Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


McDermott owed back taxes
December 27, 2000 10:38 AM   Subscribe

McDermott owed back taxes Mix one unstable man with a love of ammo. Add in government intervention (which means loss of control). Pile on some kids from HR and you've got a massacre.
posted by amanda (74 comments total)

 
This is probably the wrong time to make this point, but: Richard Stallman?
posted by holgate at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2000


Oh, for the love of Adam Smith. Are you honestly suggesting taxation is to blame for this? Someone's financial mismanagement is the fault of "government intervention" and "loss of control"? We all endure taxes, we all have to deal with HR -- does that make us unstable and out of control?

And to think that conservatives used to believe in personal responsibility.
posted by luke at 10:59 AM on December 27, 2000


Yes, that is what I'm saying. So, make sure you pay your taxes kids or you'll go nutso.
posted by amanda at 11:17 AM on December 27, 2000


Nah, he was mentally unstable. But you've gotta admit, the IRS can be real bastards when they want to be, and HR can on occasion be their willing tool.

The article doesn't say whether he is a tax protester, but it would explain a lot if he were...
posted by kindall at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2000


My point was not that the IRS or HR is to blame. However, I do think it was all a bad mix for someone who was unstable. I'm speaking about psychology here, not who or what is to blame.
posted by amanda at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2000


Phew. You're being ironic.

With every massacre, simple-minded journalists and other spectators jump on any possible arithmetic to explain it, and I knew that Amanda was too sophisticated to fall for that. Doom + ridicule + trench coats + guns = Columbine. Day trading + guns + alimony = Atlanta. Taxes + Internet + guns + overweight man with beard = Edgewater.

In truth, there can be only one "explanation": The guy's an asshole. Period.
posted by luke at 11:36 AM on December 27, 2000


So, what, "unstable" people should be excused from the realms of the IRS and HR, or maybe just not both at the same time? Sign me up for the unstability train!
posted by luke at 11:38 AM on December 27, 2000


Thanks for your vote of confidence, Luke.

I've been hearing up and down on various lists that web workers work too hard. *wah* That a programmer has such a complicated mind that they don't responde the "normal" way to environmental stress. *wah* (And, whatever.)

I think that his psychology is pretty evident in his actions. What the rest of us take as the normal vagaries of life pushed him over the edge. It's a fact that he went over the edge, no?

Quit reading my comments as "excusing" his behavior.
posted by amanda at 11:46 AM on December 27, 2000


Sorry. I'm a little grouchy. I blame the holidays (which meant loss of control).

I just don't understand how much "psychological" analsyis one can do when pretty much all we know about the guy is that he knew a lot about explosives and may have had tax problems -- and all that has been filtered through the media.

Similarly, I'd be suspicious of a professional psychologist's theories on Web design.
posted by luke at 11:55 AM on December 27, 2000


Yes, you're right. I'm not charging for my theories, though. I can also understand the feeling (your feeling?) that what he did is pretty much beyond the realm of normal understanding and therefore deserves (needs? requires?) no analysis.

And, yes, there was irony in my initial post. There's irony in this one (find it!).
posted by amanda at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2000


Heh. You summed up my thoughts (my feelings?) much more succinctly and graciously than I could myself.
posted by luke at 12:26 PM on December 27, 2000


I am shocked, shocked, to learn that government harassment was what finally pushed Mucko over the edge. And if the AP wire is correct (a big if, I know), it was indeed harassment. The IRS was going to garnishee his wages at such a high rate that he'd only be getting $250 per pay period. For most people, that's life-destruction level. And he only owed a few thousand dollars, so there's probably no legitimate reason the IRS couldn't have taken the taxes out at a much lower rate over a longer period of time.

Usually we can say in cases like this that if X hadn't set the guy off, Y would have come along pretty soon. But in this case, I'm not convinced of that at all. If the IRS hadn't gone all out to destroy this man, he may very well have gone on for the rest of his life without doing anything.

This doesn't excuse what he did, of course; he's 100% responsible for that. But there's also no excuse for the IRS to try to inflict maximum damage on people. It only leads to mental anguish, and then to stuff like this.
posted by aaron at 2:50 PM on December 27, 2000



> The IRS was going to garnishee his wages at such a
> high rate that he'd only be getting $250 per pay period.

