America’s Love For Guns Is Directly Related To America’s Love for Racism

America isn’t the only country with a racist past. We are however the only (first world) country to have both a racist past and a deep, abiding love for guns and gun culture. America didn’t have to succumb to racism at its birth; that was a choice we made – an economic choice. But for slavery – and the free (because stolen) labor it provided to the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane businesses among others – the South would never have risen to begin with. Or, if they had, it would have been because they’d figured out a way to both make a profit and pay for the labor needed to bring their products to market. Instead, everyone involved succumbed to greed and their worst instincts. Our founders wrote down “All men are created equal” but they meant something else entirely: only white, Christian, land-owning men are equal. Everyone else is there for the white, Christian, land-owning men to exploit.

Slaves and slavery were so essential to the Southern economy that the slavers organized patrols to hunt down and capture escaped slaves. Policing in America originated with these “slave patrols” and that “people as property” mentality remains deeply embedded in how America thinks about (and hires) cops. Do we need any more evidence that America’s police departments are over-stocked with racists who see their job more as zoo keeping than protecting and serving? Our founders had the gall to think of slaves (all Black people, really) as “three-fifths of a man” (and that for political reasons!) When a white cop pulls out their weapon and aims it at an unarmed Black person, to them, that Black person is less of a person than they are and that’s why shooting and killing them is so easy.

But then, guns make killing easy because that’s what they’re designed to do: kill. Every gun is engineered from the ground up to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air – at speed – toward a live target, the goal being to kill it. You can’t send a piece of hot metal flying at someone without thinking it could kill them; death is baked into it. To think otherwise is a lie. While people who aspire to responsibly own a death machine might valiantly try to “be responsible”, the fact is, accidents happen. Unintended consequences happen. Children get ahold of their parents’ unsecured weapons all the time here in America. Don’t believe me? Google it, why don’tcha. Then prepare to spend some time reading.

Nancy Lanza was an avid gun owner and – if you’d have asked her – a responsible gun owner, too. That is, she was a responsible gun owner until the morning of December 14, 2012 when her son Adam murdered her with one of her own legally purchased firearms then headed to Sandy Hook Elementary School. The thing is, guns aren’t designed to sit in gun lockers. It’s like how cars aren’t designed to be driven by drunk people. But, when guns get out of their lockers – or drunk people drive – that’s when the tires hit the road – and the drunk driver kills someone. How responsible is a gun owner when their death machine is in their hands – or the hands of others? In America, 329 people are injured by firearms every single day. In 2019, according to UC Davis Health, 39,707 people died because their life intersected with a gun. That’s a hell of a lot of irresponsible gun ownership, no?

The “responsible gun owner” argument is that THEY aren’t like that. THEY are different, ya see. They’re “responsible”. Until they aren’t. Until something unexpected happens as it did yesterday when 15 year old Ethan Crumbley took the semi-automatic 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun his dad had purchased a few days before to school – where Ethan was already in trouble for “concerning classroom behavior”. We don’t know if Ethan’s parents were ever “responsible gun owners”, but they definitely failed that test in the end.

Ya see, that’s the problem for all of us out here who DON’T own death machines. We have to rely on the competence, good intentions and genuine “responsible-ness” of everyone who owns a gun. Gun non-owners won’t know ahead of time which gun owners are failing to be responsible. We never got a head’s up that James Holmes was going to the movies on July 20, 2012 at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Was James ever a responsible gun owner? Don’t know. But, if he ever was, he wasn’t that night when he killed twelve people. 70 others were injured, 58 from gunfire. Same token, we don’t know if Omar Mateen was ever a “responsible gun owner” before he killed 49 people and injured 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL which he shot up on June 12, 2016.

While racism itself isn’t behind most of our mass shootings – male dysfunction is – the easy availability of death machines across America makes it easy for every male with personality flaws and anger issues to use a gun as part of their “therapy”. The NRA seems to approve of its members using the second amendment to resolve all disputes. As Kyle Rittenhouse proved, you can even cry “self defense!” when shooting unarmed people because you feel “threatened” by them.

