STORMY WEATHER

Americans have the unique ability to think about mass murder and spree killing the same way they conceptualize natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes; it's just a thing that happens and can't be stopped. When it strikes there's nothing we can do except hold a vigil, say "Oh, how awful", donate something to the survivors, and go about our day. Usually within about a week we manage to forget it ever happened, and then a few months later the cycle repeats itself.

There is no sense in the wake of these tragedies that it is possible to do anything to prevent them from recurring because, like many other issues in our political process, one half of the potential means to address the problem are completely off the table. The only acceptable solution is more guns, more bullets, more firepower, more high-capacity magazines, and endless complaining about the meager, ineffectual regulations in place (background checks, etc.) that stop only the dumbest and least creative criminals. The media and political process inevitably conclude that, gee, if only more people in the theater had been armed they could have shot back…and, uh, hit the attacker in the dark, smoke-filled theater amidst all the panic and confusion.

Oh, he was covered in body armor? Hmm. I guess it's time to legalize more firepower. Concealed carry permits and armor-piercing ammunition for all!

Despite the fact that the "Armed citizens are the best first responders!" argument fails in a half-dozen different ways in this instance – the attack was over in the blink of an eye, the film goers were taken completely by surprise, they were likely unable to see the gunman let alone shoot him, and he would be unharmed by handgun ammunition anyway – it is still all we will hear in response. Like the only solution to economic questions is lower taxes, the only answer to crime, especially gun crime, is more guns. More, more, more. Someday we'll have enough to be safe. But not yet.

The most baffling part about the logic of the NRA-led response is that it is based on a premise that is ignored as soon as it is established. The argument is that guns don't kill people – unhinged or evil people do. OK. Let's accept that premise in full. Why, then, does the NRA fight so hard to make it easier for evil or unhinged people to have access to things like high powered ammunition and large magazines? If the world is full of the scary people they blame for gun crime, these things only serve to make them more efficient killers. We are told that people like the Columbine killers were so full of hatred and violence that if they had no guns they would have used other weapons…and then we are not allowed to point out that they wouldn't have managed to kill a dozen people with a knife. The AR-15 with a 30-round clip didn't make the guy in Aurora, Colorado a killer. It just ensured that he would be really good at it. Change the elements in the equation – weaker ammunition, smaller magazines, a less powerful rifle – and there are fewer casualties. Period.

Second, if the world is full of loons who want to kill their fellow man and we are not allowed to take away their guns (indeed, we are required to give them every possible tool for upping the body count) then I have an alternative. Congress should pass a law that anyone in the U.S., resident or otherwise, can present himself at any hospital, religious institution, or police/fire department and request immediate inpatient psychiatric care at no cost and with legal protection against job loss for missed time. People don't snap and become killers overnight; it is usually a long process of isolation, depression, plotting, and desensitization to violence. Why not attempt to intervene when they first have the thought, "Maybe I should kill a bunch of people in a theater" rather than letting it progress to the point that the idea is palatable, even normal? Of course this wouldn't help everyone. There are those who would not accept mental health treatment even at no cost. However, it would stop a few people who might otherwise become violent. Seems like it might be worth the cost, no?

Oh, right. That would be socialized medicine, and the AM airwaves and internet comment sections would fill to bursting with warnings about freeloaders faking it to get a free vacation on the taxpayers' dime. I guess we'll stick with the status quo, and our defense against heavily armed mass murderers will be the vigilante fantasies of adult children who feel powerful when armed and thus foster the illusion that guns are making them safe.

Be Sociable, Share!

57 Responses to “STORMY WEATHER”

  1. Bryan Says:

    I disagree about making guns harder to get. I'm very pro-gun (even though I don't actually own any) but even so, I considered your idea. The problem is that until a crazy guy commits a crime, we typically don't know they're crazy. I'm all for banning criminals from owning, but usually by then it's too late. They've already committed the crime. There's no way to tell if someone is "the wrong guy to own a gun" until they've gone and shot someone. Well, no way that can't easily be applied to a law-abiding, safe citizen.
    Your "free psyciatric care" idea is a good one (and original too) but combined wit hthe guin control idea, not so much. Would someone want this care if it meant they were automatically labelled "a risk" and were told they couldn't own a gun anymore? There's always consequences to seeking help. I once went to Mental Health (in the Army) because I had been feeling depressed lately (nothing major), and had always been told to not internalize it. "There's no shame in getting help" and all that.
    Well, a year later it's time to renew my security clearance, and it came up. They already had the file, why the need to question me about it? And if it had blocked my clearance from being approved, I would've likely been pu out of the Army. So now I know better than to seek help, apparently.
    Anyway, back to the point. Telling people it's okay to get help is all well and good, but it always gets used against them, and nobody wants that. Even if they never would have been violent, they'll still get treated as defective. And it feels like a backdoor way to declare them "not fit for gun ownership."
    That's just my opinion, though.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    My wife and I got into an argument over this one, and you're not going to like me mid-way through this anecdote, so just let me say up-front that I'm kind of hateful in this story, but I am utterly humiliated and repentant by the end. So, you know, slack, please.

    She said, "Isn't this awful?"

    I said, "Is it?" (But real nasty and bitter-like, which I get when I'm about to mount my highest of horses.)

    She said, "Of course it is! How can you say that?!" (She is, did I mention, a human being with a heart and soul as well as a brain, which puts her two up on me.)

    I said, "Because when something awful happens–when something really fucking awful happens–things change as a result. The Triangle Shirtwaist fire happens, and safety regulations get rigorously enforced. Something awful happened, something changed. That's how you know it's awful. But nothing's going to fucking change here–America will never, never, and I mean *never* give up its guns. And the degree to which Americans love their guns is in perfect proportion to the degree to which they do not give a shit about their crazies. Enough sane people use guns for sane purposes for the fanatics to hide behind when this sort of thing happens, and we will never be allowed to have a reasonable debate on the matter, not when neither side will acknowledge the merits of the other's perspective. So monsters will always get their hands on a easy means to mass murder, the end. And so what? As far as America is concerned, Aurora is the cost of keeping something they love, and they'll tut-tut a bit, and a few will send stuffed bears and mylar balloons to the theater, and next week, no one will remember or care, because hey, this is what happens. So don't tell me it's awful–how can it be awful when nobody cares?" (I know–I suck. But don't worry–I'm about to get my comeuppance.)

