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Yet another mass killing in America. Watch the reactions on the Right, and learn.

17 December 2012

Summary:  After the latest mass killing, our Right-wing goes crazy again, displaying our nation’s broken OODA  loop for all the world to see.  On a hopeful note, perhaps each of these episodes brings us closer to realizing our madness — the first step to reform.

November 2012

November 2012

Comments

  1. The “hair of the dog that bit you” solution
  2. Or — mock their small dicks
  3. Do other nations have fewer mass killings because they have more guns?
  4. More reactions from the Right
  5. For More Information
  6. Other posts about guns

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(1)  The “hair of the dog that bit you” solution

America has a rate of killings by gun far higher than any other nation, and higher rate of gun ownership. So logic says that the solution is even more guns.

(a)  Glenn Reynolds (Prof of Law, U TN) reminds us of what he wrote after the Virginia Tech shootings (several mass shootings ago): “People don’t stop killers. People with guns do“, op-ed in the NY Daily News, 18 April 2007 — Excerpt:

In fact, some mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. … Police can’t be everywhere, and as incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech demonstrate, by the time they show up at a mass shooting, it’s usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they’re armed, they may wind up not being victims at all.

… “Gun-free zones” are premised on a fantasy: That murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student, or Bradford Wiles, are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers like Cho Seung-hui. That’s an insult. Sometimes, it’s a deadly one.

Reynolds expands on his “making stuff up to ignore the bloodshed” theory in “Gun-free zones provide false sense of security“, USA Today, 14 December 2012. He opens with some vintage Instapundit madness, citing the late Burroughs as a paragon of responsible gun ownership:

“After a shooting spree,” author William Burroughs once said, “they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” Burroughs continued: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

Burroughs’ New York Times obituary gives us more about Burroughs’ gun use:

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A big motivator of gun sales.

A big motivator of gun sales.

One September afternoon in 1951, they began to drink with friends. Eventually, Mr. Burroughs, who was quite drunk, took a handgun out of his travel bag and told his wife, ”It’s time for our William Tell act.” There never had been a William Tell act, but his wife laughed and put a water glass on her head. Mr. Burroughs fired the gun. The bullet entered her brain through her forehead, killing her instantly.

(b) A Thought Experiment Related to School Shootings“, Eugene Volokh (Prof Law, UCLA), 14 December 2012 — Excerpt:

Instead of hiring special-purpose security guards, why not take some of your existing employees — teachers, administrators, and the like — and offer them a deal: They’d go through some modest training and subjected to basic background checks, and in exchange they’d be given the right to carry the same guns that the security guards would have had.

Indeed, this way you could have not just one security guard but several (if several staff members sign up). And you might get people to do this even without paying them, since they might value the ability to defend themselves and to not be sitting ducks should the worst happen.

… And no need to call the licenses given to those who participate in the program “concealed carry” licenses, just in case some parents and others don’t like the concept. Just call them “volunteer security guard” licenses, though you might expect that most people who sign up for this will also have licenses to concealed carry on the street. Of course, if a killer does show up, maybe some of these volunteer security guards will just cower in the corner rather than trying to defend the students, or attack the killer. But it seems more likely that someone will confront and try to stop the killer if that someone is armed then if that person is disarmed.

What’s your answer to that? Is there some reason why the armed security guard is safe and helpful, but the armed teacher, administrator, or staffer — er, the teacher with a volunteer security guard license — would be useless and a menace?

(c)  Statement by Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America:

Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.

(2)  Or — mock their small dicks

Ace offers another solution: “Killer Killed His Parents First“, Ace of Spades HQ, 14 December 2012

Parents first. He then went to Connecticut to kill a woman he was involved with somehow — whether wife or ex-girlfriend — and also to kill all the children near her.

… I’ve said this before but I think the media can help reduce these things from occurring. These nutters see themselves heroically, sort of as bigger-than-life agents of mayhem and evil. Now that may sound like a bad thing to you, but it doesn’t sound bad to them: They’ve embraced it.

… I think it would do at least something to dissuade the next potential mass murderer to know, for example, that coverage on him will not focus on the Evil Menace part of him (which is a self-conception he finds flattering), but the Sad, Lonely Pathetic Guy Who Has a Small Dick and Couldn’t Keep a Woman or a Job and Just Couldn’t Hack It part of him.

… If I were the media, I’d allow myself to get very personal in publishing accounts of these guys. Personal, and nasty.

(3)  Do other nations have fewer mass killings because they have more guns?

See the Small Arms Survey of September 2011 for data about gun ownership in America vs. that in well-managed developed nations.  From  The Monkey Cage, which has more on this subject.

Small Arms Survey, September 2011

Small Arms Survey, September 2011

(4)  More reactions from the Right

(a)  Important:  More madness: “The most unhinged reactions to the shooting“, Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, 14 December 2012

(b) Some Crazy Talk About Guns From Politico“, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 17 December 2012

(c) National Review Writer Doubts the Power of the Bushmaster AR-15“, Amanda Marcotte, Slate, 17 December 2012

(d) There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre“, Megan McArdle, Daily Beast, 17 December 2012 — “The things that would work are impractical and unconstitutional. The things we can do won’t work.”  Her solution:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.

(5)  For More Information about guns in America

(a)  Important: Mass Shootings in the United States Since 2005, Brady Campaign website — It’s 62 pages long.

(b)  Important information about America by Kieran Healy (Assoc Prof Sociology at Duke) about the death rate in the US due to assaults (all causes).

(c)  Like so many things in America today, the gun culture is a fading love of old white guys. See “The Declining Culture of Guns and Violence in the United States“, Patrick Egan (Asst Prof Politics, NYU), the Monkey Cage, 21 July 2012.

(d) The Price of Gun Control“, Dan Baum (author of author of Gun Guys: A Road Trip), Harper’s, 20 July 2012 — The price of gun control is very high, and we might not get much in return.

(e)  The CDC is not known for its advocacy for the 2nd amendment, so this result deserves attention: “Firearms laws and the reduction of violence: A systematic review“, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, February 2005 — By the Centers for Disease Control’s Task Force on Community Preventive Services.

(f) Mass Murder Up, Even While Gun Violence Down“, Ron Dicker, Huffington Post, 20 July 2012 — Excerpt:

Single-victim gun killings have dropped more than 40% since 1980, according to 2010 FBI crime data. But the total number of people dying in attacks that claimed four or more victims has climbed from an average of 161 a year in the 1980s to 163 between 2006 and 2008, according to FBI statistics.

(6)  Other posts about guns

  1. The Founders talk to us about guns for a well-regulated militia,24 July 2012
  2. Yet another mass killing in America. Watch the reactions on the Right, and learn., 17 December 2012
  3. “The right to shoot tyrants, not deer”, 11 January 2013
  4. But Hitler confiscated guns, leaving Germans helpless!, 11 January 2013
  5. Guns do not make us safer. Why is this not obvious?, 14 January 2013
  6. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, cutting through the myths and spin, 15 January 2015
  7. Myth-busting about gun use in the Wild West, 16 January 2013
  8. Second amendment scholarship (using money to reshape America), 19 January 2013
  9. Do guns make us more safe, or less? Let’s look at the research., 23 January 2013
  10. Guns in the wild west: regulated, with no fears about ripping the Constitution, 25 January 2013

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78 Comments leave one →
  1. James Catfish permalink
    17 December 2012 3:13 am

    Schizophrenia, somehow mental illness is left out of the conversation. As a child there was one, an untreated adult, in the household. Reality and reason was absent. I slept with bottles against my closed door as an alarm. It was a very tense existence. They really believe that others are out to do them harm, including family members. The madness seems to destroy the brain, and they do at times do harm themselves and others. The least stress or no stress can set them off. They are simply unable to deal with life under the best of circumstances.
    It is nearly impossible under the present Judical system to force them to take medication. Some obtain firearms, with tragic results.

