The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 5, 2015: How Much Is Too Much?

If you’re reading these words, then you have access to the internets. And if you have access to that wonderful “series of tubes” then you know it happened again. Several times, in fact. Another mass shooting (the worst in America since Sandy Hook, which actually happened, so don’t try to convince me otherwise) that left more than a dozen people dead, following a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in CO. Why did these shootings happen? Quite frankly, who cares? Two of these latest shootings, one in Colorado Springs, CO, and the other in San Bernardino, CA, were motivated by religious extremism, though you couldn’t be blamed for not knowing that based on the coverage in the MSM. But they were. One killer was motivated by his extreme Christian beliefs, and the other killers were motivated by their extreme Islamic beliefs. Of course, now that we learned one of the killers in CA had pledged allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page, the talk has been about Muslim extremists but not Christian ones. (It should be noted that while ISIS thanked her for her support, they did not claim any responsibility for the murders.) And while Colorado Springs police have not officially released a motive for the killings there, there is ample reason to believe that he was motivated by his own extreme Christian beliefs. And not just those, but on lies promoted by right wing media and politicians regarding the doctored videos about Planned Parenthood and the lies told about fetal tissue and “baby parts.” (Please, if you’re conservative, don’t waste my time trying to convince me the videos were 100% legitimate and truthful. They were nothing of the sort.) But regardless of the motives of the killers, the real cause of the problem is being ignored by most of the MSM: the proliferation of guns and the ease with which they can be acquired, even by people the law says shouldn’t have one.

No matter when it happened, no matter where it happened, and no matter why it happened, every single instance of gun violence in this country has had one and only one thing in common: A gun. Sometimes more than one. We keep wondering why somebody would pick up a gun and kill people, but we never admit that had it not been so easy to acquire guns, many of these killings (I would even say most) would never have occurred. Guns are dangerous things. Let me repeat that: Guns are dangerous things. Anyone who tries to say that isn’t true is deluding himself, and denying some simple facts. One of the main reasons guns are dangerous is that they allow you to harm or kill someone else without having to put yourself in close proximity to that person. If you had to actually get close to someone to stab them, you would be less likely to do that than you would to use means that didn’t require you to get close to your intended victim. That is not to say nobody ever gets stabbed, and only an idiot would think I’m implying that. But how brave are you? If someone wants to harm you, would you prefer getting up close to that person to try to thwart off the attack, or would you prefer some means of stopping (or harming in anyway) that person while not having to get up close? My guess is, given a choice, most people would prefer to not have to get up close to their attacker. A gun removes that danger to yourself. You can shoot your attacker from across the room with less chance of being harmed yourself in the process. And if you’re crazed with anger (or some other emotion, perhaps a deep abiding love for the particular god you worship), you are more likely to act without thinking. All the more reason it’s dangerous for you to have access to a gun anytime you want. You can look at it another way. Would the world be a safer place or a more dangerous place if every country had the means to launch nuclear weapons at another nation, even one halfway around the world? If you think it would be safer, you can stop reading this blog now, Archie Bunker.

If you still want to think guns are not dangerous, ask yourself this: Since we train our fantastic Marine Corps to be lean, mean, fighting machines capable of killing with their bare hands, why do we issue them guns when we send them off to war? If guns aren’t dangerous, why are they a vital component of war? And don’t say they’re just tools, like the knives, grenades and other weapons we hand them. They are deadly tools that can kill. If guns aren’t dangerous, why is it considered criminal negligence to leave a loaded gun where a small child could pick it up? If guns aren’t dangerous, why aren’t you allowed to carry one on board a plane with you (as Archie thinks you should)? If guns aren’t dangerous, why are people getting killed and seriously injured by children and dogs who manage to get their hands and paws on one? Please, if you like having a gun, admit the truth. You like it because it’s power. You can kill someone with it. I’m not suggesting you would, although I am suggesting that there are definitely people out there who would kill if they thought they could get away with it. And there are people out there who have killed because they thought they could get away with it. And in many of those cases, I’m positive the only reason someone ended up dead is because a gun was easily available to do the job. How many more people have to die just because we can’t get over this insane obsession with these murderous devices? How many are too many? How much gun violence in this country is too much?

