Texas + Zero Gun Laws = Death, Death & More Death

Perversely, one of the advantages of America’s students having to study from home during the pandemic was that it radically reduced the number of school shootings. There was plenty of gun violence outside those empty schools to make up for it though — a whole other problem — but, thankfully, school shootings were zero for an extended period: bravo, America! The rest of the civilized world understands what America refuses to: the proliferation of guns across a society endangers every bit of that society. We’re the data set that proves their point! Alas, there’s little one can do to soothe a lizard brain aflame with the fear of mortal peril because Black and brown people live in America. Let’s be honest — every single one of America’s gun laws (like policing itself here in America) has its roots in racism or slavery. Racist paranoia is the organizing principle undergirding Texas’ new gun law — the one that makes it even easier to get a gun, carry a gun in the open and use that gun — as an 18 year old high school student did today in Arlington, Texas when he opened fire at Timberview HS, (so far) injuring four people.

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/lockdown-issued-at-timberview-high-in-arlington-possible-shots-fired/2759727/

Even as our news media trips over itself to cover yet another school shooting, they can’t make the leap to “why” it keeps happening. It’s painful watching our news media scratch its head over yet another seemingly intractable American problem, having framed the story for so long from the NRA’s perverse point of view. Australia used to be almost as gun-mad as America. But, on Sunday April 28, 1996, lone gunman Martin Bryant — armed with two semi-automatic assault rifles — killed 35 people and wounded another 23 in Port Arthur, Tasmania, a tourist town. Within two weeks, Australia — its six states completely in agreement — tightened its gun laws, banning semi-automatic rifles and shotguns outright. They also “put more hurdles between prospective gun owners and their weapons.” Want a gun in Australia? Prepare for a 28 day waiting period, a thorough background check and a “requirement to present a ‘justifiable reason’ to own a gun”.

The result? “The number of Australia’s mass shootings dropped from 11 in the decade before 1996, to one in the years since – the murder-suicide of a family of five in New South Wales in 2014.” There’s icing on that “reduced gun violence cake”: The overall rates of homicide and suicide also fell significantly after 1996. There are still illegal guns in Australia; it’s a problem they know hasn’t gone away entirely. But they’ve demonstrated the flip side of what we’ve demonstrated: fewer guns where they don’t belong equals less gun violence equals less death.

In other words, one plus one equals two.

I’m old enough to remember when the NRA was a “gun safety” organization. That was before they became the gun manufacturer’s lobby, determined to get richer than they already were by stoking white peoples’ fear of Black people. When dangerous muttonheads like these losers leave their caves, armed to the teeth, who out here are they so afraid of? Do they honestly think a situation could suddenly happen where they’re going to be the thing that prevents a tragedy? They ARE the tragedy — walking around, just waiting to happen!

Every gun — every single one — is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. Guns are all “death machines”, designed from the inside out to send a piece of hot metal hurtling through the air at a live target, the point being to kill that live target dead. Every part of the gun is designed to facilitate that. Sure, you can fire your gun at a non-living target but that wasn’t the point. Neither is a gun sitting in a gun locker. While that’s a responsible thing to do with a gun that you’re not using, you’re doing something with the gun that it wasn’t designed to do — sit. Guns are death machines. For starters, as they do in Australia, we need to ask: “for what purpose, citizen, do YOU need a “death machine’?”

“Because you’re paranoid” won’t cut it as an answer.

Our biggest problem with guns and our gun laws is that we’ve never been honest about guns or our gun laws. Hell, we’re living inside the NRA’s linguistic bamboozlement that turned a “well-regulated militia” choosing which citizens get to “keep and bear” arms (not OWN them — and “own” was a perfectly good word back then) into a “Have All The Guns Ya Want!” free for all. As written, the Second Amendment was about gun control; it’s right there in the words, no making shit up required.

Conservatives believe feelings are more important than facts. They’re paranoia trumps any facts you can throw at them abut violence. And just like they couldn’t care less if their own children succumb to and die from Covid-19, conservatives apparently couldn’t care less if their children end up in a stack of bodies recovered from a school shooting.

We used to take comfort from the fact that what stopped Russia and America from nuking each other and the planet into a permanent winter was the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Since we both feared the bleak outcome of one side pulling the trigger, both sides agreed in advance not to pull the trigger. The Republican Party is a death cult on a suicide mission — permanent minority rule or bust. We can’t rely on them for anything good or positive. Gun laws epitomize the Republican way of seeing things. From their vantage point? The more death, destruction and chaos we experience, the more they like it.

