America the Bloody

So, I wake up this morning to word of the “worst mass shooting in U.S. history,” at a night club in Orlando, Florida, where someone opened fire, killing 50 people and injuring more than 50 others. As far as I know, I didn’t know anyone in that club, but my heart sank.

Worst mass shooting in U.S. history. How the hell can anyone even determine that? I mean, the number of victims, in this case, is greater than most, but I would submit that every time someone is shot, it’s the “worst in history” for their families. Who can forget Sandy Hook, where 26 innocent people were shot, 20 of them babies under 7 and the other 6 teachers? How about the people who, a few years ago, sat down in a theater to watch the new “Batman” movie and were shot and killed for doing so, by a mentally unstable man who was able to amass an arsenal that might have made David Koresh envious? What about the seemingly constant mass shootings in and around college campuses. And don’t forget the shooting here in Tucson, Arizona, when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was targeted by a mentally ill man, who killed nine people and ruined the lives of numerous families. In that case, he was judged too mentally ill to attend classes at Pima Community College, but he had no problem buying a gun.

The investigation of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub last night is still early, but it’s looking like they’re going to label it “terrorism,” which will surely bring a sigh of relief to many people because, you know, we can stop terrorism; just kill ISIS. Right? Well, here’s a reality check; even if this guy is a terrorist, it’s only one incident; it doesn’t explain the other incidents. We tend to treat these types of incidents as if they’re isolated, but they are anything but.

Last year alone, the people of this country endured 372 mass shooting incidents, defined as four or more people shot in a single incident. That’s more than one per DAY. (Source) So far this year, we are on pace to break that mark, with no end in sight. (Source) Overall, an average of about 300 people are shot per day and 91 people are killed with guns on an average day. We lose nine people under the age of 19 every day to gunshot wounds. There are nearly 12,000 homicides every year, but nearly twice as many people use a gun to commit suicide, as well. Also, nearly twice that many are shot and “only injured,” with injuries ranging from a slight grazing to complete paralysis to needing major medical care to regain at least some semblance of a life back. (Source)

I expect a lot of people to tell me this is not the right time to talk about this. Fuck them. This is exactly the right time. Hundreds of my fellow Americans went into a club last night to have a good time and now their families and friends will never get to see them again. The fact that such a thing doesn’t bother you enough to do something about it points to a problem with you, not me.

And of course, there will be people who will shout, “Second Amendment! Shall Not be infringed!” as some sort of reason why we can’t do anything about it. Fuck them, too. There is absolutely nothing in our Constitution that prevents us from regulating firearms. Even in the infamous case District of Columbia v. Heller, an opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, which established an individual right to keep and bear arms, acknowledged,

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” (Source)

And I’ve already received a note this morning about this incident, reminding me that the problem is not the guns themselves as if I don’t already know that. The problem isn’t guns. It’s the easy and ready availability of firearms to pretty much anyone who wants one and the resulting prevalence of guns that is the problem. Consider; there are as many guns as people in this country, but only half of all Americans even have one. Meanwhile, there are families with arsenals of more than ten guns and hundreds of rounds of ammo, with no regulations on the books enforcing responsibility on gun owners.

This problem is deceptively easy to solve, too. We just have to create the political will to change things. This is all part of the “Republicanization” of America. This country used to see problems in society and we used to take steps to solve them. With the current version of the GOP in charge and pledging their undying fealty to the NRA, which used to be a run rights and safety organization but which is now just a gun manufacturers’ lobbying group, nothing can change.

About 20 years ago, Australia saw one mass shooting and immediately took steps to rein in their “gun problem,” which was nothing compared to ours. Compare that to our reaction to the shootings of babies and teachers at Sandy Hook, after which Democrats proposed an extremely meager universal background checks bill that the Republicans shot down, even though more than 90 percent of the American people, including most gun owners, supported it. There’s your problem, folks. Get rid of Republicans, and we can start to put a dent into this problem.

