Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bang Bang Crazy, Part 14: The Cowardice of Responsibility

Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses…
-- George Washington Carver

It began, as it often does these days, as a series of tweets.

Another school shooting.

Another all too familiar day in America.

Another mad scramble by gun fanatics to dismiss the tools of mass murder, to deflect and deny, to make excuses for why nothing can be done. To avoid responsibility.

One of these excuses in particular caught my eye.


So, I ....


What's that?

Shooter? School shooting?

Oh, right. Riiiiight. Sorry. You’re right. You’re right. I got ahead of myself. The school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. That’s the one. Given there was more than one school shooting yesterday, or attempted school shooting, and given the increasing frequency of these events, I should have been more specific…

You again, what now?

The snark?

Yes, you may expect that to continue throughout the article.

Good? OK, then let’s continue.

Starbuck is a modestly well known writer, producer, and director who has done some interesting work – and lot of less than interesting work. His tweets often slide by in my social media feeds without leaving much of a ripple, but his comments yesterday caught my attention.

The shooter did not legally possess the guns he used or the pipe bombs he had so what makes anyone think that any law would’ve stopped him from this evil act? Obviously he was not concerned with following the law. He’s a determined killer willing to use any means to do so. The real questions we need to be asking are: • How can we better identify, report and act before evil people commit these mass shootings? • Can we make teaching empathy and kindness a part of nationwide curriculum? • How can we safeguard the entry and interior of schools?

I think the questions Starbuck asks are valid: How can we better identify, report and act before evil people commit these mass shootings? Can we make teaching empathy and kindness a part of nationwide curriculum? How can we safeguard the entry and interior of schools? Sure. Those are reasonable questions, worthy of further exploration on the national stage. Absolutely.

But I don’t think they’re the “real questions we need to be asking.”

No, it’s the first part, that bit about laws.

Laws don’t stop crime.

No shit, right?

This comes up every time. Laws don’t stop crime. No law we can pass will totally eliminate gun violence. So, we shouldn’t talk about more laws, or new laws, or even fixing the existing laws. Criminals don’t obey the law, see? So laws only “punish” law abiding citizens.

You don’t see this … reasoning, I guess I have to call it, in any other area. You don’t see conservatives saying, hey, illegal immigrants, they don’t follow the law! So we shouldn’t even talk about more immigration laws!

You don’t see conservatives saying, hey, you know who doesn’t obey the law? Women. Yeah. Women. So there’s no point in passing any more abortion laws…

No, it’s only guns where this “laws don’t work” argument comes up routinely.

And so I wrote a long response, which on Twitter became a fifteen part thread of related thoughts chained together.


And that became a longer and more detailed Facebook post (if you’ve already read it, feel free to skip over the comments in blue):

Laws don't stop crime.

The killer is in custody.

If there weren't any laws against shooting people, we couldn't prosecute him. We'd have to let him go.

Laws don't stop crime and never have.

We have laws regarding murder, theft, rape, fraud, etc.

And yet, we still have murder, theft, rape, fraud, etc.

We pass new laws to address evolving problems, such as electronic crimes. Or things some folks wish were crimes, like abortion.

But, laws don't stop crime.

Laws don't stop crime. It would be nice if they did, but that's not the law's function.

Laws give society legal recourse when its members engage in anti-social actions. If you didn't have law against murder, you couldn't do anything (legally) about it when murders happen.

The shooter did not legally possess the guns he used. This is true. But that doesn't mean laws don't work.

The question is: How did the shooter get those guns?

Somebody has to be legally responsible for those weapons. So how did the shooter get them?

If the shooter got his weapons from his father as rumored, then the father should be legally responsible for failure to properly secure the guns. But that only works if there are enforceable laws in place regarding storage and access in the home.

If that law doesn't exist, then it should.

Such a law would not prevent any responsible citizen from owning a gun. It doesn't infringe on 2nd Amendment rights. It simply requires that the gun owner be held legally responsible for his or her guns. If Adam Lanza's mother had properly secured her weapons, she'd be alive today, along with the children murdered at Sandy Hook. Adam Lanza was mentally ill. He could not be legally responsible. She knew that. Her own irresponsibility cost 28 people their lives.

Laws don't prevent crime, not all of it anyway.

But they can reduce crime by modifying society's behavior over the long term. See Drunk Driving laws. Obviously, those laws don't stop drunk driving, but they did drastically reduce it by changing irresponsible behavior.

Now, Making driving while intoxicated illegal does not keep anyone from drinking if they want to. But we prosecute irresponsible intoxication. We hold those who enable it responsible, even bartenders and liquor store owners. Those we catch violating the law go to jail.

And we are draconian about enforcing these laws. We had to be. We have campaigns about how draconian we are. We put up signs along the highways and we have cops go to schools and lecture kids about it. And as a result people have become significantly more responsible about their behavior when they otherwise wouldn't be.

If gun laws addressed specific irresponsibility, such as failure to secure your weapons, and we held those responsible to the same degree as drinking, and we promoted gun responsibility the same way we do responsible drinking, then you'd see a marked reduction in cases like this one. We know this works, because it works in every other area that it’s been tried in.

Where'd the shooter get his guns? Excellent question.

The answer isn't: Laws don't work.

The answer is a law that specifically addresses the problem identified by the question and holds those responsible to strict and mandatory account. Every time.

If we started holding guns owners responsible for their guns to a degree no more stringent than gun manufacturer guidelines and the NRA's own rules for safe gun handling, then you'd see gun owners start properly securing their guns. As they should.

I'm NOT talking about taking your guns away.

I'm a gun owner too. I'm sitting right now within three feet of two gun safes. MY weapons are secure when not on my person. Period. No exceptions. Ever. They are my guns. I am responsible. No one else. Because I was trained that way.

Laws don't stop crime.

But then neither do guns.

Laws don't stop crime and never have.

But the right laws make crime far less likely by modifying irresponsible behavior and by giving society legal recourse to hold its members accountable for their actions.

We'll prosecute the shooter, sure enough.

But we must also prosecute those who enabled him.

Now, nothing I’ve said above is a new thought. I’ve written about this ridiculous “laws don’t stop crime” argument here before, in this very series. You can find the links at the bottom of this article.

But, you know, my comments really weren’t even about the law.

They were about responsibility.

That’s what laws are ultimately about: Responsibility.

Responsibility, by definition, requires accountability. If you’re not ever held accountable,  well, then you’re not really responsible, are you? I mean, if there is no mechanism holding you accountable, then what’s the price for irresponsibility? Nothing. You screwed up, people died, oops. Shrug and move on, right?

