What Do We Do?

Some lunatic shot up a school in Oregon Tuesday. It was only the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook

Two right-wing eliminationist Infowars listeners shot two cops in Nevada.  The cops were oppressing everyone by eating lunch, and the Alex Jones acolytes covered their bodies with Gadsen flags, screaming about the revolution. 

Some rancher out in Nevada won’t pay his bill to the government for the privilege of having his cattle graze on land held in the public trust. A bunch of Alex Jones types weren’t going to let the federal government essentially stop this man from being a deadbeat. 

A company is going to sell bullet proof blankets for kids to use during school shootings. Because ours is totally not a third world country and this is totally not a banana republic in which we live.  

All the freaks who scream about how the “other” (fill in your own blank for that one) are dragging real America down don’t realize that they have it backwards. It’s not illegal immigrants or Obamacare or black welfare queens or gays or N0bummer himself who are turning this country into a third world backwater.

Instead, I’d argue that our creeping third world status is brought about by the people who believe lawless wild west gunslingin’ justice should act as a template for contemporary society. It’s the notion that a “good guy with a gun” – and they sure as shit don’t mean a cop – is the only thing that stands between you and a “bad guy with a gun”. The cops in Nevada – they were armed. A shooter in Washington State – he was subdued with pepper spray. While he was reloading (remember how the NY SAFE Act limits magazine capacity?) 

But the best we can do is to throw a kevlar blanket to a kid and say, “play dead?” 

Let’s just cut through the bullshit. An armed society isn’t a polite society; an armed society is a dysfunctional, failed state.

Oh, but SWITZERLAND!!1 Right? 

Right. Switzerland

Let’s pretend for a moment that a comparison with Switzerland is apples to apples. Let’s make-believe that the libertarians don’t really mean Somalia when they’re describing their dream governmental structure. 

I’ve spent a lot of time in Switzerland. I have family who lives there. Switzerland is an officially quadrilingual confederation with better schools, better social services, better foreign policy ideas, better medical care, better access to medical care, and excels at just about anything it touches. Switzerland is a wealthy and law-abiding first world functional state. Less than 8% of Swiss live below the poverty line – in the US it’s 15%. Unemployment in this country with a private health insurance mandate is 2.9% – in the US it’s 6%. The Swiss have this whole “functioning society” thing down pat. They do share our mistrust of foreigners and immigrants, however. 

The Swiss are armed, because they have what we call a well-regulated militia. And the Swiss know from regulation. 

And they own their extremely well-regulated guns to protect their country – not to overthrow their Cantonal or federal governments because some asshole on the radio decided there’s tyranny afoot. 

If Sandy Hook didn’t convince you that we have a serious problem, or if the almost weekly spate of mass shootings didn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.  Instead, we have a bunch of guys carrying semiautomatic rifles into Target and Starbucks, because arglebargle. 

Maybe the $100 billion annual cost to taxpayers from gun violence will convince you, if nothing else. 

Will stricter gun laws make a difference? I don’t know. 50-state uniformity would be nice. Expanded background checks would be swell. 

What about expansion of mental health services – that’s the one the gun people like to highlight.  Ok, folks. I’ll go for that. But you realize you have to pay for it. You have to set it up right, run it properly, and fund it adequately. Given the ease with which Obamacare was passed and implemented, please don’t insult my intelligence by pointing to “mental health treatment” as the answer because you know and I know that you don’t want to pay for it. 

How about legislation that allows, say, the families of the slain Las Vegas cops to sue Alex Jones and his corporate empire into bankruptcy? Oh, I’d love to see guys who yell “fire!” in the most crowded of lunatic theaters every single day have to pay for the natural results of their incitement. 

What do we do? 

I don’t know. 

But what I do know is – whatever we’re doing isn’t working. 

2nd Amendment and Kathy Weppner

According to the silly lady, the founders of our country supposedly included the 2nd Amendment so that our servicemen and women could keep their arms and use them to commit treason and insurrection. 

I’m pretty sure the intended purpose of the 2nd Amendment was the exact opposite of that. But here’s a chillingly awful video that Tea Party Kathy released on her husband’s YouTube account. My favorite is when she stuffs the pistol in her pants. 

UPDATE: As you can see, Weppner removed this video. I looked at her other accounts – Friends of Kathy Weppner and Weppner for Congress, and it doesn’t appear there, either. Most of her videos appear on an account labeled “Dr. Weppner”

Weppner has already made herself famous by scrubbing just about any trace of her pre-2014 existence from the internet. Now, the scrubbing takes place in real time. 

