Skip

An unreliable narrator tells his story
August 5, 2009 7:13 AM   Subscribe

A murderer attempts to explain, justify, and understand his crime (before the fact).
posted by prefpara (527 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Standard issue gun rampage.
posted by Artw at 7:15 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reading as much of the diary as I could stomach, I can attempt it too: he's racist, insane, and had easy access to firearms.

That wasn't as hard to calculate as I thought.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


"I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne - yet 30 million women rejected me - over an 18 or 25-year period."
posted by hermitosis at 7:25 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I skimmed through his website - it was really disturbing. After you're an adult, you can't keep blaming your issues on other people. Your mom's a controlling bitch? Stop talking to her. Your pastor is a dick? Stop going to church. The message of the site is "look what you jerks made me do! Now everyone will know what huge assholes you are!". As Dan Savage says, if you're going to commit a murder-suicide, do the suicide part first.
posted by shrabster at 7:25 AM on August 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


So lack of sex really does drive you crazy
posted by The Gooch at 7:28 AM on August 5, 2009


No girlfriend since 1984, last Christmas with Pam was in 1983. Who knows why. I am not ugly or too weird. No sex since July 1990 either (I was 29). No shit! Over eighteen years ago. And did it maybe only 50-75 times in my life
posted by The Gooch at 7:29 AM on August 5, 2009


If you're going to post anything about this on MetaFilter, why not instead post something from the families of the women who were the victims of this. We don't need to ever hear anything from George Sodini ever again. I feel shitty just typing out his name.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 AM on August 5, 2009 [19 favorites]


He masturbated. Frequently.
posted by fire&wings at 7:34 AM on August 5, 2009


Fuck you, pal. I say delete this, so his "my voice will speak forever" crap is denied. Reminds me of that BTK show on A&E where they practically worshipped the guy.
posted by cashman at 7:36 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hey, this contains the names and addresses of his family. I don't feel good about that kind of information being linked to.
posted by creeky at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I stopped reading at the racist part.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:37 AM on August 5, 2009


If you're going to post anything about this on MetaFilter, why not instead post something from the families of the women who were the victims of this.

Favorite added.

Police have also confirmed that Elizabeth Gannon, 49, of Pittsburgh and Heidi Overmier, 46, of Carnegie were two of the victims in the shooting.

.
posted by philotes at 7:39 AM on August 5, 2009


Obviously a racist, but that doesn't seem to motivate him. Except that he started the log on 11/05/2008 and thought that black men were getting all the white women, presumably leaving him with even less chance.

why not instead post something from the families of the women who were the victims of this. We don't need to ever hear anything from George Sodini ever again.

Why not post both? Ignoring Sodini will keep us from learning how to prevent the next one.
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on August 5, 2009 [13 favorites]


As well being demented these people's 'messages' (the University campus killer guy, the guy that sent a bomb to Bjork before offing himself on video) are always so boring.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:41 AM on August 5, 2009


If you're going to post anything about this on MetaFilter, why not instead post something from the families of the women who were the victims of this. We don't need to ever hear anything from George Sodini ever again. I feel shitty just typing out his name.

I think I understand where you're coming from, and I am sorry if my post upset you or offended you. I guess my response would be to say that, while I am repulsed by this man, my desire to understand people extends to those people who commit brutal, grisly murders. I thought this man's webpage was not the kind of thing we always see when there is a killing, and thus worth sharing.
posted by prefpara at 7:41 AM on August 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


Oh, but THIS is what really gets me:

Police say two guns were found at the scene, both legally registered to the shooter.

FUCK YOU, NRA.
posted by philotes at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2009 [9 favorites]


I don't really see how reading the racist narcissistic rantings of a murderer are going to keep us from learning how to prevent the next one, either. There may be a story here, but this post doesn't tell it.

Flagged. Moved on.
posted by orville sash at 7:42 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


What? These fuckers are all the same. If anyone wanted to draw any lessons from this they would have already.
posted by Artw at 7:43 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not post both? Ignoring Sodini will keep us from learning how to prevent the next one.

Yeah, that's working out awesome.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:44 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


30 million women rejected me

he should have tried hai karate cologne
posted by pyramid termite at 7:46 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I say delete this, so his "my voice will speak forever" crap is denied.

Wait a minute, isn't it worthwhile to try to understand the thoughts of someone who's going to commit murder? Similarly, I think it's worth reading bin Laden's writings to try to understand the terrorist mindset. The idea that Sodini's website should be ignored sounds a lot like those (mostly right-wingers) who balk at the idea of "understanding" terrorists. You can understand what went on in someone's mind without excusing their actions.

OTOH, the fact that the site implores the public to harass random citizens, giving addresses and a phone number, seems way over the line. I wouldn't mind seeing this deleted for that reason. But on the whole, I think his blog is pretty interesting, in the same way I find bin Laden's fatwas and Hitler's Mein Kampf interesting and important reading.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:46 AM on August 5, 2009 [21 favorites]


the thoughts of someone who's going to commit murder

*Of course, he's already done it and there'd no way to stop it, so I should have said "who was going to commit murder." Understanding how one killer's mind works could lead to better-informed policies or actions in the future.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:48 AM on August 5, 2009




orville sash: "17I don't really see how reading the racist narcissistic rantings of a murderer are going to keep us from learning how to prevent the next one, either. There may be a story here, but this post doesn't tell it."

This is an extremely valuable narrative. The things we tell ourselves, and the things we tell ourselves specifically for the purpose of overhearers (us, now), are important clues to understanding a specific pathology. This is a forensic linguist's goldmine of identity construction and performativity.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:49 AM on August 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


Ignoring Sodini will keep us from learning how to prevent the next one.

You can't "prevent" people like him -- any more than you can "prevent" lightning strikes or shark attacks.

The thing that strikes me most about his writings is that, it seems to me, he is almost certainly NOT insane. He has full knowledge and self-awareness of his planned actions and motivations. He is fully cognizant of the misery and death that he is going to bestow upon innocent women as a way to compensate for his personal inadequacies.

He strikes me as an ideological terrorist rather than a crazed lone gunman. Someone who is murdering others to prove a rhetorical point instead of someone just following the voices in his head.
posted by Avenger at 7:51 AM on August 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


The idea that Sodini's website should be ignored sounds a lot like those (mostly right-wingers) who balk at the idea of "understanding" terrorists.

Bingo.
posted by DU at 7:52 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait. Is there some sort of sex scoreboard or something? Because I am way behind and also pissed at that 16-year-old couple.
posted by graventy at 7:52 AM on August 5, 2009


He was dealing with depression, from what i can tell, couple with a lot of pent up anger and resentment. He may have been functional, but he was not a healthy individual.

As a society we need to take mental illness, even functional illnesses such as depression, much more seriously.

Yes, the post is disturbing. Sodini himself should not be glorified, but the mindest is worth noting. Fortunately, many people with these same thoughts never act on them, or at least don't try to take other people out with them. That makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to determine who will do what.

Thoughtcrime isn't a crime yet.
posted by Xoebe at 7:53 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm skeptical of the merit in reading something like this, especially so deliberately written, in order to "prevent the next one." Even FBI profilers treat such motivated screeds with skepticism, and they're trained for the analysis. We're not. Moreover, I'm sympathetic to the idea that giving attention to it essentially rewards him, thus maybe encouraging "the next one." (I certainly think school-shooters were encouraged by the media circus surrounding Columbine.)

Having said that, I agree with Prefpara: Most people aren't commonly exposed to things like this. Forget for a moment whatever effect they might have on "the next one," and consider what effect it might have on you, as reader. Not to sound all Johnny-5 ("Input! Inpu-u-ut!"), but there's a lot to be said for, for lack of a better phrase, enlarging and informing one's worldview. You can argue whether the effect is positive or negative, but the fact that it may have an effect is worth considering.
posted by cribcage at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


What he was was pure evil. No thought whatsoever for other people. Totally selfjustifying.

I suppose a shrink would call this a personality disorder.

I wouldn't.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2009


Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below.

This is really strange. If he hadn't written this document, we might have imagined that his motivation was some kind of deep-seated psychotic conviction, religious or fascist or otherwise. But this document makes it clear that he killed simply because he was an obnoxious asshole. Is that what he wanted people to know?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:54 AM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Okay, this is something I've been trying to sort out in my mind. Does the dogma of salvation through faith rather than works make some people worse. Sodini wrote: "Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell." I recall Timothy McVeigh saying much of the same thing.

Now, I realize Sodini is a nut job, but I was thinking of this back when Sanford was making his press conferences. Sanford believed that God had forgiven him, so all he needed to do was ask for the forgiveness of the public and his wife and the Tom Davises of the world, and with that all his indiscretions (and crimes) would be erased.

Full disclosure. I was raised a Catholic. With works as a basis for salvation you can't get away with repeat murder. I remember a sermon from a bishop who said simply, asking for forgiveness doesn't make things right. Making things right makes things right. This bishop was against the notion of fifty Hail Marys after confession. He said you had to go out and correct the wrong you did.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:55 AM on August 5, 2009 [15 favorites]


He also sounds incredibly dumb in his web writings.
posted by xmutex at 7:58 AM on August 5, 2009


But this document makes it clear that he killed simply because he was an obnoxious asshole.

It's neither simple nor clear. There are millions of obnoxious assholes in the world. Why did this one open fire on a group of women at the gym?
posted by brain_drain at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suppose a shrink would call this a personality disorder.

No? This is a normally functioning well-ordered personality to you? Please then stay away from me.
posted by xmutex at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember a sermon from a bishop who said simply, asking for forgiveness doesn't make things right. Making things right makes things right. This bishop was against the notion of fifty Hail Marys after confession. He said you had to go out and correct the wrong you did.

Now there's religion I can believe in. Never catch on, though: Too much effort.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Is there a word for a narcissist who wallows in self-pity? Because this guy is it.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2009


I say delete this, so his "my voice will speak forever" crap is denied.

If you don't want to read this, then don't read it.
posted by hermitosis at 8:05 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I read it myself, I'm not some right-wing 'don't try to understand the terrorists - they hate our freedom' person.

I just know there's a line between understanding, and glorifying. I've seen a law enforcement officer get a high from describing how a killer killed. Others (about 20 people) witnessed it too, and maybe the grossness of that glorification sickens me such that I don't want to have someone get famous by murdering people and then having it glorified.

It rewards the aberrant behavior, to me. But what do I know. Maybe we can get lots of pictures of him and study all his writing, and his words can live on forever and ever. This post can be that plaque. A dedication to him. An examination of him and his thoughts. Meteor rise from obscurity. All it took was a killing spree.
posted by cashman at 8:05 AM on August 5, 2009


I live fairly close to where this happened and found the blog this morning after one of the local stations reported on it. I was wondering if it would get posted here. Mostly I just found it sad and disturbing--the man was obviously off-balance, alcoholic, angry, but alone--who was going to see the warning signs (if he presented them in real life at all) or care enough to do anything about them? I'm pretty sure the blog wasn't posted until right before he was going to do it. I was hoping it wouldn't get a lot of publicity, since that seems to have been his goal, but that seems unlikely at this point.

I'm also bothered that he posted his mom's address...nasty as she might have been to him (or not), that's still a whole world of trouble being invited to her doorstep, as I'm sure he intended. Not to mention all the other people mentioned by name.

What a mess. Keeping the families of the victims in my thoughts today, all the while wondering, what next?
posted by miratime at 8:06 AM on August 5, 2009


If only there was some way to prevent people with easy access to handguns, semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from shooting and killing other people. But what can possible be done about it? In the USA, we have a God-given right to keep and carry these weapons. 30,000 annual gun-related deaths is a small price to pay for our precious freedom to own as many guns as we can.
posted by Mister_A at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am so completely fascinated by this thing; I had to email it to myself as a PDF to review and markup later (I have to tear myself away from this internet for the next couple hours, rats). If there are some cultural anthropologists, psychologists, linguists, etc. out there who have some perspectives on his blog, I'd absolutely love to hear it (either in thread or MeMail). Especially if there were certain lines, phrases, etc. that jumped out at you as indicators of something interesting or salient.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:09 AM on August 5, 2009


When in the NRA press conference saying the way to prevent these terrible acts is to make sure everyone brings a gun to the gym?
posted by birdherder at 8:10 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except that he started the log on 11/05/2008 and thought that black men were getting all the white women, presumably leaving him with even less chance.

The One Drop Rule does indeed work.


You can't "prevent" people like him

Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?


© 2009 George Sodini
This should not be taken off the web. It is obviously my view and opinion.
Reproduce this as you wish, in its entirity.
**Copy this to usenet/newsgroups where my voice will speak forever!**
Don't modify it, you can correct my spelling errors, I used WordPad.
Unless the names are required legally to be blotted out, then fine. Thanks.


Some days, humanity stands tall and other days you realize it's standing in shadows.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


That these fuckers are all the same is a lesson.

I don't get the post. He's dead, his wishes don't matter. Anymore. And that goes both ways. You can't spite him. Anymore. I sincerely doubt that if we ignore the writings of incredibly lonely, hopelessly sad, mentally ill people it will in any way reduce the incentive for other incredibly lonely, hopelessly sad, mentally ill people to do terrible things.

What I do think is that for a lot of people loneliness is easy, and that doing the things that you know that you should do is incredibly hard. Now obviously there are limits to how much I can identify with someone so far gone, but I have to say that more than a psychological atrocity exhibit this reads a bit like the dream of the ghost of Christmas yet to come. I think it's valuable as sort of a reverse self help book.
posted by I Foody at 8:11 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


There are millions of obnoxious assholes in the world. Why did this one open fire on a group of women at the gym?

Frustration at being underserved in perceived privilege ("The world owes me a woman") + access to tools of violence + rationalization + dehumanization of victims.

"The world isn't how I like it and instead of changing myself and working to get the situation to change, I'm going to throw a fit with guns."
posted by yeloson at 8:13 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]



As well being demented these people's 'messages' (the University campus killer guy, the guy that sent a bomb to Bjork before offing himself on video) are always so boring.


That's part of the debatable value of bringing eyes to this kind of thing, I think. People very easily think of murderers as simply pure evil, as monsters, as inhuman, etc.; and the thing is, they're not really wrong (aside from the inhuman part; they're all too). But the part that gets missed is that evil and monstrousness isn't dramatic in and of itself--it's banal. It's an aggregate of weakness and woundedness, twisted into itself by what's usually years of the worst habits of human cognition. Self-justification, lack of or deliberate shutting-down of empathy, entitlement, being so wound up in one's own thoughts that they become more important than what's outside, confabulation, selective bias gone deeply toxic.
posted by Drastic at 8:13 AM on August 5, 2009 [17 favorites]


philotes Oh, but THIS is what really gets me:

Police say two guns were found at the scene, both legally registered to the shooter.

FUCK YOU, NRA.


Erm? What? You think the NRA pushes to hard for gun registration? Which clearly didn't do anything to stem violent behavior in this case? There has been plenty of other evidence that gun registration may be really over rated.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:18 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


His diary is currently unavailable (for me only?)
posted by scrutiny at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2009


I just know there's a line between understanding, and glorifying.

Shouldn't we give our fellow Mefites the benefit of the doubt that they'll avoid the latter and stick to the former? If there were any comments in this thread that came close to "glorifying" his writings or actions, it might be a different story. On the contrary, there seems to be a unanimous consensus that there was nothing glorious about what this guy did or said. I find it hard to imagine his site inspiring any copycat killings, whereas I could actually imagine it convincing would-be killers that the guys who try to pull off these suicide/murder rampages are pathetic losers and are not going to have any posthumous "glory" in the public's eyes.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:19 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


No, the diary will not be exposed to scrutiny.
posted by Mister_A at 8:20 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


30,000 annual gun-related deaths is a small price to pay for our precious freedom to own as many guns as we can.

Without getting into the 'guns r bad, mmmkay?' debate, I'd have to think that if this guy couldn't get the guns legally, he'd have done it illegally. And if he couldn't get guns, he'd have made a bomb. If he couldn't make a bomb, he'd have beaten some woman to death.

Yeah, it was easier for him to kill using a gun, 'cause it was easy for him to get a gun. But he was going to kill somebody, and he was going to do it, gun or no gun.

Just sayin'.
posted by Pragmatica at 8:20 AM on August 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


That these fuckers are all the same is a lesson.

But suicidal homicidal maniacs (e.g. this guy) aren't all the same, just like non-suicidal non-homicidal non-maniacs (e.g. you, me) aren't all the same.
posted by scratch at 8:22 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like the site's been killed.
posted by item at 8:22 AM on August 5, 2009


The reality is there are millions of people with the exact same thoughts and emotions as this person (loneliness, personal inadequacy, sexual inferiority, job stress). The difference is he thought shooting people would be a rational "exit plan" probably based on his need for recognition. To me the interesting thing is the general psychological trend in the society: how many people feel this way and why. Some of his victims possibly were in the exact same place emotionally. Why couldn't he find any connections? Is there something about modern society with its focus on technological competition that drives people apart? His waking consciousness was so focused on his perceived inferiority he never thought how he might actually help others. Are people becoming more solipsistic? "Bowling Alone" etc.

Personally I am completely satisfied with the statistical (non-)explanation for these sorts of behaviors. Given particular conditioning factors (i.e. social trends towards isolation) every 1 in 100,000 for example will commit such a behavior; others will simply commit suicide, others will do nothing, others will buy a self-help book, etc. This person is literally 1 in 300+ million Americans; with odds like that pretty much anything will happen at some point. And it does; American society maintains a particular rate of shooting sprees per year.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


You can't "prevent" people like him

Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?


That's what I kept thinking as I read the site. It seems like if he had a couple good friends, they would have helped him get laid, and that would have helped him be less crazy.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:23 AM on August 5, 2009


Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?


Are you kidding me? Since when is it the duty of womenkind to have sex with men for the sake of all humanity? He was a Nice Guy (tm) with a chip on his shoulder who thought that the women of the world owed him something.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:25 AM on August 5, 2009 [27 favorites]


Just sayin'.

You can just say that all you want, but it doesn't make any sense. It's a lot harder to kill a single person, much less 3, with a knife or an icepick or a sledgehammer or even a bomb than it is with a gun. Maybe he would have succeeded in murdering someone, but I don't think this guy would have been able to kill three people with a broadsword or even the mighty bec de corbin.

Put me down firmly on the "guns are bad" side, by the way.
posted by Mister_A at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Miratime, you know that we live fairly close as well, and I have several friends who are members of that gym - it's not that far from where I was supposed to grocery shop last night.

This, and other events like it, make me think of when we all slow down to gawk at an accident on the highway. I too looked at his blog this morning, it is stomach turning and may provide more questions than answers.

I think instead of pointing fingers at a sad and obviously disturbed individual we should all look inside a little bit and think two things - is there a person out there that I can be a little kinder to today? Someone that is lonely, and I can make a difference to? And maybe it's just me, but today I'm looking around and realizing that every day we have here is a gift, and we need to be more generous with the love we show those we care about.
posted by librarianamy at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


He also wrote about not having any friends. It seems he felt no connection to anyone, but he clearly craved connection (he even talked about wanting a girlfriend to be his friend, or to talk to - I'm not going to read it again) - he wanted connection, so he doesn't seem to have been (as far as I can tell or would know) a "psychopath".

Being dismissive of him because he's "evil" bothers me. He's a human being, and there are probably other human beings like him out there in the world, whether they're nearly at this extreme state or currently 13 years old with an overbearing family, or 35 years old and desperately lonely and sad - with whatever additional mental/situational ingredients that might make them the ones who'll go completely over the edge. Right now, they're just intensely unhappy.

What would you do about it? Figure out some kind of diagnostic test to identify them, then execute them all, because clearly they're "evil"?
posted by amtho at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


In the USA, we have a God-given right to keep and carry these weapons. 30,000 annual gun-related deaths is a small price to pay for our precious freedom to own as many guns as we can.
posted by Mister_A at 11:08 AM on August 5


Actually, the Constitution gives us that right. Second in line after giving you the right to write that comment.

People aren't paying attention to what he wrote, even after they read it. His first abortive attempt was at the church, because that's where he spent his time outside of work. He wouldn't do the shooting at work because he was somebody at work - he survived two rounds of layoffs and even got a promotion. His job works for him and validates him - read what he says about he importance of a job and a steady check.

His attempt at the church was January. He starts writing about the gym a month earlier. He notes the women in the gym specifically, the hardbodies, etc. He writes about how lifting channels his anger. The gym become a place to display power. He writes about how he "push[es] the limits" on the treadmill.

The gym becomes his temple. It replaces the church. The gym takes on much more prominence than the church does once he starts going.

So he goes to the gym to do the ultimate set. "I'll show you how strong I am" etc. He's not evil, he's a frustrated bitter old guy who can't relate to women. What should scare everyone is that that description includes millions of men.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:28 AM on August 5, 2009 [29 favorites]


Creepy, I might have walked past this guy this guy at lunch time a hundred times. He worked a few blocks up the street at K&L Gates (Bill Gates Sr's Law Firm) and mentions eating lunch at PPG2 which I do fairly often. We have the same degree from the same school and both work as programmers in the same city so I'd bet that I know people that knew him.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, I'm pretty sure it was God gave us the guns, Pastabagel.
posted by Mister_A at 8:30 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I should reconsider. Even if this does ultimately result in more people committing murders to get attention, maybe if it happens enough - if it just keeps occuring again and again - that will cause change and some of the set patterns society is in will adjust. That one way or another, all the killing will help us to stop (from within or from without) killing each other. Probably not, but maybe.

I watched the "Terror in Mumbai" video on the attacks in India and thought it was impressive how they were talking to one of the gunmen they captured and asking him all sorts of questions. They were talking to him like he had hit another kid in class, not like he'd murdered dozens of people.

So, sorry if I sounded like a censor.
posted by cashman at 8:30 AM on August 5, 2009


Just to make the gun debate clear, I think it's clear that banning guns reduces gun-related murders, yet the actual relation between gun control and murder in general is far less clear, with some research suggesting the the two are entirely orthogonal.
posted by scrutiny at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]




Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?

That is a good question. I'm leaning towards "no".

The thing is, it's actually surprisingly easy to get laid. I mean, if that's the only thing you live for, then it's actually pretty easy. Even if you strike out with ladies at work or the bar or whatever, you can always find 500 listings under "Escorts" in your local yellowpages (And they are obviously doing alot of business, or else they wouldn't be there with the full-color ads).

Barring that, if you're a straight guy and really wanted a blowjob or something, you could always visit the local gay watering hole and get that taken care of pretty easily. It all feels the same when you're eyes are closed, anyway.

Life-long intimate, joyous relationships? Yeah, those are hard to come by. Sex? Actually pretty easy. This guy could have easily gotten laid a thousand times if he wanted too.

Something tells me that this isn't so much about "I'm not getting laid" as it is about his generalized hatred of women. Yet, Lord knows that plenty of men who hate women still manage to have sex with them. Just look at Max Hardcore.
posted by Avenger at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The site's offline now. Here's a copy of the text (I assume accurate, don't have original to verify.)
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2009


"Banality of evil" sums it up for me.

Even mass murderers create and maintain these bland press kits so their "stories" can efficiently and neatly dovetail into the news flow. Maybe their willingness and energetic efforts to change into the pre-defined role and to provide B-roll material for the media narrative can teach us something. Angry and empty and lost people with access to guns and a blog and a "revenge" template.
posted by Glee at 8:32 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mirror (Pastebin) for when the Coral cache disappears
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:33 AM on August 5, 2009


The page is down... but according to web.archive.org, this guy's earlier site was...

http://crazygeorge.com
posted by darth_tedious at 8:34 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Since when is it the duty of womenkind to have sex with men for the sake of all humanity

That comment was in response to the statement that 'You can't "prevent" people like him.' It doesn't say anything about anyone's "duty", it just asks whether a different experience might have changed the path he was on. All this reflexive "evil" stuff surprises me on a site where people are otherwise so quick to jump on religious mumbo jumbo.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'd have to think that if this guy couldn't get the guns legally, he'd have done it illegally. And if he couldn't get guns, he'd have made a bomb. If he couldn't make a bomb, he'd have beaten some woman to death.

I don't think it's that simple. Suicide was a driving factor in this, and my guess is that using guns, which could be used to both kill others and easily and quickly kill himself, was a significantly more attractive option to him than alternatives. He writes that he wanted to try smoking pot again (just like he started drinking again), but didn't because he didn't know anyone to buy it from. So it's not too hard to believe that he might not have been willing or able to buy a gun illegally, even if buying a gun was as easy as it is to buy pot.

It sounds crazy to a normal person that someone would decide not to go through with a plan like this over minor logistical details like that, but studies have shown that things that make it slightly less convenient to commit suicide like nets for bridges can dramatically reduce suicide rates. Limiting gun ownership rates certainly wouldn't solve all of the problems around murders and suicides, but that shouldn't stop us from seriously thinking about what kinds of changes we can make to try to bring those rates down.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


Yeah but there's no 2nd amendment equivalent for prostitutes. ("A well-satisfied libido, being essential to the security of a free State....")

Based on this

Unfortunately I talked to my neighbor today, who is very positive and upbeat. I need to remain focused and absorbed COMPLETELY.

you have to believe getting laid might have helped, if too much interaction with a cheery neighbor was just about enough to push him back from the brink.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


shrabster: After you're an adult, you can't keep blaming your issues on other people.

philoates: Police say two guns were found at the scene, both legally registered to the shooter. FUCK YOU, NRA.

This is a perfect example. The fact that the guns were legally obtained and registered has absolutely no bearing on what happened. Do you honestly think an obsessed homicidal nutjob is going to go to a store, find out he can't get a gun legally, and just give up? Such a belief would be intensely naive. Quit trying to shift the blame. This man is an adult, his actions were among the ugliest imaginable, and he is the only one responsible for them.
posted by jock@law at 8:35 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Still there for me...

I'm not sure about the inevitability of this guy killing someone even if he had no guns... the report linked above said he turned out the lights and started shooting. I think there's a difference between spraying bullets in a dark room and beating a person to death or stabbing her. The latter are much more personal.

I like guns. I just wish we could add crazy and/or stupid detection to them.
posted by Huck500 at 8:36 AM on August 5, 2009


As an addendum to my previous comment - note how much he focuses on his brother as a bully, but gives passing mention o the fact that a woman carried his baby in 1991. This guy is all about power, as are most killers and attackers of women particularly.

With respect to the gym, there is someonething interesting about how a guy like this is attracted to that environment. You'd be surprised at how many gigantic powerlifters and bodybuilders suffer from a crippling lack of self-esteem and self-worth.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was routinely beaten by his police officer father for the slightest trangression.

Lou Ferrigno was brow-beaten and demoralized by an obsessive and verbally abusive father who made himself Lou's trainer.

One-time Mr. Universe Mike Metzner is believes to have committed suicide (reports vary).

Here's a thread about a bodybuilding.com member who killed himself live on a webcam viewed by members of the forum.

I don't think people understand the extent to which weightlifting for many men is analogous to anorexia for women. These men lift and train insanely because they believe they are weak. You look at Lou Ferrigno and you see the Incredible Hulk. He looks at himself in the mirror and hears his dad telling him he is a puny nothing.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:39 AM on August 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


he's a frustrated bitter old guy who can't relate to women. WITH A GUN!

You can put me down for the 'guns are bad' club. In countries where gun are controlled their annual gun related deaths are in the hundreds not the tens of thousands like here in America.
posted by brneyedgrl at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2009


These men lift and train insanely because they believe they are weak.

It probably also has a lot to do with the rush of endorphins and various other chemicals as well as the feeling one gets when one's body is thoroughly demolished by exercise.
posted by xmutex at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2009


The thing is, it's actually surprisingly easy to get laid.

It's surprisingly easy to get water, too, but people who don't get it still get dehydrated. It's (probably) totally his own damn fault that he hadn't had sex for 19 years, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a factor in his craziness.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


It says he was 5'10'' and 155lbs at the top, which gives him a BMI of 22. So as a bodybuilder, he wasn't exactly huge.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:42 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I glanced at the link posted by Nelson, and one of the first comments there, by wndycty, says: ". . .we need to see this, we need to read this because the media has already talked about it and only mentioned his misogyny not his racism. This needs to be read."

For what it's worth, that strikes me as a valid point.

And, to add to what I said before, I think truth is valuable, even when it is ugly. I completely understand that some truths are repulsive, some are unnecessary, and so on. And I also understand that people have a very deep sense that of taintedness, that there can be a powerful, instinctive desire to avoid looking too closely at human evil because it will somehow mark, pervert, or taint our own selves. I wish I could think of a better example than this, but remember what happened to Saruman in LOTR? He studied the evil spells too closely and was corrupted. Oh, here's a more serious example from Nietzsche: "If you look long enough into the void the void begins to look back through you."

I don't believe that anxiety is warning us away from a real danger. I do not think it is good to avoid knowledge of evil. But I understand that others may disagree, or be uncomfortable with this thread, so for them, I hope I made it sufficiently clear what I was linking to that they were not tricked into reading something they did not want to see.
posted by prefpara at 8:44 AM on August 5, 2009


am i the only one wondering how this site could be online for a YEAR, with this info on it, and no one noticed anything? or how in one news report a woman said he fumbled around in his bag [retrieving the guns] for several minutes before opening fire?

this man was begging to be stopped. unfortunately he was right: he was invisible in the world, right down to publishing a shitty page on the internet that no one ever read.
posted by msconduct at 8:46 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


More than anything else, he sounds incredibly lonely.
posted by rusty at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Calling something like this evil is an excuse to dismiss it. Whether evil exists or not doesn't really matter to me; it's not in any way useful to say that it does.
posted by nosila at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Can you confirm that _that page_ was up for a year? I was guessing that maybe he stored it locally, then just uploaded it at the last minute. No evidence either way, as far as I could tell.
posted by amtho at 8:48 AM on August 5, 2009


am i the only one wondering how this site could be online for a YEAR, with this info on it, and no one noticed anything?

Do we know how long it was online? He could have started the site the day of the crime and posted all the contents of a journal he had been keeping for the last year.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:50 AM on August 5, 2009


Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?


I don't think so. Because it seems that the issue is that the world owed him something, not specifically that the world owed him regular sex.

If that is his mindset, it is possible that even if he had sex, the world would owe him friends. If he had friends, the world would owe him money. Or excellent health. Or a job. Or for alcohol not to make him angry and depressed. Or for there to be no Black people, blah, blah, blah....

I understand the desire to want to 'deny' this guy his last wish - to 'live on' - by erasing his website, but I can't help but think that while we might remember him (for a little while), I don't think we are remembering him the way he wants. If I remember his name, it's with pity and sadness. About seeing if we can understand something more about mentally ill people, so we can help people not be this way.

I don't think that's the legacy he was going for. Ironically, by his estimation, that would make him as impotent in death as he was in life - and that concept really, really seemed to disturb him.

An awful thing, to feel so terrible that the only way you feel anything in your existence is by hurting others. I feel sadness for his victims and him.
posted by anitanita at 8:52 AM on August 5, 2009


"He walked right into the room where the shootings occurred as if he knew exactly where he was going," Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said. "I think he went in with the idea of doing what he did."

Thank God Allegheny County's top cop has such keen insight into the criminal mind!
posted by longsleeves at 8:52 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?

That's right, ladies, put out so the angry man won't kill.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm not saying the murderer is not responsible. What I'm saying is that the men who campaigned and lobbied to put a gun in the murderer's hands share some of that responsibility.

And jock@law, how exactly is my finding fault with the NRA blaming MY issues on other people? I don't own a gun and I've never assaulted anyone.

Do you honestly think an obsessed homicidal nutjob is going to go to a store, find out he can't get a gun legally, and just give up?

No, but if it were illegal for this homicidal nutjob to purchase a gun in the first place then he would have had to commit at least one other crime to obtain one, thus giving the police at least a chance to catch him before he opened fire on a roomful of innocents. Likely he would have had to commit multiple crimes on multiple occasions to acquire his arsenal, and as we can tell from his writing, he was not all that bright and would likely have been caught at some point.

And 4 women would be alive today who now aren't.

But the NRA has fought long and hard and spent a great deal of money to get the lawmakers and judges of this country to completely ignore the first thirteen words of the Second Amendment, and as such I hold them partially responsible for every crime committed by a gunowner with a legally registered weapon.
posted by philotes at 8:59 AM on August 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying the murderer is not responsible. What I'm saying is that the men who campaigned and lobbied to put a gun in the murderer's hands share some of that responsibility.

I'm all for gun control, but this is such bullshit. It's analogous to saying GM bears responsibility every time some fool drunkenly plows his Chevy into another vehicle.
posted by xmutex at 9:01 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Chevys aren't built with the exclusive purpose of killing a human being.
posted by philotes at 9:05 AM on August 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


Chevys aren't built with the exclusive purpose of killing a human being.

Is that the only thing you can do with guns? Man, I have been doing it wrong.
posted by electroboy at 9:06 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


electroboy, When's the last time you hunted with an AK-47?
posted by philotes at 9:07 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Chevys aren't built with the exclusive purpose of killing a human being.

Yeah, neither are guns. Let's use a little bit of reasoning here, really.
posted by xmutex at 9:08 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I should have clarified that I'm not against hunting rifles, and if these murders were committed using a gun designed to kill a deer then I apologize and retract my statement.
posted by philotes at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2009


I haven't met anybody recently (past 30 years) who I want to be close friends with OR who want to be close friends with me. I was always open to suggestions to what I am doing wrong, no brother or father (mine are useless) or close friend to nudge me and give it bluntly yet tactfully wtf I am doing wrong.

I wonder if a single friendship would have prevented this. Perhaps in the same way that a percentage of our income may be given to charity, likewise a percentage of our friendship should be given to people who aren't very likable.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


you have to believe getting laid might have helped, if too much interaction with a cheery neighbor was just about enough to push him back from the brink.

....I don't think anyone's good enough in bed to take the place of a hell of a lot of therapy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2009


I remember a sermon from a bishop who said simply, asking for forgiveness doesn't make things right. Making things right makes things right.

"You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it." (source)
posted by joe lisboa at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's right, ladies, put out so the angry man won't kill.

I guess you really didn't have anything useful to add after your first comment, huh?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:12 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


When's the last time you hunted with an AK-47?

The AK-47 actually makes a fine deer hunting rifle.
posted by electroboy at 9:18 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


am i the only one wondering how this site could be online for a YEAR, with this info on it, and no one noticed anything?

I wondered about that, too. When I looked at the live site, the home page included a few innocuous links, but no direct link to the blog. No casual web surfer was going to run across that orphan page without knowing the exact URL. And given that the file name was yesterday's date, I agree that it was probably uploaded just before he committed himself to going through with the crime.
posted by maudlin at 9:22 AM on August 5, 2009


It's analogous to saying GM bears responsibility every time some fool drunkenly plows his Chevy into another vehicle.

Orrrrr we could say it's analogous to saying The National Drinking and Driving Is Awesome Association, which has fought long and hard to protect our God-given right to swig wine coolers while cruising down the highway, bears responsibility every time some fool drunkenly plows his Chevy into another vehicle. Because some individual obviously couldn't handle his liquor is no reason that the rest of us shouldn't be allowed to enjoy a delicious vodka beverage at speeds exceeding 70 MPH, right?

It's obvious that some people think that weapons designed and manufactured to kill as efficiently as possible, are Very Bad Ideas and it should be difficult to get your hands on them.

Other people think that such weapons, despite being designed and manufactured to kill as efficiently as possible, also serve other awesome uses like target shooting and opening mayonnaise jars, and we should all be able to buy them as desired.

I don't think we're going to resolve those two viewpoints in this thread.


Is that the only thing you can do with guns? Man, I have been doing it wrong.


Dude, your line is supposed to be "but if everyone in the gym had been packing heat, this bad guy would have been taken out before he had a chance to squeeze off a round." Go out and come back in and we'll give you a do-over.
posted by Shepherd at 9:26 AM on August 5, 2009 [14 favorites]


The sad thing is, it seems pretty clear that this mass murder was the result of a few simple, specific neurotic beliefs that were left unchecked for a very long time.

He mentioned getting a personal coach; he also mentioned having 250 K in assets.

He really, really should have used a fraction of whatever that amount was liquid, and gotten a coach. Or two. Or three.

Problem solved, at least temporarily.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:31 AM on August 5, 2009


Do you honestly think an obsessed homicidal nutjob is going to go to a store, find out he can't get a gun legally, and just give up?

Well, yes, actually. Surprisingly few people know arms dealers.
posted by anti social order at 9:32 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The school of public health at Harvard does a lot of work on correlations between gun ownership and homicide/suicide rates. Their results usually look something like this (sorry, can't get full text).

We're looking only at correlation here, some will protest–and that's correct. That's exactly what you get in the paper from the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy by Kates and Mauser (scrutiny's link)-correlations. The authors observe correlations – for instance Norway has a high rate of gun ownership and a low murder rate. But there are limitations to this analysis. It is not clear from the paper what sorts of guns Norwegians own. Handguns and long guns are purchased for different reasons, and this is an important consideration. To their credit, the authors acknowledge these limitations and posit that socioeconomic factors are the key drivers of criminal and violent activity. In other words, it may never have been necessary for Norway to adopt stringent gun control laws because the populace haven't been killing each other off in droves.