Responsibility is about accountability.

We used to teach that to Navy leaders when I was in uniform. Authority. Responsibility. Accountability. When that ideal declined, so did Navy leadership.

You can’t have responsibility without accountability, to yourself, to authority (whatever that may be), to society (however you define it). That’s what law is.

But … well, it’s funny, isn’t it? Whenever you mention accountability, the gun fetishists – the very people who angrily rush to assure you just how responsible they are – begin screaming that you’re trying to take their guns away.

And why is that?

Why is it that they always, every time, equate “responsibility” to “confiscation?”

Why is it that whenever you talk about personal accountability, they always – every time – attempt to deflect that responsibility onto somebody else?

Case in point:


This guy was more coherent than most – which is why I chose him to use an example.

And he managed to get most of the predictable talking points arguing against responsibility all in one place.

So, let's walk it through, shall we? Point by point.

My response to your most recent post since I am unable to respond on the actual post itself for some reason.

My Facebook page is fairly popular, as such things go. Roughly 150,000 people read what I post there every day. Often it’s a much larger audience, depending on how widely my posts are shared – and that’s what social media and in particular platforms like Facebook are for. Because of the size of that audience, and because of the things I write about, and because of the nature of the average social media user, I limit commenting to “friends” (as defined by Facebook). That’s about 5000 vetted people, give or take, on my personal page. This way, I don’t have to daily deal with the trolls, lunatics, moochers, shit-stirrers, and the various other unsavory and non-housebroken denizens who inhabit the bowels of social media. Why just 5000? Because that’s the limit set by Facebook. If I was allowed more friends, I’d allow more commenters. (Note: I also run a closed Facebook Group called “Stonekettle Station,” where most of my material is reposted and far more people (a bit over 30,000 right now) can join in the conversation). I mention all of this here as a convenience to myself, since I get literally dozens of questions about this every single day.

So, so this guy, let’s call him “Tony,” couldn’t respond directly to my post on Facebook because we are not Facebook friends (and given the rest of Tony’s missive, we are unlikely ever to be such). Thus, he emailed it to me via Facebook’s messenger system.

Good so far?


I assume he cut and pasted this from elsewhere, given that he switched to the third person on the second line.

"I agree with some of the things he says."

Well, that's good. That’s good.

Their are also some flaws in some of the points he's trying to make [Sic]

Oh boy. I can't "weight" to "here" about my flaws (You may, if you like, picture me pouring myself a fresh one at this point).

If someone takes my car without permission and runs someone over with it, am I liable? The same answer applies to if someone took one of my guns without permission to murder someone else.


Yes. You can be held liable depending on circumstance.

Tony might want to check the laws of his state.

You see, in many states failure to properly secure your vehicle does make you liable under the law – not to mention, being grounds for claim denial by your insurance company.

For example: In nearly every state it is illegal to leave a running car unattended, even on private property, even if the the door is locked, and in some states even if you use a remote starting system with anti-theft lockout capability.

If you leave your car unsecured, with the keys in the ignition, you can be held liable for its theft and subsequent use in a crime.

Likewise, if you loan your vehicle to somebody unauthorized to operate it, or who is impaired, or who is not covered under your insurance, then you are liable for whatever happens with that vehicle. You are most certainly liable if your kids take your car and kill somebody because you left the keys where they could get them. You’re responsible for both the kids and the car.

However, if you take reasonable steps to secure your vehicle and to keep it out of the hands of unauthorized users, then the law generally does not hold you accountable if someone steals your car.

This is no different whatsoever from what I suggested.

Hell, I didn't even suggest a particular method of securing your weapons, though I personally prefer a purpose-manufactured gun safe. No, I left it up to you to decide the best method for your own situation, just as the law does with cars (i.e. the law does not require you to have a secure locking garage, or a fenced driveway, or a car alarm, or even a working lock on your car. You decide).

The person liable is the person that took the item without permission and harmed someone else with it.

I agree.

I think we all agree.

Who suggested otherwise?

Go back up there and read what I wrote. Look at the penultimate line. Did I in any way whatsoever suggest that the murderer was not liable? Did I? If you're not capable of that basic level of reading comprehension, then you're (or in Tony’s case, "your") not cognitively advanced enough to be in this conversation in the first goddamned place. So either step up or stop wasting my time.

I mean, more than one person can be held liable in a crime, you all know this, right? You must know this.

Look here, if I'm too intoxicated to drive, if I am obviously too intoxicated to drive, then obviously I’m liable if I drive. But, if the bartender continues to serve me alcohol knowing there's a reasonable chance I'm going to go out and get in a car, well, then the law also holds that bartender liable. Likewise, if the bartender doesn't check my ID and make reasonably sure I'm old enough to drink in her establishment then the law again holds not only me liable, and the bartender liable, but also the business itself.

Goddamn, man, how do you not know this?

"Everyone has moments where they are irresponsible or could have been more responsible."

Always, it comes to this argument.

Always, every time. They always arrive here: you just can’t expect someone to be responsible all of the time.

And yet, that’s exactly what we do expect, from the guy driving your kid’s school bus, from surgeons, from airline pilots, from the military, from the courts, from our leaders, from the guy who operates the Staten Island Ferry and the cook who’s supposed to wash his goddamned hands after taking a shit. We not only expect these people to be responsible every single time, we demand it under penalty of law. Every single time. Because failure of responsibility for even a second can have serious consequences. And you’re going to try and tell me that guns should be regarded as any less of a responsibility?


Everybody has moments where they are irresponsible, Tony says. Yes, and if you have a moment of irresponsibility that results in the death of another, we call that manslaughter. And it's illegal. And you're held accountable. And you go to jail. I mean, are you seriously suggesting to me that a parent who "has a moment of irresponsibility" and leaves their baby in a locked, sealed car on a hot day resulting in that child's death should be dismissed with a shrug and an "oh well, she didn't mean to kill the kid. Shit happens! People can’t be responsible all of the time." Hell, we'd hold that person responsible for their criminal irresponsibility if they left a fucking dog in the car.

And here you are trying to tell me that guns should be held to some lesser standard of responsibility?

Come on.

Why is it that supposed "responsible" gun owners always – always, every goddamned time – argue so strenuously and so ridiculously against actual responsibility?


We’ll come back to that. Stick around.

Look here: you can't have responsibility without accountability.

You can't have responsibility without accountability.

