Packing Heat in America

A police officer reacts to the Highland Park mass shooting near Chicago on July 4th (Getty images)

W.J. Astore

Another mass shooting in America, this one during a July 4th parade, killing six and wounding dozens. I saw this blinding flash of the obvious at the New York Times today: “Why does the U.S. have so many mass shootings? Mostly because people have so many guns.” Well, that seems logical. I saw an interview on MSNBC where it was asked whether the shooter was a Trump supporter and whether he was a “loner.” To his credit, the expert being interviewed explained that, though the shooter posed with a Trump flag, it may have been meant ironically, and that he wasn’t a loner in the traditional sense as he was part of an active online community of bizarre mass shooting enthusiasts.

There’s always the tendency to dismiss these shooters as loners, as nutcases, and to politicize it as well by suggesting that Trump or some other figure was at least partially responsible. But America had plenty of mass shootings before Trump came along, and these guys are not all loners. Indeed, in some sense they’re a manifestation of a society obsessed with guns and violence, of settling scores and dominating the Other (or others) through killing, mainly with guns.

Speaking of killing with guns, is it really necessary to shoot an apparently unarmed Black man sixty times (!) after he fled a traffic stop? Here’s the story from CNN:

The city of Akron, Ohio, remains on edge one week after the fatal police shooting of 25-year-old Jayland Walker. A news conference held by city officials on Sunday — along with the release of 13 police body camera videos — has started to paint a fuller picture of the shooting, which police say happened when Walker, who is Black, fled an attempted traffic stop on June 27. Walker was unarmed at the time he was killed, Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said. Authorities said Walker suffered at least 60 wounds in the fatal shooting. The Mayor of Akron declared a state of emergency and issued a curfew for Monday night through this morning in order to “preserve peace” in the community. 

A “curfew” to preserve peace: Something tells me we’re going to see a lot more of these “curfews” in the U.S. in the coming years, enforced by heavily armed police with converted MRAPs and similar tank-like vehicles. It’s hard not to think that America’s overseas wars have come home to Main Street USA, not in the same form as Baghdad or Kabul, but close enough.

Americans tend to put a lot of faith in “good guys with guns.” Those “good guys” failed to act for more than an hour in Uvalde, Texas, a delay that led to more children being slaughtered. In Akron, Ohio, the “good guys” apparently fired more than 60 rounds at Jayland Walker, who apparently was unarmed at the time of the shooting (though apparently he had a gun in his car). I like this official statement by the police: “The decision to deploy lethal force as well as the number of shots fired is consistent with use of force protocols and officers’ training,” the Fraternal Order of Police Akron Lodge 7 said in a statement.

America is in the (pistol) grips of a massive social experiment: what happens to a society when it’s consistently betrayed by its leaders, when people are increasingly desperate and fearful, and where those same people are massively armed with readily-available guns, including military-grade firearms. A society that continues to advertise violence on its TV and cable shows, that continues to suggest that more guns are the answer to gun violence, where the Supreme Court of the land embraces the idea of open carry of loaded firearms as a fundamental Constitutional right. It seems a foregone conclusion that such an experiment can only lead to higher body counts across the country. And indeed there were many more deadly shootings this past weekend, as this article summarizes.

Welcome to “extreme life,” as Tom Engelhardt notes today at TomDispatch.com. And while his article focuses mainly on soaring temperatures and extreme weather due to climate change, he starts by noting how the Supreme Court struck down the New York law that restricted the carrying of concealed firearms. Yes, America today is “packing heat” in more ways than one. Rising temperatures, soaring gun sales, more and more mass shootings, increasing alienation and unease: these times aren’t just “interesting,” as the alleged Chinese curse goes, they truly are increasingly extreme.

And in extremity, people often make the worst of choices, turning to anyone who promises them relief, a measure of “peace,” even if it takes the form of a militarized curfew.

108 thoughts on “Packing Heat in America

  1. A disposable culture makes for disposable lives; with a little institutional encouragement (and rationalization), it will make the playground real entertaining for those of us with some respect for life and order. We will know who we are eventually, alone first and then collectively, after institutional failure(s) undermine the expectations we have been conditioned to ignore.

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  2. I have no answers – does anyone?

    But I note that the last 3 mass murderers (Buffalo, Uvalde, Highland Park) have all been young males in their late teens to early 20s. That follows the pattern of most of the mass shooters over the years.

    That puts this group having been born in the early to mid 1990s – that was the time of the “unipolar moment”, NAFTA, shipping jobs overseas, and the first stock market boom – to be followed by the tech crash in 2002. They also spent their entire youth in a time of overseas wars.

    Also, if my recollection is correct, that was when “girl power”first became a thing, with emphasis on creating opportunities for girls and young women – something I thought was great for my daughter.

