Thursday, October 8, 2015

More Bang Bang Crazy - Big Damned Heroes

Malcolm Reynolds: Well look at this. 'Pears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?
Zoë Washburn: Big damn heroes, sir.
     - Firefly, Season 1, Episode 7 “Safe”


Ben Carson is a hero.

Oh yes he is. He’s a big damn hero.

Well, maybe. Probably.  In his mind.

Yesterday on Fox & Friends, Carson said,  "Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all'"

Carson was talking about the shooting at an Oregon community college last week, where yet another angry loser with a gun, mad at the world, murdered nine people and then, as usual, turned his weapon on himself.

In the bloody aftermath, the oh so tediously predictable aftermath, Carson told Fox viewers he wouldn’t have have been a victim.

No, Ben Carson would have been a hero.

A big damned hero.

Carson boasted that he personally would have led the counter attack, charging into a hail of bullets heedless of his own life. Follow me, boys! He can’t get us all! For America! For Freeeeeedom! For mom and apple pie and Republican Jesus!

I mean, it’s not brain surgery. You just shout “charge!” He can’t get us all, right?


Big damn hero, Ben Carson. Now that’s a campaign slogan worthy of a bumper sticker.

Big damned heroes, they’re always ready to give somebody’s life in defense of liberty, you bet.

I’ve met people like this. Wannabe heroes.

Too many.

I spent more than 20 years on active duty with the US military. I used to have a commanding officer, a Lieutenant, who I am absolutely certain practiced his Medal of Honor acceptance speech in the mirror every morning while shaving his big damned heroic chin. You know that speech? The big damn hero speech? Sure. It’s the one which begins all humble like, “Thank you, Mr. President. I’m sorry every one of my men were killed, but I’m honored, honored, to wear this award on their behalf…” All aw shucks and I wouldn’t call myself a hero, oh no sir. And what’s this? Why it’s a nice little scar that didn’t damage anything vital, just a big damned heroic wound to impress the laaaaadies. Oh yes.

Of course, when the balloon did go up and we were all out there on the pointy end of the stick, Commander Hero Chin (he’d gotten promoted by then) was heroically back in San Diego, heroically risking his life for America making heroic Power Point slides and fresh ground coffee for the admirals.

But man, if he’d been there, why, he’d have been a hero just like Ben Carson. Oh yes indeed. And for years afterward he’d regale anyone who’d listen with his tales of could-have-been heroism, “Man, if I was there, if I was there, man, you’d wouldn’t find me waiting to die, hell no. Why I wouldn’t just stand there and let him shoot me, no sir. I’d step right up and look that bastard in the eye! Follow me boys! He can’t get us all! For freeeeedom!”

That’s how these people think.

They practice their speeches, getting all the patriotic words just right, just the right amount of Captain America modesty, aw shucks anybody would have done it.

They rehearse how it’ll go down in their minds, a clever kick and a swift karate chop and they’ve got the terrorist’s gun and a pithy squint-eyed Dirty Harryism, do you feel lucky, Punk? and bang bang bang, they’re big damned heroes. Well, do ya?

And yet, oddly, guys like Ben Carson, they’re never on the front lines. Whenever it does go down, whenever the bullets start flying and the blood starts spraying and the screams echo in the halls … somehow, they’re nowhere to be found, these big damned heroes. It’s only afterwards they appear, oh, am I too late? Did I miss the battle? Well, let me tell you what I would have done.

We’re a nation of wannabe heroes, looking for our moment of glory.

This week, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit, a customer in a big box store parking lot attempted to help store security stop a suspected shoplifter by pulling out her gun and shooting at the suspect’s fleeing vehicle. The woman, a concealed carry license holder, saw a Home Depot Loss Prevention Officer attempting to stop a suspected shoplifter from getting into his vehicle. The suspect and his companion got away and took off in their SUV. So the woman, who was not a cop, not law enforcement, not involved, not threatened, not in fear of her life, and not defending herself or anyone else, pulled out her 9mm and began firing at the vehicle. What if there were other people in the car? Children say. So what? Who cares? It’s hero time!

Who presents a greater danger to the innocent public here? Some shoplifter who swiped a power drill or a box of screws or the good gal with a gun shooting in a flat trajectory across tarmac into a parking lot with a crowded highway and shopping center as a backstop?

Think about that.

Go ahead and take all the time you need.

While you’re at it, here's a thought problem for you:

Michigan is a Stand Your Ground state. Since the alleged shoplifter wasn't actually threatening this woman. And since she, as an uninvolved third party, menaced him with a gun. If he had a legal firearm in his possession at the time, would he have been justified in standing his ground, i.e. defending himself ala George Zimmerman, since any reasonable person would say his life was in danger? If not, why not?

Two weeks ago, another good guy with a gun apparently attempted to stop a carjacking at a Houston, Texas, gas station. Police say two men attacked a third man as he was pumping gas and then stole his truck. Another man, a good guy with a gun, pulled up, saw the attack, unlimbered his peacekeeper, and started shooting. Unfortunately, he hit the carjacking victim in the head instead of the thieves. The carjackers jumped into the victim’s truck and drove away. The shooter carefully picked up his spent shell casings and took off – not even bothering to check on the condition of the innocent man he’d just shot. Just another big damned hero.  Note: there is some conflicting information regarding this story. Some reports say the victim was not actually shot, and was in fact injured by the carjackers who hit him on the head.  Even now two weeks later there is no confirmation either way, and none of the original reports have been updated. However, I do note the original reports from local Houston media, based on actual police reports and on-scene witnesses, say the victim was shot in the head. Other media reports, based on secondhand accounts and filed a day or more later, say the victim was not shot. Regardless, all reports agree an uninvolved man fired on the carjackers and victim, policed his brass, and left the scene without helping the victim.

Now, certainly carjacking is a violent and dangerous crime.

Certainly the victim, whether injured by gunfire or by being hit on the head, has every right to defend himself, has every right to be angry and aggrieved at the violation. I don’t think anybody would argue that. Hell, I certainly wouldn’t argue his constitutional right to pull out his own legal weapon, should he have one, and use it to defend himself up to and including shooting at the guy who was shooting at him.

But in this case, who presented a greater threat to the public? The guys stealing a truck or the guy who wanted to be a big damned hero? Both ran away. Both took pains to hide their identities. Both are still at large and unidentified. So, how can you tell the hero from the zero? The victim was still injured, was still robbed, still left bleeding on the pavement.

Tell me, how did the gun improve this situation? How did it make anybody safer?

Think about it. Again, take all the time you need.

While you’re at it, here’s another thought problem:

Ponder the wisdom of a supposed responsible gun owner shooting into a gas station.

Three weeks ago in Des Moines, Iowa, a man was driving down a busy road when he saw another man running across the Dollar General parking lot. The running man jumped into a waiting truck which then sped away. The man suspected a robbery and attempted to stop the speeding truck by blocking it with his own vehicle. He drew his weapon and jumped out of his truck to confront the supposed robber … and was promptly hit by the suspect vehicle. He told police he then executed a “barrel roll”  and came up shooting - and if you’re having T. J. Hooker flashbacks here, rest assured you’re not the only one. The truck sped away. Whether the shooter actually hit anything or anybody remains unknown.