If you're responsible, then you're accountable. It’s as simple as that.

And isn't that, accountability, the entire premise of your religion? Sure. Right? You've got free will, but if you don't follow your god's law, you go to your final judgement and get held accountable, so you'd better be good for goodness sake? Right?

No? No, I suppose not.

Be that as it may, don't try to tell me that you're a responsible gun owner if you're unwilling to be held accountable for that ownership, because you're just full of shit and you don't even understand what the words mean.

By this logic he is suggesting that we create criminals out of anyone who unintentionally or even involuntary created an opportunity for someone else who wants to do harm to exploit.

I don't even have to look at Tony’s Facebook timeline to know he wants opioid manufacturers and doctors to be held, at least in part, liable for the current drug epidemic. If it’s drugs, well, we want those who make and sell the drugs held to account, don’t we? We go after the drug makers and the drug dealers, right along with the drug users, don’t we? We’re even going after the doctors.

But guns?

Hell, the only other institution in America equally free of responsibility is the banking industry. But, I digress.

Intention has nothing to do with it – or at least it's not the primary issue.

We're talking about responsibility, not intention.

If I leave my car running in the driveway, I likely didn't intend for it to be stolen. But I'm liable just the same.

If I leave my baby locked in the car on a hot summer day while I run into the store, I likely didn't intend for the kid to cook to death. But I'm criminally liable just the same.

Now to extend the analogy to something closer to Tony’s criticism: If I'm a surgeon and I don't follow procedure, I don't wash my hands correctly or sterilize my tools or I leave a sponge inside you, and you die, you can damned well bet I'll be held accountable.

And the Chief Surgeon will be held accountable.

And the hospital will be held accountable.

And the company who owns the hospital will be held accountable.

I’m responsible. But so are they.

My intentions be damned, it’s not about intention, it’s about responsibility. Irresponsibility – negligence – has consequences in nearly every field of endeavor. From bartender to car owner to airline pilot to doctor to lawyer to accountant to parent. Why should gun ownership be any different?

In short, you're simply making another argument to punish people that had nothing to do with crime committed by the actual person who committed the crime.


If you failed to secure your gun and that gun is taken by somebody unauthorized to have it and they then use it to commit a crime, you most certainly "had something to do with it." Your irresponsibility is a big part of the problem and, again, why is it that those who claim most strenuously that they are responsible gun owners always – always, every time – work so hard to avoid taking any actual responsibility?

If you have a swimming pool, you are required to have a fence around it. Tony is arguing that he can't even accept that pitiful amount of responsibility for his gun.

Let me make a counter suggestion. Instead of punishing people who did not make the conscious decision to murder someone. How about we increase the severity of the punishment to those who actually commit the crime?

Again, this bullshit. This idea that we don't actually punish people who commit crimes.

But the real money-shot is that part about "conscious decision."

We're talking about guns. Guns. Machines designed to kill people. Machines specifically designed to kill people. YOU SHOULD GODDAMNED WELL BE CONSCIOUS OF THAT ALL THE TIME, EVERY MINUTE, AND TAKE THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSIBILITY. If you're not conscious of that responsibility, every second, then you are not responsible enough to own or operate a fucking gun.

AR-15s have been for sale in the US for almost 60 years yet they've only been the weapon of choice in Mass Shootings for a little over a decade.

I never, not one time, mentioned "AR-15s" or any other specific weapon.

The subject is not the type of weapon. The subject is responsibility.

Stop trying to deflect and start taking responsibility.

Guess what else is pretty new? The leniency we show those who are incarcerated, including those who are imprisoned for harming, raping and/or killing others. If you kill someone maliciously, you die. Or at least never see freedom or be treated as a person again. You should suffer. Is it hard to believe the motivation to kill will decline substantially once people know if they are caught, they will no pain and suffering beyond what anyone can imagine?

Oh for fuck’s sake.

This is the end result of 30 years of mindless conservative talk-radio. Of angry pundits screaming conspiracy theories from TV sets. This is the mindset of an America run by religious fanatics, right here.

Torture. Dungeons. The Pit of Despair.

They must be made to suffer, you see. That’s right out of the Bible.

If I had to guess, I’d say Tony has never been to nations where they do exactly this. Iraq. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Mexico. Turkey. Venezuela. Russia. Thailand. Kenya. You go to prison there, believe me, you suffer. I once had to get an American serviceman out of prison in one of those countries. You really don’t want to know, but I’ll say this: Tony gets his wish because it was certainly beyond anything I could imagine.

You really want to turn America into that?


But, those countries where prisoners are executed or made to suffer "beyond what anyone can imagine?" Do you actually believe crime is somehow less there as a result? Really?

Because it’s not. It’s worse.

But you want to do that here? 

No? Why not?

Because we're supposed to be better than that, you idiot. 

Because those guns you love so much are supposed to defend the Constitution, which prohibits precisely the kind of cruel and unusual punishment you're suggesting. I mean you must see the irony, right?

I mean, right?


No, I suppose not. No, of course you don’t. Of course you don’t.

That would require a degree of self-awareness I doubt Tony and those like him are capable of.

Why have leniency on those actually committing the crime...


What leniency?

Not one surviving mass shooter in American history has been granted anything resembling leniency.

The closest you could come to making such a case is Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, who were among the youngest people to be formally charged with murder in the US. They were 13 and 11, respectively, in 1998, when they opened fire on a playground at Westside Middle School. They murdered four children and a teacher, and wounded ten more. They are the only surviving mass shooters currently not in prison. And they were only released (at age 21), because Arkansas law required such. Their case actually changed that requirement in Arkansas.

Every other surviving American mass shooter is in prison. Every one.

James Holmes was sentenced to twelve consecutive life sentences PLUS an additional 3318 years in prison. Hardly what you'd call leniency.

George Banks is on Death Row in Pennsylvania. No leniency for him.

Nidal Malik Hasan is on Death Row in a US military prison and I guaran-goddamn-tee you the Army will grant him no leniency whatsoever.

Howard Barton Unruh, the nation's first mass shooter, died in prison at age 88.

Dylann Roof was sentenced to death on federal hate crimes, and to life in prison for nine counts of murder. He's currently serving nine consecutive life sentences.

Do I need to go on here? Or can you do the rest for yourself?

This nonsense that we somehow grant mass murderers "leniency" is pure kark, the kind of unsubstantiated bullshit created whole cloth by likes of Rush Limbaugh and conservative politicians and hysterical fools such as Tony.