    I wonder, with all these societal dislocations that began in the 1990s, did we as a society ignore a generation of boys and young men, who were just assumed to be okay as the system was stacked for them?

    I’m not suggesting that individual economic and family circumstances do not have the greatest influence on a child’s development, but I wonder if this is another aspect of the war coming home that Bill mentioned in his post.

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    1. That all these shooters were young males in their young teens to early 20’s should not be overlooked TOM R .

      While New Zealand does not have these mass shooting by young men, it has by far the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world. A UNICEF report found New Zealand’s youth suicide rate – teenagers between 15 and 19 – to be the highest of a long list of 41 OECD and EU countries.

      Health and support services across all Western countries have for years been fighting the stigma attached to depression perceived as weakness. And this is a bigger problem in New Zealand than in other countries.

      “There is a tradition of the hardened-up tough guy culture within New Zealand,” says Dr Stone. “It puts pressure on men to be of a particular mould, pressure on young boys to harden up to become these tough take-no-shit beer-drinking hard men. ”

      Failing to live up to the tough guys image these young Kiwi teenagers don’t embark on mass shootings, but kill themselves in despair. A modern tragedy.

      This and all the factors you list points to a society that is letting down young males. And as you say, they are assumed to be okay as the system and culture is increasingly stacked against them.

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      1. Central America has the highest homicide rate followed by South America. They also have about the lowest suicide rates. Presumably religion has a lot to do with it. In Catholic tradition suicide is the one unforgivable sin. Too bad they didn’t make murder an unforgivable sin.

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            1. Suicides are highest when the days are really short in the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is what they call it. They have lights for that on Amazon etc. Look at the light and get happier.

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              1. It’s not quite that simple. Winter is also supposed to be the season to be jolly, but not everyone is happy at Christmas and the New Year.

                When you look at those three states, I’d expect a higher percentage of males living there and a higher % of gun owners. Perhaps a higher % of veterans as well. Those states also, perhaps, embrace the idea of rugged individualism and “real men don’t seek or need help.” So perhaps for all these reasons, and more, suicide by gun is likely more common.

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        1. Cain killed his brother Abel.

          And the LORD said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I don’t know: Am I my brother’s keeper?
          And he said, What have ou done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.
          And now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand;
          When you till the ground, it shall not henceforth yield to you her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shall you be in the earth.

          And Cain said to the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
          Behold, you have driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from your face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that finds me shall slay me.
          And the LORD said to him, Therefore whosoever slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven fold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
          Genesis 4

          This OT account of the 1st murder of a human by a human in the Genesis, happened some 6000 Human years ago.
          In the NT, the Apostle Peter says, ‘But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’
          By that reckoning, this earth has arrived at the 6th Day since the Genesis, and the 3rd Day since the Crucifixion of the Christ.

          Establishment Religion just does not see while the record says 1 killing is enough, devising new ways, methods and machines to kill humans in this 6th Day of the Creation is one of this earth’s BIGGEST BUSINESSES, and the Masses seem to be alright with that Reality as the unleashing of it all on Humans appears closer than ever before.

          The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
          He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
          And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering.
          O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the Signs of the Times?
          Matthew 16

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          1. Genesis and Mathew are just the scribblings of ancient superstitious unknown authors Ray. In 2022 we would be wise not to take any of what they wrote seriously. Sorry

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              1. As Thomas Paine fueled the fire that freed the bodies of Americans from the British, he also freed the minds of Americans from Christianity ..

                “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.” – Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Chapter 12

                These words written by a real man we know existed. Not the writings of contested unknown authors of Genesis and Matthew in ancient times. Concerning their authorship the Rev. Dr. Hooykaas says: “They appeared anonymously. The titles placed above them in our Bibles owe their origin to a later ecclesiastical tradition which deserves no confidence whatever” (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 24).

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                1. Fools rush in but I think it’s important not to take these stories too literally Dennis.
                  I think they are meant to be educational as well as entertainment (like the better class of Hollywood horror and terror films) and I’m sure there is much wisdom in those pages (especially the NT) but the gruesome elements can serve to cause our reflection and discernment – which may be a little different from Thomas Paine’s.

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                2. Beyond the Bible, let me re-iterate this: “Establishment Religion just does not see while the record says 1 killing is enough, devising new ways, methods and machines to kill humans in this 6th Day of the Creation is one of this earth’s BIGGEST BUSINESSES, and the Masses seem to be alright with that Reality as the unleashing of it all on Humans appears closer than ever before.

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                3. Dennis, another view of your hero Thomas Paine,
                  “Charlie never forgot that Thomas Paine, for all his Common Sense, died obscure and alienated from his peers, disillusioned by counterrevolutions in France and the constitutional conservatism in the United States.”
                  Maybe at the end of his life he realized he wasn’t as Revolutionary Christian as he should have been?