Want to know just how racist America is? Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to AR-15-toting Kyle Rittenhouse if he had been Black instead of privileged white. Think the cops there that night in Kenosha would have waved at Kyle and waved him through? Think all the armed racists there to threaten the Black Lives Matter protestors would have seen Black Kyle as one of their own? Puh-leeze! If Kyle Rittenhouse was black, they would have had to clean up what was left of him with a hose.

America’s gun lovers insist they need guns to protect them from an overzealous government. To call that horse shit is a kindness it doesn’t deserve. It’s right wing bullshit kabuki. It’s a lie. Right wing gun lovers do not fear the government; they just want it out of their way. Right wing gun lovers – almost entirely white – see themselves as surrounded. A diversifying America terrifies them because they refuse to share power. And the people they refuse to share power with is everyone not them – not white. And, to make their point of just how determined they are? They “open carry” their intentions.

No one at a supermarket is going to attack them. No one ever was going to. They gun owner knows that. The point of the exercise isn’t self-defense, it’s intimidation. It’s white people trying to impress everyone else that they – a gun owner – can hurt them bigger and better than the person without the gun can hurt the gun owner. No part of that thinking is even remotely “responsible”. But it is deeply racist.

Not every gun owner is a racist, but – count on it – every racist needs a gun to feel complete. They need a gun to do what they personally can’t – force people they don’t like to do what they want (including die).

A guns is to a racist what a good argument is to anyone else. The gun IS the racist’s argument.

Show Me A Republican, I’ll Show You A Koch Whore

Here’s a dirty, little secret: having money doesn’t make you smarter than anyone — even if your money bought you a first class education. Harvard and Yale graduate plenty of morons — most of them white — who got in on the strength of their name and connections, got graded on a curve because of donations and graduated because it was always a fait accompli. Being smart and having great ideas is incredibly important , the caveat being that different people are smart in different ways (we don’t value their smarts the same but that’s our failing, not theirs). But not even the greatest idea can get from idea to the idea’s profitable exploitation without plenty of other people making that exploitation possible via their direct contributions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything inherently wrong with crony capitalism. Our democracy is being threatened as much by crony capitalism as by racism (and racism is at the core of everything wrong with America). And atop the corruptest of the corrupt of crony capitalists, the capo di tutti capo himself is Charles Koch.

Corruption, thy name is Koch

Koch Industries — the engine that powered the Koch fortune — was started by Fred Koch who opened shop as an oil refinery and chemicals business. When Fred Koch died in 1967, his sons David and Charles INHERITED the business. The Koch Brothers expanded into other industries including pollution control equipment and technologies, polymers and fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer products, and ranching. The businesses produce a wide variety of well-known brands, such as Stainmaster carpet, the Lycra brand of spandex fiber, Quilted Northern tissue, and Dixie Cup. Having been born into oil money, the Kochs have always been generous funders of think tanks that lobby to oppose environmental regulation. In a world that’s rapidly overheating because of all the carbon the Kochs’ businesses have put into the air, it’s beyond disgusting that Charles Koch continues to insist he’s entitled to do what he wants because he’s rich.

Charles and his brother are both libertarians. That means they think Ayn Rand can write — the first giveaway that they have terrible judgment. Libertarianism is all about stroking the individual’s ego. It’s not shocking that the overwhelming majority of libertarians are men. It is a profoundly selfish way of seeing the world. A profoundly self-delusional way too. The rugged individual is nothing more than an overgrown ten year old who thinks “freedom” is “you’re not the boss of me”. He wants all the benefits of freedom but has zero interest in any of the responsibilities.

That’s the thing most conservatives don’t want to talk about when it comes to freedom — the part of freedom that’s NOT free — the responsibilities. There will always be and must be dynamic tension between individual freedom and collective freedom. While the goal is to have as much individual freedom as possible, individual freedom must always be balanced with collective freedom. Too much collective freedom will harm personal freedom. But too much personal freedom will destroy collective freedom completely. That’s where “personal responsibility” comes in. Our freedoms rely on other people respecting ours. If we don’t respect theirs then ours are already compromised.

