The Watering Hole: Monday, February 22, 2016: Your Gun Is Dangerous After All

According to the website Gun Violence Archive there has been a shooting incident or spree in which at least four people have died almost every single month since January 2014, the furthest back their site’s statistics go. And where last month’s mass shooting involved one family member killing five others before taking his own life during police negotiations, this past weekend’s incident in Kalamazoo, MI, involved someone apparently shooting people at random. That’s even worse. As tragic as the family shooting was, if you weren’t related to them (or living next door), odds are you were never in any danger. But the Uber driver who killed six seven and injured two another in between passenger pickups should scare the crap right out of you, because there was no rhyme or reason to how his victims were chosen. The only comforting thing is that he was caught so quickly, unlike the DC Beltway Sniper who terrorized people in the capital area for three weeks in October 2002 (during the time that President George W. Bush supposedly “kept us safe,” as certain delusional people like to keep repeating.) You only heard about this latest mass shooting because: A) it was the latest incident of a mass shooting out of far too many in this country, and B) more than one person died, unlike the other multiple shootings incidents that happened the same day.

We’re not even talking here about people shot and killed by our own police forces, which The Guardian is kind enough to keep track of for us here. We’re just talking about every day civilian Americans going nuts and shooting people. It’s become so common place now to hear of multiple people shot and killed that unless we personally know one of the victims, it doesn’t even bother us anymore. We almost never hear about the thousands who were single victims of their gun-toting killers. And unless they were famous celebrities battling the evil demons of depression, we hear even less of the nearly twice as many people who took their own lives by gun. (Would it surprise you to know that a suicide by gun happens about once every thirty minutes?) Regardless of the ultimate reasons for their use, each of these gun deaths had one undeniable fact in common: each involved the use of a gun. Now there are those who are ready to debunk just about any statistic you can name for whether or not things are safer due to the incredible proliferation of easily acquired guns in this country, but you cannot argue that each and every one of these deaths would have happened by some other method, and in the same incident, and the resulting number of deaths would have been unchanged. That is easily false. Certainly at least some, whether a majority or not is irrelevant but certainly a non-trivial percentage, of those gun deaths happened just because a gun was available to use. Many gun supporters argue that guns are not dangerous. This is pure bullshit. Besides the few dozen or so people killed by toddlers and pets around guns, there’s the point that guns are dangerous for many of the same reasons nuclear weapons are dangerous. Yes, both could “accidentally” go off and kill someone (or several thousand someones) nearby. But there’s a reason we don’t want other potentially hostile countries to have nuclear weapons: because they may have, or could soon have, a means of firing them at us from the safety of their own country elsewhere on the planet. Despite what then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said in testimony, we did not learn on September 11, 2001, that our oceans no longer protected us. We learned that the day we learned the USSR (a country on which she was supposed to be an expert, but who did not foresee its collapse) possessed intercontinental ballistic missiles, with the nuclear warheads to put on top of them. They were able to kill or harm us from across the planet, just like someone with a gun can kill or harm you from across the room or street, and not have to put themselves in close proximity to you, where you might be able to take their weapon away from them. THAT is why guns are dangerous. I might be physically bigger and stronger than you, but if you can kill me before I can get close enough to punch that smarmy look-who’s-the-big-buy-now grin off your Shkreli-like face I’m not likely to survive an attack on you in self-defense. Without the gun, and possibly even with another hand weapon, you wouldn’t be as dangerous to me. It’s the gun that increases the danger.

Again, how can anyone argue guns are not dangerous? If guns aren’t dangerous, why do we make sure almost every soldier sent off to a war zone is equipped with a gun of some variety? Of what use are they in a confrontation with the enemy? Why don’t we give our soldiers headed to the Middle East buttons that say, “Ask me about my Saluki”? Why do the people we face in conflict often use guns if they’re not dangerous? Besides killing people, of what use are hand guns? You don’t hunt with them. You could use hand guns for target practice at a shooting range, but that would beg the question, “Why are you doing that?” You could properly answer with something about self-defense against bad guys with guns. So I ask if you would be shooting to kill them? If not, then why do you need a gun? And if so, then you’ve proven my point about what use they are. So if we agree they have no other purpose but to kill, then why are they not dangerous? Yes, people use things other than guns to kill one another and, yes, more people use bats and hammers to bludgeon people to death than use rifles, but rifles aren’t hand guns, and most of the other things people used to kill had been made for some other intended non-homicidal purpose. Not so with guns. Guns are made to kill. That’s their appeal to you people who own them. That’s the reason you keep them. Are you going to threaten an intruder with something non-lethal, or would you prefer to make the intruder think his life was in danger? Oh, wait, there’s that word again. Danger. Because of a gun. Which is supposedly not dangerous. Sorry, but the argument that guns are not dangerous just doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny and critical thinking. If guns weren’t dangerous, you gun owners wouldn’t feel safer carrying one around with you, would you? But if you carry one on your person somewhere, even concealed, now you’ll feel that YOU are a danger to bad guys who might try to pull something off in front of you. Which means your gun is dangerous after all.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss guns or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 30, 2015: And The Right Just Keeps On Lying