I don't think it's very informative to compare the situation in European countries to that of the US–it may not even be valid to compare different US states to each other–but it strikes me that enacting real gun control in the US is a worthy experiment, considering that 30,000 of the 115,000 or so global annual gun deaths occur in the US. And if you're worried about the second amendment, here is what it says:

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.

Even if you interpret that sentence as meaning, "Everyone can own as many guns as they wish and of whatever type they wish," which I obviously don't (and it is difficult to see how anyone can honestly interpret that statement in that way), it's from the Constitution, a 200-year-old document whose guiding principle was flexibility! It's editable! It's supposed to change with the times! Remember, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of that same document stated that a slave was worth three fifths of a free person for the purpose of determining representation in the US House and the electoral college.
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on August 5, 2009


Electroboy, I used to think all hunting was just macho bullshit. "hey, look at me, I killed something! I'm a man!"

Then I dated a man who hunted deer with a bow & arrow, tracked it for hours after hitting it, and then took it to the butcher, stored the meat in his freezer, and ate chilli for months.

Now THAT'S sport.

Thus, I'm inclined to think that if you need a gas powered assault rifle to kill a deer then, yeah, you're doing it wrong.

(Oh, and for the record, the AK-47 was designed by Soviets in 1944. Don't bother trying to tell me its intended purpose was anything other than the killing of human beings.)

/hunting derail

Name of 3rd shooting victim released: Jody Billingsley, 38, of Mt. Lebanon
posted by philotes at 9:39 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


am i the only one wondering how this site could be online for a YEAR, with this info on it, and no one noticed anything?

The journal was only accessible through a form that asked for the date of his death. And only he knew that in advance.
posted by notmydesk at 9:43 AM on August 5, 2009


More reason to stay the fuck away from anyone over the age of, say, 50 who exhibits overall immaturity.
posted by kldickson at 9:44 AM on August 5, 2009


philotes, I'm usually totally anti-hunting, but given the fact that deer are grossly overpopulated, that a shot to the brain is generally instantly fatal, and that venison is good shit, I don't mind deer hunting much.
posted by kldickson at 9:45 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


prefpara, I understand why you posted this, so please don't take offense when I say that I really, really hope this gets deleted.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2009


Other people think that such weapons, despite being designed and manufactured to kill as efficiently as possible, also serve other awesome uses like target shooting and opening mayonnaise jars, and we should all be able to buy them as desired.

That's a bit of a strawman. The Supreme Court finally decided last year to make a ruling based on the Second Amendment, and they ruled that a handgun ban was unconstitutional because the right to bear arms implies the right to buy the sort of gun that is useful for killing someone in self-defense. They purposely made the point of saying that the right is not unlimited though, so gun control laws such as those that restrict who can buy guns and what they can be used for are still valid.

So from the Supreme Court's perspective, the language of the Constitution guarantees at least some private gun ownership rights without having to bring in the idea of alternative uses for guns designed specifically for the purpose of killing people. As Mister_A said above though, it's not out of the question that the Constitution itself could be amended to change or negate those rights.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:52 AM on August 5, 2009


Also, from the source code at the bottom of the journal page:

At the gym I saw a woman I like. I see her at the park and ride sometimes, so she isn't a stranger. Occationaly she makes good eye contact and smiles, etc. She is maybe 40ish, and attractive to me. I made brief conversation to her and a younger woman she was with today. To get a friend like her (and for night time action) I would cancel this plan, or put on hold, at least for a while.
posted by notmydesk at 9:54 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, yes, actually. Surprisingly few people know arms dealers.

Know anybody that sells pot? Ever smoke any? Why? Why not?

I would imagine that if it became illegal to own a gun, it wouldn't be long before nearly everyone would know somebody that knows somebody, etc.
posted by Pragmatica at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2009


Orrrrr we could say it's analogous to saying The National Drinking and Driving Is Awesome Association, which has fought long and hard to protect our God-given right to swig wine coolers while cruising down the highway

That makes no sense. In your analogy, the lobby you describe would be calling for people's right to own cars, not to drink and drive. The NRA lobbies for the right to own guns. It doesn't lobby for people's right to go on murderous rampages.

Don't bother trying to tell me its intended purpose was anything other than the killing of human beings.

Sometimes, such as in self-defense, you are justified in killing other human beings. Which just happens to be one of the major reasons people own firearms in the first place. Firearms that are designed to do this makes perfect sense for those situations. A bolt-action hunting rifle isn't going to do much good in a self-defense situation.
posted by jsonic at 9:58 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, this is something I've been trying to sort out in my mind. Does the dogma of salvation through faith rather than works make some people worse. Sodini wrote: "Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell." I recall Timothy McVeigh saying much of the same thing

The way I understand it is-yes, salvation is by faith not by works BUT you show your faith BY your works. In other words, a person who has saving faith by definition won't be planning or committing this kind of thing. Getting "born again" is a little more complicated than just saying a prayer and thinking you have fire insurance. You and I do agree that the misunderstanding of how one obtains eternal life has serious ramifications. And the Bible does explicitly teach that you can't claim that because you have faith then you can go sin all you want. In that case (at least in the Protestant understanding) you have simply proved you do not possess saving faith, as those that do show the fruit of salvation, which is a life that glorifies God. Of course no one is perfect, and the book of 1 John goes into that in more detail, but for the purposes of this thread, it is safe to say that this murderer is where murderers belong.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2009


Okay, this is something I've been trying to sort out in my mind. Does the dogma of salvation through faith rather than works make some people worse. Sodini wrote: "Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell." I recall Timothy McVeigh saying much of the same thing.
I have no doubt that it makes some people worse - how could it not? People who believe this essentially believe that they're being given a free pass by the creator of the universe, to act in any manner that they want.

This is, of course, not to say that it makes everybody who believes it worse. But the idea that there are no borderline people who are pushed over the edge by thinking "god forgives me for anything" strikes me as silly.

Also, like many common Christian beliefs, it is directly contradicted by the Bible.
posted by Flunkie at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's important to point out, jsonic that the overwhelming majority of the human beings that self-defense gun advocates think they are protecting themselves from are wielding guns that were, at some point, legally purchased in the United States.
posted by Mister_A at 10:02 AM on August 5, 2009


It's important to point out, jsonic that the overwhelming majority of the human beings that self-defense gun advocates think they are protecting themselves from are wielding guns that were, at some point, legally purchased in the United States.

[citation needed]
posted by jsonic at 10:05 AM on August 5, 2009


I believe in the right to own guns (and we have a houseful) but honestly I could live with some changes in the law at this point. At the very least I think a crime committed with a gun need to have incredibly severe penalties. OTOH I think that people who are NOT criminals need to be able to own a gun for protection (after being trained in its use. We license drivers; don't tell my husband but I have no problem with gunowners being required to have licensing and training. )

I don't know if anything could have prevented this rampage, though. I know of people in my state who used their moving vehicles to mow down people in murderous rampages. Two separate incidents-one at one of our state universities, and one here in my town-where the guy just went down the road looking for people to run over, and did.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:05 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


don't tell my husband but I have no problem with gunowners being required to have licensing and training.

... and sometimes the punchlines write themselves.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Asking "would getting regular sex or having friends have kept him from doing this?" is a meaningless question.

If he were not the very essence of an entitled asshole who was full of hatred for the other humans who didn't give him what he "deserved", he might have had friends and/or romantic partners. Or he could have paid sex workers, but clearly he thought he was "above" that.

So, yeah, if he weren't a deranged homicidal asshole, he might have not lived the life of a deranged homicidal asshole.

Hate crimes against women happen every day. Those women were targeted for murder because they had the temerity to be female at him.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:08 AM on August 5, 2009 [20 favorites]


after being trained in its use. We license drivers; don't tell my husband but I have no problem with gunowners being required to have licensing and training.

Agreed. Some states actually already require gun owners to go through training before purchasing firearms. Although, in my experience, this training is just watching a video explaining the basics of gun safety (handling,storing,etc..) and when you're allowed to use the gun. So that could use some improvement.
posted by jsonic at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2009


Like iamkimiam, I yearn for a qualified person to read the killer's document. (The killing was so vile and with his statement he has - as intended - partly succeeded in taking attention from the victims and their families.)

I know a very senior forensic psychiatrist - mind like a steel trap, as far as I can judge. When she talks about cases - in general terms, of course - she generally mentions the slog of getting to the bottom of the lies she's told. Very crudely, the smart killers she deals with lie about everything - their motivation, the events that scarred them way back when, the trigger that set them off, the way they get on with people, their past relationships. On the whole, she says, the more insight they appear to have into their own condition, the more they'll be lying. (Of course, there is enormous significance in the lies they come up with - her point is simply that they avoid being accurate about what really causes shame).

On that thin basis, I'm inclined to be leery of everything the killer wrote that makes him appear someone who "could" have been saved by a little decent contact with a world that refused to notice his pain.

I'm probably talking garbage, but I noticed he writes at one point: I have slept alone for over 20 years. Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction.

And at another: Lee Ann Valdiserri had my baby in early 1991. Haven't seen her since she was about four months into it. I knew her sister, Chris, from high school.

(Yes, the two statements don't quite cancel each other out. But his statement is so very contrived on the whole, it IS as though something is being concealed here.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:10 AM on August 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


I wonder if a single friendship would have prevented this. Perhaps in the same way that a percentage of our income may be given to charity, likewise a percentage of our friendship should be given to people who aren't very likable.

If that's the case I am going above and beyond. I am up to my eyeballs in friends who aren't very likable. You're welcome, America.

Though, on a more serious note, that's really not all it takes. Maybe it would have stopped this guy, but it doesn't stop every crazy shooter. In middle school, my brother was friends with a kid who molested a neighbor's daughter, and then when the neighbor found out, he got one of his parents' guns and shot both her and the daughter (and I think the husband too, I don't really remember). This was a middle schooler. While the kid was a little weird, and I didn't care for him particularly, he sure didn't seem like a rapist or a murderer, and he had plenty of friends. I've known (and am friends with) plenty of people who seemed a lot weirder and less likable than him, and have successfully gone their entire lives without shooting anyone.

So maybe this particular person might have been stopped by a real friend. It sounds like it. But some people are broken in other ways. Mass murderers are definitely not all the same.
posted by Caduceus at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Know anybody that sells pot? Ever smoke any? Why? Why not?

I would imagine that if it became illegal to own a gun, it wouldn't be long before nearly everyone would know somebody that knows somebody, etc.


Indeed. It'd be inevitable. And before you know it, people would be converting spare bedrooms of their suburban homes into little steel forges and handtooling firing pins in the garage, and pretty soon we'll all be watching whimsical high-quality dramas on Showtime about widowed housewives setting up their own little home-based gunmaking businesses. Because making a high-calibre pistol or assault rifle is pretty much the same thing as growing a plant.

That's the thing about America's anti-gun control stance - it's propped up by logic so fucking flawless it's truly unassailable from every imaginable angle. It's like debating with a toddler that way.
posted by gompa at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


echolalia67: "Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?


Are you kidding me? Since when is it the duty of womenkind to have sex with men for the sake of all humanity? He was a Nice Guy (tm) with a chip on his shoulder who thought that the women of the world owed him something.
"

I don't think that's what BB was saying. You're taking a pretty narrow interpretation of his comment, here. I think he was just asking, from a psychological perspective, if people with ideations like this respond to getting what they want, or if they just find something else to develop violent ideas about. It's a long stretch to then think he's implying that someone should have taken one for the team.
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


WOLVERINES!
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on August 5, 2009


So this is Goldman Sachs' fault?
posted by luckypozzo at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2009


jsonic, what do you mean citation needed? At some point, the guns used in crimes were legally purchased. Many of them are resold illegally and used by criminals. A fair proportion are stolen from their legal owners in robberies. These are the people that gun advocates believe they are protecting themselves from. If we would stop selling handguns legally, there would be much less opportunity to resell them illegally.
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on August 5, 2009


It says he was 5'10'' and 155lbs at the top, which gives him a BMI of 22. So as a bodybuilder, he wasn't exactly huge.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:42 AM on August 5


My point is not that he was huge, my point was that guys with these problems do not consider themselves huge regardless of whether they are or no. Listen to teen girls with anorexia talk about how they see themselves as fat.. They are thin as a rail, and yet they see fat. They actually see it with their eyes.

In this guys case, he actually is scrawny, but he's only been to the gym for 8 months. 5'10" 155 lbs is nothing. He looks in the mirror and sees a weakling. In his case it is true, but that makes it worse. The gym is a haven for him because lifting weights, during the act of actually lifting them, makes him fell strong even though he isn't strong, emotionally or physically.

After I posted above I looked into anorexia for men, which led me to something called the Adonis complex. It is basically the same type of disorder as anorexia, but manifested differently.

I'm not attempting to diagnose a crazy person from afar based on no knowledge. I'm merely suggesting that the important role the gym plays in the narrative written by the killer's own hand suggests that he may suffer at least from the same disorder that afflicts many people with similar unhappy childhoods. He may also suffer from a host of other things as well, none of this excludes anything else.

But there is something about the role of power, sexual and physical that dominated his life and thoughts that probably led him to attack a room full of women in the once place where he simultaneously felt the strongest on a conscious level, but weakest on an unconscious level. Sex in his journal is not love or affection - it's power. Bully is power. Weightlifting is power.

Where is the one place in the world that a 5'10", 155 lb 49 yr old man can go to get strong but in the process realize how weak he truly is?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:19 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


That was fascinating. I hope iamkimiam posts her linguistic analysis if she does write one up. I've really liked them in the past. (Incidentally, iamkimiam, I had never heard of the type of conversational analyses you do before you started posting them. If you ever find the time, I'd love to see an FPP about the method.)

Some people like to study that stuff. Maybe all this will shed insight on why some people just cannot make things happen in their life, which can potentially benefit others.

Hitting upon that ending was bizarre. It was like snooping in on someone's diary and then discovering that it addresses you by name and that you were meant to find and read it. Voyeurism encroached upon.
posted by painquale at 10:22 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mister_A: "I don't think it's very informative to compare the situation in European countries to that of the US–it may not even be valid to compare different US states to each other–but it strikes me that enacting real gun control in the US is a worthy experiment, considering that 30,000 of the 115,000 or so global annual gun deaths occur in the US."

What a strange position to take. You spent two paragraphs talking about a study that implies (though it does not prove) that maybe our socioeconomic problems are responsible for gun-related homicides, and then you go straight from that to saying "but let's try more stringent gun control anyway." given the study you linked to, and its implications, wouldn't it make more sense to focus on the socio-economic factors of violent crime in the US, as an experiment, rather curtailing or modifying constitutional liberties?

I'm personally not sure where I stand on gun control, but your point here isn't making a whole lot of sense to me.
posted by shmegegge at 10:23 AM on August 5, 2009


Some analysis here.
posted by prefpara at 10:23 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mister_A: "jsonic, what do you mean citation needed? At some point, the guns used in crimes were legally purchased. Many of them are resold illegally and used by criminals. A fair proportion are stolen from their legal owners in robberies. These are the people that gun advocates believe they are protecting themselves from. If we would stop selling handguns legally, there would be much less opportunity to resell them illegally."

I believe he's talking about how you keep making claims about the sources of illegal firearms without citing any sources for your information.
posted by shmegegge at 10:24 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, you can't blame this on guns. DC has had an absolute gun ban forever, and people routinely get shot there. Ditto Chicago and many other cities. There are probably over 300 million guns in the US. Passing a law that bans all of them does not make them magically disappear. It would mean only that legal guns can be identified and collected, but the great many illegal ones would be unaffected. It would also mean that many gun owners could sell their guns on the black market, and simply claim they were stolen.

Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana are banned nationally, and have been for decades. Illegal to own, sell, distribute, traffic. Cocaine users still have no trouble getting coke.

If this guy wanted a gun but couldn't get one legally, he would have gotten one illegally. It really is that simple.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:25 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mister_A, self-defense against someone with a gun is not the only situation where firearms are useful. As an example, imagine you're a 100 lb girl, and you're being attacked by someone much larger than you. Or multiple people larger than you. A firearm lets you defend yourself in cases where you can't physically do so by yourself.

If you think that outlawing firearms will reduce their availability much, then just look at the drug war. It's been laying waste to America for decades, and drugs are still readily available. How many rights have we lost in the name of fighting drugs? Do we really want to do the same in a war on guns?

But instead of us derailing this thread about this tragedy, how about this: I recognize the desire to reduce the availability of firearms to criminals or crazy people, and would support it if we can find a way to do so without violating the Constitution. Maybe you can recognize that owning a gun for self-defense, including guns specifically designed for killing people, has at least an iota of justification behind it. Peace?
posted by jsonic at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Then I dated a man who hunted deer with a bow & arrow, tracked it for hours after hitting it

The fact that he tracked it for hours meant he didn't get a clean shot and the deer suffered for quite awhile before it expired. One of the primary things you get drilled into your head when starting out hunting is to get a clean kill to minimize suffering. Maybe your friend enjoyed stalking a mortally wounded animal though, I don't know.

Thus, I'm inclined to think that if you need a gas powered assault rifle to kill a deer then, yeah, you're doing it wrong.

Don't bother trying to tell me its intended purpose was anything other than the killing of human beings.

Ugh. I'm tired of people that know nothing about guns or hunting throwing around some buzzwords they read somewhere to make themselves sound knowledgeable. Almost all semiautomatics are gas operated, with a few exceptions. This was one of the most popular hunting rifles of the 20th century, and it is both gas-operated and designed for the sole purpose of killing people.

Guns were invented as weapons of war and later used for hunting with little modification. There are target rifles that are useless as any sort of weapon or for hunting. Pointy sticks have been used to kill both man and beast.
posted by electroboy at 10:31 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


On the whole, she says, the more insight they appear to have into their own condition, the more they'll be lying.

well, what impressed me about my reading of it was his utter lack of insight into his own condition - whatever that may mean for the truthfulness of what he wrote
posted by pyramid termite at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2009


Interesting that a thread about a mass murderer who shot his victims to death also discusses proper hunting etiquette.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


For anyone wanting to ferret out any more information on this guys online presence, seems one of his monikers was crazygeorge.
posted by bigmusic at 10:44 AM on August 5, 2009


Agreed. Some states actually already require gun owners to go through training before purchasing firearms.

True, but in some states (like mine) the "training" consists of watching a safety video. There really should be more rigorous requirements for gun ownership. The problem is that whenever someone suggests it, the extremists on both sides ruin any chance for sensible licensing.
posted by electroboy at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2009


Indeed. It'd be inevitable. And before you know it, people would be converting spare bedrooms of their suburban homes into little steel forges and handtooling firing pins in the garage, and pretty soon we'll all be watching whimsical high-quality dramas on Showtime about widowed housewives setting up their own little home-based gunmaking businesses. Because making a high-calibre pistol or assault rifle is pretty much the same thing as growing a plant.

Would it be safe to assume, then, that you do know someone who sells pot?

It's interesting to me how the stupidity of legislating morality largely depends on which morality we're talking about.

As it happens, I'd as soon it wasn't done at all, for pot or guns. Stupid people will exist independently of both.
posted by Pragmatica at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2009


Well, I'm not afraid to cop to the fact that I am fascinated to read stuff like this, and scoff at objections to posting it because it "glorifies" him. He's dead. The next whackjob who is out there right now simmering with inadequacy and hate isn't going to make the decision to start shooting because people read George Sodini's ramblings.


My biggest question is: this guy was attractive and rich. How vastly creepy must he have been to never score at all? I'm very curious to hear from some of these women who went on first dates with him.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


The next whackjob who is out there right now simmering with inadequacy and hate isn't going to make the decision to start shooting because people read George Sodini's ramblings.

Whackjob: "Hey, this has given me a great idea on how to get my ramblings out to a wider audience!"
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2009


Eh, nothing a few more gun laws won't fix.
posted by hamida2242 at 10:55 AM on August 5, 2009


fearfulsymmetry: "As well being demented these people's 'messages' (the University campus killer guy, the guy that sent a bomb to Bjork before offing himself on video) are always so boring."

That... makes me think of a quote by Alec Empire: "I think it was boredom that led to Nazi Germany."

I didn't say he made sense.
posted by symbioid at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2009


Also, you can't blame this on guns. DC has had an absolute gun ban forever, and people routinely get shot there. Ditto Chicago and many other cities. There are probably over 300 million guns in the US. Passing a law that bans all of them does not make them magically disappear.
"This would have happened even if we had banned the sale of guns a year ago" is not the same as "you can't blame this on guns".
I recognize the desire to reduce the availability of firearms to criminals or crazy people, and would support it if we can find a way to do so without violating the Constitution.
Without violating the Constitution, huh? OK. How about we stop ignoring the "well regulated militia" portion of the Second Amendment?

Or at least the "well regulated" portion?

Yes, you have a right to own a gun. And Congress has a Constitutional power to regulate you in this matter. Too many gun freaks, in my experience, obsess over any amount of regulation, no matter how sane.

One thing is certain: This man was not well regulated.
posted by Flunkie at 11:00 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Service Unavailable". I bet.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:00 AM on August 5, 2009


One thing is certain: This man was not well regulated.

Certainly not. The problem is that he was completely batshit insane and either no one knew it, or no one thought he was batshit insane enough to do anything about it.
posted by electroboy at 11:05 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


... and that he had guns.
posted by Flunkie at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I recognize the desire to reduce the availability of firearms to criminals or crazy people

They already do that, to a certain extent. It's called NICS (link to detailed FBI site here).
posted by electroboy at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2009


Shmegegge, I linked to two studies that showed correlations between gun ownership and homicide/suicide. One showed a positive correlation between gun ownership and homicide/suicide; the other, first linked by scrutiny, purported to show an inverse correlation between gun ownership and homicide. I then pointed out that there are some important limitations to the second study, and added my own opinion that findings in Europe probably do not apply directly to the US. I felt that it was only fair to note that some might feel that a similar criticism might be applied to the first study, which is more supportive of my position. Personally, I think comparisons between different states in the US hold a lot more water than comparisons between Norway or Russia and the US, but I acknowledge that there are some pretty significant demographic and cultural shifts from one state to another.

My point is that, even with only hypothesis-generating evidence available, it is certainly worthwhile, considering the amount of gun-related carnage we endure in the US, to take actions to try to prevent the carnage. Maybe my hypothesis is wrong, and the murder rate will stay steady, with more murders done by knife, but I don't think so. I predict that the non–gun-related homicides and suicides will remain steady, and gun-related homicides will sharply decrease, if it's a lot more difficult to get your hands on a handgun. Let's find out.

A couple of other things: Violence, including gun violence, does have a strong socio-economic component. That said, my hypothesis is that there will be less lethal violence if handguns are less easily acquired, because handgun deaths are a huge component of overall violent deaths in the US, and guns are far more lethal than knives or other easily-obtained weapons. So yes, I believe that making it substantially harder to kill people will result in fewer people being killed. And, if I can speculate a little bit, I'll bet that feeling a little more physical security, that is, a lot less gunshots, in rough neighborhoods will help the mental and physical health of the people who live there.

Finally, gun control will not cure the underlying socioeconomic factors that contribute to violence. I would like to see better education and social programs, of course, especially in the cities, where so much of the gun violence occurs. I would like to see a little common sense in the judicial system, so that so many young men aren't consigned to a life of crime because they can't get a job because they've got a drug conviction. None of that will help an angry loner like the killer in question here (although gun control might have helped his victims), but it will help the people who are on both ends of most of the gun violence in this country.
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on August 5, 2009


The next whackjob...isn't going to make the decision to start shooting because people read George Sodini's ramblings.

It probably helps. Some of these "whackjob[s]" want attention, obviously. Sodini wrote his blog, Seung-Hui Cho mailed a video to NBC, etc. The fact that it works (here we are, talking about it) does probably encourage the next one.
posted by cribcage at 11:12 AM on August 5, 2009


Yes, you have a right to own a gun. And Congress has a Constitutional power to regulate you in this matter. Too many gun freaks, in my experience, obsess over any amount of regulation, no matter how sane.

...and that he had guns

Congress has exercised that constitutional power. You can only buy guns from registered dealers, you can only buy them after a waiting period and if your record is clean, etc.

Timothy McVeigh owned guns. He actually had possession of them. Timothy McVeigh never killed anyone with a gun.

If we are going to generalize from single data points, perhaps we should ban truck rentals and fertilizer? Instead of focusing on this guy who used a gun to kill a handful of people to make policy, consider instead the millions upon millions of legally owned guns that are never used against another person.

If you are going to make policy based on the actions of crazy people, you are effectively assuming everyone is crazy. Banning guns implies that there are so few people that can be trusted to own them that the greater good to society by banning them outwieghs the infringement of their rights. That's fine, so why not ban cigarettes, violent or sexual art works, cars, sexual relations, the internet, etc. If you assume that adults can't be trusted to behave like adults, you are essentially concluding that we need a totalitarian state where you tell us how we should be acting.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:15 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


... and that he had guns.

Right, but can you not see how it would be practically impossible to intervene in this situation? Guy is moderately successful, engages in hobbies and activities that "normal" people pursue, hasn't stockpiled an arsenal, no documented history of mental illness or criminal record. In the absence of an absolute ban, I'm not sure what could've been done differently.
posted by electroboy at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


jsonic, I appreciate the gesture, and I agree to disagree with you on this.
posted by Mister_A at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2009


You can't blame this on guns. The blame is madness, or cruelty, or hate, or whatever motivated the act. Guns facilitated the attack, certainly, and simplified it, but desperat, muderous people can do horrible things with kitchen knives if they don't have acces to guns, such as the doorman who managed to hospitalize 18 people in Beijing in August of 2004, armed with only a knife.

This is not an argument against gun control, mind you. I am a gun owner and also firmly in the camp of reasonable gun control, as are many cops, who, after all, get to deal with the carnage our gun lving culture produces. But it's one thing to say "He may have done a lot less harm if he didn't have access to a gun," and it's another to say "guns are at blame."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:17 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I didn't say that guns should be outright banned, Pastabagel, and "Congress has exercised that constitutional power" doesn't mean that they can't continue to do so in further ways.
posted by Flunkie at 11:22 AM on August 5, 2009


You can't blame this on guns. The blame is madness, or cruelty, or hate, or whatever motivated the act.
This single-blame reasoning is oversimplistic. Of course guns are to blame. That doesn't imply that this man is not to blame as well.
posted by Flunkie at 11:23 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


muderous people can do horrible things with kitchen knives if they don't have acces to guns, such as the doorman who managed to hospitalize 18 people in Beijing in August of 2004, armed with only a knife.

hospitalize, but not kill? Strong argument there. Please continue!
posted by raysmj at 11:24 AM on August 5, 2009


Did you guys solve the "crazy people with guns" issue yet?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is no magic button we can press to get rid of the guns. Period. Given America's widespread gun ownership, punitive justice system, and for-profit prison-industrial complex, a War On Guns is going to look like the War On Drugs on steroids. That goes double because significantly more than half of our citizens don't want stricter gun laws, much less an outright ban.

America isn't going to ban or severely restrict handguns, much less firearms, any time soon. It's just not happening -- I think even a reinstatement of the assault weapon ban is unrealistic, given the current political climate. And even if we were to pass a ban, the guns aren't going to vanish just because they're illegal.

If you really think that criminalizing millions of citizens and creating a whole new excuse for civil rights abuse is worth maybe preventing 30,000 annual deaths -- over half of whom are suicides -- then go ahead and try. And if you really think that fighting the NRA and ~30% of American households on this issue is a better use for your anti-violence money and time than, say, prison reform, economic reform, and/or mental health counseling, then go for it. Personally, I prefer a more rational approach to the problem of violence, because the core problem here isn't the guns.

We have hundreds of millions of firearms (and tens of millions of handguns), yet only ~15,000 gun homicides / ~15,000 gun suicides / ~70,000 gun injuries per year; that means that significantly fewer than 0.1% of our guns harm people each year. Given these numbers, banning guns is obviously a massive case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, at best... and that's assuming that every single one of our guns magically vanish upon being banned. Which they won't.

I predict that the non–gun-related homicides and suicides will remain steady, and gun-related homicides will sharply decrease, if it's a lot more difficult to get your hands on a handgun. Let's find out.

You speak as though we could just "find out" on a lark -- as though banning guns would be easy as pie, something we could do on a whim, just to see what happens. Sorry, but that's not realistic. Prohibition didn't work that way with alcohol, it didn't work that way with drugs, and I see absolutely no reason to suspect that it would work that way with guns; if anything, guns are going to be much more difficult to ban than drugs were, as evinced by the fact that even vague noises about gun bans from the Obama administration have significantly increased gun sales, gun ownership, and anti-gun-control sentiments.
posted by vorfeed at 11:27 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


If we are going to generalize from single data points

Stop being ridiculous. Gun violence is serious problem in this country. This is hardly a "single data point".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


But guns are cool!
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on August 5, 2009


electroboy said: The fact that he tracked it for hours meant he didn't get a clean shot

Could be. He told me lots of hunting stories and it's possible that the one I'm relating doesn't paint him as a very skilled hunter, which is probably an extremely unfair depiction. Though, as a self-professed hunter I really don't see how you have any room to criticize him for cruelty to animals.

Ugh. I'm tired of people that know nothing about guns or hunting throwing around some buzzwords they read somewhere to make themselves sound knowledgeable

"Gas powered assault rifle" is, as I understand it, an accurate description of an AK-47. Is there a reason you don't want informative adjectives used in a discussion of guns? Because they're "buzzwords" that could have the power to make someone realize the deadliness of the weapon we're discussing? Or perhaps because "assault" accurately conveys the weapon's purpose?

Though, you have a point in that I'm not exactly "knowledgeable" (by your definition) about guns. I've never studied them, never handled them, certainly never shot one. I did, however, have one held to my head once. That experience imparted all the gun knowledge I could ever desire.

Guns were invented as weapons of war.

My point exactly. What is it, precisely, that makes you feel so entitled to tools of war? Why is it that so many people think it is their God-given-right to own the means for mass murder?

Flunkie said: How about we stop ignoring the "well regulated militia" portion of the Second Amendment?

Or at least the "well regulated" portion?


A-fucking-men.

And on preview, Astro Zombie I so often agree with you, but when you say

You can't blame this on guns. The blame is madness, or cruelty, or hate, or whatever motivated the act. Guns facilitated the attack, certainly, and simplified it, but desperat, muderous people can do horrible things with kitchen knives if they don't have acces to guns

I must point out that the story you cite from Beijing indicates people hospitalized, not killed. If he'd gone into the gym wielding a kitchen knife it's unlikely he would have been able to kill (at least) 4 women, and wound approximately nine more before being stopped. As I stated earlier, the murderer deserves the blame, yes, but the means by which he committed the murder are not irrelevant.
posted by philotes at 11:29 AM on August 5, 2009


I love that everyone's talking about the guns instead of the women who were killed by this hateful person.

Oh, wait, did I type "love"?
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not to derail a perfectly good gun control argument, but:

I glanced at the link posted by Nelson, and one of the first comments there, by wndycty, says: ". . .we need to see this, we need to read this because the media has already talked about it and only mentioned his misogyny not his racism. This needs to be read."

That's an interesting comment, because, you know, he didn't shoot up a room full of black people. He shot up a room full of women.
posted by hades at 11:31 AM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


Right, but can you not see how it would be practically impossible to intervene in this situation? Guy is moderately successful, engages in hobbies and activities that "normal" people pursue, hasn't stockpiled an arsenal, no documented history of mental illness or criminal record. In the absence of an absolute ban, I'm not sure what could've been done differently.

I agree that it's difficult to stop every case like this with laws that restrict gun ownership. But it would be difficult to stop people from smoking cigarettes by banning them as well, and there are things people can do to reduce the number of people who die of lung cancer from smoking without passing laws that explicitly ban them.

Personally I would never live in a home with a gun, and if any of my friends or family decided to buy one I would strongly urge them not to. Even ignoring homicide and accidents, depression is a lot more common problem than most people will admit, and if someone doesn't have access to a gun during a suicidal episode that means they don't have access to the most common and effective suicide method.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:31 AM on August 5, 2009


This post can be that plaque. A dedication to him. An examination of him and his thoughts. Meteor rise from obscurity. All it took was a killing spree.

Don't worry, this will disappear from the front page, and comments will drop off sharply. People may stumble across it in the future, but to consider a Metafilter post a plaque to anything would be like considering a forest as a memorial to every single tree. The fact that one is growing out of dead bodies is lost in the sheer number of other trees.

Serious question: Would some sort of regular sex have made the guy less angry?

That's what I kept thinking as I read the site. It seems like if he had a couple good friends, they would have helped him get laid, and that would have helped him be less crazy.

That's right, ladies, put out people, talk to your neighbors, so the angry man won't kill.


The elated feelings following sex are short-lived. Friends who listen to your stories and help you overcome your sordid past have a more lasting impact. Sure, he could have been medicated and monitored by a mental health professional, but friendship would have been a great start.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:33 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's an interesting comment, because, you know, he didn't shoot up a room full of black people. He shot up a room full of women.

Hades, that is a fair point. However, I'd say it's still worth pointing out that if we only rely on media digests of what this guy wrote, we're not going to get the full picture.
posted by prefpara at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2009


I must point out that the story you cite from Beijing indicates people hospitalized, not killed. If he'd gone into the gym wielding a kitchen knife it's unlikely he would have been able to kill (at least) 4 women, and wound approximately nine more before being stopped.

I must not have been clear in the second half of my comment. I am in favor of gun control, and think that keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, by measures such as licensing and testing, would go a long way toward preventing tragedies such as thing. It might require a constitutional amendment. I would support that amendment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2009


How do criminals get their guns?

Note that the last two links are to pages from which you can access files that answer this question. A highlight from the strawman report on the mayors against illegal guns site:
“Virtually every crime gun in the United States starts off as a legal firearm,” according to
then-Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) director Bradley Buckles in 2000.
posted by Mister_A at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2009


I love that everyone's talking about the guns instead of the women who were killed by this hateful person.

Oh, wait, did I type "love"?
Not to be disrespectful to them, but:

If you have something to say about them, why aren't you saying it?
posted by Flunkie at 11:39 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is an extremely valuable narrative. The things we tell ourselves, and the things we tell ourselves specifically for the purpose of overhearers (us, now), are important clues to understanding a specific pathology. This is a forensic linguist's goldmine of identity construction and performativity.

I never said this story shouldn't be told. I simply said that this post does a piss poor job of telling it. This post is the equivalent of rubbernecking at a car accident, I don't think that anyone could defend this as best of the web.

But while I do think this post is crap, it has produced a typically superlative and interesting Metafilter debate. All things being equal, though, I think this should have been deleted, and a post with a little more meat been substituted in its place. Since that ship has sailed, carry on gun control debaters.
posted by orville sash at 11:41 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post is the equivalent of rubbernecking at a car accident, I don't think that anyone could defend this as best of the web.

It seems to me that reading almost any news story covering a tragedy or a crime that you don't have a direct connection to is the equivalent of rubbernecking at an accident. I am curious what you think might have made this a worthwhile FPP, if anything.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:43 AM on August 5, 2009


Right: I ask because I genuinely do not know.

Does an individual have to have a license in order to own and operate a gun? If so, is that license periodically subject to renewal?

I don't believe guns are to "blame" for this, but the fact that he had access to one certainly made it easier for him. Someone said, though, that he had legally obtained handguns. And that's what made me wonder just how easy that legal process is.

There's another piece of machinery that we have access to that, in improper hands, could kill people; and that's why we test everyone before we let them use it. And that machinery is a car.

Again, I sincerely do not know, but it strikes me that the application to obtain a drivers' license is, right now, a bit more stringent than the application to purchase a handgun. Perhaps, if we subjected gun ownership to a similar licensing requirement -- i.e., you would have to have gone through a mandatory gun-safety class and been given one written and one practice test, and would have to re-renew your license every ten years -- there is a greater chance of spotting someone who really should not own a gun. Sure, the existance of licenses still doesn't prevent poor drivers from getting on the road and causing accidents -- but as I understand it, the current gun control tactic is a background check and a few days' waiting period before the purchaser can pick up the gun. I imagine far more poor drivers would be able to get on the road if all they underwent was a background check and a few days' wait.

Moreover, we have different classes of licenses for different kinds of driving -- motorcycles and trucks require different classes of licenses than ordinary cars. Guns could be similarly regulated with different licenses as well -- shotguns and handguns take one kind, if you want a different weapon you get that kind of license, etc.

Is that logical, or am I just missing something, maybe?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


It occurs to me to ask: are the people who are responding to this by advocating for gun control doing that in part because they think men like Sodini are beyond help, and the most we can hope to do is control they damage they will inevitably cause?
posted by prefpara at 11:44 AM on August 5, 2009


Why is it that so many people think it is their God-given-right to own the means for mass murder?

'cos it's in the Constitution of the USA. That's a document that's pretty sacred in terms of what goes in the USA. Which is a country. God's got nothing to do with it. Chill out.
posted by xmutex at 11:45 AM on August 5, 2009


It is hard to imagine how someone could manage to crawl into such a narrow little world like this shooter did. Depressed, isolate, increasingly delusional. Wow. Interesting psychobable over at ABC.
posted by caddis at 11:45 AM on August 5, 2009


This single-blame reasoning is oversimplistic. Of course guns are to blame. That doesn't imply that this man is not to blame as well.