I think we need to wait and see if that was indeed true. It's certainly extreme, but perhaps it was the result of missing deadline after tax-collecting deadline. But it'd be nice to get more info on this before we declare "guns don't kill people, the IRS does."

posted by mathowie at 3:14 PM on December 27, 2000


I am very curious about why the perpetrators in these things, whether 13 or 50, are nearly always white and male. What is it about being white and male that makes one more likely to lash out?
posted by jillmatrix at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2000


I owed back taxes (irresponsibility + recession=bad news) a few years ago, and had a similar garnishment threat. I believe they were going to leave me $220 a paycheck to live on. I don't know if they even really put it into effect, because hearing that is a wakeup call that gets your ass on the phone to work out a payment plan.
The garnishment is the least of it, it is the interest that kills you. I cannot remember the rate other than you would never get a credit card if that was the best they offered and it is compounded weekly or daily. It was a 3 year nightmare. On a $6000 debt I ended up paying just over 15 grand. And that was talking them down from 25 grand.
I did not file for 2 years in a rown in 90 & 91, they caught up to me in 94. I had agents say horrible things to me on the phone, one guy say "I don't care how you get the money, get me a check today." This was when the figure was still 25 grand and I was living on ketchup soup and boiled peanuts.
I never thought of killing anybody (other than myself) over this, but I urge you all never to give the IRS any benefit of doubt.
posted by thirteen at 3:39 PM on December 27, 2000


I propose a registry of white males. They're much more like to be paedophiles too. Won't someone think of the children.

Actually, I thought violent crimes (via numbers of violent offenders in prison - for percentage of their race) were mostly black males. So it seems the real inane question to ask is: "What is it about being white and male that makes one more likely to lash out?"

(a silly question, for those that don't get that although there may be a data correlation between white/male violence, or black/male violence, it doesn't mean there's any relation - like the data that says those who eat 3 regular meals and gets 8 hours sleep lead longer lives -- when the cause could be the type of person who's in control of their life... has has less stress... or any number of possible true causes.)

Makes you think, doesn't it?

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

- Holloway

[fade to touching piano piece]
posted by holloway at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2000


ps. I blame marilyn manson.
posted by holloway at 3:47 PM on December 27, 2000


It was 15 grand when I started paying, closer to 20 by the time I paid it off. I forgot that killer interest.
posted by thirteen at 3:52 PM on December 27, 2000



tag, you're it.
posted by thirteen at 3:54 PM on December 27, 2000


(Tag closed, for real this time...)

The Washington Post article on the shooting mentioned that McDermott had been chronically late on paying his rent and had skipped out on his landlord. The IRS is no good, but that suggests he was having severe money troubles even before his wages were garnished.
posted by snarkout at 3:54 PM on December 27, 2000


there
posted by cell divide at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2000


whoops, little late! blink!
posted by cell divide at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2000


...nearly always white and male.

They may always be male, but the idea they're always white is slightly beyond ludicrous and edging towards racist. There have been LOTS of black men who have gone on shooting rampages.

If there's any question to be asked here, it's why the media likes to play up the murderer's race when he's white and play it down when he's black.
posted by aaron at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2000



> why the media likes to play up the murderer's race when
> he's white and play it down when he's black.

or why does the media play up murder's race at all? (actually, I think they play all of them up, and none of them down)
posted by mathowie at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2000


IT'S ALL MARYLIN MANSON'S FAULT.
thank you and goodnight.
posted by afx114 at 4:42 PM on December 27, 2000


I think what we need is in addition to fire alarms, have personal protection alarms installed in public places. If someone is getting out of hand you just run over, pull the lever and everyone (victims and disgruntled tax-evading bearded psychopaths) within a certain radius is incapacitated for several hours, at the same time the device phones the police.
posted by Poop(*)Head at 7:31 PM on December 27, 2000


You know, that might be the first reasonable suggestion I've ever heard for addressing the gun-toting-psychopath problem. Some kind of gas, perhaps?
posted by kindall at 8:02 PM on December 27, 2000


Anyone notice that his guy has no money to pay the IRS and his ex-landlord, but has money to buy bomb-making equipment and guns. Sure paying taxes sucks, but it is a fact of life. The government can't run on no money. I don't know too much about the IRS in America, but in other countries the tax department usually only garnishes your wages as a last resort or as thirteen alludes to force you to make a deal.

What kind of money would a software engineer at a company like Edgewater earn anyway? I am guessing he earns a reasonable salary. If so what is he doing with his money. The guy probably needs to learn how to budget. Perhaps he should have spent his money on financial management magazines instead of bomb-making magazines.

I now notice he has plead not guilty. I suspect he will say it is some kind of government conspiracy and he didn't kill anyone.

aaron, I guess the white male sterotype comes from people like the Unabomber. They seem to be loners, a bit strange, and are anti-government. While of course it is bad to sterotype, there seems to be quite a few of them out there. I think the black men who have gone on shooting rampages fit a different profile and usually don't fit the white loner profile.
posted by jay at 8:09 PM on December 27, 2000


The not guilty plea was described in another report I read as more or less automatic. That is, it is the expected plea. McDermott is considered innocent until proven guilty, and it is the prosecutor's job to prove his guilt to the jury's satisfaction, not the defense's job to admit it right up front.
posted by kindall at 8:31 PM on December 27, 2000


It's your government, should they not be as flexible with repayments as possible?