... but in return be willing to punish those who had nothing to do with it?

And so we come down to it.

I told you up above, we come back to it.

And here we are.

…punish those who had nothing to do with it.

That’s is your real fear, isn't it?

This right here.

Because you know you yourself aren't responsible, don't you, Tony? Yes you do. You spent a thousand words making excuses, telling me how you won’t, can’t, accept responsibility or be held accountable. And so, this is what you really fear, isn’t it? What you're really afraid of is that you will one day be held to account for your own cavalier attitude and your own lack of responsibility.

You can’t empathize with the victims of violence, instead you identify with those who are responsible for it and that’s goddamned telling. Yes, it is.

But this isn't about the killers at all, is it?

It's not even about guns.

No. It's about you.

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.
-- Bob Dylan

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
Part 12, Excuses, Excuses
Part 13, Stand and Teach

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 spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush 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. Spot on all around. Sharing this as you state it much more eloquently than I could manage and with the weight of more practical experience than I have myself.

  2. "Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, "to be free from freedom." It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?" Eric Hoffer

  3. Responsibility, accountability, authority - so deeply intertwined. If you choose to own a machine designed for killing, and you lose control of it and somebody else uses it for exactly that purpose, of course you're responsible.

    If you don't want that responsibility, don't assume it. There's no shame in saying, "Hey, I'd rather not take that on."

  4. I grow weary of the continued necessity of your essays on responsible gun ownership. Excellent writing as always but I look forward to your final posting on this topic. One day perhaps.

  5. Damn, Wright.

    Topped yourself AGAIN.

    Nicely put.

  6. If it were within my power to do so, I would make your essays, particularly the Bang Bang Crazy ones, required reading for all elected and appointed officials in America. I only wish, as do so many of us, that such things didn't need to be said at all, that everyone understood it without being told. You educate, and deserve way more than my meager thanks...but you have them anyway. Thank You.

  7. Very well said, as always Jim! Thanks!

  8. As you say, it's a digression, but ...

    "Hell, the only other institution in America equally free of responsibility is the banking industry. But, I digress."

    Well, that is the only statement in your piece I disagree with. I think Robby's making a democratic argument. Not only the bankers skate, but the "ethical" drug companies, the ALEC members who spend big bucks to legally bend state legislatures to their benefit ... you could go on better than I.

    I'd suggest (as I think you have in the past) that until we, the American Body Politic, throw out the bums that let our "leaders" (AKA "the elite") get away with massive offenses but let beat cops deliver an instant death penalty to, say, a disabled guy selling single cigarettes on the street, then Robbie and his friends will feel entitled to the same kind of kid-glove treatment. After all, Robbie and most of his brethren (and sistren) are probably free, white, 21, and responsibly manage their mortgage, car payment, job, and maybe even their children. It's just those other bums, lacking those qualifications, who we should drop the boom come on.

  9. No gun safe, but I keep the guns in one locked closet and the ammo in another, behind some other stuff so it's not easy to spot unless someone is looking for it. My main concern is the 4-legged critters here, not the 2 although there was a time when I had a reason to worry and then I kept a loaded pistol where I could get to it easy - not under my pillow, but easy enough that I could excuse myself to the bathroom if someone was in my house who wasn't supposed to be here (it was a specific situation) and grab it, if needed.

    I refuse to live in fear. I refuse to feel I need to have a loaded gun at the ready because some abstract "something" is coming for me. I didn't when I lived outside of NYC and I don't now that I live in a rural area. There's no reason people can't secure their weapons. It's just b.s. and excuses and their own FEAR overruling what should be common fucking sense.

    Spot on essay. I loved it. I wish I could like it many more times.

    1. I'm glad you keep coming back to your Bang Bang Sanity argument. It's one of only two things I see in this whole mess that make sense. The other is well crafted gun violence restraining orders. Well crafted meaning that the due process rights of folks are followed, and spiteful restraining orders are not issued.

  10. Excellent. Every word of it. Your writing serves as a reminder to me that there is still good to be found on the internet, not just a bunch of slack jawed morons spewing word salad. Keep on keeping on.

  11. "kark". A word I didn't know until now we needed.
    Excellent as always!

    1. I didn't see where it was used and what was meant by it. In Australian slang to "kark it" is to die.

    2. It's "cark it." I think the other word is 'Kak" meaning Sh-t.

    3. I think it's from Heinlein.

  12. responsibility, authority, and accountability are all necessary but people like Tony seem to be missing a fourth vital attribute - a sense of duty. an inner drive to do the thing you are responsible for. the sort of thing that drives you to do the right thing without being forced to. lack of that is why the Tonys of the world seem to fear responsibility and accountability although they usually crave authority.

  13. Looks like you will have a book here eventually - and it should be required reading for both state and Federal government. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

  14. Patti, consider a gun vault. It’s a small safe, sized for a handgun, that allows safe storage and reasonable access. Guns simply in a locked closet, unless also trigger locked or such, concern me because most home doors/locks are a joke.

    Jim, the concern I have is that the middle ground, which you exemplify with this reasoned trease, is vanishingly small. In the end, there will be an upheaval which will likely result in the end of the Second Amendment simply because too many people will finally be tired of the cost of guns. Demographically, the country is slowly moving that way, not fast, but steadily. The extreme choices of the NRA and it’s compardres are making the showdown inevitable, in my opinion.

    1. Yep, the NRA and the ammosexuals think it's a SLIPPERY SLOPE! that will lose ALL of us our gun rights, but it will be the release of a pendulum that will rapidly swing to the other end of its arc, and when it makes its way back to the middle, the 2A will be gone.

      Or think of a trebuchet with the 2A in the bucket, and every NO! from the NRA is a nick in the rope holding it back. If they piss off enough people, someone's liable to grab that knife and shear through it in one swipe.

    2. Much of this comes from a logical fallacy: that the first step in changes that an individual doesn't like means that the worst case change is also inevitable. In other words, automatic hysterical overreaction to mere possibilities.

    3. Rebel - that's because the people that scream SLIPPERY SLOPE! usually want the worst for anything they want. Immigration, "welfare leeches", abortion, etc, etc.

    4. I read an interesting column some time ago by George Will (with whom I seldom agree, but did in this case). He pointed out that many of our existing laws could be considered the start of descent down the slippery slope but that up to this point, none had precipitated that slide. Made me resolve to think carefully in the future before applying that argument.

  15. Bravo sir. This is exactly my position on this and has been for a long long time. Responsibility. Something the right winger gun owners try to hold everyone but themselves to account.