                  After The Fireworks, by Rivera Sun
                  Originally published on July 19, 2021

                  A work of Fiction based on Reality.
                  It was a time of giddiness and babble, when the world seemed hopeful and lost all at once. Possibility lurked on the edge of each moment. Disaster loomed across every horizon. With humanity at a crossroads, the clock ticking in the earth’s heartbeat, the Dandelion Insurrection took a deep breath … and went flying on the winds of change.

                  The night hung dark in all directions. Across the pooling black of the lake, distant drunken whoops shot out. A pitched shriek echoed over the water. A crackle erupted in the sky. Starbursts lit up the night. Cheers lifted on the shore. An off-key anthem praised rockets’ red glare. The smell of charcoal briquettes swept past and vanished………………………………………………………….

                  https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2022/07/06/after-the-fireworks-by-rivera/

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          2. A big lesson from the Bible, I think, is not that man was created in God’s image but that we created God in our own image. Hence the God of the OT: jealous, demanding, war-like, imperious. A very human god.

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              1. Following script, whatever script one follows and believes, after the 6th Day of Creation mentioned in my comment, comes the 7th Day of Rest, the Eternal Sabbath. That’s the Good News in the Scriptures!
                What’s 50-100 human years in Eternity?
                All of us are born into this World toothless, dependent, vulnerable, having to wear diapers. Most of us leave this physical World the very same way.

                In between, what did we say and do when we had teeth in this rapidly evolving World?

                I sent a 2nd Message to the Pope last night, as he prepares for his trip to CanaDa this month.. Bill has that 1st Message sent April 18 citing the historical Timeline suggesting the US/NATO PROVOKED Russia to invade Ukraine.
                No one here knows exactly how I felt, when 2 weeks later on May 3, the Pope shocked the World saying Publicly NATO may have provoked Russia to invade Ukraine.

                In the months since it was announced he would visit CanaDa, The Spirit of Christ living in my body, the Fundamental for ALL Christian Believers, knows my thoughts, and knew I thought often the Pope should stop at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City as a logical follow up to his trip to Iraq last year, the place of Abraham’s birth.
                Searching the Pope’s Agenda online, I for one was very pleased to see Quebec City is on the Agenda.

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                1. Hey Ray, I’m wondering whether you would think a poster who started quoting the Quran, or Shinto scripts, or Zen Buddhism’s sacred texts in the thread to illustrate some obscure point about the discussion at hand would have a valuable contribution to make?

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            1. I could never figure this out Lt.Col. The God of the OT, and the God of the NT? Two different guys huh? Or maybe the God of the OT realized he got a lot of stuff wrong and decided to release Bible 2.0? With a new and improved God.

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          3. I thought of Cain and Abel too. It didn’t take long in the Bible for murder to rear its ugly head. Of course we’re more sophisticated (sarc) now and many people blame violence on the guns they want to eradicate. But in the course of our history guns are only a few hundred years old. I read an article once on the unearthing of a mass grave of early tribal people. Twenty percent of the skulls showed evidence of a weapon used to crush them (presumably a club or rock). Twenty percent.

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    2. The warrior mindset, the exaltation of violence, increasing militarism, and mixed messages in the culture wars (Does everything have to be a “war,” even disagreements on cultural issues?): It’s all very confusing, especially to young men without a lot of options in their lives.

      And now young women are being told what to do with their bodies by five male (and one female) justice motivated in part by conservative Catholicism, and this is sold as being pro-life.

      America is going backwards, or spiraling downwards (pick your image), very quickly.

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        1. Its not only in America Lt. Col. Nowadays with the internet these social trends are ubiquitous across the Western World. One of the things working against the New Zealand Maori youth – the warrior mindset of their culture. In 2022 this has resulted in too many of the disadvantaged Maori teenagers joining motorcycle gangs. The used-to-be-unarmed NZ police are struggling with this.

          But you nailed – without a lot of options in their life – this modern neoliberal technological world is providing less and less jobs these young kids can have, and have pride in what they are doing and give them something to do with their time. Computers now doing what these kids used to be employed for. Shoot, even in the McDonalds I notice that you can place your order on a touch screen – never interacting with a human. Andrew Yang talked a lot about this in promoting Universal Basic Income. Which I still believe would solve a lot of crime, poverty and homelessness. Sadly the idea has died on the vine.

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          1. If a young man does not have a job, his life has little meaning. And with nothing that you can be proud of, no income, living on welfare, and plenty of time on your hands – you end up on a motorcycle gang packing heat and dealing drugs. And your wife and kids are sucked into this morass. It’s not rocket science.

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          1. Alex, another thing I always wonder about? The Jesus of the Bible seemingly never had a job. Or at least its not clear he had a job in the scriptures? So how did survive with no money? How did he fund his campaign? And who were his donors pulling the strings? Or maybe things worked differently 2,000 years ago? And what reason would we have to think that? I’m sure Ray has an answer to this!

