I'm sure this is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution:
George Zimmerman had five guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition with him when deputies arrested him earlier this month on domestic violence charges, according to court documents released Tuesday.
A search warrant made public by the Seminole County court clerk shows that Zimmerman had a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns when he was arrested Nov. 18 at his girlfriend's house.
I know Zimmerman believes his life is in danger, but what scenario does he imagine when he stocks this arsenal? Does he believe he'll be fending off a zombie horde at some point? Does he think he's going to be trapped in a Los Angeles office building with a small army of terrorists? What could he possibly be preparing for?
Some of the results of the 11-month-long investigation into the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were released yesterday. They outlined—in broad strokes, with a few horrific, unexpected, strange details—what happened inside the school and what had been happening inside the Lanza home.
The information that was released brought up questions, some new (should Adam Lanza's mother been more concerned about his behavior? Yes.) and some old (does the media's coverage of such shootings encourage others to commit similar acts via a "contagion effect"? Probably not). And there are, I don't know, however many other issues that you want (or don't want) to think about, most of them probably regarding how everything is fucking terrible. "The obvious question that remains is: Why did the shooter murder 27 people, including 20 children?" the official report says. "Unfortunately that question may never be answered."
But here's what we do know: For a brief time following Sandy Hook, the horrific deaths of so many people—most of them kindergartners—spurred a debate on gun control as urgent and as heated as any we've ever had. For a moment there—from Obama's eulogy, to Biden's stumping, to the NRA trying to arm teachers, to hell, even good old Gun Appreciation Day—people were actually, if clumsily, acknowledging the remarkable symbolic and physical power of America's weapons, not to mention Americans' throbbing, rock-hard love for their weapons.
Then, you know, shit happened. A meteor exploded over Russia. Catholics got a new pope. The Boston Marathon was bombed. Edward Snowden told every person on the planet that the NSA was reading their email. Egypt had a goddamn coup. Obamacare. Typhoon Haiyan. Everybody got real concerned about Syria, but only for a week or so. Because everything else happened, too: Work. Going to the supermarket. Doing laundry. Not getting enough sleep. Breaking Bad. Traffic. Getting sick. Boring, day-to-day shit. And whatever angry, awkward conversation that America was starting to have about gun control got pushed further and further to the margins. Until it disappeared. And here we are, 11 months later, reading about Adam Lanza's love of Dance Dance Revolution.
According to the Washington Post, that makes it "the worst loss of life in a single incident within the District of Columbia since an airliner plunged into the Potomac River in 1982, killing 78." (The Pentagon, where 189 people died on September 11, 2001, is not in D.C. but in Arlington.) D.C.'s mayor says there's "no known motive" as of yet.
The votes were counted last night, and:
Two Colorado Democrats who provided crucial support for a package of state gun laws were voted out of office on Tuesday in special elections seen as a test of whether swing-state voters would accept gun restrictions after mass shootings at a Colorado movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.
Cost to the National Rifle Association to make this happen: $362,000.
George Zimmerman is being held by police after a domestic incident involving a gun, police said today.
There's not much more information than that right now, but here's a tweet from AP editor Will Lester:
State by state data has long shown a strong correlation between rates of gun ownership and rates of suicide, but whether there is a causal relationship, well, that has been harder to discern. A variety of factors influence suicide rates, including poverty, population density, and crime. For example, I'd probably kill myself were I forced to live in Wyoming, even if the state didn't rank tops in gun prevalence.
But now a new study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concludes that, controlling for other factors, the strongest predictor of how likely a person is to die from suicide within a given state, is in fact, whether they have a gun in the home:
[S]uicide attempt rates were not significantly related to gun ownership levels. These findings suggest that firearm ownership rates, independent of underlying rates of suicidal behavior, largely determine variations in suicide mortality across the 50 states. Our results support the hypothesis that firearms in the home impose suicide risk above and beyond the baseline risk and help explain why, year after year, several thousand more Americans die by suicide in states with higher than average household firearm ownership compared with states with lower than average firearm ownership.