America’s Gun Laws Have Always Been Racist — By Design

America and Americans love guns like no other place on earth. That’s not a coincidence. On the surface, we argue that gun rights are personal freedoms but that’s not really what gun rights are about. The Constitution’s framers framed gun rights not as an absolute (“Hey, have all the guns ya want, ya crazy Americans!– it’s your damned right!”), but as a function of a well-regulated militia. The well-regulated militia (and that militia can be as well regulated as it likes — the option for an unregulated militia is NOT enumerated here!) has THE say about who shall “keep and bear” the arms in question. Note — the word “own” does not appear in the amendment. For the record, “own” was a perfectly good word back then; the framers chose “keep” and “bear” and avoided “own”. That suggests that the “well-regulated militia” actually owns the arms it allows citizens to “keep” and “bear”. That also suggests that, should the well regulated militia decide that someone should turn in the arms the militia up till then allowed them to keep and bear? They better turn in those arms.

Guns, by design, are death machines. The whole purpose of a gun is to send a ball of hot metal flying through air fast enough to kill a live target. Every part of a gun’s construction is meant to facilitate that happening. Same goes for ammo. No one ever designed a bullet that wasn’t meant to penetrate flesh. Some, as we know, have been designed to do more than that; they’re meant to reap as much tissue destruction as possible as they shred through a shooting victim’s body. Even ordinary guns with ordinary ordnance kill easily.

So, the first thing we have to ask ourselves as reasonable people is: why does any particular person need to have a death machine in their house or in their hand? Why do Americans feel so much more under personal threat than just about any other humans on the planet? Or is that, really the point? Is it actually that certain Americans feel like they’re under personal threat and therefore need a weapon as backup? The data says those “certain Americans” — the ones feeling scared — are white. The people they feel threatened by, aren’t.

Let’s be real: if the Americans obsessed with arming themselves to the teeth thought for two seconds that Black and brown people were doing the same thing? They’d rewrite the gun laws just like that.

WHO owns (most of) the guns is really the point and so long as it’s white people, our gun laws will stay as they are. While we’re on the subject: there’s no such thing as “Responsible gun ownership”. That is a myth invented by gun manufacturers to explain away the fact that NO ONE can “responsibly” own a death machine. “Responsible” gun owners may lock their guns away in gun safes — and it’s great that they do — but that’s not what their guns were designed to do. It’s like bragging about a car that gets great gas mileage — because you never use it and it sits in your garage. Well, of course it does!

What happens to a gun when its owner has it in hand — THAT is the measure of “responsible gun ownership”. And it can’t be summed up even by years of previous success — because every bit of that success can be undone by one act of carelessness. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner; by all accounts, she was. But, before her son Adam Lanza went and shot up the Sandy Hook Elementary School, first, he murdered his mom — using her gun. So much for being “responsible”. It’s just a stone cold fact about guns: each and every one is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet.

And our gun laws are even bigger accidents and tragedies just waiting to be set in motion. There’s a reason no other country has our attitude toward guns. But then, no one has our attitude toward race relations either.

That could be a good thing.

Things You Must Believe If You Want To Be A Practicing Conservative

For the longest time in this country, conservatives presented themselves as America’s perpetual adults in the room. That was the GOP’s wink to America at the end of the 2016 coup d’etat: “Don’t worry your pretty little selves about Donald Trump, America, whenever he tries to go too far, the “adults in the room” will reel him in!” Problem was (and is), the “adults in the room” were corrupt children who’d broken into the liquor cabinet, drained it dry, then set about burning the whole house down to cover up their liquor theft. The Republicans have NEVER been in control of Trump, rather they’ve been in his thrall and at his mercy. You can’t be in business with Trump without being compromised by him. Or stiffed by him. Or abused by him or betrayed by him. None of that is news to conservatives. They’ve always known who Trump was. They’ve always known he was corrupt. Some of them knew he was a traitor, too. And yet, that fact didn’t seem to change anything.

Why would anyone overlook Trump’s terrible, criminal behavior? Obviously, there must be something in it for them. How do you go from “believing” as Lindsey Graham did in 2016, that making Trump their nominee would be the end of the Republican party —

— to believing now (as Lindsey does) that without Trump, there is no Republican Party? That’s quite a swing — if you see only the swing. I have a feeling we’re going to understand exactly what made Lindsey swing like that: kompromat. I bet we’ll hear a story about how, one day, on the golf course (early in their relationship), Trump let Lindsey know what he and Russia had on him — and how hard they were willing to play that information. It must be way more than just embarrassing (surely Lindsey knows that if he’s worried about being outed, no one cares about that anymore). It must be downright criminal what Lindsey was photographed doing. Shame about his distaste for sexual partners with pubic hair.

Does Lindsey really believe it when he insists Trump was a great POTUS? Of course not. Lindsey doesn’t believe IN anything. He’s as cynical as he is crooked — and that’s a lot of crooked. So what does Lindsey or any Republican “believe”?

Being cynical, they assume everyone’s as big a scumbag as they are. Isn’t everyone heartless and greedy? Being white-entitled, they think they ‘re all gods. Heartless, greedy gods aren’t good for anyone who encounters them. Conservatives believe that “how the world was” is far better than how it is now and not even comparable to how might become if Progressives have their way. But, the name “conservative” itself does all the heavy lifting. It tells us clearly and transparently what conservatives want at the end of the day: they want to conserve. Okay — so, WHAT do they want to conserve?

