Last year I put in a good amount of work on a book project, which I ended up tossing aside after trying in vain to get a literary agent to take me on. Yes, that's how good it was, I guess. A couple responded and told me, with kindness and regret, that books about politics have to come from Somebody, and I am a Nobody. I understand the logic, and it certainly explains why every sixth-tier cable news personality has his or her own terrible book on the shelves.

My goal was to trace out a unified theory of how we got here – a road map of how the United States progressed from a flawed but fairly normal nation to the open-air asylum we live in today. One of the major points was that we – and I use that term pointedly here, as I mean people like myself who are white, educated, and comparatively affluent – have been far too willing to be bought off and throw others under the bus in exchange for tangible economic benefits. We voted repeatedly for people who were and are obviously terrible because, well, just look at this tax cut. Look at that low interest rate. Look at how cheap these electronics are. We as a nation didn't make that choice consciously in most cases, but it was made nonetheless.

We convinced ourselves to ignore all the red flags that we were voting for people with a twisted, militaristic, might-makes-right worldview who, in addition to giving us cheap toys and tax cuts, intended to do some pretty horrible things to the more vulnerable in society. Among the many negative consequences has been the extreme NRA view of the 2nd Amendment codified in American life.

Large majorities of Americans support higher levels of "gun control" than are currently reflected by our laws. Because in exchange for some things we liked, we voted time and again for some people whose views on the 2nd Amendment were extreme at best and insane at worst. The issue just wasn't important. Guns were something "those people" shot each other with in places we no longer needed to go, having abandoned cities for suburbs in the 1970s. Gun violence was the stuff of crime statistics to be flashed on the local News at Nine round-up of how many young black and Hispanic people got gunned down each day.

Now the gun violence has come for the people who voted to let it happen but managed to avoid the consequences, at least for a while. Now the office shootings, random killing sprees, suburban school shoot-ups, and firearm suicide / accident rates have millions of normal, relatively prosperous Minivan Moms and Lawnmower Dads asking, "Gee why is this happening so often?" One of two reactions follows: Either they buy into the fallacy that guns will keep them safe and assemble a private arsenal, or they look at the practically nonexistent restrictions on gun ownership in some areas and struggle to grasp how elected officials could justify it. Can you REALLY get a gun before you're legally allowed to rent a car? Can non-citizens in some states buy a gun on the internet and pick it up 24 hours later, no questions asked?

Yes. They can, because for years the consequences of those policies happened somewhere else. Some cities turned into war zones, but we simply noted where the problems were worst and avoided those areas. Maybe we fell for "Three Strikes" and mandatory minimum sentencing tough-talk from pasty politicians desperate to look "tough on crime." But what we did not do, for the most part, was go about our daily lives wondering if we would get shot. That was a fate many Americans have had to live with for a long time, but it is only recently becoming the reality for the (politically crucial) white, suburban, fairly affluent voting bloc.

Eruptions of gun violence, especially in schools, are now like the backgrounds in old Hanna-Barbera cartoons – and endless loop of the same images that, watched long enough, cease to be noticed. You see them, but nothing registers. We let this happen because we didn't think it was important as long as it only affected others – others who, you know, kinda deserved it anyway because they were lazy and on welfare and on drugs and selling drugs and probably black or foreign or…you get the picture. It was the kind of people we felt safe seeing on the nightly Homicide Round-up. We felt safe because seeing the underclass of disposables gunned down was exactly what we expected to see. It wasn't shocking.

Now it is shocking and the victims are not Reagan's "Strapping Black Bucks" but elementary school kids and co-workers and concert-goers and all the kinds of people we don't expect to see gunned down on the regular. Yet here we are. We do not have to live this way; it is a direct result of choices we made. But the only thing that has changed recently is that now we are all players in a game that many of the neglected and ignored people in our society have been playing for a long time. The fundamental cause is no different now, simply because we get to experience up close what was once safely distant: we elected, and continued to elect, people with insane, willfully inaccurate, and morally bankrupt views on the 2nd Amendment. We are too easily bought off, and so long as we are willing to vote for these people "even though I don't like his position on guns" we will continue to live like this even though we do not have to.

Be Sociable, Share!

129 Responses to “WHY DO WE LIVE LIKE THIS”

  1. Jice998 Says:

    *and will continue to elect people with insane, willfully ignorant, and morally bankrupt views on the 2nd Amendment, and pretty much basic human rights. This is strikingly similar to the ?recent? opioid crisis, the crack crisis of the 80's, the HIV crisis of the 80's/ 90s, and pretty much any other social ill (healthcare?) that has predominantly impacted minorities before spreading to Whites. All I want to say is "but her emails!!".

  2. Camembert Says:

    I wish I was this sanguine. I can't help feeling like this is a deeper manifestation of a collective white wish to go back to the days of private enforcement of racial categories. The GOP endgame is slave patrols, and they've been quite clear on that.

  3. Katydid Says:

    The word "privilege" means "private law"–as in, the laws are different than the ones "those others" have to follow.

  4. Bernard Says:

    that white people mostly vote Republican says it all. Now all politicians are bought, though.

    It is the Wild, Wild West again. before the law was sold to the highest bidder.

    this is what we get when we give up society for "Rugged Individualists" the American Dream and all the rest of the nonsense/lies/BS sold to us via Madison Ave. Once the Republicans sold us out, what do you think follows. Greed is Good. and to listen to the Conservatives talk about God, Country and Freedom.

    might as well be dead with that kind of thinking/Conservative/Republican "I've got Mine" selfishness. and we are getting to that point gun massacre after gun massacre.

    That women will allow their children to be killed by the gun nuts.
    you can blame the NRA if you'd like. the real problem is the white male in Congress who sold us out to the God of Money/Baal.

    just absolutely amazing anyone listens to or votes for any Conservative or Vichy Democrat who believes Guns are anything but for killing each other.

    The Government/State or National, has more guns than any "militia" could ever hope to amass. the 2nd Amendment was to keep Blacks in chains so the Southerner would voter for the Constitution.

    somehow the Right has sold the rest of us law abiding Americans to the Wolves. the Right has proven it is "Open Season" on the Rest of US.

    and they are winning, time after time after time. Thanks to the Republicans in Congress, States and the Courts. Money Talks and Americans are just walking Targets for the nuts who can openly kill with guns.

    and watch the Republicans come up with their pious BS of "thoughts and prayers".