  16. I need to share this with my nephews, who are both boy scouts and nowadays high school ROTC and the eldest is thinking of a military academy to be a pilot (we're Navy family so we're whispering Annapolis at him every event get-together). I know they are into guns and I am worried sometimes about what they're learning (and not learning) about responsible gun use.

  17. I love this. It reminds me of how we looked at carrying in the military (Army National Guard, Sergeant) - upon being issued our weapon, we were responsible for EVERYTHING that happened to it. Hell, they tried to steal them from us in our sleep in Basic! The point is, if someone steals your weapon and commits a crime with it in the military, they are in trouble, BUT SO ARE YOU. Because you either gave away your weapon, or allowed them access to it through irresponsibility. Growing up around weapons, my father was ALWAYS responsible with them when we had them - he always knew where they were pointing, loaded or unloaded, and pain on you if you EVER dared to point one at a person.
    I think that this solution is the middle ground that both sides are looking for. It won't stop EVERY problem, of course, but I think that a lack of taking responsibility might just be the root cause of MANY of our problems currently. So I shared this on FB with my friends/family with a similar line of commentary to what I put here.

    1. When my brother and I were kids and got cowboy guns, our Dad taught us strictly that you don't point them at anyone. Quite right, too, because if we had ever had real guns, there's no way we would have thought we could treat them like toys. No, we learned to treat toys like real guns.

    2. When I was in basic training in the Australian Army the first thing they made you buy was a padlock for your locker where you kept your clothes equipment and rifle.
      If anything was taken you were charged with insecurity.
      It was your responsibility!

  18. You put your finger on the underlying elements AGAIN, Jim. I work in a hazardous occupation with many rules designed for safe operation. Responsibility/accountability are always intrinsically linked and are in effect during EVERY task EVERY day. Thank you for your excellent dissection and rebuttal skills.

  19. I can all but guarantee that a decent defense lawyer could get Holmes' additional years under 1000.

    That clearly isn't why I started a reply. Your writing and clarity of thought humble me. I consider myself to have a well above average vocabulary and can also string words together so they fit the generally-accepted norms of the English language. It would take me a month of Sundays to come up with something comparable, and that would be merely pastiche.

    Pastiche, I can do.

    With resoect, sir...on several levels.

  20. I've had that exact same argument thrown at me many times, and every time it nets the same results: "Why should IIIIIIIIII (insert pouty lip) have to assume any responsibility?"

    Because it's your fucking property and people could get hurt or die because of your negligence. That's why.

    "But they don't have a right to my property, so it's not my fault if something bad happens. If it's in my house or vehicle, I consider that reasonably secure."

    So what happens if you catch them in your house or vehicle with your loaded and otherwise unsecured firearm?

    "I'll shoot 'em before they shoot me."

    Ok, cowboy. Good luck with that.

    Before I fired the very first shot out of the very first gun that I ever held in my hand, personal responsibility was hammered into my head. My son got the same treatment. There are some things that you just don't take chances with...

  21. You really need to take your writings to a publisher and have them put your words into hard copy.

    There is a market for your work, I have no doubt.

    Let them do the editing, it'll be less work for you. :)

    1. If they can be trusted to edit honestly . . .

  22. I agree - if we simply demand the same accountability for guns as we do for automobiles, it would be a good first step towards a solution but we additionally must, as a society, accept the responsibility for not expanding mental health care.

    The Va Tech shooter and the Aurora Co movie theater shooter are among the few that come to mind that were treated by mental health professionals and, while that didn't stop them, how many others could have been had they been treated instead of ignored? Courts have held parents legally responsible for their children skipping school - it would be a logical step to expand this to both guns and mental health care.

    Of course expanding mental health care would also expose those delusional enough to think that their home arsenals would serve to hold off the gubmint when it comes...

  23. Ever been on a long drive cross-country? Oh. Right. Alaska to Florida. Yeah, that would count, wouldn't it?

    So, it's 3A and you're rolling down some two lane blacktop and see a sign. WELCOME TO WHISKEY COW, POP 3200. Or maybe it's FLAT ROCK, POP 320, hard to say as it's late and the world's a little blurrier than when you started driving. At any rate, this little town exists because it's where your State Route intersects with the County Highway.

    You can tell, because they have a stop light.
    Which goes to red just as you reach it.

    So. Stopped, you're basking in a scarlet glow cut only by your headlights; no other lights around. Shut off the engine, roll down the window and in a little less than it takes to say it, crickets actually start chirping.

    Turn off your headlights and you could be on Mars, it's so lonesome out here.

    So how long do you wait on the light to change? A minute? Two?

    Me? I usually make it to about half a beat before it changes; I anticipate, waffle, finally decide I might as well gun it and go, then I've got green.

    You know why?

    Because the minute - the very second - I run that light, there's gonna be gumballs and siren on my ass.

    Maybe they come out of the trunk, I dunno, but they'll be at my window asking for license and registration.

    And that's what these folks with their dismissal of the importance of the law tend to forget.

    Law *Enforcement*.

  24. Yes, isn't it odd how the "well-regulated militia" language is never mentioned by the 2nd Amendment fanatics? Part of being well-regulated would be training on the use and securing of one's weapons. (Not just firearms - all weapons. When the 2nd Amendment was written, swords and knives were also included in the definition of "arms.")

    Just as one should keep the kitchen knives away from small children, equal care should be taken with firearms.

    1. Good point, nicely put.

    2. It's even odder than you think. Andrew Fletcher, who put the phrase into the discussion in 1698, meant "well-regulated" in the sense of "regular military." He had in mind a system of universal conscription, with baronial militias acting as a check on royal power. (I never said he made any sense.) And, astonishingly, he influenced the discussion all the way into the 18th century and US law. Jefferson spoke well of him and the Second Amendment, combined with the 1792 militia acts, implement a system of universal conscription where the state militia were to act as checks on federal power.

      It didn't work. But that is another story.

    3. The authors of the Second Amendment were also thinking muskets. They couldn't possibly imagine rapid-fire killing machines readily available at Wal-Mart. They couldn't even imagine Wal-Marts, let alone high-rise shooting platforms, vast crowds of helpless victims, or people driven to kill multiple strangers for no sane reason. The founders would have been more careful with their words if they knew how they would be twisted, with such senselessly tragic results.

    4. They expected that Congress would do its job by responding to changing times in a thoughtful and responsible way, not that the Constitution would be turned into a near-immutable sacred text, with the meaning of every word hard-fought, or that Congress would turn into a market for law-making, a thing they found repulsive. But greed and the fear of change are endemic in human societies, and here we are.