Tell me again, I forgot your previous answer, how did the gun improve this situation?

Tell me how the situation wouldn’t have been better served if he’d shot the suspects with his cell phone camera instead with his gun.

How does discharging a weapon in the middle of a busy intersection without regard to your backstop or surroundings make society safer?

While you’re at it, here’s yet another thought problem:

This guy, the shooter, we can agree he has a right to defend himself, yes? But would that have been necessary to begin with if he hadn’t jumped out of his truck with a gun in his hand? He put himself in danger. He put himself in danger because he could, because he was armed. Then he tried to shoot his way out of it when things went pear-shaped and it’s only by pure luck he didn’t hit a bystander. How comfortable are you with that? Good? Okay, now put your kids in that parking lot and answer the question again.

Big damned heroes.

Meanwhile in that same period, this last three weeks, how many crimes have been successfully stopped by a good guy with a gun?

Come now, let’s have a list. We’ve got nine more dead in Oregon. We’ve got the cases above. In Jefferson Country, Tennessee, we’ve got an 11-year old who deliberately killed his 8-year old neighbor with a 12-gauge shotgun in an argument over a puppy.  Heck, we’ve even got a story about US servicemen on a train in France who took down an armed terrorist with their bare hands.

But where are the Big Damned Heroes? Where are the good guys with their guns?

Why aren’t the headlines full of these people?

No, no, don’t look away. Don’t change the subject. Don’t move the goalposts. Where are they? Given the staggering amount of violence in this country, given the crime that fills our news feeds every day, given the mugs and the thugs and the Ebola infected brown people from Africa and the Muslim terrorists and the invading hordes of red commies and the raping illegals from south of the border, where is it? Where are the hundreds, thousands, millions, of headlines? Where are the tales of heroism and courage? I mean, given the sheer number of home invasions we are warned about every single day by the gun lobby, every single one of us should know somebody who’s fought it out with a crackhead in their kitchen at 2AM or took down a crazed shooter in the parking lot of their kid’s elementary school or defended an abortion clinic from some raging Christian Jesus Warrior equipped with his own personal arsenal of God … okay, that’s a bad example but I think I’ve made my point here.


Where are they?

Is it like Bigfoot and UFOs? Tens of millions of cell phone cameras and surveillance systems and none of them capture a single Good Guy With A Gun taking down the endless parade of bad guys we’re warned about every single day?


What’s that?

Oh, I see. It’s the Second Amendment hating liberal media. They won’t publish stories about big damned heroes stopping crime with their guns. They’re hiding the truth! The truth! That’s it, isn’t it? Sure. Because Fox News, Newsmax, The Wall Street Journal, Guns&Ammo, Breitbart, Beck, Limbaugh, Coulter, those guys, right, liberal mouthpieces one and all. That must be it.


"Can you imagine with Trump, somebody says, 'Ohhh, all these big monsters aren't around, he's easy pickins, and then ... pu-ching! So this is about self-defense, plain and simple!"

Self defense? I thought this was about shooting down your government because you’re feeling oppressed by tyranny? No?

Okay, self defense. Whatever you say, Chuck.

Donald Trump told the crowd at a suburban Nashville campaign stop on Saturday he has a New York state concealed carry permit and if faced with an attack like that last week in Oregon he’d go all Charles Bronson. The crowd loved the idea of The Donald as a raging vigilante so much they started chanting “Death Wish! Death Wish!”

Trump then went on to rail against "gun-free zones," telling the cheering crowd the Oregon shootings could have been stopped if only teachers and students had been armed.  He somehow left out the part where Umpqua Community College is not a gun free zone – and in fact Oregon state law forbids colleges from outlawing guns. But hey, Death Wish Trump is on a roll and why spoil a thing with facts, right?

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to visualize Donald Trump, Donald Trump, massive gold-plated .50 Desert Eagle clutched in one hand, American flag in the other, chest bared, fighting it out Hollywood style with the next mass shooter in the hallways of your kid’s school. Pu-Ching! Oh you want some of this! How about some of this? Do ya, Punk? Pu-Ching! Pu-Ching!

Trump, like Jeb Bush and his fellow conservatives blamed the vague catchall “mental illness” for America’s gun violence and then, like Bush, noted stuff just happens. “No matter what you do, you will always have problems," Trump said and added that “it doesn't make sense to limit access to firearms.”

It doesn’t make sense to limit access to firearms.

Not even for people with “mental illness?”

Ah, you know, never mind.

As extra credit, consider this thought problem:

Mass shootings in the US are random events unrelated to gun proliferation and violent culture. Nine unarmed innocent people are gunned down in cold blood by a nut with a bad haircut and a grudge, and we shrug and say, hey, shit just happens. A nut dressed like a comic book character shoots up a movie theater? Shit happens. A racist murders people in their church? Shit happens. Another nut with a bad haircut and mental problems takes his mother’s personal arsenal and murders first her and then a school full of kindergarteners? Whoa, slow down there, Hoss, look here, shit just happens. There’s nothing you can do about it and we don’t need to be making any rash changes. Did I say rash changes? Hell, we don’t need to be making deliberate changes either. No changes.

Shit just happens, man.

Now, given that, what do you call it when four armed Americans are gunned down in the middle of a violent revolution in a North African country steeped in gun culture?

Hint: 10 congressional committees and 32 congressional hearings are pretty sure shit doesn’t just happen.

Shit just happens.

And Bobby Jindal knows why. Jindal didn’t blame fate. Shit might just happen in Bobby’s world, but at least he knows where the blame lies.

It’s bad parenting, see? 

Jindal went after the shooter’s father:

“He’s a complete failure as a father! Because he failed to raise his son.”

Jindal was enraged because the shooter’s father condemned his murderous son’s actions, questioned how a kid with mental problems could just legally buy four guns, and called for reasoned discussion of gun violence. Jindal was pissed! How dare he? It’s an outrage! Why a real father, a real father, would have … I dunno, bought his mentally disturbed kid more guns like the Charleston Shooter, took him to the range like the Sandy Hook Shooter, something, man. A real father of a mass murderer wouldn’t be talking about gun control, why that’s unAmerican. A real father would have charged the shooter, yeah, like Ben Carson, been a big damned hero.

Jindal wrote a blog post titled We fill Our Culture with Garbage, and We Reap The Result. He blamed music that promotes “the degradation of women” and flouts “the laws of God and common decency.” And of course, he wouldn’t be a Republican if he didn’t also blame abortion. 

Mike Huckabee chimed in on that theme:

“We have not so much a gun problem, we have a problem with sin and evil.”

Sin and evil. Abortion. Ah, of course. In other words, “If women weren’t rutting godless whores, none of this would have happened.” Sin folks, who’s fault is that?



And so what have we learned in the wake of yet another bloody rampage?


All of this violence has one thing in common. But that’s not the problem, folks. No, Sir.

It’s women having sex, that’s the problem here.

It’s that Rock & Roll music. It’s Elvis the Pelvis and that Satan loving heavy metal.