Don’t put words in my mouth. Passionate gun owners (who lack compassion) have tried to twist my suggestions into saying we should take away all the guns in this country. I’m not opposed to that, but I’m not suggesting it, either. The first thing to recognize is that there are WAY too many guns in the United States. By some estimates, there are more guns in the US than there are people (legal citizens or not), and despite this, there are still about 6 million guns manufactured in the US per year (and about half that number imported on top of that.) Why is this? What good does it do? About 82 people die by firearms every day in America. Even if you subtract the third that took their own lives with a gun, that’s still more than one firearm death every 30 minutes. (And, no, the police aren’t doing all of them, but they are doing way too many of them. That can be the subject of another post.) I often hear gun supporters counter that many gun homicides are committed in cities or states with tough gun control laws. What these folks often ignore (deliberately) is that the guns weren’t being obtained in the places with strict gun control laws, but often from states with very lax laws (like Virginia.) If you’re going to argue that strict gun control laws do nothing to solve the problem, are you also going to say that lax gun laws have nothing to do with the problem, either? But regardless of whether or not the state has lax gun laws, it remains a fact that if the guns were not there to be gotten in the first place, fewer people would die by gun violence each year. How can that be addressed? Simple: tax the manufacture (or import) of guns. Not the sale, but the manufacture. The tax burden would fall totally on the gun manufacturer. Obviously they would pass this cost onto the purchaser, but that’s to be expected. If your gun now costs $5,000 more because the maker had to pay a tax to make it, you’ll think twice about buying a gun for which you very likely have no need. If the gun manufacturer later declares that some of the guns they made were destroyed, then they can get a tax rebate for them. But the key is to tax the gun as it is made. Otherwise they’ll just fund a way to dump them on the streets and the problem continues. Nobody (and especially no corporation) has a right to make guns, just to own them. So we can pass all kinds of laws related to the manufacture of guns, why not include that extra tax while we’re at it? That way the gun makers will have much less incentive to over-manufacture guns, and fewer guns would be available for people to buy. Maybe there are flaws to this plan, but since I don’t look at the issue form the perspective that you have a right to have any kind of gun you want, made by anybody you want, I’m probably seeing fewer flaws in this plan than you. And notice I said nothing about the guns that are already out there. But if you’re opposed to any kind of gun regulation in this country, then answer this: How many more people have to die by gunfire before you decide it’s too many? How much more gun violence do we have to endure? How much is too much?

This is our daily open thread. Talk about whatever you wish.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 1, 2015

Away from food politics and environment for a moment, here is an essay on the presence of guns in the US with respect to other countries and the comparative murder and suicide rates. Surprised to actually find this at a CNN site.

Amerikans love their guns to death.

Papa bear, momma bear, and baby bear.

Sunday Roast: Death, Mayhem & Gun Violence

Blood_Spatter_2

Moscow, Idaho — May, 2007New York Times

The police said Mr. Hamilton had been drinking at a bar with another man until about 10 p.m. Saturday. Then, they believe, he went home and fatally shot his wife in the head before setting off for the courthouse carrying two semiautomatic rifles. Around 11:30 p.m., he opened fire at the building, eventually firing some 125 shots at the courthouse and at the people who responded to the scene.

Mr. Hamilton killed one responder, Officer Lee C. Newbill of the Moscow police. Officer Bill Shields was hit in the leg by bullet fragments as he went to Officer Newbill’s aid. A sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Brannon Jordan, was shot several times but was not seriously wounded and was expected to leave the hospital on Monday.

Peter Husmann, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, heard the shootings and rode his bicycle to the scene armed with a .45-caliber pistol, said his father, Sam Husmann. Peter Husmann was shot in the back, fell to the ground, and was then shot in the calf, neck and shoulder, his father said. He was in stable condition on Monday.

After the shootings at the courthouse, Mr. Hamilton entered the First Presbyterian Church, directly across the street. He had worked there as a custodian for American Building Maintenance, which had a contract with the church, and he knew the church’s sexton, Paul Bauer, Chief Duke said.

Moscow, Idaho — August, 2011, ktvb.com

July 14, 2011: UI requested Moscow Police participate in a threat assessment concerning the threatening behavior of Ernesto Bustamante. University investigators met with Benoit to review Bustamante’s response and notify her that they would be interviewing him on July 19. She was asked to stay somewhere other than her apartment. The Moscow Police tried to call Benoit several times, leaving messages. Benoit did not return the phone calls. Police told the university that she wasn’t calling back. The university indicated that Benoit had been referred to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and a safety plan had been discussed. The Moscow Police informed the UI that Benoit did not want police involved.