I know someone that is having the same problem in Australia, and it's unbelievable how desperate the government is for every last cent you owe them in taxes.
They want it all now, now and now.
posted by Zool at 9:07 PM on December 27, 2000


Zool: At the time of my trouble I did some talking to people. It seems that once upon a time the US government had very easy payment plans, and charged no interest at all. What caused this to change, I do not know. I do believe that if the government did not grab our money before we get it, that if we actually had to mail them what they believe is their fair share of our labor, people would not take it. Nor would they be so willing to believe the governments job is to do many things we could be doing for ourselves.
posted by thirteen at 9:13 PM on December 27, 2000


OK, thirteen, I'll get right on building that new road I need. Say, were those your hydrangeas?

The IRS does have many options for dealing with tax liability, and while I'd be the last to say that our tax system is simple, that very complexity allows for many people to get out of paying taxes in a variety of ways. Smart people take advantage of these when they can. (Although one of the worst things to be, tax-wise, is a highly-paid bachelor male.) Still, no matter your liability, there are a whole lot of different ways to handle it besides letting the IRS
One of the most importnat is the Offer in Compromise (sometimes misnamed as offer and compromise), for which you can actually apply online, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, not to mention the usual passel of appeals and dispute resolution procedures. In other words, if having the speed of paying your tax liability under your control is important to you, there are plenty of options for doing so.

I suppose some might see innocent people who are themselves only following the law being shot dead as a sensible alternative tax settlement procedure. I'm willing to be flexible.
posted by dhartung at 10:30 PM on December 27, 2000


dhartung: I did say many things, not all things. I would not think individuals could produce an orderly system of roads without central authority. I don't know where all the money goes or how it is budgeted, but I do not feel that I receive adequate service for the 1/3 of my pay that is taken from me. It irritates me beyond belief that we will spend more money than I will even pay in taxes to bomb an aspirin factory in Africa to cover a corrupt presidents ass. Not even part of one missile. Everyone (well, U.S. citizens) here on Metafilter, every cent you will ever pay in taxes was wasted in 30 seconds.
I got screwed on my taxes because I wanted to get things going quickly. I had no assets to seize, and I was not worth putting in jail. I probably could have gotten them down to a few grand if I had bothered to consult a lawyer, this has been told to me many times. Since I will never let this happen again, it is trivia. If it had not happened, I would not live as I do now, and I would not have so much money saved. If all goes well, I will be wealthy enough to be hated by some of you good people before I am 45. It is the strangest thing to me, that the government that was so puerile and cruel to me, now seems to be begging me to accept a low interest loan to preserve Chicago's "historic " bungalows. Who the hell thought that was a good use of tax money? I need utilities, not programs.
Back to the thread, nobody should be shooting anybody, and I hope they fry this bastard for what he did.
posted by thirteen at 12:02 AM on December 28, 2000


I think the saddest thing about this, is that over here in UK we can't even be bothered to mention your gun laws.

When I was a lad as soon as some random American went on a kill-crazy rampage it felt like our patriotic duty to crow about the USA's gun laws. It seems a bit pointless now.

HE HAD AN AK-47 FOR FUCK'S SAKE. What possible explanation can anyone give for owning an AK?
posted by fullerine at 2:51 AM on December 28, 2000


Although one of the worst things to be, tax-wise, is a highly-paid bachelor male.

I never realized that men have to pay higher taxes in this country. That's probably what finally drove him over the edge. :P
posted by croutonsupafreak at 5:48 AM on December 28, 2000


Hmmm... I thought you were thirteen. I'd been going to compliment you on your diction. :-)

The St Pete Times did some journalism on this story; you know: the "let's go talk to some local experts about this national story" bit, and it makes some interesting points.

They already had the contacts, because it happened here in 93; a Fireman's Fund Insurance employee lost it in the cafeteria. I'd have linked the story, but the Times' search engine is falling down on the job.
posted by baylink at 7:17 AM on December 28, 2000


I never realized that men have to pay higher taxes in this country.

No, what dhartung meant was that being a highly-paid bachelor male means the IRS is much less likely to give you a break if you get behind. I have a friend who did an offer in compromise, and got his back taxes lowered significantly, but he's supporting a wife and a child on around $35K. If he made $70K and were single, they probably wouldn't have gone for it.

I suppose unmarried females making similar amounts of money would experience similar difficulty getting an OiC accepted, but somehow it always seems to be men who get behind.
posted by kindall at 7:23 AM on December 28, 2000


"HE HAD AN AK-47 FOR FUCK'S SAKE. What possible explanation can anyone give for owning an AK?" - fullerine

Do you know what an AK *is*, or is that just a Pavlovian response to media conditioning? (AK47 = tool of evil...) It's just a relatively inexpensive small-caliber semi-automatic rifle. Deadly yes, but not as deadly as a typical hunting rifle.