This past Friday, a lunatic with a gun he no doubt purchased legally opened fire outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, CO, killing three people, including a police officer responding to reports of shots fired at the clinic. From the beginning, the Right began lying about what happened and why it happened. They tried to say it had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion, and that the shooter just happened to pick that nearby building to take cover. That was not true. The entire incident took place at the Planned Parenthood facility. They tried to say it started out as a bank robbery, but that was also untrue. The shooter started shooting at Planned Parenthood and when police cars started arriving on the scene, he started shooting at them. As some took cover behind a nearby Chase bank, the shooter took shots at them. That’s how the bank robbery lie started. After he was arrested and identified, the Right tried to claim the shooter was transgendered, and a Leftist (they love using that word, “Leftist.” It’s so close to calling us “Communists” and, as we all know, Communism is Pure Evil. And since “Leftist” sounds like “Communist,” that leans Leftists must be evil, too. See how easy it is to be a Conservative? No thinking required.) The same voter registration form from which they determined he used to be female (it was an obvious typo) also listed his party affiliation as Unaffiliated. As for why he did it, the police have not released any official determination, but it has been widely repeated in the media that one cop said the shooter had muttered something about “no more baby parts” as he was being led into custody. This would appear to be a reference to the debunked videos which were purported by their publishers to show Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating the sale of human fetal tissue, but which actually, showed no such thing at all due to their being deceptively edited.

And yet the Right refuses to acknowledge that fact. Just yesterday morning, Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday allowed Carly Fiorina to further the false claim that the videos were legitimate and showed that Planned parenthood was selling baby parts. She also lied and said that they announced they would stop selling fetal tissues which would imply that they were doing so before. Again, a lie. What Planned Parenthood actually said was that they would no longer accept reimbursement for the costs of providing the tissue for medical research, which is all they were accepting money for in the first place. But Wallace just let Fiorina lie as if it was of no consequence. Even the Fox News article to which I just linked is in denial about the videos:

The attack thrust the clinic to the center of the ongoing debate over Planned Parenthood, which was reignited in July when anti-abortion activists released undercover video they said showed the organization’s personnel negotiating the sale of fetal organs.

I suppose you could say that, technically, there isn’t anything untrue about what they wrote, other than that it’s incomplete and makes no mention of them being deceptively edited. But because of that deception, there are people believing exactly what the video producers wanted them to believe – that Planned Parenthood was aborting fetuses for the purpose of selling off the body parts for profit. What other purpose would there be to making the videos?

What’s worse is that it’s impossible to deny that someone violently opposed to abortion might use that misinformation as justification to start shooting people at a clinic where abortions might be performed (though in much, much smaller numbers than the person believing the first lie might think true.) Liberals tend not to use violence against people to protest their views, but Conservatives have been known to do it many, many times in this country’s history. If heard and reported accurately, the reference the shooter made to “baby parts” is a direct reference to the doctored videos, which means the people who made those videos, as well as the media organizations that promoted them as undisputed fact, and even including the presidential candidates who intentionally lied about the videos’ content, share responsibility for the murders those videos incited. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t deliberately manipulate peoples’ emotions in a way certain to drive them to anger, and them claim no responsibility when they act on that anger and good people die. This can’t be allowed.

Nor can it be allowed that we not discuss how easy it is for such gun violence to happen in the first place. The gun supporters say there isn’t anything you can do about that, but there is. And it’s perfectly constitutional. You can tax the manufacture of guns. Put a $5,000 or even a $25,000 non-refundable tax on the manufacture of every handgun. The gun manufacturers would pay this tax as soon as they make the gun, and not when they sell it. This is perfectly legal and perfectly constitutional. Part of the problem has been that gun makers made excessive amounts of guns and then have to find ways to dump them off somewhere. And they know they can, so there’s no real downside to over-manufacturing. Unless you have to pay to do it and may never recover the taxes you pay to make the guns. No, it doesn’t solve the problem entirely, but it makes a lot of it go away. And that’s reason enough to try. Conservatives won’t see it that way. They’ll find some ridiculous reason based on the concept that this won’t stop all gun violence, and wouldn’t have stopped the Colorado shooting, so why bother? That’s why conservatives are part of the problem.

This is our daily open thread. Have fun with it.