Saturday, September 10, 2011

Update on the Nevada IHOP Mass Shooting

We have not yet learned why the shooter did this terrible thing; but it is a safe bet that he thought he had some sort of right to do so, or justification to do so.  It is unlikely he thought he was wrong to do it, or he wouldn't have done it.

In breezing through this update from CNN, I note they identify two assault rifles, and  expanded capacity 30 round magazines were also involved.  Clearly these are significant in mass shootings.

From CNN:

and from the  Houston Chronicle: (my emphasis added - DG)
"Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said Sencion, 32, a 1997 graduate of South Lake Tahoe High School, had a history of mental health issues and had been on long-term medication.
Authorities were working to build a profile of his life and medical history.
During a solemn news conference the day after the shooting, Furlong acknowledged investigators might never know what triggered the deadly attack, the worst in the history of this small capital city in the shadow of the majestic Sierra Nevada range."

and I think this reflects part of the problem, the attitude of people taking the law into their own hands, feeling they have the right to decide to end the life of another person rather than law enforcement and the courts having jurisdiction:
"There's so much hostilities," Fike said. "It's like a poison that has permeated our society."
She also expressed sympathy for Sencion's family "who is in grief, too."
Nathan Sours Sr. and his wife, Linda, drove 30 miles from Reno to pay their respects.
"This is my small token of gratitude," said Nathan Sours, a veteran who served in the Army and National Guard.
"They were helpless," he said of the unarmed guardsmen. "If I'd have been around I would have taken him out."
OR, Mr. Sours (what an appropriate name) YOU AND your wife might have both been killed instead.

Motive in Nevada IHOP shooting remains unclear

September 07, 2011|By the CNN Wire Staff
The gunman, Eduardo Sencion, 32, of Carson City, Nevada, died after shooting himself.
It remained unclear why a man opened fire at a Nevada IHOP restaurant and killed four people, including three Nevada National Guard members, before turning the gun on himself, authorities said Wednesday.
A total of 11 people were shot Tuesday, Carson City, Nevada, Sheriff Ken Furlong said. They included five uniformed Army National Guard members and six civilians, including suspect Eduardo Sencion, 32.
Since the number of military members and civilians was nearly equal, "we cannot conclude at this time that our military forces were being specifically targeted," Furlong told reporters.
Sencion was carrying an assault rifle and a pistol when he went into the IHOP Tuesday morning, Furlong said. A second assault rifle was in his vehicle. Only the assault rifle he carried was fired, the sheriff said. An empty 30-round gun magazine and two other magazines also were recovered, Furlong said Tuesday night.
While Sencion had no prior criminal history, his family told police he had a history of mental illness, Furlong said.
"This is unquestionably the most devastating attack on our community in Carson City's history," the sheriff said. The city has not had a homicide in over three years, he said. "Yesterday, our town was shocked to the core."
Chilling 911 audio recordings were released Wednesday. One caller yells right before a barrage of gunshots is heard outside the IHOP. "He is shooting at us," the man says.
Sencion was born in Mexico but was a U.S. citizen, Furlong said.
Authorities released the names of the victims Wednesday. They are: Maj. Heath Kelly, 35, of Reno, Nevada; Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31, also of Reno; Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 38, of Carson City; and Florence Donovan Gunderson, 67, of South Lake Tahoe, California, a civilian who was at the restaurant with her husband, a retired Marine.
Kelly was a decorated field artillery officer, an Iraq veteran and a husband and father, said Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard. He was an avid student of military history and was known for his "dry sense of humor."
McElhiney was a "fast riser" in the corps, with specialties in the medical, dental and human resources fields, Burks said. She also owned a small baking company and frequently provided cupcakes for corps events, he said.
Riege was deployed to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, and was a fitness buff and a father of three, Burks said. He also served in the U.S. Navy for two years.

Jon Stewart Predicts Rick Perry for the GOP

via Beautiful Horizons

Former Congressman Bob Ney on the Iraq War

Nay is one of the guys implicated in the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal, yet concerning 9/11 he seems to speak the truth. What do you think?  Does a politician who's been bought on one deal have no credibility when speaking on another? I don't think so, not necessarily.

Being out of politics, he's free to speak the truth without the consequences his former colleagues pay for doing so.  This is still a polarizing issue.  Speaking out against Bush and Cheney puts one at odds with certain groups, still.

When Joe Wilson spoke about the former administration, he was a bit more forthcoming. He pulled no punches in describing Cheney as the force behind the whole thing.  Former Congressman Ney said basically the same thing, that Cheney was the "instigator" and the he "pushed for it," but then he said: "Bush night have done it, but Cheney was surely there being the cheerleader."

I had the feeling he misspoke and didn't really intend to soften it up that much.

What's your opinion?  What do folks in the military think? What do discharged veterans think about all this.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.

Jodie Foster is "not a real American"

Jodie Foster spent several years of her childhood in Europe, and has spent a lot of time there since then. She says she's surprised when people there claim that she's not "a real American." "They say, 'You speak other languages, you travel, you are sophisticated about books' and I say, 'And that somehow makes me less of an American?'"

You Are 10% American

You're as American as Key Lime Tofu Pie

Otherwise known as un-American!

You belong in Cairo or Paris...

Get out fast - before you end up in Gitmo!

Toys for Boys

MikeB's post about legal silencers in Michigan had me wondering how much the things cost, but articles about airgun silencers came up instead of coming up with prices for firearms silencers.

First off, why in the hell would anyone want an airgun silencer since airguns are pretty quiet compared to their firearm relatives. It makes more sense the otherway around since one site points out that a "Ruger Mark II pistol is quieter than a Crosman Mark II when the silencer is on."

