Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 12 - God, Guns, and Suicide Machines




That’s how it began.

My Twitter timeline was suddenly one day last week filled with the anguished wailing of tortured Christians.

Persecution! Persecution! They cried. Our sincerely held religious beliefs are being daily thrown to the lions because people we don’t like are allowed the same rights as us! Woe! Woe! Why if gay people are allowed to buy cakes, if trans people are allowed to use the bathroom, if women are allowed control of their own sexy bits, why, why it’s just like being nailed to a cross and poked with pointy sticks! Persecution! Persecution!

Hmmm, said I to myself. What’s this deviltry in my timeline?

Now, yes, I know I bring this stuff on myself. I know it. You don’t have to tell me.

But, dammit, that’s what Twitter is for, poking at the internet with a pointy stick.

And so I did.

Dear, Christians. Poke. Poke.

And it took only moments for the internet to come howling back in all its crusading spittle-flecked glory.


Said no heads laying [sic] on the ground after being severed ever.

I … right.

Awkward grammar aside, is this really a thing American Christians are worried about? Beheading? I mean, beheading?

As a Christian in America you’re a hell of a lot more likely to be eaten by lions than to be murdered for your faith.

No, really.

In the last 15 years there have been two Americans killed by lions in the United States, one in California and one in New Mexico. That’s two more than the number of Christians who were beheaded for believing in Jesus.

I mean, if you’re going to be afraid of something, as a Christian in America statistically you’re twice as likely to be killed by a mountain lion while jogging than beheaded by an angry Muslim with a sword.

God, Guns, and Constitution, Dana’s profile declares.



God, Guns, and Constitution. Pro-life. Anti-big Government. God First!

When asked to provide examples of severed Christian heads here in America, she was able to produce only one example: Alton Alexander Nolen, a recent convert to Islam who murdered Collen Hufford by cutting off her head. Hufford was a former coworker of Nolen’s at an Oklahoma food processing plant. Hufford and others had filed a human resources complaint against Nolen for racism. Nolen was fired. The case is still ongoing and the exact reasons for Nolen’s murderous actions are not yet fully known – if they ever will be. What is known, however, is that Nolen specifically targeted Hufford because he blamed her for his termination, her (supposed) Christianity does not appear to have anything to do with it.

Hufford’s murder, horrific, violent, bloody and brutal though it may be, is hardly proof of Christian persecution in America.

In point of fact, one hell of a lot more Christians are murdered by Christians in America than by anybody else – including mountain lions.

God, Guns, and Constitution?

I couldn’t resist. Poke. Poke, poke.


I’ve done this before. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I knew what was coming.

I noted the time and waited.

And in less than a minute, Mike arrived:


Nothing if not predictable, aren’t they?

He didn’t look to see who I was responding to or what the context might be.

He didn’t bother to look into my background. He couldn’t possibly have had time.

It’s a reflex with people like Mike. God? Guns? Constitution? Hallelujah!  He searches social media for those keywords. By Jiminy! There’s something wrong on the internet! Let me just butt right in here and straighten you out! He doesn’t need context, he’s got the fire of righteous on his side. He’s that guy.

Plus, he’s got a cool American flag on his profile page and he hates social justice, so you know he’s a patriot.


On average, 33,000 Americas die every year in gun-related violence.

God, Guns, and Constitution. My point being that somehow in Dana’s mind one case of workplace violence that didn’t actually target the victim for her religion somehow equals mass persecution of Christians in America, but tens of thousands of gun deaths every year somehow equals … hi ho liberty, I guess.


Funny how that’s always the first response from gun nuts, isn’t it?

Funny how they always dismiss 20,000 dead Americans. Suicide? Fuck it!

As if 13,000 dead Americans were somehow okay.  30,000, yeah that  would be bad, sure, but it’s really just 13,000, man, so no problem!

As if 20,000 dead Americans don’t matter. One abortion is too much, but 20,000 suicides? Whatever. Sanctity of life only applies to a liberal woman’s belly, folks, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Again, I couldn’t resist. Poke. Poke.


I’d have a hell of a lot more respect for these NRA droolers if they’d at least be honest with themselves, let alone with the rest of us.

But they never are.

They never are.


Let’s go back and review my comments to this point. Let’s reread what I’ve said here and on social media and in talks before groups of people. I’ve written half a million words or more on guns over the ten years, many of them are in the essay linked to at the bottom of this piece. Let’s see. Hmmm, let’s see, fuck law abiding people, fuck law abiding people who want to protect themselves, doh de doh, let’s see, gotta be here somewhere…

Well that’s funny, I don’t seem to have said that. Anywhere. Ever.

I’ve never even implied it. Not in this conversation, not in any conversation. And if I had, well, that would be damned odd, wouldn’t it? Given that I’m a gun owner myself. Given that I keep a weapon handy for personal defense of me and mine – mostly because I’m prone to getting death threats from gun nuts and militia types and religious fanatics and other assorted conservatives. Also, it’s Alaska, I’ve never seen a lion but there are bears…

I digress.

I wasn’t deflecting, it’s Twitter, I was being a smartass and I’m honestly not sure how he got to “Fuck law abiding people who to protect themselves” from anything I said, but given the context and my experience I strongly suspect he was simply driving around the internet looking for a target to pin his preconceived notions on.


I guess it depends on how you define “violence” but hey, whatever. I’m easy. Looks like we’ve reached a mutual understanding, thanks for coming by.

You think he’d let it go? Move on without another comment?

Heh heh, you’re so adorable.



You know, I once saw a man beat the hell out of a woman. She was running in full panic, screaming in terror, shouting for help. He chased her out of a building into the street right in front of me. He ignored the rest of us and kept yelling for the woman to stop. She didn’t, she kept running. He caught up to her in the middle of the street, right in the middle of traffic, he tackled her, knocked her violently to the ground and started beating her with his hands right there on the pavement.

I cheered him on. Yes I did. She had it coming.

Terrible right?

A man savagely beating a woman in the street.

I’m a horrible person for letting it happen. Am I not?

Except for the … context.

You see, I left out one thing.

She was on fire.

She’d somehow (cooking I later learned) caught her clothing on fire. She panicked and ran from the building engulfed in flames. Her neighbor heard her screams and chased her down and beat the flames out with his bare hands and saved her life.


“I don’t care if I’m wrong. Doesn’t change my agenda […] one bit.”


Hilariously ironic, given he started out by completely ignoring the larger context that my comment was made in and moreover really has no idea of what my “agenda” actually is.  I also really enjoy the part where a guy who hides behind a fake identity is planning on lecturing me about “intellectual honesty,” I think that’s a nice touch.

Now, given experience, I’d expect Mike’s next move would be to support his argument with a logical fallacy, say an ad hominem attack.

Let’s see, poke, poke. 



Mental illness.

Right on cue.

These gun nuts, they’re as predictable as the clock in the National Rifle Association’s lobby. 

Guns don’t kill people, mental illness does. 20,000 gun related suicides per year don’t count. It’s got nothing to do with guns. It’s mental illness. That’s it and that’s all.

Now, I’ll be honest, up to this point I was just stringing him along, shining him on a bit to see if maybe I could get a funny Facebook post out of it. Why? Because it amuses me. Because they make it so goddamned easy. These people are so deadly serious in their fanaticism. So tediously predictable. They’re exactly like religious fanatics, in fact many of them are. God, Guns, and Constitution, right?

Perhaps it’s childish to mock them, to provoke these people to impotent rage.

But see, every once in a while, it’s educational.



Mental illness.

Mental illness, the go-to dismissal of the NRA gun-fetishists.


Mental illness, when it comes to gun violence those two words are a Mobius Loop, a tautology which folds back upon itself in a logical fallacy of finger pointing and inaction.



Mike blames mental illness for 20,000 gun-related suicides each year.

So I put it to him: Would you agree to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people? Would you agree to increased funding for mental health?

Mike replies that he’d agree to both, provisionally. But, he only wants guns taken away from those who’ve openly declared their intention to harm themselves or murder others. Okay. Sane responsible non-suicidal non-homicidal people can have guns,  people who intend to harm themselves or others can’t.

Sounds good, right? Reasonable.

Except … how do you know?


President Obama has suggested 23 executive actions relating to gun violence, I examined them in detail in Bang Bang Crazy, Part 5.  Not one of those actions, not one, has anything whatsoever to do with “pre-crime.”  As to the TSA nonsense, conservative gun nuts are perfectly fine with that list so long as it keeps Muslims off airplanes – in fact, it was their idea, signed into law under George W. Bush and when liberals protested the lack of Constitutional protections they were shouted down as unpatriotic and un-American. I know, I was one of those people and I still have the hatemail and death threats from conservatives to prove it. That’s one of the reasons I carry a gun. 

