If you’ve seen “In the Line of Fire” as many times as I have, you’ll remember this part. Clint Eastwood and his partner are trying to track down would-be assassin John Malkovich, and are following a lead that takes them into the subculture of plastic modelers.
They’re talking to a friend of Mitch, the Malkovich character, who says see my expensive wheelchair? Mitch bought it for me. Then suddenly, he pulls out a semi-automatic handgun and says this is in case Mitch ever comes back — because he had credibly threatened his “friend’s” life.
The Secret Service agents sort of go “Whoa!” at the appearance of the gun. They do this not because they’re sissies who are afraid of firearms and other mean things. (Remember, one of them is Clint Eastwood.) They do it because there are times when it is uncool to whip out a loaded firearm, and one of those times is when you’re being interviewed by a couple of worried Secret Service agents.
Another such time is when you’re a member of Congress chatting with your constituents.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster wasn’t a supporter of National Walkout Day.
The Republican criticized the event, which involved schools across the Palmetto State and several in Columbia as well as the Midlands. He called it “shameful,” and something that was orchestrated by a “left-wing group.”
“It appears that these school children, innocent school children, are being used as a tool by left-wing group to further their own agenda,” McMaster told ETV….
“This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means,” McMaster said. “It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial, it’s certainly not a prayer service, it’s a political statement by a left-wing group and it’s shameful.”…
Really? What’s “shameful” about it? Mind you, I’m not a big believer in walkouts and other kinds of protests. I prefer for people to use their words rather than their feet (because, you know, I’m a word guy). And this is not the place to come to if you want to hear about how much wisdom we can learn from the children if only we’ll listen. You know me; I’m an “Alla you kids get offa my lawn” kind of guy, a believer in experience and the perspective that comes with it, the founder of the Grownup Party. I was born a crotchety old man, and thank goodness, I’m finally getting to the age where it doesn’t seem out of place.
But I certainly don’t doubt the sincerity of these kids. There’s a purity in it that experience tends to dilute, or at least temper. They may think and speak as children, but they really mean it.
And yeah, I know Henry means the — shall we use the phrase “outside agitators?” — who he claims put the kids up to it are the “shameful” ones rather than the kids themselves. But I see little indication that the kids have been manipulated. And if they had been, what’s “shameful” about persuading kids to stand up and say, “protect us?”
But Henry says that it is shameful, and sure, he’s a guy who knows all about doing and saying shameful things. Consider:
This is the guy who was the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Donald Trump for president, giving him a huge leap forward in viability. And he continues to stay attached at the hip, even as Trump daily demonstrates the madness of that endorsement.
This is the guy who vetoed the gas tax increase, without setting forth any viable alternative for fixing our roads — a contemptible act of political cowardice and opportunism that the lawmakers of his own party had no qualms about rising up and overriding.
This is the guy who’s going after sanctuary cities in South Carolina, even though there are no sanctuary cities in South Carolina. Given that inconvenience, which prevents him from going out and pummeling said cities, he’s demanded that they prove they’re not sanctuary cities.
All pretty shameful, right?
And now, he’s the guy impugning the integrity of the student movement against school shootings, calling it “shameful.”
ConservativeOutsider and RepublicanGubernatorialcandidate Catherine Templeton (which I’ve come to think of as her full legal name, based on her campaign’s releases) is talking tough on guns again:
“I’ll be on the Bobby Mac show on 106.3 WORD radio at 5:07 pm today to discuss tomorrow’s statewide school walkouts. They’re designed to push the liberal gun control agenda. As your Gov, I won’t allow our children to be used as political pawns for the Left. Tune in tonight!”
In a campaign ad posted online last week, Republican candidate for governor Catherine Templeton said she “ruffled so many feathers” after starting work for former Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011 that state law-enforcement officials grew concerned for her safety.
“The State Law Enforcement Division actually called and said, ‘Catherine, we need you to get a concealed weapons permit; we need you to start carrying, and we need you to protect yourself because of you’ve made a lot of people mad,'” Templeton says in the ad.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said he could find no evidence that his agency told Templeton to obtain a concealed-weapons permit or carry a gun.
“It is not our practice to tell, instruct or order a person to obtain a concealed-weapons permit,” Berry said in response to questions from The Greenville News and Independent Mail….
Both SLED Chief Mark Keel (through Berry) and his predecessor Reggie Lloyd deny having made such a recommendation to her.
Berry confirms that she did take a concealed-weapons class organized by SLED in 2011, along with some court officials.