Well, obviously one can’t “conserve” the future since it hasn’t happened. That leaves the present and the past. Conservatives would be perfectly happy if all progress stopped right now and the world was guaranteed that how things are now is how they’ll always be forever and ever. That, after outright living in the past, would be every conservative’s wet dream. What of the past does any conservative want to conserve? That’s the question. It can’t be the equality back then because there wasn’t any. Can it be how women’s rights were? Uh, no — women didn’t have rights either. Can it be because we treated the LGTBQ community better? Good one! Back then, we treated that community even worse! Back then, we used a religious manuscript to justify slavery. More recently the same people used their Bibles to justify anti-miscegenation laws.

The Bible is every conservative’s favorite book though they’ve only ever read it for the “good parts” — the parts that justified their terrible behavior. Most conservatives are also deeply religious — or, at least, they say they’re religious. Most of them are utterly phony. They will insist they believe in a higher power — a God who smiles upon them because they are righteous! Surely, considering their good fortune, God must be smiling upon them — so therefore God likes them! God sees how special they are and communicates that fact to them. And, ya know, God doesn’t do that with everyone. Most people don’t get the “special treatment” from God. But this guy does.

Imagine being so beloved by God — and knowing it! That’s the tell. “Knowing” they’re “loved by God”. Hey, God talks to them and through them, doesn’t He? When things happen, they know what God’s take is without even having to think about it — that’s how well they know God: they even think like him! Don’tcha know? They think like God because they ARE God. That is every uber-theist’s big secret: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God.

That’s what every conservative believes in the rock bottomest part of their blacker-than-coal hearts: they are God. They are the supreme power in the universe — and just you wait till all they start using the magic that apparently comes with the title. They will hurt us in ways that haven’t even been invented yet because that’s what Gods do.

That is the thing pretty much every conservative enters believing: in the beginning, there was them. THAT is what they want to “conserve”.

Why Do American Men Turn To Guns To Solve Their Emotional Problems?

Adam Lanza

Another mass shooting in America — Eight murdered at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis — and the news media needs to know: “What’s the motive?” As if the gunman’s particular issue with the world would explain why he reacted exactly as he did. Our news media is good at wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at these moments. But they’re guilty of giving credence to bullshit arguments. I’m old enough to remember when they’d regularly give climate science deniers equal time because, hey — they have a “point of view” so therefore because they have it, it must be valid. Here, as always, on one side is a majority of Americans who do not own guns and resent the fact that gun owners can’t keep their damned killing machines to themselves. On the other side are gun owners whose hair catches fire immediately because, damn it, as former NRA president Chuck Heston put it, we can try and pry their guns from their cold, dead fingers.

What is this mania to have guns in the first place? Yeah, sure — out in rural America, something or other. That seems to be the argument’s meat: we’re different. We’re threatened by neighbors who live miles away and by strangers we’ve never met. In case those zombie-people come, swarming by the dozens, those guns will be all that stands between us and the zombie apocalypse.

America’s gun problem is borderline intractable in large part because we’ve spent so long giving credence to bullshit arguments about guns. Rather than dismiss fears of marauders out of hand, we indulge this nonsense. We nod along to their white terror: “Oh, yes, of course it could happen — Black or brown people are probably plotting right this second to break into your house and eat your children for lunch. Have all the weaponry you want!” The data says that won’t happen. But — the data again — it could happen that one of those guns ends up killing someone who live in the house — by way of an accident or suicide or a moment of intra-familial rage.

That’s the other lie about guns that our news media happily propagates — that “responsible gun owners” don’t have these problems. There is no such thing as “responsible gun ownership”. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner until her son Adam shot her with her own legally purchased Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic rifle before taking that weapon — and ten magazines with 30 rounds each to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza used a gun to resolve his emotional problems. Whatever was bothering him, he became convinced that the solution to it would spit from the muzzle of that Bushmaster.

Nobody turns a gun on other people — on strangers or on people they know — because they’re happy with them. You point a death machine — that’s what a gun is by design — at someone in order to threaten them. Do what they say or they’ll kill you with that gun. Gun violence killed 20,000 Americans last year. That’s a lot of anger. Another 24,000 Americans used guns to commit suicide. If the guns that were used to end those 44,000 lives hadn’t been available, how many of those people would still be here today? Most of them, that’s who — if not all of them.

Our gun laws all flow directly from our racism. If white people thought for two seconds that, say, Black people were arming themselves to the teeth the way white people already have? They’d re-write the gun laws just like that. Here’s my “let’s make a deal” to gun world: I’ll be honest if you will. Yes, in a perfect world, I admit it: I would insist that we carry out the Second Amendment to the letter. We’d arrange for a “well regulated militia” to formally take over the job of deciding who among the citizenry will be permitted to “keep” or “bear” the militia’s arms. The arms, you see, would BELONG to the militia; the word “own” doesn’t appear in the Second Amendment. Do you suppose that’s an accident? I don’t. The word “own” was perfectly good back then. Yet, strangely, they didn’t use that word to describe anyone’s relationship with a gun — as its “owner”.

