The Prince George County, Maryland man who shot and killed one firefighter and seriously wounded another was released from custody last night—as well he should have been. He did nothing wrong illegal. He merely exercised his constitutional right to defend himself with a firearm against unknown intruders at his home.
Granted, it appears that the man may have been having medical issues that caused him to be confused about who was entering his home and why, but that could happen to anyone at any time. In this case, the anyone it happened to was a man with a gun and the time it happened was during an attempt by firefighters to help the very man who shot them.
Confusion is all the more likely when police, firefighters and EMS are on the scene for a medical emergency. This is the risk they signed up for when they became first responders in a country awash in guns. More importantly, this is the risk we subject our first responders to when we, as a nation, steadfastly refuse to do anything to stem the proliferation of guns.
There’s a sick irony in the fact that we select and rigorously train these guys to put their lives on the line to protect us and then we tell civilians to go out there and pick up the slack with little more than a half day seminar on how not to shoot themselves in the face. That’s a recipe for tragedies like the one that happened yesterday.
If his access to weaponry had been limited to, say, a bat or a knife, John Ulmschneider would likely still be alive today. That’s why there will be deafening silence around his death from the corners of the interwebs that would have been the most enraged if he had been killed by a black kid in the hood.
Okay, so first let’s just get away for the moment from any argument rooted in sympathy for the guy who ended up dead in Darrell Standberry’s Yukon XL. There’s a valid and important case to be made on that front, but it’s been made before and is unlikely to be persuasive when not preaching directly to a choir of gay liberil fcuktards [sic].
If I put on my most objective hat, I can get to a place where my reaction to this clip goes something like this: given that concealed carry is legal in Detroit and given that the car thief reached into his pocket and given that it turned out the car thief did, in fact, have a gun in his pocket…I can see why Darrell did what he did. Or at least I can see how a reasonable person on either side of the gun debate might refrain from judging his actions too harshly. (Though I do wonder what a certain type of right wing gun enthusiast might think about this picture of Mr. Standberry.)
So I want to start from there and see where it leads and the first question that comes up is: what would have happened if Darrell Standberry had not had a gun? I think the answer is pretty simple; his SUV “with interior TV’s and custom rims” would have been stolen, just as it could have been stolen off the street while Darrell was at a doctor appointment or in bed at home, just as any number of possessions are stolen from any number of people every day. To be sure, it would have been a bad day for Standberry, but presumably he has insurance, a modern convenience that one could argue makes armed confrontation less desirable and/or necessary.
Still, Darrell was carrying a gun, so I guess the next thing I want to know is: why was Darrell carrying a gun? More specifically, what made Darrell want to carry a gun? The most logical answer, of course, is that he’s afraid of other people with guns. I know, I know…he’s afraid of “bad guys” with guns and he’s a “good guy” with a gun, but still there’s something terribly circular about proliferating guns because of a fear of guns.
Setting aside that vicious circle for a moment, it seems to me that there are really just two categories of people who want to carry a gun around in public. First, there are those people who are genuinely concerned for the safety of themselves and their families and feel compelled to stand ready to defend them with firearms. Even knowing as I do that we life in very safe times and that owning a gun makes a person less not more safe, I can bring myself to understand the underlying fears of a person in this category and sympathize with what is still a very bad decision. The implicit argument of this group is “There are rapists and murderers out there and I refuse to rely on law enforcement alone to protect me and mine.”
I have a harder time with the second group. These are the dudes (because let’s face it, most of them are dudes) who think of themselves as an extension of the police or military, who crave the opportunity to be a hero, who fantasize about mowing down some petty thugs in the midst of a convenience store stickup. I am afraid of these dudes and you should be too. The last thing I want around me in a tense situation is an overgrown lunk with a small dick that hasn’t been fully erect since that time he was left alone with his cousin Marvin. The implicit argument of this group is “There are rapists, murderers, thiefs, vandals and other sketchy characters out there and only me and my gun stand between them and good, upstanding, [usually white] Christians.”
Obviously I find one argument slightly more compelling than the other, but they both sort of boil down to the same thing, namely a rejection of the notion that in a civilized society there is a meaningful distinction between law enforcement and civilians. They amount to a call for a return to the Wild West, with a horse at every hitch and a gun on every hip. I don’t know about anybody else, but I think of it as a convenience that I don’t need to carry a gun everywhere. And I don’t. I rarely feel threatened by anyone, ever. And, importantly, no one ever feels threatened by me.