I digress. Again.

We’re talking about guns and mental health, not terrorists.

Mike first says he agrees people who have expressed a desire to harm themselves and others shouldn’t be allowed to have guns.

I asked him how law enforcement and gun sellers would know that?

He says “voluntary evaluation.”

I … wait, what? Voluntary evaluation?


Ah, that’s more like it. Mike doesn’t really mean voluntary evaluation. He doesn’t think you should have to prove your fitness to own a gun before you purchase a gun. 

Or does he? image

I’m starting to doubt he’s actually thought any of this through.

Somehow, he says vaguely, if a person has maybe gotten or is currently getting help for mental illness, see, those people, if they’ve maybe said something about harming themselves or others to their mental healthcare provider, then we could maybe take away their guns or prevent them from buying one. 

At least I think that’s what he said.

So, how would that work? How does law enforcement know? How does the gun seller know? Who provides the information? What format is it in? How is it validated? Where is it stored? Who can access it? How often is it updated?

Details, man, let’s hear the details!



The health professional contacts police.

How’s that work?

Hi, I’m Intern Larry down here at the local Mental Mart, we got this guy, Robert Jones, Crazy Bobby we call him, and he’s nuts, man, he’s got the voices in his brainium like bad, Dude. I can’t give you the details because medical laws see, but he’s probably gonna kill some people, like three or four, maybe twenty, I guess, not really sure, mental health isn’t an exact science. So anyway if that guy comes in to buy a gun, yeah, don’t let him have one. You’ll be sure to let everybody know, right? Like in other states too? Okay. Well, thanks!

Again, I’m a little vague on the details here.

Let’s back up to that part about responsibility.



To summarize so far: Guns don’t kill people. Mentally ill people kill people. 20,000 of them kill themselves with guns every year. We should keep those people from getting guns. Using a voluntary screening system based on the forthrightness of homicidal/suicidal mentally ill people. With the responsibility ultimately resting in the hands of doctors, not gun makers, not gun sellers, and not gun owners.

It’s not just me, you people see it too, right? Right?


Does this guy seem a little … paranoid to you?

No one, not President Obama, not Congress, not any prominent liberal, certainly not me, has suggested forced mental evaluations via government doctors to own a firearm. For one thing, it would be utterly impossible to get any such thing passed into law and I’m not prone to pissing into the wind. 

And yet, that’s what Mr. Fake Last Name is afraid of.  The Boogeyman. Forced mental evaluations secretly rigged by “The Government” (Insert Doctor Evil quoty fingers here) to take away guns.

On my list of shit to worry about that’s right after Mountain Lions. You bet.

I begin to see why he’s afraid of mental health evaluations for gun ownership.



I’ll be honest, I read that last bit while picturing Mike as Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy, “We didn’t have time to work out the minutiae of the plan!”



What he’s proposing, a federal database of mentally ill people who can’t own guns, would require management, contracts, operations, oversight, regulation, training, access, and funding, which can’t be done without federal legislation – i.e. a new gun law.

So, it sounds to me like we’ve got a NRA gun nut who’s good with a new federal gun law.


Or maybe not.image

Like I said, he obviously didn’t think it through. What? A new law, but but but….

We were talking about religious extremism and supposed Christian persecution in America. Mike arrives in a blaze of red, white, and blue glory to tell me how 20,000 Americans dead by their own hand aren’t really gun violence. He’s mad that I’ve implied he’s dismissing those 20,000 dead as unimportant, he calls me a douche and suggests the problem can be addressed with a federal database maintained by doctors and populated by mentally ill people who’ve voluntarily told their doctors they intend to buy a gun and kill people and who’ve then voluntarily given gun-sellers access to that information, because something something haven’t figured out the minutiae of the plan.  He waves his hands over the “logistics” of such a system. The fact that the utter ineffective ridiculousness of his idea is blatantly obvious to even  the most rudimentary of intelligence is of no consequence. No, it’s the idea of a new law that frightens him.

And so, nothing.  He’s  spent an hour of his life and he’s got nothing.


We’re right back to where we started.


Exactly as I predicted three years ago.


It’s always the same circle-jerk with these gun nuts, always.

Every single incidence of gun violence, 33,000 or 13,000 per year, no matter how you count it, all of these events have one thing in common.


And yet, guys like Mike will blame mental illness, or video games, or society, or gay people, or big government, or a lack of Jesus, or drugs, or illegal immigrants, anything but guns. And then they aren’t willing to do anything about any of those things either – because they’re afraid somebody will take away their guns.

Now, you’d think he’d be done at this point. A reasonable person would be.

But these are not reasonable people. He can’t walk away. He can’t admit his argument is nothing but fairy dust and moonbeams, a vague bit of poorly thought out bullshit even he won’t support – and it was his own idea.

True to the NRA, he has to stand and fight, he has to keep throwing out that hail of bullets hoping maybe one of them will find a target.


I’ve lost track of the logical fallacies at this point. What number are we on?

Once again, he’s arguing a point nobody made. I’m sure this passes for a clever argument down at the monthly NRA Bang Bang Banquet, but ban driving? Nobody suggested we ban driving. Just like nobody in this conversation actually suggested we ban guns – unless you count the voices in Mike’s pointy head.

30,000 people die on America’s roads every year – about the same number who die from gun violence – and we work damned hard to reduce that statistic. We make people get licenses. We make them get training. We make them get insurance. We make the cars safer. We make the roads safer. We improve the technology constantly. We require safety systems. We research the causes of motor vehicle deaths. We impose draconian penalties on those who kill people with cars. We pass new laws and regulations all of the time and nobody screams about Nazis and government overreach.

So, I’ll ask  again, are you sure you want to use that as your example? Because I’m totally cool with it.


Guess not.

So, he won’t support his own database law idea. His driving example blew up in his face. What’s next? What logical fallacy haven’t we tried yet? Move the goalposts! Dump it on me, sure.

Fine. Let’s do that.

I’ll be honest. So long as people like Mike refuse to budge on new legislation, so long as the gun-lobby buys off congress and stymies a national dialog at every turn, then yes, 30,000 dead Americans – including 20,000 dead by their own hands – is the price we will continue to pay for this gun nut lunacy.

Unlike the NRA, unlike gun-fetishists, unlike Mike, I’m at least honest enough with myself to face it.

So what am I saying? Fuck 20,000 dead Americans a year? Am I really writing off all those suicides? Please. You people know me better than that. Of course not. And I’ve written tens of thousands of words about it.  See the article linked to at the bottom of this piece.

Suicide is a red herring with these people. It’s nothing more than a way to cut overall gun deaths by two-thirds. It’s an NRA tactic designed to invalidate the single most compelling argument for action on gun violence: 30,000 Americans killed by guns in America every goddamned year.

And so long as the gun-fanatics control the conversation, control congress, nothing will be done because nothing can be done.


Four years ago, a mentally disturbed man enabled by the NRA and his gun-nut mother walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 children. Nothing happened. Nothing. We did nothing. The NRA, the gun nuts, their paid lackeys in congress, told us those 20 murdered children, well, that’s just the price of freedom.

Now, you tell me what cynical is. Go ahead.

And it’s only gotten worse since.





Deflecting? Hmmm.


Good thing he wasn’t asking for respect.

Because I really don’t have a lot of respect for this guy’s disingenuous bullshit.

His very first comment dismisses two-thirds of gun violence victims as “suicides.”

He cries foul when I point that out, he claims I’m putting words in his mouth. But in the end, his concern for his unrestricted right to own a firearm outweighs any actual concern for his fellow man. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

And that, that right there, is the whole goddamned problem. 

That’s the NRA in a nutshell. 

That’s America.


That’s why I put you through this, Tweet by tedious Tweet, so you could see it in the NRA’s own words.


And that was the end of it. At least for me. I’m sure he continued to seethe in impotent rage long after I blocked him from my timeline. But I could see no further point in the conversation. Logical fallacies. Ad hominem attacks. Disingenuous double talk. Poorly thought out ideas. And at every turn, he attempts to put responsibility for gun violence on everybody but actual gun owners.

This guy is the very epitome of the American gun-fetishist.

These people, they’re not defending my rights.

These people, they’ve made gun ownership into a bizarre sexual fantasy of grade school machismo.

These people, they think in sound bites and non sequiturs and logical fallacies like a hamster frantically going ‘round and ‘round on a wheel.