Elementary Massacre

Someone opened fire today in a K-4 elementary school, killing approximately 26 people – it is now believed that 20 of them are students at the school; kids no older than 9. To say that my heart is sick right now from this would be an understatement. It is my fervent hope that this is the last straw – that our society will no longer tolerate this sort of thing as being a cost of living in a free society. Because it shouldn’t be; it isn’t. There are plenty of free countries that do not allow their angry, mentally deranged residents to waltz into a building and buy a firearm.

Plus three more guns.

Plus a bulletproof vest.

The 24 year-old who did this went to the classroom of 1st graders his mom taught, and murdered them all. The motive? Irrelevant – whatever it was, it was purely mental illness.

When we, the people, founded this country, we included in our Constitution a provision that would allow people to keep firearms to protect against tyranny at home and from abroad. Firearms then were significantly different from those we have today, and our constitutional originalists seem to omit that fact when agitating for free and regulationless gun ownership. There was also the well-regulated militia clause, something that has become moot since the advent of our professional military.

But it’s unlikely that we’ll ever change the Constitution, or that we’ll ever change the minds of the people who think that everyone should own guns; that had the teachers at the school in Newtown, CT been carrying guns, why the resulting shoot-out would have saved some lives. Maybe. I doubt it. After all, the shooter was wearing a vest. He had four firearms. Do we really want teachers to be packing heat? Do we really want teachers to dress like SWAT teams? Should we be protecting our schools with riot police and tanks?

The 2nd Amendment may guarantee an individual right to bear arms, but does it guarantee that right free from licensure or testing or regulation? I don’t think so. I’m so sick and tired of angry lunatics being able to obtain all the firearms they want, and bulletproof vests, without so much as a criminal or mental-health check. I am so sick of mass shootings taking place because it’s ok to own a gun, but it’s a horrible thing to provide people with adequate mental health resources. Ours is the only first world country to just allow mass murders like this to happen so often and so regularly, yet when people suggest that maybe the ease of access to firearms and ammunition are the problem, that conversation strengstens verboten ist. I’m sick of the tyranny, alright – I’m sick of the tyranny of the NRA telling Americans that they just have to suck it up and deal with a country that resembles the frontier west.

Because what’s slowly starting to happen isn’t that Obama is coming for your guns. On the contrary, Obama has done absolutely nothing to tighten gun laws. What we’re seeing, though, is America’s decline into 2nd world status. We’re South Africa with better water and sewage systems. Soon, instead of relying on just being a reasonable society, we’ll all travel in bullet-proof cars from gated community to locked-down office. American society is unique in the industrial first world in that we allow unfettered access to firearms, and completely fettered access to health care, including mental health care; guns are a fundamental, God-given civil right, but health care is not.

And if 26 people all died in the same school from a disease, you’d bet your ass the CDC would be in there to find out the cause and to prevent any future recurrence anywhere, at any time.

The United States is first in gun ownership. Yemen is second. We have 300 millions firearms in this country.

I don’t want to hear about these tragedies being rooted in evil or the human heart. We know the human heart is a substandard product. It’s offensive to put this forward as part of a discussion about policy as opposed to theodicy and meditation. We know that the vast, vast proportion of gun owners use them legally and safely. We also know that gun deaths are rare in many other countries quite similar to the USA for the simple reason they don’t have so many friggin’ guns all over the place. This is obvious. And guns just make it easy to kill a lot of people really quickly. Freely available body armor helps too.

Columbine didn’t do it. The shooting in Aurora didn’t do it. Virginia Tech didn’t do it. Maybe the brazen daytime murder of 20 little boys and girls will get us to start talking seriously again about the role of guns in our society, and the ways in which we can perhaps try to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Perhaps this shames the National Rifle Association to come to the table and discuss ways to impose reasonable restrictions on gun ownership that isn’t violative of the Constitution, but also helps to prevent angry lunatics from becoming living, breathing characters from Call of Duty with a few clicks of a mouse. I take some solace in the fact that on Friday afternoon the NRA’s website was fully accessible, but the Brady Campaign’s was so slammed with traffic that it went down.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Well, not exactly. It’s more accurate to say that, with both celerity and efficiency, people with guns kill people. In the case of the Connecticut shooting, the shooter:gun ratio was 1:4.

I’m not a gun person, and I’m not creative enough to know what to do or how to even begin to fix what’s quite obviously a horrible sickness in our society. But I am a parent, and I’ll tell you this:

I’m sick of this shit. I’m sick of guns, I’m sick of mass murders, and I’m sick of this shit. Every day is a good day to talk about gun control. Ask James Brady. He took a bullet in the head for Ronald Reagan.

Have a nice weekend.