It’s TV. It’s video games. Though oddly, you don’t see conservatives promoting peaceful TV and non-violent video games and why is that?

It’s gun free zones. Though, perversely, the vast majority of gun violence occurs outside of gun free zones pretty much every single day, but just never mind that. Move along. Move along.

It’s mental illness.  But, hey, let’s fight tooth and nail against anything that might keep crazy people from buying guns.

It’s sin. It’s evil. It’s abortion and gay people. It’s illegal aliens. It’s divorce and bad fathers who don’t like guns. Because, and lets be honest here, if we let God make the laws, why this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. No violence in the bible, right? Other that part about virtuous fathers sacrificing their sons on stone altars or handing out their daughters like door prizes, or that part, you know, where God slaughters all the firstborn kids and drowns the entire planet.

No, it’s everything but guns.

What we need, see, is more guns. Yeah, that’ll fix the problem.

What we need, is some big damned heroes. Follow me, they can’t shoot us all!

Last night, Ben Carson appeared on SiriusXM’s Karen Hunter Show and related his own real life act of heroism. Carson, it seems was once held at gunpoint inside a Popeye’s fast food restaurant during a robbery.

“Guy comes in,” Carson tells it. “Put the gun in my ribs.”

Did Carson refuse to cooperate? Did he refuse to stand there and take it? Did he shout Hey guys! Everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all!

Actually what Ben Carson, Big Damned Hero, said in his own words was:

“I have had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s organization. I just said, ‘I believe you want the guy behind the counter.'”

Are you feeling lucky? Well are ya? Because I believe you want the guy behind the counter. Punk.

Zoë Washburn: Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed.
- Serenity, 2005


Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity

Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve  been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meyer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun.  I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family.  Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I’m an Alaskan and I typically carry a gun in the wilds of Alaska on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.


  1. Let's not forget about the folks who were there on the campus, armed with their pistols, who decided that the wiser course of action was to wait and let the cops handle it so that the cops didn't mistake them for the shooter.

    1. Yep, there -were- at least a few smart people on site. Hell, maybe most of them were, we'll never know. But no big damned heroes.

    2. Yup. The trained, professional folks with guns knew enough to hunker down and defend their position until help arrived.

      Ironically I actually DO know someone who used a gun to stop a home invader in their home. They hear this genius kicking down their security door at about 2 in the morning. My friend grabs his gun and confronts the guy in the living room. Holds him at gun point on the floor until the police arrive. The funny part is he was stark naked the entire time, even when the police arrived.

    3. Lucas, that sound like it describes the fantasy of many pro-gun people. Surely that incident made the local news, at least.

    4. John MacEnulty, I was amused to find out the ex-military man who said at first he decided to not enter the fray for fear of being targeted by SWAT, changed his story when interviewed by Fox News. He told them that the cops prevented him and other armed citizens from doing their patriotic duty.

      Must have been the mean ol' librul media that caused him to tell that less heroic first version..

    5. Yes, but even if Lucas' friend hadn't had a gun, there's no saying the outcome would have been tragic.

  2. Sadly, the people who need to read this never will. Well done sir, well done.

    1. Oh, they do. Then they send me hate mail and death threats.

    2. Are they reading, or just trolling? I would hope reading.

    3. Any good stories, Jim? Anyone whose mind was changed or at least flexed a bit?

    4. One or two. And those are the bright spots in a sea of darkness and insanity.

    5. A few bright spots. It's what you live for, right? Maybe one or two of them will ignite one or two more.


    6. Of course you will get death threats for this. I wonder if it ever occurs to the pro-gun folks that issuing death threats to people for words they put on the Internet does not allay our fears about them and their guns one iota.

  3. I would suggest that in addition to not allowing violent mentally ill persons access to guns, we improve treatment for all mentally ill people, so they don't become violent. And reduce the stigma of mental illness (which all the crazy-blaming is hardly doing) so that people are more likely to seek treatment. I would also point out that while many mass shooters suffer from mental illness, by far the large majority of the mentally ill (I include myself, being bipolar) are not violent.

    1. Agreed.

      I covered that in detail at the end of Bang Bang Crazy, Part 9

    2. Mental illness isn't a factor in many shootings. Sudden, irrational anger, however, is.

    3. I work with people with mental diagnosis. In a very very red state with a lot of these gun toting hero types. I honestly feel safer with my sweet patients.

    4. So another black man got shot in Texas, by so-called police officers.

      "At one point, as the victim, a 53-year-old black man, raised his head, an officer used his foot to keep the man’s face on the pavement, according to a dashboard camera video supplied to The New York Times recently by the man’s relatives."

      The victim wasn't provided any first aid by the "police officers" and shortly after he arrived at an ER an hour later, he then died from a loss of blood. No vital organs were damaged, he just bled to death.

      While the "arresting officers" ground his face into the dirt.

      I'm starting to have trouble telling the illegal crazy shooters from the legal police officers in many of these shooting cases.

      And what about the rookie cop who almost instantly shot and killed the 12 year old kid with a pellet gun? Not guilty, a perfectly appropriate policing decision, right?

      On a completely different subject, my late Grandmother held an intruder at gun point while waiting for the sheriff's deputy to arrive some years ago. Grandma told him to hold very still as she really didn't want to have to shoot him, and he did.

      She kept a general store in the country from 1932 until the mid 1950s, and was never held up. Everyone knew Grace had the receipts in one apron pocket, and her Colt .32 auto in the other pocket. She also played a mean ragtime piano.

      Things are so strange now-a-days.

    5. So, a lack of self- and impulse-control is a common factor, is what I'm hearing. (I admit to turning a deaf ear lately.) Sounds to me like we DO need some sort of evaluation before authorizing carry of a deadly implement. Like road rage and automobiles, and OOK OOK OOK bozos and firearms.

  4. I'd say the gun obsession comes down to "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." The idea that guns can solve every problem, from the personal to the political shows a real poverty of imagination.

    1. I'm not a gun owner.

      My impression of gun ownership is that for some people it gives them a sense of finally being able to right every wrong. I would be pissed to see a shoplifter get away. He can't hear me yelling and he'd ignore me anyway, but let's see him ignore /this/.

      I'd even bet that she didn't want to kill him, so much as make sure he got a message.

      /NOT/ justifying this recklessness. Just trying to understand it.

    2. Centauri,

      As a long time gun owner myself your impression of SOME gun owners is correct. There are a lot of gun people whose main fetish is to right some wrong, serve justice, be the hero. The same ones who fantasize about taking on the Tyrannical Federal Government with a few AR-15s and some MREs, yet are so overweight they have a hard time getting out of their trucks (always trucks).

      Yet there are also many gun owners such as myself – highly educated, responsible, and SANE who happen to enjoy shooting. To us shooting is a game much like golf or bowling. It’s not a power thing. And owning guns it is certainly NOT something we take casually – it’s a responsibility of a most serious nature.

      I am extremely embarrassed by these untrained idiots carrying guns. They are a danger to themselves and anyone within range. Remember, in any given situation you will fall to the level of your training each and every time.