For the record, “owning” a gun is not an enumerated freedom. Citizens — per the Second Amendment — can “keep and bear” arms if the well-regulated militia says they can. If the militia says they can’t, they’re shit outta luck.

It is a stone cold fact that Koch money is making our environment uninhabitable. It’s killing wildlife and destroying ecosystems. It’s denying the very factors that are costing not just Americans but people all over the globe their property, their hopes and dreams, their lives. Environmental disasters are going to create a diaspora unlike any other humans have ever seen before or inflicted on each other.

And Charles Koch wouldn’t have it any other way. He’ll tell you he “knows better”. The basis for his knowing better (he thinks) is that he’s got more money in his bank account than you. It’s the only fact he’ll set down on the table. He thinks it makes his opinion more right than yours.

Too few people get into public service to make the world a better place. Too many get into it because they see it as the first stop of a money train. They see public service as a way for the public to service them. Ask yourself — how did public servant Mitch McConnell get to be such a wealthy man. Yeah, sure, his rich wife (Elayne Chao) brought plenty of dough to the marriage, but Mitch was a rich man before that happened and Mitch did not come from any kind of wealth. Mitch didn’t invent anything or come up with ideas that could go viral. Even Mitch’s military service was truncated (and why does mentioning Mitch’s military service record and the word “sodomy” make Mitch go quiet?) How did Mitch McConnell become wealthy enough that Elaine Chao didn’t pre-nup a wall around all her dough? The question stands exactly the same if Elaine did pre-nup that wall.

The Koch Brothers and the Mercers (Robert and daughter Rebekah) have always had it in for democracy. It’s simply too unreliable a vehicle for aspiring authoritarians and establishment white supremacists (and there most definitely IS a wide beam of quiet white supremacy in the Republican Party). Their preference is for politicians to choose their voters and not the other way around. As money does in a political system that gives money all the advantages, Koch money has always bought all the influence it needed. As big a problem as all that Koch money is, the much bigger problem by far is the willingness of all those Republicans and too many Democrats to stuff that money into their pockets.

We’re all clear, I hope, that every penny of that Koch money comes with strings if not ropes. It comes with greedy (albeit legal) expectations and none of them is concerned with the common good. They’re concerned with the Kochs getting their way — forever if possible. As the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw a rapidly diversifying America which meant looming demographical extinction for white power. Being as pragmatic with their politics as they are with their money, the Kochs and their think tanks saw that the presidency was almost entirely beyond Republican reach. Minus Bush v Gore and Russia cheating on Trump’s behalf, the GOP couldn’t win a presidency if their lives depended on it — and that’s even WITH the Electoral College’s heavy tilt toward rural voters and away from urban voters. In the Legislative branch, the right wing money saw hope. The House is too mercurial what with having to run for office constantly. The Senate — also heavily weighted away from the majority of Americans (Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more Americans than do Republican Senators) — would be easier to dominate. The Koch dollars have flowed accordingly — buying pretty much every Republican vote.

Ah, but Koch dollars — like the Koch Brothers — are very pragmatic. The Kochs always know which Democrats are approachable and which aren’t. Figuring it out isn’t rocket science. They’ve always seen Joe Manchin, despite the “D” beside Joe’s name, as one of “their guys”. As far as we know, Joe has never let his benefactors down. Joe has always behaved like the “Koch whore” the Kochs pay him to be.

“Drop down on all four, Joe! Now bark, bitch — and bark like ya mean it.”

Didja hear that barking sound?

That was Joe Manchin being the dog in the Koch Brothers Dog & Pony show. That was him being a dirty, little whore.

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.

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.

Why Do People Speak About The Second Amendment Differently Than Any Other?

Regardless of which side of the gun debate you stand on, when you talk about guns and the second amendment, you’re compelled to speak a strange variation on English. 

I’m not talking about the words in the amendment itself.  They’re actually quite clear.  In the context of a well-regulated militia being the arbiter, whoever the militia decides deserving will be permitted to “keep and bear” (not “own” – that perfectly good word did not get used here) the arms in question.  The implication is equally clear: if that well-regulated militia decides one of its members no longer deserves to keep and bear an arm – or if the well-regulated militia goes and changes its own regulations out of concern for public safety – then that’s within their Constitutional rights to do so.