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            1. Oh for goodness’ sake, Dennis. No need to get snarky here.

              Jesus was the son of a carpenter. In the Bible, it’s obvious he’s a rabbi (teacher) and a prophet, a not unknown “profession” in those times or ours.

              Obviously, to believers He was the son of God. Leaving that aside, he was a man of profound insight who was willing to advocate peace in a time of war and who supported the poor and weak in a time when compassion and mercy were rare. (Much like capitalism today, in fact.)

              You don’t have to accept Jesus as your Lord and Personal Savior to recognize that the man had something valuable to say and to teach.

              We know he had a radical message — it was for that very reason he was killed.

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              1. OK, thanks for the explanation Lt. Col.

                As you know, I believe that the whole Jesus character to be one of myth. Just like believers believe he was the son of God. I believe he was invented by the Bible’s unknown authors. That he was a man of profound insight who was willing to advocate peace in a time of war, and who supported the poor and weak in a time when compassion and mercy were rare, is all part of the myth they carefully created. Just like they invented the myth of the resurrection from the crucified dead. These Bible authors were obviously wonderful creative writers – why their stories have captivated people for 2,000-year.

                And in their myth he was a guy who had something valuable to say and to teach. And I grant you, what’s to find bad about that eh?

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                1. The scholarly take on the resurrection claim is that either the New Testament writers invented the story in order to promote their obvious agenda, or that they were innocently writing down the legend of Jesus’ passing that had developed until their times some few decades later.

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                2. Christ can’t be a myth. Your own personal hero was named for him, (Christ)opher Hitchens. 🙂

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                3. I’d go along with the story that however much is fiction (or myth or propaganda), on the balance of probabilities, Christ, Jesus of Nazareth probably existed. God probably not.

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                4. Yes, there are books about this: “The Historical Jesus.” I think Jesus did exist, as a teacher, a leader, and a prophet/philosopher.

                  Whether you believe he was the Son of God is simply a matter of faith. “Simply” — ha!

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            2. They didn’t need much money. Mostly a place to live and food and basic necessities. It’s not like they were trying to fund television commercials. And they could always camp – not much rain in the Holy Land. The other thing is rich people. It’s reported that Pilate’s wife was a big contributor to the Jesus movement. Perhaps other rich people (women?) as well. Women are called the compassionate sex you know. And I suspect ordinary people would help as they could. When Jesus sent out his followers to make disciples of all nations he advised them to seek out a rich person and stay there awhile. Still good advice if you can find someone. Myself I’ve tried to ask Bill Gates but he hasn’t responded yet. But I keep my fingers crossed. Hmm. Maybe Melinda now that they’ve split.

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      1. CA, NY, FL, TX, IL, NJ, GA, MI, NC, and MD are the top ten states in numbers of abortions. None of these states is affected by the recent SCOTUS decision. The projected effect is exaggerated for political purposes, fund raising being a prime outcome.

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  3. So sad for America. An obsession with a written constitution and constitutional rights. At least 40% of the population irredeemably ignorant, stupid, brainwashed or all three.

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        1. How many magazines does a cop pistol (Glock?) require to fire 60-rounds? Did the officer have 10-magazines in his pocket? Or were there multiple cops each emptying there 10-round magazines? Can somebody help me with an answer?

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          1. Some of these semi-automatic pistols carry 14-15 rounds. So, if you have 7-8 cops all firing rapidly, they could easily fire 90 rounds in under 10 seconds.

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          2. Google is your friend Dennis…..

            “Using a Glock 17 as an example, the standard would be a 17-round magazine in the gun and two spares. So a total of 51-rounds.

            If the gun is a P220, it could be as little as 24 rounds (3×8 round magazines)

            There is always department mandated requirements and what the officer can get away with. If the department doesn’t restrict additional magazines or backup weapons and exercises a “don’t show, don’t tell” policy, the officer could have additional magazines tucked away along with additional guns.

            Point being there is no “average cop”. Average depends heavily on the individual department, their policies and the duty firearm of the officers being discussed.”

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            1. I can only speak for the Air Force of which we “Air-Police” Security Forces on the Base Grounds Circa. 73-77 In SAC/MAC we carried 38 Cal. S&W Police Special double action Revolvers 6 Rds. in Chamber 18 Rounds on Belt Total 24 Rounds. In our Individual Cruisers/ P/U Vehicles a 12 Gauge Pump Shotgun w/ I believe if memory holds true (Getting old here) 5 Rounds 00 Buck, 1 in Chamber, the rest in Stock. and lastly M16 w/ 20 Round magazine in Stock, 120 rounds in 4 other magazines…

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  4. Perhaps in the past police felt freer to keep their eyes out for anybody who looks abnormal, like a freak they might say. The modern tendency is to treat everybody the same, regardless of age, sex, or appearance. Another illustration is airport security, wherein everybody gets heavily scanned, whether or not they might fit the profile of a hijacker. The Israelis I hear take a different tact. They interview people individually. Perhaps security people should be set free to use a more focused approach.

