Category Archives: Guns

Democratic chairman’s statement on shootings

I share this by way of starting an open thread for y’all to discuss this week’s deadly shootings — in case any of you are so inclined on a Friday:

SCDP STATEMENT ON RECENT SHOOTINGS
Columbia, SC – South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison released the following statement today on the shootings that occurred this week in Baton Rouge, LA, Falcon Heights, MN, and Dallas, TX:
4b62d416-e70f-4d86-8a6b-d6d02efdbb92“My heart breaks for the families who have lost loved ones in these horrific tragedies, and I pray for a full recovery for those who sustained injuries.  We must honor them by coming together, as Lincoln said, ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all,’ to break down the barriers between us that all too often lead to needless violence.  We in South Carolina emerged from the tragic deaths of Walter Scott and the Emanuel 9 last year stronger and more united, but this week’s events remind us that we must continue to strive to make our state and our nation the beloved community that Dr. King dreamed of.  I think it is imperative that we come together not as Democrats or Republicans but as Americans.  In the coming days, I, along with several partners, will announce an event at which I hope we can continue the dialogue and share techniques to improve and strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and all communities, but specifically communities of color.”
###

I didn’t know Bryan lived in Illinois

bumper sticker

Or Mike Cakora, either, for that matter.

Anyway, I thought they’d like this bumper sticker I saw when in line at Lizard’s Thicket today.closeup

Here’s a closeup in case you have trouble making it out. Hmmm… It’s still not that clear. OK… It said, “Better To Have A Gun And Not Need It Than To Need A Gun And Not Have It.”

This car also had a sticker — on the back window — that said “got ammo?” and another that said, “NO HILLARY 2016.”

I got caught taking the picture. Right after I took it I saw the driver’s arm come out of the window and give me a thumbs-up. I waved back in a noncommittal way.

Now, here’s where I test your assumptions. See if you can form in your mind a picture of this driver.

Think for a moment. Got it? Describe the driver.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But it was an African-American woman. Either that or a slender, dark-skinned man with long, straightened hair.

So add that to your picture of the world.

Which is a more precious right: freedom to travel or guns?

Note that I did not ask which is constitutionally protected. I’m asking which is more fundamental to a free people.

Whenever we talk about barring people on no-fly lists or terror watch lists from obtaining firearms, Bryan or someone else will make the point that we would then be taking away a constitutionally protected right without due process — since those travel lists maintained by law enforcement don’t involve judgments by courts.

Good point, logically and legally sound. It “is a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out objection.”

We have the freedom to put on out travel vests and go where we like, no matter how ridiculous we may look.

We have the freedom to put on our travel vests and go where we like, no matter how ridiculous we may look.

But for me, it raises another question. Which is more fundamental to our basic, everyday liberty: The freedom to travel, to go where we choose within these United States whenever we like? Or the right to bear arms?

I would think the first one is. No, it’s not plainly addressed in the Bill of Rights the way guns are, but it’s protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause — in other words, in the actual main body of the Constitution as opposed to the afterthoughts. (And in a sense the whole Constitution was an attempt to break down barriers between states and make a more perfect union, which would include moving about freely from state to state.)

We who are not on watch lists sort of take it for granted. People in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union did not, with their internal passports and other requirements to have the right papers to be here or there at a particular time. When I read about such things during the Cold War, I thought that difference as much as anything else illustrated the contrast between our countries. (Actually, I see that Russia, China, Iraq and Ukraine still have such systems. Huh.)

The right to bear arms is not such an essential divider between free and unfree countries — other liberal democracies don’t share this, um, “blessing” with us.

No, it doesn’t have a whole cult built up around it the way the 2nd Amendment does. But isn’t the freedom to move about even more precious than the right to go armed?

About that sit-in over guns by Democrats in the U.S. House…

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Twitter photo from U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle.

This is my day for going to awards ceremonies. I’m about to go to The State to see Cindi Scoppe get the Gonzales Award.

But while I’m gone, y’all should talk amongst yourselves about the Democrats’ sit-in over guns in the U.S. House.

Here’s what the president thinks:

What do y’all think?

What sort of person rushes out to buy the weapon used in a mass shooting?

FILE -- In this Aug. 15, 2012 file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. While the guns look similar, the bottom version is illegal in California because of its quick reload capabilities. Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend President Barack Obama and other gun control advocates have repeatedly called for reinstating a federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons that expired in 2004, but have been thwarted by Republicans in Congress. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,file)

This is not a post about Constitutional rights or about what sorts of laws we have or don’t have or should or shouldn’t have.