These people, they’ve perverted the Second Amendment into religious zealotry of God, Guns, and murder/suicide and they’re not amassing arsenals to defend America, but rather to shoot down their neighbors who they believe aren’t American enough and to burn down their own country in an insurrection of paranoia and fear and manufactured fever dreams. 

In the end, Mike Fake Last Name is right: mental illness is the problem. 

And it’s long past time we stopped letting raging nuts like him run the asylum.


Addendum 1:  Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre, also another nut with a gun. 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 Meijer’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. Suicide is actually a great example of why guns should be less readily available and secured. Means restriction is a recommended strategy for suicide prevention. As they say, Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Don't make it easy for people to do something leathal and the urge passes, or people get help. Even if you could know who was going to be suicidal and prevent them from buying guns, so many people have unsecured guns. Sandy hook proves that. The numerous toddlers that have killed people proves that. Yet very few states require guns to be locked up, even in households with small children.

    1. It's the main reason why I don't own one right now. Too damned prone to depression.

    2. Very responsible,Lucas. I hope you find boundless happiness.

    3. I actually own a Walther PPK, that I inherited from my husband--it's in Minnesota, with my brother in law. I've asked my brother in law to keep it and not allow me access to it, because I and my late husband both knew that if it was in the house, confidence was high that I'd use it on myself long before I used it on anyone else.

      Having said that, I've always been of a mind that ANYONE who wants to own a firearm must be required to take a comprehensive firearm safety course first, and pass it with a minimum 95% score on the written part (which would mean they'd need to ace that practical portion). If you get anything wrong on the practical portion, or if you exhibit disregard for safety at ANY POINT during the course, you fail the whole thing and need to take it again. Why? BECAUSE IT'S NOT A FUCKING TOY. It's a tool designed to kill living beings in as quickly and efficiently a manner as possible, period.

      If you pass, great! Congratulations, you can get your permit--and anything that happens with that gun is 100 on you from here on out. You leave it laying about, and your kid finds it and winds up blowing his own head off? Your fault. It gets stolen, you can't be arsed to give the gun's info to the police so that they can be on the lookout for it because MUH RITES HURR DURR, and it gets used to kill somebody? You get charged as an accessory and get to spend time in der Kerke.

      No exceptions. Period. For anyone. Not even people with Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Badges. That's how Switzerland does it. That's how we should do it. Too bad the Scared White Folks in the NRA won't allow that to happen.


      That seems to be a concept that flies over the nuts heads.

    5. I'm not sure they see it as a toy -- I think the wimmins see it as a way to keep the bogeyman away and the guys see it as their male body-part in a holster.

      Remember the female idiot who decided that shooting at a couple of shoplifters in a parking lot was a peachy-good idea? She thought it was perfectly justified because they were black and she saw herself as "helping" the store's security team.

      The guys act as if gun control laws are going to surgically remove that body-part. Well, if they strongly equate one thing with the other, I guess their frightened outrage would make sense to them, wouldn't it?

  2. "You think he’d let it go? Move on without another comment?" No. No I really didn't think so, and I would find it hilarious but for the fact that he seriously thinks he is making rational arguments, completely proven invalid by the string of name calling (and even THAT was inaccurately applied) and which is always a sure sign of a person who just realized their argument was crap. Beautifully done.

    1. Fanatics do not "let it go" and often use name calling as a part of their argument then prove to themselves that they are the better person.

    2. It's par for the course with them. I get that crap all the time when I argue with the Fundie bags of ass that try to tell me that I should not be allowed to use insurance to pay for oral contraceptives for my PCOS. I point out how they are flat out lying when they tell me that they're $5 at Walgreens, or I point out that it's a medical necessity so that I can have a period each month and reduce my risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, and I get told to shut my legs in between being called a whore (and worse). And the abuse (and threats) only gets worse the more I calmly ignore those epithets and continue to point out that abstinence will not magically treat my PCOS or allow me to have periods each month.

      #TFP are immune to the truth. They hate the truth. And they're not smart enough to do anything except try to shout down the truth and bully the tellers of those truths into silence.

  3. When the Israeli Defence Forces stopped letting their personnel keep their guns over the weekend, weekend suicides dropped by 40%, and that's among a cohort of people (mostly teenagers) who've been vetted for serious mental health issues. If it's harder to commit suicide than just pulling a trigger, fewer people will do it.

    1. Women tend to take a lot of pills. Guys pull the trigger. It's a lot easier to revive someone who's overdosed on painkillers than it is someone who blew the back of his head off.

  4. If I see one more nimcompoop ignoramus gun-nut compare guns to cars I will seriously throw my head against the nearest wall. A dude got into an argument the other night with me about the AR-15. I stated those weapons should only be sold to military and law enforcement personnel. That's when he went all blah, blah, blah about deaths caused by vehicles. That's just a stupid apple to orange debate with no meaning whatsoever. This country is going to hell in a handbasket because our Congress is nothing but wimpy NRA minions, trembling in the shadow of their almighty Owner. Until this nation quits worshiping at the Altar of the Gun, it's all over for us. In 20 years, EVERYONE will HAVE to be armed to even survive going to the grocery.

    1. Try reading "I Will Fear No Evil" by one of JW's favorite authors (Robert A Heinlein). You've just outlined parts of this novel.

  5. The ole "lead them to trap themselves within the flaws of their logic" method. I love it! Probably the only way to get through to people like this. If they aren't too dense, that is. A lot to hope for, but you do what you can. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't teach him math.

  6. IIRC, if you have a history of epileptic seizures, it's pretty damn hard to obtain a driver's license. Why? Because if you happen to have a seizure (even a minor one) you very well could cause an accident.

    Also, as I just commented elsewhere, I used to find Adam Savage's t-shirt quote, "I reject my reality and substitute my own." amusing. I don't any longer.

    1. That's "I reject YOUR reality and substitute my own."
      When you think about it that's just another way of saying what Isaac Asimov said about anti-intellectualism. "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Lucas is correct, it should be "I reject your reality and substitute my own."

      I do believe Savage means/meant it as ironic as Asimov did his saying. I get that, but irony is oft lost on the target...

    4. Savage is a smartass. That comment was a throwaway quote on an early episode of Mythbusters - made when the results of an experiment didn't go as expected.

      It was a popular quote. People love and repeated it because it's just so Adam Savage. It became part of the show's lead-in. It became Savage's most famous line.

      He never meant it as it sounds, it was always meant tongue in cheek. It's an inside joke between Savage and the show's fans.

    5. I get that completely. It seems though, that there are many out there who do reject reality and do so when the facts are staring them in the face. That's why I don't find it funny anymore.

      Off-topic in this thread, but pre-crime? That's Philip K. Dick stuff; way beyond the average NRA lackey's pay grade.

    6. Pre-crime is just a word they heard, something now used in NRA talking points. I doubt 1 in a thousand could tell you where it originated or have ever heard of PKD.

    7. This is pretty much the same type of argument I get from my gun nut "friends" (read: people from high school that I no longer see in the real world, on purpose). Same damn stuff.

    8. They object to the mythical pre-crime, but have no problem with trying to legislate "pre-pregnant"...

  7. Long time reader, 1st time commenter. You have unimaginable patience and tolerance for our fellow man. Well done Lad!

    1. I suspect for our hero, that sometimes it has less to do with patience and more to do with a healthy anusement of predicting how a "debate" with one of these morons will end, and amusedly poking at them until they fulfill the prophesy. I'm often guilty of this little pleasure myself, though Jim's facility for giving copious amounts of rope is pretty phenominal.

  8. I know that I am jumping a bit to conclusions here, but I really wish Red Dawn was never made. Since its arrival, Americans really do believe that an insurrection is going to happen any minute now, and they have to stand up to their oppressors.

    1. Red Dawn was about a Soviet invasion (the remake was just kark that somebody pasted the words North Korea on). Insurrection is something else.

    2. I always giggle at Red Dawn. If it hadn't been an American movie about American partisans fighting Russians and Cubans in WWIII it could easily have been a Russian movie about Russian partisans fighting Germans and Romanians (and Hungarians and Italians and Spanish) in WWII.

      The original that is. The recent remake was way too silly. Where on Earth is North Korea going to get the power projection to invade the US?

    3. I think they believed it long before that....decades of Cold War conditioning to fear the Communist takeover. Then transferring some of that paranoia to despise/fear the youth culture/Peaceniks. All evolved into the mess we see today. Now of course WE are the invaders(along with Muslims)...the ones who are trying to suppress the 2nd amendment & 'religious freedom'

    4. *Red Dawn* was lame, but it did have that one bit where a Russian soldier takes a souvenir pistol out of the cold, dead hands of a guy laying next to a pickup sporting a "have to take my gun out of my cold, dead hands" bumper sticker.