I am a little confused by what you mean by blame. Do we also credit our hammers when we finish building a house?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I am a little confused by your seemingly purposeful sophistry.
posted by Flunkie at 11:49 AM on August 5, 2009


If you have something to say about them, why aren't you saying it?

Already said all I know about them, which is that they were victims of a hate crime.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2009


I am curious what you think might have made this a worthwhile FPP, if anything.

Context beyond "Here is a murder. Let's gawk at the killer's ramblings." There are a lot of places to go with a story like this. Relatives, co-workers, the families and friends of the deceased. Instead we get this guy's website, which provides no insight beyond "this is clearly a disturbed person."
posted by orville sash at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2009


I haven't read the whole thing. He was one of those video game-playing heavy metal kids, right?
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2009


I am a little confused by what you mean by blame. Do we also credit our hammers when we finish building a house?

Well don't ask that of Pedro Cerrano (or Carlos Delgago).
posted by xmutex at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2009


Ok, I've read his webpage and I'm not a forensic psychologist or anything, but I am a mental health professional, and I do crisis threat assessment.

The main thing that strikes me is how depressed he was and how suicidal. It seems he had been having suicidal thoughts and urges for a very long time but was afraid of carrying through with it. He felt some ambivalence towards suicide and seemed to go back and forther between periods of trying to make his life better (haircuts, working out, diets, going on a date) and periods of despair, when he would work on his plans for suicide. Often, in murder-suicides the murder acts as a type of insurance, to make sure the person goes through with the suicide, doesn't "chicken out." Because once you've committed the murder, you have to kill yourself for sure. (This is particularly true in cases of parents who kill their children, but I can see it applying here as well.) So I would say the primary goal here is the suicide, but something about him made him feel he had to take others with him, maybe his pride, "masculinity," anger, whatever.

I actually really enjoy reading the writing of people with mental illness, especially people who are actively psychotic. I find it fascinating. I feel like there's something off in his writing (besides the content itself), but I can't put my finger on it exactly. He's not schizophrenic or psychotic, but I wonder if there might be a little mania underlying his depression. Especially towards the end, the writing reminds me of the kind of racing thoughts that characterize bipolar disorder. Or he could have been drunk when typing, which is perhaps more likely.

Also, for all those speculating about what some kindness or friendship might have done for him, notice he says everyone is always trying to say nice things to him and that just makes him angrier. I think the only thing that could have really prevented this was him getting involved in some psychiatric treatment and someone finding out about these thoughts and plans.
posted by threeturtles at 11:52 AM on August 5, 2009 [23 favorites]


Now, what EmpressCallipygos proposes is not a bad idea at first sniff. It might help curtail straw purchases if you had to show up at annual training with your weapon. But let's talk about even more basic gun control steps: Why do we allow people to purchase so many damn guns, and then not track them effectively? People make repeated straw purchases for guns that leave their hands in 5 minutes. Why don't we make people account for all these weapons? Why don't we ban show sales? Why do we allow people to deal guns out of their homes? Jesus, let's do something different, because this ain't working.
posted by Mister_A at 11:52 AM on August 5, 2009


Does an individual have to have a license in order to own and operate a gun? If so, is that license periodically subject to renewal?

When you buy a gun, the gun store takes your ID and info, and then calls the FBI for an instant background check. I think this basically just checks to see if you've been convicted of felonies or such.

For some guns (such as semi-auto rifles or handguns) there is also a 7 day waiting period in some states. This means you pay for the gun, but can't have it for a week. I'm not sure if further background checks are done during this time.

Also, some states require "training" to be completed before purchase. This takes the form of an instructional video telling you the basics of gun safety and important laws regarding its use.

For almost all states that allow concealed carry of handguns, there is a more extensive background check performed (takes about 30 days) and you are fingerprinted and then receive a License to carry. This must be renewed periodically.

For actually operating the firearm, there are loads of restrictions and regulations, many of which vary by state.
posted by jsonic at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2009


It might be argued that "gawking" over—what, websites? profiles? blogs?—that belong to the deceased or their relatives, coworkers, etc. would actually be more distasteful than gawking at the ramblings of the killer, who (unlike the victims) raised his hand and volunteered for that kind of public attention.
posted by cribcage at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you have something to say about them, why aren't you saying it?
Already said all I know about them, which is that they were victims of a hate crime.
Fascinating, thanks for sharing. Now why is it so horrible that other people are talking about other aspects of this situation as well?

I think this thread wouldn't be very interesting if it consisted solely of people saying what they know about the victims. How many people saying "they were victims of a hate crime" would it take before you were satisfied? Because that's likely all that anybody here knows about them.

However many it would take, would it be OK with you if, after that number, we started speaking about other aspects of the situation? Or are other aspects forever off limits?
posted by Flunkie at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2009


Hmm, you know, all things considered, I think MetaFilter actually does guns pretty well.
posted by Mister_A at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2009


There's another piece of machinery that we have access to that, in improper hands, could kill people; and that's why we test everyone before we let them use it. And that machinery is a car.

38,648 were killed by cars in 2008. 30,896 were killed by guns in 2005. There are about 250,851,833 vehicles in America. There are about 238 million guns in the country, going with the low estimate.

And it should be noted that about 10,369 of these were homicides; the remainder were gun deaths due to other causes -- mostly, I suspect, suicide.

I need to be clear that I'm not saying we shouldn't have gun control. It would almost certainly dramatically reduce the rates of homicides and suicides. But as long as we're a culture that wants to have guns, this sort of thing is going to be part of our environment, just as we are a culture who loves cars, and auto fatalities are just a part of our environment. Testing a licensing would help, but, as with automobiles, there are still going to be a lot of deaths.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


And I am a little confused by your seemingly purposeful sophistry.

I am hardly being purposeful. I genuinely don't know what you mean when you say you blame guns.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2009


I am ok what I do, a .NET software developer.

Figures.
posted by Laen at 12:02 PM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


spandex holsters are the new black
posted by Rumple at 12:03 PM on August 5, 2009


I genuinely don't know what you mean when you say you blame guns.
A tragedy occurred. It involved guns. Had the perpetrator not had guns, the chance of the tragedy occurring, and the chance of the scale of it being as large had it occurred, probably both would have been lessened. The fact that he had guns was therefore a significant factor contributing towards the perpetration of a tragedy.

Are you sure you're not being purposeful?
posted by Flunkie at 12:03 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've met a lot of pot dealers in my time. Heroin and cocaine dealers as well, if truth be told.

I've never met any gun dealers though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:04 PM on August 5, 2009


I am sure. I would ask that you not question my motives.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on August 5, 2009


OK.
posted by Flunkie at 12:06 PM on August 5, 2009


As an example, imagine you're a 100 lb girl, and you're being attacked by someone much larger than you. Or multiple people larger than you. A firearm lets you defend yourself in cases where you can't physically do so by yourself.

If you're a 100 lb girl and are being attacked by one or more people larger than you who, it is implied, you would not be able to fight off physically, how on earth would you prevent that gun from being taken? Best case scenario, it is merely stolen, and not used against you.
posted by desuetude at 12:08 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does an individual have to have a license in order to own and operate a gun? If so, is that license periodically subject to renewal?
When you buy a gun, the gun store takes your ID and info, and then calls the FBI for an instant background check.
Of course, there are completely legal ways to purchase guns without this.
posted by Flunkie at 12:08 PM on August 5, 2009


To be clear, for me, blame means assigning repsonsibility. Guns are not actors, they are things that are acted upon, and they are only responsible inasmuch as the person who uses them are responsible. So it is puzzling for me to hear a statement of moral censure put upon a thing, rather than the person that used that thing, or the society that created it. I presume, however, that saying you blame guns was a metonym for saying you blame the culture of guns, but I want to make sure that I am not misinterpreting.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2009


Awhile ago I posted this question. Since then all attempts to pass on this information has been met with complete indifference.

That said, this looks like a classic case of little man syndrome.
posted by pianomover at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2009


Oh yeah and "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat."
posted by pianomover at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2009


Yay, another gun control thread. I'm gonna fucking shoot my cats claws off while simultaneously juggling and circumcising 16 babies.

While riding a unicycle.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:14 PM on August 5, 2009


Banning guns implies that there are so few people that can be trusted to own them that the greater good to society by banning them outwieghs the infringement of their rights.

See this is one of the main differences that is likely almost impossible to reconcile. The reality is that I don't see that anyone has a reason or a right as a regular citizen to own a device that's only real use is to kill easily and effectively from a distance.

Gun Advocates always pull out the little bit about "making guns illegal will mean that only criminals will own guns"... and that's true as far as it goes. But if there was no legal way to get a gun in the first place they are going to get more and more scarce... and as such be much less available to the average criminal. Maybe not right away, and certainly not if the restriction is only to small areas. But given tough enough restrictions implemented across North America it would happen. Yes certain criminal elements will always have access to weapons. But your average junkie or closet psychopath is going to have a very hard time getting one.

So in the end you see... I just don't think that the positives of restricting weapons is outweighed by whatever it is Gun Advocates seem to see as the negatives. Althought I do admit that it isn't going to be an easy task given the gun culture so popular in areas... I do think it's a task worth pursuing.
posted by cirhosis at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2009


Though, as a self-professed hunter I really don't see how you have any room to criticize him for cruelty to animals.

If you can't see the difference between killing an animal quickly and humanely and letting it die over a period of several hours, I wouldn't know where to begin explaining it to you. The fact that you think that makes it more sporting is certainly more disturbing than what was probably a mistake or just a bad shot.

What is it, precisely, that makes you feel so entitled to tools of war?

So then this:

Perhaps I should have clarified that I'm not against hunting rifles, and if these murders were committed using a gun designed to kill a deer then I apologize and retract my statement.

wasn't sincere at all? There's essentially no difference between a hunting rifle and an "assault" rifle. I don't think you understand that.
posted by electroboy at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2009


how on earth would you prevent that gun from being taken?

Seriously?

Well, I guess Option 1 is shoot them.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


These killing and having the guns are inseparable. You can't have one without the other. Maybe you could have, in some long ago time before Columbine let the concept of killing a bunch of people and then yourself to get attention for whatever whackjob loner outsider cause you represent out of the bottle, but not now. Wherever the triangle of a whackjob, some guns, and that idea forms a killing like this will occur.

Now, you could make an argument that these mass killings are acceptable given the good the guns do, and that could be a valid argument - though obviously one where people are going to disagree on the level of value of delivered - but to argue that the killings are not now an inevitable cost of the guns is fraudulent.

Also, since whackjobs are a universal constant and the idea is never going to go away now it's the only sider of the triangle anyone could do anything about, should they want to (which, I admit, giventhe history of these debates seems very unlikely)
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2009


Well, I guess Option 1 is shoot them.

Trained professionals get their guns taken away from them and used on them. "Shoot them" is not as simple an option as you suggest.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on August 5, 2009


Astro Zombie:

38,648 were killed by cars in 2008. 30,896 were killed by guns in 2005. There are about 250,851,833 vehicles in America. There are about 238 million guns in the country, going with the low estimate.

....That sounds like there are about the same numbers on both sides (between 30-40K guns fatalities, between 30-40K car fatalities; 250+million vehicles, 238 Million guns), but the difference is that it sounds like cars are more strictly licensed than guns. So: to grossly simplify this, unlicensed guns kill the same number of people as licensed cars. ...so wouldn't it stand to reason that licensing guns a bit more strictly would REDUCE those numbers?

as long as we're a culture that wants to have guns, this sort of thing is going to be part of our environment, just as we are a culture who loves cars, and auto fatalities are just a part of our environment. Testing a licensing would help, but, as with automobiles, there are still going to be a lot of deaths.

I'm not under the impression there wouldn't be. But hell, there are still a lot of CANCER deaths each year despite the existance of cancer treatments and cancer screenings, but that's not a reason to abandon cancer treatment, is it? Of course not -- we accept that some people will still die from cancer, but we still recognize the importance of doing everything we possibly can to reduce what that number is, don't we?

And that brings me to jsonic's breakdown of gun regulation (and thank you for that, jsonic). Looking that over, it looks like the biggest issue is that gun regulations vary from state to state. Similarly, there are variations in driving laws from state to state, but each states' driving regulations are a lot more alike than different. This doesn't appear to be so for guns. Again, asking-because-I-don't-know -- is there some overriding federal law that's sat a bare minimum for driving regulation? For example, is there a Federal law which states that everyone has to take this-and-such a test, but then each state is given the right to decide at what age a person is eligible to try? Or do we all just generally agree more about driving than we do about guns?

IS there some Federal policy that could set a bar for the barest minimum of gun regulation (i.e., establishing a mandatory gun license for ALL weapons, rather than just the concealed handguns, and establishing mandatory training, but leaving each state to decide what form that training takes, say)?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:19 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes. That's why I have repeatedly stated I am in favor of gun control.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:21 PM on August 5, 2009


The word "blame" has more than one standard meaning, and not all of them imply a moral statement.

Moreover, the person I was responding to, who said "you can't blame guns", gave a reason why you supposedly can't. This reason was not "because guns are not actors". It was "because DC's gun laws haven't stopped gun violence in DC".

So what if DC's gun laws had stopped gun violence in DC? The implication, under the original use of the word "blame" in this conversation, is that you then could "blame" guns.

Furthermore, yes, of course it's additionally a metonym for things such as the availability of guns, the gun culture, etc.

Finally, when you say "a statement of moral censure put upon a thing, rather than the person that used that thing", please note that I never put blame on guns rather than the person. In fact, I explicitly said so. In further fact, I explicitly said so in the post that you responded to, for which you took me to task for use of the word "blame". In even further fact, you actually quoted me explicitly saying so.
posted by Flunkie at 12:23 PM on August 5, 2009


Well, I apologize for misunderstanding.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2009


I've never met any gun dealers though.

Well, they're easy to find; they generally hang out inside gun stores.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Part of the difficultly is that gun laws, for the most part, are a mishmash of federal and state regulations, with unreasonable actors on both sides. For every militia nut that wants to buy machine guns, there's someone on the left that wants to use gun control laws as a stalking horse for an outright ban.

But the problem is, whenever someone pushes for reasonable regulations (whether enacted new laws or repealing ineffective or overly restrictive laws), the other side is so distrustful they do all they can to defeat it.
posted by electroboy at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


'cos it's in the Constitution of the USA. That's a document that's pretty sacred in terms of what goes in the USA.

That's the same Constitution that has this language:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons

I don't expect guns to be banned. But much more stringent regulation, especially of hand guns, seems to be long past due.
posted by cjets at 12:28 PM on August 5, 2009


Ok, so, instead of paying attention in class, I've been a little bit obsessed with marking up observations of the PDF I made from the b/log data. Here's a couple of things I'd like to share from the opening section and first entry. I should also not that I am NOT a forensic linguist. This is purely my observation for the purpose of community discussion. I also feel that this is too serious an event and data for my amateur analysis, so I'm not going to go to deep here.

I also want to say that my heart goes out to the family and friends of all the victims. This is a difficult time for them and a hard road ahead. I wish them all peace and strength. A major motivation for my interest in this type of work stems from wanting to discover and help understand these events from a scientific and linguistic perspective. I do not mean to offend or cause pain by anything said about this, but rather to use analysis to shed light on the underlying sickness of one particular individual so that we can all learn and hopefully heal a little bit.

Anyways, here goes (and please feel free to tear it apart, add your own, email me, or whatnot!):

"Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below. I kept a running log that includes my thoughts and actions, after I saw this project was going to drag on."
  • This opening section was written at some point near the end of journal writing, or intended to be perceived as written more recently (nearer to the end of journal writing). It lets the reader know that he (George) has thought about the reader's perspective. He addresses the hearer's natural question of "How/why could/would somebody do this?" immediately with this opening statement. Notice it is placed below the ethnographic section, but outside and above actual journal entries. Opening statements are incredibly important, as the set the writer's intended tone and framing of the subsequent text.
  • Use of multiple punctuation conveys emphasis.
  • "Just read below" (...to find out the answers to the previous questions)
  • Use of the word "log" is interesting. The reader chose this word instead of the other available lexical items (which have different connotations): blog, journal, diary, writing, confession, statement, etc. It could be that "log" is an attempt at conveying a neutral stance and objective reporting of events.
"...after I saw this project was going to drag on."
  • This presupposes a time period where there was self-awareness about what he was doing, characterized by him as a 'project', but no documentation of events. He wants us to know that documentation (the 'log') began Nov. 5th, 2008, but the realization and planning began prior.
"November 5, 2008:
Planned to do this in the summer but figure to stick around to see the election outcome. This particular one got so much attention and I was just curious. Not like I give a flying fcuk who won, since this exit plan was already planned. Good luck to Obama! He will be successful. The liberal media LOVES him. Amerika has chosen The Black Man. Good! In light of this I got ideas outside of Obama's plans for the economy and such."
  • He frames the election outcome as a goal important enough to delay his plans, despite him stating that he doesn't 'give a flying fcuk' and he was 'just curious' to see what would happen.
  • "In light of this I got ideas...and such" Is this copula deletion conscious or unconscious? Is it indicative of an attempt at AAVE styleshifting? Following sentences would suggest so. Also, 'and such' sounds somewhat marked to me in this context, not sure as to possible reasons why yet.
There's so much more to be found in just these sentences alone. Use of 'drag on' and 'Planned to do this...but...' suggest some sort of apathy about the entire notion, which is incredibly interesting. Further analysis may reveal an overall orientation towards his 'project', stemming from and supporting his particular pathology. I could pick out these types of things for pages, and will add this to my ongoing list of interesting sideprojects.

Two other things that are incredibly marked for me throughout the piece were styleshifts (between vernaculars, registers, and narrative spaces reflecting distinctive attitudes). Some of this styleshifts are marked by strict adherence to certain lexical items versus other, somewhat comparative items. For example, track the contexts which Sodini uses 'girl' vs. 'female' vs. 'women/woman', etc. Same for guy/male/men-man. Other uses of reference, diminutives, etc. also seem to be tied to specific social stances and apparently have some significance to the writer.

Anyways, there is a LOT we can learn from this piece. Publicized or not, I'm sure there are people working on it. My dream job is to be one of them.

....
posted by iamkimiam at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2009 [10 favorites]


Also arguing with people who really like guns is about as useful as arguing with people who really like pitbulls, and results in the same level of aggrieved personal investment "They're just misunderstood! They'd never hurt anyone!"
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on August 5, 2009


desuetude: "If you're a 100 lb girl and are being attacked by one or more people larger than you who, it is implied, you would not be able to fight off physically, how on earth would you prevent that gun from being taken? Best case scenario, it is merely stolen, and not used against you."

not to nitpick, but that's not the best case scenario. that is the worst +1 case scenario.

Flunkie: "A tragedy occurred. It involved guns. Had the perpetrator not had guns, the chance of the tragedy occurring, and the chance of the scale of it being as large had it occurred, probably both would have been lessened. The fact that he had guns was therefore a significant factor contributing towards the perpetration of a tragedy."

there are a lot of fallacious assumptions being made in this argument. the biggest is the assumption that tighter gun control laws would have prevented him from owning a gun. what I keep seeing from certain people in this thread (though not all of the pro-gun-control mefites exhibit this behavior, thankfully) is a failure to recognize that gun violence is a pandora's box problem. the option of eliminating guns among our criminal element and/or deranged psychopaths does not exist. the guns are out there, and we cannot eliminate them. there is no "keep all guns away from dangerous people" solution. this is not to say that tighter gun control can't have a benefit, but too many people act like you can say "guns are bad. we should not have guns. lets get rid of guns" without being totally impractical. we don't know that tighter gun control would have kept a gun out of this guy's hands, for a number of reasons. if your argument is "he shouldn't have a gun, therefore guns are to blame," then your argument is moot.

second, you assume that a lack of a gun would have lessened the extent of his crime. while it's certainly possible, it isn't totally certain. as has been mentioned, people who both have and have not owned guns have turned to homemade explosives to enact this kind of tragedy.

speaking only for myself, I think it's foolish for anyone to say that further gun control is a bad thing. I think there are possible benefits to certain types of enhanced gun control, but it's not because guns=bad. If I had to wish for anything to come of this thread, it would be for gun control proponents to stick to practical policy that also addresses the socio-economic factors while acknowledging that we can't just eliminate guns altogether. at that point, I believe that people who are against enhancing gun control laws can reasonably discuss what options they believe exist to reduce gun-related violence without resorting to simplistic declarations of unconstitutionality.
posted by shmegegge at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're a 100 lb girl and are being attacked by one or more people larger than you who, it is implied, you would not be able to fight off physically, how on earth would you prevent that gun from being taken?

Pull the trigger.

As for,

Trained professionals get their guns taken away from them and used on them. "Shoot them" is not as simple an option as you suggest.

That it happens from time to time says nothing about how likely it is to occur. Let's not imply that a gun disarm attempt has a high probability of success.
posted by BigSky at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I suppose a shrink would call this a personality disorder.

I wouldn't.


Really? So, my understanding of your view is that, because you're offended by his actions, his psychology is irrelevant. If he were a thief instead of a murderer, would that make a difference, and would you then consider his psychological issues relevant? Just diagnosing someone doesn't absolve them of anything, incidentally.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2009


A tragedy occurred. It involved guns. Had the perpetrator not had guns, the chance of the tragedy occurring, and the chance of the scale of it being as large had it occurred, probably both would have been lessened. The fact that he had guns was therefore a significant factor contributing towards the perpetration of a tragedy."
there are a lot of fallacious assumptions being made in this argument. the biggest is the assumption that tighter gun control laws would have prevented him from owning a gun.
The argument doesn't even say anything at all about gun control laws.
second, you assume that a lack of a gun would have lessened the extent of his crime.
No I did not. Note the word "chance" being used in multiple places.
while it's certainly possible
Exactly. As I said.

I'd be interested in hearing one of those "lot of" fallacious assumptions you said I made.
posted by Flunkie at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2009


Ladies, would it hurt you toss a pity fuck to a .NET codemonkey once in a while?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:56 PM on August 5, 2009


Without violating the Constitution, huh? OK. How about we stop ignoring the "well regulated militia" portion of the Second Amendment?

Or at least the "well regulated" portion?

Yes, you have a right to own a gun. And Congress has a Constitutional power to regulate you in this matter. Too many gun freaks, in my experience, obsess over any amount of regulation, no matter how sane.

One thing is certain: This man was not well regulated.


The "militia" is different from the army.

You and I are the militia.

The idea is that, in a democracy, if we're attacked by some invading power, we'll all be happy and willing, and furthermore have a responsibility, to take up the fight against that invading power. It's how we won the Revolution (with the help of the Prussians), and the founding fathers thought it was a pretty decent approach to national defense.

"well regulated" did not mean what you think it means. It meant "well trained".

Indeed, in most of the original states, it was required by law that every man between the ages of 18 and (roughly) 50 keep a rifle or musket, some ammunition, and all of the other gear a soldier needs. At his own expense. Furthermore, they were required to go out and drill and train with that gear a couple times a year.

And the one argument of gun control I'll grant you is that it would reduce the number of mass murders like this. You'd be left with people constructing bombs, and many of them would blow themselves up.

However, reducing the number of guns in America would not reduce the number of simple homicides--which make up the vast bulk of the "tens of thousands" numbers you hear. It didn't reduce the number of homicides in the UK... it's just that people get stabbed to death instead of shot. (Incidentally, the mortality rate for handgun and stabbing victims is roughly the same--that is, a handgun and a knife kill with roughly equal effectiveness.)

The UK has responded by banning pocket knives (which is ridiculous to me, owing as I carry one with me constantly and use it dozens of times a day). And I've heard they're even thinking of legislating that all kitchen knives be "safety knives" (which have a protrusion to prevent stabbing). Thing is, their murder rate still hasn't changed. Sure, nobody dies of a gunshot wound... but plenty of people die from having their heads caved in with a bat.

However, the gun control debate is emblematic of the larger problem in American political discourse: an utter unwillingness to address base problems. Socio-economic and cultural factors are the cause for violence in America, not the mere availability of tools. Not to mention the goddamn war on drugs: if you're going to do 20 years for dealing, why not gamble on killing the snitch? It's only 5 more years.

Do you really think the dirt-poor drug dealer is going to, you know, just let his deadbeat buyer go with a warning if he didn't have a gun? If you think that, you've clearly never met a drug dealer.
posted by Netzapper at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Humans are not a species I would give guns to, the same way I don't believe cats should drive cars. What's that, Toonces? Okay, just this once.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


The argument doesn't even say anything at all about gun control laws.

then I'd like to hear what you were trying to say. I assumed that, when you said "Had the perpetrator not had guns," you meant that he could have been prevented from having a gun, and I further assumed that you meant that gun control laws would have been what prevented him from owning one. I apologize if this isn't what you meant. But if that's not what you meant, then I have no idea what your point ultimately is. are you just saying that it would be nice if we lived in a world that had no guns? that's not an especially meaningful statement to make, so I assume that's not what you're saying. but I can't figure out what meaningful statement you could be making if you're NOT talking about gun control laws having possibly prevented this crime. at this point, it sounds like you're not actually saying anything, so I'd really appreciate it if you could explain your position, because I don't get it.
posted by shmegegge at 1:04 PM on August 5, 2009


Really? So, my understanding of your view is that, because you're offended by his actions, his psychology is irrelevant. If he were a thief instead of a murderer, would that make a difference, and would you then consider his psychological issues relevant? Just diagnosing someone doesn't absolve them of anything, incidentally.

I think that in some-not all -cases-psychiatry puts labels on something and treats it as a disorder when perhaps it is simply a matter of ....evil.

Now, some may want to classify evil itself as a disorder. I suppose you could, but I'm looking at it from a perspective of: disorders can be treated.

Could this man have been treated? In this case, I think he was sane, and determined. Or, even if he had a mental disorder (depression? Bipolar? disordered thinking of some sort?) it was beside the point, as most people with these conditions do not go on to murder others.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:05 PM on August 5, 2009


how on earth would you prevent that gun from being taken?

Seriously?

Well, I guess Option 1 is shoot them.


Seriously? What happens when you miss? I think our aggressors in this scenario are unlikely to stay still like that nice paper target. Or do they run screaming 'cause the little girl waves around a gun?

Also, some of us don't feel right about planning to kill another human being. Unless you're suggesting that not only should I just shoot them (successfully), but that I should aim for (the smaller target of) their leg, too?
posted by desuetude at 1:12 PM on August 5, 2009


The idea is that, in a democracy, if we're attacked by some invading power, we'll all be happy and willing, and furthermore have a responsibility, to take up the fight against that invading power. It's how we won the Revolution (with the help of the Prussians), and the founding fathers thought it was a pretty decent approach to national defense.

And how effective do you think that would be in the 21st century, either against a modern foreign army or, in the event of a coup, the US Military? What made sense in the 18th century does not necessarily make sense now.

Do you really think the dirt-poor drug dealer is going to, you know, just let his deadbeat buyer go with a warning if he didn't have a gun? If you think that, you've clearly never met a drug dealer.

How many drug dealers do you know that extend credit? It's cash up front, only. And the last two drug dealers I knew (an anorexic 40 year old female and a 60+ hippy) wouldn't own a gun if you paid them. Their, very effective, retaliation? If you fucked with them, you'd be on their permanent blacklist.
posted by cjets at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2009


...the mortality rate for handgun and stabbing victims is roughly the same...

I haven't seen these data, but in any case, keep in mind that you're talking about people who've been "successfully" shot/stabbed. It is, in my experience, considerably harder to get into stabbing distance than shooting distance. The really interesting thing would be to look at outcomes for victims of violent crime involving a knife and compare with those for victims of crime involving a gun. That is, a weapon was used to coerce/threaten, not necessarily to injure. My guess is that you're more likely to be killed or injured when a bad guy pulls out a gun than when he pulls out a knife. I have looked for data on this, but to no avail.
posted by Mister_A at 1:15 PM on August 5, 2009


I think that in some-not all -cases-psychiatry puts labels on something and treats it as a disorder when perhaps it is simply a matter of ....evil.

Now, some may want to classify evil itself as a disorder. I suppose you could, but I'm looking at it from a perspective of: disorders can be treated.


You suspect that evil is being classified as treatable disorders, that you don't think can be treated because the patient is actually evil, which is not treatable?
posted by desuetude at 1:16 PM on August 5, 2009


then I'd like to hear what you were trying to say.
I was trying to explain the use of the word "blame". If you have further questions on this, please search this thread for "Astro Zombie" and "Flunkie".
posted by Flunkie at 1:18 PM on August 5, 2009


Ignore any causal relationship that might exist between 8% of U.S. GDP being from 'defense' spending and domestic violence like this.
posted by acro at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2009


What?
posted by Mister_A at 1:22 PM on August 5, 2009


I think that in some-not all -cases-psychiatry puts labels on something and treats it as a disorder when perhaps it is simply a matter of ....evil.

Evil is some children believe in. How old are you?
posted by xmutex at 1:25 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flunkie: "If you have further questions on this, please search this thread for "Astro Zombie" and "Flunkie"."

no, I read the back and forth, there. I thought I'd try to address what you were saying to Astro Zombie because you weren't making a whole lot of sense and you're not making any very good points. But if you don't want to explain yourself any further, that's cool, too.
posted by shmegegge at 1:28 PM on August 5, 2009


Three small points:

Under a typical definitions of insanity-- able to understand that your actions are wrong, and having the ability to control them-- it seems pretty clear he was not insane. He did it anyway, planned it, evidenced one episode where he was able to control himself (chicken out) etc.

He may have been mentally ill, or not, who knows? He didn't drink, he had otherwise good control over his life. You could reverse it and say "would any kind of treatment have stopped him from doing this?" And the debate would begin. I (N=1) say no.

"Why do this? To young girls?" Well, that to me is the main question. After a year of planning and 50 rounds, the three people he kills are all middle aged women. 38, 46 and 49.

To those who question the value of understanding why he did it: there isn't any, which is precisely the value. It becomes obvious that no one can predict it, no one can stop it, it isn't related to psychiatric illness or drugs or anger at women or no money. The value is realizing that there are a lot of people just like him who may, or may not, explode, given a conjunction of circumstances no one can identify.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 1:29 PM on August 5, 2009


38 isn't middle age!
posted by Mister_A at 1:34 PM on August 5, 2009


iamkimiam: Thanks for taking the first step toward looking closely at the content. There is a lot of interesting stuff happening here, but the thing that jumped out at me the most was:

I was reading several posts on different forums and it seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little hoe has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48. One more reason. Thanks for nada, bitches! Bye.

So: He relies on internet forums to draw the conclusion that teen girls are having sex frequently. This tells us something about the kinds of web forums he is reading, but also about his social isolation. Which of us had to read about it on a forum somewhere to know that teens are having sex?

It's interesting that he is focusing on how much sex the girls are having. Presumably, the boys are having pretty much an equal amount of sex. But when drawing the comparison, he compares how much sex he has had to how much sex the girlfriend has had. The boyfriend is mentioned in passing, but he doesn't compare totals with him, which would seem more natural to me. ("Her boyfriend gets more sex in a month than I have ever.")

He does seem naively willing to believe the "three times a day" story, which is within the realm of possibility, but awfully unlikely. It's not just that he doesn't have a romantic relationship, he really has no clue how they normally work. If he actually believes his early comments:

Besides, dem young white hoez dig da bruthrs! LOL. More so than they dig the white dudes! Every daddy know when he sends his little girl to college, she be bangin a bruthr real good. I saw it. "Not my little girl", daddy says! (Yeah right!!) Black dudes have thier choice of best white hoez

Then he has constructed a view of young women which sees them as hyper-sexual and particularly attracted to black men, playing off of some of the worst stereotypes from explicit pornography and traditional racist/misogynist myth.

There's also a strong dose of the old fashioned looking down on women for having sex, while being simultaneously angry that they aren't having sex with him. The morality of the boyfriends isn't on his radar screen. It's all about her.

Finally, a few places in the document he mentions that none of the "30 million desirable women" in the U.S. find him attractive. That's another important factor in his frustration. It's not just that Becky over in accounting wouldn't go on a second date with him, or that he's having trouble working up the nerve to approach Lisa in human resources. None of the thirty million American women that he would be willing to have a relationship with find him attractive. In the meantime, they're having lots of sex with their black boyfriends, some up to three times a day, every day.

He's taken the normal sexual frustration of a socially awkward man and cranked it up to 11 by constructing this hyper sexual world where everyone gets laid but him--and it's not his fault, because he would be happy with any one of millions of women out there.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2009 [12 favorites]


Seriously? What happens when you miss?

I'm not sure I get the point of this thought experiment. I guess you believe the 100 lb girl being attacked by multiple, sizable assailants would be better off without the gun. Maybe? I don't know, but I doubt. Shitty situation to be in no matter what.

Also, some of us don't feel right about planning to kill another human being.

That's fine, and some would even consider it noble. I think of it as willfully nearsighted, as it won't get you very far if you're ever in contention with someone who doesn't feel the same way about it as you do.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


38 isn't middle age!

How long do you expect to live?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2009


It becomes obvious that no one can predict it, no one can stop it, it isn't related to psychiatric illness or drugs or anger at women or no money. The value is realizing that there are a lot of people just like him who may, or may not, explode, given a conjunction of circumstances no one can identify.

Except that murder-suicide perpetrators do happen to certain kinds of people, do have recognizable warning signs, and are related to a specific treatable mental illness. From Wikipedia:

Whereas murderer-suicides were found to be highly depressed and overwhelmingly men, other murderers were not generally depressed and more likely to include women in their ranks. In the U.S. the overwhelming number of cases are male-on-female and involve guns. Around one-third of partner homicides end in the suicide of the perpetrator. From national and international data and interviews with family members of murder-suicide perpetrators, the following are the key predictors of murder-suicide: access to a gun, a history of substance abuse, the male partner some years older than the female partner, a break-up or pending break-up, a history of battering, suicidal ideation by the perpetrator.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:42 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Why do this? To young girls?" Well, that to me is the main question. After a year of planning and 50 rounds, the three people he kills are all middle aged women. 38, 46 and 49.

Interesting point. Maybe he planned to shoot younger women, and missed. Or the it was mainly an older group there at the time, and he went through with it anyway.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:43 PM on August 5, 2009


A few points:

Guns didn't matter? Sure they did -- guns are a tool like any other. When you know you have them in your reach, they expand how much you can do. If you can't find yourself a hammer, you will have a hard time making a house. This guy may not have been committed enough or competent enough to go through with explosives.

Better gun licensing could prevent this? Well, it might help overall, but these murders were not a result of poor gun safety. Oh, but this guy was mentally ill, so he could've been prevented from obtaining a gun? Just because he murdered people doesn't mean he would've been pegged as mentally ill beforehand. And in particular, good luck preventing psychopaths from passing themselves off as normal.

He was a homicidal asshole, so he would've ended up killing people anyway?

There is no such thing as destiny. People, even those who later murder others, have desires and plans and thoughts. They are influenced by events, absences of events, and just random occurrences. Life is uncertain! People, with perhaps the notable exception of psychopaths, have feelings and can be swayed by them to change their course of action. So it's not unreasonable to talk about the factors that may have contributed to the murders. It's not about blame, because the blame lies squarely with the murderer.

There are homicidal assholes out there who will never commit homicide. Maybe they can't bring themselves to do it, or can't find the weapons, or make a mistake and get caught, or change their mind. I don't think it is useful to pretend that all homicidal sprees are predestined.
posted by parudox at 1:43 PM on August 5, 2009


How long do you expect to live?

Not very long if I call my wife (38+) middle-aged!
posted by Mister_A at 1:51 PM on August 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


She would beat me to death, though, because guns are for pussies.
posted by Mister_A at 1:51 PM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


no, I read the back and forth, there. I thought I'd try to address what you were saying to Astro Zombie because you weren't making a whole lot of sense and you're not making any very good points. But if you don't want to explain yourself any further, that's cool, too.
Are you serious? You read a conversation in which one person said "you can't blame guns here", another said you can, a third asked what was meant by "blame", and the second said what was meant by "blame", and you came away with "you're not making any very good points about stricter gun control laws"?
posted by Flunkie at 1:54 PM on August 5, 2009


Now, a little more seriously:

Pater Aletheias, I think that the guy's fixation on how much sex girls/women were having centered around the fact that none of that sex was taking place with him, and he clearly felt entitled to have as much sex as he wanted. Also, it's in line with our societal double standard of promiscuous guy=stud, promiscuous woman=slut.
posted by Mister_A at 1:54 PM on August 5, 2009


Also, it's in line with our societal double standard of promiscuous guy=stud, promiscuous woman=slut.

But it's also tied up in racist depictions of black male sexuality and how he's simultaneously envious and disgusted that "unworthy" black men are having sex with white women who rightfully should belong to him.
posted by electroboy at 1:58 PM on August 5, 2009


You read a conversation in which one person said "you can't blame guns here", another said you can, a third asked what was meant by "blame", and the second said what was meant by "blame", and you came away with "you're not making any very good points about stricter gun control laws"?

no, I came away with "you're not making any very good points."
posted by shmegegge at 2:00 PM on August 5, 2009


no, I came away with "you're not making any very good points."
So then, for example, you disagree that:

(1) There are situations in which the word "blame" can be applied to things other than conscious entities and other than in a morally judgmental sense;

(2) Saying that something is to "blame" for something does not imply that it is the only such thing.