Maybe the Constitution’s framers understood that some people couldn’t be trusted to have a gun in their hands. They might want to be in the militia but the militia wouldn’t want them; they’re nuts.

The whole tone of the gun rights argument smacks of emotional neediness. Virtually none of these people need their guns for “protection”. C’mon — I was honest — I said I’d take most guns. The other side needs to be honest, too: they need to confess why they REALLY feel threatened enough to “keep” a death machine within reach. What do they REALLY feel threatened by?

I write this as a suicide survivor. I tried to step in front of a bus. It seemed, in the moment, a sure thing. It wasn’t. Ah, but if I’d had a gun — I’d have been 2020’s suicide gun death number 24,001.

First, We Have To Admit To Ourselves: There Is No Such Thing As “Responsible Gun Ownership”

Ten people died yesterday in Boulder, CO after a guy his own family thought was intensely paranoid and delusional attempted to use a military assault weapon to assuage his symptoms. A few days before, eight people (six of them women of Asian descent) were shot to death by a white guy who was “having a bad day”. Like a cliche, in the immediate aftermath of yet another gun-related tragedy, Texas Senator (and human coronavirus) Ted Cruz got up on the Senate floor and brayed about how horrible it would be if the Democrats were to use this (or any) shooting-related tragedy to try and take the legal guns from regular, law-abiding Americans — you know, the “RESPONSIBLE” gun owners. Why, THOSE PEOPLE would NEVER allow THEIR guns to do such terrible things — that’s cos they’re “RESPONSIBLE”! That’s the pitch. The bloodbath we endure in America isn’t because of all the responsible gun owners, it’s because of a handful of “bad apples”, mostly non-white so take their guns away, absolutely!

For starters, Ted Cruz is a stone cold traitor. But never mind that. He’s also a regular apologist for the fiction that “responsible” gun owners — like Ted — exist to begin with. Hey, remember Ted demonstrating just how responsible gun owners use their machine guns to cook bacon?

Yeah — that happened. Ted Cruz “keeps happening”…

I’ve fired guns. When I was a kid going to camp up in Maine in the 60’s, riflery was one of the activities. I enjoyed it though I really wasn’t very good at it (I’ve got an astygmatism in my right eye that messes with fine focus). Like I said — I enjoyed riflery. Hell, I even scored a few NRA gun safety awards. That was back when “gun safety” was what the NRA did. Before they turned into a political operation walking point for the gun manufacturers. Back before the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre-ification. Gun safety was the mantra.

Then, when riflery’s time was up — swimming was next — we campers moved on but not before the riflery counselor went through the whole ritual of putting the guns away, back in the locked gun shed where they were kept (the camp’s “gun locker”). To be honest? That’s really the only time a gun ever felt truly “safe” — when it was put away. But, let’s be real — sitting in a gun shed or a gun locker is NOT what the gun was designed to do. It was designed for a very specific purpose — to send a piece of hot metal speeding through the air at a living target, ideally in order to kill it. “Boom”. That’s it. That’s the gun’s entire purpose — to be a literal death machine. From the cutest-as-can-be single-shot derringer to an AK-47 burping death, the point of the exercise is lethality. You may only want to maim the person you just fired at, but, honestly, if there’s no way for you to control a bullet once you’ve fired it? You’ve already cast your vote.

Remember Nancy Lanza — mother to Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter? Nancy Lanza bragged about being a “responsible gun owner”. And I’ve no doubt she was — up until the very second she wasn’t — when her son killed her in cold blood with one of her own legal guns. Just like that, Nancy Lanza went from being “responsible gun owner” to “crime statistic”, having been murdered using her own weapon. I wonder if the irony hurt worse than dying did.

See, the measure of whether or not any gun owner is “responsible” or not can’t be taken when their gun is safe inside its locker. The gun wasn’t designed for that. Go ahead — look at the design specs for any gun you like. Not a one was “designed” to sit in a safe or a locker. They were all designed to kill something. So, let’s dispense with the first fiction — that guns have any practical function beyond one thing: death. Guns are hand-held death machines.

That means the the question we’re asking to gage any gun owner’s level of responsibility is, how responsible are they when their weapon is out & about? To be fair, most gun owners will be passably responsible their entire lifetimes. They or their weapon won’t kill or maim anyone. They’ll call themselves “responsible”. The fact is, they were lucky. That’s all. WHY does anyone need to have a death machine in their house or in their hands? Fear of home invasion? Gosh, how “White Guy!” To protect the family? Even whiter as excuses go. The wonderful blogger and Twitter goddess Gabrielle Blair wrote a terrific Twitter thread about men using the “I’m protecting my family!” excuse for having guns in the house.

The thread goes on. Man doesn’t make any better arguments for guns. What’d ya expect? Clarity of vision from these pirates?