The funny bit is that U.S. Code specifically prohibits any federal, state or local municipality from declaring an airgun to be a firearm. Not only do the federal firearms laws NOT apply to airguns, they CANNOT be applied by law. But that doesn't stop the law from prohibiting airgun silencers.

According to Beeman Airguns someone was arrested under the following circumstances:
In x-raying postal packages for dangerous materials, the federal authorities detected the defendant's legally owned .44 caliber Sam Yang pneumatic rifle - not even one of the infamous black guns. A warrant allowed Postal Inspectors to search the package and they found a "sound moderator" in a pocket of the case for this airgun. There were no aggravating circumstances and no evidence that violence of any kind was intended or involved. This device had been specifically built for use on a Sam Yang air rifle and was specially built with fabric insides so that it would be destroyed by use on a firearm. The manufacturer wrote that "It was made for AIR only. It cannot handle the flash of a firearm." However, the ATF laboratory tested it on a Ruger .22 firearm - and it did reduce the sound for one shot - thus meeting the definition of a firearm silencer.

I believe the person mentioned above was convicted of transporting a silencer in interstate commerce! The case was ultimately reversed, but there was loads of legal hassles.

ATF is totally unhelpful about this with it appearing that acquiring one of these is done on a case by case process.

Whatever, this seems to me to be a whole lot of bother for extemely expensive toys (especially if legal hassles are involved in the US) that do nothing except maybe look cool.

See also:
Expert Advice Airgun silencers
Morgan's Gunroom Online Catalogue | Airgun Accessories | Silencers
airgun muzzle brakes (and silencers)
Federal conviction overturned because an air-gun silencer is not a firearm

More on the James Bond Fantasy

As referred to in a previous post, meet Brad Kozak in action. There's only one thing missing.

I don't know what the law is in Louisiana concerning silencers, so this picture could very well prove that Brad is not one of those bad-laws-be-damned guys.

But the pic is priceless, nonetheless. Don't you think?

States United to Prevent Gun Violence

States United to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non-profit organization working to decrease gun death and injury. Our mission is to support existing state-based gun violence prevention organizations and to build new organizations within the 50 states to prevent gun violence. The main goal of SUPGV is to provide an array of services that helps to build organizational capacity at the state level and simultaneously grow the movement.

It Was the Gun's Fault

L.A. Now reports on an incredible crime committed by Joseph Hyungmin Son, seven years before the 1997 movie "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery."

The fact is I don't blame the gun and I find it extremely tedious to be continually accused of that by the pro-gun folks. In this brutal crime, for example, I actually feel the gun was superfluous.

What the story made me wonder was, would the victim have been able to save herself had she been armed too? I think not.

When sudden, random violence strikes, like in this case, a concealed weapon will rarely help. In spite of all the claims to the contrary, true DGUs are extremely rare.

The problem is the pro-gun folks use stories like this to push their agenda. Convincing people that they need to protect themselves is a disservice to those they want to help and to society at large.

The proliferation of guns for personal protection is a bad deal because the chances of your gun being used to save your life are extremely low while the possibility of it being MISused in some way is greater. It's a bad decision, a fear-driven mistake, that's all.

The solution to the problem of violence is to take sensible precautions and not give into the fear.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Just because you have a gun...

Doesn't mean you will be able to use it.

As was the case in this story. Triple homicide in a Philadelphia store.
Nunez had a gun, police said, but did not have time to draw.

Machinegun ad from the 1920s

This ad seems to me to convey the myth that a machinegun is the ultimate weapon (you know those schoolboy debates as to which is the best weapon).

Here we have the cowboy protecting his ranch from the evil desperados and wiping them out with his trusty Thompson.

Nevermind the muzzleclimb.

But this is advertising and it wants to sell you things. It plays on your fear--evil desperados. But you can deal with them if you buy our product.

America is (not) #1

(click once to make bigger)

Duluth Teen Shoots Step-dad

 The Duluth News Tribune reports, link provided by DKos user carolus

It seems the 16-year-old had unsupervised access to the gun safe. Plus, we now know, he had some terrible problems with anger management. And the factor which tied it all together was the basic understanding taught to kids all accross the land in gun friendly homes, that the gun is the answer.

According to the petition, Doberstein told investigators that he didn’t like his stepfather, and that they had had an argument two weeks ago. Doberstein told investigators that he had taken a .22-caliber revolver from a gun safe in the master bedroom, intending to kill either himself or McKellar. When he thought of the earlier argument, “anger took over him.”

Doberstein told investigators how he walked up behind McKellar, who was sleeping in an easy chair, and “described how he knelt down behind his stepdad and then put the gun up behind his stepdad’s head, braced the gun with his other and then fired the gun.”

Doberstein then went to wake his mother, telling her “something is wrong with Dad.” He then returned the gun to the gun safe, where officials found it loaded with three cartridges, one of which was spent.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Troy Davis Again Facing Execution

Grotesque GOP Reaction to Texas Executions

The Sikh Kirpan

Jim Asked
What if a religion espouses the belief that people should carry guns at all times? Should Congress be allowed to prohibit the free exercise of that religion?
OK, I am going to analogise this to the Sikh Kirpan, a ceremonial "sword", it is an article of their faith (it is one of the five Kakars) and all baptised Sikhs (Khalsa) must wear a kirpan at all times.

The Kirpan represents the ideal of the Sikh warrior to defend the weak from tyranny, injustice, and forced conversion. Historically the kirpan would have been a weapon used in battle. The significance of the kirpan extends to a personal battle fought with ego and is a reminder to be vigilant against the rise of anger, attachment, greed, lust, and pride.

