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

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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:

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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.

 

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Circular Firing Squad; the Gun Culture’s Curious Campaign of Irony, Hypocrisy, Contradiction and Self-Abasement

Let’s be clear: most gun owners are (to the best of my knowledge) rather sane and reasonable individuals. But the public forum has never been dominated by sanity or reason. Instead, it’s dominated by those who are the loudest and most obnoxious; thus, gun issues are perennially represented by what we call the gun culture —  meaning those to whom guns are not only important, but are a way of life. It’s a relatively small cult, but its members are mad as hell about… well, something. Always. They’re loud, they’re obnoxious, they’re confrontational, and — quite often — they’re self-sabotaging and downright cannibalistic.

I probably don’t have to tell you how they reacted when the President of the United States uttered the following:

“While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.And “Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.”

And you surely can guess how they screeched when the head of the nation’s foremost gun control organization declared this:

“I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons… I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

“Nazi”? “Communist”? “Terrorist”? “Frenchman”? Actually, it might surprise you to learn that they said none of these things. I tricked you. The president quoted above wasn’t Barack H. Obama, but Ronald W. Reagan.  That’s right: The Gipper was an outspoken, if not entirely consistent, advocate of “gun control”, even before he had a personal stake in it.  (And incidentally, in the photo above, taken just before he was shot, he’s surrounded by armed and highly trained gunmen whose sole responsibility is his safety. Which casts a very long shadow of doubt on the gunsters’ prime tenet that surrounding yourself with fire power necessarily makes you safer.)

This is a cause of considerable cognitive dissonance among gunsters, many of whom desperately want to paint the debate over guns as a “liberal” vs. “conservative” conflict, and to peg  “gun control” as being a matter of “them librulz want to take away our guns, but I’m gonna fight off a whole army of them.” But in fact many “liberals” (specifically, about 25 percent of Democrats) own guns and many “conservatives” support “gun control” — even those measures pushed by President Obama, whom they’ve been conditioned to oppose at every turn. This despite the fact that some polls frame the issue as  “gun control” versus “the right to own guns”, which is a bullshit stacked-deck question — the two are by no means mutually exclusive.

Michael Moore is a lifetime member of the NRA. James Brady, lest we forget, was a (Republican) member of Reagan’s staff before he became an activist after the reality of gun violence struck too close to home.  In other words, “gun control” is not the most suitable of lenses for those wishing to view the world in black and white, and it appears the gun culture is intentionally alienating people whom they could very much use as allies. The evidence suggests that for the past three decades, the NRA’s primary focus has been promoting reactionary politics rather than promoting responsible gun ownership.

Not only most gun owners, but most members of the NRA support one or more gun control measures. The NRA leadership, however, routinely battles any and every measure to regulate firearms in any fashion. In so doing, they are countering the wishes of most of their followers. Yet their followers continue to be loyal; if that isn’t characteristic of a cult, what is?

It was not always thus. Remember that quote above from the leader of the most prominent “gun control” organization? We don’t mean James Brady. Those words were spoken by Karl Frederick, an Olympic shooter who at the time he made this statement was president of the NRA. Yes, that NRA.  For the first century of its existence, the NRA was the foremost advocacy group for “gun control” in the nation. But that was before it discovered that there are much heftier profits to be made by vilifying “gun control”  and its proponents, and whipping up hysteria among impressionable tin hat right-wingers. But by ferociously battling “gun control”, LaPierre and company are not only spitting in the faces of their constituents, but spitting upon their organization’s own heritage.

When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, and the NRA was still in its “gun control” phase, “conservative” politicians were very much in favor of placing heavy restrictions on firearms. One reason was that, in California at least, they were facing what they perceived as a threat to public safety posed by, um, certain armed citizens:

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This even led to the passage of a law in the state, the Mulford Act, which was signed into effect by Gov. Reagan, who commented that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”  And the NRA, by the way, helped fashion similar legislation in other states. Its own actions weren’t necessarily motivated by racial concerns; remember, it had been a champion of firearm regulation all along. For Reagan and other right-wing politicians, however, it’s hard not to conclude that they were dirtying their drawers not just because of armed citizens, but armed citizens of a particular ethnic flavor.

I don’t mean to suggest that race plays a significant role in right-wing “gun control” politics or anything. I’m sure that if a bunch of armed white guys showed up at a public gathering, the NRA and The Tea Party would be just as concerned and outraged. Wouldn’t they?

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Well, they have yet to demonstrate it. And they have yet to demonstrate that they’re as concerned about deranged mass murderers with guns as they are about African-American activists with guns.  Yet today’s NRA diehards, while denying any racist bent to their own motivations, often declare that racism has always been a prime motive for “liberal”- inspired “gun control” — in large part because over 150 years ago, unarmed slaves had a hard time fighting for their freedom. Yes, seriously.

Despite its ill-informed elevation of Ronald Reagan to figurehead status, one could make a case that the gun culture really didn’t have a warm and cuddly bedmate in the White House until Bush. The younger Bush. His father, though he had the backing of the NRA during his initial run for president in 1988, pissed them off so much during his term that they opposed him during his second run. Three years later he renounced his lifetime membership in the cult when Wayne LaPierre (who at that time was its executive vice president) called ATF agents “jack-booted thugs” who were “scarier than the Nazis”. The NRA is a group that likes to portray itself as super-patriotic, doncha know.