Every gun is an accident or a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. It might not ever happen — a good thing — but that doesn’t diminish its impact on the people guns do hurt or destroy. And it never, EVER means it “can’t” happen.

Look, I support the second amendment. That is, I support the amendment’s original intention, not the ludicrous monstrosity the gun lobby turned our reading of the amendment into. Usually, it starts with some horse shit about how the term “well regulated” meant “in good working order” back then which, apparently, is now code for “have all the damned guns ya want!” Bullshit. The second amendment’s language isn’t that tricky to parse unless you intend to parse it with bad intent.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. That’s what it says. The amendment frames guns from the point of view of “a well regulated militia”. Yes, the militia plays a vital role — securing a free state. But, where guns are concerned, per the amendment, the militia must be “well regulated”. Regulated = rules. In fact, clearly, it’s the militia’s role here — among its regulations — to decide which people will get to “keep” and “bear” the arms in question. The amendment does not say “own” the arms — “own” being a perfectly good word back then. Yet the framers wrote “keep” and “bear”.

For the record, “keeping a thing” is not the same as “owning” it.

America’s gun policies all flow from a pool of racism, irrational fear and bullshit. The whole point is to arm as many white people as possible. To make this insane idea sound less insane, gun culture invented the idea of “the responsible gun owner”. White people therefore weren’t arming themselves to the teeth because they’re hopelessly racist, they were doing it because they were “incredibly responsible”!

Do you suppose it occurred to Nancy Lanza as her son Adam was drawing on her what a good and responsible gun owner she was? I don’t think so either.

“Responsible Gun Ownership” Is A Myth

It seems the Robert Alan Long — the Atlanta shooter who claims his sex addiction, not his racism, motivated his killing spree — purchased the weapon he used to murder eight people, six of them Asian women, MERE HOURS BEFORE using it to commit murder.

I’m not arguing the second amendment here. It exists. What it actually says and intends us to do as a result — that’s an argument for another blog post. The fact that any discussion about guns in America automatically becomes a discussion about language shouts volumes. But then, Americans are good at putting lipstick on pigs, thinking “All men are created equal” while institutionalizing slavery, and selling utter nonsense as “religions” that other Americans gobble up as gospel truth. We’re culturally acclimated to seeing one thing as its opposite — take Manifest Destiny. WE still tell ourselves that was a “good thing”. It wasn’t. In fact, Manifest Destiny wasn’t even a legitimate idea based on legitimate thinking. It was a myth — invented by white people to justify their terrible behavior. “Responsible gun ownership” exists in that context — a myth invented to justify… well, in this instance, not “terrible behavior”. But, behavior that can lead to terrible things happening.

It all starts with people believing a myth is real.

I’ve fired a gun before. In fact, I really enjoyed riflery the six years I got to do it when I was a kid going to sleepaway camp. I got a few NRA badges to prove it! Back then (this was the mid 1960’s), the NRA was still a “gun safety organization” and the thing I remember most from my six years of riflery, aside from the fact that I wasn’t half bad at it, was the constant refrain of gun safety, gun safety, GUN SAFETY. More than anything, the NRA-backed training I got back then imprinted the idea that guns can kill you. Even if you do everything right, there’s always the possibility that you could ONE thing wrong and you or someone could get hurt. That’s why you have to be hyper vigilant. You can never let your guard down whenever a gun is out of its locker. You have to be “responsible”.

See, I was taught “gun responsibility”. I believed in it. Just like everyone else in America, I got it into my head that while some people will only ever use guns to do bad things, most people (who just so happen to be white), only every want to use their guns to do “good things” — like hunt (debatable as a “good thing” — it certainly isn’t good from the hunted animal’s point of view) or target shoot (a perfectly good thing!) or defend themselves (a perfectly dubious thing). It’s inside that last thing — “self defense” where most of the “responsible gun ownership” mythology lurks.

For starters, it assumes something very, very dark about the rest of America — outside that gun owner’s front door. Whereas, in most other countries, it’s assumed you don’t need a gun to protect yourself from your neighbors and fellow citizens, in America, it’s “normal thinking”. Of course danger awaits outside your front door! Of course you need a lethal weapon to defend yourself — the threat outside is hell bent on murdering you! That excuse gets played regardless of which direction crime statistics are headed. The urge to “defend one’s home and hearth” isn’t based on statistics. It’s based on fear. In America, that fear is based on racism. The whole “good guy with a gun” vs “bad guy with a gun” quietly casts the good guy as almost certainly white and the bad guy as almost certainly Black. Hmmmmmm… now where could such an idea have come from?

Racism touches or has touched almost every facet of American life. Guns are no different. The whole point of our gun laws, at present, is to feed racist fear. If we could magically remove racism from peoples’ brains, here in America almost every bit of the incentive to own a weapon would evaporate. My upper middle class Jewish family — politically very liberal — still succumbed to racist fear during the riots the followed Martin Luther King’s assassination. Though Pikesville — where I grew up — was miles and miles from the parts of Baltimore that erupted in violence, my parents (and others), went out and purchased guns. They were afraid of angry Black people (angry for a very legitimate reason) coming to our neighborhood and being violent. No such thing ever happened. Did it occur in any of the angry protestor’s heads to do such a thing? Probably — but, so what?