We have to start talking about this and we need to start making this a serious issue in every election until there is movement. I don’t expect major movement in one shot, but we should at least be able to study the problem and come up with solutions. Under Republican rule, the CDC is actually forbidden from studying it. Of course, it’s not just the far right that is a problem. When it comes to gun control, PUBs and professional lefties go into full Eeyore mode and throw their hands up.   They talk about economic issues and free college and free healthcare, but they turn away when the topic is guns. In a legal structure in which there are virtually no laws designed to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them and no laws to enforce responsibility on gun owners, the only recourse victims of gun violence have left is litigation. To block that avenue is inexcusable. And the candidate they supported without hesitation helped block litigation against gun makers and sellers and reiterated that support when confronted on it. Gun control is much more important than jailing bankers or raising the cap on Social Security. This is life and death for 33,000 people per year. No one expects to reduce that to zero, but large reductions would be nice.

It’s time to change hearts and minds and to put as system of sane gun control into our legal system. And the first step is to make the ideology that believes in unlimited gun rights untenable in our current system. American the Bloody has to become America the Brave, and that can’t happen as long as Republicans have too much power.

Too political? Fuck you. This is a political issue and we have to use politics to solve it.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


America the Bloody — 17 Comments

  1. Lately, I’ve been stuck on thinking about what sort of gun policy would’ve prevented the Orlando shooting.
    Omar Mateen had no criminal history. I don’t think he was mentally ill. The FBI removed him from the terrorist watch list after investigating him.

    So basically, what would’ve stopped him? Universal background checks? I don’t see that.
    A gun registry or licensing? Not sure that’d have stopped him.
    A terrorist watch list being combined with a background check? Well, they took him off and had nothing to link him to any terrorist group.
    Insuring guns? Well I guess that’d make it more expensive to own several and all the ammunition that would come with it. But maybe not much else.

    It seems maybe that last one is the only thing that might’ve maybe made a difference, but the attack still would’ve occurred.

    • Why do people do this? Why do you think this is about one incident? It’s not. However, if he had been on the watch list and that prevented him from getting a gun, that may have stopped. If he was getting mental health treatment and the background check triggered a notice to police, perhaps they could have visited him and heard from his wife about his plans and that may have stopped him. He also shouldn’t have access to the ability to shoot 100 people within two minutes. No one should. The problem is, we’re myopic. We don’t do anything because no single solution works in every case. That’s just silly.

      • I’m well aware that it’s not just about preventing one incident but about long-term policy. Well and good. But I think it’s fair subject matter to discuss since you’re talking about the shooting then seguing into gun laws. For the most, part, I’m for stricter gun laws.

        And I distinctly disagree with the whole “mental health care” thesis because I don’t think he could rightly be said to be mentally ill. I think that denies his culpability in the shooting, and as stated, I don’t think he was mentally incompetent. I think this was premeditated and that he was fully cognizant of his actions.

        I’m lead to believe that this man was very authoritarian because his family invariably talks about “respect” to the United States or to family and so on. (Basically implying that he was a “good” person who would have no reason to do this.) To me, this just says that he’d be likely to emphasize tribal affiliation and accepted authorities before any reasoned sense of ethic.

        If there is legal precedent to take him off the watch list, no evidence of criminal history or any record of mental health problems, on what basis do we have to deny him the sale of a gun? If this single solution doesn’t work, what other solution could?

        For example, I do know that some countries use membership in a professional gun association (i.e. for hunters and the like), and being in good standing with such, is a requirement for keeping licensed for a firearm. Perhaps even storing firearms with the club The man was a security guard. Perhaps this is baseless speculation, but I think if he were proficient with firearms, that too was a huge problem.

        • You are completely missing my point. It’s not about whether we could have prevented this one. It’s that we do nothing to prevent any of these things from happening. It’s far too easy to get a gun. It’s too easy to buy accessories that turn that gun into a massively efficient killing machine. Whether or not we could have prevented THIS event is beside the point; we don’t do anything to prevent ANY event. Think of it this way; if all he could get was a shotgun, he may have only gotten 5-10 people, instead of 100+. No one living in an urban or suburban area needs more than that to protect themselves. But that anyone can get a gun and the accessories that modify it to kill hundreds in a matter of minutes – that is the problem. Was he mentally ill? Who knows? It doesn’t matter, anyway, since he can buy a gun even if he’s crazy as a loon.