Right?
posted by Flunkie at 2:10 PM on August 5, 2009


no, I don't disagree with those things. I disagree that guns are to blame for this incident. but, as I said, you're more than welcome to give me an explanation for the comment I responded to, so that I understand why you think guns are to blame for this a little better. then, as I have been trying to do this entire time, we can continue to have this discussion in something resembling good faith. or, as you've been doing this entire time, we can keep sending tiny obnoxious little barbs at each other until one or the other of us gets tired of it.
posted by shmegegge at 2:13 PM on August 5, 2009


it's also tied up in racist depictions of black male sexuality and how he's simultaneously envious and disgusted that "unworthy" black men are having sex with white women who rightfully should belong to him.

Yes, it comes round to that sense of entitlement again. He is deeply wounded that "they" are taking what is "his".
posted by Mister_A at 2:15 PM on August 5, 2009


no, I don't disagree with those things. I disagree that guns are to blame for this incident. but, as I said, you're more than welcome to give me an explanation for the comment I responded to, so that I understand why you think guns are to blame for this a little better.
Please. That statement was an explanation of why I think guns are to blame.

Moreover, in response to that explanation of why I think guns are to blame, you did not ask me to explain (again) why I think that guns are to blame; rather, you accused me of assuming that stricter gun control laws would have prevented him from owning a gun, and of assuming that without guns carnage would have necessarily been lessened.

Neither of these accusations have any basis in the explanation in the first place, nor even remotely anything to do with its subject of whether or not guns are to "blame".

In any case, if you now claim to want a second explanation of why I believe that the word "blame" can be applied to guns in this situation, try here.
posted by Flunkie at 2:25 PM on August 5, 2009


Seriously? What happens when you miss? I think our aggressors in this scenario are unlikely to stay still like that nice paper target. Or do they run screaming 'cause the little girl waves around a gun?

Is this really all that difficult? If you miss and you are still in imminent danger, pull the trigger a second time.

Also, some of us don't feel right about planning to kill another human being. Unless you're suggesting that not only should I just shoot them (successfully), but that I should aim for (the smaller target of) their leg, too?

If killing another human being is never an acceptable option then it is unlikely you would be carrying to begin with. In which case, bringing a weapon to bear and the remote possibility of it being taken away are non-issues.
posted by BigSky at 2:39 PM on August 5, 2009


That statement was an explanation of why I think guns are to blame.

and one which I didn't, and still don't, get. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Look, you're being kind of a dick, here. Here's the deal: You made a comment. I responded to it, apparently having misunderstood what you said. (as we can see, I'm not the only one having trouble understanding your comments in this thread.) You explained that I misunderstood your comment, and I apologized for the misunderstanding and asked you to explain what you were saying. you have, since then, responded with nothing but snark and bullshit. so yes, I asked you to explain why you think guns are to blame for this incident, because I asked you to explain what you were getting at. the closest I have gotten to an explanation since then is you just now having linked to this comment.

so, in an effort to actually continue the discussion, I'm going to turn to that comment, now.

the person I was responding to, who said "you can't blame guns", gave a reason why you supposedly can't. This reason was not "because guns are not actors". It was "because DC's gun laws haven't stopped gun violence in DC".

So what if DC's gun laws had stopped gun violence in DC? The implication, under the original use of the word "blame" in this conversation, is that you then could "blame" guns.


but since DC's gun laws have NOT stopped gun violence in DC, the implication is...

again, your logic isn't making sense to me, here. if you want to explain it further, go ahead. I'm interested in hearing it.

then: of course it's additionally a metonym for things such as the availability of guns, the gun culture, etc.

but I don't see why you believe that the availability of guns, and the gun culture are to blame, either. I see you saying that you believe it, but not why.

I understand that you're not saying guns are solely to blame. But I don't see how they're to blame at all. I believe this guy would have found something to commit this crime with, that he wouldn't have had a hard time doing so, and that he could have found something more dangerous than a gun to do it with. I believe this makes guns, gun culture and the ready availability of guns incidental to the crime, not instrumental. so I don't see how guns are to blame, so if you want to explain it in greater detail, I'm all ears.
posted by shmegegge at 2:45 PM on August 5, 2009


I think that in some-not all -cases-psychiatry puts labels on something and treats it as a disorder when perhaps it is simply a matter of ....evil.

Now, some may want to classify evil itself as a disorder. I suppose you could, but I'm looking at it from a perspective of: disorders can be treated.

Could this man have been treated? In this case, I think he was sane, and determined. Or, even if he had a mental disorder (depression? Bipolar? disordered thinking of some sort?) it was beside the point, as most people with these conditions do not go on to murder others.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:05 PM on August 5 [+] [!]


I won't go so far as to call it evil, because evil as some sort of force or condition is something that only happens in fairy tales and fantasy novels, but I think it's pretty sick that you're willing to completely write someone off as beyond help because you do believe in evil.
posted by Caduceus at 2:57 PM on August 5, 2009


Of course guns are to blame.

I thought it was the bullet that did all the actual damage, the gun just helps keep the bullet going in a straight line.
posted by nomisxid at 3:04 PM on August 5, 2009


but since DC's gun laws have NOT stopped gun violence in DC, the implication is...
There are at least two implications:

(1) That the person who made that statement was claiming that guns aren't to blame. I don't deny that that person believes that guns aren't to blame, and that they think this is not relevant to my discussion with Astro Zombie.

(2) That the person who made that statement thinks that theoretically, the word "blame" can be assigned to guns.

Astro Zombie's argument with me was that I used the word "blame" to apply to something other than a conscious entity, which he seems to believe (or to have believed, at least) is a theoretically impossible usage of the word.

I therefore thought it appropriate to point out to him that, within the context of the conversation, the person that I was responding to when I used the word "blame" in this manner also used the word "blame", and did so in a way that contradicted his belief that it could not even theoretically be applied to anything other than an "actor".

Do you disagree that it was appropriate of me to point this fact out?
I don't see why you believe that the availability of guns, and the gun culture are to blame, either. I see you saying that you believe it, but not why.
If he had not had such easy access to guns, there's a significant chance that less people would be dead by his hand. Thus, access to guns was a contributing factor in a tragedy.
I believe this guy would have found something to commit this crime with, that he wouldn't have had a hard time doing so, and that he could have found something more dangerous than a gun to do it with.
Believe it all you want; it's just an assertion you're making. That he can possibly have made a bomb, or that he could possibly have killed a bunch of people with a knife, does not change the fact that he killed a bunch of people with guns.

I think that you're confusing a desire or lack thereof for stricter gun control with the fact that guns were a significant contributing factor in this tragedy (as witnessed by your initial accusations of me, unrelated to what I actually said in what you were responding to). And that means they're to blame. Not wholly; not mostly; but that's what "to blame" means, in this context.
posted by Flunkie at 3:07 PM on August 5, 2009


That diary could be verbatim from a Michel Houellebeqc novel. Both Whatever and The Elementary Particles have sexually themed rants against black men by sexually frustrated loners. Whatever, in particular, has a very similar narrative. A 30ish computer programmer has no friends and is still a virgin. He makes good money, but has an empty, loveless existence. To seek out his Revenge on the World he stalks out a white teen and her black boyfriend with the intent to murder them.

Houellebeqc isn't constructing a morality tale here. He was a computer programmer, and the impression is that these feelings and characters are totally autobiographical. So George Sodini's thoughts and experiences must not be very unique. Just the mysterious extra circumstances that lead to murder instead of merely fantasizing about it. (The Houellebeqc proxy in the book "chickens out" in his murder attempt too, and then commits suicide.)

Even Sodini's writing style, peppered with staccato interjections like 'I'm isolated' and 'I masturbated' are Houellebeqcian.
posted by dgaicun at 3:13 PM on August 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


“My guess is that you're more likely to be killed or injured when a bad guy pulls out a gun than when he pulls out a knife.”

Not according to the 21-foot rule. Knives are far more lethal. Especially in defense.
With a firearm you have the option of distance (most people don’t use it, but still), in defense you can fire a few rounds and determine if you’re still being threatened. If you’re not you have the option to back off, take cover, call 911, whatever you like.

So the option in using distance is greater. Generally speaking.

But lethality does not necessarily equal ‘stopping power.’Firearms can cause shock which can lead to incapacitation. Knives often don’t which means someone can be “dead on their feet.”

Death results from either, initially, because of blood loss. Knives are better at spilling more blood fast (and so too, can incapacitate quickly given a certain level of skill).

But, if you reach the hospital, you’re more likely to live with a knife wound than a gunshot wound because A. bullets go deeper and cause tissue damage that is harder to access and B. bullets go off on weird trajectories in the body and a retained foreign body is more likely in a gunshot wound than a stab wound which is far more likely to lead to infection.

Short answer – depends on the situation and how quickly you can get access to medical care.
But lethality is a matter of attitude and method, not tools.

If we’re talking sick bastards - Dr. Harold Shipman (fuck the GMC) killed 250 + people with just his doctor bag. Dr. Maxim Petrov too. And Dr. John Bodkin Adams. Too smart? Carl Watts was mildly retarded, killed 80 or so people by choking them or drowning or beating them or stabbing them (fuck Ginsu). Pichushkin rammed vodka bottles into people’s skulls (fuck Stolichnaya). Katō Tomohiro ran 5 people over with a truck and got out and stabbed twelve.
Australia has pretty stringent gun laws: Allen Xiang killed two people and injured five in 2002 at a university. Only reason he stopped shooting was that some people tackled him.

So where there’s a will there’s a way. As lousy as that is sometimes.

On gun control – someone wants to talk about ‘x’ amount of deaths per year, other social statistics and whether private gun ownership is worth the trouble of various laws, enforcement, or whatever – I’ll probably be on the pro-gun side, but there is certainly room to debate and reasonable concessions to be made on either side.

Spree killers, serial killers, madmen, different story.
They kill with bats, knives, rocks, water, drugs, whatever is at hand. Some psycho like Joel Rifkin is going to kill people no matter what’s in his hand. Arguments that “it’s easier” are ceded given the very narrow set of specifics here. But that doesn’t go to method - it’s much easier to lure hookers into a dark place and disembowel them at your leisure (just ask Pedro López) than show up at a gym and start blasting away.

Probably the only reason this madman chose a gun is because he thought it would be easier to kill himself afterward. To blame this on firearms is to say all legal, sane, firearm owners have the potential to be like this guy.
That’s the same b.s. I have to put up with if I have a day off and I take my kids to the park by myself – hey, I’m a lone male, of course I have to be treated like a potential pedophile.
So no, the guns themselves don’t ‘make’ anyone do anything like this. I’ve been around firearms all my life, I could never be this guy. As to the facilitation of killing argument, in this case, that’s covered above.

Gang violence, crime, murder rates, other gun violence, etc. different argument. One I’m on the other side of, but one that I find at least reasonable.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:17 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


The guy got what he wanted: attention.

I wish these types of stories wouldn't make the front page of the news.
posted by thisperon at 3:24 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


And how effective do you think [the citizen militia] would be in the 21st century, either against a modern foreign army or, in the event of a coup, the US Military? What made sense in the 18th century does not necessarily make sense now.

Pretty goddamn effective, actually.

The Iraqis seem to be doing quite well at repelling occupation by the US military with not much more than we can legally posses right now. The only major thing they have that I don't is plastic explosive. But if we had IranCanada supplying the "insurgency" here, we'd have that too.

Furthermore, do you really think that if, say, China were to invade the US that we wouldn't institute a draft? The draft is simply a way of compelling the militia to do its duty.

Hell, Jefferson was of the opinion (and rightly so, IMO) that a standing army is a threat to liberty. Certainly there's no chance we would have gone to war in Iraq (either time) if fielding the force required raising a volunteer militia. There were lots of volunteers, but not nearly enough to field an invasion force.

The only reason those invasions were possible was the standing army, pledged not to fight against a specific, clear, and present danger to the security of the populace, but rather pledged to remain armed and ready to carry out the president's directives.

How many drug dealers do you know that extend credit? It's cash up front, only. And the last two drug dealers I knew (an anorexic 40 year old female and a 60+ hippy) wouldn't own a gun if you paid them. Their, very effective, retaliation? If you fucked with them, you'd be on their permanent blacklist.

I'm not talking about street dealers, and I'm certainly not talking about pot dealers.

I'm talking about people who move weight. The sort of people who fly airplanes into rural airstrips at 0200 on the promise that their buyer has all the two million dollars ready, and will shoot a motherfucker who only brought half and thought he could pull one over on them.

I really don't think the cartels care if they have guns or not... they'll do you with a broken bottle if there's nothing better around. Actually, according to some of the stories I've read, they'll do you with a broken bottle even if there's something better around.

And the gang squabbles that cause so many of the killings wouldn't stop just because the guns are gone. I know a guy who explained that, in the 50's, when he was in a gang in Brooklyn, everybody carried a knife, nobody had guns, and plenty of people died.

...the mortality rate for handgun and stabbing victims is roughly the same...

I haven't seen these data, but in any case, keep in mind that you're talking about people who've been "successfully" shot/stabbed.
...
My guess is that you're more likely to be killed or injured when a bad guy pulls out a gun than when he pulls out a knife. I have looked for data on this, but to no avail.


I don't have data on that. But my suspicion is that there's no big difference.

In crimes where the weapon is used to intimidate, the weapon is rarely used if the intimidated party doesn't resist. I have a dozen friends who've been mugged at knife and gun point... none of them have been injured, except for the guy who decided he could disarm the knifeman. He got his hand cut up horrifically (and required massive transfusion to prevent death). On the other hand, I have a friend who was carrying a concealed weapon... and he shot the man who had a gun on him without being injured in the process, causing both of his assailants to run away.

Most actual murders you see are not the result of some other crime going wrong. They're the result of one person trying to kill another person. I really don't think that a criminal with murderous intent is going to abandon his homicidal plan because he can't get a pistol. The UK's firearm ban shows this: there are just as many murders today in the UK as there were before the ban; they're just not completed with a firearm.

As I said before, the only effect that a firearm ban has is reducing the rate of mass murders. That's a laudable goal... but, they're rare like lightning strikes and terrorist attack. Actually that's a false comparison: you're far more likely to die by lightning than you are by mass murder. And as tragic as I find this this case, and others like it, I'm simply unwilling to give up a very effective means of personal protection to target an already fleetingly rare phenomenon.

How about we require real driver's training? Like the kind that's required in Europe. With a couple hundred hours behind the wheel, with a trained instructor (not Dad), before you can get your license? That would, within a year or two, save a hundred thousand more lives than have been lost to mass murders.
posted by Netzapper at 3:31 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie's argument with me was that I used the word "blame" to apply to something other than a conscious entity, which he seems to believe (or to have believed, at least) is a theoretically impossible usage of the word.

I still believe that, except when "guns" is used as a metonym for a human agent or action. But I think what you're what you're saying is that these circumstances might not have arisen in the manner they did or with the severity they did were it not for the presence of guns.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:36 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he had not had such easy access to guns, there's a significant chance that less people would be dead by his hand.

what makes you say this? I understand that you believe it, but as you said "it's just an assertion you're making."

That he can possibly have made a bomb, or that he could possibly have killed a bunch of people with a knife, does not change the fact that he killed a bunch of people with guns.

of course not, but that he used a gun doesn't mean guns are to blame any more than lockpicks are to blame for break-ins. if the gun were necessary for the act of killing people, I'd think guns were to blame. but since they're not, and since a gun isn't necessary for this guy to have killed these people, I still don't see why guns are to blame.

I think that you're confusing a desire or lack thereof for stricter gun control with the fact that guns were a significant contributing factor in this tragedy

you keep saying things like this "significant contributing factor." I'm not seeing why you'd say that, specifically how you see it as significant instead of minor. I mean, there's the obvious "duh, because he shot people" angle, but I only see that as significant if he couldn't have killed them otherwise.

also, I'm confusing "a desire or lack thereof for stricter gun control?" are you referring to some desire I do or don't have? if so, it's a desire that, whether I have it or not, is confusing me from seeing that guns were used to kill people? this makes no sense.

but that's what "to blame" means, in this context. meaning that's how you used the word, or that's the empirical definition?
posted by shmegegge at 3:36 PM on August 5, 2009


I still believe that, except when "guns" is used as a metonym for a human agent or action.
So, for example, "A faulty O-Ring was to blame in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster" would not, in your opinion, be a valid use of the word "blame"?
posted by Flunkie at 3:41 PM on August 5, 2009


If I was thinking about it, I wouldn't use it that way, although I concede it's a pretty common usage. I'd probably phrase it thusly: "The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was the result of a faulty O-ring.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:47 PM on August 5, 2009


And how effective do you think that would be in the 21st century, either against a modern foreign army or, in the event of a coup, the US Military? What made sense in the 18th century does not necessarily make sense now.

Even in this day and age, an armed insurgent population can give a modern military plenty of problems, e.g. Chechnya. Guns are also vital in preventing, or at least minimizing, genocidal outrages in the event of a collapse of civil authority, e.g. Rwanda. Widespread civilian ownership of firearms impedes genocide. See here.

It is also worth pointing out that the roots of gun control are racist. The short documentary, "No Guns for Negroes", covers this.
posted by BigSky at 3:50 PM on August 5, 2009


But I don't think we're here to continue to discuss language usage or not. Shmegegge's question is not about whether or not you used "blame" correctly, or if I'm just an unbearable pedant, but instead why you think things would have been significantly different without guns in play. I know you believe the answer to be self-evident, but I'd submit it's not, and Shmegegge has pitched a number of credible reasons why he may still have managed to be as murderous as he was without access to guns.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:50 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he had not had such easy access to guns, there's a significant chance that less people would be dead by his hand.
what makes you say this? I understand that you believe it, but as you said "it's just an assertion you're making."
Because I believe it's easier for a psychopath with a gun to kill a bunch of people in a gym than it would be for him to do so with a knife, or to bomb them, or to anthraxify them, or so forth. Do you disagree?
since a gun isn't necessary for this guy to have killed these people, I still don't see why guns are to blame.
"Blame" doesn't imply "necessity". Not even this murderer was necessary for these people to be murdered.
meaning that's how you used the word, or that's the empirical definition?
If you don't like the word "blame" being used to indicate that something contributed significantly to something bad, that's fine with me. But that's how the person I was responding to used it, in their argument that guns aren't to blame.
posted by Flunkie at 3:50 PM on August 5, 2009


"...gun control... would almost certainly dramatically reduce the rates of homicides"

Just my two cents, but in another gun thread several months ago, I did in an international comparison and found that"there is a moderate negative correlation between national gun ownership and gun murders: -.31. That means the more guns there are, the less gun murders there are."
posted by dgaicun at 3:52 PM on August 5, 2009


blame
posted by Flunkie at 3:54 PM on August 5, 2009


So, for example, "A faulty O-Ring was to blame in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster" would not, in your opinion, be a valid use of the word "blame"?

I see a difference between blaming a faulty part, and blaming a tool used by a broken person. Maybe the word 'blame' can be used differently in different situations.
posted by jsonic at 3:58 PM on August 5, 2009


Really? You plant to sort through my entire posting history to see if, in one of my umpteen million stupid comments, I might have misused the word "blame" in a comment meant to be funny?

There are a lot of spelling errors and typos in there if you want to go digging, too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:12 PM on August 5, 2009


That diary could be verbatim from a Michel Houellebeqc novel. Both Whatever and The Elementary Particles have sexually themed rants against black men by sexually frustrated loners.

Interesting. I read the diary page first, and my honest initial take on it was that it was some kind of clumsy viral marketing. It was so cliche-- the racist, sexually enraged computer programmer going to the gym (at this part I groaned, imagining Christian Bale) and plotting murder. Like a cross between Taxi Drive and American Psycho and something completely banal; as if the voice of Travis Bickle was echoing around in this guy's head and providing some kindof narrative for what he planned to do.

I have no doubt that he radiated his discomfort and resentment on a wavelength that any aware women would have picked up on, and backed away from, as well. I don't think that sex was really his problem; he thought it was, but the problem was something else entirely and the sexual obssessions were symptoms.
posted by jokeefe at 4:21 PM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've read some superficial studies into it, but it rings true to me - guys that can't get a girlfriend or spouse over a long period of time, are at considerably elevated risk of feeling rejected by their society, and lashing back at it.

Conclusion one: Some forms of terrorism can averted by the preemptive addition of... single women. (Israel has documented some success doing this)
Conclusion two: As China's gender imbalance increases and comes of age, crime and unrest will rise disproportionately.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:38 PM on August 5, 2009


Oh and why you should shut up about mass murderers...

Thanks, fearfulsymmetry, that was a brilliant short clip - captures the despicable idiotic evil of the media frenzies around these shootings *perfectly*.
posted by mediareport at 4:47 PM on August 5, 2009


Really? You plant to sort through my entire posting history to see if, in one of my umpteen million stupid comments, I might have misused the word "blame" in a comment meant to be funny?
Since your entire argument with me was fundamentally based on your claim that "blame" couldn't be used in the way that I used it, I honestly don't see what's so wacky about seeing if you've also used it that way. And it wasn't difficult; click "Astro Zombie", type "blame", hit "search", and voila, first page of results.

In any case, I mostly meant it to be funny as well, and I'm sorry it didn't come off that way, but yeah, I still don't get what's so ridiculous about doing so.
posted by Flunkie at 4:48 PM on August 5, 2009


Seriously? What happens when you miss? I think our aggressors in this scenario are unlikely to stay still like that nice paper target. Or do they run screaming 'cause the little girl waves around a gun?

I think you may be misunderstanding how defensive gun use works. For one thing, yes, drawing a gun is often enough to cause criminals to flee. In Kleck's study, Armed Resistance To Crime, ~75% of respondents showed their gun, and around 50% of respondents said they'd pointed it at the offender, but only 15.6% of respondents said they'd fired to hit, and only 23.9% said they'd fired any shot (including warnings). Almost 40% of respondents used their guns in response to some form of assault, and another 20% to robbery, suggesting that even violent criminals can be deterred by drawing a gun.

Unsurprisingly, most criminals don't want to be shot, and will find somebody else to pick on rather than pressing the issue...

Also, you should watch this video, from about 5:00 to 6:00, for a good example of a defensive handgun practice session. Defensive gun use happens at very close quarters, typically 3 yards or less, typically against people who are facing you and/or moving toward you. They're not "staying still", but they're also not hard to hit, because they're either right on top of you or are coming straight for you.

At that distance, you don't have time to "wave around the gun", and you don't have time to aim with the sights and stop after one shot to see how it goes. You point-and-shoot, and you keep firing until the threat stops. Assuming you've practiced shooting, and maybe even if not, that's likely to stop the threat one way or the other. The noise and force of close-quarters firing is intimidating, even when it's just practice with paper targets. Criminals aren't ninjas -- few of them are going to stand their ground in the face of that degree of fire, even if you do miss.
posted by vorfeed at 4:52 PM on August 5, 2009


America takes its privileges very seriously. Americans have RIGHTS - it's in the constitution - there's no law that says They CAN'T! And so on until we have a sacred cow that people will defend to the bitter death because someone tried to say they can't. Or possibly shouldn't.
Privelage doesn't come free of responsibility. Using cell phones while driving, the right to own handguns (two contentious issues at the moment) both seem to involve a lack of follow-up thinking. From the viewpoint of a non-american, the arguements i see in favor of both seem to come down to a fairly narcissistic howl of "Well it works for ME!!!"

When we live within a larger society, we accept not only the privileges of that society, but responsibilities. Not just toward yourself, but toward everyone else in that society.
Oh dear. Is that socialism?
Interestingly, it seems that societies (such as Switzerland) that posit their weapons as responsibilities rather than unassailable privileges have significantly fewer incidents of gun violence. In America attempting to separate gun ownership from a "psychological trend toward violence in society" isn't sensible - part pf the psychological problem is the glorious "my rights! MY rights!" swagger that permeates society. Yes, many people are responsible in their ownership. But for every responsible owner there is the relative who refuses to lock away their guns while their grandchildren are visiting the house (because it's grandpa's right to have them available!) and the gun store that hands guns out without ID checks, and the kid down the street who just plain wants one, because he's a bad swaggering dude and bad swaggering dudes have guns and the accountants and teacher and lawyers and doctors howling "It's my RIGHT and if someone tries to hurt me, well, I got the right to get him first!" It's a stunning frontier mentality, isn't it? Where's the frontier in suburban Seattle? or Minneapolis?
And of course, the people who must protect their homes from home invasions. I've never seen them present statistics on that - what are the stats on successfully repelled home invasions or personal assaults?

Logic would indicate that responsible gun owners (who all these people are, of course - they've very clear about it) keep their guns behind sensible precautions might take a little bit longer to access and load their gun than it takes for a mad home invader to bust down the door.
Oh dear, I think I just made an argument in favor of keeping guns lying loose around the home.
Give me the stats, please.
posted by tabubilgirl at 4:56 PM on August 5, 2009


I've read some superficial studies into it, but it rings true to me - guys that can't get a girlfriend or spouse over a long period of time, are at considerably elevated risk of feeling rejected by their society, and lashing back at it.

Conclusion one: Some forms of terrorism can averted by the preemptive addition of... single women. (Israel has documented some success doing this)
Conclusion two: As China's gender imbalance increases and comes of age, crime and unrest will rise disproportionately.


Only Conclusion Needed: Working to end the patriarchy and the feeling of entitlement to women/sex that this guy had would be good for everybody.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if he had raped women instead of killing them, would we be even implying things like "if some woman would have had sex with him, none of this would have happened"? I don't think anybody has explicitly stated that in those words, but I've read a few comments above that seem to carry the inference, and that is not ok. Just want to put that out there. Thanks.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:22 PM on August 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Repost:

Amok is a Malay word for the homicidal sprees occasionally undertaken by lonely, Indochinese men who have suffered a loss of love, a loss of money, or a loss of face. The syndrome has been described in a culture even more remote from the West: the stone-age foragers of Papua New Guinea.

The amok man is patently out of his mind, an automaton oblivious to his surroundings and unreachable by appeals or threats. But his rampage is preceded by lengthy brooding over failure, and is carefully planned as a means of deliverance from an unbearable situation. The amok state is chillingly cognitive. It is triggered not by a stimulus, not by a tumor, not by a random spurt of brain chemicals, but by an idea. The idea is so standard that the following summary of the amok mind-set, composed in 1968 by a psychiatrist who had interviewed seven hospitalized amoks in Papua New Guinea, is an apt description of the the thoughts of mass murderers continents and decades away:
"I am not an important man... I possess only my personal sense of dignity. My life has been reduced to nothing by an intolerable insult. Therefore, I have nothing to lose except my life, which is nothing, so I trade my life for yours, as your life is favoured. The exchange is in my favour, so I shall not only kill you, but I shall kill many of you, and at the same time rehabilitate myself in the eyes of the group of which I am a member, even though I might be killed in the process."

The amok syndrome is an extreme instance of the puzzle of human emotions. Exotic at first glance, upon scrutiny they turn out to be universal; quintessentially irrational, they are tightly interwoven with abstract thought and have a cold logic of their own.

From How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker
posted by AceRock at 5:31 PM on August 5, 2009 [16 favorites]


As an example, imagine you're a 100 lb girl, and you're being attacked by someone much larger than you. Or multiple people larger than you. A firearm lets you defend yourself in cases where you can't physically do so by yourself.

Defend myself from who? The equally armed aggressive maniac? I'm not likely to encounter a dark alley rapist and I'm most likely to be murdered or harmed by a male partner who'll be in a close enough position of trust, rendering my gun moot. He might even kill me with my own gun, as keeping a weapon around makes it easier for my hypothetical murder. Plus, I freeze up when people verbally attack me, so there’s no evidence I’d correctly read a situation in time to save myself or have the guts to blow someone away.

There’s not a warrior buried deep within my small frame, waiting to be empowered by better weapons. Guns aren’t magic, they’re efficient things to be used to kill people with. Which, interestingly enough, tend to be owned and operated primarily by the groups of people most likely to kill things, even when they’re legal. The reality is that small women like me get zero practical gains from the fact that guns equalize potential damage. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not badass, I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.
posted by Phalene at 5:35 PM on August 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


It is worth noting that the the psychiatrist in Papua New Guinea was able to interview seven hospitalized (but clearly alive) amoks. One has to wonder whether they tried to commit suicide after their homicidal sprees but couldn't because they didn't have guns. One also has to wonder how many other people they were able to kill without guns.

Rereading the passage, it sends chills up my spine. The broad strokes are all there in Sodini's blog, just the details are different -- cliche in their own American, 21st century way.
posted by AceRock at 5:41 PM on August 5, 2009


Prefpara said this well:

"while I am repulsed by this man, my desire to understand people extends to those people who commit brutal, grisly murders. I thought this man's webpage was not the kind of thing we always see when there is a killing, and thus worth sharing."

I agree. This is brutal yet fascinating, and while it may offend us morally, a document like this has a kind of authenticity and rawness that we don't often come across.
posted by masterburst at 5:42 PM on August 5, 2009


I've never seen them present statistics on that - what are the stats on successfully repelled home invasions or personal assaults? Give me the stats, please.

The Kleck study I linked to above is a good place to start; it discusses a number of different surveys, some undertaken by the Federal government, which have attempted to estimate the number of defensive gun uses in America.

The lowest estimate quoted in the study (from the government's yearly NCVS survey) is about 82,000 defensive gun uses per year, or nearly three times the number of Americans killed by guns each year. The average between all quoted surveys (see Table 1; note that I included NCVS in my average) is roughly one million defensive gun uses per year; Kleck's own survey suggests that a number between 2.2 and 2.5 million is more likely, once underreporting is taken into account.

I used to have more or less the same attitude you do, until I actually did the math. And I'm sorry, but the numbers do not support strong gun control. Even after model experiments such as the D.C. handgun ban, the Chicago handgun ban, the Australian ban, and the ban in the U.K., there's still no compelling evidence that strong gun control does anything to improve public safety. Countless studies have been done on this, and none of them have shown a conclusive link between gun control and decreased homicide; in fact, as dgaicun pointed out above, gun ownership worldwide might even be negatively correlated with gun homicide, much less the ordinary kind.

Frankly, if strict gun control is so important that it justifies changing the Constitution and disenfranchising millions in order to put it into effect, you'd expect somebody to be able to prove its general efficacy. However, when you actually look at studies about it, their results wibble back and forth all over the place; some studies say there's a slight positive correlation between gun control and homicide, some say there's no correlation, and some say there's a slight negative correlation. Likewise, both worldwide and in the US, some areas with strong gun control have high homicide, and some areas with weak gun control have low homicide, suggesting that other factors are more significant.

At any rate, it's become clear to me that gun control laws have no major effect on homicide rates, one way or the other... it seems to me that the only sure effect they have is to decrease gun ownership and increase gun arrests/confiscations, neither of which are necessarily a public good.
posted by vorfeed at 5:56 PM on August 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thank you for your statistics.
Astonishing how many home invasions are going on, isn't it?

I'm advocating an attitude of responsibility - one that would shift a society's mindset from visions of violent payback and detailed imaginings of how to take down as many assailants as possible with my handgun (which is what a fair few of the "defensive gun use" posts in this thread evolve into) to one of contemplating why we we need to have a society in which this is actually a concern.
People don't do that as much in Australia. Or the UK. Perhaps I'm confusing causality with coincidence, but it's an awfully interesting coincidence, isn't it? One worth consideration.

As for the constitutional defence - terribly sorry, but it sounds an awful lot like the "but it's in the BIBLE" defense. The constitution is a contextual document, written at a specific time and place in which the country was engaged in a fight for independence and the local population WAS the standing army. That's no longer the situation. The US has a rather large standing army these days.
Of course, if a terruble furrin' invadin' force were to come riding rough-shod across the countryside...yeah, there's no arguing with that.
posted by tabubilgirl at 6:19 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm advocating an attitude of responsibility - one that would shift a society's mindset from visions of violent payback and detailed imaginings of how to take down as many assailants as possible with my handgun (which is what a fair few of the "defensive gun use" posts in this thread evolve into) to one of contemplating why we we need to have a society in which this is actually a concern.

And I'm advocating an attitude of responsibility, as well -- one that would shift our mindset from a simplistic, ideology-driven stance of "guns are inherently bad, so how do we get rid of them" to a more nuanced, reason-based ideal: "violence is bad, whether it involves guns or not, so how do we decrease it". This is very much a chicken-and-egg sort of problem... but the fact is that we do have a society in which self-defense and gun use are actually matters of concern, and the difficulty of getting from here to a (voluntarily or involuntarily) gun-free society is not insignificant. I'm all for "contemplating why we we need to have a society in which this is actually a concern", but frankly, that contemplation does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that we should ban guns, especially since banning them carries its own significant social challenges. IMHO, any honest assessment of the violence situation in America would strongly suggest that poverty, the criminal justice system, and the mental health system are far more obvious candidates for legislative change... and unlike gun ownership, poverty is strongly correlated with homicide worldwide.

Think of it this way: if we had less violence, but the same number of guns, then people might not want guns "for protection" as much, and over the generations, we might slowly get rid of them on our own. If we had fewer guns, but the same amount of violence, I seriously doubt people would want the guns less. In fact, the psychology of scarcity and power imbalance would seem to suggest that they might want them more.

As for the constitutional defence - terribly sorry, but it sounds an awful lot like the "but it's in the BIBLE" defense.

Are you saying you'd be perfectly glad to implement laws which violate your own country's charter? Come on, be fair. "Written at a specific time and place" or not, the Constitution is the legal basis for the laws of this nation, and in this particular case, it's not too far off from "the will of the people", either. Besides, as I said above, I've no problem with changing it... if it can be shown that strict gun control is worth the legislative struggle, worth the disenfranchisement of the gun-owning population, and worth the protracted War On Guns which would probably follow, and if you'll be able to get 3/4 of the states to agree with you.

Unfortunately for your argument, it can't be, and you won't.
posted by vorfeed at 7:08 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever anything like this happens, there is immediately a call to give the killer no attention. Weird. What is that?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:20 PM on August 5, 2009


As for the constitutional defence - terribly sorry, but it sounds an awful lot like the "but it's in the BIBLE" defense.

Maybe if the bible had an amendment process this comparison would be more apt.
posted by Wood at 7:26 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever anything like this happens, there is immediately a call to give the killer no attention. Weird. What is that?

See above. A forensic psychologist makes a good (if rather obvious) case that the media frenzy, including huge pictures of the killers' faces and body counts, helps to perpetuate the idea that a mass murder is a big accomplishment on some level.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 PM on August 5, 2009


Whenever anything like this happens, there is immediately a call to give the killer no attention. Weird. What is that?

I think it deserves a 3rd linking, just to hear the forensic psychiatrist say what not to do after something like this happens. The same thing he says he's been saying for like 20 years on CNN.

Don't start the story with photographs blaring, don't have pictures of the killer splashed everywhere, don't cover it 24/7, don't hyperpublicize the body count, don't make the killer some kind of anti-hero. Do localize the story to the surrounding community, and make it as boring as possible.

This is brutal yet fascinating

"Get my good side? Murder is so sexy."
posted by cashman at 7:35 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reality is that small women like me get zero practical gains from the fact that guns equalize potential damage. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not badass, I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.

You say this as though it is fixed for all time. It is not. Many improve their capability to respond to a threat. Small women only get zero practical benefits if they are unwilling to take advantage of owning a firearm. One is either willing or unwilling to learn, and that this is a choice, is passed over in your post. You may wish to look at how the victim's choice to fight back during a rape correlates to their recovery, everything from seeking out immediate help, to the intensity of feelings of guilt and self-blame, to the ability to feel anger towards their attacker. On this last aspect, Susan J. Brison in 'Aftermath' quotes Aristotle:

"...no one grows angry with a person on whom there is no prospect of taking vengeance, and we feel comparatively little anger, or none at all, with those who are much our superiors in power."
posted by BigSky at 7:35 PM on August 5, 2009


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Dietz

This is the psychiatrist in the youtube video.

"Every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder we expect to see one or two more within a week."

Wow, I've just finished reading a few articles about the guy and he seems very interesting. Doubtful that he has any actual quantitative data to back up his claims though.
posted by Wood at 8:03 PM on August 5, 2009


Standard issue gun rampage.

Damn, where do I sign up? If you can offer me said "standard issue" and if it is endorsed by your speed-reading school I am certain I can find a way to assassinate mathowie and have him post about it here and then delete it before cortex even has a chance to grieve/joke/wield his word-wand of total illumination. Skip to the profit and the tee shirts!

You, my friend, have got some lightnin' insightin' in ya.
posted by sid abotu at 8:10 PM on August 5, 2009


Doubtful that he has any actual quantitative data to back up his claims though.

He may.
posted by cashman at 8:17 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


"...no one grows angry with a person on whom there is no prospect of taking vengeance, and we feel comparatively little anger, or none at all, with those who are much our superiors in power."

Are you kidding? Aristotle, here, shows his age.

I am most angry with, and most desirous of vengeance against, precisely those people who wield more power than I do.

It's those I hold in pity and contempt against which I have no anger.

The reality is that small women like me get zero practical gains from the fact that guns equalize potential damage. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not badass, I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.