I mean, look…I know the Old West looks romantic and exciting in movies and TV shows. It’s the same kind of thrill we get from stories of the mafia—that highwire tension of latent violence that exists whenever guns are somewhere in the scene, when a laugh could instantly become a hole in the chest.
But is that really how we want to live? Under the constant threat of explosive mayhem? Because that’s the natural endpoint of both of the above arguments. When everyone is deputized, everyone is a potential villain. In the scene above, the threat is not external; they’re all “Goodfellas” around that table. The threat is a culture in which everyone is armed at all times. Henry comes out of this scene unscathed because Tommy was joking, but the uncertainty is very real for a full, thick-as-mud minute because the alternative outcome is entirely plausible.
This plausibility is borne out by data from the real world. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Expanded Homicide Data drills down into the 11,961 homicides committed in 2014, 68% of which “involved the use of firearms,” finding that 43% of all homicides were committed by family or someone the victims were otherwise familiar with.
According to the same report, “Of the murders for which the circumstances surrounding the crimes were known, 40.4 percent of victims were murdered during arguments (including romantic triangles) in 2014.”
That last stat is the big one. It shows that a huge chunk of all murders are perpetrated in the heat of the moment when someone has access to a gun, not by roving hordes of psychopaths picking off random victims. In fact, of the 7,372 homicides for which the circumstances are known, only 1,789 were associated with felonies.
Just 277 justifiable homicides were committed by civilians “during the commission of crimes.”
“So what about that 11.5% of gun murders that are committed by strangers?” you might ask. Shouldn’t I be able to defend myself against those?” Well, listen…we’re never going to live in a risk-free world. If you listened past the three minute mark on that NPR clip above, you might wonder whether Alaina Gonville was better or worse off as a result of her decision to open carry.
The simple fact is that contributing to the proliferation of guns is always and everywhere going to raise all of the gun homicide numbers, not only because guns will inevitably fall into the wrong hands, but also because people who might previously have thought better of owning or carrying a gun will increasingly feel as though they must.
[I’m catching my breath now that my 15 minutes are up. As you may have noticed, the whole thing caught me a little off-guard. I’ll definitely have more to say in the coming weeks about issues directly related to the petition, but for now I need to just get back to writing whatever the hell I want on any given day. To that end, here is my first post-petition post.]
First, a little background…
Despite what has been written about me in recent days, I have striven, not always successfully, to remain more-or-less neutral in the matter of Hillary vs. Bernie. I donated $25/month to Sanders last July thru December out of a sincere fondness for the direction in which he seemed to be nudging the Democratic Party.
As 2016 rolled around, I became concerned about the tone emanating from some segments of the Bernie fan club—concerned enough that I was uncomfortable being associated with it. His odds of securing the nomination were roughly as remote then as they are today and it felt important to support the likely nominee. Fortunately, this involved no real compromise on my part.
Even then I harbored no particular ambivalence toward Bernie Sanders himself. I like what he stands for. I like the political-demographic shift he appears to be a harbinger of. I would like to live in a country that might someday elect a candidate like Bernie Sanders. I just don’t think we’re there yet, in part because of voters whose attitude toward our sort of-Democratic process amounts to “give me what I want or I’m taking my toys and going home.”
Politics is incremental and if you don’t or won’t understand that you’re probably part of the problems you’re railing against.
The chief complaint lodged by Sanders’ most annoying supporters against Hillary Clinton is one that I am superficially sympathetic to, namely that she gets lots of cash from lots of corporate backers. Believe me, I get it. I am no great fan of our capitalist overlords and the stench of their grimy money is as foul to me as that of Chris Christie’s underboob sweat. Here’s the problem: I live in the real world and do not have the luxury of indulging in dilettantish ideological purity just because I saw a shiny thing and maybe can get laid at a rally if I tattoo “Feel the Bern” on my dick.
Pragmatism aside, what we’re really talking about when we talk about political donations is, first and foremost, the political speech being exercised by donors. Sure, we can talk about the deliverables they expect to receive in return from the beneficiaries of those donations, but that is ultimately a secondary issue that cannot be turned into an attack without impugning unknowable motives (beyond the motivation to win an election—an essential motive for all would-be officeholders). I don’t see how we fix the problem by focusing on candidates who are locked in a financial arms race wherein unilateral disarmament would spell electoral doom.