    America is such a third rate Fascist state now, it is hard to believe America had promise.

    oh well. i bet "they/the Right" use this school shooting to push homeschooling and guns in schools. captive fish in a barrel, America today

  5. Bernard Says:

    not that i think women allow this. i just expect them to fight harder, since men obviously value guns more than children

  6. Huey Says:

    …self–publish that book.

    There are two possible outcomes:
    – you will get some chump change that you can buy gin & tacos with, or
    – you will sell enough that one of those agents or publishers will realize that they were wrong the first time.

    I dunno about you, but I'm not seeing a downside. And I'm not the only person I know that already owns a GIN & TACOS bumper-sticker.

  7. Michael Says:

    If you don’t decide to self-publish, PLEASE build this concept and your research into a series of some kind or collaborate with a news agency or documentarian to make this story a reality. I would gladly pay an unreasonable amount of money for the book you described and it would greatly impact my life. Best of luck, and let me know if you need help with the technicalities of formatting for a self-publishing release.

  8. ScrewyCanuck Says:

    Second vote for self-publishing that book. I'd like to read & buy copies for friends. Seriously.

  9. NoelB Says:

    I know this sounds a little small bore at this point but why not, for a start, force local or national votes on such NRA previously won legal strictures as those against gathering evidence on gun use, gun violence, gun sales, etc. and aginst municipal gun buy back programs. They even got their panties in a twist when they saw the Aussies smashing all the guns they gathered in a national buy back program. They wanted to legislate against such a horror – busting up guns nobody wants – heaven forfend! Might be a little harder for the gun nuts and their legislative fellow travelers to defend those positions and could, just mayve, begin to chip away at the NRA’s vaunted invincability.

  10. Mo Says:

    Why? 49% of US voters are racist authoritarians scared shitless at the prospect of a shifting demographic that's gonna kick them outta the catbird seat.

    Evidence du jour:
    Remington's going bankrupt now that we no longer have a black president.

  11. nealbirch Says:

    Do Kickstarter or Indiegogo to self publish, you'll know if there is enough interest by the funding (you need to do some research on how to get the message out) and there is enough information out there so that what has worked in the past can work to your benefit.

    Check out "Soonish" by Zack Wienersmith (of SMBC cartoons), he talked alot on how it went when he started doing these projects. Ryan North is another good example.


    Best of luck, I'll be looking forward to sending you money for one of the copies.

  12. Troels Koch, Denmark Says:

    I think the roots go deep on this one. Sorry to all modern, decent Americans, but the fascination with violence is deeply rooted within american culture. The "freedom from tyranny", "manifest destiny", "watering the tree of liberty", "Liberation from the yoke of blah blah" has transformed into meaningless truisms.

    I don't know much about the American civil war, so I'm currently Reading the Oxford American history on the subject, called "Battle Cry of Freedom" (what a pompous title btw), and the fly-over of american domestic history from independence to fort sumner is brilliant and foreboding. It's a blood soaked affair, and the two main themes are violence and this wierd term "freedom".

    The rights of gun owners today can, alas, still be traced back to these two themes. It's an integral part of American culture, albeit of perverted proportions today. The US fascination with righteous violence, as taught children through (very enjoyable) captain America, Superman and Batman comic books, supports the quasi-religious link between violence and freedom. And that tale is being capitalized big-time by the largest gun industry the world has ever seen.

    I know the consensus-scandinavian social democrat welfare tale is far less intriguing than the tale of the conquering American heroics, but your bloody tale has ended up costing so many lives of American kids in the US today. Pointless deaths.

    I believe the American tale of arming the citizens against the tyrant to be close to religious. And as with all religions, it defies logic, invalidating logical reasoning and statistics. Why should people own private arsenals? Because it is their god-given right. This cyclical reasoning cannot be broken by logic, since the reasoning is in its nature based on values and beliefs, not logic.

    So how to break that cycle without ending up in another civil war? Read to your children. Winnie the Pooh, not Batman. Talk to your kids. And burn all the fucking private arsenals. "Bad Guys" needs to have their access restricted, and this probably entails restricting access for all the "Good Guys". So be it. On second though, ya'll might have to risk that civil war after all.

    I love your country, and many of the most thoughtful, empathic, educated, brilliant people I know are American. When your journalists are good, they are great, second to none. Same with your writers and scholars. There is hope and potential, so don't despair. I hope and wish all the best for that wonderful country of yours, even with all it's idiosyncracies.

    Troels Koch, Denmark

  13. Aurora S Says:


    The “opioid crisis” is not recent; heroin has just been a “Black people problem” for the last 25 years. Then white people started noticing that the “working class” white people (a white-people euphemism for the white hillbilly poors—black and brown urban poors are “lazy moochers” that don’t work) in Appalachia were taking massive quantities of opioid-derived pills. Now this is a thing worthy of compassion, especially when Republican politicians want to hitch their political wagon to this group and their neurotic fear of melanin. There is nowhere this is more evident than in Maryland, and the stark contrast between society’s attitude about poor POC in Baltimore and poor white people in the mountains, who basically have exactly the same issues plaguing their communities. I have lived in both and the problem seems to be that they might as well be invisible to the privileged and farcically self-absorbed upper middle class who fear POC because they’re undercover racists and look down at the rednecks for being poor and ill-bred, while the rednecks are terrified of anyone they don’t already know and convinced that POC are their mortal enemies, and the only thing in this world stopping them from living high on the hog.




    I don’t get how women have more of a responsibility for this than men. Seriously—how is that relevant at all?

  14. Aurora S Says:


    It’s extremely ironic, this persistent fascination and focus on “Freedom” as the cause of the American Civil War, when it was actually over slavery—the “right” to own other human beings like livestock.

    This “Freedom” tale of righteous violence is baked into our history, and the fervent evangelical Christians have accepted it and find being heavily armed an appropriate and even necessary (in their opinions) tool to “spread the word of Jesus” and even bring about the apocalypse in order to cause the Rapture. So it is very literally a religious thing for some. Most Americans are not this cultish (but are also willing to not pay attention in the name of perceived tax breaks and cheap toys), but those who are have enough money and power to be dangerous and have infiltrated our government.