The fact that you've abdicated responsibility for your own safety does not mean that other women will choose to do the same thing.
posted by Netzapper at 8:21 PM on August 5, 2009


Flunkie: "Because I believe it's easier for a psychopath with a gun to kill a bunch of people in a gym than it would be for him to do so with a knife, or to bomb them, or to anthraxify them, or so forth. Do you disagree?"

let's say I disagree that it's necessarily easier. if we can imagine that a given psychopath might have difficulty acquiring a gun for any number of reasons (criminal record, difficulty passing whatever requirements are involved in his state, whatever...), but has a passing understanding of the chemistry involved in creating a homemade explosive device, then I'd say it might be easier for him to do the deed with a bomb.

but I'm inventing unrelated circumstances. so as I said, let's say I don't think it's necessarily easier, though it was easier for this guy.

to stick a little more closely to the point, however: just because it's easier doesn't mean he wouldn't have done the same thing in some other way, which to my mind means that you don't have a particularly strong reason for claiming that "there's a significant chance that less people would be dead by his hand." as I said earlier, I think you're throwing the term "significant" around pretty loosely.

Not even this murderer was necessary for these people to be murdered.

that's a pretty weak evasion, and it doesn't lend any credibility to your argument that guns are to blame.

If you don't like the word "blame" being used to indicate that something contributed significantly to something bad, that's fine with me.

i was just trying to be clear in how you're using it, but yeah I might have a problem with it. that's why I'm trying to discuss this with you and better understand why you think it's well used in this instance.

But that's how the person I was responding to used it, in their argument that guns aren't to blame.

you're talking about Pastabagel in this comment, yeah? yeah, he's not using the word "blame" the way you are, and I'd recommend against continuing to use him to support your bizarro linguistics. he speaks more plainly than you're trying to.
posted by shmegegge at 8:41 PM on August 5, 2009


Are you kidding? Aristotle, here, shows his age.

I am most angry with, and most desirous of vengeance against, precisely those people who wield more power than I do.


I suppose there's a couple of different possibilities: 1) you are an anomaly, 2) Aristotle is flat out wrong, 3) you're interpreting in a different sense than what was meant. Here's a passage from the paragraph where she includes that quote, "Although I didn't blame myself for the attack, neither could I blame my attacker. Tom wanted to kill him, but I, like other rape victims I know, found it almost impossible to get angry with my assailant.". She then speaks about taking a self-defense class and coming to own her space and her right to safety. In this context (before the self-defense class), the difference is one of kind more than degree, the attacker has a right to his space, and maybe hers, she does not, or at least not as strong of a claim. He has the capability to assert himself, she doesn't imagine herself capable of adequate resistance. As she remarks, fear precluded expression of anger.

Perhaps you consider the people you are angry with, who wield more power than you, to be no different than you at base, only in a current position of advantage. I think Aristotle's observation is more suited towards those we are overwhelmingly intimidated by, those with whom we could not imagine being in a confrontation because it is not a match. Before it begins, the comparison in our heads is already out of scale.
posted by BigSky at 8:54 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Small women only get zero practical benefits if they are unwilling to take advantage of owning a firearm. One is either willing or unwilling to learn, and that this is a choice, is passed over in your post. You may wish to look at how the victim's choice to fight back during a rape correlates to their recovery, everything from seeking out immediate help, to the intensity of feelings of guilt and self-blame, to the ability to feel anger towards their attacker.

So now, not only is it women's fault when we get raped because of what we wore, where we went, who we were with, what we drank, who we talked to, who we slept with, who we ignored (as in the PA case), etc etc etc

but the aftermath of the rape is also our fault if we don't respond the way you want us to? If we feel the guilt and self-blame that society forces upon us, that's also our fault?
posted by hydropsyche at 9:13 PM on August 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Because I believe it's easier for a psychopath with a gun to kill a bunch of people in a gym than it would be for him to do so with a knife, or to bomb them, or to anthraxify them, or so forth. Do you disagree?

I actually do disagree with this. Well, I don't know about "in a gym" per se, but in a great many circumstances I guarantee you that more people could be killed, more easily, with a few common items lying around my house than with anything short of a crew served machine gun, and maybe even that since it's not exactly easily man portable.
posted by Justinian at 9:44 PM on August 5, 2009


Perhaps you consider the people you are angry with, who wield more power than you, to be no different than you at base, only in a current position of advantage. I think Aristotle's observation is more suited towards those we are overwhelmingly intimidated by, those with whom we could not imagine being in a confrontation because it is not a match. Before it begins, the comparison in our heads is already out of scale.

I think that's probably it.

As I said, I think the Aristotle quote shows its age. It's from a time when people really, consciously ascribed to a notion of "betters". I don't have betters.

Sure there are people physically stronger than me, but there are numerous ways for me to gain the upper hand. Likewise, somebody may wield more political power than I do, but there's always the sniper's bullet.

but the aftermath of the rape is also our fault if we don't respond the way you want us to? If we feel the guilt and self-blame that society forces upon us, that's also our fault?

No, but if you choose not to fight back, that is your fault.

If you're going to be passive (or pacifist), you have to accept the consequences.* There's no one on the planet who can protect you other than yourself.

It's unfortunate that girls are socialized to believe that they are unable to protect themselves, while boys are socialized to believe they should never seek somebody else's protection. Personally, I'm all for seeking help... but, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

*Similarly, if I kill or maim somebody in self defense, I also have to accept the consequences of my action. I expect that I'd feel sick for weeks, depressed, suicidal after taking somebody's life--even if it was completely justified (to my satisfaction). You cannot have the action without accepting the consequence--emotional, physical, or judicial.
posted by Netzapper at 9:46 PM on August 5, 2009


Vicious waves of horrific gun violence don't kill people, vicious waves of guns kill people.

No, vicious waves of guns don't kill people. Vicious waves of bullets kill people.

No, vicious waves of bullets don't kill people. Vicious waves of exploding organs kill people.

I think we know what's really wrong. Left unfettered, vicious waves kill people. We don't need gun control, we need vicious wave control!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's hypoxia, man.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:57 PM on August 5, 2009


So now, not only is it women's fault when we get raped because of what we wore, where we went, who we were with, what we drank, who we talked to, who we slept with, who we ignored (as in the PA case), etc etc etc

but the aftermath of the rape is also our fault if we don't respond the way you want us to? If we feel the guilt and self-blame that society forces upon us, that's also our fault?


What are you talking about? I'm pointing out that there are advantages to being willing to respond to a threat with force, and that these advantages extend to recovery from the assault. That's it.
posted by BigSky at 9:59 PM on August 5, 2009


This is tragic.

But it disgusts me that people use these tragedies as immediate opportunities to spout their politics.

Have some respect, morons.
posted by autobahn at 10:12 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have some respect, morons gentle readers.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 PM on August 5, 2009


But it disgusts me that people use these tragedies as immediate opportunities to spout their politics.

Some people grieve by seeing a problem and trying to solve it rationally. For some, in broad strokes, gun violence and gun-related deaths are analogous to diseases, with guns the primary causal element. Rational control of guns and related materiel might help reduce needless tragedy, in the same way that John Snow's call to remove the Broad Street pump handle helped stem further cholera outbreaks back in 1854. Or we can continue our gun fetish. It's the kind of thinking that requires going beyond personal politics, I think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 PM on August 5, 2009


It disgusts me that people use these threads to look down from their high horse on people that actually try to discuss the issue(s).

Use your brain, idiot.
posted by Bort at 11:03 PM on August 5, 2009


Or we can continue our gun fetish. It's the kind of thinking that requires going beyond personal politics, I think.

Sure, there's no contradiction between those two statements. *rolls eyes*
posted by vorfeed at 11:05 PM on August 5, 2009


Copycat violence has been clearly documented for decades and most clearly in the book the copycat effect linked The copycat effect
Are we seriously debating whether the media's portrayal of events inspires others to imitate?

Also relevant

Most people I talk to are quite surprised to find out that there are mass murderers who kill with weapons other than guns. They are even more surprised when they find out that arson mass murder victims in the last few years have outnumbered gun mass murders. Ethical Problems of Mass Murder Coverage In The Mass Media

Oh and last year my neighbor used his gun to drive off 3 men who were breaking into my house and stats back this up as more common use than mass murder. Needless to say I have a gun now as well.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 11:20 PM on August 5, 2009


Sure, there's no contradiction between those two statements.

There isn't any contradiction. Most Americans love guns. That's not a political statement but simply an observation of fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:26 PM on August 5, 2009


There isn't any contradiction. Most Americans love guns. That's not a political statement but simply an observation of fact.

Oh, OK. It turns out that calling the other side's argument a "gun fetish" isn't personal politics at all. Why, that's a fact!

One on the same level, I suppose, as the "primary casual" relationship between rates of gun ownership and rates of gun violence, which I'm sure you'll be providing cites for any time now.
posted by vorfeed at 11:42 PM on August 5, 2009


*that should be "causal", obviously...
posted by vorfeed at 11:44 PM on August 5, 2009


Why, that's a fact!

It is a fact. Do you deny the fact that Americans love guns?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 PM on August 5, 2009


It is a fact. Do you deny the fact that Americans love guns?

"X loves Y" isn't a fact. Facts are objective statements. Love is subjective. And "Americans love guns" isn't even the phrase in question; it was "or we can continue our gun fetish", which is even less objective than "Americans love guns", due to its biased tone.

Also, I have not stopped beating my wife, and I will not stop "ow ow ow hitting myself", thank you. And thanks for the extraordinarily mature discussion!
posted by vorfeed at 11:55 PM on August 5, 2009


See this is one of the main differences that is likely almost impossible to reconcile. The reality is that I don't see that anyone has a reason or a right as a regular citizen to own a device that's only real use is to kill easily and effectively from a distance.

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
posted by prak at 11:56 PM on August 5, 2009


And thanks for the extraordinarily mature discussion!

So you do not deny the fact that most Americans love guns.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 AM on August 6, 2009


The reality is that I don't see that anyone has a reason or a right as a regular citizen to own a device that's only real use is to kill easily and effectively from a distance.

We all have a self-evident right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Guns are tools that fall under all 3 categories.

Guns also fall under the state's police power to regulate the public safety, and of course the 2nd amendment stuff.

I lived in Japan, and only the hard core bad guys have guns, but that didn't prevent that crazy dude from mowing down a bunch of people in Akihabara last year, killing 7 people total with his truck & survivalist knife.

Speaking as a left-libertarian, Gun prohibition is a loser. As the slogan goes, Guns aren't the problem, defective People are the problem.
posted by @troy at 12:04 AM on August 6, 2009


So you do not deny the fact that most Americans love guns.

Speaking in generalities, Americans love guns like they love cars, for reasons that range from utilitarian to recreational.

Reading George's other site I see his favorite movie was Dirty Harry. NOT surprising.

Your point about fetishes might apply in the pathological and the typical gun-nut, but does not apply to all lawful owners. If it were legal I'd love to own and fire an AR-15 at the appropriate firing range.

Gun crime is NOT a major "epidemiological" issue facing this country. To focus on it is just a loser, both politically and socially. Trying to nerf this society isn't going to work.
posted by @troy at 12:14 AM on August 6, 2009


I was really fascinated by the subject of this post and the discussion of insights into murderers' psyches and what social redeeming value there is to reading the killer's diary... until it spiraled down into an endless gun debate.

Via a double post, it's really freaky how much information redditors have dug up about him in this thread, including Sodini's Google searches, YouTube videos, MySpace profile, and password-protected parts of his website.
posted by Lush at 12:22 AM on August 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


Gun crime is NOT a major "epidemiological" issue facing this country.

Tell that to people who have lived in Philadelphia the last three years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 AM on August 6, 2009


I tossed off a quick note to Google security about this. What the hell is up with that? It doesn't matter if he was a killer to me in this case. It's nauseating.
posted by raysmj at 12:27 AM on August 6, 2009


Gun crime is definitely a public health issue. Why would it not be?
posted by raysmj at 12:29 AM on August 6, 2009


Take metal detectors out of courtrooms and see how long it takes for gun laws to change.
posted by readyfreddy at 12:47 AM on August 6, 2009


Why would it not be?

2006 Unintentional deaths: 121,599
2006 Violence-Related deaths: 52,307
2006 Firearm homicides: 12,791

Compared to eg. the 4,703 motorcycle deaths reported for 2006, homicides are somewhat significant but only around 10% of total accidental deaths.

Database app here.
posted by @troy at 12:51 AM on August 6, 2009


it's really freaky how much information redditors have dug up about him in this thread,

Wow, thanks for that; this guy really is a living (er... used to be anyway) Houellebecq character.

Houellebecq: “The dream of all men is to meet little sluts who are innocent but ready for all forms of depravity—which is what, more or less, all teenage girls are.”

Sodini: “At least a few young girls like me. Some of the 15-18 year olds. I was shocked! This is TRUE. They make it obvious, at 16 their hormones are in high gear... The sex of course would be great with a beautiful, fresh young girl but I am really curious about the type of convo and things we would do.”
posted by dgaicun at 12:54 AM on August 6, 2009


Take metal detectors out of courtrooms and see how long it takes for gun laws to change.

That's a pretty stupid argument. I mean, wouldn't they just put the metal detectors back if there were problems? (which I'm sure there would be)

Also, I do think the ease of access to fire arms probably had a lot to do with the fact this guy did this. I mean, he was to lazy to find weed do you really think he would go through the trouble of finding illegal guns, or bomb making equipment?

Gun enthusiasts should just admit that they are dangerious and that fewer people would die with them, but we don't ban everything dangerous. If we banned cars that went faster then 65mph and only then when internal GPS told it was on a high-speed road that would probably save a lot of lives too, but we don't do that because the truth is people value some freedoms more then the increased risk of death.

We are never going to get rid of homicidal maniacs.
posted by delmoi at 12:55 AM on August 6, 2009


Gun crime is definitely a public health issue. Why would it not be?

The fact remains that most proponents of gun ownership simply put their blinders on when dead bodies are counted. To admit that most gun owners in the United States have demonstrated that they are functionally incapable of handling lethal weapons without hurting and killing others and themselves would require too dramatic a shift in worldview.

It will take time and many more dead people, but that attitude shift will come. The same attitude shift towards rationality was required when leaded gasoline was phased out. It took two years before the Reagan administration admitted that the nation's preeminent scientists were correct, and that leaded gasoline was the largest contributor to global lead pollution. Until that time, the federal government led by President Reagan colluded with industry to prevent restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of leaded gasoline.

Gun violence is most certainly a public health issue. We need rational solutions that sidestep the Constitutional elephant in the room. Perhaps guns should remain legal, but we very highly tax the manufacture, distribution and resale of ammunition. We already take this approach with alcohol, without having the alcoholic-equivalent of the NRA complaining about how Obama has reinstated Prohibition. Raising taxes on alcohol has been shown to have a statistically significant effect on reducing alcohol consumption and, in turn, mitigating associated health effects. It also preserves the element of choice encoded into law.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The google searches were of course enlightening, or endarkening. Another case of ODS.

From his videos I get the vibe of fetal alcohol syndrome, too. Not a doctor of course.

Good to know that Google web history only works through their toolbar. I've got lots of nazi-related searches in my history too.

I note he started expanding his area of interest to hispanics and asians. Not a bad idea, since that opens up another 250 million "attractive single women" I guess.
posted by @troy at 12:58 AM on August 6, 2009


Motorcycle deaths are not counted as homicides in most cases. And I can assure you that public health and social science people are out there working on preventing, or doing research that might lead to preventing, these deaths night and day.

Meanwhile, I worked on a public health survey, federally sponsored, of lower-income youth in Mobile AL a few years ago. There was a strong correlation between whether a parent keeps a gun in the house with "strongly agree" answers to questions involving whether violence is acceptable in certain situations (a friend has mistreated you, etc.). Public health surveys can track how guns make their way into a city, how they make their way from person to person, etc., in ways that law enforcement people don't have the time or money, not to mention training, to look into. Why is this not useful research? You think it will necessarily lead to gun control, I suppose? Such a great attitude to take toward knowledge and science.
posted by raysmj at 1:02 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus, what an awful thing. I feel for his victims.

Apologies if this has already been covered, but I got here from the other thread and don't want to go through 329 posts this late at night. Maybe tomorrow.

After reading his blog, the thing that really strikes me about this guy is how good his life actually was. He had a job, got a promotion, went on a date with a woman and attended some parties and picnics, all while planning to commit multiple murders. Many people have nothing in this world, maybe a majority of the population go their whole lives without having his opportunites but don't feel the kind of despair that he apparently did. It's like there was something else eating away at him inside, maybe some kind of depression. What's the Milton quote? ""The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven..."
posted by Kevin Street at 1:04 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


To admit that most gun owners in the United States have demonstrated that they are functionally incapable of handling lethal weapons without hurting and killing others and themselves would require too dramatic a shift in worldview

Most? There were 642 unintentional firearms deaths in 2006, ~2 a day.

Nearly all gun crimes are perpetrated by hard core criminals. The looney tunes cases are statistical noise. I'm all for getting guns off the streets through draconian sentencing but zero-tolerance that disproportionately impacts my liberties and rights of self-protection and pursuit of happiness is BS.
posted by @troy at 1:06 AM on August 6, 2009


And despite how many people are killed in motorcycle accidents (not, in most cases, *murdered* for cryin' out loud), people who are in favor of keeping motorcycle helmet laws have put up as much of a fight as gun rights advocates. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, would-be presidential material for 2012, had overturning the state's mandatory motorcycle helmet use laws. Nice of you to bring motorcycle deaths up.
posted by raysmj at 1:06 AM on August 6, 2009


um, had that at the top of his agenda. Now, can you move along from gun control? Can everyone?
posted by raysmj at 1:08 AM on August 6, 2009


Why is this not useful research?

I said it wasn't a "major epidemiological" thing, on the order of cholera in 19th century London.

The driving problem is crime and our dysfunctional society. The root cause AFAICT is shitty distribution of opportunity. "The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it." -- Sitting Bull
posted by @troy at 1:10 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


It will take time and many more dead people, but that attitude shift will come. The same attitude shift towards rationality was required when leaded gasoline was phased out.

The problem with that is that Leaded gasoline wasn't that much better then regular gasoline. Switching didn't make anyone's life worse, which is what would happen to gun nuts if guns were banned. These people love guns. They are obsessed with 'em.

There are lots of health hazards that are legal because they are fun. Look at alchohol, for example. Alcohol causes all kinds of social hazards, and is probably responsible for a ton of domestic violence, drunk driving, etc. But it's not going to be banned any time soon.

Also, most people don't imagine they are going to be victims of gun violence. It's mostly drug dealers shooting eachother, plus accidents. These spree killings are really rare.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 AM on August 6, 2009


I tossed off a quick note to Google security about this. What the hell is up with that?

http://www.google.com/history/privacy.html

"You need a Google Account to use Web History. Google asks for some personal information when you create a Google Account, including your email address and a password, which is used to protect your account from unauthorized access. A Google Account allows you to access many of our services that require registration."

Google is hardly the only company to not force its customers to use secure passwords.
posted by prak at 1:16 AM on August 6, 2009


Most? There were 642 unintentional firearms deaths in 2006, ~2 a day.

To the extent that a former Secret Service agent who got shot in the line of duty can be biased, here is a more complete statistical picture of gun violence in the United States, which shows 15,698 unintentional injuries (this ignores other categories of death and injury).

From this evidence, I'll suggest there is a serious problem where a significant number cannot handle guns without killing or injuring others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 AM on August 6, 2009


plus accidents

gun accidents are an order of magnitude lower than motorcycle fatalities.
posted by @troy at 1:18 AM on August 6, 2009


Jokes aside, motorcycles were not invented to kill or injure people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 AM on August 6, 2009


bp, guns do in fact present a public safety hazard. I fully support gun licensing and training to the level of MSF courses. I also support restricting military-grade guns to storage only on firing ranges, at the Federal level.

gun violence in the United States, which shows 15,698 unintentional injuries

unintentional and violence do not go together. Recheck your argument. This will be my last post on gun control in this thread.
posted by @troy at 1:21 AM on August 6, 2009


By the way, if you don't want the entire web sneering at the shameful little porn sites you visit after you die, you should remember these two simple rules:

1) Don't get any sort of national or widespread recognition. (And not essential to this formula, but please follow it anyway, especially don't get said recognition by hurting others.)

2) Your cat's name is not a real password. Neither is your username, your fucking name, or your mother's maiden name. Neither, for that matter, do your birthday, your zip code, or your high school protect said passwords.
posted by dgaicun at 1:23 AM on August 6, 2009


unintentional and violence do not go together. Recheck your argument

You are disagreeing with my point, despite not pulling all of the correct numbers.

I suggest people recheck all the numbers of people hurt and killed, intentional and otherwise, which are ultimately sourced from the United States CDC — which, I will note without further comment to those who do not believe gun violence is an public health disaster, stands for Center for Disease Control.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 AM on August 6, 2009


unintentional and violence do not go together

Just to clarify, the source of responsibility doesn't mitigate the violence of the act. In other words, whether the act was intentional or not, this does not change the fact that violence occurred. To argue otherwise is, frankly, dishonest.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 AM on August 6, 2009


prak: He may or may not have had a secure password. You don't know whether he did or didn't, none of us do. The guy worked and was paid well in a tech job.
posted by raysmj at 1:42 AM on August 6, 2009


He may or may not have had a secure password. You don't know whether he did or didn't, none of us do. The guy worked and was paid well in a tech job.

Someone accessed various accounts with different companies; a weak password seems more likely. Plus the reddit poster who got the stuff strongly implies it with "password protection != 'name of your favorite cat'" comment.
posted by prak at 2:39 AM on August 6, 2009




Does anyone really think that if one of these women had tried to fight back (with a gun, knife, martial arts skills, or whatever) it would have done anything besides enrage the guy and encourage him to kill more women before killing himself?
posted by hydropsyche at 5:41 AM on August 6, 2009


That Mark Ames piece is, in fact, what somebody was complaining about earlier in this thread: Somebody hitching their particular political wagon to a tragedy to forward their agenda. It's sloppy thinking -- for one, he's placing a man with a net worth of a quarter million dollars, and who actually got a raise and a promotion during a recession, into the category of angry Americans who are suffering from class war.

That sort of writing is disgusting. People don't die so that your politics of anger has a poster boy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:27 AM on August 6, 2009 [10 favorites]



Does anyone really think that if one of these women had tried to fight back (with a gun, knife, martial arts skills, or whatever) it would have done anything besides enrage the guy and encourage him to kill more women before killing himself?
posted by hydropsyche at 8:41 AM on August 6 [+] [!]


Well, I reckon that all depends on how good at fighting back they were.

For example:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As they started their production of "Annie," a musical about an orphan's unwavering hope, the children of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church witnessed a scene that may have rattled theirs.

From the stage, they saw a gunman pull a sawed-off shotgun out of a guitar case and fire three deadly blasts that covered their friends and relatives in blood before congregants wrestled him to the ground.

posted by Comrade_robot at 6:29 AM on August 6, 2009


telstar's Mark Ames link is provocative and worth reading:

The media has so far totally ignored how America’s economic Hell added to Sodini’s breakdown, but the media routinely ignores the role Reaganomics has played in the “going postal” rage murders since the mid-80s. Sodini knew how bad and tenuous his situation was, and he wrote about it:

I predict I won’t survive the next layoff. That is when there is no point to continue. Right now, life is bearable and I can get by indefinitely. Something bad must happen. The paycheck is all I have left. The future holds nothing for me. Twenty five years of nothing fun. I never even spent one weekend with a girl in my life, even at my own place. Also unlikely to find another similar job. I guess then is when I take care of things. I don’t have kids, close friends or anything. Just me here. If you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.

The media is ignoring passages like these, because reading them, Sodini goes from monster-freak to a real human being, someone all too familiar, even pitiable, despite the horrible crime he committed. What the media has focused on instead is Sodini’s anti-Obama, anti-liberal racist entry, as if this was the motive rather than the symptom. In fact, as you’ll see, he’s not really a racist, but rather, a sarcastic parodist of racist cliches, as this entry from last November reveals:

...Every black man should get a young white girl hoe to hone up on. Kinda a reverse indentured servitude thing. Long ago, many a older white male landowner had a young Negro wench girl for his desires. Bout’ time tables are turned on that shit. Besides, dem young white hoez dig da bruthrs! LOL. More so than they dig the white dudes! Every daddy know when he sends his little girl to college, she be bangin a bruthr real good. I saw it. “Not my little girl”, daddy says! (Yeah right!!) Black dudes have thier choice of best white hoez. You do the math, there are enough young white so all the brothers can each have one for 3 or 6 months or so.

For middlebrows and liberals, this looks like racist ranting simply because their filter catches a few obvious stand-out words. But they’re wrong. Sodini was more nuanced in his desperation than something as easily-defined as racism. As this moving diary entry shows, he understood that he was victim to something far deeper and more profound, and that he had more in common with blacks of his predicament than the rich white FoxNews hosts or the corporate backers of the Tea Party movement:

While driving I radio surfed to a talk show. The caller was a 30ish black man who was describing the despair in certain black communities. According to him, life is cheap there because you are going to die anyway when you get old. It is the quality of life that is important, he said. If you know the past 40 years were crappy, why live another 30 crappy years then die? His point was they engage in dangerous behavior which tends to shorten the lifespans, to die now and avoid the next 30 crappy years, using my example. The host got sarcastic and ended the call instead of trying understanding his point. Agreement wasn’t necesary. I put music back on. But it was an interesting, and useful point for me to hear.

Not a lot of hate-fueled white American males reach this kind of rational, revolutionary understanding. And in a way, he’s far more honest than the revolutionaries, too prude and self-righteous to admit what really matters in this life: sex, love, escaping loneliness...


Like I said, provocative. But worth reading.
posted by mediareport at 6:36 AM on August 6, 2009


hydropsyche: "Does anyone really think that if one of these women had tried to fight back (with a gun, knife, martial arts skills, or whatever) it would have done anything besides enrage the guy and encourage him to kill more women before killing himself?"

Huh? I don't really see how this is relevant, because it's pretty unreasonable to expect people to be armed while they're working out, but just hypothetically: if someone else with a gun had shot him, that would pretty much have been the end of the story. You don't just shrug off a hit from a modern firearm and ammunition; even if you are out of your gourd or high on drugs, assuming you're not wearing body armor, it's still going to ruin your day very quickly.

Alternately, if someone had been standing behind him with a baseball bat or weight plate or something, and just bashed his head in, that would likewise have been the end of the story.

I'm not trying to suggest that any of those are things that could have reasonably be expected to happen, though. All of them revolve around someone just happening to be in the right place at the right time, holding the right (improvised or purpose-built) weapon. There are situations that have ended that way, like the New Life Church rampage, although it's hard to say whether they're the exception or the rule. ('Crazed man killed after pulling gun' is a local-interest story at best, so there's a chance it might happen more frequently than is obvious.)

Again, I'm not saying that there's anything that could have been done in this particular situation, because it boils down to very specific details that aren't available. But I don't think you can say as some sort of a general rule that people are always completely helpless, or that fighting back is always the wrong idea. Sometimes, people are in a position to defend themselves and do so successfully, in other times and places they are unfortunately not.

Although there are certain things that someone can do to try and stack the odds in their favor if they are so inclined, at some point you just have to accept that—despite the media coverage that crazed-gunman rampages get—they are very rare and do not represent a significant threat relative to other ways you might die in an average day, and move on with your life.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:57 AM on August 6, 2009


To be clear, for me, blame means assigning repsonsibility. Guns are not actors, they are things that are acted upon, and they are only responsible inasmuch as the person who uses them are responsible.

An unsafe workplace can be partly to blame for an accident, as can lax safety standards. You're using some version of "blame" I'm not familiar with if it can apply only to people.

That's not to make any particular judgment on this situation, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:22 AM on August 6, 2009


MSNBC on Sodini's YouTube videos [09:24].
posted by ericb at 7:45 AM on August 6, 2009


An unsafe workplace can be partly to blame for an accident, as can lax safety standards.

If someone gets harmed due to an unsafe workplace or lax safety standards, I can assure you no one will be walking around blaming it on the workplace or the lax standards. The people who allowed the workplace to be unsafe or the safety standards to be lax will have fingers pointed directly at them and right so, since workplaces and standards don't become hazardous or dangerous all on their own.
posted by Orb at 8:02 AM on August 6, 2009


I was trying to figure out what he was talking about what he was talking about when he mentioned "RDS" in one of his YouTube videos. Then I saw the copy of How To Date Younger Women in the other video on his coffee table.

RDS = R. Don Steele.

Apparently Soldini also appears in some videos of R. Don Steele workshops.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2009


That's just another way of saying that the buck wouldn't stop there.

Yet you absolutely wouldn't hear such duplicitous nonsense as "It's not the electrical cord and the puddle that killed him; it's the person who allowed this to happen!" If there is such a person, it would be understood that both played a part.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2009


But of course the puddle and electrical cord lobbies are notoriously weak.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like I said, provocative. But worth reading.

mediareport,
I agree.
I also suspect there's something to the "sarcastic parody of a racist rant" theory, asserted at your link. (As Jokeefe explained earlier, when she remarked how the killer's persona - as it emerges from his statement -appeared to be something of a Frankenstein's monster of Hollywood cliches)

But the problem arises when lay people start picking which bits are fake - and which authentic.

You gotta have better reasons than "well, this bit fits with what I think is the underlying problem for lonely guys in society today".

Iamkimiam, for one, is immediately in a stronger position looking at the internal evidence within the statement.

(I keep recoiling in fascination from his statement - and now the videos. I don't like it, but...and WTF with Spitzer doing commentary on this? From ericb's link? He picks this as part of his own media rehabilitation?)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2009


Mark Ames is seriously fucked up.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:40 AM on August 6, 2009


I was trying to figure out what he was talking about what he was talking about when he mentioned "RDS" in one of his YouTube videos. Then I saw the copy of How To Date Younger Women in the other video on his coffee table.

The more I think about it, the more his personality totally fits the stereotypical murder-suicide profile I qouted above:

[x] - access to a gun (he owned at least two guns)

[x] - a history of substance abuse (he had started drinking again after being sober for years, which could suggest that he had alcohol problems in the past)

[x] - the male partner some years older than the female partner (he dated or at least tried to date younger women)

[x] - a break-up or pending break-up (kind of a stretch, since he hadn't been in a long term relationship, but he did have several dates with someone and was pretty upset about it not working out shortly before the incident)

[ ] - a history of battering (he hadn't been in a relationship though, so it's possible that he would have been violent with partners)

[x] - suicidal ideation by the perpetrator (shown in his diary entries)
posted by burnmp3s at 8:41 AM on August 6, 2009


Wait just a tick:

This exchange was prompted by (and I'm paraphrasing wildly) the claim that "if a 100-pound woman brought a gun with her to defend herself against bullies, she could).

>The reality is that small women like me get zero practical gains from the fact that guns equalize potential damage. It’s a nice fantasy, but I’m not badass, I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.

You say this as though it is fixed for all time. It is not. Many improve their capability to respond to a threat. Small women only get zero practical benefits if they are unwilling to take advantage of owning a firearm. One is either willing or unwilling to learn, and that this is a choice, is passed over in your post.


...So, wait. It doesn't sound like just owning the gun would do the trick, but rather that it is the taking it upon one's self to defend one's self that is doing the trick.

...so, then, if it's the person's attitude that makes the difference, what is it precisely that you need the gun for?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on August 6, 2009


Not a lot of hate-fueled white American males reach this kind of rational, revolutionary understanding.

oh, please - when i see someone go bonkers in a fortune 500 boardroom with a gun, then you can talk about revolutionary understanding

no, i don't think it would be a good idea or right - but it always amazes and puzzles me how the rage people feel ends up being taken out on the powerless and not the powerful in this country
posted by pyramid termite at 8:54 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


but the aftermath of the rape is also our fault if we don't respond the way you want us to? If we feel the guilt and self-blame that society forces upon us, that's also our fault?

No, but if you choose not to fight back, that is your fault.


Please read this.

A quote: If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.

posted by threeturtles at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


...So, wait. It doesn't sound like just owning the gun would do the trick, but rather that it is the taking it upon one's self to defend one's self that is doing the trick.

...so, then, if it's the person's attitude that makes the difference, what is it precisely that you need the gun for?


Options. Attitude is important, but if a noise wakes you up at night, being able to access a firearm can be a good thing.
posted by BigSky at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2009


...so, then, if it's the person's attitude that makes the difference, what is it precisely that you need the gun for?

Options. Attitude is important, but if a noise wakes you up at night, being able to access a firearm can be a good thing.


But the way that "if they had a gun they could defend themself" comes across, though, sounds as if the gun is the cure-all answer rather than being one (of several) options available to someone who also undergoes the attitude shift.

In other words, it's possible to have the attitude shift, but not the gun -- you just reach for something else other than the gun. (I've crept into the hall closet and fetched a scary-looking prop sword when I've heard something oogy in the hall at night, for instance.) However -- it sounds like by your own admission, natch -- having the gun but NOT the attitude shift doesn't really help.

So it strikes me that it's the ATTITUDE SHIFT that does more, and simply saying "but if she had a gun she could defend herself" is focusing on the wrong part of the equation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:21 AM on August 6, 2009


The fact remains that most proponents of gun ownership simply put their blinders on when dead bodies are counted. To admit that most gun owners in the United States have demonstrated that they are functionally incapable of handling lethal weapons without hurting and killing others and themselves would require too dramatic a shift in worldview.
...
From this evidence, I'll suggest there is a serious problem where a significant number cannot handle guns without killing or injuring others.
...
I suggest people recheck all the numbers of people hurt and killed, intentional and otherwise, which are ultimately sourced from the United States CDC — which, I will note without further comment to those who do not believe gun violence is an public health disaster, stands for Center for Disease Control.

I suggest that you recheck the number of guns in this country. It's in the hundreds of millions -- most estimates suggest 223 million total guns and 65 million handguns, owned by more than eighty million Americans in over 40 million households.

Sorry, but out of that number, 30K deaths and 70K injuries per year is certainly not "most", and it's not "significant", either. If you insist on posting numbers, maybe you should take all your death and injury stats, add them together, and divide by eighty million (which is, by the way, a low estimate; some say it's as high as 90 million). Go ahead, take a look at the percentage of the total number of gun owners who harm anyone each year; I'll await more of your "facts" about how that 0.1% is such a "significant number".
posted by vorfeed at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pointing out that there are advantages to being willing to respond to a threat with force, and that these advantages extend to recovery from the assault.

There are advantages to not using force to respond to a threat, too. In fact, I don't think that there is much in life that requires lethal force as a response.
posted by desuetude at 9:56 AM on August 6, 2009


No, but if you choose not to fight back, that is your fault.

If I get raped? Are you kidding me? That's stupid.

If you're going to be passive (or pacifist), you have to accept the consequences.* There's no one on the planet who can protect you other than yourself.

Completely untrue. Last night a man was masturbating on my balcony, and rather than me killing him, the cops were called. And, you know, they were armed. So are soldiers, who do a pretty good job of keeping invaders out of Canada. When I got mugged several years ago, the cops dealt with it effectively using the special authority invested in them, and I didn't have to shoot anyone. Funny how that works.


It's unfortunate that girls are socialized to believe that they are unable to protect themselves, while boys are socialized to believe they should never seek somebody else's protection. Personally, I'm all for seeking help... but, you are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

This isn't weak socialization, it's being smart about my own capacity. And I know myself pretty well, so I'm unlikely to successfully shoot a violent partner (who is my primary vector of risk) and avoiding situations like this one means putting a gun in my sports bra. Which isn't safe.

There’s this fantasy of the ultimate victim that gets brought up in arguments like this, an innocent small girl who isn’t physically strong enough to throw off her assailant. Speaking as a small girl, generally speaking if the environment is unsafe enough that women are constantly being assailed, you have worse problems. There’s always a few psychopaths, but predicting for them is as random as meteor strikes (I think that’s what makes them so frightening) and while I am likely to be burgled I live in a 1.5. A gun being useful requires me to have it in my hand at all times otherwise I’m trying to defend myself in an apartment slightly wider than the width of my double bed. No amount of training will allow me to get a quick draw unless I sleep in my holster, and in that case I’m as likely to blow holes in the nice Asian grandfather who uses my fire escape to go in and out. So tell me, how would by life be improved by having a firearm?
posted by Phalene at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suggest that you recheck the number of guns in this country. It's in the hundreds of millions -- most estimates suggest 223 million total guns and 65 million handguns, owned by more than eighty million Americans in over 40 million households.

Sorry, but out of that number, 30K deaths and 70K injuries per year is certainly not "most", and it's not "significant", either.


I agree that most gun owners don't see any negative effects from their gun ownership, but I still think the numbers are significant. To put it in perspective, breast cancer kills around 40,000 people every year out of a population of 300 million (around 0.01%) and yet it would be fairly callous to say that since so few people die from it every year that we shouldn't bother trying to find a cure or at least bring down the death rates.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently he was into some religious nuttery as well:

Media analysis has so far ignored or glossed over Sodini’s religious affiliations but the shooter’s Internet diary suggest his last readings were the Bible and a book by a Texas evangelist, R.B. Thieme, Jr. who has written that husbands own their wives, as literal property and promoted an odd teaching that for each man on Earth there exists only one correct “right woman” in all creation.

According to Thieme, men can recognize their divinely-appointed opposites without physical contact, through something Thieme called “soul climax”


The soulmate myth again. One of the biggest lies that exist in our society. No wonder he went apeshit.