It’s a testament to how good white people are at diving and conquering everyone else that Blacks and Jews — two groups with way, way more in common than not — could be set against each other like that. The overwhelming majority of Jews arrived in America after slavery was gone. Jews were never considered “white people” in Europe. Jews occupied the first “ghetto” — in Venice, Italy — to which they were segregated starting 29 March 1516.

Quick side note — the “ghetto” (it’s an Italian word), was a swampy island connected to the rest of the city “…by two bridges that were only open during the day. Gates were opened in the morning at the ringing of the marangona, the largest bell in St. Mark’s Campanile, and locked in the evening. Permanent, round-the-clock surveillance of the gates occurred at the Jewish residents’ expense.[fn] Strict penalties were to be imposed on any Jewish resident caught outside after curfew.[fn] Areas of Ghetto Nuovo that were open to the canal were to be sealed off with walls, while outward facing quays were to be bricked over in order to make it impossible for unauthorized entry or exit.[fn]

Jews fled Europe because of racism. They hoped for a better life here where (hopefully) racism wouldn’t constantly destroy their communities and steal their wealth. Fortunately for the Jews, America was already doing that to Black people by the time the Jews got here. And, while not considered white by most Europeans, Jews were just “white-adjacent” enough in America that white people didn’t make a point of taking their wealth as white people had historically in Europe. While Jews prospered, Black people struggled — as the Jews had in Europe — but also with the additional burden of slavery; Reconstruction’s failure kept slavery on the table.

You don’t have to dig down too far inside just about an gun law in America to find the fear it rests upon. And that fear is of former slaves getting guns and coming for payback. That’s the base justification. It’s irrational. It’s unspoken. But it’s there.

Ever notice how “normal” it is for right wingers and militia types to show up at right wing rallies armed to the teeth — even INSIDE government property where they’re using their arms to literally threaten legislators? Were those people all “responsible gun owners”? No one got shot that day. Good thing, I guess… are we then to measure the relative success of “responsibility” by lack of body count? No one died, all the gun owners acted “responsibly” this time. Is that it?

The difference between a “responsible” gun owner and an irresponsible one is the unexpected event. Take Nancy Lanza — mother of 20 year old Adam Lanza, the guy responsible for the Sandy Hook school shooting. By all accounts, prior to that event, Nancy Lanza was a “responsible gun owner”. I bet Nancy Lanza thought of herself as a “responsible gun owner”. Until the day she wasn’t — the day her son murdered her with her with one of her own weapons before heading out the door and murdering 26 MORE people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 20 of them CHILDREN.

One moment Nancy Lanza was as responsible a gun owner as anyone and the next — a gun violence victim. Killed in her own home by her own gun. Trying to see how the “self defense” angle fits here. No one broke in to do this to her. She set herself up for failure — and then, she set up the very community she loved and was part of for even worse failure.

And pain.

The full measure of a gun owner’s “responsibility” doesn’t occur when their gun is sitting safely inside a gun safe. The gun was not designed to do that. If you really want to know how responsible a gun owner is, you have to measure their responsibility when the gun’s outside its safe and in their hands — where it always has the potential to do real damage just by operating within its design specs.

In their defense, most gun owners will never have happen to them what happened to Nancy Lanza. But none of them can guarantee that they won’t. They can’t.

And the second they tell you they can? They’re acting irresponsibly.

Personal Freedom V The Group’s Freedom: Who Should Win?

The word “freedom” is like the word “God”. Ask ten people what it is, you’ll get ten different answers. And just like the idea of “God” is limitless, so, too, is the idea of freedom. That would be awesome if everyone’s idea of “God” was the same. We’d all be talking about the same creator-of-everything using the same language. We don’t, of course.

What makes it more problematic is that some peoples’ idea of “God” contradicts other peoples’ idea of “God”. Their conflicting ideas (God’s a raging psychopath vs God is love) can’t co-exist.

Similarly, if your idea of “freedom” is having all the guns you want, of any caliber, which you can fire freely from your front door at all your neighbors’ houses, that’s probably going to bump against your neighbors’ idea of freedom if they think it means NOT getting shot by you. Someone’s going to walk away from this feeling “less free”.

Right wingers are all about celebrating the rugged individualist — the “I alone can fix it” guy whose genius deserves every penny that falls into his pocket. Too bad that guy doesn’t exist. Only a male could think “he alone” could fix anything. Horse shit. There is not a human being in the whole history of humans who did anything alone. A woman would never say that because women know — biologically — how impossible it is.

