Don’t Get Rid Of The Guns, Get Rid Of The Nuts. Thank You Donald, Chris, Bobby, Et. Al.

So it’s official.  The Republican Party, or at least its putative Presidential candidates, has decided that the key to eliminating gun violence is to get rid of the nuts, not the guns.  The idea that gun violence has nothing to do with the gun and everything to do with the crazy people who on occasion use guns, has been floating around for a long time.  But after last week’s Virginia ambush, first The Donald and then every other red-meat Republican (a redundancy if I ever wrote one) fell into lockstep proclaiming that the real culprit was a mental health system that still needed to be “fixed.”  Here’s Bridgegate Christie explaining it to dopes like you and me who actually believe that stricter gun regulations should be in effect: “We need to have more information about people’s mental health background, but we don’t need new laws to do that.”

trump                Just for a moment I’m going to pretend that these jerks know what they’re talking about and go along with their stupid and pandering idea that ‘fixing’ mental health will ‘fix’ the problem of gun violence.  So let’s take three instances of horrific gun violence and see if the ‘fix mental health’ bullshit has even the slightest connection to reality or not.  The three instances I’m going to mention involved three shooters named James Holmes, Adam Lanza and Elliot Roger.  Together, these three ‘nuts’ shot 126 people, of whom 41 died either at the scene or in a hospital following the attacks.

What did these three young men have in common besides their ability to use a gun?  They not only had documented histories of some degree of mental distress, but had all been seen by mental health professionals in a short period of time before the actual shootings took place.  The official report on the Sandy Hook episode indicates that Adam Lanza’s mother dragged him hither and yon for mental health consultations; Elliott Roger’s diary contains numerous references to treatment by shrinks.  In the case of Holmes, who committed the worst massacre of all, his psychiatrist actually reported threats he was making to the University of Colorado Neuroscience Department because he had flunked out of school, reports that were forwarded to the campus police who took no action at all.

chris2                When we look at instances of individual shootings, we find a similar pattern wherein the shooter made contact with professional caregivers prior to the event, expressed concern about what was going to happen, disclosed the possibility of violence, but then was allowed to go about his business as if the discussion had never taken place.  I cited a case earlier this year in which a severely-agitated young man visited no less than seven different medical facilities in and around Fargo, ND, complaining that his room-mate was trying to poison him but was told in every visit to go home and take previously-prescribed psychiatric meds.  The cops then encountered him wandering in front of his apartment at 1 AM, but after he told them that his room-mate had a gun they decided that no crime was about to be committed and told him to go back home.  Three hours later, this young man shot his room-mate to death.

jindal                Every single state has a system whereby certain designated individuals must report suspected child abuse.  And once reported, the agency designated to deal with the problem must take action to see if the report is true.  The Federal Child Abuse and Prevention Act defines abuse as: “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” And notice the word ‘must.’  Not maybe, not perhaps, must.

We don’t need to cop out on the issue of gun violence by pretending that the NICS system should get better reports on which nuts are walking around who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.  We need to acknowledge that anyone who expresses anger or possible violence becomes an imminent threat if he has access to guns.  And the guns must be taken away.  Not maybe, not perhaps, must.


Are Mass Shootings More Frequent This Year? This Seems To Be The Case.

It looks like that if we learn anything from the Louisiana shooting, we’re going to learn that another shooter might have played the loopholed NICS system to his advantage and gotten his hands on a gun.  Back in 2006 Daniel Houser applied for a concealed-weapons permit in Alabama and was denied based on arson and domestic violence allegations.  In 2008 he was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in Georgia and his then-wife convinced the court to have his guns removed from their home before he was released.  This action should have resulted in a denial when Houser purchased his killing gun in March, but the system only delayed his purchase by one day.

So here we go again.  There will be all kinds of hand-wringing and I-told-you-so’s about how and why NICS doesn’t work, followed by some vague mumblings in Congress about expanding background checks to private sales.  Meanwhile, officially the NRA will keep a low profile but their unofficial loudmouths will be out there reminding us again that we would all be safe from such carnage if we just got rid of gun-free zones.  The best comment came from Bobby Jindal, who’s desperately trying to keep his feet or at least his fingertips in the Presidential race: “Now is not the time to discuss gun control,” he said, although he didn’t set another time for the discussion to take place.

jindal                Are multiple shootings (two dead and nine wounded in Louisiana) more common recently or are such events just being followed more closely by the digital press?  According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, it seems to be a combination of both.  So far this year their website lists 203 events in which four or more people were hit in the same location with gunfire that came from one or multiple shooters. Last year this website listed 283 total mass shootings so 2015 promises to exceed that rate by maybe 25%.  The good news is that ‘only’ 25% of the people hit with bullets in 2015 ended up dead, whereas 32% of the victims were killed in 2014. So the shooters are shooting less straight or maybe the trauma surgeons are perfecting their skills.

