The Watering Hole, Monday, April 20, 2015: Sixteen Years And Not Much Better

It wasn’t the first, and many of us knew then that it wasn’t going to be the last. Unfortunately, we were right. There were more. Plenty more. Too many more. Way, way too many more. And the children. So many, many children. Even after the nation was shocked that a score of little kids would fall victim, still we did little or nothing. Sixteen years ago, on April 20, 1999, two Colorado high school students committed one of the worst gun massacres in American history. The guns they used were bought from gun dealer shows where no background checks were performed (even though they were straw purchases), because no names were taken. One of the guns had been banned from manufacture five years before, but the loose gun laws in our country made it possible, even likely one might believe, that it would end up in the hands of someone who planned to shoot the thirty-six rounds it could hold at other people. A year later, more than 800 pieces of some form of gun control legislation were introduced across the country. Only about ten percent passed. People rightfully asked what it would take to do something about gun violence, but nobody seemed to want to link gun violence to guns. Even after somebody killed more than thirty people on a college campus, even after a nine-year-old girl was killed and a United States Representative suffered a critical, life-threatening head wound, even after twenty small children and seven adults were gunned down by a deranged young man, America still refuses to admit it has a gun problem.

I don’t want to add up all the innocent people who have died at the hands of mass murderers with guns. The number would be too depressing because it’s way more than zero. I don’t know what the financial impact has been on the communities and people who were victims of these mass shootings. I doubt anyone can because the NRA, through its friends in Congress (most of them Republicans, but not all), has managed to make it a crime for the government to compile that kind of information. Congress won’t allow the government to conduct any studies on gun violence, thus giving them the chance to dispute any statistic anyone throws at them as being from a biased source with an agenda, as if that alone disqualifies anything factual that might be said. Yes, everyone who takes the time to inform his or her Congressman about something has an agenda, otherwise they wouldn’t be taking the time to do what they’re doing. That doesn’t mean that each and every one of them isn’t proposing something worthwhile, because many are. But when an organization originally created to teach gun safety and proper shooting procedures has become warped and distorted into an organization that lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not on behalf of its estimated 3.4 million members (about 1% of the country), one can easily wonder just what the “original intent” of the Second Amendment (more on that later) has to do with what’s going on. The NRA spends millions of dollars defending the alleged individual right to bear arms (it is not settled law yet), yet refuses to allow sensible precautions that might help prevent another mass killing. Polling suggests the vast majority of average NRA members support the use of background checks at gun shows, to prevent the sale of guns to people who wouldn’t otherwise pass one, yet the NRA leadership ignores that and cries that background checks would lead to gun owner databases (which are not a bad idea), which would lead to mass confiscations of guns (never in a million years in this country), which would lead to Tyranny, which the Second Amendment was written to prevent. No, it wasn’t.

