Detroit loves nothing better than hosting a huge sporting event. The city is really at its rowdy, friendly best when thousands of out-of-towners drop in for a Super Bowl, or an All-Star Game, or a Final Four.
Of course, it would be nice if the weather cooperated, too.
Eh, I guess it could be worse. The forecasts called for anywhere from one to 10 inches — talk about hedging your bets — and it seems we fell well into the short end of that zone. It won’t last, but it’ll leave a lot of North Carolinians convinced they made the right call in moving south. I suppose I’m backing the home team, although truth be told I have no interest. No one in the house does. Guess what my husband said Saturday night: “Until I saw it spelled out, I thought Michigan State was playing a team from Alaska.” UConn, Yukon — what’s the difference, really?
OK, so: On to today.
Let’s start with a stipulation: Everyone is blind to their own side’s faults. And so the argument that starts “If (my guy, whom you hate) and done the same thing as (your guy), you’d be screaming bloody murder” just isn’t worth having.
Or if it is worth having, at some point someone is going to say, “Well, he started it.”
So there’s the stipulation. Ideas have consequences, the right lectured the left for, oh, years and years and years. The inventor of the birth-control pill envisioned it being used by married women in their 40s who wanted no more children, and whoops, he touched off the sexual revolution. And so on. To this day, you can still find conservatives trying to link whatever they disapprove of to a “culture” that encourages it, everything from sexy Bratz dolls to gay marriage to whatever has a bug up their butt at any given moment.
Only here’s something they’re strangely silent on: Our current trend of mass murders and shootings. Guy bursts into a Unitarian church, says he wants to kill liberals. Silence. Guy kills three cops, friends say he fears “the coming Obama gun ban.” Crickets, also caviling. Who, us? Encourage an atmosphere of fear and suspicion? I don’t know who you’re talking about. Certainly not us.
I knew the cold-dead-fingers contingent had passed a milestone when, after one of these slaughters, the talking points became “well, if only one of the potential victims had been packing, s/he could have expertly returned fire and taken the maniac out.” (This isn’t something you heard after the guy shot up the nursing home last week, I noted.) Not so much soul-searching, however.
Of course, if there was, it would be easy to miss. I recommend Eric Boehlert’s excellent column for Media Matters, “Rampage Nation,” about the steadily declining interest in the steadily increasing number of massacres nationwide:
Killing sprees, especially the ones that have erupted since the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, just don’t hold journalists’ attention like they used to.
Even more telling was the way the press avoided addressing the issue of gun control in connection with the Alabama rampage. There was a virtual media ban on the topic last week. And that’s become the media’s trademark pattern when covering the mass murders that stain the country — they’re treated as though they’re isolated incidents and as though there is no larger public policy issue that ties them together. The press has pretty much embraced the old NRA mantra: Guns don’t kill people. People do.
That I would disagree with. Rather, I think gun control doesn’t come up because gun control is absolutely a lost cause in this country. As I have been cynically telling people for years, America has made its bloody bed, and now it has to lie in it. What’s more, any talk of gun control, no matter how reasonable or incremental, only serves to make things worse, as we saw in Pittsburgh this weekend. There’s nothing like a tentative policy statement made by some C-list legislator somewhere for firing up the troops, and before you know it some lunatic is taking out cops because the president is coming for his guns.
How good is this sort of talk for the gun business? Very, very good.
Meanwhile, Dave Cullen has produced what sounds like an excellent book on Columbine, 10 years later. Seems a long time ago, doesn’t it?
OK, so the week begins with snow, but somewhere in here we have baseball and, by week’s end, spring again. So fingers crossed.
coozledad said on April 6, 2009 at 10:53 am
Well, let me just get ahead of this whole thing by saying Ted Kennedy. And some sentence where you’re is misspelled as your. And Billy Carter!
alex said on April 6, 2009 at 10:57 am
Oh, and don’t forget possessives intended as plurals and vice versa, Cooz. And Bill Clinton getting blown.
Colleen said on April 6, 2009 at 11:02 am
I love you guys.
Connie said on April 6, 2009 at 11:06 am
5 or so inches of very wet snow here in Elkhart, had trouble with my back roads route to work, one fallen tree blocking road, two sheriff’s cars with lights blocking another road. There are lots of powerlines down, mostly just west of us.
When my friends and co-workers are actually anticipating spring I always tell them that I remember the great St. Patrick’s Day blizzard of 1973. (also the first time I ever saw green beer.) So I have always had that as my mental end of winter. Guess I will have to rethink that.
I am an MSU alumna, married to the son and brother of MSU alumni, so you know who I’ll be rooting for. If I actually watch. My husband put a great version of the MSU fight song on his blog:
As to UConn, I was once at a (unrelated) event at the Indianapolis Westin when some part of the NCAAs was going on there. We took a break and I walked into the Main lobby just as the entire UConn marching band lined up inside and began playing their fight song.
brian stouder said on April 6, 2009 at 11:17 am
By definition, in the aftermath of any particular ONE of these horrendous and irrational massacres, we never get to ask “why”, because there can be no answer.
But we CAN ask, in a more general sense, “why” we have this unending bloody parade of horrors – or what in this society nurtures and/or facilitates (not to say “causes”) this.
Reading Meacham’s Andy Jackson book, I just passed the section where Webster and Hayne have given their epochal Senate speeches during the South Carolina Nullification crisis – and Meacham included a bit from another senator, who captured something timeless about passionately held and expressed views; and the mistake therein, of not leaving room to disagree reasonably.