    Like

    • cynicalatheist permalink
      17 December 2012 5:44 pm

      James Catfish: Agree that the difficulty in obtaining mental health care, and the continuing stigma attached to mental illness, is an important part of the picture here.

      Like

  2. 17 December 2012 5:42 am

    per Wm B.: “I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”

    Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t wnat to live in a society where Willaim Burrough’s was quoted to buttress a position involving anything approaching sanity nor in one where a Burrough’s …… oh, I guess I do!?

    Darn. How did that happen?

    Never mind. Ok, moving along here. Just sayin’ now, would it be “time” to literally start to enroll a consensus to Ban ALL handguns and ALL semi-autos, as in multi clipped rifles?

    Does anyone notice a disconnect around here?

    Breton

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    • 17 December 2012 5:50 am

      Hey. How about just a little twist to current Regs. As in, when you BUY that gun, where ever it goes you go! You own that sucker for its life. So like if your little disturbed child (goodness,how did THAT happen) turns out to get a hold of your guns and does a Massive, well, you get to accompany him.

      Whadda ya say, eh? You really like your guns, so really like them, as in take the ultimate responsibility, too.

      Breton

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    • guest permalink
      17 December 2012 10:48 am

      “How about just a little twist to current Regs.”

      I am not sure about the current regulations: what about those related to _ammunition_? I seem to remember that in some countries, while gun ownership is regulated, ammunition is even more so (things like only buy certain forms of ammunition in shooting ranges, having to account for every individual cartridge shot or not, and not being allowed to take them home; or having ammunition for military grade weapons unavailable to the general public, etc). That could be a start towards controlling that gun madness.

      Like

    • 17 December 2012 7:47 pm

      Regulations on magazine sizes, say limiting to 5-6 shots, would not restrict people from owning or using guns but could help restrain some of these mass shooting incidents, giving some small opportunity to intervene.

      Also certification and an advertising campaign recommending the use of strong gun safes might be another tactic to keep guns from being used by people other than the legitimate owner.

      The large, overarching, problem here though seems not to be guns at all but long term mental health care and institutionalization for the severely violent, suicidal and mentally unstable. This person seems to have a severely malfunctioning brain and maybe shouldn’t have been allowed in the general population. Prison is not a sufficient institution for correcting mental disorders.

      Like

  3. truthteller permalink
    17 December 2012 8:57 am

    It seems the killer may have been taking SSRI, we should ban SSRI, since there is evidence that it may induce psychosis
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    FM Note: SSRI = Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, a type of antidepressant.

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    • 17 December 2012 2:30 pm

      There has been some low-level controversy in the news media about the side-effects of anti-depressants. For an introduction to the debate I recommend these two articles by Marcia Angell in the New York Review of Books.

      Marcia Angell is a Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine.

      Like

    • cynicalatheist permalink
      17 December 2012 5:49 pm

      SSRI medications help a lot of people. There have been instances where people who start taking SSRI’s then kill themselves. I would suggest that this simply means that they were so depressed before that they were unable to take any action. Perversely, as they become less acutely depressed, they then become able to take actions they have been wanting to take. For some people, this means suicide.
      Consider the situation from the suicide’s point of view for a moment. We ask that they have faith that life is worth living. For some of them, this honestly seems like a bad joke.

      Like

  4. 17 December 2012 1:37 pm

    The Circus is a bit out of control and the Monkeys running the Show, know it.

    (Gun ownership (handguns) is not just an old white guys deal either. Best go to a few local gun shops and see for yourself — young white guys are packin’, big time. Or engage a local Gendarme in a gun discussion and ask him what it is like in the Ghettos.)

    America is a moderately dysfunctional culture trending towards the wrong end of the scale; GUNS are a prime example. Adolescent is the term that comes to mind more and more.

    Let’s take Ms.Lanza, for example, she’s dead now and cannot speak for herself but…..I mean how clueless do you have to be to have a Sigg, a Glock and a clipped ,223 sitting in your home and be the adult responsible for a disturbed autistic child? Trigger Locks? Ammo not in the house? Gun safe? Nah. That is just too much to expect from an adult in America.

    “To the Triggers”! Don’t expect much to come of the deaths of these kids. This is America.

    There was a time when there was no reason to have a gun in America except to hunt. Not that long ago. Now?

    Breton

    Like

    • 17 December 2012 2:20 pm

      “There was a time when there was no reason to have a gun in America except to hunt. Not that long ago. Now?”

      Despite what one sees on TV, there still is little reason to have a gun in America. Outside the inner cities, violent crime is at multi-decade lows.

      Like

    • cynicalatheist permalink
      17 December 2012 8:55 pm

      Outside the inner cities, violent crime is at multi-decade lows.

      For an urban middle-class white such as myself, it is a strange feeling talking with black and hispanic co-workers, hearing their stories of being shot at by random assailants in cars, or barely escaping gangs who attack them at gas stations. Or the working class whites, for that matter, who describe similar situations. It gives me a different perspective on the city, and my place in it.

      Like

    • 18 December 2012 2:30 am

      cynicalatheist raises a question I was wondering about. I vaguely recall reading that violent crime has declined in the inner cities, although still at levels far higher than before the rot set in (1960?). Does anyone know if this is correct?

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    • 18 December 2012 4:39 pm

      I vaguely recall reading that violent crime has declined in the inner cities, although still at levels far higher than before the rot set in (1960?).

      This Wikipedia page, “Crime in Chicago“, suggests that this is indeed the case in most major US cities, that crime has indeed decreased starting in the 1990s. However, in Chicago at least, it seems to have gotten more concentrated as well. As you can see from the map on that page, different areas of that city have very different crime rates. I live in one of the solid green areas, while others I know live in yellow or red areas. Apparently New York and St. Louis have similarly partitioned maps, with many relatively safe areas and some very unsafe.

      Like

    • 18 December 2012 4:42 pm

      Thanks for this follow-up information!

      Like

  5. Brian permalink
    17 December 2012 3:10 pm

    “Despite what one sees on TV, there still is little reason to have a gun in America”.

    Really? Really? Did FM just say this? We’re all being trolled, right? How about this reason: because it is the final, last-ditch defense against tyranny. Whether or not you think “rebellion against a tyrannical government” to be either likely or prudent is irrelevant; the Founders deliberately wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Constitution to give the citizenry “the final say” in such an instance.

    I’m actually surprised that I should have to even say this on this blog.

    Like

    • guest permalink
      17 December 2012 3:19 pm

      “it is the final, last-ditch defense against tyranny.”

      Nope. Booby-traps (aka IEDs, aka infernal machines) are — and way more difficult to control than guns and their ammunition. If you want to fight tyranny, brush up your knowledge of chemistry.

      Like

    • 17 December 2012 3:36 pm

      Brian,

      OK, you got me! I was responding to Breton’s comment about crime. You raise a different, larger, and more important question — which I should have mentioned, but forgot.

