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Sikh Temple Shooting in Wisconsin
August 5, 2012 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Early Sunday morning a man entered a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and wounding three, and was killed in a shootout with police SWAT personnel.

Initial reports suggested more shooters may have been present, but none have been found. No motive is yet known, and the shooter's identity has not been announced.

In an unusual move, Chief of Police for Oak Creek John Edwards called the shootings "a domestic terror-type incident".

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have both responded, each offering their regards and promises of support.

Newspaper The Guardian is reporting live updates.
posted by Evilspork (535 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're currently searching what is apparently the suspect's home. Bomb crews onsite, blocks have been evacuated.

Local news streams:

WISN
WITI

FYI this is a few miles from my house.
posted by desjardins at 3:47 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


......
posted by hal9k at 3:47 PM on August 5, 2012


Sikhs!!!

I mean?!? Sikhs are awesome!

My heart is sad, my love and compassion goes out to them, just terribly tragic and unnecessary.
posted by roboton666 at 3:49 PM on August 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


.
posted by brundlefly at 3:49 PM on August 5, 2012


Men in turbans and women in flowing traditional clothes have been receiving information, much of it vague or conflicting, by cell phone, often in the Punjabi language.

The main news article has a weird tone, as if it is relevant that Sikhs wear turbans or that Sikhism is monotheist. Is that really relevant in a news article about a terror attack?
posted by winna at 3:51 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Utterly tragic. I would bet that some dumbshit assumed that Sikhs were Muslims. Very, very sad for the Sikh community, but it would still be as tragic if the attack was on a Muslim community (probably the terrorist's intended target). There is no justification for this kind of hatred and violence, ever.

.
posted by raztaj at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2012 [7 favorites]




In the time I spent in India, I found the Sikh community to be incredibly generous and welcoming.

It makes me very sad that Sikh people in my country often get a very different reception.

.
posted by bookish at 3:54 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Read this on the beeb after work (just now) and I also wondered (as raztaj above) whether this was done because he thought they were muslim. Or maybe he was inspired by the Batman Shootings in Aurora. Either way

......
posted by marienbad at 3:55 PM on August 5, 2012


EVEN IF THEY WERE MUSLIMS... WHAT. THE. FUCK.
posted by vidur at 3:58 PM on August 5, 2012 [62 favorites]


.
posted by Morvran Avagddu at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2012


Yeah, classy move bullshit US news media.

Anyway, just cut and paste what I said about the last shooter. That'll do for the next one too, we're getting them, what, every two weeks now?
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2012


Apparently CNN reports are repeatedly stressing that Sikhs are not Muslims. The implication being that it's less OK to shoot one of these groups than the other.
posted by acb at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


And yet... USA! USA! NUMBER ONE! NUMBER ONE!

Yeah, it's all boring and tired. How many mass shooting incidents is it going to take?

My heart goes out to the surviving victims and their families and the families of the deceased and everyone else affected by this horrible event.
posted by hippybear at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


T.D. & monospace: it's just... too early. Yes.
posted by slater at 4:03 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Discussions about how we talk about stuff goes in MetaTalk, folks, you know that. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2012


Apparently CNN reports are repeatedly stressing that Sikhs are not Muslims. The implication being that it's less OK to shoot one of these groups than the other.

Maybe. I think it's more likely that CNN is reporting that Muslims and Sikhs are different because they're only themselves figuring it out now.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:05 PM on August 5, 2012 [50 favorites]


I don't htink the implication is that it's OK to shoot Muslims. It's that they know most of their viewers don't draw the distinction between Sikhs and Muslims, and that people are going to assume the shooter's motive was rooted in Islamophobia. So I see the news media's response as more "I know what you're going to think, but no, they're not Muslims."
posted by desjardins at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [41 favorites]


:(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2012


Yeah, remember to please keep quiet about the issue of gun control until the NRA and Republicans get a chance to spin it in their direction.
posted by chasing at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [44 favorites]


Incidents like this will never end because we will never take the steps to prevent them. Never.
posted by tommasz at 4:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm generally anti-gun, but with all the armed lunatics we've got in this country it makes me wonder if I shouldn't have some kind of weapon for my own protection.
posted by jlh at 4:09 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the news makes the distinction between Muslims and Sikhs it mostly because few Americans seem aware of the difference and thus pointing to what seems a hate crime against those thought to be Muslims.
posted by Postroad at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well don't keep us in suspense, news media -- did the killer have a facebook page or didn't he?
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:12 PM on August 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


In an unusual move, Chief of Police for Oak Creek John Edwards called the shootings "a domestic terror-type incident".

It's pretty notable that the authorities are calling this an act of domestic terrorism. Normally, this phrasing is reserved for violent leftist extremists, not the ones on the right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


Hopefully the more people read and hear about Sikhs, the more people realize how kick-ass they are.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The wingnuttery on this one will truly be a thing to behold.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:16 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


.




I would bet that some dumbshit assumed that Sikhs were Muslims.

I am not so sure. Could someone who would commit this kind of terrorist act simply see people as either 'us' and 'other,' and not care just what kind of people some members of Other are? I don't know; I don't understand it at all.

No, sorry, we still can't talk about gun control. You can go ahead and talk about mental health care or whatever, but don't you dare mention the simplest, most obvious solution.
posted by monospace at 17:59


The simplest solution is national healthcare, with free and immediate access to comprehensive mental health services. I believe that, and it's rude of you to imply that I'm arguing in bad faith. I want to see an end to gun violence. I would be fine with a constitutional amendment to that end. Buy I do not think that the ordinary legislative process can provide a simple, complete solution. And since a legislative solution seems difficult, I propose we solve the problem rather than fight to another stalemate, and that is why I think we should push as hard as we can to make life less desperate for our fellow women and men.
posted by samofidelis at 4:17 PM on August 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


People commonly cite the fact that Canada's got tons-o-guns but drastically fewer gun violence incidents.

What I want to know is, is the gun ownership in Canada spread out as unevenly throughout the population as it is here? Because it seems to me like these mass shootings are never a matter of someone getting their hands on a gun and a box of ammo -- it's always someone who has built up an entire arsenal (legally or otherwise).

So, do the Canadians who own guns own LOTS of guns, like here in the U.S.? Knowing if this is comparable might be useful in some of the arguments I've been finding myself in lately.
posted by hermitosis at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now is not the time to politicize this event. What about all the good things guns have done in America?

One lone gunman is not indicative of all the law abiding citizens who need military grade weapons and large capacity magazines!

We don't even know if this guy HAD any of the above!

If only the Sikhs were armed like proper Americans...

have I hit all the excuses yet?
posted by Max Power at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2012 [22 favorites]


it makes me wonder if I shouldn't have some kind of weapon for my own protection.

I do sort of wonder why more people don't consider tasers or nonlethals for self-protection. If the anti-gun control response after this sort of event is "everyone should arm themselves to ensure their safety", why do they have to arm themselves with guns?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


jih:

The problem for the rest of us is this: When you say "have some kind of weapon for my own protection" -- how do we know your definition of "protection" matches everyone else's? (For example.) I just have to trust you not to shoot up movie theaters or murder minorities?
posted by chasing at 4:20 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I do sort of wonder why more people don't consider tasers or nonlethals for self-protection.

Tasers are illegal in many places.
posted by Justinian at 4:21 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apparently CNN reports are repeatedly stressing that Sikhs are not Muslims. The implication being that it's less OK to shoot one of these groups than the other.

I don't think that's the implication. A lot of people don't know the difference. I had to explain to my Dad that Sikhs are not Muslims and they are from India not the Middle East. He, like many people, see a beard and a turban and just assume "Muslim".
posted by MikeMc at 4:22 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just noticed the FPP has no links to local news sources. Odd. Here's Milwaukee's major paper, such as it is. (Do not read the comments! Just don't do it!)
posted by desjardins at 4:23 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wasn't trolling, Wordwoman. When I watch the news too much, I really do start to feel scared of all the gun-toting crazy people in the US.
posted by jlh at 4:23 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tasers are illegal in many places.

True, but I guess there's also mace and pepper spray.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2012


And since a legislative solution seems difficult

Well obviously gun control seems far away now, but that's a direct result of the Democrats basically abandoning the issue entirely over the last decade. That universal healthcare seems more politically likely than stricter gun controls would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.
posted by mek at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2012


What frequency do these have to occur before even the libertarian and other right-wing clueless agree that maybe, just maybe, the united states has a fucking goddamn gun problem?

Is it once per week? Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's? Every day? Maybe twice per day.
posted by maxwelton at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2012


If only the Sikhs were armed like proper Americans...

Heh. A religious requirement to wear a dagger (although any weapon can be a kirpan; nothing stopping it being an M16, even) and dedicated warrior caste isn't enough for them now?
posted by jaduncan at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2012 [31 favorites]


What a tragedy.
posted by gerryblog at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, remember to please keep quiet about the issue of gun control until the NRA and Republicans get a chance to spin it in their direction.

My mind was playing Mad Libs with the nouns here:

Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
posted by Evilspork at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hopefully the more people read and hear about Sikhs, the more people realize how kick-ass they are.

I knew a little about Sikhism (e.g., the prohibition against cutting hair) but have been reading about it and find it to be a fascinating faith, most notably the stress on: A Sikh must also have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of religion, colour, caste or creed.

Sad that a people who stress defending others from this type of bullshit have suffered so much persecution of their own.

(And who knew chairs could be so divisive?!)
posted by sallybrown at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by cashman at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2012


.
posted by joshjs at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2012


jih:

The problem for the rest of us is this: When you say "have some kind of weapon for my own protection" -- how do we know your definition of "protection" matches everyone else's? (For example.) I just have to trust you not to shoot up movie theaters or murder minorities?


Of course I can't speak for everyone, but I know that I could never use a weapon except in a defensive posture. E.g. somebody trying to physically harm me or my loved ones.

It makes me sick to think of murdering anyone, because even "bad" people (whatever goes into that category for you) are loved by somebody and have a right to live.
posted by jlh at 4:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


the united states has a fucking goddamn gun problem

I think that mainly we have a "crazy people" problem. I've been shot at, but the most danger I've been in has been two terrorist attacks that didn't involve guns at all.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course I can't speak for everyone, but I know that I could never use a weapon except in a defensive posture.

You might want to start by reading up a bit on how handguns are so often futile and useless as a defensive weapon.
posted by Jimbob at 4:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, that's what shotguns are for.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, let's not assume it's a targeted attack, even though it may be. The Amish shooter from a few years back was just a deranged pedophile who decided to shoot a bunch of girls. This guy may have been targeting brown people with turbans; alternatively, he could have been a bit psychotic and the events of the Aurora shooting helped push him over the edge. Or it could be something else entirely. Ultimately I find the second possibility most disconcerting - mass shootings becoming both normalized and spectularized. Another one and the press will call it an "epidemic" - then more out of work white guys with a bunch of weapons, a grievance against the world that conspired against them, and a taste for fame will at least entertain the notion of shooting a bunch of people.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:28 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


My remark was about how we're not allowed to talk about gun control after events like this in American society, and not about MetaFilter. We're supposed to express our concern about the state of mental health care, or decry American tendencies towards violence, but never mention the elephant in the room: the easy availability of guns.
posted by monospace at 4:29 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tasers are illegal in many places

I carry a mini Swiss army knife on my keychain. It's incredibly handy for many everyday uses. I would not hesitate to "stab" someone with it (though I really doubt it would cause much damage) if I were really in a case were my very wellbeing were at serious threat. A mugging is not worth it - my "stuff" is not more valuable than someone else's life, even if I am wronged. But I doubt a little "stabbing" by my mini Swiss army knife would really do much damage - in most cases, I think shocking someone is all it takes to make them withdraw.

I believe it's legal anywhere (though I have had TSA confiscate it, because I forgot to remove it from my keychain in carryon luggage). I'm a tiny female, mostly lived alone, have known people affected by gun violence, have traveled alone internationally many times, walked around cities late at night, and I feel pretty ok. Nobody needs a gun.
posted by raztaj at 4:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find myself wondering if these atrocities set off PTSD in the survivors of other mass shootings. I can't imagine what it would be like to have been in that cinema for the Dark Knight midnight show, and then have to cope with blanket news coverage of another mass shooting so soon after.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The simplest solution is national healthcare, with free and immediate access to comprehensive mental health services.

Let's not do the stigmatising mental illness thing either, shall we? (Admittedly, I can see an argument that a society that has proper mental health provision would have fewer shootings because it'd be indicative of a better society, but I don't think that's where we were going.)

I own guns. Deal with it.

Er... don't shoot anyone? That's generally the part people have issue with. Unfortunately, possessing a gun tends to be a prerequisite for shooting someone.
posted by hoyland at 4:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just in order to add something positive to this thread, let me note with some pride that my city of Charlottesville, Virginia, has a Sikh mayor. Who has been a major figure in local urban planning and politics for decades.
posted by Creosote at 4:31 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm generally anti-gun, but with all the armed lunatics we've got in this country it makes me wonder if I shouldn't have some kind of weapon for my own protection.

Would you take your gun to the cinema? I mean, for protection you would need to keep it with you. I'm not sure if I could get into the Wallet, Phone, Keys, Glock routine.
posted by mattoxic at 4:32 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The simplest solution is national healthcare, with free and immediate access to comprehensive mental health services.

And yet Seung-Hui Cho, Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, and James Holmes had all undergone treatment for mental health issues. I believe that national healthcare is the solution to many problems, but it is unlikely to be an effective proxy for gun control.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'll say here what I said when I first read about this: Sikhs? Who the fuck shoots Sikhs?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2012


Let's not do the stigmatising mental illness thing either, shall we?

Saying people who shoot up masses of other people are often mentally ill is not stigmatizing the mentally ill. Saying mentally ill people often shoot up other people would be stigmatizing. Those are extremely different statements.
posted by Justinian at 4:34 PM on August 5, 2012 [37 favorites]


What frequency do these have to occur before even the libertarian and other right-wing clueless agree that maybe, just maybe, the united states has a fucking goddamn gun problem?
In the past four weeks alone, nearly 100 people in the US have been killed or injured by "rampage" gunmen.
posted by Jehan at 4:35 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is a Sikh temple down the street from me and I am so scared of copycat attacks on them right now.

This is not just a gun problem. This is a hate problem.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:35 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


From the Guardian link, regarding the Obama and Romney statements:
Is it offensive to suggest that both men must by now have a generic template document offering words of consolation and succor in the event of a mass shooting in the states?
I don't that it's offensive and it's almost certainly true. Sad.
posted by unliteral at 4:35 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is not just a gun problem. This is a hate problem.

Actually... it's both.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sikhs at Oak Creek temple are providing water, food to journalists and police as part of religious tradition of hospitality.

.
posted by lalex at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


The main news article has a weird tone, as if it is relevant that Sikhs wear turbans or that Sikhism is monotheist. Is that really relevant in a news article about a terror attack?

Actually since they were apparently targeted because of their culture it's not particularly out of line to describe that culture a bit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


what about all the good guns have done America

... Aside from "arming our military in times of war," I would really like to see this enumerated, to be honest. I'm having a hard time coming up with specific incidents in which guns did a "good" in which there was not an equal "bad" they were already up to.

(This post is in no way facetious. I'd really like to hear someone answer the thought).
posted by Archelaus at 4:39 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure my use of the phrasing, "Not just...", communicates that point, flapjax...

The way the media's phrasing all of this demonstrates how ill-informed they are about Sikhs. I get the impression they're scrabbling for info and failing.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:39 PM on August 5, 2012


generic template document offering words of consolation and succor

Both statements 100% read that way. I was hoping for something a little more forceful and specific, to be honest. What I really want is a "let's get real" Obama speech on gun violence with the same candor and power as the famous race speech. At the very least I demand a plan.
posted by sallybrown at 4:42 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently CNN reports are repeatedly stressing that Sikhs are not Muslims. The implication being that it's less OK to shoot one of these groups than the other.

I agree. And it is not just CNN.

It is hard to not read such coverage as: "What we really need is better targeting."
posted by vidur at 4:43 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was hoping for something a little more forceful and specific

That takes time, at least a few hours. Also he wouldn't do that on a Sunday eve when no one's watching.
posted by hermitosis at 4:43 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




Who the fuck gives a shit about what the Westboro Church says? I'm so sick of the media giving them any play.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [116 favorites]


Well, I'm hoping that in the now likely event that Obama is reelected, there will be a "Trade your guns for grass" campaign in 2013. More weed, less weapons, a better America.

As for this awful bullshit, words aren't really any good. I can only hope that the next person contemplating mass murder shits out their intestines in the bathroom before they can load up their extended capacity magazine.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

So people can get mobilized over CFA and buy chicken burgers to spite gay people because they perceive a non-existent threat to marriage, but they won't mobilize to prevent real threats and enact gun control? Glad we have our priorities straight there.
posted by arcticseal at 4:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Saying people who shoot up masses of other people are often mentally ill is not stigmatizing the mentally ill. Saying mentally ill people often shoot up other people would be stigmatizing. Those are extremely different statements.

Sure... But I'd argue suggesting that better mental health provision would eliminate mass shootings is stigmatising the mentally ill. I was trying to pre-empt the bit where someone says 'Well, if we just stopped mentally ill people from buying guns, we'd be set.' Because ideologically driven mass murder never happens.
posted by hoyland at 4:46 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think what many people, especially people from other countries and states, are not understanding is that Sikhs are a vanishingly small proportion of the population here. I've read that there are between 250,000 and 500,000 in the entire US (compared with 5 million Jews and 3 million Muslims). Certainly most do not settle in Wisconsin.
posted by desjardins at 4:46 PM on August 5, 2012




Hopefully the more people read and hear about Sikhs, the more people realize how kick-ass they are.

To that end: in the year I spent living in India, I was repeatedly impressed and humbled by Sikh hospitality. Sikh temples (gurdwaras in the local parlance) are only too happy to welcome non-Sikhs (as long as you cover your head with a complementary kerchief), and the vast majority if not all of them had kitchens that feed all comers with one big communal meal per day. I was told that service to community was a central pillar of the faith. The scale of said feeding at the Golden Temple in Amritsar - the Sikh equivalent of the Vatican - was something to behold.

Mrs g and I also got in the habit of always asking Sikhs for travel advice and directions. I'm over-generalizing, but Hindus tended to value non-confrontation over accuracy, so they wouldn't often tell you if they didn't know how to find your destination; they'd just give you vague directions and let someone else help you further down the trail. Sikhs were always forthright and as helpful as they could possibly be. In Chandigarh, the Punjabi capital, there was a kindly old Sikh man who'd dedicated his retirement to approaching confused-looking foreigners on the main plaza between the government buildings to see if they needed any help with anything. He took us to his gurdwara for a meal and an evening of (fantastic) devotional music. One of the finest evenings of our year in India. I thought of him as soon as I heard about this.

On a sidenote, one of the closest friends we met in India was an American Sikh grad student who'd grown up in suburban Chicago. He's since gone secular, but until a couple years ago he was turbaned and bearded. US passport, with a "place of birth" line that read: Baghdad. He could write a book about his experiences with US officialdom after 9/11.

And on a further sidenote, at this year's Canada Day celebration here in Calgary, the local Sikh community set up a booth in the park where the main celebrations were held, offering free turban tying to all comers. For the rest of the day, you saw turbaned non-Sikhs all over the city. It was awesome.

Sikhs: They don't deserve this shit. No one does.

.
posted by gompa at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2012 [95 favorites]



Saying people who shoot up masses of other people are often mentally ill is not stigmatizing the mentally ill. Saying mentally ill people often shoot up other people would be stigmatizing. Those are extremely different statements.
posted by Justinian at 18:34 on 8/5
[1 favorite +] [!]


Not to put words in another's mouth, but I took those remarks on the stigma of mental health to be prescriptive -- let us change that attitude, in order to cure social ills that could otherwise be averted if seeking mental health treatment was not stigmatized.

mek -- I can't speak very intelligently to the politics of gun control; my impression would have been that it wasn't abandoned on its own merits, but instead it was seen as less urgent. That's a tragedy. I know it seems strange to suggest reorganizing the national model for healthcare instead of passing federal gun legislation, but it just seems to me that without a constitutional amendment, legislation won't stick. Whether we think it ought to or not, it seems that the judicial branch has sent a clear signal of its opinion.


The simplest solution is national healthcare, with free and immediate access to comprehensive mental health services.

Wordwoman -- a fair point. But what would happen if there were free treatment without stigma? I don't know; no one does until we attempt the experiment. But even if it doesn't stop all violent crime, it will make the nation better, and we should do it.
posted by samofidelis at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So people can get mobilized over CFA and buy chicken burgers to spite gay people because they perceive a non-existent threat to marriage, but they won't mobilize to prevent real threats and enact gun control?

It's taken 50 years, but I've finally been beaten down to where I have not one shred of optimism left about America ever solving it's fucked-up-it-ness.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:54 PM on August 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


Sorry, missed the quotey bit in that last comment.
posted by samofidelis at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2012


You beat me to it, dig_duggler. At the very least, there's no talk of gun control after these incidents because there's very, very little political appetite for gun control.

Gun violence is still very high in the United States compared to other countries, but I think most people take these for what they are - isolated, tragic incidents that don't make an argument for gun control, one way or the other.

Especially considering that at this time, absolutely nothing is known about the shooting.
posted by Vhanudux at 4:55 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


.
posted by SisterHavana at 4:57 PM on August 5, 2012


I've actually given lectures on church security. A Sikh temple would have exactly the same issues, so I feel somewhat qualified to speak here.

Two things.

First, I know nothing about what's happened here--I don't think anyone does yet--but the statistically probable explanation is that this is the tragic result of an intra-community spat gone wrong. Like in workplace shootings, violent incidents at houses of worship almost always involve someone with a personal connection to the congregation in question. Someone who asked for charity and got turned down. The ex-boyfriend/husband of a congregant. A recently fired employee. Someone with a tangible beef that loses perspective. I'd be quite surprised if it wasn't something along those lines.

Second, though a lot of churches and congregants think bringing guns to church or having armed security guards is the way to prevent these sorts of things, my Evangelical, deeply conservative former organization was strongly opposed to the practice unless it involved trained, paid professionals. The number of accidental shootings and assaults is far larger than the number of actual incidents like this. I've seen the actuarial numbers. Not even close. The organization was agnostic as to gun control laws, but strongly discouraged guns where possible.
posted by valkyryn at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Hippybear, I'm not sure where you were going with that, feel free to restate in a way that isn't ambiguous and/or dragging in completely unrelated issues to fight about. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2012


Yeah, I don't find anything odd about the Trib's way of detailing Sikh culture and practices a bit. Not many people in the U.S. know much about them, and what comes across is sort of an understanding that blind hatred towards Muslims from a segment of the country is a likely factor in this senseless tragedy.

.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:05 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know nothing about what's happened here--I don't think anyone does yet--but the statistically probable explanation is that this is the tragic result of an intra-community spat gone wrong.

That's probably not true. According to WISN, the police went around a neighborhood in Cudahy with a picture of a white guy in his twenties, asking neighbors if the man pictured lived in a house in the neighborhood. After confirming that he did, in fact, live there, they evacuated the neighborhood, and the police, FBI, and ATF are now trying to determine whether anything of interest is in the house.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]



This is tragic. I'm not going to get into the debate about guns. I'll just add my own experience about Sikh hospitality and how totally awesome they are.

During University one of my friends lived near a Sikh temple. Every week on certain days they offered a free meal to whoever walked in the door. At first I felt quite guilty going because I wasn't starving, though my diet wasn't wonderful due to budget. I soon learned what it was all about. The only thing they asked was that you followed the rules of men and women washing their hands and separate sinks and to keep relatively silent. One time I offered a donation but they wouldn't take it. A women explained that though the intent was appreciated that it was just part of what they do as part of their spiritual practice and views on hospitality to everyone, no questions asked.

So most weeks I got to eat one good and hearty meal and just 'be' with all sorts of people doing the same.

Huge respect for this.

It doesn't surprise me in the least to hear that the people of this temple are providing food and drink to reporters.
posted by Jalliah at 5:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


Woman Says Her Son is Landlord of Gunman in Temple Shooting - He'd just broken up with his girlfriend.
posted by desjardins at 5:09 PM on August 5, 2012


He said members described the attacker as a bald, white man, dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants and with a 9/11 tattoo on one arm -- which "implies to me that there's some level of hate crime there."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:14 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey hey if you want another data point about whether or not there are people who are definitely going to hell, I just got up to move to a new seat because a horrible little man was telling someone on his cell that this was very likely a false flag operation that Barack set up to steal the election.
posted by samofidelis at 5:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This brings to mind one of the first murders following 9/11, a Sikh man in Mesa, AZ who was shot and killed as some kind of misplaced vigilante justice following the collapse of the towers.

It horrified me then when I was living in Phoenix, but perhaps I'm a bit more aware of Sikhs than most US people, who just look at a man wearing something on his head that involves a strip of cloth and not a sewn cap and says "oh, look! they aren't like us!"
posted by hippybear at 5:21 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You'd have to be pretty fucking dense to want to kill Muslims and decide to go to this particular place to do it. The temple is set back from the road, it doesn't look like much, and I'd bet 90% of the metro population didn't know it was there before today. (The only reason I know it's there is because my grocery store is another half mile down the road.) Therefore, you'd have to do some research, and if you'd done any research you'd realize that Sikhs aren't Muslims.

The Islamic Center of Milwaukee would be a much more logical target, and it's about the same distance to the alleged shooter's house. So either the shooter is monumentally stupid, or he's got some connection to the community, like valkyryn said.
posted by desjardins at 5:22 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hey hey if you want another data point about whether or not there are people who are definitely going to hell, I just got up to move to a new seat because a horrible little man was telling someone on his cell that this was very likely a false flag operation that Barack set up to steal the election.

This would be the most paranoid thing I've heard this week, if I hadn't already heard someone claim that there would be a false-flag assassination attempt for that very purpose.
posted by Archelaus at 5:22 PM on August 5, 2012


Definitely not saying that they're doing anything remotely similar, but news networks having to explain the difference between Sikhs and Muslims vaguely reminds me of certain WWII informational articles from LIFE and TIME. It's less what vidur was suggesting earlier, and more "Americans aren't quite aware of other cultures and nationalities."
posted by Apocryphon at 5:23 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


either the shooter is monumentally stupid, or he's got some connection to the community

If it turns out he's got a 9/11 tattoo and isn't a New York firefighter suffering from PTSD, I'm thinking "monumentally stupid" is the safe bet.
posted by gompa at 5:24 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's that "never credit to malice that which can be blamed on incompetence" thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if this were a horrific combination of the two.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


either the shooter is monumentally stupid, or

Yeah, put me down for monumentally stupid. Sikhs have been taking the hit for muslims for decades.
posted by BinGregory at 5:28 PM on August 5, 2012


If it turns out he's got a 9/11 tattoo and isn't a New York firefighter suffering from PTSD, I'm thinking "monumentally stupid" is the safe bet.