I haven’t got that book at hand, and I forget the senator’s name – but it underscored the timeless nature of human (and not just American) brutality.
MichaelG said on April 6, 2009 at 11:21 am
‘I knew the cold-dead-fingers contingent had passed a milestone when, after one of these slaughters, the talking points became “well, if only one of the potential victims had been packing, s/he could have expertly returned fire and taken the maniac out.” ‘
The gun nuts are always saying that and it simply doesn’t match up with the realities of life. And death. Possession of guns, even with training and experience to back up said possession provides no guarantee that the good guys will prevail. Life is not an episode of the “Lone Ranger”. Consider the seven cops from Oakland and Pgh. and however many other have been and will be killed while on duty. They were all packing.
Don’t have a dog in the MSU/UConn fight. It’ll be a fun game to watch. I was sad to see Stanfurd so badly beaten by the other UConn last night.
nancy said on April 6, 2009 at 11:28 am
MSU’s dog already won that fight, Michael, on Saturday. The game tonight is against North Carolina.
The cold-dead-fingers contingent was perhaps topped by the terra-cotta-toothed* John Derbyshire, who openly speculated on the manhood of those who failed to “take (the Va-Tech killer) down,” during the rampage, “perhaps while he was reloading.”
* line stolen from Brett Butler, who used it to describe her ex-husband.
mark said on April 6, 2009 at 11:33 am
Yes, it’s all about frenzied neo-cons, whipped up by talk radio, out to defend their guns and kill liberals. I think what you want is more thought control.
Since were missing the “larger public policy issue that ties” these shootings together, let’s talk about it. But let’s include the career thug who popped four cops in Oakland and the dozen plus dead in New York with no evidence of a McCain/Palin bumper sticker and despite some of the most stringent gun control laws.
Leave out any discussion of possible influence of increasing depictions of violence in the popular “arts” or video games that consume half the free time of a third of our population. Those are “right wing” talking points and may be dismissed on that basis alone.
And let’s ignore the unique, melting pot, demographics of the US and look for lessons in Sweden or Japan, where everyone looks the same, smells the same, likes the same food and prays to the same God.
And please, no mention of Detroit or Gary, those hotbeds of rabid Republicanism, where the monthly death toll exceeds dacade long totals for Binghamton, Samson and Geneva, recent events included. Those killings are just one or two at a time. Black on black violence and gangbanger antics might distract from the essential point of the dangers of right wing speech or how we need more background checks and waiting periods to make it more difficult for the Crips and Disciples to purchase and register their firearms.
Mental illness deserves no mention because it couldn’t possibly be the “larger public policy issue” we want to talk about. Glen Beck or Sean Hanity made the wacko in Alabama set fire to his mom and shoot his four dogs as part of his rampage. Standard anti-Obama tactics.
Selective outrage indeed.
LA Mary said on April 6, 2009 at 11:36 am
Mark,it’s too easy to get guns. Mexican drug gangs come here for guns. Make what you like of that politically.
paddyo' said on April 6, 2009 at 11:36 am
Outrage about guns is outrage about guns, period. We live, breathe, eat, sleep and play in a guns-guns-guns culture, even the many of us (me included) who want zero to do with firearms. I agree with Nancy — the gun-control battle is lost.
That said, I couldn’t help noticing that last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad” ratcheted up the gun factor for our anti-heroes, the terminally ill high-school chemistry teacher Walter and his former student and penny-ante druggie Jessie. If you haven’t seen, these are an unlikely pair who cook meth in a beat-up motorhome (chiefly to raise $$ for Walter’s chemo and to provide for his family after he’s gone). Until a couple of episodes ago, they did their business with a badass ultraviolent gun-toting dealer who came to a predictable and bloody end.
So in the void left behind by the death of “Tuco” and the arrest of all his lieutenants, our anti-heroes are trying to move their stuff on their own — and after one of their new amateur crew of street dealers gets ripped off by a couple of methheads with a knife, they must now decide how to keep their enterprise safe.
So, in the previews for next week, the handgun — and the blood — both come back out …
Entertaining and terribly unsettling at the same time. I think the show does a service by showing how dreadfully awful that way of life is … but it’s yet another entertainment, or lesson, built around guns-guns-guns.
Somebody tell me that the profusion of gun images in everyday culture doesn’t add to the myriad influences (not to mention, of course, the laughable ease with which firearms and ammo can be obtained) that lead the guns-blazing sickos down the road to more and more frequent massacres.
No answers here, but having covered Columbine, Red Lake and too many other bloody messes, I’m sure tired of it.
brian stouder said on April 6, 2009 at 11:38 am
Well, as a matter of fact some of those same radio lip-flappers, Mark, DID highlight a street protest by a handful of people in Oakland – which was in sympathy with the shooter and not the police who were killed.
Their message was….
I don’t know what their intended message was. But I will state that people who make millions of dollars (or, in previous generations, successful national political careers) based on their unswerving stridency on every damned issue that comes up, is bad for America or any other human society (the seeds of our own catastrophic Civil War were sown and cultivated with an abundance of stridency)
moe99 said on April 6, 2009 at 11:42 am
Since I was incommunicado, visiting my mother in Lexington last week, can I just add a ps on the worst gift ever from the Thursday thread?
Christmas, 1998: the (now) ex husband gives me the vacuum cleaner from his recently deceased mother’s very humble estate. That should have been a tip off of what was to come.
whitebeard said on April 6, 2009 at 11:44 am
I believe in personal gun control; I do not own any guns, although there may be a .22 rifle in the attic that my wife’s dad had for use on dying animals.