  25. I am so grateful for your measured, logical response to the nutcase NRA bunch. They will ultimately be the cause of their own group demise.

    1. Considering that the NRA's entire push seems to be that there can be NO responsibility for acts committed with guns, but instead only total freedom to own firearms . . . which, by the way, totally contradicts NRA policies held for decades (until only recently).

    2. Unfortunately not soon enough

  26. Nothing to add but a tear.

    And a slow clap.

  27. Do you send your responses back to the people you refer to in these essays? I'd like to think Tony would read this and either choke or receive wisdom.

  28. Another point.

    Prisons have suddenly become more lenient? At a time when the prison system is being privatised by the same neocons who want absolutely no responsibility for gun ownership?

    It's almost like saying your brilliant idea of allowing the prison industry to be driven by profits is a horrible idea.

  29. And sadly, we will have to read the next installment as nothing will be done, again, to stem the carnage. As always a great piece.

  30. Mr. Wright-
    You write a lot of words and say absolutely nothing.

    1. And yet, here you are. And you read every word, all the way to the end.

    2. You cannot transfer your total lack of understanding to the writer. If you want to know why you get nothing from this, look in a mirror.

    3. Whoops! Put the reply after yours, not Duplantis. My goof.

    4. And of course you can tell us and show us how that is the case.

      Because of course you can, it's only the RESPONSIBLE thing to do. Making baseless claims is a good example of an act that doesn't take responsibility and accountability into action.

      You ironically hare a GREAT case example of the general sort of attitude Wright has portrayed in his article.

  31. Those who complain that they will be held responsible, know that they're irresponsible.

    But I think you're inaccurate in saying that banking is the only other institution in the nation that is given a free pass. Politicians and their minions rarely see the inside of a prison.


    1. Which is also why they're so opposed to mental health requirements and background checks. Because at the root of it, they KNOW they're the people who shouldn't be allowed weapons. And the thought that they might somehow be found wanting scares the pants off of them.

  32. I was in the Canadian army reserve when I was a teenager and had several experiences on the gun range and with weapons in Jr leadership training. And man, do they take that stuff seriously. Nobody can yell louder than a Master Warrant Officer on a gun range when he sees a stupid newbie's rifle start to swivel in a direction other than down range. Yes, it was me he was yelling at and he was a long way away from me, but he might as well have been standing right beside me, because I felt his fiery breath in my ear and his anger in my soul.

  33. Jim, as always your words are a beacon showing the rest of us the way out of this abyss. If only we could ALL open our eyes and march forward. Thanks for your insights !

  34. Surely the gun owner will be held accountable. No Dad of the Year award for him.

    1. We can hope. But if there are no laws in that state about how, EXACTLY, to secure your weapons so that they don't get stolen, you cannot be charged with much, if anything.

  35. Tony's post shows exactly the sort of "conervative spirit" that the right wingers of America embody.

    In other words, "I got mine fuck you."

    The entire screed is not simply an exercise in denial and avoidance of responsibility or accountability, it is also a portrayal of the total lack of empathy. The part about punishing lawbreakers more severely is a perfect example of that.

    None of these guys seem to understand that punishments have to be commensurate with the crime. The irony here that guys like Tony are suggesting punishing criminals even more harshly while at the same time fearmongering about Sharia law and things like the chopping off of hands for the crime of thievery when they are both examples of punishments that do not take the degree of the crime into consideration. They are fine with their own suggestions of greater punishments but squirm at "sharia law" and its harsh punishments when they are ironically based on the same thing.

    And the reason for all this is simple. "I've got mine fuck you". None of these idiots think about how the law does indeed apply to them and the ones close to them. You can bet if any of them or their relatives get into trouble with the law, these guys would be on their knees crying and begging for leniency (if they are not trying to claim that they have been "wrongfully charged").

    Because that's the only time it matters to show concern about punishments being too harsh, the ONLY time. When it concerns them and theirs.

    At all other times it doesn't matter a damn bit.

    Because "I've got mine fuck you.". The right wing core creed.

  36. As someone named Tony I wish you had picked another name for the asshole in your article. But that's OK, I guess. I'm frequently an asshole, just not that kind of asshole.

  37. I have been supporting Stonekettle Station via periodic PayPal donations. But I have read so much ON-THE-POINT coverage from you recently that I was ashamed I hadn't given more. I have it to give. I finally signed up for a monthly PayPal donation. We (I) need more people like you to spread coherently written sanity in this crazy world, and if donations help to keep that happening, I took the next step and signed up. Would encourage anyone else reading and enjoying these posts (well, enjoying may not be right, but agreeing with certainly may fit the bill to give what you can, when you can. A few $$ here and there may not seem like much but added up it can make a real difference.

  38. Chief Wright: This, again, is cogent. I too hope for the day that you do not have to write an additional piece. Thanks for what you do.

  39. Our attitude towards gun ownership responsibility has made us the fools of the planet. People who think like Tony worry so much about our standing in the eyes of the rest of the world, why doesn't this embarrass them?

  40. Dear Mr. Wright,

    I agreed with your post, almost without qualification. Please forgive me if what follows is merely hair-splitting and arguing about semantics and terminology but I think that it's worthwhile to make a distinction between personal responsibility and social accountability.

    I'm responsible for all of my actions, all of the time, and I'm responsible for the consequences of them, without exception. When I was enough of a medic to do my first internship on an ambulance I had to do CPR for real for the first time. It was not, at all, like what I'd practiced in class and the guy died. I was responsible for his death, right along with the real medics and the driver. I didn't do anything wrong. Instead, I did the best I could in a difficult situation. Most likely, no one could have changed the outcome (he was a late stage diabetic and had a major heart attack). I don't feel guilt for his death and there was no negative consequence for me.

    But I'm still personally responsible for it. I was there, I acted, and there were consequences. That's on me.

    Because I did what I was supposed to do to the best of my ability, within my training and the law, I was not punished or penalized by society.

    My point is that even the people who are saying, "What do you mean! How can you blame someone for letting their crazy son have access to a rifle?", are responsible. They can't avoid the responsibility because it's a consequence of cause and effect; your rifle + you allowed access + someone used it + people died = you're responsible.