But here’s the crucial bit of nuance I really wanted to get at: without being naive about it, I don’t think it’s a stretch to presume that the majority of corporate donors have ROI expectations that diverge drastically depending upon which party they donate to. Overgeneralizing and idealizing only slightly, I would argue that corporate givers likely donate to Republicans specifically to get them elected, knowing they’ll have a firm ally, while they donate to Democrats to soften the blow and ensure they have a seat at the table.
In other words, if Wall Street could write a check and make it so, Republicans would likely hold every elected office in the land. Recognizing that they can’t quite accomplish this, the money men endeavor to cultivate positive working relationships with Democrats.
Yes, even a generous reading of this analysis implies that Democrats have an incentive to take their foot off the gas on any number of economic issues, but if given the choice between a) taking too long to get somewhere I want to be, b) not getting there at all, or c) driving in reverse, i’ll take eventually getting there every time.
Painting Clinton as just another puppet of the oligarchs ignores this distinction. It also pretends that Sanders would not have had corporate backers if he had wanted/accepted them. And that is the real problem. Only regulating the supply will curb this particular behavior.
Listen, I will, I promise, have more to say soon and I hope you’ll check back in to see what that is. I may even try to resurrect some of the stuff I said before this, this, this thing…stuff that I burned and shredded and buried and locked until I could wrap my head around the firestorm created by this, this, this thing.
In the meantime, follow me @hyperationalist or here on WordPress (clickie the little drop-down arrow at the top) and I’ll keep you posted.
Yesterday morning, the dedicated staff of the Hyperationalist launched the Change.org petition posted below. We have since collected 1,50054,000 signatures! Clearly we have struck a nerve.
Please head on over to Change.org and sign your name to this extremely important cause. Share the petition on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you like to social mediatize. Here’s a shortened link for you: http://bit.ly/GunFreeZoneFree
RECOGNIZE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO OPEN CARRY FIREARMS AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION AT THE QUICKEN LOANS ARENA IN JULY 2016
SUMMARY: In July of 2016, the GOP will host its convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Though Ohio is an open carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue—the Quicken Loans Arena—strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises.
According to the policy on their website, “firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden on the premises of Quicken Loans Arena.”
This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk. As the National Rifle Association has made clear, “gun-free zones” such as the Quicken Loans Arena are “the worst and most dangerous of all lies.” The NRA, our leading defender of gun rights, has also correctly pointed out that “gun free zones… tell every insane killer in America… (the) safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” (March 4, 2016 and Dec. 21, 2012)
This doesn’t even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.?All three remaining Republican candidates have spoken out on the issue and are unified in their opposition to Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s “gun-free zones.”
Donald Trump said “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools—you have—and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed my first day…you know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait.” (Jan. 8. 2016)
Ted Cruz has accurately pointed out “shooting after shooting after shooting happens in so called gun-free zones.” He continued, “look, if you’re a lunatic ain’t nothing better then having a bunch of targets you know that are going to be unarmed.” (Dec. 4, 2015)
And Ohio Governor John Kasich has been a leader in this movement to eliminate deadly “gun-free zones” starting with his brave decision to fight the Democrats and end “gun-free zones” at National Guard facilities in Ohio. (Dec. 18, 2015)
We are all too familiar with the mass carnage that can occur when citizens are denied their basic God-given rights to carry handguns or assault weapons in public. EVERY AMERICAN HAS THE RIGHT TO PROTECT AND DEFEND THEIR FAMILY. With this irresponsible and hypocritical act of selecting a “gun-free zone” for the convention, the RNC has placed its members, delegates, candidates and all US citizens in grave danger.
We must take a stand. We cannot allow the national nominating convention of the party of Lincoln and Reagan to be hijacked by weakness and political correctness. The policies of the Quicken Loans Arena do not supersede the rights given to us by our Creator in the U.S. Constitution.
THEREFORE, WE ARE CALLING TODAY FOR THE FOLLOWING FIVE POINTS OF ACTION:
From the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland: A suspension of their policy preventing the open carry of firearms on the premises of the arena from July 18-21, 2016 to coincide with the Republican National Convention.