Although, US law is not consistent regarding the wearing of the kirpan. The case of the State of Ohio vs. Dr. Harjinder Singh allowed Dr. Singh to wear a Kirpan. The court said:
"Here, it is beyond debate that Dr. Singh is a devout Sikh. A central tenet of his religion requires him to wear the Kirpan at all times. It is unrebutted that Dr. Singh wears the Kirpan out of a sincere religious belief." The Court further states, "The crucial issue then is whether the evidence was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the Kirpan was designed or specially adopted as a weapon. We conclude it was not."

Judge J. Painter, who concurred with this decision, wrote: "I write separately to confess that I am amazed that a case like this would ever be prosecuted once, much less twice, at tremendous cost to the State, the Defendant, and the legal system...The Sikh religion has been part of world history since the 1400s. An integral part of that religion is the 'five K's' worn by its members. To be a Sikh is to wear a Kirpan - it is that simple. It is a religious symbol, and in no way a weapon. As long as the Kirpan remains a symbol and is neither designed or adopted for use as a weapon, laws such as R.C.2923.12 are wholly inapplicable."

Judge Painter concludes in this way, "I cannot understand the purpose for this prosecution which, if successful, would have had the effect of banishing the members of one religious sect from the State of Ohio for its mandatory wear."

Part of the reason for the Kirpan's exemption under various laws has been that it is ceremonial, and not a weapon.

New York City's Board of Education allows the wearing of the knives so long as they are secured within their sheaths with adhesives and made impossible to draw.

Even with their religious significance, possession of the Kirpan can be prohibited. From: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Guidance for Screeners And Other Security Personnel

Event #6: A Sikh is detected carrying a ceremonial sword or kirpan through a screening checkpoint and is respectfully told by the security personnel that FAA requirements forbid all persons from carrying any knife or other sharp object into an aircraft and informs the persons that they are permitted to place the kirpan in their checked baggage.

Action: The action taken by the security personnel is proper. The sheathed ceremonial sword known as a kirpan, is worn by Sikhs as a mandatory article of faith. The kirpan is usually two to four inches in length. If the kirpan cannot be stored in checked baggage or removed from the airport by someone in their party not entering the secure area, the kirpan must be confiscated. A smaller kirpan may be worn as a necklace around the neck. Notwithstanding where it is carried on the body, if it looks like a knife, e.g., it has a sharp blade, it may be placed in checked baggage but should not be allowed past the screening checkpoint. The kirpan should be kept by the security personnel in a safe place until it can be retrieved. Most Sikhs are now aware of the FAA requirement that disallows all knives and sharp articles aboard aircraft, except in checked bags.

Also, see the Federal Protective Service poster pictured in this post.

It should be noted that the US Supreme Court held in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) that:

the First Amendment's protection of the "free exercise" of religion does not allow a person to use a religious motivation as a reason not to obey such generally applicable laws. "To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." Thus, the Court had held that religious beliefs did not excuse people from complying with laws forbidding polygamy, child labor laws, Sunday closing laws, laws requiring citizens to register for Selective Service, and laws requiring the payment of Social Security taxes.

Even possession of a sacred "weapon", such as the Kirpan, can be prohibited if there is a compelling government interest. Although, if the kirpan can be shown to be purely symbolic (i.e., non-functional), as is the case of the New York School Board, it would probably be permitted. Although, that is not a certainty.

I should add that it has also become popular for Scots to wear a non-functional (safety) sgian dubh with the kilt. This is a one piece item (there is no blade) for wear in areas where a knife would not be permitted.

The Opposite of a DGU - Criminal Brandishing

 The Maumelle Monitor, which is in Arkansas, reports.

Vivzier said when she was able to exit the freeway and pulled into the Morgan Shell station at 20515 Arkansas Highway 365 the woman’s vehicle “pulled up next to hers and a heavy set, black female in her mid-30s pulled out a silver handgun and showed it to her.”

The weapon was never pointed at her, police said.

When certain gun rights advocates were adding up all the DGUs, and coming up with 2.5 million, I think a couple things were not taken into consideration.

1. many reported defensive uses of a gun are actually not defensive at all.
2. to offset the truly defensive uses, we have the ones illustrated by today's story in which a presumably lawful gun owner flashes the piece in a criminal way and gets away with it.

What's your opinion? Are these cases so rare we don't need to worry about them?

Please leave a comment.

Legal Silencers in Michigan

Several times I've been challenged by the pro-gun crowd to name one gun control law that I do not support. These are the same guys who accuse me of wanting to ban all guns in civilian hands and other nonsense like that.

Well, here it is: the law which prohibits owning silencers. Sure, I suppose some bad guys would use them if they were more available, but I don't see that as a major issue. The only question I have about this is "why?" Why would anyone want one?

Frankly I don't buy all that talk about sound suppression. The gun shop owner in the video said it's useful for guys who shoot frequently without ear protection. That sounds a little weird to me.

I figure there are only a few reasons.

1. real gun enthusiasts love everything about guns and want every possibly accessory.
2. many gun owners want them simply because they were prohibited.
3. by far the biggest reason, as seen at 1:02 of the video, is to stimulate the James Bond fantasies which many gun owners secretly enjoy.

What's your opinion? Do you think that, given the flimsy reasons for wanting silencers, even a minor uptick in criminal use should outweigh? Am I being too soft and generous on our gun-owning friends again?

Nah, I'll stick with my opinion.  Let them have silencers in Michigan and everywhere else, if they want.

Please leave a comment.