  9. I've read damn near every essay you've posted here on Stonekettle, and enjoyed doing it. Hell, I even agree with most of it. This one though...the point you were trying to get across was almost swallowed whole by the blow-by-blow account of your pissing match on twitter. You're better than that.

    1. Actually these fanatics only want the pissing match. It is a test to anyone's patience that they run around in circles in this way. Drives reasonable people crazy. I am glad to read this because it gives a better picture of what reasonable people are up against.

    2. You're better than that

      Actually, I'm not. I'm exactly as good as I want to be.

      I wrote this piece, tedious though the exchange may be, with malice aforethought. The blow-by-blow was necessary. It was necessary because when I write these things and I don't include the blow-by-blow, the gun nuts arrives to accuse me of making it all up. Even non-gun-nuts say, well, yeah, we agree with you, but we really don't believe the guy said that - you're just trying to make yourself look good.

      This essay is part of an ongoing series, one that may someday become part of a book. This exchange was included specifically to provide veracity. Comments that you can verify for yourself.

      Not everything I write appeals to every reader, that's just how it goes.

    3. I get it, I really do. I've had the same arguments with the same people and it usually goes the same way. Once pressed into independent thought, they take a sudden (though not wholly unexpected) dive bomb into name calling, jumping to conclusions, and occasionally, and occasionally an overly simplified solution which wouldn't work in even the best of situations.

      Compiled with the other essays, yeah, it has it's place. It's a perfectly reasonable example and unfortunately quite common. It just seems below par when it's on it's own. I guess the trees have blinded me to the forest this time.

      Looking forward to the next installment, and I do appreciate your time!

  10. Quick spell check, you wrote "shinning" and I believe you meant "shining".

    Great article, as always. Tragic yet funny.

  11. I love how you lay the trap and spring it. My only wish is that you could really inject poison, because these idiots do NOT see when they've been nailed! I see the same thing with Obama: he plays chess while they play checkers. Damn, intelligence is HOT. Too bad I'm OLD. ;)

  12. Thank you for being a reasonable voice. We do need new gun laws and better mental health care.

  13. 20,000 gun deaths is the price of freedom...

    What kind of "freedom" is that, and how does it seem worth having?

    I don't own a gun, go back and forth on whether I would ever buy one, and have moved from a staunchly pro-gun position to a fairly rich anti-craziness position where I see that most gun-use claims in the US are based upon insane ideas of bogeymen and false fears of attack. *None* of my gun-owning friends have ever used their guns for self-defense. Some of them hunt with guns. Some of them go target-shooting. But they are nearly uniformly pro-whatever the hell gun you want for any reason because Muslims and government and Obama and gays. Like whateven?

    I think it's possible to have a society where there is gun use and gun ownership. France, as an example, allows for gun use and gun ownership. So does Israel and Switzerland. None of them have the same details, but it's my understanding (and I will of course be corrected if I am wrong) that while there is gun *use* in these nations, there are not gun *massacres* in these nations at any scale like there are in America, and to the same degree.

    So it's not guns per se. I don't know that eliminating guns is the right goal. But something is dreadfully wrong in a nation that purports to be the land of the free and home of the brave and yet uses guns to resolve issues of policing, marital disputes, road rage, turf wars, and friendly neighborhood competition keeping up with the Joneses and their Smith & Wessons.

    We're really sick, we're all in this miasma, and we don't seem to be able to see how sick we are or a way out.

    1. I refer to the gun deaths in America as 'human sacrifices'.

      Jim noted how the ammosexuals resemble religious fanatics. They are and the religion they follow is America, which is distinct from America the nation.

      One of the central tenets of the American faith is that 'The Tree of Liberty must be watered with blood'. Those who die by gun violence are supplying that blood.

      Hence they are human sacrifices.

  14. Ugh. Is "precrime" now the new NRA gun-nut conspiracy theory buzzword? So they really do think our country's going to turn into "Minority Report" due to some common-sense gun legislation? Fuck that guy.

  15. THANK YOU, Sir. Your intelligence & craft with the written word feeds my heart & soul. Your posts come across both of my FB newsfeeds. They, perpetually, make my day better.... though I, do, chomp at the bit to join the party with comments but, alas, it seems there's no room at your inn. Nevertheless, you have my great appreciation.

  16. You have a LOT more patience than I would have . . .

  17. I'd certainly vote for a database. I have a 52 year old brother who is mentally ill. At the moment, he has "fired" his psychiatrist, quit taking his meds and is running crazy around the city. My mother and I have been terrorized by him. We've had to call the police to remove him from the property. But he won't be admitted at the psychiatric hospital unless he's a danger to himself or someone else. He was admitted for a week last month and as soon as he was considered stable, they let him out which is when he quit taking his meds and seeing his Doctor.

    I have a lock on my bedroom closet where his guns and knives are kept by me. The Doctors didn't take them away. The police didn't take them away. I had to take them away. The last thing I want to have to tell police is that he is mentally unstable AND armed.

    But there is nothing stopping him from buying an arsenal. Nothing. He could pass every background check with flying colors. He could buy any gun and as much ammunition as he wants. That gives me nightmares.

  18. Outstanding.

    The problem is we will constantly have these people in the country where fear is their only constant. If it isn't against the government, it is against foreigners. If it isn't against foreigners, it is against their very neighbors. If it isn't against their neighbors, it's against law enforcement. The cycle of fear continues on...

    People who continually live in fear are the biggest issue we have in ever evolving as a species. The problem is there is someone out there to constantly shovel the shit and feed that fear.

  19. (Well, at least rattlesnakes when you've got a bunch of toddlers out in the grass.)

  20. Guns don't kill people....it's those teeny tiny little bullets!! :)

    1. Saw a bumper sticker once: "Guns don't kill people; blood loss and organ damage kill people."

  21. I loved this article.

    I brought it up to my wife, or at least the parts about mental health and how to possibly legally prevent the sale of guns to people who are mentally ill.

    Pretty much every idea, including the idea of a National Database of people who are mentally ill, ran afoul of HIPPA and would be illegal, or would specifically break that law totally beyond use.

    We, ok she, came up with an idea that would not be against HIPPA and could possibly screen out some people who were mentally ill. It would be a questionnaire that would was created by a psychologist, or a team of them, that could easily be graded on the spot. It would have a simple mechanism for grading, each answer would have a point value and if you got points in the bad range you were deemed mentally ill and could not purchase a gun.

    We both also agreed that not every suicide is performed by someone who is mentally ill, and on the flip side not all homicides are done by sane people.

    Well, you took a twitter feud and not only turned into an intelligent post but one that I could use to start a deep discussion with my wife. I try to do this as often as I can, especially if I can learn something as well as just talk.

    Thank you.

    1. "a questionnaire . . . that could easily be graded on the spot. It would have a simple mechanism for grading, each answer would have a point value and if you got points in the bad range you were deemed mentally ill and could not purchase a gun."

      Well, it's an idea. And twenty minutes after the exam was approved, "approved answers" would be posted on every gun-nut's Website, along with screaming outrage about how them pointy-headed psychologists was tryna keep law-abidin' 'Murricans from their legal Constitooshunal gun-ownin' rights.

  22. That was a long debate with an nethanderal. You always win. Do of have a brother?

  23. The Aurora theater shooter, a student at the University of Colorado, expressed his homicidal thoughts and desires to kill to several campus psychiatrists. He was tossing out red flags like confetti, yet his doctors' pleas for help from law enforcement went unheard and nothing stopped him from buying a buttload of guns. Because, you know, gotta protect his 2nd Amendment rights and all..

  24. Made this comment on your Facebook post today, "The Weekly Good Guy With a Gun" in response to someone who said europeans ask him "what is it with your country and guns?" I think the comment fits here as well: Guns have become talismanic objects to the unthinking among us, who have a cargo cult-level belief in their magical ability to convey both safety and power on their possessors, as opposed to the rational, thinking individual's understanding of firearms, which is that they are tools to be used for very specific purposes, and that the operator must be skilled, knowledgeable, and responsible in order to use them appropriately.

  25. There must be some way to stop the circle-jerk.

    Sometimes I wonder if a bit of progressive money couldn't be well-spent on simple propaganda. Not just 'control your guns', but hitting them where they're vulnerable to a message.