A woman can’t get pregnant alone. It takes a male to do that (although women can orgasm alone just fine without their orgasm causing pregnancy). And once a baby begins growing inside of her, she knows she will need at least one other person to help get the baby out. Yes, yes, she could birth the child solo. But if she can’t get food for herself — because exhausted — she won’t be able to feed that baby and both mother and infant could die. Death and childbirth have a long history together and that’s WITH tons of help.

Then to raise that child? To feed it, educate it, clothe it, entertain it, put up with it — it takes a village just like Hillary Clinton once wrote that it does.

No group? No individuals would be there to join it or be part of it. The group wins right there. The individuals need the group more than the group needs any particular individual.

When RW shitheads walk around Coronavirus World maskless, they’re making a political statement: no one’s the boss of them. If they have coronavirus — or even a common cold — they believe it’s their RIGHT to give it to you and you have no “right” to refuse it. Sure, maybe you could try a little harder to not breathe in the RW-ers viral particles — no one’s “making you” breathe those. But that’s just putting the onus on others to prove their rights are as good as the RW-ers rights.

The simple fact is all “freedom” has limits. It has to or it becomes destructive. Have all the freedom of speech you like but if you shout “fire” in a crowded theater, you’ll also have a legal problem. Your freedom likely caused harm and even death to others.

No American is free to drive as fast as they like down a neighborhood street. No American is free to set fire to their neighbor’s house. No American is free to stop another American from voting. See? Limits.

Ever see a sign like this — “No shoes, no shirt, no service”?

Ubiquitous in some places, right? No one really ever had a problem. They get it. No shirt or no shoes is kind of unsanitary when you walk into an eating establishment. No mask shouldn’t make any difference to you walking in.

A lot of our freedom springs as much from common decency as law. Divorce freedom from decency and you get anarchy — and not the good kind either. It would be swell if humans could live in freedom and harmony with each other. A lot of us can. But we’re not the problem here.

In personal freedom world, your freedoms end where mine begin and mine end where yours begin. If we really want to live that way then either we’re always negotiating with each other — with one of us winning and the other losing. In Group Freedom World, we all understand where our freedoms begin and end. That’s because in Group Freedom World, freedom isn’t “free”. It comes with responsibilities and obligations.

Voting, for instance, shouldn’t just be a “benefit” of freedom, it should be an obligation. Want freedom? Maintain it. Likewise it’s an obligation to make sure that every single American gets to practice the exact same freedoms. If one single American isn’t getting every bit of their group freedom then the group is failing. We can only be as free as the least free among us.

When a mass shooter finishes killing, our first question is “who’s responsible for this?” That is, who beyond the shooter himself? The irony is WE are responsible for allowing this individual to think they could do this — assert their freedom over everyone else’s. The second amendment is a gun control amendment. That’s what the words themselves say (“well regulated militia” seems to suggest a group run by rules not guns). And the amendment says that the militia gets to decide to “keeps and bears” those arms. The amendment doesn’t say “own”. That suggests that, at all times, the militia owns the guns (and then decides who keeps and bears them situationally).

Imagine if we taught young Americans what freedom was in the abstract — and that this benefit came with responsibilities? We could teach it alongside how the rest of our system of government works. It seems we’ve abandoned teaching our children what makes us special. America is special. It can be.

If we can live up to the ideals we were founded on, America will be special. Exceptional even. That’s the part where “all people are created equal” at least where the law is concerned. Where our freedoms are concerned too.

It only takes one personal freedom loving asshole to undermine everyone else’s idea of freedom.

America’s Gun Laws Are Racist

That’s not a revelation. No one should read that headline and think “You know, I never thought of that.” They should think: “Damn right they are!”

That’s how obvious it is.

This is not virgin territory. Not even remotely. Plenty of ink — electronic or otherwise — has been spent on the subject.

Consider that policing in America began as “slave patrols”. Armed men rounding up runaways. Slaves — even ex-slaves — were prohibited from owning guns. “Slave Codes” they were called — then “Black Codes” after Emancipation. Only the name changed.

Gun control existed — in the sense that the gun laws controlled black people getting them. Brown people too. In fact, anyone who wasn’t white was the law’s target.

We just need to remind ourselves of the fact now — as we watch armed white militias enter statehouses — intent on intimidating lawmakers not with their ideas or passion but with their WEAPONS.

May 14, 2020 — White supremacist militias — unable to use their words — wave their dicks & guns around instead.

We need to remind ourselves how racist our gun laws are as we watch white supremacists confront peaceful protesters.

Charlottesville August 12, 2017 — White supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr drives his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing Heather Heyer. How clever to use a car instead this time.

We need to remind ourselves as white looters attempt to co-opt legitimate rage.

Black Lives do not Matter to white looters there solely to cause chaos & get stuff for free.

We need to remind ourselves as white cops — and white guys in general — use their guns to hunt people of color.