The problem here is the deranged man, not the tools he chose.
posted by Tubes at 8:55 AM on December 28, 2000


It's just a relatively small-caliber semi-automatic rifle.

There aren't many people in the world who consider a semi-automatic weapon of any kind something that's terribly useful for your average citizen.

What possible explanation can anyone give for owning an AK?

He was a collector. He had a whole whack-load of guns, the AK47 was probably simply the best suited for his purposes that day.

I think the better question to ask is "What possible explanation can anyone give for bringing an AK-47 to work and taking out 7 human beings?"

To be quite frank, I don't feel there is one. If the lives of 7 people mean that little to you, you don't deserve to be a member of our society.
posted by cCranium at 11:01 AM on December 28, 2000


There aren't many people in the world who consider a semi-automatic weapon of any kind something that's terribly useful for your average citizen. - cCranium

<disagree>Actually there are a great many people who believe the average citizen should be able to have one, whether others think it's useful or not. However they do not dominate the popular media or political circles.</disagree>

"What possible explanation can anyone give for bringing an AK-47 to work and taking out 7 human beings?" - cCranium

<agree>Right, but even more to the point: "What possible explanation can anyone give for murdering 7 innocent human beings?" Guns, knives, explosives, pitchforks, whatever the chosen method might have been.</agree>
posted by Tubes at 11:26 AM on December 28, 2000


Actually there are a great many people who believe the average citizen should be able to have one, whether others think it's useful or not.

This is going to sound harsh, but it isn't intended that way, I just can't think of a better way to phrase it. Take a step outside of the United States for a minute. The vast majority of countries have comparitively stringent gun restriction laws that make perfect sense to many of their citizens.

I think we're actually disagreeing over different points. Allow me a minute to clarify.

You say there are a great number of people who feel people should be allowed to own guns, regardless of use. I'm questioning the usefulness of the weapon.

They're actually two different arguments. I agree that people should be allowed to own whatever they like. I agree that the responsibility lies with the nutcase, not with the weapon he chose, or the availability of that weapon. He could've just as easily blown the place up.
posted by cCranium at 12:05 PM on December 28, 2000


The preceeding post led me to this, which I figured I'd break up into a new post, since it doesn't really have much to do with Tubes. (sorry. :-)


Ew, an icky thought that just entered my head. The Globe & Mail (Canadian newspaper) mentioned that the local police feel his victims weren't chosen randomly, mostly because of the garnishing going on. He had ready access to explosives, and obviously knew something about them.

He could've just as easily blown the place up; by using a reasonably controllable tool, he made sure he only killed the people he wanted to.

If that is the case, that's definetely premeditated murder, not an insane shootout. The man's sick and depraved, but he'd better get full punishment. I realize that an insane asylum isn't any better (and is easily argued to be worse) than a jail, but this doesn't appear to be a crime thank can be blamed on anything other than this man.
posted by cCranium at 12:07 PM on December 28, 2000


All I meant by the remark, kindall etc., was that well-paid bachelor males have few deductions. It can even be hard to get the one middle-class deduction that just about EVERYBODY gets, on mortgage interest. (This is due to gradual increases in standard deduction and personal exemptions, which benefits everyone, of course.) The bottom line is that despite all the Republican hoo-hah about a "marriage penalty", married couples filing jointly on average pay a lot less in reality than non-married individuals who are not heads of households.

(Note that I didn't say I had it worse than, say, a single mother. I said taxwise, that's all.)
posted by dhartung at 12:15 PM on December 28, 2000


Take a step outside of the United States for a minute. The vast majority of countries have comparitively stringent gun restriction laws that make perfect sense to many of their citizens. - cCranium

Well, we're getting into areas where terms like "many" and "most" and "vast majority" are tossed around too easily - I don't have the stats at my fingertips and I doubt you do. But anyway, I *was* thinking of more than just the U.S. in my post. There were protests in Great Britain over the ban & confiscation of privately owned firearms. There was an uproar in Australia, where the gov't enacted a knee-jerk ban and began collecting guns from law-abiding citizens. Some cultures, such as most of Asia, may not have many pro-gunners - but other things make "perfect sense" to them which we would find hard to swallow. Gov't-required birth control, cats as food, etc...

I'm questioning the usefulness of the weapon. - cCranium

Yes, I agree they are two different points. As for this point, we need to know how to define "useful."

If you base it on frequency or likelihood of use, than a can opener is *much* more useful than a gun - except when you might need to shoot someone/something.

If you base it on versatility within the category of "weapon," a knife is a more useful implement as it can also slice tomatoes, sharpen pencils, etc.