I know a guy with a 9/11 tattoo. He's not stupid but he was deeply affected by 9/11. He's also bald. And white. And lives in Wisconsin. But he's too old to be the shooter.
posted by MikeMc at 5:28 PM on August 5, 2012


Archelus -- he got there after talking about a faked assassination.
posted by samofidelis at 5:29 PM on August 5, 2012


......

what the everloving fuck.
posted by sibboleth at 5:31 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Understanding Turbans

(I'm pretty sure that article is 9/11-era though there's no date on it.)
posted by BinGregory at 5:31 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd imagine millions of Indians haven't heard about this yet since they're just waking up.
posted by desjardins at 5:34 PM on August 5, 2012


Is it offensive to suggest that both men must by now have a generic template document offering words of consolation and succor in the event of a mass shooting in the states?

Gun Control Ad: Tucson Shooting Survivors Put Obama & Romney On The Spot
posted by homunculus at 5:34 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


For the record, MikeMc, it's the combination of tattoo plus committing mass murder that really puts the monumental in the stupid.
posted by gompa at 5:36 PM on August 5, 2012


There's that "never credit to malice that which can be blamed on incompetence" thing

The actual quote is "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".
posted by hippybear at 5:37 PM on August 5, 2012


What I want to know is, is the gun ownership in Canada spread out as unevenly throughout the population as it is here?

I was recently visited by a friend from Los Angeles who is also an elite distance runner. I'm a Canadian in Victoria, BC. We have no stores in this city that sell guns. He told me that he WON A GUN at a 5K recently. It was an assault rifle.

I think that says it all.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's taken 50 years, but I've finally been beaten down to where I have not one shred of optimism left about America ever solving it's fucked-up-it-ness.

I almost hate to do this to you after you've found peace, but you should probably check this out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:40 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


He told me that he WON A GUN at a 5K recently. It was an assault rifle.

I think that says it all.
posted by jimmythefish


So, obviously now he's gonna go on a killing spree right? Because the mere act of owning a gun will cause a shooting rampage. (if you listen to most people here, anyway)
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, obviously now he's gonna go on a killing spree right?

What purpose is there in an assault rifle beyond killing?

As an Aussie, I wouldn't know how to go about getting a gun if I wanted one. No-one in the US faces the same dilemma, it seems.
posted by Jimbob at 5:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm a Canadian in Victoria, BC. We have no stores in this city that sell guns.

Yes there is.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:46 PM on August 5, 2012


"
I think what many people, especially people from other countries and states, are not understanding is that Sikhs are a vanishingly small proportion of the population here. I've read that there are between 250,000 and 500,000 in the entire US (compared with 5 million Jews and 3 million Muslims). Certainly most do not settle in Wisconsin."

And since their temples have to serve large areas, they tend to buy small spaces in shitty strip malls for the purpose (easy parking), so their visibility is faint even compared to their numbers.
posted by ocschwar at 5:47 PM on August 5, 2012


It was, to my mind more a comment on the cultural prevalence of them, blaneyphoto. I feel like you're twisting the comment to look for an insult or snark that wasn't there.
posted by Archelaus at 5:47 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, obviously now he's gonna go on a killing spree right?

My father has lots of firearms, but they're hunting rifles and double-barrel shotguns - neither are great for killing sprees. I grew up with firearms all my life. The major difference is the access to them (the requirement for a Firearms Acquisition Certificate and the delay that causes) and the type of guns readily available. Readily is the key - all the guns in the Aurora killing were legal to acquire in Canada. It's the availability and the ease of acquisition that is troubling.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:48 PM on August 5, 2012


Because the mere act of owning a gun will cause a shooting rampage. (if you listen to most people here, anyway)

It is the one thing that makes it possible. Is that so hard to understand?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:49 PM on August 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


Because the mere act of owning a gun will cause a shooting rampage. (if you listen to most people here, anyway)

Literally nobody here has ever said that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:50 PM on August 5, 2012 [30 favorites]


Federal law enforcement officials told NBC News the suspected gunman had no obvious connection to domestic terror or white supremacist groups and apparently was not on any list of suspected terrorists. The suspect was in his early 40s, and while he had an arrest record, it was for minor offenses, one federal official said.

NBC News
posted by desjardins at 5:50 PM on August 5, 2012


In October 2008, my bed-bound father was transferred to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for spinal surgery. This was the third hospital he was warded in -- the third in about a week. I was constantly by his side during this period as he was panicky and feeling helpless. It's 6pm and I'm feeling a little lost and helpless myself. A turbaned head pops in the hospital room and goes, "Chapati?" I'm utterly baffled. "What?" The Sikh, a teenager, grins and goes, "Chapati?" again and I realised he was offering me food. The Sikhs, presumably members of a nearby gurdwara, were going from room to room offering free meals for family members of patients at the hospital. The chapati, the first warm meal I had in a while, was delicious and filling but the Sikhs' goodwill lifted my spirits.

Sikhs, to my mind, have always been stout of heart and generous of spirit. (See Langar.) This tragedy should not happen to anyone anywhere but for it to happen to such a generous people at their place of worship …

.
posted by Asimo at 5:50 PM on August 5, 2012 [24 favorites]


Because the mere act of owning a gun will cause a shooting rampage. (if you listen to most people here, anyway)

Yes, just like the mere act of owning a car will cause drunk driving.
posted by hippybear at 5:52 PM on August 5, 2012


Two hours later, they're still working on entering the suspect's house - they have bomb sniffing dogs and armored vehicles, and they're using a fire truck ladder to get in one of the upper floors.
posted by desjardins at 5:52 PM on August 5, 2012


It's less what vidur was suggesting earlier, and more "Americans aren't quite aware of other cultures and nationalities."
posted by Apocryphon


I hope you are right.
posted by vidur at 5:53 PM on August 5, 2012


Yes, just like the mere act of owning a car will cause drunk driving.

Cars aren't made and sold for the express purpose of killing humans. In fact, they have the opposite goal in mind, generally.
posted by Jimbob at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, I own no guns and don't ever plan to, and gun control laws wouldn't likely affect my way of life one way or the other, and I think we need to have a rational conversation about them.

But not now. And not for the usual reasons.

In general, it takes two things to create a tragedy like this. A gun and an idea. Broadly speaking (very broadly) in the U.S. we have one side of the political spectrum interested in protecting the guns above all, and the other side interested in protecting the ideas above all. I'm firmly on the "protect ideas" side of the spectrum.

But now I've seen, time after disheartening time, that every time there is a tragedy like this it will become, within hours, about guns and why guns are not to blame and how can you try to take this out on responsible gun owners and if only they'd been carrying guns this wouldn't have happened and of course the grandaddy of them all, "how dare you politicize this shooting spree by talking about guns?!"

I'm tired of it. It's getting nowhere. And it drowns out the talk about whatever idea got us to this point, and frankly, I'm on much firmer ground in that arena. I want to hear about the poisonous ideas which led to this. I want to hear about how better education might solve things. Not as an alternative to gun control, but just, you know... I want it to be part of the conversation.

I want, just this once, for the left to not open up the door for the right to make this tragedy about their own perceived victimhood. I don't want this to be about the guns.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


Before this Sikh group moved their temple to Oak Creek, they used to be located in a pretty busy area of Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood. They gave a Sri Lankan immigrant (that I was teaching English to) a job cleaning when no one else would hire him.

.
posted by drezdn at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]



I'm trying to think of one of these things that wasn't committed by a white dude and I'm drawing a blank.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:58 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Virginia Tech.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:58 PM on August 5, 2012


I'm trying to think of one of these things that wasn't committed by a white dude and I'm drawing a blank.

Virginia Tech and the Hmong hunter in Wisconsin.
posted by drezdn at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can anyone suggest a few Sikh charitable causes to which one could donate? Even better if in the affected community.
posted by samofidelis at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I want, just this once, for the left to not open up the door for the right to make this tragedy about their own perceived victimhood.

Yeah, that'll do it. As long as we don't make them mad they'll HAVE to discuss this rationally.
posted by gerryblog at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Hunting incident.
posted by drezdn at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2012


DC sniper.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is the one thing that makes it possible. Is that so hard to understand?
posted by Sys Rq


What's impossible to understand is why everyday, sane people need to be subject to restrictive laws about firearms when people who just simply don't care and/or are insane can and will obtain those arms to commit crimes. Its punishing the rest of us for their action and there's no reason we should allow our government the power to restrict citizens in that regard.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fort Hood wasn't a white guy. Do the DC snipers count as mass killers?
posted by desjardins at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2012


I heard reports that one of the priests killed was visiting from India. Can anyone confirm/deny this?
posted by drezdn at 6:01 PM on August 5, 2012


DC snipers were serial killers. There's probably some clinical difference to be hair split there.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:01 PM on August 5, 2012


By the way, I have been following the news in my old town of Omaha. In the past month, there has been, on the average, one shooting per day. There were two this morning. Last weekend there were six shootings that left 10 people wounded.

I am sure there are all sorts of factors contributing to this. The one they all have in common: guns.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


What's impossible to understand is why everyday, sane people need to be subject to restrictive laws about firearms when people who just simply don't care and/or are insane can and will obtain those arms to commit crimes. Its punishing the rest of us for their action and there's no reason we should allow our government the power to restrict citizens in that regard.

Sane people aren't guaranteed to stay that way, is the thing.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


drezdn, I saw the same reports on Twitter, but I think solid information is still pretty sketchy.

In general people should remember that initial reports are basically always inaccurate in important ways -- just because the initial reports suggest this was a hate crime doesn't mean it'll look that way tomorrow.
posted by gerryblog at 6:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I heard reports that one of the priests killed was visiting from India. Can anyone confirm/deny this?"

Dude, if you have a direct connection to the WI Sikhs, you'll find out pretty shortly.

If you don't, you'd do your sanity a great favor by not hanging on every rumor.

No man is an island. The consequences of this crime will eventually reach you and me. But not today. Probably not even tomorrow. Or next week.
posted by ocschwar at 6:03 PM on August 5, 2012


just because the initial reports suggest this was a hate crime doesn't mean it'll look that way tomorrow.

I'm definitely playing wait-and-see on most things with this. I've seen reports of the shooter being anywhere from 20s to 40s.
posted by drezdn at 6:04 PM on August 5, 2012


Oh, wait. "Spree killer" is what they call the Beltway Snipers brand of killing. Blah.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:04 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want this to be about the guns.

But its going to be about guns, because a gun was used and there are members of society who somehow think that getting rid of guns will thusly get rid of "gun violence".

Meanwhile Milwaukee's Hackerspace harbors HaveBlue who's using 3d printing to make parts for AR15 guns. Yup. Gun parts via 3d printing. Just wait 'till the "make it about guns" figure out that angle.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:04 PM on August 5, 2012


Cars aren't made and sold for the express purpose of killing humans.

Right.. Although my point was that it is possible to own a machine which is capable of killing and not use it in an irresponsible way simply by default.

But you knew that.
posted by hippybear at 6:04 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's impossible to understand is why everyday, sane people need to be subject to restrictive laws about firearms when people who just simply don't care and/or are insane can and will obtain those arms to commit crimes.

You could say the same thing about cars, and cars have at least as much utility as guns, if not much more so - it's arguable that owning a car is a basic necessity in much of the country. And yet we accept enormous restrictions on our personal liberty for the sake of greater road safety.
posted by mek at 6:05 PM on August 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Sane people aren't guaranteed to stay that way, is the thing.
posted by Space Coyote


So... sober people and cars, then? No guarantees there, I think either.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


But its going to be about guns, because a gun was used and there are members of society who somehow think that getting rid of guns will thusly get rid of "gun violence".

Getting rid of guns will get rid of gun violence. That's a QED right there.

When the guy starts being able to print bullets, you'll have a point. At this moment, all you seem to have is sarcasm.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


What's impossible to understand is why everyday, sane people need to be subject to restrictive laws about firearms when people who just simply don't care and/or are insane can and will obtain those arms to commit crimes. Its punishing the rest of us for their action and there's no reason we should allow our government the power to restrict citizens in that regard.

The problem is that one may well be an 'everyday, sane' person right up to the moment he or she murders someone. There aren't good people and bad people; there's no set of humans you can define that will commit a crime, whom you can exclude from gun ownership. 'Only the criminals will own guns' is a fallacious argument -- by this argument's internal logic (ie since it argues for gun ownership except with exclusions for serious criminals) they're not criminals until they commit a crime with that gun. They're just like me and you. There's no such thing as a predestined criminal.
posted by samofidelis at 6:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


This really is exactly the same conversation as two weeks ago. We should just number these.

#6 But what about the drunk drivers!
#6a Cars have useful social functions in a modern nation. Guns don't.
posted by gerryblog at 6:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I want peace and calm and safety for everyone. This is awful awful awful.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:09 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile Milwaukee's Hackerspace harbors HaveBlue who's using 3d printing to make parts for AR15 guns.

I didn't know that was Have Blue (don't know him, but I'm on the MKE Makerspace mailing list). Oddly enough, this shooting happened a few miles down the road the makerspace is on.
posted by drezdn at 6:10 PM on August 5, 2012


I want, just this once, for the left to not open up the door for the right to make this tragedy about their own perceived victimhood.

Yeah, that'll do it. As long as we don't make them mad they'll HAVE to discuss this rationally.


Oh I know, I know. It's more that I know where this conversation goes by now and I just don't want to feed that particular troll.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:13 PM on August 5, 2012


Do the DC snipers count as mass killers?

I think yes but I could see it the other way too. They killed multiple people (sometimes more than one in a short time frame and small geographic area) using the same method for each (the car trunk) and appear to have been doing so in part to engender terror and/or because of a (totally incoherent) larger motive. Really though, the DC snipers are difficult to classify because they were so unique and I really hope it stays that way.

(I was a teenager in DC at the time and it's hard for me to even walk past the replica of the snipers' vehicle (not a white van!) without feeling sick to my stomach with some residual fear.)
posted by sallybrown at 6:14 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney will probably ask people to, once again, applause.
"I guess, maybe by applause we show how united we are with the tragedy of those people, how much we love them how much we care for them," he said. cite
I heard this quote on NPR yesterday. It's accurate.

If Obama and Romney both have a template by now I like Obama's a bit more.
"So what I’d ask everybody to do, I’d like us to pause in a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover, and for all the victims of less publicized acts of violence that plague our communities every single day. So if everybody can just take a moment." cite
Seriously, fuck Romney.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


"it is possible to own a machine which is capable of killing and not use it in an irresponsible way simply by default.

But you knew that.
"

Yup, we all know it. Which is why we don't discuss all the machines that are "capable" of killing - pillows, pencils, kitchen knives, fists etc. - and just the ones that are designed to kill, intentionally or not.
posted by vidur at 6:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We may have a gun problem, that's in the eye of the beholder. But what we really have is a 15 minutes of fame problem. This would never happen,but what if the media decided to stop covering mass killings. Decided to stop spreading fear and stop manipulating our emotions for the sake of increased advertising income and viewership. That might work better than any gun control law.
posted by Xurando at 6:20 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the victims' sons reported that his father was shot while he was trying to tackle the shooter. The father's in the hospital now.
posted by desjardins at 6:20 PM on August 5, 2012


just because the initial reports suggest this was a hate crime doesn't mean it'll look that way tomorrow.

Like that 'fed' on the chest of the hanged census worker that was later called a suicide? (how many were all about the outrage here on The Blue?)

Or perhaps like the suicide of Chavis Carter, 21, died of a gunshot wound to the head Saturday night in Jonesboro, Arkansa?

Or the suicide of Army Private First Class LaVena Johnson in Balad, Iraq?

Or the classic Get a Brain! Morans picture http://www.davelippman.com/Welovethepolicestate.html

And who wants to stake out a position that what "we" are told tomorrow will actually be the truth VS an agenda that serves someone elses interest? Frankly I'd like to see the panopticon of cameras and cell phone data be shown to actually work.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:21 PM on August 5, 2012


That might work better than any gun control law.

There is some copycatting that happens as a result of the press, but I would be amazed if there is any studies that suggest that not covering these events would have anything other than a minimal effect of gun crime. Most of it is not caused by attentions seekers, and most of it is not caused by people watching the news.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:23 PM on August 5, 2012


I didn't know that was Have Blue (don't know him, but I'm on the MKE Makerspace mailing list).

Follow the crumbs.
http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/
http://haveblue.org/?p=1041
Air Soldier Products
posted by rough ashlar at 6:24 PM on August 5, 2012


So, do the Canadians who own guns own LOTS of guns, like here in the U.S.?

You need a license to carry any kind of firearm at all in Canada, the application for which requires a four-week waiting period and a background check, and generally speaking any kind of handgun that you could carry concealed is illegal. Perhaps more importantly, the sale and import of firearms and ammunition is heavily regulated as well.

Guns and, presumably, gun nuts are out there for sure. But we don't seem to have the same pervasive culture of gun-reverence and fear here that I've seen in the U.S.

I honestly don't understand how Americans can live like that. An armed society isn't a polite society, it's a nervous, skittish, frightened one. Living with so much fear that you need to carry a gun to protect yourself from your countrymen is not freedom.
posted by mhoye at 6:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [23 favorites]




At this moment, all you seem to have is sarcasm.

Right - because if you make guns illegal - that will get rid of guns. Because no one will do something like illegal shooting cuz the guns are illegal.

Say, how's the not shootings in Chicago going where guns are illegal?

(and is that sarcasm enough?)

Making guns illegal won't stop illegal gun violence. If making things illegal stopped 'em from happening the jails would be empty.

When the guy starts being able to print bullets

1) Why print when old fashioned casting works?
2) Printing already being talked about on John Robb's GG.
3) The germans have caseless ammo - no need to "print" just form a block of powder.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




I feel so sorry for the Sikh community as well as the Muslim community that are probably wondering if they had a near miss.

I'm trying to think of one of these things that wasn't committed by a white dude and I'm drawing a blank.

Mark Essex's Howard Johnson hotel roof sniping spree, and Julio Gonzalez's arson of Happy Land.

Which brings up the point that the worst mass murder in US history did not involve guns, and that ~40% of murders in the US are non-firearm. So while banning guns might alleviate the problems of homicide, and would definitely would alleviate the problems of accidental shooting, it isn't a cure-all. Anyway, it's a totally moot point without another liberal Supreme Court justice or enough legislators to re-amend the constitution.

†If Cuban = non-white.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not keeping pace well, since it took me about 40 comments to type this out as of the time I'm including this 'disclaimer'. Sorry if it's continuing a discussion since ended.

2nd sorry here - this may be too long.

> It was an assault rifle.

> What purpose is there in an assault rifle beyond killing?

It is likely not an assault rifle. It may be an "assault weapon". Assault rifles are commonly understood to feature either fully automatic or selective fire 'options,' along with being chambered for an intermediate cartridge and accepting a detachable (normally 20+ rounds) magazine. Assault rifles have been produced since 1944 (Germany), and have been subject to extensive regulation (including manufacture, transfer and purchase) in the US since (at least) 1968.

Assault weapons, on the other hand, are categorized more generally, having such features as a pistol grip (on a longarm), folding stock, barrel shroud, grenade 'launcher', bayonet lug, etc. The AWB, since expired, included more features than I listed here.

"Assault weapons" (as defined in under law) are, in the US at least, predominantly semi-automatic firearms marketed to 'sport' shooters. (The sport is generally understood to be target shooting, not hunting and certainly not killing). These firearms acquired today from domestic production (there is an extensive list of producers for just an AR-15-modeled receiver), or as imports from Romania, China, Russia, Germany, Italy, and more.

"Assault weapons" are not all longarms. Some states (MA, NY, CA, etc.) still have restrictions on weapons more inclusive than the expired AWB. In those states, pistols and shotguns, even though not chambered for wartime ammunition (for instance, the .32 and .22 caliber or 12 gauge) may be restricted for variety of reasons.

---

The real truth of the matter is that gun laws, as they exist in the US today, vex both pro- and anti-2A voters.

On one side, people like myself are allowed to acquire and use potentially dangerous weapons. In-state laws mean very little when there are people who will purchase a gun in one state and smuggle it into another where an original sale would be illegal. In-state laws mean very little when online retailers or resellers without knowledge or care sell illegal after-market modifications to anyone with a credit card and a shipping address. On this side, the CCW and 'rah-rah guns' people are seen as morons and children because they buy into the gun culture - they actively participate in the killing of others just by supporting the gun and ammo manufacturers, the NRA (or SAF), and the politicians who don't do anything to stop the madness.

On the other side, people like myself can go from law-abiding to felon in the time it takes to drive across a border. No quarter is given that there is no place available to alter the immediate possession of a gun between a legal area and an illegal area, and this is just 'unreasonable'. The difference between a legal hunting weapon and an illegal can be as simple as a $2 plug for a shotgun. The difference between a legal defense weapon and an illegal one can be which side of a door you're on - either on your property or in a theater. On this side, it's ridiculed that possession of a gun is simultaneously a Rambo fantasy and a futile exercise because, as it seems, noone ever stops a mass murder with a legally held gun - especially when the crime occurs where noone is supposed to have a gun. The politicians don't seem to help because they either waffle back and forth on 2A issues as a rule or they're just owned by private interest.

We have tens of thousands of laws governing the purchase, transfer, ownership, possession, and use of firearms. And those laws just aren't doing it for either side of the debate - because the debate is hijacked on both sides by people who have less interest in you and me than they do the eternal pet agenda. Being seen as extremist on either side won't help the people who will either get a gun for the wrong reason today or die by a gun for no reason tomorrow.
posted by timfinnie at 6:40 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm trying to think of one of these things that wasn't committed by a white dude and I'm drawing a blank.

Of course, there was the Red Lake shootings (mefi link), which was one of the deadliest mass shootings at the time, but was only reported on briefly and basically forgotten about ever since. Because nonwhite people.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:41 PM on August 5, 2012


Muslim community that are probably wondering if they had a near miss.

desjardins mentioned it above, but if that's what happened here it's ???? that he didn't go after a mosque. There's a highly visible one that's near Cudahy and depending on where the shooter lived exactly would have possibly been closer.
posted by drezdn at 6:44 PM on August 5, 2012


Right - because if you make guns illegal - that will get rid of guns. Because no one will do something like illegal shooting cuz the guns are illegal.

Who said it will stop it? It will reduce it. It will make it more difficult - the edge case. As those of us who live in countries where the majority of hold-ups are conducted with knives can attest, and where the discharging of a firearm in an urban area makes headline news when it happens.
posted by Jimbob at 6:44 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Donations here
posted by unliteral at 6:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Which brings up the point that the worst mass murder in US history did not involve guns

The death march of the Choctaw from Oklahoma in what was called The Trail of Tears?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 PM on August 5, 2012 [18 favorites]



I am sure there are all sorts of factors contributing to this. The one they all have in common: guns.


And Americans.

America is one of the only places on the globe that this happens on a regular basis. I don't think it has anything to do with guns or the availability thereof -- Guns are convenient for mass murder, but they're by no means the only avenue open to somebody who's willing to spend a few months preparing. As many of these people are.

No, there is something in our culture that is the problem here. There is a romanticism to what this guy did; He went down in a hail of bullets and died larger than life. By American values, going down fighting may be the most meaningful thing he ever did.

And the killing. Our national bird may be the American Eagle but our national mascot is the Avenging Angel. We're constantly itching for a righteous fight and history shows that if we can't find a reason we'll just make one up. Give us a chance to get some ordnance in the air and the American people will sit enraptured in front of CNN for hours. We love that shit.

And of course executions. Doesn't it stick out a bit that we're the only Western country that still kills prisoners?

So to recap: we as a country glorify violent death, we aspire to embody avenging angels, and the highest powers in our land sanction killing our neighbors if we think it necessary. And then we act surprised that this is the way that a psychosis expresses itself.

Still, arguing about guns is a far easier thing to do than deal with the actual problem. The fact that Americans have been using explosives and cars and knives and strangling to do mass killings is certainly a minor coincidence that will go away if we can only get guns sorted out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


Because the mere act of owning a gun will cause a shooting rampage. (if you listen to most people here, anyway)

Good grief. What "most people here" are saying is profoundly obvious but evidently requires repeating in very simple terms: possession of a gun is a condition necessary to permit a shooting rampage, but it is NOT sufficient to produce a shooting rampage.

Vacating a condition necessary for an outcome is just one way to prevent the outcome. It is a tempting solution because the logic, standing alone, is elegantly simple. But it is socially, economically, legally, and philosophically complex to propose restricting access to guns in a society where guns are already widely available and where private gun ownership is argued to be enshrined in the document describing inalienable rights.

The current price of freedom appears to be letting violent loony bigots go around shooting people. Many feel that this price might be a bit too high, and that the "freedom" it defines might not be what it says on the package. That is what "most of the people here" are saying, when I listen to them.
posted by gingerest at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


All I can say is, fuck no, not again.

No.

Fuck no.

No.

No.

And also, why does it have to be Sikhs? Why?

This makes me fucking sick.
posted by nangar at 6:52 PM on August 5, 2012


That is what "most of the people here" are saying, when I listen to them.
I think you're not hearing correctly then.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:53 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making guns illegal won't stop illegal gun violence. If making things illegal stopped 'em from happening the jails would be empty.

rough ashlar, what you just said is an argument against any kind of law at all. You do see that, right? Making murder itself illegal has not stopped murders, and so on?

Sheesh.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:53 PM on August 5, 2012 [15 favorites]


a futile exercise because, as it seems, noone ever stops a mass murder with a legally held gun

Yet seems != reality.

The Appalachian School of Law shooting was a school shooting that occurred on January 16, 2002, at the Appalachian School of Law, an American Bar Association accredited private law school in Grundy, Virginia, United States.

When Odighizuwa left the building where the shooting took place, he was approached by two students with personal firearms[4] and one unarmed student.[5] There are two versions of the events that transpired at that moment, one by Tracy Bridges and one by Ted Besen.

According to Bridges: at the first sound of gunfire, he and fellow student Mikael Gross, unbeknownst to each other, ran to their vehicles to retrieve their personally-owned firearms[6] placed in their glove compartments. Mikael Gross, a police officer from Grifton, North Carolina retrieved a 9 mm pistol and body armor.[7] Bridges, a county sheriff's deputy from Asheville, North Carolina[8] retrieved his .357 Magnum pistol from beneath the driver's seat of his Chevrolet Tahoe.[9] Bridges and Gross approached Odighizuwa from different angles, with Bridges yelling at Odighizuwa to drop his gun.[10] Odighizuwa then dropped his firearm and was subdued by several other unarmed students, including Ted Besen and Todd Ross.[11]

(Now does Gross's status of police officer someone change the dynamic? What if the "civilian" has body armor + gun? Is having the status of 'police officer' change things because they are 'better' than 'civilians'?)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:54 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guns and, presumably, gun nuts are out there for sure. But we don't seem to have the same pervasive culture of gun-reverence and fear here that I've seen in the U.S.