    It could be a multi-phased approach to advertising, memes etc. posted to contra-Stonekettle sites, the more egregious ones with a lot of hits. Sensitise them to a few words that fit well with their messages, used in slightly new ways -- maybe something like "Honored Defense", plug in the word Honor everywhere. Then shift its context a bit -- make people know it simply isn't honorable to shoot innocents. Honor.

    Pound on it. Honor. Split the carryweasles into two camps, people who open carry with honor, and people who open carry without honor. The actual definition doesn't matter, splitting the group does.

    Then, gradually introduce the controversy over what's honorable and what isn't. Keep narrowing the definition, but more importantly, introduce questions as to how you would control the dishonorable ones.

    In short, make it /their/ problem, not our problem.

    Honor. Because, you know, Americans are honorable. I think the idea might have more appeal if they think it's their own, no?

    -- Kelley Johnston.

  26. Jim, I enjoy you're well thought-out writing, but sometimes I think that you pull their chains just to hear their bells ring. While it's funny, it's neither fair nor effective. Like picking on someone with a handicap.
    Keep up the good stuff.

  27. As always, you are most eloquent in post... I personally have the wherewithal to recognize, but have not the ability to put it forth in such a manner as you always do. Thank you...

  28. I so enjoy your writing, plus I'm learning how to debate idiots I encounter on various threads. I know that I'm doing something right when their argument devolves into childish insults. Thank you.

  29. I used to work for one of the two states in the union that do their own firearms background checks rather than relying upon the NICS checks as do the rest of the nation.

    Let me tell you, Jim: The sheer impossibility of Mr. Fakelastname's suggestion is...staggering to me.

    The morass of federal and state non-disclosure laws, lack of standardization between state medical and mental-health databases, not to mention whether all of the necessary information can even be accessed electronically is far more tangled than most folk in the U.S. would believe. Perhaps with your background, you would.

    The labyrinthine set of rules regarding individual criminal histories is bad enough: Assault IV in one state may be something completely different as defined by the laws of another state. Further, What's a felony in one state is a misdemeanor in another. And frequently, the same criminal acts have entirely different names between them. Some states don't necessarily have domestic violence convictions flagged as such. Some states don't even have many of their arrest records in their criminal history databases, to say nothing of whether an individual was convicted or not. One state automagically restores firearm rights, upon release from prison. And did the purchaser have their firearms rights restored by a judge somewhere? It can happen. The criminal charges aren't uniform. The disqualifiers for firearm ownership aren't uniform. And that's a freakin' cakewalk, compared to trying to put together a database such as Mr. Fakelastname thinks should be implemented. Who would keep track of it? The Department of Justice? The NCIC? The Department of Health? The individual states? And were would the funding come from? (No new taxes?) We're talking millions (or more) in funding for software design, new equipment, new personnel to make it all work, and to provide oversight. Not to mention the number of new laws and regulations required.

    And then there's the outrage in the mental health and disabled communities. It's remarkable how folks such as Mr. Fakelastname are aghast at new laws and regulations which might put their personal information into the hands of the government when it derives from purchasing firearms, but are utterly fine when it's someone else's personal information. Including their medical and psych data.

    No. He hasn't thought it through at all. Not at all.

    1. Going beyond gun control, how about the guy who moved from California, where he had a conviction for child molestation, to Kansas, where he neglected to tell anyone about said conviction, and proceeded to open up a gymnastics studio. For kids. Yeah. Right here in town. I'm not going to say that nationalizing a registry would be easy (because I know it wouldn't be) but maybe it's long overdue.

      On the topic of "No New Taxes," I think we've tried the trickle-down approach long enough, and it's time to admit it isn't working, and try something else. Yes, I am aware that the ones who buy politicians are NOT in favor of change.

      Gretchen in KS

  30. And, since everyone else has nicely commented on the main meat and thrust of the piece, may I just add how annoying it is that he ended up calling you a "cunt?" As though that is the worst possible thing you could be. Signed, a cunt-owning American.

  31. Jim;

    Thank you again for more pithy commentary. While I enjoyed your decisive dueling, I will say you put up with him far longer than I would have. But then, he made an excellent foil for the points you were trying to make.

    Another argument I hear constantly about US gun ownership and gun control - which goes hand in hand with the "Obama's coming for your guns!" hysteria - is the notion that an armed citizenry could overthrow the government.

    Now, I'm not military, never have been, but am a bit of an amateur historian, and one thing that's been made clear to me in my reading of the last couple of centuries or so of western history is this: No armed insurrection has ever succeeded without either (1) the explicit non-participation of the military in the festivities or (2) active participation of a significant portion of the nation's military or (3) the active and muscular assistance of another nation's military.

    This includes our own Revolution; funny how few people realize half the army at Yorktown was French, and the Brits were trapped because a French fleet of 40 ships of the line had chased the English attempting to relieve Cornwallis back to New York. But I digress...

    Gun advocates, not "liberals" are the ones who imbue guns with mythological power. It makes me think of the Boxers from the rebellion of the same name, who believed they could make themselves bullet proof. It's the same kind of insanity.

    1. My former father in law was all for over throwing the government. When I brought up the fact that the US Military has been doing counter Insurgency, and that his AR-15 or what ever flavor of gun works real well against Hellfire missiles, 500 pound bombs, 20 and 30 millimeter rounds. Not to mention signal intel. They have been doing it for 30 yrs now in foreign countries. I told him he would have to not use any communication and mount a coordinated offensive at the same time. That the military fights this in Afghanistan Iraq etc etc. He shut up. These people are mentally ill, and we need more mental health hospitals to take care of crazy people. A pill not taken is not as effective as ensuring these people are on their medications. However due to lower taxes, using fear to increase Homeland Security, Military Spending, erosion of our freedoms(patriot act etc). This consolidates more power in the hands of fewer people instead of more freedom and benefits for all. The right wing loves their sheep.

  32. I don't even know how you can keep your composure in conversations like these. I think my head would explode. Nice work here. Good God, people are idiots.

    1. Me, too. I wonder if Jim has any suggestions for maintaining composure while engaging in these sort of confrontational conversations. My heart was pounding with anxiety, and I found my self having to take long deep healing breaths.

      Suggestions, Jim? For those of us who admire what you do, and yet don't have your patience or aplomb?

      Loved the Rocket Raccoon ref, by the way.

      Thanks, as always, for what you do.

  33. Like many other commenters here, Jim, I admire your patience with people like Mr. Fakelastname. If I could have half that much patience with my ex-wife-to-be, I'd be a much happier person. But I digress ...

    I'm sorry, though, that the math geek in me is cringing at a mistake you made early on, when you said that Dana was twice as likely to be killed by a mountain lion than beheaded by a Muslim.

    The ratio of 2 people killed by lions to 0 people beheaded by Muslims is calculated as the fraction (2 / 0). If there had been 1 person beheaded by Muslims, it'd be (2 / 1), which would be "twice as likely" as you said.

    But anything divided by 0 is infinity. So really, Dana is *infinitely* more likely to be killed by a mountain lion, which makes your point even stronger!

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only math geek who thought of that. Sorry, it's a pet peeve, like grammar is for many (well, okay, myself included). And, he's right, it makes your point *infinitely* more powerful. As a writer, I know it's a good rhetorical device to have in my shed of tools. So, this one is a math lesson worth learning (for all)!

  34. Hi Jim, thanks for writing such absorbing and truthful commentary on the state of America and guns. One minor point in Addendum 2 - it's Meijer's Thrifty Acres. Best regards from another former Michigander.

  35. I know it's very simplistic to suggest that it's the psychology of gun ownership that needs to change, but that's what they said about seat-belt wearing and cigarette smoking here in the UK decades ago.The idea of making a social pariah out of a person who failed to seatbelt himself or his children when driving was then backed up by legislation and punishable in the courts.Same with smoking,which is now viewed with distaste by most of society here.You can and will be proscuted for smoking in your own car if there are children with you.It seems there are the machismo types that see their guns as extensions of their dicks and those who buy guns or protection because the "bad guys" have them.Both are living under false pretences because of their ego or fear.The hunter or farmer doesn't need a pistol or automatic weapon,so why are there not restrictions on type of weapons sold,for a start? any legislation to bring in new gun laws(and that is a must) would have to be nationwide rather than left to individual states,but it's the attitude to gun ownership and use that really needs to change.And the ease with which they are acquired and lack of vetting is truly frightening.