      Chris in S. Jersey

    3. Thanks, Chris.

      I maintain that between you and the real fanatics are just people who feel pushed around by life and want to either equalize things with the pull of a trigger, or tell themselves they could have. It's sudden irrational anger, as someone mentioned, the kind anyone can experience. Does gun training help with that?

  5. Jim,
    As usual you are spot on!
    Why can't more people understand this very basic principle. Violence begets violence. You cannot solve this problem with more GUNS. Reasonable, intelligent people get that.
    I don't know what the answer is, but I think starting with making all gun owners have insurance and a complete back ground check would be a good start. Work our way up from there. I am former Army, lived in Germany for many years and was scared out of my mind when we had to PCS back home. I felt so safe in Europe. The good old USA was just starting to have it's love affair with mass shootings. The crazy guy who shot up a McDonalds in Calif back in the 80's. I would gladly have stayed in Europe for ever!
    I sincerely hope you run for office some day, Alaska needs you.

  6. I think it is about the profit of the gun manufacturers. They have bought the US Congress.

  7. Oh and didn't Chris Mintz try stopping the shooter and gathered up a number of bullet holes without substantially fixing anything?!

    1. Correct. He was shot five times.

    2. Yes, and where Chris Mintz was a veteran and a courageous guy, Carson would have said, "Everybod, let's charge the guy with the gun. Ready? Set? Um... After you."

    3. Actually what he said was, "Take the kid making minimum wage behind the counter..."

    4. I was extrapolating. His story about Popeye's combined with his bravado about Umqua... Everybody charge the guy - except in reality, not Mr. Brain Surgeon Carson.

    5. Oh, and you don't need to publish this, but I want to add that it's another great essay. I used to get into arguments with the second amendment nuts and trolls. Now I just way my piece and tell them not to bother because I've heard every specious argument - the word specious might throw them a little - and have no interest - nor patience - to slog through their black hole of illogic where no fact can exist. So thanks.

    6. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it // Jim

    7. Hey, let's not take Carson out of context here. In one scenario, he is at a Popeye's, a Republican obviously surrounded by peons. That is what peons are for - cannon fodder, right? Otherwise why is it pronounced "pee-on"?

      In his mental scenario, he is probably in a group of Big Damn Hero Republicans, whose Heroic Republican lives are worth saving, and who will Heroically charge the shooter with him, and he would be in the lead if only it weren't for that Damn trick Heroic knee, slows him down y'know...


    8. No. Mintz wandered over to the classroom, during the shooting, and asked at the door "what's going on here" (right out of one of the victims mouth). At that point the shooter shot him seven times at the door. The media wanted a hero so they relayed the non-fact that he tried to block the shooter at the door from coming into the classroom and was then shot "trying to save the others".
      Now the folks in Roseburg want to give him the Medal of Freedom.
      Not trying to downgrade Mintz in any fashion, but why let a few facts get into the way when you need a good story?

  8. I sometimes wonder if the thought, "Welcome to the Age of Internet, where keyboard warriors are feted as great men, while true warriors are ignored." is now the reality.
    I tell myself this isn't the case in all places. I say that we deep down know better.
    And then this guy... and the VA, and the homeless vets, the ignored PTSD.
    It seems in some ways to have the reached the point where people are acting out their game lives, or the lives they're told is real, over what is real. And Ben Carson, a noted neurological surgeon has fallen into that.
    In some ways, the man should be a Bernie Sanders for the right. He should be the one saying, "I've cut into men and women's brains. I've seen how precious life is under my own hands! Of course each life is important! And we should work toward that in everyday life, including understanding the gun issue."
    But he wants the top spot too much, and so...he becomes a keyboard warrior. When he could be so much more. At least in my view. Opinions may and will vary.

    1. This is the Ben Carson quote I found most chilling: "I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away." (NYTimes, Oct. 8)
      So he has seen the carnage in a way that most of us have not. Up close, under his hands. And yet that fails to make an impact on his fantasy life of him as Big Hero. How much more can other people -- who have not seen the destruction of a real, warm, living individual - stay in their internet game lives and walk around the streets as if still at their screens?
      Not saying that games or internet etc. are the root of the problem, I just appreciate your viewpoint that there could be a "shift" going on, a blurring between the virtual and the "real." It's a giant trip.

  9. Thanks for this.

    Not that this is the point, but how risky is it to shoot into a gas station. I had been lead to believe that bullets don't spark the way they do in movies. Or is the concern the muzzle flash?

    Pro-gun people love to talk up the gun violence in Chicago. If guns are saving anyone, I would expect that such events occur in places like that - one person sees a buddy being shot at and shoots the shooter, or something. No one would be likely to report about something like that, which is a real shame for the people who want there to be heroic shootings.

    Of course, I don't imagine such rescues, if they happen, amount to much in the larger scheme of gun violence. I'd sooner expect them just to continue the cycle and escalate it.

    1. One should never shoot at something without being sure of the target and what is beyond it. That's the issue.

    2. The emphasis on the words "shooting into a gas station" implied that this was worse than normal reckless shooting.

    3. No, lead bullets usually doesn't make sparks that can ignite stuff, but start shooting holes into various pipes, and you may have leaks of gasoline around, some of which will be vaporized/turn into gas/steam, and combined with any electrical wires with holes shot in them can go badly (or any open flames, like muzzle fire). Admittedly, most gasoline stations will have their containers underground, and you need pumps to get it up, so the risk is rather small, but if it goes sideways, the consequences can be very big.

    4. "one person sees a buddy being shot at and shoots the shooter, or something"

      I remember stories on the evening news when I was growing up describing this scenario in the context of gang violence. Oddly enough, no one was referred to as a hero in these stories.

  10. Wow. Just wow. From your lips to the ears of Carson and Trump and Cruz and all the other big damn heroes.

    Two additions: (1) it turns out that the Oregon shooter's mom, apparently the custodial parent, was--is--a serious gun user. Many of the weapons the police confiscated were hers. So the father is blamed, but if there was any parental fault, it was the mother's. (2) AR-15 derivatives are flying off the shelves at the Roseburg Gun Shop. People interviewed there think the firearms will keep them safer.

    The mother is a nurse and the son had known psychological problems, some of which are reported to involve anger management. Why did she keep firearms? Jim--here's a question for you: in your proposed legal regime, would she be liable?

    Apparently, lots of people imagine themselves as big damn heroes--normal people, not just crazies. They're wrong, the way people who are careless with electricity are wrong. Their carelessness can kill. But how do we persuade them they are wrong?

    1. AR-15s are SOOOOOOO useful for home defense too! /s

      If people are serious about home defense, they either get a pistol and frangible rounds, or a shotgun (and saw it off just past the legal limit IF that is allowed - the shorter the barrel, the more maneuverable it is).

      BTW, is Disqus going to be a choice in posting any time soon?

    2. Anybody who has been shot at, and have heard the buzzing going past one's head is very convincing to most people that being shot at is not a good thing...these folks have no understanding of the damage they are doing to our Nation of Normal People wanting to live normal lives without the fear of being killed while shopping...