      Here’s the problem: I understand your logic, but don’t believe it any more. The NAZI party took power in Germany to widespread applause. From what I see, a large fraction of the gun owners of America will cheer a fascist tyranny. I see them in the comments here, esp in the posts about torture, auditioning for a job with an American Gestapo. And in the posts about the growth of Executive power (eg, surveilance, even assassination of America citizens without charge or trial).

      I wonder if this love of guns is another sign of decay. We seem to love guns more than the Constitution, more than the Republic, more than freedom. Guns without those things are a problem, not a solution.

      I wonder if gun owners in America are part of the problem, perhaps even potential black shirts. Lots of evidence suggests that many of them are ready to bear arms against the rest of us. They lack only a leader. As Elrond says, “treason is always our greatest foe”.

      I have a draft post about this, which I hope to finish someday. It will not be pretty or pleasant reading.

      Like

    • Brian permalink
      17 December 2012 4:21 pm

      “From what I see, a large fraction of the gun owners of America will cheer a fascist tyranny. I see them in the comments here, esp in the posts about torture, auditioning for a job with an American Gestapo. And in the posts about the growth of Executive power (eg, surveilance, even assassination of America citizens without charge or trial).” I agree 100% with your comments and sentiments here – I am not saying that the majority of US citizens are competent enough, wise enough or care enough to combat a fascist tyranny, merely that the Founders – in their (semi)-infinite wisdom, gave them the tools to do that in the Constituion, and that one of those tools was the 2nd Amendment.

      “I wonder if this love of guns is another sign of decay. We seem to love guns more than the Constitution, more than the Republic, more than freedom. Guns without those things are a problem, not a solution.” Again, I agree 100% here. I would add just one comment here, though; you could substitute many words (g.g. “the military”, “porn”, “cash”, “security”, etc.) for the word “guns” in the above statement and the statement would be still be true.

      FWIW, I am not very hopeful about the future of America, either with or without private gun ownership. I think we have turned into a sad, pathetic nation composed of frightened little people with little minds and little thoughts, herded like sheep by a small group of apolitical plutocrats.

      I look forward to reading your draft post when it is complete :-).

      Like

    • Drake West permalink
      17 December 2012 4:22 pm

      FM Please write that post!! Here Here Sir!!

      America is a land mired in the everlasting seeking of power!! POWER is what 2nd amendment protagonists seek, not justice or protection. No amount of shotguns or handguns in 2012 can protect the poor innocent American citizen from tyranny. The government is already tyrannical in so many ways, just like you point out on your website.

      WAKE UP gun owners, you are part of the problem. For I already live in a land where the government acts with near impunity and the citizenry is herded into mainstream consumerism and made to believe the good old USA is mighty and righteous. All of us swallow at least a few doses regardless of our region, religion, race, economic standing, gender or other affiliations.

      Gun toting maniacs, gang-bangers and armed domestic abusers are brought into existence by the vicious sweet spot between the rights offered by the Constitution, the pliability of Congress by lobbies and the over aggressive media hyped love affair with wielding a gun. This is the tyranny we live. If there was a solution that curtailed this and risked in some infinitesimally small path to abject suppression by our armed government, I would take that chance. I imagine a majority of Americans would too.

      Like

    • 19 December 2012 8:59 am

      Brain wrote: “How about this reason: because it is the final, last-ditch defense against tyranny. Whether or not you think “rebellion against a tyrannical government” to be either likely or prudent is irrelevant; the Founders deliberately wrote the 2nd Amendment into the Constitution to give the citizenry “the final say” in such an instance. ”

      Here I see as non US citizen an interesting contradiction:

      You really assume that the same people who are obviously too immature/dumb to possess and handle guns are able to recognize a tyrannical government and organize an effective resistance?

      Hint: You are not Switzerland

      Like

    • 19 December 2012 2:19 pm

      “same people who are obviously too immature/dumb to possess and handle guns are able to recognize a tyrannical government”

      The vast majority of gun-owners handle guns responsibility. The problem is that mass ownership of guns puts them in the hands of the small fraction of crazies and far larger number of criminals.

      “are able to recognize a tyrannical government and organize an effective resistance?”

      Perhap they’l want it, and organize to make it happen. My fear is that the mass of gun owners will provide lush recruiting grounds for paramilitary black shirts, seeking to install tyranny. The data I see doesn’t suggest any love of the Republic or liberty among gun “nuts”, except as fetish objects (ie, they love the flag, not the Bill of Rights; respect the President but hate minorities). Since history (including American history) shows a tendency for the police to be sympathetic to right-wing tyranny, there might be few breaks or even speed bumps shouls we slide down the Right slope.

      Like

  6. Keith M permalink
    17 December 2012 3:31 pm

    I think a huge point of discussion in the debate no matter which side you are on is brought up in 3) the sheer number of guns already in the US. If there was a ban, what would happen? People have been buying guns recently because the have a fear or they like guns and use some doomsday scenario to justify their habit. For effective gun “control” to work, those gun would have to be removed. How many people do you think would have conveniently sold their guns if they were asked/told to give up their guns? Ammunition is another subject, but people have hoarded that as well. The problem is that the only time we have these discussions with any force behind them is when there is a massacre – the discussion then goes away because no one wants to deal with the issue.

    Additionally, what people understand is so removed from reality. Most people fear the “assault” rifle and say they are automatic (when they are not). This doesn’t mean they are any less deadly, it just confuses the point and gives people against any gun regulation a point to argue on aside from the real issue. Also, people never want to take away hunting rifles, but the bullets designed for hunting rifles can be more deadly and penetrate armor more readily than those designed for “assault” rifles.

    Ignorance abounds on both sides – like many issues in this country, no one can sit down and have a meaningful conversation aimed at finding a solution, but must only argue why the other side is wrong, stupid, and immoral.

    Like

  7. Puska permalink
    17 December 2012 4:01 pm

    The gun advocates, such as Mr. William Burroughs, always ask: Can you trust the government that doesn’t trust people with guns?

    The resounding answer has always been no. Sandy Hook Elementary School (SHES) incident ought to change that and the question should be: Can the government trust people with guns?

    The answer to that question is no. How many senseless killing it takes for people to change their mind? The question is, can anything be done about that in US? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The proper way for the government to act is repeal the Second Amendment and ban all guns with a few exception for hunting. And that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    PS: I am responsible gun owner with carrying permit and have more guns than the statistics indicate. Everyone needs to draw the line somewhere, mine has been drawn at SHES…

    Like

    • Rune permalink
      17 December 2012 8:03 pm

      The thing is that it’s a false dichotomy. You can neither trust a government that allows or bans its citizenry from owning guns.

      Like

  8. 17 December 2012 4:14 pm

    One thing I’d like to collectively caution us against – the “blame the crazies” phenomenon.

    There’s a logical fallacy that we often run up against in the skeptical community, called the “no true scotsman” fallacy. The way it works, in this case, would amount to a “no true human” fallacy. I.e.:
    – Nobody in their right mind would shoot a schoolkid
    – Therefore, the shooter is insane
    – Therefore let’s regulate insane people, and not think about this problem systematically

    The problem with following that model is that it forces every response to the problem to be individual, since no two insane people are exactly alike, and it implicitly sweeps under the carpet people like Anders Breivik – who are not “insane” unless we broaden the scope of our definition of “insanity” to encompass people who strongly hold irrational and morally repellent ideologies.