No, I’m talking about how people talk about the gun debate itself.  It struck me this morning while listening to a responsible legislator take a responsible position on guns.  He pointed out that he was a gun owner who “believed in the second amendment”.  Never mind the responsible position he had already taken.  In his mind, he still had to prove his bona fides to be taken seriously.  Gun ownership – okay.  It puts you in “both camps”.  Can’t argue.

But the “I believe in the second amendment” is where it gets weird. 

I’m sure that same well-meaning legislator would insist he “believes” equally in all the other amendments, too.  But, if engaged in casual conversation about, say the eighth amendment (“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted”), I really, really doubt said well-meaning legislator would feel compelled to throw in “And, by the way, I’m a believer in the right to not have excessive bail throw at ya!”

See what I mean?  I’ll bet that’s never happened.  Not with the eighth, not with the sixth, not even with the Thirteenth Amendment – the one abolishing slavery.

Whatever anyone might say about any of the other amendments, no one says “I believe” in the amendment like it was some separate entity that had to be approached differently from every other amendment.  Which is exactly what the Second Amendment is.

Of all the amendments to “believe in”.  Of all the other freedoms to “believe in”.  Of everything enumerated in the whole Constitution to “believe in”.

Only thirty percent of Americans own guns. So – right away, we’re talking from a minority position. Now, I’m just asking a question here.  I don’t have an answer. Just suspicions that I hope you agree deserve suspicion.  How did a word we use to discuss religion become associated with a product designed to kill living things?

The object we’re talking about – guns – regardless of whether you like them or loathe them – are designed from the ground up to send a hot, metal projectile flying toward a live target with the intention of killing it. If the person pulling the trigger is any good with this weapon, that projectile will find its mark and finish the job it was designed to do.

Yes, yes, defense and all that.  Stone, cold reality says all those guns play a hell of a lot more offense than defense.  Despite what anyone “believes”, people can’t seem to resist using guns to do what they were made to do: kill.

Like I said – I’m just here to ask a question.  Isn’t “killing” a strange thing to “believe in”?

WE Think Republicans Are Putting On A Crime; THEY Think They’re Putting On A “Show”

It’s the movie buff in me. I see classic movies playing out in real life all the time.  It struck me this morning that we’re staring at a perverse version of Babes In Arms, the Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney-MGM collaboration that gave us “Hey, Let’s Put On A Show!”

Here – sample this…

See what I mean?  Isn’t it awesome how Judy & Mickey get the kids together, they “borrow” some instruments and, using the Old Barn, they put on a damned show!

That’s exactly the movie we’re living through – except the Trumpified version.  It turns out, as the depth and breadth of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy begins to assume real shape and dimension, that this is a conspiracy in every sense of the word. 

These are the players (some of them) and their “plays”…

BETSY DEVOS – Never mind her task of dismantling America’s educational systems, Betsy HAD a seat at the table because she’d already paid her way there.  As we’ll learn more about – her DeVos Childrens Hospital computer network was used (knowingly) to transfer DATA PACKETS – that’s packets of STOLEN data, hacked from the DCCC (the Democratic National Committee), and several members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Think of stolen data as a stolen bike. Everyone who knowingly touches it, moves it, transports it, sells it or covers up its theft is guilty of a crime.  Just as a bike must be physically transported from point A to point B, so too does stolen information.  If it can’t be endlessly viewed where it is, it has to be copied & that copy moved to someplace “safe” where it can be viewed (by those not meant to view it remember).  The criminals must transport their stolen goods in order to benefit from them. 

In the case of stolen data, the benefit would only come once that information was transported out of the country to Russia – where the GRU (Russian military intelligence) was tasked with analyzing the data then weaponizing it and turning it back on America and – most importantly – individual Americans.  The Russians (with Cambridge Analytica’s help) had created a way to turn stolen voter data into fear-directed Facebook ads that would appear right on an individual voter’s Facebook page – stoking fears about, say, racism among Democrats that “could” induce an ambivalent African American voter to stay home on election day rather than go out and vote for Hillary.