Bush had been personally acquainted with several agents, including one who died in the Oklahoma City blast, which was fueled by NRA-flavored contempt for “the government”. And while I don’t know how many federal agents had been NRA boosters before McVeigh and LaPierre detonated their respective bombs, I’m willing to bet that there were considerably fewer subsequently. Way to rally those troops, Wayne.

Then along came Bush the Younger, and the gun lobby was in hog heaven. Oh, he didn’t do quite as much ass-kissing as they would have liked, and on occasion he even paid lip service to stricter gun laws. But on the other hand he appointed two Supreme Court justices who were willing to essentially rewrite the Second Amendment to the gun lobby’s liking. You can’t hope for much more than that.

And Dick Cheney, who was vice president (at least according to the Supreme Court) openly indulged in passionate lovemaking with the NRA, even speaking at its convention. And here’s where something really interesting happened. While addressing an assemblage of a cult that had become devoted to the maxim that any kind of restraint against firearms was pure evil (no word on whether he consulted his hunting partners on that), Mr. Cheney exercised the most extreme form of “gun control” of all: attendees had to check their hardware at the door.

I know, I know: it was really the Secret Service who insisted on this, and not the Mr. Cheney-who-never-thinks-about-his-flaws himself. But c’mon: he was the second most powerful human on the planet (many would say, with good reason, that he was actually the first). You mean to say that he couldn’t have overridden their orders if he hadn’t considered his own safety more important than that of the average citizen affected by the presence of guns? He and the NRA had a golden opportunity to practice what they preached, and send a message to the nation about just how sincere they were in standing against “gun control”. But they blew it big time.

Am I suggesting that the prohibition against the audience being armed at an appearance by the putative vice president is the same as the type of “gun control” that is applied to society at large? Not at all.  Society at large is made up of all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. The annual gun cult gathering is a highly controlled environment, and for Cheney’s appearance, it was patrolled by a top-notch security force. It was attended by people who are allegedly responsible, law-abiding gun owners — most of whom believe that an armed society is a polite society and guns make you safer and guns don’t kill, people do. But when confronted with the chance to put their barrels where their mouths are, Cheney and his NRA accomplices essentially told the faithful to go Cheney themselves, and did exactly what so many of them falsely accuse Barack Obama (and Adolf Hitler) of doing: they took away everyone’s guns.

And that brings us to the present, and to the chief executive who, for some reason or other, is even more of a godsend for the gunsters — not because he gives them everything they want, but because they can get away with pretending that he’s trying to take away everything they have. In the real world, Obama is no more restrictive on guns than was Reagan; and for that matter, he’s only slightly more “liberal”. Yet the gun culture deifies one and demonizes the other. Which leads one to suspect rather strongly that his complexion might be a factor — particularly when one considers that the gunsters are even far more hostile toward Obama than they were toward Clinton, even though the latter was at least as gung ho about “gun control”, at least as “liberal”, and was a Democrat to boot.

We’ve already given far, far FAR more attention to the Obama-Hitler meme (here, and here and here) than it ever deserved. Unfortunately, it’s still bringing in the lion’s share of page views and comments on this site. No wonder; it’s a trope so misguided, so hateful, so deranged, so monumentally idiotic that it was bound to become a solid fixture in the gunster gospel. The “thinking” goes like this: because Obama is trying to outlaw guns (which he isn’t) that makes him just like Hitler (who also didn’t), whose nonexistent gun ban made the Holocaust possible.

These are the same folks who love to proclaim that “gun control doesn’t work”, yet they also declare that “gun control” was nonetheless responsible for the quintessential tyranny and genocide in world history. When I point out this contradiction to them, the response I tend to get is “You fucking moron! This is different!” Oh. Now I’m really confused. Is Obama a Hitler clone or isn’t he? Does “gun control” work or doesn’t it? What’s that you say? Ah. “Gun control” doesn’t work to reduce crime, but it does work to enable a dictator to control the populace. So it always works to try to eliminate all guns, but it never works to try to eliminate just a few of them. Got it.

It has become an automatic response from gunsters to “defend” guns and all the harm they do by claiming that more people are killed by knives and/or blunt instruments. Both of which are irrelevant. Not to mention not even close to being true.  And of course, they absolutely must point out that more people are killed by automobiles. Which actually is true, but probably not for long. True or not, it’s a breathtakingly inept attempt at defense. Automobiles are designed for a constructive purpose rather than for killing, and are in use constantly, everywhere. Furthermore, their use is rather strictly regulated. Gunsters are being sarcastic when they suggest that those deadly cars should be regulated like guns; but I doubt if any advocates for gun regulation would have any problem with taking that quite literally.

The Second Amendment crowd particularly has its thong in a bunch over the president’s drawing a bead on assault weapons. It isn’t just that they don’t think assault weapons should be restricted; they don’t think there’s any such thing as an assault weapon. It is, they assert, just a fuzzy term made up by the media and other assorted libruls as an excuse to deprive them of their liberty.