Before Monday’s interview, Templeton took a .38-caliber handgun that belonged to her grandfather out of her purse at the gun range. As two campaign aides, a photographer and a reporter watched, Templeton tried to fire the weapon several times but it repeatedly malfunctioned…
But there’s a happy ending for this campaign’s pistol-packin’ mama:
Using another .38-caliber handgun provided by an employee at the business, Templeton struck a body-shaped target in the head and chest with several shots.
That’s in the video. After which, she says of the man-shaped target, “Yeah, he’s done…”
On an icy Monday morning in February 2004, Jon Romano was hunched in a bathroom stall on the third floor of his high school outside of Albany, N.Y., tapping out a text message to his few friends.
“I’m in school with shot gun,” he wrote, the New York Times would later report. “Get out.”
Clad in a long black leather coat, the 16-year-old then washed his hands, picked up a brand-new Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun, and stepped into a hallway at Columbia High School. He fired two blasts before Assistant Principal John Sawchuk tackled the 6-foot-2, 230-pound teenager. As the two struggled, a third shot ripped from the gun, hitting the legs of a special-education teacher named Michael Bennett. Although bullets came close enough to graze a student’s baseball cap, no one else was hit. There were no fatalities….
Whoa! Where did “bullets” come from? I can save you the trouble — nowhere in the story is there a mention of any weapon that fires them. He just had a shotgun.
Some of my gun-hip friends like to complain about gun-control advocates not knowing the difference between a “clip” and a “magazine.” But when they get that pedantic, they lose me. My whole life, I’ve heard magazines — particularly the little ones used with semiautomatic pistols — referred to as “clips.” And what do most people call the thing you use with an AK-47? I don’t recall hearing it referred to as a “banana magazine.” So you should give people some wiggle-room on that one. “Clip” may usually be wrong, but it’s not that embarrassingly wrong. So lighten up, Francis.
But this? This seems to be willful ignorance. It’s painful. It’s the ultimate. It shows a complete lack of a clue as to what a shotgun is (hint for those who actually don’t know: It’s a gun that fires shot, in most, but not all, circumstances). I had to look up the reporter who wrote that, Kyle Swenson. His bio says that before joining the Post just last year, “he covered South Florida for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.”
South Florida must have gotten a lot more peaceful since the “Miami Vice” days, for someone to cover it without learning anything about firearms.
Feeling the need to show the flag a bit, and finding myself wearing a tie for once, I decided to drop by the State House and see what was up.
The first thing I saw was this gun control rally, sponsored — I’m just going by the T-shirts here — by Moms Demand Action – SC. Here’s their Facebook page. It was a modest-sized crown (click here to see), but passionate.
I listened for awhile, went inside to see what the House was doing (not much), then came back out. When I got back, Sen. Greg Gregory was speaking. He was (to my knowledge) the only Republican to speak. He and Marlon Kimpson are sponsoring a bill to close the “Charleston loophole.”
He was saying various things the crowd applauded — such as noting that if his father had seen a “hunter” show up with a 30-round magazine, he’d have laughed him off the field. Then he talked about how hard the issue was on his side of the aisle. He noted that too many Republicans feared that any concession on gun control would send us down the slippery slope to eliminating all guns.
At that point, one or two people started to cheer, and I thought, No, folks, that’s not an applause line. You’re not helping your cause there… But they seemed to think better of it right away; it wasn’t taken up. And maybe they just weren’t listening. It was a very encouraging, applauding kind of crowd, which I guess is what you get when you have “Moms” in your name.
The speeches kept coming. There was a preacher, a teacher, and a couple of high school students. Then, with exacting neutrality, the mistress of ceremonies introduced “two candidates for governor,” with the first being James Smith. You can hear most of his speech above — I started shooting the video about a minute in.
Then came Phil Noble, and he said the usual things Phil Noble says. I’ll say this for him, though — he was more self-restrained than usual. He carefully explained that the NRA was pure evil, and that evil had agents in the Legislature, and some of them were Democrats and some of them were Republicans. I didn’t hear all of it, but I’m pretty sure he held back from actually saying “James Smith.” But I wasn’t always looking right at him, so he could have been jerking his head in that direction.
One of the speakers used the occasion to encourage those present to elect more Democrats — which didn’t seem terribly polite to Sen. Gregory, but he’s probably used to it.
This is a followup on a topic from yesterday — the one about Phil Noble’s attempts to hang the NRA around James Smith’s neck in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Florida.
Have you seen the bogus “NRA Report Card” Noble’s campaign created for Smith? It’s above. Phil tweeted it out with a volley of the angry, chip-on-the-shoulder, self-righteous rhetoric that has become the calling card of South Carolina’s own Bernie Sanders: “I’m dismayed by hollow, hypocritical words of condolences by politicians like James Smith. Smith has voted over and over again with the NRA, getting A ratings and now tries to fool people that he is on the right side….” And so forth.