In addition to practical matters of law and licensing, there's one other huge difference between Canada and the U.S.: culture. (I'm stealing that meme back from Mitt Romney.)

There's no Second Amendment. Never was any frontier justice. The whole idea of individual rights as inherently more important than collective rights just doesn't have the same tradition and resonance here. In historical shorthand, the US frontier was settled by armed pioneers, and the Canadian frontier was settled by armed mounties. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness vs. peace, order and good government.

I know this can sound esoteric, but in practice it means that even Canadian gun generally nuts respect mandatory background checks and waiting periods and keep their guns (usually hunting rifles and the like) carefully stored. My uncle Ron owns a dozen (including a couple of vintage military rifles) and I've never seen them in his hands, only in a locked rack in his basement. I'm sure there are Canadians out there with loaded weapons in the house for personal protection, but they're in the extreme minority. It'd be shocking to most Canadians - like holding-a-live-hand-grenade shocking - to see a handgun in a fellow citizen's hands. The collective reaction to the recent wave of gun violence in Toronto wasn't to wonder if we should be better armed but to gasp in collective shock that such a thing could happen here. (There were also many media reports noting that Toronto remained many magnitudes less dangerous than any number of American cities.)

We have serial killers in Canada and we do have random outbreaks of mass murder and we certainly have armed gangs fighting over drug-trade turf, but our legal and cultural traditions have to date meant that we simply don't have the same frequency and intensity of gun violence.
posted by gompa at 6:55 PM on August 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, do the Canadians who own guns own LOTS of guns, like here in the U.S.?

You need a license to carry any kind of firearm at all in Canada, the application for which requires a four-week waiting period and a background check, and generally speaking any kind of handgun that you could carry concealed is illegal. Perhaps more importantly, the sale and import of firearms and ammunition is heavily regulated as well.

Guns and, presumably, gun nuts are out there for sure. But we don't seem to have the same pervasive culture of gun-reverence and fear here that I've seen in the U.S.

I honestly don't understand how Americans can live like that. An armed society isn't a polite society, it's a nervous, skittish, frightened one. Living with so much fear that you need to carry a gun to protect yourself from your countrymen is not freedom.


That's the descriptor I was looking for. There just seems to be a difference in the overall culture surrounding guns. It's not that we don't have debates over regulations and heated debates at that (long-gun registry anyone) it's just the the atmosphere of the debate itself seems different. From the outside looking in the gun debate in the US seems to take on almost, a religious, grandious tone tantamount to talking like it's a basic human right that's being talked about. I've heard others describe it along the lines of the cultural mythos of the cowboy and related history. In Canada we just don't have that same history and ethos surrounding guns.

Whether this makes a difference to how people end up using their guns I dunno. It's not like we don't have people that own them, or like them. I live in an area where most every farmer owns at least one gun. It's just culturely looked at as a tool the same as a tractor. No big deal. Even with the local hunters I've met you never hear much about the guns they use. Though I have been party to conversations about American hunters that come up where they make fun of their gun fetishes. They have derogatory names they use for them. Whether this is typical across Canada I don't know. Around here it seems to be for whatever that is worth.

I've looked into getting a gun myself because of varmit issues but although that type of gun isn't difficult to get there is a process. Ended up deciding that if I really needed help in that regard I'll just call someone over to deal with it.

And I'm sure that there are Canadians that own lots of guns because of their love of guns. We just don't ever hear that much about them and beyond their peer group they'd likely get the reaction of people rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. Not necessarily because people are anti-gun but that it's just not something 'cool' and what people normally do and crow about as if it's something important.
posted by Jalliah at 6:56 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Coverage from The American Muslim, which includes links to

Islamophobia, Sikhophobia and Media Profiling
Simran Jeet Singh, 07/11/2012

and

We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond
Sonny Singh, 03/12/2012
posted by BinGregory at 6:57 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar,

I am not saying that such a thing never happened. I was just trying to illustrate (as I try to understand them) the two most identifiable sides of the gun rights / gun control debate.
posted by timfinnie at 6:57 PM on August 5, 2012



And on posting what Gompa said....
posted by Jalliah at 6:57 PM on August 5, 2012


Sheesh.

Yes, the sheesh idea being that making guns illegal will stop illegal things from happening.

Perhaps the better idea is to look at ways of addressing undesirable behaviour in ways other than just declaring them illegal.

Because how is making 'bad behaviour' "illegal" to get the behaviour to stop working out?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:58 PM on August 5, 2012


rough ashlar, since we (in the US) do not currently live in a culture in which everyone is packing, you cannot infer the virtues of this as a wide-spread eventuality using one case study (or a handful of them). You'd have to go back to our actual WROL frontier days to determine how "good" this would be. I believe you would find that the result would not be pretty. More violence, more death, all from guns. But maybe you're assuming that only "bad guys" would die then?
posted by mondo dentro at 6:59 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Sikh Center of San Antonio is apparently accepting donations to assist the injured, if you're in the area.
posted by samofidelis at 7:00 PM on August 5, 2012


Yes, the sheesh idea being that making guns illegal will stop illegal things from happening.

No. The sheesh idea being that that's an incredibly stupid argument, since it would, if sound, argue that there should be no laws against anything.

The point of the laws is to reduce the number of crimes committed. Not eliminate them. It's a straw man argument of the worst type.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


Tim McVeigh didn't use a gun.

We can pass all kinds of gun laws, but we'll never get the guns out of the hands of the crazies, only out of the hands of their potential victims.

If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.

Do you really doubt this?

The thing about mass murder is that it usually means a good number of people who had never wronged the murderer in any way are slaughtered, and sometimes it's a group of people who are among the gentlest of creatures who fall. Sikhs are kind, giving, nonjudgemental, and this is a terrible, terrible thing. They were also, like the folks at the theater, unarmed, and it seems to be the mark of a mass murderer that he's a supreme coward - he'd never consider drawing a weapon against someone who was also armed.

My heart goes out to these folks.
posted by aryma at 7:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except for the fact that purchasing bomb-making stuff can get you dinged on watch lists, whereas even the concept of gun registries is anathema to many US citizens, let alone watch lists for them.

Also, how many mass shootings have there been since the OKC bombings?
posted by gaspode at 7:05 PM on August 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


They were also, like the folks at the theater, unarmed, and it seems to be the mark of a mass murderer that he's a supreme coward - he'd never consider drawing a weapon against someone who was also armed.

Sikhs carry weapons at all times.
posted by gerryblog at 7:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


Because how is making 'bad behaviour' "illegal" to get the behaviour to stop working out?

You're totally right. Rape should totally be legal as well.
posted by Jimbob at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm no bomb... maker... type.. person... but it would seem that if you spontaneously got the urge to kill someone, a gun is the way to go, unless you're going to have a stash of IEDs at the ready.
posted by desjardins at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but mass killings are rarely spontaneous events. They are usually considered and built up to by the perpetrator over a length of time, whether that's a week or months or years. Whether formal plans are made or not, killing a bunch of people is not something that someone just does in a fit of pique. That's pretty well established by now.
posted by hippybear at 7:11 PM on August 5, 2012


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.

Do you really doubt this?


Yes, I doubt this. There is certainly enough doubt around this contention to make it worthwhile to ban, restrict, or prohibitively tax the sort of weapons favored for mass shootings, which have no utility except in the sport of target shooting. How can this not be a social experiment worth trying?
posted by Wordwoman at 7:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sikhs carry weapons at all times.

Huh? The Kirpan?

From the link:

"To suggest that the Kirpan is a weapon is both incorrect and misleading. If it was instituted as a weapon, then would Sikhs not be expected to carry guns today? Guns were in common use during the time of Guru Gobind Singh. If the Kirpan was purely a soldiers weapon for Sikhs, than why do they not also carry a shield as well or other armour? Why do modern armies and soldiers carry swords on ceremonial occasions? Because it is symbolic of their military tradition and heritage. In the same way Sikhs carry the Kirpan at all times because it is symbolic of their religious tradition and heritage."
posted by sweetkid at 7:16 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.
Do you really doubt this?


I think if we can make it more difficult to commit mass murder, we probably should, barring reasonable arguments to the contrary. "They'll just do it anyway so why even bother trying?" is not a reasonable argument.
posted by mek at 7:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Goddamnit.

Dear Humankind, please stop killing each other.
Thank you.
posted by littlesq at 7:20 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.

Do you really doubt this?


No. No one with half a brain doubts this general idea. Yep. If someone really really really wants to kill people, they'll find a way.

But it does not therefore imply that it should be legal for me to purchase, without even a minimal licensing requirement, 1000 round belts of 50 cal. incendiary ammunition.

Another stupid straw man argument.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:23 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


There's been some updates not sure if they've been posted yet.


Officials told NBC News the suspect, who served in the U.S. Army, had many tattoos. The suspect had some kind of radical or white supremacist views but, as far as officials said they had heard, he was not in any kind of radical organization. His previous run-ins with law enforcement involved traffic offenses, they said.
posted by Jalliah at 7:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: I am sure there are all sorts of factors contributing to this. The one they all have in common: guns.

Tell Me No Lies: And Americans.

This doesn't really seem like a fair statement. Without having a better way to quantitate mass shootings... I took a look at Wikipedia's page of school shootings. Keeping in mind that I estimated 54 entries per "page down" to count the US shootings, the numbers come to

USA: 115
CAN: 11

The US has about 10 times as many people as Canada (315 mil, 35 mil respectively), so unscientifically speaking, that seems to be a pretty similar per capita rate.

Germany is listed as having about 8 school shootings in that page and has 80 million people, what are their gun laws like?
posted by maryr at 7:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




I think because they are the top two things that happened/are happening today all I can think regarding this in a larger context is:

We have a major gun violence problem in the US, we have had two highly publicized mass killings in less than 3 weeks, and we have one of the world's most impressive pieces of scientific equipment hurtling towards another planet in search of signs of once present life.

And yet, of the two men running to lead this country neither is willing to discuss any options we may have to reduce the killing nor are do either of them have the desire to further stretch us toward the stars.

Where the hell does that leave us as a country?
posted by sendai sleep master at 7:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fucking white supremacists are always their own best counter-argument. This man makes me wish I believed in hell.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:41 PM on August 5, 2012


Sendai: The trouble is, it's political suicide to touch gun rights. There's a whole lot of money telling a whole lot of voters what to do if you come out for -or- against them. It's one of the third rails of politics.

Thus, politicians seeking to remain where the power and money is, and keep getting re-elected, will not touch it.

I doubt that a lot of them would dispute that there IS a problem, but most of them value "staying employed" over "doing something about it" when they're mutually exclusive.
posted by Archelaus at 7:42 PM on August 5, 2012


Thus, politicians seeking to remain where the power and money is, and keep getting re-elected, will not touch it.

Yet another reason we need a mass popular uprising demanding public-funded-only elections.

(It's not like the congresscritters are going to change the system on their own -- it will truly take a mass movement on behalf of the public to force their hand. And we will ALL be better off once it has happened.)
posted by hippybear at 7:47 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can I confess to some racial/cultural prejudice and clinging to colonial history and all that bad stuff in this thread?

Because the idea of anyone slaughtering Sikhs in their temple makes me so very angry. White heat angry.

In lieu of anyone handy to punch in the face, I will be writing a letter of condolence to our local gurdwara and donating to a local sikh charity trust this week.
posted by Catch at 7:54 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a teacher, and there is a Sikh family as part of my school community. Their son is 7. Each year, the parents come in and explain to the son's classmates what his patka is, why he wears it, what it represents, and share information about Sikhism. I haven't had a chance to see this presentation, but I was lucky enough to go to their temple for a special evening for teachers organized by the mother. There was information about Sikhism for the teachers, all kinds of handouts and information for various ages to use with students, and the opportunity to watch part of the service and eat food at the langar, or kitchen. The mother singled out 4 of her son's teachers, including me, who had learned to tie her son's patka. He's a 7 year old boy; it comes undone a lot. She had us stand, and thanked us on behalf of her community. She said it might seem a small thing to us, but it was huge to her and her son and their fellow Sikhs. I was confused. We know he needs to wear it; we would no more leave it untied then we would his shoes. Of course we had learned to tie it.

Tonight, sadly, I understand a little better why it was so important to her, that there are people who view her and her son and her husband and fellow Sikhs as other, different, bad. This family is one of the nicest, kindest families at the school. For a teacher, they are a dream family - sweet kid, involved parents. It sickens and pains me to think that there are people who could hate them without even knowing them, simply because they look different, and practice another faith. A friend on Facebook wrote "My heart breaks for the Sikh community". Yes, yes it does. My heart breaks for those injured and killed tonight, their families and temple, and all Sikhs that now feel they must look askance at visitors. My heart breaks that this faith, that is welcoming to the visitor, the stranger to their gurudwara, must now worry about their safety as well. My heart breaks for the family at my school, and the thought that they might have to explain what happened in Wisconsin to their son in the days to come.

There are arguments to be had about guns, and violence, and terrorism, and religion; but tonight my thoughts are with the Sikh community, and one family, and their 7 year old boy who patiently tolerates my clumsy attempts to tie his patka.

. . . . . .
posted by booksherpa at 7:54 PM on August 5, 2012 [75 favorites]


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb. Do you really doubt this?

I really doubt it, because there's no evidence for this supposition. It's a 'just-so' story people tell themselves without any facts to back it up.

The impact of a gun buy-back in Australia (italics mine): Brothers in arms, yes, but the US needs to get rid of its guns, an article by our former Prime Minister, John Howard, who was the architect of our present gun-control laws.

... firearm homicides, in Australia, dropped 59 per cent between 1995 and 2006. There was no offsetting increase in non-firearm-related murders. Researchers at Harvard University in 2011 revealed that in the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian laws, there were 13 gun massacres (four or more fatalities) in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths. There have been none in that category since the Port Arthur laws... Between 1996 and 1998 more than 700,000 guns were removed and destroyed. This was one-fifth of Australia's estimated stock of firearms.
posted by harriet vane at 7:55 PM on August 5, 2012 [47 favorites]


Seriously, America, I love you but this shit has got to stop. As somone on Twitter said earlier today, it looks like you've got a slow-motion civil war going on.
posted by harriet vane at 7:57 PM on August 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


...it's political suicide to touch gun rights.

Personally, I'm getting fatalistic and very cranky about it all. I think maybe the only way to break the log jam is for lefties to arm themselves to the teeth. Then we would get to see how Fox News and the NRA feel about black militias, tree hugger militias, vegan militias, union militias... My guess is we'd see a whole raft of new gun control laws from the GOP then.

And I'm not joking. Well, maybe a wee bit. In a deadly serious trickster sort of way.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


I hate trying to follow news updates for stuff like this because news websites are generally slow to properly update and threads like this tend to be more full of heat than light.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure my use of the phrasing, "Not just...", communicates that point, flapjax...

You're absolutely right. I read your comment way too hastily, and honestly didn't even notice the key word there: "just". Apologies!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:05 PM on August 5, 2012


Metafilter: more full of heat than light.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:06 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: more full of heat than light.

Culturally appropriate, no?
posted by mondo dentro at 8:13 PM on August 5, 2012


how i'm reading this thread:

awesome story about how the sikh's are awesome - tear up a bit - then come the gun rights comments - scrollscrollscrollscroold - another awesome story about the awesomeness of the sikh people - more tears.

i hope this thread delivers more awesome tears than scrollscrollscroll.
posted by nadawi at 8:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


The myth of the armed citizen 'taking down' a deranged gunman and thereby performing a heroic act of civic duty (and coincidentally being able to blow some sucker away - legally) is a dangerous but persistent part of gun culture.

Hypothetically: I'm at the mall - or the cinema - or my local Sikh temple, carrying my constitutionally mandated firearm, minding my own business.

Suddenly, I hear shots, screams, maybe even a cry of: "He's got a gun!"

My palms slick with sweat. My heart races. I've been practising, filling paper targets with holes at the range, guiltily day-dreaming about such a moment. I'm going to be a hero. It's my time to shine.

I pull out my gun, adrenaline tang in my mouth.

Where's the perp?

A wild-eyed man toting a glock rounds the corner. His face is white. He sees me and starts to aim.

No time to think, I squeeze off a couple of rounds - pure reaction. That weekend I spent at that survivialist ranch going through those SWAT team drills. Finally, the pay-off.

The perp goes down - a blank look of shock on his face and a red blossoming flower on his chest.

Something hits me hard in the small of my back. I hear a shot. The world tilts and the floor hits me in the face - hard

I got him! I hear over the ringing in my ears. More shots in the distance.

Fade to black.

Epilogue:
Police officials are still trying to establish the exact cause of the Palo Alto, Mall of America massacre. They are currently working on the hypothesis that a deadly cascade of erroneous armed-citizen 'takedown's was inadvertently started by a confused elderly man in shopping in the TV department of Wallmart who was startled by a Charles Bronson movie.

The Palo Alto police department have been swift to counter accusations that their responded in a heavy handed manner to the escalating shooting spree by stating that at the time they arrived they had no way of knowing which armed citizens shooting at each other were the real bad guys.
posted by JustAsItSounds at 8:23 PM on August 5, 2012 [43 favorites]


JustAsItSounds, it's only a matter of time before that happens. Surprised it hasn't already.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


At what point in this thread did suggesting stricter gun laws == outlawing guns?
posted by dig_duggler at 8:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's only a matter of time before that happens

And the solution, of course, will be more guns!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


"it looks like you've got a slow-motion civil war going on."

That is accurate in more ways than the obvious.
posted by Ardiril at 8:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I took a look at Wikipedia's page of school shootings. Keeping in mind that I estimated 54 entries per "page down" to count the US shootings, the numbers come to

Did you look at the number of fatalities?

In Canada it is 24.

In the United States it is 323.

By your logic, the number should be 10 times as many. 240. But, instead, it is almost a hundred more.

It's not just the number of shootings. It's the access to efficient weapons. One of the largest number of fatalities, at Virginia Tech, which left 33 dead, was done by a man with a 22-caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic handgun.

By comparison, the largest school shooting in Canada was the École Polytechnique massacre, which left 14 dead. The shooter had a Ruger Mini-14, also semi-automatic. Candian law now limits semi-automatic guns to five-round chambers.

And from there the numbers drop. Most have no fatalities.

It helps to take more than a cursory look at the numbers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:29 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


"We can pass all kinds of gun laws, but we'll never get the guns out of the hands of the crazies."

Actually, you will. Of course you will, as long as illegal guns are destroyed when found and the law is enforced on vendors (see harriet vane's comment above). That's how it works in other countries. Only in the US is this up for debate, let alone a reasonable thing that otherwise sane sounding people say.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:33 PM on August 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's not like the US doesn't appreciate the worth of disarmament where evil and weapons of mass destruction are concerned.
posted by de at 8:35 PM on August 5, 2012


I do not think gun control would lead to significantly fewer gun deaths in this country. The vast majority of gun deaths are due to handguns, and it would be essentially impossible to reduce the number of handguns since they are inherently portable and cheap.

However, crazy people shooting up public places is a completely different matter. This is a very rare type of crime that kills very few people, but is disproportionately destructive to our society. These crimes consist of a man with a diagnosed or diagnosable mental illness using legally acquired assault weapons to kill people for his own symbolic reasons.

There is no evidence that these people are dedicated enough (or stay crazy for long enough) to buy or build illegal weapons. Even obtaining a universal 90-day wait for purchasing assault weapons would have prevented many of these killings.
posted by miyabo at 8:38 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a sort of addendum to what sweetkid said, "Sikhs carry weapons at all times" in much the same way Catholics practice weekly ritual cannabalism.
posted by gompa at 8:39 PM on August 5, 2012 [12 favorites]


.
posted by limeonaire at 8:52 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb. Do you really doubt this?

I live in a country with strict gun laws and it just does not work that way. Some very, very dedicated loony manages to do it once in a while, unfortunately, but the simple unavailability of mass-killing thingies is just enough to keep the rest of our mass-killer wannabes from turning into actual ones. I don't know what all these folks do instead but they don't build bombs. They just don't. They just stay on their couch, watching TV and muttering to themselves. Or perhaps they stop daydreaming about killing people. In any case we don't hear about them. Laziness and inertia seem to be powerful deterrents. The lack of a culture that glorifies mass-killing thingies probably helps too, but we wouldn't trust ourselves with US-style gun laws anyway.
posted by elgilito at 9:16 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I live in a country with strict gun laws and it just does not work that way.

Because you live in a different country. As has been stated repeatedly upthread a culture is more than simply its laws, and indeed its laws tend to reflect the culture and not the other way around. You cannot accurately take two cultures, one that prohibits guns and one that doesn't, and then simply compare them as an A/B as if people everywhere are alike.

Of course you will, as long as illegal guns are destroyed when found and the law is enforced on vendors

Drugs are destroyed when confiscated, and drug laws are enforced. Yet criminals continue to obtain and use drugs. (Marijuana included.)

The real truth of the matter is that gun laws, as they exist in the US today, vex both pro- and anti-2A voters.

Kudos to timfinnie for the smartest gun-control related comment in this thread. The problem with current gun laws in the United States isn't that they are too strict or too lax. The problem is that they are complex and stupid.
posted by red clover at 9:28 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Roboton666, I said the same exact thing when I first heard the news from a friend. Literally: "Sikhs are awesome!" At least, every single Sikh I have personally known or encountered has been an extraordinarily lovely human being. Of course, it would be sad no matter who the victims were, but this just feels especially shocking. And at a place of worship, too.

.
posted by désoeuvrée at 9:31 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Drugs are destroyed when confiscated, and drug laws are enforced. Yet criminals continue to obtain and use drugs. (Marijuana included.)

This is a terrible analogy for innumerable reasons, but I'll just pick one: all evidence points to drug use going down when legalized. If drugs and guns were comparable in terms of policy, the USA would have record low rates of gun-related homicide.
posted by mek at 9:36 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I like how you said we cannot compare two nations to each other, because they are not comparable, but then compared a ban on drugs and increased gun control like they are the same thing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:41 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was an odd (and desperate) comparison. I found myself wondering how long we wait for the defiant 3D printer that will roll a joint.
posted by de at 9:46 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Drugs are destroyed when confiscated, and drug laws are enforced. Yet criminals continue to obtain and use drugs.

So...guns are addictive, then? People with them need treatment and professional help...?
posted by Jimbob at 9:46 PM on August 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Drugs are destroyed when confiscated, and drug laws are enforced. Yet criminals continue to obtain and use drugs. (Marijuana included.)"

I guess that if you think that demand would lead to largescale arms smuggling, or that people would start growing their own assault rifles, that would make sense.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:51 PM on August 5, 2012


No, in fact, I did not add up the fatalities because I did an extremely cursory look at the numbers. Totally shady data. That Wikipedia page was the best info I found on a short Google search and I chose not to spend my evening typing them all into Excel. Hence the term "unscientific" in my analysis. I just disagree that the US has a monopoly on crazy fuckers with access to guns. Certainly gun control needs reform and damned if I know how to do it, but crazy fuckers are not a merely American problem.
posted by maryr at 9:52 PM on August 5, 2012


Okay, fine. Let's talk about guns.

I think it's silly to talk about American gun violence vs. Canadian gun violence if only because Canada has a population comparable to California, and neither country is monolithic in its culture and both cultures are pretty damn similar and porous. That said, if one were to treat Canada as the 51st State, it would have by-far the smallest number of gun deaths per capita of any U.S. State. (0.6 per 100,000 citizens vs. Hawaii's 3.1 and the U.S. national average of 10.3, using 2008 data.)

Statistics vary wildly state-by-state, and people might be susprised to learn that New York State nearly ties Hawaii for lowest, but even our lowest rates here are pretty deplorable, so maybe we need to look at the cultural reasons why this stuff occurs.

On the question of whether gun control would do anything to prevent something like this, or what happened in Aurora, or Columbine, or VIrginia Tech, or any other of such numerous incidences in the U.S. that we shouldn't have to lose track of them like this...

Would gun control really stop someone intent on killing a lot of people?

GOOD GOD YES IT WOULD!

For gods sake let us understand these rampages for what they are, which is: spectacularly violent suicides. They don't all end with the deaths of the gunmen, but that's still what they are. Men at the end of their ropes going out in what seems to them like a blaze of glory, expecting nothing but death at the end of it all. These are suicides.

And when suicides are prevented, the perpetrator usually doesn't try again.

There are differences between killing a lot of people with a bomb vs, with an assault rifle, in terms of the power in the perpetrator's control. And building a bomb is a lot more difficult than getting your hands on some guns, in the U.S.

Restricting access to guns DOES NOT mean that these people just try another way. It means that they don't act impulsively. And these sorts of actions, when stopped, are shown to be impulsive, and usually don't happen again. Rrestricting guns keeps these actions from being so impulsive. It is that simple.

So for anyone who says that you like guns, you onw guns, get over it, well let me say I'm fine with you owning guns, and liking guns.

But I'm just going to need you to go through some more hoops and licensing procedures in order to get them. Get over it.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:53 PM on August 5, 2012 [32 favorites]


.


I weep for our country...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:59 PM on August 5, 2012


Police officials are still trying to establish the exact cause of the Palo Alto, Mall of America massacre.

Dude, the Mall of America is in Bloomington, MN.

Other than that, bravo. You nail precisely why the gun lobby's wet dream about the safety of a heavily armed citizenry is fantasy.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:03 PM on August 5, 2012


The Sikh Coalition

.
posted by warbaby at 10:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reasons you might want to pick a group other than Sikhs to fuck with:

The 21 Sikhs, 21 Sikh soldiers in the British army who fought off thousands of invaders by themselves for hours
Baba Deep Singh, Sikh holy man/saint who continued fighting like a berserker even after being partially decapitated

Of all the religions you could pick to attack, why pick one that 1. usually just goes around giving out food to people and 2. is essentially a legendary tribe of Punjabi warriors who are basically like the the fucking Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail?
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:16 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


And building a bomb is a lot more difficult than getting your hands on some guns, in the U.S.

In many places in the US, yes - getting a firearm is easy. In many others, its quite the opposite (Try NJ, NYC or DC for starters). However, if you want to build a bomb? Just a simple dumb thing that blows up and causes chaos? Pretty much anyone can do that in short order. As an EMT, we take classes in HAZMAT and explosives and learn about responding to all sorts of unexpected potentially volatile substances.

The crazy person who doesn't care about getting caught or surviving the attack increases the chances of success dramatically. Do you have a gas grill? A couple tanks of propane? A car? That's a pretty decent starting point if you want to blow up a bunch of people.

A lot depends on the determination and crazy level of the attacker, but make no mistake - there's plenty of everyday stuff that could kill an awful lot of people.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:20 PM on August 5, 2012


That argument will hold a lot more weight if bombs become the tool that people use to kill people in the U.S. At the moment, they are not.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:24 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


That argument will hold a lot more weight if bombs become the tool that people use to kill people in the U.S. At the moment, they are not.
posted by Navelgazer

As a survivor of two bombings and one shooting, I'm maybe not a typical statistic but I'm definitely a lot more comfortable with firearms.
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:28 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I apologize for being glib.

