what it’s come to

The deadliest mass shooting in a house of worship. That’s how the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas was described last night on the evening news. We’ve reached the point at which we find it necessary to categorize our mass shootings.

The deadliest mass shooting at a college campus, the deadliest mass shooting at a shopping mall, the deadliest mass shooting at a festival, the deadliest mass shooting at a public school, the deadliest mass shooting at a place of employment.

We’ve had two of these deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history within the last 35 days. In the 309 days of 2017 we’ve had 307 mass shootings (remember, not all mass shootings are mass murders). We’ve made mass shooting ridiculously easy to commit. Semi-auto weapons are readily available, high-capacity magazines can be found without any fuss, bump-stocks that permit even more rapid firing have become somewhat scarce because people bought them up after the Las Vegas massacre, bulletproof tactical gear — vests, helmets, masks, gloves, trousers — can be purchased online or very likely at some local shop. If you have an active credit card, you too equip yourself in the latest mass murderer style.

Ruger AR-556

And we don’t much care who can buy all that gear. Devin Patrick Kelley had no trouble buying a complete mass murder outfit, even though he’d been court-martialed for assaulting his wife and child, did a year in military detention, and got his ass kicked out of the Air Force. He also apparently had a misdemeanor conviction for cruelty to animals. Didn’t slow him down at all when it came to buying a semi-auto rifle. We make it easy because, you know, a man has to be able to protect his family in case some nut decides to start shooting up a church.

And hey, it’s just as easy to mourn the dead. A few thoughts, a few prayers, that’s all it takes. Oh, and the promise to remember the dead. Comrade Trump his ownself said this about the victims:

“All of America is praying to God to help the wounded and the families — we will never ever leave their side.”

Except that, yeah, we’ll absolutely leave their side. Of course, we will — just as soon as the next ‘deadliest mass shooting at a location to be determined’ takes place. Trump is always saying pointless shit like that. We “will never ever forget the beautiful lives that have been taken from us.” That was the eight people killed a few days ago as they rode bicycles down a bike path in Manhattan. And this: “We will NEVER FORGET the victims who lost their lives one year ago today in the horrific #PulseNightClub shooting.” The hashtag, of course, because this was TwitterTrump. And again: “We mourn them, we honor them and we pledge to never, ever forget their names.” The victims and first responders who died on 9/11. And this: “So wonderful to be in Las Vegas yesterday and meet with people, from police to doctors to the victims themselves, who I will never forget.” Yeah, so fucking wonderful, I’m sure that’s what the victims of the Mandalay Bay shooting thought. And also this: “We will never forget the 241 American service members killed by Hizballah.” Sure, Donald.

First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas

Does anybody really believe Donald J. Trump remembers the names of any of the Pulse nightclub murders, or the names of the cyclists in Manhattan, or the names of any of the Marines who were killed in Beirut? Does anybody really think Trump was even aware of the Marines killed in Beirut in 1983 until a speechwriter coughed up that fact for a speech on terrorism?

We will always forget their names. Always. We will always leave their sides. Always. As a nation we will never remember for very long, because there’s always a brand new horror ready to crowd out the old one. The nine men and women slaughtered in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in 2015? Now they’re just victims of the second deadliest mass shooting in a house of worship. Nobody remembers who came in second.

I am sincerely sorry for the victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre. I’m gutted with hopelessness over their tragic, pointless deaths — just as I’ve been for so many other victims of so many other mass murders. I’m genuinely sorry, but I’m also disgusted. I suspect many (or most) of that Texas congregation voted for politicians who believe that this sort of routine shedding of innocent blood is the price we have to pay for our national firearm fetish. And you know what it says in the Bible. ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’

That’s a pretty grim, tough approach. The apostle Paul wasn’t a very forgiving guy. You broke it, you bought it. Me, I’m more inclined to take the Socratic tack; I prefer the gospel according to e e cummings.

and what i want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death
Advertisements

this is not somebody that would have been prohibited from having a gun

So this guy walks into…wait, let me start over. This guy who has military experience walks into the FBI office in Anchorage, Alaska, and tells them…wait, let me start over again. This guy, who served in Iraq but received a general discharge from the military after having gone AWOL a few times, walks into the FBI office…wait. Let’s try that again. This guy who’d served in Iraq and was basically kicked out of the military, and who was facing domestic abuse charges for having hit and strangled his girlfriend, walks into the Anchorage office of the FBI and tells them he’s hearing voices. They send him…wait, damn it, let me start over again.