Betsy DeVos provided the pipeline. Hey, Betsy — Lets put on a show! 

ERIK PRINCE – Erik is Betsy DeVos’ brother so, already, ya know he’s corrupt.  Erik founded a company called Blackwater that won big service contracts in the Iraq War theater – making them millions of dollars while they formed a private army for the benefit of their benefactors and electrocuted American service people when they showered (in Iraq) cos why not add incompetence to your resume of corruption?

Erik was part of the “Hey, look who I bumped into in a bar in the Seychelles if you believe in coincidences” bullshit that attempted to create a back channel through which information – and treason – could flow easily.  This back channel, by the way – the brain child of Steve Bannon.

Hey, Erik — Lets put on a show!

WILBUR ROSS – Known as “Trump’s MOST corrupt cabinet appointee (and that’s including Ryan Zinke FFS!) had lots of corrupt dealings with Russians and their laundered money while holding a board seat at the Bank of Cypress – a place where the banking laws encourage money laundering & money launderers like Wilbur Ross.

Lots of Russian money needed to be laundered then donated to every Republican on the ticket. 

Hey, Wilbur – Let’s put on a show!

PAUL MANAFORT – Gosh, GOP, why let Paul Manafort (a guy you all knew was dirtier than dirty) with Russian connections so deep he farts in Russian run your presidential nominee’s campaign.  Paul had one change – ONE – to your whole freakin’ platform: Support for Ukraine and sanctions.  No one “wondered” what that was all about?  Perhaps no one NEEDED to wonder because you already knew.

Then there’s Mike Pence.  Paul brought Mike to the dance.  We have to ask “WHY?”  Of all the gin joints in all the world, why did Paul invite Mike into his?

Remember (it’s important) – Paul wasn’t running an honest campaign.  He was running a dirty one.  He was trying to leverage his role as Trump’s campaign chief into forgiveness for $17 MILLION worth of debt to Oleg Deripaska, former client & a Russian oligarch not known for his largess or forgiveness (especially of massive debt which, also remember, Deripaska believed Manafort was trying to skip out on).  Paul was running a very criminal enterprise.

So, ask yourself, why would a criminal want a boy scout as Veep?  Why would a criminal position a cop right where the criminal needed to go?  Paul didn’t want anyone blowing the whistle on him – we’re all clear on that, right?  Paul wanted – NEEDED – a veep who HE KNEW FOR A FACT was compliant and trustworthy enough to keep their big secret SECRET: Russia was running the show.

Last point about Paul. He wasn’t flying solo.  He wasn’t a lucky conman who’d figured out a way to save his ass (and save his family – for now – from a brutal end).  Paul knew that Trump was dirty and Trump knew that Paul was dirty.  Remember – no one can put their cards on the table because then everyone would see those cards spell treason.  Though these criminals surround themselves with other criminals, they’re entering a system with checks and balances bent on stopping people like them.

That’s where BILL BARR fits in.  Hey, Paul – Let’s put on a show!

MIKE PENCE — Mike is a sanctimonious fraud so unloved by the people of Indiana that compromising what was left of his soul to sell out to Trump and Russia was a no brainer.  Mike had nowhere else to go except total corruption. 

Mike’s an opportunistic con man adept at speaking preacher-ese to the yokels who salivate like Pavolv’s dog when they hear it.  These soulless cretins wouldn’t know Jesus if they stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in his eye. 

I betcha Paul Manafort knew lots about Mike Pence and his deep, dark secrets.  Let’s be honest – Mike Pence’s relationship with women – and his wife – is bizarre.  It’s beyond unhealthy, it’s fraudulent.  Karen Pence’s nickname shouldn’t be “Mother”, it should be “Beard”.

I wonder… when Mike eventually goes away for Life, will “Mother” change her nickname to “Available”?

STEVE BANNON – Steve’s the guru of darkness (while Stephen Miller is merely its court jester).  Steve’s religious faith runs deep.  His ooga-booga is better than your ooga-booga – that’s the basis for everything Steve believes.  He’s so determined to save the world from YOUR ooga-booga in fact that he’s willing to torpedo the greatest experiment in human self government ever.

