Before the Gate of Hell


BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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96 Responses

  1. zic says:

    At a hospital in Alabama this morning, two employees and a police officer wounded, the gunman dead.

  2. Neil H. says:

    “Country music rapper Colt Ford…”

    Oh, lord. I might play my Beastie Boys and Ray Price albums back to back, but I never ever want to hear a country music rapper.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Neil H. says:

      You’re just an old stick in the mud, Neil. Get with the times. It’s Tweet ‘n Greet Time with the NRA. Anyway “Colt Ford” is only his stage name.Report

      • Matty in reply to BlaiseP says:

        You mean he chose that name and this is supposed to be better?Report

        • Just Me in reply to Matty says:

          Ok, I’m confused, what is wrong with the name Colt Ford?Report

          • DRS in reply to Just Me says:

            Well, Colt is the name of a gun and Ford as in Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated.Report

            • Just Me in reply to DRS says:

              I would have associated it with the Colt gun company and Ford trucks. Trucks are a huge part of the cowboy image. Seems like a perfectly normal cowboy rap name to me. “If the words perfectly normal cowboy rap name even belong in the same sentence that is”Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Just Me says:

                Colt Ford wears a shirt which reads “357 beats 911“.

                Now there’s a slogan for our times.Report

              • Just Me in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Ok, don’t judge, but I actually am just listening and it’s not bad.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Just Me says:

                Poor guy. It had to be hard to cancel that NRA show. Tom Cruise had to put his Shoot ‘Em Up film back in the can for a while, too. But it will come out soon enough, when people get over this episode. It won’t take very long for folks to get past it all, and we can go back to thinking 357 beats 911. It never does. America’s attention span is very short and getting shorter all the time.

                I get sorta sick of artists who take up causes. I like country music’s taking up the cause of the Red Solo Cup. Now that’s a cause I can get behind. Specially when it contains some Kraken Rum and Diet Pepsi, heh.Report

              • Just Me in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Now I’ve seen you in blue and I’ve seen you in yellow
                But only you, red, will do for this fellow
                Cuz you are the Abbot to my Costello
                And you are the fruit to my loom

                Red solo cup, you’re more than just plastic
                You’re more than amazing you’re more than fantastic
                And believe me that I’m not the least bit sarcastic
                when i look at you and say:

                “Red solo cup, you’re not just a cup. (No, no, God no!)
                You’re my, you’re my (friend?) friend. (life long!)
                Thank you for being my friend.”Report

              • Neil H. in reply to Just Me says:

                I’m sorry, Just Me. I don’t want to judge you, but after listening to that link, I’m not a big enough human being to avoid it. Must go read some Thích Nh?t H?nh and work on this.Report

              • Just Me in reply to Neil H. says:

                That’s okay Neil, you can judge. The song Driving around pretty much could describe the town I lived closest to to a T. I’m not gonna feel apologetic for listening to something that is very close to my roots and describes how I grew up.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Since the cops have no legal duty to protect you or respond to your 911 call solely relying on 911 is foolish.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                Tell you what’s foolish: having your weapons laying around so insecurely your angry son can kill you, now that’s foolish.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Are you trying to change the subject? What does that the lack of positive control over one’s weapons have to do with the fact that relying solely on 911 is foolish?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The Sandy Hook massacre is the subject, Scott. Nancy Lanza was a law-abiding gun-owning citizen and she’s dead. That’s a factual statement. Clearly, 357 did not trump 911 in the case of Nancy Lanza.

                But it’s the 911 Crowd who had to put her body on the gurney. The NRA crowd can kiss my hairy white ass, Scott. They don’t put bodies on gurneys. They don’t have to console the grieving. They don’t have to do anything but jump around and wave their weapons and make ignorant statements about this tragedy. At least the NRA has the good sense to STFU until this mess blows over. The same cannot be said for you.Report

              • DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

                What the heck is 357?Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Weren’t you warned about trolling,Scott? Goodbye.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Just Me says:

                Or John Ford, superlative director of cowboy films.Report

              • DRS in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                or “the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard, and laid poor Jesse in his grave.” That’s a better fit. John Ford was an adult.Report

  3. NewDealer says:

    You might be right that there will be no meaningful action done in the wake of the tragedy. I am not sure whether this is because you are taking the stance that there can be no such thing, you think the NRA will eventually rise up and quash any attempt at tighter gun control, the right will stop any legislation aimed at more access to mental health, or all of this.

    However, I hope you are wrong. You might be right: Everyone seems frozen in their place on their positions. We need to see how people without strong opinions react to the tragedy. If this does not change the conversation, I am not sure what will.

    Recent Supreme Court decisions like Heller and McDonald do not help though.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer says:

      Why should I expect anything, given the track record of the various parties? How can we possibly make a law which would eliminate this sort of madness? The NRA snarls and the Congress squeals in abject terror. Never did so few people so completely control an issue in American politics.