This guy, Esteban Santiago, who’d served in Iraq, who’d gone AWOL often enough that he’d been given a general discharge from the military for ‘unsatisfactory performance’, who was being prosecuted for punching and strangling his girlfriend AND who’d been arrested for violating the subsequent restraining order forbidding him to go near her home, walks into the Anchorage office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tells them he’s suffering from auditory command hallucinations directed by the CIA requiring him to watch violent propaganda videos released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which sparks the FBI into contacting Anchorage law enforcement, who subsequently seize Santiago’s Walther 9mm pistol and transport him to an area psychiatric facility for four days of evaluation, which determined Santiago wasn’t mentally ill.

So the Anchorage police gave him back his handgun.

esteban-santiago1

I shit you not, they returned Esteban Santiago’s gun to him. Why? Because, according to U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler,

“As far as I know, this is not somebody that would have been prohibited (from having a gun) based on the information they had.”

What bits of information did they have? Let’s enumerate them, shall we?

  1. He was awaiting trial for assaulting his girlfriend. During an argument, she’d locked herself in the bathroom and called the police. Before the police arrived, Santiago (allegedly) kicked in the bathroom door, struck her, throttled her, then fled.
  2. He was also awaiting trial for violating the restraining order keeping him away from the woman who was now his ex-girlfriend.
  3. He presented himself to the FBI, confessed to having auditory hallucinations, and stated he’d been watching violent videos put out by militant Islamist terrorists.
  4. He was given an evaluation that determined he didn’t meet the criteria for being legally considered mentally ill.

Let’s look at that last issue first. Can a person who suffers from auditory command hallucinations NOT be mentally ill? Sure. In Alaska, mental illness is defined as having “an organic, mental, or emotional impairment that has substantial adverse effects on an individual’s ability to exercise conscious control of the individual’s actions or ability to perceive reality or to reason or understand.”

This sort of nonsense really happens. I once had a client who suffered from auditory command hallucinations. My client believed he had Go-Bots (these were transforming robot toys similar to Transformers) sitting on his shoulder. The Go-bots would identify gay men, then tell him to shoot those men the kneecap. (Spoiler: Go-Bots have shitty gaydar; none of the men he kneecapped were actually gay — not that it matters.) My client wasn’t considered medically ill because he knew shooting people in the kneecap was wrong and because he felt he could refuse to obey the Go-Bots if he’d really wanted to (he just didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t trust the Go-Bots).

If Santiago was able to “exercise conscious control” of his actions, then legally he wasn’t mentally ill. By going to the FBI and informing them he was being controlled by the CIA, he was demonstrating that conscious control. Seriously — by reporting that he was hearing voices to the FBI he was proving that he wasn’t legally mentally ill.

estebansantiagomugshot

Now, you’re probably saying ‘Dude, the guy STILL assaulted his girlfriend! Shouldn’t that disqualify him from toting around a firearm? WTF? Allow me to respond. Dude, this is Alaska. In some other states, Santiago’s firearm would have been confiscated. But Alaska? They don’t even stop folks who are convicted of domestic abuse from buying and carrying firearms — and Santiago hadn’t even been tried yet.

So hey, let’s give him back his gun. And hey, while we’re at it, let’s let him transport that handgun from Alaska to the Gun Nut Mecca of Florida. Sure, we’ll make him transport it in checked luggage (not carry-on luggage, because that would be crazy), but let’s give him access to it once he lands. I mean, we don’t want to make it difficult for Esteban Santiago to protect himself once he lands in Fort Lauderdale, do we.

Because as T. Jefferson said, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. And unsuspecting passengers idling around waiting for their baggage to arrive. Freedom isn’t free, right?

acts of belligerency and the way the world is today

When you think of Ringgold, Georgia (and I know you do), you probably only think of it as the county seat of Catoosa County. Some of you may think of Samuel Ringgold, the hero of the Battle of Palo Alto. I mean, the town is named for him, after all. But mostly likely when you think of Ringgold, you think of the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.