Rednecks Travis McMichael & his father Gregory hunt black jogger Ahmaud Arbery while co-conspirator William “Roddie” Bryan videos.
Rayshard Brooks (r) is shot in the back by Atlanta PD Officer Garrett Rolfe – June 17, 2020

It’s not a coincidence that the same people who are most vociferous about clutching their guns to the bitter end are the same people who harass black and brown people in public spaces. Their lizard brains are on fire. They adore Donald Trump because his racism is their racism.

Where Jim Jones used kool-aid, Donald Trump uses violence. Each drop of bitter drink is replaced by a bullet.

“Responsible Gun Ownership” Is A Myth

Let me burp up a cliche first: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I believe you, 99.99% of gun owners (I’m trying to be super generous here): you want to own and handle your firearm responsibly. The last thing on earth you want is an accident or a tragedy happening because of you and your gun.

But, you see, the problem is — you HAVE that gun in your possession. Your right to have it isn’t being questioned here (though, frankly, the Militia needs to step up and do its damned job regulating (as per the second amendment) who gets to “keep & bear” (not own — it does not say “own”) arms. We’re starting from the proposition that (as per the current mis-reading of the second amendment’s pretty simple, straightforward words) hell, you can have as many guns as ya like!

The basic fact about any gun is that it has been designed to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air at great speed into a living target so as to kill it. That’s why it’s such a great war tool – and hunting tool. It sends pieces of hot metal into living targets so as to kill them, see?

They are literal death machines. I’m not passing judgment when I write that. I’m simply staring a fact. This is a machine designed to cause internal damage to living things. You can fire a gun at a tree as much as you like. It wasn’t designed to do that. Hell, you want that tree dead? Get a saw. It’s more appropriate.

You want a human being dead? They tend to move around. Guns work better on them than saws.

When you purchase or take possession of a gun, you are assuming ownership of a death machine. Own that fact, gun owners. Don’t get emotional about it. Just own it. FFS — if ya can’t be responsible enough to own “what you own”, you’re probably not responsible enough to have a death machine in your hands.

Anyone can be “responsible” when the death machine is not in their hands — when the death machine is locked up in a safe. Except, the death machine wasn’t designed to sit, locked up in a safe. It was designed to be taken out and fired.

Take the gun out of the safe and fire it — THEN let’s talk about whether or not you were responsible, responsible gun owner.

Hey, to repeat, I absolutely believe that 99.99% of the time, you ARE acting “responsibly” with your death machine — no one died. Good for you! You “dodged a bullet” that time.

Remember Nancy Lanza? Adam Lanza’s mom? Nancy Lanza, everyone thought — Nancy especially — that she was a “responsible gun owner”. And, by every definition that we use (“responsible gun ownership” being a created thing that we get to define ourselves), Nancy Lanza WAS a “responsible gun owner”.

Until she wasn’t. Prior to December 14, 2012, none of Nancy Lanza’s guns — and she owned lots of them; she collected them, prized them, treasured them — had ever killed anyone. As far as we know, they had never even hurt anyone. Until the morning of December 14, 2012, Nancy Lanza was “a responsible gun owner”.

And then her son Adam — who grew up in this “responsible gun owner’s” home — learning “responsible gun owner” culture and values — took several of his mom’s weapons, killed her as she slept and then went to the nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where he — irresponsibly — murdered 26 people, most of them children.

“Responsible gun owner” until “not”. Nancy Lanza probably STILL doesn’t know how irresponsible a gun owner she was in reality.

That’s the bigger problem for those of us who DON’T own a gun — and don’t tell ourselves how responsible we are — we don’t know when the “responsible” gun owners will suddenly stop “being responsible”. We don’t know when they’ll fail — and neither do they, ya see.

We already have to live with the fact that there are PLENTY of “irresponsible” gun owners out there already — people who don’t care if, when, how, AT WHOM their guns are fired. We know we can be at the wrong place and wrong time at ANY time when our fellow citizens own firearms and suddenly decide to open fire at us without warning. Because they’re angry. Or broke. Or psychotic.

That’s why I avoid walking in dark places where irresponsible gun owners might lurk. I can’t do much about them hunting ME though. We can all relate to how animals feel when, suddenly, your day gets ruined by a human with a gun who — for some reason you can’t fathom — won’t be happy until you are dead.

Can’t do much about what I can’t anticipate. It’s the gun violence that can and does flare from the “responsible” gun owners that hurts most. That never has to happen. Those guns should never hurt or kill anyone. If those guns had stayed in their gun safes…

See what I’m saying?

The moment a gun owner took the gun into their hands — THAT’S when things got dicey. Children should never die because they found a hand gun in mommy’s handbag. People at the mercy of their own darkness should not have access to guns when therapy, love and perspective are their darkness’s enemy. A moment of intense (almost always male) rage shouldn’t find resolution by pulling a literal trigger.

We will never — ever — get rid of guns in America. That’s wishful thinking. Magical thinking even. The best we can hope for is actual “responsible” gun ownership.

That can’t begin though until “responsible gun owners” admit that there’s no such thing. They’re “gun owners” plain and simple. Whatever happens after that?

Nobody really knows.