Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 1


The previous post has been up for five days now.

Three days ago I added an addendum.

The post, if you haven’t read it, was about gun violence.

On the surface, it was about the horrific events in Aurora, Colorado, when James Holmes dressed up like his favorite comic book villain and stormed into a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and started killing people. Using a variety of semi-automatic weapons, he managed to gun down twelve people and wound nearly seventy more. He then surrendered to the police. Since then, Holmes has appeared in court for arraignment, hair dyed orange, looking exactly like the muddled, deranged, murderous cartoon character that he pretended to be.

Specifically, as noted in the addendum, I predicted that this most recent slaughter would change nothing and that the subsequent national narration (I was going to say national dialog, but dialog indicates a reasoned two-way conversation and that is emphatically the wrong word) was tediously predictable.

A week on and I think I’m entitled say: See? I told you so.

It’s like those Hollywood remakes that have become popular in recent years. Where movie studios suddenly started redoing not films from the middle of the last century, but rather films that are only a few years old or so – say like Total Recall, Spiderman, and, of course, Batman.  Yes, that’s it, It’s exactly like being doomed to a rerun of Batman every four or five years. They updated the special effects and move the locations around and change the furniture, but it’s the same plot, same story, same lines said in slight variation by the current Hollywood A-list.

You know the stories by heart and you can predict exactly who they will cast.

See if you can identify this reality TV actor:

The bad guys, the criminals, don’t follow laws and restricting more of America’s freedoms when it comes to self-defense isn’t the answer. Not when you consider what the reality is. Bad guys don’t follow laws.”

Who said that?

Oh it’s a toughie, isn’t it? Who could it be? Who could it be?

Yes, of course it was Sarah Palin. No surprises there.  Anybody could have predicted within a word or two exactly what the Sourdough Shill was going to say.

The bad guys, those criminal guys, well they don’t follow those laws, you know.

No Kidding? Really? Thanks for pointing that out, Grizzly Mama. Criminals don’t follow the law? Is that sort of like how teenagers don’t follow abstinence-only birth control? But I digress.

Criminals don’t follow the law. Wow, you think maybe that’s why we call them criminals in the first place?

Funny thing, James Holmes did actually follow the law.

Well, right up until he started killing people, that is. But all the rest of it? The guns, the thousands of rounds of ammo, the precursor chemicals for the bombs and the ballistic armor? All that was legal.

And that’s sort of the whole damned point, isn’t it?

But, hey, why spoil a thing with logical fallacies, right?

Speaking of Hollywood movies due for a remake, how about Split Second? What do you mean you’ve never heard of this early 1990’s SCIFI/Horror masterpiece? Rutger Hauer in his steely-eyed prime as detective Harley Stone, hunting a murderous alien monster through the sodden streets of drowned future London? Co-starring Kim Cattrall and Michael J. Pollard (Bonk bonk on the head!). Seriously, you haven’t seen this?

Harley Stone and his new partner, Dick Durkin (Alastair Duncain), have just barely survived a battle with the monster, who just might be Satan himself, in the flooded metro tunnels beneath London.  Dick wasn’t a believer until now. He thought the killer was just another murderous psychopath. Turns out, whoa, Satan. Stunned and shaking, Dick turns to Harley and screams the movie’s best line, “We need to get bigger guns! BIG FUCKING GUNS!”  Split Second opened during the weekend of the L.A. Riots, you’d think with a line like that it would have done better at the box office.

We’ve got monsters.

Satan, maybe even.

We need to get bigger guns. Big fucking guns. Yes, that’s what we need. Bigger guns and lots of them.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson opined:

“It's certainly one of the rationales behind conceal and carry. Where criminals actually have to be a little concerned before they commit a criminal act that maybe somebody could stop them. And I think that is the truth. That somebody, a responsible individual, had been carrying a weapon, maybe, maybe, they could have prevented the death and injuries. I mean, that's just the truth. “

You keep using the word “truth,” Senator, I don’t think that word means what you think it means.  I’m pretty sure what you meant to say was “my unsubstantiated opinion” or perhaps “talking out my ass.”  Also? It’s “concealed carry,” Ron, not “conceal and carry.” You’re thinking about shoplifting. But, hey, I’m sure everything else you know about firearms and shooting it out in a darkened theater in the midst of a panicked crowd of screaming kids against a heavily armed and armored attacker is valid.

Let’s go ask a few experts, you know like cops, if they think a civilian firefight in a crowded theater is a good idea, or if they want to walk into one.

Sure, they’ll say, all we need are some more guns, that’ll cut down on the carnage. Sure. More guns. Big fucking guns.

Point of order: by Senator Johnson’s logic, shouldn’t there be less violent crime in places where the threat of imminent return fire is common? Wouldn’t criminals, say like gang bangers or drug cartels or organized crime “actually have to be a little concerned” when confronting other armed criminals on the streets of LA, or on the Texas border, or on Chicago’s South Side? I mean by definition they know the other criminals are armed, right? Oddly, far from making criminals more cautious, what seems to happen instead is that most of them just go get bigger guns and start shooting first.  Same thing with those outlaw separatists and white supremacists  and those crazy wild-eyed end-of-the-world religious cults.  Remember those two bank robbers in LA a couple years back? Fully automatic machine guns and full tactical armor. They expected return fire. They planned for it. The one guy stood in the middle of the street shooting at the cops, impervious, like a fucking Terminator. They called it the North Hollywood Shootout. Remember? Even the SWAT team couldn’t take these guys down, the cops eventually had to break into gun stores and borrow military grade assault weapons. It was a full on battle in the street. I guess those criminals never met Senator Johnson, eh?

Oh yes, what we need here are more guns. Big fucking guns. And lots more of ‘em.  Hell, everybody should have enough firepower to take down a terminator!  That’s the America I want to raise my children in! Oh yes, let’s do that. Hoorah!

But I digress again.

A number of well spoken concerned citizens wrote to me, or commented on various forums and Facebook postings where I was linked to or quoted, and said something similar to this gem of NRA brilliance that I found in my inbox yesterday morning:

“Those twelve ‘dead kids’ as you called them (not all of them were kids, you might want to stop trying to manipulate peoples emotions with your overally dramatic writings!!! are patriots. Just like solders they died for our freedom from Tranny. If there had been just one lawful person there with concealled carry he could have been stopped right there. Yes that is true. Holmes is a sick MONSTER!!!! no matter what law you libtards pass because your scared to defend yourselfs, criminals will still get guns and use them to kill innocent people!!!  Look its just like drunk driving. No matter what laws you pass peoplw eill still drive drunk. You will still have accidents! But you don’t stop drivings do you? If we followed your socialist libtard thinking you libtards would ban cars just because some kids got drunk and killed some other people.  That’s libtard logic!!! Learn to think before you speak!!!”

Learn to think before you speak.


I’m going to manfully resist the urge to ask what this guy has been doing that he feels the need to defend himself from Trannys and I’ll just take the high road here. I will, however, take a moment to boggle at the fact that we let people who can’t even operate something as simple as a spell checker have guns. Jesus Bulletproof Christ, I hope this guy is a little more reserved with his ammo expenditure than he is with the exclamation points. I will also resist the urge to point out that by his “conservatard” logic, basically what he and Sarah Palin and Senator Johnson are saying is that the solution to vehicular deaths and drunken driving is for all of us to get drunk ourselves and get in our cars and do some demolition derby on the lawbreakers.  Right? However, that said, he brings up a comparison that must now have propagated from one end of the NRA to the other.  I’ve heard it at least a hundred times in the last five days, including from the blowhard expert of all things conservative that sits in the office across the hall from mine. And that is drunk driving, or rather cars in general. 

The gun nuts do have a point.

We do indeed accept a certain number of vehicular deaths each year, including those caused by drunk drivers and crazy people, as the price we pay for mobility. And nobody is willing to give up cars are they? And nobody is suggesting that they do.

It is a valid comparison.

But here’s the thing, even though we do accept a certain number of vehicular deaths each year, we constantly seek to reduce those fatalities through mandated improvement in the state of the automotive art and road engineering, through laws and regulations and increasingly uncompromising enforcement and stricter punishments, through vigilance and observation and monitoring, though mandatory training and testing and licensing, though tracking those who habitually break the law. We don’t let crazy people drive.  We make drivers buy insurance.

Interesting side note: We don’t let blind people drive, or pilot airplanes, we do however let blind people buy and operate guns without restriction. Think about that. I’ve got nothing against the blind, but seriously, think about that.

We hold people who sell alcohol responsible, at least in some aspects, for enabling drunken driving.  We hold auto manufacturers responsible, at least in some aspects, for the safety of their product. We hold state licensing agencies responsible for administration of standards. We hold the drivers themselves responsible for their actions.  We set rules and limits and we work to improve them every single day.