Really? Looks like somebody forgot to pass that memo along to the Merchants of Death themselves:

What’s that? “There’s a difference between assault rifle and assault weapon, you fucking commie Nazi gun-grabbing librul moron”? Oh. Sorry.
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Okay, let’s see if we can sort it all out. It’s forbidden for those outside the cult to use the A-word, even though those inside do. It’s mandatory to point out that automobiles kill more people than guns, but taboo to suggest that maybe guns should be regulated at least a fraction as much as automobiles. “Gun control” always fails, except for when it always succeeds. Obama is just like Hitler, except for when he’s totally different.  Obama is an enemy of the Second Amendment for wanting to ban assault weapons, but Reagan was a champion of the Second Amendment for wanting to ban assault weapons, certain types of ammunition, and armed civilians in the streets. Guns make you safer in the streets, but they can’t be permitted in a controlled environment — at least not if a right-wing VIP is making a speech. “Gun control” is racist when proposed by “liberals” because slaves were prohibited from owning guns (along with many, many other things) more than 150 years ago; but just ignore those instances of genuinely racist gun regulation 40 years ago, because they were crafted by the NRA and right-wing politicians, who are never guilty of such things. Everybody up to speed now?
But there’s even more to the tale. In a snit over new proposed gun laws, some American firearms companies, like spoiled schoolyard brats who take their bats and go home if everyone doesn’t play by their rules, have started refusing to sell their products to law enforcement agencies that support the restrictions; and members of the gun culture consider this very cute and clever.  What they may not realize is that many law enforcement agencies already had been planning to boycott firearms manufacturers that didn’t clean up their act. In any case it’s an excellent illustration of just how warped the gun culture mentality is when gun companies think they can teach police departments a lesson by cutting off  40 percent of their own revenues. There are plenty of foreign gun companies that are quite willing to do business with American law enforcement agencies. And if it becomes necessary for a substantially larger number of them to do so, it probably will result in greater expense to those agencies, which eventually will be passed on to citizens in the form of higher taxes and fees. And chances are the gun culture, being composed largely of rabid anti-government types, will not consider that very cute and clever.
But seeing long-term consequences is not exactly their strong suit. So for the time being, giddy from inhaling Second Amendment helium, they’re hellbent for leather on shooting themselves in both feet. And sticking both feet in their mouths.
(NOTE: As you’ve probably noticed, “gun control” is, like “liberal” and “conservative”, one of those terms I invariably enclose in quotation marks. There are mainly two reasons for this: (1) the expression has been co-opted by the gun culture as a term of derision; (2) it was never very accurate in the first place. Guns in the U.S. are WAY beyond “control”, but at least they can be regulated to some extent.
Incidentally, some gunsters object on similar grounds to the term “gun culture”, which is actually rather precise and appropriate. In any case, I’ve never known any of them to provide an alternative — much less a satisfactory one. I’m open to suggestions.)

Mother Jones Shoots Down Rambo

In case you missed it, the April issue of Mother Jones features a short but potent piece called “10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down”. These 10 myths include the favorite mindless canards you so often hear parroted by the gun culture, including “They’re Coming For Your Guns”, “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” and (my favorite) “An Armed Society is a Polite Society”.

Needless to say, the NRA took notice and started “debunking” this debunking. Subsequently, MJ has run a debunking of the debunking of the debunking, which holds up to scrutiny much better than the NRA’s attempted ambush or a similar one run by National Review.

No matter how heavily armed you are (or think you are), it’s not a good idea to mess with Mother.

After Aurora: the Good, the Bad and the Predictable

I’d like to propose that a new term be added to the vernacular: The NRA Minute. As you may know, a “New York Minute” is the proverbially brief interval of time between when a stop light turns green and the (allegedly rude and impatient) New York driver behind you honks his or her horn. By the same token, I offer the following definition:

NRA Minute (n) The interval of time between the news of a mass shooting and the gun culture’s response that we shouldn’t “blame the gun”.

Of course, nobody is literally “blaming the gun”; we all know that they don’t just fire themselves. But a lot of people do blame the ready availability of guns. And the gunsters are always eager for an opportunity to shoot down this notion, even on the heels of a massacre like the one in Aurora. (The media always refer to such a massacre, rather euphemistically, as a “tragedy”. Isn’t that a word better reserved for the accidental sinking of a ferry with passengers aboard? As my nephew astutely commented, the tragedy of an incident like Aurora is that nothing will change.) They always insist, while the smoke is still dissipating at the shooting site, that the answer is even more guns. This line of “thinking” is based on three incredibly naive assumptions.

Incredibly Naive Assumption # 1: There is an impermeable line of demarcation between Armed Good Guys and Armed Bad Guys.

The gunsters are quite willing to stake their lives (and yours) on the belief that it’s easy to distinguish one from the other; and that only the latter use their guns for malice, while the former always use them in defense.

Incredibly Naive Assumption # 2: Gun owners will be armed and ready when an attack occurs.

I keep hearing that even in places where concealed carry laws are in effect, many owners often don’t bother, because it’s just so awkward. Do you really want to tote your piece to the beach with you? Or the movie theater? Actually, many people no doubt will be doing the latter for a while, and with any luck none will shoot himself in the foot during a love scene. But it’s a good bet that once the sensation of Aurora fades, the great majority of them will stop babysitting their hardware during a flick.

Incredibly Naive Assumption # 3: The Good Guys will be able to outgun the Bad Guys effectively and efficiently.

The shooting in the movie theater happened quickly and amid a great deal of confusion. Many other shooting incidents happen much more quickly and with even more confusion, leaving little if any time to stop it. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that trying to shoot a gunman will result in shooting innocent people. Just imagine how much worse the scene in a crowded movie theater would have been if, in accordance with NRA objectives, everyone in the theater had been armed! Gunsters seem quite willing to assume that all gun owners (except the bad guys) will be perfectly responsible, perfectly in control, perfectly accurate in their marksmanship, even under the most panicky circumstances. Maybe they’ve spent too much time in movie theaters themselves, watching cops shoot guns out of the hands of criminals — which never, ever happens in real life.

