Posted tagged ‘Gun Nuts’

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.

Oh Brave New World…

May 6, 2013

…that has such people in’t

(via)

A 3D printable plastic handgun is now (more or less) available.

As the linked article suggests, there is a nasty possibility of having the thing blow up in your hand if you use too-powerful ammunition…but still.

Talking Points Memo is also on the story, with a gussied up video that adds swelling music and shots of WW II bombers to the mix.  They grabbed this quote (warning – do not read while eating lunch):

“I recognize that this tool might be used to harm people,” Wilson said, according to Fox News. “That’s what it is — it’s a gun. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not put it out there. I think that liberty in the end is a better interest.”

Presented without further comment, this story, also now up on TPM.

And this one.

And…hell, wait half an hour and there will be another tragedy to report. (At somewhere north of 50 gun suicides per day, that’s a reasonably non-hyperbolic time period — to say nothing of gun violence imposed on others.)

The nuts, Civil War revanchists, and simple thugs who drive gun policy in this country are a danger to themselves and everyone else.  Demographics are getting them too...but not nearly fast enough.

May 2, 2013

Outsourced entirely to Charles P. Pierce:

If your “way of life” involves handing deadly weapons to five-year olds, your way of life is completely screwed up and you should change it immediately because it is stupid and wrong. (And, again, also, too: goddammit, “learning to use and respect a gun” means at least knowing that the fking thing is loaded when it’s sitting in the corner of the parlor like it’s a damn umbrella stand or something, and we should talk about that part, too.) It is not in any way “normal” to hand a kindergartner a firearm. If a mother from the inner-city of, say, Philadelphia did that, and the kid subsequently shot his sister to death, Fox News never would stop yelling about the crisis in African American communities and the Culture Of Death, and rap music, too. If your culture is telling you that children who have only recently emerged from toddlerhood should have their own guns, then your culture is deadly and dangerous and that should concern you, too. If your culture demands that, in the face of a general national outrage over the killing of other children, your politics work to loosen the gun laws you have, as they apparently did in Kentucky, then your culture is making your politics stupid and wrong and you should change them, too. I do not have to understand these people any more, and it is way too early in the day to be drinking this much.

Portrait_of_a_girl_with_gun_and_hound copy

Image:  Portrait of a girl with gun and hound, after the style of Joshua Reynolds, 18th or 19th century

“You Can Keep The Gun” — Guest Post

April 29, 2013

What follows are friend-of-the-blog Jim Bale’s reflections on our recent bad days in Boston, Cambridge, Watertown and environs.  He picked up the loathesome suggestion by an Arkansas state rep who misunderstands so much about both Boston and the concept of society that I could come up with nothing but sputtering obscenities.  Jim, a better man, has something much smarter to offer.

______________________

Jim Bales here, with thanks to Tom for the loan of his soapbox.

During the hunt for the Marathon bombers, Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell (a Republican) tweeted:

I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?”

Nonchaloir (Repose)

He followed with an apology for the timing of his words, but not the words themselves.

 

I sent him the following email (his contact information is at http://www.arkansashouse.org/member/256/ )

Dear Representative Bell,

I am fortunate to have had multiple opportunities to visit the beautiful state of Arkansas, and to spend time staying with friends and relatives in your state. I was taken aback to read your tweet that you wondered “how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” I was then saddened to read your apology for “for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning.”

What you don’t seem to understand that your words themselves are offensive and ignorant, no matter when expressed. I urge you to take the time to reflect upon your words, and try to wrap your head around the fact that the good liberals in Boston (and I am one of them) recognize that only a fool believes that a personal firearm is a magic talisman that makes one safe.

Our safety is based on our recognizing that we are a Commonwealth that our individual well-being is strengthened by our commitment to each other, through our words, our deeds, and our taxes. We put our tax money into training and equipping our law enforcement officers. We put our trust and our support behind them. We don’t try to do their job for them, and we understand that possessing an AR-15 cannot magically make us invulnerable.

And so, because we have faith in our law enforcement officers, we did not cower in fear behind a firearm. Rather, we calmly stayed home, were alert, and stayed out of the way of our brethren in law enforcement.

I urge you, in your capacity as Member of the House of Representatives of the great State of Arkansas, to review the support your state gives its law enforcement agencies, and (if necessary) vote to increase taxes to ensure that the good people of Arkansas can reasonably enjoy the same level of faith in those agencies as we in Boston (and Massachusetts) enjoy in ours.

Trust me; having competent, well-trained and well-funded law enforcement is far more reassuring than holding an AR-15!

Image:  John Singer Sergant, Repose, 1911.

 

Best,

Jim Bales

 

Tyranny of the Gun/Night Thoughts Of A Parent On Tucking In His Child

December 14, 2012

What can I say?