Suicides and Murders at Shooting Ranges

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Prayer in School

Fat White Man's Comment and a Story I mention in another previous post on my blog, Oi Vey!, reminds me of a piece of art I would like to make called prayer in School.

You see, I have no problem with prayer in school. The problem does lie in the fact that the US is religiously neutral. This means that one can’t favour one religion or sect over another.

So, I imagine that prayer in school would have an orthodox Jewish kid davening, a Moslem kneeling toward Mecca, a Hare Krishna, a Catholic saying the rosary, a flagellant, a Pentecostal speaking in tongues, a dervish, a snake handler, a Santeria adherent, and so forth. The ideal picture would have loads of the world’s faiths practising in their own unique ways.

It would be quite a raucous and busy scene!

That’s how I imagine prayer in School!

Three reasons the US government has no business involving itself with relgion

  1. No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States (Article VI).
  2. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
  3. or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (First Amendment).
I wish US politicians would say that their religion was their own business and stop pandering to the religious right giving these three reasons.

What is the cost of a single gunshot?

No one can put a price on a human life or a family’s suffering, but policy experts can calculate the price society pays.

Public health experts say that the physical and psychiatric care a victim requires, the loss of income they suffer while out of work, the cost of a crime scene cleanup, and even the long-term impact a shooting can have on a neighborhood’s property values, while difficult to quantify precisely, all combine to have an impact potentially as broad as a virulent flu strain.

“It has always been the simple things that we don’t consider with these costs,’’ says Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has focused on victim services and compensation during her 5-year tenure. “Take cleanup costs of crime scenes, where someone has been shot. Once that investigation ends and the police have left the scene and the emergency workers are gone, the residents are often left with a mess on their hands. Costs can run into the thousands - changing locks, replacing windows or doors, hazardous cleanup of blood and bodily fluids.’’

And those are just the smaller bills.

Alan Sager, public health and policy professor at Boston University, says that’s in addition to at least $200 a day for physical therapy that can last for weeks, months, or even years. If a shooting victim goes twice a week for a year, that’s $20,000. The same figures apply for mental health care, Sager said, assuming a victim is willing to undergo psychiatric therapy.

The average victim of a serious gun injury suffers physical and mental after effects for 20 years or more, according to Sager. That means the treatment for a single bullet wound can approach or exceed $1 million over the remainder of a victim’s life, depending on his or her age.

But there’s more, according to Sager’s Health Reform Program at BU: the cost to homeowners near a shooting scene, when their property loses value; the cost to schools that lose funding from their districts when fearful residents flee the neighborhood encompassing a shooting scene.

At a mean medical cost per injury of about $17,000, the 134,445 (95% confidence interval [CI], 109,465-159,425) gunshot injuries in the United States in 1994 produced $2.3 billion (95% CI, $2.1 billion–$2.5 billion) in lifetime medical costs (in 1994 dollars, using a 3% real discount rate), of which $1.1 billion (49%) was paid by US taxpayers. Gunshot injuries due to assaults accounted for 74% of total costs.

The AMA concluded that Gunshot injury costs represent a substantial burden to the medical care system with nearly half this cost is borne by US taxpayers.

Read more here

See also:

24 Hours of Reality

Denial Ends 14 September 2011

See also:

Glenn Greenwald sounds like the commenters from the Early American Republic.

What is tyranny and how does it manifest according to the people from the Early republic?
It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.--Joseph Story
A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny.-Patrick Henry

What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.--Elbridge Gerry
Glenn Greenwald expresses very similar sentiment to these in his piece Endless War and the culture of unrestrained power, in particular:
Those who wield true political authority as part of an empire are vested with immense power over other people, but those who exercise that authority as part of wars are more powerful still. That kind of power not only attracts warped authoritarians and sociopaths like moths to light, but it also converts -- degrades -- otherwise normal people who come to possess it. That's not a new development, but rather as old as political power itself.
The founders warned of what would happen when standing armies were established. President Eisenhower warned about unwarranted influence by the military industrial complex. Yet, that has happned despite the warnings

There is nothing more dangerous than allowing militaristic power to be exercised without accountability: without oversight, without transparency, without consequences for serious wrongdoing. Yet this is exactly the state of affairs that prevails in the United States. It's also why there are few things more deeply irresponsible, vapid and destructive than forcing citizens, activists, and journalists to retreat into what has become a Permanent Election Mode.

This system of perpetual electioneering transforms people into partisan cheerleaders who refrain from aggressively criticizing the party that is slightly less awful out of fear that the other party might win an election 14 months away, even when their own party is the one in power. Renouncing the duty of holding accountable political leaders who exercise vast power makes one directly responsible for the abuses they commit.

Ponder this thought:
''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
And remember what President Eisenhower said:
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
But, it is time that the people regained their freedom from the serfdom of the rich and the masters of war.

An interesting Article

Former Republican professional staff member on Capitol Hill, Mike Lofgren has an informative article about how the Republican hard liners are harmful to the US: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.
The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.
Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"
Better yet:
The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."
Read more here

A Second Amendment Reading List (Bibliography)

Here is a list of sources I found useful in understanding the Second Amendment and Militia History:

Bibliography bibliography Schwoerer

Why gun control always misfires

From the Guardian

The NRA is a fringe interest group – only the US's dysfunctional electoral system allows it to leverage so much power.

For all the national outrage over the Tucson massacre, and renewed appeals by well-meaning politicians like Michael Bloomberg, everyone knows that sentiment will not translate into commonsense gun control laws.

As after the Columbine massacre in 1999, national polls show a majority of Americans favouring stricter gun control laws, yet as with so many other issues, majority support does not necessarily lead to congressional action. How can there be such an ongoing disconnect between popular opinion and public policy?