    In the last few days I’ve seen a great deal of “let’s control crazies, not guns” type ideology, which is wrong at many levels but most simply because it’s blaming someone for something that is not their choice (most “crazies” do not choose to be or enjoy being mentally ill) and confusing the problem deliberately with the heavy indoctrination toward violence in American society. If we took the “let’s control crazies” idea to its logical conclusion, we’d have to diagnose the United States as a dangerously belligerent society in which its young people are propagandized endlessly with violent messages – the average American child ‘witnesses’ thousands of ‘murders’ in movies and on television – and desensitizing media such as video games that are not only borderline racist but often politically charged as well. Here I refer to games our young play, such as the various “modern warfare” style first person shooters in which the gamer is expected to eradicate populations of towns in arabic-looking parts of the world, complete with pop-up “jihadis” in ethnic garb, etc. We should not blur the line between someone who has been ideologized into craziness, like Anders Breivik, and a person who has unfortunate neuro-chemistry by birth, and who may obsess a bit too much about certain things, or who may not experience emotions/empathy in the way that “the rest of us” do.

    I’ve been very unhappy to see the attempts by the media to cast the shooter as “autistic” (thereby – what – explaining and excusing a gun nut mother and a society of violence?) What we’re talking about here is a multi-dimensional problem: many things are going wrong at once and if we focus on one single thing and say “that’s the problem!” we’re unlikely to achieve any kind of effective resolution because each of the problems can mask the other.

    What the US needs is not more gun control, or to “fix the crazies” or whatever naive short-term solution is being proposed. The US needs to ask “why are we such goddamn violent assholes?” and it’d be a good question to ask some of the other countries in the world that aren’t, for help. We should not be pointing at the Swiss and asking “why is it that they have lots of guns and few gun homicides?” we should be asking, “how did they manage to build a culture of non-violence?” What’s happening in the US is that rational dialogue is impossible because there are strong vested interests pulling hard on each dimension of the problem, saying “it’s not my fault!” The first step is to acknowledge that the simple truth is it’s a complex problem and there’s enough blame to go around for everyone. And the second is to understand that it’s a multi-dimensional problem without a single, simplistic, button we can “push here, to fix”

    Here’s something I’d like you all to ponder; the following photo:

    which has been all over the place in the last few days. What we see here are two first responders in Newtown. The fact that a camera-man shot this picture and nobody is running or ducking for cover tells me that the incident is over and there are no shots being fired. So why are there first responder jackasses with military-style weaponry, embedded in the civilian population, with clips in their rifles? Who thought that was a good idea, and – more to the point – what local first responders feel that they need gear like that to handle civilians? And, of course, what home-schooling mom needs gear like that in her house? This, to me, cuts to the heart of the question: why is American’s response to violence to ante up instead of de-escalating?

    There is no simple answer and we are going to keep coming up with wrong answers as long as people keep proffering simplistic sound-bites instead of tackling this question seriously.

    Like

    • 17 December 2012 4:18 pm

      The picture I was referring to is this one:

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    • 17 December 2012 4:42 pm

      “Here I refer to games our young play, such as the various “modern warfare” style first person shooters in which the gamer is expected to eradicate populations of towns in arabic-looking parts of the world, complete with pop-up “jihadis” in ethnic garb, etc. ”

      Just like to point out that in the most popular shooters of late (last 5 years) the bad guys have actually been the Russians, Axis powers or even the Americans. Of course some shooters have jihadi bad guys but those have not sold very well.

      Like

    • Brian permalink
      17 December 2012 4:44 pm

      Marcus;

      The militarization of American LE has been an ongoing concern for quite a while now, and actually pre-dates 9/11 (remind me to tell you the story sometime about I how sold belt-fed machine guns to the Berkeley, CA PD in the early-’90s), although there has been a breathtaking increase in the level of militarization since that attack took place.

      One of the key characteristics of what we used to call “the third world” (now “developing nations”) was that these countries hopelessly intermingled the roles of the military and LE, and usually the military actually was the “major” LE agency for the country. Local police and constabulary forces are either merely symbolic (like in India, Malaysia, most African nations) or effectively part of the larger, nationwide military machine (Brazil, Chile, etc.). Do you not think this a telling commentary on America that we are proudly marching down the road of integrating our military/LE institutions into one giant, monolithic enterprise? State and local SWAT teams now refer themselves as “counter terrorists” in an attempt to align themselves with our current militaristic approach to fighting terrorists.

      Lastly, this is the problem with our current approach to terrorism – terrorism is, by definition, a LE problem, and NOT a military one. We should be using LE tactics (combined with the barest smidgin of military force, and even then only in very controlled and specific circumstances) to counter terrorists. Terrorism – especially that conducted by those dirty, brown people – has become just an excuse for the unfettered expansion of the military and intelligence complexes.

      And, like the small-minded little people that we are, we beg for yet more “safety” and “protection”” from our plutocratic overlords. All hail the rise of the New American “Security” State! ;-)

      Like

    • cynicalatheist permalink
      17 December 2012 5:54 pm

      Marcus J. Ranum:
      1. I agree with your caution about the dangerous circularity of diagnosing rage murderers post mortem.
      2. Please learn to write shorter comments.

      Like

  9. 17 December 2012 4:37 pm

    FM often (rightly) accuses America of being a bunch of fat drug addicts who sit on the couch and do nothing. And yet that logic is not being applied here. Why?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/12/AR2011011206630_4.html?sid=ST2011011203220

    “In the past year or so, the crumbling of what was once Loughner was clear to anyone **who bothered to look**. Teachers, fellow students, even the anonymous e-buddies who substituted for the real friends he had lost – many suspected mental illness and said so, to one another, to Loughner, even to people who might have taken action. But no one did.”

    BECAUSE Americans have become couch potatoes we don’t even understand what is happening in our own neighborhoods. How many of us can even name every single neighbor on our block? Half? Loughner was an avid music player; one day the music from his room just stopped. (I heard this at the time but can’t find the quote for it) One neighbor noticed that one day the music just stopped.

    These people don’t just go off suddenly. Something happens to them that they just can’t get over (in Loughner’s case it was that his future started going in the toilet). When we notice that something is off, we need to put our arms around them and try to figure out what is wrong. Even if that means missing American Idol. Some would call it the Christian thing to do.

    “Despite what one sees on TV, there still is little reason to have a gun in America. Outside the inner cities, violent crime is at multi-decade lows.”

    Anecdote time! I happen to live in such an area – an island in a sea of cholos, basically. Average police response time is ~5 and a half minutes. So you will forgive me if I bitterly cling to my guns.

    Most importantly, these types of crimes are largely perpetrated by middle class white people (with the occasional Asian). I say we ban them from having guns and leave the rest of us alone.

    Like

    • 17 December 2012 4:39 pm

      “FM often (rightly) accuses America of being a bunch of fat drug addicts who sit on the couch and do nothing.”

      Can you point out where I said that? It’s a good line, but a bit over-the-top for the pedants who write here.

      Like

    • 17 December 2012 5:49 pm

      Most recent example. I just spruced it up a bit. http://fabiusmaximus.com/2012/08/24/42494/#comment-50678

      You’ve said time and time again that America’s problem is the passivity of her citizens. In order to fix this we need to build from the ground up. Starting with ourselves. Then in our neighborhoods. It takes a village.