  36. You know Jim, What I don't get is how these people cannot possibly understand the NEED for some reasonable regulations. Do they just not want to be held responsible for their negligence? That gun advocate lady who was shot in the back by her kid in her vehicle was a really great example of why people need to be regulated. They are not responsible. Mental illness aside (because that is just a scapegoat) these gun nuts just don't want to be held responsible for their laziness, inadequacy or negligence. I grew up with guns too. I shot a 12 gauge shot gun for the first time when I was nine, it knocked me on my ass. Instant respect. My husband is in the Navy, he was the ordinance officer his last tour, he has to shoot, and shoot well to stay qualified to do his job. Guns are tools, they can be used in hobbies, but they are not things to leave laying around where anyone can get to them. We need regulations to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe from the laziness and disrespect that people exhibit in the presence of guns. What is SO hard to understand about that? They want to keep me from taking care of my very own GOD GIVEN vagina, but I can't possibly ask them to be careful with their trigger fingers? It's complete absurdity. I know what the problem is, its Monsanto putting poisonous GMO's in their breakfast cereal and spraying their land with chemtrails designed to render them impotent so that FEMA can move in and put them all in camps and behead them with the guillotines stored in Georgia for being Christian, but we can't do that until we take their guns. Right? Thanks for giving me something snarky yet intelligent to start my day off with. Now I can go do my American National Government homework with pizzaz.


  37. You've perfectly described the frothing at the mouth gun-humper I have to work with. He's immune to any level of logic or reason, not just on guns, but pretty much across the board. He fancies himself a xtian, while constantly ranting about those he would deny civil rights to, or given the chance, even shoot to death. How Jaysus like, right?

    Like you, I find great amusement in getting him wound up, to where he shouts, almost foams at the mouth while screaming threats and how he wishes libruls could be hunted and shot. He does it in such spectacular fashion that it's painfully obious to anyone within earshot that he is unhinged and a likely eventual danger to himself or others. Entirely predictable, as you pointed out.

    Thanks for another excellent essay. I think I may print this one ane tape it to his work locker. :) With your permission, of course.

  38. These idiots want a registry of mentally ill people but not a registry of people who own guns??? Nice. Just goes to show you where their “thinking” is. They fear FEMA camps yet are perfectly willing to round up “undesirables” to be deported, reeducated, removed, or outright killed.

    I hear it at the gun club each Sunday – they write off suicides because those are not crimes and so should not be counted against gun related statistics. Plus, “it’s their own damn fault, fuck them, fucked up fucking assholes who kill themselves” is how they rationalize it. Oh, and suicides are the weak so they don’t count.

    Christians are the biggest thin-skinned pussies on the planet. Their so called “faith” is extremely fragile, shaken by the smallest of pretexts. The most “Christian” of them lack morals, ethics, values, and character. They are pretty horrible people who use their religion as a shield for both their bigotry and their lack of intellect and education.

    Sadly, this is not how I was raised. Growing up I did not see Christians act this way – maybe I was too young, but being a Christian meant you helped people and tolerated different viewpoints (you know, like Jesus). Maybe Christians were always like they are now and I just didn’t understand. I’d like to think that these are curious times and that Christians are like I always believed. But I doubt it.

    Chris in S. Jersey

  39. Sort of related to your post. State of Alaska moving a bill forward for concealed carry on University of Alaska campuses? So whats the need? State just being pro-active to prevent a massacre?
    I went to UAF back in the '80s, and have some great memories of the campus and FBX. Times are a changin...

    1. There is no need, they have rushed this legislation through for re-election and to distract from the budget. We have lived, studied and now work on campus for the past seven years, we heard the shot as one student took his life and passed by the body of another one on the way to work. There is huge loopholes in BS 174 that in some cases nullify AK state law. It's also going to cost the school $1.3 million to implement and 800k every year after that. This after cutting $35 million and they expect the University to pay. It's nothing more than pandering to the base.

  40. Jim - now I know why I don't participate in Facebook or Twetter. Things must have been pretty slow up there for you to burn up so much rational thought and argument. Didn't you once write tht it makes no sense to argue with reasonable people??
    Keep up the good fight

    1. oops ...... should have read "unreasonable people."

  41. Jim,

    Shame on you. You're like a 6 year old boy, torturing an ant. You pull off his left leg, so he goes right. Then you pull off his right leg, so he pushes himself along on his hind legs. Then you pour lighter fluid in his path and light it so he has to go backwards. Then you...

    Oh, you get the idea. Why don't you just put the poor idiot out of his misery and stomp on his head? Or better yet, shoot him.

    Yours crankily,
    The New York Crank

    1. It's not gratuitous.

      It's on purpose and with malice aforethought. Unlike the ant, this guy could have left at any time. He could have kept his NRA reflex under control and not appeared on my timeline to begin with. Instead he hung in there, gamely willing to illustrate the point I wanted to make. It would have been rude of me not to oblige.

      Sometimes, it could be that the sole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others. You don't want to be famous? Don't persist in saying stupid shit within my hearing.

    2. With a slight edit:

      "Could it be it could be that the sole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others? You don't like it? Don't persist in saying, writing, or passing on stupid shit."

      Perfect. I'm going to use that.

      This describes a friend of my college roommate who endlessly and repeatedly sends him (and me) those racist, hate-filled bullshit Reich-wing emails that are never signed and always aimed at "those people". Sometimes they are referred to on liberal blogs as those emails "from your crazy uncle Larry whom you NEVER dare let out of the root cellar". Conveniently, this guys real name happens to be "Larry", and he's a freakin' dentist!) I can't wait to throw it at him when I call him on his next racist email bullshit, and he comes back with his typical, "Asshole" retort.

      Love your writing!

  42. WOW! You don't half know how to attract the Terrys* don't you Jim?

    *Terry = BritMilSlang short for Terry Fuckwit.

    I am conviced that Idiocracy is alive and well and living amongst us.

    Hmmm, I'll just go a drink some BRAWNDO - it's got electrolytes donch know...

  43. Re: Guns and Gun Safety.
    Here's a tutorial that the University Of Utah uses to train its students on gun safety. Since ER people are the ones who have to clean up the mess, they need the straight poop on the subject.

  44. I came late to your Stonekettle Station essays, only a bit over a year ago, but I have greatly appreciated your balanced and articulate essays. Not to mention the occasional photos of nice woodworking and ShopCat.
    I grew up as a female in a gun owning family (guurrulls didn't need to know how to use guns! Dammit!) but my grandfather and uncles all handled their (hunting) guns safely, and kept the ammo separate and out of the reach of children. Guns were, as you have said, tools. In hunting season, we had a bit of extra meat on the table that didn't come from the grocery store, and when the deer jumped the fence and chowed down on the truck garden, a warning shot tended to deter them.
    I've never been able to get my head around the fanaticism which some people feel about their 'gun rights' -- forget all that stuff about a well-regulated militia, obviously the people who put it in the Constitution didn't really mean that part.
    Please don't ever consider stopping; every bit of rational commentary helps.

  45. Several points that are counter to the general tone of the comments and Jim's essay:
    1) Guns are toys. To many users that is exactly what they are. Many of my neighbors have built shooting ranges on their property and all or most of those are productive, reasonable and fully functional people. I never had a gun or wanted one until moving here, but have since bought a few and enjoy target shooting on occasion.
    2) Suicide by gun is, IMO, a very different event than an accidental or criminal shooting. Suicide is purposeful and done by the target using a tool (the gun) in the manner for which it is designed. It is neater, safer and probably more humane than suicide by swallowing one hundred seconols or driving into a bridge abutment at 100mph. I understand tha many suicides are the result of problems that may have a better or less permanent solution, however claiming that an individual does not have the right to terminate themselves is a great example of our forcing our moral and/or religious beliefs on others. Suicides are always sad and often tragic but frequently understandable.

    1. GaryB-

      My sister killed herself last week. Her suicide was understandable. She had been from suffering severe mental illness for many years.
      She poisoned herself with carbon monoxide as she hated guns with a passion.(Her beloved son was killed by a punk with a gun he should never have had.)
      As difficult as things are right now, I would never argue that anyone lacks the right to kill themselves and I don't see Mr Wright or commenters here doing that.
      I do however see plenty of folks willing to step up and try to work through reducing suicide by gun deaths.

      That is a worthy goal - the number of permanent-solution-to-temporary -problems deaths by guns suicides can be shown to drop as soon as access to guns is tightened up some. Especially by young folks.

      This has been a pretty shitty year in my family- at the same time I was watching my sister make a left turn into nevermore I was in the middle of a group trying to keep someone from killing themselves over a divorce. A stoopid fricking divorce.
      I got screamed at about demanding all guns be taken away and treated to a whole hell of a lot of frothing spittle about rights to have guns shit for months. Three days ago that person called me and thanked me for the no-guns-while-you-are a fruit-loop thingy. I sorta got an apology for all the nasty names I was called.
      Doesn't matter- I don't really care if people call me names. I care folks don't kill themselves on a whim.