And we, both left and right, drivers and non-drivers, drinkers and non-drinkers and reformed drinkers, engage in reasonable dialog and conversation without hysteria or accusations that the other side is coming to take either our booze or our cars.

But what we don’t do is say stupid shit like, well now you retards, there’s just nothing we can do about drunk people and/or crazy drivers who kill people with cars, uh, uh, uh. Hey, every once in a while crazy people drive buses through pre-schools. Dead kids, that’s just the price you pay for freedom to drive. Herr derr derr!

So, cars. Good example. Thanks for bringing it up.

I assume that since this is your example, you NRA types are now willing to talk about similar actions we can take to reduce the number of gun related violent incidents each year? You’re all about exploring options for law and regulation, mandatory training, licensing, and a database of people who abuse the privilege of owning a gun or who use one recklessly? Maybe we should make all gun owners have gun insurance and be able to show a license and registration?


What? Hey, don’t get all pissy because you didn’t think your analogy through – just like you didn’t think through your whole batshit crazy shooting it out in the middle of movie theater idea either.

And speaking of not thinking it through, you’d really think that the guy who has to speak at twelve funerals caused by gun-violence this month would have given some thought to his words before opening his mouth.

And if you thought that, you’d be dead wrong.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper:

“Even if he didn’t have access to guns, this guy was diabolical. He would have found explosives. He would have found something. He would have done something to create this horror.”

Ah yes. Like the monster in Split Second, or maybe like Freddy Kruger, you can’t stop him. It’s fate. He’s the devil. Part of God’s great plan, no doubt. We can’t stop it, can’t even slow it down. We should be grateful that it’s not worse, right? We should be thankful that that God didn’t just decide to randomly kill every goddamned body in that theater and burn the son of a bitch to the ground and salt the earth under it, right? After all, this is the same loving deity that whacked every first born kid in Egypt. Compared to tens of thousands of dead kids, what’s another twelve? Talk about retroactive abortion. This is the same guy who had his winged minions level whole cities right on down to the bedrock. This is the guy who routinely tosses the vast majority of the human race into a fiery pit so that they can be tortured alive forever, for the next billion billion years or until he gets bored whichever comes first. No disproportionate punishment there, oh no Sirree. That’s the guy we’re talking about here, right? This is his plan. So, yeah, I guess the survivors and the families of the dead can take comfort in knowing that, well, heck, diabolical gun violence is better than the alternative. Thanks, Governor, you’re a peach.  Guess you won’t be signing that drunk driving law either, since people who are determined to drive drunk and kill people will always find a way to get shitfaced and behind the wheel. It’s just fate, I guess. Diabolical fate.

This is the cost of civilization, right?

Twelve more dead kids in a movie theater. That’s freedom, right there. That’s liberty. That’s America goddamn it. That’s what I spent my whole life in uniform defending, the right to have twelve more slaughtered innocents and blood running in the streets.

You just can’t stop it.  Crazy people with guns and random carnage are the price you pay so that the rest of us can be free.

And the only way to combat it is, well, to literally combat it, with more guns. Big fucking guns.

Seriously? That’s your solution?

Armor up and shoot it out?

I call shenanigans.

I randomly fished through the pile of hate mail currently clogging my inbox like so many undigested jelly donuts in Glenn Becks’ large intestine.  Once certain trends became obvious, I stop reading. I pulled out some select quotes and the basic gist of each idea and dumped the rest. I’m going to be honest, I’m not going to read any more of this illiterate crap.  After this post, I’ll just hit select all/delete and go get myself another cup of coffee and stare out the window at my mountain. So if you wrote to threaten my untimely and painful demise, or to call me a faggy communist, or to otherwise enumerate my many failings as a father, patriot, and human being, and you don’t see yourself reflected below, well, sorry about that.  Go ahead and write to me again, this time be sure to put “Charlton Heston Can Suck My Hairy White Ass” in the subject line and the Stonekettle Station email system will file it appropriately.

These shootings are staged.  And the reason is simple … Obama and his socialist attorney general will use this incident as an excuse for gun confiscation. He is a traitor to the Constitution. I know that you don’t believe that your precious savior is a traitor but he has sold the United States of America out to the socialists in the UN. He has signed a secret treaty with the UN to disarmed Americans … [blah blah New World Order. Bilderbergs. Nazis. Communists. Satan. LOOK IT UP!]

The same Attorney General who, according to conservatives, is so incompetent he couldn’t even keep from giving automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels? The same president who, again according to conservatives, is so incompetent that he screws up every single thing that he touches? That Attorney General? That President? Really? Those guys so incompetent, but they are so clever that they’re scheming to disarm America, right? They so dumb, but they’re smart enough to outwit Congress and the rest of the country (except for you, of course, nothing gets by you) and take over the world? What? Is it like a secret identity? A bumbling Clark Kent to Superman sort of thing? A Bruce Wayne to Batman sort of deal? What’s that say about conservatives in Congress?  Being as it is the Senate’s job to ratify treaties and all, how did this pair of screw-ups manage to slip a secret UN treaty past them without Mitch McConnell being the wiser?  Doesn’t say much about his competence now does it? Also, I’m pretty sure that if the Senate doesn’t approve of the treaty, the rest of us don’t have to obey it.

Look, I’m just saying it’s a shame you guys don’t put as much effort into the rest of the Constitution as you do the Second Amendment, that’s all.

A semi-automatic rifle is NOT an assault weapon, Moron! 

Oh, well, then I guess it’s ok. 

Just FYI, assault weapons can be semi-auto or fully auto, and if you really want to get technical about it they could even be a single shot weapon like a pump shotgun firing flechette rounds. The term assault weapon defines the weapon’s intended purpose, not it’s rate of fire. It’s a combination of the design, the ammo load, and how it’s used.  A flamethrower can be an assault weapon. So can a high power microwave beam transmitter, if you’re close enough and you know how to use it and you don’t mind the smell of sizzling flesh and the screams of people being burned alive from the inside out. The definition has changed over the years and exactly what the term means depends on the user and the context. That said, I think that no matter how you slice it, the way James Holmes used his rifle last week was in an assault mode – but hey, let’s argue about that, because that’s what is important, right?

Whenever liberals want to "discuss" guns, what they really mean is that they want to take away our rights!

Yeah, the same way discussion of speed limits means we’re coming to take your car.

You can’t stop people like this.  Using a gun probably saved lives. He could have used a knife. People who want to kill people will find a way.

Really?  He could have used a knife? I’m curious, when you talk, do you actually hear the words coming out of your mouth? Or is it more like a buzzing noise? I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m having a damned hard time picturing this guy all bulked up in ballistic armor and orange afro managing to kill and wound nearly a hundred people with a knife.  How does that work? Does he throw the knives? Does he lumber after the fleeing crowd in his stiff body armor? Or does he methodically go down the aisles? Excuse me, stab stab, excuse me, pardon me, can you move your feet please, thanks, stab stab. What? Down in front? Sorry. Stab stab.

No really, it’s the buzzing noise, isn’t it?

Least you think that it’s just my email, let’s look at some Yahoo and Fox News comments, shall we?

the more dangerous we make the world the better we have a very big population problem there is already way to many people on this planet at one time we should start making murder legal for like one day a week

Right. Good idea. That’ll cut down on the mayhem. You go first. Don’t forget to bring your kids, let’s get all of your unique genetic material in one place.  And don’t forget to pick up your complimentary Darwin Award at the concession stand. 

some logic is just too hard for people to understand...when a child is young and parents worry or even if the child wants to for fun, he will take karate for "self defense". SO he is learning to fight, in order to defend himself. It is a hard fact that in order to defend yourself you must FIGHT. Fire meets fire. so the same logic goes for a gun... if you are affraid of someone having a gun... the best way to protect yourself is to get yourself a gun!!!!! i know i know it is very hard logic to follow. So instead of makng sense of it... lets just yell louder that people should not use guns to kill people.

Let me ask you something, in a theater like the one in Aurora where the vast majority of the audience are teenagers, in a school like Columbine where everybody is a kid, who exactly is it that you think is going to be carrying a concealed weapon and returning fire? Kids? We teach them karate, I guess arming them isn’t too big a stretch, what do you figure is a good age to start? Kindergarten? It’s going to make recess interesting though.

Laws do nothing, they are just words in a book. That is why there are crimes. No law has ever in the entire history of law, has ever prevented anything!! It's against the law to kill people which has a very steep punishment. Changing gun laws doesn't mean a thing, except that people who might have been able to defend themselves against individuals that break the law, are now not able too! The 2nd amendment was to protect us against a tyrannical government. The English had their own army. CITIZENS created a militia to defeat this army. Our modern day army works for the government. They will not protect us from a government. That is why our right to bear arms was introduced.