To quote Robert Plant he was tryin’ to find a woman that’s never never never been born.
posted by smoothvirus at 10:29 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


To put it in perspective, breast cancer kills around 40,000 people every year out of a population of 300 million (around 0.01%) and yet it would be fairly callous to say that since so few people die from it every year that we shouldn't bother trying to find a cure or at least bring down the death rates.

If "trying to find a cure or at least bring down the death rates" involved yet another punitive War On Something, as strict gun control does, then callous or not, I'd say it wasn't worth the effort. Trying to find a cure for breast cancer involves research, science funding, and funding for health care. These are all public goods. Thus, even if we never do find a cure, a cure is still worth pursuing. Trying to ban guns involves funding violent SWAT teams, building more prisons, and arresting non-violent, productive citizens on newly-invented felony charges. Those are not public goods, and they are not worth pursuing only to prevent 30K deaths per year. I'd even say that they are much worse than 30K deaths per year, in terms of social impact, and might even cause more deaths over the long term.

Hell, people would've laughed at the idea that banning drugs might kill tens of thousands per year back in the early 60s... and yet look where we are today, fighting cartel wars in the streets and leaving nonviolent offenders to die in jail. Overdose kills less than 20,000 per year in America, counting legal drugs, and yet the Drug War wrecks the lives of millions worldwide to "prevent" it; oh, boy, I can't wait to play the same losing game over again with guns!

I fully agree that 30,000 deaths per year is a terrible thing, but I simply do not buy the idea that strict gun control is a rational response to the problem. We've no evidence that strict gun control has a major impact on homicide, we've plenty of evidence which suggests that people will not stand for it, and the vast, vast majority of our guns and gun owners aren't harming anybody -- that's more than enough to suggest that we spend our money elsewhere. Trying to prevent those 30,000 deaths (remember, they're caused by less than 0.1% of the gun owners) by banning or severely restricting guns is like trying to prevent breast cancer via nationwide mastectomy -- yes, logic suggests that it'd probably work, but logic also suggests that it's a ridiculous, wasteful act of overkill, one which would cause more hurt than healing.

The truth is that there are reasons why people shoot each other, and those reasons rarely have anything to do with guns. As long as we're talking about the guns and not the reasons behind violence -- and the social & economic conditions in which those reasons are festering throughout our society -- we are never, ever going to solve this problem.
posted by vorfeed at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


The truth is that there are reasons why people shoot each other, and those reasons rarely have anything to do with guns. As long as we're talking about the guns and not the reasons behind violence -- and the social & economic conditions in which those reasons are festering throughout our society -- we are never, ever going to solve this problem.

I don't think that anyone ISN'T talking about the reasons behind violence, though. But it's just that the solutions to the underlying reasons for violence take a long freakin' time to accomplish, and perhaps it'd be a good idea to have a backup plan just in the meantime.

Seriously, it's not like you'd say "the reason kids drown has more to do with them not having learned how to swim yet than it does with whether there's a fence around my pool, so...i"m not going to build a fence around my pool".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on August 6, 2009


So tell me, how would by life be improved by having a firearm?

I own numerous firearms. Like you, I can think of many scenarios where my firearms don't help me at all. This doesn't eradicate the numerous other scenarios where having a firearm allows me to defend myself. Firearms allow me to defend myself in situations that I otherwise couldn't. They're certainly not a cure-all, and each person needs to evaluate the risk/reward of having one for themselves.

I live in a great neighborhood, within a few blocks of some of the richest people on earth, and have only witnessed one violent crime in the past few years. Yet a quick glance at my police department's crime map shows that violent crimes occur here multiple times a week. I probably won't be attacked. Then again, most of the people who were probably thought the same thing.

If I could have a policeman live in my house and walk around with me, I'd be happy not to own firearms. Until then, I'd like to have the ability to defend myself. If you choose not to, then that is your right too.
posted by jsonic at 11:05 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it.” –William S. Burroughs
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:15 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


They're certainly not a cure-all, and each person needs to evaluate the risk/reward of having one for themselves.

I think the disconnect is that a lot of the people who advocate in favor of guns as a self-defense means speak of guns as if they are a cure-all. Even in your comment -- which I actually think is pretty well-reasoned, so apologies if it sounds like I'm taking it apart -- you say:

If I could have a policeman live in my house and walk around with me, I'd be happy not to own firearms. Until then, I'd like to have the ability to defend myself. If you choose not to, then that is your right too.

I notice that you imply that it is a binary choice of either "own a gun" or "leave yourself totally defenseless." I think a lot of the detractors are saying that there are OTHER options one could use to defend one's self with, which are NOT guns. In other words, it's like you're saying, "you can either get a gun or be totally defenseless -- knowing karate or having a crossbow TOTALLY wouldn't help you, sorry."

I have a feeling that's not what your intentions were, though. But that's how it's coming across, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:16 AM on August 6, 2009


Trying to prevent those 30,000 deaths (remember, they're caused by less than 0.1% of the gun owners) by banning or severely restricting guns is like trying to prevent breast cancer via nationwide mastectomy

That has got to be the worst and most inappropriate comparison I've seen in this thread. My God.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 AM on August 6, 2009


Seriously, it's not like you'd say "the reason kids drown has more to do with them not having learned how to swim yet than it does with whether there's a fence around my pool, so...i"m not going to build a fence around my pool".

"So I'm not going to fill all pools with concrete so no one can ever be drowned by them." Guns already have a metaphoric fence.
posted by prak at 11:27 AM on August 6, 2009


Seriously, it's not like you'd say "the reason kids drown has more to do with them not having learned how to swim yet than it does with whether there's a fence around my pool, so...i"m not going to build a fence around my pool".

Again, this is not just a case of "building a fence around the pool". It's a case of "hiring an NFL football player to tackle every child who approaches the pool". If your solution to gun violence involves taking non-violent people's guns, then your solution to the problem exacerbates the problem.

We're talking about a society in which many people are barely treading water, living desperate, week-to-week lives in which they are cut off from nurturing social circles. We're talking about a society in which these people sometimes freak out and kill each other (see the FPP) because they feel helpless, angry, lonely, and hurt, and there's nowhere they can go for healing or help. Or, alternately, they kill because things are so damn bad that murdering their fellow citizens makes a pretty decent business proposition. But even so, the vast, vast majority of our people still manage to take care of their families and keep on truckin', hurting no one, despite having access to guns. Yet your "solution" to the problem of violence is to send the cops out in SWAT gear to yell "HEY EVERYBODY, THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING YOUR STUFF! THAT'S RIGHT, WE CAN'T TRUST YOU WORTHLESS ANIMALS, SO WE'RE TAKING AWAY YOUR GUNS... USING OUR GUNS!"

I'm sorry, but is this the Negaverse? Is this Bizarro World? Was I supposed to wake up this morning wearing a goatee and a ceremonial knife? Because the "solution" here is clearly going to hurt more than it helps, to the extent where I can't believe anyone takes it seriously. Unless you (or anyone else) can come up with a plan which would actually work to get rid of the guns, without causing another War On Drugs style clusterfuck, I'm not buying.
posted by vorfeed at 11:28 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling that's not what your intentions were, though.

It's not binary, and I wasn't trying to say so. In fact, my best defense, even when I'm carrying, is run-away-as-fast-as-I-can. Any kind of altercation can result in me getting hurt, so I'd rather avoid them in the first place. This might not always be possible, however.

/I only use my crossbow when I'm storming the castle :)
posted by jsonic at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2009


I fully agree that 30,000 deaths per year is a terrible thing, but I simply do not buy the idea that strict gun control is a rational response to the problem.

Serious question: What is a rational response to this terrible problem then? Normally when the issue of "Product X directly contributes to a significant amount of deaths every year" comes up, the rational response is to try to get less people to use Product X or somehow make Product X less dangerous. Note that this does not mean banning or even restricting the use of Product X, as I mentioned in a previous comment we've brought down cigarette smoking rates significantly over the years without a ban. It seems like discouraging people from owning guns (especially people who have or live with someone who has a history of depression) and encouraging less lethal forms of self-defense would make sense.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:30 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.

Since you believe this to be true of you, it is true for everyone, right?

I'm advocating an attitude of responsibility - one that would shift a society's mindset from visions of violent payback and detailed imaginings of how to take down as many assailants as possible with my handgun (which is what a fair few of the "defensive gun use" posts in this thread evolve into) to one of contemplating why we we need to have a society in which this is actually a concern.

That's nice.

Only Conclusion Needed: Working to end the patriarchy and the feeling of entitlement to women/sex that this guy had would be good for everybody.

This seems like a pretty dangerous blind spot. I don't think you can combat biology with bra-burning.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:31 AM on August 6, 2009


I think a lot of the detractors are saying that there are OTHER options one could use to defend one's self with, which are NOT guns.

I'm not sure of the context for this statement, so I'd like to break it down into possible interpretations:

1. a lot of the detractors in this thread are saying that there are OTHER options one could use...
  1a. I think you're the only one saying that in this thread, but it's a fair point, so go you.

2. a lot of the detractors in the national discourse are saying that there are OTHER options one could use.
  2a. I hope so. I don't ever hear it. You certainly don't hear people talking about women carrying knives around. I've often heard people talk about carrying mace or pepper spray (depending on legality, I think) around, but then I also hear people talking about how mace or pepper spray gets used on the victim too often, or something like that. does anyone have links about that? I'd like to know how much of what I've heard is baseless.

3. I forget what the third possibility is for what you said. carry on.

the last thing I'd like to point out is that I think part of jsonic's point (though he hasn't explicitly said it, so I could be wrong) is that in a world where your aggressor might have a gun, carrying one of your own is the best defense since (for example) a crossbow or karate isn't much good against a gun.

I disagree with this notion entirely, if that's what he's saying, but I think that might be the source of his apparent "carry a gun or be defenseless" position. if I'm wrong, jsonic, let me know.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on August 6, 2009


yet it would be fairly callous to say that since so few people die from it every year that we shouldn't bother trying to find a cure or at least bring down the death rates.

I'm not sure it would be callous to say that, if the amount of time/money/effort spent on breast cancer were totally out of proportion to the number of people it affected, and it was money/time/effort that could be better spent on other things which adversely affect more people. That would strike me as a pretty rational objection, actually.

And that seems like it's analogous to the point many people are making—it's a waste of time, effort, and political capital to push for gun control. There are lots of other avenues for reducing violent crime in the US that we're just not pursuing, none of which involve the political trench warfare that increased gun control does. Would it have stopped the Pittsburgh shooter if he couldn't have gotten a gun? Maybe; or maybe he would have blown the place up instead. Would it have stopped him if he'd had better access to mental-health services, or if someone had seen some of the warning signs and intervened? Seems pretty plausible that it might have.

Nobody, at least that I'm aware of, is going to view increased funding for mental-health services as an existential threat to their way of life, the way lots of people view gun control. The NRA isn't going to run attack ads against politicians who want to work for solutions to structural poverty that drive more conventional (and common) criminal behavior. The "gun lobby," at least that I'm aware, takes no position on fixing our educational system.

But these solutions are long-term, unsexy, and expensive. They don't generate sound bites or lead to exploitable controversy. So instead of pursuing them—perhaps with the blessing and support of powerful political organizations like the NRA—a fair number of politicians seem hell-bent on bringing up gun control instead. In my admittedly cynical view, they do it because they know it's pretty much a doomed effort: they spout about gun control, gun owners freak out and oppose it, nothing changes, and the politician doesn't actually have to do anything but can blame the failure on somebody else. It's ideal for them, but bad for everyone else.

Reducing crime is something that just about anyone, of any political stripe or ideology, ought to be able to get behind. There are a many more options for reducing it than the relatively few proposals that are contentious; I'd like to see us concentrate on them instead of slugging it out over gun control again and again.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


oops. never mind. jsonic has spoken for himself.
posted by shmegegge at 11:38 AM on August 6, 2009


his apparent "carry a gun or be defenseless" position

That's certainly not my position. I just think a firearm is my best possible defense option in the rare case that it's needed. I have many other defense options to use instead of the firearm (like running away) in the case when I don't need a firearm.
posted by jsonic at 11:41 AM on August 6, 2009


yeah, sorry about that. I see my error, now.
posted by shmegegge at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2009


Serious question: What is a rational response to this terrible problem then?

Take the money that would have been spent on more restrictive gun control and spend it on the containment and treatment of tuberculosis in third world nations.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/

A million or two deaths per year so I'm thinking it should be pretty easy to reduce the number by at least a hundred thousand or so. More people alive at the end of the year; net win for humanity.
posted by prak at 11:50 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


That has got to be the worst and most inappropriate comparison I've seen in this thread. My God.

You're the one who said guns were an "epidemiological issue". If so, then there's a valid comparison between gun control, which would cut out all the guns in the country to stop less than 0.1% of them from metastasizing into violence, and nationwide mastectomy, which would cut out all the breasts in the country to stop less than 0.1% of them from metastasizing into cancer.

See, the problem with your "epidemiological" approach is that strict gun control doesn't fit the medical model, at all. Medicine involves triage, minimal intervention, and a policy of "do no harm". Strict gun control ignores these subtleties entirely.

Serious question: What is a rational response to this terrible problem then?

IMHO, the single most rational response to gun violence in this country is to legalize and regulate victimless crime, including drug use, gambling, and prostitution, and then concentrate law enforcement on a top-down campaign against the organized crime circles which profit from them. Make it easier and safer to run drugs, pimp, and bookmake in some other country, and gun violence (and violence in general) will drop, just as it did after we repealed Prohibition. Plus, we can put our brand new vice-tax profits right back into infrastructure and the economy, thus making small-time violence and crime less attractive than, say, working on a construction crew, becoming a legal craps dealer, or working in a legal drug store.

After that, we can work on other, more long-term interventions, but triage demands that we close our sucking chest wound before we deal with the cuts and bruises.

If we can't do that -- and I acknowledge that the current political climate will probably have to change before we can -- then the next best thing would be small-scale wealth redistribution and justice/prison reform. If even the people who are worst off can make a decent living wage, can live without being arrested and abused over next to nothing, and can still make a living wage even if they've been imprisoned and released, then crime will look less and less like the most natural option for them. Most people don't want to be violent criminals; they want to do an honest day's work and feel secure in their lives. If we make our cities the kind of places where everybody can do that, then almost everybody will; if we don't, then it doesn't really matter whether we take the guns or not, because people will still be killing, stealing, and robbing for a living.
posted by vorfeed at 11:57 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Serious question: What is a rational response to this terrible problem then?

Track and make ammunition very, very expensive, with tax dollars going to pay for cleaning up after gun violence. This sidesteps all Constitutional arguments by preserving, intact, the legality of gun ownership — there's nothing in the Second Amendment about the God-Given Right to Buy Bullets — and it keeps the option for self-defense open for people who really feel they legitimately need a gun to protect themselves, because self-defense only requires a handful of bullets, at most.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on August 6, 2009


See, the problem with your "epidemiological" approach is that strict gun control doesn't fit the medical model, at all. Medicine involves triage, minimal intervention, and a policy of "do no harm". Strict gun control ignores these subtleties entirely.

Don't tell us about your opinion about what medicine is. Tell the CDC. I'm sure they would love to do something other than count the dead and maimed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2009


Making bullets more expensive will only hurt sport shooters. You don't need 1,000 rds to shoot up a gym.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish I were surprised to see the whacked-out doctrines of R.B. Thieme mixed up in this case. I've been acquainted over the years with some folks who were involved in Berachah and at least one of them was exactly the sort I'd expect to see shooting up a room full of women somewhere, because his grievances against women sounded exactly like the ones Sodini cited. I always thought he got into Berachah in part because he was exactly the sort of misogynist asshole who couldn't get dates.

I knew Berachah endorsed a lot of extreme doctrines but I didn't know about the soul climax idea. I can see now why the guy I used to know was so attracted to it: he would know at first sight when God rewarded him with his woman.
posted by immlass at 12:06 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Without getting into the 'guns r bad, mmmkay?' debate, I'd have to think that if this guy couldn't get the guns legally, he'd have done it illegally. And if he couldn't get guns, he'd have made a bomb. If he couldn't make a bomb, he'd have beaten some woman to death.

I'm going to submit that it's something like common sense that the progression you describe – basically eating raw human heart is the last step, right? – is a description of a mindbendingly insane person. And I'm going to submit that killing someone or even multiple people with a gun is a patently and thoroughly sane thing to do; how many Americans are convicted of murder with a firearm every year and are not tried as insane?

I mean, killing is 'natural' anyway; what prevents most people from doing it is a for the most part very effective confederation of deterrents – legal, social and psychological. It seems to me that the person who is 40% crazy, ie, disregards 40% of deterrents to murder, will kill with a gun, but wouldn't be able to bring themselves to kill with their bare hands. Whereas, the 60% crazy person will be able to kill any which way.

Or let's look at it another way. Disregarding my fake numbers: It's very, very, very possible that George Sodini was capable of killing with a gun, but would have been capable of killing with his bare hands. This:

he was going to kill somebody, and he was going to do it, gun or no gun.

is incredibly naïve. Look, it's indisputable that the more removed from a situation you are the easier it is to act immorally and the more likely you are to do so. People to whom this does not apply we call 'saints'. Your argument is that murder is an exception to this rule. I submit that it obeys the laws of human behaviour just like everything else.

Okay, this is a little cooked-up, but:

the United States ranks #8 in the world in firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop., at 3.6.

Canada is not in the top 32, which means it is less than Singapore, which has 0.0249 homicides per 100,000 pop.

As a point of comparison, the US and Canada are quite close in the “Population below poverty line as a % of population”; US is ranked #121 at 12%, Canada is #125 at 10.8%.

Obviously there are other differences between the countries, but the amount of guns is a pretty big one.

posted by skwt at 12:09 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Guns already have a metaphoric fence.

Okay, what IS that fence, then?

It's not binary, and I wasn't trying to say so. In fact, my best defense, even when I'm carrying, is run-away-as-fast-as-I-can. Any kind of altercation can result in me getting hurt, so I'd rather avoid them in the first place.

Gotcha. Your words did kind of imply otherwise, however, which was probably leading to the disconnect.

So in conclusion, I think we should all blame semantics for everything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on August 6, 2009


Making bullets more expensive will only hurt sport shooters. You don't need 1,000 rds to shoot up a gym.

If you need 1000 rounds to shoot a deer, maybe you should take up bowling.

Anyway, if the priority is to keep sporty types happy, then never mind. If the priority is to try to keep people alive and un-maimed who would otherwise be dead or maimed, then maybe we need to rethink things.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2009



If you need 1000 rounds to shoot a deer, maybe you should take up bowling.


Well, I think the point is that if you actually want to be able to shoot at something and hit it, you have to practice shooting quite a bit, which is something that requires you to use ammunition.
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:18 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't tell us about your opinion about what medicine is. Tell the CDC. I'm sure they would love to do something other than count the dead and maimed.

For all your talk of "reason" and "numbers" and "epidemiology", it's crystal clear that your argument is 100% emotion-based. You have no facts of your own to back it up (other than patently incorrect "facts" which exist only by assertion, and an appeal to numbers taken entirely out of context), you have no reaction to actual facts which contradict your argument (other than snarky little one-liners), and you have no interest in any sort of conversational give-and-take, preferring rudeness, insults, and leading questions.

In short, please keep it up! You're building up a great case for the other side.
posted by vorfeed at 12:21 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


an appeal to numbers taken entirely out of context

I don't know. I mean, someone made dead or injured by a gun is someone made dead or injured by a gun, and that's exactly what we're talking about. There's not much to take out of context, here. If you have a problem with the numbers not agreeing with you, take it up with the CDC.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2009


It's very, very, very possible that George Sodini was capable of killing with a gun, but would have been capable of killing with his bare hands.

Apologies for not acknowledging which side of the gun debate you are on skwt (I accept that debate belongs here as much as on any thread - but I refuse to follow it - I know how it ends).

But your comment reminded me: the killer turned OFF the lights, I believe, before he started shooting. Which gives credence to the idea that, in this case, the killer needed distance from the horror perpetrated. Which makes a bare hands murder unlikely. And easy access to the "blame-neutral" gun rather more useful, in his case, than otherwise.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I think the point is that if you actually want to be able to shoot at something and hit it, you have to practice shooting quite a bit, which is something that requires you to use ammunition.

Modern video game technology could probably make a very satisfactory upgrade to Duck Hunt. The US military already uses video games for training.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2009


hydropsyche: Only Conclusion Needed: Working to end the patriarchy and the feeling of entitlement to women/sex that this guy had would be good for everybody.

I think you've missed the problem entirely. Ending those things will have no such effect because it has nothing to do with entitlement to women or sex - people with no patriarchy and no sense of entitlement are still at far greater risk of going ballistic under these conditions because it stems from other things entirely. Such as:
- When you are in a loving relationship, that's where you direct your time and energy and your passion. (murder-suicide requires a passionate emnity which lacks another outlet)
- When you are repeated rejected by people, as long as you can remember, you start to sense a pattern - people reject you. (We are hardwired to see patterns in the world). This leads to beliefs that society rejects you - no-one in it has time for you or cares about you or wants you. Hell hath no fury like someone spurned.

I'm guessing you knee-jerked into patriarchy because of how flippantly I noted that adding women to the equation has demonstrably worked to reduce terrorism, as if women were a fungible ingredient. Sorry. My intent was humor, not offense.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:33 PM on August 6, 2009


The US military already uses video games for training.

They use weapon simulators, but only to practice the fundamentals of shooting. The sims are not the same as firing real ammuntion from real firearms.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2009


The US military already uses video games for training.

They also use real guns and bullets.
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2009


The sims are not the same as firing real ammuntion from real firearms.

If true, that sounds like a technical challenge, rather than an objection based on the Second Amendment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2009


If you need 1000 rounds to shoot a deer, maybe you should take up bowling.

I am not talking about shooting deer or training to do so. Gun control proponents often act as if the only two uses for guns are hunting and MURDER. This is simply not so. Some of us like to touch off firearms as an end in itself, with maybe some trap or target shooting thrown in.

I also never said anything about keeping "sporty types happy". I said that making bullets extremely expensive would do only hurt sport shooters (those shooting for sport, not those hunting for sport), because you just don't need that many bullets to kill people if killing people is all you want to do. Not to mention, if your goal is to kill yourself after killing many others, why would you care if you have to liquidate your life savings to get it done?
posted by adamdschneider at 12:41 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Track and make ammunition very, very expensive, with tax dollars going to pay for cleaning up after gun violence.

I'm glad we're looking to authorities like Chris Rock for policy ideas.
posted by electroboy at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2009


If the priority is to try to keep people alive and un-maimed who would otherwise be dead or maimed, then maybe we need to rethink things.

I think the "only hurts the sports shooter" comment is saying that expensive bullets won't hurt spree killers or other murderers. Which is supposedly the intent of making bullets expensive. Surely if you're willing to kill others or yourself, you'll be willing to pay for expensive bullets.

It would hurt legal gun users without stopping the bad guys at all. Which is the basic argument against most gun control: it punishes the innocent while doing nothing effective against the bad guys.
posted by jsonic at 12:45 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Few read down here, but I wanted to say this re: the NRA and gun control:

In a thread earlier this week, a UK citizenship test was posted, along with anecdotal evidence that many current citizens in the UK couldn't pass it. At the time, I suggested that the point of the citizenship isn't to make sure you know the random facts involved, but to make sure you're committed enough to becoming a citizen that you're willing to do the ridiculous amount of studying required to get those random facts correct on a test. It is, therefore, a test of commitment, and of being able to focus, and of being capable of a baseline of responsibility accomplishment. It helps weed out people who won't take being a citizen seriously, who might be doing it on a whim.

Similarly, when you study to be a doctor and do your residency, you are asked to work painfully long hours and get by without the sleep that you need, ostensibly because that's what will be expected of you as a doctor -- but it's really about weeding out the uncommitted and irresponsible. It helps weed out those people who won't take being a doctor seriously, who might be doing it on a whim. As a tangent you can argue that asking potential doctors to work in a hospital without enough sleep is, itself, irresponsible, but that's for another time.

And so with gun control: by imposing restrictions on the requirements for obtaining guns (such as having to register them and having to wait for a certain amount of time to pass) and on the guns available (helping to prevent people who ostensibly want a gun for "hunting" from obtaining a gun that has no reasonable expectation of being used for that purpose), you help weed out those people who won't take their guns seriously, who might be doing it on a whim. From that perspective, it surprises me that so many NRA members oppose gun control, for the same reason that race car drivers seldom oppose improved safety regulations -- people who take a thing, an occupation or an activity seriously generally support efforts to keep uncommitted, irresponsible people from using that thing, working in that occupation or performing that activity.

The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that the NRA does not consider promotion of responsible gun ownership to be a priority; it must exist for some other reason.
posted by davejay at 12:51 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I know you know this, but not everybody who opposes gun control supports the NRA.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2009


I don't know. I mean, someone made dead or injured by a gun is someone made dead or injured by a gun, and that's exactly what we're talking about. There's not much to take out of context, here. If you have a problem with the numbers not agreeing with you, take it up with the CDC.

Again, the obvious context -- which you conveniently ignored above -- is the total number of guns, the total number of gun owners, and the total number of deaths and injuries in America per year. "30,000 dead and 70,000 injured" aren't numbers which exist in a vacuum; they constitute some percentage of the larger picture, and that percentage is, unfortunately for you, contrary to your statements. It's not "most", "many" "a significant portion", etc -- it's one tenth of one percent, at most. That goes whether you figure it as a percentage of total deaths, or if you run it as a percentage of total guns or gun owners which do harm.

Frankly, there's no way that 100,000 casualties per year is going to be "significant" on the national level, period, no matter what the issue; there are more than 2.4 million deaths and innumerable serious injuries every year in this country. Thirty thousand dead is a drop in the bucket. Our crappy diet kills thirty times more people per year, easy, just within the top five causes of death. I know it's hard to still that jerking knee, but get some perspective, please.

Modern video game technology could probably make a very satisfactory upgrade to Duck Hunt. The US military already uses video games for training.

This is ridiculous. Hint: it's like saying that, since football is dangerous, we should make high-schoolers play Madden 2009 as a "very satisfactory upgrade".
posted by vorfeed at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Penn & Teller already covered the gun control bullshit anyway.

/case closed
posted by C17H19NO3 at 1:00 PM on August 6, 2009


Modern video game technology could probably make a very satisfactory upgrade to Duck Hunt. The US military already uses video games for training.

With all due respect, that's just not the way it works. You practive with your rifle because it's going to have it's own idiosyncracies. I am not a hunter, but a target shooter, and there is no way a video game is going to give me the necessary experience required by shooting my own rifle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:00 PM on August 6, 2009


The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that the NRA does not consider promotion of responsible gun ownership to be a priority

The NRA actually provides training and education for those who are interested.
posted by electroboy at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2009


The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that the NRA does not consider promotion of responsible gun ownership to be a priority

The NRA has numerous programs to teach gun safety and responsible gun ownership.

Also, arguments based on "I know what my opponent is REALLY thinking" are usually more about confirming your own biases rather than elucidating theirs.
posted by jsonic at 1:13 PM on August 6, 2009


If we can make driving and flight simulators with force and haptic feedback, we can make shoot-em-up simulators with the same or better level of sophistication. I'll grant the objection on a technical basis, but to say it's impossible to make a satisfactory gun-shooting simulator and deny this as a possible solution to raising ammo prices is just not a legitimate excuse, because they are already being used for safer and more cost-effective training.

Anyway, I'll return to my original point about the water pump handle. Gun proponents start from the position that they have the Constitutional right to not only drink cholera-laden water, but force it down everyone else's throats at the barrel of a gun. Even the slightest suggestion that the water is making people sick and that we shouldn't force everyone to drink the water, or that perhaps it should be more difficult to distribute the disease-laden water, garners vociferous objections from gun proponents.

Leaving aside solutions, any kind of rational approach to examining this problem gets denied by gun proponents without taking any moment to reflect on the consequences of unfettered access. Any possible solutions get denied without thinking, because they start, again with the premise that we must have guns and bullets, and that any rational restrictions whatsoever — it doesn't matter if those same types of restrictions work fairly reliably for other public health issues — are the very end of the world. We must have loaded guns, logic and reason be damned!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2009


“The constitution is a contextual document, written at a specific time and place in which the country was engaged in a fight for independence and the local population WAS the standing army. That's no longer the situation. The US has a rather large standing army these days.”

Number one cause of death last century was democide. That is, a government killing its own people.


“Does anyone really think that if one of these women had tried to fight back (with a gun, knife, martial arts skills, or whatever) it would have done anything besides enrage the guy and encourage him to kill more women before killing himself?”
If my wife were there and had her pistol she would have had an excellent chance of stopping him. If not, she knows how to evade and take cover. Far as I know all this guy had going for him was crazy. My wife is well-trained. Pretty much why Batman knocks the crap out of the Joker and the rest of the rogues gallery. Or, real world, pretty much why trained soldiers beat untrained insurgents in head-on engagements (which is why they use guerrilla tactics).

“There’s not a warrior buried deep within my small frame”
So you're a saint? It was my understanding that such states of mind took a great deal of time and effort and training. It's been my experience that anyone can be trained to react successfully to an attack without having a panic response.

“but has a passing understanding of the chemistry involved in creating a homemade explosive device, then I'd say it might be easier for him to do the deed with a bomb.”

Not surprisingly, many adult, white, male, lone violent killers are bombers.

"the reason kids drown has more to do with them not having learned how to swim yet than it does with whether there's a fence around my pool, so...i"m not going to build a fence around my pool".
Ironic then that pool accidents kill more people than firearm accidents. And yeah, pools aren’t designed to kill people. So, does that then make that better or worse?

“most Americans love guns”

‘Love’ is not a term I apply to inanimate objects. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love my family and many of my friends. On the other hand - my pos jeep. My bike. My house. My tools. My firearms - They’re just stuff I have to varying degrees of efficiency which I enjoy, but do not, by any stretch of the imagination ‘love.’
If one of my very high quality custom firearms is falling over a cliff next to a child I completely don’t know, who is falling over the cliff separately but equidistant from me – it’s a very easy decision to go save the child. So 'love'? No.

“Track and make ammunition very, very expensive, with tax dollars going to pay for cleaning up after gun violence.”

Ah, the Rosie argument. It’s ok for my bodyguard to have a pistol, but poor people shouldn’t have access. Few bullets are required for individual self-defense situations. An individual in a neighborhood with slower police response will encounter more self-defense situations, possibly requiring expending ammunition (possibly into the air to scare someone off), than someone in a better neighborhood with more adequate police protection.
I'd rather see a subsidy for the police departments in impoverished areas. It would do more to alleviate gun violence than a tax on ammo.
...why the hell do I even have to explain that? I mean, a standard fee vs. a tax and the impact they respectively have on a poorer population. Seriously?
Hey, why don't we eliminate homelessness by charging people to sleep on a park bench?

“there's nothing in the Second Amendment about the God-Given Right to Buy Bullets”

Nothing in the constitution that says the government can’t torture people. Nothing says they have a right to health care. Nothing says they can speak freely, just says congress can’t make a law against it.
C’mon man. We know where that kind of gainsaying goes, we’ve seen it for the past 8 years -

'The fact remains that most proponents of peace simply put their blinders on when dead bodies are counted. To admit that most people in the United States have demonstrated that they are functionally incapable of understanding the terrorist threat would require too dramatic a shift in worldview.
It will take time and many more dead people, but that attitude shift will come. The same attitude shift towards rationality was required when 9/11 occurred. It took two years before the Bush administration was able to convince the nation that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks and had weapons of mass destruction.
Terrorism is most certainly a public health issue. We need rational solutions that sidestep the Constitutional elephant in the room.
Perhaps torture should remain illegal, but….Etc. etc."

You look at the Port Arthur massacre and other spree killings and it’s the same form of rhetoric governments exploit after other high-profile events. The same b.s. the U.S. government pulled with Iraq and the GWOT. 9/11 happens and all of a sudden we need this gigantic security apparatus to protect us from terrorists. We need to fight useless wars. Blah blah blah.

It’s ironic how many gun control folks can see, and rationally respond to the disproportionate security response to terrorism – that is, you’re very unlikely to die in a terrorist incident so the massive apparatus put in place is worse than useless it's theater – and yet refuse to see the same form of argument applies to situations like these.

And the same disgust one might have for the political opportunism shown after 9/11, when applied to a situation like this, oh, that’s because we’re all gun fetishists.
Mote/beam, all that.

Y'know I’d be less irritated if it weren’t exactly the same form of argument. Certainly its different subject matter. And certainly the aims are different. But it’s the same kind of dance.

The right says we need to take away your rights because the terrorists are gonna gitcha. The left says we need to take away your rights because you can’t be trusted with yourself.

And it’s the same internal inconsistencies – abortion is wrong because human life is sacred, but capital punishment is A-ok because bad people gotta die.
Guns are wrong because people can’t be trusted, but abortion is A-ok because people have the right to self-determination without government interference.

Meantime, this should be about this crazy bastard and how he got that way and I dunno, better health care maybe? Especially with regard to mental health which is hugely overlooked and underfunded in our system today and stigmatized in society.
But no, another f’ing gun discussion because, guns were involved and it’s too complex to explore the roots. Don't look at the reason for hitting, look at the hand. Ugh. Goddamn one trick ponyism.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:19 PM on August 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gun proponents start from the position that they have the Constitutional right to not only drink cholera-laden water, but force it down everyone else's throats at the barrel of a gun.

I know this is an emotional issue, but that really is a hopelessly flawed analogy.
posted by jsonic at 1:27 PM on August 6, 2009


Gun proponents start from the position that they have the Constitutional right to not only drink cholera-laden water, but force it down everyone else's throats at the barrel of a gun.

Whereas gun prohibitionists start from the position that since one pump delivered tainted water, all the pump handles should be taken off, and would forcibly remove the handles under the threat of violence with a pump handle.
posted by electroboy at 1:30 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Leaving aside solutions, any kind of rational approach to examining this problem gets denied by gun proponents without taking any moment to reflect on the consequences of unfettered access.

The consequences of "unfettered" (ha!) access are roughly 30K killed per year, and 70K wounded. I'm more than happy to reflect on that; in fact, I've been doing so over and over throughout this thread. When are you going to reflect on the consequences of strict gun control? When are you going to admit that maybe, just maybe, disarming an armed and unhappy populace is not as simple nor as harmless as getting rid of a pump handle?

Again, if you've got some painless method by which you plan to implement strict gun control, go ahead and describe it. Everything you've mentioned so far will lead to a massive black market for guns and/or ammo -- do not pass go, do not collect $200, bullets are now sold by the gram next to bags of cocaine, with zero government oversight. That's not going to help the gun-violence situation in America.
posted by vorfeed at 1:32 PM on August 6, 2009


>Gun proponents start from the position that they have the Constitutional right to not only drink cholera-laden water, but force it down everyone else's throats at the barrel of a gun.

Whereas gun prohibitionists start from the position that since one pump delivered tainted water, all the pump handles should be taken off, and would forcibly remove the handles under the threat of violence with a pump handle.


So isn't it great that most of us are gun control advocates, who are saying "can we at least start a program of water testing, so we can shut down the contaminated wells?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I dunno Empress. Not to question your views in particular, but I think a lot of gun control advocates are really gun control prohibitionists that aren't as successful as they'd like. I'm all for sensible gun control legislation and more extensive testing and training, but that's not the goal for a lot of people.
posted by electroboy at 1:40 PM on August 6, 2009


I’m weak, soft and cowardly and a gun doesn’t change that.

Since you believe this to be true of you, it is true for everyone, right?


I think you missed my point, since I was complaining that guns get treated like a great equalizer and my relative vulnerability is used as a talking point. An over generalization had been made implying small women were ideal gun owners who were going to get attacked if they didn't have them.

I'm just pointing out that even when a private citizen like me is a good candidate to own a gun legally, they tend not to be owned by small vulnerable females. Bringing up that I can shoot the very, very rare dark alley style rapists is not a very good argument for gun easy ownership, because dark alley rapists can have guns too, and are in fact more likely to want one.

Of course if you point that out, I get told that it's a failing on my part for recognizing that people can easily murder me and I'm not a violent person. Lectures about how women need to become different people and arm themselves are as practical as saying that we should take the guns away from everyone (even perfectly harmless hunters and target shooters).
posted by Phalene at 1:41 PM on August 6, 2009


I think a lot of gun control advocates are really gun control prohibitionists that aren't as successful as they'd like. I'm all for sensible gun control legislation and more extensive testing and training, but that's not the goal for a lot of people.

I'm not so sure about that -- most of the people I've talked to are squarely in the "I don't mind the idea of someone having a gun on general principle, but boy howdy I'd like to see a bit more restraint placed on how easy it is for the average yutz to get one" camp. I haven't talked to too many who are totally against the idea of guns for anyone at all at all ever ever ever. The person I know who comes closest to this lives in Ireland, where it's actually much harder to get a gun, as I understand it. Even pleading that you want one for self-defense may not fly, I've been told (unless you say that you want it for self-defense because you informed on the IRA, in which case, the government may say, "....Damn. Would a gun be enough? You want us to give you a tank, maybe?...")*


* At least, it was thus circa 1998. Things may have of course changed since.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on August 6, 2009


Everything you've mentioned so far will lead to a massive black market for guns and/or ammo -- do not pass go, do not collect $200, bullets are now sold by the gram next to bags of cocaine, with zero government oversight.