The full text of the paper is behind a firewall, but you can hear an interview with Dr. Matthew Miller, its lead author, on this week's edition of Science Friday. Dr. Miller makes the point that rates of suicide mortality are not much related to rates of major depression, rates of substance abuse, or even rates of suicide attempts. Statistically, the impulsive and fleeting nature of suicide—a quarter of all attempts occur within five minutes of the initial impulse, about half within the first 20 minutes—combines with the lethality of guns to overwhelm all other factors.
To be clear, easy access to firearms within the home does not increase one's risk of attempting suicide, the study found. It merely increases one's risk of succeeding. Dramatically. Victims who attempt suicide using pills or cutting are 100 times more likely to survive, says Miller, whereas "you don't get a second chance when you use a gun."
And since less than ten percent of suicide survivors go on to make a second attempt, it is easy access to firearms within the home, at that fleeting moment of impulse, that ends up having the single largest impact on suicide mortality rates.
Three things to learn from this video:
1) Guns always end up in the hands of people who don't know how to use them. This fact is as reliable as gravity.
2) If you're going to use a videocamera, learn how to operate it first.
3) When you're naming your YouTube videos, watch out for superfluous apostrophes. Seriously, there oughta be a law.
Heidi Yewman fulfilled the bare minimum requirements for gun ownership in America. She didn't take any training or safety classes, because she wasn't legally required to take them. Then she walked around with that gun for a month and wrote about her experiences. I grant you that this is a very gimmicky concept for an article, but it feels as though Yewman got at some truth in the piece. I especially think this paragraph is insightful:
I thought the gun would make me feel more powerful, more confident, and less fearful. I was wrong. All I felt was fear. Physically taking the gun out of the safe and putting it in a holster on my hip literally reminded me that I was going out into a big bad scary unsafe world. There were days when I put the gun back in the safe and stayed home because it simply took too much energy to be scared. It was easier to be at home without the worry and responsibility of being “the good guy with the gun.” My awareness of looming tragedy was abundant. If I had to pull the trigger, my life, the person I shot, both of our families, and all who witnessed it would be changed forever.
The few times I've held a gun, the world suddenly became a video game, or a movie. It adds a hyperactive drama to life that I don't believe to be very healthy, one in which you could at any moment become the hero (or villain) of a perilous situation. Everyone is a potential attacker, every moment could bring with it a tragic accident. Everything is something to fear. It's no way to live.
What better way to celebrate our nation's birth than through the exercise of our 2nd Amendment rights?
A 7-year-old boy was seriously wounded Thursday at a Fourth of July celebration in Virginia after someone evidently fired a gun in the air.
Police said that the boy was walking with his father near Swift Creek Reservoir in Chesterfield County, Va., where spectators had gathered for a fireworks display, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The boy suddenly fell to the ground and began bleeding from the top of his head, an accident that police said was "a result of someone shooting randomly into the air, likely from a distance, and not an intentional act."
It was an "accident." Oh. Well then. Never mind.
A woman has been arrested in connection with the letters containing Ricin that were mailed to President Obama and NYC Mayor Bloomberg on Wednesday, May 29—aaaaaand you've probably seen her on TV!
Shannon Rogers Guess Richardson of New Boston, Texas, originally called the Federal Bureau of Investigation claiming that her husband had sent the letters, officials said. The investigators found that she had sent the letters herself, they said.
Richardson is an actress with minor roles on television shows like The Walking Dead and the Vampire Diaries, and was arrested in Arkansas on charges that will be filed Friday afternoon, the authorities said.
Oh, and here's what one of the letters said:
“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns,” the message sent to Bloomberg read, according to NBC New York, which obtained a copy of the letter. “Anyone who wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die.”
OH! And fun fact: According to her IMDB page, she also played a "crazed customer" in an American Deli commercial. HUH. THAT'S WEIRD.
It should be easy to tell fatal shotgun rounds from the "less-lethal" (though still incredibly painful) beanbag rounds cops use to incapacitate arrestees. The "live" round shells are bright red. The beanbags' shells are described as a "milky white."
But as Portland City Council this morning OKd a hefty settlement to a young man mistakenly shot with live ammo, Commissioner Amanda Fritz posed an interesting question: Does Portland test its officers for color blindness?
"I think we should be looking at every single factor," Fritz said.
Deputy City Attorney Jim Rice said he'd check into the matter. Portland Police Spokesman Pete Simpson wasn’t immediately sure. Turns out: Police recruits are tested before employment, and disqualified if they’re found to be color blind.