    As far as Scandinavian ‘socialism’ is concerned—Americans don’t factor in the costs of healthcare, etc. that they are paying to private companies for things they could be getting much cheaper if they were bought with tax money instead. They’re being cheated, but they’ve been told for so long that the “American Way” is somehow fairer and better that, despite all evidence to the contrary, they believe it.

  15. Major Kong Says:

    As the fake headline in The Onion says “No way to prevent this. Says the only country where this regularly happens.”

  16. Ten Bears Says:

    We have to stop doing what we are doing. It isn't working.

  17. Buckyblue Says:

    I gave up at Sandy Hook.

  18. Tim H. Says:

    Just guessing here, but I think if this is ever fixed, it's going to cost a lot more than the profits gained by politically connected business creatures.

  19. Tim H. Says:

    Mammon demands a sacrifice of ethics, proposing sensible regulations that impeded firearm sales, even by a little, is not too unlike offering ham sandwiches to Muslims.

  20. swkellogg Says:

    While I loathe the GOP and the damage they are doing the republic, one upside is that it's harder for ass cramps like La Pierre to market death to the crazies without the gun-grabber narrative.

    Gun sales have dropped 27% since the stupid party assumed power.

    Remington is filing bankruptcy.

    Small consolation.

  21. E* Says:

    Apartheid systems such as the one our country was founded on, and in which we continue in various subtle and unsubtle ways, are borne in violence and beget violence. Why did white people think it could never touch them too?

  22. Safety Man! Says:

    iirc Smith and Wesson was looking at bankruptcy some time ago as well.

    One of the reasons that you see such resistance to mental health checks for gun ownership is that a lot of these people don’t think mental illness is a real thing, i.e., those things don’t happen to good Christian people who pray enough. Sadly that is a non-ironic quote from a woman I knew, in the Bible-belt, who incidentally was bipolar. Secondly, psychologists are also liberal elites who don’t understand real Americans, dontcha know. They are afraid someone is going to waive a magic wand and declare them unfit for political/ religious purposes.

    @ Aurora S,
    yup, having lived in Baltimore and varied richer parts of the state, I rank MD lower on my scale of places to live than GA.

  23. templar423 Says:

    This Vox article has a good explanation of how we got here. The history discussed is consistent with my own research during law school: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/12/16418524/us-gun-policy-nra.

  24. Brian M Says:

    I agree with Troels. This country was FOUNDED ON slavery and genocide. Why are we surprised that there are so many Lone Wolves who take to heart the mythos of violence and lashing out as good things?

  25. Ten Bears Says:

    Christian people who pray enough is a mental illness.

    Won't solve all of the rest of these problems until we solve that problem.

  26. Mo Says:

    Here's a thought: figure out a way to make the NRA and their elected running dogs pay. As in money. Lots of money. To victims of gun violence.

    Surely this is not beyond our best and brightest legal minds?

  27. Barbara H. Says:

    Because of guns, not one single person in this country is safe. Not the gun owners, not the people who hate guns, not the people talking about gun control. No one is safe. Your second amendment rights have cost us our freedom.

  28. Steve-O Says:

    One Canadian's perspective:

    There is nothing left to say about gun violence in America. If people want gun control they simply need to elect politicians to enact it. Period. Anything less is just another version of “thoughts and prayers” bullshit.

    That the "American people" (or at least enough of them) didn't rise up to make this a reality after Sandy Hook has convinced me that this is never going to happen. There is just too much of the kind of self-delusion that It Can't (Won't) Happen to Me combined with enough actual gun nuts/freedumb fetishists to overcome.

    In short: you guys are well and truly fucked. I hope I'm wrong, but I wouldn't bet on it.

  29. geoff Says:

    @Steve-O, so we're hosed, eh?

    (My wife and mother-in-law are Canadian, so I figure I'm allowed a little leeway. No offense, sir.)

    And Ed, you could self-publish via Kickstarter or Indie Go Go or one of those, or e-publish via the Evil Empire (rhymes with a South American river), or just put up pdfs on your Patreon (where it would be a cool incentive), or even release it into the wild right here on G&T. Point is, a lot of us here would like to read it, so I hope you'll consider putting the book out somehow.

  30. quixote Says:

    @Troels: a) you're right. b)Thank you for the kind words! I agree with them, too. The country made wrong choices going all the way back to not taking Ben Franklin's suggestion of having the wild turkey as the national bird. I'm guessing because it didn't look enough like righteous violence.

  31. Coffeeman Says:

    Gun laws are only a symptom.

    The first step is always to admit one has a problem. Our problem is that America's system of government is corrupt. It is corrupt primarily because of money. Politicians, even the good ones, must depend on money to get elected/re-elected. How many lobbyists, well paid lobbyists are there in DC? Lobbyists even write the laws.

    And we now have the perfect trifecta:
    A SCOTUS that favors commerce, i.e. money;
    A Republican Congress with an End Justifies The Means ethos;
    And the most obviously corrupt president in our history…a man who spits on the Constitution, and who has sold out to Putin.

    Democracy only works with an informed and involved electorate. If the American public does not push now for a revolution, (peaceful, I hope), it is unlikely to change for a long time. Just imagine if the Corrupter in Chief was as devious as Putin. The next one might be.

  32. Safety Man! Says:

    @ Mo

    There are laws in place specifically to block the course of action you describe.

  33. Brian M Says:

    Coffeeman: No. We get the government we deserve. The problem is not really "the government" The problem is "the people".

  34. Coffeeman Says:

    I'd agree with you except for the fact that a lot of people have gotten involved, or have at least attempted to. Between Citizens United, gerrymandering, and making it difficult if not impossible for some people to vote, it goes deeper than that.

    As a business owner I once worked for used to say to his management team, I don't count the votes, I weigh them.

  35. Katydid Says:

    @Troels Koch, the USA has an image of itself as a cowboy, out there on the frontier, surviving by its wits and grits (which is hilarious because if you ask people to go more than a block, they need a sat nav on their phones to get there, and you should hear the whining in my office if they can't get their specialty order at Starbucks…HOW will they COPE drinking regular coffee?!?).

    Periodically popular culture in the USA re-fetishizes The Old West That Never Was, such as in the 1950s, 1970s, and late 1990s/early 2000s.