We tax beer, wine and spirits and there isn't a massive black market for alcohol. Further, there is a statistically significant reduction in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related pathologies as the direct causal result of higher taxation.

As far as I'm concerned, this latest objection of yours is just more of your ridiculous knee-jerking, something you will do when given any proposal based on rational premises that have worked to reduce death and disease rates elsewhere, that have worked without making behaviors illegal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:46 PM on August 6, 2009


Okay, what IS that fence, then?

The United States has restrictions on access to guns. It seems, like the lock on a pool's gate, it does a reasonable job of keeping the most unmotivated people from gaining access.

An interesting side note: the CDC also tracks the public health disaster that are swimming pools and bath tubs.
posted by prak at 1:57 PM on August 6, 2009


I'm sure nobody reads the posts down here and forgive me if this specifically got mentioned earlier, but what about male vs female?

I'm sure plenty of women have felt alienated and alone, depressed and/or have been showing signs of serious mental illness, while also having access to guns.

But I can't think of a time a woman has gone into some establishment and killed strangers with a gun. Not that it hasn't happened, I just doubt 3 such instances could easily be brought up and recognized by all.

If the idea is that it is some mix of sociology, chemicals (testosterone), and mental illness, what's the resultant prescription for a reasonable solution?
posted by cashman at 1:59 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


We tax beer, wine and spirits and there isn't a massive black market for alcohol. Further, there is a statistically significant reduction in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related pathologies as the direct causal result of higher taxation.

You weren't talking about reasonable taxes on the order of the alcohol tax, and you know it. "Track and make ammunition very, very expensive, with tax dollars going to pay for cleaning up after gun violence" does not describe the alcohol tax, because we don't "track" alcohol, and we don't make it anywhere close to "very, very expensive". If we did make alcohol "very, very expensive", you can bet there would be a black market for it -- just as there's an emerging black market for tax-free cigarettes, now that cigarettes are becoming more and more expensive.
posted by vorfeed at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2009


I don't think you can combat biology with bra-burning.

Funny how no men I know, including the one I've shared a bed with for the past 10 years, think of women as a thing to be possessed or sex as a thing to take from women. This biology thing might not work the way you think it does.

Ending those things will have no such effect because it has nothing to do with entitlement to women or sex - people with no patriarchy and no sense of entitlement are still at far greater risk of going ballistic under these conditions because it stems from other things entirely.

From his writings it seemed to have everything to do with the millions of women who had rejected him and how long it had been since he had sex. If it was just about rejection and being sad, why did he target women?
posted by hydropsyche at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


we don't "track" alcohol

Wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2009


This thread is making me wish I owned a gun.
posted by prak at 2:11 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish I could find the numbers to back this up, but I do believe Vermont has the lowest amount of violent crime involving firearms per-capita in the United States. Vermont also has next to nothing for gun contol, aside from the Federal regulation and prohibiting loaded long guns in vehicles, and that is to protect wildlife.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:12 PM on August 6, 2009


Vermont also has next to nothing for gun contol

You can even conceal-carry a loaded handgun in Vermont without a license.
posted by jsonic at 2:16 PM on August 6, 2009


If the idea is that it is some mix of sociology, chemicals (testosterone), and mental illness, what's the resultant prescription for a reasonable solution?

It has been mentioned earlier, but mental health care needs to be reformed. That will help more than punishing the 99.9% of responsible gun owners.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:17 PM on August 6, 2009


we don't "track" alcohol

Wrong.


Again, that's not the kind of "tracking" you were implying, and I suspect that you know it.

As I said before, you seem to be violently allergic to responding to the substance of other people's points. Symptoms include willfully misrepresenting your own statements and those of others, purposely ignoring the meat of the argument in order to concentrate on minutiae, and replies which amount to nothing but quoting someone and then typing "NUH-UH" underneath it. Perhaps you should speak to the CDC!
posted by vorfeed at 2:18 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


You can even conceal-carry a loaded handgun in Vermont without a license.

Except for federal buildings (including the post office), courts, and schools.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 2:19 PM on August 6, 2009


Except for federal buildings (including the post office), courts, and schools.

Darn gun-control laws, always restrictin' my rights! :P
posted by jsonic at 2:22 PM on August 6, 2009


[comment removed - this is getting pretty heated and one-on-one attacky, please go to metatalk or email, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:29 PM on August 6, 2009


“…but to say it's impossible to make a satisfactory gun-shooting simulator and deny this as a possible solution to raising ammo prices is just not a legitimate excuse, because they are already being used for safer and more cost-effective training.”

Well, since this has all gone to shit anyway …. two things

One: I’ve trained many people to shoot. The military uses video sims as a convenience for qualification purposes, mostly for people who nearly never fire a weapon in the normal course of duty. It’s pretty much just a work around for regs for people with minimal contact with weapons.
And I don’t really know why a Navy doctor or a submariner or some other guy who’s never going to see infantry combat and is a specialist in some other area would really need it. But regs are regs. Blah.
That aside, most combat arms instructors find that after simulation training for marksmanship fundamentals, most students washed out on the practice range. So wherever possible, people are given live fire exercises. There is absolutely no possibility of simulating firing a live weapon. None. There are too many variables. A machine cannot simulate windage, nor the microcues from grass, smoke, dust, or the feel of it – additionally there is mirage, light at distance (through the scope and otherwise), temperature which is critical and affects air density as well as the rate of burn of powder (just a 20 degree shift in temperature can raise or lower the point of impact by a full MOA) and humidity which can affect drag which can also fluctuate by 20 to 40 percent to equal 1 MOA change.

Explain to me how a computer can simulate the feel of the environment.

A human gymnast can make corrections based on minute changes in muscle fatigue, the amount of sweat or resin on their hands, all sorts of things. This comes from repetitive practice by doing the actual movement. This is why they don’t simply make physical calculations on a computer and just expect their bodies to follow the physical laws.
So too - routinely hitting a 19 inch circular target from 500 yards in the prone position is as complex an interaction of physical and mental process and simultaneous coordination in breathing, gross motor controls - hand positioning, elbow, legs, feet, cheek positioning, breath control – and fine motor controls in the trigger finger and perceptual cues on the target and the sights or scope and minimal muzzle movement – all the psychomotor skills – as performing a gymnastic routine.
On top of that, even in a real environment using simulated weapons and sensors – lasers don’t drop, bullets do.
This is apart from scenario training, in which simulation is very useful. But that's not shooting.

Two: When I was in a very nasty environment we had a fairly arbitrary c.o. who insisted we qualify along with everyone else on the stupid video simulators instead of going out and shooting (of course, we would go out and shoot anyway, but...).

So I knew some of the guys around and they let me go and play with the simulator for a few days. And compared to high-stakes qualification it was easy. Plus, being raised on video games like anyone else who was a kid around then, pretty easy to take advantage of.

So I got it down. When it came time to qualify every shot – EVERY SHOT I made was dead center in the head. 500 yards, 1000, everything static, everything moving, I’m Vasily Zaytsev and Carlos Hathcock rolled into one on this thing. So the guys behind me are just guys waiting in line for their turn. I’m walking away and one guy asks “Where did you learn to shoot like that?” I say “Operation Wolf

And guys nods their head like - "Yeah, operation wolf. That one was bad-ass."

So about three years later I’m in this underground bar drinking smuggled vodka and whatever sadiki the filipinos brew that blows your head off and I’m hearing this guy talk about this uber-badass he was with who killed all these guys with head shots from 900 meters on some super secret operation called “wolf.” Guy saved his life apparently. Plus they both had huge cocks.
So one of the pinoy brewmasters asked where the operation was. Guy said (actually said) “I can’t tell you. If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
So I start giggling like an idiot and I say (doing my best Christopher Walken): “Oh, you were on Operation Wolf, huh? You fought the Skull terrorist outfit on their secret island hideout and disarmed the nuclear missles? Ha ha! Moron, it was a video game.”

Except I was hammered so it came out “Wha? You know… the … yeah? And stuff! Man….frambbwerrt iga mndonoise!”
And everyone thought I was a complete dolt and cut me off and put me in a room for a while so I didn't wander around drunk and let everyone know we were boozing.

…so maybe I’m prejudiced against the video simulation. On the other hand, I don’t drink white lighting anymore, so there’s that. Ah, it’s just an f’ing story really.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]


[Seriously, enough with the one-on-one stuff. You know where to go if you need to have it out.]
posted by cortex at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2009


But the way that "if they had a gun they could defend themself" comes across, though, sounds as if the gun is the cure-all answer rather than being one (of several) options available to someone who also undergoes the attitude shift.

In other words, it's possible to have the attitude shift, but not the gun -- you just reach for something else other than the gun. (I've crept into the hall closet and fetched a scary-looking prop sword when I've heard something oogy in the hall at night, for instance.) However -- it sounds like by your own admission, natch -- having the gun but NOT the attitude shift doesn't really help.

So it strikes me that it's the ATTITUDE SHIFT that does more, and simply saying "but if she had a gun she could defend herself" is focusing on the wrong part of the equation.


I largely agree with you, a gun is not a cure all. Potential victims who are outclassed in weight, athleticism and health are at a tremendous disadvantage in the event of a physical attack. It is of benefit to such a potential victim, as well as others, to be able to access a tool that allows them to provide an effective response, namely a firearm. Do they have other choices? In some scenarios, they do, but that isn't cause to make them more attractive targets.

Professsors Wright and Rossi made a survey of 2,000 convicted felons. One of the findings:

57% agreed that “Most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police.”.

-----

There are advantages to not using force to respond to a threat, too. In fact, I don't think that there is much in life that requires lethal force as a response.

I agree, but this isn't a question of probability. The impact of the event is a major consideration. Most of us buy smoke detectors and fire extinguishers despite the low chance of their being used to save life or home. Home invasions are very rare, so are random assaults, it's the potential severity of the results that motivate people to hedge against those possibilities.

-----

Last night a man was masturbating on my balcony, and rather than me killing him, the cops were called. And, you know, they were armed. So are soldiers, who do a pretty good job of keeping invaders out of Canada. When I got mugged several years ago, the cops dealt with it effectively using the special authority invested in them, and I didn't have to shoot anyone. Funny how that works.

Funny how what works? Here in the U.S.,

"It is well-settled fact of American law that the police have no legal duty to protect any individual citizen from crime, even if the citizen has received death threats and the police have negligently failed to provide protection."

-----

And so with gun control: by imposing restrictions on the requirements for obtaining guns (such as having to register them and having to wait for a certain amount of time to pass) and on the guns available (helping to prevent people who ostensibly want a gun for "hunting" from obtaining a gun that has no reasonable expectation of being used for that purpose), you help weed out those people who won't take their guns seriously, who might be doing it on a whim. From that perspective, it surprises me that so many NRA members oppose gun control, for the same reason that race car drivers seldom oppose improved safety regulations -- people who take a thing, an occupation or an activity seriously generally support efforts to keep uncommitted, irresponsible people from using that thing, working in that occupation or performing that activity.

The problem with placing hurdles on gun ownership is that doing so eliminates, or at least reduces, the political benefits of having an armed civilian population. Self defense is not the only justification for private ownership of firearms.
posted by BigSky at 3:12 PM on August 6, 2009


It's very, very, very possible that George Sodini was capable of killing with a gun, but would have been capable of killing with his bare hands.

Apologies for not acknowledging which side of the gun debate you are on skwt (I accept that debate belongs here as much as on any thread - but I refuse to follow it - I know how it ends).

But your comment reminded me: the killer turned OFF the lights, I believe, before he started shooting. Which gives credence to the idea that, in this case, the killer needed distance from the horror perpetrated. Which makes a bare hands murder unlikely. And easy access to the "blame-neutral" gun rather more useful, in his case, than otherwise.
posted by Jody Tresidder


I hate posting at work. I meant:

It's very, very, very possible that George Sodini was capable of killing with a gun, but would have been incapable of killing with his bare hands.

My argument probably makes more sense now.
posted by skwt at 3:14 PM on August 6, 2009


I'm sure nobody reads the posts down here...

You are mistaken.
posted by ericb at 3:15 PM on August 6, 2009


davejay: "The only conclusion I can reach, then, is that the NRA does not consider promotion of responsible gun ownership to be a priority; it must exist for some other reason."

I think that's jumping to an unsupported conclusion when there's an easier explanation: the NRA is a justifiably paranoid organization, which as a general rule does not believe that its opponents are interested in "responsible gun ownership" (or any other sort of civilian gun ownership) and is hugely suspicious of anything that might be used as part of a purchase ban, or worse a confiscatory regime.

Their opposition to waiting periods, training courses, and registration/database schemes stems from a belief — not totally unreasonable, given that some pro-gun-control organizations do seem to have gun-banning aspirations (or at least seem weaselly as to what level of restrictions they'd consider maximally tolerable) — that such measures, once implemented, will be extended again and again and form the basis of a "creeping prohibition."

You can find examples in other countries where this has happened—e.g. Great Britain's handgun ban, which was preceded by registration and control measures—so I don't think it's necessarily just paranoia. Plus, I don't think anyone can say with a straight face that organizations like the "Coalition to Stop Gun Violence"—which used to have the more straightforward name "National Council to Ban Handguns"—are just going to declare victory and close up shop with anything less than a total private prohibition.

I think you can find a lot of NRA members who might agree in principle to certain limited gun-control measures, if there was some sort of assurance that it wouldn't be used merely as a stepping-off point to more stringent controls the next year, and the year after that, etc. But without that sort of assurance, which the more radical gun-control groups will never give because it runs contrary to their apparent long-term ambitions, we instead get the current situation: political and ideological trench warfare, neither side willing to give any ground lest it be used against them in the next round of fighting.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suspect part of the problem is that we disagree if the ultimate goal is a non-zero risk of being killed with a gun or not.
posted by prak at 3:45 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


My argument probably makes more sense now...

Indeed it does - thanks for the correction, skwt.
(and thanks also ericb for great links - as ever - that spitzer commentary was something else...)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:50 PM on August 6, 2009


Apparently Soldini also appears in some videos of R. Don Steele workshops.

Steele's removed it now, but this morning the lead video on his YouTube page was from a workshop Soldini attended (you can see him clearly), in which the first thing Steele does as workshop leader is write the words "NICE GUY MUST DIE" on the board in front of the attendees, while explaining that women don't like nice guys and you have to kill the nice guy inside you to get anywhere with them.

I wish I was making that up.
posted by mediareport at 4:00 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


You are mistaken.

I was just joshing/rehashing that old saying.

So I wonder why guys do this, but women apparently do not. Is it lack of ability to control their (our) hormones? Is this guys' way of forcible penetration? Seems the problem isn't guns, or violent people. It's violent men. The stats have to be ridiculously one-sided on this. If it was 98% women that did this, you could bet men would have pointed it out long ago (and used it structurally as an argument against women being in positions of power).
posted by cashman at 4:29 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Today I was in line at a registry where I frequently do business, and the clerks -- mostly black men and women -- were laughing at this man. They were reading aloud a Daily News article about his pathetic beliefs, particularly the one regarding black men and white women, and laughing aloud at him. "Nineteen years!"

I loved hearing the laughter. I wished he could have heard it. You sack of shit, I thought, your words will live on, as the perfect example of a complete failure of a man.

-- cashman, many women are as lonely, dried-up and bitter as this man, but the cultural expectation is that we will kill ourselves, not others. Or perhaps that we'll hoard animals and inflict a host of personal issues on them instead.

(Someone did joke about me once as if I were a man, though -- she said, "You're going to end up on top of a belltower with a gun someday, aren't you?" I always look depressed and intense, especially when I am depressed and intense, as I was that day. It remains one of the most hurtful things ever said to me.)
posted by Countess Elena at 4:48 PM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


>Okay, what IS that fence, then?

The United States has restrictions on access to guns. It seems, like the lock on a pool's gate, it does a reasonable job of keeping the most unmotivated people from gaining access.


The restrictions on guns differ state to state, though, which means that in some places, people are getting guns that shouldn't.

So, in essence, there's a lock on the pool's gate, but there's still some mighty big holes and loose boards in one or two places...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 PM on August 6, 2009


The messed up thing is that I think he knew he was a shit sack. He couldn't figure out how to change that. It was kind of jarring to see his searches included searches on personality/mental disorders. He knew he had issues - I wonder how close he was to connecting to a mental health professional.

The odd thing about the societal expectations piece is that no dude could see this as something that would make him appear strong. Who would he appear strong to, even in his (self-defined) crazy brain? His family? no. Men who learned of him shooting unarmed aerobicizers? No. Women? no.

So okay, a person is lonely, dried-up and bitter. It still seems like a hell of a cliff to drop off to go from men who have perpetuated crimes like these and women who have. And it has to be more than cultural expectations, because it just doesn't seem that strong. Is it slinkying from one shooting to the next - a kind of warped way of ending things? Kind of how a lot of young black dudes see a certain sport as something they can do because they see people who resemble them doing it?

Are there some high/low/medium profile cases of women gunning down strangers? Talk about learning from something - that apparent anomaly would be useful to study, to compare to the reams of information we seem to have on the males that do this.
posted by cashman at 5:04 PM on August 6, 2009


If anyone's interested, here's a summary of the various state gun laws, including concealed carry.
posted by electroboy at 5:20 PM on August 6, 2009


The restrictions on guns differ state to state, though, which means that in some places, people are getting guns that shouldn't.

People are getting guns everywhere that shouldn't. Criminals do not follow laws, period. Why would you expect them to follow a law regarding guns? They won't. These laws only punish the good, honest people.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 5:44 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


>The restrictions on guns differ state to state, though, which means that in some places, people are getting guns that shouldn't.

People are getting guns everywhere that shouldn't. Criminals do not follow laws, period. These laws only punish the good, honest people.


....The gentleman we're discussing followed the laws in his state when he applied for and purchased a gun. You're calling HIM a "good, honest person"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:37 PM on August 6, 2009


Also, arguments based on "I know what my opponent is REALLY thinking" are usually more about confirming your own biases rather than elucidating theirs.

You're assuming, of course, that I consider the NRA my opponent.
posted by davejay at 6:55 PM on August 6, 2009


So, in essence, there's a lock on the pool's gate, but there's still some mighty big holes and loose boards in one or two places...

I don't disagree. We should be discussing what an acceptable risk is and how to bring that about in the least intrusive way possible.
posted by prak at 7:19 PM on August 6, 2009


> We've no evidence that strict gun control has a major impact on homicide

Really?

I'm not fanatically in favor of strict gun control, but it seems a bit disingenuous to claim there's no evidence when every country with strict laws has a significantly lower rate of gun-related homicide -- on the order of magnitudes. Maybe we're just full of crazier people that would, as gun advocates claim, get their guns illegally or kill people with knives, bombs, or cyanide instead. Somehow I doubt it. Many crimes are ones of convenience and opportunity, and there is nothing more convenient for a murder-suicide than a damn gun that you can pick up at the local wal*mart.
posted by cj_ at 7:28 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


[few comments removed - comments that directly insult other users are not okay. go to metatalk if you can't play nice, or preferably go outside. ]
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 PM on August 6, 2009


[Take it to email or metatalk if you need to complain about moderation, but cut out the in-thread fighty bullshit.]
posted by cortex at 7:42 PM on August 6, 2009


I'm not fanatically in favor of strict gun control, but it seems a bit disingenuous to claim there's no evidence when every country with strict laws has a significantly lower rate of gun-related homicide

The claim was that there is no evidence that it reduces overall homicide rates; not that the rate of homicides involving guns isn't reduced.
posted by prak at 7:57 PM on August 6, 2009


Via a double post, it's really freaky how much information redditors have dug up about him in this thread, including Sodini's Google searches, YouTube videos, MySpace profile, and password-protected parts of his website.

How on earth did they find his Google searches? And if the answer is "Everybody knows that all you have to do is plug in somebody's email address into X and hit search" then I am deeply perturbed. I mean, I know about searching the Usenet archive and whatnot, but finding cached Google searches?

Also, I hope I never do anything to get the internets mad at me.
posted by jokeefe at 9:27 PM on August 6, 2009


How on earth did they find his Google searches? And if the answer is "Everybody knows that all you have to do is plug in somebody's email address into X and hit search" then I am deeply perturbed. I mean, I know about searching the Usenet archive and whatnot, but finding cached Google searches?

He used the google search bar add-on.

Then, they guessed his password.

If you aren't using the google bar, and you don't have a shitty password, you aren't in any danger.
posted by Netzapper at 10:20 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


The claim was that there is no evidence that it reduces overall homicide rates; not that the rate of homicides involving guns isn't reduced.

Exactly. There are plenty of serious studies, like this one in the US and this international one, which have looked for a link between gun ownership and homicide. None I've seen (at least, none with solid methodology) have been able to show a significant correlation between gun ownership and overall homicide, especially when the US is discarded as an outlier (in international studies).

Look at the charts here, and it's obvious why; the data is all over the map. It's the same for the states (scroll down for data and a graph). Some areas (such as Finland, Switzerland, and Norway) have lots of guns and not many homicides, and others (Scotland and Taiwan) have lots of homicides and not many guns; this seems to be the case whether you examine the data worldwide or within the US.

Also, we see the same results in places where strict gun control was tried; it doesn't seem to have much effect on overall homicide, one way or the other. Australia enacted an extraordinarily strict ban after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996; homicide rates have been dropping at pretty much the same rate since then as before. On the other hand, the UK banned handguns, and now they're looking at banning knives, because the murder rate has only increased (though this last year looks like a better one than the last few). In Washington D.C., the homicide rate dropped initially after the handgun ban in 1975, then shot up again once the crack problem began in the late 80s, and then dropped off once more in recent years. In Chicago, the homicide rate shot up after gun control was enacted, stayed steady for some years, went crazy around the same time D.C.'s rate did, and then started to drop off. Same deal: the data is all over the map, and it's obvious that other factors must be more significant.

In particular, it's worth noting that homicide in the U.S. is decreasing, and has been since around 1994; during the same period, the number of guns steadily increased (if you only click one of these links, make it the graph on that page; it illustrates the point of my argument far better than words can). In fact, the number of guns tends to steadily increase over the long run, and the rate of American firearm ownership tends to increase more slowly, and yet crime goes up and down... hmm!
posted by vorfeed at 10:29 PM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The gentleman we're discussing followed the laws in his state when he applied for and purchased a gun. You're calling HIM a "good, honest person"?

What criteria are you proposing that would've disqualified him?
posted by electroboy at 11:13 PM on August 6, 2009


How on earth did they find his Google searches? And if the answer is "Everybody knows that all you have to do is plug in somebody's email address into X and hit search" then I am deeply perturbed. I mean, I know about searching the Usenet archive and whatnot, but finding cached Google searches?

It would be interesting to see if some of these people have similar issues with loneliness and bredom - but they channel their free time into these activities instead of moping and plotting.
posted by calwatch at 1:18 AM on August 7, 2009


>The gentleman we're discussing followed the laws in his state when he applied for and purchased a gun. You're calling HIM a "good, honest person"?

What criteria are you proposing that would've disqualified him?


I can't think of any right now, because I'm not entirely familiar with minutia the specific gun-application process. But it strikes me that we're all seeing that he clearly had some kind of a psychological problem, and presumably that is something that might have become more apparent to a gun dealer under certain circumstances. What those are, I can't say, but my not being able to think of an option doesn't prevent me from asking the question, does it?

Or, wait, if he bought his gun at a gun show -- I understand that the rules are somewhat relaxed at gun shows in some states, under the argument that the guns sold there are "collectibles", and so some people have been able to get a gun through that easier process. Maybe closing that loophole would be one place to start.

I did also propose a few ideas upthread, concerning a federal standardization of the gun buying process -- much like we do with drivers' licenses.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:44 AM on August 7, 2009


Are there some high/low/medium profile cases of women gunning down strangers? Talk about learning from something - that apparent anomaly would be useful to study, to compare to the reams of information we seem to have on the males that do this.

The only spree killing I can remember that was done by a female was Brenda Ann Spencer's. She famously used the phrase "I don't like Mondays" as part of the explanation for why she did it.

It still seems like a hell of a cliff to drop off to go from men who have perpetuated crimes like these and women who have. And it has to be more than cultural expectations, because it just doesn't seem that strong.

Spree killings are relatively rare (hence the fact that when one happens in the US it's a big news story), and the people who commit crimes like that are severely mentally disturbed, so it's difficult to come up with any kind of rational explanation for any of them. It could be that the lack of women spree killers has more to do with the causes and risks associated with mental disorders than it does with anything related to the culture that they live in.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:03 AM on August 7, 2009


There's really not much minutia involved. With the NICS system you fill out an application, the clerk calls the FBI, who has 3 days to respond to the request. NICS basically checks against two FBI databases, the NCIC and the III to see if the purchaser is in any one of the prohibited classes, according to the Gun Control Act of 1968.

This is the bare bones minimum. If your state has additional regulations, such as waiting periods, handgun registries or fingerprinting, those are also taken care of prior to sale.

That said, it looks like this guy in particular wouldn't have had a problem, because he was by all appearances a normal person. It looks like there was some history of stalking in his past, but no one had ever taken out a restraining order (which would disqualify him) or been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
posted by electroboy at 7:51 AM on August 7, 2009


There's really not much minutia involved.

Then maybe that IS the problem right there. Maybe the additional requirements some states have should be mandatory in ALL states.

I hear what you're saying about there being no obvious paper trail; perhaps a different kind of background check may have caught something else. We don't know for sure what kind of paper trail this man may have left, and I grant you that; but it strikes me that if it's this clear to us based on a web site that the man was troubled, surely there is SOME other evidence of his instability that was recorded somewhere. No restraining order, I'll grant you, but maybe just a couple complaints were filed that were later dropped, and having that as part of his record would be at least something that triggered a follow-up investigation before you went ahead and gave the guy a gun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on August 7, 2009


There's an angle here along the lines of "should we administer a Voight-Kampf for all gun purchases", when you get down to the notion of trying to prevent shooting sprees through sufficiently rigorous gun purchase checks.

I don't have a strong position on the gun control debate either way, but I do think that at a certain point we're looking at diminishing returns on any attempt to prevent tragedy through any practical attempt at preventative screening, even setting aside the question of getting that degree of screening in place at all.
posted by cortex at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2009




BRIDGEVILLE, Pa. - The gunman who killed three women and wounded nine others at a Pittsburgh-area health club bought accessories for a handgun from the same Wisconsin-based dealer that sold a gun to the Virginia Tech shooter.

From ericb's link - so can any gun expert explain the coincidence!?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:18 AM on August 7, 2009


BRIDGEVILLE, Pa. - The gunman who killed three women and wounded nine others at a Pittsburgh-area health club bought accessories for a handgun from the same Wisconsin-based dealer that sold a gun to the Virginia Tech shooter.

From ericb's link - so can any gun expert explain the coincidence!?


Sure. Open a new window, type "gun dealer" into Google, and hit enter. Thegunsource.com (a.k.a. TGSCOM) is the first result, at least for me. That's why. They're about the biggest online store, so of course they come up more often in these cases. It's like asking why Amazon is always where people seem to get the Anarchist Cookbook...

Also, it's worth noting that "accessories" could be almost anything (I'm guessing magazines, but who knows, it could be something like sights or a tactical flashlight -- the latter would make sense if he'd planned ahead of time to turn the lights out). Most accessories aren't restricted... sometimes high-capacity magazines are, but they're not in Pennsylvania.
posted by vorfeed at 10:33 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


so can any gun expert explain the coincidence!?

I'm pretty sure that gun dealer didn't have a Killing Spree Special running or anything.

If what you're asking is whether there's any reason to believe that e.g. regional variations in gun law might have pushed guys who were self-aware that they were Problematic People into shopping there vs. somewhere else, it's probably still a better idea to start with the assumption of coincidence and go searching for a connection, rather than implying the opposite approach.

It's an interesting thing to chew on a little, but probably not something to jump into head-first without a darned good reason.
posted by cortex at 10:37 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If what you're asking is whether there's any reason to believe that e.g. regional variations in gun law might have pushed guys who were self-aware that they were Problematic People into shopping there vs. somewhere else, it's probably still a better idea to start with the assumption of coincidence and go searching for a connection, rather than implying the opposite approach.

I'm actually more inclined to believe neither of these -- rather, the conclusion I come to is that the fact that two Problematic People happened to have bought guns from the same establishment may mean that maybe that particular establishment may want to raise the bar on Who Qualifies To Purchase A Gun just a tad.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on August 7, 2009


...it's probably still a better idea to start with the assumption of coincidence and go searching for a connection, rather than implying the opposite approach.

And it's probably even a better idea still if MSNBC helpfully added that it's talking about "the Amazon of online gun stores" when referring to this Wisconsin based dealership in its latest story about the tragedy. (Just to help out the ignorant).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:58 AM on August 7, 2009


That's why. They're about the biggest online store, so of course they come up more often in these cases. It's like asking why Amazon is always where people seem to get the Anarchist Cookbook...

Also, vorfeed.

Thanks for your explanation, which you gave without a lecture. I appreciate that.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:02 AM on August 7, 2009


Gun purchases still have to be routed through a Federal Firearms licensee. You don't just get a UPS box on your doorstep.

Incidentally, the largest source of illegal guns are sales or "thefts" (sales reported as thefts) from crooked FFL licensees. Strawman purchases, where a legal purchaser resells to a prohibited person is the second.
posted by electroboy at 11:07 AM on August 7, 2009


So, to elaborate, you buy the gun online and then it's shipped to the FFL, usually a gun shop or gunsmith. The FFL does the background check, charges you a transfer fee and gives you the gun.
posted by electroboy at 11:09 AM on August 7, 2009


And it's probably even a better idea still if MSNBC helpfully added

Granted, and I have no love for the breathless "OMG THEY BOTH SHOPPED HERE" reportage; my criticism such as it is applies first and foremost to them as newsmakers for implying through their reporting that there's something there.

I wasn't trying to be a jerk about it, I just read your interrobanged comment more as a demand than as a mild inquiry—the wording came off to me as implying that the onus was on others to show that there wasn't something going on, which seemed like a poor way to approach it. If I misread you on that, I apologize.
posted by cortex at 11:10 AM on August 7, 2009


I'm actually more inclined to believe neither of these -- rather, the conclusion I come to is that the fact that two Problematic People happened to have bought guns from the same establishment may mean that maybe that particular establishment may want to raise the bar on Who Qualifies To Purchase A Gun just a tad.

This man did not "purchase a gun" from the store in question. He bought "accessories for a handgun". As in, Not A Gun.

How can an online store "raise the bar on Who Qualifies To Purchase A Gun", anyway? What, are they supposed to bring in a medium to do a seance? Ask him for three email addresses as references? I understand that you want stricter checks, but you're not really describing any criteria which could be used. All online stores work through local FFL dealers -- they will NOT send guns to anybody without a valid Federal Firearms License number -- which means that buyers still have go through the usual song-and-dance at the local gun store (you fill in a standard form with things like your name, address, social-security number, and the answer to some yes/no questions. The gun dealer takes your driver's license and the form, and runs the NICS background check over the phone. Depending on the answer, and on state waiting periods, you either get the gun, have to wait X days for it, or are denied.)

It's not any easier to buy a gun online than it is in person, because it's the exact same process once the gun arrives at the FFL holder's address.

I know it feels as if there's some way that brick-and-mortar gun dealers could detect these murdering assholes, but I don't think that's realistic -- the first thing everybody always says is "they seemed kinda normal". If these guys can keep it together enough to hold down a job, go to the gym, etc, then they can keep it together at the gun store... especially since many of them begin buying their guns long before they finally attack, so they may not even be nervous yet.
posted by vorfeed at 11:22 AM on August 7, 2009


Thanks for your explanation, which you gave without a lecture. I appreciate that.

No problem, it's not like you could have been expected to know. You would think MSNBC would mention it, though. Even "TGSCOM, among the nation's largest online gun stores..." would have been more fair. But then, it's in their interest to pretend as though there's a big exciting story here, because non-stories don't sell advertising space. Maybe that's also why they didn't describe the "accessories"... because chances are they're pretty boring.
posted by vorfeed at 11:34 AM on August 7, 2009


I wasn't trying to be a jerk about it, I just read your interrobanged comment more as a demand than as a mild inquiry—the wording came off to me as implying that the onus was on others to show that there wasn't something going on, which seemed like a poor way to approach it. If I misread you on that, I apologize.

You didn't misread me at all, Cortex. However, I did signal the demanding tone of my question - based on my ignorance, and assisted by the way the news report was worded - that two killers had shopped at the same "place" - with a single exclamation mark - which I felt was jolly restrained.

I know it feels as if there's some way that brick-and-mortar gun dealers could detect these murdering assholes, but I don't think that's realistic -- the first thing everybody always says is "they seemed kinda normal".

Vorfeed.
On this I agree. Not happy about it, but you appear to be right. The killer at least appears to be candid when he speaks about - to paraphrase - trying to learn how to be emotional. To lay ears, that sounds like a sociopath talking. Sort of person who knows very well how to fake normal responses.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:35 AM on August 7, 2009


I understand that you want stricter checks, but you're not really describing any criteria which could be used.

I'll agree that I'm not -- but my not being able to identify any suggestions shouldn't prevent me from saying, "well, whatever system we're using NOW certainly seems to have a few problems", should it?

I'm sorry you're frustrated that I'm not suggesting anything, but I simply and sincerely don't have an answer myself. All I know is that from where I'm sitting, something seems to not be working somehow. I'm pointing at problems and asking "can we maybe do something about that?"

Or, to use the fence-around-the-pool metaphor -- I don't know the first thing about carpentry, but I can see something that looks to my layman's eyes like a hole in a fence, and I'm asking, "Um, has anyone considered that this hole is anything we should worry about? Because that kid just crawled in through that hole." I don't know enough about carpentry to say "maybe use pennyweight nails to patch it next time" or whatever, I'm simply saying, "this looks like a hole to me, can anything be done to fix it?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on August 7, 2009


the conclusion I come to is that the fact that two Problematic People happened to have bought guns from the same establishment may mean that maybe that particular establishment may want to raise the bar

But two Problematic People out of how many customers; what is your maximum level of acceptable risk?
posted by prak at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2009


But two Problematic People out of how many customers; what is your maximum level of acceptable risk?

That's part of what I'm asking, is "what IS the risk." Because I honestly don't know -- and moreover, no one seems willing to tell me in their efforts to defend guns.

One of the reasons that we don't ban cars outright is because whenever someone points out the number of car crashes in this country and starts making a claim of "omigod cars are a danger", someone else is able to offer a practical comparison of "yes, but that is X number of crashes out of Y number of drivers, this is the percentage of risk, etc." And usually people are able to see that while there is a danger from cars, the danger is comparitively small, and cars stay legal.

But I can't help but notice that when people point to the number of gun-related deaths, no one comes in to say "yes, but that is X number of gun-related deaths out of Y number of guns, this is the percentage of risk...." Instead, the more likely defense is more likely to be "if we outlaw guns, then only criminals will have guns" or "gun control won't help" or any similar statement.

So -- if there ARE statistics that show that the number of gun deaths is comparitively against the number of gun users, why not START your defense with that? If there ARE no such statistics, why not?

Because another thing I can tell you is that the arguments in FAVOR of guns aren't really being framed effectively. I'd really, really like to sincerely hear these kinds of statistics and risk assesments, comparing the number of guns to the number of gun deaths, and etc., and the fact that this kind of information isn't being USED to defend guns makes me wonder WHY it isn't being used, and that casts a pall for me on all the other arguments, I'm afraid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:01 PM on August 7, 2009


I don't think it's fair to expect EmpressCallipygos to solve the problem. It's understandable that when you see an event like this, you wonder whether something can be done about it. When an old guy plows into a farmer's market, theres a debate on how you can take licenses away from elderly people who maybe shouldn't have them.

The difficulty there is that you can test for the motor skills and visual acuity you need to drive, but you can't really test whether someone has the judgement and temperment to own a gun. You can certainly check to see whether they've committed crimes that would forfeit their right to have one, or test to see whether they can learn the correct answers to the test that's supposed to assess whether you can use a gun safely and know the applicable laws. But you'll never be able to test whether someone, maybe with a genetic prediposition to mental illness is going to go postal when his wife leaves him, or he loses his job, or any one of several traumatic events happens.
posted by electroboy at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll agree that I'm not -- but my not being able to identify any suggestions shouldn't prevent me from saying, "well, whatever system we're using NOW certainly seems to have a few problems", should it?

No, of course not. And to maybe address that a little, I think part of the frustration from folks hearing the (totally understandable) "well, they should do something" argument is that it can carry with it the implication that the sane folks interested in the legal firearm industry don't agree in a lot of ways, that they haven't themselves had that same conversation already.

Because political grandstanding (rarely a good source of framing for an issue, but at the same time easily the most visible for most folks) set aside, no gun dealer actually wants to sell a gun to a crazy violent person, and in general I think you'd see a lot of support for something that reliably and non-invasively made it possible to just detect-and-reject the rare lurking homicidal maniac while otherwise staying open for business as usual. The problem is that for the most part that's still a "...and then a miracle occurs" part of the equation.