    What you're advocating (and what I agree with 100%) is that people be held socially accountable (by way of criminal penalties) when they fail to act in a reasonable and prudent manner in owning their firearms. I also agree that idea shouldn't be a shocking or unreasonable step. As you pointed out, there's a massive body of statutory and case law supporting that level of accountability in many fields and industries. Why the hell should guns by any different?

    As a side note, a problem I see frequently is that people don't seem to get the idea that accepting responsibility for your own actions doesn't mean that other people can also bear responsibility for the result.

    It is as if some single person or factor must carry 100% of the blame for any negative outcome. The school isn't at fault for having bad security or under qualified resource officers. The legal owner of the firearm isn't at fault for allowing access to it. Our society isn't at fault for underfunding schools and mental health programs. It's all the shooter's fault (or, if you prefer, it's all the fault of guns and gun-owners). That's not a outlook that is very effective at actually solving problems.

    Thank you for the time you put into your blog. It is one that I read without fail and enjoy (if that's the right term) immensely. You've some fine ideas and you express them very well. Despite the generally high quality of your ideas, one really stands out. Like you, I've been around firearms all my life and they were a big part of a previous profession. In all that time, I haven't seen very many new ideas regarding gun control / reducing gun violence. Your suggestion that we need to change the culture around firearms, much as we changed the culture around drinking and driving, is completely new to me. And it's also the only one I've seen that I support wholeheartedly and without reservation. I hope to hell that it gets some traction but I fear, given the polarization in our political discourse, that it's not going to get far because it's too moderate and reasonable. And that sucks in a profound way.

    Warm Regards,
    Alan Beatts

  41. Superb essay, as always. From this perspective, I hear all the howling from the right about their being persecuted in the workplace, the media, everywhere else, and I realize they want to fill the world with fascist wino puke and not be made to justify it or clean it up. We're all just supposed to swallow it because freedom.

    Genuine ignorance I can understand. Willful ignorance is a different proposition, and demanding that it be given equal status with wisdom is the ultimate in cynicism.

    Per Ayn Rand, we've all let them; who will stop them?

  42. (Replying to "Bob" above - can't do "Reply" for some reason)

    Unfortunately, the odds that Pagourtzis senior will have to render any sort of "accountability" - outside of a great deal of online harassment - are near-zero. I'd love to be proved wrong, but as far I can recall, nobody has ever been held legally liable (civil or criminal) for providing any mass shooter with the weapons they used: whether commercially or negligent-possession.

    Of course, this may be due to the fact that in the US, the trade in armaments is so widespread as to make such regulation as the gun lobby hasn't been able to kill nearly useless, and rules regarding safe possession of firearms are at best, minimally enforced even where they exist; but that's just crazy gun-grabber talk....

    After all, as the universal response of vast numbers of "conservatives" online will jump up to remind us after every mass-shooting massacres: "Guns aren't the problem....[ANYTHING ELSE!!!] is the problem...."

  43. There is not a jurisdiction in the United States where the owner of an automobile can be held criminally liable for the actions of a person who stole their property. You can be cited for a civil violation ie: leaving the keys in the car, not occupying a running vehicle- but the moment someone illegally deprives you of your property, you are relieved of all culpability. Willfully and intentionally granting them use of your property does not relieve you of such. No where can a victim of a crime be charged for the subsequent actions of a criminal.

    1. If your car was stolen, damn skippy you would be reporting it to the police as soon as you walked outside and found it was gone. At a bare minimum, shouldn't you be doing the same for a gun? This puts a bit of burden on you to check frequently that someone hasn't taken off with your firearm without telling you, but oh dear, that responsibility thing again.

    2. And exactly what does that have to do with the fact that - victims are NOT responsible for the subsequent actions of perpetrators who stole their property?

  44. This bit made me wonder:
    "And isn't that, accountability, the entire premise of your religion? Sure. Right? You've got free will, but if you don't follow your god's law, you go to your final judgement and get held accountable, so you'd better be good for goodness sake? Right?"

    Hmmm. From what I can tell, no. Most Christian sects believe that you will never be good enough to get into Heaven, right? Only forgiveness - completely unearned, by the way - can save you. But once saved, you're saved, and your sins are, and will be, forgiven. So, accountability? Out the window.
    Interestingly, it almost always seems that others, you know, those people who aren't like me, THEY have to toe the line. If they don't follow the rules, they are out of luck. Oh, and there's usually a few extra rules for them, too.
    Maybe this is a big source of the cognitive dissonance surrounding responsibility.
    Hope this makes some sort of sense. Just a stream of thought I had while reading that just now.


    1. Here is something I wrote you may enjoy. “All religions are a scam. I though that there is a law against being scammed. You do not need to prove whether or not there is a god, to show that religion is a scam. Religion and God have absolutely nothing in common. Religion is a scam. Is the earth flat? Religion at one time said so, and also that the earth is the center of the universe. Why did religion say that? God said so, is what religion told people. We now know different, so was God scamming you or was it religion? Wake up people, religion and God have nothing in common. It is obvious that God does not talk to the religious. You are being scammed by religion. The scammer’s should be jailed.”

  45. If laws don't work, why are so many gun nuts, and their NRA, so afraid of any laws regulating guns?

  46. Humans are an animal with intellect. We have all of these survival instincts. Some are enjoyable. Some are necessary, others harmful. Some are all the above. Love is a nice one. Most of the time they are neither good or bad depending upon whether you control them. Nothing wrong so far. Now comes the draw back. We also have the intellect to justify the misuse of these emotions no matter how we misuse them. What makes this even worse is that the smarter you are the better you can be at the misuse. Oh! And it is not only the harmful instincts we can justify. We can do the same with anything we want. I find no misuse of intellect by you. Of course I may not be smart enough to do so.

  47. Accountability in Australia - a good thing:

  48. I don't know if you were being facetious or not with your comment regarding poll workers in District 1 wearing Trump shirts and hats or any other kind of paraphenalia, but assuimg you were not, if you see that again, report them to the Secretary of the Division of Elections.
    It is a violation of Florida law for anyone to do that inside of a polling place. Am providing the link below for the Division of Elections Rules for the State of Florida. FYI. See page 5. See also, Section 104.31, Florida Statutes.


  49. Thank you so very much for making this point so powerfully. It shouldn't take a graduate education in philosophical ethics to notice that people are using the idea that they ARE "responsible gun owners" in order to PREVENT anyone's holding them actually responsible for their actions regarding their guns. You aren't responsible in a vaccuum-- the very word RESPONSE implies a relationship between two subjects. Sure, a moral person holds himself responsible... but that doesn't allow us to dodge the entire system of morality that depends on others holding us accountable.