  36. Coffeeman Says:

    Troels, that may be what is portrayed in the media and in films, but I believe it is an overstatement. I just wish the majority of Americans were informed enough to realize that we have been brainwashed for a long time. No one tells Americans that many countries enjoy a much better quality of life and that at the end of the day, it costs little more than Americans now pay.

    An honest German visiting America, depending on where they go, would perhaps call it a shithole.

  37. Brutus Says:

    I’m with agreement with Troels Kochs that it goes a lot deeper than the 2nd Amendment. He even supplied you a book title: Righteous Violence (supply your own subtitle — any number of obvious candidates spring to mind). Considering where we in the U.S. now stand with respect to guns, no amount of violence is likely to deter gun owners and manufacturers and lobbyists. That genie won’t be stuffed back into the bottle any more than we will reduce the number of cars and planes fouling the air or reverse the flow of people from the countryside to the cities. It’s not even clear that such actions would be antidotes to things quite literally killing us, as these tools and movements have legitimate pragmatic uses alongside the significant hazards they smuggle in. The “a lot deeper” aspect is that societies are self-assembling organisms with no blueprint, even after the fact. They stumble and lurch and careen forward with modest corrections to stay upright until at last they heave over on their sides and breathe their last. Ours is no different, really, except that it’s a lynchpin for most of the rest. When the U.S. becomes a failed state, lots of other dominos will fall.

  38. Coffeeman Says:

    I'd say when you allow your citizens, especially children, to be murdered without doing anything about it, you are already a "failed state" (think of the chicken with its head cut off still running about).

    We have Americans living on the streets while we have military in literally hundreds of countries. Tax breaks to the wealthiest and to major corporations while people line up for food handouts.

    America is a "failed state".

  39. Major Kong Says:


    Ironically enough, some old west towns required you to leave your gun with the Sheriff while you were in town. You could pick it back up on your way out.

  40. Brutus Says:


    Where the U.S. falls on the spectrum of failed states is an open question, but it's not as though the taps have run dry or the electrical outlet has no juice. Society still functions well enough to provision most people and to reward a few quite handsomely. We don't even modestly resemble states in the midst of civil wars, famine, or grinding poverty. Now, corruption and failures of empathy for the disenfranchized? We've got those in spades.

  41. Deggjr Says:

    Another vote for self-publishing. Why not charge for a download for the chump change mentioned above?

    This college professor might have some experiences with The Authoritarians that would apply: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  42. Katydid Says:

    @Major Kong, I think I'd once heard that guns had to be turned over, which is why I referred to it as The Old West That Never Was.

    @Aurora S; you're near Gettysburg, right? My observation of southern Pennsylvanians (Gettysburg through York) is that they're absolutely, positively shaking-in-their-boots TERRIFIED of blah people. And people of any color from cities. The amount of Confederate flags I've encountered north of the Mason Dixon line is far more than I see in my state to the south, or even in Maryland (except Western Maryland, where they believe the USA is still fighting the Civil War and the South is winning…and that they're the South).

  43. Major Kong Says:

    My in-laws live in a part of southern Ohio that is very much Appalachia. The entire county has 15,000 people. It is also the whitest place I have ever been.

    They all think Columbus is some gritty concrete jungle out of Taxi Driver or The Warriors.

    (Sorry about the decades old cultural references)

    I point out that they're far more likely to die on the terrible roads down there than get shot by some imaginary gang-banger on the mean streets of Columbus Ohio.

  44. Cestma Says:

    Commenting to subscribe to G&T.

  45. Amateur socialist Says:

    Mandatory liability insurance coverage for guns. It’s not controversial for vehicles.

  46. Amateur socialist Says:

    And of course you should have to provide proof of coverage when purchasing ammunition too. Obviously.

  47. Tim H. Says:

    Wouldn't take many shootings to drive the policy cost through the roof. Likely easier than building a just society though…

  48. Flying Squirrel Says:

    If the entire high school population organized by social media and had a one day strike and demonstration at every high school in the country, I bet they could change it. Seems entirely practical and the only path to change l can imagine. It would empower and electrify a generation.

  49. Tim H. Says:

    And smoothing some of the rough edges and unnecesscarily pointy bits of capitalism would not make it socialism, but might make a World less prone to despair.

  50. Tim H. Says:

    Yes, Flying Squirrel, that too.

  51. Ax Says:

    True conversation.

    Them: Lets just collect all semi out weapons door to door.

    Me: That's never going to happen. (Followed by 5 minutes of reason based information.)

    Me: Lets address the social/economic and mental health issues that lead a great many people to use guns violently.

    Them: That's never going to happen. (after exasperated look and eye roll)

    Extrapolate from incomplete data.

  52. OtherAndrew Says:

    Somehow I doubt you're being reasonable if you're gliding over the obstacles to comprehensive mental health reform as "eyerolls".

  53. Amateur socialist Says:

    @timh: post Vegas I don’t see how any state could justify anything less than $100M minimum coverage. Which would be prohibitive for most people not named Koch or Walton. Yes.

  54. Aurora S Says:

    Sorry, Ax. Other countries have people with mental illnesses, violent video games, violent movies, and violent music, too. America is the only one with regular mass shootings. It’s because of the sheer quantity and easy access to guns. It’s time for us to stop the excuses.

  55. Major Kong Says:

    We could start by regulating the sale of semi-automatics and high capacity magazines.

    Just make 'em Class III firearms. If you want one badly enough you can still have it, but it's going to cost you a lot of money, time and paperwork.

    We've regulated fully automatics that way since 1937 and you don't see too many people shooting up banks with Tommy Guns these days.

    It won't stop all of these, but not being 100% effective hasn't stopped from trying to reduce the number of, oh let's say drunk drivers. It still happens, but not nearly as much as if we didn't try to stop it.

  56. Ax Says:

    I totally agree the problem seems to be in part American culture. We're inundated with "revenge with no remorse when you've been done wrong" symbolism.

    I thought about the class III idea too. Fine by me. Perhaps requiring all semi's with over 3 round capacity to transfer through a FFL? No more private sales.

    I think it's shortsighted to not address all aspects of the problem. Collecting guns seem like an easy solution but I think it would be anything but.

  57. Aurora S Says:

    Every argument for firearm deregulation is flatly absurd, and frankly, suspicious. Not everyone is responsible enough to own a gun, not everyone should have one, and no civilian should be able to own military-grade weapons. This was not a radical position to take prior to the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004, but the Overton window has shifted and to even say that is no longer PeeCee.

    There’s no reason to own an AR-15, unless you want to hunt humans. We’ve demonstrated that having practically unfettered access to military-style weapons means that people will use them. To condone this means you don’t care if people die so that you can feel like a god with the power to decide who lives and who dies. “Watering the tree of Liberty” and all, amiright?

  58. Ax Says:

    Actually, virtually every gun is a "military weapon" and designed as such, the AR style is just the current style.

    I've owned AR type weapons for almost 30 years and have shot countless rounds for enjoyment and in sanctioned competitions.

    Considering a conservative estimate is 200-300 MILLION AR's in the US. If you put the number at 2,000,000 and use 5 as the number of mass shooting a year, that means 0.0000025 of them were used.

    Hate em and the people that own them all you want, that's not going to solve the problem though.

  59. mojrim Says:

    What I find fascinating about this whole thread is that it began with acknowledgement that white people didn't care until it breached their perimeter and has devolved into a discussion of how to push it back out.

    White people never cease to amaze me.

  60. Ax Says:

    Gun violence at all levels will take a lot of money to stop and there doesn't seem to be any interest in spending it. One reason just banning/collecting seems like an appealing idea.

  61. Mike Furlan Says:

    "My goal was to trace out a unified theory of how we got here – a road map of how the United States progressed from a flawed but fairly normal nation to the open-air asylum we live in today."

    So when was American "Normal?"

    During the Genocide of Native Americans?

    During Slavery?

    During Jim Crow?

    During the Japanese-American Internment?

    During all of our foreign interventions since WW2?

    When were we "Normal?"

  62. Ax Says:

    Follow the money………

  63. Aurora S Says:

    It doesn’t matter how few of all AR-15s in the US are used for mass murder. People use them to commit mass murder. Stop with the justifications. If you want to curb mass murder, you’re going to have to make them illegal. I think you can tough it out and find another hobby.

  64. Katydid Says:

    @Ed; I thought I said this already, but I didn't. If you write it, I will buy it. And buy copies for my friends. Have you considered a small publishing house?

  65. Katydid Says:

    With Aurora S here; guns are made to kill, full stop. The automatic ones are made to kill humans as quickly as possible. Why are civilians allowed to even have them?!?

  66. mothra Says:

    A smarter person than I said that the reason Congress refuses to do anything about guns is because of the pro-gun crowd. They are organized and they are vocal. Anytime there is a mass shooting, they get phone calls from pro gun people who tell them they will not be re-elected if they put any restrictions on guns whatsoever. Not the same volume or passion from constituents who favor gun controls. The polls may indicate that the vast majority of people favor gun controls, but those people don't make their might known come election time. And they don't have the money the NRA does.
    So if you really want gun control, call your Congresscritter. Get your friends who agree to call. That's the only way it will work, kids.

  67. richard nixon Says:

    Did this post remind anyone of the biblical tale of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for "a mess of pottage?"

    Feels like what we've done.

  68. Ax Says:

    I'm all ears.

    What do we do with the 3,4,5 million semi automatic rifles already in legal ownership? And does that include millions of low capacity shotguns used for hunting and/or target competition?

    Handguns? What about them? AR's are the high profile weapon of choice for horrific shootings but pistoles are considerable more concealable and incredibly deadly. That's why FAR more are killed with them.

  69. Major Kong Says:

    When you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is STOP DIGGING!

  70. Richard Lachmann Says:

    There are roe alternatives than getting an agent who can get you a big buck deal with a Big Five publisher or self-publishig on Amazon. Look at medium sized presses (commercially oriented academic presses like Amazon, leftist presses like Verso or Haymarket) you can approach on your own on the basis of your blog and your growing number of articles in prominent newspapers and magazines.

  71. mojrim Says:

    And you people are still talking as if "assault weapons" are the real problem. Must be nice inside that compound you've spent the last 50 years building.

  72. Major Kong Says:

    It's not "the problem" but it's part of the problem.

    Letting every walking personality disorder in the country have easy access to that much firepower is a recipe for disaster.

  73. FDChief Says:

    Simple. Make possession of a semiautomatic rifle a crime beginning on X. Then set up a buyback program. Most semiauto owners will sell their weapons because they're law-abiding citizens. A handful will hide them; that becomes an ATF problem. And even smaller handful will go all Waco whacko. That problem will pretty much solve itself, too, just more bloodily.

    Then make ownership of all firearms no different from owning a motor vehicle. Get trained. Pass a test. Be licensed. Register your property. Carry liability insurance. Follow the rules of Safe Firearms Ownership (as defined by the NRA itself – https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org/) just like you follow the Rules of the Road with the same penalty for failure – you lose your license.

    Will this be easy, with all the semiautos out there? No. Neither was curbing drunk driving or enforcing seat belts or any other safety measures. Decide it's worth doing, and it can be done.

  74. mojrim Says:

    I like you Major Kong, but you are part of the problem. That compound is all you know. Mass shootings account for ~0.2% of homicides, and "assault rifles" enhance perhaps 10-20% of the death toll in that statistically indistinguishable fraction. Any one of those (columbine, sandy hook, parkland, etc…) could have been easily accomplished with an ordinary handgun.

    And now you nice, liberal, white folk are here discussing how to reduce the murder rate by perhaps 0.04% because it's the only part you know. WAKE THE FUCK UP. This is not and never was about you and your precious lily white suburb. I'm sorry it happened to you today, but I'm a little burnt out on the retail murder I grew up with. Those guns are used in a miniscule percentage of crimes, and only matter when they happen in the suburbs, that you will have to forgive my cynicism.

    And if you can't then I'll see you in hell.

  75. Katydid Says:

    So, mojrim…you think people are completely incapable of caring about more than one thing at a time? And that we shouldn't be appalled by mass slaughters repeatedly carried out by automatic weapons because single-shot weapons are also used to kill people?!?

  76. Ax Says:

    FD, "Simple" but highly unlikely. Perhaps a ban on ownership of a mag with a capacity greater than 8 would be more workable.

    I'm not a NRA member or a 2nd flag waver, I gave a first time in my life political donation to Bernie and call my self an Independent but I'm super liberal. With that in mind, it seems to stick in my craw that I'd be required to hand over guns I've used safely and enjoyably for over a quarter of a century because the 0.0000025%.

    If I feel that way it think it's a safe assumption that you may be underestimating how fervently gun owners with resist collection


  77. ZeroInMyOnes Says:

    1.Lesson from Elizabeth Warren. Trump repeatedly flings 'Pocahontas' at her as an insult. Realizing she can not escape the word, she knows her only recourse is to re-establish ownership of it. Result: her recent vigorous, shattering Pocahontas speech. Now Elizabeth owns that word again.

    The word 'Freedom' is being used against us in a deeply cynical way. We are not Free. Debate with the Right won't help, just as Warren realized arguing back against Trump wouldn't work. We have to re-establish ownership of the word. Tell the stories of the Freedom we never had. The Freedom we lost. The Freedom we are losing every single day. 'NRA taking away our Freedom', 'Trump taking away our Freedom', 'Healthcare costs taking away our Freedom', 'Favors to billionaires taking away our Freedom.' Just own the word. Keep saying the word. It is the only way to connect with the other people we need to connect with. Elizabeth Warren wants to succeed. Don't we want to succeed?

    2. Ed, now that your short-piece writing is getting out there you are headed towards being a Somebody. Podcasts a plus. You are becoming less anonymous, more public. Maybe try again in 6 months? Personally, I learn a lot from your insights. Thanks. Good wishes to you.

  78. Ax Says:

    Don't vote for candidates that agree with your ideology, vote for candidates that pledge to eliminate the stranglehold that big business ($$$) and lobbyists have over politicians and support term limits.

    Money (at every level) is controlling the agenda, you and I are certainly not.

  79. Craig Gooding Says:

    You could call it Niemoller Roulette: "First they shot the African-Americans…"

  80. Ten Bears Says:

    The last person to call me nice, liberal, white got his head busted.

  81. Karon Hartman Says:

    How about putting your book on a pdf platform (?) (I am not a techie) and I will send you 25.00 dollars on paypal and you send me the pdf??

    I don't know how expensive it is to self publish, but this would take out all the expense and just leave you with a profit. And it would leave me with a 'good book' I could print and enjoy at my leisure.

    Been a follower for years. Enjoy your work. Thanks for 'listening'.

  82. Mo Says:

    Meanwhile, in Alaska, where even the dogs own guns and everyone has dead animal parts in their freezers:

    Alaskan gun owners who think assault rifles are bullshit

  83. Katydid Says:

    Interesting read on guns: "There are more regulations on the following things than guns: Art, sinus medications, fertilizer for your garden, medications for your pets, phones, bus passes, concert tickets, passports, state IDs, voting, eating, drinking, selling, buying, maintaining a public toilet, running a coffee shop, garbage pickup, solar power, turbine energy, electric cars, dog collars, pet food, public urination, private sex acts, sale of private property without licensing, driving a car, riding a bike, running a dog park, birth, death, animal ownership and even what language you can use and where it is allowable."

    More at https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/17/1742335/-When-Ownership-Becomes-More-Important-Than-Life

  84. mojrim Says:

    @Ten Bears: My apologies to you, personally. My larger point still stands.

    @Kaytdid: You can care about as many things as you like, what you burn glucose over is what matters. So far you're still shoring up the perimeter.

  85. mojrim Says:

    Edit: @Ten bears – My apology contingent on you being none of those.

  86. Katydid Says:

    @mojrim; this is said with no snark: Just how in the world do you know what I burn glucose over?

    This is said with a fair bit of snark; "\You've been up on your soapbox lecturing complete strangers on the internet and the bottom line is, you have absolutely no idea what any of us do when we're not typing comments.

  87. Luther M. Siler Says:

    I've got six books available, all self-published. If the book is written already the only real timesink left is the cover; formatting and getting everything ready to go is a matter of a couple of days' work at best.

    Drop me an email if you want some tips and suggestions.

  88. Tim H. Says:

    Something interesting:
    A GOP donor has said his checkbook isn't opening for candidates who won't support firearms regulations, maybe only a start, but it's something.

  89. Ten Bears Says:

    I'm not nice, moj, I'm not white, I'm a half-breed, and I'm not a "liberal". I like to think of myself as a Pissed Off Pistol Packing Progressive, but recognize that my firm conviction there are people out there who are less than sufficiently evolved, less than human, who represent a clear and present danger to my grandchildren's survival and need be eliminated is regressive at best.

    I'm totally cool, though, with rounding them up, at gunpoint, stuffing them into cattle cars and "escorting" them to reservations out in the hinterlands.

    OK, maybe a little liberal.

  90. mojrim Says:

    @katydid: I can only judge you all here rom what you say here. My originating point was that the discussion had almost instantly become a parody of what Ed pointed out. Going from his point to "assault weapons and mass shootings" gives me a pretty good idea where people's real concerns lie. I welcome you to prove me wrong.

    @ten bears: Well, there you have it. Let's start with oil company execs.

  91. Aurora S Says:

    Mojrim, what’s your point?

  92. Katydid Says:

    @Aurora, right, what's mojrim's point? Using his logic, we can all pout and stomp and tantrum because there are children starving in Somalia right now and HE'S NOT POSTING OUTRAGED COMMENTS ABOUT IT! Eleventy!!11!!

    I mean, there you go. Obviously in mojrim's world, people can only be concerned about a single issue–his–and anything else that happens in the world MUST NOT BE TALKED ABOUT until mojrim's pet cause is sufficiently honored.

  93. Katydid Says:

    Also @mojim, I am sincerely saddened that you feel nothing whatsoever for the 17 kids killed (and others grievously wounded) in the latest school shooting, or the people slaughtered at the church in Texas, or any of the other dozens upon dozens of mass killings in the past couple of years…simply because those people were murdered in a way that doesn't tie into your personal mania.

  94. Mike's Blog Round Up – NEWSFUZZ Says:

    […] Gin and Tacos – why do we live like this? […]

  95. Ed Says:

    2 points: The author is a racist and people vote for freebies. It's why "democracy" will never work.

  96. Academia ingles Speakschool Says:

    great post. Thanks for sharing

  97. Frank Wilhoit Says:

    "…have been far too willing to be bought off and throw others under the bus in exchange for INtangible economic^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hemotional benefits…"


  98. Ten Bears Says:

    Wouldn't want to single out just the oil company execs, but they are in that herd I'm thinking of: the international bankers and insurers, lawyers, politicians, republicans, anyone who bows down to a god, anyone who would impede my grandchildrens' odd of survival.

  99. Flying Squirrel Says:

    Re: a recent twit of yours mentioning blacks buying guns (I read but don't send), if somebody with a spare billion or three offered to give every non-white adult registered voter an AR-15 in 6 months unless credible gun control existed, guessing something interesting might happen. Besides voter suppression.

  100. Brian M Says:

    It's too easy to say that "better mental health care" will solve the problem. I don't think it is the solution at all. Mental health "science" is very, very sketchy in its effectiveness-people are hard to "cure", especially given that even defining "mentally ill" is a major challenge.

    The real problem is anger. And anger is partly due to many of the factors discussed here…self righteousness, a sense that one is "owed" something and "they" are taking it away. The crimes of sinners who do not obey your religion. etc. etc.

    Plus: how easy is it to decide when someone is dangerous enough that one takes away rights? It's tougher than one wants to think.

    I think badtux makes some good points here:


    The problem is not that the police don't swoop in and arrest every angry kid, but that we swim in a sea of readily available weapons. Buckaroo's comment on the thread comparing Australia and the Benighted States is thought provoking as well.

  101. Brian M Says:

    Flying Squirrel: My understanding is that the first round of gun regulations in the late 1960s-firmly supported by the NRA…came about exactly because of that situation. The Black Panthers terrified the Old School Racists.

    "Happily"*, they were able to latch onto the War on Drugs and Anti-Abortion and solidify their political coalition for the next forty years. And here we are today.


  102. geoff Says:

    @Brian M, as a (comparative) youngster, and a whitey to boot I don't know a hell of a lot about the Black Panthers, but I DO know they organized in part to resist police brutality by the Oakland PD. And part of the way they tried to do that was by openly carrying shotguns and rifles (legally, at the time anyway) so the cops would think twice before fucking with them.

  103. Brian M Says:

    Geoff: That is my understanding as well. And this made the racists very unhappy.

  104. Ten Bears Says:

    Mental health "science" is very, very sketchy … full stop.

  105. mojrim Says:

    I'm not sure how you get from my actual statements to inferring that I don't care. It's really the other way around, as you've aptly demonstrated with your remark about my "personal mania." The only time comfortable white people give a damn is when it break through the perimeter, those of us living outside the castle have lived with this and cared a very great deal long before most people had heard of "assault weapons."

    Where I grew up it was a retail and daily occurrence, but it was happening to brown people, by ones and twos, so no one that mattered gave a shit. The american left's answer, in fact, was to label people I knew as "superpredators," take away their marginal financial support, and throw them in jail for longer periods on lesser charges.

    So no, I directly empathize now that it's happening to you. You'll have to forgive me if I'm somewhat dubious as to your (comfortable white folks) sympathies now that you have turned an OP of exactly what I just said into a discussion of how to rebuild your ramparts.

  106. geoff Says:

    Pretty good article from Mark Ames from 2012(!)– here's the money quote:

    "From the oligarchy’s perspective, the people were thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that guns gave them. Guns don’t work in this country — they didn’t work for the Black Panthers or the Whiskey Rebellion, and they won’t work for you or me either."


  107. Major Kong Says:

    Also, you might ask any remaining inhabitant of Fallujah just how effective armed militias are against a trained military.

  108. democommie Says:

    @Aurora S/ February 15th, 2018 at 3:38 am"

    The next time Bernard says anything relevant will be the first. I'm thinking he's a bot.

  109. democommie Says:

    @ Tim H:

    "it's going to cost a lot more than the profits gained by politically connected business creatures."

    The tremendous pain, suffering and financial loss suffered by the 99% is considered "bycatch"; so long as the 1% get theirs, just shovel the pain right back onto society.

  110. Katydid Says:

    @mojrim, "Cool story, bro". Also, on the internet, nobody can tell you're a dog…

  111. democommie Says:

    @ Tim H:

    "it's going to cost a lot more than the profits gained by politically connected business creatures."

    The tremendous pain, suffering and financial loss suffered by the 99% is considered "bycatch"; so long as the 1% get
    theirs, just shovel the pain right back onto society.

    "Meanwhile, in Alaska, where even the dogs own guns and everyone has dead animal parts in their freezers"

    Good read, thanks.


    "This is said with a fair bit of snark; "\You've been up on your soapbox lecturing complete strangers on the internet "

    Well, I think we all do that to some extent, but usually not without some prodding by said stranger.

    I get strong feelings (mojrim–and me and a lot of others), but I don't bother talking to people (beyond being nasty) who I feel are so different than I am that they can't understand my life.

    And, then of course, there are the Bernards of the world.


    "I'm thinking of: the international bankers and insurers, lawyers, politicians, republicans, anyone who bows down to a god, anyone who would impede my grandchildrens' odd of survival."

    I am none of those people but if you tell me what part of the country your grandchildren live in, I will try to not fuck anything up when I'm there. I can't speak to what I might do in my own home! {;>)

  112. democommie Says:

    " The only time comfortable white people give a damn is when it break through the perimeter, those of us living outside the castle have lived with this and cared a very great deal long before most people had heard of "assault weapons."

    demonstrably untrue. Sorry.

    I've given a fuck about this stuff, in spite of my old, fat, white guy privilege–for years–just like I give a fuck about a lot of other things.

  113. Brian M Says:

    People like mojrim are one (of many) reasons the Trump Crime Family is in power today. So focused on narrow grievances and group identify that they lash out in an amazingly tone-deaf manner. Why are they surprised that Tools like the Alt-Right do not latch onto this same mode of politics…group grievance is powerful.

  114. Ormond Otvos Says:

    Minimal home defense: shotshells in a .38 revolver.

  115. Mo Says:

    Money, Ed. Virtual high five.

    Beat the NRA like a drum, with a drum

  116. democommie Says:

    @ Ormond Otvos:

    I'd go with a sawed-off .410 with #7 or smaller shot. At 10' or so it will leave an unholy mess.

