Ricochets From Roseburg (Random Notes on the Latest Gun Massacre du Jour)

chris mintz

The man in the photo is Chris Mintz, a 30-year-old army veteran and student at Umqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. When the shooter began his rampage, Mintz blocked his path and took 7 bullets, possibly saving lives in the process. See how easy it is to publish his name and photo instead of the name and photo of the killer, whose actions almost certainly will inspire imitators? Wouldn’t it be nice if the news media instead lavished all the attention on the heroes, so maybe more people would follow their example? (Fortunately, some media personalities are indeed catching on.)

Think I’m exaggerating about the imitation game? The killer is quoted as having written on a blog post that it “[s]eems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight,” And the day before his rampage, 4 high school students in California were arrested for plotting a Columbine-style event of their own, a scheme to storm into their school and murder as many people as possible.

This photo did make the rounds of Facebook, where it was hijacked for a meme with the text “Took 7 bullets; No White House invite”, or some variation thereof. Well, sure. If there’s just been a multiple murder, isn’t this a great time to take a cheap shot at President Obama? For christsake, this crap started immediately after the shooting, when Mintz was in the hospital with two broken legs. Couldn’t they have waited at least a couple of days?

In fact, the White House announced shortly thereafter that the president would be traveling to Roseburg to meet with families of victims (and speaking with Mintz as well), which no doubt made his critics quite happy, yes? Well, not quite. They responded with online declarations, in the vilest and most execrable terms, that he wasn’t welcome in Roseburg (as if they were authorized to speak for everyone there), and even calling for his assassination for daring to make such a visit. They accused him of “politicizing a tragedy”, even as they relentlessly politicized a tragedy. There’s obviously absolutely nothing the man possibly could do that would inspire them to do anything less than hate him full throttle; they’d despise every breath he takes even if he gave their children free Uzis to play with at school. They’ll take any excuse they can get — even what the guy does with his friggin’ umbrella.

Meanwhile, the president made a somber speech for the umpteenth time about how we have to do something to stop this kind of senseless “routine” violence, even though he probably knows damn well it’s never gonna happen, because he’s been in Washington long enough to know that the NRA has too many politicians by the musket balls.

Speaking from the crowded GOP clown car chortling down the campaign trail, Jeb Bush (who, bear in mind, is supposed to be the most intelligent member of the Bush clan) brushed off the need to take measures to prevent shootings like this because “stuff happens”, which he subsequently tried to clarify and justify by amending to “things happen”. And not wanting to let a perfectly good false analogy go to waste, he suggested that passing gun laws because people get shot is as pointless as passing laws to require fencing around swimming pools because kids drown. Thing is, some states do just that. Florida, for example, passed such a law in 2000. And it was signed by — let’s see, who was governor then? Oh, yes, one Jeb Bush. You can’t expect me to remember the name of every governor who was instrumental in rigging a presidential election for his brother, can you?

Other wingers and assorted members of the gun culture responded to the president’s concerns with astoundingly, excruciatingly boring predictability.  They always thrash about looking for something else besides guns to blame for for the carnage — video games, music, movies, even the “banning” of prayer from schools — even though such a ban, as you know, never actually happened. But maybe they’re inadvertently on the right track; maybe “things happen” because of other things that don’t happen.

If God allows gun massacres in churches where people pray constantly, why the hell would He stop them from happening in schools because people pray occasionally? Well, maybe those people in the churches (especially if they’re black churches) just brought it all on themselves. Ted Nugent (who, mind you, is not only a member of the NRA but a board member) referred to unarmed shooting victims as “losers”, thus carrying on the hallowed wingnut tradition of blaming the victim. They’ve even been known to blame Jews for dying in the Holocaust.

Rolling Stone was prompted to run a little piece called “4 Pro-Gun Arguments We’re Sick Of Hearing”. And what are those 4 arguments? Okay kiddies, let’s all follow the bouncing bullet: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people”; “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”; “But, mental health!”; “Second Amendment, baby!”

There is some validity to the “mental health” thing, but otherwise these are incredibly inane arguments, which just might have something to do with why they’re so incredibly popular. And there’s at least one more that’s equally inane and insane and stupid: “Hitler banned guns, and look at what happened.” There are at least three little problems with that widely circulated soundbite. First, regulating guns does not mean “banning” them. Second, Nazi gun laws had very little if any impact on the Holocaust or The Third Reich’s ascension. And third, Hitler did NOT ban guns — he actually loosened firearms restrictions.