Sure, it’s possible that in some cases an armed citizen can stop an armed criminal without doing more harm than good. Indeed (as no doubt your gun-totin’ friends and relatives have informed you many, many, many times) it happens rather often. But just how often is very much a matter of debate. The million-dollar (or million life) question is whether it happens often enough to justify the consequences of flooding the streets with guns.

If there’s a silver lining to what just happened in Colorado, it’s that at least one news network (MSNBC) made it a policy not to name the shooter except where necessary. And its reporters mentioned that a number of government officials — including President Obama — were following the same policy. I say it’s about time; I’ve been urging this kind of blacklist for years, as I can’t help suspecting that forcing anonymity upon the gunmen would reduce their numbers. And as a bonus, the NRA would bark a little less often.

Make My Day: Mention Gun Defense “Statistics”…

There’s a certain number that gun fanatics just love. Well, actually there are several numbers they love, but there’s one in particular that they lustfully salivate over: 2.5 million. That’s the putative number of defensive gun uses (DGUs) that occur in the United States every single year. That’s a highly impressive “statistic”, which is why you’ll see it starring on bumper stickers or websites or wherever else people want to emphasize the need for firearms in order to feel safe from all the THEMs out there.

Except the “statistic” is not really a statistic. It’s a projection, an estimate, put forth in a “study” by Florida criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck (in collaboration with Professor Marc Gertz), based on interviews of alleged defenders in 1993. Except the “study” wasn’t really a study; it was a survey, which is a sort of glorified poll.

Whatever terminology you choose to use, the point is that the Kleck “study”, which involved 222 respondents, didn’t really estimate how many DGU’s actually occur; it estimated how often gun owners say they occur. That’s a different thing, but just how different is it? Well, let’s see how it stacks up against the real world.

Dr. Kleck, Meet Mr. Gallup

According to Gallup (a poll, not a study, but generally rather reliable) 30 percent of American adults own guns. With a U.S. population of 313 million, roughly 75 percent of whom (about 230 million) are adults, that translates to about 70 million gun owners. The gun culture estimates its own strength at 80 million, so let’s assume they’re right, and Gallup not so much so.  That would mean that one out of 32 gun owners is involved in a DGU every year.  Seriously? Even if we factor in the additional 12 percent who, according to Gallup, live in a household in which someone owns a gun, that means 99 million who have access to one.  And that would still mean that one out of 40 of them is involved in a DGU every year. If that sounds like a reasonable ratio to you, let’s draw a tighter bead on it.

Washington, DC has a population of about 600,000. That means it should have about 450,000 adults and about 189,000 with access to a gun. According to the Kleck ratio, we would expect that Washington would experience 4725 DGUs annually. (Actually much more, since DC is one of the most dangerous cities in the nation -and for several years in the recent past was the most dangerous.)  That means almost 13 per day. Seriously? Let’s return to DC later.

Media Rare

Dr. Kleck can get away with such extravagant claims because we don’t have real comprehensive statistics as such on defensive gun use.  But we do have accounts of them reported in the media, along with phony accounts reported in emails. And even the real ones and the fake ones together do not number in the millions.

In challenging my observation that many of the anecdotes are bogus, a writer at The Truth About Guns whipped out a list of “75 real ones, just from the last 4 months”. Except that many of these “real” ones were, um, not so real.  He didn’t say where he came up with this collection, but everybody who produces such a list produces essentially the same list, a roster of news headlines apparently meant to confirm the 2.5 million tally. If so, it indicates that maybe gunsters aren’t quite as proficient at counting people as they are at killing them.

Because 75 in 4 months does not quite add up to 2.5 million. It adds up to 225. And at that rate, you would have – quite literally – a substantially greater risk of being struck by lightning. So, since the NRA has only your best interests at heart (wink wink nudge nudge) why isn’t it promoting handy dandy designer rubber suits to go along with those portable miniature lightning rods it pushes?

Even on the busiest day, there are rarely more than 2 or 3 DGUs in the news; and in order to meet the quota of 2.5 million annually, you would need to have 6849 daily, more than 2 per day in each of the nation’s counties.

Okay, okay. I can hear the screaming from the gunster gallery, so we might as well acknowledge what they’re saying:

‘YOU IDIOT! NOT ALL DEFENSIVE GUN INCIDENTS APPEAR IN THE MEDIA!!!”

Well okay, I guess it wouldn’t greatly surprise me if that’s true. But it would greatly surprise me indeed if the number of non-covereds greatly exceeded the number of  covereds – especially to the extent Dr. Kleck maintains. If an incident is truly serious enough to warrant pulling out a weapon, it’s generally serious enough to warrant notifying the police. And what makes it into the police blotter is generally fair game for the media.

There are exceptions, of course – some defenders have good reason to keep their actions under their sombreros. But even among Dr. Kleck’s subjects, 64 percent said the police learned of the episode either from them or someone else.  My calculator says that 64 percent of 2.5 million totals 1,600,000 police reports and 1,600,000 potential media stories. So where are the other 1,599, 775?

Okay, they’re screaming again. Let’s see what they’re saying this time.

“YOU MORON! ALL THE MEDIA EXCEPT FAIRANDBALANCED FOX ARE OWNED BY A BUNCH OF LIBERAL COMMIES WHO SUPPRESS DGU STORIES BECAUSE THEY HATE FREEDOM AND WANT THE TERRORISTS TO WIN!!!”