        • I don’t think I am missing your point. I basically agree with your position. We take a defeatist position on gun control.
          But again, why use the shooting at all as a rallying call for a gun discussion if that isn’t the point? And it doesn’t change that I think there is an interesting discussion to be had there.

          And this isn’t just a quantitative matter of 5-10 lives versus 100 either.
          He would pass multiple litmus tests
          – Not mentally incompetent.
          – Not criminal.
          – Not on the terrorist watchlist
          – Probably could afford insurance
          – Demonstrates professional need

          He passes all the tests. The only ones he didn’t was that his ex-wife felt something was off and a gun vendor who called in a tip to the FBI. Nobody at the level of the community had any power to actually stop him.

          I even give you your caveat that yes, you can prevent the number of deaths. But insurance and licensing is only a final deterrent if they actually care about their finances or repercussions. So unless you put a limit on how many handguns he can have, how much ammunition is allowed to buy or something else of that nature, I’m not fully convinced the statistics would work out all much better. I’m not fully convinced that a shotgun would be better either. (You load buckshot into it. And shotguns also have a magazine. They are also much larger bore sizes.)

          I also mentioned that some countries require that you demonstrate professional need and store your guns with a club. And really, that does nothing for you? You have no comment on that?

        • I don’t have a defeatist position at all. If we can stop electing Republicans we could make major progress on gun control. As for specific proposals, registration, licensing and insurance are what we need. The registration tracks the gun and establishes responsibility and liability, the licensing establishes competence and establishes another level of responsibility and insurance can force even more responsibility on owners. Also, it will reduce numbers by making having several dozen guns prohibitive. You claim this guy could have afforded insurance, but since we don’t know how much “gun insurance” would cost on a Sig Sauer, it’s kind of difficult to determine that.

          You’re trying to make this more complicated than it is. One problem with our laws as they stand is that we kept doing what you’re effectively proposing, which is that we pass laws designed to plug holes instead of dealing with the overall problem.

  2. I hate to break it to you but we already have background checks for any person obtaining a gun legally. So your solution is irrelevant.
    Now, let me ask you, how do you propose keeping guns from being purchased illegally? That is the question Liberals don’t seem to have an answer for.

    • I hate to break it to you, but background checks are not universal. They are only required when guns are initially purchased from a licensed gun dealer. The Aurora shooter was able to buy 23 guns, numerous clips and more than 4,000 rounds without so much as showing someone his driver’s license, let alone undergoing a background check.

      As for that profoundly stupid question, “How do you propose keeping guns from being purchased illegally?” I’ll just say this. Almost no purchases are illegal, unless the buyer is a convicted felon. Of course, if he is a convicted felon, and someone who isn’t a licensed dealer sells him a gun, no background check is required, so how is the seller supposed to know he’s breaking the law?

      See, idiot, I have an answer for that stupid question. Register all guns, license all gun owners and make them carry insurance. Treat them like we do cars. No one seems to have a problem getting a car…

        • With no one paying attention to him while he did it, he did it over several years. Of course, he got a lot more than unemployment, too, so don’t let facts get in the way of a good bullshit story.

        • Facts and bullshit? Don’t get me started,these were things an average american joe can’t buy even if they had the money or wanted to, these were the latest in high tech, and you’re saying a recently broke dude stumbled across an old piggy bank he forgot about?

        • Suffice it to say you don’t know what you’re talking about. He received grants and loans to go to school and pay for living expenses. Some estimate he got as much as $15,000 per year. Now, get civil and stick to facts, or consider yourself blocked.

        • I have two rules for commenting here. the first is, you have to be civil, which you were not, which is why I took out the first phrase in the above.

          The other is that you tell the truth. You can’t seem to do that, either.

          There are virtually no regulations on buying and selling guns. Oh, there are laws saying you can’t own one if you’re a convicted felon or judged mentally incompetent, but no regulations except background checks. Of course, if you’re not a licensed gun dealer, you don’t have to do a background check. As for the car thing, YES we make cars harder to buy. To buy a car, you need a license and you have to have insurance. Cars are also required to have tons of safety equipment and, if you want to drive it somewhere other than up and down your driveway, it is necessary to have it inspected for safety and emissions and registered. Moreover, when you go to sell a car, the person you sell it to has to be licensed and insured. Do that with guns, and we’ll have fewer problems.