brass, and left the scene without helping the victim.
Now, certainly carjacking is a violent and dangerous crime.
Certainly the victim, whether injured by gunfire or by being hit on the head, has every right to defend himself, has every right to be angry and aggrieved at the violation. I don’t think anybody would argue that. Hell, I certainly wouldn’t argue his constitutional right to pull out his own legal weapon, should he have one, and use it to defend himself up to and including shooting at the guy who was shooting at him.
But in this case, who presented a greater threat to the public? The guys stealing a truck or the guy who wanted to be a big damned hero? Both ran away. Both took pains to hide their identities. Both are still at large and unidentified. So, how can you tell the hero from the zero? The victim was still injured, was still robbed, still left bleeding on the pavement.
Tell me, how did the gun improve this situation? How did it make anybody safer?
Think about it. Again, take all the time you need.
While you’re at it, here’s another thought problem:
Ponder the wisdom of a supposed responsible gun owner shooting into a gas station.
Three weeks ago in Des Moines, Iowa, a man was driving down a busy road when he saw another man running across the Dollar General parking lot. The running man jumped into a waiting truck which then sped away. The man suspected a robbery and attempted to stop the speeding truck by blocking it with his own vehicle. He drew his weapon and jumped out of his truck to confront the supposed robber … and was promptly hit by the suspect vehicle. He told police he then executed a “barrel roll” and came up shooting - and if you’re having T. J. Hooker flashbacks here, rest assured you’re not the only one. The truck sped away. Whether the shooter actually hit anything or anybody remains unknown.
Tell me again, I forgot your previous answer, how did the gun improve this situation?
Tell me how the situation wouldn’t have been better served if he’d shot the suspects with his cell phone camera instead with his gun.
How does discharging a weapon in the middle of a busy intersection without regard to your backstop or surroundings make society safer?
While you’re at it, here’s yet another thought problem:
This guy, the shooter, we can agree he has a right to defend himself, yes? But would that have been necessary to begin with if he hadn’t jumped out of his truck with a gun in his hand? He put himself in danger. He put himself in danger because he could, because he was armed. Then he tried to shoot his way out of it when things went pear-shaped and it’s only by pure luck he didn’t hit a bystander. How comfortable are you with that? Good? Okay, now put your kids in that parking lot and answer the question again.
Big damned heroes.
Meanwhile in that same period, this last three weeks, how many crimes have been successfully stopped by a good guy with a gun?
Come now, let’s have a list. We’ve got nine more dead in Oregon. We’ve got the cases above. In Jefferson Country, Tennessee, we’ve got an 11-year old who deliberately killed his 8-year old neighbor with a 12-gauge shotgun in an argument over a puppy. Heck, we’ve even got a story about US servicemen on a train in France who took down an armed terrorist with their bare hands.
But where are the Big Damned Heroes? Where are the good guys with their guns?
Why aren’t the headlines full of these people?
No, no, don’t look away. Don’t change the subject. Don’t move the goalposts. Where are they? Given the staggering amount of violence in this country, given the crime that fills our news feeds every day, given the mugs and the thugs and the Ebola infected brown people from Africa and the Muslim terrorists and the invading hordes of red commies and the raping illegals from south of the border, where is it? Where are the hundreds, thousands, millions, of headlines? Where are the tales of heroism and courage? I mean, given the sheer number of home invasions we are warned about every single day by the gun lobby, every single one of us should know somebody who’s fought it out with a crackhead in their kitchen at 2AM or took down a crazed shooter in the parking lot of their kid’s elementary school or defended an abortion clinic from some raging Christian Jesus Warrior equipped with his own personal arsenal of God … okay, that’s a bad example but I think I’ve made my point here.
Where are they?
Is it like Bigfoot and UFOs? Tens of millions of cell phone cameras and surveillance systems and none of them capture a single Good Guy With A Gun taking down the endless parade of bad guys we’re warned about every single day?
Oh, I see. It’s the Second Amendment hating liberal media. They won’t publish stories about big damned heroes stopping crime with their guns. They’re hiding the truth! The truth! That’s it, isn’t it? Sure. Because Fox News, Newsmax, The Wall Street Journal, Guns&Ammo, Breitbart, Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter, those guys, right, liberal mouthpieces one and all. That must be it.
"Can you imagine with Trump, somebody says, 'Ohhh, all these big monsters aren't around, he's easy pickins, and then ... pu-ching! So this is about self-defense, plain and simple!"
Self defense? I thought this was about shooting down your government because you’re feeling oppressed by tyranny? No?
Okay, self defense. Whatever you say, Chuck.
Donald Trump told the crowd at a suburban Nashville campaign stop on Saturday he has a New York state concealed carry permit and if faced with an attack like that last week in Oregon he’d go all Charles Bronson. The crowd loved the idea of The Donald as a raging vigilante so much they started chanting “Death Wish! Death Wish!”
Trump then went on to rail against "gun-free zones," telling the cheering crowd the Oregon shootings could have been stopped if only teachers and students had been armed. He somehow left out the part where Umpqua Community College is not a gun free zone – and in fact Oregon state law forbids colleges from outlawing guns. But hey, Death Wish Trump is on a roll and why spoil a thing with facts, right?