      Like

    • 18 December 2012 2:44 am

      Got it! I was too literal in my interpretation.

      Like

    • snailsnot permalink
      17 December 2012 10:07 pm

      “FM often (rightly) accuses America of being a bunch of fat drug addicts who sit on the couch and do nothing. And yet that logic is not being applied here. Why?”

      Fabius has said Americans are too lazy and cowardly to fight. He never said Americans are too lazy to murder. Don’t expect revolutions, but do expect brownshirts and lynch mobs.

      Turns out they won’t need to hire one half of the working class to kill the other. The one half has already paid good money for the privilege, and need only permission….Which probably won’t come unless the 1% decides liberals are becoming dangerous or unprofitable.

      Which brings me to the question, why don’t Liberals have guns? If liberals outgunned the right, I’m sure they’d be the ones calling for gun control.

      And I find it pretty silly to see people talking about arming themselves agains government tyranny – while also supporting arming the government. If they were serious about this (or about taxes), they would want a government with less firepower, not more.

      Like

    • 17 December 2012 11:08 pm

      Not all of us conservatives are like that, although sadly it seems like a majority of us are.

      I think I need to clarify my earlier comment. Americans have no idea about what is happening with their own neighbors because The Bachelorette is about to come on. More details about the shooting are coming out, looks like this kid’s parents went through a divorce? Broken families are hard on kids. Just speculating here, but I am willing to bet that not a single person in that kid’s hood so much as asked to see how he was doing.

      I wonder if this explains why white people (esp middle class) are far more likely to commit these crimes than hispanics or blacks. Yes the broken home rate is actually worse BUT their communities are tighter knit.

      Like

  10. Todd Guthrie permalink
    17 December 2012 5:39 pm

    Like

  11. cynicalatheist permalink
    17 December 2012 6:00 pm

    Fabius, thanks for putting all the right wing responses to this latest rage massacre in one place. This is useful & interesting. One thought, it really does seem like at least part of the attraction of guns in the US has to do with anxious masculinity. Consider this ad for the bushmaster gun that was used at Sandy Hook. Also noteworthy: nowadays every rage massacre seems to create a perverse shopping spree on guns!
    .

    From Mother Jones

    From Mother Jones

    Like

  12. 17 December 2012 7:02 pm

    Also, it is interesting how US conservatives and liberals mostly fight over whether legal remedies (i.e. gun control) are an appropriate response to rage massacres. It is left to “The Left” to argue that the increasing number of rage massacres could almost represent an incohate insurgency against our atomized neoliberal society, by men who feel they are the “losers” of this society where competition is everywhere, and winning is everything.

    This essay rounds out the case and actually argues against gun control: (NOTE: it’s long.) “‘When the burning moment breaks’: gun control and rage massacres“, Overland, by Jeff Sparrow, 6 August 2012.

    Like

    • 17 December 2012 7:39 pm

      +1 to this. I’ve often said that the problem isn’t the gun, just like the problem with drunk driving fatalities isn’t booze or vehicles. It’s that there’s something wrong with us spiritually. There’s a profound sense of isolation out there, ironic considering we have the internet which is supposed to bring us closer together. If these people had someone to put their arms around them when they felt so rejected, would they really go on a rampage? or fill themselves up with booze? AKA a COMMUNITY??

      Like

    • 18 December 2012 2:32 am

      Braganca,

      I agree. That’s not a helpful insight for a public policy maker, but might be the core of the problem. As our society atomizes, increasing numbers of people (especially men) might go feral (eg, sociopathic) or even insane.

      I have no idea if this is correct, but it’s something I have wondered about.

      Like

    • 17 December 2012 9:02 pm

      @thefringeninja: I agree it is a spiritual problem on one level. But I honestly think the way guns have been marketed as a last-ditch defense of masculinity, is extremely dangerous as well. Rage massacres seem to be a snarled knot of factors.

      [Also, I have no idea why my comments sometimes show as handle: atheist, other times as handle cynical_atheist. But I’m the same commenter either way.]

      Like

  13. Thomas More permalink
    17 December 2012 10:17 pm

    Every single comment made about this incident completely misses the point. America tortured and murdered its way through an estimated 6 million native American indians and by the time Americans were finished, there were circa 300,000 native American indians left alive. What does this tell you about the character of American society?

    America is a sick twisted culture that worships torment and death and despises joy and pleasure. The problem isn’t lack of treatment programs for mental illness (where are the mass killings in countries that have zero national mental health programs, like Bali?) and the problem isn’t the number of guns in America (where are the mass gun murders in countries like Switzerland, that legally require a military weapon in every household?). The problem is the depraved sadistically warped culture of the United Snakes of Amnesia.

    Americans are so in love with murder and death that they delectate in video games and movies that qualify as torture porn. See the article “Now playing at your local multiplex: torture porn,” from New York Magazine, 6 February 2006.) The most popular pastime of your Americano involves simulating murdering large numbers of people — it’s called the “first person shooter videogame.” The recent simulations are so realistic that when the videogame player shoots a vicitIm, blood from their exploding heads splatters on the player’s goggles in the game and the player has to wipe the blood off to see.

    This is the kind of bizarre sadism you would normally expect from people in the locked ward at Bellevue. But it is now standard for your typical citizen in the cultural Chernobyl misnamed America.

    Like

    • Drake West permalink
      18 December 2012 5:31 am

      I guess this is what you get from a nation born from bloody rebellion, emboldened by manifest destiny and validated by being instrumental in victory in 2 world wars. Hail the bloodsport of being the mighty and righteous. We do not have too many guns nor too many sick people, we have only our culture to blame. If we are a nation born by taking land from others, imposing our will on the world via threat and violence, so be it that our innocents will die.

      We used to have a melting pot, a nice term meant to mean that the world’s best people came here to blend into the great America way. Now we have a bubbling cauldron of blood mixed with black gold, gasoline, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, real gold and icky gooey evil. A heinous blend which we all must eat from.

      Like

    • 23 December 2012 5:40 am

      You forgot to mention the particularly brutal form of slavery practiced in the USA, and the manner in which the coastal elites, even the virtuous New Englanders (both Wall St. and the more distant small town coastal distillers), profited from the Rum Triangle.

      FM and others: please correct the following as needed.

      The 2nd amendment was at least partly a response to Shay’s rebellion and two other similar incidents, including the Whiskey rebellion(s), roughly during the period between independence and the ratification of the Bill of rights (10 years?).

      The 2nd amendment’s “well regulated militia” was intended to SUPPRESS such peasant rebellions, not encourage them.

      The fear was that poor subsistence farmers (peasants) in the interior, who had been loaded with debt and taxation by the educated/refined coastal elites who wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, would seek support from the Brits in border regions such as Vermont (which was not a formal State, but a territory). State/territorial borders in many of the interior regions were in flux, as “special interest groups” in various established coastal states competed for resources, etc.

      Like

    • 23 December 2012 6:49 am

      Eric,

      (1) History of the Second amendment

      All good points! For more information on these matters see The Founders talk to us about guns for a well-regulated militia.

      Other articles about the history of the 2nd Amendment:

      (2) “You forgot to mention the particularly brutal form of slavery practiced in the USA”

      From the musical 1776: “Molasses To Rum To Slaves”

      .