As Republican strategist and NRA board member Grover Norquist has said, "The question is intensity versus preference. You can always get a certain percentage to say they are in favour of some gun controls. But are they going to vote on their 'control' position?"

Though most voters back gun control, says Norquist, their support doesn't move them to the polls. "But for that 4-5% who care about guns, they will vote on this." And in the battleground states and swing congressional districts, a change in 5% of the vote can make all the difference. So the NRA's influence has come from its capacity to move its supporters in these key swing districts and states – with its message, more than its money.

The reality is that the dynamics of winner-take-all elections allow gun control opponents – just like anti-Castro diehards in Florida – to form a potent single-issue voting bloc that far outweighs their minority status. American pundits and analysts often portray multiparty democracies elected by proportional representation, such as Israel and Italy, as being beholden to tiny political parties of extremists who hold hostage their coalition governments. Yet, they fail to recognise how the dynamics of our own electoral politics allow well-organised political minorities like the NRA to leverage disproportionately significant "swing voter" constituencies to push their radical agendas on the mainstream.

If we don't understand how our system works, we will miss the mark when we try to improve it.

Read more at:

Lawrence MA Triple Murder

“I shot until there were no more bullets, then I tried to shoot myself, but there were no more bullets in the gun,’’ Tejada allegedly told police. “I’ve said all I’m going to say. Let the law do what it has to.’’ reports on the domestic triple murder which took place in Lawrence MA.

This is daily fare in the news, nothing new or different, really. The thing that caught my attention is the association between drinking and using drugs and owning guns.  In this sad story, Mr. Tajeda was completely out of control, it sounded like he was totally wasted and in a raging fit committed murder.

The message is clear: drinking and drugging and guns don't mix.  But how does this apply to the gun owners who like to relax with a few drinks or smoke a little dope once in a while? Isn't what they do just a more controlled and more acceptable example of what Tajeda did? If getting completely loaded to the point of losing your good judgment is unacceptable, wouldn't any degree of that be unacceptable as well? Hasn't it been shown that even small amounts of alcohol and other drugs diminish reflexes and judgment?

Gun owners who want to get high are irresponsible, that's my opinion?  I realize it's a severe position, but we're talking about guns.  It is not possible to be too careful or too responsible.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

View from Across the sea

Headlines from the Guardian

I had to do this to show that only six people were killed with guns in NYC, as the other pro-gun control posters have been pointing out.

The US is, of course, on infinite repeat. That means this Economist piece from 2007 is still valid:
Mass killings remain rare events, whatever outsiders might think, and they also happen in other countries, including those with tight rules on gun ownership. But life in modern America is punctuated frighteningly often by such attacks. Making any sort of accurate international comparison is tricky, but some attempts have been tried. The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), an activist group, counts 41 school shootings in America since 1996, which have claimed 110 lives, including those in Virginia this week. IANSA also looks at school shootings in 80 other countries. Culling from media reports, they count only 14 school gun killings outside America in the same period. Putting aside the Beslan massacre in Russia—committed by an organised terrorist group—school shootings in all those countries claimed just 59 victims.

As striking are the overall rates of violent death by handguns in America. The country is filled with 200m guns, half the world’s privately-owned total. Residents of other countries may fret that criminals, gang-members and insane individuals are increasingly likely to use guns and knives. But in comparison with America, few other developed countries have much to worry about. The gun-murder rate in America is more than 30 times that of England and Wales, for example. Canada—like America, a “frontier” country with high rates of gun ownership—sees far fewer victims shot down: the firearm murder-rate south of the Canadian border is vastly higher than the rate north of it. America may not quite lead the world in gun murders (South Africa probably holds that dubious title) but it has a dismally prominent position.

What might be done to improve matters in America? The intuitive answer, at least for Europeans and those who live in countries where guns are less easily available, is that laws must be tightened to make it harder to obtain and use such weapons. Not only might that reduce the frequency of criminal acts, goes the argument, but it may also cut the number of accidental deaths and suicides.

Yet some in America are reaching the opposite conclusion. Within hours of the shootings in Virginia on Monday April 16th, a conservative blogger was quoting a Roman military historian, suggesting that “if you want peace, prepare for war” (“si vis pacem, para bellum”). Others put it more bluntly: “an armed society is a polite society”. Virginia’s gun laws are generally permissive. Any adult can buy a handgun after a brief background check (as required by federal law), and anyone who legally owns a handgun and who asks for a permit to carry a concealed weapon must be granted such a permit. Yet Virginia Tech, like many schools and universities, is a gun-free zone. Gun advocates are daring to say that if Virginia Tech allowed concealed weapons, someone might have stopped the rampaging killer. To gun-control advocates, this is self-evident madness.
Here's an interesting statistic; the US has more total murders by firearms than Mexico!

No, you can't make the world completely safe, but you can make it safer. It has been done.

Now, the real question is why isn't the US doing anything that makes sense instead of the usual do nothing bullshit?

Of Beavers And Bullets

By Arthur Black, Special to Courier-Islander August 19, 2011

Know what I like best about Canada's national symbol, the beaver?

It's not imperial. Not for us the American eagle with its razor talons, the British bulldog with its gobful of teeth or the ballsy Gallic rooster that struts symbolically for France.

Canadians chose a docile rodent with buck teeth, a pot belly and a tail that looks like it was run over by a Zamboni. We could have opted for a ferocious wolf, a majestic moose, a mighty bison or a fearsome polar bear.

We went with the flabby furball that wouldn't harm a black fly.

Maybe that set the pattern for our provincial emblems because they're pretty bland and inoffensive too.