I will not allow anyone riding in my car to have a handgun in their briefcase. My car, my rules, even though my friend was fluent in Russian and would like to impress Russian strippers with my wheels of the week, which made for interesting conversations back at the motor lodge after the show was over. Note: just conversation, most of them had Russian bodyguards who basically had one word in their vocabulary and that was NYET.
I have exercised gun control by taking a loaded rifle away from a mentally unstable man in a hospital emergency room (that’s a long story).
When coworkers (and handgun nitwits) would say I was afraid to even hold a gun, I informed them I had been in the Canadian Armed Forces Militia and had held and fired a Browning machine gun, Luger pistol, Sten submachine gun, Sterling submachine gun and other loaded weapons, and participated in rifle competitions with an Army-issued FN-C1 (technically a carbine and not a rifle), most of which I could field-strip in the dark and not lose any parts.
I am not afraid of guns; I just do not like them and do not think they should be so readily available.
nancy said on April 6, 2009 at 11:47 am
Years before Rush took it mainstream, talk radio existed mainly to serve insomniacs (WLW, et al), lunatics (Art Bell) and a tiny slice of the reactionary and paranoid. A lot of these were broadcast on short-wave frequencies, because they were so insane reputable stations wanted nothing to do with them.
Except the one I worked for!
They used to run a show called (I think) Tom Valentine. My old radio partner Mark heard him once entertain a call from someone who said he was packing his guns and headed to Washington to take the next step in disabling our corrupt government, blah blah blah. You never heard anyone backpedal so fast, but he really seemed shaken by the idea that someone might a) listen to what he says; b) swallow it; and then c) act on it.
A discussion is all I’m suggesting. Maybe someone on the right saying, “This Obama gun ban thing is maybe not doing us any good.” PARTICULARLY SINCE IT HASN’T EVEN BEEN SUGGESTED, you know.
Gasman said on April 6, 2009 at 11:48 am
As for the NRA being invincible, remember that the tobacco lobby used to own Washington. It took a mountain of irrefutable evidence that indeed cigarettes were killing people for the tobacco lobby to lose its power. Likewise, it will take several more mass shootings to make any politician willing to take them on.
The gun nuts have real trouble with the second amendment. They fail to realize that it contains a dependent clause which pertains to national, not personal defense. They either simply blithely ignore this inconvenient truth or they weave fanciful yarns about how the Michigan Militia is a latter day reckoning of the “militia” mentioned within the amendment.
As for other gun restricting societies not having our demographics, Canada is damn similar to us in that regard, yet gun violence is but a fraction of what it is here. Given that we share the longest unprotected international border with Canada, that in and of itself is remarkable.
Gun nuts are adherents to the myth that guns are the preferred solutions to our problems rather than the cause thereof. Look to our north and south; Canada has very little gun violence of any kind, and Mexico – now also awash in American firearms – is descending into anarchy. It’s not that Canadians don’t have their share of kooks, they just don’t have the same kind of ready access to guns. The Mexican experience, however, seem to disprove the notion that the mere presence of guns makes everyone safer.
ABC is going to air a special later this week “If I Only Had a Gun” in which they debunk the myth that an average gun owner has the ability to deter or even stop crime. That old chestnut is the first thing that needs to go if any kind of sane policy on gun ownership is to emerge.
Julie Robinson said on April 6, 2009 at 11:53 am
Since my sister has two degrees from her beloved “State”, I have to cheer for them. But the game doesn’t start until 9:30 pm. and I’m too old to stay up that late.
Did anyone else watch our own IPFW team almost beat MSU back in November? It should be a real bragging point in recruiting for the Mastodons.
I am afraid of guns and not ashamed to say so.
brian stouder said on April 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm
The gun nuts have real trouble with the second amendment. They fail to realize that it contains a dependent clause which pertains to national, not personal defense. They either simply blithely ignore this inconvenient truth or they weave fanciful yarns about how the Michigan Militia is a latter day reckoning of the “militia” mentioned within the amendment.
gasman – the folks who want to more effectively control these weapons ALSO have “real trouble” – because although there is that clause you refer to – the amendment does NOT say that “the right of well regulated militias to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” –
but instead “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”
This is what puzzles me about the gun nuts – aside from the fact that (as Nance pointed out) the president has never proposed any sort of sweeping gun restrictions; even if he DID want to, the Constitution (and numerous SCotUS decisions) would stop him.
The plain fact (as Nance also pointed out) is our bed is made. The Constitution ain’t infallible, and ultimately amending it again will be necessary, if shootin’ irons are gonna be reigned in
John said on April 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Re:Recent Gun Violence
Last week’s North Carolina nursing home shooting victim Lillian Dunn (89) was born Lillian Eugenia Nall, sixth cousin (twice removed) of our hostess.
No comment is befitting this kind of senseless violence.
ROgirl said on April 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm
“Entertainer” Rush Limbaugh whips people up into a frenzy, perhaps inciting those with a couple of screws loose to believe that their guns, freedom, whatever, is going to be wrenched from them by the forces of Obama. Tragedy ensues. Limbaugh et al deny any responsibility for the actions of these crazies, feeding the fears by proclaiming that the reactions of those who believe guns should be controlled in some way is proof of the fantasies/beliefs of the delusional gun toters.
Connie said on April 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm
We should interpret the second amendment to allow the kinds of guns available when it was written. Don’t the legal scholars call that original intent? It is the insistence on including AK 47s, assault rifles, etc. in the equation that seems so horribly wrong to me.