Well, let’s say that we buy into the “liberal bias in the media” canard. It will require a tremendous effort to say it with a straight face, since the myth is so easily discredited, but we’ll give it our best shot. Say that the media suppress 90 percent of DGU stories – no, hell, let’s let our persecution complex really run wild, and say 99 percent. Still, one percent of 1,600,000 is 16,000. So where are the other 15,775? (And if you think the media suppress even more than 99 percent – well, I’m very sorry, but I just can’t take you seriously at all.)

The truth is that if you ask someone who’s actually worked in the media (like, er, um…well, yours truly, maybe) they’re likely to tell you that the media love this kind of story. They have a lot of column space and airtime to fill, and they’re savvy enough to know that the public would much rather hear about a sensational crime than a church bake sale. And lacking a sensational crime, the public will settle for a sensational crime prevention, thank you very much. Some editors would just about break into someone’s house themselves to get this kind of story.

The Great Equalizer

Yet it’s fine if you choose not to believe this. Thing is, the gunsters who invoke the specter of the librulmedia to explain the phantom DGUs are overlooking something. A little thing called the Internet – even though most likely they’re using it to state their case. While referring to guns as “equalizers”, they overlook the greatest equalizer ever : ye olde world wide web.  Thanks to millions of websites and blogs, thanks to email and Facebook and YouTube and Reddit and Twitter and so on, we no longer have to rely on the sinister librulmedia to give us The Truth About Guns.

One website that regularly circulates the latest version of The List is keepandbeararms.com. And hoo boy, if you want to stoke your paranoia and justify your gun addiction, you’ve come to the right place. There are ample links to stories abut the big bad guvmint wanting to take away your so-called Second Amendment rights, and about the incompetence of law enforcement personnel – we all know that they’re not nearly as skilled and responsible at using firearms as we are. And of course stories about defensive gun use. In fact – get this – this website even recruits a team of volunteers to scrape up these stories and send them in. Even so, they can’t come up with more than a few hundred per year (even assuming they’re all genuine) – while there seems to be a higher incidence lately, the archives indicate  that 75 in 4 months is more or less typical. And guess what? From what I can tell, every one of these incidents was reported in the nefarious librulmedia.

Or take the NRA. Please. Since 1958, this humanitarian organization has maintained (first in print and now online as well) a feature called Armed Citizen, which also collects these stories. And it doesn’t just rely on the commie librulmedia; its 4 million-plus members are all invited to submit items to be listed. There is an archive of “thousands” of these in the past 53 years (only thousands??) and the NRA assures us that there could be many more, editorial space permitting, because there are millions of DGUs to pick from every year. And how do they know this? Why, that famous “study”, of course.

One only hopes that the good folk at NRA are more competent handling weapons than they are handling editorial space. Armed Citizen easily could accommodate one DGU per day, 365 per year. And how many did it print last year? Barely more than 100. And guess what? It appears that every one of them was reported in the terrorist-coddling librulmedia. Can I order my rubber suit now? Surely they must come in red, white and blue.

Capital Offenses

NRA headquarters sits across the river from the nation’s capital. Because of this proximity, and because the NRA is so intensively involved in influencing government policy (to put it mildly), its personnel no doubt have spent a great deal of time in DC and crossed paths with its criminal elements – and we’re not referring to Dick  Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Therefore, they should have had plenty of opportunity to bag their very own share of those 4725-plus annual DGUs. If nothing else, they surely have heard about many of them through the grapevine, even those that were buried by the scumsucking librulmedia.

And how many did they list for Washington in 2011? A grand total of zero. In fact, the last one I found was more than SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO!  This excludes a 2004 story in The Washington Times about a hiker shooting a bear. No, no, not on the National Mall. In Alaska. Yep, the straight-shootin’ NRA feels that if it appeared in a Washington newspaper, that makes it a genuine DC DGU – even though it also was listed under Alaska’s database. Which really makes you wonder how many of their other untold “thousands” are also duplicates – especially since, contrary to what the gun culture clams, these episodes are usually covered by a number of media sources.

Armed Citizen recently has been revamped.  Before that, the search options were more user-friendly, and I counted 24 DGUs in the former Murder Capital of America for the 53 year period, falling a tad shy of our expected total of 250,425.  But those 24 include the ursine encounter in Alaska; and I didn’t confirm the legitimacy of the other 23.

Studying the Studies

Unless you’re really heavily immersed in a gun propaganda website, I probably don’t have to tell  you that there is a wee bit of difference between 2.5 million and 2.5 hundred. The question is, which is closer to the truth? No, strike that. The question is, how could a reputable researcher like Dr. Kleck, even given his apparent propensity for gun worship, have fucked up so royally?

I don’t claim to have a solid answer for that. I don’t believe he deliberately cooked the books, and even if he did, it hardly would cover the bases. There have been at least a dozen other “studies”, one by the Department of Justice, that also generated some preposterous projections. Granted, there was quite a range in the totals, with the lowest being 65,000. That, contrasted with the high of 2.5 million, is a point spread of  4000 percent, for crying out loud; and that, if nothing else, ought to raise a matador-size red flag about the challenges of obtaining accurate data on such a subject. But even 65,000 seems greatly overinflated.

So it appears that Dr. Kleck is not to blame. Instead, the probable explanation is that the respondents to such surveys tend to give consistently and wildly distorted responses. Why? Well, that might take an actual study or two to figure out.  Prof. David Hemenway of Harvard has made some illuminating comments, which of course have been attacked ferociously by the gun lobby. He  notes by way of comparison that among 1500 adults contacted at random, 10 percent claimed to have witnessed a UFO, and of those, 6 percent claimed to have had personal contact with space aliens.  Which would mean that 1,380,000 American adults have encountered Klingons. And hey, 579,600 of those may have been hauling a heater. Hmmm… maybe so many DGUs are missing because they occur on the far side of the chronosynclastic infundibulum.