But if you base it on being the best tool for a specific purpose - well, there are occasions when only a gun will do.

Most of us will be blessed to never encounter such an occasion. But... what if the next McDermott walks into *your* office?
posted by Tubes at 1:22 PM on December 28, 2000


Are you suggesting that if that happens, Tubes, we should use an AK-47 to take him out?

An AK-47 wouldn't seem to be an ideal weapon for either hunting or self-defense (on a smaller scale than defending against large numbers of federal agents). Ignore the question of whether one should be allowed to buy the gun, which wasn't cCranium's point. Why, if one isn't a collector or a Rambo fan, would one buy an AK-47? As someone who's never used anything bigger than a .22 rifle, I'm genuinely curious as to what use you would put it to.
posted by snarkout at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2000


That wasn't intended to be snarky. I'm not saying that being a gun collector or getting a kick out of, say, going out to the desert and firing off a lot of rounds is bad. I just can't think of reasons to own an AK-47 beyond those that don't involve shooting a lot of people, and I'm wondering if I'm missing something.
posted by snarkout at 2:39 PM on December 28, 2000


An AK-47 wouldn't seem to be an ideal weapon for either hunting or self-defense (on a smaller scale than defending against large numbers of federal agents).

Sweet merciful crap, did I just wander into a Free Republic thread?
posted by dcehr at 2:40 PM on December 28, 2000


Are you suggesting that if that happens, Tubes, we should use an AK-47 to take him out? - snarkout

No, I'm not. Obviously a handgun is more appropriate for defensive daily carry and close-quarters encounters.

The Chinese/Russian AK-47 is comparable to our own AR-15 (the civilian version of the M-16) They *are,* actually, .22 caliber rifles, only it's expressed in NATO standards as 7.62mm. The cartridges are larger than what you are used to seeing for a .22 because there is much more powder behind them, allowing for accuracy at longer distances.

They can be used quite well as target rifles, or small game & varmint rifles. The defensive role is more limited, but there are situations which are possible, if unlikely. If your assailant is at a distance, say, a nearby bell tower or rooftop, you'd want the rifle, not the handgun.
posted by Tubes at 3:01 PM on December 28, 2000


If memory serves, Tubes, 7.62 NATO equates (roughly) to civilian .308 Winchester -- which is a man- (or "elk-" or what-have-you) stopper, as opposed to the .223/5.56mm that a number of Rambo-types dismiss as "poodle-shooter".

I'm not sure, off the top of my head, of the various chamberings available for the AK-47.
posted by dcehr at 3:23 PM on December 28, 2000


That this thread has turned into a discussion of the precise firepower of the AK-47 (incidentally, the "freedom fighter's" rifle of choice worldwide, since its design has barely evolved from its original iteration, unlike the overcomplicated M-16) is perhaps an indicator of the cultural divide here (that's the only piece of information I know about the AK-47). And you don't need one.
posted by holgate at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2000


I know five people in Chicago who own AK-47s, All of them Nader supporters. Four have used them to hunt deer, One mentioned hanging out the window of his muscle car and taking out BATF agents when society crumbles. Scary people those Nader supporters.
I would bet money that there at least 2 more in houses within a 2 block radius of where I live. Having talked to some of my neighbors, I think I am one of the few unarmed people on my street, how is that for wacky. Despite the fact that this always seems to a party issue, I cannot imagine living in a more solidly Democratic area. We have the highest voter turnout of any ward in Chicago, and the people I vote for never seem to get more than single digit returns. I was one of 8 people who voted against my alderman, my wife was another. I wish I could meet the other 6.
posted by thirteen at 4:01 PM on December 28, 2000


.223/5.56mm - dcehr

Woops, you got me. I'm a little rusty. Yep, 7.62 is the larger round. I understand the U.S. went to .223 because it was more likely to wound than kill - thus tying up additional opposition resources as they provide medical attention and transport to the wounded.
What an ugly business...


posted by Tubes at 4:03 PM on December 28, 2000


Hmm. I honestly was just curious about the white male angle. Sorry for the offense taken. It probably is my own racism that I even noticed this.
posted by jillmatrix at 4:11 PM on December 28, 2000


Sweet merciful crap, did I just wander into a Free Republic thread?

Lemme know if I start ranting about how Gore wants to steal the election... It was meant to be a joke. I just wanted to know if anyone at all actually used AK-47s for deer hunting or whether that was just posturing on the part of kneejerk NRA types. Now I know. (And knowing is half the battle!) We can now return to the obligatory flamefest about gun control.

Frankly, if McDermott having a gun means that he didn't homebrew some explosives -- which he was apparently capable of doing -- and blow up the building, killing half the people inside, in this instance it was probably better that the crazy man had access to a gun.
posted by snarkout at 4:14 PM on December 28, 2000


Though it seems to have already been resolved, I'd just like to confirm snarkout's point that I'm not questioning the usefulness of guns in general. I'm not even really questioning the usefulness of an AK-47 as much as I am questioning the usefulness of semi-automatic rifles.