Guns at my house: My husband’s childhood BB gun, some kind of black powder pistol, some kind of ancient historic rifle with bayonet, and an absolutely gorgeous replica of a circa 1850 50/54 caliber double barrel rifle.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 12:20 pm
The comparisons between guns and tobacco sadly do not work. I’ve yet to see a bumper sticker with the phrase, “God, Guts and Tobacco Made American Great.” Firearms are woven deeply into our nationa DNA. So is violence. As H. Rap Brown said more some 30 years ago, “Violence is as American as apple pie.” And, as the book and film “Thank You For Smoking” noted, guns kill far fewer people than alcohol or tobacco. Nancy is correct. There will never, ever be meaningful efforts at any kind of gun legislation. Ever. The battle is over. The NRA won.
With all due deference to Mark, one of the most vicious, noxious things I’ve ever read came from some douche gun fantatic who calls himself a Confederate Yankee. A former Virginia Tech student who lost his girlfriend in the slaughter and now studies at a school in Texas was interviewed recently. He reiterated his hatred of guns and said he never gave a thought to buying one even in the aftermath of that tragedy. The Confederate Yankee called him a coward and a loser. It’s not enough the guy lost his girlfriend and witnessed all this violence. Naw, he’s a pussy because he didn’t fantasize about turning into Charles Bronson.
Mark is correct that the death tolls from gun violence are high in our non-Republican cities. No doubt Wayne La Pierre would tell us that if we were all carrying a sidearm or a shotgun, everything would be fine. But the idea of college kids wielding weapons –after Virginia Tech some gun nuts cited the campus policy for prohibiting guns as a core reason for the tragedy– scares the bejesus out of me. Let’s give a bunch of overly-hormoned, often drunk or buzzed kids a loaded pistol. Yeehaw.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 6, 2009 at 12:33 pm
Causality is questionable here; always sorry to disagree with the Blogmistress. One Goldberg book in a homicidal loon’s trunk doesn’t convince me of much, other than the need for greater access to mental health services in general.
No guns in the house, my dad has two, both of which are muzzleloading Civil War replicas. I think any home should be able to keep muzzleloaders on hand without much restriction.
What i’ve been pumping for nigh on thirty+ years is gun operator licensing. The sale of guns and the severe restriction of their sales and availability is akin to sending all the illegal aliens back across the border by force of law and arms — ain’t gonna happen.
But if you had to pass a serious moral equivalent of “Hunter’s Safety” (i’ve taken it three times, never been hunting once) to have a permit to use a gun, and the penalty was serious yet reasonable for anyone who was found with a firearm in useable condition that did not have a firearms license (or one that was withdrawn or cancelled for cause), it would be a good start. Obama spoke about user licenses early in the campaign, haven’t heard it come up for months.
Semi-auto weapons should have the snot restricted out of them, and full auto is already illegal if poorly enforced.
Having said all that — as a conservative — i think the real concern is getting a better understanding of men’s psychology that gives us this remorseless parade of fathers who kill their wife/partner/ex and kids, or one or the other, as the relationship breaks apart. The total of that nationwide far, far exceeds that of spree killers, and we have even more emphatically relegated those stories to one day locally, and to page five if it’s more than a county away.
I’ve looked for data on this, and there’s strikingly little done on the subject. Ohio’s epidemic of it would have already qualified as a public health crisis last year, let alone now with the economic pressures apparently upping the number here and elsewhere. What the bleep is going on with this, and how do we get out ahead of it? (And why do they “think” or come to believe that this is a proper prelude to killing themselves? Why not just take yourself out and leave the kids to their own destinies? Yes, i know some canned answers to that, mostly around narcissism gone terribly wrong, but i’d like some data with my anecdotes.)
What i know of these tragedies locally leaves me skeptical that a gun ban of any sort would stop them entirely, though it might slow them down a bit. I lose sleep over those situations, and the potential for them that i can’t quite see around the next corner, more than any other issue afoot in “the culture” today.
Happy Holy Week, everybody.
beb said on April 6, 2009 at 12:33 pm
Over the weekend my teen-age daughter and I were watching a DVD of the best of Looney Tunes. All these classics about Bugs and Elmer, and Elmer fighting his gun incessently. At one point my daughter observed that these cartoons were obvious made before people started talking about gun control. Indeed. Which raises the question: when did people start talking about gun control. Was it after Kennedy? Martin Luther King? The race riots that followed? Or was there some other event?
For that matter, in the 50s Westerns were all over the place on TV, in the movies, it was a recognized genre of books, like mysteries, romance and science fiction, but some time in the 60s all those westerns disappeared. When was that and why was that? Was it related to the gun control issue, because in the western genre ‘justice’ usually involved killing someone?
As for the differenec between violence in Canada and America, I’d like to argue that America was settled but a bunch of malcontents and criminals, thus like pit bulls, Americans are just naturally vicious until we bredd long enough to eliminate that viciousness gene.
By the way, last week Obama tried to warn the “banksters” on Wall street that “he” (he government) was the only thing standing between them and pitchforks. I just was to say that A) I do have a pitchfork and B) I know how to use it.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm
Another way to decrease gun violence would be to embrace the solution proposed by Chris Rock. Forget about banning guns but charge a ton for bullets and shells. “Man, I hate your guts and want to kill you . . . but I can’t afford it right now.”