Prior to 1977, nobody was ever arguing that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to carry a gun for personal protection. That only began to happen when the National Rifle Association was taken over by extremists who argued that 200 years of legal and constitutional precedent were wrong. A large part of their ultimate success in deceiving people into believing this was the misuse of various quotes form Founding Fathers, including Patrick Henry’s “That every man be armed.” In its proper context (see link), it was actually a call to limit gun ownership, not expand it. It is true, regardless of who said it, that the NRA has perpetrated a massive fraud on the American People by claiming the Second Amendment is about the individual right to possess guns. It’s simply not true, regardless of Supreme Court decisions which wrongly claim it is. The Second Amendment was justified to support the use of state militias to defend the nation against invasion and rebellion, and to authorize Slave Posses to capture runaway slaves. President George Washington used the authority of the Second Amendment to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, so that should dispel the myth that its primary purpose (which is the gun enthusiasts’ main argument) is false. And since Slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, the idea that guns should be allowed to capture runaway slaves is now null and void. Despite the Constitutional limitations on such a thing, the fact remains we have a standing army, even though we’re supposed to be re-authorizing its existence every two years. (How they could legally make me sign a contract to enlist in the Air Force for four years still escapes me.) So we no longer rely on State militias to defend the nation from invasion or rebellion in the same way the Colonists did in the 18th century. Yes, they are called out in emergencies, which can include rebellion, but they aren’t quite used the same way the Founders intended. They tend to get used to suppress exercise of First Amendment rights. The point is, maybe it’s time to rethink how we interpret the Second Amendment in 21st Century America. There’s no reason to lock ourselves into living and thinking like 18th century colonialists. The Constitution is meant to be a framework for our evolving country and its government, not a shackle to the past. Things that were issues and concerns back then don’t necessarily apply to today, which means the same justification used back then don’t necessarily apply today, either. Where citizens might have patrolled streets back them to catch purported thieves, now we have police patrols to whom we’ve granted the authority to use guns and capture criminals. Nobody seriously expects a private citizen to pull out a gun and stop a criminal (and none ever has.) The arguments people come up with to justify carrying around a gun get weaker and weaker. Most of the time the only danger that exists is in their own minds, which is why I hate the idea that one can use that as a justification to kill. “I thought my life was in danger.” From what? “From something it turns out I imagined.” Well, if you were never in actual danger, then you can;t justify using actual deadly force to defend yourself, can you? After all, what was going to kill or harm you? Nothing but your own imagination. Does it make any sense to say it’s okay to claim you were defending yourself against something you imagined when you killed someone?

We have a serious problem with gun violence in this country, and it’s long past time we admit it’s largely connected to our serious problems with guns and the fact, yes, I repeat, fact, that they are dangerous. It defies all logic and common sense to say guns are not dangerous, especially loaded ones. The same Justice who wrote the infamous Heller decision had previously written that laws adding years to a prison sentence for using a gun were constitutional, even when the gun in question was not being used as a gun but as a bludgeon. If guns weren’t dangerous, why would we make sure every soldier sent into battle carried at least one? If guns weren’t dangerous, why would trigger locks even be necessary? If guns wren’t dangerous, why are so many children killing other children with them? It is totally stupid to say a loaded gun isn’t dangerous. It’s dangerous for the same general reason it’s dangerous for a country unfriendly to you to have a nuclear weapon that can be carried by missiles that can reach you. It would allow them to kill or harm you from a safe distance, and before you can do anything to stop them. If I’m standing across the room from you, I can kill or harm you without needing to put myself in close proximity to you, thus giving you the chance to kill or harm me (or take my dangerous gun away and kill me with it.) Yes, you can cite all the cherry-picked statistics you want about how more people are beaten to death with bats than are killed by high-powered rifles, if you want to ignore the use of handguns (which were designed for one, and only one, purpose – to kill people.) But there is one indisputable fact that cannot be ignored, but which all too often is: In every single instance of gun violence in this country’s history, the one common element to all gun deaths, regardless of who, if anyone, was pulling the trigger, has been a gun. So maybe that’s where you have to begin.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss guns, gun control, lying NRA bastards, or any other topic you wish to discuss.

28 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, April 20, 2015: Sixteen Years And Not Much Better

  1. The NRA has worked their magic preaching the gospel of their Gods, the gun manufactures. If one doesn’t own and worship the cold machined steel, one is considered a pariah, a communist, Nazi, a LIBERAL fascist anti-american! A person not worthy of life and breathing the air of this earth.

  2. We’ll get gun control when people turn their guns to the ruling class.

  3. Great post, Wayne.

    I’ve been hypercritical of our ridiculous gun “culture” for literally decades, more than ever after Littleton and all the horrendous gun atrocities since. Guns are ridiculous. They serve no useful purpose other than to kill. The second amendment should have been voided the moment slavery was disallowed, since the only reason it was written in the first place was to mollify southern slave owners, to convince them the 1787 Constitution didn’t overturn their state’s use of a local militia to put down slave rebellions. The second amendment was a disgrace when it was written and it becomes more disgraceful with every passing day — as the NRA and the idiots it supports regularly demonstrate.