And they say kids don’t learn reasoning skills and American History anymore. I believe that statement is an exact quote from Benjamin Franklin or maybe it was Chuck Norris. No law has ever in the entire history of law ever prevented anything. Yep. Where is it that they’re printing the textbooks now, Texas? Yeah, I’d never guess.

Historically, gun control vs. the right to keep and bear arms can be explained, but who really believes this pseudo-science? "Trust in God," said Oliver Cromwell, "but keep your powder dry." So there's even a religious argument for keeping and bearing arms, placed in an historical context.

Oh good, a biblical reference and pseudo-science in the same sentance. Wasn’t Jesus the guy who said, “Kill ‘em all, let God sort it out?” Can one of you bible scholars help me out here, I can’t remember if that was from the book of Mathew, Mark, or Glock.

the problem for the liberals is they want somebody to tell them what to do. In Nazi Germany they burned those Jews with gusto as somebody told them to do that, In Uganda they hacked the Tutus with gusto as somebody told them to do it, In Iran they killed as many Sunnis as they could because somebody told them to do it, in the American South they hanged all those blacks as somebody told them to do it. Perhaps the rest of us do not think government is all that nice and full of justice and that criminals in and out of government are going to say pretty please before they rape and rob or kill you.

I was afraid we’d get all the way through this without somebody invoking Godwin’s Law. Liberal Treehuggers = Murderous Nazis, folks, that’s a fact. You can look it up on the Internet, start with RushLimbaugh.com.

The guy that kiled all the people in the movie theater also has an apartment full of explosives. Even if he didn't have guns he still could have killed a bunch of people. Guns are not the issue, crazy people are the issue.

Actually, I’d argue that that crazy people with guns are the issue, but at this point I’ve just decided to go get another beer and lock my doors.

I would rather be shot, than cut. I would rather be shot, than poisoned. I would rather be shot than bludgeoned. The reason? There's a higher chance of survival.

OK, let’s test that, shall we? Here, stand right here in front of this target. I’ll be right back.

Seriously, I’d rather be shot than… For fuck’s sake, who thinks like this? And why would we ever let this guy have a gun? Ever?

No military will set foot on our soil because why? Even if you somehow manage to take out the military, the public will turn on you from every direction. At least I know we would here in Texas. And don't forget, we may have to turn on our own government someday. Stop electing communists and we wont have that problem. Let them take our guns and we are helpless. Also don't be a fool and think if you make guns ilegal that the criminals will just turn them in. They will be the only ones with them. I wish someone would have been packing in that movie and returned some of that fire.

Just so I’m clear here, you’ve bought yourself the biggest, most powerful, most heavily armed, most technologically advanced military in the entire history of mankind, complete with nuclear weapons, stealth bombers, tanks, and many other advanced capabilities too numerous to count. You’ve given them a full decade of intense combat experience in multiple theaters under a vast variety of conditions from mountain terrain, to forest and jungle to desert, right on down to door to door urban warfare. They have more than ten years direct experience in counter-insurgency tactics against multiple heavily armed, experienced, and utterly ruthless civilian militias engaged in guerrilla tactics.  But you figure that an invader that can take that mighty force down can be beaten by you and your drunken rednecked beer buddies and a couple of Chinese knockoff AK-47 replicas, do you?

Good luck with that, Wolverines. Ditto the other thing. No really. Word of advice? Don’t forget to fill out a will first.

And finally I got an even dozen letters from people quoting, or paraphrasing something, from Thomas Jefferson, or Ben Franklin, or Chuck Norris for all I know.

About that. Thomas Jefferson was in France, he didn’t write the Constitution.

He also didn’t write the Second Amendment, though as Secretary of State he did authenticate the final form of the Amendment. 

And he had all kinds of thoughts about it and the other amendments and the Constitution itself. And he wrote those thoughts down, some of them, yes he did, so you could misquote him in an email two hundred odd years later.  Jefferson liked to offer his opinion, so did a whole bunch of the other Framers.  Some liked the idea of bearing arms, some hated it, some didn’t consider it all that important one way or the other. Look around and you can find a quote from some powered wig wearing Founding Father to support whatever position you like.

But you know what? It doesn’t make one damned iota of difference what the hell Jefferson, or any of the rest of them, thought.

It doesn’t matter if Old Tom Jefferson had managed to stop boffing the help long enough to actually pen the Constitution and each amendment personally.

See, here’s the thing, we didn’t ratify some hoary old quote from Thomas Jefferson or George Washington or Chuck Norris.  Woulda shoulda coulda. Quotes from Founding Fathers, no matter who they were, mean exactly jack shit.

What matters is the Second Amendment as written and ratified. Period. 

And what the Second Amendment actually says is:

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.

Well regulated militia. The right to keep and bear arms. Now you can argue about what exactly those terms mean until the next time some nut slaughters a bunch of innocent people.  However, if you look closely you’ll see that no where in the Second Amendment does it say that you’re being given the right to keep and bear arms so you can overthrow the United States government whenever you damned well feel like it.

Nowhere. No goddamned where in the Constitution or the laws of the United States does it say that.

It’s a myth.

It’s a complete bullshit myth. It may have been the opinion of a couple of Founding Fathers and state legislatures, but that idea holds absolutely no water at all under the Amendment as written and ratified by those self same Founding Fathers and the citizens of the newly formed United States. Period. This idea of taking up arms against the government and your neighbors is complete pseudo-patriotic bullshit.

The Framers codified a methodology for changing the government in the Constitution itself and that didn’t include armed insurrection. 

As spelled out in general terms in the Constitution and codified in more specific terms by law, you have many rights here in America but armed rebellion isn’t one of them.

Here’s the thing, so pay attention: You can quote Thomas Jefferson to me all damned day and if you engage in armed rebellion against the government and you win, well then history will call you a Founding Father and a patriot. But if you lose, history will call you a traitor and spit on you grave.  A hundred years ago we Americans settled this question once and for all, we called it the Civil War.

Note also that the right to keep and bear arms does not give you the right to engage in a firefight in the middle of a crowded theater, or a school, or in front of a Safeway.  

And the Second Amendment wasn’t included in the Bill of Rights so that crazy people could buy guns and go around slaughtering kids and innocents so other crazy people could then claim that as the price of freedom. You are a hysterical idiot. Your argument is invalid. You fail at America. Sit down and shut the fuck up.

In all the nonsense this week, I’ve heard one politician who actually seems to understand reality:

I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation, that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.

That politician then went on to say that given the partisan gridlock in Congress, “our focus is on the steps that we can take to make sure criminals and others should not have those guns, to make sure they cannot attain them.” There are things that we can do, he said, short of legislation on new gun laws to reduce violence in our society. And we will continue to press the Department of Justice to try to enhance the enforcement of existing laws and try to further develop our background check system so that it prevents criminals and those who should not have weapons from getting them under existing law.

Want to guess who said that?

It sure as hell wasn’t Sarah Palin or Ron Johnson or Chuck Norris.

It was the President of the United States of America.




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.


  1. After reading some of those comments, I'm convinced guns aren't the problem it's the (apparently) abysmal failure of our education system.

    1. WHat this wonderful lady said! Props to Karen.

    2. Karen - Education can't fix stupid. We need to implement IQ and common sense and emotional stability tests before allowing people to breed.

      Jim - thoroughly terrific and sensible, as always. Your email gives a bit of an idea as to how many unbelievably dumb people are out there, mistaking emotion for thought, and parrotting foolish things they have been told without being able to analyse them. That is increasingly scary to me.

    3. And all the well thoughtout comments in this section were just beamed into the heads of the commenters, or directly onto this page...from "anywhere" other than a publically educated person?

    4. I had to walk away from my computer for a while after typing my response (I am anonymous above). I told myself that the topic was not education, just let it be. One breakfast, a shower, and a four mile walk and I'm back because I can't just let it be, and if it gets me booted off of here so be it. Education can not solve all the problems in the world, but as long as people expect it to, they are going to be forever disappointed and consider it an abysmal failure. Teachers, and I am one of them, work very hard teaching kids to think through issues, critically consider alternatives, read and analyse information, look for authentic sources of information to form an opinion, recognize propaganda, twisting of the truth, manipulations as opposed to factual reporting. We do a hundred things a day to help kids be ready for living the best life they can, but we are one voice in amongst the thousands a kid hears every day. We can't fix stupid, we can't fix mentally ill. We can't fix poverty or dispair, hurt or abuse. We can't fix a lot of the situations that lead to horrendous life choices, but every day we try. I think the two postings Jim put up talked about the desire to fix blame on some group or other, and I don't think his intention was to actually promote that, but offer an alternative, an opportunity to discuss a evil situation and the thinking that will come out of that situation and prehaps give any reader the chance to reflect on their own thinking. My recommendation to Karen would be to think a little longer and broader.