Gasman said on April 6, 2009 at 12:48 pm
I know that the NRA has basically made every congressman and senator their personal bitches, but I still maintain that the NRA is not invincible. Every poll that I’ve seen of NRA members indicates that they overwhelmingly support at least limited gun control. Something like 3 to 1. The NRA is not a grassroots organization, it is the lobbying arm of the gun industry. Wayne La Pierre could give a fat rat’s ass about the rank and file NRA membership. That is why I think there is a chink in their armor. The reason that the NRA is so dominant is because of the money and pressure that they bring to bear. In that regard the NRA is exactly like tobacco. If that is weakened, or if another form of equalling compelling pressure is brought to bear on Washington – say because of a few more Columbine style school massacres, the NRA could lose its grip.
It does indeed say “the people,” but it clearly is referring to national defense, not personal. This was written during a time when our standing army was effectively nonexistent and state militias served as the backbone of our armed forces. The second half of the sentence is dependent upon the first. According to the wording, if you abrogate the necessity of the first clause, the second is not guaranteed. The authors of the second amendment were smart enough to word it as an absolute guarantee of gun ownership if that is what they meant. That they chose not to do so cannot be dismissed.
Lex said on April 6, 2009 at 1:02 pm
Re the “Who, me? Encouraging violence?” crowd, fortuitously, David Neiwert has a new book out on precisely that subject. And if you aren’t reading his blog, you should be.
Go, Tar Heels.
Hexdecimal said on April 6, 2009 at 1:09 pm
My solution is to tax the ammunition.
Make the price per shot a thousand a pop. We’ll still have a mass killings, but it’ll be being done only by those with a higher social economic insanity level.
edit:Ooops… Jeff Borden beat me to this.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 1:24 pm
The bit Chris Rock does on this never fails to split me up. It’s both funny and ferociously angry. This guy is such a talented man. I wish he was on the tube more frequently.
Hexdecimal said on April 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm
Jeff – I actually hadn’t seen it. I’ll see if it’s on the net and check it out. He is a funny funny guy
However, all humor aside, the idea of excessively taxing the ammunition isn’t all that bad an idea. It gets around the constitution argument without dening anyone their “rights”.
I’d say use the tobacco model – cigs are now over $7 a pack, more in some states, and are getting so expensive that most folks can’t afford the habit anymore.
coozledad said on April 6, 2009 at 1:51 pm
I love it when righties have to start quibbling about the recent body count from the latest eruption of heartland self-expression.
It gives ample opportunity for us to observe the smarmy evasiveness they look for from their ideological mentors. After they turned McVeigh loose on us, they disowned him. It’s as if they didn’t construct every piece of the fucker’s mental furniture.
Well fuck you, because I know who supported him. I used to carry mail to a lot of disaffected Republican tobacco growers. Magazines featuring McVeigh interviews from the jailhouse were a popular item. They were eating that shit up with giant salad spoons out there in Palinland. (And yeah, your postman knows all your kinks, without opening your damned mail. He’d have to be brain dead not to pick up on it after he’s delivered the third or fourth box of sex toys or Volume XXIII of Naked Civil War Reenactor’s Quarterly).
judybusy said on April 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm
One thing that those who say if victims were armed, they could take out the shooter ignore: the trauma those shooting the shooter could face. They make it sound so easy, so cartoonish, “Just blow the guy away!” However, I think very few people would be able to shrug off killing another person, even if in such horrible circumstances. Just look at the rates of PTSD in returning vets, who supposedly kill legitimately.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 2:24 pm
There’s also a great deal of faith on the side of the gun-toters that anyone with a weapon would use it skillfully. Unless you were talking about a combat veteran, perhaps, who’s to say the guy in the crowd with the gun might not kill or wound more innocents while shooting at the bad guy?
LA Mary said on April 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm
I think I’ve told the story here of my early days in LA, when someone tried, for about forty minutes, to break into my house while I was home. When the cops showed up, they told me I should have a gun. And do what? Kill the guy? Maybe just maim him and wait for the cops and hope he doesn’t bleed out?
whitebeard said on April 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm
Now that is a great idea, charge the moon, plus taxes, on ammunition for those right-to-bear arms. And then make everyone produce a gun-ownership license to buy ammo, but only allow a limited purchase, say one box of ammo every year. When bullets cost much more than beer, guess which one gets to the kitchen table first.
Jim in Fla said on April 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm
when did people start talking about gun control. Was it after Kennedy? Martin Luther King? The race riots that followed? Or was there some other event?
The National Firearms Act was passed in 1934, and the Federal Firearms Act in 1938. They were passed as a result of the gangster violence during the Great Depression. The intent of the National Firearms Act was to ban automatic weapons and easily concealed weapons such as sawed off shotguns. The Federal Firearms act required firearms sellers to be licensed, and prohibited sales to those convicted of certain violent crimes.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Great info. Thanks.
When Al Capone’s mobsters mowed down seven rivals from Bugs Moran’s operation in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929, it was a local and national outrage. Now, we kill that many over a weekend in Chicago and it goes largely unnoticed except for the grieving family members left behind.
It’s funny in a sick kind of way, I guess. We cannot muster outrage over the wholesale slaughter of our fellow citizens, but we profess outrage over any number of trivialities every day.
MichaelG said on April 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm
Nancy #7 — Of course I knew that MSU was playing UNC tonight. I watched them beat UConn the other day and have had to listen to the guy two cubes down talk about North Carolina all morning. I just had UConn on the brain after the Stanfurd collapse.
Dexter said on April 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm
A great day it is! Baseball (in the rain) in Cincinnati on TV, and tonight MSU gets kicked, killed and buried under a giant Tar Heel.
