School Shootings: The new normal

Ho hum. So what’s in the news today?  Another school shooting? A child killed? Three dead?

Meh.

Nobody cares about that any more, don’t you know? We hardly even notice these things any more. Well, unless the killing is committed by a Muslim — then it gets attention.

This is the new normal, where crazy people can get guns easily and instead of stopping the problem at its core like every other modern nation has done, we just chalk it up to the cost of living in America. After all, what’s more important, the livgun-deaths-us-other-countries-chartes of children or the right to own deadly weapons?

Seems that question has been answered.

I used to post about these every time they happened, and I referred to it as the “Gun Control Shuffle”:

1. Have a mass shooting.

2. Bury the dead and cry.

3. Politicians talk about the need for gun control so this never happens again.

4. Gun manufacturers, through their lobby group the NRA, warns that the government is out to take everyone’s guns.

5. Gun lovers buy lots of guns because they believe the NRA and the right-wing media.

6. Gun manufacturers’ income skyrockets.

7. Gun manufacturers use this money to bribe politicians through their lobby group, the NRA.

8. Despite overwhelming public support, no gun control passes.

9. Another mass shooting occurs.

Repeat every few months.

I got tired of posting it, because instead of repeating every few months, it got to be every few weeks.

But apparently that’s the world we want to live in now.

Police shootings and guns everywhere

Why do police seem to shoot so many more people in America than in other countries?

Might I suggest it’s because of guns?

Let’s face it — being a cop isn’t an easy job, and you never know if some lunatic is going to take a pot shot at you. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before. Even the most enlightened, best trained officer worries about that.

But maybe what makes America different from other countries is that lots of people have guns. We have politicians who, instead of trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the insane and terrorists, make it easier for them to get these guns.

So when an officer makes a stop, they never know if the person theythcajdgcpz pull over is carrying. The officer has to be on his or her guard. Sometime they’re just not trained in how to handle these things. And sometimes, of course, the cops really are the bad guys.

This, of course, does not in the slightest explain why the victims of these police shootings are overwhelmingly not white people. Many of these shootings can easily be attributed to a combination of blatant racism and poorly trained officers.

But I can’t help but wonder if our gun culture also has a lot to do with it. I mean, it’s not like there aren’t police stops and crime in other civilized countries. What they don’t have are guns everywhere — and maybe that explains the difference.

 

 

To my gun-owning friends: The dam is bursting

by Guest Blogger Mark Amidon

Anyone who has known me for more than two conversations knows that I don’t believe much in the efficacy or desirability of Big Government Programs. “Gun control” would be one of them. But we live in a system with many democratic elements, which means that when there’s a big enough idea out there, it’s going to find its way into legislation.

The NRA in particular has devolved over the decades from a gun-owners’ club (I remember Eddie the Eagle) to a shill for the gun manufacturers. They have put up a fairly solid wall and bought a lot of legislators to keep any notion of gun control out of the regulations. In many aspects of our politics, “compromise” is such a dirty word that no negotiation has been taking place at all.

 Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., holding a filibuster over the need for the Senate to address gun laws

This is turning a complex, nuanced situation into a binary (“black or white”) one. By opposing any “erosion” of gun-ownership rights, you (or your lobbyists) have drawn the proverbial line in the sand, and held fast and strong for decades. You’ve built a huge dam to hold back the waters of control.

Here’s the thing: dams burst. By holding back against compromise, you have created an uncompromising situation. You have accidentally created an environment where more and more people outside your “gun culture” are no longer willing to live and let live. You don’t have to worry about your more strident opponents anymore; you have to worry about everyone in the undecided middle of the bell curve. Those are the folks who always wind up being the “swing vote”.

The rhetoric has been “Big Government is coming to take your guns!!!”, but that didn’t actually have support in the middle of the bell curve. Things like keeping guns away from the mentally ill, guns away from parolees, guns away from “terrorists”; those are what had widespread support. But the gun lobby held fast against that. And built up pressure behind the dam.

You know what’s going to finally enable Big Government to take your guns? The critical mass behind the dam. By not compromising on a political point, you have opposed actions which wouldn’t actually compromise your core belief in self-protection, or even having cool toys. If you don’t help draft legislation which will actually address the biggest concerns (a “floodgate” in your dam, to extend the analogy), that dam is going to burst.

Figure out which of your principles are actually not subject to compromise, and then see which proposals actually don’t compromise them. And don’t let the shills tell you which they are.