A 2004 investigation – one actually might call it a study –  by J. F. Denton and Dr. W. V. Fabricius that examined shooting incidents over a period of 3.5 months in the Phoenix metropolitan area confirmed that of 81 shootings, only 3 were of a defensive  nature; two occurred in a single encounter with two security guards firing at the same offender, and the third involved a family quarrel. The Kleck data would have projected 334 defensive shootings for the time frame and location. Denton and Fabricius illustrate the drawbacks of the Kleck survey by discussing another clash involving a drunken quarrel between two acquaintances, one of whom shot the other to death, which was ruled to be criminal homicide, but which Dr. Kleck would have misclassified as a DGU. Undoubtedly, there have been many cases that were misclassified.

Indeed, a close inspection of the Kleck data reveals some major thorns. As we mentioned, at least 36 percent of respondents stated they didn’t even notify police. Which makes you wonder whether the incidents really were serious enough to justify calling in the infantry.  Furthermore, 46.8 percent admitted (the actual percentage could be higher) that the supposed offender neither attacked nor made a threat. So what made the hardware necessary? In more than half of the cases, the supposed defender admitted (the actual percentage may be higher) that the supposed offender had no weapon of any kind.  And since 57.6 percent of defenders say they verbally referred to their guns and 75.7 percent brandished or showed their guns, that seems to indicate that about 25 percent only referred to them verbally. And this counts as a defensive gun use? I could do the same thing, but since I don’t even own a gun, the weapon du jour would be bullshit, not a Glock.

In 8.3 percent of the cases, the subject claimed to have wounded or killed the offender. There is no breakdown of what percentage was killed, but let’s conservatively guess one percent. Most likely, the true percentage is much higher, especially given that there seem to be a great many gun incidents that are falsely classified as DGUs; and a higher percentage of fatal shootings means a lower number of DGUs. But even one percent of 2.5 million would be 25,000; and we should be able to verify this because gun deaths are a matter of official record. Oops. According to the FBI, there were only 232 justifiable homicides by firearm in all of 2010 – and this was an increase over recent years.  No matter how you slice it, something in Kleck has to go.

Perhaps most interestingly, the subjects claimed to have experienced an average of about 1.5 DGUs each for a 5-year period; in other words, many of them said they were involved in multiple incidents.  Talk about red flags. This supposedly random sampling that supposedly represents the typical American gun owner nonetheless seems to be comprised largely of people who live in the world’s worst neighborhoods. In contrast, this group of gun owners, in response to a query about how often they’ve drawn their weapons (which doesn’t necessarily mean a DGU)  typically say once or twice in 15 years or 25 or 30 years; some even say “never”, although such an individual is probably not as likely to respond to this question at all.

Defensive or Offensive

All told, these facts shoot a big gaping hole in one of the gun culture’s prime tenets: that guns are used in self-defense more often they are used to commit crimes – some even claim ten times as often or more! In the Phoenix sample, however,  the score was 78 to 3 in favor of the Offense. Granted, these were actual shootings and most defenders don’t open fire – but neither do most offenders. While there are only a few hundred confirmed DGUs per year, there are at least 400,000 gun crimes per year. Among those committed or attempted, there is a 100 percent chance that the offender has a gun, but only a 42 percent chance that the victim even has access to a gun, much less is armed at the moment and able to use it successfully. Of course, there are many other crimes in which the criminal is not packing; but they are less likely to warrant firearm defense. In many of them, the victim is not even aware of the crime, and indeed may not even be present. But none of this will stop the gun lobby from peddling the illusion that guns make us safer.

At least one blogger out there is making an effort to chronicle the destructive use of firearms, both intentional and accidental – there are thousands of accidental gun deaths and injuries every year, but I’ve yet to hear of a gun accidentally preventing a death or injury. He seems to be waging a war of anecdotes with the gunsters, but it’s not much of a war. Despite their persistent claims of vastly superior firepower, he’s been blowing their asses out of the water.

Not that I expect it to make a great deal of difference. People will believe what that want to believe, and for the gun culture it’s important to believe that lead is more vital than oxygen. For all their rant and cant about “defending liberty”, many gunsters are quite willing to enslave themselves to the unscrupulous marketing machinations of the firearms cartel. And every time a trigger clicks, a cash register ka-chings.

(STILL TO COME:  A more reasonable approach to calculating DGUs; and the assault on “gun control”. Stay tuned.)

Gun Culture Fires Back – With Blanks

It really isn’t hard to elicit an attack from ideological fanatics; all you have to do is suggest that their particular ideology might not exactly be the cat’s pajamas. Gun addicts can be among the most passionate of ideologues, so it was only a matter of time before my posts on the Second Amendment myth and the twisted logic used to justify gun ownership drew fire from a gun propaganda website.

This article, on the website TheTruthAboutGuns.com, is written by a fellow named Bruce Krafft, who seems to have a great deal of time on his hands, and a willingness to devote it all to promoting his passion (which he deems a matter of “civil rights”). The site is at least more intelligent, more articulate and more adult (despite its haughty dismissal of dissenting voices, even of the most respectful and regularly contributing sort, as “trolls”) than most assemblages of firearm fanatics. It even makes some valid points. If you seek propaganda to quote in support of your gun habit that doesn’t make you sound like a blithering devotee of Beck or Rush, this is the place to get it.  But it’s still quite prone to misinformation, misinterpretation and faulty reasoning.