    3. Father is Britsh, and you know what we're like, always trying to put the Queen in the White House and force you to spell 'colour' correctly.

      We could invade at any time. ANY TIME. Nothing we want more than a country where our religious nutters were allowed to inbreed for 400 years.

      At least that's what the, ahem, gentleman who was shouting at Piers Morgan said. If you make the Brits feel sorry for Pier Moron, then you are doing something wrong.

  11. Again, you are on Point! As always, well written and you say everything I am thinking. Excellent Essay.

  12. Excellent Firefly quotes by the way. Another one, spoken as a weapon is removed from the hands of a mentally unstable person: "Fully loaded, safety off. This here is a recipe for unpleasantness." - Mal

    I never used to believe that movies and games and TV were a problem. Now I just believe they're not the /whole/ problem. I've heard of insurgents across the Atlantic who stand up to go full auto on someone and then are dropped while wondering why the gun ran out in 3 seconds rather than 30 - because their knowledge of guns comes from movies.

    Much modern knowledge of gun heroics comes from movies. In fact, I believe there was a cop who against regulations, shot at a suspect fleeing by car and I get the strong sense that it's because that's what he's seen done in movies. So, in addition to people being fed up with feeling ineffectual, you have people who assume that with a gun comes the action-hero certainty that every application of a gun to a situation will be effective and cool.

    So, yeah, in that sense I get the exhortations of "people need to be trained!" I sort of think that mandatory gun knowledge training in high school wouldn't be bad.

  13. I'd prefix this with one of those touchie feeling "trigger warnings":

    Facts and Irony in use.

    Actions to take:

    Breathe deeply. Nice deep cleansing breaths. Exhale. Slowly.

    Keep reading.

    Breathe in, breathe out.

    Keep reading to the end and re-read as necessary. Remember. Deep cleansing breaths.

    In the mean time, I'm gonna be trusting the student and veteran who held his fire for all the best reasons in the book.

    Deep cleansing breaths.

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. Oops, started getting a response together as I was reading and accidentally sent before I got to the end. Please delete.

  16. "It’s that Rock & Roll music. It’s Elvis the Pelvis and that Satan loving heavy metal." I assume this is a reference to Jindal's comment about "music that promotes 'the degradation of women'." While I get the "historical" reference to the original objection to what had become pop music "back in the day," I don't think that is necessarily the only kind of music he's referring to. I think it's quite possible that his comment is a tad on the racist side and referring to hip-hop and rap, which has a reputation (deserved? undeserved? You decide) for doing just what he says. Any thoughts from you or the minions on this concept?

    1. You're saying I was too subtle then?

      Twenty years ago it was Heavy Metal, thirty years ago it was classic Rock & Roll, fifty years ago it was Elvis - all of which were going to destroy the moral fabric of America and nowadays are MUSAK tracks in elevators.

      Hip Hop and rap? Get back to me in 20 years and let me know how it works out.

    2. I'm not sure why he would be upset at the degradation of women, unless he doesn't want completion against the GOP.

  17. First, I'd like to apologize for posting anonymously, I don't have any of the fancy geegaws that are other choices. Yes, I'm pretty much technologically illiterate.

    That said, am I the only one who sees the misogyny of our gun culture? I've seen a report that the Umpqua shooter left a manifesto indicating that one of the reasons he felt the need to kill people is because he couldn't get a date. The UCSB shooter specifically had issues with women, again because he couldn't find a gal willing to fuck him (at least not without cash up front.) The Charleston murderer was reportedly upset because a girl chose to date a black man instead of him. The NIU killer murdered four women and one man, and the only reason the man was shot was because he put himself between the killer and his girlfriend. i just saw a report today about an Idaho high school that had a lockdown because a 15-year-old male student made threats about 'killing all the girls" because none of them would send him a nude photo.

    Is this all an extension of rape culture?

    1. Bingo! It's the vast sense of White Male entitlement we propagate in this country. And I say that as a white guy. The world is supposed to be our oyster. When it inevitably disappoints, we aren't socialized to deal with it well.

    2. What rape culture? Seriously. Do you know anybody who doesn't despise rape, and rapists? And is this really the forum in which to debate this?

      Misogyny in "our" gun culture? It's not my gun culture. That, and I don't go looking for "misogyny" under every seat cushion.

      Unstable, damaged individuals have a way of blaming everything bad that happens to them on external forces beyond their control. I consider the source before buying into their arguably faulty world views. Beyond the fact that it is males who overwhelmingly act out in such violent ways, I cannot see this as a gender issue. It's a bit more complex than that, in my opinion.

    3. Plenty of people don't have a problem with rape. Well, they have a problem with some forms of rape, such as a black man raping a white woman, yet feel other kinds of rape, such as a football player raping a cheerleader, or a husband raping his wife are fine, because, well, she probably enjoyed it, and boys will be boys, eh? Sadly, it's not necessary to look under seat cushions to find it.

    4. Mr. 58b5..... - wrack my brain as I might, I can't bring to mind a mass shooting pulled off by a female perp. Not saying it's never happened - just that it's escaped my notice. It's usually a guy - a guy with extremely poor social skills who blames all their problems on the women in their life (or lack of same, other than good old mom) or brown people who threaten their sense of superiority.

    5. Not everything is rape/rape culture/misogyny. Sometimes it's just good old fashioned douche baggery. We don't live in a rape culture anyway, by definition (notice how it's almost universally reviled, and even murderers in prison are treated better than rapists)

      The issue, if you ask me, is fear. These are people so terrified of the world they can't approach any problem without the added confidence of a gun. They think they can solve their problems by shooting them. It's almost all men, I suspect, because let's face it, how many female versions of John McClain do we really see in movies and tv?

  18. Right on, as usual, Jim. I've been missing your essays, so glad to see this one.

    I am tired of all these shootings, and in one case at least, angry that the parents are not being held responsible for their child's actions such as the 11 year old shooting the 8 year old over a puppy. This particular story has a background of the older boy bullying the younger girl and he finally took it to the ultimate act.

    I honestly believe parents should be charged whenever they have been negligent in allowing a child access a gun. It is their responsibility to have the guns locked up and unavailable to their child/ren.

    Thanks again for weighing in on this topic.

  19. IIRC, the students killed by Anders Behring Breivikhe, the Norwegian shooter, tried rushing him. Several groups. They all died. Magic words -- semiautomatic firearms. It'd work just fine in the days of muzzle loaders -- nowadays, not so much.

    Also, another though experiment. You're sitting in class, listening to Yet Another Boring Lecture, when a gunman walks in and shoots the prof. You go for your piece (remembering that the shooter is behind you). Who is going to get the second bullet?

  20. I've been following you on Facebook because a friend I respect clicks "like" on most of your posts. So, curious, I read them.

    I come from a childhood in Alabama at the close of the segregation and Jim Crow era, where a schoolboy without a pocket knife was poor indeed. I know of no one who was carved up at (the then-segregated) school; knives were a tool and totally unremarked-upon.