British Columbia has the Steller's Jay; Newfoundland and Labrador went for the Atlantic Puffin. For Ontario it's the Common Loon (perfect-what with having Ottawa and all) and New Brunswick stands behind the mighty Black Capped Chickadee.

I'm not sneering about this. I think it's positively endearing that Canadians chose non-threatening, peaceable symbols to represent their provinces. For our prickly cousins to the south, it's a little different. They go for state guns.

If you like this go to

Read the rest, it's hilarious and its true.

More Fox Propaganda

Faux Fraudcasting  had to edit out the key part of Teamster President James Hoffa's speech to make it sound as if union members should "take these son of a bitches out" at a Labor Day rally.  When you do that, you are not a news network, you are James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart type fakes.

Fox has to lie because the facts don't promote their point of view.  I don't believe there are a lot of  Tea Party Teamsters as is claimed.  And the Tea Party isn't always all that peaceful.

See Fox's Trumped Up Attack On Hoffa Just Latest Example Of Their Selective Outrage

Sunday Afternoon

Look the homeowner didn't need a gun to defend his home. He wrestled it from the gun wielding intruder.
a suspect entered a unit at the Sexton Building in downtown Minneapolis shortly after five Sunday evening. The suspect got a big surprise when he found two residents in the loft. Sporny said that's when a brawl started and gunshots were fired.

A female victim was shot and taken to HCMC with non-life threatening injuries. One of the residents was able to wrestle the gun away and shot at the suspect as he ran away.
Guns are not always the great equalizer.

More on the Foolishness of CCW Guys Intervening

Just Another Blog (From L.A.)™: Second Amendment Round-Up had something to say about the Nevada shooting.

Swagler said he had a handgun and considered opening fire on the shooter, but he didn't want to engage a gunman who was armed with a fully automatic weapon. 

Well, the answer to that is to issue full-auto penisesguns to every citizen. An armed society is always polite, after all. 

I saw this at Alternate Brain, who had this to say:

If you listen to the NRA, you'd think the answer to crime prevention would be for everyone to be armed. Fine. Then how come people, when in a position to maybe stop a crime, don't? If you have the time to watch him reload, you have the time to take a shot - only takes one. Ain't no point in having it if you don't use it when you need to, pussy.

Gov. Perry: Gun Control = Use Both Hands

That would be absolutely hysterical, like those numbskulls who were at the press conference thought, if it weren't for the 80 people killed every day, many of whom would not die if we had proper gun control laws in effect.

If they only had guns--The Georgian Soldiers on Texel

OK, you still think the untrained and underarmed Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto actually stood a chance against the German Army. Nothing's going to change your opinion that a few more guns would have made the day.

Well, How about the Georgian Uprising on Texel (5 April 1945 – 20 May 1945) which was an insurrection by the 882nd Infantry Battalion Königin Tamara (Queen Tamar or Tamara) of the Georgian Legion of the German Army stationed on the German occupied Dutch island of Texel (pronounced Tessel)?

The men of the rebellious battalion were Red Army soldiers from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic captured on the Eastern front. They had been given a choice rarely offered by the Germans: the captured soldiers could choose either to remain in the POW camps, which would mean almost certain death, or to serve the Germans and be allowed a degree of freedom. The battalion was formed of men who chose the latter option. These were well armed and well trained troops wearing the same uniform as the "enemy".

Preparations began in late March 1945 to move several companies of the Georgian battalion to the Dutch mainland to oppose Allied advances which was the trigger for the rebellion. The battalion of Georgians on Texel revolted, hoping that other German Foreign Legion battalions serving in the German Army along the coast would do the same.

Shortly after midnight on the night of 5-6 April 1945, the Georgians rose up and gained control of nearly the entire island. Approximately four hundred German soldiers were killed in the initial uprising, almost all while sleeping in the quarters they shared with Georgians, who used knives and bayonets. Other German soldiers were shot and killed while standing guard or walking the roads of the island in groups or individually that night and the following day.

Within days, the Germans poured in reinforcements and launched a counter offensive supported by armor. The vicious fighting continued for an entire month, even after the German capitulation in the Netherlands (5 May) and general surrender to the Allies on 8 May. It wasn't until 20 May 1945 when Canadian troops arrived that led to the end of this battle.

The Georgians were unable to overrun two large gun emplacements manned by only German soldiers. These batteries, located in the dunes and overlooking the area where the Georgians were holed up in fixed positions, soon were joined by the heavy coastal artillery of Vlieland and Den Helder, which targeted the rebels, and with them the population of Texel.

The damage on Texel was enormous. Fighting was particularly furious in the Eierland polder where dozens of farms went up in flames. The final stage of the battle was fought around the lighthouse, where several Georgians fought to the end. With much of the fighting over, the Germans then searched the island for rebels. The troops, in a chain link only meters apart, combed the length of the island dragnet style and after two weeks of on/off fighting Texel was "retaken".

Surrender was not an option since captured mutineers were ordered to dig their own graves, remove their German uniforms, and executed. It is also believed that the survivors may have feared facing the same fate as most Soviet collaborators: forced repatriation, under the terms of the Yalta Conference, often followed by incarceration and banishment and, for officers, execution. The 228 Georgians who survived by hiding from the German troops in coastal minefields, or who were concealed by Texel farmers, were turned over to Soviet authorities. After arrival at a collection camp in the Soviet Union, 26 Georgians were singled out and banished together with their families and nearly all others disappeared into Stalin’s Gulags. Those still alive in the mid-1950s were rehabilitated and allowed to return home.