Yep, James Smith has gotten good ratings from the NRA a couple or three times, generally because of voting on a noncontroversial bill along with pretty much everyone else in the Legislature, including Democrats Noble has supported in the past. One such item he mentioned when I asked him about it yesterday was a bill (I think it was this one) that said it you build a house way out in the country next to an existing shooting range, you can’t bring a nuisance action for noise against the owners and operators. That sort of thing.
The thing is, James Smith isn’t someone who blanches at the site of a firearm. He knows exponentially more about assault rifles with large magazines than most of the people who own AR-15s because he’s used them himself — in combat (you know, for the purpose for which such weapons were intended). The Democratic Party used to be full of guys like him. Not so much anymore. And no, the GOP doesn’t have a lot of room to brag on that score, either.
But still, there was something fishy about that “report card.” Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, a Smith ally (which is to say, a normal, mainstream Democrat) decided to dig into those “grades.”
The phony report card cited two sources. One was the NRA itself, and since you had to be a member to look up the scores, she turned to the other source, VoteSmart.org. There, on the James Smith ratings page under the “Guns” heading, you’ll find the apparent source material for Noble’s “report card.”
The site said that in 2012, the NRA gave Smith a rating of 79 percent — which Noble recorded as an “A-minus.” I know South Carolina recently watered down the values of letter grades, but I hadn’t seen anything this lenient.
But that was nothing compared to Noble’s generosity in 2016. That year, the NRA rated Smith at 43 percent. Noble called that a “C.”
Rep. Norrell tweeted, “My kids would love it if those were C’s and A-‘s, but I know of nowhere that that’s the case.”
Yeah… I don’t know of any place like that, either…
I get up in the morning, I work out, I skim Twitter, I peruse several newspapers, and I get ideas that could be blog posts, but I fritter them away in Tweets before breakfast is over, and the blog lies fallow for much of the day.
So I’m going to start turning more Tweets into posts, so the conversation can occur here as well as there.
Let’s start with this one:
For all of you who accuse gun control advocates of exploiting a tragedy for political advantage: THIS is what that looks like, just FYI. You know, for future reference… https://t.co/l1NHmHjuy0
Of course, I was far from the only one to react this way. A couple of other Tweets on the subject:
When questioned by AP about his voting record, @PhilNobleSC said that he supported the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee even though Sheheen had gotten an “A” rating from the NRA two years earlier and also supported a guns-in-bars bill. My full story: https://t.co/Xy3mxBVpd8
First, kudos to James for standing up on this: Forbidding local governments to clean up their communities is unconscionable.
But there’s a much bigger issue here than plastic bags littering the landscape: More than 40 years after passage of the Home Rule Act, the South Carolina General Assembly continues to bully local governments, preventing South Carolinians from running their own affairs in their own communities as they see fit.
It was always thus. From the beginning, long before the Recent Unpleasantness, the small class of plantation owners who ran things from the Legislature kept local governments weak, just as they did the governor. Home Rule was supposed to fix that, at least on the county level. But lawmakers kept vestiges of the Legislative State — such as unaccountable Special Purpose Districts (think Richland County Recreation Commission, and the Elections Commission in the same county). In some counties, state lawmakers even continued to run local schools.
And when local officials dare to try to improve their communities without the permission of the state, they can expect to have the state jump on them, hard.
We all saw what happened, nationally and locally, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas: Pretty much everyone, across the political spectrum, agreed that nobody needed a “bump stock,” and that the deadly devices were bad news all around.
And then, on the national level, nothing happened. And here in Columbia, elected officials decided they would act, within their limited ability to act: They banned the use, although not the possession, of bump stocks within the city limits.
It wasn’t much, but it made national news, and was much applauded as a case of some elected officials, somewhere, being willing do something.
So of course, a group of SC lawmakers decided they weren’t going to allow that. So Reps. Jonathon D. Hill, Craig A. Gagnon, Anne J. Thayer, Joshua A. Putnam — none of whom live anywhere near Columbia — sponsored H. 4707, “so as to provide that a political subdivision may not regulate firearm accessories.”
It’s the same old story in South Carolina: These lawmakers don’t propose to DO anything; they just want to make sure nobody else does anything….
Yes, city council went ahead with it, blithely risking the wrath of Catherine Templeton, who had threatened… well, it’s a little unclear, but she seems to have threatened to run for mayor, or something. Anyway, her protest was wildly irrelevant and disregarded, but I’m sure her mission was accomplished — somewhere, a Bannonite thought better of her for her tough, though vague, talk. Those folks tend to be about attitude more than results.
Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.
Back to the real world: In light of council’s action yesterday, Mayor Steve Benjamin was interviewed on NPR this morning. Hear the interview here.
And his interview belongs in a different rhetorical universe from Templeton, Bannon and Roy Moore. Which means to say, his words were measured, helpful, and respectful of all views. In a world in which too many speak to the extremes on both sides of the gun debate, this was refreshing.
Note that I said the city has banned the use of bump stocks (and trigger cranks), not the devices themselves. You can still own and sell them in Columbia. You just can’t attach them to a firearms and/or use them, unless you leave town. Violation of the ordinance would be a misdemeanor.
“It was important for us to make sure that we crafted an ordinance that was both constitutionally and statutorily sound,” said the mayor, who proposed the ordinance earlier this month. He was careful to fully respect what he called the clear intent of the 2nd Amendment, as well as state statutes on the subject.
“We are preempted from regulating firearms or ammunition or even component parts,” he said. “This is not a component part; it is a $30 attachment that someone can add to a gun that changes the nature of it.”
He said the council “feel pretty good” that the new rule in on firm legal ground and he feels “fully prepared to defend it.”
He said the response he has received to the action has been overwhelming positive.
“On our city council there are a whole lots of good guys who have guns,” he said, and they felt this was no time for more of the usual polarization. His thought was that “people who are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but also strong supporters of downright good common sense, should step up and do something.
“And we thought that Columbia, South Carolina, might be a great place to start.”
Earlier this year, the mayor of Tombstone, Ariz., proclaimed his town “America’s Second Amendment City.”
Which is just ironic as all get-out.
The town is known for one thing — the most famous gun battle in the history of the Wild West, which occurred 136 years ago today. But here’s the thing about that: Those revered gun-slinging lawmen the Earps (together with Doc Holliday) were engaged in trying to enforce strict gun control when the shootout happened. And they were prepared to remove the guns from the subjects’ cold, dead hands if necessary. Which they did, in three cases.
So what do we do with that? Do we honor them by enacting and enforcing strict gun control today? Or do we conclude that hey, gun control doesn’t work — see what it led to in this case?
Me, I’ve been a Wyatt Earp fan since the TV show in the ’50s, so I think the idea of disarming Ike Clanton and the other Cowboys was probably a good and just one.
And if you want to argue with that — there may still be some Cowboy partisans out there, fans of Johnny Ringo and Curly Bill Brocius — well then, I’m your Huckleberry…
This photo of Tombstone in about 1881 was taken by C. S. Fly. The famous gunfight occurred next to his studio, rather than at the O.K. Corral.
Top House Republicans said they will consider restricting “bump stocks,” the firearm accessory used to accelerate gunfire in the Las Vegas massacre, opening the door to heightened regulation in response to the tragedy.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) both said Thursday that lawmakers will consider further rules for the devices, which allow legal semiautomatic rifles to fire as rapidly as more heavily restricted automatic weapons.
“Clearly that’s something we need to look into,” Ryan said on MSNBC…
Before reading that this morning, I’d heard Tom Cole, a GOP congressman from Oklahoma saying similar things on the radio.
Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.
Insert joke about temperatures of 31 degrees Fahrenheit being reported in Hades.
A bipartisan move on limiting some way of making it easier to kill lots of people with firearms might feel like progress.
But will it help? I don’t know. Maybe.
An aside… I’m not entirely sure I understand how these “bump stocks” work. It sounds like they harness the recoil to cause the trigger to repeatedly press itself against the shooter’s finger. I think.
Or maybe it magically turns regular ammunition into “automatic rounds,” eh, Bryan?
“Automatic rounds” are not a thing. Does CBS want to hire anyone who knows even a little bit about how firearms work? https://t.co/SQsA2KXm2P
Meanwhile, I’m puzzling on something that probably only interests me, being a guy who used to spend my days making news play decisions…
If you regularly read British publications (which I do, as I like to know what’s happening in the rest of the Western hemisphere and U.S. outlets don’t tell me), you know that they take a certain view of U.S. news. They have a morbid fascination with what they see as our utter insanity on guns.
Which is why I’m puzzled that, instead of leading with this remarkable bipartisan movement on guns, both the BBC and The Guardian are leading with reports that the Las Vegas shooter may have planned to escape and may have had help. Which is admittedly a strong news development, but still…
After ex-Marine Charles Whitman killed his wife and mother, then went to the top of that tower at the University of Texas and shot 15 people dead and wounded 31 others in 1966, he was shot and killed by police. And the autopsy found he had a brain tumor.