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  5. This is a remarkable statement by a U.S. politician:

    Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday that the shooting marked the emergence of a new, violent American tradition. “What happened here yesterday sadly was the clash of two traditions: one wonderful tradition, of Fourth of July parades, and another horrible emerging tradition of mass shootings,” he told MSNBC.

    Are we so lost as a people that we’ve come to speak of mass shootings as “an emerging tradition”? Almost as if there’s nothing we can do about it, i.e. it’s just another lifestyle choice in America?

    I find this language to be defeatist and offensive.

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    1. He’s a politician and pretty much all of what he says is self-serving. He doesn’t want ordinary people to have guns.

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      1. Who are “ordinary people”? Which models of “guns”?

        I don’t think any U.S. politician is against law-abiding citizens being able to buy guns for hunting or self-protection.

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        1. The state of California prohibits ordinary people from buying new models of pistols. They do this by the simple expedient of requiring that any new model of pistol imprint the serial number of the gun on the cartridge when its fired. Since no such technology exists it effectively bans new models of pistols. As for your last sentence, Michael Bloomberg, funder of candidacies of many politicians (Democrats mostly or perhaps exclusively), has said he doesn’t believe ordinary people should have guns. He himself doesn’t carry a gun but his bodyguards do. So his prescription is to hire a bodyguard. If you can’t afford one the police will fill out a report in case you’ve been shot and killed by a burglar. Perhaps they can put a copy in your casket. What a guy!

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          1. It’s not so much that it’s “impossible”, as that it would require a specially designed, and very expensive firearm just for the California market. Which of course solves nothing, since criminals can buy firearms without this requirement in any of 49-states in the US. Did I get this right?
            Why the US is struggling with promulgating sensible universal gun control Laws nationwide. The States rights thing. One of the biggest systemic flaws in the American Federal system eh?

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            1. Criminals can get guns by criminal means. Stealing, buying from overseas, etc.. From what I’ve read they seldom buy guns, because then the serial numbers would be recorded along with their personal information. Failure to fill out the proper ATF form is a problem. That’s it! We need to get criminals to fill out the proper ATF form when they steal guns or get them from overseas. There oughta be a law. Oh wait! There IS a law. Well maybe there should be another law on top of the other law, on top of the other law, etc. Really the problem is simple. Getting criminals to obey the laws pertaining to guns. And then getting criminals to obey the laws pertaining to everything else.

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              1. Of course the problem is simple! Other countries can do this. Australia and New Zealand. The difficult part you have is convincing enough Americans that it can be done.

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      2. Alex, he’s one of my senators and I agree with him, nobody should be out in public with a gun. A human being is emotional and our emotions, especially fear, can too easily put us out of control. We see it happen with police, with road rage, with so many incidents where people “lost it” and do things they regret even if they were not armed. A person with a gun in public is a threat to all around him or her. Anyone at any time can get into an altercation that would not be helped with a gun. Incident after incident make one wonder about having police armed. To have citizens arm up as well is madness.

        Arming citizens against other citizens is the antithesis of civilization. If one is fearful of others than those others should be specifically identified as individuals and reported to police based on evidence that they are a threat. Being fearful of an anonymous group, blacks, immigrants, etc. is no ground for going out with a gun in public for protection. To repeat, we know from police incidents how suspicion of this or that group of Americans by those armed with guns works out.

        To make fear a legal defense for killing someone can legalize murdering innocents based entirely on thoughts in the head of the gun carrier. This is what Stand Your Ground means. If I see you coming down the street at night and I have a gun and think you are coming for me, or interpret some move you make as reaching for a gun, these laws will let me injure or kill you even if you have said nothing and have taken no overt action. In at least one state, the law says the prosecution must first prove my action was not self-defense. This turns the usual burden of proof on its head to protect the gun user instead of the person who is shot.

        To use something written in a different age by people who had no conception of modern times is an example of the tyranny of the dead that Jefferson spoke of. To claim that states can individually ban abortion but cannot ban guns is contradictory.

        And on the good guy/bad guy fallacy…the Highland Park shooter was considered a good guy, certainly by his father who approved his ownership of a gun, and by authorities who accepted the application. In an instant, he was a bad guy. Any one of us and I include myself, can make that transition if only out of fear allied with a constant vigilance for self-defense. Citizens out in public with guns leaves no one safe.

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        1. Another great post Clif! You need your own website my man!

          To use something written in a different age by people who had no conception of modern times is an example of the tyranny of the dead that Jefferson spoke of……….Isn’t this why the founding fathers envisaged the Constitution as a “living document” able to be amended by due process? Am I right?