It's not that it isn't a question worth asking and pursuing, it's just that it's not a new question and so folks who have already been immersed in the argument and actually agree, while being pro-gun or pro-legaltiy, on some of the fundamentals may tend toward exasperation by the inference (accurate or otherwise) that this is something their interlocuter thinks they haven't thought about before.
posted by cortex at 12:03 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And to maybe address that a little, I think part of the frustration from folks hearing the (totally understandable) "well, they should do something" argument is that it can carry with it the implication that the sane folks interested in the legal firearm industry don't agree in a lot of ways, that they haven't themselves had that same conversation already.

That's a fair point; although, for the record the "they" that I was thinking should "do something" was more the Vox Populi or our politicians. Gun manufacturers and gun vendors are for the most part caught in the middle, and I know that.

I apologize for being unclear when I said that "that gun vendor" should "possibly raise the bar" -- a more accurate statement would probably have been "that community should raise the bar" or "that state" or what have you. While it's all well and good to hope that your average business would be excrutiatingly careful and go above and beyond what they need to do and also donate to charity and play with puppies and whatever, in truth, businesses can only do so much, and I realize this; I completely respect a business owner's thinking, "okay -- what does the law say we have to do? Great. Can we do that? Great. Should we do more?....um, let's look into that down the road, when we have more time, right now I have to also see what's going on with the electricity in this place...."

So yeah, the "they" I keep hoping should "do something" is more "the government" (again, I keep coming back to there being some umbrella federal minimum that should be set, rather than -- as it looks to me -- a patchwork of wildly different standards state to state), and the Vox Populi/average yobbo voter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2009


This source claims 42 million American household have guns. The CDC's Injury and Mortality Database claims 11,264 firearm homicides for the same year as the study (2004). In the same year, there were 16,750 suicides in which the cause of death was a firearm.
posted by electroboy at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2009


I'll agree that I'm not -- but my not being able to identify any suggestions shouldn't prevent me from saying, "well, whatever system we're using NOW certainly seems to have a few problems", should it?

I'm sorry you're frustrated that I'm not suggesting anything, but I simply and sincerely don't have an answer myself. All I know is that from where I'm sitting, something seems to not be working somehow. I'm pointing at problems and asking "can we maybe do something about that?"


The problem is, the answer always comes back to "well, maybe, but what?" It's not like these things happen all the time; expecting any system to catch the incredible outliers is unrealistic. I mean, how come this guy wasn't committed? How come he wasn't fired from his job? How come he was able to get a gym membership? Society had a thousand chances to stop this guy, and they all failed, not just the gun policy. As far as anybody could tell, he was -- until the moment he pulled those guns out of his gym bag -- an acceptably normal guy.

To extend the fence metaphor a bit: this guy didn't crawl in through a hole in the fence around the pool. He walked right in through the gate with his pool pass, and then took a dump in the pool. On some level, we either don't have a pool (and good luck closing it!), or we assume that people who have a pass are OK; no amount of second-guessing is going to stop all of the people who are, by all accounts, decent folks on the outside.

We could make gun background checks take a month and a day, and I bet this guy would still have sailed on through. No one saw the problem here... and because it's impossible to expect society to see the problem every time, we have to draw the line somewhere, and accept some level of risk. IMHO, the line as we currently have it is pretty good; the vast majority of our guns and gun owners don't hurt anybody, and the vast majority of people who buy guns are willing to go through the background check process, thus optimizing government oversight. Plus, the states are free to make the process more (but not less) strict from there, so states with more of a gun violence problem can be more stringent about handgun sales.

But I can't help but notice that when people point to the number of gun-related deaths, no one comes in to say "yes, but that is X number of gun-related deaths out of Y number of guns, this is the percentage of risk...." Instead, the more likely defense is more likely to be "if we outlaw guns, then only criminals will have guns" or "gun control won't help" or any similar statement.

So -- if there ARE statistics that show that the number of gun deaths is comparitively against the number of gun users, why not START your defense with that? If there ARE no such statistics, why not?


heh, I posted precisely those statistics throughout this thread (though I can't blame you for missing them, since there are something like 500 posts!) See here, here, and here.

The upshot: there are more than 220 million guns in America, with around 65 million handguns, and they kill around 30,000 per year (over half of these are suicides) and injure another 70,000. Each year, there are around 2.4 million total deaths. Thus, around one tenth of one percent of our guns (and gun owners) harm anyone per year, and gun deaths come out to about 1% of the total deaths. They're nowhere even close to the top ten causes of death; all suicides (counting non-gun suicides) are #11, and all homicides (counting non-gun homicides) are #15.
posted by vorfeed at 12:20 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to make the gun debate clear, I think it's clear that banning guns reduces gun-related murders, yet the actual relation between gun control and murder in general is far less clear, with some research suggesting the the two are entirely orthogonal.
posted by scrutiny at 11:32 AM on August 5

posted by prak at 12:58 PM on August 7, 2009


They're nowhere even close to the top ten causes of death; all suicides (counting non-gun suicides) are #11, and all homicides (counting non-gun homicides) are #15.

Part of that is because once people get to a certain age they die of various illnesses at pretty high rates, even with huge advances in medicine we're not going to be able to prevent all of those kinds of deaths. Homicide and Suicide hit the top 5 for kids once they reach the 10-14 range, and stays at #2 and #3 (under #1, motor vehicle accidents) from teens to people in their late twenties.

Personally I think gun suicide is more of a solvable problem than gun homicide. Gun suicide accounts for over half of all gun deaths, over half of all suicides, and is over 90% effective as a suicide method. Even without talking about gun control, it would be nice if parents or spouses of potential suicide victims would think a little harder about whether or not keeping the most popular and effective kind of suicide device in their homes is a good idea, especially if they live with someone who has shown signs of depression.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2009


Part of that is because once people get to a certain age they die of various illnesses at pretty high rates, even with huge advances in medicine we're not going to be able to prevent all of those kinds of deaths. Homicide and Suicide hit the top 5 for kids once they reach the 10-14 range, and stays at #2 and #3 (under #1, motor vehicle accidents) from teens to people in their late twenties.

Well, yes, but part of that is because young people don't die of various illnesses at pretty high rates; the only thing left is freak illness and some sort of violent death. While tragic, it's not surprising that violent death is more common.

Personally I think gun suicide is more of a solvable problem than gun homicide.

Yeah, I agree. Then again, it's no surprise that this aspect of gun politics isn't better-discussed, because it's not as "OMG the guns will get you!!!" as homicide is... even though it happens more often. Unfortunately, we don't have a particularly honest social dialogue about suicide (or guns, for that matter).

And, again, nobody has found anything more than a slight correlation between gun ownership and the overall suicide rate. I think it's probable that we could decrease gun suicide by keeping guns away from potential suicides, but I'm not sure it'll prevent them from finding another method. Suicides do tend to be spur-of-the-moment, but it's not as if the average household doesn't have plenty of effective methods close at hand. Hanging is the second-most-common method among youths, can be undertaken almost anywhere with nothing more than one's own clothing, and tends to be nearly as effective as firearms...
posted by vorfeed at 1:28 PM on August 7, 2009


Did anybody see or save the source code for www.michaelsodini.com? It redirects now, and I heard that there was some additional stuff he hid in there. I've been studying the log for the past several days...it's sort of turned into a full blown research endeavor. Any additional info I can add to the analysis would be helpful to me. Thanks!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:39 PM on August 7, 2009


iamkimiam, the outcommented/hidden text on georgesodini.com/20090804.htm (page is currently up again) is a single passage at the very end of the source code:
<!--At the gym I saw a woman I like. I see her at the park and ride sometimes, so she isn't a stranger. Occationaly she makes good eye contact and smiles, etc. She is maybe 40ish, and attractive to me. I made brief conversation to her and a younger woman she was with today. To get a friend like her (and for night time action) I would cancel this plan, or put on hold, at least for a while.<BR>
-->
posted by Glee at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bob Herbert has a good op-ed about these murders in the NYT

We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:08 AM on August 8, 2009


The bizarre thing about this is that Sodini was really angry about being treated unfairly. He felt that he had checked off all the required items and was therefore entitled to female companionship, like applying for a driver's license or getting a permit to build a shed in your backyard.
posted by electroboy at 10:45 AM on August 8, 2009


The bizarre thing about this is that Sodini was really angry about being treated unfairly. He felt that he had checked off all the required items and was therefore entitled to female companionship, like applying for a driver's license or getting a permit to build a shed in your backyard.

The really bizarre thing, to me, is that this perspective is not all that "out there" in terms of the cross-section of people (men, in this case) that I have known personally. They don't turn into raving gun maniacs, certainly, but the general sense of "Hey I've followed the rules, it's really not fair that for some reason I can't find a person to care about me/sleep with me" indignation is not that unusual. How people deal with this feeling, of course, can totally vary but I've seen it here on AskMe not infrequently.
posted by jessamyn at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to offer this link: Greek Woman Allegedly Set Attacker's Genitals On Fire,

as an illustration of why self-defense for women isn't so straightforward, and why it would be risky for a woman to shoot a man who wasn't yet physically close enough to actually be assaulting her before he gets close enough to assault here, just because *she believes* he's about to assault her.

In this story, many people don't believe the woman that she was sexually assaulted. And even some who do suggested that she overreacted. And she's the only one facing criminal prosecution.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2009


If were looking at the social factors, gun culture, the appeal, all that, I think the stigma of seeking mental health help is a bigger factor here. If he went, saw a therapist, perhaps he would have gotten some insight and could have changed himself. Seems like a big problem was his estimation of self-worth, what he was entitled to and what is appropriate in interacting with others. Instead, he turned his anger and frustration outside. And this is the result.

Now, I can't really relate to this guy. But I do know anger. And I did feel some people trying to put shame on me for seeking mental health help. Towards the middle of my therapy I got enough flak - well intentioned or just misunderstanding or otherwise - from idiots who think 'shrinks' are for 'weak' people that when asked why I was going to therapy I would reply "So I don't kill you all."
Being a large, dangerous man helped in that instance. Or rather, got them to STFU without having to explain over and over and over that there's nothing wrong with getting some mental health help any more than if you've got a gigantic hemorrhoid on your ass and getting medical help with that. Or, more charitably, if you've got a heart condition.

But there were people who expected me to 'tough it out,' and some of them were fat idiots who enjoyed alcohol and cigarettes way too much and I would fantasize about them having a heart attack and me telling them to 'walk it off' instead of getting them to a doctor.

So that, I think, would be part of the problem. And for people without experience with firearms, and I'd have to count this guy among them, there is the constant barrage from hollywood and elsewhere that firearms are instant problem solvers. And anyone with any actual experience with them knows better.

"Maybe we're just full of crazier people that would, as gun advocates claim, get their guns illegally or kill people with knives, bombs, or cyanide instead. Somehow I doubt it. Many crimes are ones of convenience and opportunity,"

One could make the same argument about the drug war, which I also oppose. Most gun violence is initiated (I won't say 'caused') by clandestine business - drugs, prostitution, etc. etc. That is, there is a need for security in illicit transactions and that security need cannot be met by the police because of the nature of the business.
Organizations that can provide such security - whether they are an arm of some outfit like a gang or a syndicate or they are an organization unto themselves as the italian mafia was early on - eventually encroach on legitimate security.
So you have law-abiding shop owners getting extorted for protection money and so forth. And this appeals to some people, knowing folks in such organizations, thinking they will protect them, and so forth. Most people, mostly folks on the receiving end of the threats, don't like it.
But it's hard for the police to track down since there's no object evidence (you say the guy threatened you unless you hand over money, he says he was merely saying it's a dangerous neighborhood).
So too - perhaps it is a dangerous neighborhood and the police priority is for homicides, battery, etc. etc. and shopliftng, et.al. is not a high priority. So perhaps that shop owner thinks he needs a firearm.
The simple fact is, crazy people will kill with whatever is at hand. That is not as much as a social issue as security. Because you're extremely unlikely to die in a spree killing.
But the security issues - with or without private ownership of firearms - will affect you.
And the method the government chooses in policing will affect you as well.
As it sits - whole lot of cameras in the U.K. Loads of overcrowding, immigrant clashes, all that and budget problems for the police forces.
I would be astonished if there wasn't a massive growth in clandestine security organizations - especially without private ownership of firearms.

But again - the amount of time and effort put into policing and overseeing police activity as well as partnering with them would do far more to eliminate the need to rely on personal security and so would limit the influence of gangs, et.al. as well as lessen the need - percieved or real - to own a firearm.
That's the social reality.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The really bizarre thing, to me, is that this perspective is not all that "out there" in terms of the cross-section of people (men, in this case) that I have known personally.

Jessamyn, why do you find this "really bizarre"? These men completely believed our cultural propaganda about romantic relationships, and then they found out it was a lie (or, at the very least, not that simple). They must have missed the fine print, disclaimers, and codicils; the caveat that "your mileage may vary". Oh wait, there weren't any. If these men had had the truth explained to them at a sufficiently early age, they wouldn't feel this way. But nobody ever explains it.

Maybe most men "just know" how things really work. Or have it explained to them by older men (e.g., their older brother), or have been around girls and women from an early age and figured it out on their own, or whatever. But not everybody does. And it's not obvious.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:34 PM on August 8, 2009


Jessamyn, why do you find this "really bizarre"?

Just a personal thing, I think. It's the difference between these two statements

- "I'm not getting what I want and that makes me sad"
- "I'm not getting what I want and that makes me angry"

I, personally, have a bit of a fear reaction to hostile aggressive men. Not quite sure why that is, but it's in part informed by particular instances with hostile aggressive men in the past who would go through this sort of be friendly, be attentive, ask me out pattern and when I said no thanks (politely, I'm a polite person) would turn into these "Okay well FUCK YOU ANYWAYS" guys and occasionally become slightly menacing.

The sort of thinking behind this sort of interaction is alien to me, and so I think I find it both bizarre and fascinating. It's clear there's a frustration born from something that was really pretty much totally external to me but possibly linked to my gender and/or my relationship to that particular person. So when you are saying "found out it was a lie" above, I see what you mean, but at the same time the assumption that there's a Big Lie also assumes, to me, that someone is lying. And I'm not lying, I'm just a schnook like everyone else. So the aggression seems to me misplaced, and while that's the sort of thing therapy can help with (as people have noted) it's also a deep ingrained thing and somewhat woven in the the fabric of late stage capitalism and it always makes me think about it.

Most people I know are nothing like this, of course, and whenever we have these discussions on MeFi there are always a lot of people taking pains to explain how they are, in fact, nothing like this (and for that I am grateful) but I also know some of you and I know that some of you are maybe a little like this... and I always wonder, as a friend, as someone who cares, what can you do to start untangling that?
posted by jessamyn at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also - while I think misogyny is a problem, I think object orientation is a problem as well - big car, nice house, expensive watch, blah blah. I used to get laid all the time when I was single. Perhaps that had a lot to do with me being in shape, all that. But I knew guys from the gym who were better sculpted (I focused on strength training) and frankly better looking (I'm lantern jawed, not a pretty boy) and struck out all the time.
Well, gee, maybe 'cos I talked to girls like people, didn't treat them like notches on my bedpost and didn't take it personally if I got turned down, hell, even became friends because of common interests. How bizarre an approach Smedley! One might exclaim. Yeah. Weird huh.
Point being - these things are culturally linked and in ways deeper than gender.
So I reject Herbert's characterization - the combined ideologization and instrumentalization of male aggression in this manner isn't a helpful way to deal with mysogyny or with gun violence in our society.

Indeed it makes Sodini typical and in fact the only thing atypical about him, according to Herbert, is his candor in his personal blog about how he hates women. And ironically one of Gilligan's (the guy Herbert quotes from a past interview) - one of Gilligan's core points (in his book Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and its Causes) is that the media (and I'm paraphrasing here) shows most crimes as violent, most perpetrators of violent crime as male and most victims as female and that the criminals have to be caught, imprisoned, all that and Gilligan addresses that as a self-made myth.
That in fact - property crime is more common than violent crime, most violence isn't illegal - since it's caused by suicide, hazardous working conditions, substandard housing etc. and that poverty causes more deaths than anything else.
Gilligan also points out that- far from Herbert's characterization - men die from violence two to five times more often than women and both sexes kill men far more often than they kill women.

And Herbert's ham fisted attempt to extrapolate Sodini's perspectives on us all (males and to a lesser extent gun owners) completely mis-characterizes Gilligan's work - Gilligan actually places manhood NOT in contrast with feminism, but in terms of self-actualization - he says that most people who commit violent crimes feel powerless and unimportant and full of rage that they cannot express in any other way but by violence. They display no guilt or remorse, not because they don’t know right from wrong, but because they feel dead inside. That it is not simply sexual rejection that drives these men, but abuse they've suffered as children.
Gilligan argues that the brain damage and different types of epilepsy found so often in these violent criminals are not the cause of their violence, but rather the result of head injuries that accompany the kind of severe child abuse.
To further augment my point on mental health care - Gilligan says - the less empathy that is shown to them, the less they have for others and the more they are filled with hatred and feelings of revenge. Inside, these men feel deeply ashamed of being needy, helpless, frightened and inadequate, and they are often illiterate. When the need to be taken care of is too shameful to be admitted, violent behavior can provide a ticket to prison

Again, to be clear, I do think Herbert is correct that misogyny is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but to link cold blooded mass murder with sexual humiliation and male inadequacy and firearm ownership is irresponsible and far from addressing any of the real and valid problems on any of those topics can only elicit, at best, a denial (and refutation in argument *pat pat pat my own back*) and, at worst, an exacerbation of the problem. Someone could empathize with Sodini in being taken aback by Herbert's overheated statement.
Quite simply I am not at all "accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected." Indeed, I've killed men for that very thing.
Gosh, I wonder if it was because if felt inadequate. I wonder if I wasn't merely getting them out of the way so *I* could rape them, y'know, if I felt that, down deep, since I had a firearm. Hnh.(Helke Sander, my fan)

Either structural violence (poverty, unemployment, unsafe work, war, pollution, race and class inequality) is built into the system and we all suffer from it, or we buy into the idea that certain people and/or classes of people (whether based on gender, religion, profession, etc. etc.) are just evil and need to be punished, ostracized, whatever.

I simply don't buy the latter. And I think, although Herbert is saying 'we', he's saying 'you.' If we blame this guy, that's fine. He made his own choices. If we're going to open this up to a look at society, we cannot ignore the ways in which Sodini was a victim as well.
This does not mean I wouldn't have killed him the moment he pulled his weapon, nor does it mean I lament his death. But if misogyny is systemic, if "life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent" then we can't credit some unknown mass for benefiting while Sodini takes it all the blame as a scapegoat/symbol for Joe Male.
Why is mysogyny a problem? Men are just evil? I don't f'ing think so. I think its exactly what Gilligan points out - that people commit violent crimes because they feel powerless and have lost their identities, feel they have no place in society.
So far from casting blame, there needs to be more social support. Stigma needs to be removed from seeking that kind of help.
Hell, even churches can be some form of support. You see loads of ex-cons who have found Jesus because that is a socially acceptable form of seeking support and inclusion. (Although you do have people on metafilter arguing they're weak, deluded, etc. - I can't say I'm intellectually unsympathetic to that perspective, but hey, any port in a storm).

I mean ok, he felt inadequate, whatever - why? Well, I think Herbert touched on that and then promptly shitcanned it: "The mainstream culture is filled with the most gruesome forms of misogyny, and pornography is now a multibillion-dollar industry — much of it controlled by mainstream U.S. corporations."

I hate to boil it down to "who benefits" but doesn't look like Sodini got anything from it (and shouldn't), certainly his victims didn't get anything. We're all kicking each other in the respective form of gonads over gun control, so not much of a discussion out of it, who won?
No one? I dunno. Maybe some more advertisers got read. There was more circulation.
I suspect our politicians (pro-gun or pro-control) might get some more donations.
I'm not going to say "ah, the evil corporations" though that might be it too.

But I will say the one place that's probably not going to see another dime is mental health facilities and social outreach programs - as a result of this shooting. And that's what we should be thinking whether we're pro-gun, pro-control, pro-whatevertf.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


<>
-->


Does anyone here seriously believe that if he started dating this woman he would suddenly become a relaxed, secure, and more or less happy and satisfied individual? I'll tell you what he would have become, had he 'got a friend like her'. He'd be this guy, instead: the ex-boyfriend who was agressive, abusive, and insecure; the ex-boyfriend who raged and controlled; the ex-boyfriend was stalked; the ex-boyfriend with the restraining order. That's what would have happened, had he become involved with a woman. Sex and a relationship would have been no magical panacea for him; it would inevitably have made all of his issues worse.
posted by jokeefe at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whoops, I just tried to copy and paste the text from his source file, it obviously didn't work. This is what he wrote, and hid:

At the gym I saw a woman I like. I see her at the park and ride sometimes, so she isn't a stranger. Occationaly she makes good eye contact and smiles, etc. She is maybe 40ish, and attractive to me. I made brief conversation to her and a younger woman she was with today. To get a friend like her (and for night time action) I would cancel this plan, or put on hold, at least for a while.
posted by jokeefe at 3:06 PM on August 8, 2009


I, personally, have a bit of a fear reaction to hostile aggressive men.

I have a bit of a fear reaction to hostile aggressive men because, often, they (potentially) could physically break me in half.

I have a disgust reaction to hostile men who are hostile because their sense of entitlement is being somehow shortchanged, or because they feel a need to assert their 'power'.

I avoid both, these days.
posted by jokeefe at 3:11 PM on August 8, 2009


Jessamyn, before I go on with this, I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to be argumentative (or fighty) with you. I seem to have a talent for coming across as antagonistic, and many times I'm not sure why my writing is perceived that way, but I'm going to try hard to avoid it this time.

"I'm not getting what I want and that makes me sad[/angry]"

I know what you're getting at here. But I have to say that I think you're minimizing the man's feelings in this formulation. "Not getting what I want" is when I go to Toscanini's and they don't have Ginger Snap Molasses. It makes me sad and I feel annoyed. But in this situation I think it's more like "From every woman (or almost every woman) I've asked, I'm not getting what I want, i.e., that without which (I'm taught to feel that) I am a worthless loser and failure as a man. And that makes me feel baffled (because I don't understand what's so wrong with me) and frustrated, which makes me angry, and I'm angry at you because you're the latest in a long series of women who've (wrongly, I feel) rejected me."

Now, do I need to say that it is wrong for men to be hostile, aggressive, or menacing to women in this situation? Well, just in case anyone thinks I'm defending that, I say unequivocally that it is wrong. And just in case anyone imagines that I'm trying to defend what Sodini did, I say unequivocally that what he did was wrong, and I don't think "evil" is too strong a word for it.

And I'm not lying, I'm just a schnook like everyone else.

I know you're not lying. And I know you're just a schnook like everyone else. And any aggression toward you in those circumstances is definitely, objectively, misplaced. And without in any way trying to dilute those statements, here are a couple of (relatively minor) things to think about. I wouldn't be surprised if you've had the experience of rejecting a guy, and having him ask you to tell him, honestly, why you rejected him, what's wrong with him? Did you answer the question and tell him the truth? If not, you're not doing anything to help solve the problem. That's fine—it's not your responsibility to fix the problem (and I don't mean that ironically; it really isn't your responsibility). Regarding your being a schnook like everyone else, that's true (and perhaps obvious from your point of view). But from a guy's point of view, you're a schnook with a lot of power. Also, some guys tend to idealize the women they feel attracted to. Mostly the younger, less experienced guys.

and I always wonder, as a friend, as someone who cares, what can you do to start untangling that?

That question is worthy of its own thread. In the most general terms, men need to be disabused of the lies and half-truths they've absorbed and have the unvarnished truth explained to them in a way they can understand. This needs to happen at as early an age as possible (the earliest age at which they're mature enough to understand and accept it). But that's unlikely to happen.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:14 PM on August 8, 2009


Not to be contentious or controversial here, but could somebody please point out to me the parts of his log that lead you believe that he's a misogynist (i.e. that he hates women)? This is an honest question and I'm looking for examples/explanations from the log that support your perception that he is a misogynist.

(Yes, I am aware that he went into a fitness center and killed/injured several women. I do think his relationship and attitudes to women were seriously and extremely messed up. He was a very sick, disturbed man. But I'm getting a slightly different read on both the racism/misogyny stuff and I am looking for some other perspectives that address these things directly. Also, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time analyzing his log over the last several days (incl. a 6-page written summary/token-count of my findings), and I'm probably a bit too close to it at this point.)
posted by iamkimiam at 3:20 PM on August 8, 2009


Four comments in a row. Oh well. I just wanted to link to a possibly relevant event, one that Sodini performed Google searches on: the Ecole Polytechnique shootings, in Montreal.
posted by jokeefe at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"From every woman (or almost every woman) I've asked, I'm not getting what I want, i.e., that without which (I'm taught to feel that) I am a worthless loser and failure as a man. And that makes me feel baffled (because I don't understand what's so wrong with me) and frustrated, which makes me angry, and I'm angry at you because you're the latest in a long series of women who've (wrongly, I feel) rejected me."

And of course, as delineated here, the underlying problem is an inability to see women as individual human beings, but instead as representatives of that strange, amorphous mass of "women" that some men persist in treating as a kind of single species that can be caught and tamed using the proper lures and bait. It's grotesque to be treated this way, trust me.

(And just to forestall the point, I dislike equally the discourse of "the way men are" with all of its stereotypes and contempt.)
posted by jokeefe at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2009


Not to be contentious or controversial here, but could somebody please point out to me the parts of his log that lead you believe that he's a misogynist (i.e. that he hates women)?

Hatred = anger plus contempt, no? I think he showed ample evidence of both.
posted by jokeefe at 3:27 PM on August 8, 2009


Regarding your being a schnook like everyone else, that's true (and perhaps obvious from your point of view). But from a guy's point of view, you're a schnook with a lot of power. Also, some guys tend to idealize the women they feel attracted to. Mostly the younger, less experienced guys.

This is hardly exclusive to men. Women (particularly young women) also idealize men they are attracted to and feel rejected and powerless when they are turned down or dumped. Women also stand in awe of beauty and feel desire. It's a human thing, not a male thing.
posted by jokeefe at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If a man is having serious problems establishing romantic relationships with women, and he wants to reduce those problems, he needs to change. Some men may need to change a lot; it's more difficult for some than for others. And part of the necessary change is to be able to see women as individual human beings.

Also, jokeefe said "This is hardly exclusive to men". I agree. I just don't feel comfortable speaking for women.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:41 PM on August 8, 2009


electroboy: The bizarre thing about this is that Sodini was really angry about being treated unfairly. He felt that he had checked off all the required items and was therefore entitled to female companionship, like applying for a driver's license or getting a permit to build a shed in your backyard.

I found myself reaching for Susan Faludi's Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (1999) thinking about this disaster.

It's been years since I read Faludi's book, but going back through it I was nodding a lot. Masculinity without a compass in the "ornamental culture," reducing us all to consumers and display cases (p. 38–39):
In a culture of ornament, by contrast, manhood is defined by appearance, by youth and attractiveness, by money and aggression, by posture and swagger and "props," by the curled lip and petulant sulk and flexed biceps, by the glamour of the cover boy, and by the market-bartered "individuality" that sets one astronaut or athlete or gangster above another. These are the same traits that have long been designated as the essence of feminine vanity, the public face of the feminine as opposed to the private caring, maternal one. The aspects of this public "femininity"—objecticitifation, passivity, infantilization, pedestal-perching, and mirror-gazing—are the very ones that women have in modern times denounced as trivializing and humiliating qualities imposed on them by a misogynistic culture. No wonder men are in such agony. Not only are they losing the society they were once essential to, they are "gaining" the very world women so recently shucked off as demeaning and dehumanizing.

The old American male paradigm can offer no help to a man competing with ghostly, two-dimensional armies of superathletes, gangsta rappers, action heroes, and stand-up comedians on television. Navigating the ornamental realm, much less trying to derive a sense of manhood from it, has become a nightmare all the more horrible for being virtually unacknowledged as a problem. At the close of the century, men find themselves in an unfamiliar world where male worth is measured only by participation in a celebrity-driven consumer culture and awarded by lady luck. There is no passage to manhood in such a world. A man can only wait to be discovered.; and even if he lucks out, his "achievement" is fraught with gender confusion for its "feminine" implications of glamour and display.
I feel Sodini was trapped somewhere in there, desperately wanting "to be discovered." His sense of entitlement is apparent for sure, but I also see a lot of self-recrimination and guilt. In July 20, 2009, he writes
I have slept alone for over 20 years. Last time I slept all night with a girlfriend it was 1982. Proof I am a total malfunction. Girls and women don't even give me a second look ANYWHERE. There is something BLATANTLY wrong with me that NO goddam person will tell me what it is.
And this right after mentioning his promotion and raise. Like his notion of manhood and self has him stuck, hovering between blaming himself and the women who don't want him. To Sodoni, a man was someone who attracts and seduces beautiful, young women. He didn't and couldn't, so he was worthless. He obviously turned this into murderous anger towards women, but also towards himself.
posted by Glee at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Gilligan also points out that- far from Herbert's characterization - men die from violence two to five times more often than women and both sexes kill men far more often than they kill women.

But what are the numbers behind these conclusions? What stats does Gilligan cite? Are these regional, national or international numbers? If more men die from violence than women, under what conditions do they die? Are they killed unexpectedly but deliberately in an abusive incident perpetrated by their partner? Does their partner plan and carry out a murder? Do the men die in a random attack in their home or on the street? In a street fight? In prison? While committing violence on someone else?

I'm not setting this up as any way to excuse the murder of men who may have put themselves at additional risk through fights or other violent behaviour of their own. Murder is murder. But women in this society don't seem to die violently while acting violently at anywhere near the same rate that men do. I note that my assumption may be wrong. There may be stats to show that the average man, minding his own business, is two to five times more likely to die from violence than the average woman minding her own business. Or taking an aerobics class. Or maybe he is only slightly more likely to die violently under such conditions, or equally likely, or less likely. The statement you cite doesn't address this.

Sodini, the Montreal massacres at L'École Polytechnique, the 2006 murder of Amish schoolgirls: these kinds of mass murders are horrible but relatively rare, but I can't think of a single similar crime involving a woman targeting men or boys. Women -- rightly or wrongly -- fear death from random male violence, or violence from a trusted friend or partner, more than men fear random female violence, or violence from a trusted friend or partner. If our perceptions are out of wack, where are the numbers to convince us otherwise?

(I've requested Gilligan's book from my library -- it looks fascinating. From the reviews I've read, it seems to be largely about violent populations, as seen in prison populations, and about the roles shame and honour play in triggering male violence. But I'm not sure if he would find much to disagree with about Herbert's op-ed. I'd love to see his response.)
posted by maudlin at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2009


Not to be contentious or controversial here, but could somebody please point out to me the parts of his log that lead you believe that he's a misogynist (i.e. that he hates women)?

I think that's part of Herbert's point. Our society has such a disfunctional narrative towards women that a man could publish a many page screed calling all women whores, claiming that millions of women rejected him, blaming women for not teaching him why they won't have sex with him, in general treating women as a monolithic block of other, including going to classes designed to trick women into having sex with him, and planning and then executing mass murder specifically targeting women, and there still could be some question of whether this is truly misogyny or just "messed up attitudes towards women".

I'm not seeing your question, iamkimiam. How is this not misogyny? What would it have taken to make it misogyny? If it were just self-hatred, why didn't he just kill himself?
posted by hydropsyche at 6:53 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


hydropsyche: "I'm not seeing your question, iamkimiam. How is this not misogyny? What would it have taken to make it misogyny? If it were just self-hatred, why didn't he just kill himself?"

Thanks for your response hydropsyche; you've given me a lot to think about here. I think what I'm trying to say (but not entirely confident about) is that 'misogyny' is a bit too simplistic a term to describe what's going on with Sodini, and its not nearly the whole picture. It seems to me that the misogynistic attitudes and behavior are a symptom of something else, something bigger. Something that should, in my mind, be diagnosed as the main focus, with misogynistic behavior falling out of that. The media focus on misogyny misses the mark, and that is problematic I think for several reasons.

To me, it's similar to how I read his attitudes towards race. It'd be easy to read the opening paragraph and label him a racist for being a disturbed, angry white male that adopted a very badly done African American Vernacular English (AAVE) writing style, full of derogatory terms and references to slaves, etc. to make a point. But on closer examination, when I try to understand what he's doing with that style, what the words mean, and what they mean in context (especially with the Dec. 30th post)...I get something much different, bigger.

He creates a construct, an analogy where he and black men are placed on the same sides of an equation, wanting different things. In his mind, each thing the other can have easily and seems entitled to. He was making a parallel between the struggles of African-Americans in achieving socio-economic status, and his own struggles in getting the attention of women, which he viewed as a necessary part of validation as a man, giving him access to confidence and status. He expresses resentment at the ease in which (he believed) black men acquire the thing he desires (white women). He also expresses frustration what he sees as futile endeavors for both himself and black people in achieving these seemingly unrealizable things. His request to Obama that "Every black man should get a young white girl hoe to hone up on. Kinda a reverse indentured servitude thing" [Nov. 5, 2008], is a stylized exaggeration of this whole false analogy he has constructed.

This all fits into his major theme of balancing out the inequities, settling the injustices he perceives in the world, and why he was so intent on seeing the election results despite not 'giving a flying fcuk'.

So yes, he is ignorant and obviously severely disturbed. Possibly racist and misogynistic too, but I'm a little torn about what that means for us as a society if we focus on those last two as the underlying cause.*

Also, all that said, we can't solely rely on the log to make these assessments. The log is a carefully constructed representation of what he wishes us to see; it too is part of a much bigger picture. I appreciate that you (hydropsyche) and others have often reminded us of that larger context, especially taking it past the individual. There are things we can all do to help improve the social narrative, which can ultimately prevent these things from happening again.

*I'm not saying that you or anybody else is focusing on those things, but I do see lots of examples of those terms used as shorthand label for his specific pathology, which is still undiagnosed I believe. Something is bothering me about that referencing, and I'm trying to understand and work out what that is. Maybe focusing on words and labels in light of all this tragedy is a bit pedantic, but I see it as part of the social narrative work that may need some improvement, or at least some exploration.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:17 AM on August 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I actually agree with you about the analogy he's trying to make between himself and black men. I thought the accusations of racism in his tirade were sort of the least of his problems. I also agree that his webpage is designed to only present his point of view. And so you get this narrative of how everything goes right for everybody else and nothing goes well for him. And it includes othering of people who he can easily other, and thus he can compare his problems to the plight of a black man and blame them all on women.

He may well have even thought he was presenting himself in the best light possible--as a victim who for no fault of his own would never be happy because he would never have a woman. In doing so, though, he follows a very conventional narrative in US society in which women are both objects of desire and hatred, but are never ever people in their own right with their own desires.

I think the main thing that distinguishes his misogyny from the rest of his diatribe is that it is the one place that his obsessions seem to line up with an entire segment of our society. That and he chose to target women, not African-Americans, his brother and family, or the other men he so desperately wanted to impress.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:55 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But what are the numbers behind these conclusions? What stats does Gilligan cite?"

There are plenty of points that can be made on this topic, I'm not seeking to make one.
I'm simply refuting Herbert's characterization and use of Gilligan's work and showing the distortion he makes to serve his point. For me it's enough that it does not show what Herbert is trying to say, at least in the way he's put it.
The point in contrast being - random male violence harms males minding their business as much, and in fact far more, than it harms females minding their own business.
The focus there is on the violence and the randomness, for Gilligan's pov, not on the gender.
So while females do fear violence from males, it is far less targeted specifically at women - generally speaking - than Herbert tries to make it.
That is, random violence is random.
As to your points, they're ceded. I'm not even addressing that. But Herbert poses a scenario wherein we might be more appalled were Sodini's targets men since, as he insinuates, we're so accustomed to misogyny that we take violence to women as a matter of course.
Which is ridiculous.
Like saying we're blind to when white men are killed by black folks because we're so accustomed to black men being violent.
Silly, because the group most targeted by black males are other black males. And indeed it is this violence that we're blind to because of its ubiquity and commonality.

None of this to say that there is not misogyny or that violence stemming from it isn't a problem.
But I would argue misogyny is far more invisible, and far more dangerous, when it is not explosively violent - when it is in fact oppressive.
Which is in some sense what we do when we look at black men killing each other as well - the systemic violence is in that sense invisible and silent and only the explosively violent episodes - the guy shooting up some place - are seen. And the root causes remain unseen. And so, can perpetuate themselves.
Bit more insidious.
Hell, look at domestic violence. Our first thought is some guy beating his wife. But that would include children and female on male violence/emotional trauma, etc.
We see the man in the bushes doing the kidnapping, say, and lament that the media only covers it when it's a white girl.
And yet - familial abuse and abuse from people known by the victim goes unseen and that makes up the vast majority of abuse.
So yeah, I think Herbert is really distorting the point to make a fatuous connection to firearms as though it's some widespread social disorder on par with the man in the bushes whos going to steal your children and rape them.
Silly.
And, meantime, the root cause continues to go unaddressed.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:14 AM on August 11, 2009


Dan Savage weighs in.
posted by molecicco at 1:44 AM on August 12, 2009


The Last Psychiatrist weighs in.
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:57 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Large-scale homeless organization: the hot new...   |   Some new dance moves for next year's prom! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post