How to express the sorrow I feel for the families and friends in mourning after the Newtown school murders?

As many of you know, I have a young son, twelve now.  Every day I walk him to his public school in a suburb of Boston.  As I write this paragraph, I’m just about to head home to take him to his martial arts club — the kind of ordinary thing parents do.  The notion that I could have hugged him at the school door at 8 a.m. and then at lunch received that unspeakable phone call?

I have no words.

Fra_Angelico_-_Massacre_of_the_Innocents_-_WGA00610

I’ve spent the afternoon trying to think of something other than the raw misery of the day.  The way my mind works, though, I couldn’t stop coming back to the same old question:  what to do about the damn guns.  I started by reading Fallows on this near-weekly exercise in American exceptionalism, and then I came across this essential Ezra Klein  piece, “Nine facts about guns and mass shootings.” 

The whole post is worth your attention, but here’s what is to my mind the money quote:

7. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.

Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation. But correlations can be suggestive:

“The map overlays the map of firearm deaths above with gun control restrictions by state,” explains Florida. “It highlights states which have one of three gun control restrictions in place – assault weapons’ bans, trigger locks, or safe storage requirements. Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).”

And yes, just in case there are any gotcha gun nuts reading this:  I’m aware that Connecticut with its relatively strong gun laws was the site of today’s tragedy.  That’s (part of) the problem — the most rigorous gun laws in this country are a shadow of what they are in other, less murder-stricken lands, and the state-by-state patchwork of laws combined with the interstate highway system means that even the strongest local protections are leaky as hell.

So, as I say, check out all that Ezra has to offer on all this; this is one of his good ones.

The only other thing I want to say right now is that I think it’s important to politicize the hell out of this event…but towards particular policy goals.
I’m not really ready to write coherently anything more than to note that it is intolerable — immoral, in my view — to simply accept as the cost of being American a gun culture that results in both the murder of children and a rate of death by gun that took about 30,000 lives in 2011, roughly two-thirds of them suicides. (PDF).  We’ve got to get to a better circumstance — and if that means taking out NRA candidates state assembly rep by rep — that’s a challenge we can talk through over the next little while

But for now…well I’ve been pecking at this between kinder-transport duty and dinner and dishes, and I’ve just come downstairs again from a longer-than-usual bedtime cuddle.

My son and I talked a bit about the shootings, and he took the news on board without really letting me know what he thinks about it.   He does that — he guards his counsel until he’s decided what his parents need to know.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew why I squeezed him tonight harder than usual.

It sounds hollow as hell to say it, but fuck it — here goes:

Stay safe, everyone, and hold close those you love.

Image:  Fra Angelico, The Massacre of the  Innocentsbetween 1451 and 1452.

Roland, The Campus Thomson Gunner

August 30, 2012

Add any Colorado public university as a place I do not wish to teach:

Jerry Peterson, a professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, said he would cancel classes if he found that someone had brought a firearm to class, according to the Daily Camera.

Although Peterson said he was only speaking for himself, Philip P. DiStefano, the chancellor at UC-Boulder, sent out an e-mail Tuesday to faculty members that they could not shut down a class if a student with a concealed carry permit brought a gun.Uh.

I really don’t know what to say.
I’m just not sure how it improves the educational environment if during a discussion session, a student might hesitate to criticize an idea from someone packing a Glock.
How about having to decide which kevlar print went best with my slacks on days I was handing back papers?  A “C” can powerfully irritate some folks, I know…
Of course, any constraint on the pedagogical process is secondary to the exercise of Founder-given rights, right?  So said the Colorado Supreme Court last March, thus ensuring that all Colorado public higher ed students can go to class every day secure in the knowledge that if a psycho shooter does show up, they can expect defense in the form of fellow students with much less firearm and incident training than, say, the New York Police Department offers its officers.
I mean, seriously.  What the F**k, America.  You don’t think that there is any zone in which the imminent threat of deadly force might be, you know, inappropriate.
Not to mention the inherent badness of the idea of putting young folks, stress and all the powerful emotion and mood swings that college can evoke in close proximity with firearms.
Holy FSM, am I glad I live in the great pagan-pinko-commie-health-care-providing-gay-marriage-pioneering non-gun-fetishizing Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The winters may suck here, but sweet baby Jeezus and his dumber younger brother,* at least I don’t have to check my students for holster bulges.
I’d make a crack about Darwin awards and all that, but this really is too damn depressing to think about.
PS — Other states are crazy this way too.  It’s not going to be that long before I’m actually going to check on each institution’s policy before deciding whether it’s prudent to accept speaking invitations. Consider this bit of woe:

More than 200 campuses in six states currently allow concealed carry in some form, Burnett said, be it campuswide or only in certain areas.