In my life I've been through 9/11 and other non-firearm attacks, and a crazy student in high school who brought a gun to school intent to kill me personally.

I respect your opinion, but mine is that the numbers on firearms are worse, and the laws the U.S. has for them now are ridiculous.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:43 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Makes me want to shoot holes in my US passport, mail it off to the NRA, and head back to the UK on my nice red one.

(FWIW I've had a gun held to the back of my head while being made to squat against a wall. If I'd had a gun, it would have done no good at all...)
posted by marvin at 10:48 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]




"Overall, guns kept in the home were 22 times more likely to be used in unintentional shootings, murder or assault, and suicide attempts than in an act of self-defense"

Clearly, the Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care is a left-wing rag with a strong bias toward saving lives and health. A less biased view can be obtained by reading non-peer-reviewed "research" by gun-lobby pawns like John Lott.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:08 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


ah, so it'll be scrollscrollscroll. pity that.
posted by nadawi at 11:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


rough ashlar: surely it would be hard for a mentally ill person to construct their own gun? or perhaps figure out what particular part of the criminal element they should approach to acquire an assault rifle. Surely that would be harder to do, thus limiting such behaviors?

I mean, hell, just about anyone can make tremendously dangerous things using household ingredients, should we then sell nitro glycerin over the counter?

Was this gentleman part of a well regulated militia? I doubt it. The second amendment is pretty clear on that as well:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Scalia disagrees with me on this point, but shit, I think the language is pretty clear here.
posted by Freen at 11:35 PM on August 5, 2012


Humanity at its best (mars!) and worse, in one day.
posted by Rinku at 12:12 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I normally hate Scalia as much as the next guy, but his Heller opinion was largely 100 pages of description of how to effectively ban guns without offending the 2nd Amendment.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:21 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thomas Jefferson advocated walking everyday with a gun. I'm certain that, among other things, points to the idea that the founder meant for individuals, nogt just militias, to have guns as enshrined in the 2nd amendment. I say this as someone who has recently become concerned with what gun laws mean practically when all the people that want to carry are the type of people I don't want to see carrying guns.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:42 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thomas Jefferson advocated walking everyday with a gun.

But back in his day there were lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:45 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know what world some of you live in, but I will fight the removal of guns from private homes tooth and nail. My house has been broken into, and I've had knives pulled on me before. People don't need guns to kill people, but they certainly make it easier to defend yourself. I would NOT be at all at ease being home alone without one. Violence isn't going to ever stop, that's just a pipe dream.
posted by Malice at 1:07 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unless Thomas Jefferson was actually Hari Seldon, we should probably focus on what makes sense given the present state of the world. This reliance on the past and the ability of mortal human beings to have anticipated every twist of progress is doing no one any good.

If we want to take any lessons from the founders, let it be that they were not people who lived in the past, instead they were firmly anchored in the future and molded it to suit their ideas about what the world could be.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:10 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was Jefferson silent on implosions?
posted by de at 1:42 AM on August 6, 2012



Reasons you might want to pick a group other than Sikhs to fuck with:

The 21 Sikhs, 21 Sikh soldiers in the British army who fought off thousands of invaders by themselves for hours
Baba Deep Singh, Sikh holy man/saint who continued fighting like a berserker even after being partially decapitated

Of all the religions you could pick to attack, why pick one that 1. usually just goes around giving out food to people and 2. is essentially a legendary tribe of Punjabi warriors who are basically like the the fucking Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail?


Just told my mom about this and she goes, Oh dear, I hope they don't decide to get mad. (fwiw my brother in law is a shorn Sikh)
posted by infini at 2:17 AM on August 6, 2012


I'm certain that, among other things, points to the idea that the founder meant for individuals, nogt just militias, to have guns as enshrined in the 2nd amendment.

The history of the Second Amendment suggests is really was about the militias, though. (Granted, earlier versions defined 'militia' to mean 'everyone'.) Draft versions guaranteed a right to conscientious objection, which suggests, at least to me, that they weren't thinking about personal gun ownership--they were worried about people being compelled to own guns. Why did that provision get dropped? It was deemed irrelevant in the absence of a standing army and they assumed there would never be a standing army.
posted by hoyland at 2:19 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Violence isn't going to ever stop, that's just a pipe dream.

No-one in this thread has suggested that violence will ever stop. Try to respond to the actual conversation here, not one that's happening elsewhere or elsewhen in your life.

And no-one's suggesting that gun-control would stop violence. Just that it'd make it less deadly. Isn't that worth trying for, even if we fall short of perfection?

I too have had my home broken into, and been threatened with violence. But I had no gun, and no fear of anyone pulling one on me, because of the sensible gun laws in the place I live. Even criminals here aren't well-armed, unless they're in the drug production business.
posted by harriet vane at 2:44 AM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Summary: Reasons suggested so far in this thread and the Aurora thread for Not Fixing America's Patchwork of Stupid and Inefficient Gun Laws.

1. Other places have it worse.
Yes, they do. Usually in developing nations. Everywhere else has sensible laws preventing this sort of thing, which aren't perfect but do a pretty good job.

2. They're needed for self-defence.
In spite of guns in the home causing more fatal accidents than deaths as a result of saving anyone else's life or property, and no evidence that owning one acts as a deterrent.

3. The problem is actually crazy people, we have to stop them from getting guns.
Sane people don't always stay sane. Reference: every person with a mental issue they weren't born with. There but for the grace of God go I, and all that.

4. Killers without guns will turn to some other method.
Disproven. And also look into any of the research on willpower - putting even a small barrier in the way of unwanted behaviour stops people in their tracks.

5. Other things are just as lethal as guns.
True. And we require lots of registration and rules about how to use them for their intended safe purpose which no-one bats an eye at. Reference: every derail ever about cars, detergent, knives, arrows, etc.

6. Gun-control won't stop 100% of crime.
True. And yet still a 100% stupid thing to say. We're not aiming for perfection, just a reduction in fatalities.

7. It's too difficult.
False. Everyone else in the developed world has managed it, see link for point 1.

8. America has a unique culture.
True. So take what's worked elsewhere and customise it for your particular needs.

I spent the last discussion in the Aurora thread reading everything put forward by gun advocates, with the intention of finding common ground - thankyou to everyone (especially corb) who took part in that thread by the way, it was far less contentious than it could have been.

But I have yet to see any evidence for the anti-gun-control position. Plenty of anecdotes about feeling afraid; plenty of bluster about defending rights. But no evidence that guns provide what anyone needs to actually be safe. Policy needs to be made based on facts, not the FUD put out by the NRA.
posted by harriet vane at 3:22 AM on August 6, 2012 [119 favorites]


Damn, I'm gonna come out and say it: harriet vane is my New Favorite Mefier.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:26 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


PPS: also Sikhs, how cool are they? Very cool. I didn't know until now, which makes me embarrassed but at least I'll know in future.

on preview: ::blush:: thanks, Flapjax. I get passionate about this subject because of all the lovely Americans I've 'met' through MeFi. I hate to think of any of you being shot. I want you all to be safe and happy!
posted by harriet vane at 3:29 AM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


On a practical level, I don't think there is or will ever be the political will to seize legally-purchased firearms from private homes, as Malice fears.

At most "gun control" in the USA means slowly reducing the number of high rate of fire weapons in circulation, by making them harder to buy. And thus also making it a little harder for mentally disordered people without criminal contacts to obtain these weapons, either themselves or by obtaining them from friends or family members. That doesn't involve confiscation: it involves making them harder to buy. And that is the absolute extremity of gun control policy in the US at present.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:52 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


a culture is more than simply its laws, and indeed its laws tend to reflect the culture and not the other way around.

Two points. Firstly, proactive law making can change culture. Secondly, these things take time. It's 45 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexuality between men over 21 in England and Wales. The change in the law wasn't motivated by a change in culture, and was generally unpopular at the time. The change was motivated by the conviction that it was wrong to interfere in the private affairs of adults.

This was a major step in a process of the development of gay legal rights and a culture tolerant of homosexuality, but in itself did little to make life directly better for gay people. Some even argue that it increased the number of prosecutions against gay men. Also, 45 years later, we still be not have either a fully tolerant culture or full gay legal equality, and the process continues.

Counsels of the sort I see raised against gun control would seem to suggest that the 1967 Act was futile because it couldn't stop gay-bashing, discrimination and the myriad other miseries heaped on gay men by a broken society. I see it as a vital part of the continuing process toward a truly civilised society. I think history, in this case, is in the process of bearing out my view. I have not heard an argument that convinces me that US gun control is a special case outside of the normal interaction between law and culture.
posted by howfar at 4:18 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm voting for Harriet Vane for Australian of the Year.

Something else has been preying on my mind today (because it's night-time now in Oz, and I've had all day to ponder): the accidental shootings. The news reports where a 4 year old shoots his sibling by accident. The 10 year old takes the loaded gun to school and shoots the bully. Yep, this stuff makes the news in Australia because it is now almost beyond our comprehension that guns are so unsecured.

In Australia, you can have a gun, no worries. But you have to prove you need it for a specific purpose, you have to apply for a licence, you have the police visit every year (in my state, New South Wales) to check that it is stored separately from the ammo, you have to have a secure gun safe, and you cannot skirt the rules without serious consequences.

(Ask my estranged step-brother who has just been sentenced to 12 months gaol because of his fourth unlicensed firearm offence. Or you could ask the bloke who lived 30 kilometres away who was selling unlicensed firearms years ago and as far as I know, is still in gaol.)

So how do kids get hold of their parents' guns in the US? I am guessing they're not secured and regulated as fiercely as here.

I just... can't get my head around that gun culture where daddy has a pistol in the bedside drawer, where his kid can access it.

Hunting, I can understand, but I think any hunter with respect for his weapon would not leave it loaded where his kid can grab it. Leaving a loaded weapon where his kid could grab it... I cannot grasp why any parent would do that, and yet it happens!

Pry it from your cold dead hands? Unfortunately, it appears that it isn't in your hands when a lunatic shoots you at the movies or at church.

The whole "I'll protect myself and my family, and you can pry it from my cold dead hands" thing isn't fucking working. End of story. Regulate, do a decent buy-back scheme, and maybe a few innocent people may live a lot longer.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:23 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can someone explain why the FBI have taken over the investigation? Simply because the local police department don't have the resources?
posted by hoyland at 4:33 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fox News(!) seems to have the scoop - the shooter is Wade Michael Page, white, 40 y.o., ex-Army, formerly of Ft. Bragg - there seems to be some recent domestic issues in play as well.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:38 AM on August 6, 2012


Can someone explain why the FBI have taken over the investigation?

The event is considered domestic terrorism. That's the FBI's domain.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The event is considered domestic terrorism. That's the FBI's domain.

I thought the FBI wasn't saying that, but the local police were. On the other hand, the local police saying it is probably what triggers FBI involvement.
posted by hoyland at 5:21 AM on August 6, 2012


But I have yet to see any evidence for the anti-gun-control position.... Policy needs to be made based on facts, not the FUD put out by the NRA.

You won't find any "evidence" of the pro-free-speech position either. And that's what we're dealing with -- people who genuinely believe that ownership of firearms is a fundamental human right. You do not argue these people down with logic any more than you argue down the ACLU on the First Amendment:
The Supreme Court has written that [freedom of expression] is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom." Without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither and die. (from ACLU.org)
vs.
The 2nd amendment is the amendment that makes all others possible. (a common line in gun control debates)
This is something that a lot of people really, really believe. It is not bluster in their eyes. The NRA does not wish to have gun crimes; it genuinely believes that America is a freer place than it would otherwise be, because its citizenry can arm itself. Does this seem ridiculous to you? Ask yourself what "facts" could possibly convince you that abortion needs to be outlawed, or that the Internet should be tightly controlled by a government agency, or that the state should be able to make you go to church.
posted by Etrigan at 5:24 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not afraid of a mass shooter in a movie theater or shopping mall. I *am* afraid of dropping my soda in such a place and startling a bunch of people who are armed for self-protection.
posted by Legomancer at 5:29 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Without the terrorism angle I'm guessing the FBI are also involved because Oak Creek probably doesn't have the resources for this kind of investigation, and international interest in the case.
posted by drezdn at 5:32 AM on August 6, 2012


The 2nd amendment is the amendment that makes all others possible.

This is an empirical claim, not an appeal to fundamental rights. I think you're conflating two arguments, one that it is relatively simple to engage with empirically (guns as a guarantee of freedom), and one where that is more difficult (guns as a fundamental right).

Even the latter position is open to rational and empirical challenge. To adopt your example, freedom of speech is subject, in all countries including the US, to legal and practical limitations. No-one seriously questions the right of the state to intervene in some types of malicious or reckless speech. Rights are not absolute, and a major part of living in a civil society is the negotiation between different rights.

To address your question, I can think of conditions that would lead me to support, at least in part, policies that limit freedom of abortion and freedom of internet use. These are largely conditions that involve evidence that failing to limit these freedoms is leading to the death of many sentient beings with an interest in the continuation of their own lives.
posted by howfar at 5:45 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 2nd amendment is the amendment that makes all others possible.

This is an empirical claim, not an appeal to fundamental rights.


I provided it as evidence that people believe passionately that gun control is inherently anti-freedom.

No-one seriously questions the right of the state to intervene in some types of malicious or reckless speech.

And no one seriously questions the right of the state to intervene in some types of malicious or reckless gun use. But we're talking about regulating ownership and availability. To gun-freedom advocates, this is the same thing as saying, "You can say anything you want, after it's been vetted by the government." And I'm sure you can poke holes in my metaphor, but I'm not the one you need to convince, and here's why you won't be able to convince them either:

To address your question, I can think of conditions that would lead me to support, at least in part, policies that limit freedom of abortion and freedom of internet use. These are largely conditions that involve evidence that failing to limit these freedoms is leading to the death of many sentient beings with an interest in the continuation of their own lives.

By addressing the question -- and by still calling them "freedoms" -- you have ceded the idea that firearm ownership is a "freedom," which makes this a moral argument, not an "empirical claim." You will never win a moral argument with a believer. The best you can possibly do is chip at the edges of very specific cases ("Well, okay, I guess we shouldn't let seventeen-year-olds buy handguns at Wal-Mart. But eighteen is mature enough, because freedom!").
posted by Etrigan at 6:00 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


If only those priests in the temple of peace had been armed, none of this would have happened.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:14 AM on August 6, 2012 [9 favorites]




By addressing the question -- and by still calling them "freedoms" -- you have ceded the idea that firearm ownership is a "freedom," which makes this a moral argument, not an "empirical claim

Freedom is simply the realm of available action. To put it another way, freedom is no more or less than that which I am not prevented from doing. As a liberal, I believe that all restrictions on all freedoms should be empirically justified as necessary to protect the freedom of others.

You're not really talking about the difficulty of arguing with people who hold a moral position, you're talking about the difficulty of arguing with those who hold to absolute intuitions as if they were moral positions. Ethics is not just thinking you know what's right, and it is possible for an argument couched in ethical terms to be a bad argument. There are plenty of people who demonstrate their belief in their entitlement to the property of others on a daily basis, either through theft or working in the banking sector, and yet we still have laws against theft and usury.

Of course there will be people who believe that a fundamental right to freely purchase and use weapons exists. Those people should be coerced by society and the state into not acting on this belief, through the implementation of laws that require licensing and restrictions of gun ownership. All law is a coercive measure, and there is no absolute line between justice and tyranny. There are some people with whom one cannot win the argument, and with those people one does not have to. That's what laws are for.
posted by howfar at 6:51 AM on August 6, 2012




Neo-nazi? Okay, monumental stupidity confirmed then.
maryr: "Germany is listed as having about 8 school shootings in that page and has 80 million people, what are their gun laws like?"
Fairly lax by European standards. As far as I know Germany and Finland are the only European countries to experience repeated school shootings and are also the ones with highest prevalence of firearms (Switzerland possibly excluded).

(Wikipedia throws me a 502 at the moment, so no links.)
posted by brokkr at 6:57 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a great point Etrigan - logic alone isn't going to sway gun advocates, especially if they're advocating based on a fear for their own personal safety. It's easy for me to sit and make lists with a glass of wine on my couch; I wouldn't react the same way if I'd just been robbed.

But logic and evidence might sway people who are undecided on the issue, or unpersuaded but with people they love who make those arguments. So it's worth running through what's already been discussed, even if only for the sake of moving MeFi on to something we haven't discussed already :)

The NRA does not wish to have gun crimes; it genuinely believes that America is a freer place than it would otherwise be, because its citizenry can arm itself.

Just to caricature myself... got any evidence of that? I should point out that make a distinction between the NRA membership and the NRA leadership. And I'm not convinced (yet, it's certainly possible) that the leadership particularly cares what the membership thinks is best. I'm basing this solely on the responses from MeFite gun owners who seem to want more control than the NRA advocates for, even if it's not as much control as pro-gun-control people would like.
posted by harriet vane at 7:08 AM on August 6, 2012


That should be: I make a distinction... I have no idea if anyone else does, and I'm not claiming it as a fact.
posted by harriet vane at 7:14 AM on August 6, 2012


Sikhs? Who the fuck shoots Sikhs?

People still drunk on 9/11-induced Islamophobia who are too ignorant and blinded by hate to tell the difference.

If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.

Which takes much longer, requires more safety checks along the way, and has a greater potential for the authorities finding out ahead of time, and a greater potential to not work, when compared to the ease with which one can sometimes purchase a gun. You know, I think I'm actually okay with that (and in case anyone needs me to display my cred, I survived 9/11 myself too).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:17 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Remember, guns don't kill people; people with guns kill people.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:26 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:57 AM on August 6, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: (and in case anyone needs me to display my cred, I survived 9/11 myself too).

Shit, I had no idea. Which building were you in when the planes struck? Or do you mean you were an emergency responder?
posted by gman at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was not a survivor in that sense, gman; I lived less than a mile from the towers, though, and heard the impact of both planes hit the window. Although if I'd been a couple minutes quicker on the draw back to my temp agency to accept an assignment, I may have indeed been in one of the towers, and I still realize how close a call I had.

I actually don't think that the degree to which one was involved in 9/11 makes any difference in terms of gun control, however; it's just that I saw other people in here have played the "9/11 card", though, in a blatant attempt to exploit the "I survived something worse so my opinion is more valid than yours," so hell, if they're gonna get all exploitative, I will too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:05 AM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


The history of the Second Amendment suggests is really was about the militias, though.

My impression from the scant reading I have done is that there wasn't agreement and that the wording reflects that lack of consensus. Given that, my opinion is that we should be free to make laws that best reflect our current needs and are consistent with that vague wording.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:11 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in New Delhi on October 31st 1984 when two of Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards gunned her down in her own backyard. The result was yet another shameful incident in modern India's history. The background behind this.

'You know how I feel,' said a Hindu armed with an iron stave on a Delhi street. 'I want to kill Sikhs. I want to see Sikh blood on the streets.' Whole blocks of Sikh dwellings were gutted. In one slum area of the capital, a Hindu mob was reported to have slaughtered 94 Sikhs with knives and iron bars. Said a civil servant: 'The backlash is terrible. It reminds me of the days of partition.' Indeed, the trains arriving in Delhi last week with the battered bodies of murdered Sikhs were reminiscent of the 'trains of death' that rolled through Punjab in those fearful times. Finally, the government canceled train service between Delhi and the north after learning that 56 bodies had been found aboard trains arriving in the capital. Hundreds of frightened Sikhs took refuge in the Delhi railway terminal, unable to take trains home and afraid even to leave the building. By week's end the nationwide death toll had passed 1,000.
posted by infini at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Missouri: Second Fire In Five Weeks Burns Missouri Mosque
A second fire in less than five weeks occurred at a mosque in Joplin, Missouri early Monday morning. The cause of the latest inferno is still unknown, but Monday’s flames were much more devastating than those that occurred July 4, in an incident that authorities later determined was an act of arson.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:28 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This started a half hour ago, but there's a live stream of the press conference here. US Attorney speaking now, FBI to speak soon. Questions to be taken after.
posted by desjardins at 8:28 AM on August 6, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: I was not a survivor in that sense, gman; I lived less than a mile from the towers, though, and heard the impact of both planes hit the window. Although if I'd been a couple minutes quicker on the draw back to my temp agency to accept an assignment, I may have indeed been in one of the towers, and I still realize how close a call I had.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I was staying less than a mile from this synagogue in Istanbul when a truck bomb went off killing dozens, but I am in no way a survivor of the blast. The people who were in the building and those who were injured certainly are survivors. I also watched grenades being lobbed at a police station in Mosul, Iraq, from the kitty corner, but I wouldn't call myself a survivor of that attack. Hell, to make the comparison more direct and closer to home, my girlfriend was about ten blocks from Ground Zero when the planes struck, but she doesn't consider herself a "survivor". And anyway, surviving attacks like these have nothing to do with "cred" and everything to do with not fatefully being in the direct line of fire.
posted by gman at 8:29 AM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I live a few miles from the shooting, am I a survivor? I mean, really.
posted by desjardins at 8:31 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


via WISN:

A fund has been established for the victims and their families:

Victims Memorial Fund
c/o Sikh Temple
7512 S. Howell Ave.
Oak Creek, WI 53154
posted by desjardins at 8:33 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This record cover art from the band's album "Definite Hate, Violent Victory" myspace page: *puke*.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2012


I'll link it when I find it, but the FBI showed a photo of a "person of interest" who has not been identified (white male) and asked public for tips.
posted by desjardins at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2012


Gman: My larger point, which is that I'm not sure how invoking one's 9/11 survivor status or lack thereof relates to one's personal credibility in a conversation about gun control, still stands.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The kitty corner is the most dangerous place.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


911induced islamophobia...

I worry that this ignores the fact that there are ongoing efforts to fan the flames and nurture various resentments started on 911 (not that they weren't there before, either). People like Mark Steyn and others have made careers out of feeding media fears about Islam, and there are plenty of hate groups out there for whom Muslims are a natural target.
posted by sneebler at 8:49 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Photo of "person of interest"
posted by misskaz at 8:51 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stormfront is praising the attack. Not going to link to it, obvs.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:53 AM on August 6, 2012


Can we not have a pissing contest about what it means to be a 9/11 survivor? That seems distinctly unrelated to the discussion at hand.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: Can we not have a pissing contest about what it means to be a 9/11 survivor?

Totally. I just didn't think that a claim so ridiculous and potentially offensive to actual survivors should go unchecked.
posted by gman at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I survived "Team Building 1999"...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:05 AM on August 6, 2012


I just didn't think that a claim so ridiculous and potentially offensive to actual survivors should go unchecked.

And I didn't think that an offensively exploitative "my opinion is more valid because of this unrelated thing" should go unchecked either. We done now?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:07 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


What does it mean if someone is (generally?) discharged from the army but is ineligible for reenlistment?
posted by giraffe at 9:10 AM on August 6, 2012


What does it mean if someone is (generally?) discharged from the army but is ineligible for reenlistment?

Discipline problems. There's a slight chance it's something else, but it'll be discipline problems.
posted by Etrigan at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]




I worry that this ignores the fact that there are ongoing efforts to fan the flames and nurture various resentments started on 911 (not that they weren't there before, either). People like Mark Steyn and others have made careers out of feeding media fears about Islam, and there are plenty of hate groups out there for whom Muslims are a natural target.

GoogleMichelleBachmann!!!111!!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fascinating article by a woman who produced the documentary Divided We Fall. One especially interesting part:
As a Sikh American whose grandfather sailed by steamship from Punjab, India, and settled in California 100 years ago, my family's story spans the struggle of Sikhs in America. Donning a turban and long beard, my grandfather tamed the hard floor of the Central Valley on a John Deere tractor in the early 1900s. Sikh pioneers such as my grandfather could not own land or become citizens because of the color of their skin, but they stayed and farmed, weathering race riots and decades of second-class treatment until the law permitted their children and grandchildren to become citizens.
posted by desjardins at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Regarding my comments upthread about the Kirpan, I'm no expert in Sikh religion, but my understanding is that the knives are ceremonial but still functional. Police are saying that the temple president may have died after attempting to stab the shooter.

I certainly wasn't suggesting that Sikhs are dangerous, if that misreading prompted the corrections.
posted by gerryblog at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2012


Joplin mosque razed in fire; 2nd blaze this summer. Both cases are arson.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, it's way more than discipline problems.

I really, really don't want to dive full bore back into the gun control debate (like some others, the Aurora discussion was too recent for me to want to repeat myself) but I do want to clear up a few points.

One of the largest loopholes we have is the military/civilian enforcement divide, even though it's not cool to talk about.

Because the military takes priority on crimes committed by people under their jurisdiction, but doesn't share the results with other agencies.

You can be convicted in the military of rape, and not go on sex offender lists when you get out.
You can be convicted of what would be a felony, but it won't go on the background check that would stop you from buying firearms.
You can even be completely bug-nutty and homicidal, forcibly confined to a hospital for months before discharge because you tried to kill someone in your unit, and that never goes in any registries either.

Some states require you to show your DD214 to prove your honorable discharge, but others don't - and it's a hole you can drive a truck through.
posted by corb at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


The shooter was a psy-ops specialist, says Pentagon.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:30 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> "The shooter was a psy-ops specialist, says Pentagon."

Oh, gods. The conspiracy theory flood shall soon commence.
posted by kyrademon at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this guy was a white power skinhead then it's likely that he attacked the Sikh temple because it was a visible, nearby target full of happy and successful brown-skinned people, not because he mistook them for Muslims. I'm quite sure he would have known that Sikhs were Indian (or to a skinhead, 'Paki's).
posted by Flashman at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's safe to assume the shooter thought he was attacking Muslims.

Although I understand on an intellectual level there are people who are ignorant of distinction between Sikhs and Muslims, I'm always surprised to see it. But, if this guy was an active white supremacist, doesn't that make him more likely to understand that Sikhs aren't Muslim or Middle-eastern? I always assume the white power jerks spend all their free time obsessing about race and religion.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another thing to explain is that the category of your discharge does NOT reflect your actual time in the military, but just the circumstances around your removal from it. It also is related to re-enlistment flags, but re-enlistment flags can happen without relation to the category of discharge too.

So: let's say Johnny McSupremacist signs up for an eight year term. During said term, he gets in all kinds of trouble for shitty supremacist stuff. He bullies other people and beats them up because of their race. He sexually harasses or even rapes non-white women because he doesn't think they need to be treated with respect. But in each case, he accepts his punishment (often simply a loss of money and rank) and works his way back up the ladder. When it comes time to get out, despite all the shitty stuff he's done, he can still get an honorable discharge - though they might bar him from re-enlistment because he was a shitty soldier.

Johnny McSupremacist getting an "under honorable conditions" means that regardless of his record previously, they drummed him out of the service for some reason - they didn't want him there. Which means rather a lot in a time of war and dehumanization of the enemy.

But, if this guy was an active white supremacist, doesn't that make him more likely to understand that Sikhs aren't Muslim or Middle-eastern? I always assume the white power jerks spend all their free time obsessing about race and religion.