So the condition played no part in the dangerous errors of Officer Dane Reister— who in June 2011 mistakenly believed he was firing beanbag rounds at William Kyle Monroe, a man suffering a manic incident in a Portland park.
The difference between a red shotgun shell and a whitish-gray shotgun shell, in this instance, cost the city a great deal of embarrassment and a record amount of settlement money. Council this morning approved spending $965,000, the city's portion of the $2.3 million settlement Monroe will receive. The rest of that money will be paid through insurance.
"This had never occurred before," said Rice, who searched around for examples of similar mix-ups nationally. "I think it was a first-time instance."
The city has already taken lessons from the incident. It now prohibits officers from carrying both live and less-lethal rounds on their person, Rice said. Reister, who fired at Monroe five times causing permanent injury, faces possible criminal conviction in the case, and is on paid leave.
A Walt Disney World park guest found a loaded gun in the seat of a ride at the Animal Kingdom that had fallen out of a man's back pocket on Sunday.
A grandmother handed a Cobra .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol about noon to a park attendant, who immediately contacted security and the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
A young boy said, "My grandma found it in her seat," the report stated.
The owner, Angelo Lista, 44, of Royal Palm Beach claimed the firearm — which had five hollow point bullets inside — fell out of his back pocket during the bumpy Dinosaur ride, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report.
But don't you worry, because Lista had a valid Florida concealed weapons permit, so he was no doubt well trained in what to do when a hollow-point-bullet-loaded handgun falls out of your back pocket on a bumpy Dinosaur ride. That said, Lista did end up paying a heavy price for violating Disney's no gun policy: He was asked to leave. Harsh.
The police say that Elliot Morales, 33, trailed and taunted two men, yelling antigay slurs and asking one of them, “You want to die tonight?”
The police say it was the other man, Mark Carson, 32, who died after Mr. Morales fired a single bullet from a revolver.
On Sunday, the police filed murder and weapons charges against Mr. Morales, and several lesbian and gay groups made plans for a march on Monday to the scene of the shooting.
According to The New York Times, Morales's sister says "he was under the influence" on Friday. According to police, in addition to the revolver, a Serbian-made assault weapon was found in the home Morales had been staying in.
This one has been getting run over by the Information Superhighway for a day or two now, but I could not let the tasty schadenfreude disappear into the ether. In an effort to promote Iron Man 3, which clearly does not need additional promotion, managers at Goodrich Capital 8 Theatres in Jefferson City, invited actors who "appeared at the theater in the Missouri state capital during the weekend opening of Iron Man 3 dressed as officers and one as Iron Man." Another actor was dressed in "all-dark clothes" and carrying "what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side."
Officers thought they were responding to a real shooter when they received multiple 911 calls. Later the theater would issue an apology:
We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns. We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department. Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority.
Good job, everybody!
I saw David Letterman's "Stooge of the Night" segment for the first time last night. (Apologies if I'm late to the party on this; according to NewsBusters—"Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias"—he's been at it for a while.) It's remarkable, and it reminds me why I've always liked Letterman so much. It's also ballsy and goofy and painfully uncomfortable and 100 percent necessary. I have to imagine the people at the Late Show are getting no end of shit for doing this. I hope like hell they keep it up.
The National Rifle Association (NRA)’s overtures to children have come under fire after its annual conference last week, which advertised weapons for children and advocated storing firearms in kids’ rooms just on the heels of the fatal shooting of a two year old by her five year old brother. A ThinkProgress review of the NRA children’s magazine, InSights, found another piece of disturbing advice: kids should build target ranges inside their homes.
Build a target range in your home today, kid. Because at some point you're going to run out of siblings.
Bear that in mind while you read this from the April newsletter of the Republican Party of Benton County:
We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us [know] that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line.
So... according to the Republican Party in Benton County, Arkansas... supporters of background checks should shoot the U.S. senators who blocked background checks. Those senators have stopped responding as representatives—they're blocking the clear will of the overwhelming majority of American people. And if we don't shoot those U.S. senators who blocked background checks, well, then the 2nd Amendment means nothing! So to protect the 2nd Amendment those of us who don't support the 2nd Amendment are going to have to shoot those U.S. senators who do support the 2nd Amendment. It makes perfect sense. (Via Political Wire.)