Oh, c’mon. You know — that daring American Civil War raid? The one in which Union scout James J. Andrews hijacked a locomotive known as The General at Big Shanty, GA and led Confederate troops on a chase? Well, you probably remember the Buster Keaton movie based on the event. That’s right, that Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. Anyway, the chase ended in Ringgold, when The General ran out of fuel and stopped. It’s pretty easy to catch a train that’s stopped. Anyway, the train stopped, Andrews tried to escape, was captured, charged with “acts of unlawful belligerency” and eventually hanged.

Acts of belligerency, lawful or otherwise, remain an important part of Ringgold culture. Every month the American Wrestling Federation stages an event there. Last Saturday night featured an epic match between Paul ‘Nature Boy’ Lee and ‘Iron’ Mann.

Paul 'Nature Boy' Lee at the office.

Paul ‘Nature Boy’ Lee at the office.

During the match Nature Boy executed a classic Greek wrestling maneuver, which involved trapping his opponent in the ring’s ropes, then striking him repeatedly with a chair. Patricia Anne Crowe, a passionate aficionado of AWF matches, was distressed at witnessing the seemingly inevitable defeat of Iron Mann. It seems Iron Mann is ‘good’ whereas Nature Boy, despite his tranquil nom du stade, is ‘bad’. Ms. Crowe could not restrain herself. She spoke out in Iron Mann’s defense. When her logic did not dissuade Nature Boy from his blatant misuse of a chair, she went to Iron Mann’s aid.

She produced a knife and attempted to cut through the ropes in the forlorn hope of freeing Iron Mann, thereby allowing him to defend himself. Brave Ms. Crowe.

The situation was tense, to be sure. It might have been defused, though had Nature Boy not suggested that Ms. Crowe return to her seat and “sit her toothless self back down.” It was a rash remark that Nature Boy would soon regret. As Nature Boy himself put it:

“I had him tied up and was beating on him, and this lady jumps up with a knife, cuts him loose, and then pulled a loaded gun on me.”

It was a Romantic gesture, really — a swashbuckling exploit worthy of Errol Flynn. Or maybe Orlando Bloom (in the pirate movies, not Orlando Bloom in Main Street, a film which was appalling on several levels and had no swashbuckling at all). The courageous Ms. Crowe risked her own life in a desperate effort to save Iron Mann, as well as in defense of her honor.

“He was talking mean to me, and I got mad. I guess I just let my temper get the best of me and I pulled my pistol on him”

That ‘toothless’ remark, it must be admitted, was rather ungentlemanly. But Ms. Crowe demonstrated great restraint. She didn’t actually fire the .38 caliber pistol. That probably accounts for why she was only charged with aggravated assault and reckless conduct. She was released Monday on US$4000 bail.

It’s unclear whether or not Ms. Crowe’s pistol was returned to her.

Ms. Patricia Anne Crowe, 59, amateur swashbuckler.

Ms. Patricia Anne Crowe, 59, amateur swashbuckler.

AWF promotion officials have stated they intend to install metal detectors before any future events in Ringgold.

“The way the world is today, things happen at movie theatres and malls….you have to take extreme measures to protect fans.”

Yes. The way the world is today. It’s actually getting to the point where it’s difficult to trust American Wrestling Federation fans to be responsible gun owners.

this week in responsible gun ownership!

A three-year-old boy in Myrtle Beach, SC found a loaded handgun in a dresser drawer and ‘accidentally caused it to discharge.’ Unfortunately, the firearm discharged into the boy. His family rushed him to the hospital, where an ‘unknown situation unfolded between the victim’s family members.’ The unknown situation, which took place in the hospital parking lot, resulted in a Second Amendment exercise in which another family member was shot. The boy was reported to be in stable condition after surgery.

Analysis: Responsible gun owners! It would have been irresponsible to leave their guns at home, unattended, after the toddler had shot himself.