Yes, but only their own.
posted by corb at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The cause of the attacks seems pretty clearly, at this point, to have been racism. This is appalling.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2012


I mean speculating about whether he understood the difference between a gurdwara and a mosque seems like a distraction from the real issue--that he went out looking for people who had a different religion and a different racial and ethnic background from him to kill.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2012


Yeah, I'm not convinced he was targeting Muslims either. The following is speculation based on my knowledge of the area:

He's new to the area, the temple is not far from where he lived, and it's on a major thoroughfare with a visible sign. I drive past it every time I go grocery shopping (which I had coincidentally planned to do yesterday).

He is unlikely to have traveled past mosques in our area (no need to go to that neighborhood based on where he lived). He's unlikely to have seen very many Arabs unless he went looking for them. Sikhs are very visible at area gas stations, which nearly everyone goes to.
posted by desjardins at 9:49 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The cause of the attacks seems pretty clearly, at this point, to have been racism. This is appalling.

I agree that it's appalling, but I wouldn't be comfortable saying the motives are clear less than 24 hours after the shooting and with the presumed attacker dead. Yeah, it appears he was a racist asshole. This just seems so specific.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my guess is also that he didn't target them because he thought that they were Muslim, but rather because he thought they were taking over society (owning stores, gas stations, etc.). Upthread there was a link to an article that discussed a recent uptick of harassment of Sikhs at their places of business in the area.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Johnny McSupremacist getting an "under honorable conditions" means that regardless of his record previously, they drummed him out of the service for some reason - they didn't want him there. Which means rather a lot in a time of war and dehumanization of the enemy.

He was discharged in 1998 (a low time for wars and dehumanization) from Fort Bragg, which was at the center of the Army's attempts to purge racists of his apparent particular stripe.
posted by Etrigan at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


7. It's too difficult.
False. Everyone else in the developed world has managed it, see link for point 1.

8. America has a unique culture.
True. So take what's worked elsewhere and customise it for your particular needs.


For me, these points coalesce into the point that legislative (as opposed to constitutional amendment) gun control for progressives is like a land war in Asia. It provides a constant supply of opposition from individualists against any kind of collectivist action every election cycle. Granted, every progressive policy that I like may be doing the same thing, but this has the added issue of increasing the cynicism and disrespect people have for the constitution. The majority of the US population polled and the Supreme Court hold that the second amendment guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. I know there are non-textualist interpretations of the constitution, and I'd relish a discussion that educated me on successful or non-controversial legislation that contradicts a textualist read of the bill of rights. I get irritated with the constant efforts of conservatives to erode the separation of church and state or freedom of speech, but I don't see much difference right now with most (not all) progressive efforts on gun control. It seems like a frustrating waste of time for all involved.

So I'm anti-legislative gun control (while the Supreme Court is 5-4 especially), and pro-constitutional amendment gun control. Not so much because I love guns, but because I love my constitution.

I will cede that there are probably ways to reduce the number of guns that cause death and injury without triggering second amendment protections, and I have no problem with carefully tailored efforts. I'd personally like to see more focus on taxing cheap handguns off the market.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:04 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was discharged in 1998 (a low time for wars and dehumanization) from Fort Bragg, which was at the center of the Army's attempts to purge racists of his apparent particular stripe.

Ah, okay, thanks, so not a recent vet.

I am still extremely uncomfortable with non-honorable-discharge veterans having access to firearms, though, and I say this as one of the more gun-thumping MeFites.

I'd personally like to see more focus on taxing cheap handguns off the market.

The problem with this is that when you do this, you are essentially saying that only rich (often heavily racial majority) people deserve to be armed, and poor (often heavily racial minority) people don't. This has been done in a lot of cities, and it's pretty shitty when it is.
posted by corb at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


doesn't that make him more likely to understand that Sikhs aren't Muslim or Middle-eastern? I always assume the white power jerks spend all their free time obsessing about race and religion.

Would you call Afghanistan "middle eastern"? I don't think the hatred is specific to one region, or at least, I don't think Pakistan is too far east to be neutral these days.

The founder of Sikhism had a Muslim parent, and originally understood his philosophy to be a way to join Islam and Hinduism (it grew in new directions, but it began as seeing connections) so I don't think it's crazy to consider it somewhat part of a broader tradition. What's crazy is hating them for it.
posted by mdn at 10:09 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Sikh community press conference is really touching. (Livestream)
posted by desjardins at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2012


If someone wants to pull of a mass murder and he has no gun, he'll simply build a bomb.

The Bomb That Didn't Go Off
posted by homunculus at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am still extremely uncomfortable with non-honorable-discharge veterans having access to firearms, though, and I say this as one of the more gun-thumping MeFites.

I'm not particularly well-versed in what would get you something other than an honorable discharge, but if it doesn't coincide with the things that would bar a non-veteran from buying a gun this could be problematic. Why does the bad rich guy who didn't have reason to listen to the army's pitch about money for college get a gun, but the bad poor guy doesn't? I don't know if that makes sense, but it's a potential problem I see.

Would you call Afghanistan "middle eastern"? I don't think the hatred is specific to one region, or at least, I don't think Pakistan is too far east to be neutral these days.

Er... Sikhism originated in Punjab and it's the only area with a Sikh majority. It's definitely South Asia. But I'm not sure you were suggesting some connection between Sikhism and Afghanistan, so ignore me if you weren't.
posted by hoyland at 10:19 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem with this is that when you do this, you are essentially saying that only rich (often heavily racial majority) people deserve to be armed, and poor (often heavily racial minority) people don't. This has been done in a lot of cities, and it's pretty shitty when it is.

All gun control efforts seem to have some element of class warfare, assault weapon bans probably don't take all the cheap rifles off the market, but they do seem to affect that end of the scale more. Is there a workaround somewhere between a complete ban and no gun control?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2012


domestic terrorist with ties to radical right wing organizations - the US media is too intimidated to use that phrase, despite its accuracy, just as Department of Homeland Security was too intimidated to follow its own report re: the threat of domestic right wing terrorism:

DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. – (“Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” – 4/7/2009
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:23 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Bomb That Didn't Go Off

Yeah, the idea that if people didn't have guns, they'd just whip up a bomb, easy peasy, is a bizarre one. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had bombs. They didn't go off. James Holmes booby trapped his house with bombs. That didn't work. The really successful case of homemade bombs as mass murder weapons in this country is the Oklahoma City bombing, and that required 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate -- not easy to get or transport.

It's easy to walk into a theater or a place of worship with a semi-automatic. It's much, much harder to successfully bomb a place.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:24 AM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


But I'm not sure you were suggesting some connection between Sikhism and Afghanistan, so ignore me if you weren't.
posted by infini at 10:27 AM on August 6, 2012


These Premises Are Alarmed, it seems far more likely to me that a racist opened fire at a Sikh temple close to his home because of racism than that a racist happened to have a specific conflict with a member or members of that temple that he thought to resolve by a mass shooting.

I may be proven wrong, of course.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:32 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Generally racists are more aware of ethnic differences than the rest of the populace. I bet he knew who he was going after.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 AM on August 6, 2012


Bizarrely, the Daily Mail seems to have information that our local news has not released.
posted by desjardins at 10:38 AM on August 6, 2012


The United States has been "enriched by our Sikh community, who are an integral part of our broader American family," US President Barack Obama said on Monday as the gun-rich, trigger-happy country cringed in embarrassment at a what appeared to be a white supremacist hate crime against Sikhs gathered for a Sunday langar at Midwest gurdwara.
(The Times of India - emphasis mine)
posted by desjardins at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not particularly well-versed in what would get you something other than an honorable discharge, but if it doesn't coincide with the things that would bar a non-veteran from buying a gun this could be problematic. Why does the bad rich guy who didn't have reason to listen to the army's pitch about money for college get a gun, but the bad poor guy doesn't? I don't know if that makes sense, but it's a potential problem I see.

That's legitimate, I suppose, and brings back the problem of "why don't the military law enforcement and civilian law enforcement share files" issue? Because someone can get a less-than-honorable discharge for beating his wife, in which case it will never appear with civilian law enforcement or be a bar to his possessing a gun, but then again, someone can also get one for desertion, which in the civilian world, is "quitting a job you don't like." On preview, it appears according to desjardin's link that he had been hit for drunk on duty and AWOL, which may be hard to translate. But drunk on duty potentially includes "drunk with firearms."

Yeah, the idea that if people didn't have guns, they'd just whip up a bomb, easy peasy, is a bizarre one. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had bombs. They didn't go off. James Holmes booby trapped his house with bombs. That didn't work. The really successful case of homemade bombs as mass murder weapons in this country is the Oklahoma City bombing, and that required 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate -- not easy to get or transport.

That's honestly part of another problem. We severely limit the chemicals someone can obtain in this country, because we're worried about people making bombs or drugs. It's pretty much neutered/killed home chemistry. Even the chemistry sets for kids are incredibly weak compared to what you could get fifty years ago. And then people wonder why we have a problem getting kids excited about science.

But because science isn't protected by the constitution, it's okay to take away people's ability to make something great, in exchange for supposedly protecting us from danger.

The world is a dangerous place. We will never be safe. But I think it's much preferable to try not to make rules to prevent extremists, rather than make rules for the broad body of citizenry.
posted by corb at 10:47 AM on August 6, 2012


First, I know nothing about what's happened here--I don't think anyone does yet--but the statistically probable explanation is that this is the tragic result of an intra-community spat gone wrong. Like in workplace shootings, violent incidents at houses of worship almost always involve someone with a personal connection to the congregation in question. Someone who asked for charity and got turned down. The ex-boyfriend/husband of a congregant. A recently fired employee. Someone with a tangible beef that loses perspective. I'd be quite surprised if it wasn't something along those lines.

That would be a fair claim if all we knew was that someone had attacked "a house of worship." But given the existence of racism and religious discrimination and extremism in the US, I don't think it's meaningful to look at all incidents at houses of worship when this particular incident occurred at a Sikh temple. That changes the prior probabilities tremendously. And sure enough it now looks very likely that the attack was racially or religiously motivated rather than having anything to do with a personal connection to the temple (pretty unlikely that a white-power band member covered in Neo-Nazi tattoos would have a connection to a Sikh temple).

It's like if someone in the US has cough, fatigue, and fever. They probably just have a cold, and tuberculosis would be pretty far down the differential diagnosis list. But if you also know that they just spent several years being up close and personal with tuberculosis patients, then that changes things significantly.
posted by jedicus at 10:53 AM on August 6, 2012


"That's honestly part of another problem. We severely limit the chemicals someone can obtain in this country, because we're worried about people making bombs or drugs. It's pretty much neutered/killed home chemistry. "

You did not just say that a lack of easy access to the materials to fashion powerful homemade bombs results in a greater tragedy of home chemistry sets being limited.

yes I think you did
posted by stagewhisper at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You did not just say that a lack of easy access to the materials to fashion powerful homemade bombs results in a greater tragedy of home chemistry sets being limited.

You're right. We should also start censoring books that have questionable content that might allow someone to fashion a dangerous device. After all, being safe is the #1 priority and trumps everything.
posted by rr at 11:02 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


You did not just say that a lack of easy access to the materials to fashion powerful homemade bombs results in a greater tragedy of home chemistry sets being limited.

The materials to make dangerous things are similar to the materials to make useful things. There is no one category of chemicals that is "for toxic use only against other humans only." Dynamite was created to clear trees and rocks. For every use of a thing to destroy, there is another use to create or save.

The current limitations on chemical and other scientific components means that scientists effectively can't research on their own - which also means they are bound to what other people want them to research. It has limited us in fairly severe ways, and I think is definitely at least partially responsible for our slowing of scientific advancements in certain non-profitable areas. If you have to worry about making someone else's lab profitable, then you have to focus on the almighty dollar. If you can tinker at home, then you can worry about things that might simply be useful, but not make you a ton of money.
posted by corb at 11:19 AM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you can tinker at home, then you can worry about things that might simply be useful, but not make you a ton of money.

At this point, we're off on a major tangent, but I think you're seriously over-estimating the amount of science that was ever accomplished in people's kitchens. I'm sure someone will come up with an example, but I'm drawing a blank. I was thinking rocketry as somewhere where hobbyists have had influence (and needed explosives), but Goddard was who I was thinking of and he was an academic. The Wright brothers, I suppose. The romantic notion of the amateur scientist hasn't been a reality for quite a while, I don't think.
posted by hoyland at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2012




Come on now, corb. At a certain point I can't help thinking you are purposefully trying to derail the refutation of the "people without access to guns that can kill many, many people very quickly will just resort in them using bombs instead" canard. When it's pointed out that bombs are harder to get materials for and have a fair chance of not detonating as planned and your response is, "that's an tragedy in and of itself because think of the poor home chemistry set deprived children" and "Science!" your responses have pretty much reached the level of parody.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not particularly well-versed in what would get you something other than an honorable discharge, but if it doesn't coincide with the things that would bar a non-veteran from buying a gun this could be problematic

There are many things that are illegal under the UCMJ that are not illegal in a civilian context so it can be tricky. Hell, I knew a guy who did 30 days in Correctional Custody for being late to work too many times and another who did 30 and was reduced in rank for adultery.
posted by MikeMc at 12:04 PM on August 6, 2012


At this point, we're off on a major tangent, but I think you're seriously over-estimating the amount of science that was ever accomplished in people's kitchens. I'm sure someone will come up with an example, but I'm drawing a blank

Here's a decent article on the subject, and here's another one lauding amateur scientists of late. There's the discoveries of a lot of elements, like oxygen or titanium or hydrogen, or a host more. To be fair, though, I think most of the home chemicals are banned more because of fear of producing illegal drugs (Oh noes! The meth!) than bombs, but it's still very frustrating to see. I think it's just something not a lot of people know the details of. But it's a fear based mechanism - punish every amateur chemist in the country because someone might have made a meth lab or two.
posted by corb at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's honestly part of another problem. We severely limit the chemicals someone can obtain in this country, because we're worried about people making bombs or drugs. It's pretty much neutered/killed home chemistry.

digaman wrote an interesting article about this a few years ago:

Don't Try This at Home: Garage chemistry used to be a rite of passage for geeky kids. But in their search for terrorist cells and meth labs, authorities are making a federal case out of DIY science.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


And then people wonder why we have a problem getting kids excited about science.

Because, of course, no child has ever become interested in science without access to bomb-making materials. Congratulations. Arguing in the aftermath of a massacre that guns must be freely available to everyone because the prohibition of bomb-making materials has stunted a generation's interest in science is the ultimate "But think of the children!"

Last massacre you were arguing the necessity of machine guns, this massacre it's bomb-making materials. Until you're ready to argue that the prohibition on private ownership of fissionable isotopes is stunting children's interest in physics, I don't think this can be topped.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's the discoveries of a lot of elements, like oxygen or titanium or hydrogen

In the 18th century.
posted by howfar at 12:28 PM on August 6, 2012


Because, of course, no child has ever become interested in science without access to bomb-making materials.

I think the article homunculus posted may be better than I at making the argument why these restrictions are hurting people.

Last massacre you were arguing the necessity of machine guns, this massacre it's bomb-making materials.

Please point me to where I did this. As I recall, I never argued the necessity of machine guns, I only pointed out why reasonable people might oppose prohibitions on them. But link me, if so, I'd be happy to admit I'm wrong. (Also, "bomb making materials" tend to include "basic scientific equipment.")

But I think the implication, that someone should throw aside all of their beliefs because of a massacre, to be really wrong. I believe what I believe, mass killing or no. My beliefs on this don't change day to day without new data.
posted by corb at 12:33 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Amar Deep Kaleka, son of the temple president killed in the attack, talks to a reporter about the "Sikhs mistaken for Muslims" issue. (at 3:59)

Reporter: Do you believe you were targeted out of ignorance or targeted by mistake?

Kaleka: Absolutely, absolutely.
posted by desjardins at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just World theory in action, I suppose. One would rather think there's some horribly twisted logic in action than that your father was killed because he happened to head the closest non-white, non-Christian house of worship to a man whose brain was addled by hate.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2012


Here's a decent article on the subject, and here's another one lauding amateur scientists of late.

That first article doesn't actually say anything. It's just making the same non-argument you did about home chemistry sets. Well, it's a little more coherent--at one point they're trying to argue that kids won't be inspired to pursue science. But they also don't know that model rocketry exists, apparently. And somehow Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak needed Sudafed to found Apple or something.

The second is a bit better, but I don't really see it as evidence of much being accomplished by amateur scientists, let alone involving dangerous chemicals. I will concede that using volunteers to count butterflies is productive.

howfar has already pointed out that Joseph Priestley was working in the 18th century, when there were plenty of amateur scientists. 'Scientist' only ceased to be synonymous with 'rich guy tinkering' in the last century and a half or so.
posted by hoyland at 12:41 PM on August 6, 2012


As a friend of mine posted on Facebook:
"Sikhs are not Muslims" is just another version of "And the gay-bashing victim WASN'T EVEN GAY!" As though the *real* problem is sloppy recon.
posted by Etrigan at 12:42 PM on August 6, 2012 [16 favorites]


Reading some more bits about this shooting, other tragic points stand out: it happened while the temple was cooking for the meal, and Sikh leaders are calling for people not to assume it's a hate crime. Which...I cannot even conceive of the amount of forbearance that it would call for to, in the aftermath of a vicious shooting of your people, be worried that people would be unfairly judging the shooter.
posted by corb at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Sikhs are not Muslims"

I think it's meant to prove just how much all this hate is driven by basic, deep-rooted ignorance and those who would take political advantage of it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:52 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]




Sikh leaders are calling for people not to assume it's a hate crime. Which...I cannot even conceive of the amount of forbearance that it would call for to, in the aftermath of a vicious shooting of your people, be worried that people would be unfairly judging the shooter.

So I was watching the Today show this morning and they interviewed the man mentioned in desjardin's comment. I shudder to think how many interviews the poor bloke has had to do and he looked really wrung out, but he was trying to emphasize that the people should be scrupulous not to accidentally imply that it would be okay to shoot Muslims.
posted by hoyland at 1:14 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


you cannot infer the virtues of this as a wide-spread eventuality using one case study (or a handful of them).

I was responding to the comment about a lack of examples of a gun being used to stop a mass shooting. Because trying to get into a pissing match over "Oh yea, what about this case" means I'd have to spend far more time caring about gun control examples than its worth. Much better to use my time to remind others of the case of strict gun control being in effect and the outcome still requires a 'moral appeal' as an attempt to curb gun violence.

Or giving a response to The really successful case of homemade bombs as mass murder weapons in this country is the Oklahoma City bombing, and that required 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate pointing out the lack of lung damage to the 1st responders unlike another Wisconsin bombing where the same type of explosives were used. If one has questions about that "really successful case of homemade bombs" perhaps spending time in the Milwaukee Friends House watching a film?

And really the obvious should be stated as a response to the many 'American Culture' comments.

For the bulk of the time anyone reading The Blue has been alive the US of A has been in a State of armed conflict with some other Nation. So when it is said And yet, of the two men running to lead this country neither is willing to discuss any options we may have to reduce the killing nor are do either of them have the desire to further stretch us toward the stars. I'll take the time to point out that the leadership choices complained about here are pitching actions of MORE violence. If leaders are to 'lead by example' - what is the example the US of A and 'the leaders' are giving the population?

The Nation is founded on blood and violence. Don't act shocked when the population follows the example of the Leaders. If the bazaar of violence is what keeps you your job or your stock portfolio high, you will show the world your feet of clay

(and for those of you who are pitching 'something must be tried' - are you planning on voting for the lesser of 2 evils or will you be selecting the person running who you think will be the best leader - the best to follow the values you claim to believe in? If you happen to think violence isn't the answer - spend some time at your local Friends House if you have not done such to date. )
posted by rough ashlar at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2012


Racist skinhead outfit "End Apathy" (link goes to Al Jazeera, because, hey, Muslims!) were hq'd right here in my home state of North Carolina in the armpit we know fondly as Fayetteville. Fayetteville: It's for haters.
posted by msali at 1:20 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely it would be hard for a mentally ill person to construct their own gun?

Let us first define 'mentally ill' shall we?

I'm guessing some things might be helpful.

But if humans are moving towards the cheap 3d manufacturing - all one would need is a cutter path file. Last I knew there is no restriction on such.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:26 PM on August 6, 2012




You know, it also is really irritating when media says things like "decorated Army veteran" to make this asshole seem better than he was.

Here's a breakdown of this shithead's rack. He was absolutely no hero.

National Defense Service Medal: "I was in the Army at some point while there was a war on."
Good Conduct Medal (one): "For three years out of my total service, I didn't have any really major criminal offenses, and got the automatic award that said as much."
Army Commendation Medal: Doesn't have to be for bravery. You can get one when you leave an assignment.
Army Achievement Medal: You literally can get this for shitting. I once got an AAM for, no kidding, spray painting pinecones gold and making centerpieces for an Army ball out of them.
Humanitarian Service Medal: Slightly harder to get, but you're getting it for being ordered to a humanitarian support zone, like disaster relief or refugee aid. You're getting it for going where you're told, not for distinguishing yourself.
posted by corb at 1:42 PM on August 6, 2012 [24 favorites]


corb, thanks for that. Context is important, and I always know Metafilter will be there to pick up the slack when the media gets something wrong.
posted by KathrynT at 2:43 PM on August 6, 2012


DANGERPOINT
posted by Burhanistan at 2:47 PM on August 6, 2012


Will someone tell these plastic, empty headed, overpaid morons in TV "news" how to pronounce Sikh?
posted by Splunge at 3:07 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Splunge, they say "Seek" because they don't want to run the risk of it coming out as "sick" rather than "Sikh".
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:13 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good Conduct Medal (one): "For three years out of my total service, I didn't have any really major criminal offenses, and got the automatic award that said as much."

Note that it's ridiculously easy to get a GCM. If he was in for ten years but only has one, then he's been a fuckup for 6-7 years of his time.
posted by Evilspork at 3:21 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oops, he was in for six years, not ten. So he was only a fuckup for half his time in the military.
posted by Evilspork at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2012


Oops, he was in for six years, not ten. So he was only a fuckup for half his time in the military.

Either that, or his commander was a screwup. Don't GCMs have to be denied rather than affirmed?
posted by corb at 3:40 PM on August 6, 2012


Maybe the military shouldn't water down the meaningfulness of medals, then.
posted by Flunkie at 3:56 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't GCMs have to be denied rather than affirmed?

Yes. And it's a fairly big deal to not give a soldier one. If the commander doesn't have documentation of why one of his soldiers doesn't deserve one -- to the tune of Article 15s (nonjudicial punishment) -- that commander is going to be asked why not, and virtually no explanation will suffice. The Christian Science Monitor article says that he had two GCMs, not one, which means he got through six years of unpunished service. That isn't at all strange -- lots of people turn bad around that point, when they aren't getting promoted to Sergeant and they start looking for excuses why not.

Speaking of which, calling him a "psychological operations specialist" is somewhat misleading as well. He was a Specialist, yes, but that's a rank, a fairly low one. In PsyOps, it means that he was making slides for someone else, if he was involved in the actual PsyOps work at all (he could have been in the company headquarters as the clerk or worked in the supply room). Training for the PsyOps occupational specialty is currently 14 weeks (and hasn't been too much different, historically), so he basically got one semester of training.
posted by Etrigan at 4:02 PM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Don't GCMs have to be denied rather than affirmed?

Yes, as Etrigan said.

And if he was only a Specialist at the end of six years... you get Specialist automatically at 26 months in service if you start at E-1, so he either got knocked down or denied E-5, or just rode the sham shield through to the end.
posted by Evilspork at 4:08 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe the military shouldn't water down the meaningfulness of medals, then.

Or maybe this is another mediocre attempt at gamification. HAY YOU JUST GOT A BADGE FOR NO REASON.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:15 PM on August 6, 2012


The military invented achievementalism.
posted by Evilspork at 4:30 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sidhedevil: "Splunge, they say "Seek" because they don't want to run the risk of it coming out as "sick" rather than "Sikh"."

The ones I'm talking about are saying "sick". ABC, CBS, and CNN. On CNN a guy even corrected one woman. She still pronounced it wrong.
posted by Splunge at 4:32 PM on August 6, 2012


"Sick" is the way to pronounce it, at least that's how the actual Sikhs are pronouncing it.
posted by desjardins at 4:44 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The OED, Merriam-Webster's, and Wikipedia all list both "sick" and "seek" as pronunciations.
posted by Flunkie at 4:47 PM on August 6, 2012


how to pronounce.
posted by sweetkid at 5:01 PM on August 6, 2012


how to pronounce.

Sounds pretty seek to me.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:48 PM on August 6, 2012


booksherpa: ". . . There are arguments to be had about guns, and violence, and terrorism, and religion; but tonight my thoughts are with the Sikh community, and one family, and their 7 year old boy who patiently tolerates my clumsy attempts to tie his patka.."

Ah, booksherpa, thanks for sharing that, even if it did make me cry off my eyeliner.
posted by theredpen at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2012


Again, I'm going by the half dozen or so interviews with local Sikhs that I've watched since the shooting. They say "sick" so I'm going to say "sick."
posted by desjardins at 5:52 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if he was only a Specialist at the end of six years... you get Specialist automatically at 26 months in service if you start at E-1, so he either got knocked down or denied E-5, or just rode the sham shield through to the end.

In fairness (not to defend that asshole), in the mid-'90s, getting to E5 was a stone bitch in a lot of MOSs. All up and down the 70-series, they were routinely at 798 for years at a time. I personally knew some really good E4s who just could not get promoted because they couldn't quite max out their APFT.

I wouldn't at all be surprised if the overall story on this guy is that he couldn't get to E5 for whatever reason, but some African-American/Asian/woman did get promoted, and he was easy prey for the neo-Nazis. Fort Bragg had a serious problem with them around that time.
posted by Etrigan at 5:53 PM on August 6, 2012


They say "sick" so I'm going to say "sick."

Wikipedia has it as [sɪkkʰ]. The difference between that and [sɪk] is probably not going to be noticeable to most Americans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:01 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My best friend is Sikh, pronounces it in a way that sounds to my American ear just like "seek", and has never corrected me when I've pronounced it that way.

It's not a precise imitation of the way the word is pronounced in Punjabi, but it seems to be the acknowledged American English way of saying it.

Based on the way I've seen other South-Asian words transliterated into Latin characters, it should definitely be a long i ("ee") sound. It's that last "kh" sound that is different and hard for English speakers to approximate.
posted by Sara C. at 6:13 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have an Indian last name and even I don't pronounce it "properly," one because I kind of can't get the sounds exactly right myself, and two even if I practiced no one else (American) would ever really get it or remember it. Some sounds just don't translate that well and the "kh" is definitely one of them.
posted by sweetkid at 6:17 PM on August 6, 2012


While pronouncing the word as “seek” is quite common—and listed as correct in sources like Dictionary.com—the more accurate pronunciation is to use the same vowel sound as “seek,” but both the letters “k” and “h” pronounced, as in Mikhail Gorbachev. The word Sikh means “disciple” in Punjabi.