North Carolina , modern version, has become the “Yankees and UCLA of yesteryear”,
meaning they have all cylinders firing in recruiting and reputation …they are an awesome team, and they will just kick major Spartan ass tonight. It will be ugly…no need to watch if you are squeamish.
Still, as I wrote over the weekend, this UM sports fan just has to be for Sparty and his legion; all the sweeter it shall be when Blue beats them next year!
Oh…and “Sparty the Statue”, right beside the MSU football stadium, is a midget compared to “Spirit of Detroit”.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm
From the UK Independent, albeit ten years old —
Research showed the same phenomenon occurred elsewhere although in Australia, for instance, murder-suicide occurs twice as often.
One of the differences between British murder rates and the rest of the world’s is the general absence of guns, Dr Milroy said.
With about 700 unlawful killings a year, it works out at 13 for every million of the population. The rate in America is 10 times that. Although Switzerland is generally law-abiding, for example, when people murder they use guns.
Yet 40 per cent of murder-suicides in Britain use guns compared with 10 per cent of murder cases overall. Curiously, although the murder rate in Britain has doubled since 1960, the number of people who commit suicide after killing has remained fairly constant.
Dr Milroy said it was difficult to say whether there was anything that could be done to prevent the murder-suicides . . . Dr Milroy said: “If there are 100,000 marriage breakups a year and seven men kill their children, how do you put that into the equation? How are you going to go about assessing every man to say whether they are dangerous or not?”
He added: “But you could argue that if it’s a one in 600 million chance of contracting CJD from beef on the bone, the risk of a man killing his children is statistically higher.”
del said on April 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm
beb’s teenage daughter’s right (notwithstanding JiminFla’s fine historical note), gun control must’ve entered the public consciousness after the Bugs cartoons. We don’t see so many shoot em up cartoons anymore, do we?
As for gun control, bring it on, I say, but do it by degrees.
What’s going on in this country is goddamned nuts. It’s nuts. And our public “debate” is absent or absurd (e.g., the claim that America’s melting pot demographics skew gun crime, pure horseshit).
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm
From your lips to God’s ear, but I’ll believe it when I hear it.
One of my gun-loving friends often quotes “Shane,” who explains to the rancher’s little boy that a gun is “a tool, just like a shovel, as good or as bad as the man who uses it.” True, as far as it goes, but how do you keep the bad people from getting them? You can’t.
Then there’s the old “if it wasn’t a gun, it would be a knife or a club.” Also true, I guess, but I have never heard of multiple deaths attributed to a drive-by knifing.
LA Mary said on April 6, 2009 at 5:07 pm
And a knife is pretty much just a knife. There are not semi automatic assault knives, or cop killer ammo knives.
Gasman said on April 6, 2009 at 5:11 pm
The notion that the common gun owner would be able to stop a crime in progress is laughable. Anybody that has ever read any accounts of warfare has encountered soldiers who go through entire battles – lasting hours or even days – without firing a single shot. These are soldiers that have been trained to kill and trained under conditions that are very stressful and come as close as possible to simulating combat. How often do police miss when discharging their weapons in the line of duty? I suspect they hit their targets less often that you might suspect. If soldiers and cops freeze or miss the mark when faced with stress – despite constant training meant to simulate the stress of drawn weapons – what makes Joe the Gun Toter think that he’ll be shooting straight when confronted by a criminal, with his 4-8 hours of training?
And, the only way a gun could even potentially be used to stop a crime would be to keep it loaded and within reach at all times. This is precisely the way police and the NRA tell you not to store your weapons. A gun that is loaded and accessible is far more likely to be found by a child or used in a suicide or an act of domestic violence than in preventing a crime.
Police can discharge their weapons only when faced with what they believe to be potentially lethal force. If they shoot somebody without that standard being met, they can be criminally charged and prosecuted. Gun owners should not be held to a lower standard of when it is appropriate to use lethal force than the police. On the contrary, they should be held to a much higher standard.
Add to that the fact that gun owners are by nature a paranoid and fearful lot, and I’m more willing to bet that they fire at the wrong time and at the wrong people. If the well trained and well armed cops in Pittsburgh couldn’t stop a murderer, there isn’t one gun owner in a million that could.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 5:13 pm
The other thing about a knife is you have to get close. Guns making killing easy and impersonal. No muss. No fuss.
Gasman said on April 6, 2009 at 5:18 pm
Thanks for making that point. There is a certain amount of intimacy to using the knife. Guns are impersonal and require very little commitment. They also have this ability to empower the weakest and most disaffected cowards among us into believing that they are Rambo.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 5:38 pm
Your point about paranoiacs and guns reminds me of that tragic story out of Baton Rouge several years ago, where a couple of high school kids were looking for a Halloween party and knocked on the wrong door. One of them was an exchange student from Japan. I cannot recall the exact details, but the wife who answered the door freaked out and hubby can running with his big ass gun. The Japanese kid did not understand what the gunman meant when he yelled “freeze,” so the homeowner killed him where he stood. The shooter was acquitted on a charge of manslaughter because Louisiana law permits the use of deadly force against an intruder, though the kids were in the driveway, not the house.
It was something of an international incident, if I recall, with the U.S. ambassador to Japan forced to apologize on national TV there and explain that Americans didn’t usually shoot each other to death. There were real fears this killing and another in L.A. –where two Japanese college students were shot in the head during a carjackin– would chill tourism from Japan.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm
According to the University of Virginia Health Systems Analysis dept. —
According to the FBI’s annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) report, police are assaulted about 60,000 times each year, with approximately 10,000 of these attacks involving weapons, of which 3,000 are firearms. In some of these incidents, officers have had to shoot someone to save other lives, including their own.