In Orlando, Florida an unnamed 31-year-old man and his wife were awakened by a noise. He grabbed his handgun, went to investigate, and exercised his Second Amendment right by shooting his 17-year-old brother dead. A neighbor said, “[T]hey all seemed to be nice people, but I guess you never know,”

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! Target identification needs work, but his aim was perfect.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and Near Miss.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and Near Miss.

A 20-year-old man in Altoona, PA has been charged with reckless endangerment after his handgun discharged accidentally during mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Matthew Crawford, the gun owner, was ‘grazed’ during the Second Amendment incident; nobody else was harmed. Crawford’s attorney is seeking to dismiss the charges on the grounds that his client’s conduct didn’t rise to the level of ‘recklessness’.

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! What if a Muslim had decided to attack the cathedral? Preventing a citizen from carrying a loaded, unholstered handgun with the safety off into a cathedral is both tyranny AND an assault on Christianity.

Meanwhile, in Sioux Falls, SD, 36-year-old Nicholas Anderson was charged with recklessly firing a gun after exercising his Second Amendment rights during a domestic dispute with his wife. After she removed pictures from the wall of their home and hurled them at him, Anderson took his wife’s laptop computer into their back yard and fired seven rounds from his handgun at it. It’s unclear if any of the pictures struck Mr. Anderson; however, all seven rounds he fired at the laptop hit the target.

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! Nobody died, nobody was even injured. Without his Second Amendment rights, Anderson would have been forced to throw pictures at his wife’s computer.

In Deltona, Florida an unnamed 29-year-old man was taken to the hospital for a medical episode believed to be related to anxiety. The anxiety appears to have been triggered when the man shot and killed Elvis Valentin. Valentin was arguing with the shooter’s brother after the brother had driven his car across Valentin’s yard. Believing his brother was in danger, the shooter fired one round and killed Valentin.

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! One bullet, one kill. If it’s good enough for SEAL snipers, it’s good enough for defending your sibling. After he trespasses on a neighbor’s lawn. In a car.

Katie Pallante -- animal lover.

Katie Pallante — animal lover.

Twenty-six-year-old Katie Pallante of Phoenix, AZ was forced to use her Second Amendment rights to interrupt a dog fight. Ms. Pallante is apparently an animal lover; she informed police she was caring for 22 dogs and three cats. When two of the dogs began to fight, she attempted to separate them by using water. When that failed, she used her .40 caliber handgun to shoot the male dog. She shot him in the abdomen, according to court records, because “she did not want to kill him.” Unfortunately, the female dog then attacked the male, forcing her to shoot that dog as well.

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! When water fails to break up a dogfight, common sense suggests a .40 caliber solution. Irresponsible pet owner! Why does she have those three cats?

Two employees of The Shootin’ Shop in Abilene, Texas were wounded when a customer’s newly purchased Second Amendment handgun wasn’t working properly. The unnamed customer had bought the weapon and loaded it in the parking lot. It jammed during loading, so he returned to the shop and asked for help. When an employee examined the weapon, it discharged. One employee was struck in the hand, the other received a wound in the abdomen. “It was a pretty scary experience, you know, but it was an accident,” the shop owner said. “The customer feels absolutely terrible about it.” No charges have been filed.

Analysis: Responsible gun owner! When faced with a gun issue, he consulted with experts. Accidents happen. And he felt terrible afterwards. Besides, nobody was killed, praise Jeebus.

Shootin' Shop shootin' scene.

Shootin’ Shop shootin’ scene.

 

 

it’s the socialism, probably

Whenever I hear or see the phrase ‘active shooter situation’ in my newsfeed, my first response is always “Oh no, not again.” Then I read as much as possible about what’s going on. My second — and much-delayed — response is to turn to FreeRepublic.com to see what those fine patriots have to say.

It happened again yesterday. The first reports, as always, were vague and confusing. A man was somehow involved in a motel shooting, a carjacking, and a home invasion; one person was dead and at least half a dozen others were wounded. So, to FreeRepublic:

“Democrat. My guess.” IllumiNaughtyByNature

“He must not be white, or they’d say he’s white.” CivilWarBrewing

“It’s all over Europe and Africa, and coming here. AZ just had a killing. And we have King Obama for the turmoil in all over. This insane child has messed up most of the world. And growing.” Logical Me.