Now I’m not one to respond to everyone who takes potshots in my direction. That’s mostly a fruitless exercise that only gives them more ammo to twist and distort, and it will go on forever if you let it. I have no desire to engage in a pissing contest, especially with someone totin’ a hogleg. But Mr. Krafft’s remarks do provide some further examples of specious reasoning and other forensic follies, and since that’s partly what this blog is about, it’s worth taking a look.

Racing to Conclusions

The alarm bells start playing a sonata as soon as he mentions the present blog, summarizing its posts about the gun culture thus:

The Propaganda Professor – Gun owners are racist and unrealistic about self-defense.

I suppose the second part is a fair enough conclusion about my commentary. But racist? Where did I ever say that gun owners are racist? Exactly nowhere. The only mention I made of race at all was to note the frequent correlation between paranoia about violent attack with paranoia about illegal immigrants (specifically from south of the border), and how this is reflected in the fabricated Hispanic names in the bogus anecdote I cited. Does this suggest that racism is sometimes a factor in gun addiction? It would appear so. Does it mean that gun owners as a whole are racist? I’d never say so, and to claim that I did is misguided if not misguiding. This type of unwarranted extrapolation is a common way to distort someone else’s words.

He then goes on to accuse ME repeatedly of invoking “straw men”. Seriously. In fact, his “dissection” of my posts is little more than one shell game after another, often with a distinct whiff of straw mingled with the gunsmoke.

Barely Bearing Arms

He takes me to task for describing only one of the bogus incidents I mentioned. What he means is that I described only one of the many variants of the same story I see over and over again. If there really are so meany genuine cases, why is it necessary to keep rehashing the phony ones?

To buttress his implication that defensive gun uses (DGUs, as they’re affectionately called)  are more commonplace than farting, he tosses out a list of 75 of them “from just the last 4 months”. Holy crap – 75 in 4 months. That adds up to…let me see, 225 per year. Almost a fraction as high as your chances of being struck by lightning. (Of course, the estimate that gunsters love to cite manages to bump the decimal point over a few notches, but that’s a story for another day.)

Except that, um, not all of these incidents are exactly bona fide DGUs per se, as such, really and truly. Some mention defense against animal attacks which certainly can be self-defense but not what gunsters normally refer to as DGU; one mentions someone being shot with an arrow, and a few tell of successful defense using knives. Yep, warding off an attacker with a bow or a knife is supposed to prove that guns are necessary for self-defense. That’s only a sampling of the kind of logic that prevails on Planet Heston.

Presumably, the purpose in including those accounts is to suggest that things would have gone down more smoothly in such situations if the defender had been packing. But that’s not how the list is packaged; it’s presented as an enumeration of incidents that did entail self-defense with a gun. And padding the roster in this manner is not exactly dealing from the top of the deck.

Incidentally, if you look at these stories more closely, you see that in many cases there is a nagging doubt, to say the least, that it really was self-defense, or if it was someone being trigger-happy. In one story, a man found another man in bed with his girlfriend, and the interloper (apparently unarmed if not unclothed) allegedly “came at him” so he was shot and killed in “self-defense”. Seriously?

Supreme Arrogance

Mr. Krafft also objects to my observation that the Supreme Court essentially “rewrote” the Second Amendment with a 2008 ruling, and suggests that I only say that because I don’t like their decision. Actually, I say that because they declared that the Second Amendment says something that it just doesn’t say. If that doesn’t have the effect of rewriting it, I don’t know what does. What difference does it make whether I like it or not?

He even pontificates that:

If you don’t bother to actually read the Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller it’s easy to believe the media myth that the Court ruled 5 – 4 that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. If, however, you do read the decision (specifically Justice Stevens’ dissent, with which Justices Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer all concurred) you will discover that the “ruling” was 9 – 0 in favor of the individual rights argument.

That’s an odd decoy, constructed of something distinctly resembling dried grass. Sure, the dissenting opinion concurred that the Second Amendment applies to individuals – but within the context of a “well-regulated militia”. The real issue is whether the presumed “rights” of individuals to keep and bear arms transcend the government’s right to regulate firearms. If you do bother to read the decision, you will see that Justice Stevens says:

The opinion the Court announces today fails to identify any new evidence supporting the view that the Amendment was intended to limit the power of Congress to regulate civilian uses of weapons. [He also notes that “a review of the drafting history of the Amendment demonstrates that its Framers rejected proposals that would have broadened its coverage to include such uses.”] Unable to point to any such evidence, the Court stakes its holding on a strained and unpersuasive reading of the Amendment’s text. [Translation: they rewrote the goddamn thing.]… When each word in the text is given full effect, the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia. So far as appears, no more than that was contemplated by its drafters or is encompassed within its terms. Even if the meaning of the text were genuinely susceptible to more than one interpretation, the burden would remain on those advocating a departure from the purpose identified in the preamble and from settled law to come forward with persuasive new arguments or evidence. The textual analysis offered by respondent and embraced by the Court falls far short of sustaining that heavy burden.

That last point is key. Even if there is a shadow of a doubt about the meaning of the text, the existence of that doubt means that one cannot unequivocally state that the meaning encompasses a  certain application that is in doubt. Which is precisely what the “conservative” justices did. In other words, they rewrote the goddamn thing. Call my evaluation (along with that of the four disinterested justices) subjective if you must, but to claim that it’s “false on its face” is truly false on its face.