From the National Rifle Association: An immediate condemnation of the egregious affront to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution constituted by the “gun-free zone” loophole to the state law.
From Ohio Governor John Kasich: A concerted effort to use his executive authority to override the “gun-free zone” loophole being exploited by the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
From Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee: An explanation of how a venue so unfriendly to Second Amendment rights was chosen for the Republican Convention. Further, we demand a contingency plan to relocate the convention to another location should the Quicken Loans Arena refuse to honor the constitutional rights of the RNC guests to open carry firearms during the convention.
From all Republican candidates for President: You have been brave in raising awareness about the immense dangers posed by “gun-free zones.” In order to ensure the safety of your supporters, delegates and all attendees at the convention in July, you must call upon the RNC to rectify this affront to our Second Amendment freedoms and insist upon a suspension of the Quicken Loans Arena’s unconstitutional “gun-free zone” loophole. Every American is endowed with a God-given Constitutional right to carry a gun wherever and whenever they please.
This is terrible. I’ve just learned that Donald Trump is a serial child molester.
By “I’ve just learned,” I mean that I’ve just heard it…somewhere…which means that it might probably could possibly be a thing that is definitely true. Which, in a sense, means that it is true, at least until proven otherwise, though I hear byhere by hereby reserve the right to refuse to acknowledge the existence and/or veracity of whatever evidence is offered as “proof.”
Is this a “fact?” Is this “fake news?” Well, look I don’t know and I wouldn’t want to speculate about something so serious, but all I can say is that sure, I have heard people say the words “Donald Trump is a serial child molester” and certainly that seems not only fishy but serious and a matter that someone(s) should look into or at least talk about casually whenever they feel like it and certainly not feel compelled to reject it out of hand regardless of how preposterous the allegation might seem on its face or how non-existent is the evidence to support such a claim.
So I personally don’t say that Donald Trump is a serial child molester, but I also don’t say that he’s not. I just say that anyone who serially molests children is someone who should not be allowed to walk freely among us, let alone hold high office. And while I don’t know if these claims are true, I’m certainly not going to not discuss it when it happens to come up in conversation, whatever the evidence says or doesn’t say, regardless of whether anyone is able to eventually rule in any meaningful way on the truthfulness of the claim.
To be fair, I did see him doing something with a child in a bathroom in New York City once, but—and I’m sure he’d have a tremendous understanding of this—much as Donald Trump cannot recall when or where he saw it or provide evidence that he saw thousands cheering the fall of the twin towers in Jersey City, NJ, I cannot recall exactly when or where or even exactly what I saw. I spent a fair amount of time in New York City between 1995 and 2007, in and out of various buildings and their respective restrooms, encountering all sorts of interesting and unusual and/or abhorrent things and all I recall is that I once walked into a restroom and there was Donald Trump and also a boy of about 14.
Maybe they were just peeing. Maybe I subliminally superimposed a dark interpretation of events onto this memory due to having at some point in the past heard the words “Donald Trump is a serial child molester.”
Or maybe I dreamed the whole thing and couldn’t distinguish dream from reality due to the plausibility of the scenario and simply encoded it as a memory in the part of my brain where everything prior to 2009 is pretty vague to begin with.
And just as Donald Trump has chosen not to elaborate on his claim that President Barack Obama had his phones at Trump Tower “wire tapped” just before the election, so too do I decline to provide anything in the way of substantiation of my claim about Donald Trump touching little boys inappropriately.
Look, all I’m saying is that there really is no such thing as truth, that there is only what we feel and what we hear and read on whatever channels and websites and pamphlets we choose to consume or not consume. You say Donald Trump is a serial child molester? Well then that’s your truth and you should feel free to bring it up at any time for whatever reason and far be it from me to object or refute it as nonsense. It would certainly explain Mr. Trump’s ex-wife Ivana’s assertion that he “had difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection” with her. Whatever the case, at the very least, there should definitely be an in-depth investigation into my claim if for no other reason than that I have made it.
I mean, here’s the thing: the world is just words and words don’t mean things unless we let them—and that, I can tell you, is called political correctness. Which is a thing that Donald Trump should definitely seek to end if he truly plans to make America great again.
Now, please come‘Like’ Hyperationalist—the page that brought you the satirical petition to allow guns at the GOP convention—on Facebook for more anti-gun, pro-reason content.