    It's beyond obvious to me that the primary difference between the United States and other first world countries is the cavalier disregard we permit for gun negligence. We don't HOLD people accountable for their insane disregard for gun safety rules, because oh, everyone "makes mistakes" and isn't it "unfair" to blame the parents who are already suffering so much because their son took their unsecured, loaded gun and committed suicide a la Columbine?

    Every person who relies on arguments like this is afraid he might get in trouble someday because he doesn't keep his guns secure. And he's trying desperately to pretend that his own negligence shouldn't matter as long as he, personally, doesn't "consciously decide" to murder someone, you know, with malice aforethought. But he isn't lax, or irresponsible, oh noes! He's tough on all those irresponsible criminals, "they" ought to all suffer more!

    In case you're still wondering what on earth he means by leniency, given that almost every surviving school shooter is in prison... he is pretending that American prison is leniency and we are "too nice" to prisoners. He probably has circulated that inflammatory email with the prison menu, claiming that American prisoners are eating too well. Personally, I don't get why people who are upset by the prison menu being better than what poor people can afford aren't more upset by the ridiculous poverty we allow, rather than convinced that inmates are being spoiled by the cafeteria.

    Why don't we enforce negligence laws when it comes to firearms? Do you know why? Are we really that sentimentally idiotic as a society, that we won't enforce laws against negligence if we see the negligent person as already "hurt enough"? Or are there really SO many people voting who are personally negligent with firearms and scared of being held to account? MORE scared of being held responsible than they are of being shot, say, by their own toddler when he pulls that .38 out of the purse that sits next to him daily on the carseat?

    Why do we allow this? Is it some basic cultural fact about right wing America, that we define being a good man by readiness to pull a trigger to "defend me and mine", and thus respond to any restrictions on guns as though they were restrictions preventing men from being good men?

    Anyway, that's enough guessing at a question I don't know the answer for. Thanks again for making the essential point that RESPONSIBLE people don't dodge being HELD responsible, and if you're using the claim that you're a responsible gun owner as an excuse, shrugging your shoulders about accidents being no one's fault... you are the problem.

    And I am reminded to go update my Patreon account since I have a new credit card number :)

  50. I'm a 66 year old, recently retired public school teacher. I've been waiting for weeks to get to the polls tomorrow and vote for John Tester to represent my state again. I know it's just the primaries, but these elections are the ones that really count. The local and state elections are really where my voice can be heard. I didn't read the whole posting. Get out there and vote. Maybe most of the people who read your blog are the voters and the non voters . . . I don't know, maybe they each have what they think is a good reason to not vote, but they really don't. I've never missed a single election since I became eligible to vote. I used to do it with pride and hope. Now I do it out of desperation, but I still vote every single election.

  51. As a flaming liberal, I have at least had the sense to realize that gun control, as in gun confiscation, is not going to happen. The past decade I have tried to talk up gun responsibility. Have found the same responses as you.

    One point I would add to your rant #14: while you correctly equate responsibility with accountability, my own personal mantra is "responsibility without authority is bullshit." Authority, that is, to do whatever responsibility requires.

  52. I believe the argument is even stronger (if possible) when we look at the number of toddlers and extremely young children who get a hold of loaded firearms then shoot themselves or someone else.
    Often the legal firearm owner is not charged with any crime.
    Even though it's pretty clear negligence. If you can't keep a toddler from accessing your firearm you have no business owning a firearm. Period. Lets face it, the very least you should be able to do as a responsible gun owner is keep it out of the hands of a toddler.
    In pretty much any other first world country that firearm owner would be facing charges, regardless if anyone was shot and killed.
    In most he'd have his firearms taken away because he's shown him or herself to be irresponsible.

    In the USA it's just another day ending in the letter 'Y'.

  53. Rereading this, I was enjoying your point by point rebuttal of "Tony's" argument and thought "this is like shooting fish in a barrel". And it occurred to me; in the age of the internet one no longer needs to construct straw men, the construct themselves and then conveniently deliver themselves to your doorstep, wrapped in a ribbon and bow.

    Doesn't invalidate your logic though, you chose, as you said, one of the more articulate ones. And the lord and lady know, I've heard enough of these manly men evading responsibility before.

  54. I was trained in graduate school by an enormously intelligent and perceptive woman whose specialty was "moral responsibility", the fruitful and accurate comprehension thereof. So it's second nature to note what meanings people are employing, and what they're working hard to duck. when they use the term; and it's been a constant over the last decades to hear gun nuts insisting that "gun owners are responsible" SPECIFICALLY TO AVOID the threat of... ACTUAL accountability. They will scream how responsible gun owners are and never, ever answer the question "What about the ones who aren't?" Or, as you point out, shift the goalposts incessantly to change the ground from responsibility, as this idiot does when trying to make accountability depend on "conscious intention" so as long as he never intends to murder anybody, nothing he does or does not do with his guns can ever be a problem. You could also point out the pernicious linguistic sleight of hand "conservatives" rely on to transform any consequence into "punishment"; as long as I'm not a conscious murderer then I can't be asked to do anything to prevent mass murder, not even jump through any hoops to prove I'm not a likely mass murderer, so that people who ARE likely to shoot up schools won't clear the hurdles! Nope, nope, you and everyone else have to ASSUME I'm responsible and that however I behave with firearms is just dandy as long as I don't personally commit mass murder; therefore there are no gun safety standards at all other than "being not a conscious killer" and we all have to agree that the carnage caused by mass *irresponsibility* with guns is regrettable "accidental" bloodshed.

    This is NOT the cost of freedom; it is the cost of stupidity, irresponsibility, and an American 'gun culture' made up of men determined to use whatever mental powers they possess only to excuse themselves for both.

    How can anyone with even marginal sanity imagine "making the penalties for the actual criminal worse" will deter school shooters who have already decided to die that day? Do these idiots imagine that mass shooters think they will stroll out, when so many of them KILL THEMSELVES after they've gone through with their ecstatic self-assertion via AR-15?

    The only people I have heard tie responsibility into knots as tortured as those tied by gun nuts are evangelical preachers caught molesting teenage girls. When they're caught fondling the underage parishioners, these guys will turn the PUBLIC ATTENTION into an "attack on religion" and themselves into the "victims" of Sin and the Devil (as represented by, of course, Temptress Lolita) and claim their molesting the kid was REALLY the Devil attacking Christ, and so everybody has to forget about it RIGHT NOW or you're "helping Satan hurt God".


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