Steve has never stopped being philosophically connected the Trump’s ultimate purpose – destruction of America as a Democratic Republic. Well, to be fair, that’s not Trump’s ultimate purpose (he couldn’t give a shit – he just wants to be richer than he already supposedly is), it’s Vladimir Putin’s.

And let’s be real – this is mostly Putin’s deal.  The Saudi’s, the Chinese, the Israelis and Erdogan may be trying to horn in on it but they’re strictly back seat passengers.  Putin’s joe sits in the Oval Office.

Hey, Steve — Let’s put on a show!

THE NRA – Conspiracies cannot live by bad intent alone.  They need money, too, because traitors are  notoriously greedy. Money always comes with strings.  Don’t do what the strings want?  Forget about the money.  Back in the day, the NRA was primarily a gun safety organization.

Then the gun manufacturers took over.  Gun sales became the point of the exercise.  The gun lobby rewrote the second amendment in its own image and used the NRA to sell it. A gun control amendment became an amendment justifying mass murder because how dare you come for our guns?  Putin saw a golden opening and took it.  The more guns in American hands, the more gun violence there would be.  The more Putin pushed the “more guns more places” meme, the more divided he could make America seem.  Hell, using the NRA, Putin has managed to create situations where stores have to beg their customers NOT to come armed to the teeth.

That’s not normal, people. That’s screwed up.

As we’ve learned – Russia sent a very skilled agent named Maria Butina to play the NRA.  She made the NRA a useful conduit for Russian money.  It wasn’t Russia contributing (illegally) to all those Republican campaigns all around the country, it was THE NRA.  Get it?

Russia stays within the letter of the law while raping its spirit senseless.

Hey, NRA – Let’s put on a show!

ROGER STONE – conduit & con man.  Connoisseur and creep.  The man so dedicated to Richard Nixon, he got a tattoo of Nixon on his back.  Former business partner of Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater (who personally started the Culture & Political War that the Right (un)declared on the Left.  Roger via the weasels immediately around him (Jerome Corsi, Sam Nunberg, Randy Credico) was the conduit between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign.

Hey, Roger, let’s put on a show! 

WIKILEAKS – That we EVER thought Julian Assange was a hero is a testament to our own collective failure of imagination.  A guy accused of sexual assault should instantly get our collective attention.  Yes, yes – we need to hear the whole story and all – but honest people face their accusers.  Weasels weasel out and stink up foreign embassies.

Hey, Julian — Let’s put on a show!

THE MERCERS & CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA – Again – pipelines.  But also the design.  Robert Mercer’s a brilliant computer guy with a twisted political vision that’s tied to even more twisted Dominionist religious tripe. What could possibly go wrong? Rebekka is just as nuts but a little less on the spectrum. That’s what makes her dangerous.

Cambridge took a “benign” product meant to profile potential terrorists and turned it on America – using its powerful insights to gin up right wing conspiracy theorists while helping to carry out a crime – the total undermining of the United States Constitution.

Hey, Mercer’s — Let’s put on a show!

BILL BARR — Having saved the Republican Party once from the punishment it deserved (Iran-Contra) b making the crime go away & the evidence disappear, Bill Barr was perfectly positioned to be Donald Trump & the GOP’s ultimate Bag Man. So far, he’s LIED about the Mueller Report. Lied about the Whistleblower. Lied about Ukraine. Tried to seduce other governments into helping Trump in 2020. It’s all in a day’s work for Bill.

Hey, Bill — let’s put on a show!

MITCH MCCONNELL — I’ve spent plenty of time on Mitch here. Mitch is a traitor but he started his life as a mere culture warrior. Apparently Mitch loves it when people walk right up to his turtle face and scream “SODOMY” at the top of their lungs.

It brings back memories of his time in the military apparently. You’ll have to ask Mitch. Better yet — scream “SODOMY” in Moscow Mitch’s face at the top of your lungs.

Hey, Mitch — Let’s put on a show!

Vladimir Putin – For a guy running a shitty country with a shitty economy and a shitty future, he’s done very well for himself.

It’s incumbent on US to fix it.

Better yet — Let’s put on a show.