    My two sisters and I were taught basic gun safety at home, how to shoot, and even allowed to use a frankly dangerous air-powered BB pistol, and no one was ever injured with it. Outside of target practice, the only use of a gun I ever witnessed was at my uncle's farm, where the easiest way to get bunches of mistletoe out of the oak tree was to fire upon it with a shotgun. Guns were tools, treated with the care and respect they deserved.

    We were also taught to drive way earlier than we should have been, how to check oil and change tires. Speaking of driving--I really like the comparison I've seen made about registration and regulation of cars versus guns. Your thoughts?

    1. Marguerite, look up his Bang Bang Sanity post.

  21. Thank goodness you were there and not one of the wannabes, Jim. This minion thanks you for your service. Benjy Carson? Not so much!

  22. It's probably fair to assume that, unless they have had specialized training and some awareness of the situation, most people would either freak out and run or be paralyzed by fear in the event that someone enters a crowded room and starts shooting. Having never been in such a situation (thankfully), I have no idea how I would react under those conditions, but if I had to guess I'd probably do whatever it took to get me out of there as fast as humanly possible. No delusions of heroism, just keep running until I find either a safe enough place to hunker down or a cop or a security guard so I can inform them of the situation.

    On a related note, I'm convinced that Open Carry and Stand Your Ground are going to butt heads in the near future, and it's not going to be pretty. I imagine that it might happen something like this: a group of Open Carry nuts storm a Walmart somewhere in a Stand Your Ground state, gleefully racking their shotguns in full view of terrified staff and patrons alike and reveling in their legal untouchability until someone draws a concealed handgun and shoots one of them in the face. Assuming that the shooter survived the incident, their best bet when they get taken to court for murder would be to invoke their right to self defense as defined under Stand Your Ground, and make the argument that no sane or rational person pumps a shotgun unless they plan to use it, and that they were justifiably afraid for their lives. The political fallout would be surreal, to say the least.

  23. Firstly, I have no idea what I would do if I found myself in a live shooter situation. Likely the most stupid thing imaginable, or simply freeze like a deer in headlights.

    But I did happen to see a short video of one form of training for schoolchildren today. (They appeared to be middle school age, at least, to my eyes.) Granted, if we, as a society, could figure out how not to have violent persons walk into schools in the first place, that would be better, but giving the general public, beginning in school, some defense training seems like a not-all-bad option. The kids started by locking the classroom door, covering the window, and calling 911, but if the shooter gets in, they throw their books at him and mob him, knocking him down and getting his weapon away from him. Yes, even in the video at least one fell before the mob got close enough, but it seems better to practice trying, instead of waiting to be a target. Training, as mentioned by certain folks smarter than me, seems to be the key word here.

    When it comes to braggarts and strutting, ignorant peacocks, especially when they indulge in Monday Morning Quarterbacking, I suspect their story has been the same for a Very Long Time. But now, with the advent of the internet, they can reach a larger audience.

    Thank you for the in-depth analysis. I always love your way with words.

    Gretchen in KS

    1. I just wanted to add here that there is a push on for active shooter scenario training videos; I have seen a couple of them targeted to employees in workplaces. Basically, the instructions are to do one of the following: 1. Run. If you can; get out of the building, get somewhere safe and call 911. 2. Hide. Barricade yourself if you can, hide, stay put until cops arrive, do not move until they tell you to, then do whatever they tell you to when they tell you to. and 3. Fight Back. This is touted as a last resort tactic, it is recommended that multiple people mob an active shooter but they don't mince words; this is the most dangerous option, you will likely get seriously injured if not killed; but if you can't run or hide, then take your chances and do your best, it's better than standing there and getting killed for certain.

  24. A couple of problems.

    1. It is just mean to refer to "Season 1" of Firefly. Just plain MEAN!

    2. If you happen to hear a bad noise in the middle of the night, (or in the middle of the afternoon, it could happen any time) a glass breaking - door kicked in sort of noise, and you grab your gat and start popping caps in an intruders ass, there is a good chance you will end up dead at the hands of the SWAT team that has just mistakenly invaded your house. If you survive and, Gawd forbid, happen to have effectively used your divinely protected gun rights, you will probably go to jail for shooting a cop and if you killed one, (or more) even if you were completely totally and thoroughly right and innocent and inline to be the next PopeLamaPhelpsGraham, the cops are never going to forgive you and you would be wise to move off of the planet. At the least you would need to move to a nation that did not think much of the U.S.

    Basically, you need to be more careful than the cops before pulling the trigger because there are more of them and they do not forgive. But yea sure, stand your ground.

  25. Thans Jim.
    .... but, I'm sorry, I never practiced a "medal of honor" speech in my 21 years in uniform; I wasn't a hero, and my enlisted men were not there to make mo one. I was often criticized (and promotionally penalized) for speaking truth to power and considering my men above the the aspirations of the "career officers."
    The fact that several folks in Oregon were armed and had the good sense to not get themselves shot is admirable.
    We cannot continue the way we are. Hells Bells, we require licenses for hunting .... why not for the things we hunt with ??? (unless, of course, we have discovered an new and abundant, two-legged food source.
    Stay the course Jim. You are making a difference.

  26. Oh, the pro gunners have their list of mass shootings that they claim were stopped by a "good guy with a gun". And one thing strikes me about their list: Either the intervention of a "good guy with a gun" is completely unprovable (i.e., nobody saw this "good guy with a gun" confront the bad guy, it wasn't caught on video, the good guy never actually fired his weapon that day, etc.), or the "good guy with a gun" was in fact an off-duty or retired police officer or security officer. Never legends in their own mind like this Ben Carson dipwad.

    Funny, that, heh?

    Just for your hilarity, here's one off the lists that was going around a couple of days ago. Go Google the actual police reports on Clackamas Town Center Mall and compare to what the pro-gunnies claim happened. ROFL! It's like you're reading reports from different universes! Not to mention that the dude held up as an "average citizen with a gun" was a trained security officer, albeit not a huge amount of training, but still. He wasn't just some random dude off the street.

    And that's just one of them. There's the mass shooting that was stopped when a police officer on pregnancy leave grabbed her personal fire arm and ended it. There's the shooting that was stopped when an ex-Marine grabbed his firearm and ended it. And so forth. The one thing in common between all of them is that they are people who have training and in many cases experience in use of guns. They are *not* legends in their own mind like Ben *Legend* Carson who's never fired a gun in anger, never *trained* to fire a gun in anger, never been shot yet, yet somehow "knows" what he would do under fire...

    1. Thanks!

      I was just reading through to see if anyone had "beat me to it" !

      Quite a few of my "facebook friends" (a large proportion of the ones I actually know IRL, given the locale) could be loosely referred to as "gun nuts."

      One of those used to post "good guy with a gun" reports.
      I got tired of pointing out (after actually reading the linked info) that they were actually off-duty/retired/ex-military/LEO/security, just as you mentioned.
      Actually, there was ONE (1) out of about a dozen cases who appeared to be an "ordinary joe" (as far as published reports).

  27. Somewhere along the line you asked a question about civilians stopping crimes with firearms.
    It happens occasionally. Usually they have no clue what the law is and their aim sucks.