Emulating the Duke

He also tries to divert focus to a consideration of my supposed beliefs in discussing my comments about the Nevada IHOP massacre:

John Wayne wet dream? Seriously? The Prof believes we think this way? The sad thing is that he probably does.

AHHH—CHOOO!!! Sorry, my hay fever is really acting up for some reason.

Having never met Mr. Krafft nor (to the best of my knowledge) his followers, I wouldn’t presume to know how “we think”. But I have met many other gunsters. Many, many, many,many, many. I grew up in the heart of redneck gun culture territory, so I’ve had all too much exposure to cocky lead-pumpers chomping at the bit for a chance to put their devices into action. My comments were not a reflection of what I think about how (or whether) they think, but of what they’ve said about how they think.

Naturally, it would be a mistake to conclude that all gunsters are inbred goobers with itchy fingers. But it’s equally mistaken to assume they’re all intelligent, mature and responsible. What they all are is human; and as such, they’re all different.

Since Mr. Krafft seems to bristle at my use of the expression “gun addict”, let me make it clear that I don’t apply this term to all gun owners. (But if the holster fits…) I have known some whom I never would have suspected to be gun owners, because they didn’t make an issue of it. They didn’t conspicuously flash their pieces, they didn’t display issues of Guns and Ammo  on the coffee table or NRA stickers on their pickups, they didn’t rant about their “Second Amendment rights”. They were just healthy adults who happened to own firearms.

And then there are the others. The ones who frequent gun shows and hang out every day on online gun forums. The ones who forward every anecdote that comes down the pike about a granny with a shotgun fending off a gang of rapists. The ones who foam at the mouth about the big bad guvmint wanting to take away their toys.  The ones who fawn like schoolgirls over implements of death and mayhem as if they were Faberge eggs. These are probably prime candidates for a twelve-step program.

Be that as it may, the point is that given a random gathering of, say, a hundred human beings,  you’re certain to have a wide variety of personality types. Give them all guns, and you’re certain to have a wide variety of armed personality types – and levels of shooting skill.  Introduce a sudden threat to their lives (like, say, a guy opening fire on everyone) and the odds of extensive collateral damage are high indeed- my projection of “a dozen or so bodies” might well be conservative.

Yet many gunsters are perfectly willing to assume that in such a scenario, everyone present would behave with perfect poise, restraint and efficiency – not to mention impeccable marksmanship. How naive can you get?

And the Kewpie Doll Goes to…

But of the many silly utterances in Mr. Krafft’s commentary, the silliest has to be this:

There is no such thing as “gun violence.” There are people who do violent things with guns, but they also do violent things with knives, rocks, pointy sticks and fists.

Oh. I’ll try to remember that, and I’ll also try to remember that there’s no such thing as an automobile accident; there are only accidents that happen to involve automobiles. They could instead have involved bicycles, camels or pogo sticks. The fact that they involved automobiles gives us no right to linguistically link a car with a crash. (Is this some of that “political correctness” stuff I’ve heard so much about?)

I suppose this little display of semantic chicanery is meant to foster an Orwellian disconnect between guns and gunshots, and reinforce the gun culture mantra that “guns don’t kill, people do”. But while the role that firearms might play in inciting violence is open to debate, their very presence in shootings is not. I’ve never heard even the most rabid gun fanatic argue that bullets are discharged by bare hands. (At least not yet.)

Pro but conned

Speaking of loaded language, as it were, I notice that the denizens of The Truth (sic) about Guns have a habit of referring to non-gunsters (including, it would appear, yours truly) as “antis”. Normally the prefix anti designates opposition to something, but I’m not clear just what it is that I/we are supposedly against. If anything, one might infer from reading these pages that I am in favor of certain things – e.g., stricter gun laws and a more precise reading of The Constitution.

In any case, the knee-jerk use of this label is a good indicator of how the gun culture, like the culture of right-wing extremism with which it is so closely allied, is fueled by paranoia and divisiveness. There must always be a THEM out there somewhere, intent upon taking away one’s guns and one’s freedom (which are one and the same of course), and destroying one’s country and violating one’s daughters, etc. etc. etc. etc. The gun lobby, a distinct minority that nonetheless enjoys a powerful grip on media and politics, has managed to convince its constituents that it has been brutally marginalized; and it appeals to the very type of mindset that probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a loaded anything.

Blossoms among the stubble

Still, I don’t mean to suggest that Mr. Krafft always has his head up his barrel. I commend him for at least recognizing that there is for most people a heavy emotional price tag attached to shooting someone, however justifiably. Many gunsters I’ve encountered seem quite clueless about this, and honestly believe they can just blow away a bad guy and then go have a beer and forget about it. The scary thing is, some of them may be right.

And I give him a standing ovation for refusing to name the shooter at Virginia Tech. I’ve always strongly suspected that if the media didn’t lavish so much attention on mass murderers, there’d be far fewer copycats.  But we’ll never know for certain, will we?

Additionally, his speculations about how crime may have been prevented by armed citizens in other mass shootings, and his follow-up post offering possible solutions to the problem of gun violence (though he denies it exists) are, though presumptuous, at least thoughtful.

On the whole, however, the website is yet another example of the very brand of fear mongering and polarization that the world doesn’t need a lot more of.

(COMING SOON: We’ll examine “gun control” and other nifty phrases, as well as gunster mantras such as “gun control doesn’t work” and “more guns, less crime“. And we’ll turn the microscope on the “statistics” about defensive gun use.)