          And surely the Constitution is a living document, since historically the Supreme Court has interpreted amendments through different standards, including what is considered acceptable by society at the time.

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          1. The Constitution is a living document if you amend it. It doesn’t mean you can pretend it isn’t there or reinterpret the word “table” to mean “chair”. If enough people agree on something they can amend it. That’s as it should be. The problem comes when a minority or a slight majority want it to be changed just because they want it. Frankly I think our ordinary laws should be the same way. Enough of this 51%-49% nonsense, which then gets reversed by a different 51%-49% vote. Votes should be a super majority, reflecting a consensus. IMHO.

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            1. ……reinterpret the word “table” to mean “chair” – exactly what the Supreme Court did in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

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                1. What I meant was the SCOTUS interpreted 2A in a way not intended by the founding fathers. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) was real blow against promulgating sensible gun control Laws. As bad as the recent SCOTUS ruling on abortion.

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                2. I don’t believe the Founding Fathers had any gun control laws, sensible or otherwise. Except I think some southern states made it illegal for blacks (slaves) to own firearms. But nothing at the national level that I know of.

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        2. Now if we could just get the criminals to give up their guns or at least not carry them in public. Better yet, if we could just get them to not be criminals. Then everything would be solved.

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          1. Alex, there have always been and will always be criminals. New criminals come into being daily and some criminals are taken out of society daily. That is why we have a criminal justice system along with police forces, to discover and remove them as is decided by legal process and specifically not by individuals making unilateral judgements on the fly. Standing above all is, or should be, protecting the innocent. America’s past is rife with the alternative – people taking it upon themselves to administer “justice.” In fiction, read The Oxbow Incident. For fact read of vigilante justice, of self-proclaimed posses, of feuding clans.

            The question is how to contain the problem of criminality without coming up with something worse when the innocent start to pay for the pursuit of justice.

            As part of his/her job, a police officer should take a pledge to place his/her life second in priority after protecting the innocent. Fear for one’s life would have to be placed in second place over fear of injuring/killing an innocent. That would truly make officers public servants. Two things would result from this if it could be implemented: 1) injuries and deaths at the hands of police would drastically drop and 2) injuries and deaths of police officers would increase. Such a result would show a society concerned above all with the protection of the innocent and it would also show that being a police officer was putting oneself after the good of society, heroic for that. The trouble? Nobody would become a police officer.

            As it is, a police officer has traditionally known he/she can fire out of fear and will not be held accountable for the injury/death of the target, regardless of guilt or innocence and until quite recently, regardless of the nature of the crime for which justice is sought. When it comes to American policing, the lives of citizens are cheap, expendable in a pinch. Wrong person shot? The right person wrongly shot? No problem, tomorrow is another day in the patrol car.

            Arming citizens takes this and makes it public practice. The citizen is allowed deadly force, not to protect others, but above all to protect him or herself based not on established evidence, but merely fear of a threat. It places the concept of self-defense on a pedestal beyond all question. The shooter, the armed citizen, is assumed innocent (stand your ground law) and there is absolutely NO protection for the unlikely party that is thought to be a threat by the gun carrier. This is true regardless of any right to carry a firearm which has absolutely nothing to do with how it will be used as use is unpredictable and entirely up to the user. You don’t see the problem here?

            Arming citizens who are then responsible only to themselves for the use of deadly force is an anti-social move made in the name of protecting society. It is insane, particularly as it is taking place in a society that is not infested with crime and does have a legitimate infrastructure for dealing with what crime there is.

            The basis of gun frenzy is purely emotional, the rage made famous with Charleton Heston’s rant and the wildly applauded fanaticism of Wayne LaPierre. It is people proclaiming that they are mad, fearful and are determined to take action against…against…against who specifically? What criminal specifically? What person known to be a threat specifically? They cannot say.

            There you have it, pure emotion with no solid foundation, only thoughts in the head. Pissed? You bet they are and eagerly want you to know it. Thinking of Heston’s historic musket, they are primed. And this citizenry, flaunting firearms (an implied undemocratic threat to their fellow citizens who disagree) should be supported in their attempt to spread their way of thinking to all by order of a centuries old paragraph?

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            1. an implied undemocratic threat to their fellow citizens who disagree..

              CLIF, if there was a nation wide referendum in the US (could there be such a thing?) as to whether all citizens could flaunt firearms or not – what do you think would be the result? And if the citizens voted YES – everybody should have the right to flaunt firearms. Would flaunting firearms be an implied undemocratic threat to their fellow citizens who disagree?

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              1. @CLIF9710 …
                The question is how to contain the problem of criminality without coming up with something worse……..

                Jailing criminals….the number of citizens imprisoned per capita in the US is one of the highest in the World. Has that cut down on crime in America? Don’t think so eh?

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  6. 93% of people who don’t have confidence in Congress will mostly vote for incumbents. Pure insanity.