July 22, 2011: University called Benoit to ask her where she would be staying until the start of school. She said she would be in Moscow. They encouraged her to take safety precautions and contact Moscow Police Department if she felt the need.

August 19. She was warned to be vigilant and call police if she had any safety concerns.

August 22, 2011: Katy was shot outside her home at 8:40 p.m.

August 23, 2011: Moscow Police find Ernesto Bustamante dead in a hotel room at the University Inn-Best Western.

Moscow, Idaho — January 10, 2015, ktvb.com

Police say they first responded to a call of a shooting at around 2:30 p.m. at the Northwest Mutual on E. Third Street. Police say the two victims at the first reported shooting were 76-year-old David Trail and 39-year-old Michael Chin of Seattle. Trail, a Moscow businessman, was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital where he was declared dead. Chin was taken to Gritman Medical Center and is currently in critical condition.

Minutes after the first incident, police say a second shooting was reported at an Arby’s restaurant on Peterson Drive. Police say Lee entered the restaurant and asked for the manager. When the manager, 47-year-old Belinda Niebuhr, came forward Lee reportedly opened fire. Niebuhr was declared dead at Gritman Medical Center.

About a mile and a half away from the Arby’s, police say a fourth victim was found dead at a residence in the 400 block of Veatch Street. The fourth victim, 61-year-old Terri Grzebielski, is reportedly the suspect’s adoptive mother. Police say Grzebielski was a physician’s assistant at Moscow Family Medicine.

You may be asking yourself what is the significance of posting these three items about gun violence in one small town in America, so I’ll tell you:  These are stories of suicidal rage, mental illness, murder, blood, obsession, fear, and a gun sickness in this country, the “cure” for which seems to be more and more guns — and, consequently, more and more gun violence.

The significance to me is the fact that, in each of the above stories, I knew one of the dead:

Crystal Hamilton died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her husband.  She was the head custodian at the Latah County Courthouse, and was a lovely young woman.  She always had a smile for everyone.

Ernesto Bustamante died a bloody death by gun violence by his own hand, after having become a murderer.  He was my psych research professor — my favorite professor — and he was gorgeous, with his long, shiny black hair, devastating smile, and ironic sense of humor.  He was an occasional chatting partner in my peer advising office in the psych department, and he murdered a promising young grad student, Katy Benoit.

Yesterday, Terri Grzebielski died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her adopted son.  She was a physician’s assistant in the University of Idaho Student Health Department, and was my PA for the four years I attended the U of I.  She was an amazing woman:  Very tall, very thin, full of energy, ready smile, and she truly cared about her patients.

In addition to these people, a childhood friend’s sister was killed with a gun, and her murder was never solved; my former mother-in-law’s boss was murdered by his crazed daughter-in-law; and the husband of a dear friend died as a result of a gun accident.

This is fucking excessive, people!  Does everyone know this many people who’ve died by gun violence?

I don’t know the solution to the gun sickness in this country, other than collecting all the guns and melting them into plowshares, but we all know that will never happen.  One feasible solution is strict regulations placed on guns and gun owners, but that would take political integrity and honor, and that exists in very small amounts in this country.

I’m sick to death of gun violence in this country, and I’m SO fucking done with “gun rights” being more important than human lives.

This is our daily open thread — Fuck you, trolls.

Sunday Roast, February 3, 2013 – Food for Thought

Just some numbers:

Iraq Body Count 2013

341 civilians killed

United States Body Count from gun violence in 2013 (you can use the date range button on the site)

936 civilians killed

Numbers may increase with every click on the link.

We all agree, that Iraq is a postwar society, plagued by ethnic conflicts and a weak government. We all agree that the United States of America is not that. Or do we?

This is an open thread. Comment on this, or on anything else that comes to mind and have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

Two Dead at Toys ‘R’ Us Shooting

Details from the Huffington Post:

Two people were shot to death in a crowded toy store on Black Friday in a confrontation apparently involving rival groups, city officials said.

Palm Desert Councilman Jim Ferguson said police told him two men with handguns shot and killed each other. Ferguson said he asked police whether the incident was a dispute over a toy or whether it was gang-related. He said police told him they were not going to release further details until the victims’ relatives were notified.

Continue reading