Archive for the ‘Guns’ category

How Is This Not Manslaughter?

July 28, 2014

How?

William DeHayes was showing Hoover his gun collection. While he was showing her his .22 caliber revolver, it accidentally fired and shot Hoover in the head, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. [More at the Tampa Bay Times.]

Hoover died in the ER yesterday; the child she was carrying died with her.

This is, of course, merely the ordinary awful that necessarily flows from Second Amendment fundamentalism.  I’ll say one thing:  anyone who chalks an incident like this to the necessary cost of preserving freedom cannot be said to be pro-life.  If abortion by gun is OK by you…

In any event, the blunt fact of unfettered gun ownership and the celebration of a culture of the gun is that those most at risk of gun violence remain those who own them and their friends and family.  Put together the gun-suicides, “accidents” like these,* and shootings of intimate partners and or others known to the shooter, and you have well over half of all gun deaths in the US — a number which in total is essentially the same as those we lose to road accidents.

The fantasy of the gun? It’s all fun and games until the reaper lays hold of its victim’s cloak:

Hans_Baldung_-_The_Knight,_the_Young_Girl,_and_Death_-_WGA01179

There’s more.  Here’s the bit that I just can’t stand:

Police are still investigating the incident, but believe it was an accidental shooting, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

An accident? Not a charge of involuntary manslaughter?

Maybe that’ll come, but sweet FSM! You pick up a gun and shoot someone dead — even if you didn’t mean to — and that’s not a crime?

The NRA, ammosexuals, and all their enablers in politics and the media tell us that the term “responsible gun owners” has actual meaning.  It doesn’t, as this case demonstrates .  I’ll update this post if it turns out that Mr. DeHayes faces actual consequences for taking another person’s life, but until then, I’m going to vent:

Responsible means that whatever happens with your gun is your fault.  Period.  You accidentally discharge it and no-one gets hurt? How’s this:  big fine, confiscate the weapon involved, lose the right to bear arms for a year for the first incident, forever if you repeat.  Someone gets hurt or dies?  Jail. Civil liability.  Loss of gun rights for life.  That’s responsibility.

But of course, I dream.  That’s not how we roll.  Instead, we’ll just  water the tree of liberty with a newlywed, and celebrate life by burying her fetus — and wait (not long) for the next red harvest.

a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior.  The state may be able to prove involuntary manslaughter by showing the defendant’s recklessness or lack of care when handling a dangerous instrument or weapon, – See more at: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-involuntary-manslaughter-laws.html#sthash.4lq9WNmn.dpuf
an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as DUI). – See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/involuntary-manslaughter-overview.html#sthash.wd8fjq3H.dpuf
an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as DUI). – See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/involuntary-manslaughter-overview.html#sthash.wd8fjq3H.dpuf
an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, or from an unlawful act that is a misdemeanor or low-level felony (such as DUI). – See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/involuntary-manslaughter-overview.html#sthash.wd8fjq3H.dpuf

*Scare quotes because such shootings are not acts of god — the deer that darts across the road just at the moment when you have to swerve into a tree or take a 400 pound antlered rodent through the windshield.  They are the statistically predictable outcomes of handing guns out freely to a population in which only half of the folks are above average.  That is, even though there is no way to predict that Ms. Hoover would fall victim to this awfulness, we knwo we can expect some number per year or month of folks felled by stupidity, carelessness, and general fuck ups with a gun.

Image: Hans Baldung, The Knight, the Young Girl, and Death, c. 1505.

 

And Another…

June 10, 2014

Shots were fired  this morning at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.  The shooter is dead, as is one student.  Oregonlive.com reports that a teacher was shot as well.

As news of the shooting hit, @PoliticalLine tweeted this:

6/5: Seattle U shooting

6/6: GA court house shooting

6/8: Las Vegas cops shooting

6/10: Oregon high school

not even a full week…

My son goes to high school next year.  We’re lucky in that we live in a state with relatively low incidence of gun violence – 17th out of 50 for gun murders as of 2010.  But Oregon experiences such murders at half the rate Massachusetts do, and statistics are no comfort when it’s your kid, your friend, your partner on the wrong side of someone’s gun.  And, to repeat the obvious, Vermont the state with the lowest rate of gun murders at .3/100,000 still pays a higher butcher’s bill than at least a couple of dozen countries.  We tolerate a level of threat to our kids, to all those we hold most dear, that our closest allies and competitors would see as utterly unacceptable…

…as, of course, it is.

Joseph_Wright_of_Derby_-_The_Dead_Soldier_-_Google_Art_Project

 

I got nothing, except this penetrating glimpse of the obvious:  domestic terrorists are holding us all hostage.