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  7. And the US gun culture is perpetuated in Israel as well….

    The US Security Coordinator concluded that while Israeli fire “was likely responsible for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh,” it “found no reason to believe that this was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances” that occurred during a military operation against Palestinian militants.

    In response to the US statement the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said, “As far as Israel is concerned, its policy regarding the killing of Palestinians has never been anything other than an organized whitewash meant to enable the continuation of the killings with impunity, and it is no different when it comes to a US citizen as in the current case.”

    “The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent,” the group added. “Meanwhile, Israel’s international impunity remains unchallenged”.

    https://original.antiwar.com/Brett_Wilkins/2022/07/05/organized-whitewash-us-claims-israeli-militarys-murder-of-journalist-not-intentional/

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  8. @WYASTORE.
    I’ve probably said this before here on your site ad nauseam Lt.Col
    But as my old Professor Hughes used to remind his students…..Faith is just believing things based on no evidence. You can believe any old dross based on faith. Name me something you could not believe based on faith? I have faith that there are fairies at the bottom of my garden.

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      1. Yes Bill its OK to joke about it. But when you have masses of people trying to write Laws based on Biblical scripture, and people telling you what is moral based on their romantic faith in a myth in an ancient book, then suddenly that romance becomes a problem. I think you would agree.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. If they were American fairies they’d have the right to keep and bear arms. New Zealand fairies don’t have that right.

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  9. @ALEX.
    Isn’t the whole problem with the US Constitution is that it was not written by legal scholars. Some say a good thing – it was written so that ordinary people could understand it.

    But this has lead, especially in these modern times, to the legal scholars having a field day ripping it apart, and interpreting it to suit their personal views.

    “The late Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in Heller, stated it made no sense to read the prefatory clause of 2A that way, because that would essentially nullify the direct and clear meaning of the operative clause. While the prefatory clause could give insight into some of the specifics of how to apply the operative clause, he argued, it could not make the right to arms contingent on militia service.”

    What in the hell does that mean to ordinary Joes on the street? And in any case, 4-Justices disagreed with him and wrote dissenting opinions?

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    1. It means you don’t have to be a member of any militia to have the right to keep and bear arms. Five cents, please.

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      1. I’m not paying up ALEX! I side with the legal opinions of the 4-Justices who disagree that it means you don’t have to be a member of any militia to have the right to keep and bear arms

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    2. Legal people like to argue. They argue about everything. It’s how they get paid. If someone asked whether the sun rose in the east or the west the legal people would argue about it and then send us a bill for a thousand dollars. And then they would appeal. It’s like the old joke: this town isn’t big enough to support one lawyer but it’s big enough to support two.

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      1. ALEX my friend, next time you have been wrongly charged with a crime you did not commit, you may have different thoughts about the role of lawyers in society!

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        1. If I am wrongly charged with a crime I did not commit it will be by a prosecutor, who is also a lawyer. They’ll get you coming and going. In the movie “The Devil’s Advocate”, Keneau Reeves asks Al Pacino, who plays Satan (and the head of a law firm) why he chose the law as his profession and Pacino says, “Because it puts us into everything.”

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  10. Today in the Seattle Times…..

    “Two Seattle Police officers were justified when they shot and killed Charleena Lyles and had no other reasonable alternative when they pulled the trigger, according to a unanimous King County Coroner’s jury after a two-week inquest into her 2017 death.

    The inquest into Lyles’ death was postponed for years because of revisions to the coroner’s inquest process — which is unique to King County — and police legal challenges to those changes, culminating in a unanimous Washington Supreme Court opinion that reinstated an expanded inquest process and recognized that its previous incarnation had been biased toward police and detrimental to the families of the victims of police violence…….

    Before 2017, no police officer in King County had been charged for a death in 30 years. Those inequities were evident in 2017, when Lyles’ death was one of a grim string of 11 police shootings, several involving young Black people.”

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/law-justice/seattle-police-officers-justified-in-shooting-pregnant-black-woman-inquest-jury-finds

    People in New Zealand will forever be horrified at these incidents of US police shooting innocent unarmed people! And in this case they first tasered a pregnant woman with mental illness in her apartment….holy cow! Was this really necessary? The jury also unanimously found that use of a Taser in the closed-confines of her apartment, as she advanced on the officers with a knife, would not have been appropriate or effective.

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    1. Not only shooting, but shooting to kill! In this case did they really need to kill this poor tormented soul? What happened to the age old practice of just shooting to incapacitate? Like in the leg or the arm? Yes – I have no police training – and you might say I am out to lunch here!

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      1. Police are trained to shoot “center of mass”. That is, the chest. They have the least chance of missing if they aim for the chest.

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  11. Since 1941, 29 people have been fatally shot by the New Zealand police. About 1 every 3-years. In a population of about 4-million with an identical heritage to the US dating back to the British. I wonder how many that is per head of population? And how that compares with the US? And what it tells us about US policing?