    My wife then proceeded to explain to me, in quite thorough and expressive language, exactly how much of a dickhead I was/am, because I failed to account for the agony of the parents, partners, children of the victims–the terrible pain of the wounded–the degree to which so much suffering was visited upon so many, and that something can be awful without prompting an outcome that I, from my vantage point of snotty objectivity, consider acceptable. She then reiterated her point about my being a dickhead, and added a number of other remarks in which she compared me to other bodily parts, none of them flattering.

    She was, of course, right, and after we'd cooled off, I told her so, and apologized. She accepted my apology, and confessed that some of her anger was provoked by the realization that my premise–that nothing would change because of this–was correct, and that it would therefore happen again and again, and she was not OK with that.

    Then we went for a walk and didn't say very much, just held hands. And at the end I hit her up with my favorite passage from my favorite poem:

    Ah, love, let us be true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.

    Yep. That.

  3. eau Says:

    I have a lot of sympathy for those affected by this mass shooting, as I do for victims of past mass shootings. But it is galling that, as noted, the USA will learn nothing from this.

    I ahve no doubt that various versions of Dryden's tale are playing out all over your great nation. And the end result will be (as Ed noted) vigils, tears, and fuck all else.

  4. The Mad Dreamer Says:

    "And it feels like a backdoor way to declare them 'not fit for gun ownership.'"

    Well, humanity is clearly unfit for gun ownership.

    How fucked is it that we have the NRA, defending the rights of the individual to keep and bear arms – any arms – if they can fit them in their arms? What possible civilian use do tear gas canisters and guns like an AR-15 serve? What possible reason could anyone look at that weapon and say "Yeah, this should be available outside the military (or similar)"? We are talking about weapons which are useless for hunting, useless for sport, and ultimately only useful as a means of killing a lot of people very fast.

    No, humanity does not deserve to have its guns. Any of them. We're too stupid to handle them and we really seem to like the ones that only exist to ensure that we won't.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    Never mind innocent kids, never mind innocent adults, never mind cops and emergency workers…

    I

  6. c u n d gulag Says:

    Ok, let's try this again:

    Never mind innocent kids, never mind innocent adults, never mind cops and emergency workers…

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way we’ll get real gun control, is when people start shooting rich people and their bosses in the home, the streets, and their workplaces – and more than one politician at a time, like Congresswoman Giffords, who was a Democrat, and easily poo-poo’d by the right and the NRA because neither SHE nor nor her staff was packing heat.

    Also, let someone go into NRA HQ’s and shoot and kill a few dozen people, and we may hear them singing a different tune – I’m sure not everyone working there is packing heat, and can kill him, 'Dirty Harry"-style – especially if the shooter is wearing full body-armor.

    Guns are too accessible for that NOT to start to happen sometime soon – especially if this economy gets worse, and people get more desperate.

    Believe me, I’m not advocating that.
    I’m just saying that until the rich and the politicians become targets for people with easy access to guns, and lax, if any, gun laws, the song will remain the same – a dirge.

    PS: I like the idea of free, inpatient psychiatric care.
    Most deranged people won't do it – but any that do, may help to prevent future senseless slaughters.
    The problem with starting and continuing the program, is, 'how does it quantify success?' In today's data and productivity driven world, a program that can't quantify success, is not going to last long. Sadly…

  7. Drivebyposter Says:

    I never, NEVER see this bit hypocrisy pointed out to people.
    The Constitution protects the right to bear arms etc. and is interpreted very widely but doesn't cover weapons 100%.

    EVERYONE agrees there are limits to this freedom. Almost no one thinks the average person should have the right to own nerve gas or plant land mines in their yard. There are reasonable limitations we all agree to. But suddenly when you go "maybe people shouldn't be able to get things that really are only useful in killing large numbers of people quickly" is placing restrictions unconstitutional? These same people largely agree that restrictions should exist but draw the line whereverthefuck and decide that is the end all be all of constitutionality because the phrase "right to bear arms." They obviously agree it doesn't mean any and all arms. How do they not realize they themselves are ok with some restrictions on the 2nd Amendment but throw up roadblocks to other restrictions with the justification that "restrictions is unconstatooshnal." I wish I could see this point made more often in gun debates. Or maybe it is and I just miss it.

    But I would like to add that there really is no other use for a high capacity magazine than for killing a lot of people quickly. They frequently malfunction because they tend to be poorly designed and made by companies other than those that produced the gun in the first place (go to gun forums and you'll be able to find people trying to figure out which brands of extended magazines to get/avoid due to malfunctions).

    This tendency to fail makes them worthless for self defense. They won't necessarily fail, but anyone betting their life on a roll of the dice instead of reloading behind cover is a loon. Most guns that get extended mags aren't hunting rifles, aren't rifles used for hunting, or are pistols. Extended magazines for pistols tend to be not worth the effort for people who carry daily since the snag on things and jut out. I don't even need to explain why they are unnecessary for target practice.

    If you can't defend yourself/kill whatever game you're shooting at with the quantity of rounds the weapon was designed to hold, then you are either over your head or you're too incompetent with it to be using it in the first place.