      Like

    • Brian permalink
      23 December 2012 1:22 pm

      Uhhhhhh, no. There is not a single serious legal scholar that backs this analysis. All indications from contemporaneous writings – both Federalist and Anti-Federalist alike – show that the 2nd Amendment means exactly what it says and that the militia was intended to protect against a tyrannical central government. People overthink this one :-)

      Like

    • 23 December 2012 5:48 am

      Again, please correct the following if wrong.

      By the time of the War of 1812, “militias” were probably seen as little more than “irregular forces” that were relatively ineffective except at a local level. In the 1812 conflict “militias” were initially disorganized, poorly equipped and not well disciplined or prepared for distant deployments against the British (including Canadian militias) or their Indian allies.

      Like

    • 23 December 2012 6:54 am

      Eric,

      Not just in 1812. Washington wrote to Congress:

      “To place any dependence upon Militia is, assuredly, resting on a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestik life, unaccustomed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, … when opposed to troops regularly trained, disciplined, … [are] timid and ready to fly from their own shadows.”

      They played a valuable role during the Revolution, but more than Congress hoped (Congress loved these cheap troops) and less so then myth says today. For example, there were often useful in static defense, especially on their home ground.

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 12:36 am

      re: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

      Hey Brian,

      The “security” and “freedom” that the 2nd amendment is concerned with is not the freedom of individual “people”, but of the “state”. So in this context, individual freedom flows from “a free state”.

      What is left unstated is “what are the rights of individuals in the case that the state ceases to be free?”. How could such individual “un-freedom” be defined? Clearly, slavery was not an applicable condition.

      The authors of the 2nd amendment themselves probably felt burdened by the need to “overthink” a bunch of contradictions and conflicting points of morality. The system they created was not one in which individual rights *for everyone* were absolute. They did not want either “mobocracy” or “aristocracy”, rather, something in between. It was assumed that Reason (from Voltaire, etc.) needed to be applied by “cool heads”.

      History was presumably not written by illiterate farmers such as those in Shay’s rebellion, so it isn’t surprising that their viewpoint was not represented. In the case of both England and the American colonies, later the USA, “people” representing a “threat” to society could have their “right to own and bear arms” removed. So, the right is conditional, and not absolute. The extent to which government can act to remove a citizen’s arms is the question.

      As you probably know, the NRA was founded by Republicans after the Civil War to promote the guns rights of newly freed slaves who needed protection from former slaver owners and other white supremacists. There were earlier “right to bear arms” tendencies (going back to the English Civil War, 1600s, maybe earlier), and it was presumably common knowledge that an invading force of regular troops could be frustrated and resisted over the long run by an armed rural/semi-rural population using “hit and run” tactics.

      In England at that time (1700s), the economic elites used government powers (arms) to impose appallingly oppressive conditions on the peasantry, such as restricting their place of residence so as to allow business owners to artificially suppress wages (workers could not migrate elsewhere to find better paying jobs). The americans would have been aware of such circumstances.

      So, given the above, please explain how a “well regulated militia”, which presumably means one organized by the State (government), could prevent tyranny by that same State?

      The americans were copying laws about “arms” from a society that did not have much respect for individual rights, at least not the rights of peasants. And there were other massive philosophical failures by the new political elites in that era, such as the Alien and Sedition act.

      And, the 2nd amendment was certainly of no use at all to slaves, whose “freedoms” had been taken away by what can only be called “tyranny”. I suppose that discrepancy was overlooked due to political realities.

      As someone, (Gary North?), recently wrote on the Lew Rockwell blog, citizen militias are now of little relevance. If there is a fascist/totalitairan take over of the USA, gun rights aren’t going to do anyone any good. The only meaningful “armed” resistance to fascism will probably be IEDs. If they work against the US military in the middle east, they would probably work here as well. (?)

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 12:39 pm

      The following article, which unfortunately does not provide supporting citations/references, does provide evidence that Shay’s Rebellion (and insurrection in general) was one of the issues of concern to the authors of the 2nd Amendment. “Shay’s Rebellion: The Articles of Confederation Revisited“, Rose Vest, Home of Heroes website, undated. The above article is linked from the Wikipedia article on the 2nd Amendment.

      Various well known historical sources are frequently cited about the competition between Loyalist and Patriot militias in the colonies before and during the Revolutionary War, and between Protestant and Catholic/Royalist militias in England around that time, or just previously. Also see the Articles of Confedeation

      The following scholarly article, which was apparently highly influential in the discussions around recent SCOTUS cases about the 2nd Amendment and its *highly peculiar* construction and meanings, makes a number of explicit references to the historical complexities surrounding the Amendment, including the issue of rebellions/insurrections and the need for “well regulated” militias to put them down. “The Embarrassing Second Amendment“, Sanford Levinson (Prof Law, U TX), Yale Law Journal, 1989.

      But obviously, such powers cold be abused, so:

      “…recall Madison’s critique, in Federalist Numbers Ten and Fourteen, of republicanism’s traditional emphasis on the desirability of small states as preservers of republican liberty. He transformed this debate by arguing that the states would be less likely to preserve liberty because they could so easily fall under the sway of a local dominant faction, whereas an extended republic would guard against this danger. Anyone who accepts the Madisonian argument could scarcely be happy enhancing the power of the states over their own citizens; indeed, this has been one of the great themes of American constitutional history, as the nationalism of the Bill of Rights has been deemed necessary in order to protect popular liberty against state depredation.”

      Again, what the War of 1812 made very clear was that militias actually ended up usually being poorly trained, ineffective, undisciplined and unprofessional (“irregular”), except in limited roles and in local settings. What that presumably means is that they were not an important element of the living communities or the spirit of democracy within those communities at the time.

      What was in place during and prior to the ratification of the USA Constitution and its Amendments, as well as in the 1812 era, was a common living practice amongst the majority rural/semi-rural population of hard work and self-reliance, well understood methods of the production of goods, commerce and trade, as well as strong religious community and moral structure (but much less religion or morals on the actual edge of the frontier), and use of guns *by individuals* for *deterrence of crime* and for hunting.

      In places such as the southern frontier, something like effective militias may have been more real due to the larger number of regular hostile actions by “white (slave holding) americans” against Native Americans who were militarily supported by Spanish or British agents provocateur. The availability of a more disciplined southern militia corp may have contributed to the success Andrew Jackson had at New Orleans in the War of 1812. However, Jackson presumably would have always preferred additional support ($) from Congress to muster regular troops.

      Like

    • Brian permalink
      27 December 2012 4:02 pm

      Eric;

      Good links, and thanks for posting them, but totally irrelevant :-). Whether militias are or were effective is not the issue and indeed isn’t even important other than in an academic sense; all that matters is that the founders thought it important to include the right for citizens to own guns. And, yes, I said “citizens” amd not, as you would like to have it, “the state”. Again, there is not a single serious legal scholar tat subscribes to the “collectivist” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. And throwing up the stupid “a miltia wouldnt work now in the 21st century” is a completely pointless red herring – you’re too smart to argue that, I can tell by your writing.

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 4:06 pm

      Brian,

      I have a post in draft that touches on the important issues you raise, and points to non-legalistic (ie, political) paths to resolve them.

      I think you will find it of interest.

      Like

    • 27 December 2012 4:08 pm

      Brian,

      Follow-up note– while I agree that most of Eric’s comment was only of peripheral interest, the article by Levinson is — as he says — widely cited. You will find it worthwhile reading, I suspect.