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    1. Perhaps criminals in the US are nastier than the criminals in New Zealand. Or at least that’s what the police think. I wonder what the statistics are for criminals shooting police in New Zealand.

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      1. It has been 11 years since a police officer was killed in the line of duty in New Zealand. Police Minister Stuart Nash today revealed since 1890, 22 officers have been shot and killed on duty.

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        1. Well there you have it. Police in the US shoot to kill because they figure the criminals are doing the same. It’s also why they empty their guns on a suspect. If you’re shooting to kill once you start shooting why stop?

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          1. Yes… but the discussing the topic of gun control in the US is soul destroying. Ask my doctor daughter in Madison WI, and did a year as an ER doctor – telling me about teenagers that died of bullet wounds on her shift, what she thinks about the 2nd Amendment?

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            1. The Second Amendment is just a fact of life in the U.S. Like Joe Biden as President. Ugh, is he really? Speaking of which, it looks like Boris Johnson resigned. What do you think about that? I’ll bet he’ll miss those G7 meetings, hanging out with the guys, fantasizing about riding a horse shirtless just like Putin.

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              1. “The spate of shooting attacks in communities such as Highland Park, Illinois; Uvalde, Texas; and Buffalo, New York, has riveted attention on the staggering number of public mass killings in the United States. But the rising number of gun deaths extends beyond such high-profile episodes, emerging nearly every day inside homes, outside bars and on the streets of many cities, according to federal data.

                The surge in gun violence comes as firearm purchases rose to record levels in 2020 and 2021, with more than 43 million guns estimated to have been purchased during that period, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal data on gun background checks. At the same time, the rate of gun deaths in those years hit the highest level since 1995, with more than 45,000 fatalities each year.

                Guns account for most suicides and are almost entirely responsible for an overall rise in homicides across the country from 2018 to 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

                https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/the-staggering-scope-of-u-s-gun-deaths-goes-far-beyond-mass-shootings/

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                1. @WJASTORE

                  The double tragedy here Bill, as you know all too well, is that these mass shootings are the firearms manufacturers best advertisers. Every one sends hoards of customers to their gun shop to buy more guns.

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                2. Yes, that’s true.

                  My wife and I watch a lot of foreign TV shows, including cop/detective stories. What strikes us about European shows is the general absence of guns. Sure, occasionally an officer pulls a gun; occasionally, someone gets shot. But it’s uncommon and guns and gun-play do not drive the narrative.

                  American shows generally feature guns prominently, especially in the advertising/highlights. SWAT teams are everywhere, as are assault rifles. Someone is always getting a gun in the face, including the viewer watching at home.

                  Liked by 1 person

                3. Lt. Col, I spent a considerable time in Europe after I retired “working”, and I use the term advisedly, for my friend Eligio running a motorcycle Tour business in Italy. We took riders, predominantly Americans, on motorcycle rides through Europe, the UK, South America, Russia, Australasia, Buhtan, and South Africa. Staying for lengths of time in many foreign cities.

                  You know what was common to every single one these cities? Movie DVD rental shops chock full of American films. Available 24/7. And in all of those movies – the American gun culture was on full display. Bad guys with guns versus good guys with guns. Cops with guns. Pretty girls in bikini’s with guns! SWAT teams everywhere, and assault rifles. Gun-play. Shoot outs. Some cool macho guy getting a gun in someone’s face.

                  So every non-American kid has an overwhelming impression that America is swamped with guns. And guns are the best way to solve every problem. And the kids think it is cool! It was sadly obvious to me that the gun violence we lament in your blog threads is looked upon especially by inner-city ghetto poor socioeconomic kids as a cool (is that word even used nowadays?) thing you need, essential to get ahead in life.

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                4. Guns sales are increasing in large part because a lot of big cities are no longer interested in stopping crime. Especially crimes committed by favored groups.

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                5. ……..a lot of big cities are no longer interested in stopping crime…………phew Alex! Talk about a broad unsubstantiated generalized statement – got any specific examples my friend?

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                6. We watch a lot of British crime shows (Endeavour is a favorite). Morse likes to charge into situations against the bad guys. He rarely has a gun so they often get the best of him. He’s been in the hospital several times. It’s a wonder he hasn’t been killed. When he charges into a situation as he does we’re in the background saying, “Morse, take a gun.” Then it turns out the bad guys have guns and Morse ends up in hospital. And then Thursday goes after the bad guy. Being older and wiser he takes a gun. So he stays healthy.

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                7. San Francisco just recalled their George Soros backed District Attorney for refusing to prosecute people accused of crimes. San Francisco. That’s about as leftist a city as there is in the US. So that’s one example. Others will cost you 5 cents each and I’m already having trouble collecting.

                  Liked by 1 person

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