    1. Well, at least he leaves off the Clackamas Town Center shooting. But really, some dipwad pulls out a gun at the same time that two people tackle the shooter, and Volokh has the audacity to say it was the guy with the gun who stopped the shooting? Really? Man, if I cared enough I'd go pull police reports on *those* too. Except Mother Jones already did it for me back in December 2012 although a couple of Volokh's are too new for that list. The number of mass shootings on that list stopped by a plain old civilian (*not* a present or former police officer, *not* a present or former soldier, *not* a present or former armed security guard) was... uhm... one. And that guy, a bartender with a shotgun, apparently came upon the shooter (a 14 year old boy) after the boy was already done shooting everybody he planned to shoot that day.

      And this doesn't even count the concealed weapons carriers who got ventilated when they pulled their gun, like Joseph Wilcox, who would be alive today if they hadn't tried to stop a body-armored guy with a semi-automatic rifle while wielding a typical concealed carry popgun with all the stopping power of a bee sting (people do *not* just fall over dead like in the movies when you hit them with a small caliber bullet, if it didn't hit something critical, they can keep going for quite some time before shock kicks in and knocks them down)...

      It's hard to argue with people who live in an alternative universe where all their bullshit is true and all the actual facts are just liberal lies. It's like arguing with the loony down on the corner who claims that Obama is beaming mind control rays into his head. Still, just to keep innocent bystanders from believing their bullshit, it has to be done. SIGH.

  28. Just in case people don't already know, John Hanlin, Sheriff of Douglas County, where Umpqua Community College is located, claims that Sandy Hook did not happen. After Sandy Hook, he also wrote a letter to Joe Biden saying that if any gun control measures passed, he would not enforce them in "his" county.


  29. .

    Well Sir, if _you_ keep this up; you'll never be invited to be a speaker at the the Values Voters Summit or the Conservative Political Conference, or the NRA Convention. Ya, then where will you be?

    Thank you for your voice of sanity!
    Feel The Bern ... Thanks Obama ...

    Ema Nymton

  30. I'd like to relate personal story that I think kinda fits the essay.
    I was a comercial carpenter at the time. All the talk was about invading Iraq. You can emagine what it sounded like. The usual, we got to get em bullshit. I was the only NO voice there.
    After a while I threw in, my boys are draft age, and I don't want them to go.
    Well now, the self-righteousness almost dripped off the other guys. You can emagine the conversation.
    Then I asked an all important question, HOW MANY OF YOU ARE VETERANS? You guessed it, not a one.
    Then I threw in, well I am. My Dad served in WW2, I served in Vietnam. My family gets a by.
    I looked at the young guys and said, I'll take you to the recruiters office, you can be in boot camp in a couple of weeks.
    Lots of silence after that. Yah, heroes, You bet.
    Easy to talk when all is nice and safe.

  31. I would love to be allowed to repost chunks of this essay on my page.
    Of course, you, Mr. Wright, would be quoted - I'm not trying to pass them off as my own 'chunks', just as food for thought. (In the hopes that at least ONE thinker remains on my feed.....)
    Whaddya say?

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Jim, I will assume that you have been asked this question before--excuse me for not seeing your answer if that is true--but why don't you run for office? I know enough about you to guess a couple of reasons (wife and teenage son, as well as your woodworking) why you wouldn't want to run. And the bullshit and bureaucracy might be a death warrant for someone who experiences migraines--which is not at all what I would wish for you. Still, the fact remains that Alaska owes us BIG TIME on the karmic scale. (Palin's) Even if it is too late to run for Murkowski's seat, (2016) we have seen that a mayoral position can be a launching pad of epic proportions. Serving in that capacity four years would set up nicely for a run at Sullivan's seat in 2020. (I know this sounds preposterous, but your voice is needed at the national, not state, level) To provide "skin in the game," and let you know I am not suggesting you carry all the water, I would make myself available (at my own expense) to serve as the lowliest campaign worker for, lets say, 30 days. (this with an understanding we would be starting at the civic level) As absurd as all this may sound, stranger things have happened. And as my (our) country sinks into the mire, I am reminded of the phrase; "extremis malis extrema remedia." (or how it came down to us, "desperate times call for desperate measures.")

    Most of all Jim, I don't want to suggest BY ANY MEANS, that you haven't done enough already. Your military service to our country, and your writings here at Stonekettle and on Facebook, are a tremendous testimony to your altruistic and patriotic leanings. Your resume is impressive--by anyone's standards. Your acumen is obvious in the number of followers and commentators you attract. It isn't as crazy an idea (setting your sights on the national stage) as it might appear. The question comes down to you. Is political office an idea you would entertain?

  34. And now frat boys in Arizona. 2nd Amendment is the gift that just keeps on giving.

  35. Honestly Jim, this wasn't one of your better rants. It was just a rant. IMHO we have nobody to blame but ourselves. The situation isn't going to change until we collectively gain enough political courage to vote the people into office that will do something about the problem.

    1. They can't all be Pulitzer Prize material, Riley.

  36. Jim, you're a rational man. You're also part of a rapidly shrinking group in the US (and the world, for that matter). What's replacing the rationals are the rationalizers, who think any argument they like is a good and meaningful argument, even if it's pathetic delusional crap. The worst part is that inveterate rationalizers almost never have the faintest clue that they're not rational. They're loaded to the gills with misplaced self-confidence and contempt for any one who thinks differently from them.

  37. yeah, right now, our nation is a mess, nihilism sure looks like it dominates.

    I think some of us are coming to wonder if this is how Romans must have felt when faced with nihilism and chaos.

  38. Jim, I'm a newcomer to the blog, and I've enjoyed some of your Big Bang writings. Firearm owners are going to have to buck up and be responsible, yet I also see that the elephant(s) in the room still being young men killing one another in black market drug culture (including the War on Drugs), and suicides.

    The armed guy at Umpqua had a tough choice to make - whether it proves anything or not is difficult to define. I happen to think he did well, he was in a good position to defend and protect, and he did. Surprisingly, there *are* a good number of folks out there who defend or protect, that are not militarily or otherwise trained. This is going to be a crux in the nature of how we deal with this, is who or how to define which people are "mentally fit and ably trained". In the end, we are only trying to sort out who is an idiot, who is crazy, and who is a crook. The weapon of choice is another ball game, sadly. Fortunately, violent crime in all forms, murders too, keeps trending in the right direction. I dearly hope recent trends are an anomaly in our history books, very soon.

    Its at this point I guess I should mention that a few of the readers here would consider me one of those gun nuts had they known me in the past, but I see the age is upon us that the firearm debate is going to result in some changes (as well it should probably), and would propose that its going to take honest dialog and education on both sides to really come to a good end. Many pro gun people I know frankly would agree.

    - Look I totally dread the whole look at this link thing ok, but I urge you give this a scan, particularly the citations. Delete this note afterwards if you so choose. Not a progun rant i promise. justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp

  39. I seriously do wish to never get on your bad side, Mr. Wright. Better to open an artery with your teeth than to offend a bard of your calibre.

  40. Ben Carson was not aware that Chris Mintz did stand up to the Oregon gunman and tried to stop him, getting wounded multiple times for his trouble. To me, that is a big damn hero.

