Friday, April 4, 2014

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 9


And here we are yet again.

Another nut with a gun and grudge.

And the enraged monkeys emerge from the trees to shriek and fling fistfuls of their own fecal matter at each other.

Guns! Guns! one side wails, More Guns!

Mental Illness! Mental Illness! screeches the other.

The field that separates the two warring camps is full of the wounded and the maimed and the dead, their bodies decorated in blood and steaming monkey dung. It is a gulf devoid of both reason and sanity.

I really hate to say, see? I told you so. But, here we are, déjà vu all over again.

Only this time there’s a variation on the theme I wrote about in The Seven Stages of Gun Violence. Given that this is the third shooting on a military base in recent memory (shootings on military bases are nothing particularly new, it’s just that all of a sudden it’s fashionable to act like you actually give a shit), the new argument being hurled back and forth like warm monkey turds is whether or not military personal should be allowed to carry loaded weapons on base – and not just loaded weapons, but concealed weapons under their uniforms – so that they may shoot down their fellows should it become necessary.

Given the law of unintended consequences, I do have to wonder what the military will look like after a few years of institutional paranoia, of soldiers regarding each other as potentially murderous lunatics, sleeping with one eye open and ready at any moment to gun each other down.  Morale, esprit de corps, trust, respect, too bad those things can’t be measured quantitatively in empirical values, because I’d love to see a trend graph after a few years of armed fear in the ranks – coupled to a post-war drawdown and reduction in funding.  1975, here we come.

I wasn’t going to write about this, not here, not in detail, not again. 

I updated and reposted the previously mentioned Seven Stages of Gun Violence and I figured that was enough. Frankly I’m sick of this, sick of the bloodshed, sick of the carnage, sick of the apathy, sick of the insanity we continue to inflict upon ourselves like the shrieking primates we are.

But between social media and online searches for gun control and gun violence and military shootings, which inevitably led people to the previous articles I’ve written in this series, folks started to show up on Stonekettle Station. And thus, as always when I won’t let the raging baboons post comments here, I get email.

Most of it is pretty obnoxious.

I looked at the the common theme of the hatemail, and then I proposed a simple scenario for my audience on Facebook. Something to spark conversation and an exploration of the issue.

I suppose I should have known better, I’ve been doing this long enough, but I’m nothing if not a tilter at windmills.

The folks that are allowed to comment on my Facebook wall are a pretty reasonable bunch, probably because I ruthlessly weed out the dullards who can’t behave like civilized human beings. But, see, that simple post was shared far and wide, and some of the resulting comments were … well, hang on to that thought and we’ll come back to those comments in a minute.

First, the bit I posted on Facebook: 

I'm getting email, to wit:

Military personnel are well trained in firearms. They should be required to carry their weapon at all times on base, locked and loaded. In a case like the Fort Hood shooting(s), or the Navy Yard shooting, or the Norfolk shooting, they could respond immediately to defend themselves. You're a faggy America-hating Nazi if you don't agree.

Ok. Fair enough.

How about this: You're a military policeman. The alarm goes off: active shooter in the vicinity of the Troop Medical Campus, shots fired, people down, number and identity of gunman/gunmen unknown, location of the active shooter or shooters unknown possibly moving through the buildings killing randomly, possibly in the parking lot, possibly in the lobby of the main hospital building, possibly in the VA reception area - the situation is unclear, there are multiple reports and descriptions of the shooter, all different, all confused. You just know there's at least one shooter somewhere in the medical campus. You and your fellow cops respond. You arrive. You have no idea what you're getting into. You jump out of your cruiser, weapon drawn, safety off. There are soldiers and civilians down in front of the building. It's like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Blood. Smoke. Screams. The staccato crack of continuous gunfire echoes off the buildings so that you can't even tell where it's coming from - the classic problem of urban warfare. Chaos. Restricted line of sight. Panicked non-combatants. Armed military personnel have engaged the (possible) shooter, there is a three-way firefight going on. You see dozens of men and women in uniform crouched behind cover exchanging fire with other men and women in uniform crouched behind cover returning fire. They all look exactly the same.

Now, you have to do something, right now. It’s your job. You raise your weapon and step forward...


Just one thing, one little thing before you pull the trigger: Which one is the bad guy?


Or perhaps bad guys, plural? Come now, it's easy, after all you're an expert, right? Quick, which one is the bad guy? This isn't a video game. This is the real thing. Choose wrong, you die, other people keep dying. Choose wrong, you kill the men and women you're supposed to be protecting and then you can live with that for the rest of your life, if you live. Better hurry up, you've got a fraction of second, and here comes the rest of the cavalry with their guns out and the same choice to make and how do you know the shooter isn't one of them? This is what you wanted, everybody armed, everybody shooting, so come on, Hero, which soldier do you kill first?


I spent most of my adult life in uniform under arms. I'm a trained and certified firearms instructor. I'm a trained and certified force protection officer. Now, as a civilian, I do consulting on a military base. You don't have to listen to me, but ask yourself something: if arming military personnel on post is such a great idea, why then haven't those experienced, trained, and knowledgeable soldiers in command positions joined your side? Why aren't the NCOs and the Colonels and the Admirals and the Generals demanding en mass weapons free on base?

What do they know that you don't?

You're entitled to your opinion, but you REALLY don't understand the situation at all.

It was a simple thought problem.

There are many ways a scenario like this could play out. Multiple shooters. Shooter already dead and nobody realizes it, either by his own hand or as a result of direct fire. Shooter hides among the victims and waits quietly for law enforcement. Or maybe there never was a shooter at all and it was all a terrible mistake triggered by something stupid – say like a soldier fumbling his weapon and causing an accidental discharge which is then perceived by other stressed out combat vets as an active threat. 

The idea here was to start a conversation among my Facebook following, because that’s what I do there (yes, that’s correct, not everything on Facebook is about cats and duckfaced girls). And that’s what happened. And that continues to be an interesting, adult, and reasoned exchange.  But many folks shared my post, and the comments under those shares provided the impetus for this essay.

Let’s start with this comment from a guy whose force protection and military expertise, according to his Facebook page, appears to consist mostly of really liking Transformer movies:

I think Jim is being a little bit of a bitch about this. The police and soldiers (especially now that urban combat is common place) have been trained for these situations. It's relatively easy for them to identify who the aggressor is. With civilians on base, the reason why soldiers aren't armed is the same reason banks don't have security guards... insurance. You are liable if there is a death on your premises, and the chances of someone getting killed goes up dramatically if there are armed guards. The real question is, how do people keep getting on these bases with firearms? Can the military not afford metal detectors (or are they still looking for a vendor who will overcharge them by 10000%)?

