Monday, February 19, 2018


The latest massacre of innocents has stirred up a hitherto unseen anger. Thoughts and prayers were never enough, but Emma Gonzales put it in words

  • Nothing could have ever been done to prevent this                                     We call BS
  • Tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence                                          We call BS
  • They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun                        We call BS
  • They say guns are just tools like knives that are as dangerous as cars,         We call BS
  • They say that no laws could have prevented the 100s of
    senseless tragedies that have occurred                                                            We call BS
  • That us kids don't know what we are talking about that we are too
    young to understand how the government works.                                            We call BS
Eli went to school in the 1950s when every month you practiced ducking and covering under your desk in case an atomic bomb dropped, where just about every building had an air raid shelter  sign pointing to the basement.  Everybody knew this was useless.  We had all seen pictures of Hiroshima after the bomb dropped.  It was BS but the fantasy of survivability supported a complex of  illusionists like Herman Kahn and the Rand Corporation who made their living. A generation of kids was scared of every day.

Today we have a generation of kids who have grown up practicing active shooter training.  They go to school every day wondering if it will be their last.  The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have endured this all their days

Let Eli close with a story from Twitter, of a parent's discovery.  There should not be a parent in American who is not having such moments.
My 5th grader and I were conversing on the way to work/school this morning. As an educator, I wanted to be sure he and his classmates were taking the school safety drills seriously and not using it as a time to socialize and goof off.

Me: Have you guys practiced a lockdown drill in class yet?

Dez: Are you talking about an active shooter drill?

Me: Yes

Dez: Yes, we practiced it

Me: So tell me what you are suppose to do.

Dez: The teacher is suppose to shut and lock the door, put the black paper over the window on the door. Then myself and three other boys are suppose to push the table against the door.

After that all the class is going to stand behind us on the back wall.

Me: The class is suppose to stand behind who?

Dez: Me and the other 3 boys. We stand at the front and they get behind us.

*I internally went from 0 to 100 real quick. My child is one of only 2 black children in a class of 23. Being transparent, I immediately went to the "why is my black son being put on the front line?" (Just being real) So I asked before I verbally stated my thoughts*

Me: Why did you get picked to stand in front of everyone else if a shooter came in your school?

Dez: I didn't get picked. I volunteered to push the table and protect my friends

Me: 😯*immediate nausea * Dez why would you volunteer to do that?

Dez: If it came down to it I would rather be the one that died protecting my friends then have an entire class die and I be the only one that lived

Father God, it took everything out of me not to breakdown. I still have a lump in my throat. Ten damn years old and this has to be our babies thought process in America.


Fernando Leanme said...

I dont find that particularly dramatic. Maybe because I know Saudi Arabia is murdering Yemenis with USA provided weapons, and it doesn't even make the news. So I'm used to understanding that murder and senseless slaughter are part of life...if you bother to look around it's everywhere.

I think you guys need to stop being so emotional and treat this as a simple issue: USA law allows residents to own weapons, but it also allows the government to restrict which kind of weapon gets owned. You focus too much on appearance and reputation, but the focus should be to restrict availability of weapons which have excessive lethality. This means focusing on the rounds (the mass, the type of construction) and the round and barrel combination (which gives muzzle velocity and kinetic energy upon impact). Other items you should control are the firing rate (remember Las Vegas), the recoil (a weapon with less recoil is easier to fire, move to a different target, and fire again), the clip size, and the reload rate.

It's evident there's a lot of system inertia to keep things as they are, but I suspect it would be overcome if you stop the whining and crying and start protesting for real. A protest that blocks a highway with 2000 persons is much more effective than one with little signs in a park where you get interviewed by CNN repeating the same messages you've used for years, I think a majority would agree if the law is changed to control weapon lethality. You have the legal precedent, now you have to focus on those parameters I listed.

If you don't believe me ask a veteran from the special forces which items make a weapon easier to use to kill lots of people in a hurry. They probably know more than I do.

EliRabett said...


Jan Galkowski said...