Yet I always can tell when there’s been another mass shooting without even hearing the news. All I have to do is check my stats for this blog and see that there’s been a sudden spike in readership. Which means there’s been a sudden spike in people checking out my post The Myth Of Hitler’s Gun Ban. Because in the discussions about the shooting, there are invariably lots of people who toss out the idiotic notion that Nazi gun policy has some relevance to Twenty-First Century America. (Nazi propaganda techniques and Nazi self-delusion, yes. Nazi ideological fanaticism, maybe. Nazi gun policy, no.) The irony is that the Nazis passionately loved their guns — they had a slobbering love fest with their guns that almost rivals that of contemporary American reactionaries.

Plenty of myths have been trotted out as gospel during the past few days. There’s the myth that the shooter was a Muslim. Or that he was part of a widespread anti-Christian sentiment in America. (Which dovetails nicely with the myth that Cassie Bernall, one of the students murdered at Columbine, was killed after saying she believed in God.) There’s the myth that he was a Black Lives Matter protester out to kill whites, and that he was in general a librul; in fact, he was, like most rampaging gunmen, part of the right-wing loony fringe.

Above all, there’s the myth that the shooting occurred in a “gun-free” zone, and that mass shootings almost always do.  It didn’t. They don’t. Another popular gun culture myth riddled with bullet holes. Rush Limbaugh put the figure at 92 percent, prompting Media Matters to observe that he was “only off by 79 percent” — an usually high degree of accuracy for him.

There is no evidence that mass shooters have ever deliberately targeted gun-free zones. But if you think gun-free zones  are the problem, or more firepower is the solution, perhaps you should talk to this fellow:


His name is John Parker. He’s also a veteran. He’s also a student at the college. And he was also present when the shooting occurred. Furthermore, he was armed. Wait, wait, time out. He was armed?? And yet he didn’t stop the massacre??? How could this be? Doesn’t it run counter to the order of the universe? In his explanation for why didn’t get involved, he said:

And we could have opened ourselves up to be potential targets ourselves, and not knowing where SWAT was, their response time, they wouldn’t know who we were. And if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think that we were bad guys.

That’s just one of several reasons why armed intervention by civilians is usually not a good idea. Other veterans and tactical experts also weighed in on the “armed good guy” meme, calling it “insane”.

Sorry, but being an armed civilian does not increase your chances of becoming a hero. It increases your chances of becoming an aggressor or a victim. That may be counter-intuitive. It may be unfair. It may be unprofitable. But it’s reality. (I know, I know. Statistics and probability apply only to other people, and if you and your guns ever get the chance, you’ll show the bad guys, by god.)

Still, the NRA pushes the deranged belief that the only answer to guns, guns and more guns is more guns, even more guns and still more guns. And the cash registers ka-ching their chorus of amens.

In Roseburg, Candi Kinney, owner of the Roseburg Gun Shop, was nearly salivating on her trigger finger over the influx of new business the carnage was bringing her:

I’ve just ordered some more ARs (assault rifles).There’s always a rush on them after a big shooting. We can’t keep the stuff on the shelves.

Whenever there are obscene profits to be made, human life is very cheap. (Just ask Dick Cheney.) And just to make certain her customers know who the real enemy is, Kinney’s armaments emporium features this subtle visual aid:

Obama gun shop

Coincidentally, the killer’s mother stockpiled firearms because she was convinced Obama was going to try to disarm the populace. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the major problems with guns is that there is no legal minimum intelligence requirement to own them. Or to sell them. Or defend them or promote them.

Welcome to the new normal in America. Where lead is considered one of the basic food groups. To Jeb Bush, shit happens. To Bill O’Reilly, senseless mass slaughter is just the price we pay for our “freedom” to be armed to everyone else’s teeth. And there’s nothing to be done, so just suck it up, buckaroo.

Meanwhile, the sheriff who responded to the UCC shootings had previously declared that he was not going to enforce any gun laws passed by the current administration — which he suggested had staged the Sandy Hook massacre as part of a plot to confiscate everyone’s guns. And after that incident, Congress quietly decided yet again to ban funding for research by the Center For Disease Control into the causes of gun violence. Yes, you read that right: the Second Amendmenters in Congress don’t even want anyone to research the factors that cause people to Second Amendment each other so much, a line of investigation they have branded as “propaganda” for “gun control”.  John Boehner’s cookie cutter dismissal of this potentially life-saving research was so robotic and dumb it was priceless.