This is about the marketplace. And frankly, there’s apparently something pretty disturbing going on in the marketplace right now.

This morning on public radio, I heard a representative of a gun store say they are currently selling weapons like the one used in the Orlando massacre at a very brisk rate. That is, people are buying more of them in an hour than the store normally sells in a couple of days. Usually, he said, they sell three or four a day. Now, they’re leaping off the shelves or racks at a rate of about 10 an hour, and more than that over lunch hour.

Of course, these weapons have been very popular for years, even as we’ve had one mass murder after another using them.

I have to ask: “What sort of person sees a certain kind of weapon used in something like the Orlando massacre, and thinks to himself “I’ve gotta HAVE me one of those!“?

What goes on in such a person’s head?

Now my gun-loving friends will say, this is just a rational response to talk about once again banning such weapons — red-blooded folk want to get out there and purchase the rifle they’ve meant to get for years before it’s banned.

I’m sure it does work that way with some. But I have to ask a followup question — what is the rational reason why someone wants one? What is the circumstance that this person anticipates that calls for a large-magazine, rapid-fire weapon? Do they expect to be attacked by a herd of deer? Are they preparing for the zombie apocalypse (if so, I recommend they take a cue from Daryl Dixon and obtain a quieter weapon)?

What scenarios call for a weapon ideally suited for a target-rich environment of human beings? What normal circumstance can’t be dealt with with a bolt- or lever-action rifle, or a semi-automatic that uses five-round magazines?

What sort of nails does one drive with such a hammer? And what are the psychological processes that cause someone to want to shell out several hundred dollars for such a tool?

We’ve seen these things grow in popularity the more mass murders they are involved in. Am I wrong to see that phenomenon as kind of sick, and if so, why?

Sometimes ‘realism’ is taken to unreal lengths

With all the talk about guns in the wake of the Orlando massacre, we got to talking on an earlier thread about the role of firearms in American history, which started me (as a child of the ’50s, who felt naked without a toy six-gun on my hip) to start riffing on that peculiarly American art form, the Western, and how it has evolved.

So I thought I’d expand on the subject in a separate post…

I, and others my age, grew up on unrealistic westerns in which every man went around with a gun in a holster, except for wusses such as shopkeepers or bankers. I’m pretty sure that is an exaggeration, and I suspect that people who went obviously armed were probably looked at askance by the townspeople, although it may have seemed marginally less bizarre than it would today on Gervais Street.

Just as gunfights were nothing like the ritualized affairs we know from movies, with two men approaching down the dusty street, pausing with their hands hovering over their holsters, scrupulously waiting for the other guy to go for his gun before drawing.

Gunfights such as the one at the OK Corral were wild, confused affairs more akin to what happened at that video game storethe other day…

Modern westerns, of course, go for realism.

SPOILER ALERT!

I’m belatedly watching “Deadwood.” I’m not binge-watching because, as one whose ancestors stuck to Civilization — by which I mean the East Coast — I can only take so much profanity, filth, crudeness, naked avarice and utter disregard for common decency at a time. (As much as it would scandalize my 6-year-old self, I have come to suspect as an adult that had I lived back then, I likely would have been a “dude.” Which wasn’t as cool back then as it sounds today.) Thirty seconds with the “Deadwood” character Al Swearengen (based on a real guy) can make you want to write off the human race as beyond redemption. At the very least, it should persuade a discriminating person to give the Wild West a wide berth.

I would not want to live in the same territory as this guy.

I would not want to live in the same territory as this guy.

Anyway, I’m in the first season, and in the last episode the death of Wild Bill Hickok was depicted — VERY realistically, with him being shot in the back without warning while playing poker.

Such realism is preferable, I suppose. And the clean-cut, 1950s-style western was ridiculous (compare above the guy who played Hickok on TV when I was a little kid and it was my favorite show, the version from Deadwood and the real guy).

Although enough of “Deadwood” and you can start to long, at least a little, for the Disneyland version, with the good guys in spotless white hats.

Or at least for characters you give a damn doggone about. So far the only relatively likeable person on this series is Calamity Jane, and you don’t want your kids in the room when she’s talking.