Documenting references: Gun threats and self-defense gun use. There is also ``Guns and violent death to children'', and Private Guns, Public Health.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

I actually agree with a post by Fernando Leanme.

I have to go lie down.

Russell Seitz / Bright Water said...

Cue episode of South Park in which PC Principal demands kevlar table tops for every classroom .

Gingerbaker said...

This is not an easy problem to fix for the U.S. Since 1776, he rights of Americans to own firearms for their personal use has never been stronger. And the more popular a gun is, the more protection it receives. I doubt that banning AR-15 type rifles would pass Supreme Court review.

And AR-15's are not the real problem - most gun violence and murder is with pistols. And most of it is in certain zip codes - usually in poor neighborhoods. And most of it is drug and gang-related.

And there is another problem - essentially all guns and all gun owners never do anything untoward with their weapons. Serious about this, look at the math. There are a minimum of 350 million firearms in America. This figure must be very low, because it has been quoted for about ten years. But the firearm industry has been selling about 60 million additional weapons a year during that time. So, there are likely 700+ million firearms in the U.S.

Three out of 10 adults own a gun and another 11% live with someone who does. I'm guessing that means there are about 60 million gun owners in the U.S.

In 2013 there were about 11,000 murders by gun in the U.S. Even assuming they were all committed by different people, that makes the percentage of guns OR gun owners who participated in something untoward with their guns a rounding error to zero.

So, this is a difficult problem with a 2nd Amendment. And a much bigger problem with Republican majorities almost everywhere. Majorities which are bolstered by a whole lot of rednecks who vote for one reason - to keep Democrats from taking away their guns (as if they could even if they tried).

You can not pass reasonable gun control without Democratic majorities, And it will be almost impossible to do that if gun control is a campaign issue. Democrats would be wise to keep their powder dry on this issue I think.

John Garland said...

Like Bernard, I am hyperventilating and I need to run and get a paper bag to breathe into.

Jan Galkowski said...


I'm not going to attempt discussing the range of guns vs not or controls or background checks here, mostly because I don't have the numbers readily accessible and I've invested more than a fair share of my time doing blog comments this weekend. I will point out that, insofar as ``gun violence'' goes, I'm far more concerned about deaths-via-guns which are not classified as ``murders'', and, still, the resistance of the gun-owning public to take the least measures go help this.

The body of evidence, quoted in part above, concerns deaths and self-deaths inflicted by pre-teen children upon themselves and upon siblings, using guns were were supposedly locked, and weren't, because the owning parents felt that having the gun locked would impede their use of it for self-defense, or carelessness at disposition, or, in some cases, the children being able to figure out how to unlock the device. These are not murderers.

There could be much better locking devices. And there could be much more pervasive study of measures for containing gun violence seen as a public health matter. These are, at least with public funds and, as many know, presently prohibited. That is not to say there are not funds available through other sources.

There is plenty of evidence that with other high-risk devices, simply measures for improving public health have worked well in outcomes improvement, irrespective of the sociological complexities attending the devices.

It is also notable that Mr Wesson received a patent for a locking device in 1902. There are other technical measures which could be introduced to minimize accidental shootings, and self-harm.

I just don't see where and how these infringe on anyone's gun-toting rights.

Related to Eli's post, I understand the need, and serve as a marshall in that connection (and, of course, would never own or employ a weapon, if only on principle), but it is a travesty that in our church we now hold active shooter drills.

Harry Twinotter said...

Shugs. Americans have to decide what sort of country they want to live in. They do have the power, just vote accordingly and the pollies will soon come around.

My only observation is Americans pay a high price for their gun ownership freedoms. But they have decided to do so.

EliRabett said...

Jörg Zimmermann said...

I tried to get statistical numbers of gun related casualties in Germany. It was difficult, because it is a rare cause for death. In the year 2015 52 people died from attacks with guns, 6 from accidents with guns, however, 736 committed suicides using guns.

If I compare it with US numbers, I have to multiply by 4 (323 million versus 82 million people). A Germany the size of the USA would suffer more than 200 murders with guns per year. This compares to more than 13.000 murders by firearms in the USA 2015.