*The one who turned wine into water.
Image: Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Suicide, c. 1836

Faith vs. Reason: Stand Your Ground/Violent Crime Edition

March 23, 2012

Last night the PBS News Hour program held a roundtable on the Trayvon Martin murder.  Ta-Nehisi Coates was on, as were Reihan Salem and Donna Britt.  So was Dennis Baxley, the Florida state representative who co-authored the Stand Your Ground law under whose cloak George Zimmerman stalked and gunned down the 17 year old Martin.

Baxley said — and appeared to mean — the right things about Martin’s death, that it was a tragedy, and that nothing in the law he helped enact should be interpreted to authorize someone to pursue, confront and shoot another.  But Baxley rejected the notion that the law itself might have contributed to the catastrophe, arguing instead that it is a force for good, a way, in his words, a law intended “to empower law abiding citizens to stop violent things from happening.”

What’s more, said Baxley, the law has done just that:

Since ’05 to 2012 we have seen a reduction in violent crime in Florida.  And what I’ve learned from it is that if you empower to stop bad things from happening they will and they do and they have.

Except, of course, those bad things that happen because people are able to claim that a “feeling” of danger constitutes authorization to use deadly force more or less at will.

But snark aside, what of the claim about crime rates in Florida.

Here, I’ll take a cue from Rachel Maddow, and say that Dennis Baxler is lying.

Check out Florida’s crime statistics.  Two things stand out.

The first is that the number of violent crimes has not dropped from 2005 through 2010 (where the data series ends); rather it has jostled about in the noise.  From 2005-2008, violent crime totals exceeded the 2004 tally of just over 124,000; in 2009 and 2010 the totals dropped below that figure. If there’s a clear case for correlation with the Stand Your Ground law, it must exist at some much finer grained level that the invoked violent crime catch-all

So what about murder?  That is, after all, the crime of crimes, and the one for which I think most of us would be most comfortable in giving deference to claims of self defense.  Those numbers make Baxley’s story worse:  the murder total in Florida dropped from 946 to 881 from 2004-2005, and have exceeded the 2004 total for each year reported since, peaking at 1,202 in 2007 — or about a 26% hike from the 2004 number.

The shorter: violent crime numbers do not support a claim that the SYG law has consistently reduced violent crime incidence since 2005.

The other key fact to leaps out from this chart:

The slope of the rate/100,000 (blue) line has been pretty consistent for twenty years.  It gets a little steeper from 2008-2010, to be sure, though not as much as it did from 1997 to 1999 or 2000.  But this picture is consistent with the story in the rest of the country: violent crime is a much less severe problem now than it was decades ago. Any explanation for this ongoing process cannot have anything to do with a law enacted in 2005.  That longer history alone makes a mockery any sudden 9mm ex machina explanation for Florida’s recent and welcome continued reduction in rates of violent crime.  And, of course, any monocausal explanation  is almost certain to be wrong.

Hell, I’ll go further and say that a priori, such accounts are always wrong.

Consider instead another story.  Sometime in a leisure-filled future, (hah!–ed) I do plan to blog this really smart Adam Gopnik piece in the New Yorker examining research into  what drove crime rates down in New York City over the last several decades.  But for now in this context, take this home:

Crime ends as a result of “cyclical forces operating on situational and contingent things rather than from finding deeply motivated essential linkages.” [Wrote Franklin E. Zimring]…Curbing crime does not depend on reversing social pathologies or alleviating social grievances; it depends on erecting small, annoying barriers to entry.

All of which is to say that when Baxley asserts that Florida is experiencing a respite from violent crime because it now allows citizens to act as amateur law enforcers, empowered to use deadly force as their judgment drives them, he’s not telling the truth.  He’s lying, saying something that is false as a mundane fact and wrong as a causal inference.

Which is why this from Baxley is a type specimen of moral cowardice:

This kind of very unfortunate situation I think is a misapplication of this statute.

If you enact a law that carries with it a predictable budget of unintended, undesired consequences that result from the application of that law in daily life, then you’re not talking about “unfortunate” events, nor “misapplications.”  You’re talking about a murder that was a probabilistically predictable result of enacting a crap law.

I’m sorry Mr. Baxley.

I’m sure you mean well.

I have no doubt that you did not wish the particular child, Trayvon Martin any harm — how could you? You never knew him.

But what you feel in your heart, that regret that someone didn’t behave under your law as you think they should?  Not an excuse. No absolution.  Trayvon Martin is dead because someone empowered in his own mind by the terms of your law stalked down a street, confronted him, and shot that 17 year old kid down.

You own your part of this.


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