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to visualize Donald Trump, Donald Trump, massive gold-plated .50 Desert Eagle clutched in one hand, American flag in the other, chest bared, fighting it out Hollywood style with the next mass shooter in the hallways of your kid’s school. Pu-Ching! Oh you want some of this! How about some of this? Do ya, Punk? Pu-Ching! Pu-Ching!
Trump, like Jeb Bush and his fellow conservatives blamed the vague catchall “mental illness” for America’s gun violence and then, like Bush, noted stuff just happens. “No matter what you do, you will always have problems," Trump said and added that “it doesn't make sense to limit access to firearms.”
It doesn’t make sense to limit access to firearms.
Not even for people with “mental illness?”
Ah, you know, never mind.
As extra credit, consider this thought problem:
Mass shootings in the US are random events unrelated to gun proliferation and violent culture. Nine unarmed innocent people are gunned down in cold blood by a nut with a bad haircut and a grudge, and we shrug and say, hey, shit just happens. A nut dressed like a comic book character shoots up a movie theater? Shit happens. A racist murders people in their church? Shit happens. Another nut with a bad haircut and mental problems takes his mother’s personal arsenal and murders first her and then a school full of kindergarteners? Whoa, slow down there, Hoss, look here, shit just happens. There’s nothing you can do about it and we don’t need to be making any rash changes. Did I say rash changes? Hell, we don’t need to be making deliberate changes either. No changes.
Shit just happens, man.
Now, given that, what do you call it when four armed Americans are gunned down in the middle of a violent revolution in a North African country steeped in gun culture?
Hint: 10 congressional committees and 32 congressional hearings are pretty sure shit doesn’t just happen.
Shit just happens.
And Bobby Jindal knows why. Jindal didn’t blame fate. Shit might just happen in Bobby’s world, but at least he knows where the blame lies.
It’s bad parenting, see?
Jindal went after the shooter’s father:
“He’s a complete failure as a father! Because he failed to raise his son.”
Jindal was enraged because the shooter’s father condemned his murderous son’s actions, questioned how a kid with mental problems could just legally buy four guns, and called for reasoned discussion of gun violence. Jindal was pissed! How dare he? It’s an outrage! Why a real father, a real father, would have … I dunno, bought his mentally disturbed kid more guns like the Charleston Shooter, took him to the range like the Sandy Hook Shooter, something, man. A real father of a mass murderer wouldn’t be talking about gun control, why that’s unAmerican. A real father would have charged the shooter, yeah, like Ben Carson, been a big damned hero.
Jindal wrote a blog post titled We fill Our Culture with Garbage, and We Reap The Result. He blamed music that promotes “the degradation of women” and flouts “the laws of God and common decency.” And of course, he wouldn’t be a Republican if he didn’t also blame abortion.
Mike Huckabee chimed in on that theme:
“We have not so much a gun problem, we have a problem with sin and evil.”
Sin and evil. Abortion. Ah, of course. In other words, “If women weren’t rutting godless whores, none of this would have happened.” Sin folks, who’s fault is that?
And so what have we learned in the wake of yet another bloody rampage?
All of this violence has one thing in common. But that’s not the problem, folks. No, Sir.
It’s women having sex, that’s the problem here.
It’s that Rock & Roll music. It’s Elvis the Pelvis and that Satan loving heavy metal.
It’s TV. It’s video games. Though oddly, you don’t see conservatives promoting peaceful TV and non-violent video games and why is that?
It’s gun free zones. Though, perversely, the vast majority of gun violence occurs outside of gun free zones pretty much every single day, but just never mind that. Move along. Move along.
It’s mental illness. But, hey, let’s fight tooth and nail against anything that might keep crazy people from buying guns.
It’s sin. It’s evil. It’s abortion and gay people. It’s illegal aliens. It’s divorce and bad fathers who don’t like guns. Because, and lets be honest here, if we let God make the laws, why this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. No violence in the bible, right? Other that part about virtuous fathers sacrificing their sons on stone altars or handing out their daughters like door prizes, or that part, you know, where God slaughters all the firstborn kids and drowns the entire planet.No, it’s everything but guns.
What we need, see, is more guns. Yeah, that’ll fix the problem.
What we need, is some big damned heroes. Follow me, they can’t shoot us all!
Last night, Ben Carson appeared on SiriusXM’s Karen Hunter Show and related his own real life act of heroism. Carson, it seems was once held at gunpoint inside a Popeye’s fast food restaurant during a robbery.
“Guy comes in,” Carson tells it. “Put the gun in my ribs.”
Did Carson refuse to cooperate? Did he refuse to stand there and take it? Did he shout Hey guys! Everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all!
Actually what Ben Carson, Big Damned Hero, said in his own words was:
“I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s organization. I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'”
Are you feeling lucky? Well are ya? Because I believe you want the guy behind the counter. Punk.
Zoë Washburn: Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed.
- Serenity, 2005
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.