    This video:


    is using a hybrid load but it's inforamative.

    I just can't believe he didn't tape his target to something that would backstop it better, like that big ol' steel tank you see in the video behind of him, there!

  117. mago Says:

    So this comment thread is tired and old now. Guess I'll just weigh in, then.

    It's all Quentin Tarantino's fault for watching so many movies, then making his own.

    "Bang bang, he shot me down/bang bang I hit the ground/bang bang my baby shot me down".

    Just bein a dick on a Friday afternoon while no one's around.

  118. democommie Says:

    @ mago:

    It's 12:35 AM and I came here to smoke pot or kick ass and I'm all out of pot, so…wait, there was a roach.

  119. Katydid Says:

    @mago: Bang Bang was Cher's first hit in 1966 (thanks, Wikipedia). The first time I heard it on the radio as a child, I was shocked that the singer liked a boy who used to kill her. My father (who was born in the 1930s) explained that when he was a child, they used to play cops & robbers and cowboys & indians all the time (they had to explain what that was) and in the 1950s, little boys like to wear hats made to look like dead animals (coonskin caps) and pretend to "settle the old west" (which went over child-me's head but adult-me realizes they were playing at genocide.

    Young-adult me was also around for start of Nick at Night, where they played The Honeymooners and a man threatening harm on his wife was seen as adorable tv fair and fun for the whole family to watch.

    Slightly-ollder-adult me had a co-worker whose husband used to threaten her regularly with a gun and the courts did nothing until he finally killed her with it, but hey, she "deserved" it for wanting to leave him and "men have rights to their guns!"

    Whenever the gunzloonz or the head of the NRA try to insist that gun violence was rare before that #$%$$ black man entered the White House, I think about how normalized gun violence was so that children emulated it and women expected it in relationships.

  120. mago Says:

    Sr. Democommie, I'm guessing cause I don't know–not hanging out with the crowd, although I know a few–that you could go around most any Colorado stoner's living room with a baggie and collect enough roaches to get you down the road a ways, and you wouldn't even have to grope in the dark.

    Yeah, Katydid, the cultural detritus imprinted on the broken mirror shards of corrupt culture. Or something like that. God. Cher. She should know as female in a duo in that time and place. Ike and Tina Turner, Nina Simone, shit, you name it. Bonanza time with a coon skin cap.

    Think I'll light a fire then go to bed.

    Happy hunting, DC.

  121. Katydid Says:

    Mago, how old was Cher in 1966? 18? 19? If you're raised in the cesspool, that's all you know. If she were still singing about it in 2018, that would be hugely wrong, but if you notice, her hits haven't been about that in decades.

    It seems like the culture goes through cycles of fascination with the mythological old west. The Little House on the Prairie series was published in the 1950s and an instant hit, then rediscovered in the 1970s and 1990s. I re-read them in the 1990s and was horrified at all the casual violence toward Native Americans and African-Americans that had gone right over my head in the 1970s.

    Anyone remember that episode of the original Star Trek series where they beam down to a planet run by Al Capone? Child-me had no clue any of that had actually happened in the 1930s, but child-me was also well-aware how much fun the actors were having in that episode.

  122. Flying Squirrel Says:

    I was a kid in the 60s, watching westerns and using our toy arsenals to play war in upper middle class suburbia. Those of us with stable lives generally grew out of play violence because it didn't happen in real life (we went to college, no Vietnam for us!). Now it does, and they never have the pressure or support to grow out. We had, in fact, the opposite with the hippies and antiwar protests. Hopefully we're seeing a domestic-facing version forming in front of us.

    I vaguely remember that Cher song; made no impact beyond "eew, that's gross" because there was no personal connection. I imagine my peers with hidden family violence had a different reaction.

    Al Capone was pretty well known by my crowd, if for nothing else then because he (or his myth) and Elliot Ness had tommy guns, the peak of toy weaponry. But it was all fantasy, no relation to real lives, even a gag on Star Trek. And was from the 1920s prohibition era, BTW.

  123. geoff Says:

    @Katydid, FS, yup, I had a toy pistol by the time I was 4 years old, and the only thing on tv were westerns (and Lost In Space!).

    @Mo, thanks for the link to Ed's WASHINGTON FUCKING POST op ed. Burmila: puttin' the Ed in op ed since 2017!! (Here it is again– don't miss it, y'all!)


  124. geoff Says:

    By the way, about a quarter of the kids at that shot-up high school are now able or soon WILL be able to vote, and they could probably push back HARD against the NRA single issue voter types. Maybe somebody in FL should make sure those kids (and ALL kids) get registered.

  125. Matt Says:

    @Katydid BTW, if you've got some free time there's a very detailed series of posts breaking down the whole Little House series. Also digs into the real-world behavior of the author and her family (spoiler: they're bad at farming and worse at being humans)


  126. Katydid Says:

    @Matt; thank you for this! I adored the books when I was 7 or 8, I watched the tv series faithfully even though they were so unlike the books. I even had the "Little House Cookbook" with recipes meant for girls to make with their mothers' help. When I had a daughter of my own, I bought her the set and read them to her…and saw some really terrible things that had flown completely over my head as a child. The casual racism, the sexism, the fact that the entire family lived off Laura's earnings in a town sweatshop sewing shirts and later her earnings as a schoolteacher..

    Ah, yes, Lost in Space, a show meant to appeal to the Boomers, featuring an Aryan-looking boy who was smarter than the rest of the family and the robot.

  127. democommie Says:

    "Anyone remember that episode of the original Star Trek series where they beam down to a planet run by Al Capone?"

    The Al Capone character was played by Vic Tayback, the diner's boss, Mel, in "Alice".

    "Ah, yes, Lost in Space, a show meant to appeal to the Boomers, featuring an Aryan-looking boy who was smarter than the rest of the family and the robot."

    I have the VHS (look it up, YOUNGZ!) of "Lost in Space" the movie with Gary O, William Hurt and Matt LeBlanc as well as Mimi Rogers and a couple of decent young actors. The movie was a hoot.

  128. Mike's Blog Round Up – NEWSFUZZ Says:

    […] Gin and Tacos: We don’t have to live like this […]

  129. Mike's Blog Round Up – Liberal View News Says:

    […] Gin and Tacos: We don’t have to live like this […]