I mean, if I were to go hunting, I think I'd prefer a high-powered rifle to take my prey down in one shot (my prey likely being deer, not humans :-) as opposed to pounding a few bullets into it. It would leave more congruous meat, would it not?
posted by cCranium at 5:00 AM on December 29, 2000


Oh, Kee-rist! As holgate said earlier, as a civilian, you DON'T need an AK-47. Ever. I don't care how small your pee-pee is. Find another way to compensate. I understand that Harleys are very popular for this purpose.
posted by Optamystic at 5:50 AM on December 29, 2000


as a civilian, you DON'T need an AK-47. Ever.

I don't know about that. If you were a shopkeeper caught in the middle of the L.A. Riots, it might have been nice to have a semi-auto. Or maybe a full-auto.

Some people just don't like the idea of other people deciding what they do and don't need.
posted by kindall at 8:03 AM on December 29, 2000


Some people just don't like the idea of other people deciding what they do and don't need.

Tough. We live in a society, and the good of the whole outweighs the "likes" of the few who feel the need to own automatic weapons. Those people who "just don't like the idea of other people deciding what they do and don't need" are free to go live in a cabin in Montana and decline to share in the benefits of society (paved roads, safe regulated food preparation, communications infrastructure, et al.) as well as its restrictions.

I totally support gun rights, but come on, automatic weapons aren't for civilians any more than tanks and bazookas.
posted by wiremommy at 8:49 AM on December 29, 2000


automatic weapons aren't for civilians any more than tanks and bazookas. - wiremommy

No one here is advocating *automatic weapons.* They are highly regulated and comparatively few are in civilian hands. SEMI-automatic weapons (one trigger pull = one shot) have been common for a couple of generations now. Heck, a simple revolver can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. Why no outcry against "deadly military assault revolvers"?

Now, assuming you intended to speak of AK-47's and such:

Tough... the good of the whole outweighs the "likes" of the few - wiremommy

We don't have a Bill of *Likes*, we have a Bill of Rights. And - this is important - the rights of the few outweigh the likes of the majority. People who don't like *that* are free to go live in any number of places where laws do not protect basic individual rights of speech, defense.

I am so tired of the self-righteous, Rosie O'Donnel liberal blather: "tough, I don't care, I'm right, you're wrong, even though I'm uninformed about the facts of the argument."

Flag-burning offends me and I can imagine no justification for it. But... I can see that making a law to ban it goes against some of the principles the flag represents.
posted by Tubes at 10:03 AM on December 29, 2000


People who don't like *that* are free to go live in any number of places where laws do not protect basic individual rights of speech, defense.

I could say so much about that journalist's comma, but I'll just provide the link to zeugma.

And as for your problem with "liberal blather": Rosie will shut up once you agree to silence the extremists who spout idiocies such as "we don't care about your arguments because we have the guns, suckers." But if you want to own an AK-47 for defensive purposes, jump on the next plane to Burundi, where it may just come in useful.
posted by holgate at 1:55 PM on December 29, 2000


Tubes: My flippant "Tough" was in response to the statement "Some people just don't like the idea of other people deciding what they do and don't need", which strikes me as a childish sentiment ("You're not the boss of me!") that ignores the social contract.

No, I don't know much about the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and seem to have come to the wrong conclusion about them from what I read in this discussion. That doesn't necessarily void my overall point. Which is that we all must make a few sacrifices and agreements when we all join together to live in a society. Vis a vis guns, I'm just saying, the limited amount of good that comes from allowing people to own assault weapons (there seem to be few legit civilian uses for them) ought to be weighed against the considerable harm they can do.

And just to TOTALLY topic-drift, I really don't understand the objections to flag burning. I seem to recall learning in school and in Girl Scouts that the _only_ respectful way to destroy a flag was to burn it. You were never supposed to just throw them away. According to the American Legion: "The approved method of disposing of unserviceable Flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning".

So burning them because they're old is the only way to go. But burning them for purposes of protest is offensive? I don't get it.
posted by wiremommy at 2:31 PM on December 29, 2000


"Some people just don't like the idea of other people deciding what they do and don't need" ... strikes me as a childish sentiment ("You're not the boss of me!") that ignores the social contract.

Sure, it's a childish sentiment. But what other kind of response is there to "It's for your own good"?
posted by kindall at 2:43 PM on December 29, 2000


Rosie will shut up once you agree to silence the extremists who spout idiocies such as "we don't care about your arguments because we have the guns, suckers." - holgate

(Sorry about the "journalist's comma" - I was editing in a hurry.)