      One person did not have an easy way to end their life during an emotionally charged period because there were no guns at their fingertips and one ended their life because their life was total shit for a long time.
      Very different stuff .
      And I think pretty much this is what folks here are hoping to take a stab at sorting out - except the FakeNRA dude who can't keep track of his own name let alone his argument.

      To assume all suicides are merely "terminations" which are " always sad and often tragic but frequently understandable" but that none should be derailed because of some abstract right of self determination we haven't really sorted out we have ? Pfft
      sorry- I disagree

      As always, thank you Mr Wright.

    2. I agree with alaskapi. Just as people's lives tend to be highly individual, so do their ends.

      Some people have an impulse toward death, they try, they're prevented, they're grateful for the intervention and never try again.

      Some people are suffering greatly in mind or in body, they try, they're prevented, they work out another way to do it.

      Some people are suffering greatly in mind or in body, they try, they succeed.

      It's the impulsive ones who are helped to safety by the absence of an immediate "solution." It's hard to kill yourself with a pistol you don't have, and it's difficult to throw yourself off a bridge with an 8-foot fence along the edge.

      But I can't say that the deliberate death of someone who has a diagnosis of terminal cancer and who decides to skip the last several months of suffering, is sad 'n' tragic. It's always sad to lose someone you love, but maybe you haven't had a close friend eaten up by disease. You want "tragic"? That is tragic. And horrific. And dreadful. The ability to end that suffering is a merciful blessing.

  46. You are one of just a few people who can debate with idiots and not come out looking besmirched. All righty then, EVERYONE, IT IS time to send Jim a few scheckles for the joy of readying the station. Well, I will anyway. Thanks, Jim.

  47. As a former psych nurse, I can tell you that when we had a patient come in on a 1013 (stating that they were feeling suicidal or homicidal)that before they were released, we would call their family or friends and tell them to remove any guns from the home if they had them. The hospital staff does not go out to make sure this is done, neither do the police.

    Guns are just too damn fast and too damn easy to use. Someone who is severely depressed can make a decision in a bad moment to "Stop the pain." Using a gun is usually fatal.

    A decision to hang themselves, or to try to overdose on pills, takes time and some effort. Oftentimes, people will change their mind during this time and decide to seek help.

    A couple of side notes, of the people that I know that own and carry guns, none have ever used them for protection. I do personally know the families of two children who were accidentally killed by guns.

    I wonder why there isn't a powerful lobby in place to push for common sense legislation on gun control. A Anti-NRA, Pro Gun Control group if you will. It seems strange to me that the NRA is this powerful, when the majority of Americans support legislation for gun control.

    1. Deb:
      Thanks for being there when folks need medical care. You may not have gotten the appreciation you deserved while doing the job, but I am sure you made a difference in people's lives. With respect to the Anti-NRA group, I am cynically afraid that the profit to be made by pro-gun (manufacturers) far exceeds the available funds for those wanting regulation. Add to that the likelihood that those wanting regulation are not making up 'facts' as fast or thorough as those other lobbyists, AND the lobbyists are able to hinder even having investigations into the problems, and it makes this anti-effort incredibly challenging. Notice the dates in the article shared by "JustThisGuy" (http://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/GUNS/GUNSTAT.html) and how old the US sourced data is compared to other countries.
      That doesn't mean it is not worth the effort, just that the individual efforts need to be that much more forceful to be heard.

  48. TY once again Jim.

  49. Had a couple of these myself, where the pro-gun argument turns into a tail-chasing recursive spiral. Cars ALWAYS come into it. Right away.
    My reaction #1 is "Guns are made to kills things. Cars have more than one purpose, and it does the other thing besides killing really well. Does a gun have another purpose other than killing?" I was once answered with "deter and defend", which means essentially that it is, in this circumstance, either to kill or to threaten to kill.
    Answer #2 is usually about how there are scads of laws, tests, cards, national databases, insurances that are mandatory, etc. in place for cars...and that's for a thing who's primary purpose is NOT to kill or threaten to kill.

    The argument never gets much farther.

  50. In addendum 2: "Meyer’s Thrifty Acres". It's Meijer Thrifty Acres. They were Walmarts before Walmart existed.

    1. Fixed. I've been too long in the land of Fred Meyers

  51. Damn fine essay. Damn fine. Don't take this the wrong way, but I love you, man.

  52. I care about gun control because of Johnny Lee. He was my friend. He ran a printing press. He was a science fiction fan, active in Texas fandom and in APPAs.

    He was also an alcoholic.

    He lost his job. He went into detox, got out, got an apartment, went to AA. But he was having trouble staying sober. He didn't want to be a drunk but he didn't know how to stay sober and liked himself less, every day. One Thursday he went to a pawnshop and bought a handgun. This was Texas in the 80s. The background check only took 24 hours. It involved a search of the arrest records of Harris county.

    On Friday, he picked up his gun and a box of ammunition. He checked into the nicest hotel in downtown Houston, had a fine steak dinner in the restaurant, and finished it off with an expensive brandy. He then went back to his room. Took off his coat, his necktie, and his shoes, and stepped into the shower, because, being a considerate guy, he wanted to make it easier for whoever had to clean up after him. He put the gun to his head and spattered the shower stall with his brains.

    The maid found him when she came in to clean up, Saturday morning.

    If they had run a true background check, they might have noticed his job loss, his 6 weeks in detox, his mental condition. I'm not saying it would have changed anything, but if the check had taken a couple of weeks to do, his friends might have had a chance to talk him down. He might have had a chance to reconsider. He might still be alive.

    Johnny and his death are not something to swept under the rug and forgotten. He was a person who was in pain, and so were the other 19,999.

    Jim, I want to thank you for reminding us of that, and that they mattered.

  53. I guess what the guy was getting at is that if someone wants to commit suicide and no gun is available, they will use another method.
    That's not necessarily so. According to this article (link at the bottom of my post), a lot of people in Great Britain used to use coal gas stoves to kill themselves. When they were phased out, the overall suicide rate dropped. The same happened when suicide barriers were put on a bridge in Washington. Turns out it's usually a split-second decision and if you make it too inconvenient, many people will keep on living. On a personal note, almost 23 years ago, I had a cousin who shot himself. I don't begrudge any law-abiding citizen the right to own a gun (as long as I have some reasonable assurance that they are stable and law-abiding), but my cousin's suicide convinced me that guns are not for me.
    Also, haven't some gun rights advocates screamed "Tyrany!" about doctors asking their patients if they owned guns?


  54. Can I pre-order the book now? (Or in the name of pre-crime, pre-steal it?)

  55. I am somewhat simple minded in many ways - I would require that anyone seeking to purchase a firearm must demonstrate to a FFL than they can unload it without discharging it accidentally - a starting point?

  56. I don't get the gun culture. You think that Gun Owners would want to get guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Even if you completely disregard the 20,000 suicide deaths that isn't even the tip of the iceberg. All the mass shootings we have seen were by mentally ill people. The closest anyone came to wanting to restrict that is when people said "We have to stop Muslim Terrorists before they strike." That only stops the one Muslim mass murder and not the jack offs that walk into and shoot up a Planned Parenthood clinic.

    As long as people are unwilling to say "No you can not have a gun." there will be an unending series of gun related mass murders, murders, and suicides. "But it is a Slippery Slope." be damned.

  57. I have tried many times, as I read with passion and conviction, another of your essays to determine who it is that I so love about your writing. It came to me just this morning.

    My daddy was a Navy man. To be clear he was UDT/SEAL Team 1. He never saw action. Was in route to Korea when the conflict ended. Finished his "tour". Supported the training of that first Seal Team (Hence Seal Team 1) and headed to the reserves. He left when his only son, then 2 1/2 was diagnosed with leukemia. Not sure I added that. But because I love him and miss him, I feel like I want you to know him. My brother died 4 years later. My three sisters and I were 8, 4 and I was 3. Our life moved on and an other brother came and my dad was one of those genuinely awesome 70's dads. Actually he was super involved in our lives. Incredibly affectionate, hands on and verbal with his love. I was a lucky kid.