During this fierce battle 565+ Georgians, 120 citizens of Texel, and around 800 Germans lost their lives. Other sources, however, speak of more than 2,000 Germans killed. In 1949 the German War Graves Commission disinterred 812 bodies on Texel (including the 400+ killed in their sleep by the Georgians in their shared quarters) for reburial at Ysselsteyn military cemetery. The numbers given in an early report by the Texel district list "565 Georgians, 120 Texel islanders and approximately 800 Germans killed"; followed by "other sources ... speak of more than 2,000 Germans killed." The "other sources" comment in all probability refers to the Canadian report to SMERSH that lumped together under "casualties" the 1,535 disarmed Germans with their 812 dead.

But, we have to remember that this could be considered an ambush where the bulk of the German dead was killed in their sleep using knives or bayonets, not firearms, during the early part of the uprising.

Additionally, there is only one book on the subject, The Georgian rebellion on Texel (ISBN: 978-9070202330), which is only 72 pages long. That means not a whole lot has been written about the uprising and how it was fought.

Of course, how many people know about Georgian Uprising of Texel?

How realistic is the premise of the armed citizen?

Once again, we have a mass shooting this time in Nevada. The standard response from the pro-gun side is that "an armed citizen could have stopped this."

But, once again, there was an armed citizen on the scene as The Record-Courier (Gardnerville, NV) mentioned:
Ralph Swagler, owner of the adjacent Locals BBQ restaurant, told the Nevada Appeal that he saw the gunman pull up in a minivan, get out and begin firing an automatic rifle at the IHOP. The gunman then reloaded and went inside, and Swagler said he heard more gunshots inside the restaurant...

Swagler said he had a handgun and considered opening fire on the shooter, but he didn't want to engage a gunman who was armed with a fully automatic weapon.
Not that I totally blame him for erring on the side of caution given that he was outgunned.

Early in the Columbine shootings, a Jefferson County deputy sheriff arrived at the scene and began shooting at Harris and Klebold, distracting them from the injured Brian Anderson. Anderson staggered out of the area and made it into the library, where he ran into an open staff break room. He remained there until the ordeal ended. Harris fired ten shots at the officer, who then radioed in a Code 33 (officer in need of emergency assistance). The shooting continued for another 18 minutes.

When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, Joe Zamudio almost shot the wrong person. The Arizona Daily Star added two details to the story based on its interview with Zamudio First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."

Good point, since the Active Shooter Response Protocol says that a non-responders should:
keep your hands above your head and listen for instructions that may be given by police officers. If an officer points a firearm at you, make no movement that may cause the officer to mistake your actions for a threat.

The concept of the active shooter protocol is that the sooner the shooter can be contained, captured or neutralized, the fewer the casualties incurred. During the pursuit, police officers will move through unsecured areas, and bypass dead, wounded and panicked citizens while approaching the perpetrator(s). It is important for law enforcement personnel to survive the encounter to end a massacre, rather than become additional victims.

Carrying a weapons could endanger yourself, as well as being a danger to others, in these situations.

Mark Evans has an interesting piece that was posted in the Tucson Citizen where he discusses how hard it is to function in these situations if you are trained, let alone an untrained citizen. Your perception changes when you are pumped with adrenaline in a stressed up situation. You don't see things as they really are.

If the cop(s) is (are) telling you to drop your gun in one of these situations, and you don't hear him (them)--what do you think will be the outcome in reality?

Additionally, you could be in the scope of a sniper who sees a person with a gun and is not able to hear what you are saying. This sniper only knows that there is an active shooter in the area.

If there is a sniper who only knows that there is an active shooter and he sees you with a gun--what do you think will be the outcome in reality?

Think about it.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg where "armed citizens" are concerned--how much more of a problem could they be instead of the boon that the pro-gun side claims.

Unfortunately, this is a subject where the information is horribly biased to present that armed citizens could have stopped these situations. But, do we need to see armed citizens creating more confusion on the scene before this premise is openly questioned?

See also:

Iraq and Afghanistan

The Register Guard of Eugene Oregon published an editorial, the type of which you can see in just about any newspaper. It caught my eye because it was brief, to the point and contained some basic stats which I found interesting.

For the first time since President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, an entire month has passed without a single U.S. soldier dying in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 4,474 American service members.

The U.S. military is preparing to pull the last troops out of Iraq by the end of the year in accordance with a 2008 security agreement between the two countries. But there is troubling talk in Washington and Baghdad of extending that deadline to have U.S. troops remain longer in Iraq.

While Iraq was becoming less lethal, 67 U.S. troops died last month in the Afghanistan war, making August the deadliest month for Americans in the longest-running war in U.S. history.

Obama should also continue — and expedite — the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, site of a nearly decade-long war in which this country has invested $1 trillion, 10 years of effort and the lives of 1,754 U.S. troops.
I'm tired of the BS from Washington about withdrawing troops which usually comes with the disclaimer that the date could be postponed. What do the guys on the ground in Iraq think? Are they of the opinion that we're doing something worthwhile there? Or are they cynical and angry?

I suppose it's a good sign, no it definitely is a good sign that no fatalities happened in Iraq last month. My sincere prayer is that it may continue like that and somehow the government will do the right thing by the end of this year.

Afghanistan is another story. What in the hell has been accomplished there at such a cost? Was it all about Bin Laden and the Taliban? I doubt it, but whatever else it is, some strategic balance of power in the region or whatever, I say that's enough. Let's get out of there.

Unfortunately, as the August deaths indicate, it's going in the opposite direction. What do those troops think? Is the idea that the U.S. is policing the world in order to make it safer something that sustains them? Bush and Bush supporters always said that, but do people still think that way?