Those who fire their weapons get their grotesque fifteen minutes of … maybe local news, mostly, given the increasingly routine (read, less newsworthy) character of a story that, as the tweet above documents, repeats itself in all but location over and over again.

But the real terrorists, the masterminds, the ones for whom Guantanamo was built, are those who flood America with the weapons that leave our kids, our cops, folks out at a mall or wherever in literally mortal danger.  They would be, it seems to me, the NRA, the political elites, mostly but not exclusively from the GOP, the usual suspects — trading deaths of children, cops eating lunch, whoever, for market share and a grasp on the political power that can be distilled from fearful rage.

The consolation, if there is any, comes from the long view:  gun ownership is down as a fraction of the population.  And the Tea Party version of the GOP locks in the conditions that shrinks its base.  But any relief that may come lies in the long run… and you know how that quote ends.

I’m not totally without hope.  As folks commented in yesterday’s thread, the Supreme Court has not (yet) ruled that regulation of guns is out-of-bounds.  I can imagine a state-by-state tightening of the regulatory regime; I can see the culture of the gun shifting even now in parts of the country.  I don’t think we’re going to forever accept the demand to water the tree of liberty with the blood of school kids.

But damn, folks, we’ve got to get on with it.

Rambling, I know.  I’m just heartsick, sinking deeper and deeper in the hole with each day’s red harvest.   Like I said.  I got nothing.

Image:  Joseph Wright of Derby, The Dead Soldier, c. 1789

Annals of Responsible Gun Ownership, Part (n)

February 24, 2014

To paraphrase how my co-religionists limn the Reconstructionist movement*….

…There is no god, and Darwin is his prophet:

A Michigan man fatally shot himself in the head while he was teaching his girlfriend gun safety, according to The Detroit Free Press.

37.42

Police said that the man, whose name was not released, had been trying to show his girlfriend gun safety with three pistols. He put the first two guns to his head and pulled the trigger. When the man pulled the trigger on the third pistol the gun went off.

In the least surprising contextual note in the history of stupidity,

The man’s girlfriend said he had been drinking throughout the day while he was showing her the guns. (Via TPM)

I don’t want to make light of the core of the story: someone’s son, lover, sibling — perhaps — and friend is dead before his time and for even less reason than usual.  My sympathy to all those burdened by this loss.

The only point I’ll draw from this stranger’s death is that guns are designed to deliver deadly force and they do.  Most folks have been known to such back one too many cold ones at least occasionally.  And that is one of the reasons why even the most responsible gun owners are so until they’re not…

…at which point, someone dies.

*The actual line goes, “There is no God and Mordecai Kaplan is his prophet,” but you kinda had to be there.

Image: Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Suicide, c. 1836.

 

Carl Hiassen Was Right. Imagination Can’t Out-Crazy Reality: Gun Nuttery Department

February 13, 2014

Via Salon, we learn what a Colorado Republican state senator — who took office in the wake of a recall of a Democrat who favored limits on gun magazine capacity — had this to say in support of the bill he introduced to overturn the large magazine ban:

A nearly identical law has already been voted down in the Dem-controlled Colorado state House of Representatives and is certain to fail in the state Senate, which is also controlled by Democrats. But the state Senate held a hearing on Herpin’s bill all the same.

It was during this hearing that Herpin made his unfortunate remarks in response to a question from a Democratic senator on the committee.

“My understanding is that James Holmes bought his 100-round capacity magazine legally,” said Sen. Irene Aguilar. “So, in fact, this law would have stopped James Holmes from purchasing a 100-round magazine. I was wondering if you agree with me.”

“Perhaps James Holmes would not have been able to purchase a 100-round magazine,” Herpin responded. “As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had four, five, six 15-round magazines, there’s no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up.”

Nicolas_Poussin_-_Le_massacre_des_Innocents_-_Google_Art_Project

Uhhh.

Once more, I got nothing.

Or rather — I have no idea what must take place in an allegedly sentient being’s mind that would allow that person to say such a thing.  My sympathy goes to every friend and family member of those murdered in Aurora, and insulted by Senator Bernie Herpin.

Image:  Nicholas Poussin, The Massacre of the Innocents, 1625-1626.

I Got Nothing…

February 11, 2014

…I can imagine saying to this:

“There’s necessarily no reason to open carry,” he said. “Rosa Parks didn’t really need to sit where she did.”

That’s the owner of that Beaumont, TX gun shop that sent out a signboard guy wearing a banana suit who happened to be open-carrrying an AK-47.*

Czigány,_Dezső_-_Still-life,_Banana,_Oranges_and_Fishes_(ca_1910)

I get it.

Actually, I don’t.

Wondering around the streets with a high-powered rifle is just like refusing to accept the explicit tyranny of the Jim Crow south….