From here. But I'll consider it a live and learn thing. I still don't like the TV talking heads.
posted by Splunge at 6:28 PM on August 6, 2012


From what I've read, Page actually made E-5, but got busted back down to E-4 before they discharged him.

See this NYT article for instance:
Pentagon officials said Mr. Page had also been demoted, from sergeant to specialist, before leaving the service, another indication of problems.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:39 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't at all be surprised if the overall story on this guy is that he couldn't get to E5 for whatever reason, but some African-American/Asian/woman did get promoted, and he was easy prey for the neo-Nazis. Fort Bragg had a serious problem with them around that time.

The buzz on some of the milblogs on this is that back then, a lot of the major posts were starting to boot guys because of racist tattoos, especially at Bragg. I'll bet he was one of theirs a lot earlier than that. But time alone will tell.
posted by corb at 7:18 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The conclusion that right wing nutjob Facebook friend from twenty years ago has drawn from all of this:

Liberals are pedophiles.

(not kidding)
posted by Flunkie at 8:02 PM on August 6, 2012


But I have yet to see any evidence for the anti-gun-control position. Plenty of anecdotes about feeling afraid; plenty of bluster about defending rights. But no evidence that guns provide what anyone needs to actually be safe. Policy needs to be made based on facts, not the FUD put out by the NRA.

The fact is that we have over 222 million guns in this country, and a vanishingly small percentage of them ever harm anyone. Likewise, the fact is that guns are very popular in America: close to half of Americans consistently say that gun rights are more important than gun control. These facts suggests that we need to get people on board with not wanting guns (see above re: fear, concerns about defense, bluster about defending rights, etc) before we can make a serious attempt to remove the guns, lest we end up with the War On Drugs all over again.

An Australia-style buyback program will not work unless the vast majority of American gun owners are ready and willing to trade in their guns for money, as Australians were. And they're not. As the WoD has amply proved, unwanted laws are laws which are routinely disobeyed, and the last thing we need is to make even more non-violent Americans into felons. That's what strong gun control would mean in America: putting citizens who have never harmed anyone in jail because they refused to surrender weapons the US Constitution permits them to own.

That's not happening, not short of actual martial law. It's simply not realistic. Americans might accept further restrictions on gun sales and ownership, but they're going to have to be sold to the public as a responsible-gun-ownership thing, not a get-rid-of-the-guns thing -- and this is a problem, assuming your goal is to get rid of the guns. Which brings us right back to convincing people not to want the guns. Which means improving American society to the point where the average person doesn't have significant worries and fears about falling off Step 2 of Maslow's pyramid.

In short: American society is broken. We need glue, not more laws which criminalize the process of falling apart.
posted by vorfeed at 8:32 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


An Australia-style buyback program will not work unless the vast majority of American gun owners are ready and willing to trade in their guns for money, as Australians were. And they're not.

Why do you say they're not? Buyback programs in America have consistently proven to be successful.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:59 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I see: The vast majority.

Well, the vast majority are pretty safe about their use of guns. We have to come up with things that keep guns out of the hands of people who are going to use them badly. And buyback programs tend to target areas where there has been a lot of gun violence, so that seems like a step in the right direction.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:01 PM on August 6, 2012


> In short: American society is broken.

Seemingly.

The US is surrounded by allies - whose citizens enjoy freedoms the average American fears - with working examples of stricter gun control. But the US will not take advice.

The UN can but watch, and ultimately resist, as the US shoots itself in the foot. We can't help you and China beckons ;)
posted by de at 9:21 PM on August 6, 2012


Sure, voluntary buybacks are "successful" in that the government is always able to buy back a bunch of guns. These are not the guns people wanted to keep and use, though, by definition... and this is true in "areas where there has been lots of gun violence", too. There are always, always more guns to be had. I suspect that Ceasefire has done more to curb gun violence than any amount of buybacks ever will, because it addresses the violence itself.

At any rate, I don't think buybacks would have any effect on this particular problem. Spree killers tend to buy legal guns direct from a gun store, usually less than a month before the act of killing.
posted by vorfeed at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2012


Mexico?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2012


Americans might accept further restrictions on gun sales and ownership, but they're going to have to be sold to the public as a responsible-gun-ownership thing, not a get-rid-of-the-guns thing -- and this is a problem, assuming your goal is to get rid of the guns.

But the goal isn't to get rid of the guns. The goal is to reduce the amount of guns to sensible numbers and restrict the most rapidly-lethal types. That's exactly how it was promoted in Australia, with responsible gun-owners liking the opportunity to trade-in stuff they didn't want anymore but hadn't gotten around to disposing yet, and not minding restrictions on types of guns that weren't *their* guns. And we only bought-back 20% of the known guns (obviously I have no idea what the unknown numbers are like). We had some really great results from that - 60% drop in gun-related deaths across the board. Once again, we're not aiming for perfection, just an improvement.

But you make a good point about how laws alone won't fix the problem, and I agree completely. I tend to think campaign finance reform is number 1 priority, to prevent the NRA from continuing it's regulatory capture; it has large benefits in all other areas of governance too. I think the recent improvements to health insurance are another good start, obviously a long way to go still but you've got to start somewhere. Gun insurance was raised as an idea in the last thread, structured similar to car insurance, and I didn't see any strong objections to it at the time.

Maybe it's the hippie in me, but I also reckon anything that promotes local community values will help too, even if it doesn't magically turn all of America into Pleasantville. Strong local ties reduce fear and make it easier to reach out to people who are at risk of becoming loners with chips on their shoulders.

Shutting up the 24-hour 'news' networks would be great too, since they rely on sensationalism, divisiveness and fear to keep eyeballs glued. But maybe that's too optimistic :)
posted by harriet vane at 3:04 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are always, always more guns to be had.

Since many of the guns used in crimes are stolen from legal owners, by simple math, with a successful gun buyback program there are, in fact, less guns to be had.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:58 AM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


We should take a cue from anti-smoking campaigns and ban the use of guns in movies and TV. Also ban the sale of toy guns and any animated depiction of guns. Yes, little Jane or Johnny can make a "gun" out of Lego*, but over time that will fade out as the media isn't so saturated with guns.

*In my experience it is 99.999% boys who do this, so perhaps the message needs to be tailored to that audience somehow.
posted by desjardins at 6:20 AM on August 7, 2012


Also ban the sale of toy guns and any animated depiction of guns. Yes, little Jane or Johnny can make a "gun" out of Lego*, but over time that will fade out as the media isn't so saturated with guns.

As a single data point, my mother banned 'violent toys' (toy guns, but also action figures) when I was growing up and my brother and I didn't make guns out of Lego. We're probably slightly atypical, but still. My brother went through a phase of pretending to go hunting in the backyard using a wiffle bat for a gun, but I think that was about it.
posted by hoyland at 6:43 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact is that we have over 222 million guns in this country, and a vanishingly small percentage of them ever harm anyone.

This is not how epidemiology works. A vanishingly small percentage of all lead molecules have ever caused brain damage. This many weapons distributed willy-nilly is beyond statistical doubt a health hazard, just as pumping lead into a river is.

American society is broken.

Yep. And the greed-based viciousness and hate-mongering of the NRA leadership is a major symptom of it. Do you realize that the majority of gun owners--even NRA members--think there should be more restrictions on gun ownership?
...studies of public opinion find that a majority of gun-owners are in favor of closing the gun-show loophole the NRA championed (85 percent of all gun owners, and 69 percent of NRA members). Eighty-two percent of NRA members believe that people on the federal terror watch list should be barred from buying firearms. Almost seven in 10 NRA members disagree with the organization's efforts to prevent law enforcement from determining the origins of weapons used in crimes.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:58 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]




Fucking seriously?
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on August 7, 2012


Unbelievable.
posted by de at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2012


No, not seriously.
posted by gaspode at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2012


ONION
posted by Burhanistan at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, theonion!
I came this close to supporting the militia.
posted by de at 9:27 AM on August 7, 2012


Man, I really should have clicked. On the other hand if it was real I think I might have ragesploded.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, the real horror of that link is that it's totally believable. I would honestly not be surprised that a) some people actually believe this (see also: "real America" in 2008), and that b) Bachmann would be the one to charge into the fray.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Man with the 9/11 Tattoo
posted by homunculus at 10:43 AM on August 7, 2012


The Man with the 9/11 Tattoo

oh fucking hell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:49 AM on August 7, 2012


Michele Bachmann Thankful No Americans Died In Sikh Shooting

OK, she didn't really say that, but you know she was thinking it...
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


But the goal isn't to get rid of the guns. The goal is to reduce the amount of guns to sensible numbers and restrict the most rapidly-lethal types. That's exactly how it was promoted in Australia, with responsible gun-owners liking the opportunity to trade-in stuff they didn't want anymore but hadn't gotten around to disposing yet, and not minding restrictions on types of guns that weren't *their* guns.

After the buyback, handguns and semi-auto centerfire rifles were almost entirely banned in Australia. There is no way that's happening in the US. These are our guns -- I'm guessing that one, the other, or both belongs to the majority of responsible American shooters -- and we do mind restrictions on them. That's my point. You keep talking about facts, but the fact is that American gun culture is very different from Australian gun culture. Most American gun owners would support things like training requirements, better background checks, waiting periods, stricter enforcement of existing laws, and maybe even a ban on private sales, but there's not a whole lot of support for banning weapons which are perceived as being useful for self-defense. Even a high-cap magazine ban would be a hard sell.

Voluntary buybacks not supported by a ban are a different animal. I don't think many gun owners would be opposed to them, but I also don't think they'll do much to stop gun violence. Most buybacks seem to net a couple hundred guns, so even if they were done in every city nationwide it wouldn't put much of a dent in 80+ million handguns.

The fact is that we have over 222 million guns in this country, and a vanishingly small percentage of them ever harm anyone.

This is not how epidemiology works. A vanishingly small percentage of all lead molecules have ever caused brain damage. This many weapons distributed willy-nilly is beyond statistical doubt a health hazard, just as pumping lead into a river is.


It is how Prohibition works, however, and that's what we're talking about. Guns are clearly a health risk, but enforcing laws against them also involves health risks, and these need to be taken into account. The War on Drugs is a great example of how little regard our government seems to have for whether criminalization supports its ostensible health goals, and I don't doubt that strong gun control would mean more of the same.

Yep. And the greed-based viciousness and hate-mongering of the NRA leadership is a major symptom of it. Do you realize that the majority of gun owners--even NRA members--think there should be more restrictions on gun ownership?

Not only am I aware of this, I personally agree with it. I refuse to support the NRA, to the point where I pay extra for my range fees every year because I'm not a member. That said, you got it right: the NRA is a symptom of the problems with American society, not a cause. I feel like our entire domestic policy is nothing but an attempt to put a hundred tiny band-aids on a hemophiliac -- there are things we could do to stop the bleeding at the source, but we're not even considering them, and we probably need to change our culture before we can consider them. So that's what we need to do. It is counterproductive to embrace yet another policy which will increase the fear, insecurity, and hatred of government which is killing us as a nation.
posted by vorfeed at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guns are clearly a health risk, but enforcing laws against them also involves health risks

Cite.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:19 AM on August 7, 2012


Guns are clearly a health risk, but enforcing laws against them also involves health risks

Cite.


Waco.
posted by Etrigan at 11:23 AM on August 7, 2012


Yeah, that's an anecdote, not evidence of "health risks." Try again. Let's see some studies like this one, found in less than 5 seconds on PubMed:

Switzerland and Israel curtail off-duty soldiers' firearm access to prevent firearm deaths. Suicide among soldiers decreased by 40 per cent after the Israeli army's 2006 reforms
posted by Wordwoman at 11:32 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again, the US government can't seem to prohibit marijuana without killing people over it and imprisoning tens of thousands of citizens per year, while giving hundreds of thousands more an arrest record which can lead to disenfranchisement and loss of employment. And gun control is already used as the primary excuse for stop-and-frisk policies which have created an incredibly racist atmosphere of harassment and arrests in New York City ("Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly defend the policy, saying the program keeps guns off New York streets and helps stop crime before it happens.") Note that NYC's gun laws are frequently held up as an example by proponents of American gun control.

The idea that we can ban something which is literally associated with "prying it from cold, dead hands" is a fantasy.
posted by vorfeed at 11:52 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oops, the "incredibly racist" link didn't come through. Here's the correct one.
posted by vorfeed at 11:53 AM on August 7, 2012


You're right -- Waco is just an anecdote. There certainly aren't any other people in the entire U.S. who would respond violently when forced to give up their firearms. Ruby Ridge? Anecdote. Ken Ballew? Anecdote. MOVE? Anecdote.

Your apparent belief that PubMed citations are the way to turn this debate around is what I was talking about earlier. The right to bear arms is seen as a fundamental human right by a lot of people in the U.S., and showing graphs labeled Guns Are Bad will not make those people sheepishly turn in their firearms and apologize for contributing to a "health risk."
posted by Etrigan at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2012


There certainly aren't any other people in the entire U.S. who would respond violently when forced to give up their firearms. Ruby Ridge? Anecdote. Ken Ballew? Anecdote. MOVE? Anecdote.

Well, that's certainly a ringing endorsement behind rolling back gun control.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:23 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]




Well, that's certainly a ringing endorsement behind rolling back gun control.

No, just pointing out that there will be consequences to this idea that Americans would happily turn in their guns, if only they got a $200 Target gift card in return. A lot of people won't do that, and any program to get rid of firearms in the U.S. today must account for the very real possibility that people will die over it. What do you think the odds are that it will only be the gun nuts?
posted by Etrigan at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why Aurora Got More Media Attention Than Oak Creek

Branding?
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2012


There certainly aren't any other people in the entire U.S. who would respond violently when forced to give up their firearms. Ruby Ridge? Anecdote. Ken Ballew? Anecdote. MOVE? Anecdote.

It would certainly help if the advocates of unlimited access to guns just admitted that their argument was, basically, "Fuck you."

"Fuck you, we don't care how many are massacred, we ain't giving up any of our guns. And fuck you, if we ever think you're trying to limit the guns we can own, we'll kill you, too."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:44 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


A lot of people won't do that, and any program to get rid of firearms in the U.S. today must account for the very real possibility that people will die over it. What do you think the odds are that it will only be the gun nuts?

When the supporting evidence for why we shouldn't implement gun control is because many gun owners--none of whom depend on them for everyday uses--are so violent and impulsive that they will use their guns to kill those who are trying to prevent violent and impulsive people from killing with them, then maybe you're not exactly making the argument you think you are.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is how Prohibition works, however, and that's what we're talking about.

vorfeed, I suspect we could easily find much common ground. But I don't know what to think of repeated statements like this. Based on what you say, you're not an NRA zombie... so, why can't you see past the black and white with regard to gun laws?

There is no serious suggestion or political movement to have guns outright banned. That would clearly be unconstitutional. I certainly don't support that. (Quite the contrary: I advocate for progressives arming themselves and "coming out", to break that stereotype.) And, uh, gun owners don't want to ban guns--the same gun owners who by very large majorities believe that guns should be more strongly regulated, as you acknowledge. Apparently, you're one of them.

Increased regulations would not be "prohibition" any more than the fact that I have to be tested, licensed, and insured to drive is a "prohibition" against driving. But we can't suggest that (says the NRA) since that's a slippery slope to confiscation! You don't like the NRA, but you seem to buy into their extremist view of governmental regulations. You're just throwing your hands up and saying we can't do anything about regulating the flood of weapons in to society.

But if you feel that way, why aren't you equally fatalistic about government programs to address root causes? I completely agree with your emphasis on addressing poverty, conflict resolution, and other types of community building... But in the world I've lived in, the same people who talk about having to pry their cold dead fingers from their guns also completely oppose social programs of the type you seem to be referring to.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:58 PM on August 7, 2012


What makes you think I'm trying to provide supporting evidence for what we should do?

gun owners--none of whom depend on them for everyday uses

Because no one hunts their own food anymore. No, they don't have to, but you don't have to do a lot of things that you probably think you have the right to do.

Look, I'm not a gun nut by any stretch of the imagination. I don't believe that unrestricted unlimited firearm ownership is a fundamental human right. I'm not even entirely certain whether I believe that any firearm ownership is. A lot of the people on the other side of that argument, frankly, scare the piss out of me. But the fact remains that there would be consequences to a legal ban on firearms in the U.S. today, and asking ourselves whether we're willing to bear those consequences is not the same thing as advocating that we shouldn't. I don't smoke weed, either, but I'm willing to entertain the idea that its prohibition has unintended consequences that society should weigh against the relative good of preventing school bus drivers from getting high and driving off bridges.
posted by Etrigan at 1:00 PM on August 7, 2012


When the supporting evidence for why we shouldn't implement gun control is because many gun owners--none of whom depend on them for everyday uses--are so violent and impulsive that they will use their guns to kill those who are trying to prevent violent and impulsive people from killing with them, then maybe you're not exactly making the argument you think you are.

For fuck's sake, this is why nobody can talk to each other ever.

I'll break it down small, maybe.

There are some of us who are prepared to kill or die to defend basic human rights. Many, many more people besides "gun nuts." The typical question asked to ascertain this is, "Would you hide a Jew in Nazi Germany?" "Would you fight back against fascism?" "If people came tomorrow and started taking your neighbors away and putting them in secret camps, would you put up with it, or would you fight?"

And some of us say, "Fuck no, you're not taking our freedom, you're not putting our neighbors in camps, you're not taking our homes and land and property away."

And we see that as noble. You may not, and that's fine. But there are some of us that see defending a noble cause, and even dying for that noble cause, as one of the finest things that you can do on this earth. It's the same reason we get involved in fights that aren't strictly our business. Why some of us volunteer as escorts to get battered women out of houses. Why we're willing to fight injustice whereever you see it.

Etrigan mentioned this, but I'm going to say it again: if you do not acknowledge that many Americans consider the possession of guns to be a fundamental human right, you are not listening.

It's not about "oh no, the nice people are coming to make the bad people nice, and the bad people are willing to kill them!" It's about, "People are willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, and you need to be aware of that."
posted by corb at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't believe that unrestricted unlimited firearm ownership is a fundamental human right.

OK. But maybe your style of argumentation is seeming to indicate otherwise? Or, instead of putting it on you: it confuses me (and others) into thinking that you're stating otherwise. I see the nuance in what you're saying now, but what confuses me are repeated claims that "regulation = prohibition" or that we as citizens cannot make thoughtful, constitutional regulations on firearms. This is just not true!

There cannot be a ban of firearms in the US that would past constitutional muster. I'm comfortable with that. But the wide-open throttle on the gun market in the US is ridiculous. I can't grow pot for my own use, but I can get as many 100 round drum mags as I want. It's sick. I suspect you'd agree.

I've never understood how come foreign terrorists don't realize what our home-grown terrorists already know--that the easiest way to get a massive reaction from our populace is to just come here, go to gun shows, load up with weapons and ammo, and then head to a bunch of churches. I think it's because it would never occur to people outside of the US that such a thing could even be possible. But it is, and it's the self-described super patriots who are making it possible.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:17 PM on August 7, 2012


If you are prepared to kill or die to defend your right to keep a gun whose only legitimate use is in target shooting, you are batshit insane and should be locked up.

Except that's making another unwarranted assumption. Because the gun's only legitimate use is NOT target shooting. It's food and defense for your family and anyone else in need of protection.

I understand that you think otherwise, but are you really this opposed to trying to see the other point of view for thirty seconds?
posted by corb at 1:23 PM on August 7, 2012


...if you do not acknowledge that many Americans consider the possession of guns to be a fundamental human right, you are not listening.

OK, now let's think of this. What's actually in the Constitution is the right to a "well regulated militia". And there's the rub. Are there any other rights in the Bill of Rights that you think are as unlimited as as you seem to be suggesting gun rights are?

I mean, Scalia did recently suggest that we maybe do have a right to hand-held missile launchers. But, hey, I'd settle for some Oerlikons. I mean, if the Man comes after me and my off-the-grid vegetarian enclave, I need to be able to take them out, right?
posted by mondo dentro at 1:25 PM on August 7, 2012


What you're not grasping, wordwoman, is that while you see guns as a threat to civil society, you're arguing against people who see them as a protection from it. Which of these positions is batshit insane is obvious to you and me, but plenty of people disagree with us.
posted by howfar at 1:30 PM on August 7, 2012


There is no serious suggestion or political movement to have guns outright banned. That would clearly be unconstitutional. I certainly don't support that.

I was responding to someone who suggested that Australia should be the model for American gun laws. Australia banned almost all handguns and semi-auto centerfire rifles. As I said above, if we're just talking about stricter regulation I think there's plenty of support for it, but that's not what happened in Australia, and we shouldn't pretend it was. In the Australian case, "reduc[ing] the amount of guns to sensible numbers and restrict[ing] the most rapidly-lethal types" meant banning or severely restricting the ownership of most types of firearms, and that's not happening in America.

Also, I see plenty of people on mefi and elsewhere who really do support gun bans, which makes the NRA and their slippery-slope fallacy look more reasonable. The rhetoric around guns isn't just a problem on the NRA side.

But if you feel that way, why aren't you equally fatalistic about government programs to address root causes? I completely agree with your emphasis on addressing poverty, conflict resolution, and other types of community building... But in the world I've lived in, the same people who talk about having to pry their cold dead fingers from their guns also completely oppose social programs of the type you seem to be referring to.

This is why I keep saying that we need to change the culture before we can change the government. Public policy can help make that happen, but only if we're careful not to exacerbate the problem. I think there's a lot of low-hanging legislative fruit which could make a difference, starting with moving to harm-reduction paradigms rather than criminalizing non-violent citizens... but most of what we can do within the current climate would require lateral thinking, long-term effort, and the willingness to break the status quo, none of which our politicians exemplify.

On the plus side, I think the Kids These Days are right on in ways which really will bring about cultural change, assuming they stick to their guns. Maybe all we need is time.
posted by vorfeed at 1:34 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are there any other rights in the Bill of Rights that you think are as unlimited as as you seem to be suggesting gun rights are?

I may be the wrong person to ask this of; I actually support a very expansive and liberal reading of the Bill of Rights, where liberal = generous and not "regurgitating Democratic talking points."

So for example, I think the First Amendment mean that Native Americans should be able to consume peyote freely if they want, and that you should be able to print anything in any press anywhere without legal repercussions, and that the Fourth Amendment shouldn't include "I saw it through a window" or "I was in hot pursuit." Fifth Amendment means you should be able to refuse sobriety tests without automatically facing repercussions, etc etc etc.
posted by corb at 1:35 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are some of us who are prepared to kill or die to defend basic human rights. Many, many more people besides "gun nuts." The typical question asked to ascertain this is, "Would you hide a Jew in Nazi Germany?" "Would you fight back against fascism?" "If people came tomorrow and started taking your neighbors away and putting them in secret camps, would you put up with it, or would you fight?

You believe that defending someone's unlimited access to guns is indistinguishable from saving Jews from the ovens? I could pour a gallon of LSD over my nads and not be that crazy.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:43 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are some of us who are prepared to kill or die to defend basic human right...if you do not acknowledge that many Americans consider the possession of guns to be a fundamental human right, you are not listening.

So, loosening ID restrictions on those guns is fundamental human right? Owning military-grade weaponry with no other purpose than killing people is a fundamental human right? The ability to buy more bullets than will ever be needed to provide sustenance or defense is a fundamental human right?

I just want to get an idea of what I'm not hearing.

It's not about "oh no, the nice people are coming to make the bad people nice, and the bad people are willing to kill them!" It's about, "People are willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, and you need to be aware of that."

Except they're not willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, unless you can come up with compelling reasons why semi- and fully automatic weapons, large magazines, and lax or sometimes nonexistent tracking of tools made expressly for killing other people is a "freedom" and how they are defending their country when there are multiple professional organizations devoted to doing just that.

Except that's making another unwarranted assumption. Because the gun's only legitimate use is NOT target shooting. It's food and defense for your family and anyone else in need of protection.

I understand that you think otherwise, but are you really this opposed to trying to see the other point of view for thirty seconds?


Doing so requires jumping through so many ethical hoops that you might as well be in the circus. How many gun owners are using their guns to provide sustenance? How many of those have no alternate or simpler means of getting that? Where's the evidence that guns provide significantly more "defense" than either accidental misuse or escalation of threats?

I can see the other point of view for 30 seconds, but then I look at the massive amounts of evidence that prove that point of view to be horribly skewed (if not generated almost entirely by an industry and lobbying firms) and realize that most of it is rationalization or paranoia or both.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:45 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


And as octobersurprise points out, trying to paint proponents of relatively small amounts of gun control as anti-Semites, facists, and misogynists doesn't make your arguments seem any saner.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:47 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Refusing sobriety tests? That really is quite expansive.

I wish the second bill of rights had come to pass so that Americans could be so concerned about protecting those rights.
posted by knapah at 1:49 PM on August 7, 2012


You believe that defending someone's unlimited access to guns is indistinguishable from saving Jews from the ovens? I could pour a gallon of LSD over my nads and not be that crazy.

I believe that defending my access to guns would help save Jews from the ovens if I had been in that time period, yes. If I had been in that time period, I would probably have been gunrunning to offer people the ability to protect themselves. I think that having the ability to effectively fight back against injustice is absolutely crucial.

So, loosening ID restrictions on those guns is fundamental human right? Owning military-grade weaponry with no other purpose than killing people is a fundamental human right? The ability to buy more bullets than will ever be needed to provide sustenance or defense is a fundamental human right?

I will dive back into this one, but I don't know how well this will work, because I'm talking to people that it seems have no awareness of guns.

Have you ever shot a gun? Have you ever practiced with a gun? Do you have any awareness of how many rounds get used in a typical target practice session?

My last practice session, I was shooting someone's rifle with a nice pistol grip that they were generously letting me try out, so that I could weep about them not being legal in my state. It was a nice, relaxed afternoon of shooting with myself and about ten friends. I burned about two to three hundred rounds myself. Collectively, we probably burned about two or three thousand rounds, in a period of four or five hours.

If you don't stay in practice, you lose your skill. Thus, in order to maintain your skill level, you need to practice, which means you need to buy bullets - more bullets than many non-shooters can possibly understand.

Except they're not willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, unless you can come up with compelling reasons why semi- and fully automatic weapons, large magazines, and lax or sometimes nonexistent tracking of tools made expressly for killing other people is a "freedom" and how they are defending their country when there are multiple professional organizations devoted to doing just that.

I feel like most of these have been discussed in the other thread: that "automatic" weapons doesn't mean what people think it does, large magazines aren't that large. I'm not personally against gun registration, as I argued in that thread, but I know people that are: and their point is that if the government knows exactly who has guns, they can simply go disarm those people, rather than having to worry about their citizenry.

As for defending the country? Those professional organizations don't look like they're doing too good a job now at that, do they?