  41. I'm skeptical of Carson's account of the 'event'. Is there corroboration that it even happened? Or that it happened in the way Carson said?

    Not hard to believe he pointed the gunman at someone else.

    And, being in Popeye's, I guess Carson is not a health nut.

    1. Several people are now raising that issue about his robbery story. I remember that folks are checking the local police records for that time period. Stay tuned in the next few days to find out whether it ever actually happened.

  42. Now I realise this is going to come across as one of those 'internet stories'. However...

    I heard this some years ago, and I THINK I heard it first hand (see caveat above)

    Back in the 80's/90's, when much of Ulster is bandit country, a government security team, from one of the agencies, decided to stop for some munchies. They pulled into a garage (gas station) and bought some crap.

    As they walked back to their car one of them noticed a gang of other men, one of whom was wearing a shoulder holster. Being a security team in Northern Ireland they were carrying, so drew. The Gang did like wise. A firefight ensued.

    At some point someone shouted out an identification. It turned out they were both 'official' but from different agencies, and so were not on each other's radar (one was police, the other military, something like that. The teller would have been a copper if I heard this where I think I heard it).

    It turned out that 2 four man teams, who were trained, had failed to make any hits. Then they freaked because they realised they were in a FREAKING PETROL STATION..

    Good Guys with guns save the day - luckily by missing.

  43. Someone among your comment makers asked if you ever change anyone's minds with what you write, and you said something about 1 or 2 every once in a while...I'm not a Right Winger or a Conservative, never have been. I have been pro gun rights though that doesn't mean 'let's all have guns and consequences be damned'. I was trained as a teenager by of all things a JROTC unit gun safety program and this had a lasting effect in terms of believing that anyone who owns or otherwise handles a gun should know things like what kind of ammunition you have and what it will go through; being mindful of what is behind what you are shooting at, etc. I am not a fan of gun bans and yes I do think much of the problem does stem from mental illness. I disagree that this is a patent Conservative excuse; I think we have a huge problem with mental illness in this country not the least of which is this idea that is a stable condition, you either have it or you don't. You can be mental illness free one day and develop it later, after you have passed all the requisite background checks, a point that many people on all sides seem to be ignoring. Also too, people can kill multiple other people with other weapons, not just guns. I have even heard of people using cars on interstates in murder-suicides much like a shooting spree. Something is going on here that requires more than political and religious ideologies and so far you have made the most reasonable sense out of all arguments for and against gun control.

    Keep up the good work. I wouldn't consider myself pro-gun control, but suffice to say I am not anti-gun control anymore. You ask some very reasonable questions and point out some very important contradictions in the rhetoric. If the pro-gun rights ideology cannot answer those questions rationally, honestly, and authentically, then the ideology is seriously flawed and one should question their own motives in continuing to buy into it.

  44. The ONLY way this 'crazy years' nonsense will end is when one of these "big damn hero's" kills more innocent people than the lone gun nut does. Let this happen a couple times and we may actually see an honest dialog.

  45. A trip to DC shows that congress isn't willing to do nothing - since 9-11, every building, every entry has a guard, with a metal detector, doing their best to keep the guns out of their lives. DC is the biggest gun-free zone in America.

  46. When I first heard about Travon Martin and George Zimmerman, it occurred to me there was no way a pudgy, short-ish, out of shape specimen like Zimmerman would have been bold enough to initiate a confrontation with a taller, more physically fit guy like Trayvon Martin if he wasn't packing. That gun gave him a false sense of infallibility that led him to put himself in harms way. Travon Martin had every right to defend himself. I know how I'd feel if I was being hassled buy a guy with a gun - I'd feel justified in doing whatever I could to take the guy out. And these guys with concealed weapons who get into a confrontation ALWAYS seem to (oopsie) let their gun be seen before they pull it out and start shooting. My point is, the mere presence and awareness of the gun changed the whole dynamic of the interaction in a bad way.


  47. These people who go out on a Sunday afternoon and shoot a few stationary targets are fooling themselves if they think for a minute that they are ready to take charge of a situation any more real than shooting at a few stationary targets on a Sunday afternoon.

  48. Big damn hero in Rochester today. No gun. http://www.13wham.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/customers-stop-armed-robbery-at-7eleven-26767.shtml?wap=0

  49. If you want to be a hero, practice. Go to one of those paintball ranges, and try out your 'hero' tactics there first. You'll find a few other people who enjoy teaching you just how effective those tactics will be and all you'll risk is a few bruises. (and one hell of a big one to whatever ego you ever had.)

    I used to own firearms, but I live in a city. Thank Bob the only thing I ever shot (and the best thing I ever shot) was my TV. Yes, I did get rid of them after I did that too.

    Heroes make for good stories. But in real life, I'd rather no one had to try to be one. BTW the real heroes are also almost always unsung.

  50. When I was a senior in high school, I applied for a convenience store clerk job. One of my friends tried to convince me I wasn't cut out for the job. "What if somebody robs the store?" he asked. In a mocking tone, he said "You'd probably give him the money."
    He said he would have used a gun or martial arts skills to stop the robber and be a big hero (Internet tough guys have been around longer than the internet).
    I didn't answer but I said to myself, "You're damned right I'd just give him the money *then call the police, of course). First, it's probably company policy. Around that same time (this was 30 years ago, before culture "went as soft" as some people say it has) I heard about a Domino's delivery driver who successfully fought off a robber and was fired for violating company policy. Businesses have policies like this mainly for liability reasons, I guess. They wouldn't want to feel like they compelled a minimum-wage employee to put themselves in a situation they couldn't handle and I imagine they wouldn't want a stray bullet to hit someone else in the store.
    Second, all the robber wants is the money. My life is worth a lot more than whatever is in the register and the minimum wage. I'm not going to be a hero to protect $20 or so. If that makes me a coward, so be it, but at least I'd get to go home at the end of my shift.
    I also remember the story of former world champion boxer Vernon Forrest. Somebody tried to rob him when he was at a gas station. He went after the robber with a gun and they other guy was luckier or a better shot and killed him. You can replace a car. You can replace whatever is in your wallet. It may be a pain in the ass, but you can do it. But once you're gone, you're gone.

    1. Back when I was in college I worked as a pizza delivery driver and general order taker and dishwasher when I wasn't driving. If somebody had held a gun on me and demanded all my money, darn right I would have given it to him. $3.35 an hour wasn't worth putting my life on the line for some multi-national multibillion dollar corporation's $20 in spare change. Luckily I never faced that situation, the most criminal behavior I ever encountered was the dude who tried to pass a phony $100 bill which didn't fly 'cause we only carried $20 worth of change with us max. Big damn hero? In the right situation (won't talk about that, but it didn't involve guns, it involved deliberate *lack* of guns), but $3.35/hour for a pizza restaurant definitely wasn't going to inspire me to heroics, no way, no how.

  51. http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/videos/watch-armed-students-in-live-fire-drills-manage-to-get-themselves-killed-every-time-video/

    This video demonstrates why having untrained people carrying firearms is dangerous.


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