  8. Mike S. Says:

    yo, stuff like this is why I love ginandtacos:
    "and with legal protection against job loss for missed time"

    that's exactly what needed to be said and is EXACTLY what the right-wing authoritarians – who necessarily prey upon the politics of fear (and, similarly, the discriminatory hiring practices of fear) – could never countenance.

    the parties whose profit margins are dependent upon exploitation of excess labor will never agree to such a thing; they will always demonize such persons as too great a risk to ever hire, and that will prevent such persons from taking advantage of such protections… b/c any idiot can see how hard it is to prove such discrimination against protected practices today, such as work-force unionization.

    bottom line: those who control the levers of power are motivated solely by $$$ and certainly not by common sense, common decency or the general welfare.

    we, as a society, are fubar b/c the human race is a wretched, execrable thing.

  9. Arslan Says:

    Just this morning I got to hear the infamous Swiss argument. This is where some ignorant gun enthusiast tells us about how low Switzerland's murder rate is despite every male being required to own an assault rifle. What these morons don't bother to check is that these rifles are issued by the government, and the ammunition is under lock and key with a seal. Break that seal without authorization and you face some severe penalties. Some have actually done that in order to murder someone, though in general it's rare. More importantly, private gun ownership in Switzerland requires a license. Do you see the NRA advocating gun licensing? I don't think so.

    Let's face it. These shootings are just as rare as any terrorist attack. But as I took my seat in the cinema last Saturday it occurred to me how I would never have to worry about such a thing happening in my new home country, because guns are virtually banned.

  10. Isaac Says:

    For fuck's sake. How come nobody ever says it? Maybe the Constitutional "right to bear arms" is an antiquated bad idea from a time when the first step to preparing a piece of land for farming was to kill all the native flora and fauna… including any annoying dark-skinned people who happened to be living on it.

  11. Anonymouse Says:

    I am weary of the NRA and the wingnuts' insistence that had THEY personally been in the theater with their concealed-carry gun, they personally would have been able to blow the guy away (in a dark, noisy movie theater filled with smoke).

    This from the same idiots who stand slack-jawed and unaware in the middle of the supermarket aisle, oblivious to the people around them who can't get past. This from the same idiots who can't put their cellphones down long enough to avoid walking into trees, parked cars, and fountains. Despite their Walter Mitty hallucinations, they are not super-men.

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    Isaac,
    Let's apply some logic to the 2nd Amendment.

    It was written, and the Constitution was ratified, in the late 18th Century.

    What about applying "ORIGINALISM" to that 2nd Amendment?

    My suggestion is muskets for hunters, and flint-lock pistols instead of handguns.

    Hey, they were good enough for out Founding Fathers, weren't they?

    Burr killed Hamilton with a flint-lock, not a Glock.

    And when the FF hunted, they used muskets to kill game.

    That takes a lot more skill than sitting-up in a deer-stand, wearing camo, doused in deer musk, with sandwiches and beer in a cooler, coffee in a jumbo-Thermos, with a rifle and scope that can shoot the pecker off a Mayfly at 300 yards.

    And no more compound bow's, with all sorts of levers and scopes, that are priced at about what a small car was 20 years ago – and high-tech arrows that each cost as much as a Ping golf club.

    Today's hunters are pansies compared to their late 18th Century counterparts.

    And so are today's home owners!
    Back a century or so ago, and even longer, home invasions were often by hordes of pissed-off Native Americans who were ready to scalp you and yours for taking their land – and not two drunken and high losers, intent on taking your HDTV and I-Pads, who thought you weren't home and broke in.with a crowbar.

    And now, on top of everything else, many state's now have "Stand Your Ground Laws." which basically say it's ok to kill anyone who looks suspicious if they come on your propert – as long as you felt properly threatened.
    Maybe when some drunken or high moron kill s Girl Scout selling cookies door-to-door, we can have a serious conversation about this latest law advocating gun irresponsibility and the slaughter of innocents?

    No, probably not.
    The NRA will advocate that Girl Scouts pack heat, and wear Kevlar outfits.

  13. buckyblue Says:

    One of the stories from the Gifford's shooting I remember was of a guy who was across the street when it happened. He was packing so pulled out his gun and ran across the street to 'help'. He saw someone running and was about to shoot him, but didn't. It turns out that guy who about got his ass shot from Joe the Hero apprehended the killer, unarmed. These dbags actually think that the average citizen will be able to make decisions and shoot in situations where cops train for and anticipate all the time. And the cops still often times underperform, freeze up, or make the wrong call i.e. shoot some unarmed dark skinned immigrant in the back 47 times. More delusions from delusional people.

  14. comrade x Says:

    1) The AR- 15 platform is a very accurate rifle that is used for hunting and target shooting.
    2) 20 and 30 round magazines ( not CLIPS for fuck's sake- a clip is a strip of metal holding 5 to 10 rounds and were utilized to reload rifles your great, great grandfather carried when he went over the top in 1918 ) are also used in target shooting- ones that involve rapid, accurate fire.
    3) 20 and 30 round magazines function just fine as long as the user does not load them with cheap ass Russian steel cased ammo.
    4) There are plenty of instances where a CCW permit holder has stopped a shooter but the circumstances of this case made it highly unlikely. And the actual number of wannabe cops out there is actually quite low- notice the restraint of the armed civilian in the Giffords shooting ( you know, the guy that was lambasted here right after that tragedy happened ). What it comes down to is in the right circumstances a firearm can stop a murderer, but mass shootings rarely allow that to happen.
    5) We could have reasonable gun control in this country if the goddam NRA was not a gigantic club that the GOP uses to beat fear into the heads of conservative gun owners. But then, when was the last time reason was used by the citizens of this country?

  15. Mr. Prosser Says:

    Why do I keep thinking most concealed weapon carriers faced with a real shooting situation would react exactly like Fredo in the Godfather when his father was shot?

  16. PattyP Says:

    Another thing both sides in the gun debate usually forget is that the 2nd Amendment explicitly calls for a well-*regulated* militia.

  17. Archery Journal Says:

    Interesting and informative post. Thank you for your effort. Two things I like about the post, one it is straight forward and two it does not attempt to promote anyone's position particularly. Well put Ed.

  18. bb in GA Says:

    @Isaac

    "…to kill all the native flora and fauna… including any annoying dark-skinned people who happened to be living on it."

    A little history…the first serious gun restriction laws in the US were "aimed" at the newly freed Black Americans, you know, those "annoying dark-skinned people."

    //bb

  19. Admiral_Komack Says:

    Bloomberg To Obama, Romney: Man Up On Gun Control

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday demanded that the two candidates for president step up and explain how they intend to avoid future tragedies like the horrific shootings in Aurora, Colo.

  20. Bentpine Says:

    Y'all just don't understand.

    The wingnut faction think they need access to all varieties of firearms possible in case, you know, the South needs to rise again.
    Or they need to stage a coup.
    Or terrorists / immigrants.
    Or a la Zimmerman: "I feel it was all God's plan and it's not for me to second guess it or judge it… "
    Or whatever.

    Of course the kicker is, these same people are screaming Fry him! Electric chair! Rot in Hell! with nary a thought to reasonable, preventative gun control measures.

    NRA messaging is scary shit.

  21. Middle Seaman Says:

    Let s face it no sane county allows people to carry guns. This is nut! The constitution doesn't support it either. It doesn't support person companies either.

    As a person who shot at people and killed in war- shotting accurately ain't a cake walk.

    NRA gas banks control us. We aren't a functioning coutry anymore; we are a failed state.

  22. Admiral_Komack Says:

    Bloomberg To Obama, Romney: Man Up On Gun Control

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday demanded that the two candidates for president step up and explain how they intend to avoid future tragedies like the horrific shootings in Aurora, Colo.

    “This really is an enormous problem for the country, and it’s up to these two presidential candidates,” he said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “They want to lead this country and they’ve said things before that they’re in favor of banning things like assault weapons. Where are they now, and why don’t they stand up? If they want our votes, they better.”

    Bloomberg noted that President Obama and Mitt Romney have previously backed measures to limit the sale of deadly weapons, accusing both of them of going soft on the cause in the face of political pressure.

    “The governor has apparently changed his views and the president has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue — or if he’s facing it I don’t know anybody that’s seen him face it.”

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/07/michael-bloomberg-accuses-obama-romney-of-going-soft-on-gun-control.php

    -Such courage from Mr. "Outlaw Big Gulp"!

    What have you done about gun deaths in your city?

    Be specific.

    Where have you been the last three years?

    If President Obama did what you asked:

    1) Republicans will do what they do best: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
    Remember, Mitch McConnell wants President Obama to be a one-term President.
    Positions that Republicans have supported in years past (debt limits) are opposed now when President Obama promotes them.

    2) The Democrats aren't much better; they don't support the President.
    They have the attitude of "he's not the boss of ME!"

    And IF the President were to do what YOU asked, would YOU support him?

    Would you use political capital to support him, or would you sit on the sidelines, sniping: "Oh, he isn't doing it the way I would do it, 'cause I'd get RESULTS!"

    3) Willard "Two-Face" Romney wants votes from the nut-job fringe, so he won't do anything about gun-control.

    Michael Bloomberg needs to drink a two-liter Coke, smile, and shut the fuck up!

  23. Major Kong Says:

    @bb

    I think he was referring to the other "annoying dark-skinned people" who were living here around that time. I think they were called "Cherokee" down in your neck of the woods.

    Or as comedian Chris Rock put it:

    Suppose I'm out "exploring" in your neighborhood and I "discover" your house and decide to "colonize" it. Of course I have to kill you and your family because you're "savages". See? I'm not a burglar I'm a "pioneer".

  24. sluggo Says:

    An alarm on that fire door would have stopped the whole thing. I mean, the theater owner has a vested interest in stopping people from sneaking into the theater!!!!

    He bought a ticket, went out the fire door, PROPPED IT OPEN, and sneaked back in.
    Security 101.

  25. Davis X. Machina Says:

    The wingnut faction think they need access to all varieties of firearms possible in case, you know, the South needs to rise again.

    American firearms policy is essentially written by the ghosts of Toussaint Louvreture and Nat Turner.

  26. Major Kong Says:

    OK, so let's just suppose that I was in that theater with my hypothetical "carry gun" (I don't actually carry) which would probably be my Kimber compact-frame .45 auto.

    Now, I'm a pretty good shot. In the Air Force I always qualified "expert" on the range. I've shot 1-inch groups at 20 feet with a handgun.

    So, in a dark smoke-filled theater with bullets whizzing by, I'm somehow going to pick the shooter out of the crowd and get a clear shot around the hundreds of scattering bystanders.

    And even if the stars all line up like this – I'm still badly out-ranged, out-gunned and out-armored. Because even a .45 auto is still pretty wimpy compared to a rifle or shotgun. There's a reason infantrymen are armed with rifles.

    So even if my some miracle I manage a hit – against body armor it's probably going to be ineffective and if you think you could pull off a head-shot under those conditions you're a better man than I.

    Then of course I'd probably get shot by some other armed vigilante or by the police who are arriving on the scene.

    Now back to reality. My real reaction would be trying to tear the buttons off my shirt so I could get lower to the floor than I already was.

  27. Chicagojon Says:

    Like the only solution to economic questions is lower taxes, the only answer to crime, especially gun crime, is more guns. More, more, more. Someday we'll have enough to be safe. But not yet.
    Don't forget that the only solution to campaign spending limits is to remove them/spend more money and the only solution to securing oil & other natural resources is through war and installing governments.

    The US government playbook is like the NFL before the forward pass — they'll give you whatever you want as long as it's a run.

  28. Jaime Says:

    Hey Comrade X -

    thanks for playing the inevitable gun-clown pedant WRT "magazine NOT clip if you please". Target shooting? Really? It may be my admittedly limited exposure, but I've never seen any internationally-sanctioned sport shooting events where the firearms looked ANYTHING like combat arms – except for skeet, where they look to me like fairly stock shotguns.

  29. B'ham Guy Says:

    Since the shooting I've read that it was caused because (A) God is angry at America about abortion; (B) God is angry about at America about gay marriage; (C) God is angry at the DNC; (D) the shooter was depressed that he couldn't find a job in Obama's shitty economy; (E) the whole thing was a plot masterminded by the Obama campaign to distract attention away from Romney; (E) and, lest you think I'm only picking on conservatives, it's Obama's fault for not passing the assault weapons ban.
    And they always follow up with "How DARE you accuse ME of politicizing this tragedy?!?"

  30. acer Says:

    I'm optimistic about psychiatric treatment gaining more mainstream acceptance. In the last 100 years or so, we've gone from sanitariums to Freudianism to effective, measurable treatments and large-scale destigmatization. Getting mental health counseling is almost seen as courageous now. Some completely isolated loons won't seek it out, obvs, but society can keep pushing them in that direction.

    I'm less optimistic about gun control in America. The more horrifying things like this happen, the more some of us cling to adolescent video game revenge fantasies. The less we trust the authorities who pack heat for a living. The more we like to think we could stop a deranged one-man army like this guy.

  31. comrade x Says:

    @ Jaime:
    " It may be my admittedly limited exposure…"
    Exactly.

  32. Da Moose Says:

    A network anchor said the other night that we never get used to this. I beg to differ. When the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre occurred in 1984, it was a total shock to me as a 12 year old. (incidentally, that massacre occurred on July 18th). And I remember the news and pundits talking about it for months. In retrospect, that '84 massacre was a watershed moment for our culture, because it was the first in a string that continues to this day (the Texas tower sniper not withstanding) of literally dozens of mass shootings. In my opinion, these mass shootings are indicative not necessarily of gun laws gun awry but of the mental health of our society gone awry. Ironically, the extreme individualism in this country has created an environment of isolation for many which then facilitates the need to enact perhaps the most individualistic act know to us other than suicide, the act of mass murder. So, when an anchor comes on TV and enlists some faux shock to retain viewers, my reaction now is that this is Americana. Applie pie, lemonade, cheese burgers, mass shootings. Welcome to America; keep your head down you fat ignorant fucks!

  33. Chicagojon Says:

    Two thoughts on guns and gun control:

    1. I spent some time this weekend pondering the phrase 'gun shy'. I don't know the etymology of it (though Miriam-Webster says it was first used in 1884) but it's fascinating to think being startled, hesitant, or even afraid of a weapon that has an will continue to kill hundreds of millions is described as "shy". The 2nd definition is being distrustful, afraid, or cautious. Again, given what guns have done and will do I'll continue to be distrustful, afraid and cautious thank-you-very-much.

    Gun shy may be a 1884 jock term for calling out wimps/nerds (read: smarter people)

    2. As a Chicago suburbanite I'd just like to say fuck you to everyone/anyone calling for assault rifle bans in response to this or any other terrorist attack. 296 people have killed in homicides in Chicago this year and 1409 people shot (per crimeinchicago.blogspot.com) – practically all from handguns. Fuck you and your assault weapons bans — assault weapons are shit compared to the damage done by handguns. Any assault rifle restrictions or bans as a result of a tragedy such as this are no better than laws named after dead little white girls.

    I don't care what kind of guns people have, I simply I want the power for local legislature to enact laws regarding weaponry suitable to the specific needs of the legislated area. The lesson here is not to question specific types of guns, it's to question what to do about the culture of guns and violence. As long as the SCOTUS has its current makeup the ability to legislate around gun issues is overly limited.

  34. JohnR Says:

    It's even simpler than you imagine: humans are the only suicidal animal. We just want to take everything and everybody else with us. That seems to be the strongest argument for Original Sin that I know of.

  35. Rosalux Says:

    I come at this as a Colorado resident. We've been here before, with Columbine. It's been 13 years since Columbine and children are still dying when they don't need to be.

    Rage does not begin to describe my feelings this weekend. What kind of white-hot, seething, boiling-point anger is beyond rage?

    How many kids have to die? (There was a 6-year old girl among the victims). How many children have to be sacrificed at the altar of a delusional ideology? 400? 500? 1000? I want an exact number from the NRA. If 300,000 children were gunned down, then would it be enough? 400,000? What is the limit? How many parents need to grieve the wasted corpses of their murdered children so we can all have access to semi-automatic assault rifles? The "more guns, less crime" argument is laughable. The 2nd Amendment argument is outlandish.

    But none of that matters in our current politics. All that matters is that the NRA has major "pull" on capitol hill. And so this will keep happening.

  36. Chicagojon Says:

    @Da Moose
    In retrospect, that '84 massacre was a watershed moment for our culture, because it was the first in a string that continues to this day
    This set of alarm bells in my head. We're roughly the same age and I suspect you're recalling this as a watershed moment because you were 12 and people may have protected you from news of previous mass killings. From what I can find it's generally true that mass killings increased in the 1970's no matter how you define them (as did the at large murder rate) but 1984 wasn't the first. One guy (link below) defined a mass killing as "attacks leading to the deaths of at least five people, including the killer's suicide" and found 3 incidents between 1930-1970, 3 in the 70's, 10 in the 80's, 17 in the 90's and 25 in the 00's (as of April 2009)

    I agree with your conclusion of the mental health of society gone awry, but I'm prepared to heap a whole lot of blame on The Cold War(TM) particularly as performed by Reagan, and the War on Drugs. I think an us vs. them mentality is at the core of this and many issues with the mental health of america(ns).

    Source to mass killings 1930-2009:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=7288842#.UA2Bac2PXng

    Hegemonic Masculinity and Mass Murderers in the United States might be worth a read:

  37. Zak44 Says:

    Why is it that the rightwingers who get their bowels in an uproar over social policies they think will make us "like Europe" have no problem with gun laws that make us like Somalia?

  38. Da Moose Says:

    @Chicagojon,

    Yes, of course. I wrote that knowing that there were previous mass killings and, yes, it's probably true that it was really only a watershed moment for me based upon my age at the time. I do agree with your points.

    It's difficult not to be depressed and discouraged by the state of our country. I am unemployed right now because I quit a high paying consultancy gig working in support of high ranking federal officials just below the appointee level (career bureaucrats) in downtown DC. I quit the job because, after many years of being completely disgusted by the apathy, sycophantic nature, zero accountability, dull witted nature, I recently found myself in meetings wondering if there was some massive joke being played on me due to the deep and intense nature of the idiocy that encountered at the top. The higher you get in the federal bureaucracy the dumber they get because no one with any amount of creative thinking ability would ever have voluntarily subjected themselves over the length of an entire career to the amount of hypocrisy (Obama's a socialist but let me collect my DoD pension while I work as a civilian government executive) that I witnessed. Knowing the incontrovertible truth that our government is "run" by the dumbest among us makes me know for a fact and absolute certainty that there is zero hope for our country in it's current form. In an institutionalized environment where status quo preservation is the only priority, there is not substantive issue that will ever be addressed. The only thing I do now is try to figure out how I can forget what I've witnessed and hope that someday Americans actively decide to re-establish a governing system that works again.

  39. mothra Says:

    I don't even need to explain why they are unnecessary for target practice.

    Dude here at work argues that tons of people LOVE to get their ya-yas out by shooting off tons of ammunition at shooting ranges. It's a hobby! It's fun! Like the quote from a gun range dude in Colorado at the end of the NY Times article on how easy it was for this guy to buy up tons of ammunition: "I call 6000 rounds of ammunition running low." Yes, this guy apparently said that with zero degree of irony.

  40. mel in oregon Says:

    there's something else unmentioned in the article or all the comments. wayne lapierre always infuriates me after any multiple killing. but the NRA always refuses any attempt to at least make AR15s or 100 round magazines or drums hard to get. now being cherokee & having been raised by hunters that go back probably thousands of generations, i naturally love hunting & fishing. the unmentioned part is most people that comment on here are progressive & probably most have a degree or at least some college. the people that like guns the most though in most cases, don't have any higher education. yet they do the hardest jobs around, logging, coal mining, iron workers, fishing in very dangerous waters. they almost all, like me love hunting & fishing. i'm probably to the left politically to anyone that writes articles on rortybomb or any commenters. but the one difference between me & most writers, is i understand why the "workers" are so damn conservative. everything they get is being whittled down, their pay, their benefits, etc. but everything they need is being raised out of reach, their home equity, lost outsourced jobs, food costs rising, gas going back up. so if we could figure out a way of converting these folks to our way of thinking, we might be able to get worthwhile legislation passed, & stop tragedies from occuring. RIP alexander cockburn.

  41. CaptBackslap Says:

    "we, as a society, are fubar b/c the human race is a wretched, execrable thing."

    Pretty much. The best piece of evidence that our existence is actual, and not some sort of simulation, is that if humanity was an experiment, I couldn't picture any university's ethics panel allowing it to continue this long.*

    *this sentence is pretty much batting practice for anyone unafraid to hear "too soon."

  42. Justin Jordan Says:

    "Change the elements in the equation

  43. DB Says:

    @B'ham Guy

    I've also seen a bunch of right wing loons claiming that the shooting was engineered by teh guvment to help pave the way for the US signing the UN arms treaty.

  44. jeffteaches Says:

    @Comrade x:

    I don't know you, but I have to cry "bullshit" and then I have to agree with you.

    "The AR- 15 platform is a very accurate rifle that is used for hunting and target shooting." Hunting? I am 50. I grew up in central Georgia, where the deer are so populous that I have hit 5 of them with various cars over the years. Everybody hunts. I have never known anyone to hunt with a .223. People I know who own them DO target shoot, but never hunt with them.

    Quite a few of these people also own AK variants/knockoffs but, again, not for hunting.

    Pointing out the difference between clips and magazines on a political website like this is just pedantic and best reserved for a gun owners forum, where a misstatement like that can create some of the ugliest comments I have ever seen.

    "There are plenty of instances where a CCW permit holder has stopped a shooter but the circumstances of this case made it highly unlikely." Citation? A few years ago, Boortz pedaled some bullshit study that thousands, yes thousands, of gun owners protected their homes from violent incursions every year. If it's that study, please don't bother passing it on.

    Finally, I agree that the NRA is one of the GOP's niftiest tools in its arsenal, but the poor members don't realize how much they have been suckered in. The organization has some really nice, ordinary people onboard, and when I was a kid, it was the go-to group for gun training and safety, especially for kids. Now, though, it's just another Repub apparatus…

  45. Major Kong Says:

    When Globalpackagedeliverycompany replaces me with a UAV in a few years I'll have to sell my guns anyway.

    My guns won't protect me from the things that are most likely to harm me.

  46. Alan C Says:

    Regarding the argument that someone armed in the theater could have stopped the shooter, do we know that there WASN'T anyone armed in the theater? I'm pretty sure Colorado allows concealed carry. And that argument does sound ridiculous to me, but I'm curious.

  47. JoyfulA Says:

    I suppose Mayor Bloomberg wants President Obama and Governor Romney to agree they'll follow in his footsteps and have all of us stopped and searched daily.

  48. Noshoes Says:

    The Problem That Can't Be Solved will never be solved as long as we live in a country that refuses to come to terms with the fact that we the people (of European descent, mainly) slaughtered millions of people already living on this continent, transported and enslaved millions of other people from another continent, then invented a new ideology that encouraged us to completely disassociate ourselves from the above facts while spouting nonsense about "freedom" and "liberty" and the "pursuit of happiness." Until we come to terms with the fact that we lie to ourselves every single day about these things and innumerable other facts, we will never be anything but bullshit hypocrites without any moral center.

  49. Nom de Plume Says:

    People keep talking about this hypothetical scenario in which a crazed gunman opens fire on a bunch of well-armed people, and how different the outcome would be, because he'd be mowed down in seconds before he could do serious harm. I've got news for you: every crazed gunman you can name from the past several decades has already opened fire on a well-armed group of people. It's called The United States. We're the most well-armed populace on earth. Here, more than any advanced country on earth, there is a good chance that in any random gathering of people, be it in a theater, or a baseball game, or on the street, there are at least a few that are armed. Have you noticed the lack of deterrent effect yet? I have.

  50. eau Says:

    RE: The 'sports shooting' argument.

    Archers and fencers are fine to carry their weapons around town then, I assume? Medievial enthusiasts' in full armour, morningstar in hand, at the mall? People should be allowed to take their F1s, speedboats and light aircraft down to the corner store?

    No? A specious argument you say? Yes. I agree.

  51. Xynzee Says:

    @Mjr: "Now back to reality. My real reaction would be trying to tear the buttons off my shirt so I could get lower to the floor than I already was."

    The only time since either of us hit puberty that I've jumped on top of my sister was when we witnessed an armed robbery as they shot into the bank. Personally, I'd be hoping to quickly master that "karate guy" ability to increase my body's density to stop any stray bullets.

    But what Nom said. Outside of home invasions or the liquor store clerk with a shotgun bolted under the counter, where's the hard data of number of times a CC armed individual had thwarted a crime? I'm sure that that statistic would be of considerable interest to law enforcement.

    Sadly though, I for one am starting to not care. I met the news w a why get upset? If America still refuses to engage with the reality of the situation so be it. As long there are people who have an absolutist attitude towards "Well it's *my* Right! No one can tell me what to do, society be damned!" Then fine you can just *damn* your society for all I care. America is reaping what its sown for chasing and pursuing individuals at the cost of society. Thank you Maggie, this is what "individuals" look like.

    Some absolute individual Rights, are good for society eg. The 5th. They improve us and make us human. Some need to be exercised w restraint and for the betterment of the Common Good. "Speech"—defined so broadly that people will watch porn on planes w/o regard for those around them. Though my understanding was that the 1st was about political speech.

    So go ahead, like smack heads, go ahead and destroy yourselves.

  52. Nick Says:

    Ed, your second solution is really the only right one. The problem with gun control is that it ignores every cause in favor of a symptom. Instead of saying "hey, how about we fix our shitty mental healthcare system and provide vocational training to people whose current job options are McDonald's or dealing crack and maybe provide people with a decent basic standard of living and maybe train educators to recognize the signs of someone who has or is about to snap, and while we're at it why not end this stupid bullshit war on drugs so that street gangs and cartels don't have incentive to shoot each other," gun control proponents say "That piece of metal! That's the problem!"

    Gun control doesn't work because it doesn't do a damn thing to prevent what causes either crime or massacres. Norway's got pretty strict gun control, relative to the US anyway, and Brevik got around that. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people without firing a shot. Most people in the US killed by people with guns aren't killed in massacres, they're killed in drug-related crimes, and if you think you can stop a cartel that has access to fucking submarines from getting a couple handguns and an AK in, you're clearly unfamiliar with the historical success rate of prohibitions.

  53. Schrader Fan Says:

    Obviously Ed's main point is to advocate gun control, and I have no quarrel with that. To the extent that his proposal for psychiatric treatment was intended seriously, though, I have three questions. What reason is there to think that someone like Holmes would have sought help under Ed's proposal? What reason is there to think he would have been helped if he did? Obviously related but not the same question, what reason is there to think his contact with psychiatry would have stopped him from shooting a lot of people? Bear in mind that mass murderers are extremely rare. To get any social benefit from trying to treat them, we would have to see an extremely high rate of success; and that would be a high rate relative to the number of potential murderers, including those who don't seek treatment. The rate relative to those who do seek treatment would have to be even higher, since some won't seek treatment.

    These questions are worth asking, and Ed should be careful about making suggestions like his even if it was facetious, because one group that will be trying to capitalize on the massacre is the psychiatry/therapy industry. That industry has a rotten record when it comes to helping people or reducing harm. In their own studies, they consistently help fewer than 50% of those who seek help. They manage to show a statistically significant difference between experimental and control groups in part by actively harming the controls.

    Psychotherapy is not a healing science. It plays a role similar to religion. For many clients, it can be comforting simply to have a supposed expert listening to their problems. (And that's fine, as far as it goes. Comfort is good.) For many clients, it's a parasite, taking money without regard to whether it helps, harms, or does nothing. But it can also be a technology of social control, e.g. in the hands of someone like E. Fuller Torrey. This is to be guarded against. Unlike Torrey, Ed's proposal was for voluntary treatment, which is an important distinction. But still, we should be careful not to give the industry credit for being able to help prevent massacres when there is no reason to think that it can.

  54. eau Says:

    @Nick: Brevik? You might want to check how often shooting sprees occur in the USA compared with Europe as a whole, let alone "we've never seen anything remotely like this ever before" fucking NORWAY. Then check the body counts. And as for McVeigh, how many bombs killed people in the US this last year? Not fucking many. And didn't Holmes have bombs? How many people did his bombs kill? None? But he shot 14 people dead, right? Good argument, there. Water-tight.

    @Schrader Fan: The success of preventitive measures can be tricky to quantify, but to assume they don't work because it's impossible to prove they do work is dangerous. Like any profession, there are good people who do good work in the field and there are… others… who work in the field.

    Anecdotally, I have two friends (one personal and one professional) who in all seriousness credit their respective therapists with keeping them from harming themselves and/or others. Sadly, another acquaintance of mine died at the hands of a delusional ex-boyfriend who broke off therapy after reading a bunch of nonsense similar to what you have said above.

    And to both, I'd suggest (again) comparing the rate of these sort of incidents in the US, where access to affordable mental health care is scarce but guns are thick on the ground, to other countries in which that situation is reversed.

  55. Bernard Says:

    Us victims of gun killings better realize we are "collateral" damage for the politicians and the NRA. we don't count and never have mattered to these "gun nuts." their rights have always been sacrosanct.

    we had better not be at the wrong time and place when it comes to the "excesses" of the gun nuts. you sane gun owners are also in the same fix. by the way i own two guns and used them as part of a career i once had.

    expect to see more and more of the Aurora, Texas Bell tower and Mickey Dee's. as long as guns own American politicians, which will be forever until one of the favorite Republican heroes gets wasted, the rest of us will be in the sights of the local gun killer. that just goes with the territory of having loonies able to buy and then expend the bullets on the "wrong place and time" losers/victims we so heartily lament in times like this and Tucson and all the rest.

    we came pretty close to regulating guns when the Dear Leader and God of All Gods, St. Ronnie was shot. That was the only time when the Republicans came near to accepting that the death of the God of America, St. Ronnie, might not have been a good thing due to all those guns/bullets in the hands of one lone psycho.

    but we missed our chance in America when Reagan lived. no, i can't stand even the thought of what Reagan did to America, nor what happened as a result of his Holiness. Yes, i know Reagan was a God, it's just that i never "was touched" by his blessing, even though i once voted for him. and that alone is enough to spend eternity in purgatory or hell or Texas, whichever the Devil deems my reward.

    guns, guns, and more guns. ask the American Indians how that worked out.

  56. Jason Says:

    I've posted on the topic before, but for the record, I'm a very liberal gun owner. I hate the NRA (fear mongering assholes that are barely more than an arm of the Republican party), I hate the notion of, "If only someone had been armed…" applied to any scenario, but it's particularly idiotic in the Aurora case. Onward…

    @The Mad Dreamer:
    "What possible reason could anyone look at that weapon and say "Yeah, this should be available outside the military (or similar)"?"

    What does the look have to do with anything? This is an example of the insanity of the original assault weapon ban, which made guns illegal literally because they looked scary. And it's not a military weapon and it's not even as powerful as a typical deer rifle.

    "We are talking about weapons which are useless for hunting,"

    Not true.

    "useless for sport,"

    Not true.

    @buckyblue:
    "These dbags actually think that the average citizen will be able to make decisions and shoot in situations where cops train for and anticipate all the time."

    You told a story about an armed civilian making the correct decision in a shoot/no shoot scenario to prove that armed civilians can't make the correct decision in a shoot/no shoot scenario.

    @Mr. Prosser:
    "Why do I keep thinking most concealed weapon carriers faced with a real shooting situation would react exactly like Fredo in the Godfather when his father was shot?"

    I don't know. Successful acts of self defense happen all the time.

    @Jaime Says:
    "Target shooting? Really? It may be my admittedly limited exposure, but I've never seen any internationally-sanctioned sport shooting events where the firearms looked ANYTHING like combat arms

  57. Jason Says:

    Picking up where I left off…
    – except for skeet, where they look to me like fairly

    stock shotguns."

    http://actionshootingpodcast.com/2009/08/05/getting-started-in-3-gun-part-1-equipme

    nt/

    http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2012/05/resources-for-2012-national-matches-at-

    camp-perry/

    If your opinion on a topic begins with, "Maybe I don't know what I'm talking

    about," it's probably best to a) keep it to yourself, b) take five minutes on

    Google, or c) phrase your opinion in the form of a question, as in, "Are these guns

    even used in sport shooting?"

    @mothra:
    "Like the quote from a gun range dude in Colorado at the end of the NY Times

    article on how easy it was for this guy to buy up tons of ammunition: "I call 6000

    rounds of ammunition running low." Yes, this guy apparently said that with zero

    degree of irony."

    I have a CCW and carry. When I go to the range for practice/recreation, I

    typically shoot half hour sessions (most people go for an hour). Shooting at a

    leisurely pace, I'll go through 200-300 rounds easily. People who are into the

    hobby much more than me can spend just a couple of hours at an outdoor range with

    friends and shoot thousands of rounds. And ammo is just like any other product:

    it's a lot cheaper in bulk. So no, 6000 rounds is not unusual or insane or

    indicative of a pending massacre.

    @jeffteaches:
    "The AR- 15 platform is a very accurate rifle that is used for hunting and target

    shooting." Hunting? I am 50. I grew up in central Georgia, where the deer are so

    populous that I have hit 5 of them with various cars over the years. Everybody

    hunts. I have never known anyone to hunt with a .223. People I know who own them DO

    target shoot, but never hunt with them."

    So you don't know anyone who does, therefore it isn't a trend or doesn't happen.

    http://cheaperthandirt.com/blog/?p=4501

    "Citation?"

    http://thearmedcitizen.com/wp/category/armed

    This site hasn't even been active since last year, but you'll have no trouble finding armed self defense stories.

    "Finally, I agree that the NRA is one of the GOP's niftiest tools in its arsenal,"

    On that we definitely agree.

    The fact is, over the last twenty years, despite gun laws almost exclusively becoming looser, all violent crime, including gun homicides, have been in freefall. It's one of the most underreported achievements in the U.S. Yeah, our murder rate is still awful, but if I'd told you 20 years ago that in two decades we would cut gun murders by more than a third, you'd say I was insane. But that's exactly what has happened. I DO NOT THINK THAT MORE GUNS CAUSED THIS DROP. The evidence does not show that. But can't we slip away from the simplistic magical thinking that so often use by the right? Violent crime is an impossibly complex mix of issues, income inequality, a struggling education system, the idiotic drug war, racism, a shitty health care system and with it, a shitty mental health care system, and on and on. Those underlying problems will not go away with an arbitrary (because they always are) ban on certain tools.

    I implore everyone to read this article at Harper's. http://harpers.org/archive/2012/07/hbc-90008724

    Very concise and well-written article about the subject.

Leave a Reply