 

Mark Amidon is a small-‘l’ libertarian who keeps getting mistaken for liberal or conservative by conservatives and liberals, respectively. While holding anarchy as a lofty ideal, he nonetheless appreciates Hobbes’s “Leviathan”, and is more a data-driven being than an ideologue.

Militia in the Constitution?

These guys in Oregon insist that they are a militia and thus entitled to their guns because you have to read the 2nd Amendment very strictly.faces-of-the-american-revolution-militia-soldiers---randy-steele

OK, fine. Then let’s read Article II just as strictly: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States.”

There you go. Simple solution: Obama orders them to surrender. When they don’t, you arrest them and court martial them.

Problem solved!

Whose Land is it, Anyway?

These “patriots” (a/k/a “Vanilla ISIS”) who have taken over a bird sanctuary in Oregon say they are doing so because they want to “give the land back to the people.”

Forget about the silliness of these guys thinking that the words “well-regulated militia” in the 2nd Amendment refers to them — let’s talk about the whole purpose behind their protest.frjlLT4

One of their leaders, while showing his love of America and its freedom of religion by wearing a “Fuck Islam” t-shirt while at the same time telling us that God told him to do this, said that the government is a tyranny, stealing land.

While Native Americans laughed, the rest of us scratched our heads and said “Huh? Isn’t this already federal land, which means by definition that it does belong to the people? Land we all get to use?”

Ha ha! Silly us!  “The people” these guys are referring to are “rich ranchers.” They are upset because we, the people, have asked them, through our laws, to pay to use our land.

Pure tyranny, right? I mean, we can all remember when armed campers took over Yellowstone in protest over admission fees.

When one thinks of tyranny, one immediately thinks of that horrible dictator Teddy Roosevelt, the tyrannical man whose visage adorns Mt. Rushmore, who decided that much of America should belong to Americans and not land developers, mining companies, and ranchers. He started the government policy of setting aside land for everyone to use as public parks, hunting grounds, or other environmental means.

Sharing land? Positively tyrannical.

When I was a kid, I was always pleased to imagine that “U.S.” didn’t just stand for “United States” but that it also stood for “us” — as in “we are all in this together.”  Clearly, these guys think it only stands for them.

 

Guns and Fiction

After a recent debate on Facebook about guns, I told everyone I had enough and was signing off in order to play Fallout 4, a computer game where I could run around a post-apocalyptic Boston shooting mutated zombies with a variety of firearms.

“Aha!” you say. “You’re a hypocrite!”Fallout4_Preston

Well, no. You see, Fallout 4 is fiction. It’s not real.

Weapons in fiction serve a purpose of providing drama, action, adventure. Weapons have featured prominently in my novels, too. They help make a great story. A great fictional story.

That doesn’t mean I think everyone should be running around with one in real life. I know the difference between fiction and reality, you see.

(I’m also against dropping anvils on people’s heads in real life.)

And that’s one of the biggest problems I have when dealing with some of the gun enthusiasts out there: They don’t seem to be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.

In their world, more guns means less violence; people with guns stop mass shootings even when trained police can’t; and gun control doesn’t reduce gun violence.

And that’s all fiction. There’s not the slightest bit of evidence to support any of those beliefs, and plenty to prove otherwise.

So I guess I’m not surprised when some people think I am a hypocrite for hating guns in real life while liking them in fiction — because they can’t tell the difference.

How Many Innocent Deaths Does it Take?

Some of my conservative friends have been complaining about the number of mass shootings we’ve had so far this year, rightly pointing out that it all depends on how you define “mass shooting.”  Should you include shootings where people were only maimed and didn’t die? How many deaths are needed before it counts as a mass shooting? And so on.

So let’s be generous and assume that the numbers showing an average of about one a day is unrealistic.  kaiser-foundation-gun-deaths-state-mapSure, let’s cut that in half, and we’ll say it’s only one every other day. Or even one a week.

Just let me know: How many innocent deaths do we need before you will say, “Maybe we should do something about this”?

Fill in the blank for me: “My right to own any deadly weapon free from restriction is worth the lives of _____ people.”

Is there a number? If so, remember:  If you haven’t already agreed that maybe we should do something, the number in that blank has to be at least 30,000 a year.  If you’ve been an adult for, say, twenty years and have done done nothing to try to prevent all these deaths, then the number in that blank needs to be at least 600,000, or roughly every single person in Seattle, Washington.

No, I don’t want to read another rant about guns. Don’t change the subject, answer the question. If you want to debate guns, search this blog for that topic and you’ll find plenty of threads where your comments will be appropriate and welcome.

So please:  Give me a number. Let me know how many innocent dead people it will take before we can sit down and talk reasonably about what we should do about it.