I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. Guns don’t kill people — people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual and not blame the action on some weapon.

Do people really say “guns don’t kill, people do” in what is supposed to be a serious discussion? People do. I’m sorry, John, but while a single gun may not be a disease, guns in the plural most definitely are. If you have doubts about the nature of the pestilence on the land, see Exhibit A: the diseased gun vendor mentioned above. And many others like her.

Many of the communities in which these bloodbaths have occurred — Roseburg, Newtown, Blacksburg, Charleston, Aurora, Jonesboro, Littleton — are places I have visited several times. I always found them to be serene and charming in the past. But now that image has been shattered — not just for me, but for everyone. And there are surely many more to come. The plague years in America are just beginning.



  1. Ok I don’t know where to start!

    Statistics I have seen says that less than 10% of gun control laws pass after a mass shooting. More than 800 laws were written right after Columbine.

    The fact that there is an actual LIST of mass shootings tells me for all the gun laws passed, none have actually stopped shootings.

    I think we need to think about why they happen and stop it at the source.

    I do not own a gun, there is no gun in my house, and I don’t plan on getting one in the future.

    If Matt & Trey (South Park and actually went to Columbine HS) can point out that it is FEAR in Bowling for Columbine that causes us to overly defend ourselves. Fear makes dogs bite, I chose not to live in fear.

    Not a fan of the Bush family, like Barbara & Laura, but the guys not so much. They are the usual business boys club. Not my style. However, Jeb is right. Life is NOT fair and crap happens in life, some good some very evil. I hate PC because it is not true life. Sometimes truth is cold and ugly.

    I realized this is a huge problem when I dreamt Ithe other night that I worked at a high school and upon arrival, 3 dead students were found on campus and we ran as clinically as an emergency room. THAT IS SO WRONG!!!!

    What is the problem?? Everyone knows extremes are bad, moderation always good.

    If we would stop, think, and treat the problem rather than to just react to it, there has to be an answer. So list all the “reasons” kids do this.

    Pissed Off

    Why are so many young ones so angry?

    Of all of the mass shootings, only Santa Barbara and Aurora had purchased all the weapons and ammo themselves.

    Columbine had another adult purchase their weapons

    Jonesboro kids stole granddad’s armory

    Aurora should have never happened period he purchased massive amounts of everything online and he was being mentally treated.

    Sandy Hook mom’s armory and he killed her first. Mom would have been charged if he didn’t kill her.

    Try to console the parents of elementary kids shot at school if she had been charged. Alot of comfort those laws gave.

    The point is, most do not stop these mass shootings. We have an extreme mental, drug, anger, bullying problem here.

    Most of these shooters have a previous criminal and/or mental record. THAT seems to be the problem.

    I also want to mention that I also do not understand (unless it’s deer in the headlights) why it is not instinctual to fight for your life.

    I have read alot of true crime and with serial killers people fight for their life as they are being killed. There are signs and confessions. Why in a group we can’t start teach loudly and clearly to yell “Let’s Roll!” like flight 93 did on 9/11 and group attack this mass shooter? They want you to be scared and see fear in your faces. We hide and their adrenaline pumps as they hunt us and shoot us like prey.

    If we only would NOT act like prey!

    They would be alive, arrested and losers. Then it might be so glorified. Jmo

  2. I want to add, blaming the media for mass shootings is BS. They are doing their job. Who is NOT doing their job when their children even think of killing!!!!!!!!

    I read one of the parents of the Columbine shooters whose son was being treated by a therapist. She forbade him to hang out with his partner in crime because they got in trouble with the law before.

    One one of Jonesboro kids had a criminal record and instigated the mass shooting.

    Santa Barbara shooter was being treated for mental problems and declined help at 18. His parents monitored him and notified police when he posted his manifesto.

    Somebody needs to watch the kids. Someone needs to guide them in the right direction. Jmo

  3. John Parker kind of puts the lie to the idea that an armed civilian will rush in to a situation without thinking about the consequences. But that’s happened before. One of the mall shootings a while back had a civilian present, who drew, but didn’t fire because he didn’t have a good shot. Ditto the Giffords shooting. Armed civilian came out of the store with his weapon drawn, but held his fire because he realized that people had Loughner in custody.