How many gun owners are using their guns to provide sustenance? How many of those have no alternate or simpler means of getting that? Where's the evidence that guns provide significantly more "defense" than either accidental misuse or escalation of threats?

Most gun owners I know do at least some hunting. You might say they have "alternate" or "simpler" means of getting that, but why should they have to? Why should they be deprived of the right to hunt themselves, respecting the animal and wasting no part of it, just because some guy somewhere thinks they should buy steaks from the local big-box supermarket instead, where they have no idea how fresh it is or the quality of the meat?

And if you're willing to bring out statistics on gun dangers that do not include suicide, I'd be happy to hear them, but I believe in people's right to do what they want with their own body, up to and including taking themselves out of the game. That is not a negative of gun ownership in my opinion.
posted by corb at 2:01 PM on August 7, 2012


So, loosening ID restrictions on those guns is fundamental human right? Owning military-grade weaponry with no other purpose than killing people is a fundamental human right? The ability to buy more bullets than will ever be needed to provide sustenance or defense is a fundamental human right?

Well, yes, that's what a lot of people out there believe. The same way that a lot of people believe that the government shouldn't license journalists, because freedom of the press is a fundamental human right. The same way that a lot of people believe that the right of a woman to control her own womb is a fundamental human right. You don't believe that we should have "as much freedom of religion as the government says you need," do you?

I said it before, and I'll say it again: People really do believe that "The 2nd amendment is the amendment that makes all others possible." They genuinely believe that an armed citizenry is an important check on the power of government. You cannot logic that belief away from them any more than you can cite statistics on how much more effective and efficient the court system would be if it weren't for that pesky Sixth Amendment.

Except they're not willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, unless you can come up with compelling reasons why semi- and fully automatic weapons, large magazines, and lax or sometimes nonexistent tracking of tools made expressly for killing other people is a "freedom" and how they are defending their country when there are multiple professional organizations devoted to doing just that.

You're splitting that into two different entities and using separate arguments against each. Those people absolutely are willing to die to defend their freedom and their country, even against itself. For many of these people, those "multiple professional organizations" are potentially part of the problem. Yes, even for those people who are parts of those organizations. If I had a nickel for every soldier I've met who's used "ATF" as an expletive, I'd be able to treat this whole thread at Starbucks.
posted by Etrigan at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if you're willing to bring out statistics on gun dangers that do not include suicide, I'd be happy to hear them, but I believe in people's right to do what they want with their own body, up to and including taking themselves out of the game.

Remember that when it's your gun and your kid.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:11 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Refusing sobriety tests? That really is quite expansive.

For what it's worth, I feel the same way about random DUI checkpoints -- they constitute an unconstitutional search. If the police are interested in catching drunks, they can pull people over for erratic driving, and they can even camp out by the bars at 2 AM in order to increase the odds of finding said erratic drivers, but they should not be able to pull people over en masse. Mass stops/searches are clearly something the Fourth Amendment (and the reasonable suspicion standard) was intended to prevent.
posted by vorfeed at 2:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe that defending my access to guns would help save Jews from the ovens if I had been in that time period, yes.

This is a favourite anti-gun control talking point. But, uh, you wouldn't have needed to defend your access to guns in Nazi Germany (unless, of course, you were Jewish or otherwise an enemy of the state, in which case a small arsenal probably wouldn't have helped you all that much). The Nazis did two things: disarm the people they didn't like and make it easier for the average person to own a gun.

It was a nice, relaxed afternoon of shooting with myself and about ten friends.

Here's the thing. Shooting is relaxing. Hunting sounds dead boring to me and I'm a vegetarian so that wouldn't work so well, but apparently it floats some people's boats. However, giving up a relaxing activity (or, say, storing firearms at the range) is a small price to pay for fewer kids shooting themselves accidentally.

And if you're willing to bring out statistics on gun dangers that do not include suicide, I'd be happy to hear them, but I believe in people's right to do what they want with their own body, up to and including taking themselves out of the game. That is not a negative of gun ownership in my opinion.

So... I firmly believe in the right of people to kill themselves. However, we know that sometimes people commit suicide impulsively. (For instance, we know that people stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge usually do not attempt to kill themselves again. We know that building a barrier on one bridge in Rock Creek Park didn't lead people to simply jump off the other one. Britain switched from coal gas to the harder-to-kill-yourself-with natural gas and the suicide rate dropped.) I don't think it's damaging anyone's bodily autonomy to make it slightly less trivial to kill yourself. Getting the gun that you left loaded in the nightstand in the name of 'self-defense' is easier than swallowing a load of Tylenol (which MeFi has taught me is a pretty surefire way of killing yourself). You could well be over the impulse by the time you got the damn Tylenol out and that's okay with me.
posted by hoyland at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


The more I read about how American gun owners see the world, the worse I feel for them. It must be horrible to go through life with such fear.
posted by peppermind at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


The more I read about how American gun owners see the world, the worse I feel for them. It must be horrible to go through life with such fear.

Imagine how they feel about your blind willingness to accept that the government is always right and knows better than you do what's best for you.

Sounds kinda stupid and condescending when I spin it that way, doesn't it.

They're not cowering behind their couches, pistol in hand, quivering at every knock on the door. They are, for the most part, productive members of society whose level of "fear" over their guns being taken away is probably roughly akin to liberals' "fear" that we're one Supreme Court justice away from Roe v. Wade being overturned.
posted by Etrigan at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are, for the most part, productive members of society whose level of "fear" over their guns being taken away is probably roughly akin to liberals' "fear" that we're one Supreme Court justice away from Roe v. Wade being overturned.

That's a really poor analogy. The majority of gun control advocacy and proposed legislation has nothing to do with taking away people's guns, but rather regulating them in a manner consistent with a number of other less-dangerous activities. Their fear/paranoia/etc is all being generated by the gun industries and lobbies, who routinely lie about the motives of the perceived aggressors. In the meantime, abortion restrictions are continually being proposed and/or enacted in punitive fashions (*cough* mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds *cough*), and the overturning of large parts of Roe v Wade are a very real possibility.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:49 PM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Plus, you know, people are actually getting shot because your little fantasy is indulged.
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Etrigan, I'm Canadian and we've gone 145 years so far without the need to violently overthrow the government- it's much, much easier to just have a non confidence vote and call an election.

An American wrote this letter to the editor that ran in a Canadian newspaper today, about how Canada's strict gun control laws make American visitors feel unsafe. Normally, I'd never advocate reading the comments section, but in this case it might be eye opening, since most people seem to think it's a joke.
posted by peppermind at 2:57 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if you want to bring women's health into the mix, we could always go through the amount of hassle a given American gets for buying a gun vs.
having a child while not married
getting an abortion due to rape or incest
procuring very early-term abortifacients
procuring birth control or contraceptives
Or how about the amount of people who have been attacked and/or killed--mostly by people with guns--for providing women's health services (including abortion) or promoting the right to have access to any of those services? I mean, I can't even think of anyone who's been attacked for advocating less gun control, let alone a number anywhere near that of abortion providers.

So, it may not be what you personally believe, but that doesn't change the fact that the fears that you put in scare quotes are almost 100% misguided.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:10 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's time the American Psychiatric Association pondered including WHITE SUPREMACY, RACISM and all their iterations, as markers of mental illness.
posted by liza at 3:21 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd say GOING ON A SUICIDAL SHOOTING SPREE is a bit of a tip off, and the common factor in this public health problem.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, well, in that case, I'm sure that they'll all change their minds immediately. I'll spread the word.

Seriously, how many times do I need to point out that I'm trying to provide a window into A) the firmly held beliefs or B) other people here? A) You cannot logic away people's beliefs, especially when B) you're not actually talking to them.
posted by Etrigan at 3:24 PM on August 7, 2012


Apologies for lumping you in with the extremist nutjobs there Etrigan, I realise you are just explaining their position. It remains true that opposition to gun control is willingness to let other people pay the price for that though.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on August 7, 2012


Oh, well, in that case, I'm sure that they'll all change their minds immediately. I'll spread the word.

Seriously, how many times do I need to point out that I'm trying to provide a window into A) the firmly held beliefs or B) other people here? A) You cannot logic away people's beliefs, especially when B) you're not actually talking to them.


The use of quotes to talk about the fear of gun owners vs that of uterus owners made it sound like you were saying the former's was just as valid as the latter's. Sorry if I misunderstood you. However, that does point to the problem with even incremental gun control issues in this country.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:29 PM on August 7, 2012


That's a really poor analogy. The majority of gun control advocacy and proposed legislation has nothing to do with taking away people's guns, but rather regulating them in a manner consistent with a number of other less-dangerous activities.

Except that this is a very real possibility. For example: proposed nationwide bans on "assault weapons", which, as previously explained, often means "guns that look scary," would involve taking away people's guns.

Putting bans on the amount of ammunition someone can possess is taking away people's existing ammunition.

Now you may argue that it's worth it, but to argue that people are flat out crazy because they say that others want to take away their guns is completely disingenuous.

However, giving up a relaxing activity (or, say, storing firearms at the range) is a small price to pay for fewer kids shooting themselves accidentally.

Except that again, it's not just "a relaxing activity," it's the means that you stay sharp and functional on your given weapons. Without practice, you lose the skills and become less effective and less safe with your firearms.

Storing your guns at a range would also limit you to only one range - only one type of area and only one type of shooting. My friends and I were shooting in a rock quarry (thus, Not A Range). We were very safe, maintained a tight firing line, and cleaned up our brass afterwards.
posted by corb at 3:40 PM on August 7, 2012




Except that this is a very real possibility. For example: proposed nationwide bans on "assault weapons", which, as previously explained, often means "guns that look scary," would involve taking away people's guns.

Putting bans on the amount of ammunition someone can possess is taking away people's existing ammunition.


Evidence that the majority of legislation actually says, this please.

Except that again, it's not just "a relaxing activity," it's the means that you stay sharp and functional on your given weapons. Without practice, you lose the skills and become less effective and less safe with your firearms.

Apart from the fact that you've provided no evidence that this is the case, then why not push for, say, tighter restrictions in terms of renewals of firearm licenses? If you need those skills then you should required to put them to the test.

Storing your guns at a range would also limit you to only one range - only one type of area and only one type of shooting. My friends and I were shooting in a rock quarry (thus, Not A Range). We were very safe, maintained a tight firing line, and cleaned up our brass afterwards.

You were. There's plenty of evidence on Youtube and social media networks that people aren't nearly as diligent as you. And, of course, there weren't any requirements for you to do so.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:49 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Evidence that the majority of legislation actually says, this please.

It doesn't have to be the majority of legislation in order for it to stick.

Apart from the fact that you've provided no evidence that this is the case, then why not push for, say, tighter restrictions in terms of renewals of firearm licenses? If you need those skills then you should required to put them to the test.

Are you seriously arguing that practicing doesn't help you improve your skills, and that you don't lose skills the less you practice, about /anything/?

At any rate, I actually would agree with restrictions in renewals for firearms licenses in terms of proving you can shoot accurately, maintain good firearms safety handling practices, even clear a jam - as long as those didn't incur an undue financial burden. If it's 20$ to renew your license, and you have to go down to a range to demonstrate skill for a day to get it renewed? I'm fine with that. 600$? Not so much.

And, of course, there weren't any requirements for you to do so.

And yet we did it anyway, which is my point. A certain set of people tend to think that the only way to get people to behave responsibly is ever increasing legislation - legislation to the point that no one person, even a lawyer, knows all the federal, state, and municipal laws of the area in which they reside. Another set of people tend to believe that such legislation should only be for serious offenses, and you should be able to keep the lawbook in your pocket and familiarize yourself with it. And that people should be encouraged through social pressure rather than law to do the right thing.

It appears that you belong to the former and I belong to the latter - which is fine, but I wish that we could talk more civilly about it.
posted by corb at 3:58 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't have to be the majority of legislation in order for it to stick.

If there was a concerted effort to take away guns and ammunition, there would a ton of legislation and advocacy behind it. You haven't shown us any evidence of that, so the paranoia is unwarranted. Just because I don't understand the paranoia doesn't make it an excuse or explanation.

Are you seriously arguing that practicing doesn't help you improve your skills, and that you don't lose skills the less you practice, about /anything/?

No. This:

At any rate, I actually would agree with restrictions in renewals for firearms licenses in terms of proving you can shoot accurately, maintain good firearms safety handling practices, even clear a jam - as long as those didn't incur an undue financial burden. If it's 20$ to renew your license, and you have to go down to a range to demonstrate skill for a day to get it renewed? I'm fine with that. 600$? Not so much.

is much closer to what I was arguing.

And yet we did it anyway, which is my point. A certain set of people tend to think that the only way to get people to behave responsibly is ever increasing legislation - legislation to the point that no one person, even a lawyer, knows all the federal, state, and municipal laws of the area in which they reside.

Which is kind of a BS argument. We're not talking about anything more complicated than something like "if you're going to operate a shooting range in a safe manner, ensure that the participants and managers have the proper licenses, they maintain a tight firing line, and provide adequate safety and disposal mechanisms." That's, like, a bare minimum of regulation that concedes a ton to guns rights advocates.

Another set of people tend to believe that such legislation should only be for serious offenses, and you should be able to keep the lawbook in your pocket and familiarize yourself with it.

See above as to how simple a rule we're talking about here. What's the cutoff for those serious offenses, anyway? 10 dead people? 1000? 1 million?

And that people should be encouraged through social pressure rather than law to do the right thing.

Time and time again, social pressure (what little even exists) has proven to be ineffective. Thus, Youtube video of idiots mishandling firearms. So why should we keep on trusting it?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:14 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


For example: proposed nationwide bans on "assault weapons", which, as previously explained, often means "guns that look scary," would involve taking away people's guns.

We had an assault weapons ban. Am I allowed to question what sort of person ran out and bought an assault weapon when it expired? Because, you know, everyone totally needs an Uzi. (Please, someone explain why any sane person needs an Uzi.)

And that people should be encouraged through social pressure rather than law to do the right thing.

When regulating the behaviour of individuals, is law not social pressure codified?
posted by hoyland at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2012


How well did "social pressure rather than the law" work out for the Jews in Nazi Germany you talked upthread? How well has "social pressure" helped battered women that you also mentioned? Assistance and protections for battered women are being held up because a bunch of mostly white, rich males are feeling "social pressure" not to protect GLBTs and Native Americans. Speaking of GLBTs, their rights to be equal to other Americans are constantly being overridden by "social pressure" by voter referenda. Or how about going back a couple decades, where if we'd depended on "social pressure" rather than laws we'd have a large number of states where minorites had their right to vote almost entirely suppressed. This, of course, was a result of decades where "social pressure" as opposed to rights legislation had taken rights from said minorities away. Oh, and to bring it back to the subject at hand, let me remind you that in 2009, a report of domestic terrorism by hate groups was released, and "social pressure" pushed back on that, likely allowing incidents like this one to occur.

So, tell me again how "social pressure" is the preferred solution.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:50 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because, you know, everyone totally needs an Uzi. (Please, someone explain why any sane person needs an Uzi.

I think this is a poor argument. People don't need lots of things they own. You don't need an iPhone.

Not to say people should be able to purchase fully automatic weapons, but the "need" argument is dumb. You don't need most of the things that you have and that isn't a justification for making your stuff illegal.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, remember to please keep quiet about the issue of gun control until the NRA and Republicans get a chance to spin it in their direction.

Which probably won't take long: NRA Sent Paranoid Fundraising Letter Three Days After Aurora Shooting
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on August 7, 2012


domestic terrorist with ties to radical right wing organizations - the US media is too intimidated to use that phrase, despite its accuracy, just as Department of Homeland Security was too intimidated to follow its own report re: the threat of domestic right wing terrorism

Republicans Blasted Obama Administration For Warning About Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism

DHS Crushed This Analyst for Warning About Far-Right Terror
posted by homunculus at 5:22 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not to say people should be able to purchase fully automatic weapons, but the "need" argument is dumb. You don't need most of the things that you have and that isn't a justification for making your stuff illegal.

I think it is a question of need, though, where 'need' doesn't mean 'requisite for survival' but 'for some possibly fairly trivial purpose'. There are few obvious downsides to me owning an iPhone (exploitation of labour?). There are all sorts of not so farfetched bad things that could happen with an Uzi in my apartment, or in the apartment of someone less conscientious about guns. (At least I don't have a kid.) I can't think of a use I'd have for an Uzi that would outweigh those risks.

Now, I'm biased. I don't have any great affection for guns. The one time I shot a semi-automatic it was sort of a gross experience and made me not want to be around people who like guns. So I'm going to look sideways at someone who thinks owning an Uzi is fun or something. But maybe they were only bought be people who collect a specific class of guns (they're not that interesting as collector's items are they?) or maybe there are competitions for shooting them on automatic above a certain range (maybe some people can do it) or something.
posted by hoyland at 5:25 PM on August 7, 2012


> Not to say people should be able to purchase fully automatic weapons

Just to point it out, legally purchasing an automatic firearm is not simple. It basically invites the ATF to rummage through your entire life, is almost entirely contingent on regulations enacted by the Attorney General, and costs a lot of money (10 grand to buy, and a couple bucks per blink-and-you-miss-it magazine). 18 U. S. C. Section 921 is, as I understand it, the most generous 'allowance' of who can have a machine gun.

Bringing the argument of effective gun control to the point of fully automatic weapons is really pointless. Machine guns have been successfully and heavily regulated in the US for a long time now - the armed forces, police, manufacturers, and rich people can have them.
posted by timfinnie at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bringing the argument of effective gun control to the point of fully automatic weapons is really pointless. Machine guns have been successfully and heavily regulated in the US for a long time now - the armed forces, police, manufacturers, and rich people can have them.

Except for the loopholes, ones that the NRA doesn't seem interested in closing.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Except for the loopholes, ones that the NRA doesn't seem interested in closing.

Really? Ok.

I don't want to go much further into the 'loophole' issue other than this: The loophole in question allows people who own a firearm to sell it at will, without the need to go through a broker. The brokers in questions hold federal permits to buy and sell firearms. Beyond the federal power to license, there are varying state laws (and sometimes local laws where preemption is not applied) that further limit the availability of brokers. Limiting transfers to only those who are licensed gives too much power to the government, such that a guaranteed right could be wholly revoked by appointed officials. (Not that this would happen, because...well, we have watchdogs interested in such matters to call out this type of BS)

As for the NRA, they are entirely funded by contributions. Taxed contributions, at that. There is no write-off for giving them money. It may go to the NRA for competitions, subsidized classes, or maybe to the NRA-ILA which lobbies to the elected and candidates on behalf of the contributors. The NRA-ILA is commonly accused of Very Bad Things, even within the 'gun nut' circle.

Anyways, go to a gun show and buy a machine gun. I challenge you. You won't of course, and that's fine. The reason might be that you honestly believe that you can buy a machine gun at a show, without ID and with a big wad of cash. That's not true. And I'm not linking you, because your sources kind of suck (put more effort into teh googlez and maybe you'll find some real info).
posted by timfinnie at 6:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to point it out, legally purchasing an automatic firearm is not simple. It basically invites the ATF to rummage through your entire life, is almost entirely contingent on regulations enacted by the Attorney General, and costs a lot of money (10 grand to buy, and a couple bucks per blink-and-you-miss-it magazine).

A quick google shows me that I can buy an Uzi and a TEC-9, both of which were banned by the assault weapons ban for about $600-$700. Loads of AK-47s around that price, too (but, as I understand it, only specific variants were banned and I can't tell the zillions online apart). Sure, those aren't fully automatic, but they are what we're talking about.

(Of course, I did also ascertain that the knowledge and parts to convert a TEC-9 to be fully automatic is readily available, even if it's illegal (and I wasn't googling for that!). There was a fairly transparent discussion of who to talk to on a forum run by a gun dealer, with some 'but that would be super illegal' disclaimers thrown in. If I were a gun dealer running a forum, I'd at least be moderating the damn thing.)
posted by hoyland at 6:04 PM on August 7, 2012


Of course, "automatic weapons" are a pretty big derail, this shooter used a semi-automatic handgun of the type that very few (none?) gun control laws have proposed restricting.

As someone who has been to a lot of gun shows, though, the idea that you can trivially walk away with an automatic weapon is ludicrous.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Actually now that I post that I realize some cities have indeed tried to ban handguns, but I have never seen a national proposal to do so).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:15 PM on August 7, 2012


Anyways, go to a gun show and buy a machine gun. I challenge you. You won't of course, and that's fine. The reason might be that you honestly believe that you can buy a machine gun at a show, without ID and with a big wad of cash. That's not true. And I'm not linking you, because your sources kind of suck (put more effort into teh googlez and maybe you'll find some real info).

If you'd read the link, you'd have seen that it wasn't about buying machine guns, easy or no, at shows (or anywhere else for that matter). Otherwise I wouldn't have said "loopholes":
The reality is that semi-automatic rifles, such as AK-47s or AR-15s, are widely available and sold at gun shows from private sellers that do not run background checks. Further conversion kits that make these rifles indistinguishable from machine guns are also widely available at gun shows
[...]
Conversion manuals are easily found online and a General Accountability Office investigation found that investigators were able to obtain all of the parts necessary to convert a semi-automatic AR-15 to a fully automatic M-16 at gun shows in five states. Conversion kits are quite popular at gun shows.
And of course, that doesn't get into the whole set of gun show issues, like the fact that 33 states have basically no strict laws concerning background checks for gun show sales, and where the federal legislation to do so was essentially shut down by the NRA.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2012


> A quick google shows me that I can buy an Uzi and a TEC-9

I found a semi-automatic TEC-9 for $700. And a semi-automatic Uzi for $599.

Machine guns, legal to transfer, have not been produced in decades. The population can only decrease (you blew up the receiver? well, there's one more off the market). You are not going to find these guns going for a couple week's pay at minimum wage.
posted by timfinnie at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're not talking about anything more complicated than something like "if you're going to operate a shooting range in a safe manner, ensure that the participants and managers have the proper licenses, they maintain a tight firing line, and provide adequate safety and disposal mechanisms." That's, like, a bare minimum of regulation that concedes a ton to guns rights advocates.

I don't even have a real problem with the heart of that idea, but the problem that I would see is that any attempt to implement it would probably need to add a punitory level of requirement for checking that is beyond a good-faith effort. So they'd be unlikely to say, make it a $20 fine or something simple, they'd tend to (judging by how punitory fines tend to trend) make it a thousand or two at the least. Which means that the one guy who looked at a license and thought it was good is fucked.

Am I allowed to question what sort of person ran out and bought an assault weapon when it expired? Because, you know, everyone totally needs an Uzi. (Please, someone explain why any sane person needs an Uzi.)

Part of the deep, deep problem here is that people who are not super-familiar with guns have severe difficulty understanding why people might want assault weapons. I'll try to explain, but I don't like Uzis, so I'm going to explain my ideal "assault weapon" and why I would really want one.

I'd like something close to an M16, for several reasons. Not in the tiniest bit because of the burst fire option - I don't want that, and it's not useful anyway. But because it's an extremely simple machine, and it lasts for a long time if maintained - and maintenance can be done simply and cheaply. Once you do your initial investment, you're good for a while. I like simple sights, and I like being able to adjust the fire simply along a grid by altering the sights. I like the size of the magazine.

But it's heavy. I'm a woman with a medium build, and holding it up to fire tires my arm if I hold it up too long. When your arm gets tired, your shooting gets less efficient. To hold it straight from a prone position for a period of time, I get tired enough that leaning the magazine of the weapon on the ground seems like a tempting idea - but it's bad for the magazine, bad for the weapon, bad for the firing.

So I'd like a pistol grip. Not because I'm a mobster, but because I want a weapon that I can support more comfortably with my right hand while firing with my left.

And I'd like a folding stock. Not because I want to hide it in my trenchcoat and go out doing mob hits, but because a full sized rifle is kind of uncomfortable to carry. So I want to make it more convenient.

That's what I want. Convenience and ease of carry.

But those two modifications would have violated the assault weapon ban - because some people somewhere decided that those things made it an "Assault weapon." Making a weapon easier for someone of my build to carry is viewed as dangerous.

So yeah, if I had been of an age to purchase firearms and felt a need for it at the time the assault weapons ban came down, and there hadn't been a similar ban in my state, I would have went out and got one.

But hopefully that process makes a little more sense than the idea of some redneck saying "Yee-haw, I want me an Uzi," which I think is behind a lot of these fears.
posted by corb at 6:24 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


> If you'd read the link, you'd have seen that it wasn't about buying machine guns

You responded to a comment about buying machine guns. I call out your sources as being poor in regards to realities of buying machine guns. Now you blame me for saying so because you weren't talking about machine guns?

Oh, but you were, because "conversion". Well...

Time was, you could get charged with constructive possession for having a certain type of gun and a shoestring. At the same time, shoestring not necessarily removed from a shoe (depending on how ardent the officer wanted to be). I can, right now, "convert" a Mini-14 (.223 semi-auto rifle) into a fully-automatic gun with a bit of string. I could buy a semi-auto AR-15 into an effective fully-automatic rifle buy buying and (trivially) installing a bump-fire stock.

This still has nothing to do with my comment about buying a legal machine gun.
posted by timfinnie at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found a semi-automatic TEC-9 for $700. And a semi-automatic Uzi for $599.

I said they were semi-automatic. Well, my exact words were 'aren't fully automatic'. But, correct me if I'm wrong, they (the semi-automatic ones) were covered by the assault weapons ban, which is why we (or, to be precise, I) started talking about Uzis in the first place.
posted by hoyland at 6:35 PM on August 7, 2012


Oh, then I talked about how it's apparently pretty straightforward (in terms of availability of parst and knowledge) to convert them (or a TEC-9, to be precise) to be fully automatic, if one were so inclined.
posted by hoyland at 6:37 PM on August 7, 2012


You responded to a comment about buying machine guns. I call out your sources as being poor in regards to realities of buying machine guns. Now you blame me for saying so because you weren't talking about machine guns?

Actually, no. I was responding to your follow-up comments about regulation of automatic weapons. To wit:
Bringing the argument of effective gun control to the point of fully automatic weapons is really pointless.
Oh, but you were, because "conversion". Well...

Time was, you could get charged with constructive possession for having a certain type of gun and a shoestring. At the same time, shoestring not necessarily removed from a shoe (depending on how ardent the officer wanted to be). I can, right now, "convert" a Mini-14 (.223 semi-auto rifle) into a fully-automatic gun with a bit of string. I could buy a semi-auto AR-15 into an effective fully-automatic rifle buy buying and (trivially) installing a bump-fire stock.


Well, thanks for admitting that the loopholes that I pointed out exist, are easily available, and that gun owners are very much aware of how to exploit them.

This still has nothing to do with my comment about buying a legal machine gun.

Which I wasn't particularly addressing.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2012


Well, thanks for admitting that the loopholes that I pointed out exist, are easily available, and that gun owners are very much aware of how to exploit them.