      Like

    • 28 December 2012 12:08 am

      [correction]:

      “So, I agree that it seems clear that recent Supreme Court cases ([2008/2010]?) support your position. ”

      Also, to be clear: the fact that “well regulated militias” have never been functional in resisting internal “tyranny” (in the USA since the ratification of the Constitution) simply supports the fact that legal interpretation of the 2nd amendment has *devolved* to the “mere” issues around the subsequently well reinforced tradition of individual gun ownership needed for protection against criminals, and for subsistence hunting, etc.

      Also, please note that during the “secret” Labor wars from 1880-1915, radical Unionists were somewhat more effective in fighting the Pinkertons and other plutocratic police forces with bombs than with guns. There were ZERO “well regulated militias” formed to support labor Unionists against the “tyranny” of the plutocratic overlords running american politics!

      (John Wesley Powell’s example is instructive: populist battle against the plutocrats was only seen as legitimate in the context of a political conflict “inside the system”, not a military conflict by “outside” insurgents.)

      So, there appears to be about ZERO reason for the social justice or pro-democracy movements to have any confidence that the pro-gun movement has ever been, or ever will be, a “reliable” partner. (Yes, I’m contradicting Edward Abbey, whose “anarchist/eco-terrorist” writings probably need to be brought into the discussion.)

      The idea that individual gun ownership stops “tyranny” is high symbolism, but little else other than farce, as far as I can tell.

      Like

  14. 18 December 2012 3:30 am

    More Right-wing madness

    A solution for the problem of gun violence! Right-wing guru Megan McArdle doesn’t bother trying to learn from nations with successful gun control laws (eg, Australia, much of Europe). She has a better idea!

    There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre“, Megan McArdle, Daily Beast, 17 December 2012 — “The things that would work are impractical and unconstitutional. The things we can do won’t work.” Her solution:

    I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.

    Like

    • Copernicus Nelson permalink
      20 December 2012 10:59 am

      Many of the base right wing fantasies are present in her article. The limitless possibility of “training”. The belief that humans can do the impossible. The notion that the impossible is so easy the practical can be overlooked.
      It goes without saying that Megan wouldn’t run towards gunfire. But doesn’t she realize she wouldn’t run towards a punching man or a person throwing tennis balls really hard?

      Writing from Australia, the nation built from convicts and criminals, I can say we don’t fear getting shot or attacked with deadly force, like so many of the people privileged to reside in the land of the free.

      Like

  15. 18 December 2012 4:19 am

    (1) Interesting articles about gun control

    (a) Good but sad analysis: “The Bracing Political Reality of Gun Control“, Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine, 17 December 2012

    (b) Secret information that the American public must not learn: “After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since“, Slate, 16 December 2012

    (2) More madness from the Right

    (a) Some Crazy Talk About Guns From Politico“, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 17 December 2012

    (b) National Review Writer Doubts the Power of the Bushmaster AR-15“, Amanda Marcotte, Slate, 17 December 2012

    Like

  16. Alex permalink
    18 December 2012 6:52 pm

    For self education purpose only: (don’t miss the last sentence)

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b8b_1355643365

    Like

  17. crylot69 permalink
    18 December 2012 7:47 pm

    war on guns is similar to the war on terror

    Terror and School Shootings sides the same coin“, Spengler, Asia Times, 19 December 2012

    Like

  18. Alex permalink
    18 December 2012 8:42 pm

    Fabius Maximus: “Right-wing guru Megan McArdle doesn’t bother trying to learn from nations with successful gun control laws (eg, Australia, much of Europe).”

    Not learning is bad. Let’s learn from Australian “success”:

    .

    Like

    • 18 December 2012 8:59 pm

      I don’t watch youtube videos (unless they include songs or pretty girls). Nor do I see that this is from a source I know (“The Awakened Media”).

      But there are good places to answer Alex’s question. There is quite a bit of research showing that Australia’s gun control laws have proven effective.

      For a quick review of this research see “Did gun control work in Australia“, Dylan Matthews, Washington Post, 2 August 2012.

      Like

  19. Big Mac permalink
    19 December 2012 2:34 am

    I don’t own a gun. I am seriously considering it. Why?

    Insurance, albeit a small bit of one for future security.

    People who are dead set against gun ownership, especially after an horrific event like this, mock anyone who fears an overbearing government or the opposite.

    IMHO, by my observation, this country is being turned on its head and many seem oblivious to or okay with it. We are shockingly close to some level of mayhem given our government’s current fiscal and monetary path. We only need to look at what is beginning in Greece to see that we may not have the security we think we need.

    I’m not a gold bug or a prepper, but we are far too close than we should have ever been. Our deficits, debts and unfunded liabilities are at levels of the troubled countries in the early 1900s. As we can see from then, aggrieved people do not behave well and are easily divided by demagoguery. We hear echos of that today with “tax the rich” or “gun clingers” or “47%”.

    I think it will not matter much if the weapon is legal or not, if what I see ahead comes to fruition.

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 2:59 am

      Big Mac,

      The Right has worked hard to stoke your fears. They’re almost totally baseless.

      “We are shockingly close to some level of mayhem given our government’s current fiscal and monetary path. We only need to look at what is beginning in Greece to see that we may not have the security we think we need.”

      The US is not “shockingly close to mayhem”. Our large fiscal deficits are largely due to the depressed economy. Our national debt ($11.5 T) is aprox 75% of GDP. Other developed nations have carried GDP of over 100% of GDP for long periods without visible distress (eg, Italy).

      Greece’s problems are unrelated to ours. It was and is dysfunctional in many ways, most notably its tax system. Worse, it has neither its own currency or monetary policy — so a downturn rapidly started a depressionary spiral. In brief, people making that comparison are lying to you.

      Everybody now realizes that we have to make changes to reduce the long-term fiscal trajectory. The problem was initiated by Bush’s tax cuts and foreign wars (before that we were on course to drastically reduce the debt). The most critical future problem is our health care spending, which forms the majority of our future liabilities (not social security).

      No need to take my word on this. There is a massive body of research about this. I recommend starting with the CBO website.

      Like

  20. Thomas More permalink
    19 December 2012 3:01 am

    The whole USA erupts in outrage and grief when an American murders 27 innocent children. When it turns out that Americans have murdered 168 innocent children in Pakistan since the start of drone use in that country, however, Americans yawn with indifference.

    Torture, murder and genocide: it’s only an atrocity when it happens to Americans. When Americans do it to people in other countries, it’s a heroic symbol of liberation and freedom.

    Like

  21. Thomas More permalink
    19 December 2012 3:05 am

    FM remarks above that “the problem was initiated by Bush’s tax cuts and foreign wars…” As usual what FM writes is almost 100% correct, but permit me in this case to suggest that the real long-term fiscal problem was initiated by Reagan’s tax cuts from a top marginal rate of 70% down to 28%. The problem didn’t show up for many years because our deficits started growing from such a small baseline, and also because of the artificial illusion of long-term solvency created by the huge dot-com bubble during the Clinton years.

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 3:22 am

      More,

      Quite right. I stated it in a sloppy fashion. The modern era of sustained fiscal deficits began with Reagan’s tax cuts & military build-up. Bush Jr just applied a second round of the poison.

      Like

  22. 19 December 2012 5:00 pm

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/19/adam-lanza-motive_n_2329508.html

    “Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter, was in the process of having her son committed to a psychiatric facility when he went on the mass shooting spree, a lifelong family acquaintance told Fox News.