    While there’s no hard evidence that mass shooters have ever deliberately targeted a gun-free zone, it’s worth noting that the Aurora goblin bypassed several theaters that were closer, to chose one that was farther away. The closer theaters did not prohibit guns. The theater he shot up did. And of course, every school ever targeted is a gun-free zone.

    I completely agree with you about naming the goblins who do this though. Show us the people who got hurt, who died. Don’t give the wretches a bit of notoriety.

    • The idea that an armed civilian will always rush into the situation or that even if they do, they will be able to stop the attacker, is of course not true. But it can certainly make a difference if an armed person on hand does go in and is able to stop, or at least distract, the attacker. Sometimes the attacker will turn their gun on themselves immediately, which I think is out of fear that if they get wounded in trying to shoot at the armed person, that they may be rendered unable to kill themselves and then end up in prison.

      It’s sort of like women carrying a gun to stop a rapist. It doesn’t mean that by carrying a gun that a woman is now guaranteed to be able to stop a rapist, but it can give her a much improved chance.

  4. P.O.P., would have to disagree with you on some of the points you make here:

    1) Regarding Hitler, Hitler did ban guns from the Jews. And armed Jews did manage to fight against Nazis for some time in the ghettos of Warsaw.

    2) The school was, in fact, a gun-free zone. One could not legally carry in the buildings.

    3) The vast majority of mass shootings happen in gun-free zones. That doesn’t mean that shooters directly choose gun-free zones however, but most do happen in them.

    4) I wouldn’t take Rolling Stone magazine seriously for much after how they glorified that Boston bomber (making him look like a rock star).

    5) Regarding John Parker, I’d say it seems more like he was just excuse-making and was probably just a coward. Now I am not judging him for cowardice at all as I have not been in such a situation, but that sounds to me like how he acted nevertheless.

    Regarding the tactical experts article that you linked to, one of them was a phony Navy SEAL and the arguments that they make are very circumspect as well. For example, they just assume that an ordinary citizen will freeze up and panic in such a situation. They do not take into account that there are plenty of examples of ordinary people in multiple instances putting their life on the line to save others.

    They also act as if every armed citizen is untrained. The reality is that many private citizens are better trained in firearms than the average police officer. In addition, there are virtually no examples where a good-guy-with-a-gun made a bad-guy-with-a-gun-situation worse. If you become a victim while shooting at a bad guy, well that’s your choice to risk your life like that and of course there is no guarantee, but there is the chance you may well stop the attacker, or at least draw their fire away so that others can escape.

    They also say that regular citizens will likely miss due to nerves. This is problematic for a few reasons. For one, the logic here is that basically a mentally disturbed individual who decides to pick up a gun and go on a shooting spree is an unstoppable killing machine but a private citizen in the vicinity who is armed is somehow going to be a completely inept coward klutz who won’t be able to hit anything. In addition, it refutes the gun control argument that, “Nobody needs any more than ten rounds” or that, “If you can’t hit the target with ten rounds then you shouldn’t have a gun.” If anything, it makes an argument against magazine capacity limitations.

    6) Regarding the increasing regularity of these mass shootings, one thing to keep in mind is that back in the days when we had much more lenient gun control laws, we didn’t have these kind of mass shootings. You could get an automatic fire Thompson submachine gun (“Tommy” gun) shipped right to your front door, no background check, no nothing, or just buy them from gas stations and hardware stores, but yet we didn’t have this problem of mass shootings. That means that there is something else at play that is causing this problem.

    7) Regarding the Centers for Disease Control having funding for research into gun violence banned, that is due to a couple of things. For one, the CDC got caught red-handed back in the 1990s basically engaging in politically-biased “research” and refused to release their data when asked on how they had arrived at their results. Because of that, the NRA pushed to have their funding cut.

    In addition, the study of the causes of gun violence is not the purview of public health experts. It is a subject of criminology, which is a separate field. For some reason, many in public health and the medical field have tried to make gun violence a public health issue and act as if they are somehow authorities on the subject, when what has often happened is they have displayed an amateurish level of knowledge on the issue. As it is, there has been much research into the causes of gun violence, but by criminologists, not by the CDC. So research into the issue is not banned.

    People stab others all the time, beat with bats, hammers, and fists too, but those are not viewed as any disease. Violent crime period is not seen as a disease. All such acts are issues of criminology.