    It is true that way back then (1787) when the Constitution was finalized that the US had no standing army, and state militias were important as a means of defense. However, Article I Section 8 clauses 15 and 16 did not mention or authorize use of state militia by the state itself (Clause 16: “. . . reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress . . .;”) to control slave rebellions, and that notion was disconcerting to the slave states, also to slave owner James Madison who wrote the Bill of Rights. Patrick Henry summed up southern concerns:

    “If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress insurrections. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only, can call forth the militia.”

    The Second Amendment should have been erased immediately following the Civil War or, at the latest, with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Doing so then might well have made a gun-free society possible, a dream that no longer has any reality.

  4. At my place of work, it seems that all of the folks who espouse unlimited access to firearms never served in any branch of the armed forces, let alone served in a war zone, let alone saw combat.
    It sickens me to see my next door neighbor buying his son every type of toy gun. It’s the only toys be gets.

      • And I still think that I need nuclear tipped Honest John missiles to keep the damn neighbor’s dog off my effing lawn…

  5. Lindsey Graham: ’91 Percent Chance’ I’ll Run For President

    91 percent. She’s seriously trolling us now.

  6. Allen West Blames Football Injuries On Church-State Separation

    In a speech to a Gladewater, Texas, conservative group last week, former Rep. Allen West blamed high school football injuries on the end of state-sponsored prayer in schools, saying that when he was in high school, “I don’t remember anyone getting carted off that field paralyzed.”

    This guy’s so stupid that I’m trying to figure out why he’s not running as an R for POTUS. Seriously.

  7. In an April 9 interview with Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks, conservative activist E.W. Jackson insisted that President Obama does not love his country enough, in part because he refuses to acknowledge that slavery in America was “not a racial issue.”

    Right. And today there’s no racial hatred either. I mean, Amurkkka might be a white country, but boy do we love our Hispanics, Muslims, and . . . ummmm . . . ni**ers.

    Right. Ewwwwww Jackson?

    Right.

  8. The Most Wasted Space of a Headline Today:

    Kochs Signal Support For Scott Walker

  9. It took 20 years, but the truth has FINALLY appeared:

    Alex Jones: Oklahoma City Bombing A False Flag Designed To Embarrass Conservatives

    Yesterday, “InfoWars” host Alex Jones marked the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing the only way he knows how: by insisting that the attack, which left 168 people dead, was a government “false flag” operation aimed at discrediting conservative talk radio and “the liberty movement.”

    Jones called the Oklahoma City tragedy a Nazi-inspired “open-and-shut” false flag that was used to paint all conservatives as terrorists.

    • Jones called the Oklahoma City tragedy a Nazi-inspired “open-and-shut” false flag that was used to paint all conservatives as terrorists.

      That shoe does seem to fit the conservatives.
      Alex Jones is a clod.

    • Uh huh. Discrediting conservative talk radio, which is now bigger than ever and Jones’ radio program has 2 million listeners a week. I guess OKC was a failure on several levels.

    • Jones had the Boston Marathon bombing a false flag as well, IIRC, Obama was behind it.

      What puzzles me is that afaik, Jones has NEVER been right on any one of his myriad conspiracy theses, and yet he still has a huge audience (including quite a few “neighbors” here in rural Colorado). They watch the buttcake preach, repeat his theories until reality disappears them, then they go back to Alex not with criticism over his lies, but rather to gather in the next biggie.

      I’ll never find the means to understand blatant stupidity.

    • Smarmy Joel.
      churches need to be taxed.
      This man doesn’t even have charites he supports. Pure greed. I don’t understand how the attendees don’t see the scam/swindle.
      They give willingly to this charlatan.

      • Whenever religion sneaks out from behind its closed doors and into the real world it becomes either a business or a terrorist outfit and should be dealt with accordingly. Whatever “accordingly” might imply.

        • Not entirely true. I do think a transparent audit should be performed on every charitable entity, my own church included. Prove you are doing goof for your community with that money.

          • Or prove you are doing good. Most of us can be shown to be doing goof.

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