      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
      The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
      The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.

      I’ve long advocated for weapons safety programs. There’s no good reason to take weapons away from law-abiding citizens. Here’s the problem in the Sandy Hook case, if present reporting has any credence: the madman took away the weapons from a law-abiding citizen and murdered her with them. But then, who can say how that happened: that law-abiding citizen was his own mother.

      The conversation will never change, not while we refuse to see this as a larger issue afflicting many people in these times. The issues surrounding mental health remain even more troubling: how can we identify and save these maniacs from themselves and others without impinging on their rights as citizens of a free country?Report

      • NewDealer in reply to BlaiseP says:

        The struggle carries on…..

        This is what every member of the left needs to take into their hearts. The left knows defeat but we never stop dreaming for the better world.Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    Horror on horror. The real horror of what happened, the secondary horror of trying to piece together from the many conflicting reports how it happened, and the tertiary horror of all the usual suspects trivializing the genuine horror to make their same tired arguments.Report

  5. Will H. says:

    A few months back, there was a co-worker with a 13-yr old niece that was mauled by a dog. I saw the photos of the girl’s face in the ER. It was sickening.
    The one thing I can’t shut out of my mind is the idea of the questioning.

    Mama, will I ever be pretty again?
    Mama, why did that dog turn on me when he was friendly before?
    Mama, was I in danger the whole time, and you never told me?

    It goes on forever. Sadly.Report

  6. DRS says:

    OTB posted a link to a Roger Ebert review from 2003 where he assigns responsibility to the media for creating the kind of saturation coverage attractive to a demented mind looking for revenge against the world: Good quote:

    “When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

    Citizens of a country that really want to push back on this kind of thing should spend time thinking about different aspects of the situation and deciding what might work in the future. Obviously you can’t know which mentally ill person will go off his nut and grab a gun and start killing. But you can start awareness campaigns to let the media know that it’s throwing gasoline on the fire, to let fellow Americans know that their consumption of this stuff is contributing to the problem and in general taking a stand to say, enough is enough.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to DRS says:

      It is being reported that the shooter had Aspergers or possible more severe forms of autism. Given what I know about these disorders, it is unlikely that seeking attention was his goal. My very amateur hunch would be that the shooter struggled in his relationship with his mother and somehow viewed her students as the cause of these struggles or otherwise as a threat or hindrance to it.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Kazzy says:

        This was my first hunch as well, but now it seems his mother either wasn’t a teacher at all or hadn’t been a teacher for several years. There are now reports that he had an altercation at the school the day before, but nothing about the subject of that altercation.Report

      • DRS in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, I wasn’t really thinking of the current killer; I was thinking more of future killers. And toning down the general “grief-stricken” wallowing in the situation of the 24-hour-news cycle would be a worthy goal in and of itself, in my opinion.Report

  7. zic says:

    Blaise, there also were angels at the gates of hell.

    There was a principal who sacrificed her life trying to stop hell in its tracks. Teachers, likely fearing for their own lives, guiding their students to hiding places, urging them to quiet in the face of fear and uncertainty.

    These actions were every bit as heroic as what warriors face in battle, as heroic as firefighters and police officers running up the stairs at the World Trade Center.

    There people trying to stop the horror outnumbered the one who did the horrific.

    And that matters.Report

  8. Matty says:

    Can I make a request that anyone thinking of describing the shooter as crazy or mad take a look at this post by a psychology student. I have nothing to add to what she says but I wanted it available for the conversation.Report

    • Just Me in reply to Matty says:

      Thanks for the link Matty.

      I have spent more time than is good for me thinking about this tragic situation. After thinking and thinking I find myself more confused and hopeless about it. We used to say that people who perpetrated such acts were evil. Then we were told, no evil doesn’t exist, it is a chemical imbalance or a brain that is wired different than the average person’s. We started saying ok, it’s not their fault, it is a manifestation of a mental illness. We have gotten used to saying when someone does something that a “normal” human thinks is reprehensible that they obviously have something wrong that is causing them to behave this way. Millions are spent studying convicted criminals to see if their brains are wired differently, or if they have a medical condition causing them to not process right and wrong as we would. Now if we say it is a manifestation of a mental illness we are stigmatizing those who have mental illnesses but would never perpetrate such a crime.

      This just leaves me more disheartened. I don’t know what to think, is that why it is easier to say, “let’s have more gun control”? Guns are inanimate objects, if we can not point to something “wrong” with the person committing the crime, let’s point to how they committed the crime. We don’t want to stigmatize others who have the same label and we don’t want to call them evil.

      We seem to forget that each of us are an individual. Just because we have a label doesn’t make us an exact replica of another person who has the same label.

      I really just wish that each of us would take the time to check in on people we know, ask them how they are doing and really want to know the answer. Maybe if each of us did this, nobody would feel that this was an acceptable choice to make, to kill others before killing themselves. I have no answers, I just have wishes and hopes like everyone else. I wish that people didn’t feel like going out in a blaze of glory was the only thing that their life could be about. I wish that they didn’t feel that the only way they would be remembered would be if they took out as many people as they can. I hope that someone with the same thoughts, the thought to kill others before taking their own life, would have a second thought after seeing the pain and grief on the people of Newton, Conn. faces.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Just Me says:

        Nicely said. I’d just add that in the link, she writes: “You want to care for the living? You want mental health care to be better? Stop making mental illness the scapegoat. You are causing stigma”, as if there’s some other way to describe this situation.

        The guy killed 20 kids! How could mental illness not be the cause of this?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Just Me says:

        Evil, it seems to me, is knowing the right thing and doing the wrong thing. Evil serves selfish ends. Contra Aquinas, evil is not merely the absence of good. Evil always serves the cause of the evildoer and evil always justifies itself.

        Lots of people want to take the theological implications of evil to its endpoint. It happens to be one of the most logical reasons for atheism: if God were omnipotent, surely he could prevent evil. But the evildoer knows the terms of the bet: he might be able to get away with his evil deeds, either by having the power to keep anyone from punishing him or through deception avoid becoming a suspect or by cleaning up the evidence, avoid prosecution.

        It might well be, deep in the heart of Detonation Syndrome, the murderer gleefully pulls the trigger and kills himself, thinking “Ha ha! You’ll never be able to punish me for any of this!”Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Matty says:

      Kate Donovan has put up an absolutely terrible argument. Here’s why it’s so bad:

      I don’t need to know Adam Lanza’s diagnosis to call it an act of madness. Since he was a child, he exhibited symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. According to longtime family friends, Adam was said to “feel no pain” and “could get hurt and not feel it”.

      I’m as sick of remote psychiatry as the next guy. Therefore, I’m grimly amused by someone who would tell the world “Assuming mental illness without any kind of evidence is also just plain bad skepticism. As if we needed another reason to stop doing that.” Silly little git: as if 27 murdered people, including his own mother isn’t evidence enough. The world knows what Adam Lanza did. Clearly something went wrong. It’s happening all over the world: I’m going to give it a name “Detonation Syndrome”. I have as much right to label this condition as anyone. I have lived with mental illness longer than Kate Donovan has been alive.

      Just who gave Kate Donovan the mandate to say Detonation Syndrome isn’t mental illness, on the strength of having done some lab work on schizophrenia when she was 18 years old? Christ, I wish I had the chutzpah to declare Adam Lanza and by extension Detonation Syndrome isn’t mental illness on the basis of what we don’t know.

      Every time I go in to be checked, I’m asked two questions by the psychiatric staff: “Do you feel as if you want to harm yourself? Do you feel as if you want to harm others?” Maybe nobody asked Adam Lanza those questions. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t mentally ill.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP says:

        ““Do you feel as if you want to harm yourself? Do you feel as if you want to harm others?” Maybe nobody asked Adam Lanza those questions. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t mentally ill.”

        Mentally ill or not, these are question we should be capable and comfortable of asking any one of our neighbors should they seem fit to be asked.

        It appears there were signs that Lanza was struggling, drowning even. The “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” approach has failed us yet again. It failed the man who was pushed into the path of an oncoming train recently. It failed the 27 children and adults in Newtown, Colorado. And it will continue to fail us if we don’t get better as a society about our social obligations to one another.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

          The rhetoric surrounding mental illness is fraught with all sorts of begged questions and wretched logic. For some people, mental illness doesn’t manifest as destructive behaviour more than a few times in a lifetime. Legal insanity says the defendant wasn’t aware he was committing a crime, a tall order to prove. But an episode of murderous or suicidal psychosis isn’t always a function of full-blown schizophrenia. It’s associated with depression, addiction, a host of other conditions. Episodic psychosis is a symptom, not a diagnosis.

          Are these mass murderers mentally ill? In some cases, we have diagnoses: Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson shooter was a diagnosed schizophrenic, Steven Kazmierczak the NIU shooter had schizoaffective disorder. In others, the diagnosis isn’t so clear: James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, was seeing a psychiatrist but his diagnosis and details have been withheld by his defence team.

          The truly large scale mass murderers and assassins through history exhibit aspects of psychotic behaviour and pathological narcissism. There is a tale told of Hitler, following the progress of his tanks in his open touring car. All around him, buildings were still burning, dead livestock and people littered the highway. Hitler is said to have broken down and wept, saying over and over “Why, oh why did these people have to oppose me?”Report

          • Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP says:

            “The rhetoric surrounding mental illness is fraught with all sorts of begged questions and wretched logic.”

            With the exception of the productive care that some mental health patients receive, it seems that much of everything surrounding mental illness is fraught with all sorts of begged questions and wretched logic.Report

            • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

              Accessing mental health care is difficult. It’s expensive. Even if someone who’s mentally ill has medical insurance, chances are very great that their mental health care is not included in that insurance or is very limited. And to get care, they may need to jump through hoops that a sane person would find daunting.

              This can be changed.

              The stigma of mental illness should not be on having it, but on having it and net receiving help, and that help should be readily available.Report

              • Just Me in reply to zic says:

                Unfortunately not all with mental health issues will seek help. Paranoia can make decision making not their greatest asset. In this country we tilt to the side of individual rights. If they are not perceived as a threat to themselves or others they are not forced to get help. Just like someone with a medical condition is not forced to have treatment for their condition, someone with a mental illness is not forced to receive treatment for their condition either.Report

              • zic in reply to Just Me says:

                yeah, and? What’s the point? I don’t get it.

                There are a lot of people who do want help; who cannot get it because of the barriers to entry to that help.

                I never suggested a that better mental health delivery would solve the problems of gun violence. But it might help some people with that potential never reaching it.Report

              • Just Me in reply to zic says:

                Maybe there isn’t a point. I have personally tried to get someone with a mental illness help and been told that their is nothing the authorities can do unless I believe they are likely to harm themselves or others. It was a really rough time for me. To know that there was nothing I could do. To know that no matter how much I want to help that person, I can’t.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Matty says:

      It says she’s getting a PhD in mass communications, after getting a degree in film studies, which really doesn’t make her a psychology student, regardless of what she did as a college freshman. Also, he didn’t buy the gun, where her secondary point is understanding what societal factors allowed him to buy the gun. And, finally, I know some psychologists who could definitely make a stab at diagnosing him based on his history, which is what psychologists do.Report

      • Kate Donovan in reply to Rufus F. says:

        That awkward moment when you mix up two cobloggers…Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Kate Donovan says:

          Would that I worried about such things…

          Okay, so you’re a third year undergraduate with a psych focus? Good. Let me ask then, do you think it’s realistic to imagine that we can destigmatize mental illness by refusing to speculate about the mental health of people who do things like this, unless they’ve had a licensed professional speak with them and make that diagnosis? If killing 26 strangers, most of them children, is not evidence of mental illness, is it evidence of anything in particular? Do you imagine that, to those on the outside, this might seem more like a professional cartel seeking to protect its own prerogative in a somewhat absurd way? And why would this gun sale matter (even though, again, he didn’t actually buy a gun), given that nobody but a psych professional or mental health consumer is qualified to speculate about such things?

          I mean, we agree that there’s a wide spectrum of mental illnesses and that highlighting the mental health issue with tragedies like this could do way more harm than good. Also, frankly, this catch-all term “mentally ill” is clearly pretty lousy anyway. So, what wording would you propose to use for people who do things like this instead of “mentally ill”?Report

  9. DRS says:

    It’s probably wise not to read any in-depth news report until at least Wednesday morning, especially about Lanza’s homelife and personal mental stability or lack thereof. There are too many rumours floating around as truths and it will take the police at least 72 hours to put together the bare narrative. It’s hard to wait sometimes when answers are so important.Report

    • Ramblin' Rod in reply to DRS says:

      Yeah… unless of course it happens in a foreign consulate in an unstable country half-way around the globe. Then we better have all the answers and they better be the right answers–the answers we want to hear–and right now, dammit!Report

  10. Stillwater says:

    I just listened to the Rush link. His argument is basically that the left will use the tragedy in Sandy Hook to “advance their agenda” of stricter gun laws and blame conservatives for obstructing those efforts. Which is an interesting take on things, since the left pretty clearly advocates for stricter gun laws and blames the GOP for obstructing those efforts.

    Man, Rush is one deep thinker.

    This quote from a commenter at the Youtube link jumped out at me: “But worse than pushing gun reform at a time like this is defending the current US gun laws.”Report

  11. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    As we all process events such as these, lets’ also remember not just the heroes of that day, but the little heroes of everyday.Report

  12. DRS says:

    It’s an interesting thing to compare the NRA’s activities in the US to what they do up here in Canada. Yes, the NRA exists up here. It’s much more low-key, and spends most of its time trying to persuade farmers that the government wants to take away their guns so they won’t be able to put down sick or dying animals, and hunters that they can’t go deer hunting in the fall.

    There are a few reasons for this. Of course we don’t have a 2nd amendment that they can abuse to sell more product for their corporate sponsors. And we don’t have a culture of the lone gunslinger riding into town to blow away the bad guys (Shane, Dirty Harry, etc.) and working outside the law to do it. We tend to assume that politicians are gutless idiots, but on the whole we don’t regard government itself as illegitimate – this is one of the effects of a parliamentary system, where the prime minister is the head of the government but the governor general (Queen’s stand-in) is the head of state. You can despise the government without despising government, if you follow me.

    The police associations up here are not friends of the NRA crowd and are very much in favour of gun control. I dimly remember the NRA in the US backing “cop killer bullets” for sale and the American Police Chiefs association running ads where a tough looking cop stares into the camera and says “I thought the NRA was on my side”.

    So the NRA is not infallible or indestructable. I guess it depends how much you want to effect change. Because the standard shock-horror-grief-passivity loop is getting way too much use and is turning into lather-rinse-repeat. Let me quote David Frum, who on this issue is still very much a native Canadian despite selling out on almost everything else:

    But we can say that if the United States worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be many, many fewer atrocities like the one in Connecticut.

    And I’ll say: I’ll accept no lectures about “sensitivity” on days of tragedy like today from people who work the other 364 days of the year against any attempt to prevent such tragedies.

    It’s bad enough to have a gun lobby. It’s the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them – and about the people who condone them.


    I think Frum has an excellent point. It’s way past time that gun control was seriously discussed in public without worrying how the gun-sucking talking-point puppets will respond to it. You’ve got your own blog site here, if you don’t open a post on it, who else would?Report

    • DRS in reply to DRS says:

      I should just add that the bolding in Frum’s quote is mine, not his.Report

    • Just Me in reply to DRS says:

      ” It’s way past time that gun control was seriously discussed in public without worrying how the gun-sucking talking-point puppets will respond to it.” What a way to open a discussion, by already defining and deriding the side one assumes you would be having the discussion with.Report

      • DRS in reply to Just Me says:

        What a way to open a discussion, by already defining and deriding the side one assumes you would be having the discussion with.

        I was referring to the NRA-bots. There are none on this blog that I know of. Are you volunteering? Because that’s usually a good indication of bot-ness – to attack the merest suggestion of having a discussion on gun control. It’s not worth discussing anything with the NRA, they’re too entrenched with their positions.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

          Folks, let’s settle down just a bit here. Both sides have indulged in the making of Straw Men in the Gun Control debate. I preface this by noting we don’t have all the facts yet but let’s consider the following:

          Adam Lanza got into an altercation at Sandy Hook. He went off to the gun store for a rifle and was denied on the basis of the three day cooling off period. That law seems to have worked. Yet in Broward County, Florida, there are legislators working to repeal it in concert with the NRA.

          The NRA-bots are real and they are a huge problem. Perversely, the Liberals and Gun Control advocates do themselves no favours by damning them: they only look as stupid as the NRA-bots when they do so.

          If the Sandy Hook tragedy teaches us nothing else, the three day cooling off period law deflected a maniac from purchasing a weapon. But let China’s example of knife and axe wielding maniacs show the problem goes deeper than guns. Guns only increase the body count.

          By my lights, the best sorts of laws are passed in concert with the regulated themselves. The worst are passed in over-reaction to an incident. Put it this way: if I can’t convince Mike Dwyer, hunter and gun-owner, that a given gun control law makes sense, that might just be my problem. I’ve got a real problem with gun shows and he knows it. I’ve got a problem with the online sale of ammunition: he knows that, too. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to back any sort of regulation which impinges on his rights as a law-abiding, respectable hunter. I want to see the gun owners propose some legislation which makes sense to them: the dead of Sandy Hook include the law-abiding gun owner whose weapons were used to murder her as well. In the entirely appropriate grief we pour out over those dead children, let us not lose sight of the tragedy of Adam Lanza’s mother.Report

          • DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Blaise, I like you a lot, you’re one of my favourite posters, I always read your stuff. Just for the record, I am not a liberal and what level of regulation you have in your country is your business as far as it doesn’t impact on my country. I happen to think that gun control can be strategically implemented, the real issue is gun culture and most importantly the lack of emphasis on the responsibilities of ownership rather than the mere fact of ownership itself.

            It’s great that Mike Dwyer and millions (?) like him are responsible gun owners, but when you have a popular culture that reinforces regularly the belief that the use of guns means personal freedom, justice-outside-the-law and being able to control one’s environment completely. Let alone catchphrases that take on a life of their own like “WOLVERINES!!!!!!” and “Are you feeling lucky, punk?”

            Why don’t you open a thread that sets out how Americans can create – from scratch – a responsible gun culture that reinforces the responsibilities of gun ownership and using weapons wisely?Report

            • zic in reply to DRS says:

              I totally agree, DRS. On this post, there’s this exchange:

              Scott December 16, 2012 at 10:19 am

              Since the cops have no legal duty to protect you or respond to your 911 call solely relying on 911 is foolish.

              15 BlaiseP December 16, 2012 at 10:26 am
              Tell you what’s foolish: having your weapons laying around so insecurely your angry son can kill you, now that’s foolish.

              16 Scott December 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

              Are you trying to change the subject? What does that the lack of positive control over one’s weapons have to do with the fact that relying solely on 911 is foolish?

              Scott quite nicely makes the point of a popular culture that reinforces regularly the belief that the use of guns means personal freedom, justice-outside-the-law .Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                I didn’t see that as “personal freedom, justice outside the law”. I saw it as reference to personal protection, given that you cannot rely upon the law to provide protection.

                If you’re not familiar with Castle Rock v. Gonzales, it’s worth a google.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                And I saw it as a planning to take the law into your own hands because the law cannot be trusted to respond.

                Those are both sides of the coin, JB. I’m hopeful it’s a coin toss, not a dice game. I fear a dice game, and what’s being throw a dodecahedron or some multi-dimensional mass inconceivable in 3-D space.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

                “the law cannot be trusted to respond”

                Court cases such as Warren v. District of Columbia and Castle Rock v. Gonzales have come out and said (and I’m cutting and pasting here) “police do not have a duty to provide police services to individuals, even if a dispatcher promises help to be on the way, except when police develop a special duty to particular individuals” and that “a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman’s three children by her estranged husband” (respectively).

                The government has come out and said that it is not liable for your safety and has found this to be the case at the highest levels of the judiciary.

                Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that people should “take the law into their own hands”.

                I am saying that “the law has said that it is under no obligation to provide protection, where the rubber meets the road”.

                If we’re going to start talking about making sure that individuals cannot privately own deadly force, then I’d like to ask about what we can expect from the state in return for this. It certainly seems to me that the two cases I’ve mention would need to be overturned at the very least… and that’s without even discussing whether there will be unintended consequences for doing so.

                It makes more than enough sense for me to ask “what could have prevented this?” following a tragedy… but I don’t know that the preferred solutions mentioned would have done so nor whether there are hidden costs to the preferred solutions… as if a law, if worded and passed just right, would have had life being exactly the same up to and including this point… minus the murders.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                JB, I never claimed the law’s always right. I never said it doesn’t screw up. In fact, I think it falls too far on the ‘enforcement’ and not enough on the ‘helping hand’ end of the spectrum.

                But because it’s imperfect does not mean another imperfection — arming to protect yourself as an alternative to the law — is acceptable, either.

                The law can be changed, protocols and training and screening for police officers can be changed.

                Scott’s firearms, on the other hand, cannot be removed, even if he regularly exhibits signs of being dipsomaniacal and violent.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Zic, arming to protect yourself as an alternative to the law makes sense if the law says “we have no obligation to protect you”.

                If we are going to change things (and I’ve no doubt that things are going to change), then there are a lot of things that are intertwined with such things as private gun ownership… and, foremost, is the whole “the state has determined that it is not responsible for your safety” thing.

                If we, as a society, are going to agree that people should not be allowed to own guns (or, well, minorities and people without political connections, anyway), we’re going to have to have the state step up and say “the responsibility must be *SOMEONE’S*” and then determine who that someone is.

                Personally, I think that the downsides for deciding that the responsibility must belong to the individual (as horrific as the downsides can sometimes be) are not as bad as saying that the state is, in fact, liable and that won’t be as bad as just determining that it’s no one’s responsibility.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                JB — That seams like a strawman argument.

                We are a nation of laws. If the laws don’t work, the enforcement doesn’t work, use the laws to change it. That’s what it’s all about.

                But changing laws by fostering lawlessness sounds pretty crazy to me. Then, we are no longer a nation of laws, we’re The Congo, Somalia, Pakistan. We’re a nation where someone can walk into a movie theater, a hospital, a school, a church, and just shoot people up, and all we do is wring our hands and pray to god.

                We have a process, and we have the right to use that process. That’s what gun advocates do. The results they’ve achieved suck. I agree with Blaise — they need to offer us a solution.

                I read Balco, too. I’ve personally lived with how much law enforcement can suck. And how they can be heros. I see the new market for military-grade armored vehicles the military industrial complex has fostered in small PDs now that the wars are winding down. Read the stories about how they’re building a pipeline right out of the public schools into the prison system.

                You don’t ever make all the bad stuff go away. But just like maintaining your house or your computer, you keep plugging away at the rule of law, and how law get’s implemented. When you see that it’s been hijacked, like it has by the gun lobby, you push back. That’s what the constitution’s all about, ever working to balance the rule of law, as Lincoln said, to keep perfecting our union under law.

                Let’s count the number of gun-hero stories, and compare them to the number of gun-complication stories; the times where innocent people die. If you own a gun, you always bear the risk of it being used to kill someone. Just like if ride in a car, you bear the risk of an automobile accident. That’s an appropriate subject to discuss, and I’d like to do so without changing the topic.

                If you want to talk about fucked up cops, fine. There’s plenty to talk about. But that’s a parallel problem; it may be intertwined, but it’s not the same problem. Remember, it’s cops, not you or me with our guns, that end up dealing with the aftermath of those gun-complication stories. Maybe cops have something to teach us about both problems — fucked up enforcement and gun complications, both.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jaybird says:


                The right to defend one-self against unlawful attack is part of the rule of law. That is why we have justifiable homicide laws.

                Kinda falls under the definition of Rule of Law.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                Self defense is a right, Mad Rocket Scientist. I’ve thought about that a lot. Martin Luther King, Jr., for instance, asked people he led to give up the right to self defense when the protested and marched. People who were already, too often, targeted for violence. What an amazing sacrifice they made, surrendering that right freely, as they demanded their civil rights.

                But if you’re planning to use lethal force in self-defense, you are obligated with responsibility. And that obligation is not being met in a satisfactory manner of late. In the last week, there have been two mall shootings, one school shooting, a hotel shooting, and another threat for school shootings that were stopped; the person in question had 47 weapons in his home.

                Instead of talk about responsibility, safety, obligation, and problem solving from the people who advocate self defense with guns, we get a whole lot of blather that it’s a right.

                I realize I’m only one citizen here; but I, too, have the right to self defense. I have the right to liberty. Should I have grandchildren some day, I would like to see them go to school in a place that isn’t locked down like a prison; that is not my vision of the right to liberty. I don’t accept that the ‘right to self defense with a gun’ without attached responsibility any longer; guns have become a threat to my right to liberty.

                A free society is not locked down. And in my view, it’s people clamoring for their right to self-defense without shouldering the accompanying responsibilities that are the cause of that lock down. They either need to provide a plan on how they’re going to help shoulder their responsibilities or recognize they’ve not earned the right they think they hold, and accept that folks like me are going to restrict them through law.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jaybird says:


                You seem to be switching gears here. Self-defense is a right, or it isn’t. The means of self defense is a different topic. You seem to be conflating the two. That, or you are saying that people don’t have the right of self-defense with a gun?

                Not sure which.Report

              • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                Mad Scientist,

                I do not assume a gun is required for self defense. But I have family members that go to Japan for Karate testing, including weapons testing.

                Owning a gun obligates; for it can be used to hurt and kill, just like owning a car obligates. Owning a gun or two or ten for the primary purpose of self defense is a planned thing. It obligates additionally.Report

              • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Jaybird says:

                I shall say, “ah, I see your point”, and leave it at that.Report

              • DRS in reply to Jaybird says:

                I didn’t see that as “personal freedom, justice outside the law”. I saw it as reference to personal protection, given that you cannot rely upon the law to provide protection.

                And Jaybird follows through to make the point again.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

          I’m one of the people who considers the NRA to be a bunch of accomodationist wimps. I, myself, am a fan of the JPFO.

          I don’t think there are any NRA-bots on the site, though, no.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

            I was not aware of the JPFO. Now I am, so I thank you.

            Please Hammer don’t hurt ’em.Report

          • Just Me in reply to Jaybird says:

            So this is a serious question. If you had a NRA bot on this site, would you try to change their mind? And this isn’t really directed at Jaybird, I’m still getting a feel for this blog. Is this a place where people with differing backgrounds, different ideas come together and discuss not only ways they can come together, but the reasons why they may think differently on specific topics. I get that discussions, at least meaningful ones require two people who are willing to listen with an open mind and a willingness to have their ideas challenged and even possibly changed. Maybe bots belong in a category that can not have their minds changed, but I believe it is worthwhile to find out why they believe what they do. If not, to convince them that there is another side (or sides) then to know where they are coming from, because in the end they are not bots, they are human beings who have feelings, thoughts and just as much right to an opinion no matter how unfounded some might think their opinion is. Is that what this blog is about?

            That is what I have heard in the past, that the reason someone I respect very much writes here is because it gives him the opportunity to have real meaningful discussions with others who may not agree with him. That he believes he is a better person because he is forced to defend his ideas, and possibly change them when he realizes that maybe the other person has a really good reason that he hadn’t thought of for what they believe. Maybe I am looking for blog utopia and it doesn’t exist. OK, I really don’t believe in blog utopia.Report

            • DRS in reply to Just Me says:

              An NRA-bot would not be here to have his/her mind changed; he/she would be here to paste a bunch of talking points from chain emails making the rounds of NRA sympathizers. Don’t worry about the bots. They’re not in the dialogue business.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Just Me says:

              You probably won’t change my mind on free speech, woman’s suffrage, ending alcohol prohibition, or on the probability of the existence of a loving interventionist god.

              Most people nod along, however, when I talk about how my mind isn’t likely to change on these things. (Well, there’s always *SOMEONE* who disagrees on Free Speech.)Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Just Me says:

              Heh. LoOG is as good as its dialogue. Utopia doesn’t exist and certainly not here. That said, this is about as good as it gets: we’ve been trying to pull up our socks around here.

              Gandhi the pacifist once made a curious remark about gun control: Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.

