Tag - gun laws

Gun Show Shootings, Legislative Action, and Stupidity

teacher-gunsYou cannot fix stupidity with legislative action. That’s what Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air says, and boy is he right on that one — for which I hope he is properly grateful, since if one could fix stupidity through legislative action, Jazz would have to live with duct tape permanently affixed over his mouth.

I am talking about, as Jazz puts it, “those gun show shootings” (emphasis is mine):

Following the events of Gun Appreciation Day, there was a cynical, yet almost gleeful tone being taken by certain gun rights opponents at the expense of several people who were injured. The headlines speak volumes without even digging into the nasty messages underneath. 5 People Shot at 3 Different Gun Shows on Gun Appreciation Day. Holy cow! Five people were gunned down? That’s awful! I’m sure you wouldn’t go and get all snarky about shooting victims though, would you?
There were more. Shots Fired on Gun Appreciation Day. The list goes on. Unfortunately for the ghoulish brigade, it didn’t take much reading to figure out that the actual stories were far different from how they were being portrayed in the headlines. The highly charged terms “people shot” and “shots fired” leave one with the impression that gun fights were breaking out among crazed second amendment supporters, blasting their way into or out of various buildings. The reality, as you have probably already guessed, was somewhat different. First, the North Carolina show.

A man identified as Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, brought the 12-gauge shotgun to the show at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and was attempting to remove it from its case when the weapon went off shortly after 1 p.m., police said.

Linwood Hester, 50, of Durham, was struck in the left hand by birdshot, according to Joel Keith, police chief with the state Department of Agriculture. The birdshot also struck a woman identified as Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson, and Jake Alderman, a retired sheriff’s deputy from Wake Forest who was working at the event.

The owner had stupidly not ensured the weapon was unloaded before bringing it out for safety inspection – before it got into the show. Three people took some bird shot with all being treated and released at a local facility on the same day.

The second incident, in Indianapolis, concerned a guy who accidentally shot himself with his new gun after leaving the gun show. The final one was in the Buckeye state.

And in Ohio, a gun dealer in Medina was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had bought when he accidentally pulled the trigger, injuring his friend, police said. The gun’s magazine had been removed from the firearm, but one round remained in the chamber, police said.

There were no shooting sprees, no attacks, and no “assault weapons” or extended volume magazines involved. …

Let’s deal with the dishonesty first, then the stupidity. “Five People Shot at 3 Different Gun Shows on Gun Appreciation Day.” “Shots Fired on Gun Appreciation Day.” Does anyone see anything there about being “gunned down,” “shooting sprees,” or “extended volume magazines” in those news headlines? No, neither did I. That’s because the shootings were all accidental, and that’s perfectly, instantly obvious from the way the headlines are worded. I hadn’t even read the accompanying stories, I just saw the headlines on Memeorandum, and I knew exactly what the stories were saying. On a day set aside for gun enthusiasts to revel in how wonderful guns are, three of said gun enthusiasts managed to have their guns go off accidentally and hurt five other gun enthusiasts while all were staging this showy demonstration to the nation about how safe guns are, and about how no one has to worry when they see a couple of guys parading down the street with rifles slung over their shoulders, because as everyone around them should know, they’re law-abiding citizens who are totally knowledgeable and careful about how they handle their guns, so that no one who happens to be in their vicinity needs to worry that some precaution they stupidly failed to take will result in someone getting shot.

Which brings me to the part where Jazz thanks his lucky stars stupidity isn’t against the law: In one of the incidents, the owner had not made sure his weapon was unloaded before it got into the show. Another incident involved a man who accidentally shot himself with a gun he had just bought at the gun show — but it happened after he left the gun show. Itals absolutely essential to underscore the crucial points here: What does it matter that a gun goes off inside a gun show, as long as the gun owner was not actually inside the gun show when he failed to check to see if the gun was unloaded? And what does it matter if a guy accidentally shoots himself outside the gun show where he bought the gun, as long as he wasn’t inside the gun show when he shot himself?  And it was only bird shot in the gun anyway! Because of course it wasn’t sheer dumb luck that it wasn’t actual bullets in that gun — the owner planned it that way! He forgot to unload it on purpose, because he knew it was “only” birdshot! And what does any of this matter anyway when no one was killed and when all the shots were fired unintentionally? It’s not like a crazed gunman deliberately killed 20 kids with an assault rifle — now THAT would be a problem.

Although wait a minute… come to think of it, not so much. Because if a crazed gunman deliberately killed 20 kids with an assault rifle, he would be only one of a “dozen or so truly disturbed teens and young adults” who engage in these kinds of mass murder. Why worry about the imaginary dangers of guns in the hands of law-abiding men and women who just want to protect themselves and their families, or who just happen to love guns and going to gun shows?


James McMurtry, Texas gun owner and musician, on gun laws

James McMurtry
McMurtry, in one of the best essays I’ve read about gun laws, leans towards regulating the size of clips because this might give first responders a chance to kill a shooter while he’s re-loading. He does not particularly favor banning assault rifles, in part because of the impossibility of defining what they are. His essay is thoughtful and intelligent, as it ponders if changes to gun laws would help stop the carnage, considering that we appear to be very angry people indeed.

Some of my shooting buddies will howl at me for even considering the notion of gun restrictions and I don’t blame them. The vast majority of gun owners, even those with a penchant for high capacity semi-autos, even those with full auto permits, the vast majority never do anyone any harm. And I’ve always hated the “need” argument so often brought up by some who have never fired a gun. It’s true, no one needs an Uzi; but nor does anyone need a Porsche, and no one will ever deny a person the right to own a Porsche, even though Porsches are designed to run at speeds far exceeding most US speed limits, and if driven at such speeds on public roads may endanger innocent citizenry.

I can’t blame a shooter who has always acted responsibly for being annoyed at gun restrictions, even if said restrictions could actually be proven to be good for society as a whole. Often it seems that the one bad kid on the playground spoils the game for the rest of us and our hard ball gets taken away, but that’s life, and we have to start somewhere. We have to try something, or at least talk about trying something without immediately descending into factionalized shouting matches, each person shouting the slogan from his favorite bumper sticker to which he has chained his identity.

Timothy McVeigh killed more people with a truckload of fertilizer than any single American shooter has killed with a gun. The thread that runs through Tim McVeigh, Adam Lanza and Charles Whitman is not just mental instability, but rage, pure unfathomable rage. And we are an angry people these days. I don’t know why. I suspect that our world is changing faster than we are capable of changing. Some of us feel left out; some of us feel outnumbered; so we’re fearful and angry. Our societal anger needs to be acknowledged and addressed, perhaps diagnosed and treated.

Why are we so angry? That seems to be the core issue. As Wayne Kramer says, I’ve had all the lone gun men I can stand. Some loner nuts up, driven by pathological rage directed at Them and the result is another slaughter. This doesn’t happen nearly as much in other countries. Why is that?

James McMurtry’s classic “We Can’t Make Here Anymore”

Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one’s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget’s stretched so thin
And there’s more comin’ home from the Mideast war
We can’t make it here anymore