    My dad was a multiple gun owner. Just outside my bedroom was the locked gun cabinet. He was a hunter. A target shooter. A gun enthusiast. He taught us gun safety. He had rules for when we played war, cowboys and indians, and any game that included "weaponry". He was serious about this. I remember, clearly when paying outside one Saturday, how serious he was. My brother broke the cardinal rule of pointing a toy gun at my head. My dad lost. his. shit! What followed was a stern but loving lecture on guns danger, respect and the sanctity of life. My dad died 11 years ago. I really miss him.

    So here is why I share this story. You remind me of him. He was smart. Clever. Funny. Fair. A man of great integrity. And he would have abhorred what you have so eloquently just described in your essay. And every essay that proceeds it.

    There is a way to bridge this gap of lunacy. There is. But I fear we will never get there. Because the divide has become so deep and filled with ignorance, fear mongering, money and politics. Most days I feel cynical and defeated. I give up fighting. I have read numerous books on gun violence and the 2nd amendment to educate myself. I have written senators and congresspersons. But this divide, this fanaticism fueled by the NRA and propagated by the Mike Nolastname's of the world seems insurmountable to me. That 20 children could be murdered in a classroom and result ZERO change is unfathomable to me. And it makes me sad. And it makes me miss my dad.

    So I will wrap this up by saying Thank You. Thank you for making me feel with each new post that I am having a good long talk with Daddy. He would have LOVED you!

  58. Good article. We need gun registration / data base, etc. Not gonna happen because of the NRA.

    I would love to read or hear about any study that looks at the way people's actions and reactions change when they're carrying a firearm - and how the people they interact with respond when they realize the other person has a weapon. And how many times does the person who is carrying a concealed weapon "accidentally" let their jacket open a bit so the other guys can see. After all, when you're in a pissing match after a fender bender, what good is it to have a gun if the other guy doesn't know about it. And how does the whole dynamic of the interaction change after the weapon is brandished? Would Trayvon Martin seen the need to attack George Zimmerman if Zimmerman hadn't "oopsie" let him see the gun. Somehow I doubt it.


    1. Last year it became legal to carry a concealed weapon without a license. It had been legal to open carry for a long time already, but the law changed. To date I have not seen one single person who was either carrying openly or "accidentally let their jacket open" since the law changed. That is either in town or out of town. This is Maine which is very much open, rural country and despite the law and despite the nature of this place, I learned last year that in my town of roughly 800 residents before the law changed fewer than ten percent had concealed weapons permits.

      So far it appears the change in the law hasn't changed many people's behaviors.

    2. Here's a link to a Forbes (hardly a leftist publication) article from 2012: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenkotler/2012/12/18/addicted-to-bang-the-neuroscience-of-the-gun/#3fb2c0297bd4
      Might shed some light on the psychology of the subject. I found it interesting.

  59. This why I call Twitter "The Toilet of the Internet". However, it's satisfying to see that there are "plumbers" able to clean this shit hole. Well, perhaps not clean, but apply some logical perspective.

  60. I think the most appropriate description of the whole pro-anti gun control debate is Charlie Foxtrot, but thank you for trying to speak truth to stupid.
    So again as you squids say BZ

  61. Again, Jim's rationality is attacked by a rationalizer. Too damn few people can tell the difference. No inveterate rationalizer can be convinced that he's not being truly rational. They think that any argument is a good one.

  62. It's entirely possible someone has already mentioned this one, but if not....here is some future fodder for you:


    Christian who nearly beheaded a Wiccan.

    Also, as usual, great article.

  63. I really hate the entirety of the 'mental health' argument to oppose gun legislation. It corners on one very fallacious assumption: mental health is some kind of binary condition. Sane = potential gun owner. Insane = no bullets for you. Most mental health assessment of that mythical binary relationship require multiple criteria, grouped in clusters for any sort of diagnosis in the first place. In short, I might be riddled with some or many of those, but as long as I don't have enough of them, I might not be considered mentally ill. For many or all of us, the right combination of stress, depression, etc. could make any of us 'mentally ill' at any moment. Life throws at people, sometimes, things they are ill-equipped to deal with. Enough of those over time changes the sane to the insane.

    Since you are sane until (potentially) eventually being insane, where do you draw the line? How can you even use mental health as an argument for gun control outside of the insane (who, mind you, probably don't have access to guns anyways)?

    Mental health is not a defense against gun control. It isn't even a cogent argument.

    It's a demoralizing, dehumanizing, myopic, non-argument.

    Thanks for the article, Mr. Wright!

  64. While I thoroughly enjoyed your well-crafted debate with the NRA dude, I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed. Not in your debating skills, stance on the subject matter or writing… All that was spot on. I’m disappointed because I really would have enjoyed the debate between you and Dana. It would have been just as fun (maybe more fun) to hear from poor Dana the woes she has experienced and how she wants further “religious freedom” laws enacted in this country and watching you wipe the floor with her!

  65. About those "law-abiding" gun-owning Tea Party "Patriots" - they're anything but "law-abiding": http://www.irehr.org/2014/04/17/bundy-standoff/

    They're the very people who should never be allowed to put a hand on a firearm: http://csgv.org/issues/guns-democracy-freedo/insurrectionism-timeline/

    Again, NO, they are neither responsible gun owners, nor law-abiding citizens - they're Timothy McVeighs in the making: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2013/11/22/nullification-neo-confederates-and-the-revenge-of-the-old-right/#sthash.QsQj22Hk.dpbs

  66. My only hope is that someday Jim will no longer need to pen another Bang Bang essay. Perhaps not on my lifetime, but in my son's or or soon-to-be grandson's.

  67. It never fails to baffle me that I need a license to operate a motor vehicle - requiring that I demonstrate that I know how to responsibly use it - and am legally required to have insurance on it should I damage property or injure someone with it; but to get a firearm just requires a three day wait or showing a CWP. No insurance requirement should I target something other than a range target etc.

  68. Guns have had a tremendous impact on our society. Whether it is a discussion of "the right to have a gun", the idea of "protection" against some eventuality, the misuse of a gun, or just a desire to go to a range and shoot at targets, people will and have an interest in guns. I am a gun owner, but I am hardly fanatical about it, and enjoy the occasional target shooting. I did three years in the Marine Corps. I have done some reloading. I also lost my 17 year old son several years ago when he used my 357 to kill himself in his room. I have also read on a more or less daily basis, as I am sure you all have, about the various forms of mayhem committed by individuals in a variety of circumstances using guns. So I have some personal experience as well as just daily living experience in regards to guns... So in my opinion I think that virtually anything that makes the experience of gun ownership safer is a good thing. Short of outright confiscation, mostly anything else that comes to mind to make ownership safer is a good thing. Gun safety classes, backround checks, gun registration, technology fixes like "smart guns" all go towards safer gun ownership. Safety and responsibility are paramount and need to be reinforced and stressed whenever possible.Gun availability is something that could be controlled to a degree with required standard questionnaires provided by either state or federal authority. Waiting periods should always be required, and maybe some kind of a recheck procedure. Something like you bought a gun a year ago and you are required to take it back to either where you bought it or perhaps to the local police to reaffirm that you do indeed still have it or can account for where it is now... In regards to the original back and forth it was indeed well done and as indicated somewhat predictable. Talking to people who shall we say feel strongly about something or with people who have not thought things through often drops to name calling or insult... Jim I would like to thank you. Your writing is very enjoyable. The points you so often make are very much appreciated.

  69. I am so glad to see somebody with the intelligence and reasoning skills to take the gun fetishists on. They show up everywhere. A few months ago they showed up en mass, like the proverbial flying monkeys to comment on an article published on HuffPo by an angry, grieving father. His daughter had been shot to death by an ex boyfriend. Some of their helpful and sensitive commentswere to the effect that if he the boyfriend had had a knife, or a can opener, or a blender, he would have killed her anyway, and really it was her fault because she let him in the house and back into her bed.
    Wonkette had not so sad an example: Ted Cruz, caring a broken shotgun with the barrel slung over his shoulder the way Larry, Moe, or Curley would carry a rake. The Wonkette author ndicated this was unsafe. Legions of idiots showed up to say that no, it wasn't unsafe because the gun couldn't fire. Never mind that you could break someone's nose, cause them to lose a few teeth, and by the way, damage the barrel of a fine shotgun.
    And it wasn't enough that they disagreed with the author. No, they expected her to apologize, write a retraction (to a blog!) and one of them commanded that she "make him a sammitch".

  70. I've admired your writing and the first three stories and insights in this series. I follow you on Facebook and keep wondering if you made enough room in the airlock for one more minion LOL. However, you have all the elements here but I feel you've been barking up the wrong political issue. I came across the linked article and before this past year would have thought it conspiracy material but now...as a former moderate reasonable Republican this is frightening.


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