Uh…

No…

WTF do you do with that?

I got nothing.

*The idea behind the banana costume, by the way, “was so he would look less alarming.”

Ponder that for a moment.

Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life, but if I saw some guy in a bright yellow cone-topped costume out on the street, gesticulating with an assault rifle to hand, I’d find that…

…a tad perturbing.

Just me, I suppose.

Image:  Dezső Czigány, Still-life with Bananas, Oranges and Fishesc. 1910

Yo! You There! Call Yourself “Pro-Life” Do You…

October 20, 2013

Portrait_of_a_Dead_Child)_by_English_School

…Then what do you have to say about this:

A 2-year-old girl died Saturday afternoon after she found a loaded handgun and accidentally shot herself, Fayetteville police said. [via]

This latest report is not an anomaly.  Leaving aside malice — murder and random mayhem; leaving aside adult folly, when individuals supposedly at or past the age of reason self-nominate for Darwin awards; leaving aside the great gaping hole in families all over the country left by suicide-by-gun; kids, guns, and accidental deaths offer a blunt and clear test.  A neighbor said of this kid that she was “a 2-year-old baby who hasn’t even lived yet.”  So are they all.

If you think of the defenceless as deserving of special care…if you think that kids are the fit objects of national attention, of such importance that we must enact a rule of law so that such innocent lives may be absolutely protected…then what are you willing to do about the guns?

Let me be clear: I know that plenty of people who oppose abortion are horrified by American gun law and culture, and I honor that.  But lots do not, and there is a pretty fair correlation between the states that have the most restrictive abortion laws and the most relaxed legal framework for gun .  Those are the folks, those are the legislatures that I’m talking about.

Let me be clearer: my deepest sympathy goes to the family who just lost a daughter.  Doesn’t matter what their politics are. Doesn’t even matter to me what their role in the sequence of events that led to this little girl finding that weapon. Their hell is with them now and there’s nothing I can or would wish to  do to make it worse.  It can’t get worse.*

I’ll even admit that pointing to (what seems to me to be) a glaring inconsistency between anti-abortion politics and concern for the living is something of a cheap shot in this context.  The issue here is guns and the way some Americans have created a culture in which minimal moves to safer gun regimes are seen as the ultimate in tyranny. That’s what has to be confronted head on, I agree.

But I can tell you that I’m heartsick at reading story after story of babies killing babies or themselves.  And if you think children are actually something other than little adults, that they do need special attention, protection, care — and I do — then, yeah, I do think its fair to ask of anyone who presumes to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves where they stand.

That’s it.  I got nothing more on this.  I keep thinking about my boy when he was two and what I would felt had I found him on the floor…

Can’t bear it.

*This isn’t to say that I don’t favor criminal negligence charges against anyone who leaves a gun where a kid can get at it.  That’s a social sanction, and  it is vital that we as a society make it consequential to own a gun.  There’s reason they call it “deterrence.”  But as an individual?  I would never say to someone in this family’s position how sinfully dumb it is to keep a loaded gun anywhere near a kid.  They know

Image:  English School, Portrait of a Dead Child, 1624.

Things I Hate With The White Hot Heat Of A Thousand Suns

September 16, 2013

This, for one:

Gary Humes, a programs manager with the Navy, was entering the building where the shootings took place around 8:20 a.m. when he was met by people fleeing the building and warning of a shooter inside. He and more than 100 others ran to another building across the street, while others ran to the Navy museum nearby.

“I decided to go into work a little late this morning,” he said. “I guess God was with me.”” (from The Navy Times story on today’s mass shooting*).

Should we thus infer that God was not with the dead and wounded?

I’m not going to get into the problem of evil in this space.  There are ways religious believers reconcile themselves to the obvious fact that bad things happen to good people — or at least people for whom the evil outcomes are undeserved by any reasonable calculation.  There are certainly logically coherent ways to understand the presence of evil in the world as a strong indicator of the absence of deity actively intervening in human affairs.  Neither of those true statements is in play here.

Rather:  hosannas like the one above are to me the markers of failed religion.  I don’t me Mr Humes himself.  Dodging the kind of horror he did today would make anyone — me certainly – feel an almost giddy (and guilty) sense of relief.  He gets a pass from me on anything he says in the moment.  But it’s still possible to read something in the verbal formula that someone in such straits reaches for in such moments of trial.  And the “God is with me” trope — that to me is the signal of a religious culture thoroughly getting it wrong.

Or, to put it in another frame, what would Jesus say?

Aelbert_Cuyp_-_Landscape_with_cattle_-_Google_Art_Project

This, for example:

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25)

 

Image: Aelbert Culp, Landscape with Cattle,  c. 1639-1649

 


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