Bottom line, I’m sure something like everything you see on “Deadwood” actually happened at one time or other in the Old West. But not distilled to this extent, not as unrelenting with the soul-wearing nastiness. Just like, unlike on cop shows, real cops can easily go their whole careers without discharging a firearm in the line of duty.

Surely they had to let up and give it a rest sometime — go through a day with a killing, or maybe speak two sentences in a row without an F-bomb, just to give their profanity mills a rest.

Or else it seems that after a couple of days, they’d get exhausted with it all and skeddadle back East. I know I would have.

Quick: Whose catchphrase was, “Hey, Wild Bill! Wait for me!” The answer is below…

Thoughts on the Orlando nightclub massacre?

Orlando shootings

I mean, aside from Oh, my God, here’s another horrible thing that’s happened?

Pretty much all the usual, trite political reactions were aired yesterday, reflecting our divisions over guns, terrorism and homosexuality. Although there have also been encouraging signs of coming together.

Personally, I’m still in the Oh, my God, how horrible mode. The only good news we’ve gotten was when the death toll was revised down from 50 to 49.

Here’s the latest. As I type, the FBI director is giving more information. He just called people who do such things “savages.” Apt. But what can anyone say that would ever help us understand the mind of someone who would do this?

Thoughts?

The killer really liked selfies. This is one of many out there.

The killer really liked selfies. This is one of many out there.

 

Insight into our modern polarization over guns

The Wall Street Journal today published an excerpt from a interesting-sounding book called The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture, by Pamela Haag.

After asserting that in the early part of our history, guns were not so much romanticized as seen as tools that a lot of people needed, the account gets to the point when marketing came into play:

BN-NR025_guns_JV_20160421123914Though some Americans always loved their Winchesters and Colts, many others saw guns as dowdy, practical tools. They would shop for them by perusing advertisements in farm-focused periodicals like the American Agriculturalist or the Rural New Yorker.

As the frontier was settled and U.S. cities grew, fewer Americans even needed guns as tools. By the turn of the 20th century, the industry had embraced the emerging science of marketing. Gun companies began thinking about how to create new demand for their products. In this respect, their business was no different from the stove or soap business.

Having started with customers who needed guns but didn’t especially love them, the industry now focused on those who loved guns but didn’t especially need them. In the late 1800s, gun companies were innovators in advertising, among the first merchandisers to make extensive use of chromolithography, an early technique for producing multicolored print. Their calendars and other promotional materials were works of art, depicting exciting scenes in which gunmen faced off with bandits or beasts….

I like that bit about how “the industry now focused on those who loved guns but didn’t especially need them,” which helped encourage many people’s emotional attachment to these items.

The piece concludes:

Gun-industry advertisements began to invoke the “natural instinct” to own a gun or a “real boy’s” yearning for one. A 1920 ad in Literary Digest neatly summarized this spirit: “You know [your son] wants a gun. But you don’t know how much he wants it. He can’t tell you. It’s beyond words.” Gun marketing had moved from describing how guns work to describing how guns make their owners feel.

This period, before the outbreak of World War I, saw the birth of today’s American gun culture. Within a few decades, as guns became more prominent in criminal activity and suicides, an antigun culture also began to rise. Many Americans recoiled from these new forms of everyday violence, even as others increasingly cherished their firearms and the personal meaning they found in them. The U.S. was on a slow spiral toward the modern, polarized politics of guns.

And here we are, a nation split between people who are appalled by the existence of guns and others who would rather die than relinquish them.

 

A local case in which armed citizens stopped a crime

The barber shop where the shooting took place. Image from Google Maps.

The barber shop where the shooting took place. Image from Google Maps.

… and killed a suspect in the process.

Bryan, our friendly neighborhood gunslinger, rings to my attention this story that was in The State (and which I admit I read right over), in which local armed citizens stopped a crime… cold:

Elmurray “Billy” Bookman was cutting hair at his barber station, the second chair from the door, when two masked men, one wielding a pistol and the other carrying a shotgun, entered Next Up Barber & Beauty, he said.

Minutes later, Bookman and one of his customers drew their weapons as the robbers were taking money from customers and employees. They fired shots that left one of the suspects dead and sent another on the run just before 7 p.m. Friday.

“The kids were crying, hollering, and their parents were hollering,” Bookman said. “I think (the suspects) were getting kind of frustrated. They started putting their hands on some of the customers.”

About 20 people, including several women and children, were at the barbershop on Fort Jackson Boulevard. It sits behind the Applebee’s restaurant on Devine Street, across from the Cross Hill Market that houses Whole Foods….

Thoughts on this, gentle readers?

“Bloggers are we, born to be free…”

Did you see Rep. Mike Pitts’ proposal that journalists be registered?

To his credit, Mr. Pitts apparently did this ironically. The intention, apparently, is to mount a facetious attack on the First Amendment to make a point about the Second, which doesn’t really make sense, but don’t stop him; he’s on a roll.

Anyway, last night Bryan asked, via Twitter, whether this would also apply to bloggers.

No way, I responded defiantly:

A conversation about guns and the intentions of POTUS

The assault weapons of the time when the 2nd Amendment was adopted. If you were really good, you might have been able to fire one round a minute.

The assault weapons of the time when the 2nd Amendment was adopted. If you were really good, you might have been able to fire one or two rounds a minute.

Last night during the debate, I Tweeted:

This led to a brief back-and-forth with Bryan Caskey about whether that was true or not. Eventually I urged him to send me evidence supporting his position after the debate. Today, he obliged…

You asked for the evidence. Okay, here it is:

First, let’s understand what the Australia policy actually is. Just so we’re clear, the “Austraila Policy” is not just an optional buy-back of guns. It’s a MANDATORY (as in required by law, or else you’re committing a crime) buy-back program for a lot of guns, and it’s an outright ban on semiautomatic and self-loading rifles and shotguns, and all handguns. All. Oh, you want one? Well then mate, you have to show up to the government of Australia and show a “genuine reason” for wanting to own a gun, and guess what, the reason of “self-defense” isn’t a valid reason.

When has Obama touted this super-duper policy? What evidence is there? Well, here are three times he said praised this gun control system. Submitted for your approval…

1. June 10, 2014: “Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, well, that’s it, we’re not doing, we’re not seeing that again, and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since. Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country that would put up with this.” …

2. June 22, 2015: “When Australia had a mass killing … it was just so shocking to the system, the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’ and they did, and it hasn’t happened since,” Obama said.

3. October 1, 2015: “We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings.  Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours.  So we know there are ways to prevent it.”

Here’s the thing. You just can’t tout Australia’s gun laws without touting the mass confiscation program which is the heart of it. So when Obama says we should look to respond to shootings as Australia did, he’s not talking about background checks. He’s not talking about gun shows. He’s not talking about magazine limits. He means that we should ban and confiscate guns. No amount of him saying “I believe in the Second Amendment” and him smirking whiles saying “No one is coming to take away your gun” can change this. He can’t just casually bring  up countries that have confiscated firearms as some great achievement that we should look to emulate unless he really wishes to push the conversation toward confiscation.

But hey, I’m sure this guy would never try and mislead us. If you like your gun, you can keep your gun.

To which I responded…

My point was, he’s never tried to do anything like that. So it’s kind of disingenous to say that’s his default response.
I can sort of identify with Obama’s position, even though he may be, in his heart of hearts, more anti-gun than I am.
I have an ambivalence that I see in him. (And which you are HIGHLY unlikely to identify with.)
I believe that probably the ONLY thing that would significantly reduce our gun-death rate would be a radical reduction in the number of guns that exist and are in circulation. And yeah, that would mean something like Australia, or Britain.
And I think that is actually a sensible, rational response to the problem.
At the same time, I see it as completely politically impossible in this country. Not because of the 2nd Amendment — frankly, I think the most obvious interpretation of those words would be that gun ownership is protected within the context of a well-ordered militia. But the idea that it means no personal ownership of any kind of weapon should ever be abridged is SO embedded in our political culture that it’s unshakable.
So I end up feeling like there’s not really anything I can do.
And I think Obama reaches a similar conclusion, except that being the president, he doesn’t want to own up to powerlessness.
I don’t believe it EVER occurs to Obama to try to do something to “take guns from law-abiding citizens” because he’s too pragmatic to waste time on such a thought.
Where the distrust comes in is that folks on your side of the debate see that he’s someone who would LIKE the political realities to be different. But he knows they AREN’T different, and acts accordingly.
Is this making sense? As I say, I’m describing an ambivalence…

To which he responded…

I agree he’s never actually tried. Where my distrust comes from is that I don’t think he is actually letting us know what his real heart-of-hearts position is. I think (as you say) his true position is something along the lines of the Australia Model, and he knows that openly, honestly saying “Look, I believe we need to confiscate guns like they did in Australia” would be (1) political suicide; and (2) would not actually get anything done, anyway.

That’s because as you say our idea that gun ownership as a personal right (unconnected from service in a formal military unit) is “embedded in our political culture that it’s unshakable”. I agree that Obama acknowledges that reality, and that’s what really keeps him from openly saying “Here’s what I believe”. I see him as someone who will not tell us what he really wants because it’s so outside the mainstream of what is embedded in our culture.

To give you a counter-example, I give you exceedingly more credit for laying your cards on the table and saying “Here’s what I believe” than I do to Obama, who keeps trying to reassure me that he’s a big believer in the Second Amendment. Every time I hear him say “I believe in the Second Amendment”, I have a flashback to Sunday school where a teacher was telling us about believing in God, and how lots of people would say that. She would then say, “Believing in God isn’t the end of the spiritual journey, because even the Devilbelieves in God.

You’re going to flip your lid when you read this, but I think Obama believes in the Second Amendment like the Devil believes in God.

For instance, if Scalia had a heart attack today, I believe Obama would appoint a Justice to SCOTUS tomorrow who would overturn Hellerand tell us that privately owning a firearm is contingent on military service.

I would prefer that Obama say “Look, I believe we need to confiscate guns like they did in Australia, Some of you may not agree, but that’s what I believe”, and then we can all lay our cards on the table about what we actually want. Then we can talk about what we’re all willing to do. However, it’s really hard to make a deal with someone when they won’t level with you about what their real beliefs are.

At which point I decided to share the conversation with the rest of y’all…

Obama wept: Tears of rage, tears of grief

Obama wept

Hey, y’all! Obama’s coming to get your guns!

Of course, he’s not. The measures he announced today will do practically nothing to stem gun violence, and won’t go out and take a gun from anyone’s hands, be they warm and alive or cold and dead.

But that’s the way it will play, isn’t it? Gun rights people are sort of binary creatures. They have two modes. In one, they are happy and comfortable in their personal bunkers with several years worth of MREs, an off-the-grid power supply, and good fields of fire in every direction. And in the other, they’re screaming “OBAMA’S COMING TO GET MY GUNS!”

Except Bryan, of course.

Doubt me on this? Read the second graf of this story:

“He wants to take my guns,” said Kim Nettles, a 66-year-old West Columbia resident who said Obama’s plan — to issue executive orders Tuesday enacting new gun rules — is “illegal.”…

In the real world in which we live, though, there’s little the president or anyone else can do about the fact that there are so very many guns out there, and sooner or later some of them are going to be in the wrong hands. It’s an economic problem — too many unstable, violent people chasing too many guns.

And so, rather than some avenging angel who is singlehandedly going to undo the 2nd Amendment, we have a president who weeps in frustration. And grief, of course…

The NYT’s front-page editorial about guns

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We knew that the New York Daily News was conducting a rather lurid campaign against guns on its tabloid front, but things have taken a significant new turn in a more respectable direction.

The Gray Lady, The New York Times itself, has published its first front-page editorial since 1920, headlined, “End the Gun Epidemic in America.”

This is a profound development, folks. The editors of the Times have resorted to a step that they did not see as necessitated by anything going on during the Great Recession, World War II, the turmoil of the 1960s, Watergate, 9/11 or anything else that happened during the past 95 years.

I suppose that’s because, while those other things were huge news events, none involved such difficult questions about what sort of nation we want to be as does this. More to the point, none of those things were likely to run into such adamant opposition as this initiative. If we’re really, truly, after all these years, about to have a serious national discussion about guns, it may be our toughest disagreement since slavery.

An excerpt from the editorial:

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism….

Bryan and I have already been having a discussion about this today, via Twitter. This post is intended to broaden the discussion:

336 days, 355 mass shootings

I got this from The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog. How is a “mass shooting” defined for the purposes of this count?

The San Bernardino shooting is the 355th mass shooting this year, according to a mass shooting tracker maintained by the Guns Are Cool subreddit. The Reddit tracker defines mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.

The Mass Shooting Tracker is different from other shooting databases in that it uses a broader definition of mass shooting — the old FBI definition focused on four or more people killed as part of a single shooting.

It would be also be the second mass shooting just today — in the early morning hours, one person was killed and three were injured in an incident in Savannah, Georgia.

Speaking after the Colorado Springs shooting last week, President Obama urged Americans to not let this type of violence “become normal.” But the data show that this type of incident already is normal. There have been more mass shootings than calendar days so far this year…

So if only three people are hit, it’s not a mass shooting, by this count.

The president’s challenge to DO something about gun violence

POTUS is fed up, as would be any national leader who’s had to make far too many of these statements, and doesn’t want to make any more of them.

And we know how futile all of the words he’s said in the past have been, in terms of providing actual leadership toward solutions to the problem.

As I’ve said over and over, I’m not sure what we can do about the problem of gun violence, because the problem is that there are just too many guns. It doesn’t matter who has them at a given point in time, or how careful we are about who makes the initial purchases, there are just so many of them that lots of them are inevitably going to fall into the wrong hands.

And I don’t know of anything we can do about that that has the slightest political chance of being enacted in this country. I mean, you want to see violence in the streets? Try implementing the worst apocalyptic nightmare of the gun lobby — try rounding up the guns. Not that we’d ever get to the point of starting such a program, because it’s politically impossible.

But I certainly share the president’s frustration, and I’m glad that the entire country doesn’t look at me expecting me to say something meaningful every time one of these things happens…

Forest Acres officer shot, killed at Richland Mall

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

The fallen officer, Greg Alia.

Horrible news travels so fast these days.

By the time I got a news alert from WACH telling me that a Forest Acres officer had been shot and killed at Richland Mall this morning, the flags at City Hall were already at half-mast:

And more astoundingly, my friend Mary Pat Baldauf had already contributed to a memorial fund for him:

It’s like we don’t even get a moment anymore to absorb the news, to say, “Oh, my God. How terrible…”

So consider that to have been said by me. Perhaps I’ll have more to say later.

‘What dreams are made of:’ Your own, personal flamethrower

Our discussions about gun control go nowhere, so let’s talk about this.

A flamethrower and a BIG ol' tank of gasoline: What could possibly go wrong?

A flamethrower and a BIG ol’ tank of gasoline: What could possibly go wrong?

“You might ast yerself, what is this? Well, ah’m ‘one tell ya. This, my friends, is what dreams are made of,” says the crusty, country-fried Santa in the video above. “Look at that, would ya. Heh-heh, ha-HAAAH! Ah’m talkin’ ’bout get some fer sure. Guys, this is a XM42 personal flamethrower.” When he gets to the word “personal,” he tilts his head forward and peers out knowingly from under his brows, letting each and every one a you red-blooded viewers know that he sees into your innermost desires, and knows this is what you’ve always wanted.

Or, as the boys at Bennettsville High School when I was in the 9th grade would have said had they seen this, “GOT-tawmighty!”

I learned from The Washington Post today that:

Anyone with $899 and an Internet connection can buy one.

No background checks, no permits, and in 48 states, no regulation….

Which are the two states that would presume to stand in the way of your God-given right to burn s__t up at will? Well, California — the ultimate left-coast Nanny state — requires a permit. Maryland outright bans them.

I must confess that — perhaps because the Warthen part of my family tree hails from Maryland — I have, shall we say, reservations about the ready availability of these weapons. I’ve always thought there was something a little unsavory and shall we say unsportsmanlike about them. Oh, I’m sure that if I were a grunt on Iwo Jima or Normandy, I’d welcome them as a way of frying the machine-gunners who’d been killing my buddies from the safety of a concrete pillbox. But in playing a Red Army sniper in Call of Duty: World at War, I always aimed for the Germans with the tanks on their backs first. No one wants to be on the receiving end of one of these things, even in virtual reality.

The political battle lines are drawn. On his first day in office, President Obama signed a three-decade-old U.N. ban on the use of napalm and flamethrowers (some of which use napalm as fuel) on civilians.

Now, civilians can have their very own flamethrowers in most of this country. And as the guy in the video says, “As always, keep up the fight against flamethrower control… and gun control. And remember, Big Daddy loves yuh. Oo-rah!”

OK, let’s talk about guns in America

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson says he’ll introduce legislation to do the following in the wake of the Emanuel AME massacre and other recent mass shootings:

▪  Close a three-day loophole that allows some S.C. gun purchasers to buy and take home a gun before a background check has been completed. That rule, and errors in the federal background-checking system, allowed alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to buy a gun.

▪  Require background checks to be conducted through the State Law Enforcement Division and the federal system before a gun sale can be completed

▪  Ban assault weapons, defined as semi-automatic firearms designed and configured for rapid fire

▪ Require reporting of lost or stolen guns

▪ Require state registration and permitting of all guns…

In response to Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin’s statement that there is “no appetite” in the State House for gun control legislation — which you had probably guessed already — Sen. Kimpson “said the Charleston church shootings, which killed nine African-Americans including a state senator, ‘opened people’s minds to doing things in the State House that have never been done before.'”

Which is true enough. Whether that applies to this, however, remains to be seen.

On the same day that I read that, I received a graphic from someone with a blog called CrimeWire, urging me to share it.

Actually it doesn’t tell me a lot I didn’t know, but I share it for those of you who like infographics. It’s lighter on numbers than most such efforts. For instance, I doubt many minds will be changed by such an assertion as, “The Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders.” Oh, yeah, says Jim Bob, sittin’ with the boys around the cracker barrel. I bet they’s a heap o’ hunters up at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

For those who prefer text, the facts in the graphic seem to have come from a Washington Post story, headlined “11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States,” that ran the morning after the Charleston shootings.

As for my own views… As I’ve stated before, I think the problem in America is just that too many guns exist. Everybody talks about the rights of individual gun owners, but I don’t really look at who owns the guns. Ownership is something that can change easily, through burglary for instance. There are just too many of them in existence, and it’s inevitable that some of them will be in the hands of the wrong people at the wrong time.

It’s an economic problem: Too many violent people chasing too many guns.

But while I feel like I diagnose the problem correctly, I have no idea what to do about it. I just don’t see a solution. We are so far down this road, and nothing but the mass destruction of the overwhelming majority of guns that exist would back us up. And there are far too many Americans who adamantly oppose taking a single step back. I don’t see that changing.

So I’m not terribly hopeful that any legislation I’ve seen or heard of would have a chance of significantly reducing gun violence. Anything that passes constitutional muster just tinkers with the technicalities of how guns change hands and move around.

Oh, and before the more dedicated advocates for the 2nd Amendment start hollering, “Brad’s gonna round up all your guns and destroy them,” allow me to clarify: That is NOT gonna happen. Not in this country. No one can MAKE it happen. It’s a political impossibility. So stay cool. I only mention this to underline the fact that I see no workable solution to the problem of Too Many Guns.

I usually don’t say “I give up” on an issue. I usually try to suggest a solution. But I just don’t know where to go on this.

GunsAndAmerica_IG

The confusing knot of jurisdiction lines around Columbiana

CKDuZ3sWUAguyzXRemember the post last week about the confusion of county and city boundaries around Columbiana Mall, which speculated about how that might have contributed to the mixup that allowed Dylann Roof to get a gun?

At the time, I bemoaned the fact that I was unable to find a map showing those jurisdiction lines.

Alert reader George Chisenhall, who uses Google Maps Pro, came to the rescue over the weekend. As he explained, yellow lines are city/town limits, while the light green ones show county boundaries.

Thanks for helping out, George!

closeup

Walid Hakim sticks to his guns

Just another one of those guys Obama spoke of, clinging to his guns.

Just another one of those guys Obama spoke of, clinging to his guns.

We last saw Walid Hakim suing the state — successfully — for throwing him and his fellow Occupy Columbia off the State House grounds.

As the best-known unleader of that movement, Walid looked and acted the part — Central Casting might have sent him over to play a part in a flick about the Days of Rage, or perhaps one of the lesser-known of the Chicago Seven.

Now, he’s suing the city of Columbia for trying to pry his gun from his warm, live hands.

So… the city is concerned about a bunch of redneck yahoos bringing guns to the city center in a tense moment, and the guy who sues is… Walid?

He just refuses to be typecast, doesn’t he?

He could be on his way to another victory in court, although I do have a question about one of his assertions:

As a lawful concealed weapons permit holder, he won’t be able to protect himself when he is near the State House if danger arises, his affidavit said.

“Unless prohibited by a valid law, I always carry at least one firearm on my person or in my car,” Hakim said. “I had planned to be near the State House for various lawful activities. Based on the ‘emergency ordinance,’ I am forced to change my plans.”…

Walid doesn’t go near the State House unless he’s packing? Really? His assertion seems to go beyond the feared danger of this Saturday — except that he says he doesn’t carry when “prohibited by a valid law,” which would mean he wasn’t armed while on the State House grounds.

Interesting.

Walid in the role we usually think of.

Walid in the role we usually think of.