So far we have no such pat answers for why Stephen Paddock killed at least 58 people and wounded hundreds, firing from his Las Vegas hotel room. So far, he has no criminal record or known association with a terrorist group. His family is baffled.
The only “explanation” we have so far is that he is one more guy with a penchant for killing and a bunch of guns he shouldn’t have had.
The political reaction has already started, with Republicans gathering for a moment of silence and Democrats saying no, they won’t be silent this time. I suppose over the next couple of days we’ll see the usual pattern of people flocking to stores to buy more guns. Or maybe not, since no one expects this president or this Congress to do anything to restrict the flow of guns or ammunition. And doing so for personal protection in this context makes less sense than usual: what good would another handgun be against a guy firing automatic weapons from cover 32 stories up?
I have no explanations or comforting thoughts to offer at the moment; I just though y’all might be interested in discussing it…
This morning, I was surprised to see that The Washington Post didn’t lead with their big scoop, which I had heard about on the radio first thing, on my way to my 8 a.m. dental appointment:
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said…
That’s so much bigger than other turn-of-the-screw stories that have led the paper in recent months.
Instead, the paper led with the congressional-baseball shooting, which of course is HUGE, especially if you’re published in Washington, but there was nothing new since last night. Rep. Scalise (may God send his healing grace upon him) was in critical condition yesterday, and he still was today.
But I guess I was wrong, based on what I heard on the radio later on a call-in show. Apparently the latest murderous nut-job case was Filled With Historic Political Significance, to hear what folks were saying.
Sorry that I didn’t take notes — I was driving — but it went kind of like this:
A man calls in and blames the shooting on the Left. After all, this guy was a lefty (so of course every liberal in the country was to blame). And he was made about Trump (so everyone who is mad that Trump is president is to blame). He had some kind of complicated theory about this all being part of the Left’s campaign against free speech, somehow connected to all the silly “safe zone” nonsense on college campuses. He explained that people were expressing themselves politically by electing these Republican lawmakers, who were delegated to speak for those people, and this guy was trying to shut them up by killing.
He was immediately followed by a woman who had zero hesitation about blaming it on the Right. After all, Trump had encouraged violence at his rallies, and didn’t Ted Nugent say something about assassinating Obama, and Trump invited him to hang out for hours at the White House? Therefore, she implied, everyone to the right of center was to blame for this, yadda-yadda.
Oh, come on, people! This isn’t a left-right thing. I mean, I was pretty disturbed by the whole Bernie Sanders billionaires-are-oppressing-us-all-and-we-must-get-angry-and-rise-up-against-them shtick, but it’s an outrage to suggest that even Bernie Sanders (whom the shooter supported) is in any way to blame for this, much less every other liberal in the country.
Obviously, such thinking must be refuted. But to do so by trying to turn it around and blame on conservatives everywhere is equally absurd.
Give it a rest, people! Not everything is an expression of the left-right dichotomy that you seem to think explains everything in the world. In fact, most things aren’t.
What we have here is a nut, one who went on a murderous rampage for reasons particular to him, which we’ll never know for sure because, as a result of what he did, he’s dead.
If there’s a political point to be made, it’s the one I made yesterday: It’s too easy for homicidal nuts to get their hands on guns. If we’d all like to have a constructive conversation about doing something to prevent that, great. But in this atmosphere, I’m not holding my breath…
How to characterize it? Since no headline writer in the history of the nation has ever before had to try to describe such a statement by a nominee for president before, let’s take a look at how they did:
The reason you see all those hedge words — “suggests,” “appears to,” “hints at” — is that as usual, Trump did not speak in actual sentences. And he tends to be even less intelligible than usual when he’s saying the most outrageous things.
Here’s what he said:
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Donald Trump told supporters at a rally in Wilmington, N.C. “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
So how do you interpret that? There’s not a lot of wiggle-room there, although I expect Trump will indignantly claim that he didn’t say what he said.
It was not clear whether Trump was inciting gun owners to use their weapons against judges or a sitting president, or was encouraging some other action.
Did you think Trump couldn’t top himself, or bottom himself, or whatever you call it when a candidate is having a contest with himself to see how low he can go?
Well, think again.
OK, let’s have another show of hands from Republicans who are actually going to vote for this guy?
Of course, we know that a lot of Republicans had already decided not to vote for him. There’s a smaller group of Republicans — including some heavyweight policymakers from past GOP administrations — who will actually vote for Hillary Clinton. Small, but growing. The Post is keeping a list. You may want to peruse it, and praise these folks for their integrity.
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:
“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.”
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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…