Rosie and her kind won't shut up until the implantable anti-violence chip becomes a reality. Even when the alien overlords arrive and use their superior technology to vaporize all guns worldwide and prevent the manufacture of more, bad people will still victimize the unarmed with whatever tools are at hand.

Anyone spouting "we have the guns, suckers" isn't representing the rationale and ideals of the pro-gun community. Sounds more like a backwoods militia mindset.

But sometimes, when you find yourself attempting debate with some brainwashed automaton that can only say "you don't need a gun! No one needs a gun! Only the police need guns! We should take your guns away!" it's hard to resist ending the conversation with "Fine. Try."
posted by Tubes at 3:33 PM on December 29, 2000


Agreed, Tubes. While I'm no gun-nut myself, my father, who lives in Idaho, seriously is. In the good, non-scary way--he's a genuine collector (60+ and counting), he trapshoots, doesn't harbor any deep, abiding anti-government animus (well, no more than your average taxpayer), etc. I was just home for Christmas, and we had a great time target shooting--even got the gun-shy girlfriend involved, and she loved it too.

But it was weird in that the whole place was full of people for whom guns are a way of life. I just forget about that somehow when I'm living in Seattle with all my leftie friends. Sure, there's a fair share of dumbfuck rednecks who can spout NRA slogans on command, but there's just as many like my father who can rationally argue for their deep feelings about gun ownership. The NRA is a huge lobbying block; they don't go around knocking over banks getting the money behind that muscle--shitloads of people send them cash, and to simply dismiss them all with a "you-can't-have-them-because-we-say-so" attitude is stupid and insulting.

(I'm not trying to single out any one person with this; it's just a tendency I see in these debates--on both sides, in fairness.)
posted by Skot at 3:58 PM on December 29, 2000


Even when the alien overlords arrive and use their superior technology to vaporize all guns worldwide and prevent the manufacture of more, bad people will still victimize the unarmed with whatever tools are at hand.


Sure, Tubes....but when was the last time you heard of a "drive-by stabbing"?
posted by Optamystic at 4:00 PM on December 29, 2000


When was the last time you heard of a guy having his throat slit with a gun?
posted by kindall at 4:22 PM on December 29, 2000


Ok, I guess I'm going to have to actually type this out:

Knife, Club, etc. = Individual weapons for individual combat. Can be run away from fairly easily. Not efficient for whacking large numbers of folks at malls, post offices, schools, dotcoms, whatever.

Semi-Automatic Assault Rifles = VERY efficient for spraying hot lead into crowds of co-workers. Also good for bank robbin', cop shootin' and general outlaw type mayhem.
posted by Optamystic at 4:39 PM on December 29, 2000


I've been around the boards for years and this seems to be the sanest gun control discussion I've seen, so I'm going to ask this right out.

Why does anyone want to own a gun?

This is not a troll, this is a geniuine question. I can't understand it you see and would like it explained to me.

Thanks.
posted by fullerine at 4:48 PM on December 29, 2000


My point was, you don't hear of drive-by knifings because it doesn't suit the weapon's strengths. You take away guns, you still have plenty of ways to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately at a distance. Such as, as mentioned in this very thread, explosives. You might not have so many drive-bys, but I somehow don't think that would stop gangs from killing members of rival gangs.

As to why people want to own guns: in some cases, it can be a useful deterrent against crime (merely displaying it, or firing a blank, can cause intruders to flee). If I lived in an area where I thought I might need a deterrent like that at some point, I would not hesitate to obtain a gun (and learn how to best use it, of course).

Another reason people own them is because, frankly, even target shooting with them can be a lot of fun. Others find hunting enjoyable (though the rifles used in hunting are not generally the ones people are worried about in gun control discussions). Some want to own one as an exercise of what they see as an endangered right.

These may or may not be compelling reasons for you (they're certainly not all for me -- shooting targets is fun, but not $200-$300 worth of fun) but they can be for others.
posted by kindall at 5:36 PM on December 29, 2000


Just a couple questions now that the conversation has gone completely off topic
1. Everyone is freaking out over the word semi-auto. I am under the impression this just means a shell is chambered after the trigger is pulled. Is everyone hearing "auto" and thinking these are machine guns? Am I right?
2.Isn't a WWII era M-1 rifle far deadlier than an AK-47? I have never seen anyone pushing to get that gun banned. As guns go, it looks like your typical hunting rifle, are we set to freak out over scary looking weapons more.
3.Does anyone else draw abortion parallels with the gun argument? I can't understand how anyone could support one, and not the other. Banning full auto is the same as banning as partial birth abortion. The arguments on both sides are remarkably similar.
4.Speaking of full auto, is there anyone who would say, if they were on train being assaulted by a gunman, not prefer him to have a full auto machine gun vs. A shotgun loaded with some spray? I think your chances of surviving would go way up. I may be wrong, that is why I am asking the questions.
Fullerine: I don't really know why anybody wants to own a gun, but I have a feeling. My friend Carolyn owns a bad ass compound bow that she shoots every chance she gets, I think it is for the same reason that I want a really nice band saw, or why I want to build a huge forge. They are tools that let us use our senses, appreciate tech, and provide instant accomplishment. As always, I could be wrong.
posted by thirteen at 10:21 PM on December 29, 2000


Gotcha, Tubes: at least we're chasing this argument away from sloganeering.