Most people outside the law enforcement community generally do not realize that many officers, given circumstances where they could employ deadly force, refrain and hesitate until the last possible moment or do not use it at all. For example, if officers shot and killed 10 percent of those who assaulted them, they would be shooting and killing 6,000 individuals a year. If they shot 50 percent of those who assaulted them with weapons, they would shoot 5,000 people annually. The reality is that police shoot and kill about 350 individuals each year, a number that can illustrate the frequency with which officers refrain from using deadly force.
Jolene said on April 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm
Many good observations and arguments here. The story that Jeff B mentioned re the VT student whose girlfriend appeared in the context of a news article re a movement to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. I’m sure there have been worse ideas in human history, but it’s hard to think of many. So far, campuses have generally been exempt, even in states that allow concealed weapons (usually requires a special license), but, according to this article, bills to eliminate that exemption have been introduced in 18 state legislatures. None have passed, but, apparently, some people are still trying.
Re Jeff (tmmo)’s question re the male psyche and violence against partners and children during marital breakups: This phenomenon doesn’t seem a great mystery to me. Don’t the domestic violence experts tell us that women are at most risk when they say they are leaving–or even suggest that they might? Such statements and actions are an obvious threat to a sense of dominance and ownership that is, I believe, deep and primitive and also deeply male.
Scout said on April 6, 2009 at 7:05 pm
Crooks and Liars has a pretty comprehensive piece about the gathering firestorm of paranoia and how it is being deliberately fed by certain media types. I remember during the Presidential campaign when McCain and Palin were forced to dial the rhetoric back a bit as their audiences became increasingly violence prone; I wonder if something similar needs to happen in this case. Glenn Beck didn’t actually pull the trigger, but his and his ilk’s mounting hysteria can be argued to be adding accelerant to these fires.
Here’s the C & L link: http://crooksandliars.com/node/27180
Contained within is a link to a NY Time opinion piece that was written the day before one of the incidents and it was eerily prescient. In it, Charles Blow writes,
“At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That’s 5.5 million requests altogether over that period; more than the number of people living in Bachmann’s Minnesota.”
This is chilling.
MichaelG said on April 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm
Many years ago, like 40 or so, a woman of my acquaintance was single and living in an apartment in the Hashbury. She had a pistol in the drawer of her bedside table. An intruder came in through her window and beat her to the bedside table. She was extremely lucky that he panicked and ran when she screamed. Only thing he got was the gun.
Having a gun for protection is one of those things that always sounds like such a good idea, but the reality is a whole lot more iffy and a whole lot more complex than the gun lobby would have us believe.
jeff borden said on April 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm
Glenn Beck already is whining about this on his show today, claiming he is being blamed for the Pittsburgh shootings by “far left” web sites. What an asshat. There’s a story in New York magazine about this clown where the reporter is not allowed to even mention the town in Connecticut where Beck’s mansion is located. Beck’s driven in and out of NYC in a Cadillac Escalade by a beefy bodyguard. So, little Glenn can stir up this crap storm without ever worrying about being touched by it.
Dexter said on April 6, 2009 at 8:03 pm
MichaelG: My ex-dad-in-law kept a loaded shotgun above the door to his Fort Wayne house. I didn’t know this and I was there quite a bit…I mean, he should have told me . For a year I thought it was a decoration , or at least not loaded. But it damn-sure was. It was right there on a rack just above the door,
right beside the refrigerator full of beer in the rec room. They used to throw huge parties with lots of booze flowing, but no one ever got the gun down.
I felt a little like Walter of “Breakng Bad” must feel when his DEA bro-in-law is around…my father-in-law had a brother on the Indiana State Police . I always checked my ashtrays in my VW for roaches…you know, just in case….
nancy said on April 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm
I’ve had my car and house broken into, and I know the sense of violation that comes with it, but I honestly don’t think I could shoot someone in my house, unless s/he was threatening me or someone else. I just don’t think a stolen TV is worth a life. That case in Columbus a few years back, where the crazy guy fired wildly out of his window because some teenagers came onto his property made me sick, but not as sick as the reaction to it, the people who said an 18-year-old girl deserved lifelong disability for the crime of getting a thrill playing ding-dong ditch with the local eccentric.
Speaking of break-ins and violations, does anyone know more about the burglars who take a dump on the floor before they leave? I can’t imagine finding that little prize waiting for me.
Deborah said on April 6, 2009 at 8:27 pm
I wrote a comment earlier today while I was waiting at the BWI airport to catch a flight back to Chicago. Don’t see it here so something happened. I’ll start over here:
I went to DC this weekend with my daughter to attend a Forum for people who have the same neurological disorder she has, neurofibromatosis, or NF. It was very informative and quite emotional too. One of the attendees mentioned this amazing opportunity to get $500,000 grant money for the organization. A company this guy does business with (he’s from Michigan BTW) has a program where they honor a hero every year and give a half million to the not-for-profit of the winning hero’s choice. Anyone can vote for one of the 10 that have been pre-selected. So if you want to help an amazing organization called the Children’s Tumor Foundation, go to this website Lenoxhero.com then click on the link for Extra Mile Hero and vote for Pete Dingeman. Then you have to confirm via an e-mail they will send you. If he wins the CTF gets $500,000. If you want to know more about the CTF, check out ctf.org, but be warned the videos may make you cry. I listened to a lot of very smart docs this weekend and on top of that the cherry blossoms were in bloom in DC. After it was over my daughter and I walked the mall and oogled the White House, no vegetable garden was to be seen.