    5. You're right, Anon, this post isn't about education - that said, everything is really about education, isn't it? Live and learn, or you don't live long. You're in no danger of being either deleted or booted and you're entitled to respond to Karen's statement regarding the education system. As long as everybody stays polite and reasonably respectful, I have no problem.

      I will say that while I do upon occasion make comments, such as the one in this particular post (where are the textbooks printed again?) that disparage the general state of education reflected in whatever subject matter I'm writing about, I personally tend to separate "Teachers" from the generic "Education" - even if I don't always make that distinction clear in what I write.

      I hope my regular readers understand that, since a large number of them seem to be teachers. If not, apologies, I'll stay after school and try to do better in the future.

      I think teachers are the most obvious and visible portion of education and therefore bear the brunt of criticism more than any other component of the education system, especially the recent increasingly intense anti-education sentiment that seems to be gripping conservatives these days. I do think that the simpleminded think that teachers are the only part of education, and that they control everything and therefore deserve all the blame for whatever is perceived to be wrong. I think that's a bad rap, and I've said so elsewhere. Teachers are only the tip of the iceberg and at the mercy of forces they have no control over. School boards, federal and state regulations, textbooks, funding, and so on ad infinitum. And those forces are the real factors that shape education in America today, teachers just get the blame. I hear calls for being able to fire "bad" teachers, or to rescind tenure - but for some reason I never see calls for firing bad School Boards or State Education Boards filled with political hacks and religious nuts and non-educators. Why is that, do you suppose?

      I can't speak for Karen, but I do note that she said "education" not "teachers." I will also say to DebTee, I disagree, I do think that education can fix stupid. As a military instructor, I've fixed a lot of stupid in my time, but then I had advantages that civilian teachers can't access - and I'm not saying that they should. I will say that abandoning the public education system and plugging kids into a creationist/ACE curriculum, however, isn't likely to fix stupid, it's very, very likely to make it a permanent and contagious condition.

      And now you've given me an idea for another blog post. Thanks.

    6. Thank you for your reply and the link to a previous post, and I am glad to be here.

    7. Thanks for making the distinction between "Teachers" and "Education." That's a huge difference. Increasingly, it seems to me that our educational systems have done everything possible to turn education into nothing more than the amassing of facts. The classes and disciplines that foster the development of ideas and rigorous thought are being sidelined or eliminated, or restructured and downsized to nothing more than amassing facts. Take, for instance, writing. (I teach basic writing skills at a community college, so I feel strongly about this.) There are two ways to teach the class. The first is to treat it as a "required" course, which students must take so they can learn how to write research papers and pass their future college classes. The second is to treat it as an opportunity to teach students to think, reason, and analyze, and then express themselves in compelling, clear language. Teachers may not be the central problem in education, but it's very easy to lose heart, to lower our sights to the more concrete, more limited goal. And in doing that we rob our students and ourselves. Teaching students what they must know in order to succeed in school is not mutually exclusive with teaching them how to think.

    8. I certainly didn't mean "teachers"! I worked in my son's classrooms all the way through elementary school...teachers had to deal with all sorts of non-teaching crap, teaching to the No Child Left Behind test, overcrowded classrooms, lack of funds, lack of facilities, lack of enrichment, etc.
      It seems scholarship isn't really valued - at least not as much as football is.

      My comment was a reflection on what seemed to me to be the lack of understanding of how the government is supposed to work - engendered by this latest event. Because I think guns can't protect our freedom very well unless there is some kind of thought behind them.

      Also, spelling! (of course, I spelled that wrong the first time)

    9. I don't know who I want to marry more... the author for his brilliant post or Karen for her equally amazing response.

    10. I don't know who I want to marry more... the author for his brilliant post or Karen for her equally amazing reply. :)

  2. Good read.

    I want to say more, but just find myself repeating your points.

    My ex and her family weren't in that theater, I hadn't known I cared that much anymore, but I had to call her the next morning to be sure she was OK.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. "The gun nuts do have a point."

      "We do indeed accept a certain number of vehicular deaths each year, including those caused by drunk drivers and crazy people, as the price we pay for mobility. And nobody is willing to give up cars are they? And nobody is suggesting that they do."

      "It is a valid comparison."

      It's not a fair comparison, unless it's the Batmobile. Unless guns are locked and insured and licensed and registered. Fingerprint ID to operate a weapon solves a lot of problems. Just that one law/regulation alone.

      You'd think the NRA could come up with something plausible at best.

      Let's let local militia's train the teachers and then the teachers teach the kids. A classroom full of 6 year old patriot's would be enough to make Mama Bear cry a happy cry. What could possibly go wrong?

      ""We do indeed accept a certain number of vehicular deaths"

      I disagree. We got all kinds of organisations and extra cops to tamp down drunk driving. We've poured billions into the cause for decades. Guns, not so much. They are banned from the capitol buildings. White House etc. Basically, anywhere the people making these laws gather to make laws, take bribes and whatever else they do.

      Cars have been made safer as well (but not weapons). Of course, if someone is shooting at me, a car is preferable to my feets. Might even deflect a round or two. If the opportunity presented itself I drive my unarmed asses car up their ammosexual asses and not look back.

      On the other side...These 'patriots' want access to anything that kills using gunpowder and any platform. They want either less or no safeguards at all. Car companies have all kinds of politicians regulating the cars to death making them safer. But not the gun nuts.

      The ammosexual version of "protection" is hiding under a blue tarp and stopping school busses at an illegal roadblock full of little kids at gunpoint based on a rumor it was full of "illegal". If that is a 'regulated militia' I'd hate to see the idiot squad.

      I could teach some basics. But no way could I actually train someone by the book. I wouldn't want to either. It seems like the only people who know about actual weapons training are those who are actually trained.

      I say forget about the guns and classes and pour the money into schools infrastructure and the students and teachers inside them. Take the kids on field trips, give a teacher a raise. Shit like that will help curb gun violence down the road without firing a shot.

  3. This is why you were my page 5! Great read.

    BTW not sure if you know this but, we lost a CTR3 and AF SSgt in the shooting. There were also 58 other service members from the NIOC, 310th mission support group, and ADF-C in the theater that night so it could have been a lot worse.

    1. I did know that the Sailor was a CT. I didn't recognize his name. Though, of course, it's a damned small community. I asked around, since I work with the AF on a daily basis, we didn't know the SSgt, but he was certainly one of ours.

      You're right, it could have been worse. It also could have been a hell of a lot better. And it's about time America knocked off the silly bullshit and started looking for ways to make that happen.

  4. I posted something similar (but shorter) on my FB page in regards to the people comparing drunk driving to killing people, and how we regulate cars, but no one wants us to regulate guns. You said it much better than I did.

  5. I was reading a comment thread over at the Great Orange Satan and it quickly devolved into a discussion about penises, the definition of militia, the definition of arms, the definition of "the people", and the definition of machine guns.

    1. The Great Orange Satan is the name of my new Justin Bieber/John Boehner slash-fic teen sex poetry band.

      Re the Orange Satan, we talking my mercenary-douchebag author pal here?

    2. Nope, Daily Kos, where Progressives go to scream about how Obama is no better than Bush and Gitmo and where's our public option dammit?

  6. The kids in this country could really use you in a classroom...along along with at least half the adults. Thank you for your straight forward words...and your blazing clear insight. And for re-igniting my passion to fight the insanity...every time you post.

  7. I wish you would run for president in 2016. I'd vote for you.

    1. Seconded. Unfortunately, there appears to be no room for sanity, let alone reason, in Washington. Your head would explode in 2 days ... a week, tops.

    2. I've lived and worked in Washington, I don't want to go back. Not even with big fucking guns.

  8. If someone mixes up tyranny for tranny, that's a pretty big Freudian slip right there...

    Great post as usual, Jim.

    1. I'm glad my tax dollars are at work so "Just like solders they died for our freedom from Tranny."


  9. Clean-up on aisle 5 - my head just exploded due to over exposure to illiteracy and logical fallacies.

  10. It is hilarious how the Freepers think they are the only armed people in America. If you grew up in rural America, you knew a rifle and shotgun as well as you knew a saw or an ax. Level headed people own firearms, but because they are not substitutes for their penises, they don't have a 2 year old's emotional relationship with them. Remember when we were kids and the NRA was primarily about firearms education and safety? In 1977, the teamed up with the religious freaks and the gun industry and began stirring up fear and gun sales for the firearms industry. We need to get a grip. Get back to being: "The Land Of the Free, The Home of The Brave."

    1. The NRA isn't about sporting shooters, or safety, they are GOP all the way.

      It was made pretty darn clear when they took all the competitive shooting information out of the back pages of the American Rifleman and then failed to endorse two very good pro-gun Dems for Ohio Gov and AG in favor of two Repub. guys with crappy 2A records.