My son goes to school. We don’t expect that there ever happens anything dangerous, except the kids secretly eat way too much junk food after school before they come home. I don’t know anyone, who has a gun. However, statistics say, that more than 2% of Germans own one or more guns. That scares me a little bit, seldom though. Still I am more afraid of a car accident on my way to work.

Sorry, to have diverted. This Twitter story at the end of the blog post really moved me.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Americans pay a high price for allowing their elected officials to be bribed.

Sizable majorities of Americans want rational laws of all sorts, yet toadies of the rich keep getting elected.

By watering down what constitutes bribery all manner of scoundrels keep getting elected.

Jan Galkowski said...

@Jeffrey Davis,

While what you say may or may not be true, it is not particularly helpful. It's like friends who feel that reversing Citizens United is a step towards mitigating emissions for climate change. While reversing that decision might or might not be a good thing, recommending such an approach is completely unrealistic given the limited amount of time there is to do something.

So, per the comment of @Gingerbaker above, it is important to do first what can be done on the guns issue, and then widen the matter to the full public health impacts consideration. The key political problem is the untouchability of guns by regulations for whatever reasons that is, not only direct restrictions but, as I wrote above, even circumspect things like studying it at the CDC as a public health issue.

To the degree to which U.S. citizens support people in office who behave in the manner of supporting things, they get what they pay for, and deserve the consequences. As for the rest of us, perhaps recommending our children move to other countries might an option ....

snarkrates said...

Harry Twinotter said: "Shugs. Americans have to decide what sort of country they want to live in."

Well, they have to decide what kind of country they want to live in and then move there. The US is pretty much done. It was a nice ride while it lasted, but the current kleptocracy isn't going to leave much worth saving. If they get re-elected-- and since the current occupant of that big house on Penn Ave in DC will have the full backing of the GOP, they probably wil--then by 2024, we'll be Haiti with nukes.

bjchip said...

This problem is not the problem, it is a symptom.

The problem is not curable in the USA as currently constituted and it will not be. Move to another country? I already did. Franklin recommended revolution every 200 years, and he was a keen observer of the how human governments and societies work. The USA is going to have one, and it will not be Haiti with Nukes, the model is the former USSR - with Nukes.

Yet even THAT isn't solving the problem, it is simply another expression of the underlying problem for our society. That problem is best understood by first asking how truth and truthfulness are important to human society. Wrap your head around the facts:

1. Dunbar's number is a real limit for individual humans.
2. A large cohesive society is more likely to survive.

Overcoming the limitations of Dunbar's number requires communication and agreement about the real world, the problems facing the wider society and a socialization of every member of the society so that they can view the society as more important than their individual selves. The major religions put the faith ahead of the individual. They promote the society ahead of the individual, and these are the SURVIVING religions. They are major because the societies they are a part of survived longer than others. They all make it clear that self-interest is a bad foundation for a society and effectively make it clear that "Greed is BAD".

3. Greed is bad.

With that background we now look at the erosion of trust since the 1950's in the USA.
Vietnam, the middle-east, economists of the Chicago School. The protesters on the left who and the conservatives on the right, and it was a Democratic President (albeit from Texas) who separated the accounting process for the money and energy the USA spends on its wars, from reality. Then we had Watergate and had our noses rubbed in the fact that honesty was NOT a value our leaders shared with the Boy Scouts.

Mistrust but we still had the fairness doctrine. The news was checked and everyone had a rudimentary basic agreement on facts. The neoliberals and "Greed is Good" economists of the Reagan era fixed that by removing the “fairness doctrine” with no replacement. Trust is gone The free market applies to the truth too. It is more important to have news to sell than truth to tell. The market for news seriously divided left and right, as the country did. The news became entertainment. Truth became harder to discover.

That's the problem. Truthfulness is not valued or socialized into us, and has not been for a long time. So we are UNABLE to communicate with each other.

The "echo chambers" formed. See and hear only news that agreed with your ideology? Perfect! With the internet anyone can broadcast anything, and there is an audience for it and money to be had from advertisers to that particular audience.