I'm with fullerine (and it's probably no coincidence that he's a Brit, as well): I've never had the slightest inclination to own a gun or use a gun. It makes me skittish to see them on sale when I visit the US (especially the shotgun section of K-Mart). It makes me more skittish to hear people trading gun stats as if they were reading from Wisden. Guns have no place in my mental world, and have never needed to have a place.

(That said, I can probably equate it to people who read car magazines and get a thrill over acceleration rates.)

But since reading MeFi, I've altered my position somewhat: statistics show that gun crime is lowest in countries with the strictest prohibition (Japan) or where citizens have the responsibility, not the right to bear arms (Switzerland). And that's why it's perhaps a little futile to have an intelligent discussion on gun control, since those like Tubes and Skot's father seem to regard it implicitly as a heavy responsibility.

But this leads me to a similar conclusion: gun ownership is statistically less associated with crime where it's legally cast as a responsibility that can be taken away by the State, rather than a natural right that an opressive State can curtail. And nothing can convince me that autos, semi-autos or even revolvers fit into a "natural rights" theory of society.
posted by holgate at 4:54 AM on December 30, 2000


So burning them because they're old is the only way to go. But burning them for purposes of protest is offensive? I don't get it.

Well, the burning of old, or "unserviceable" flags, is supposed to be done in a "dignified manner," preferably involving some sort of respectful ceremony. Here's the American Legion's ritual, which is sufficiently complex to compel them to save up a number of old flags and only perform it once per year, on Flag Day. (Burial is also considered by many to be appropriate.) Obviously, this is way different than waving a burning flag in the middle of the street while chanting "Death to America!" or somesuch.

As to why they care in the first place, I think it's because what a lot of older people have been through. Think of the old men who had to fight in WWII; those guys were fighting to save their entire way of life, their rights, etc. And they were going through unspeakable horrors to accomplish their goal. So to see an American flag go up on a piece of land they just captured, it meant everything to them. The flag became so infused with meaning for them that it's impossible for them to ever separate it from their right to exist as free men. (As a comparison, think how people react to Nazi swastikas. That's just a flag too, in and of itself.) To attack it is to attack them. And thus they react.

To people our age, who have never had to even contemplate the possibility of losing all our rights and our entire way of life, it's harder to understand.
posted by aaron at 12:19 AM on December 31, 2000



For those that think gun grabs will stop mass murders...

Conn. Man Held in Slayings of 3


Associated Press


Friday, December 29, 2000; Page A10


GUILFORD, Conn., Dec. 28 -- A man was arrested today in the slayings of his aunt and her two children and then helped police find the body of another woman who had been missing since October, officers said.

The three family members were stabbed a total of 30 times, a prosecutor said.

The bodies of Katherine "Kitty" Kleinkauf, 43, and two of her four children, Rachael Crum, 6, and Kyle Redway, 4, were discovered Wednesday in a cottage in this shoreline town, about 15 miles east of New Haven. Autopsies of those victims were scheduled.

The other victim, Mindy Elizabeth Leigh, 20, had dated John Mills, police said. Her skeletal remains were found at the town fairgrounds. Mills, 27, has not been arrested in that case, state police Sgt. Paul Vance said.

Vance said he could not provide many details about either case, including where Kleinkauf's two older children were at the time of the killings.

Vance said Mills had voluntarily come to Guilford police about 2 a.m. today and was questioned through the night. He was arrested on murder charges that could result in the death penalty on conviction. Other charges in the Kleinkauf case included robbery, burglary, larceny and fraud.

Mills said nothing during his arraignment and was ordered held on a $2 million bond.

Mills has had nine felony convictions in the past 10 years, state prosecutor Kim McCabe said.
posted by aaron at 3:00 PM on December 31, 2000



Aren't you willing to make another telltale setting for chiffon when you load the blade easily into my source in August? The cure for online checks and balances takes another place inside the dark, wiggly insurance agent and plunges outward with green and speedy recovery. The best foot takes no more time than marrying two different rounds of pool, inside-out.
posted by honkzilla at 8:27 PM on July 11, 2001


« Older Jorn Barger seems to be declaring holy war on Robo...  |  Eid Mubarak... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments