The Twilight of Our Candlelight Vigils


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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194 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Seconded and thirded.

    As i’ve been told at least a few times, showing how much you CARE is liberal thing. It’s what we do to show our moral superiority apparently. FSM knows trying to get Americans to chill out, be slightly less heavily armed (without buggering the 2nd A of course), and less in love with violence doesn’t seem like the start of a plan. And of course people dig simple solutions which there really isn’t.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to greginak says:

      I think liberals show they do care because of hopelessness. It feels like the one thing we can do. Hence my the Song Remains the Same post from a few weeks ago.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Re: School shooting, this is relevant, as it examines what constitutes a “school shooting”.

    Also, the wounded teacher was awesome, raising the alarm & denying the shooter the opportunity to go on a rampage. We may not be able to control for motive, and controlling the means is a tricky business (in this case, the means were reasonably secured; the shooter defeated the weapons security measures), but we can short-circuit the opportunity.


    I think everyone here has a pretty good feel for my opinion of the Open Carry idiots in TX. And of the gun nuts I know and associate with, 90% of them not only disagree with the TX OC fools, but those who are NRA members took the time to write to Chris Cox & inform him that he’s being an idiot for walking back the NRAs critical statement regarding TX OC. My fellows & I are of the opinion that if we choose to carry, openly or otherwise, we have a duty to be peaceful, and respectful. You don’t win friends and allies by being a dick.

    As for the lionizing… sigh… I can’t disagree with you much. I can not reconcile certain conservative attitudes, such as lionizing the violent rebels while at the same time giving complete support to aggressive & militaristic police tactics that cause harm to innocents. Or demanding freedom, but supporting our various “Wars”, both foreign & domestic. Or a whole host of points of cognitive dissonance.Report

    • Avatar Fnord in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      And, of course, that article also brings a little perspective:
      “?During the 2010–11 school year, 11 of the 1,336 homicides among school-age youth ages 5–18 occurred at school.”Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      No offense, MRS, but in the aftermath of things like the Vegas shooting, how is it even possible to open-carry without being a dick? It’s an inherently threatening move to everyone around you who’s unarmed (and even to those who are required by their jobs to be armed–cops and such). I don’t know anything about the dude who’s open-carrying in line next to me at Starbucks, except for the fact that he’s chosen to be armed. That, in and of itself, is a threatening move and makes me feel less secure, not more.

      I’m not asking (solely) to start an argument. I’m just asking you to consider life from the perspective of those who don’t go around armed. Is there any way to reliably tell when we shouldn’t be worried if somebody carries a pistol into a 7-11?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dan Miller says:

        First off, me personally, when I carry, if I’m urban, it’s concealed. If I’m rural, it might be open, depending on a few things that aren’t relevant here. I am a pretty firm believer in carrying concealed, as it generally doesn’t bother people and as I go about my day, I don’t want to be noticed in that way (although it would be so nice if everyone else, should you notice someone is carrying concealed, please don’t call the police & report “a man with a gun”, that is just asking for cops to show up all stressed and what not).

        I am not entirely certain what the Vegas shooting has to do with Open Carry, per se, but here is how I see it.

        If you are not threatened by a uniformed cop (or other uniformed government employee) carrying a gun openly, you should absolutely not be threatened by a person in civilian clothes doing so, because:

        1) You have no idea if said person is or is not a cop (he may be off duty, or a plain clothes who left his jacket in the car)
        2) You have to keep immunity in mind & the tendency of police departments to whitewash bad behavior by their members. You are more likely to be shot by a cop than a person openly carrying, because the cop has a much, much lower incentive to avoid reckless behavior with a firearm.

        Exceptions: If they can’t keep their hand off their holstered firearm, or the firearm is not in a holster that completely covers the trigger (e.g. you can see the trigger), I’d be nervous – cop or not. Also, rifles carried in hands is fishing rude as hell! Rifles should have the safety on & be slung across the back in some way. And if it isn’t hunting season, I shouldn’t see them at all. If they are in your hands, or hanging from a tac strap, the person is a dangerous idiot. Too many ways for a gun to negligently discharge for my tastes. In this, I tend to agree with morat20 that there are an uncomfortable number of idiots out there with no sense of safety when it comes to firearms, and they really make it hard for me to not support training & licensing requirements.

        Now, why allow open carry at all? This is pretty simple – because the laws are crap. In WA, where I live, it is legal to open carry, but concealed carry requires a permit. If you are carrying openly, and some article of clothing, or your shoulder bag, etc obscures your gun while a cop is watching, you are instantly a felon for carrying concealed without a license. Morat might know better, but I bet in TX it’s the inverse, if you are carrying a handgun concealed with a permit, and it becomes exposed, you may find yourself facing something akin to a brandishing charge, even if the exposure was brief and entirely accidental. Change the laws so such things require a mens rea component, and you’ll fix a lot of it.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        The thing is that I know a cop has to carry a gun. He’s required to, so when he does so, it’s less threatening (although I’d prefer it if we had a less-armed police force, and we should work towards making this a reality consistent with officer safety–and part of working towards this is ensuring fewer guns are being carried around by civilians).

        On the other hand, a non-cop who nevertheless chooses to carry a gun has made a conscious, non-mandated decision to be more threatening than he would be otherwise. That sends a signal about that person, a signal that there’s a higher-than-average chance this person is a refugee from Cliven Bundy’s ranch who thinks he’s going to start a revolution.

        Ultimately, I’m of the belief that carrying a firearm at all in all but the most rural settings shouldn’t be legal (with exceptions for things like hunting, obviously). It’s a threatening act that has no place in a society that tries to minimize violence. If you need to own a gun, keep it at home.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Dan Miller says:

        How many mass shooters were carrying their weapons openly prior to commencing the shooting?Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        @brandon-berg My argument applies equally well to people who concealed-carry–it’s just that I’m less likely to detect them. They’re still making a conscious decision to be more dangerous than an unarmed person.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Dan Miller says:

        I’ve seen open carry in AZ. Frankly, it was in Tombstone and a lineman was carrying a 45 acp at the deli we were eating at. This was a decade ago or so and I remember noticing it since he was the only one carrying except the OK corral actors who came in later. To me, it makes sense for him to least while working. Snakes and other varmits could be an issue… I’m less convinced of the need to open carry in more “civilized” areas, and frankly, the open carry guys in Tx ARE just asses. I’ve gone into any number of resturants in AZ and seen signs that say “no firearms”. Fine. The owners have established a policy. Insert comments here about “the vast number of gun owners are responsible yadda yadda”

        I see both sides. What I don’t understand is as logical is the “greater fear” of seeing a civilian open carry vs cops. I see this as mainly the fact that civlilians just aren’t used to seeing non cops carrying guns. Anything out of the ordinanary generates uncertainly and fear. But hell, I’m MORE scared of cops. I’m less scared of some dude open carrying. As MRS said, civilians face much more severe legal issues for acting recklessly than cops do, and the number of reckless and dangerous cops seems to be on the rise as well.

        Now, @dan-miller “Is there any way to reliably tell when we shouldn’t be worried if somebody carries a pistol into a 7-11?” I’d say yes. You dont’ worry when the weapon is openly displayed and hostered. When it’s out and being waved about or pointed in a unsafe location/manner, that’s when you worry.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        @damon That’s not very convincing to me. Story time: when I was 14, I had a job delivering newspapers, and one morning I finished delivering at about 5:30. It was a bitterly cold February morning in Chicago, still dark and with nobody around. I was wearing gloves and a ski mask, and when I walked into a convenience store the clerk was visibly freaked out for a moment (before I took off the ski mask and headed to the croissants). It struck me, because I hadn’t even considered his reaction, but he had a reasonable fear that he was about to be robbed.

        Carrying a gun is essentially that scenario. You’re making everyone else more vulnerable, in order to make yourself feel more secure. In some scenarios, this is OK or even necessary (for example: you’re in a very rural area, and/or you’re hunting). But you don’t have to be waving it around for it to be a threat to those around you. And cops worry me less (because they’re at least trained, and because they’re required to carry) but they still worry me. The goal here should be to “minimize the amount of time that the average unarmed civilian spends around armed people”.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Your example is a perfect one of why we should be afraid of kids in ski masks. But seriously, I’m sure if you compared the “fright level” of some guy wandering in with a handgun in a holster vs no gun vs a gun in a guys hand, we know what the ranking would be. It’s a matter of familiarity. That, I think is the whole point of the open carry guys. To desensitize people to the sight of civs carrying weapons. Sadly, they’re doing it in a stupid ass way.

        The fundamental difference we have is you view any open carry of a weapon as a threat. I don’t. It MAY be a threat, but it’s one of several factors I take into consideration when evaulating my “threat envelope”.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dan Miller says:

        The fundamental difference we have is you view any open carry of a weapon as a threat. I don’t. It MAY be a threat, but it’s one of several factors I take into consideration when evaulating my “threat envelope”.

        We have to keep in mind that everyone has different “threat envelopes”, many of which are considered irrational. I’m sure I can find people who consider black people to be threatening, just because they are black, even more so if they are dressed in what that person perceives as “gangsta” (whatever that is at this moment). I’ve heard women, usually rape survivors, talk about how men in general are firmly in their “threat envelope”. Your convenience store clerk had people in ski masks quite firmly in his threat envelope, even in the winter. I’m a large bald guy, and if I’m in a bad mood with a scowl on my face, my wife tells me people give me a very wide berth & she’s had people comment to her that they were afraid of me. Etc. ad nauseum.

        There are reasons the laws we have regarding threats try to make clear what constitutes a true threat, versus what is in your head. And I can’t agree that carrying openly makes everyone else more vulnerable unless it is not being done safely*. Anymore than me carrying a knife or pepper spray increase the danger level in a room, especially considering what will happen to me if I was to even so much as draw my weapon without the presence of a reasonable threat.**

        Now, if you grew up in Chicago, and if you now live in a place where open carry of sidearms is rare, if not outright illegal, then I can completely understand why seeing such would fall within your threat envelope. Truly, I do. But at the same time, if you were at a truck stop in AZ, and you saw some guys walk in plain clothes with guns on, would you leave, or would you take in the mood of the room & see if anyone else was concerned besides you?

        *gun is clearly holstered with the trigger covered & some kind of retention system so it can’t fall out or be casually stolen, and hands are not touching it.

        **at the very least, a charge of brandishing (felony). If the DA is feeling his oats, one count of assault with a deadly weapon for every person who saw it & wants to file a complaint. A cop would get a stern talking to.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Hell, I’ve seen people open carrying while Engaged in Clearly Illegal Activity.
        Wasn’t scared for a moment (they were poaching).Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dan Miller says:

        You dont’ worry when the weapon is openly displayed and hostered.

        What if the weapon is displayed and holstered on a guy who is in a shouting match with another guy over a parking space?Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Dan Miller says:

        People who don’t find a gun more threatening than “not having a gun” are people who clearly don’t understand what a gun is designed to do. Now, I suppose having your own gun might mitigate that threat a bit, since everyone’s now equally lethal (even if the lethality has been ratcheted up all around).

        I agree, a lot of it is context — I don’t find a guy with a gun near a hunting lease threatening, nor one at a target range. I don’t find a cop with one threatening — in all cases, I have a mental model of WHY they are carrying a weapon in this time and place.

        A context, as it where.

        Now, a man carrying an AR-15 into a burrito place? I have two basic mental shortcuts: “This is a man about to shoot up a burrito place” or “This is a gun nut who likes to carry his rifle into burrito places” neither one of which is going to make me less anxious about that man with the AR-15.

        Now, it’s possible carrying that gun makes perfect sense to him. And indeed, I suspect many folks with CC licenses and such see a man with a concealed gun and think “Ah, yes, fellow citizen exercising his 2nd Amendment rights” and thus have a non-threatening context in which random stranger has a lethal weapon on him, despite not having an otherwise obvious need. Or something like that. (Obviously, I have the other viewpoint — lethal weapon, no obvious job-related or circumstance related need for it, wtf?)

        And I think that context — and lack of it — is the root of some of the miscommunication.

        And it’s just going to get worse, because it appears fewer and fewer Americans own guns, but those that do own more and more.

        Like I said — I don’t find guys trotting around their 40 acres with a gun, or heading hunting, or any of that concerning. I happily process them, find a non-threatening likely reason they have a gun, and blip them out as a concern.

        Whereas my father’s best friend, a man I’ve known for 30 years and whom I’ve called “Uncle” my entire life? He’s started carrying concealed in a quiet suburb that he never leaves and grumbling when restaurants make him leave it in the car and I find I am uncomfortably aware that he’s armed at all times.

        Whereas, hanging out with my in-laws when they’re carrying in a rural area (generally for hunting or target shooting) I barely notice the guns. They don’t stick out. They fit the context.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist There’s a big difference between being black (or even being a black male teenager wearing a hoodie) and carrying a gun. You concede that a lot of people will feel threatened by somebody who’s carrying. On the other hand, what is the benefit? Are we honestly all better off in a society where everyone carries guns? Or one where as few people as possible carry them? I think the answer to that is clear.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Which isn’t to say that I’d necessarily freak out if I were at a truck stop in Arizona and a dude walked in with a holstered gun. Context matters, as Morat points out. But I’d definitely be more wary of him than I would be if he were unarmed.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dan Miller says:

        you’re focusing way too much on identifying the person with the gun as the threat.

        If you’re in a mall in (what looks to be peaceful) suburbia, and the mall cop (or busdriver, as it was in my case) happens to be carrying (in my case,concealed) a gun, what changes about your evaluation of the entire area?Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Dan Miller says:

        It’s called “being aware of what a gun is for”. A gun is for shooting things.

        Someone with a gun in a place where there is nothing to shoot BUT people (say, a burrito joint) is going to be noticed by anyone sane. Maybe he’s just getting food before heading off to shoot targets or deer or pigeons or soda cans, but it’s a bit strange he felt he needed to lug that thing into the burrito place.

        I’m sure if you had a gun of your own you would feel comforted, but again — that’s because you’re not again on an equal foot even if the threat level is higher all around.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dan Miller says:

        It’s tempting to call the ones who carry rifles into Chipotle stupid bastards and leave it at that, but I think they do have a plan. They want a society in which carrying openly is accepted and commonplace, and they’re trying to desensitize people to the practice. It’s not that different in concept from “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get used to it!” though I’d guess neither group would appreciate the comparison. And my knee-jerk reaction to them, which is that if they want to carry guns, fine, just do it in private and out of my sight, does seem familiar.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dan Miller says:

        To retell a story:

        In Colorado, I play poker with a bunch of guys who have concealed carry permits and buy guns the way that some folks buy sound systems. A friend came from Jersey and sat at the game, on the way home I told him that half the guys at the table had been packing and he boggled. He couldn’t believe it. Then he found out that *I* was a gun owner and he couldn’t believe *THAT*.

        After living in Colorado for a while, he realized that playing poker at a table where half the guys are packing in Colorado means something completely different than playing poker at a table where half the guys are packing in Jersey. Apparently, in Jersey, that’s not a poker game you want to be at.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Not if you own a sporting goods store, anyway.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

        @mike-schilling I think you’re right about their motivation. And I’m half-tempted by their logic. After all, if there’s nothing wrong with carrying a gun, why should they be shunned for bringing one into a Chipotle in plain view?

        The logic of this leads me to “there actually is something wrong with carrying a gun”, but YMMV.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Well, I think there are a few factors that make guns stand out in terms of lifestyle choices.

        I mean, for starters — the point of a gun is to shoot things. A gun is, inherently, a dangerous thing. Now, life’s full of dangerous things (table saws, for instance, especially when morons remove safety features. Cars zipping around at 70 mph, etc).

        But a gun isn’t dangerous when misused, danger isn’t a side effect. A gun, used properly, is dangerous.

        I mean, cut and dried — it’s there to put large holes in things. It’s there to shoot things.Shooting things isn’t a side effect of misuse — it’s the point. You can shoot deer or targets, but it’s still there to delivery a critical velocity of metal to a target.

        Now, again — guns don’t shoot people, people shoot people yes. But we look strangely at folks carrying swords or giant knives if they’re not at the Ren Fest, and those are widely considered (true or not) to be far less potentially lethal than a gun.

        I’m honestly not sure carrying rifles around in public is going to acclimatize people, so much as further divide them — gun ownership is going the wrong way, for one (fewer owners than a generation ago, probably due people moving into denser populated areas and overall crime rates going down so much).

        Secondly, well…I think they’re making people associate “gun owning” with “crazy” not “gun owning” with “regular citizen”. Stuff like the uptick in questionable self-defense claims due to law changes isn’t helping.

        I think it boils down to the fact that these guys are seen as irresponsible with guns, and “irresponsible” and “lethal weapon” are not two terms that the public is probably ever going to find go well together. And the NRA seems to be doubling down on that impression rather than stressing responsible gun ownership.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dan Miller says:


        Patrick & I had a discussion over here about that question.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dan Miller says:


        I think we have more lines of agreement here than not, and the few points of disagreement could probably be hashed out to nobody’s satisfaction.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Eh, I’m well aware that my views on guns are way too liberal for Texas and probably too conservative for California, but I don’t think that makes me the middle.

        I also don’t expect anything to happen anytime soon on the status quo.

        About all I’m comfortable predicting is “The solution to gun crime is more guns” is not going to be a winning message outside of a narrow group, that carrying guns more and more openly will probably deepen the divide between…let’s call them ‘public’ gun owners and everyone else (private gun owners being the sort of gun owner that hunts or target shoots and simply doesn’t carry the thing unless he’s got a specific use in mind. Like going to the range, or on his deer lease or whatnot).

        private gun owners will probably remain in the middle, uncomfortable with the public gun owners and worried about the backlash among the non gun owners.

        And the government won’t do anything, and the NRA won’t stand up for responsible gun owners when it can stand up for gun makers.

        And I think it will feed on itself. Because gun owners are a minority as is (and getting smaller), and public gun owners are a bigger one, and they’ll react by doubling down on their rights which will make the non gun owning majority more nervous, which the gun owners will notice which will make them MORE worried about their rights being violated…

        And in the background, chuckleheads will toss fuel onto the fire, using the language of revolution and war to get votes or eyeballs or listeners.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dan Miller says:


        The situation you described is a sticky one. You noted that you’d try to de-escalate the situation and for good reason. You can’t pull your gun out when the guy is screaming in your face, and the fact that the gun is there means that if he puts his hands on you, you’re now involved in a struggle with a gun in the mix. That’s a really bad situation, and it’s one that seems like a more likely scenario than just about any situation in which the person being armed makes anybody safer.

        And all of that assumes that the person carrying is careful and responsible and not the type of person who gets off on the idea of playing the trump card in a physical confrontation. My limited experience tells me that the latter type is not uncommon in the set of people who feel it’s really important to carry a gun into a burrito shop. Absent other information, that’s a guy I don’t want to be involved with.

        The example I always bring up is Buzz Aldrin. He punched a guy for mouthing off at him. In public. On camera. A senior citizen with an advanced education and presumably a cool enough head under pressure to be allowed to take a space ship to the moon snapped and punched a guy in the heat of the moment. That’s why any policy that has us all sitting on a powder keg and relying on everybody to be mature and keep calm 100% of the time in order to avoid setting it off makes me nervous.

        People want to pile up flammable things around the powder keg and tell me about safety procedures and responsible powder keg management, but there’s a serious history there that makes me want to ask, “How are we better off carefully managing this situation than we would be if we just didn’t do this?”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Poachers open-carry and it’s not threatening to humans.
        We have a “neighborhood watch” in one of the higher crime areas
        who carry guns.
        They have uniforms and some amount (one hopes!) of training.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Buzz Aldrin. He punched a guy for mouthing off at him. In public. On camera. A senior citizen with an advanced education and presumably a cool enough head under pressure to be allowed to take a space ship to the moon snapped and punched a guy in the heat of the moment.

        I dunno, that example kinda cuts both ways to me.

        If *I* went to the moon, I don’t know that I’d patiently suffer ignorant fools calling me ‘coward’ and ‘liar’ to my face. I’m a man of action.

        My name’s “Buzz”, for cryin’ out loud, not “Stanley”.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Buzz Aldrin…punched a guy for mouthing off at him. In public. On camera.

        I don’t think it’s that simple. As I understand it, the guy has been effectively stalking Aldrin, and lying publicly about him, for years. And when Aldrin punched him, the guy had been aggressively pushing himself at Aldrin, getting in his way and refusing to leave him alone despite being repeatedly asked to. He worked hard at pushing Aldrin to the point of punching him–it was a lot more than just a guy mouthing off to him on the spur of the moment.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Dan Miller says:

        I don’t want to condone violence. But that dude had it coming even if he hadn’t been a stalker.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Dan Miller says:

        The guy surely had it coming, and I have to admit that I smile every time I see the video, but my point is still just this: most of us know somebody who has ended up in an unexpected physical scrap at one time or another. We do a lot of talking about what “responsible” gun owners do when they’re carrying, but the reality around us seems to be that random scuffles and fights are a lot more common than opportunities to safely draw a weapon and make the world a better place.

        It’s going to take a lot of heroes taking down spree shooters and stopping muggings in order to overcome the issues that pop up if we also toss a gun into every Wal Mart Black Friday shoving match, every drunken bar confrontation, and every post football game yelling match in the stadium parking lot. It seems like massively turning up the danger factor in all of those situations is going to be really hard to counterbalance on the whole.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      For the most part, I’m still firmly of the belief that someone who thinks they need a gun to feel safe while out in public is afraid. They are frightened. And you know what? Frightened people do stupid things, and should not be lethally armed.

      For years, my husband and I have had this ongoing debate — my walking at night. I have, all my life. I like a good walk before I go to sleep. And I refuse to not walk, I refuse to be afraid. I would also take public transportation home late at night, though he’d beg me to take a cab. There were so many other women who worked until late, who didn’t have the resources to take a cab. So I put my foot down, and told him in no uncertain terms that for me to feel safe in this world, I have to not give up basic rights and surrender to fear.

      I firmly believe this, too. Cowering does not make the world safer.

      And the urge to arm yourself is, imo, a form of cowering with a veneer of aggression wrapped around it.

      There’s a lot of demand for gun rights. There’s also a lot of demand to be free of guns, and to me, this makes sense because of the irrationality of fear that seems to be behind so much of gun ownership. I grew up with hunters. I’ve numerous relatives who’ve served in war. I am not afraid of guns, I’m afraid of the people who are so cowardly they mistake a gun for courage. That’s shameful.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to zic says:

        “I’m afraid of the people who are so cowardly they mistake a gun for courage. That’s shameful.”


      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        I know people who have carried guns in public. (and a friend of a friend carries a grenade). Yes, people are scared. Sometimes, rightly so.

        There’s a difference between the person taking practical precautions for practical, thought-through actions (the lady with a live grenade? Also carries a fake grenade. Apparently helps with negotiations), and the twitchy person prone to panic.

        The twitchy person prone to panic will fuck you up with their car just as easily as they’ll fuck you with a gun (actually, more, because they have their feet on the pedals. At least you generally have to reach for a gun).Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Short circuiting the opportunity involves voluntary exit of classrooms, and other public places, doesn’t it? Or are you thinking something a bit more nuanced?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kim says:


        The teacher triggered the lockdown, kids went to rooms & doors were locked, police were summoned. His targets of opportunity all vanished except for the one life he already took. He recognized the situation for what it was & took his own life. I suppose he could have tried hunting through the school, but depending on his fantasy, that might not be ideal. Or he could have engaged in a shoot out with police, but that might also not be ideal to him.

        Either way, no more innocent kids died that day because his opportunity was taken from him.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


      Relevant article in the WaPo today.Report

    • Avatar Stella B. in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      The third victim of the Millers in Las Vegas was Joseph Wilcox. He was carrying a gun in the Walmart. He unholstered the gun before he was shot and killed. All three victims of this pair of shooters were armed. I’m sure it made them feel safe.Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    In the short eighteen-month span since Adam Lanza finally broke our will, there have been sixty-two school shooting in the US.

    In one of the very recent gun discussions here (just the past week or so), someone (my apologies to whomever I’m forgetting, but I’m thinking it was Jesse or Ethan) gave an–I think seat of the pants–figure of mass shootings that suggested they occur (on average) every 7 weeks in the U.S. I questioned that, and others gave some numbers that seemed to justify viewing it as quite an overestimate.

    Now, noting that “school shootings” are not entirely equivalent to mass shootings (on the one side, some school shootings may involve too few victims to be mass, but on the other side there are mass shootings that occur in places other than schools), it’s worth noting that if Tod’s numbers are right, we’re looking at school and/or mass shootings happening–these days–once every week and a half, which would be much much worse than suggested even by the person I questioned.

    That’s important, I think.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to James Hanley says:

      See my link aboveReport

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Yes, I was writing as you were posting that, so I published before seeing it. I’ll take cover in my hedging language recognizing the non-equivalence of “school shooting” and “mass shooting” and “if Tod’s numbers are right.” 😉Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

      The figure Tod’s quoting includes homicides, assaults, and suicides that occur with firearms on school property, I believe.

      There’s a map making the rounds on Facebook that shows them all.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

        Right, but as MRS’s link shows, those include collegiate shootings. Should those be lumped with K-12 shootings, or disaggregated?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Patrick says:

        I’m not sure I understand the point you’re making. Why should we have to do that?

        If we carve out university shootings for the past 18 months *and* carve out university shootings from the 90s school shootings and compare… and *then* use what we’ve cut our from the past 18 months and the 90s and compare… and find that both are indeed occurring at an accelerated rate now as compared to then… what value does that bring in a macro discussion of shootings?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

        Then we know it’s a more generalized problem, whereas if it was accelerating only at K-12s or only at colleges, we’d know it was a more specialized problem. How we effectively respond to a problem often depends on the problem’s parameters.

        That is, if it’s not just a general uptick in shootings across the board, we may potentially discern a difference in motivation/cause of K-12 vs. collegiate shootings, and that knowledge would be relevant to our responses. And if there is a general uptick across the board, that knowledge is relevant to our responses.

        Because what I’m pretty sure is not a good place to start searching for short-term remedies is to go as abstract and disconnected from proximate causes as greginak and just talk about getting Americans out of love with violence.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Patrick says:

        Fair enough, but that’s getting further into the weeds than this post was intending to go. Which, to be fair, is almost always a problem when it comes to this subject.

        Part of the way the US Gov looks at it, for example, is that the Miller shootings in Las Vegas are not a public mass shooting, because there was a political goal. But even that becomes tricky, because for a number of people in elected office, calling members of the sovereign citizens movement “terrorists” is tricky, so they are insisting that it SHOULD be counted as a public mass shooting — while at the same time insisting that the Ft Hoot shootings NOT be considered a public mass shooting, because it makes other stats look better to have that man tagged as a domestic terrorist.

        As best I can tell, there really isn’t a reliable set of definitions for these things.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Patrick says:

        As best I can tell, there really isn’t a reliable set of definitions for these things.

        Sure there is.

        If a tally conforms to my ideological preferences by using one set of measurement methods, then we use that tally.

        If it conforms to your ideological preferences by using a different set of measurements, that’s you being blindly political.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

      The United States school shootings stats I got can be found here. 62 is the number that occur in 2013 and thus far in 2014, which is the 18 month period since the Sandy Hook killings.

      Not all were mass shootings, and not all resulted in deaths. For example, on August 20 of last year a gunman opened fire on a school with an AK-47, then barricaded himself in a classroom while he and the police exchanged fire; despite this, no one was actually shot. As another example, the shooter at Grambling State University wounded three students, but none of those died.

      I have not yet found a statistic of mass or rampage killings. Every source I have found lists a few notable ones, but also seems to leave out many.Report

  4. Avatar The Reason says:

    I appreciate your angle in this piece and I agree with many of the points made. I particularly appreciate that you conclude it may not be possible to stop the Adam Lanzas of the world.

    Regarding the Millers, this is an interesting time in history. Humans have killed each other since the beginning of time. We often priase the collective Native American culture(s) as wise and in cohesive unity with nature, but we don’t typically praise the fact that many of these cultures were extremely aggressive and routinely killed neighboring tribes. The answer that came from the Native Europeans? Killing. Look at any region…any continent and you will find triumphant people groups who dominated because they were willing to war with and kill their competition.

    I saw an interesting take on the two recent school shootings in the Pacific Northwest. It happened to be from a vocal feminist I’m connected to through social media. She had a three-way conversation which attempted to argue that the reason for these shootings is that our culture promotes masculinity as the ability to dominate others. I chose not to comment because arguments on social media are typically futile. But they did raise an interesting point (from which they made a few unsupported leaps): men do feel more “manly” when they have the power. Blanket statement? Sure. But hasn’t our form of democracy been shaped by this very aspect of humanity? Isn’t it what drives Capitalism altogether? And knowing that women have only (relatively) recently been allowed into ‘the club’, it stands to reason that men have been driving this for a long time.

    But gender aside…what has accompanied most rises to power? Violence. Selfishness. Villainization of our competition.

    In most other eras (or geographies) the Millers are the people who begin revolutions. Do they have a place in 2014 America? Most of us would quickly say no and never think twice about it. I say no and then consider it a little more deeply, then again say no. But the point is that human history contains revolution. It contains countless battles for power, for control, for land, for wealth…I could go on and on. The reason history is full of killing is because people kill each other for power. The Millers (metaphorically…they may well be competely imbalanced specifically) may very well be as unpreventable as the Lanzas because we are hard-wired to fight for our beliefs.

    As much as we love to tout ourselves as ‘civilized’, there are violent battles raging all over the world, all over the country, in pockets throughout the city and even in many of our personal lives (though to a less violent extent). Our “fight or flight” instinct is real and flight doesn’t typically get us where we want to be.

    A short note about our lack of interest in mass shootings…maybe your perception that we don’t really care as much anymore points to a healthy evolution. Notice that the two recent northwest shootings ended with fewer deaths than we would probably expect. At Seattle Pacific a student tackled the shooter as he reloaded. At Reynolds High School a teacher was lauded for his efforts to put the school on lockdown. We are seeing more people take action in paralyzing situations. Perhaps we, as a culture, are adapting and taking the power back from the homicidal gunman? Clearly the goal is no shootings and no untimely deaths, but I’m encouraged by more “Let’s Roll!”.

    I also think the lack of media interest drives the lack of conversation. It’s sad, but without others telling us what to talk about we tend not to find the topics we might logically find important. It’s what makes the past implications of marriage between the executive wing of our government and the media so disconcerting. As influenced as society is by fiction being shown on a 2 dimensional screen, think of how influenced we are when the stories being told are non-fiction.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to The Reason says:

      Long, winding, meandering and really great comment. Thanks.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        A short note about our lack of interest in mass shootings…maybe your perception that we don’t really care as much anymore points to a healthy evolution. Notice that the two recent northwest shootings ended with fewer deaths than we would probably expect. At Seattle Pacific a student tackled the shooter as he reloaded. At Reynolds High School a teacher was lauded for his efforts to put the school on lockdown. We are seeing more people take action in paralyzing situations. Perhaps we, as a culture, are adapting and taking the power back from the homicidal gunman? Clearly the goal is no shootings and no untimely deaths, but I’m encouraged by more “Let’s Roll!”.

        Wasn’t somebody hereabouts talking about this just the other day?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        Yeah, but nobody pays attention that guy.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to The Reason says:

      We had a post about why black people don’t own houses at the same rate as whites, and what that might say about their culture.

      What’s it say about American culture? Why are we more violent than, say, Canada? Or Switzerland?

      And then there’s race — it seems that so many of these shooters are white. Is that just an artifact of reporting? An artifact of gun ownership? Or is there, for lack of a better word, some issue with white culture?

      (And how is white culture different than American culture?).

      I mean we can say “people have always killed, that’s life” and wash our hands of it — but what if Americans just kill MORE often? And with more victims? Are white people prone to spree killings?

      If there’s a difference, well — that’s something to ask. Why should we accept American levels of mass shootings when Switzerland’s got a much safer society? Where’s the difference lie? What’s the cause?

      Maybe we can’t get rid of mass shootings, no more than we can get rid of murder or theft — but we darn sure try, don’t we? We don’t shrug and go “Thieves be thieves” and go about ou day. No, we declare wars on crime and drugs and urban culture or whatever the bogeyman is, and go full steam ahead. (For good or for ill).

      But shooting up a school? We just shrug. “That’s life”.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to morat20 says:

        And then there’s race — it seems that so many of these shooters are white. Is that just an artifact of reporting? An artifact of gun ownership? Or is there, for lack of a better word, some issue with white culture?

        I looked this up a while ago, and according to what I could find, there’s no significant correlation between race and mass shootings. Most American mass shooters are white because most Americans are white.

        It’s possible that whites are overrepresented among perpetrators of a specific type of mass murder—the kind where a person with no criminal record just goes nuts and starts shooting people randomly with no exit plan. And maybe there’s a cultural or biological reason for that. But these killing are not a significant factor in the US’s high homicide rate.

        I know you think you’re cleverly pointing out some hypocrisy, but you really aren’t. There’s a major difference, which is that a bit over half of the country’s homicides are committed by black perpetrators, a group which constitutes only an eighth of the population. This isn’t a problem with black culture as such—there is no monolithic “black culture”—but it does suggest a major problem with some primarily black subcultures.

        Note that this is also a major contributor to the high homicide rate in the United States. If you compare white homicide rates, the gap between the US and European countries does not close entirely, but it narrows quite a bit.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to morat20 says:

        the Problem it Suggests is an INABILITY to call the fucking cops. I see the same thing down in Fayette county, where the major industry is Meth. People take the law into their hands, and people die.

        If the problem is Jobs — significantly, unsafe jobs that are unsafe because they’re Bloody Illegal, we ought to call that out.

        And yeah, that might be cultural. But Phillipe Bourgois had better insights into “why people started to sell drugs” than you’re pitching. Read him if you get a chance.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to morat20 says:

        Black people don’t set out to “hunt down white people”.
        A black man carrying 10 lbs (20 lbs) of guns gets stopped before he travels Miles By Foot to kill a police officer (extension of : Driving while Black).Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to morat20 says:

        I know you think you’re cleverly pointing out some hypocrisy, but you really aren’t. There’s a major difference, which is that a bit over half of the country’s homicides are committed by black perpetrators, a group which constitutes only an eighth of the population.

        I’m not trying to be anything. I’m asking. Are spree killings of this nature as common in other societies, differing only in weapon type or success? How do we compare to Canada or Switzerland?

        As for homicides and race — I was asking about spree killings (you know, like mass shootings where the target is incidental beyond maybe some broad strokes like – “people at my school” or “women”) not homicide. There is a difference, after all.

        I would like to see your sources on mass shootings and race, if you can recall them.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to morat20 says:

        I was reading something the other day about mass shootings and race, but feedly is down & I can’t find it.

        The crux was that mass shootings, attempted or successful, are pretty equally distributed throughout the population by race. There is a bit of a reporting bias to it, but there is also just our own confirmation bias, in that we pay attention more to stories that hit closer to home.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to morat20 says:

        I was reading something the other day about mass shootings and race

        It wasn’t a mass shooting, it was a bombing.

        Too soon?Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to morat20 says:

        I’d be surprised if it was easy to get statistically significant data on something like race. If the majority of American spree killers are white and the majority of Americans are white, you’d need quite a lot of spree killings before you could conclude that spree killers are “unusually white” with any real certainty. It’s very different from showing that spree killers tend to be, say, mentally ill. If the mental illness is rare and most spree killers exhibit it, then you don’t need too many data points before you can draw a conclusion.

        I guess the silver lining is that we’ll eventually have enough data to come to all sorts of conclusions.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to morat20 says:


        Took me a few seconds to put my head around the reference. So no, not too soon.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire in reply to The Reason says:

      I really do think there is something to the “masculinity” stuff. But then, I would. So, sure, I see everything through the gender lens.

      On the other hand, when someone with a great sense of smell says there is a gas leak…

      Anyway, there is something going on right now in terms of American masculinity. Gone are the days when Fred Rogers and Jimmy Stewart were considered admirable men, where dignity and gentility were something to be admired. And the right wing is fishing obsessed with this stuff, talking about “sissification” and “feminization” (and sometimes I wonder if they really know the full meaning of those words). Anyway, yeah I think men are feeling a loss of a certain kind of power and having to adjust to a new mentality, and they don’t seem to be handling it very well.

      But you can get your “man card” back with big scary assault weapon. Of course you have a crappy job and no woman wants to date you, but whatever, you’ve got your fedora and gaze of ice.

      It is funny to leave a gay dance club, full of carefree gay men dancing, and to get onto the subway. This is usually about 1:00 or 2:00 AM, and the cishet dudes on the train are on their way home from their evening, which no doubt involved standing around flexing and saying shitty things to women. And to see how angry they look, this low grade seething rage. The difference is stark.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica dire says:

        Fred Rogers was an American Hero.

        Since when did it bloody well become acceptable to send death threats to folks like him???Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to veronica dire says:

        @ veronica
        Men don’t do well in the maze. They often get stuck in the dead ends of society and suffer themselves for intolerable amounts of time. Women tend to navigate better, experiencing great joy or despair at each turn. Often protective reluctance builds into a shell of perceived coldness.

        Few escape the tragedy of the maze. I wish it could be different.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        Veronica Dire, I think the issues revolving around gentleness and masculinity are very complicated. Jimmy Stewart might have been manly and gentle but it was a very different sexual system back than that revolved around the idea of no sex before marriage. You were supposed to be a gentleman like Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant in order to get a classy woman like Barbara Stynwick or Myrna Loy, who would probably never go for the badass type. There was a high and heavy penalty that women paid for being openly sexual back than. Subdued men like Jimmy Stewart worked well because the entire sexual system was much less open back than.

        Women can be much more open about their sexuality in the present than they could at any time in the past. There are still many double-standards but its still much better than the past. This open sexuality doesn’t much room for men with demeanor’s like those of Stewart or Grant. You really can’t imagine a Jimmy Stewart type with Megan Fox or really most modern female celebrities. You need someone with a more in your face sex appeal. For men this takes the form of being a badass rather than something more subtle.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica dire says:

        Bullshit. You had subtle back then because the censors wouldn’t let it be otherwise.

        Besides, you’re missing the dichotomy.
        it’s not between subtle and overt, it’s between:

        “You’re nice, and I am Interested” (however one chooses to express that)


        “Let’s be friends, first. Maybe, sometime, with benefits?” [This is also the approach of a lot of the pickup artists, who seem to want to convince the girl that they aren’t actually after sex, when they really are.]Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        Kim, the Hayes Code is part of it but during the Golden Age of Hollywood people were theoretically not supposed to have casual romantic or sexual relationships. It happened of course but it wasn’t supposed to. Unless you were in high school, relationships were supposed to be serious and geared towards marriage. Jimmy Stewart is supposed to be what you were looking for in a good husband just as Barbara Stynwick and others were supposed to be classy ladies that you wanted to marry rathert than have a fling with. Both types would look really out of place in our more casual and open system.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to veronica dire says:

        … more or less.. biologically… “Romance” isn’t about getting married. Married is a social construct that we have built, to make sure kids get taken care of. “Romance” (read a Harlequin lately?) is a way of communicating a desire for a relatively brief relationship.

        Maybe Grant and Stewart managed to have the two conflated. But it’s the “Romance” part that people respond to.

        ObGeek: Dr. Who is supposed to be sexy (that’s one of the criteria for new Doctors). Is he a “Bad Boy”?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — You forget, I lived half my life in “boy drag,” and I had decent number of hookups with awesome girls who liked me as a soft, kind hearted sort of person. From my perspective, is was not women who pressured me toward hyper-masculinity, it was other men. The locker room was hell.Report

      • @leeesq Yeah, like that Ryan Gosling guy who’s always in those soppy movies like The Notebook where he always plays The Sensitive Guy.

        Chicks are always going on about how they’d never lower themselves to sleep with Ryan Gosling.Report

  5. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    I think we are becoming more polarized as a nation because of a bunch of pernicious and hard to solve problems that are deeply ideological and also abstract.

    The recession was deep and the recovery is slow. I have seen article after article about how decent wage manufacturing jobs have been replaced with low level service jobs. This especially effects working class white voters. Derek Thompson just wrote an article at the Atlantic about the lack of entry level jobs for recent college graduates or in general. The commentary noted anecdotally that many allegedly entry level jobs require multiple years of experiences.

    Economists say that globalization is largely good and it does help raise wealth in the U.S. by lowering the price of goods but I think this too abstract for people to grapple on to. Maybe we are producing more and better with fewer workers but this is cold comfort to those who get shifted from permanent to contingency labor with low wages and benefits.

    In short, people are scarred and pissed and this does not lead to cooperation. It leads to strife and fighting and nationalism and no lecture on economics is going to cure that.

    Andrew Sullivan stipulated that Cantor was the victim of right-wing populism and that anti-immigrant rhetoric is a perfect thing to use against globalization and off-shoring corporations while also having actions against the “other.” Liberals for whatever reason can not shed their professional image enough to be truly populist even liberals with working class roots like Elizabeth Warren. There is the unfortunate tendency for liberal superstars to prefer talking like wonks with powerpoints and finding anything more personal or passionate to be highly uncomfortable and distasteful.

    I think all this and Adam Laza is what is making us callous. We are fighting for our own and this means getting fierce with others. There was a study that just came out that showed that people (maybe especially white people) tend to get really prejudiced or more prejudiced in economically scarce situations.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      This especially effects MALE working class people.

      “People” are not scared and pissed. A particular subset of people are scared and pissed, because their jobs (Foremen, Overseers, Hired Bullies, Thugs) are gone and they ain’t never coming back. And they feel they deserve better than other folks, and nobody liked them anyways, so they ain’t getting dates either, if you know what I mean.Report

    • Avatar Citizen in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      @ Saul
      The few Virginia counties I looked at yesterday had little, to no earning increases for the last decade.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Citizen says:

        Are these in Cantor’s district?

        I don’t disagree that stagnant wages and no earning increases is a problem. I’ve been making the same amount for the past two years and stuck in freelancing. Luckily this is a decent amount and the work has been mainly steady except one month in 2013 and April 2014 (which still had more work than May 2013) but I do get really anxious and despairing sometimes to often and feel like I am just treading water in the Pacific.

        The difference is my solutions are not Tea Party solutions and I think right-wing populism only works to increase the current wage and earnings stagnation problems.Report

  6. Avatar morat20 says:

    What do you expect to happen, really?

    Video games and violent movies — pshaw. It’s fear. Fear sells guns, so gun manufacturers push fear. (America is a kickin’ civilian market, after all. Big and rich). Fear sells papers and eyeballs — so news pushes fear.

    Fear gets people to the polls — so politicians sell fear.

    It’s all about fear and getting rid of it. Pump up fear — and you can feel safe, right after you buy a gun. Or vote for me (I’ll stop the evildoers!). Or catch the story after the commercial break, so you’ll know what’s REALLY in your salad and how many child molesters are REALLY near your school.

    But the thing about fear, well — it’s like any other emotion (or drug). You can get accustomed to it. You need more and more fear to make the lizard brain respond, to get feet to the polls and to get someone with ten guns to buy another, or to get a viewer to think THIS time the ‘big story’ will actually flipping matter in the end.

    So it’s metastasized, really.

    And then some morons put two and two together — if “the thing we fear” keeps happening (whatever it is — the wrong party winning elections, too many ‘end of civilization’ court cases, the wrong people in your neighborhood) then you gotta fight back.

    So fear became revolution. Became violent overthrow. Because you were told there were so many dangers on the street you needed a gun 24/7. Because if Bush or Obama wins, it’s FEMA camps for dissenters (although, in all fairness, the dirty hippy Dems seem to preach moving not armed revolt), so you needed to take your country back.

    And war metaphors worked so well, you know.

    *shrug*. We’re a culture awash in guns and fear and with a growing chorus of “If you don’t like it, change it at the point of a gun, and SCREW the law because the law is captured by those ‘others’ and I have the silent majority on my side”.

    Of course it’s gonna happen. And keep happening. I mean sure — crap economic times, and a dying middle class, and virtually everyone not ridiculously wealthy feeling like everything is slipping through their fingers just makes it worse.

    But in the end: Too many guns, too much fear, and WAY too many people with loudspeakers whose best interests are served by keeping everyone armed and afraid.

    Because really, who turns out to the polls for anything less? Buys a newspaper or tunes into the news for anything less?Report

    • Avatar veronica dire in reply to morat20 says:

      @morat20 — +1Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to morat20 says:

      It really is about the fear. Make everyone afraid, without any thought to the psychological exhaustion it causes, only the attention crying wolf brings. Although for some, maybe that is the goal, if everyone is so afraid, they demand more from those in power, and give them more, just so they can relax a little.

      I remember being that afraid, when I bought my first gun. That fear has long since passed, and the guns I own now are because I enjoy the calm of target shooting, or for when I go backwoods hiking, or if I ever get off my butt and go hunting, but I remember it.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’d imagine the tipping point came when major figures (politicians, pundits, industry spokesman, television or radio personalities) mainstreamed the language of revolution, revolt, and uprising.

        To generally deal with losing sales or losing elections.

        No longer to defend yourself against ‘evil’, but to take the fight to it.

        That message gets filtered down — violence IS a solution to some problems.Report

      • To morat’s tipping point… When a public personality, effectively a spokesman for the perspective of one of the two major political parties, can say words to the effect of, “My right to carry a loaded gun around town is more important than your child’s right to not be shot down on the street,” and not be shouted down by everyone, we’re past that point.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Wait, did someone actually say that? I’ve seen folks say that, but I thought it was people on my side mocking the right. Is that a quote?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Michael Can,


      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        And I bet you weren’t even living in a city where mortars were being used.
        Folks, America is getting safer, mostly, if only because the cities are getting safer.
        Is it just me, or is rural America descending into Lord of the Flies territory?
        (Yes, I admit, I have a very local perspective on this. Asking for a broader one).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        There’s, though I don’t think he’s a spokesman for anything other than his inflated sense of importance.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Lord of the flies? For all the Texas punching going on, if you wanna see a problem, look at the mass shootings per acre of each state. To find the real shooting you have to look east or west.

        Why are these folks waging war? What is it about specific environments that makes people snap?