What impresses me about this website is exactly why it is being criticized by pro-NRA hucksters, namely, that it departs from the FBI definition of ‘mass shootings’ which counts only incidents in which four or more persons are killed.  The website cites the example of a mass shooting in 2012 where the gunman opened fire in a nightclub and killed only one person but a total of seventeen other people were struck by bullets, most of which came from guns carried by other patrons who were attempting to defend themselves.

Now here’s a perfect example of what happens when civilians carry guns into places that are not gun-free zones.  A gun goes off, then everyone starts banging away, and before you know it, there are injured bodies all over the place.  Remember the incident in Waco this past May when shooting erupted in the Twin Peaks restaurant and before it was over 9 bikers were killed and another 18 were treated for wounds?  I don’t recall whether the restaurant was a gun-free zone or not, but there were lots of guys in the food joint that day who obviously didn’t know and didn’t care.

We have a problem in this country called gun violence and we’re not going to solve it by ‘fixing’ a registration system that hasn’t changed in more than twenty years; it’s not going to be solved by putting the discussion off for another day; and it’s certainly not going to be solved by asking every law-abiding citizen to walk around with a gun.  It’s going to be solved when the idiots who claim to speak for gun owners finally come clean and admit that guns with 3-inch barrels can’t be used for hunting or sport.  At that point, a meaningful discussion about gun violence might take place.




Which Republican Will Win The Concealed-Carry Vote?

I haven’t yet had time to listen to the speeches delivered at the just-concluded NRA meeting in Indianapolis, but within the next few days they will probably be posted by the NRA.  I won’t bother to listen to Palin and Oliver North because they are just show up for a speaker’s fee, but I will pay attention to Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, because this trio are prominently mentioned as potential Republican standard-bearers in 2016.  I did find a report on Rick Santorum’s speech on a CNN blog, which quoted him as saying that he was in complete agreement with the NRA as regards using guns to protect all of us from crime.  In fact, Santorum came up with a catchy little phrase which I suspect he’ll trot out a few more times before the election really begins to take shape.  At the NRA show and again on a Sunday television interview he said, “a well-armed family is a safe family, a well-armed America is a safer America.”

Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

And if you want to know who all these well-armed Americans are protecting us from, a complete list was furnished the NRA audience by America’s chief crime-fighter, Wayne LaPierre, who painted this portrait of a society on the edge of chaos and collapse because the following people are running around: “terrorists, home invaders, drug cartels, car jackers, ‘knock-out’ gamers, rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse as a society that sustains us all.”

I can’t think of a more effective way to stop chemical attacks or the spread of the plague than a loaded .38 on my night-table or an assault rifle propped up behind the front door.  Okay, so Wayne-o is given to a bit of hyperbole when he gets up in front of the faithful, and he knows he won’t get air-time unless he says something that’s just a little bit beyond belief.  The only problem is that the NRA is staking out such an extreme position that to wind up as the most pro-gun candidate in a field of pro-gun candidates is to push yourself so far to the edge that there’s no way to go but down.

At one point LaPierre rhetorically asked the audience whether they would trust the government to protect them and of course the answer was a resounding ‘no.’  But while the NRA only ramps up its anti-government rhetoric when the government happens to be controlled by the Democrats, the notion that we all have to walk around with guns because, as LaPierre says, “we’re on our own” in facing this terrible, crime-ridden world, cuts both ways.  The truth is that if you get elected President, the first thing you have to do before moving into the White House is to take an oath in which you promise to defend America against its enemies.  What’s Santorum going to do if he’s standing there with his hand on the Bible? Ask Wayne LaPierre to serve as Secretary of Defense?

The NRA’s been able to grow its membership and flex its political muscle for one reason and one reason only: there’s a very liberal, very progressive politician sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who doesn’t buy the argument that walking around with a concealed weapon makes you safe.  Even if the NRA could produce a legitimate study that showed this to be the case, which they haven’t, by the way, it probably wouldn’t change Obama’s mind anyway.  But Obama’s out of here in slightly more than 28 months, and we could wind up with a President who really does believe that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center could have been shot out of the sky if someone in one of the twin towers had been armed with a gun.  Which will make it rather difficult for the NRA to pretend that we need to arm and protect ourselves because the government isn’t up to the job.