    2. Damn, I learned to shot in '62 from the NRA. I used a single shot, bolt action .22 Hunted squirrels. Every time I went out I was given 6 shells. I was allowed to miss once. After the 3rd week of not sitting I stopped missing.

      I subsequently joined the Marines. I shot expert with the M14 (long, big, heavy and ACCURATE), .45cal pistol, and the M14 (made by Matel piece of lead throwing crap).

      The kids they've got today would kick my ass in a New York minute if I even thought about trying to take them out. The Right Wing gun nuts are even crazier than draft dodging chicken hawks that infest WaPo.

    3. Excellent point Lee Love! Thank you!

    4. Excellent point Lee Love I could not have said it better.

  11. I can't believe it but Other Half actually believes that someone with another gun could have stopped him.

    I told Other Half after our conversation over this latest shooting then if America can't regulate themselves on gun ownership/use, we better start getting ready for a TSA-like existence when going into every public forum. We already have metal detectors at some schools and I believe some sport stadium and similar venues. Locked doors, guards and camera and alarm systems. A Surveillance Society (or are we there already?)

    This will become common in the next decade. Invest now.

  12. Holy...I am not used to so much fresh air at once. And I sure as hell am not used to laughing. May I take a quote and a link to your blog for my facebook? This was brilliant, an absolutely airtight rebuttal of all the fear-based nonsense flying around like so many gnats in a swamp. And wow, you managed to say something unique and novel enough to make me laugh. That just doesn't happen!

  13. Again, I'm going to post this to Facebook, altho the people I hope will read it probably won't.
    That being said, I miss pictures of cats.

  14. Once again, Jim, you may not be my God (because I am an unbeliever), but in a way you are my Hero (though I am not into hero worship). Thanks!
    Fanning and faving fromthediagonal

  15. Impeccable logic as usual, sir. Flame of hope burning brightly, I'll keep sharing on FB, although I'm pretty sure the yahoos who need to learn something from you tuned me out for excess reason some time ago.

    Is it appropriate for an over-educated, over-fed, long-haired leaping gnome of a civilian to salute a Chief Warrant Officer?

    1. Just as long as you're not "naked to the world" when you're doing the saluting in the Hall of the Mountain King. Just saying, I've got to draw the line somewhere.

    2. Damn!

      But ok. Socks and a shirt it is.

    3. I like the cut of your jib, Mr. Kurz

  16. I think the shoot-out in the theatre scenario is being used as a straw-man. CCW holders are not blasting random bystanders at every robbery. The oft-cited CCW carrier who was at the Giffords shooting didn't make the tragedy worse, he acted absolutely correctly, yet somehow he keeps getting cited as a reason CCW is scary. If you were in the theatre, the prudent thing is to try to escape or try to take cover, not to jump up in all the confusion and go OK corral. But once the initial confusion is over, if the guy started picking off individuals, there might well be a moment where one would have a good clear shot, and if one were injured, or tending to an injured person, that might be your best chance at survival.

    All that being said, I have no problem with a 10-20 round limit on detachable magazines, but they way many folks talk about it will ensure that it won't ever happen. If a person says "I personally think all guns should be banned, But at least can't we all agree to banning 100 round drums?" a lot of people hear, "We'll take your big clips today, but we'll be back for your guns tomorrow"

    1. I totally agree. When I first started shooting I was of the opinion I would never carry but once I got to be very good with a gun I thought if something did happen I would be a fool not to have one on me. The first thing I said to my wife about Aurora when it came on the news was that I was surprised no gun owners were there. There are many instances where honest gun owners stop crimes, they just don't get mentioned in the largely liberal press. I personally know three individuals who stopped crimes with a gun. By the way I voted for Obama and will vote for him again and have been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union for decades.

    2. How do we know there weren't gun owners in the theater that night, anyway? Legal or illegal, for that matter. After all, if you were carrying when the madness erupted, and instead of going for the gun you panicked and bolted, or stayed calm, assessed the situation, and fled, or played dead, or froze in shock, or were too busy shielding the person you were with, or even lurked and waited vainly for a clear shot -- well, the gunman was done and gone in a few minutes, and then the aftermath insanity ensued, and then the usual post-massacre raging gun control America-wide screaming ensued -- what would you do?

      Would you stand up and tell the world "Hey, yeh, I had a gun but no, I didn't try to stop the gunman"? Would anyone be nuts enough to subject him/herself to the inevitable blowback?

    3. Brilliant response Never Ben Better. These hero's-in-waiting had no chance against this hit. The advantage was totally on his side, he didn't care who he'd hit - whereas a conscientious, law abiding cc would be terrified of hitting the wrong person or escalating the death/wound count.

  17. In this last week, I've lost a very good American friend who got mad because I started asking questions about gun regulation in the U.S. "You live in Canada... Why are you stirring up shit with all this gun talk?"

    Wha? I can't talk about something that horrifies me so that it doesn't happen again?

    I know better than to say just get rid of all the guns with Americans, really I do.

    But what scared me was the fervor. As if some kind of invasion was imminent and THAT would prove me wrong. What are Americans so scared of? The two countries next to you (Canada and Mexico) are not interested in ANYTHING you have. Any other invasion force would be detected WAY in advance with all your U.S. high tech, no? The only other force I can think of would be from your fellow Americans. Who are also entitled to guns. So what are you so afraid of?

    Last time I visited Buffalo, I didn't see gangs walking the streets looking to rob, rape and pillage. Just some guy pruning his lawn with scissors. (Neh... it's Buffalo.) I didn't think crime was SO widespread that quiet Buffalo has to be turned into an armed fortress.

    Every time I post or ask a question, I get what I am now learning are stock NRA phrases.

    Today, one of my gun friends posted a link about some knife-wielding crazy, stabber being stopped by a guy who pulled his gun and ordered him to drop it. I'm glad it turned out well, but it hardly proves a point, now does it?

    Different buddy posted on my FB wall about Kennesaw, Georgia and how everyone is MANDATED to have a gun, and how it virtually eliminated crime in that town. Again, I say good for them. But... the town had very little crime to begin with. I'd be interested to see if that worked in L.A. New Orleans, or anywhere else.

    Thank you again, Mr. Wright. While I'm uncomfortable, the picture is a little bit clearer.

    1. What?! You're a stinkin' Canadian?

      Don't be getting no socialism on my blog, you Nazi.

      Joking aside, Rob, a whole lot of Americans do see Mexico as a hostile invading force, their battle cry is "If the government won't do something about it, we will."

      It is also fair to note that in some cases, the exact number is in dispute, guns carried by law abiding citizens do stop crime and save lives - something liberals often ignore or dismiss. As always, the truth is nowhere near the extremes, but some where in the middle. It would save us all a lot of grief if people just acknowledged that up front, but that's just wishful thinking.

    2. Who the potential hostile force is a pretty important (but generally unstated) part of the hysteria.

      In all my travels I've never seen a vehicle driven by a black person with an NRA sticker on the bumper. And every one of the drivers of the vehicles that sport at least one such sticker that I ever talked to, didn't take too very long to get round to the part where they tell you about the skin color of the real enemy. Seems to me all that talk about the UN is just so they can make loud noises in public. Amongst themselves they all know exactly who they are fantasizing about gunning for.


    3. In Kennesaw, town with less that 30,000, homeowners are, by law, suppose to have a gun in their home. But according to the chief of police there are many loopholes and no one without a gun is cited. Much is made that everyone having guns has decreased crime to almost non-existent. While the property crime and violent crime rates are lower that national and state levels, recent statistic crime reports show an overall upward trend in crime. Still no murder, but crime is increasing.

  18. THANK YOU JIM! I mean, REALLY, thank you!

  19. I have nothing to add to the main discussion, but thank you for the movie reference. I didn't realize anyone else on the planet had seen that movie (and I LOVED it, and that scene). LEt's not talk about more guns, let's talk about more Rutger Hauer.

    1. Fine, but there's a two drink minimum..

    2. Oooo! Oooo! Rutger Hauer in all his young bare-assed glory (and I'm not even partial to blonds) in Flesh & Blood. Warning - if you have not seen this movie, watch while very plastered.

      And of course, the classic - Blade Runner.....whose subject matter can be brought back in a nice loop to this blog post - remember all the shooting in public places to get the replicant?

    3. Split Second was fun, it had chocolate.

  20. For those of you interested, here is Split Second movie complete

  21. Pro-gun advocates argue that if there had been one - just one! - person there who was armed, that individual would have taken down the shooter rapidly and effectively.

    Lets take them at their word.

    The obvious choice of armament for a night at the cinema is some form of handgun. Nobody wants to try to juggle popcorn, a large soda, and an AK-47 for a couple of hours, and a forest of 30-06 barrels sticking up out of the audience is going to block everyone's enjoyment of the movie.