        I think if you could remote into the shooters head the last three days of their life and hear their thoughts it would appear the quality of life is bad on several levels. The observed indifference of humanity has bended the ability of reason to apply worth to individuals.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Speaking of AK-47 the weapon of our supposed enemies:

        During the U.S. occupation of Iraq and the 2004-2005 period of the war, the Pentagon lost track of about 110,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 80,000 pistols given to Iraqi security forces.

        (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

        I wonder what school shootings in Iraq look like these days.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        not at all talking about mass shootings. talking about frontier justice, traps, stupid meth bullshit, and overall making it dangerous to stop to help someone with a bum car on the road.Report

      • Is it just me, or is rural America descending into Lord of the Flies territory?

        Rather than just saying “NO,” at least for the parts of rural America with which I am passing familiar, let me say that it’s complicated. Yes, a lot of nut cases end up in rural America. No, they’re not locals. The folks toting rifles at the Bundy ranch (other than the Bundy family) weren’t Nevada ranchers or Nebraska farmers, they were warlord wanna-bees from the suburbs and exurbs. The meth labs in Wyoming aren’t being run by ranchers as a sideline, they’re being run by urban gang members. For the most part, the meth users in Wyoming aren’t locals, they’re oil and gas roughnecks stuck where the oil and gas are, working 12-hour-on 12-hour-off shifts, with zero other recreation available. The residents of Leith, ND used every legal maneuver they could to keep Craig Cobb from establishing a white-supremist outpost there, but they didn’t just shoot him (which could have been easily done, and simply gone in the books as another unsolved murder).

        What has happened, and the reason that outsiders can create that Lord of the Flies impression, is that rural America is dying. The threat hasn’t been this imminent since the Great Depression (and it’s worth noting that rural America was in pretty desperate shape in the 1920s, even before the Depression hit). One aspect of the New Deal that is far too seldom remarked upon is that there were conscious decisions made at the federal and state levels that rural areas were not going to be consigned to permanent second-class status. What happened over the rest of the 20th century, though, was that it took larger and larger subsidies to make that true. For the most part today, rural America needs subsidies for its roads, schools, electric grid, telecom infrastructure, medical care, and social services. It needs the large amounts of cash that are injected into the local economy by crop subsidies and other farm supports.

        The pace is accelerating. Not only are many rural counties losing population relative to the metro areas, they’re losing population in absolute terms. They can’t generate enough jobs for their kids. In some cases, we’ve reached positive feedback territory. God bless the Himmelreich-Truman household, but increasingly you can’t pay medical care providers enough to keep them in rural areas. And without doctors, and all the other services that are struggling, more people leave than are willing to move in.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’m all for some decent subsidies for ruralia — though I think roads might be better structured (maybe that’s just PA), and every day postal delivery is simply silly (don’t know how far out that reaches, mind).

        We do have folks going missing around here — you know the type, thorns in the side of someone bigger and more powerful than they are. Lord knows why someone decided to create a missing person out of an District Attorney. Still haven’t found the body.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        meant to say, thanks for the input in its entirety. I’ve heard there’s a lot of whackadoodles moving into East Tennessee — but they’re more “going to keep living here” folks, so it makes sense to eventually call them part of the populace.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        For all the Texas punching going on, if you wanna see a problem, look at the mass shootings per acre of each state.

        What a useful unit of measure. Examining those numbers, I’ve come to the shocking conclusion that dirt doesn’t commit mass shootings.Report

      • And I support rural subsidies, up to a point, because it’s a society and we’re all in this together. OTOH, on days when I’m pessimistic, I have a three-sentence summary of the history of rural America’s hope for avoiding permanent second-class status: (1) That hope began to die the day the governments ran out of high-quality land to give away. (I’m not debating the ethics of how the governments acquired that land, I’m simply taking that as a given.) (2) The Dems put it on life support in the 1930s, where it remains to this day. (3) The SCOTUS put the final nail in the coffin with Reynolds v. Sims, which ensures that eventually the urban/suburban population will tire of the subsidies and reduce them to below the level needed to sustain the rural areas’ first-class lifestyle.

        My impression is that the rural areas are playing a weak hand badly, but that may be a local thing. I had an opportunity last year to speak with one of the officers of Colorado’s 51st State secession organization (yes, they’re an organized non-profit so that they can register as lobbyists). One of the reasons they support Republicans at the national level is that they believe those Republicans will eventually deliver a SCOTUS that will reverse Reynolds. And, of course, that the metro areas will be dumb enough to then vote for a state constitutional amendment that will provide the rural areas with disproportionately large representation in the state legislature.

        Sorry, I’ve wandered rather far from the actual topic of the original post.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’d probably be more sympathetic to the plight of the rural if they weren’t also generally the biggest whiners about government handouts AND holier-than-thou about rural living being ‘real America’.

        Their latest tactic of whining because they can’t get their way because more people live in denser areas, and thus they [rural] should get extra votes because apparently rural people being the bosses is how reality works, is just an recent twist to the whining.Report

      • Truly, there is nothing worse than giving charity to someone who doesn’t appreciate your benevolence.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Truly, there is nothing worse than giving charity to someone who doesn’t appreciate your benevolence.
        That’s what you got from that?

        Let me make it simpler — I’m not sympathetic because they are playing the victims in a game where they are, in fact, perpetrators.

        You know, like the guy who murdered his parents and asked for clemency because he’s an orphan?

        These are a minority whose very existence relies on large cash transfers (ie: take more than they give), who spend a lot of their time whining about other people getting large cash transfers (which doesn’t actually come from them, since they get more money than they give anyways) and have now taken to whining that they should get more votes too because it’s unfair that the ‘other side’ has more people.

        It’s like you don’t even read what I write.Report

      • Still, if you’re going to ask for charity, calling the donor bad names before you ask is probably not the optimal strategy.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’d probably be more sympathetic to the plight of the rural if they weren’t also generally the biggest whiners about government handouts AND holier-than-thou about rural living being ‘real America’.

        While we don’t agree on much, and I am much more a rural guy than an urban guy, on this I agree with you 100%.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I LIKE rural areas. My grandparents retired to one for 20+ years (and eventually had to leave so they weren’t 30 minutes by ambulance to the nearest ER in their 80s). My in-laws plan to retire to a rural area that’s got dial-up or satellite, not even cable.

        And I’m okay with subsidizing them, I really am.

        They’re just apparently not okay with admitting they’re subsidized, and just expect infrastructure for 5 times the population density to appear free of charge.Report

      • FWIW, my issue with this statement is the same as my issue with “the problem with urban people is that they all have babies out of wedlock and then expect the government to pay for them.”

        Which is to say it takes a pretty huge, highly diverse group of people and essentially says, “when I think of them I think of this one unflattering stereotype; therefore they must all be basically like that.”Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I’m with morat about this. I don’t oppose subsidizing rural areas. What I oppose is subsidizing rural areas at the expense of necessary subsidies for the cities and suburbs and the insults. What we have instead is a system where rural Americans demand everything for themselves and refuse to fund things like the 2nd Avenue subway in New York City or high speed rail in California.Report

      • I have lived in urban/suburban America and I have lived in rural America. I personally find that I get along better and prefer the former over the latter. I rather enjoy being closer to the city, as I am now.

        I should also add that I support a lot of policies that would in effect be genuinely bad for rural America. I oppose some things that are good for it. Nothing personal, at least in the ways that Lord of the Flies comments and a lot of the comments here veer into the more personal.

        I pretty much agree with Tod on this. My experiences in ruralia don’t quite track with the props in the morality play presented here. They just don’t. Nor are cities and their inhabitants quite what the ruralians make them out to be. Cause people are people more than they are props. Inconveniently so, I realize.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        rural Americans demand everything for themselves

        Everything, eh?

        Where’s our goddam subway!?Report

      • Your fancy-schmancy gas stations where they fill up your tank for you…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Nice, Tod. I didn’t even realize I was giving a straight line.Report

      • Where’s our goddam subway!?

        This would be funnier if I didn’t live in a state where the rural areas did everything they could to keep the largest metro area from building a light rail system. As I recall, their arguments seemed to be a mix of, “We don’t want light rail, so you shouldn’t have any”, “The Bible says that more lane-miles is always the answer”, and “Metro light rail will ultimately mean reduced subsidies for rural roads”. The last one is arguably true, but it takes a lot of nerve to say it in public.Report

      • I should have added, a light rail system built entirely on the metro area’s dime.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Michael Cain sums in it up. There is a lot of animus against public transportation in the United States in Republican-leaning areas and many efforts to prevent building it even if the Republican-leaning areas don’t have to pay for it. If any subsidies are involved they fight to the death.Report

      • OTOH, one of the (to me, at least) fascinating things that has happened in the American West [1] in the last 10-15 years is that every large metro area excluding Las Vegas, red state or blue state, has successfully started building out light rail. I can’t speak to the other metro areas, but here around Denver, based on my understanding of the tax revenues, the accurate description is that Denver’s suburbs are building a light rail system whose central hub happens to be in Denver.

        [1] My West consisting of, for various reasons, the 11 contiguous states from the Rockies to the Pacific.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        I don’t know if I’d call Seattle’s single Light Rail line successful yet. It has two very good end points (downtown & SEATAC), but the stops along the way are for the most part useless.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        That’s pretty normal for transportation routes, actually. My daily bus stops in a few ghetto places because we get more subsidies (federal I think) for stopping in depressed areas. [n.b.: people rarely get on at those stops, but that’s because Pittsburgh got hills.]Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Houston spent 20 years trying to get mass transit going, blocked pretty much single-handedly by Tom Delay who represented Sugarland — about as rural as you can get that near a major city.

        Now people complain that it only links up two dense areas of downtown, instead of connecting to the suburbs and what’s the use? (The fact that if it connected the suburbs to one area of downtown, if you didn’t work in JUST that area you’d be SOL is apparently unnoticed).

        Plans are to extend the rail lines to ultimately replace much of the ‘park and ride’ (park in big lots outside of town, take a bus downtown) over the next two decades or so, as well as hook up the airports and the like.

        Sadly, by the time it’s finished we’ll all be riding around in computer controlled pods. Pity we couldn’t have started twenty years prior, but the Hammer hated mass transit because it was unAmerican.Report

  7. Avatar Guy says:

    This reads like the beginning of some kind of dystopian science fiction novel out of the 80s.

    Scary thoughts, good sir.Report

  8. Avatar veronica dire says:

    For me it is not a lack of caring; it is more that I see the situation as hopeless. In fact, given my own tenuous identity, where just taking a piss is evidently a revolutionary act, I will likely keep myself firmly entrenched in the left wing bastions of Boston or the Bay Area. I simply don’t want to live somewhere where the majority of the voters believe I am subhuman, particularly if those people also think toting an AK47 in a McDonalds is a good idea.

    I very much hope we are now seeing mindless reaction to positive social change, the Tea Partiers to the general success of liberalism, the MRA types to the general success of feminism, the hardline Christian right to the general rise in LGBT rights — and how these groups do overlap! If so, then if fifty years this problem solves itself as the angry old white men die off.

    We can hope.

    In the meanwhile, they will kill a lot of people.Report

  9. Avatar morat20 says:

    Hmm. During the 90s, there were a lot of “militias” that popped up after Clinton was elected. But they seemed more…reactive. They were waiting for something, to defend themselves.

    The same groups — often the same people — now seem pro-active. They’re preaching revolution, not self-defense. “Take back the country!” rather than “For when the government comes for me”.Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “I’m increasingly less sure that we aren’t entirely culpable of Jerad and Amanda Miller doing the same in Las Vegas”

    True Story – the Millers were investigated earlier this year by one of the myriad “Counter-terrorism Fusion Centers” that have proliferated since 9/11 and OK City.

    So before one starts blaming ‘us’ (or, per the Brady Campaign, Facebook) maybe we can look at who’s culpable within the government agencies explicitly tasked with stopping stuff like this. Alternatively, if it’s only bureaucratic security theater that will remain blameless for all failings, let’s get rid of it and spend the money on more worthwhile stuff (or not at all).Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kolohe says:

      I dunno.

      Lionize some clown three cards short for behaving like a nut job, juice him up on hero juice and then complain that the government didn’t properly anticipate the Frankenstein we helped make sounds a little close to defunding your cities Dept of Transportation and then bitching about the government cause of all the damn potholes in the street.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

      There’s probably something to be said for examining the place of counter-radicalism policies within the US. It’s a slightly sticky wicket, though, especially when we’re discussing white nationalist movements: That is, by definition they’re likely to react extremely poorly to government taking actions of that sort. It’s a confirmation bias problem there. I don’t have a good answer, and I would imagine there’s also a connection with there being an actual congressional constituency behind them as opposed to say Muslim groups.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Kolohe says:

      Gov’t bureaucrats, by definition, rarely get punished for not doing their jobs. And when they do, the solution is always that more money is needed to fix the problems. It always ends up the same: more money, less responsibility, more money.Report

  11. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    America in the late 19th and early 20th century was in the grip of major social and economic change. The cities were growing and rural areas growing less populous. More Americans were working in factories and mines and fewer as farmers. Immigration was changing the face of the United States. Naturally lots of people didn’t like that and Anglo-Saxon Protestant America had one last hurrah in the form of Prohibition and the revived KKK until the Great Depression put the New Deal coalition in power and destroyed what was left of the old order.

    In the late 20th and early 21st century, America is again in the grips of radical social and economic change. We are growing more racially and religiously diverse thanks to immigration. Our economic is going under a radical transformation along with the rest of the world. Within my life time the LGBT has transformed itself from something on the margins of American life to part of the mainstream. The same goes for other marginalized groups. American culture has fragmented immensely since I was born. We have twice elected an African-American man to the White House. There are lots of people who do not like these change and are reacted against them. Its just now that the reaction takes the form of gun-based machismo rather than bans on alcohol consumption and KKK membership.Report

  12. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Good post Tod. Like you, I’m not really sure what to make of all this violence except to agree with you that it’s becoming increasingly normalized. And while the general apathy expressed by so many people about this stuff may be something to lament it may indirectly eliminate some of the motivation behind doing these types of things.

    One thing I’d add is that a culture which increasingly identifies its political opponents as wanting to take away their guns, a view which is always dressed up in terms of tyranny and freedom and god given this and constitutional that, has already normalized the use of violence to achieve political ends. It’s a tight little circle where any response to those folks arming up, or talking about arming up, or bringing rifles into Chipotle as a form of outreach to their opponents, is viewed by them as evidence that they were – and are – in fact right. Which justifies even more arming up, and so on. There’s something pathological about that view, it seems to me, and its certainly not an uncommon view of things. In fact, it seems to be gaining lots of traction lately. Which may have been part of you’re point.Report

  13. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I literally feel exhausted every time one of these posts go up lately because I just don’t have the energy to try to discuss perspective anymore. These crimes are committed to be sensational. Mission accomplished. Yeah, they seem to be happening more frequently and I personally think it’s because kids are pretty nuts these days, but we keep feeding into the publicity by wringing our hands ad nauseum.

    One thing I will mention with regards to the dumb asses who are doing open-carry in restaurants and such: they aren’t the ones we have to fear. Yeah, we should shun them and other gun owners should tell them how stupid they are, but those aren’t the guys we should worry about. The loner kid who clearly has social issues? Let’s keep a closer eye on him

    I will also add that 100 years ago lynching was amazingly common throughout the South. Armed riots were not uncommon. You would probably never have something like the 1917 Houston Riot today. In 1855 there were 22 people killed in anti-immigrant riots in my hometown. So despite the fact that there are a lot more guns there is overall a lot less violence of the kind we fear when goofballs open carry at Taco Bell.Report

    • I sympathize. I grew up hunting. I have a female friend, who volunteered her computer forensics skills and helped put multiple child molesters behind bars, who carries a concealed handgun in public because of the distinct possibility that one of them will get out and come looking for her. And the fact is, it won’t be hard for them to get a gun if they want one if they come looking. Will her gun make a difference? If the situation arises, I hope that it does.

      I don’t know where the right balance is. I don’t know how to figure out where the right balance is, or how to get to it even if we figured out where it is. But where we are today, with too many people doing bad things with guns, is not the right place.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain says:

        God save the righteous idiots.
        Dammit, doesn’t she know how to hide?

        [I hear there are organizations out there that can
        teach someone how to safely finger bad guys…
        Anonymous if nothing else.]

        I’d see about getting her a real self defense course
        (not an empowerment course — more about spotting tails).Report

      • Yes, she’s been through real self-defense courses. Yes, she knows about hiding. A couple of years ago she identified a stalker tailing her; when the police detained him, it turned out to be “just” a stalker, not anyone involved in any of the cases she had worked. As I understand it, the police in the small town where she now lives encouraged her to get the gun and learn how to use it properly. But she’s more than a bit stubborn about not living her whole life and making her choices about work based on staying hidden all the time.Report

  14. Avatar LWA says:

    I am convinced that we should reconsider the 2nd entirely. I just don’t see gun ownership as any sort of natural right, any more than driving a car.

    It shouldn’t threaten anyone to raise the prospect of gun licensing and registration. And those to whom is does, it should.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to LWA says:

      I’m convinced of this to but I don’t see it happening for decades.

      The voters who took out Cantor were very old, very white, and very conservative. These are people fighting for the last gasp of their America and they think their way of life is dying.Report

    • Avatar Citizen in reply to LWA says:

      When I see more than the one liberal stopping a column of tanks with a brief case, I would say the 2nd could be taken off the books.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Citizen says:

        *snort*. When I see one of those ‘militia’ movements running around playing soldier in the woods capable of stopping a tank or an A-10, I’ll stop mocking them.

        I expect I’ll be laughing at them until I die of old age.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Citizen says:

        The Bundyites were able to stop federal law enforcement from doing its job. Though not the ways that’s usually pictured; the feds weren’t afraid of Bundy’s firepower, they were afraid of the bad publicity that would result from overcoming it.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Citizen says:

        Yeah, I guess soon the lone liberal with the brief case won’t make the news here either.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Citizen says:


        I’ll believe in the militia movement protecting liberty when a guy with an assault rifle stops a tank or fighter jet with a bomb.


        I also think Bundy had support from local government officials like the Sherrif’s office. Though I do think the militia types are betting on the military siding with them if push comes to shove.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to Citizen says:

        @ Saul
        My point is more about will than might.
        I do believe we have as strong willed liberals as we have militia, its just the application vector of that will, that is bothering me lately. If I shine a mirror on you is the reflection holding a briefcase, or is it driving the tank?

        McVeigh produced enough energy density to dispatch several tanks or planes, that’s an application of physics that only needed to find ill will.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Citizen says:

        I do believe we have as strong willed liberals as we have militia, its just the application vector of that will, that is bothering me lately. If I shine a mirror on you is the reflection holding a briefcase, or is it driving the tank?
        So, if I’m understanding you, the liberals have tanks, whereas the conservatives have briefcases?

        Because the liberals are working through the levers of government and the conservatives are running around with guns?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Citizen says:


        The awesome machines of war (tanks, jets, drones, gunships) are not so awesome to people with experience with them. The biggest limitation with them is that they aren’t actually all that effective against infantry, especially if the infantry is unwilling to engage them openly & is difficult to identify. And in urban areas, they are next to useless except to cause lots of infrastructure damage. Plus aircraft are damn fragile, and even tanks have glaring weaknesses if you know where they are (how many vets are there who used to drive/fix tanks or aircraft?).

        Add to that the massive costs of operating them, and the propensity for collateral damage, and in the event of some kind of insurrection in the US, they would be deployed very sparingly, or not at all, unless the powers that be are willing to suffer the damage to their claims of legitimacy. I mean, how many of you get upset when a drone strike kills a bad guy in Iraq/Afghanistan, while also killing a dozen or more innocent people/kids? Imagine that now in your neighborhood? People are already starting to get upset that police are using military hardware for normal day to day operations, I can’t imagine they’d tolerate actual military.

        No, if some militia guy is trading fire with the big guns, we will be so far down the rabbit hole…Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Citizen says:

        The point BEING that, flatly put, some militia versus, oh, FBI SWAT is going to lose. Versus National Guard, lose worse. Versus army, lose even worse.

        Literally, if they’re thinking the guns they own will stand between them and government tyranny they’re idiots. Although to be honest, I expect most of them feel they have a silent majority — including in the armed forces — behind them.

        Just like those idiots who showed up to the ranch probably think they scared the FBI off, rather than the FBI eyerolling, declining to start a firefight, and handling it all quietly after they go home.

        What stands between them and tyranny is the rule of law, something they’re undermining daily.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Citizen says:


        I don’t think that all of the thought experiments are necessary. We’ve been watching in real time a couple of conflicts between the world’s best equipped military and a bunch of people with small arms and IEDs hiding in buildings. The world’s best military is out-killing them N:1, but they’re not winning the wars.

        They could win the war if they didn’t mind leveling every city and town, but they can’t do that, and they certainly wouldn’t do that if we were fighting a civil war. It seems like history has spoken and a lot of angry people with small arms can run a very effective insurgency that tanks and planes and well-trained soldiers can do very little to stop.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Citizen says:

        Troublesome frog:

        I don’t think you can realistically compare American militia movements with, say, urban guerilla warfare.

        Among other things, I sincerely doubt a hypothetical militia rebellion in the US would have a fraction of the public support such things had in Iraq.

        They’re loud, but they’ve never exactly been popular — and if I can be cynical, the minute actual shooting starts I think the bulk of the pro-militia folks would fine reasons to be elsewhere, to boot.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Citizen says:

        That’s a different argument, though. If you want to argue that the militia movement is stupid because they’ll never actually be needed (and by “needed” I mean the situation gets dire enough that they have a critical mass of support instead of being fringe nutjobs), I’m right there with you. Those guys are nuts. Having contingency plans for the zombie apocalypse and the invasion of the UN but having no retirement savings or health insurance is a really good example of not being able to evaluate risk and plan accordingly. But so is carrying a gun into a burrito shop on the off chance that it will do some good, IMO.

        But if you’re willing to assume that a real uprising against the US government will some day be necessary and popular, their strategy is probably sound. If we ever got into the situation, we’d have pretty much exactly the situation we have in Iraq and Afghanistan, but with well-equipped soldiers who are even less willing to level apartment buildings and schools than they are when they’re in somebody else’s country. The “tanks and planes” argument doesn’t sync up with reality.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Citizen says:

        I have in the past posted links about the potential for civil unrest (which was rather high — say 10%) in the wake of The Financial Incident of Latest Note.

        Now, me, I doubt the militia would actually have stood on their hats and gone into the city with the gangbangers to actually fix anything.

        But America, as always, is a lot closer to the brink than people think.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Citizen says:

        The “tanks and planes” argument doesn’t sync up with reality

        It’s shorthand for “They’re a real trained military, and you aren’t” coupled with “And if sizable amounts aren’t deserting to join your side, complete with their weapons, the public doesn’t like you either”.

        Most of the militia folks play in the woods anyways, and the US military has gotten pretty good at sending small bombs exactly where they want.

        Also mortars, small artillery, crew-served weapons, explosives, trained engineers, military grade vehicles with military armor rather than jeeps or civilian hummers…

        Nor can you conduct urban warfare without a sympathetic populace. Otherwise they find you really fast because a non-sympathetic populace, or even a neutral one, doesn’t like all the bullets around.Report

  15. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Yet Tod, you resisted the notion that a subculture glorifying a nasty form of misogyny, riddled with sexually frustrated men encouraging one another to be willing to rest to violence as an outlet of that frustration, was partly to blame for the higher-profile shooting at UCSB. Don’t the “incels” lionize? What is different about a culture that lionizes guns as opposed to a culture that lionizes violence, or just plain hate?Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

      @burt-likko I have three separate responses to this rather astute observation.

      1. As I said in the OP, this is a new belief that is now growing inside my head. It is neither tested nor conforming with my previous thoughts.

      2. Even if my new belief is right, I still think Rogers clearly fits in the Lanza category and not the Miller category. The Millers were *part* of a movement, and were given special attention because of their involvement. Rogers doesn’t seem to ever have been part of anything; he just used some buzzwords. That difference seems important somehow, but I don’t know that I understand yet why.

      3. I am a man of many faces. The number of voices inside my head is legion.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I should clarify one point. The phrase “a subculture glorifying a nasty form of misogyny” might imply that there is somehow a beneficent form of misogyny, which is incorrect. I should have written “…a particularly nasty form of misogyny.”Report

  16. Avatar Damon says:

    I’m curious about the nature of the shooters. It’s my recollection that a lot of the shooters were under some form of treatment, usually prescription pills of some sort. Is there a causal or correlated link?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

      Well, let’s understand that a LOT of medicine is psychotropic, to start off with.
      Sudafed, for example, has some interesting effects on the brain.
      Prescription Narcotics have even wackier stuff on the brain.
      Ambien has downright creepy side-effects (some marriage ending in severity).

      Now, let’s say that these people are even a little off-plumb. yeah, they’re going to get some odd medicine, at some point. We give people pills a lot.Report

  17. Avatar starviego says:

    Every one of these young mass shooters has had some kind of exposure to psychiatrists BEFORE their rampages. FIRST comes the mental health ‘treatment,’ THEN comes the ultraviolence. It’s called mind control.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to starviego says:

      I don’t know if you are being serious or not. I certainly hope not but will give you a small joke:

      “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”

      “One but the lightbulb has to want to change.”

      These men did not want to change. The rantings of Roger made that clear.Report

      • Avatar starviego in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I am being dead serious. The evidence:

        4-15-99 LDS Church Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Sergei Babarin, 70
        “Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini said Babarin was schizophrenic and had not been taking his medication”

        4-20-99 Columbine, CO
        Eric Harris had been seeing a psychologist, Dr. Albert.

        12-26-00 Wakefield massacre, MA Michael “Mucko” McDermott, 42
        “The defense lawyer said his client had been seeing psychiatrists”

        2-9-04 Columbia High School, Rensselaer County, NY Jon Romano, 16
        In the months before the shooting Romano was getting treatment at Four Winds Psychiatric Facility.

        3-21-05 Red Lake HS, Red Lake, MN, Jeff Weise, 17
        Weise was taken to a psychiatric ward in Thief River Falls after a suicide scare.

        9-13-06 Dawson College, Montreal, Kimveer Gill, 25,
        “….(his mother) said he had been depressed, and had even sought help for it a while back.”

        1-19-07 Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Princeton Mass, John Odgren, 16
        His lawyer said “He’s on a number of medications and he’s under the care of many physicians…”

        2-12-07 SLC Trolley Square massacre, UT Sulejman Talovic, 18
        His girlfriend said he had seen a counselor at some point for his problems.

        12-15-07 Trevor Lapierre, 22, Kitchener, Ontario
        Lapierre had been hospitalized four times in the year and half before the murder for his mental afflictions.

        2-14-08 Northern Illinois University, Steven Kazmierczak, 27
        Kazmierczak had been seeing a psychiatrist on a monthly basis.

        9-23-08 Kauhajoki School of Hospitality(Finland), Matti Juhani Saari, 22
        “…Saari sought treatment of some kind last summer, and was given tranquilizers.”

        1-23-09 Fabeltjesland nursery/day care stabbings, Belgium, Kim de Gelder, 20
        He had been receiving in-patient treatment at a local clinic.

        1-24-09 Portland, OR Niteclub Shooting, Eric Salvador Ayala
        “An interview by police with Ayala’s mother at the hospital before he died revealed that he had been hospitalized and on medication when he was younger for depression or other mental health problems…”

        4-10-09 OAED Vocational College, Athens, Greece, Dimitris Patmanidis, 19
        “…the 19-year-old had once tried to strangle a fellow student and had subsequently been placed under the surveillance of a college psychologist.”

        11-26-09 Pecs University, Hungary
        “The university’s dean… said there would be a thorough investigation of the suspect’s background, including his relationship with psychiatrists…”

        6-2-10 Cumbria Rampage, England
        Some sources said that before the shootings started the taxi-driver turned up at a local hospital and requested to be seen or taken in, stating that he was ‘mentally ill.’

        8-17-10 McKinney(TX)/Collin College Patrick Gray Sharp, 29
        Sharp’s father said that Patrick had a long history of mental illness and psychological evaluations, dating back to when he was just 9-years-old.

        10-8-10 Kelly Elementary, San Diego, Brendan O’Rourke
        He had spent at least one night in a mental ward after displaying bizarre symptoms

        1-8-11 Tucson/Giffords, AZ Jared Loughner
        “Pietz, the court-appointed psychologist, testified that Loughner appeared to be a normal child and average student until he was …diagnosed with depression.. .”

        4-09-11 Ridderhof Mall, Netherlands Tristan van der Vlis, 25
        Following threats of suicide, he was hospitalized for 10 days in a psych facility.

        3-8-12 Western Psych Hospital, PA John F. Shick, 30
        “KDKA’s Marty Griffin reports that Shick had mental illness, an extensive mental history and that he went to Western Psych to kill his doctor.”

        3-20-12 Waller High School, TX Trey Eric Sesler, 22
        “Family members said he was under some kind of medical treatment…”

        7-20-12 Aurora Batman shooting, CA James Holmes, 24
        “James Holmes…. was being treated by a psychiatrist–Dr. Lynne Fenton–at the university where he was enrolled …”

        9-7-12 Normal Community High School, IL Unsub
        “The 14 year old student is described… as someone who was “messed up” and had a lot of emotional and educational problems. The boy was receiving some help.”

        12-14-12 Sandy Hook Elementary School, CT Adam Lanza, 20
        “Newtown school officials assigned a permanent psychologist to Mr. Lanza in his freshman year of high school.”

        4-22-13 Belgorod, Russia, Sergey Pomazun, 31
        “…the shooting suspect had undergone treatment at a psychiatric clinic.”

        6-7-13 Santa Monica Community College, CA John Zawahri, 23
        “A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Saturday that the alleged gunman had suffered mental health issues. A couple of years ago, he was hospitalized for treatment after allegedly talking about harming someone, according to the official.”

        8-19-13 Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy, GA Michael Brandon Hill, 20
        “Everything just started changing after doctors started messing with his medicines here and there, and changing them up and putting him on a different one and institutionalizing him multiple times to correct his medicine. It just escalated from there.”

        9-16-13 Navy Yard Shooting Washington DC, Aaron Alexis, 34
        “Alexis… had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems, the officials said.”

        1-14-14 Berrendo Middle School, Roswell, NM Mason Campbell, 12
        The suspected shooter was transferred to an Albuquerque psychiatric hospital on the day of the incident, which indicates he was already under a doctor’s care beforehand.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Clearly, then, mental health treatment is to blame. Let us abolish mental health treatment, at minimum in the way it is currently practiced, and soon enough we shall see a dramatic decrease in these appalling acts of violence.

        Is this proposition:

        a) The logical fallacy of affirming the consequent;
        b) The logical fallacy of post hoc ergo proctor hoc;
        c) An exceedingly risky and unwise public policy proposal;
        d) All of the above.Report

  18. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here’s a story that provides a bit of baby for the bathwater.

    A husband and wife armed with guns were able to stave off an apparent home invasion Monday night, police said.

    There are a lot of things intertwined.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      In May 2010, McClinton was charged with fatally shooting Bryan Reed, 28, the previous month. Reed was sitting with a friend in a car April 24 in the 3700 block of Minnesota Avenue about 12:40 a.m. when a gunman approached and shot Reed several times.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      I do not like the felony murder rule.

      No one is denying that there are time people do defend themselves successfully. This does not mean it will happen all the time or even most of the time.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It’d be awesome if, I dunno, some sort of centralized database of gun statistics could be funded and used.

        We could actually answer questions like “Statistically, does owning a gun make you safer” — perhaps even “What if you live in a low population area? Safer then? What if you have training?”

        All sorts of things could have interesting, useful answers. Or at least clues.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        My household owns many guns, none of which (that I am aware of) are on our property. [transl: if they are there, they’re DAMN well hidden. not in range of thieves, or angry householders of any sort].Report

  19. Avatar Patrick says:

    The problem I have with this construct is that I suspect that the psych makeup that puts you in the danger category for becoming this particular brand of killer is probably not one much susceptible to nurture. Granted, this is a very rare phenomenon, statistically speaking, and thus it is really hard to make any claims in this space with any sort of certainty.

    Thus the budding spree killer is, first and foremost, a killer. Someone more than indifferent about other people in fact, someone predisposed to get rid of them in furtherance of their own goals.

    Historically, folks like this have lots of outlets, other than the one that is currently fashionable here in the U.S. War. Crime. On the question of “white males are staggeringly more likely to do this than anybody else”, I’m sure there are a number of folks in minority communities who might (under different circumstances) become spree killers, but they have another outlet for their particular brand of sociopathy; they hook up with gangs or are subjected to violence environmentally much earlier than the middle-class white guy who bypasses all that due to the privilege of growing up relatively insulated from violence.

    So I’m not sure that culture really has any place as a primary cause of this sort of thing.

    It could, however, very well be a proximate cause of operationalization choices. You get shot while robbing a liquor store, you don’t make national news. You’re not somebody. You’re just a crime statistic.

    You go out in a blaze of hellfire and you’re a celebrity. People argue about your motives. People read your manifestos. People talk about you as if you were important… in a way that you can’t get, otherwise, without a lot of luck and effort and hard work. It takes real dedication and a lifelong path of misery to be MLK. It takes nothing to be Adam Lanza except getting access to some weapons.

    In that sense, Tod, it’s probably a good thing that we’re getting blase’ about spree killings. We pay less attention to the killers, we take away that incentive. You go back to being a guy who stuck up a liquor store. You’re a crime statistic. You don’t really matter. We don’t give a shit about whether or not you claim you did this because you hate women, or black folks, or the bullies that beat you up or the parents that didn’t give you a bike for your birthday. Those aren’t your real reason for doing this. Your real reason for doing this is that you’re a sick, pathetic excuse for a human being.

    It won’t be better for finding these guys and giving them help, but it will change the tactics, anyway.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Patrick says:

      I think the media-feeding-the-crave-for-celebrity is the theory I’ve always felt fit best.

      It does seem to me, though, that even though we’re becoming increasingly blasé, the opposite of what I would have expected is happening: the number of occurrences are increasing. Which might mean that it’s taking a while for the rat to get through the snake; but it might also mean that the explanation I’ve told myself over the past 30 years is ill-founded. Time might provide that answer.

      But even if you’re right, it seems that having a blasé attitude won’t necessarily be good. I’m not enough of an early-American history buff to know what things were like in the way-back, but in the modern era it’s unprecedented to have leaders of one of the major political parties foster conversations about taking arms against the country, or combining revolutionary zeal with apocalyptic rhetoric.

      It’s hard to believe that six straight years of this behind us (and, I have to assume, at least six ahead of us) doesn’t come with a price.

      I’m still trying to muddle through exactly how high that price is. But if I’m right and there *is* a price, then a growing indifference to mass killings — be they politically motivated or just bats**t crazy whackobirds — can’t be good. (Or at least that’s what I’m thinking.)Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        In the modern era it’s unprecedented to have leaders of one of the major political parties foster conversations about taking arms against the country, or combining revolutionary zeal with apocalyptic rhetoric.

        This is… slightly different. I suspect it feeds into this phenomenon, but I think the real problem with this is not really related to crazy mass killings.

        It’s delegitimizing the government. That has a whole bunch of cultural implications other than “crazy guy seizes on this as the storyboard for his crazy”.

        I really don’t look forward to the next Presidential election. There are a whole bunch of folks out there who are going to be flabbergasted at the results, particularly after the midterm elections, I’d guess.

        When you have been told that the government is not behaving legitimately – indeed, one particular political party is just waiting to ruin American – and you’ve built up an expectation that this is a commonly-held conception, and then you get your ass whupped? Well, the only possible conclusion is the fix is in.

        Hilary runs and gets elected? We’ll have another Waco, I’ll bet a beer.

        Is that crass, to bet on that? Yeah, probably.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        @patrick I would not take that bet.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        If Obama is still alive by then, I’ll bet that Hillary survives her president unassassinated.Report

  20. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Comment stuck in moderation. Okay, I mentioned all of shooting and dying and assorted sorts of violence, but I did it in a constructive way. Honest :^)Report

  21. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    @tod-kelly et. al

    I have a question for everyone. While we regularly here rail about crime & shootings, I don’t see a lot of obvious concern with regard to how violent our police are getting, how many people they regularly traumatize, or injure, or kill without good cause (good cause being, in my mind, a situation that would result in a civilian not being indicted because it was legitimate self defense). Also little concern for how many government agencies are arming their employees & putting together SWAT/Tac teams (thank you Patriot Act, may all who voted for you suffer the body lice of a thousand rednecks). (Yes @dan-miller, I know you expressed concern over this, thank you).

    We have no central database of police use-of-force incidents, and most states don’t even maintain one, which means any kind of research into such would require FOIA requests from every department, &/or mining news sites. And a lot of departments do their damnedest to dodge FOIA requests as much as possible. Anytime such a law is proposed, police departments & unions shut it down, hard, and get almost zero pushback from… well… anybody. God forbid anyone even talk about trying to reform immunity. Here in Seattle, the Police are suing to NOT have to obey a federal mandate that restricts their ability to legitimately use force.

    Last week in GA, an infant in his crib had his face burned off by a flash-bang grenade going off in his crib, because the police could not be bothered to do a proper surveillance of the home. Last I heard, the boy is in a medically induced coma. Even with plastic surgery, the child will carry the scars & effects of the grenade with him for the rest of his life, assuming he recovers. I’ll bet even money no one even so much as loses their job over this. The police leadership has already passed the buck and said that they guy they were after (who didn’t live there) was a drug dealer and therefore a terrorist and they were justified in what they did, all over $50 worth of drugs.

    While I certainly understand the concern over school shootings and criminal homicides, I personally have to place the violent recklessness of law enforcement & DAs above such things, because these people operate with the legitimate monopoly of the initiation of force, but almost zero responsibility or accountability for it. We even treat the victims of police negligence & recklessness differently. The kids in Troutdale will all have access to counselors & therapists in order to best process the trauma of the event. The folks in GA, whose child is in the NICU, they don’t have insurance, and it will be a cold day in hell before a PD steps up to pay for their mistake. No medical expenses for the kid, no access to trauma specialists for the innocent parents.

    And for those who think the increasing police violence is in response to increasing violence in society, or against officers, think again. Violence over all in the US continues to trend down, and Police Officer doesn’t even rank in the top 10 most dangerous professions (and if you remove off-duty deaths & on-duty traffic fatalities, it’s even more safe).Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I think you do have a quite a bit of point here. I’d say the increase in violence and militarization of the police in neither leading or following the amount of mass shootings and changes in the gun culture. They are closely linked and different variants of the same phenomenon. Cops and most hard core gun enthusiasts are pretty darn conservative. All the cops i’ve known are private gun owners and are generally really into it. There is a strong love of violence and force in our culture. While it crosses partisan boundaries there is more of it in the generally hawkish conservatives. Dialing up firepower and force is a the number 1 solution for a lot of Americans, whether its them personally or in the strong state they desire.

      Cops do get off far to easy for their use of force. I joked a few weeks ago when i said liberals were soft on crime before it was cool. But stronger authority is what people wanted and that is what we got. I will disagree about cops jobs. In most cases being a cop is a really hard, taxing job. They don’t get killed in high numbers but PTSD, usually undiagnosed, divorce and alcoholism is common. Being a cop is hard on a person.

      My idea would be to make being a street cop or detective do tours like soldiers do. They cruise the streets for 1 year then they go to admin, 9-5 and have a lot of training for 6 months before going back to the streets. That would give them time to take all the training they should have but also to defuse from the stress lots of them suffer from. In there down period they should also be visiting local churches, community centers, etc in the area they will patrol. This would help them build bridges and manage their stress.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak says:


        My idea would be to make being a street cop or detective do tours like soldiers do. They cruise the streets for 1 year then they go to admin, 9-5 and have a lot of training for 6 months before going back to the streets. That would give them time to take all the training they should have but also to defuse from the stress lots of them suffer from. In there down period they should also be visiting local churches, community centers, etc in the area they will patrol. This would help them build bridges and manage their stress.

        This is a good idea, although it would require quite an uptick in budget. Although perhaps if all that federal grant money for police was tasked for this kind of stuff, instead of drug arrests…Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I think the premise to this comment might be mistaken. It seems like this one of the few places where quite a lot of concern is shown about police violence.

      I think it’s a really interesting and important topic, but to bring it up in this post feels a little bit like a change of subject more than anything else.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        No, because I wonder why we rarely have a candlelight vigil for the people terrorized by police.

        If a random person commits random violence, then we might.

        But if government is us, then the police are us. If we can not tolerate senseless violence from random citizens, why are we more willing to tolerate it from our agents, just because they give it the patina of “official”.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        “No, because I wonder why we rarely have a candlelight vigil for the people terrorized by police.”

        I’m on your side, but they happen.Report

      • I seem to recall something like that after Amadou Diallo. There were other elements involved in that, though.

        I sorta suspect that one of the things is that the victims in those cases tend to come one or two at a time. Even looking at civilian-on-civilian shootings, the mass shootings are not typically how people fall victim to gunfire. It’s definitely what catches our attention.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        @will-truman That’s definitely true. A lot of the damage is done in domestic cases, suicides, and other shootings that are unlikely to go past the inside of the Metro section, rather than making national news.Report

      • No, because I wonder why we rarely have a candlelight vigil for the people terrorized by police.

        These things tend to happen quite a bit, but they’re not covered on mainstream press reports for the most part because it’s derided as being “grievance mongering” by minorities.Report

      • Honestly I feel like that “no vigils for people terrorized by police” thing is a strawman that’s not true, just like the whole “black people don’t protest black on black violence” strawman, both of which are perpetuated by folks too lazy to google or just not very aware. was TNC’s great rejoinder to that.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Very true Nob. Al Sharpton is widely, and truly, regarded as an egregious race monger. However he also often lead marches in protest of police brutality and not just in the Brawley case. He likely hurt the cause, given how he is perceived, as much as he helped. But at least in the NY area protests of police brutality were a lesser species of incident and covered that way.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        I said “rarely”, I know such vigils against police violence happen, but either not with the frequency of other such vigils, or not with the equivalent coverage in the national media. I know how to use the Google.

        The finer point is that we can actually affect police shootings. They work for us, we can make changes, if we just choose to take back the power to control such things. I just wish I saw the enthusiasm for changes to police that I see for additional gun control.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        You know how much “gun control” enthusiasm I see? Zero.

        Like…even popular bills go nowhere. There’s enthusiasm, and it’s on the side of MOAR GUNS PLEASE.

        So you probably don’t wish that sort of enthusiasm on dealing with cops.

        Secondly, people have been complaining bitterly and trying to handle police brutality for years. Generally the same people who have given up on gun control — you know, the left with their “due process” whining and “the war on drugs is stupid” whining and “dashboard cams” and such.

        Heck, Obama’s big state level accomplishment was being involved in forcing police interrogations to be taped, which isn’t jailing them for SWAT teaming Grandmother on accident, but is certainly a place where police misconduct festers nastily.

        If you don’t see people holding vigils and denouncing police violence, it’s because you’re not watching. And if you think it’s not as intense, it’s probably because police misconduct is more local than national, so the protests are more local than national.Report

      • It seems to me that there are some serious undercurrents of change out there with regards to society’s relationship with the police. There is a growing contempt for law enforcement out there in corners where the cops were always seen as “the good guys”.

        I mean, here’s something downright shocking:

        That’s from Jack Dunphy, a cop who, in the past, could have reliably been expected to write an essay explaining how whatever happened to this child is on the heads of the parents who put the child in that position and how awful it was that druggies were willing to use their own children (!) as human shields in the war on drugs.

        The “law and order” crowd is beginning to notice that their own eggs are now getting broken… and the omelet still hasn’t arrived. It’s gotten bad enough that the folks who used to defend anything are now willing to say “hey, we’re discrediting ourselves with some of this…”

        But what’s most surprising, to me, are the top comments to the post: they’re critical of the cops. None of this “well, you have to understand” hedging and hemming and hawing. They’re coming out and saying “(police) are sloppy, careless, dangerous thugs with sovereign immunity”.Report

      • Hey, if that infant didn’t want to get shot it should have made better life choices.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        I knew when I saw that episode of MTV Cribs – The Next Generation, with Lil’ Lil’ Jon showing off his palatial abode, that his blinged-out music mobile wasn’t the only thing that had to be “dope” around there.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        If that is the case, why aren’t people like Bloomberg spending $50M to build an organization to tackle police violence & militarization? Why aren’t police unions getting shredded in the press the way the NRA regularly does?

        I want change, you want change, Dan wants change, but the folks at the top, who could make a push for change? Crickets. They rarely feel the effects of law enforcement, and when they do, they are often afforded every courtesy (a chance to surrender, etc.), they have no incentive to buck the police unions, because we don’t give them any (I try to, I write the letters and make the calls, etc.).

        PS (not necessarily to you, morat) regarding this being a bit off topic, have you people read the comments at this blog? Staying on topic is a stretch any day of the week. If you don’t like my tangent, don’t engage it.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        More evidence that police are utterly out of touch with the most vulnerable. I like greginakss idea above even more. All that ragging on the infants parents for being bad for having the family in that house, zero consideration for the possibility that after her home burned down, she probably had no where else to go! Or maybe that was the least bad option available to her, or the only one that would let her stay long enough to get her feet back under herself.

        I wish more cops were like this.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        If that is the case, why aren’t people like Bloomberg spending $50M to build an organization to tackle police violence & militarization? Why aren’t police unions getting shredded in the press the way the NRA regularly does?
        I don’t know, why doesn’t Bloomberg spend 50M to teach all the world to sing?

        What’s that got to do with the price of tea in china?

        Occupy protestors were getting pepper-sprayed, and you weren’t exactly hearing the left sing the cops praises, right? You want to hear people screaming about taser abuse and pain compliance, you’ll find them on the liberal and libertarian sides pretty exclusively.

        The real reason cops are untouchable can boil down to two, short, sentences. “Tough on Crime” and “War on Drugs”.

        Which, to put it bluntly, are phrases wielded as cudgels when the subject comes up.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      You definitely have a point here, especially with regards to the tracking issue–I think better data collection is really important here, although I’m no expert in the field. Then again, I also think we should have a national gun registry, so maybe this is just my technocratic managerial liberalism showing through 😉Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Being the libertarian I am, I am hesitant to give government more data over private citizens (if you want an anonymized gun registry, or one that can’t be fished/data-mined for names & addresses, we can talk about that). But police are not private citizens. There is no legitimate reason not to have a central DB of such things.Report