The op-ed I linked to made the point that in order to heal the economy at home we need to stop spending so much on these wars. That may be true, but to me there's a more important reason, a more human reason to end these ill-fated endeavors. We have young Americans dying over there and I honestly cannot see for what.

As has been said many times in defense of pacifist and non-intervention arguments, the best way I can see to support the troops is to bring them home, every one. We can spend some of that money on VA hospitals and PTSS clinics. We can invest in education and vocational programs for these young volunteers.

This is how we can make America strong.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Labor Day Body Count in NY and Elsewhere

WSJ reports on the Labor Day festivities in the Big Apple
The shooting of a police officer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Monday night punctuated a Labor Day weekend burst of violence that left at least 10 dead and more than 50 injured since Friday morning.
While all eyes are on Carson City, Nevada today, the body count in New York is pretty impressive. Let's not overlook it, or forget that every single day there is an average of 80 something dead from gunshots, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Where do all the guns come from, we'll at the risk of repeating myself, they come from the gun manufacturers directly, they come from the FFL gun dealers, and they come from you, the individual legitimate gun owners.

Since we all agree criminals don't obey laws, proper gun control has to be aimed at the law-abiding. Unfortunately a certain amount of inconvenience would be necessary if we were to make improvements, but based on that, resistance is strong from the gun community. Led by their standard bearer, Monsieur La Pierre, the rank and file gun-rights advocates fight any and every attempt to improve the situation.

The results are they continue to enjoy their guns unhampered by such inconveniences as licensing and registration and background checks on all transfers, and gun violence also continues unhampered by those common-sense remedies.

Does anyone not understand why I blame the gun owners, that is the gun owners who resist proper gun control laws?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh, Look! Another Example of How UNSAFE Those Gun Friendly States ARE!

One of the problems I have with shootings, whether shootings like this, or Castle Doctrine shootings, or gangland violence, or domestic killings, and suicides.....there is no doubt in my mind that at the time the shooting takes place, the shooter is convinced that they are in the right, that they are justified.

Except that to the rest of, such justification is not present, not very often, not with any consensus. Gun nuts will excuse almost any shooting, or hold it up as some kind of justification for their guns. Mostly, we're better off without them than with them. I noticed one of the local witnesses states that 'this takes place in 3rd world countries, not here'. No, these shootings take place here more often than a lot of other places, including some third world countries. Although we're headed that way, with the decline of our middle class, and the growing gap between the mega-wealthy 2% and the rest of us....


4 dead, 6 wounded in shooting at Nevada restaurant

Two of the dead identified as National Guardsmen

Image: Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at an IHOP restaurant
Cathleen Allison / AP
Emergency personnel respond to a shooting at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev. on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011. staff and news service reports
updated 2 hours 24 minutes ago 2011-09-06T19:11:23

A gunman with an automatic rifle opened fire at an IHOP restaurant in Nevada's capital on Tuesday, killing two uniformed National Guardsmen and wounding six people and himself in a hail of gunfire during the morning breakfast hour, authorities and witnesses said.
A third person was killed in addition to the servicemembers. The gunman died at the hospital three hours after the shooting, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the gunman had any connection with the military or the guard, said Nevada National Guard Sgt. Mike Getten. He said guard members were meeting at the restaurant.
Extra security measures were put place on state and military buildings in northern Nevada as a safety precaution.
Image: Officers look through a bullet-damaged window of an IHOP restaurant
Cathleen Allison / AP
A bullet-damaged window of the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nev.
The sheriff said investigators believe only the one shooter was involved.
The conditions and names of the victims were not released. Some of the victims were transported from the scene by helicopter, and others left by ambulance.
The incident took place at the Carson City International House of Pancakes on South Carson Street.
Ralph Swagler, owner of another restaurant near the IHOP told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he witnessed the 9 a.m. shooting. Swagler said he saw a man wearing a red shirt and black shorts pull up to the IHOP in blue minivan. The man then pulled out a rifle and shot a man on a motorcycle, then walked inside IHOP and started shooting, Swagler told the newspaper.
The man then fired several shots at other businesses in the area, including the Locals Barbecue and the H&R Block.
"This happens in Third-World countries, not here," Swagler, owner of Locals Barbecue, told the newspaper.
The minivan was registered locally, Furlong said.
Local and state police and FBI agents descended on the scene on the main street in the state capital, also called U.S. 395. Yellow tape surrounded the parking lot near a Kohl's department store in a shopping complex across the street from a casino and hotel.
A business in the area told NBC station KRNV TV that nearby businesses have been put on lockdown.
"We just heard basically a string of gunshots, probably 5 to 7 back to back to back to back and then there was probably 30 second delay then an automatic weapon fired, probably 20 to 30 shots," said Gary Gamba, general sales manager at Michael Hohl Motors, which is across the street from the IHOP.
This is a breaking news story.

Added by Laci:

We can't forget the usual comment from the progun side that an armed citizen would stop this sort of thing. The Record-Courier (Gardnerville, NV) mentions:
Ralph Swagler, owner of the adjacent Locals BBQ restaurant, told the Nevada Appeal that he saw the gunman pull up in a minivan, get out and begin firing an automatic rifle at the IHOP. The gunman then reloaded and went inside, and Swagler said he heard more gunshots inside the restaurant...

Swagler said he had a handgun and considered opening fire on the shooter, but he didn't want to engage a gunman who was armed with a fully automatic weapon.
Not that I totally blame him for erring on the side of caution given that he was outgunned.

Another update by Laci:

According to
There was one gun used, it was an AK-47 assault rifle, ATF is determining whether it was fully automatic or semi-auto.