Deborah said on April 6, 2009 at 8:41 pm
OK back to the topic at hand. I used to keep a poster in my cubical at work about numbers of deaths caused by hand guns in whatever year it was. It was a list by country with a number next to each. I don’t remember the specifics, the countries listed at the top had the lowest numbers, like Japan or Sweden or whatever had single digits. The US was at the bottom of the list with a staggering multi-multi-digit number of deaths.
coozledad said on April 6, 2009 at 9:16 pm
When I was bartending, the cops used to tell me if anyone stepped over the bar, to hit them over the top of the head with the bottle of Galliano on the shelf behind me. Hard.
It was the only reason I could see for having it up there, because no one ever drank anything out of it, except my friend Brian, who would have huffed gasoline if it was the only available buzz. He was also the sole person who drank, and justified our purchase of, Sambuca.
A drunk jumped the bar one night, after standing on it for awhile and threatening to piss on it. I just held the receiver of the phone and told him “The cops are coming to kick your ass.” They would have, too. Especially in their bar. Probably with the bottle of Galliano.
brian stouder said on April 6, 2009 at 9:19 pm
Speaking of break-ins and violations, does anyone know more about the burglars who take a dump on the floor before they leave?
We have some in-laws who got burglarized, and got that gift, and I seem to recall that the police told them that this might well be taken as an indication of a fetish – that the intruder is inclined toward rape (somehow or other)
So I went googling and came to this page, which has an assortment of troubling articles to choose from
Jolene said on April 6, 2009 at 11:02 pm
Gee, Brian, after checking out one of those links, I’ve decided there are, in fact, some things human that are alien to me, and I’m OK w/ that.
beb said on April 6, 2009 at 11:20 pm
Robert Heinlein famously said that “an armed society is a polite society,” but that only makes sense is every armed person in society is willing to murder any other person in society who offends them. And even then the result isn’t a “polite” society but a terrorized one. The first man to his gun gets to dictate the rules for those slower. That’s not a polite society, that’s the end of civilization.
Jolene said on April 7, 2009 at 12:08 am
Hey, Barack picked the winner. Cool!
Do you suppose that means his judgments about the economy, foreign policy, and healthcare will turn out to be right, too?
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 7, 2009 at 12:28 am
Jolene, don’t go hacking on my Terence! But in this day and age, i’d point out that leaving a dump gets you a better DNA tracking sample than even a fingerprint. It’s as dumb as being . . . The Wet Bandits.
Dexter said on April 7, 2009 at 1:56 am
cooz: I once lived a a small Indiana town, three bars there, one a beer only joint and one kept changing its identity. At this incarnation it was a theme bar, always running little promotions and giveaways, and it was owned by a young man who was quite an entrepreneur. His cousin and I attended school together, and this cousin was laid-off from his job and was tending bar, evenings to closing, which was supposed to be three ay-em.
I was in there pounding down the longnecks and I said “Everett, you know I always spend all my considerable bar-time on this side of the bar. What say we switch for an hour so I can say I was a bartender once?”
He laughed and suggested we switch identities for an hour…so I took his bar-towel and stuck it my back pocket like he did and he donned my old Stroh’s baseball cap.
Some bikers came in, six people all told: my first customers. I asked Everett where the Budweisers were ,but no help ensued. I found them. I had never worked a cash register: I found the buttons.
I poured a few shots of Jack, I made a screwdriver for one of the biker chicks, and that’s all I remember. One hour , and it was fun. I was kinda digging it. I may have not cared for it when things got really busy, but I’ll never know.
Dexter said on April 7, 2009 at 3:22 am
“The beautiful run turned to a stumble, and like an oncoming hurricane, North Carolina caught the Spartans, blew through them, and left them flattened, so fast, so devastating, you almost expected to see ambulances at halftime.”
Lex said on April 7, 2009 at 11:44 am
[[When I was bartending, the cops used to tell me if anyone stepped over the bar, to hit them over the top of the head with the bottle of Galliano on the shelf behind me. Hard.]]
When a friend of mine owned a bar in Chapel Hill and my newspaper salary was barely keeping me off food stamps, I used to go tend bar for him on weekends. One night at closing time when my friend had stepped into the back for a moment, some guy climbed over the bar. I reached under the bar for the baseball bat and was just about to swing for the fences when my friend grabbed my arm and kept me from assaulting the local Alcohol Law Enforcement agent, whom I’d never been introduced to.
coozledad said on April 8, 2009 at 8:17 am
Lex: Which bar did you cover in Chapel Hill? I was at Val’s Upstairs in Durham.
I worked at Chapel Hill Stationers for awhile, which was the old Ledbetter and Pickard, and before that, Danziger’s restaurant. Eddie Nickens used to show up every now and then to ask for typewriter ribbon we never had in stock.
Lex said on April 9, 2009 at 10:43 am
Coozledad: The old Rhythm Alley, then located between Tijuana Fats and Dip’s Country Kitchen, in the mid-1980s.
coozledad said on April 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm
I think I saw the X-teens there around ’82 or 83. Was that the former location of the Cat’s Cradle? Chapel Hill is always shuffling the deck chairs. Durham just tends to eat its farrow and bulldoze the remains.
Lex said on April 21, 2009 at 9:56 am
Coozledad: Yeah, that was the former Cat’s Cradle, which lives again at a different location.