    However, we are assured that with said handguns, an armed audience would have been able, rapidly and efficiently, to drop a shooter who came upon them by surprise, had full body armor, and was carrying a semi-auto with 100-round clips. In the dark. In a room filled with clouds of gas.

    If people carrying handguns can do that, then there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for them to have access to assault weapons.

    Ban assault weapons. Even gun advocates admit they don't need them.

  22. On the whole 'the military works for the govt, we need to be able to defend ourselves if they're ordered to kill us' line...I've never been in the military, but I was always under the impression that while you are supposed to follow orders, there are certain instances in which you are allowed to disobey. Like, 'go shoot those innocent, unarmed civilians in our own country!' I mean, if we HAD a president wanting to install himself as our next syphillis ridden King Despot, the military doesn't have to obey like brainless robots, right?

    1. You are essentially correct. This is the basic oath in accordance with USC Title 10, that we swear and that we are legally bound to uphold:

      For enlisted:
      "I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

      For Officers:
      "I, _____ , having been appointed an officer in the Army/Navy/etc of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."

      The officer's oath is different from the enlisted oath because by definition, all officers must be volunteers. Enlisted troops can be conscripted against their will and may indeed have mental reservations about being pressed into service. Obviously our forces are all volunteer today, and hopefully will always be from now forward, but that is not required by law. Officers on the other hand, cannot be drafted, they must accept their responsibility freely and without reservation. This is important, because officers are charged with executing the mission in accordance with the laws of war and the laws of the United States. They are ultimately and always responsible for everything that happens under their command, period and no excuses (not that that excuses don't happen, particularly at Flag rank, that piece of shit General Janice Karpinski and the way she tried to weasel out of abu Ghraib comes to mind. Ditto Admiral Frank Fucking Kelso and Tailhook, but I digress). Enlisted folks can be held to that standard under certain circumstance, especially, senior enlisted ranks, but ultimately they are responsible for the execution of the lawful orders from their officers and for knowing the difference. This was codified by the Mai Lai massacre, saying I didn't know it was illegal is no excuse, you are required to know. Again, period and no exceptions (or very few anyway). The Marines are particularly good at pounding this into their people's heads, that's why they have so few problems in this area. With Marines, honor, duty, and responsibility come first, always.

      Any illegal order, from an enlisted or an officer or the President, we are required to disobey. But you better be goddamned sure. Goddamned sure. And you better be able to prove it. But it happens.

      HOWEVER, that said, you need to read that oath carefully, very carefully. They make sure we all understand exactly what it says. Any enemy, foreign and domestic. What that means is this: Declare war on the United States, rise in armed insurrection and rebellion, you are a domestic enemy. If the president orders us to shoot your traitorous ass down, we goddamned will. That's the lesson of the Civil War, among other things. We swear our allegiance to the United States, not to a political party or an ideology or a person.

      Hope that answers your question

    2. Yes it does, and I thank you for such an indepth one. I appreciate the effort you went to, when a lot of people would not have taken the time to explain.

    3. I'll take this opportunity to point out that if you understand my previous comment, you'll also understand why using drones to terminate American citizens such as Anwar al-Awlaki is perfectly Constitutional. He publicly swore allegiance to a force that we are in a declared war with, i.e. he threw in with the enemy and proclaimed Jihad on his own country. That makes him a domestic enemy of the United States, legally and morally. He could have surrendered at any time, claimed his rights and taken his chances in court. He chose not to and he suffered the Constitutional consequences of treason.

      More on this here

    4. Well, the reason behind it makes more sense, but I always thought the action was completely justified. He made his bed, he knew the consequences.

    5. Jim: I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on national conscription (which you seem to disfavor). I think a huge stalking horse for political water-carriers is the national hero-worship fetish we've established as the baseline for our relationship with the services. It's unhealthy and inaccurate and bred of many things, but ignorance might be chief among them.

    6. Your statement,"Declare war on the United States, rise in armed insurrection and rebellion, you are a domestic enemy" reminded of my days in USAF.

      I need to paraphrase a directive given to the B-52 bomber crews during the Vietnam conflict, because I neglected to write it down. "Protesters on the runway shall not deter the aircraft from departing."

      The statement put some of us into a moment of contemplation, but it soon passed.

    7. Isn't there a difference between a protester and someone who is actively declaring war on the nation though? It would seem to me that running down someone with a sign is illegal but running down someone who is shooting sat the plane is permissible. That directive would be illegal and that is what MPs are for.

  23. Good old Senator Johnson, my state's senator. He's not the dumbest member of the Senate, but I forget who's dumber. Thanks for another terrific column.

  24. Ahh Jim. About your postscripts to the last two guns and murder posts. I believe you. You have lived a life kinetic; skilled in the arts of ballistics, LOF, TOT and BDA. You have nothing to prove to Tommy D. Of course, as a Marine, I too served in the Dept. of the Navy,.....the Men's Dept. (Now, don't start throwing knives.....you knew that was coming.)

    But the whole 'Brotherhood of the Gun' thing. To some folks it can sound like....I dunno, accommodation for some....shortcoming? Hey hey hey hey.....I'm not saying that your not all man...and stuff. But, a lot of these basement dwellers collect firearms as extensions, or even replacements for something "missing" in their miserable, mouth breathing little lives. (Sort of like an Englishman with a Ferrari.)

    Seriously - I love your message and connect with your constituents. But in a quick, man hug way. Not sloppy, like too long at sea sort of thing.......I'm banned, aren't I? I'll get my coat.

    1. The men's department. Goddamn how many times have I heard that? And I still laughed for ten minutes. Marines, best bellhops in the service, you gotta love 'em.

      Go get me a beer, Marine, you can stay. And you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard. Welcome to Liberty Hall.

    2. And how many times have I wished to get off the USS Missile Magnet and ashore where I know the ground is stable? I can fight in 3 dimensions, the Navy fights in 4 or 5. Too much up and down and left and right and rolling and porpoising and corkscrewing through quartering seas. I am not too proud to say that barfed my weight across three MEUs. (I think I just made myself ill.) Port calls in the Med were the shit though.

      No problem Jim, thank you for offering all of us the opportunity to break virtual bread. Semper Fi and lifting a Dos Equis Amber while we speak (or type). And Django the black cat is doing some Mr. Mistoffeles levitation shit. Weirdo animal. Tommy D

    3. In all years I spent at sea, I never got seasick, never even queasy, even in following seas.

      However, I did once slide the entire length of the 03-Level on USS Guam on a floor polished to the brightness of the best astronomical instrument ever to see first light. Dammed Marines at sea with nothing to do, those guys each were assigned one deck tile apiece and they polished their plot with a can of hard wax and shoe buff in little tiny circles for hours at a time. You couldn't even walk on that fucking deck in heavy seas. I stepped out of the intel shop into the passage just as the ship settled at the stern and it was like a fucking luge run. I hit the bulkhead like slamming into a damned bus. You know? I wish I had gotten seasick, I would have barfed all over that damned deck.

    4. Thanks, Jim, and thanks, Tommy D, for such a wonderful back and forth. Brought up memories of Westpac in the 80's and memories of my Dad's stories of life on a LST on the way to Guam in 1944. Over and above that, Jim, truly an insightful writing tonight. Just too bad that the ones who really need to learn can't be bothered to listen.
      Old Navy Communications Officer

    5. Oh they're listening all right. They're already sending me email since I won't let them post here. Some things never change.

    6. Jim @7:27 - No kidding. Buffed to a high sheen, Butchers Wax applied to the deck is a perpetual and seditious source of amusement for Marines at the expense of the Officers. An explanation for the uninitiated: every Thursday the USMC dismantles and cleans their work and living spaces. Play along at home: From Thursday afternoon to early Friday, move all furniture and unsecured items outdoors, scrub, polish, buff, align and reassemble EVERYTHING. Then standby Friday AM for inspection where CO and 1st Sgt will sweep into your spaces, glance around, ask about your range scores last week or the game last night or say nothing. Then they will sweep back out and then life (of a sort) goes on. Thursday is "Field Day" or "Screw the mission, clean the position."

      COMMO @8:48 - As an Arab linguist I did not have much utility in WESTPAC, I deployed to the Med and Gulf (with a delightful few months in Liberia). My wife was a Marine at Misawa, and deployed to the USS Coronado for a time in the late 80's. Fairly unusual in those days. I can't imagine riding a WW2 LST, particularly with Japanese submarines and bombers looking to ruin your day. Your Dad and all the Sailors, Marines and Soldiers in amphibious OPS deserve medals for just getting there, let alone fighting at sea and taking islands.

    7. Jim, you definitely have the right of it regarding the WW2 Marines who took islands. My dad was a young 18 year old BAR man when he landed on Guam 68 years ago with the 3rd Marine Division. I had hoped to get him back for a visit this year, but we left it too long and he died this March. What still surprises me is how few people have even heard of Guam, much less know that it was American territory captured by the Japanese right after Pearl Harbor....not very nice landlords in the time they were there either. Thanks for your good words. My time in Westpac as one of the first women at sea was not much in comparison with what my dad did. Thanks again and keep those well thought writings coming!
      Old Navy CommO

    8. Say, Old Navy Commo, I lived on Guam during the 1960s while my dad was a Field Director with the Red Cross. Every year on July 26 there is a big parade celebrating Liberation Day, on account of what your dad and all those other folks did. This has never been forgotten, and is as good a reason as any to allow the citizens of Guam to vote!

    9. marykmusic, I am envious of your time on Guamborrowing up. Somewhere the Navy never sent me but I still hope to go. However, Guam Liberation Day is July 21 each year! In memory of the day the Marines first rolled ashore in 1944.
      Old Navy CommO

    10. We don't need no stinkin' Ferrari, when we have Aston-Martins/ Maclaren F1s.

  25. “Charlton Heston Can Suck My Hairy White Ass”

    Did I do that right?

    >Wasn’t Jesus the guy who said, “Kill ‘em all, let God sort it out?” Can one of you bible scholars help me out here

    As I'm sure Jim knows, the original of that - "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius," usually translated as "Kill them all, God will know his own," was said by the Papal legate leading the Albigensian Crusade.

    You know, the Albigensian Crusade. The one where the Pope said, good Christians, go on Crusade - to France - and kill all these OTHER Christians, because they're the wrong kind of Christians.

    Scary people, the Kill 'em All crowd.

    Oh, the upshot of that little quote was the legate's troops took the town, and he then wrote the Pope, "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex."

    So, yeah, the whole goddamn thing is even more fucked up than some of you probably knew.

    Alright, I'm going to go watch Split Second again, it's much less depressing.

    (Excellent fucking work, Chief Warrant. Please keep it up.)

  26. Dude...you ARE Alaskan Jesus. Can't you do something about Sarah Palin, like turn her into a pillar of salt or something? (BTW, I share all of your posts with my fellow South Carolinians on fb who aren't bat shit crazy...yes, there are "some" of us here in SC who haven't gone all Nicki Haley).

  27. One would assume that an *amendment* to the Constitution actually referred to some text *in* the Constitution. Perhaps it's this part (Article 1, Section 8):

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    Yeah, sure, the Constitution gave Congress the power to overthrow itself by arming the Militia ...

  28. Thank you, Jim.

    I'm a Canadian, and have never really understood the whole 'arm everybody' mentality. As I read the U.S. Constitution, that's not what it said, and I'm pleased that someone else read it the way I did.

    I've used a gun when I had to; it doesn't give me any feeling of superiority. I've never even aimed at another human; the mere thought of doing so leaves me cold. But then, I've not been in the military or at war; I agree that I've got not idea what that means. On the other hand, this isn't a military or law enforcement discussion, except that an absolute nut case who wants to kill people he doesn't know for some reason I can't fathom has access to high powered weapons.

    (I've also never seen a knife that can kill 50 people in a few minutes, but I digress.)

  29. THANK YOU thank you thank you, for taking the time to say what I don't have the time (or the expertise, or the military cred) to say.

  30. It occurs to me that maybe the people yelling the loudest about the very notion of gun laws secretly realize that they, in fact, are crazy and assume they wouldn't be able to buy guns anymore if we tried to legislate keeping crazy away from guns.

    1. When the anti-gun crowd throws around terms like "paranoid gun nut," suggesting that every person who has any desire to own a weapon is mentally ill, it's not much of a stretch for gun owners to worry that such laws are meant to disarm them.

    2. If you don't want to be labeled a paranoid gun nut, then stop acting like one. It's really just that simple.

  31. Kirstin, that's a damn good point.

    I dunno. I think the crux of the problem is the firewall between medical records, and firearm-purchase background checks; and of course this does nothing to address the issue of someone who already has the arms and the ammo, or acquire them quite legally at gun shows. I've not seen a way through this that doesn't clamp somebody's free-rights nuts to a table and bound them flat with a brick.

  32. Where does the (non)conversation about gun control, or at least heavy weaponry control, go if people can simply make their own heavy weaponry at home? Check this out: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-07/working-assault-rifle-made-3-d-printer

    A working assault rifle 'printed' at home. Okay, not everybody's got a ABS plastic 3-D printer at home, yet....

    1. I followed the link you gave, and in the comments there, it turns out that he made only a small low stress part of the gun, a far cry from making a whole gun. He used only plastic, and parts of the gun have to be metal.

      If you want rifles, assault and hunting, come to West Virginia. They are sold freely at flea markets here. There are always several tables of hunting rifles, handguns and the occasional assault rifle. You pick your rifle or gun, haggle over the price, hand the guy the money and he hands you the weapon. That's all. No fuss, no muss, no background check. The local cops buy their hunting rifles at flea markets so it is not a secret that they are sold there.

  33. Great post, Jim. And honestly, it's the best one I've read about the Aurora shootings.

    And kudos to bringing up SPLIT SECOND. Yep, I did see it as a teen in the 1990s, and even remember the commercials on TV and how Rutger Hauer's character finally killed the monster. A remake? Hmmm...could work, but I'm sure you'll have a few idiots howling against remaking the film.

  34. Yet after reading your detailed state of experience, there were probably too many to count bozo who felt that with their one little rifle that they occasional shoot and even less occasional hit something who will feel they can tell you a thing or two about guns.

    That is scary ............. and re-enforcing how stupid my fellow Americans are becoming

  35. We continue to drive cars despite people getting killed because they serve a day-to-day purpose.

    Even down here in TX drunk driving is targeted by the police. My own county has instituted no-refusal on testing for DWI.

    This Aurora guy knew how to make explosives since his apartment was filled with them. He even setup the apartment with blaring music and an ajar door in an attempt to lure someone in to trigger the booby traps.

    Since he knew explosives, why did he have to use a gun to kill in the theater? He could have slipped out the door, grabbed some IEDs, tossed them into the theater and boogied. There is something about doing it with a personal weapon that makes it different.

  36. We should be thankful that that God didn’t just decide to randomly kill every goddamned body in that theater and burn the son of a bitch to the ground and salt the earth under it, right?

    Sigh. You know, he could just write a bad review of the movie like everyone else.

  37. There has been quite a lot of good, thoughtful writing here. One short phrase stayed in my head over the past few days, "liberal press" said by Anonymous on July 28, 2012 2:56 AM. I'm struck by how people can believe that the news business, the corporate-owned media, can be thought of as liberal in general, when the prime motive of the owners is profit (by definition), not social progress. Companies, especially corporations, exist to make a profit, otherwise they cease to exist. Corporations are by their very nature conservative, in that they need to conserve their assets. They cannot advocate for radical changes in the law, because the law is the only reason they can exist. Without corporate charters and property laws, companies would have a different business organization, if any at all. They are not socially conservative, but they do act to preserve the status quo. The majority of the media has to reflect the majority of its customers (advertisers who pay the bills) and audience, otherwise it loses business. The media is centrist by definition, and someone who questions that is biased.

    With the end of the FCC's Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and the blurring of the line between news reporting and opinion, we lost the right to have verifiable facts presented to us as facts. I read a comment elsewhere that the middle ground between a fact and an opinion is not the truth. One does not "balance" the truth with a lie. With the rise of the far right wing Fox News, that not so fine distinction has been corrupted further, quite deliberately.

    Please note that I am not picking on Fox News due to a personal "liberal bias" or dislike of their reporting. I am highlighting the company as the most deceptive to its audience as documented in many studies. See:








    Why did I point this out? First, Fox News uses the "mainstream media liberal bias" line more than any other group I know, while using right wing bias as a sales method. Second, people who believe that the media is liberal tend to distrust the mainstream media and believe lies, typically right wing lies. They may be honest in their beliefs, but that does not mean they are correct. How can a country have an honest debate about a critical issue like gun control (or climate change or health care or abortion, etc.) when a large portion of its citizens is deliberately misinformed and has been convinced to stay that way?

    1. "How can a country have an honest debate about a critical issue like gun control (or climate change or health care or abortion, etc.) when a large portion of its citizens is deliberately misinformed and has been convinced to stay that way?"

      Short answer: It can't. We see that every day in what passes for political discourse in this country. Long term, this is corrosive to the very survival of our system of government.

      Not for the first time in discussions such as this, I bring up Neil Postman's 1984 book, "Amusing Ourselves To Death" -- a prescient meditation on the malign consequences of what had not yet been dubbed infotainment. Still well worth reading, although you will finish the book profoundly depressed.

  38. Oh Stonekettle, spent the day with a friend and learned I am an utter idiot for not having a pistol at the ready for that errant criminal who wants to break into my house.

    Sigh. I thought my friend was sane. But not so?

    Please advise.

  39. "Stage Seven: Déjà Vu:

    And so it goes."

  40. "Screwfly Solution,' except the aliens released the "stupid" pheromone on America.

  41. In response to yet another multiple US murder event, here is a well reasoned and informed comment on the sad descent of American social harmony into an increasingly tense and worrisome concern about the unknown "other" in our midst. (Ripped off from that other most excellent tree hugging, liberal, commie, islamo-pussy....TBogg):

    The “filthy homosexual luciferian mafia scum” theory:

    As I stated in a previous comment on another subject – all related in the grand scheme of things. 350,000 Russian troops here training with US military, and ready to rock and roll in the slaughter/round up of US citizens and gun confiscation. These shooters in Aurora, CO and here at the Temple are Russian Spetznaz troops being directed and armed by soetoro and his handlers via the cia and military black ops. Look for much more death and mayhem to occur by the hands of the enemy that be, while being blamed on so called “White Crazies”. These filthy homosexual luciferian mafia scum will stop at nothing to destory our freedoms, liberties and our Constitutional Republic. Get ready to defend yourselves and your families at all cost folks – the LineInTheSand is being drawn…


    Praise God Almighty through the Blood of Christ Jesus!"

    I could not have said it better myself. So I did not. Tommy D

  42. What a horrible tragedy. Can't even imagine how those parents feel and I have nothing to say about that except I hope this never happens again. I hope this never happens here in Sweden. I suppose it might, Finland has had school shootings, and we are rather simiilar. But this seems to happen over and over again in the US, these mass murders of random people, of kids! If that happened here with that frequency, there would be a national crisis. Why aren't people out in the streets protesting the easy access to firearms?

    To a european, an outsider it looks so simple. There is this one big difference between the US and us, and it's the murder rate and the obsessive gun culture. It looks weird to us, the way americans think of their guns. They seem to be so important, it's like you need them like food or medicine. We have guns here too, I mean, we are a nation of hunters, and you can have a license if you are either a hunter and has taken a basic hunting course, or if you are a member of a registered pistol club. But there is no way, absolutely no way that anyone could have a licence for assault rifles or any fully automatic weapons. You can not buy weapons like that, you can not bring them into the country. Those are for police and military only.

    Not even our security guards have guns. (I felt very uncomfortable when I was visiting the US and the security guards had fire arms. I was thinking when one of them passed me by how easy it would be to take that gun - that man did not look very alert. Also, could I trust his judgement on how to use it?)

    And of course violent criminals find ways to get hold of illegal weapons, but they are very hard to come by and thus very, very expensive, and most criminals are rather poor you know, they are not all mafia bosses in limousines. And since they are illegal, the police can just take them away when ever they are encountered.

    We don't have kids shooting themselves or other people with a gun they found in a drawer at home. Because our kids never see a handgun in real life. The first time I held a hand gun I was 37 years old. And you know we really don't feel like this is some human right that is being denied to us. We just don't think about guns that much, because it is not a part of our daily life if you are not a hunter, a police officer or military. Even our police don't use their weapons that often.

    I look at videos on youtube, americans and their guns. Shooting at things. Collecting guns and explosives like they are dolls. A man shooting his daughter's computer because she will not do her chores. It's scary. I get sad for you. And I really hope americans can snap out of this gun fetish and put your children first, you all deserve better than this.

  43. Good read however I hear a lot of "we need guns to fight the government" Rambo fantasies as if people are going to use any of the guns in their gun collection against predator drones. You can't argue with someones delusions.

  44. In my opinion, here's the thing about the 2nd Amendment:

    1. Nowhere in that succinct paragraph does it guarantee the right to own a firearm that you know nothing about. We require people to get a license to drive a car, why in the name of all that's halfway-sane wouldn't we require the same of those seeking to walk around with a freakin' firearm? Here's your book. You'll want to study; there's going to be a test. A long one. Uh, well, we want to make sure you know which end of that bang stick points downrange. Stuff like that. No, you don't clean it with Brillo & a coat hanger; this is what we're talking about.

    Oh yeah. By the way. You, the one who just got popped with a DUI? Yeah. Let's have your firearms license too. Cough it up, Bubba. We can't trust you not to climb behind the wheel of a car when you're on the sauce, you expect us to trust your judgement with a Glock? Uh, yeaaaaahhhNO.

    2. What part of 'well-regulated militia' did you not understand? You want your shiny guns? Fine. There are going to be monthly meetings involved. Attendance is not optional. We thank you for your interest in being a member of our well-regulated milita. Oh yeah, the next time a tornado or hurricane or a flood happens, we might have some work for you. Just sayin'.

    Okay, maybe that #2 part has a high probability of bring the Crips & White Power crowd together in close proximity on a regular basis, but it's right there in the Amendment. Just because it is a right does not mean it comes without responsibilities. Gun ownership should come with a great deal of responsibility. And with proving that you're not completely insane. And after proving that you have a base level of competency.

  45. P.S.: "Look around and you can find a quote from some powered wig wearing Founding Father to support whatever position you like."

    Were the powered wigs like tin-foil hats, or were they 18th Century VR helmets? :p

  46. I have a theory which saves me a lot of time and energy spent on nincompoops: everyone on the internet is 11 years old. I mean, they've gotta be, right? Look at the grammar, the spelling and punctuation, or lack thereof, in the hate letters you're getting. These people have got to be a bunch of 11 year olds. So I don't pay people like them any mind. They're just stupid kids.

    The internet has given every 11 year old the chance to be heard, and what's more, to be assumed to be an adult, and perhaps worth even a split second's consideration. They're not.

    When these people start draw crowds to public speaking events, or write columns that are published newspapers or magazines, by all means, that's an imminent threat, and it's time to start paying attention.

    But unless they're making actual waves, and not just venting their spleen, they're 11 year old kids. Not even worth humiliating, and certainly not worth worrying about.


    On a side note: I just discovered this blog the other day, and really like your essays. I've commented a few times, but it looks like it's posting as Anonymous despite my signing in with my old AIM handle via OpenID. Hopefully it's just a display glitch during submitting, if not I'll try and figure out what to do... I can see I may be commenting every so often around here, and I wanna start building my brand! ;-)

  47. Yeah, yeah, this post is almost 2 years old. Sue me.

    >>> "Wasn’t Jesus the guy who said, “Kill ‘em all, let God sort it out?” Can one of you bible scholars help me out here, I can’t remember if that was from the book of Mathew, Mark, or Glock."

    You were being facetious, but you were closer than you know.
    Arnaud Amaury was a Papal Legate, sent by Pope Innocent III to oversee the Albigensian Crusade. He was in charge of the Crusader army at the siege of Beziers. When the city fell, the Crusaders came to him and asked -- how were they to distinguish heretic Cathars from the good Christians within the city?
    His response was, reportedly, "Kill them all, for the good God will surely know His own," which was the origin of the modern phrase.
    (The Crusaders, incidentally, proceeded to do exactly that.)

  48. Jim, I'm so glad there are people like you out there saying this stuff! The credibility (made clear in your ending statement) are so important to this whole debate on gun control/regulation/violence. I love that you are so reasonable, and honest in making it clear that you may not have an exact answer to the issues facing our country but that people need to start having a real, genuine dialog about it. There needs to be consideration of many different possibilities, some discussion about how different methods might be combined, etc. I get so frustrated when talking to friends who have been influenced (I believe in some way) by the most ridiculous arguments they've heard. When my best friend and I touched briefly on this topic (we are not only geographically separated not but also divided on several other issues, most notably religion) she brought up that most lame of arguments when we were talking about Sandy Hook. She said something about how people can kill with knives too ya know. Oh for christ sake!

  49. This is the sanest thing I have read that suggest legislation everyone can live with. Doing my best to make it go viral. Everyone who has an opinion on the gun laws in the country (and a brain) should read this.

  50. I read it twice.

    There are times in my life that I think I’m the only one who has your thoughts. You, however have the ability to take your coherent thoughts and put them down on paper. While I can’t achieve that with my dyslexia, unless I review it a dozen times and even than I still fail to communicate it.

    Too many of the people in my life think my opinions can be disregard, because they have labeled me a liberal.

    I've have had these same discussions with my family members who are firm believers that the 2nd Amendment is their right to bear arms. Even when I point out the first four words to them.

    I have preached to them that if they want to compare guns to cars, than except me to demand training classes, refresher training, testing, insurance and the need to obey the written laws of the land.

    I’ve owned guns and have gotten rid of almost all of them when I had a family. Still took them to the range to show them how to use it and what to expect when you do use them. They have a very healthy respect for them and they have indicated to me that they have no real desire to own them.


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