The US Senate today put down—in a bipartisan filibuster—a watered-down compromise on expanded background checks for gun purchases. President Barack Obama, responding to the news today, dropped his usual professorial act. In a blistering 13-minute speech, flanked by families touched by gun violence, he accused the gun lobby of "willfully" lying about the bill and nay-saying senators of bowing to cowardice amid fears that a "vocal minority of gun owners" would come after them during the next election.
He also smacked back at conservative outlets who didn't like that families who know the pain of death were lending their voices to the debate, suggesting the president was resorting to "emotional blackmail."
"Do they really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have the right to weigh in?"
It's powerful stuff. Watch it all. And Mr. President (because I know you read Blogtown)? More of this please.
Irony is sometimes reality... suicide by gun in infield of NRA 500 NASCAR race.
No, wait. They don't:
Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer. Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.
• For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
• 43% of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.
• In one experiment, one third of 8-to-12-year-old boys who found a handgun pulled the trigger.
I wish Harry Reid felt the same way about the fucking filibuster.
In other gun news: a four-year-old boy shot a six-year-old in the head with a rifle yesterday. It was the same day that a four-year-old shot and killed a 48-year-old woman. If the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun, per the NRA, is a good man with a gun... um... then how does the NRA propose to stop four year olds with guns?
Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to speak about the importance of gun control. It's a good speech, reminiscent of Obama's State of the Union address from earlier this year, when he called for a simple up-or-down vote for the families of Newtown victims. During the speech, Obama urges Americans to call their representatives and demand a vote. Here's the whole thing:
You're probably living an MKTG life too since you're reading the Merc (on the tubes, no less) so you probably won't know the answers to these questions either. But could you do me a favor? Next time you meet somebody who is passionately anti-gun control but not pro-crazy, can you ask them these questions and report back? I'm really curious.
1] Why is this your issue? How is this the thing that gets you excited about the political process? The government is prosecuting people for Google searches, but you're only concerned about your liberty when you can't buy war machines? Do you get as passionate about violations of the 1st amendment as the 2nd? How about that pesky 15th?
2] Why do you think you're going to survive the nuclear apocalypse? In the unlikely event that civilized society crumbles because of a series of nuclear bombs killing 99.9% of Americans, why do you assume you're going come out unscathed and ready to start having pistol duels with other survivors? Are you nuke proof? Why are you not sharing your cockroach-like skills with the rest of the country?
3] Has anybody ever successfully defended their family with a gun? Like ever? No, I don't mean defended himself from his girlfriend in the bathroom or defended his garage from his girlfriend's unarmed husband or defended his neighborhood when it was under siege from a kid with some Skittles or... or... or... I mean, has anybody ever had a violent attacker enter their home and because of some quick draw action and precise shooting prevented his family from being harmed? It's got to have happened at least once, right?
4] When you talk about how you're worried about slippery slopes, do you understand the metaphor you're using? The thing with a slippery slope is if you start down it, it's hard to stop yourself. But laws don't work that way. It's not like if we passed a magazine limit, other gun laws would just start passing themselves. I heard a senator say "If we pass this now, what's going to happen next time?" I don't know. Maybe you'll vote "no" on that one? Doesn't sound very slippery to me. Sounds like a slope with grippy stairs and a handrail so people can decide how far to climb down it.
5] Is it weird to always be the most passionate about something after it's been used to murder children? Guns are only debated in the wake of tragedy which puts pro-gunners in the awkward position of saying "Let's not blame these murder weapons." That's gotta be weird, right? It seems weird.
I mostly think of guns like trampolines: they're lots of fun and if you have one around your house your kid might kill himself with it. I think trampolines should be legal. But if somebody made it their life's work to keep governments from limiting trampoline rights or secretly passed laws making it illegal to study the safety of trampolines, they'd seem kinda creepy.
And yet, I'm very persuadable. If you could answer my questions or pass them off to somebody who could, I'd appreciate it a great deal.
Guns don't kill people? Umm... yes, they do. But would you like to know what really doesn't kill people? THUMBS! Especially thumbs that are UP! On the hilarious site "Thumbs & Ammo," participants erase the guns from classic movie and TV stills, and show the characters expressing a far more positive attitude! Thumbs UP, gun control laws!
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