              As a nation, America simply cannot give in to simplistic dumbassery: disarming America is an exceedingly bad idea on so many different levels it simply cannot be tolerated as an honest position.

              That said, we need a Nancy Lanza Law, something proposed by the gun owners and gun dealers themselves. The revulsion felt by every sane American must have an answer. I repeat myself, gun owners have rights, too, including the right to not be shot to pieces by angry family members or others with access to those weapons. Had those weapons and ammunition been secured properly, Nancy Lanza’s life might have been saved. But who are we as bystanders to say what safety means in that context? That, folks, is where the gun owners must have their say.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:


            Good Lord, I’d never heard of them before. But they appear to be about as Jewish as the Jews for Jesus, but with guns instead of Christ.Report

  13. Just Me says:

    Nope I’m not any kind of bot, if you think I am because I question starting a conversation calling out others than that is a problem you seem to have and not me. I don’t need any organization to tell me what I believe. I just believe in stating what I believe and then asking others their position without predisposing what their position are before I even have a chance to talk with them.Report

    • DRS in reply to Just Me says:

      I thought you might be a bot because you jumped on a phrase I wrote (directly underneath Frum’s quote about the NRA) and assumed I was talking about the people who comment on this blog. You jumped to a conclusion about me and I asked if you were a bot. And you’re presuming in this response to again assume what I mean. That’s a lot of assumptions that you have made, not me. Okay, you’re not a bot. But is it worthwhile engaging with you?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

        I believe Just Me is relatively new to LoOG. Let’s cut her a little slack: it takes some time to come to terms with the way we argue around here. LoOG doesn’t play simplistic games: we don’t resort to the usual stupid slogan wars. We expect each other to acknowledge there’s no one right answer.Report

      • Just Me in reply to DRS says:

        Well that is something you will have to decide for yourself. You are a person with free will who can make choices for yourself. It is not for me to tell you who you should talk to. If you have decided that I am someone you find it worthless to talk with then so be it. I for one don’t pick people who believe only what I believe to talk to. I can’t learn from others or form new opinions if I do. And yes, when I see others called out using derogatory terms I probably will say something. It doesn’t matter if I am one of the group being called out or even agree with them. No really meaningful conversation can be had when we start by belittling those we disagree with.Report

  14. Glyph says:

    Peter Gabriel’s third album (“Melt”) has a song on it called “Family Snapshot”. It is one of those songs that no matter how many times I hear it, can reliably move me to tears.

    While it is actually about an unbalanced political assassin (an Oswald or Bremer or Hinckley), I think it still says a lot about these sorts of situations – frankly, I don’t see the Hinckley situation as fundamentally all that different; we just get more civilian shootings than Reagan shootings now, because the Secret Service’s job is “Protect One Man”, not “Protect Everybody Else All The Time”.

    Song here:

    Lyrics here:

    All turned quiet – I have been here before
    Lonely boy hiding behind the front door
    Friends have all gone home
    There’s my toy gun on the floor
    Come back Mum and Dad
    You’re growing apart
    You know that I’m growing up sad
    I need some attention
    I shoot into the light

    The temptation to burn the loneliness away in a supernova of flashbulbs will always be too great for some unbalanced individuals; and the damage was done long before they ever picked up the gun.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

      I’ve always loved Peter Gabriel’s take on lyrics. He was profoundly influenced by Anne Sexton, which gave rise to his song “Mercy Street”. A bit of Anne Sexton, from “Anna who was Mad”

      Give me a report on the condition of my soul.
      Give me a complete statement of my actions.
      Hand me a jack-in-the-pulpit and let me listen in.
      Put me in the stirrups and bring a tour group through.
      Number my sins on the grocery list and let me buy.
      Did I make you go insane?
      Did I turn up your earphone and let a siren drive through?
      Did I open the door for the mustached psychiatrist
      who dragged you out like a gold cart?
      Did I make you go insane?
      From the grave write me, Anna!
      You are nothing but ashes but nevertheless
      pick up the Parker Pen I gave you.
      Write me.

      • Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Probably apocryphal, yet still good PG story.

        His label, sensing they had a hit on their hands with album #5 (not counting his “Birdy” soundtrack) were bugging Gabriel to provide a name for it.

        Label: Pete, we really need a name for this one.

        PG: We’ll call it “Peter Gabriel”. (Gabriel planned to keep releasing his work under his own name, like magazine issues. So he planned to name it, like the first 4, “Peter Gabriel” – the names that people commonly use for them, are based on their cover art.)

        Label: Pete, there are already 4 albums with that name. People will be confused.

        PG: So?

        And the rest, as they say, is history.Report

  15. Damon says:

    That pretty much sums it up for me. Changes maybe to the margin, but maybe even not that. I am curious to know if this kid was on meds and what they were, if any. I’m wondering if there is a correlation or causation between all these shooters and meds, either in side effects or main effects.

    Anyone got info on that?Report