Gun owners are also very much aware of how impossible it is to close those loopholes without a fairly wide-ranging ban on firearms that goes light-years beyond the reasonable restrictions that reasonable people try to start with. It's a short gap from "machine guns" to "any firearm that anyone with a modicum of knowledge can convert to fully automatic."

You know, kind of like how the right has chipped away at abortion for the last forty years to the point that there are a lot of women who live hundreds of miles away from any medical facility that's willing to do one. I don't like slippery slope arguments, but I recognize that I'm in the minority.

(And again, I am not drawing a moral equivalence here. I am just saying that tactically speaking, if I wanted to get rid of abortion and/or guns, I'd be running a lot of the same plays.)
posted by Etrigan at 7:13 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like slippery slope arguments, but I recognize that I'm in the minority.

I realise you're trying to play devil's advocate, but didn't you just make a slippery slope argument? I'm now confused.
posted by hoyland at 7:18 PM on August 7, 2012


I don't like slippery slope arguments, but I recognize that I'm in the minority.

I realise you're trying to play devil's advocate, but didn't you just make a slippery slope argument? I'm now confused


Yes, it was one that gun-rights advocates make.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 PM on August 7, 2012


I hate what this discussion has devolved into. There has been an incredible outpouring of compassion and love in southeastern Wisconsin. Over the last few days here, there have been six or seven vigils. Even the much-hated Scott Walker has shown up at two of them (at least), and has ordered all flags flown at half-mast (this was before Obama did the same). I have been really impressed with the way our local news media have handled this, and just proud of our community in general.

Here are profiles of the victims and here's a link where you can donate to their families.
posted by desjardins at 7:46 PM on August 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


thank you, desjardins
posted by nadawi at 7:54 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just back from the memorial service / vigil at the local gurdwara. It was a really touching evening. There were a number of local religious and government leaders who all spoke briefly, mostly on the need for peace and education, and what a senseless tragedy the shooting in Wisconsin was. I'm glad that there were a number of visitors getting to experience the hospitality and warm welcome of the gurdwara and the local Sikh community, but sad for the incident that brought us together. I hope something positive can come out of this - more knowledge about Sikhs, stronger interfaith communities. I hope something positive comes because the alternative is that we don't learn anything, and instead use this unthinkable incident as the latest excuse to argue our pet issues.
posted by booksherpa at 7:56 PM on August 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here are some pictures of local vigils (none taken by me):

Oak Creek tonight, 1, 2 , Brookfield (Milwaukee suburb) last night, Milwaukee (Sunday)

I found some others via Twitter:

Rockville MD
Love Park, Philadelphia
San Francisco
Vancouver (?)

...and quickly realized that I'd be linking all night. It's really great to see the support all over. Health reasons have kept me from going thus far, but I'm planning on attending the wake and visitation on Friday.
posted by desjardins at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


zombieflanders: "Except for the loopholes, ones that the NRA doesn't seem interested in closing."

The "Gun show loophole" has absolutely nothing to do with people selling machine gun parts. Those parts aren't illegal because you can't put them in a semi-automatic weapon and suddenly have a machine gun. They don't fit. The receivers on semi-auto guns have physical differences and would need to be re-milled to make them fully automatic. Back in the 80s the ATF classified the semi-auto guns that could be "readily restorable" to automatic fire as machine guns and thus restricted under the NFA.

hoyland: "Oh, then I talked about how it's apparently pretty straightforward (in terms of availability of parst and knowledge) to convert them (or a TEC-9, to be precise) to be fully automatic, if one were so inclined."

It is not. This is one of those persistent myths that seems to be mostly perpetuated by television cop dramas and misinformed gun control advocates. It was true back in the 70s and early 80s but the ATF tightened restrictions on semi-automatic gun design to prevent simple conversions to fully automatic.

Take the Tec-9, when initially released in the US as the KG-9, it fired from an open bolt (when you pull the trigger, the bolt moves forward, loads the ammunition from magazine to the chamber, fires the bullet and blowback pushes the bolt back into the ready position) and was very easy to convert to fully automatic with a file so the ATF classified them as a machine gun. It was redesigned to fire from a closed bolt to meet ATF guidelines and re-released as the Tec-9. Still the rumor persists that the Tec-9 is easy to convert to automatic.

And following gun forum conversion instructions is great way to end up with a gun that doesn't work. That's not to say someone with knowledge of gun mechanics and access to a machine shop couldn't convert one but that same person could also build a machine gun from scratch if so inclined.
posted by the_artificer at 2:29 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


vorfeed, I was not suggesting that Australia be a model for American gun laws, as you'll find if you calm down and re-read what I wrote in context. I'm not so stupid as to think one country's laws can be slapped onto another in such a complex issue, and I'm a bit miffed that you think i'd suggest something so obviously dumb and potentially harmful.

I was providing evidence that a reduction in the overall numbers of guns has a proven beneficial effect on the number of gun fatalities without a corresponding increase in other fatalities, a claim that was disputed earlier in the thread. If you'd continued reading instead of jumping to conclusions, you'd have seen that I completely agree with you on the need for cultural change, and suggested a couple of possibilities that might work in America. Feel free to argue with those if you like, but stop misrepresenting my input.
posted by harriet vane at 4:57 AM on August 8, 2012


plenty of bluster about defending rights. But no evidence that guns provide what anyone needs to actually be safe.

History isn't "bluster about defending rights." You need to check out what happened between Great Britain and their colonies here in the US between roughly the late 1600's and the late 1700's. If the crown had gotten its way with gun control in the colonies at that time, Americans would still speak decidedly better English today (not to mention paying tribute to the queen).

The whole idea behind the "militia" in "well-regulated militia" is that power should be distributed in an armed citizenry rather than concentrated in a single, state-run military power. This is a fundamental concept in the birth of the American nation, it isn't bluster. This is exactly what the founding fathers had witnessed in the ebb and flow of centralized military vs. decentralized militia under British rule between 1650 and 1750.

I don't get why I don't see more of this defence for gun rights on MeFi. I don't need guns to protect my house (its a nice side benefit, but the arguments made for accidental gun deaths hold a lot of water). I don't need guns to keep my family safe (they might, they might not, but there's certainly more risk having them around then not). I need guns to protect myself from a military-gone-mad commanded by a corrupt government of elites holding control of the majority of my nation's wealth.

If you think that isn't what America is headed towards, I refer you to other Metafilter-popular topics such as the TSA, militarized police forces, the US' defense budget, and Wall Street corporate bailouts.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:01 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree that America is heading along that path. I'm just not convinced that individuals owning guns will do much good in the third week of long-distance drone and missile attacks from Blackwater mercenaries. War isn't like it was back in 1814, or even 1939.

I keep coming back to campaign finance reform. If you're scared of your government (the collective you, not you specifically allkindsoftime) don't waste time on whatever gaffe is in the news this week. Get the corporations out of your legislation. Get Citizens United overturned. Put tighter regulations on lobbyists. Help poverty-stricken areas have something to offer kids besides military service. Sort out healthcare and what appears to be the most expensive tertiary education bills in the world. It's a metric fuckload harder than banning guns or allowing guns, but it's got a better chance of producing a safer place to live.
posted by harriet vane at 5:36 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the problem with that argument is that, in a world of tanks and drones, it's hard to make the case that ownership of non-military guns by individuals is an effective countermeasure to the kind of military force the state can deliver. If the military is prepared to act as an enforcement arm of the Executive, to the point of engaging with and killing US citizens in significant numbers, then individual gun ownership is not going to be an effective counterbalance.

Take the siege of the Weaver house in 1992: that was federal agents, not the military. There was a single exchange of fire on roughly equal terms, but as soon as the siege began the agents were able to deploy weapons the Weavers had no counter to - specifically, long-range rifles with high-powered scopes. The military has access not just to weapons with a longer effective range - they also have access to weapons with vastly greater destructive power, more manpower and more armor than federal agents.

I absolutely understand the anxiety, but I don't think at this point that firearms would be useful for much more than temporary control of advantageous terrain - woods and mountains, essentially. The greatest protection against aggression from the military is, I think, that at some point in the chain of command somebody would refuse to fire on their own people. So, in a sense, far more important as a countermeasure is not gun ownership, but combating attempts to represent protestors an non-comformists as "not our own people".
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:38 AM on August 8, 2012


(Oh. Harriet Vane beat me to it.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:38 AM on August 8, 2012


Hate Crimes Always Have a Logic: Harsha Walia at Racialicious
posted by BinGregory at 6:47 AM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]




They're not cowering behind their couches, pistol in hand, quivering at every knock on the door.

Then they need to market themselves better. Because, judging from this discussion, that's exactly what it sounds like they're doing.

It's—remarkable is the polite word—how people can take an event like the massacre of six people by an armed neo-nazi and turn it into an opportunity to fantasize about running guns against the Nazis and the violent overthrow of the US government and such.

I need guns to protect myself from a military-gone-mad commanded by a corrupt government of elites holding control of the majority of my nation's wealth.

Then you'd better raise an army and stock up on surface-to-air missile-launchers, some tanks, a few aircraft, maybe even a suitcase nuke or two as well because, bro, there is no way your guns are going to protect you from the US military if it comes to a firefight.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:52 AM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, no amount of legally procured handguns in the world is going to protect you or anybody you know if you are on the wrong side of a divide with the US government on the otherside. Somebody mentioned MOVE above? The police firebombed MOVE, killing 11 people and incinerating 65 houses.

Of course, the folks at Waco were a little better fortified and armed. And so the ATF brought in tanks. 76 people died, including 20 children.

I know these fantasies of armed resistance against a totalitarian government are appealing, but they are fantasies. Stockpiling weapons won't help you. Vigorously supporting the mechanisms of democracy and pushing for as much transparency as possible where power is concerned will.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:01 AM on August 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


vorfeed, I was not suggesting that Australia be a model for American gun laws, as you'll find if you calm down and re-read what I wrote in context.

I think this is unfair. I made it very clear that what I said applies only if we're talking about bans ("Voluntary buybacks not supported by a ban are a different animal", "if we're just talking about stricter regulation I think there's plenty of support for it, but that's not what happened in Australia.")

You said "The goal is to reduce the amount of guns to sensible numbers and restrict the most rapidly-lethal types. That's exactly how it was promoted in Australia, with responsible gun-owners liking the opportunity to trade-in stuff they didn't want anymore but hadn't gotten around to disposing yet, and not minding restrictions on types of guns that weren't *their* guns." [emphasis mine.] I think it's fair to point out that this involved extensive bans in Australia, not just voluntary buybacks, and that restricting types of weapons would likewise require regulations which aren't going to work in America.

I agree with you on what needs to be done, so I'm not sure why you're attacking me this way. If you weren't suggesting that Australia provides a model for American gun laws, I apologize for misunderstanding your point.
posted by vorfeed at 11:32 AM on August 8, 2012


As for your suggestions, I agree with them. Campaign reform, health reform, voluntary buybacks, community improvements... all are more than fine. I don't much like gun insurance because I oppose mandatory insurance in general, as it's a regressive policy which unfairly burdens the poor (and I think it is important for the poor to have access to arms, too -- the Second Amendment was not intended to apply only to the rich.) I would support a tax-or-donation-supported fund to help shooting victims, though... hell, in a perfect world it ought to come out of NRA dues.
posted by vorfeed at 11:40 AM on August 8, 2012


You guys do realize that the guns being used by the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan..you know, the ones fighting against the military you say is so undefeatable...are not significantly better than the ones most gun owners have in their basements, right?

Insurgency is difficult, but not impossible. And easier here.
posted by corb at 12:38 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but they get arms and ammo from supply lines. Are you also working on your supply networks?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2012


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess "yes", Burhanistan.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:56 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


FBI: Sikh gunman apparently shot self in head

Uh, to save someone else parsing that incorrectly like I did, they're talking Wade Michael Page (can we call him WMP yet?), not a gunman who is also a Sikh.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's actually Polish.
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2012


I'm finding the whole gun control derail a bit tricky, but:

Insurgency is difficult, but not impossible. And easier here.

I think there are a number of things that would make an insurgency against the US military considerably more difficult within the US, on a purely strategic level. The supply lines and the communications lines are short, the population speak English (and, unless something has gone terribly wrong, are likely to be broadly supportive of the military), there are no resupply issues, soldiers do not have to be flown thousands of miles from their training camps and reserve stations, almost every person has an official existence, the technology exists to track and monitor people with considerably greater ease... and, perhaps most importantly, there aren't any heavy munitions from previous military engagements, or a recently-disrupted army or long-running paramilitary organization available to use them, and instruct others in their use. Relatively few people are going to have anti-tank munitions or anti-air missiles in their basements, I think, and getting hold of them would be relatively difficult.

I may well be missing something, but it seems to me that in the event of a full-on military mobilization against resistant populations within the US, the intersection of the Venn diagram of people with firearms and people prepared to fight, and the materials available to them, would not be sufficient to defeat the armed forces which could be deployed. Some forms of guerilla warfare would be possible, or some largely unoccupied areas might remain outside the ability of the military to project force, but that's a different question, I think. The best hope, assuming that society had reached that point, would be that some or all of the military would refuse to fire on fellow Americans, and this would lead to a counter-coup...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:49 PM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


there aren't any heavy munitions from previous military engagements, or a recently-disrupted army or long-running paramilitary organization available to use them, and instruct others in their use. Relatively few people are going to have anti-tank munitions or anti-air missiles in their basements, I think, and getting hold of them would be relatively difficult. I may well be missing something

What you're missing is the extent to which US police and military personnel are involved in gun culture. Many of these guys are more COLD DEAD HANDS WOLVERINES than anyone else at the gun store; in the unlikely event of a popular American Rifleman style insurgency, I suspect that military weapons (and soldiers) would start to go missing even before conflict broke out.

I agree with you regarding the "best hope", though. Insurgency isn't about winning, it's about dragging things out until the other side quits or is defeated by someone/something else. Insurgents would be counting on the government losing control before the opposition could be rooted out, not on "defeating the armed forces which could be deployed".
posted by vorfeed at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take the Tec-9, when initially released in the US as the KG-9, it fired from an open bolt (when you pull the trigger, the bolt moves forward, loads the ammunition from magazine to the chamber, fires the bullet and blowback pushes the bolt back into the ready position) and was very easy to convert to fully automatic with a file so the ATF classified them as a machine gun. It was redesigned to fire from a closed bolt to meet ATF guidelines and re-released as the Tec-9. Still the rumor persists that the Tec-9 is easy to convert to automatic.

Er... I found stuff to convert it to an open bolt.

(Of course, the irony is that in the time it's taken to reply to this comment, the thread has turned so that the pro-gun people are having to argue it's easy enough to amass massive firepower that the contingency/fantasy of defending oneself against the government is realistic.)
posted by hoyland at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]




Could be, homunculus, but I think it is also possible that people are becoming inured.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:11 PM on August 8, 2012


in the unlikely event of a popular American Rifleman style insurgency, I suspect that military weapons (and soldiers) would start to go missing even before conflict broke out.

Given the habitual ideological splintering that takes place in American political cultures, in the unlikely event of a popular "American Rifleman" style insurgency, I suspect that the insurgents would start shooting each other before long. (Saving the rest of us from having to shoot the traitorous bastards ourselves.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:51 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]




And no-one's reported taking delivery of a high-definition TV in lieu of a Sig Sauer SIG716 semi-automatic assault rifle? Odd.
posted by de at 11:58 PM on August 8, 2012


in a world of tanks and drones, it's hard to make the case that ownership of non-military guns by individuals is an effective countermeasure to the kind of military force the state can deliver

I agree completely that non-military weaponry in the hands of a citizen is an ineffective countermeasure to a tank or drone.

I disagree categorically that an armed citizenry is not a better option than an unarmed one. You have only to look at Libya as a recent example - citizenry didn't have the advanced weapons, but they were armed. Armed people are able to organize, mobilize, and target the facilities that control the long distance, more advanced weaponry that the military has. Unarmed people would not be able to target or take these facilities because they are typically protected by...well, armed people.

You people can dismiss these notions as fallacies, but what you then need to do is propose to me an alternative to the logical conclusion that you haven't stated: surrendering yourself completely to the police state and its every whim. Until then, I want my guns.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:28 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er... there were NATO air strikes in Libya. You can argue they needed guns to get to the point of foreign militaries bombing things for them, but you can't simply point to Libya and declare victory.

To be frank, if "preparation for armed insurgency" is supposed to make me comfortable with your gun ownership, I'm quite frankly much more disturbed than I was. I guess I was suffering from the delusion that we had some common investment in civil society.
posted by hoyland at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


You people can dismiss these notions as fallacies, but what you then need to do is propose to me an alternative to the logical conclusion that you haven't stated: surrendering yourself completely to the police state and its every whim.

Alternative 1: Voting.

Alternative 2: Nonviolent public peaceful protest.

Before you scoff - those two means sure as shit worked for the Civil Rights movement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thousands expected at visitation for Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting victims

It's 9-11 am tomorrow morning (also saw it reported as 9 am - 11 pm). If anyone in the Milwaukee area would like to go and needs a ride or wants to carpool, please email me. (prefer east of West Allis, south of Shorewood, as I'm in Bay View.) It'd be tacky to make a IRL out of this, but if you're going, I'd like to give you a hug and maybe we can get coffee afterwards.
posted by desjardins at 8:00 AM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes - the Libyan no-fly zone rapidly extended to destroying targets on the ground to protect civilians, and the ability of the Libyan rebels to take and hold ground only flourished with mass defections of military personnel. The same is happening in Syria. And the Libyan army never had the cadre, the support, the supply line discipline or the modern technology of the US Army. The Libyan army pre-insurrection had about 1500 tanks, mostly obsolete T-72s and T-62s. The US army has 13,000 M1s and M2s, and another 4,000 Strykers...

As vorfeed says above, the only chance you'd have would be mass defections and/or a military coup, possibly with the support and legitimacy of a breakaway segment of the civil government. And your best chance of that is all the suggestions already made: protest, focus on government transparency, resisting the dehumanization of protestors, fighting for civil rights... individual gun ownership is probably the least demanding but least effective prophylactic against a police state in the US.

All of which is still pretty academic, because nobody is going to take your guns away. At worst, you'll find it slightly harder to buy more guns. That's the extent of the gun control ambitions of mainstream American politics
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:04 AM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]




Domestic Threat: White Supremacy Extremism (FBI webpage)
posted by zombieflanders at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2012


Holder calls Sikh temple shooting a hate crime

Hundreds pay respects to victims killed at Wisconsin Sikh temple

I'm trying to find a picture that does justice to how crowded it was. Some random notes and thoughts:

- The crowd was overwhelmingly Indian, which surprised me, since the vigils seem to have been at least 50% non-Indian. I suppose lots of people did not take off from work (to be fair, I already had the day off).

- There weren't as many police officers as I would have expected; it was pretty much normal for a gathering of that size. None of them covered their heads, which I'm guessing is some departmental regulation.

- I didn't know before I got there that there would be open caskets, which affected me much more emotionally.

- A few people broke down in tears, one woman fell to the floor in front of a casket, but it was relatively subdued.

- There was a Punjabi call-and-response happening during some of the speakers. Someone from the crowd would yell out, and the entire Punjabi-speaking crowd would respond. Just going from context, I imagine it was along the lines of "Right on!" and "Heck yeah!"

- Aside from the call-and-response, people were much quieter than at other funerals I've been to. More respectful, too - almost no ringing phones, not much fidgeting or whispering.

- Between my hearing impairment, some strong accents, and the Punjabi portion, I missed about 80% of what was said.

- They handed out kerchiefs if you didn't have a head covering, and bottled water to whomever wanted it (the latter donated by Sam's Club). Later, they handed out sandwiches to the people in the bleachers and something wrapped in foil to the people (all Sikh) seated on the floor.

- Some (Sikh) people told me they appreciated my support.

- White women own boring scarves (myself included).

- My image of Scott Walker improved 1%.

- It hurts a lot to sit for three hours on wooden bleachers.
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on August 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


After the sadness and shock, members of Wisconsin’s insular Sikh community found themselves confronting scenes they never would have expected. There were outpourings of support, including a gathering of hundreds of people of different faiths and skin colors, some holding candles, others wearing white head scarves, in a gesture of solidarity with this predominantly Indian religion. [...]

Mayor Stephen Scaffidi said he planned to invite Sikh elders to participate on city commissions and to appoint a city liaison to the temple. He said he and other local officials would visit the temple to speak with its members.
After Deadly Shooting at Sikh Temple, Neighbors Turn Out to Work for Tolerance, New York Times (excerpt)

I'm starting to feel like ericb.
posted by desjardins at 2:52 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd like to thank you desjardins for repeatedly posting about the human aspect of this tragedy. There is a whole community hurting but the posters here have been so focused on gun control issues that they have completely ignored the story of the very REAL people (not hypothetical people in hypothetical situations) that were affected.

- The crowd was overwhelmingly Indian, which surprised me, since the vigils seem to have been at least 50% non-Indian. I suppose lots of people did not take off from work (to be fair, I already had the day off).


I heard on NPR this morning that the vigil was extended from 2 hours to 4 to accommodate all the Sikhs that were flying in from around the globe. Have you heard anything about that?

Again, thank you.
posted by futz at 3:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm starting to feel like ericb.

Is that a BAD thing?

; )

Oh, wait. Ask anigbrowl.

Better yet, ask my fellow traveller, homunculus.
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it was supposed to be from 9 to 11 am. It ended around 12:30. I got there about 9 am and couldn't find a place to park in the high school's lot. There was a line of about 30 people outside the door, and once I got inside there were another 50 or so people lined up to view the caskets. After I viewed the caskets, I took a seat on one of the benches. There were still people pouring in at the same rate at 11 am, though they were encouraging people to move through more quickly. The entire floor and both bleachers were full, and there were easily 100-200 people standing at the back with another 50 or so at the front. Rough guess, maybe 3000 people total? There was NO room in the bleachers, which is part of why I'm achy now; I pretty much couldn't even rotate my body to stretch it.

The speakers started around 11 am and finished sometime after noon. It took awhile to exit, and by the time I made it to my car it was about 12:30.

Of course, I couldn't tell visually who is from other countries, but most people weren't speaking English unless they were speaking to a non-Indian... which still doesn't mean anything because lots of people who live here speak English as a second language. I do know that there was a member of Indian Parliament who spoke, and I'd be interested to know if the airport had much of an uptick in flights (complicated by the fact that the air show is this weekend). I definitely saw many license plates from other states.

And futz... you're welcome. I'm surprised how much this has affected me given that I don't actually know any Sikhs beyond casual conversation at the gas station. I suppose because of the physical proximity - this is MY city and I'll be damned if I'm going to be apathetic while someone terrorizes people. I said this before, but I am so fucking proud of our city and state right now. Dozens of businesses have donated goods and services, and the cash donations from individuals are in the hundreds of thousands. There were rumors that Westboro was going to picket the memorial service, and I know 100% there would have been a human wall blocking them. Even my father, who's pretty conservative and has been known to make casually racist remarks, said that he'd learned a lot about Sikhs since the shooting and that they seemed like cool people. (Side note: he remarked that there were a lot of "people in turbans" on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when he was there last month - is that an especially popular destination for Sikhs for some reason or was it just that he noticed "people in turbans" more than other groups?)
posted by desjardins at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


This BBC video is a good representation of the crowd - the beginning of the video is about when I arrived (the voiceover is Scott Walker's speech, which didn't happen until about 11). At 1:28 in the video is about noon, when we were standing for prayers. You can't see all the people standing at the back, nor the bleachers behind the cameraperson, but you get the idea of how crowded it was. The Sikh speaker is Amardeep Kaleka, who was referenced above.

I'm really not sure anymore if this was directed at Muslims. Apparently the shooter's girlfriend worked at a family-style restaurant just down the road from the temple, and it's reasonable to assume that some of the temple members ate there. This is complete speculation, but I wonder if the shooter didn't like "those people" talking to his girlfriend. It makes sense that if his gf broke up with him, he might take it out on "those people." He may have still mistook Sikhs for Muslims, but that may not have been his primary motive. Whatever, doesn't matter, still heinous, and hatred remains:
During a community meeting Thursday night at Oak Creek High School, Kaleka relayed the story of a taxi driver who is a member of the Sikh Temple. Just yesterday, someone made a gun gesture with their hands and told the taxi driver, "This is not over," according to Kaleka.
posted by desjardins at 4:16 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to thank you desjardins for repeatedly posting about the human aspect of this tragedy. There is a whole community hurting but the posters here have been so focused on gun control issues that they have completely ignored the story of the very REAL people (not hypothetical people in hypothetical situations) that were affected.

If I am ever gunned down by a crazed shooter I hereby encourage everyone to focus on and discuss potential solutions, rather than treating it as a human interest story.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Side note: he remarked that there were a lot of "people in turbans" on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when he was there last month - is that an especially popular destination for Sikhs for some reason or was it just that he noticed "people in turbans" more than other groups?)

Niagara Falls is pretty close to Brampton, population 520,000, which is 10% Sikh and 27% Punjabi-speakers. So there's that.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:19 PM on August 10, 2012


What is the real terrorist threat in America?
Of the three hundred domestic-terrorism cases studied, about a quarter arose from anti-government extremists, white supremacists, or terrorists animated by bias against another religion. And all of the most frightening cases—involving chemical, biological, and radiological materials—arose from right-wing extremists or anarchists. None arose from Islamist militancy.

There was William Krar, for example, a militia activist who had stored “enough chemicals to produce a quantity of hydrogen cyanide gas that could kill thousands, along with more than one hundred weapons, nearly one hundred thousand rounds of ammunition and more than one hundred pounds of explosives.”

Why do these statistics seem so poorly publicized? Is the media a symptom of this problem or a cause? Why, to choose only the most recent indicator, would the Times fail to place on the front page any enterprise story about Oak Creek Wednesday morning, only the second day after the shooter’s racist background became known? (The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times did put massacre stories on A-1.) It is not hard to imagine the floodtide of sidebar stories and the legions of reporters summoned off the campaign or home from vacation by now if Page had been a converted Muslim and the sanctuary he attacked were in a Christian church.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:35 AM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Police officers among 'multiple casualties' as gunman opens fire near Texas A&M

At least there were (apparently) no fatalities in this week's Mass Shooting of the Week.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2012


was the a&m situation a mass shooting? it sounds like it was a shooting in response to a constable showing up at an address - maybe an eviction? maybe domestic violence?

sad still, but a different situation, i think.
posted by nadawi at 12:34 PM on August 13, 2012


Yeah, the initial report at that link had the details all wrong.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2012


Rick Perry Breaks With The NRA, Suggests States Should Be Allowed To Ban Guns

Waiting for the walk-back any minute now...
posted by tonycpsu at 2:40 PM on August 13, 2012


Here's a much more detailed account of the Texas shooting, although it's still not totally clear what happened - it sounds like a constable knocked on someone's door and got shot, triggering a standoff.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:13 PM on August 13, 2012


An American Tragedy
posted by homunculus at 4:50 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]










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