    • The thing that gun enthusiasts need to remember, is that regulating guns is indeed, not the same as controlling them, or, eradicating them. And as far as the many supposed facts brought up by Kyle, I would have to seriously question his sources.

      For one thing, even if anti-gun fiends had deliberately tried to rig the game with false research, deciding to ban all such research through an act of Congress, is basically the same strategy used by those who say want all guns banished because of unflattering statistics that criticize gun ownership. Its just not necessary to ban all research by the CDC on the premise that it has deliberately tried to use false data on one, or more than one occasion. How fair and just is that kind of legislation when it closes the door on so much potentially honest future research on the basis of only a few allegations—not to mention the fact that those allegations may prove to be false anyway–can’t we clearly smell the influence of NRA backed special interests here?

      As far as the ability of armed civilians to stop a madman with a gun, it is possible, but not probable. Time magazine ran an article a few years back detailing the experiences shared by many armed policemen as they drew their weapons in attempts to stop a shooter. The Hollywood portrayal of brave heroes transcending fear for their lives, in order to prevent a disastrous attack, does happen, and in the instance of the brave soul who charged a gunman, taking 7 shots in the chest, bravery and heroism was indeed present. But the cops interviewed in Time, many of whom had tried to gain control of an armed assailant, had to admit that they were, none-the-less paralyzed by fear–feeling their hearts race uncontrollably and feeling their legs turn into rubber beneath them–even though they had loaded guns in their hands! Not surprisingly, since they were well acquainted with their own reactions, they did NOT recommend that an armed citizenry composed of ordinary gun owners, should try to actively intervene in mass shooting attacks. In fact, they affirmed the POP’s observation that more often such armed citizenry actually causes more injuries and/or fatalities.

      When considering tougher gun regulations, obviously the easy and undocumented way that shoppers at gun shows can purchase virtually any weapon being sold without proper documentation or with legal records of sales, is one practice that should be eliminated. Similarly, since many people who sell guns online are not required to submit sufficient legal documentation for the people they sell guns to—regardless of who they sell them to, all they need to do is decide (personally) if they think a buyer should not be sold one of their weapons. Actual recorded conversations of such sales reveal that far too often, sellers simply ignore those who talk about having criminal records or mental disorders, because (after all), they want to sell their guns. How do we know of this cavalier attitude–because these recordings were made by proxy buyers, recording their conversations with gun sellers, as part of a sting operation on online sales! Many of the laws that now exist, exist in principle alone, and have little or no way to be enforced!

      Yes its true that regulating sales like these will never prevent every last gun sale in America, and that in order to better enforce gun laws, we need to back such regulations with a national registry of weapons including more meaningful background checks–including proper documentation! So bring them on!

      I have owned and operated a car for more than 40 years while being required to meet many conditions, take many tests, and pay many yearly fees–not once, has the government confiscated my car, or taken away my licence, and it will not do so unless I clearly violate the rules.

      Guns in America are as common as our morning coffee, and even mere hunters will not stand still if the government decides it wants to disarm us all–merely on the basis of some trivial power hungry government crook. In fact, although I have asked several commentators here, and on other forums, to provide any realistic and probable scenario as to how the government would actually rationalize and carry out such a massive confiscation in a representative democracy like ours, none of them has yet done so—except perhaps to reiterate their own beliefs that our government can do so, and must not to be allowed to via a completely unregulated interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

      This is the place where our common sense is replaced by fear and paranoia–neither of which is warranted by our country’s traditionally lax and fuzzily enforce gun regulations!

      The least any of us can do, is lay aside our specious platitudes about guns not killing people, or claiming that our survival in an armed assault depends on the easy purchase of 100 round magazines by mass shooters like the madman in Aurora!

      Fences around swimming pools would be needless indeed, if children never played in public swimming pools without a responsible adult present, or if all pools installed rapid ways to shut off bottom drains in case of an emergency. However, just like mass shooters or madmen in general, children will invariably sneak into any pubic facility that is not guarded or protected by a fence. when the public welfare is at stake, we need responsible laws implemented by the State and the Federal governments! Thinking that any prudent measures intended to protect the public from harm will enable government goon squads to take away all our weapons while physically hauling us out of our homes in the night, is pure bunk! We should tell Jeb that stuff really does happens—stuff like protective regulations that actually can and will, provide protection for the public!

  5. Always lovely to see the commenters providing unintentional support for your post. Irony never fails to perk up my morning. Thanks, Professor.

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