“Hands up! Don’t shoot! I can’t breathe!” FlingWingFlyer

“They don’t have a code word for an older minority criminal so they just don’t say anything. So everyone be on the lookout for a MAN, with a TATTOO. That is all.” RightOnTheBorder

“Religion of peace?” Clint N. Suhks

“Hispanics are called “white” when it’s politically convenient.” Cicero

“Seemingly random shootings that are unconnected? Hmm. You have to ask yourself – why would a person do this on random targets (a trade school and several restaurants) that apparently have no connection to him? Answer – politically motivated or ordered shooting to inflict fear into people so that they don’t feel safe anywhere. Why?: to incite fear to make people demand that guns be removed from the populace. Who would profit the most from this? Leftists and the current administration. Someone somewhere will finally come clean and admit that there are teams working for the current administrative but they’re going to have to be smart and go rogue and staight to a trusted news media source they know they can trust and honestly there aren’t many of ‘em….” jsanders2001

“It’s the socialism. The O’Ministration stages one of these ‘bout every month to put something in the headlines to make them [uniformed racists] believe murder by gunshot is about race, guns, or overstep by any current law enforcement official. Anything but a lone-wolf Islamic terrorist, or a criminal intent yet to be discovered through due process, or terminated via suicide. The truth binds patriotic armed Americans together. Stay unified against division is my only message.” LurkedLongEnough

The shooting was President Obama’s fault, of course. Either because he created a social environment in which minorities feel free to run amok and are secure in the knowledge that nothing will happen as a result, or because the president has ‘teams’ engaged in acts of conspiratorial violence in order to something something TAKE ALL THE GUNS!!! And the shooter must be a minority or at least a Democrat, and probably a Muslim.

And then the shooter was captured. Shortly afterward, his prison mugshot was circulated.

Ryan Giroux

Ryan Giroux

Probably not a Democrat. Probably not a Muslim or a minority. Probably not part of a secret government team. So the conversation on FreeRepublic shifted. Suddenly they were concerned about the shooter’s clothing. And the failure of the prison system. And the biases of the news media.

““TV cameras captured the man being led in handcuffs wearing a white hazmat suit” I wonder what that’s about? Didn’t they just used to wrap suspects in blankets? Maybe he has ebola.” ilovesarah2012

I wonder what that’s about? To secure all possible evidence on their person. Blood, hair, gun shot residue, etc..”  dragnet2

“Quick! Someone in the media blame Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the NRA, George Bush, Bible ‘clingers’, or the history of American oppression!” SSS Two

“I see prison has left it’s marks on him and he was obviously fully rehabilitated when released from prison. At some point, will we actually have a discussion in this country on how to make prison into a place where criminals are punished and taught that ‘you never want to come back here again’?” kingu

A few FreeRepublic folks acknowledged Ryan Giroux was a skinhead. One even noted that his tattoos were based on a racist ideology. But nobody even bothered to mention the fact that this guy — who’d served two prison terms and at least one stint in jail for crimes including burglary, theft, attempted aggravated assault and possession of drugs — was able to get a firearm. Nobody mentioned that Arizona has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation.

Sure, if Ryan Giroux wanted to buy a firearm from a licensed gun dealer, he’d have to fill out ATF Form 4473. And sure, if he’d filled out the form honestly, the gun dealer would be prohibited from selling him a firearm. But what if Mr. Giroux wasn’t entirely honest and ethical? What if he was willing to lie on that federal form — even though it states right on the form that giving false answers is a crime? What then? Well, since there’s no waiting period for purchasing a firearm in Arizona, Mr. Giroux would likely be able to walk out of that gun shop with a firearm.

But of course, Giroux wouldn’t have to buy his firearm from a licensed dealer. It would be a lot easier and simpler to buy a gun at a gun show, where he wouldn’t have to fill out any form at all. Or buy it from a private owner selling his guns through a newspaper advertisement. You don’t have to go through a licensed dealer in the United States. The Holy Second Amendment, you know, clearly states

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of racist lunatic skinhead ex-convicts to keep and bear all fucking manner of arms shall not be infringed, so eat it bitches.

Thanks, King Obama.