    A senior law enforcement official also confirmed that 20-year-old Lanza’s anger over his mother’s plan is being investigated as a possible motive for the Newtown shooting.

    “From what I’ve been told, Adam was aware of her petitioning the court for conservatorship and (her) plans to have him committed,” said Joshua Flashman, 25, who grew up not far from where the shooting took place. “Adam was apparently very upset about this. He thought she just wanted to send him away. From what I understand, he was really, really angry. I think this could have been it, what set him off.””

    Ok just to recap. She thought he was crazy but it never occurred to her to lock up her weapons, especially after she couldn’t keep her plans a secret? This woman appears to be stupid beyond belief.

    Also, at least one person in that neighborhood knew something about what this kid was going through. I’m willing to bet that others did as well. And that they did absolutely nothing about it.

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 5:33 pm

      the fringe ninja reports to us about events on the fringe! Thanks for posting this!

      Each mass killing, going back to the 1927 school bombing in Bath MI (still the largest death toll of murders in schools, by explosives), has its own story of insanity, stupidity, and evil.

      But I think these crazies are not the major threat from guns. More important is the death toll in families and the increased rate of gun-related crime.

      And perhaps even more serious (but very speculative) is the danger gun-owners pose to the Republic. To generalize (or over-generalize), their hates, their willingness to believe crazy things (ie, susceptibility to propaganda, however fanciful), their worship of authority and force, their distain for key aspects of our political system — and their professed willingness to use force.

      Combine with the likely sympathy of the police (and elements of the military) to these people and their beliefs and we have a potentially explosive mixture.

      They need only a leader willing to exploit them to the max. Let’s hope they don’t find him.

      Like

    • 19 December 2012 6:49 pm

      I agree on all points. If it makes you feel better, this gun nut won’t be falling for any of that anytime soon.

      “And perhaps even more serious (but very speculative) is the danger gun-owners pose to the Republic. To generalize (or over-generalize), their hates, their willingness to believe crazy things (ie, susceptibility to propaganda, however fanciful), their worship of authority and force, their distain for key aspects of our political system — and their professed willingness to use force.”

      This is why I think all this talk about gun control is counter productive. It will only make these people even crazier! As proto-fascist as they may be, even they understand that guns themselves are not the problem.

      “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

      Like

    • 19 December 2012 7:02 pm

      Jose,

      I agree with much of what you say, but fear you that are an optimist.

      “As proto-fascist as they may be, even they understand that guns themselves are not the problem.”

      Perhaps they see guns as the solution (for them), not the problem. In which case guns are a problem for us.

      As for Jesus, I don’t see that He’s had much influence on Western civilization (unlike Paul, on the the other hand…). Lots of nice ideas. Perhaps we should try some of them, some day.

      Like

  23. Alex permalink
    19 December 2012 6:28 pm

    Are you saying that danger to republic (fascism, communism, empire whatever you call it) comes not from Central Executive Authority of the State with all its enforcers of different uniforms, but rather from millions of individuals with their individual self interests?

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 6:58 pm

      Alex,

      I don’t like to play Nostradamus. So I sketch out my guesses as scenarios.

      I do not consider likely seems to be the most common scenario: the brutal government taking over the freedom-loving people of America. How many times has that happened in a developed nation since the mass-mobilizations of the 19th century (which made the modern nation-state)?

      More likely, IMO, is that factions of our elites take over by deploying both governmental and non-governmental forces — using a wide range of tools. The odds of this are low, but (as government analysts have warned) non-trivial.

      (1) Propaganda to instill fear in the mass body of people and mobilize their “shock troops” (in a non-military sense, the right-wing extremists).

      (2) Large scale, low level violence by armed citizens (para-military gangs, militia). Mostly to intimidate opponents.

      (3) Targeted assassinations by either “rogue” elements of the government or para-militaries. As has been shown many times in the 20th century, this is one of the most effective tools to rapidly re-shape a nation. See Japan in the 1930s and Palestine in the 1970s (ie, by Fatah to eliminate moderate mayors).

      (4) Government assistance can take many forms. Non-enforcement of laws, allowing militia to operate freely. Providing financial support and intelligence to the insurgents.

      (5) The biggest requirements for this scenario already exist.
      (a) A majority disaffected, ignorant, and apathetic.
      (b) A right-wing minority armed, eager to act, worshipful of authority, credulous consumers of even fanciful propaganda.

      Look at the comments threads of the FM website debating our wars, torture, assassination, and loss of liberty: they’re filled with people in effect auditioning to join an American Gestapo.

      The 1930s demonstrate how easily even the civilized Western state can fall to internal rot and evil. The NAZIs were a minority, but supported by an eager plurality and apathetic majority.

      Like

  24. Alex permalink
    19 December 2012 8:20 pm

    The reason I’m asking is that it seems to me that there is contradiction in your position. From the one side you bemoan the loss of our liberties, but from another side you are in for State regulations (economy, social issues and any other issue you are discussing here).
    But isn’t it the very State is taking our liberties law-by-law, little-by-little?

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 8:29 pm

      Alex,

      “but from another side you are in for State regulations (economy, social issues and any other issue you are discussing here)”

      Can you provide some specifics, as I am uncertain to what you refer, as government regulation has not been discussed much on the FM website.

      The only frequently mentioned advocacy of regulations here that I recall concerns pollution, which is justified under legal principles a thousand years old for regulating use of the “commons”.

      The major social issue whose regulation I recall discussing here is gay rights, advocating less regulation (moving from considering it a crime and mental illness to normal behavior).

      There are, I am sure, other instances but I don’t recall them.

      Like

  25. Alex permalink
    19 December 2012 9:30 pm

    Randomly …
    Bank regulation, paper money supply regulation, healthcare regulation, gun regulation, etc.

    Like

    • 19 December 2012 9:46 pm

      I still don’t understand.

      (1) “bank regulation”

      Is there really debate about this, other than by paid shills of banks? Bank failures have been the precipitating event at the start of almost every depression in the western world since the early 19th century (1815?).

      (2) “paper money supply regulation”

      Again, is there serious debate about this?

      Regulation is, in the usual sense of the word, something the government does to the private sector. That ended (mostly) in the US in 1864, after some painful experiences.

      It’s been tried elsewhere, often with disastrous results. It was a major factor causing the Weimar hyperinflation.

      (3) healthcare regulation

      I don’t believe that’s been discussed here, except incidentally (eg, regulations that push up costs by unnecessarily limiting the range of experts who can provide services).

      (4) guns

      Yes. That’s the point here.

      Note, however, that gun regulation has been widespread in the US for roughly 150 years. Western cities (eg, Dodge) routinely forbid carrying of guns (or handguns) in the city limits (requiring guns to be checked with the Sheriff).

      Like

  26. 1 January 2013 11:26 pm

    Stumbled across a potentially interesting tidbit:

    One origin of “militia” were frontier settlements in previously depopulated areas of the roman empire. The settlements were sponsored by the “french” government for the purposes of creating a buffer zone (the “Spanish March”) located between the Pyrenees and the rivers (Ebre, Duomo) that formed the fuzzy northern border of Moorish (muslim) control. The buffer was intended to prevent any further attempts by the Moors to invade “france” from the south of Spain.

    The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718-1050, Archibald R. Lewis (1965).

    Like

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