The echo chambers are now armor-plated bubbles. The USA is a "Confederation" but it isn't on state lines but ideological boundaries that it is shaped. Its unity is failing fast and nobody can be sure of the truth.

The language we use to describe the world is starting to fracture along ideological boundaries and there is little hope that the society can sustain itself when the shared communication that is basic to human civilization has broken down.

Facts aren’t debatable. We can't give any censor the right to tell us what we cannot say but the cure for bad speech is more speech. If someone claims that a crime ring in the basement of a Pizza Parlor then facts (the building in question HAS NO BASEMENT) have to be published in the same place. Echo chambers CANNOT be tolerated in a free society. Truth HAS to be valued for our society to survive.

They don't solve the Gun problem in the short run.

This however, might help a little -

dhogaza said...

"I doubt that banning AR-15 type rifles would pass Supreme Court review."

Actually, that's not true. Heller 2009 made the possession of handguns a constitutionally guaranteed individual right, but didn't state that any 'ole weapon is a guaranteed personal right.

Currently, eight states of assault weapon bans with somewhat varying definitions. All, though, encompass the AR-15 and similar weapons.

Thus far, the Court has resisted appeals attempting to broaden Heller 2009, and Scalia (who wrote the majority decision for that case) is no longer on the court.

So, no, it's not at all clear that SCOTUS will do so, and thus far, since they haven't, I'd say the odds lie in the direction of their not doing so. Unless Trump has the opportunity to appoint another Gorsuch due to a center or center left justice retiring or dying.

Jan Galkowski said...

Oh, I am frustrated, because a lot of this discussion is pure deflection, nothing more.

Facts are, there are technologies available, which are difficult to defeat, and detectable if defeated, which can guarantee that the only user of a gun is the authorized owner of a gun. While I am not a gun owner, nor would I be, I understand that people want guns for hunting, whether game or humans ("in self defense"). Still, public safety and public health seem adequate justifications for imposing technological controls, backed up by legal measures for incriminating those who try to defeat those controls.

Guns should be available to those who want them, for legal purposes, but the rest of us should have the right to know who they are, and the authorities we assign with responsibility should have the right to intervene when public safety is threatened.

And the rest of the "self defense against tyranny" is nonsense, not supported by the Constitution, although one could cobble together some legal theory along those lines from circumstantial historical evidence, I admit.

Americans are not exceptional, no matter what they think. To the degree they do, quality of living here is worse than in the rest of the world, despite the audacious earnings per capita we so champion. Try to attract the Best And The Brightest in the world with that!

davidp said...

Australia only got our good gun control regime when a conservative government decided to do it. Otherwise conservatives will oppose and then reverse it.

Jeffrey Davis said...

@Jan Galkowski

If we want laws -- public action -- to deal with these kinds of problems we've got to remove the financial incentive for elected officials to act against the public's wishes. Waiting for these people to act for the public benefit isn't going to be faster than removing those incentives because they aren't ever going to do it on their own.

We should do whatever else we can, but the idea that we can make progress without government involvement, I think is fanciful. Here in Kentucky, for example, the governor is pushing against renewable energies. While at the federal level, we've got an EPA director tearing down the EPA.

Gingerbaker said...

""I doubt that banning AR-15 type rifles would pass Supreme Court review."

Actually, that's not true.

Certainly, it's true. It's my opinion. But my opinion could be wrong. :)

"Heller 2009 made the possession of handguns a constitutionally guaranteed individual right, but didn't state that any 'ole weapon is a guaranteed personal right."

That's because Heller was about handguns.

One of the three latest SC decisions (I don't recall which one) did talk about what guns are more protected. Guns for personal protection are given favor. One might argue that the so-called assault rifles fit this bill, because they are compact. Another factor is the popularity of the weapon with the public. More popular weapons have more protection. And the so-called assault rifles are VERY popular - more than 15 million of them owned in the U.S.

"Currently, eight states of assault weapon bans with somewhat varying definitions. All, though, encompass the AR-15 and similar weapons."

If these bans have survived SC constitutionality challenge, then the case is closed and I am wrong. But, if not, then not.