I think Jim is being a little bit of a bitch about this. I’m not really sure what this means other than he doesn’t like what I wrote, so that makes me a bitch. Says the grown man who posts pictures of comic book action figures on his Facebook page.

The police and soldiers (especially now that urban combat is common place) have been trained for these situations. It's relatively easy for them to identify who the aggressor is. Right, the bad guy looks like a giant metal robot made out of car parts, sure. Meanwhile, outside of kiddie movies, it’s often a whole lot different.  Remember the first Fort Hood shooting? In the first minute, how many shooters were there? No, don’t roll your eyes, answer the question, how many? Don’t know? The answer is three. In the chaos and confusion, responders at first thought there were three shooters. Besides Major Nidal Malik Hasan, two other soldiers were identified by military personnel as being involved. Those men were detained and interrogated. It didn’t take investigators very long to figure out the other men had nothing to do with Hasan’s murderous rampage, but what if the soldiers who initially thought they did were armed and prepared to take action? In that confusion, in that moment when people are dying and you just don’t know, in that moment, those two innocent men could easily have become targets for their fellows.

Now, how many shooters were initially reported when Aaron Alexis pulled out a shotgun and started killing people inside the NAVSEA building at the Washington Navy Yard?

As to it being “relatively easy” to identify the shooter, answer a question for me. Remember when the LAPD shot three unarmed civilians by accident because they confused two small Asian women delivering newspapers and a skinny white guy on a bicycle for a large angry black man in tactical gear carrying an assault rifle? No? Maybe it’s just me. Funny thing, those cops were specifically trained in active shooter situations, unlike soldiers they were professionals in this exact situation, and they had a detailed description of the shooter, and they weren’t under fire and had time to consider the situation, and yet…

The first minutes of any attack are confused and unclear and can easily result in friendly fire. In fact, certain military and terrorist tactics are designed specifically with this in mind, induce maximum confusion, get friendly forces to engage each other. I know, part of my job in the military was designing warfighting doctrine and tactics exactly like this. Hell, blue on blue engagements happen in battle on a far too frequent basis, even when the enemy isn’t actively trying to make that happen, even when soldiers are trained to look out for it.  You don’t have to believe me, you can go ask Pat Tillman’s family about it. But I guess they don’t teach that at Comic Book University.

There is an enormous difference between a law enforcement situation and unrestricted combat in the warzone.  That’s why the training is very, very different for each type of operation. That’s why the rules of engagement are different. Hell, that’s one of the reasons soldiers and Marines often regard occupation and peacekeeping duty as far worse than actual combat. I’ve been professionally trained in both operations, but don’t take my word for it – ask any cop who used to be a soldier. There are plenty of them around.

That said, my critic fails to specify exactly how (short of the bad guy actually being a giant robot made from car parts) other soldiers and military police would know who’s who in this scenario, given that they’re all dressed the same and all shooting. And given that in the real world, when it really happened, witnesses actually did, in point of fact, misidentify innocent soldiers as shooters. Instead, the critic waves his hand and claims that it’s “relatively easy.”  You know, like when you’re a cop running into a school full of panicked children and you have to figure out which child is killing the other ones in the middle of a crowd – but yeah, it’s relatively easy and cops don’t lay awake at night sweating this exact situation.

With civilians on base, the reason why soldiers aren't armed is the same reason banks don't have security guards... insurance. You are liable if there is a death on your premises … Say what now? Talk about the fallacy of false equivalence. 

Banks generally don’t have armed guards nowadays because a) they’ve gotten a lot better at passive and active security systems, and b) because armed guards pretty much guarantee the robbers will come through the door shooting. There’s a significant reduction in loss of life if the bank personnel don’t attempt to engage the criminals in a shoot out – and, really, what does this do for the critic’s position of arming everybody? Frankly, he seems to be the kind of guy who tends to shoot himself in the foot, at least figuratively.

That said, a bank robbery and an active shooter are two completely different threats. Totally different tactical problems in law enforcement. You can’t compare the two, primarily because the goals of the perpetrators are completely different. And we don’t restrict the free carry of weapons on base because the government is worried about liability. Weapons are restricted for many reasons, from accountability for expensive and deadly government property to concern over accidental or deliberate shootings and everything in between.

The real question is, how do people keep getting on these bases with firearms? Can the military not afford metal detectors (or are they still looking for a vendor who will overcharge them by 10000%)?

Sixty to eighty thousand people enter and leave Fort Hood every day. Sixty to eighty thousand.  Twenty to thirty thousand enter and leave San Diego Naval Station, every day.  Twenty-five thousand active duty military and civilian personnel come and go from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, every day, thirty thousand military family members access that same base on a daily basis, more than one hundred thousand veterans use the base hospital, commissary, and military exchange monthly. Here in Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson supports similar numbers.  A quarter of million people work or live on the various bases in and surrounding Norfolk. 

So, what exactly are you going to do? Metal detectors, pat downs, and car searches every day?  At every base? Really? You’re going to provide that kind of manpower, that kind of equipment? Because we do that, you know. It’s called Threat Condition Delta, and everybody coming onto base gets thoroughly inspected. Want to guess how long it takes to pat down every person and inspect every vehicle on a base like Fort Hood? Even if you restrict access to only essential personnel, you’re still looking at scanning 40,000 people – all at the same time, because they all show up for work at the same time.  Which is why we only do it when we have a credible threat, because otherwise it’s impossible to do business.

As I said, this guy just doesn’t understand the problem. But, hey, tell you what, maybe if we got ourselves some magic robots from outer space…

So, who’s the bitch now?

Yes, I know, but I just couldn’t help it.

Moving on, another person opined:

It's not a problem to know who the bad guys is- the one shooting people. In Israel, every 18 years old carries a rifle everywhere (both in the army and when they go home every weekend). It does make for a much safer environment. If a Palestinian terrorist starts shooting innocent civilians, then you know for sure that someone will take him down very fast. That's why most of the terrorist acts in Israel end immediately after they start with far less casualties than other places (like the Norway massacre). You don't need to wait for MPs - that's the whole point. The other soldiers would have taken him down as soon as he started shooting - cause they had GUNS. In fact, one of the routine practice drills is to simulate a Palestinian in Israeli military uniform infiltrating the base and then starts shooting everyone. It is basic training.

The commenter is moving the goal posts.

It's not a problem to know who the bad guys is- the one shooting people. [sic]

Unless he’s not shooting people when you happen to look in his direction.

Unless random good guys are also shooting – which was the whole point of my original comment.

Unless there’s more than one shooter.

Unless the shooter knows your tactics, because he’s one of you, and he takes deliberate measures to hide among the victims or mask his actions or otherwise evade, conceal, confuse, and/or escape. 

In Israel, every 18 years old carries a rifle everywhere (both in the army and when they go home every weekend). It does make for a much safer environment.

Right, no terrorism or random shooting in Israel.

If a Palestinian terrorist starts shooting innocent civilians, then you know for sure that someone will take him down very fast. That's why most of the terrorist acts in Israel end immediately after they start with far less casualties than other places

Ah, and there we are, the fallacy of false comparison.  Palestinian terrorists, i.e. the enemy.  Not quite the same thing as an active shooter who is one of your own troops.  

And speaking of logical fallacies, I think we need a new one: the “Bu Bu But that’s how they do it in Israel” fallacy. 

Oh, yes let us handle gun ownership the way the Israelis do. Let us indeed. You bet.

You can start by chucking out the 2nd Amendment, or rather you can start by actually enforcing the 2nd Amendment. The whole thing, especially that part about a “well regulated militia.” Gun ownership in Israel isn’t a right, it’s a duty enforced by law. You own guns in Israel because you’re required to help defend the state, not just you and yours. I can’t wait to see you implement that in America. And you don’t just run out and buy yourself an AR-15 and start patrolling the streets. It starts with universal conscription, in high school. Every single person will be required by law to undergo training and background checks before they are allowed to touch a gun, along with periodic refresher training and civil defense drills. Did I mention universal registration, both for your weapons and for you? Yeah, see, you were given that gun by the government for a reason, because if you’re not in uniform, once you’ve completed your active duty obligation, you’re still part of the civil defense force and that means the government keeps a record of your training and guns. And you can just forget about gun stores and gun shows and all of the rest of the American gun porn. And then let’s talk about the penalties for irresponsible gun use.

I’ve been there, it’s an ok place, pretty girls, intelligent educated folks, great food – best olives I’ve ever had. The beer is pretty good. Heat. Sand. And religion leaking out of every crack. Government of loons. Sure, it’s a dandy place, if you like living in an armed camp in the middle of a war zone. If you like tanks in the streets and armed soldiers on every corner and machine guns on the playground. If you like looking over your shoulder all of the time. If you like government surveillance and pervasive military security that would make Edward Snowden hyperventilate himself into a stroke. Sure, you bet. Let’s do that. I think it’s a great idea, you go first, Conservatives, the rest of us will be right behind you.

Let me be blunt, screw Israel.

You want to go live there, be my guest. I’ll help you pack. But I will bet you whatever sum of money you like, that should you actually try to impose the actual kind of universal gun carry they have in Israel, the very first people who would start screaming fascism! Nazis! would be the NRA and the Tea Party and those advocating right now for arming troops on base. 

Here’s another one:

That article seems a bit disingenuous. The MP's wouldn't have to worry about who was the bad guy because there would be no more shots after the BG was taken out. The good guy would be more than happy to lay down his gun when they arrived and explain the situation later.

It wasn’t an article, it was a couple of lines on Facebook, but, hey, why spoil a thing with facts, eh?

The MP's wouldn't have to worry about who was the bad guy because there would be no more shots after the BG was taken out

Right, it’ll go down just like that. Every time.

The good guy would be more than happy to lay down his gun when they arrived and explain the situation later.

You have to admire this guy’s optimism. But then again, he lives in a magic world of rainbows and flying bunnies where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys look like Boris and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle.

oh and the answer on who to shoot would be everyone not face down after the command cease fire and surrender your weapon is given. after all You make a strong argument but you don't explain why a nut was allowed to run around shooting people on a military base. Was he supposed to be armed and it not why was he permitted to do this? These people definitely deserve to be better protected or to protected themselves.one guy with a gun can be over powered by soldiers that are already signed up to get shot at.... maybe Marines are different...

Marines are different alright, I don’t think anybody would argue that.

Because in the middle of a shootout, Marines will just lay down, cease fire, and surrender their weapons, right?

Because it’s always so neat and tidy, right? Shooter on one side, Marines on the other, clearly delineated.  Cops show up, Marines meekly surrender their weapons, bad guy is left standing in the middle of the playing field holding his gun in one hand and his dick in the other. Because that’s how it’ll go down, right?

The writer is being disingenuous. I mean we can all make no win situations to try and justify things. I mean what if the shooter is in an MP uniform...... Oh no now we need to restrict weapons to only certain MP's.... What if it happens at a rifle range? Oh no lets restrict the military from doing live fire!

Yeah, that’s what I said.

And what’s with “disingenuous.” Is that the Facebook word of the day?

It’s always the same with these people, hysterical all or nothing, the fallacy of the false dilemma. What? You don’t think arming every soldier on base with live weapons all of the time is a good idea? Why, then you must mean no soldier can ever use a weapon ever! 

You can’t reason with these people because they are not reasonable people.  

Also, I don’t think “disingenuous” means what this guy thinks it means.

I posted a scenario, one based on my own training and experience, and I asked my readers – whom I know to be generally a reasonably intelligent bunch, but most have little experience in this sort of thing – to consider it as a thought problem, something to think about as the start of a conversation on the topic. I didn’t say that was the only way things would happen. I didn’t even imply it. There’s nothing disingenuous about it.

When I went through Anti-terrorism training as an intelligence officer, we were given a number of scenarios to consider. Mine was an attack on the Hoover Dam via a large scale explosive concealed in a semi-trailer (this was when US93 actually ran across the top of the dam, before the new bridge was completed). Did that make my instructors “disingenuous” because they gave me that scenario? Were they implying that the only terrorist attack would involve a truck full of fertilizer? Or was it something to think about in the larger conversation?  And was it “disingenuous” of them to assume I was smart enough to figure all that out without having to have it explicitly explained, you know, like normal people?

Also, since the commenter missed it, a hell of a lot of active shooter and terrorist situations are no win scenarios.  Ask the guys who might have to shoot down a jetliner full of innocent civilians in order to prevent a larger tragedy about that sometime.

Okay, but could it happen? Could it? Sure, it could happen. Just like yesterday at Fort Hood, a soldier goes bugshit.  Or like the time before he pulls out a gun, screams Allah Akbar and starts killing people.  And another soldier, armed and alert for danger and ready to rock and roll on a second's notice, shoots him down. Bang! Threat ended. Sure. It could certainly happen that way.

What’s more likely? This last scenario, or the first one I floated up above? Or something in the middle?

Beats me. There’s no way to tell until it happens, and it never happens the same way twice.

What is likely, however, is that when the shooter screams out his war cry and starts blazing away, what you get - even among experienced and prepared troops - is panic and confusion and chaos (also, not everybody is a troop, some of them are civilians, maybe even kids depending on where on base you are). Now you've got a crowd of screaming people, many armed and with their weapons out, which one is the shooter? And we’re back to where we started.

And just for completeness sake, what weapons are we talking about here? Most soldiers don't carry pistols, they carry rifles or more likely nowadays an automatic carbine with burst capability and a VERY high muzzle velocity. Wait 'till somebody starts blazing away in the middle of the crowd with one of those.

And if you’re going to advocate every soldier carry a loaded gun on post, how do you feel about mandating that they all just wear ballistic armor all of the time instead? Hey, I’m just asking.

And then there’s the other side, the crazy.

The other side of the argument is mental health. We don’t need more guns, we need better mental healthcare for our active duty military and our veterans.

I certainly won’t argue against that and I don’t know many who would.

But it's not all one or all the other.

The problem isn't mental health.

The problem isn't guns.

The problem is people with mental health issues who have access to guns. Crazy people with guns, that’s the problem, right there.

Plastic explosive, C4, Semtex, is just an inert block, completely harmless (well, I wouldn’t eat it) about as dangerous as a handful of Silly Putty … until you insert the detonator.  Then it makes a hell of a bang.

The common phrase is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I’m not sure I agree, and I’m leery of empty platitudes on general principle, but let’s just say that’s true. Guns don’t kill people, but they sure make it easier for people to kill people.

A drunk may be a danger only to himself, but let him get behind the wheel and that danger is magnified many times.

That’s what a gun is, it’s a force multiplier. A magnifier.

A gun is a tool, but unlike a wrench, or a car, it's a tool engineered specifically to kill, and certain guns such as the .45 ACP carried by the shooter at Ft Hood yesterday are specifically designed to kill human beings.

The blame may indeed ultimately rest with the person, but the gun is a force multiplier which amplifies human lethality many times.

The problem of gun violence is complex.

The problem of PTSD and suicidal depression is complex.

These problems are extremely difficult to diagnose with any degree of quantitative value. It’s a process and it takes time, sometimes years just to diagnose properly.  And you can’t say if a person is this much depressed, has this much PTSD, he’s going to explode. Hell, we don’t even know why some people get PTSD and some don’t even though they had nearly identical experiences.  I came home and I don’t even have bad dreams, but men who served alongside me in the exact same environment suffer terribly from PTSD.  Will they go murderously insane and start killing others? Will they decide to kill themselves? I for damned sure don’t know, and neither does anybody else, those men and women just take it one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. It’s different for everybody.

It’s not just guns.

It’s not just mental health.

Addressing one side of the issue without addressing the other is no solution at all. Q.E.D.

Certainly the problem of mental health, particularly in veterans, must be addressed. But it's not enough to go around shouting "mental health! mental health!" you actually have to do something about it. And one size doesn't fit all. And it's not as simple as handing out a couple of pills. And it costs money, a lot of money, and it's going to keep costing money, forever. That is the price of war, one of many.

But here's the kicker, not everybody who decides to commit violence is mentally ill. Not even a significant fraction. The vast majority of gun violence is committed by supposedly sane people. So it's not enough to throw up your hands and shout "mental illness!" You also have to address the tool. Canada, England, Australia, places where it's much harder to get a gun, have the same relative ratio of mental illness as we do here in America, including combat induced PTSD in returning troops, and yet the incidences of gun violence are a fraction of that in the US. And it's not because they do such a great job of treating mental illness.

To be clear here, I'm a gun owner.

I believe strongly in responsible gun ownership - emphasis on responsible.

I am NOT advocating elimination of the 2nd Amendment, far from it.

I’m saying it’s not as simple as more guns, or less guns, or yelling PTSD!

Jim Wright is entitled to his opinion, but he really doesn't understand the situation at all.

and finally:

Where did you find this idiot?

Jim Wright doesn’t understand the situation at all. Where did you find this idiot?

You know, I was only in the military for two and a half decades. I only served in three warzones. This year marks my 30th year working on military installations around the world. I taught weapons. I own weapons. I taught anti-terrorism and force protection.

Where did you find this idiot?

Well, you’ll find me standing next to Lt. General Ed Anderson, a 39 year Army officer, West Pointer, and combat vet, who said, "I don't think that's an appropriate solution to what we have seen at Fort Hood,” when asked on the record about allowing troops to carry live weapons on base. "This has to be very, very carefully thought out. The implications of what that would result in. There are other means by which you can enhance security on installations than arming everyone. […] You could make the case they would have gotten him; maybe yes, maybe no. But then you have a Wild West situation there. It is just not the right thing to do."

Where did you find this idiot?

You’ll find me standing next to Major General Paul Eaton, who said, "We train our military police to a higher standard, they are trained first as infantry and then additional training in law enforcement and how to handle situations like a law enforcement officer." When asked specifically about allowing unrestricted carry on base, he replied emphatically, "I am not in favor of that."

Where did you find this idiot?

Standing next to Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, who stated, "We already have lots of weapons on base. We have great law enforcement personnel, we have great military personnel who can protect us. It seems to me that the real focus should be on people who have some type of mental or emotional problem, we should concentrate on that."

These men, they just don’t understand the situation at all.

And how about this idiot? This is retired Colonel Jack Jacobs, wounded in action twice, three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, and the Medal of Honor

But yeah, Colonel Jacobs doesn’t understand the situation at all. Where did they find this idiot?

Where oh where did they find this idiot?

Where indeed.


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. Small nitpick: not I-93. I-93 is in New Hampshire and Vermont. US 93 ran across the top of Hoover Dam, per Wikipedia.

    I agree with everything else. It's blindingly obvious to anyone without a gun fetish that the more shooters the more likelihood of calamity.

  2. Quick typo check:

    "And if you’re going to advocate every soldier carry a loaded gun on post, how to you feel about mandating that they all just wear ballistic armor all of the time instead?"

    How DO you feel.

    And *I* feel like I'm gonna trust people like you who actually know what they are talking about. But that's me. A sheeple.

  3. It seems to me that if a shooter is on a suicide mission, not caring how many people die before they get shot themselves; then a base on which all soldiers are armed would be exactly the place they would go to start a mass shooting. I am not going to guess motives, but in this case this week I am quite sure that he did not intend to walk out of Killeen alive.

  4. I served in the Air Force for 20 years. Heck, I even got quite proficient using the M-16. In annual target practice, of course.

    Do I think, even for one second, that I would automatically know what to do and who to engage if I walked into a firefight in a hospital? Sure, when I am having dreams about Rambo or something.

    I do not own a weapon. If I did, AND I were carrying it on my person, AND I somehow walked into the aforementioned firefight, I haven't the faintest idea what I would do. Why? Because I have absolutely no training for such a situation. Therefore, I think that until I DO receive such training, I will not carry a handgun around for kicks and giggles. I will, instead, hide behind the biggest and most sturdy object I can find, get down real low, wait for the cavalry to arrive, and share my spot with anybody I can get my hands on.

    If somebody thinks that is akin to complete wussification, oh well. But I would much rather protect people in a way I know how to do, instead of potentially becoming part of the problem.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Found another typo: "...that would make Edward Snowden hyperventilate himself into a stoke."

    I think you mean "stroke."

    Thank you for this essay.

  7. "But here's the kicker, not everybody who decides to commit violence is mentally ill. Not even a significant fraction. The vast majority of gun violence is committed by supposedly sane people."
    And, conversely, not everyone who is mentally ill decides to commit violence. Not even a significant fraction. The vast majority of people who are mentally ill (within the general population) are not violent, and the question of whether they could be violent is one that not even qualified psychiatrists can answer.
    Mind you, the odds change a little bit when the mentally ill person is a returning veteran and the mental illness is PTSD, but even then it's more or less a guessing game.

  8. Was it H.L. Mencken who said that "for every problem there is a solution which is simple, neat, and wrong?" Humans are not fungible. Some won't go on a shooting rampage at all. Some will go on such a rampage for reasons which, even if they specifically announce them, are all over the board. There is rage and violence in everyone, I say, and predictability and prevention are at least difficult and, at the worst, impossible.

  9. See, your problem is that you know too much and you understand the complexities and can think about more than one thing at a time. I don't know how common this is in the population at large, but it's all too rare in what bubbles up into public view, especially on social media.

    Sorry about the snark, it's OK with me if you delete this comment, but I just couldn't resist. It's (people not being able to thing about more than one thing at a time) a pet peeve of mine.

  10. I've often offered the same scenario (hearing gunshots in a place where everyone going on about with their business is armed) but in a college situation, and asked the same question: "Who is/are the shooter/s?", and from the responses (or often in absence of response), I've come to this conclusion:

    Too many people have watched:

    1) James Bond movies, where bad guys wear a distinctive outfit identifying them as the bad guys...

    2) any gun movie, from westerns of old to Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon and others, where there is ALWAYS someone saving the day despite the minimum confusion portrayed, as it's rather clear who the bad guy is (especially since we've just been exposed to him for 2 hours on screen)


    1. Our campus security (which is an accredited police force), was asked a question at an employee orientation about why there was no carry on campus. He responded that campus shootings have mostly been reported as "Man with a gun" or some similar variation. So they have no idea what they will be confronting when they arrive. He asked the gentleman "Do you want to be "man with a gun" when I show up to neutralize the situation, no matter how good your intentions are?

    2. For the record: I am very much in favor of the bad guys being allocated some very distinctive uniforms. In bright colors that would contrast with their surroundings. With convenient little targets sewn over their most tender bits.

  11. I want to thank you for your continued passion for keeping things real and complex, for confronting the terrorism that is currently being utilized in our Social Media through your moderation of both this page and your Facebook page, and for your ongoing blogging about same derisive commentary in an explanatory way.

    Through your blog, I have learned about guns, the military, evaluation of information and more. I have also expanded my willingness to see the complexity of our lives. Recently, a friend blogged about PTSD, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD and the causes of PTSD, his commentary about PTSD and our response as a human culture coincide in my mind with our utilization of the Social Media Commons.

    Erik was commenting about PTSD as a cultural condition of the violence in our society. He states, “…because we cannot bear the possibility that we may ourselves be the primary vectors of this sort of pathology we look for isolated, simple biochemical interactions where nothing isolated or simple ever takes place: in and among the bodies of complicatedly social, intelligent, and sensitive animals.”, and “…to divert public attention or maybe the public itself is diverting its own attention this way which seems a more faithful description but we whoever we are we cite models of disease for this among other things in order not to have to address our own complicity in one or another tradition of …”

    Although Erik is referencing PTSD in this commentary, I also see it in the responses to you that people continue to look for the simple when that is not possible if we want answers and improvement. The solutions are as complex as we are organisms. We each bear our responsibility for improvement. We are each complicit in the negative use of Social Media’s expansion of violence when we allow derisiveness and name calling in communication. (By the way, I am not talking about the blog itself here – I am talking about the communication in the commentary.) I love the way the commenters on your facebook page step up for your rules when you are not around.

    We are adding to our communication toolkit, and we need to add to our skillset in using this new tool of Social Media. In general, communication had occurred with physical presence of some sort. Physical presence aided in moderating some of our negative human interactions. Social Media gets rid of the physical presence piece of the equation – no real hearing, no real seeing, no touch. To assure we are communicating, I believe we must imagine – with compassion and love – that there is a REAL person on the other side of those words. Finding a way, with a person who does not interact with that response requires compassion and love for ourselves and may require cutting off the communication if they are unwilling to accept the complexity and humanness of each other.

    I think that your set of rules Jim is a good start for a way of communicating about complex issues in the new commons of Social Media. It shows both compassion and love for yourself and your readers and the discussions. Most of us are still children in how we are using Social Media. We should all learn to play nice.

  12. I feel like I should say something… Okay, here goes: —“Something!”
    I was talking about education, which, contrary to popular perception, it is an eerily similar topic to what we find when talking about guns. Except that we end up not with dead bodies in bags, but with walking dead zombies in civilian uniforms… I said: “Internet is the ultimate Trivial Pursuit for Dummies edition.”
    I stand by my words. Exceptionally you find somebody who restores your trust in human intelligence. Cultivated intelligence. Rare. Not easy to find. Thanks for letting me find you Jim Wright.

  13. Two things: Once upon a time, I was in the Army. Out front of every base/fort/post I've ever been assigned to, there's usually some sign, usually a big one, with big stop sign images and red letters explaining how ALL vehicles are subject to search. Soldiers know this. Soldier's families know this. Now, as Jim explains, it would be nearly impossible to search every car every day, but searches DO happen. The ones I've been involved in ALWAYS caught people smuggling in weapons, drugs, booze whatever. People who should know better were constantly failing to follow very simple rules about what was and was not allowed. Our unit armorer was busted carrying unregistered weapons once! So, adding more guns and conceal carry to the mix, and expecting people to follow the safety and handling rules is supposed to go over better... why??

    Also, I was chosen to play OPFOR quite often. I participated in numerous training exercises involving assaults upon post gates, either simple things, like DUI, carrying drugs, or protesting, or more serious things, like simulating a terrorist attack or determined gunman. Now, don't get me wrong. I respect our MPs, I really do, but they do not deal with the crazy shit often enough to know the best way to react. Not immediately. I am not trained in martial arts, and compared to these guys, I was just a scrawny girl, but you'd be surprised at how many rifles I was able to snatch away, right from the hands, of posted guards (unloaded... they knew I was a player in a training scenario), or how many I could pop with a paint gun, before they'd react properly and take the appropriate measures to stop me. Again, I'm not picking on MPs! What I did was help provide training. Training on top of training they already had! But I was the 'bad guy' and had my own agenda and scenario to play and was tasked to do things they weren't expecting. At least, in the beginning of a training exercise, I was able to cause tons of mayhem, for the sole purpose of training them to handle mayhem. By the end of the exercise they'd have had their reflexes tested enough and playing OPFOR got more painful for us bad guys. But really, how many soldiers actually get that kind of security/police training other than our MPs and a handful of other security types? Admin, nurses, mechanics, you name it... they have other jobs. Other than playing OPFOR, I never had that kind of training. Just knowing how to shoot an M16 (or other weapon) does NOT confer upon the user appropriate security or guard or police training.

    I don't want everyone carrying concealed weapons on base, nor teachers carrying weapons in schools, because simply owning a gun does not equate to training and knowledge of using the damn thing in a sudden life or death situation. The risks greatly overshadow any slight benefit.

  14. Comments from my FB feed enshrined for eternity on Stonekettle.

    Great essay, thanks.

    Raymond Holmes

  15. You are right Marines are different, my wife tells me I am different all the time. Not sure she means this in a good way though.

    In regards to your post, even though it has been a long time since active duty, having everyone packing on base didn't happen then and doesn't sound like a particularly good idea now. Mike R.

  16. Thank for a well thought out and well written piece. You nailed when you identified the as a force multiplier in the wrong hands as the basic problem. I am a long time gun owner and am repulsed by easy access to all manner of weaponry and yes it is pornographic in nature. It's time we turned to less extremist positions and absolutist views. That's the easy path and promotes lazy thinking. Plus it feeds the rampant paranoia in our culture. Distressing.

  17. Jim, have you read (or written about) the Dunning-Kruger effect? Two psychologists named Drs. Dunning and Kruger wrote a paper on people mistakenly thinking they are better or more knowledgable than they are in reality. I see it all the time when reading about anti-vaccine views. People think they can "decide for themselves" not to get vaccinated because they "know what is best" for their kids. Their individual parental experience or their Google U edumacation lets them overrule the advice of public health experts all over the world. Have you been accused of being arrogant yet, or told that your real world experience in the military doesn't entitle you to tell others what to think? I have- my 20+ years of doing science research is "not the same thing" as being a parent to a child on the autistic spectrum (never mind that I am that as well), so I can't tell them anything about vaccines being safe. I think you're running into the same problem, here, on public safety. People with no concept of real world statistics on gun accidents, no formal training in firearms or policework or psychology, no experience of military life, think they've come up with the obvious 5 second "solution" to this problem. It's the arrogance of ignorance, to steal a good phrase.

    1. I think the response to the deluded anti-vaccine-ers and would-be Rambos or Lone Rangers should be, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts." Not that they would listen, necessarily. It's the same mentality that says, "I can say anything I want. It's a free country." Appreciation of nuance does not apply either.

    2. So who is John Lott? Besides being the author of "More Guns, Less Crime," he is a peripatetic social commentator of some sort and a "researcher' who has come up with the following gems:

      "Using data from 1870 to 1940, Lott and Larry Kenny studied how state government expenditures and revenue changed in 48 state governments after women obtained the right to vote . . . Lott stated that "women's suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise
      . . . .

      With John Whitley at the University of Adelaide, Lott has considered crime rates and the possible influence of laws which place abortion decisions with the pregnant person other than boards of physicians . . . Using the correlation between children in poverty and in single parent homes with crime they build an argument that liberalization of abortion laws increased murder rates by around about 0.5 to 7 percent."

      (Credit Wikipedia)

      Do ya think he has an agenda? Would ya assign him any credibility? Love how the the Colonel told him to be quiet.

  18. stellar article as usual, Jim -- thanks!


  19. It's not a problem knowing who the bad guys are? OK, my son and my husband both play those first-person shooter games where you can hook up with other people and go on quests. Most (if not all) of those games have this handy dandy feature that makes friendly fire harmless, so if you accidentally shoot one of your buddies, or swing a sword the wrong way, or aim your arrow poorly, you don't inadvertently decimate your own party.

    And that's for a GAME. There may be some adrenaline, but it's still a GAME. I've played a few of those games myself, and honestly without that friendly fire option on I'm more a danger to my party members than I am to whatever we're fighting. Something comes up from the side, unexpectedly, and I'm pointing and shooting (or swinging, or whatever). And that's when the good guys are outlined in BLUE and the bad guys are outlined in RED.

    My husband and I went to a minor league baseball game on Thursday night. It was my first time at a baseball game, and I had fun. But I also had a brief moment of anxiety. See, it was also "Thirsty Thursday" at the ball park, so beer was one dollar. North Carolina + first decent weather we've had in months + $1 beer = LOTS of drunk rednecks. And they've changed the rules here about concealed carry, so it's relatively easy to do and you can do it pretty much everywhere. Which is why I found myself studying the guys around me and doing mental math. How many were vets? (NC got a pretty heavy vet population.) How many were just weekend warriors who like camo? How many have had enough beer to impair their judgement? And of all of those, how many have a gun on them right now?

    I deliberately put it out of my head because, dammit, I was there to have some fun. But still...it lurked back in the back for the last half of the night. (And our team lost.) I'm far less afraid of some random shooter trying to take out a ball park with over 9k people in it in central North Carolina, than I am of a bunch of rednecks with poor impulse control and a lot of beer with handguns tucked away under their shirts.

  20. It's not just Transformers movies -- it's whole generations raised on TV, movies and books where The Good Guys™ are able to suss out and neutralize The Bad Guys™ in 46 minutes or less. In the better shows, this happens on the third attempt, so heaven help you if you're involved with the first or second incident.

    Real cops discharge their weapons or kill a perp FAR less often than we see on TV. Just one incident As Seen On TV™ would make a career in real life.

    Yeah, and folks like Jim Wright are to be vilified for being out of touch with the REAL solutions.

    Yeah, right.

    Jim, I knew the Facebook scenario you described would have to become a full Stonekettle post the moment I read it. Alas, not enough people will read it, and many who will read it will not comprehend what you're saying. Which is why there will be a Bang Bang Crazy Part 10 -- eventually enough for a book.

    Dr. Phil

  21. Jim, you sure do have a clear, concise vision of reality. Thank you.
    It's a strange world; where Bruce Willis's shirt stays clean through all the fire-fights; where Steven Seagal can get garrotted with wire, and yet still escape and kill all the bad guys; where Ewoks with rocks can take down Storm Troopers; and where twerking celebrities make the nightly news.
    Thank golly for thoughtful people like you, Jim, and your readers. I come here for a goodly dose of sanity whenever the idiots begin to make me crazy.

  22. I find it interesting that people with what I'll call "hero complexes" feel that it they (or some proxy) just had a gun handy, these things would end neatly. The more thoughtful amongst them are actually concerned about shooting a "good guy" such as nearly happened in the Gabby Giffords shooting, but I wonder why nobody seems to be worried about being taken out themselves by being mistaken for a bad guy?

    I understand that most of these incidents are likely to end violently...with guns, but it's beyond me that there are so many armchair quarterbacks that keep suggesting more guns in the scenario and a resultant tidy ending. Maybe, but only maybe, and not all that likely IMHO.

  23. You are a great writer, Jim. But we knew that. I just had to say it in print.

  24. This is the million dollar question:
    "Just one thing, one little thing before you pull the trigger: Which one is the bad guy?"

    And this little gem scares the shit out of me:
    "especially now that urban combat is common place"

    Thanks for your sanity, Mr W

    1. Another thing to consider: Even assuming that you can correctly identify the "bad guy", are you sure you can actually hit him with your shot? If you miss, where will your shot go? Who and / or what is behind the perp? Half the people killed at Kent State weren't even involved in the protest that the National Guard troops fired at.

    2. Excellent point.

  25. Where did you find this idiot?

    That's what is left when they know they have run out of arguments.

    Thank you for yet another dose of sanity.

  26. John Schmid It is so refreshing to find a voice of reason in these times. They exist in every arena - politics, science, religion, ....
    Some Examples:
    Neil deGrasse Tyson is so good at explaining to us why the Universe is as it is.
    The new Pope finally appears to be trying to bring Catholicism out of the dark ages.
    And now, Jim Wright is letting us know what it is really like to be inside of a firefight, and that adding fire to the fire is never a good thing.
    Unfortunately, so many people choose to attack these experts publically based on their own prejudices and opinions, based on talking points and beliefs. Based on ignorance and stupidity!

  27. ah, logic. We need a lot more of it in our national discourse.

  28. I'm a long time firearms owner, and a CCW permit holder. The *only* reason I have CCW is so I can once every couple of years drive to a gun shop or show, and secure the weapons in the vehicle with less restrictions.

    I'd like to see each firearm registered with local police, and mandatory training for small arms ownership, not just for hunting licenses.

    The gun culture in the USA and the 2nd amendment pretty much guarantees that we'll have nearly unrestricted access to small arms for centuries to come, in contrast to Canada, which evolved so differently, in spite of both nations being original English colonies.

    For some interesting reading on this:


    1. That is interesting. I'd like to add a bit;

      I've spent some time in New Zealand and Australia. The difference between cultures as concerns guns is startling. I find Kiwis to be pathologically friendly, but since I spent no small amount of my time there (and in Australia) in pubs, I saw my share of "disagreements". Here is a bit from the NZ police website (they are tasked with administering their gun regulations, and yes, the spelling is correct for those who drive on the left).

      "Self defence
      Important note: Firearms for self defence
      Self-defence is not a valid reason to possess firearms. The law does not permit the possession of firearms ‘in anticipation’ that a firearm may need to be used in self-defence.
      Citizens are justified in using force in self defence in certain situations. The force that is justified will depend on the circumstances of the particular case. Every person is criminally responsible for any excessive use of force against another person.
      A firearm is a lethal weapon. To justify the discharge of a firearm at another person the user must hold an honest belief that they or someone else is at imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm. Discharge of a firearm at another person will result in a Police investigation and what ever the consequences of the incident you may face serious criminal charges."

      Self-defense is not a valid reason to possess firearms.
      That's an interesting concept, isn't it? It implies that you need to find another way to solve "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" scenario.

      They also require a license to own a firearm, they visit your home to confirm you have a safe, secure place to store it, they want you to demonstrate safe use, and they interview your spouse. You have to give a specific reason for owning a MSSA (military style semi-auto) or similar, but not a hunting gun. If you have a history of violence, domestic assault, drug or alcohol abuse, hang out with people like that, you probably aren't going to get a license. Someone will surely shout "but criminals won't pay any attention to the law, and they'll have all the guns" and shoot that idea full of holes (no, not sorry). Well of course they will; they're CRIMINALS! We have guns everywhere! How can anyone postulate that we'll be safer by HAVING MORE of them?

      This notion of "a well-armed society is a polite society" is crap. It should read: "a well-armed society has sociopathic, inferiority, paranoia and anger issues".

      I met a young couple in Wanaka who wanted to come visit the US. They had seen many of our imported TV shows, and were terrified of coming here because of "all the gun-fights going on everywhere". I assured them it wasn't as common as TV would have you believe, but they had done their homework and were still pretty worried about getting shot. I'd rather my country was admired, than feared.

      And, from the intertubes (Wiki)
      Gun deaths per capita:
      NZ 1.45/100,000
      AU 1.06/100,000
      US 10.3/100,000

  29. Flawlessly logical and most persuasive. And, of course, well written as usual. Thank you, Jim.

    The other commenters have said everything that I might have, so, instead of repeating what they said, I'll merely repeat- Thank you" to them.

  30. "You see dozens of men and women in uniform crouched behind cover exchanging fire with other men and women in uniform crouched behind cover returning fire. They all look exactly the same.

    Now, you have to do something, right now. It’s your job. You raise your weapon and step forward... "

    OK, you did it - I *had* to check "I cried".

    It seems *so* obvious - yet you'll never hear it from the "Bang Bang Crazy" crowd.

    I spend two holidays cycling from the East Coast to the West Coast (takes about six weeks). I didn't have *any* weapons; I was absolutely defenseless with respect to marauding car drivers - yet I never felt unsafe.

    The gunloon crowd is battling a straw man; it has now real arguments.

  31. Jim, I heartily enjoyed this essay. As someone who spent 28 years in civilian law enforcement, the last 15 or so as a "survival skills" trainer, your assessment is spot on. Heck, even SCOTUS said that "tense, rapidly evolving, uncertain circumstances" govern force assessment and recognize that not every decision made will be the perfect decision. I generally don't carry although there are times and situations when I do. I have done the training and the psychological preparation for that sort of combat, unlike many of those who demand concealed carry privileges. And thank you so much for the discourse on the Israeli "outlook"; it gives me good ammunition when I run into those who tell me that Israel "does it right."

    I do often engage people who have the ultimate disdain for "liberal teachers" who then tell me they should arm every teacher in the schools...none of whom have done the training or psychological preparation for that sort of combat nor are they wired for that sort of combat.

    Again, thank you, sir.

    Ally House, who still struggles with her Google account...

  32. The first example ("Which one is the bad guy?") reminds me of a well-documented incident (that has now moved into its inevitable wrongful-death-lawsuit phase), that I am too lazy to Google-fu right now, which occurred in Cleveland.

    It involved a car chase that eventually enveloped half the police force, and ended with a ridiculously long hail of bullets. The two civilians in the chased car died. They were unarmed. The police were shooting at nothing but each other.

    And what started all this? The aforementioned chased car, which was a junker, backfired near a school.

    So yes, the "professionals" can get it wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. Multiple times. In a matter of minutes.

    There are no good answers here.

  33. Re: Guns in Israel-- My brother lives there (he's an archaeologist), and because he has ulcers, he wasn't fit for military service. And not being in the military, you can bet your life he has no chance of getting his hands on a gun.

    And you were absolutely not exaggerating about the omni-present military there. It's an experience, to see machine-gun-armed security at every supermarket and playground. It's also an experience to see how fast you start to accept that as "normal"--and trust me, people, you don't want to see that as "normal" here.

  34. Florida, my home state, seems to be the test bed for new, expanded 'rights' for the pro-gun lobby. We're already at around 1 million concealed weapons permits, are the standard bearers for 'stand-your-ground', and have just put on the governor's desk, a new bill that will allow for the firing of 'warning shots' if an individual feels threatened.
    I starting to feel like one of the citizens of the old Dodge City before they brought in Wyatt Earp.

  35. Good Morning! To extend the "arm everyone" idea to its most absurd end, I have a solution! After the stabbings at the Pennsylvania school this morning, I propose that all male humans be banned from school grounds nation-wide. That should keep everyone else safe and secure...

  36. Arm everyone is definitely NOT the solution. Catching them before they even begin to think about a mass shooting should be the gold standard. Making violence something other than the default solution to all problems in our pop culture would be a very good start. Getting the records of serious mental illness into the FBI database and getting universal background checks would help too. But, there is one common theme that has emerged in these many shootings, and that is that the shooter rarely goes past the very first contact with armed resistance. Be it police like the Sikh temple, MP's like in Fort Hood, or an armed civilian like the Portland Mall shooter. The shooter more often than not kills themselves as soon as the hunt is joined. We need a way to get faster response. Many people would be willing to take on an additional responsibility in the very unlikely event of an active shooter, of serving as an armed first responder, and these people would subject themselves to special training, and be known to the responders, as a database could be easily kept to alert the MP's or police that there is one person working in that area who may be responding and include a picture of that person in the message. Given that the vast majority of this would be years of waiting while nothing happens it should weed out the gun crazy cowboys in the first few years.

  37. i think this story is exactly what jim was/is trying to convey.


  38. Way off topic but damn, it kinda fits in both the know it all military experts and the conspiracy theory people. Damn I am ashamed to say I USE to be married to this person. Hell she thought the Stephen kind mini series "The Stand" was evil, she missed the whole point.

    "Ok folks, A thought to ponder. President Obama talks of peddling off the internet to a foreign source in Europe. I feel in my heart this is another move to stop Christianity. I feel like the drive is to remove anything about Christ and stop it from traveling the world and sharing God's word.

    Maria ___Trust in God


    Sharon_____ He is evil.

    Jan ___ He is beyond evil. I still say he is the antichrist!!!

    Jan____ God will handle him in the bowels of fire and brimstnes. He will burn in hell.

    Sandra ___ Amen to that Jan and it can't come soon enough.

    Maria ____ Lol

    Chuck ____ ur right sis he wants to promote musilums

    Good Googly Gook, I am glad I am no longer married to that woman!

  39. Mr. Wright, spot on as always. As one of your short-time minions/hangers-on/readers, I greatly appreciate the sanity, and factuality you bring to all topics you write about. Long way of saying, "You ain't no bullshitter!". I was kind of surprised that as late as I came to reading this essay that there were so few comments. Either the crazies on both sides showed up in unusual droves and you bitch-slapped them back to their purple skied realities, or due to the simple fact that you (in this essay, more than ever) demonstrate your knowledge, expertise and credentials so well, most of them wisely shut-up. Until I killed my Facebook account, I shared every essay, and the idiots on both sides of each issue showed up in comments to spew stupidity and fallacy. I don't have to deal with that anymore, but I really, really appreciate the voice you bring to the conversation. Thank you!

  40. And now we have a Part 10 with the shooting in Kansas today. Sigh.

  41. Wait. Israel has good beer? Yeah, I know, out of all that, *that's* the sentence I zero in on. Just wasn't the kind of place I would have instinctively associated with good brewing.

  42. Personally, I think anyone who hasn't served active military duty needs to sit down and shut up. Leave the military alone, let the military handle the military, because they know how to better than a civilian does. This isn't directed at anyone here, but definitely to people like the ones sending you hate mail Jim. Civilians don't have a dog in this fight, this ia a military matter.

  43. I forget how I stumbled onto this blog, but it's terrific. Sweet little oasis of sanity. Jim is solid. Also funny and very, very smart. And did I say sane?
    Somebody make him run for president.
    I love the hell out of this blog.

  44. I love the hell out of this blog, too. I like what an earlier poster said about Jim's being able to think about more than one thing at a time. As someone who loves and lives to read about complex issues, and is also fascinated with how amazing our brains are, I am grateful to you, Jim, for writing clearly and refreshingly on current and controversial topics. You write the way I think; the difference is, my thoughts never seem to translate so clearly to writing. Thank you for keeping it real and clear.

  45. This is roughly the argument I use when people start talking about arming teachers to help "defend the children." It is blindingly obvious that none of the proponents of this idea has ever been in any kind of "situation", and certainly never in a war-zone.

    Hoping I don't have to read part 10, but resigning myself to doing so, I nevertheless thank you for writing so eloquently.

  46. I saw a moron on FB a couple of days ago that had the gall to say that guns weren't designed to kill, they were designed to throw projectiles at high speed, and that they used them for shooting paper targets.

    OH YES, guns were invented to kill paper! Black hatters in the Wild West just used them to shoot up their Wanted posters...

    Complete asshats. I'm more honest about what my guns were invented for.

    1. Well technically its the AMMUNITION thats actually designed to kill. The gun is just designed to fire the ammunition, and guns can be and frequently are loaded with non-lethal projectiles, or no projectiles at all in the case of close-range blanks. But thats all just semantics. The truth is that it doesnt matter what a tool is DESIGNED for, its what its used for. I could easily stab somebody to death with a knife DESIGNED to chop vegetables.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.