Tag Archives: Gun violence

How many gun dead does it take?

The Florida Shooter – Esteban Santiago

The Florida Shooter – Esteban Santiago

When you can’t use your mind, you may only act physically.

Guns empower true physical violence, wielded at a distance from the human target, who is unarmed, unsuspecting, innocent, a truly one-sided “fight,” with surprise on the side of the assailant, that reduces his risk of harm.

Guns are easy to get in America no matter how little you know about handling weapons, no matter how unhealthy mentally you may be.

A troubled Iraq vet, Esteban Santiago, 26, upon his return stateside, according to his Aunt, lost his mind in the mid-east and was hospitalized.

Last November, Estaban told the Anchorage FBI that there was a CIA plot against him, and related a tale of paranoia that would be hard to imagine.

Esteban surrendered an ammunition clip to the FBI.  The FBI confiscated his gun.  Esteban was admitted to a hospital.  Shortly afterwards, he was released from the hospital, his gun returned, and Esteban flew from Alaska to Florida, to kill five people with the very same gun the FBI returned to Esteban. Continue reading

Now Dallas

In protest of the Minnesota shooting of Philando Castile

In protest of the Minnesota shooting of Philando Castile

The rule of law is ignored.

Cops kill with impunity based seemingly, given the stats, on the race of the victim.

The system shuffles the shooting cop off stage, hides his identity, misplaces the dash board camera footage, gives us a bs song and dance that doesn’t fly, for, after all, to give one recent example, how can you justify killing a black man, Philando Castile, in Minnesota for having a busted tail light?

If Castile had been arrested for anything, had he not been killed, or if any one of us were arrested, the police would circulate a sorrowful mug shot, showing us off to severe disadvantage, and whisper “on background” to some journalist or other a brief slanderous history.

But the Castile cop is on administrative leave, traveling under the radar.

What we can expect, following Castile’s death, is that they’ll clear the officer 6 or more months later – after a “full and fair” investigation – behind closed doors – and announce the results when most have moved on to another tragic public incident.

The law fails when it lacks force and suffers from favor. Continue reading

The nation’s untreated wound

Terrorist_nation_gunsThe nation suffers an open wound that we refuse to treat even after the worst mass shooting in American history.

In Orlando, a semi-automatic assault rifle, in the hands of a soulless assassin, hurled 20 deathly shots every 9 seconds, ripping the flesh and organs of the young and defenseless with the fury and power one could hardly resist.

Innocent young men and women who tried to hide couldn’t.

In the moments before the rain of fire, they were unsuspecting, happy, having fun, dancing at a club about to close in the early morning hours, and, what sounded like fire crackers, as they couldn’t know better, was gunfire; those who were not close to an exit to escape, were stranded, shot at will, as they cowered, and, in the end, 49 would die, and another 53 would be injured or left fighting to live.

Those who ran and escaped were torn, felt guilty, for those they left behind.

This place of unholy devastation was encircled by a community of compassion while the killer continued to hunt those trapped inside.

A Mother traded anxious texts with her son, hiding inside, waiting for the police, hoping to be reunited with his Mom, until the moment he texted, “I’m gonna die.” And he did. Continue reading

Ban guns

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, reviewing amendments to deal with Columbine, with her Special Counsel, John Flannery.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, reviewing amendments to deal with Columbine, with her Special Counsel, John Flannery.

Once again, the hand wringing commences in Virginia and across the nation.

Guns again destroyed a network of family, friends, of co-workers, and, in a city, Roanoke, where the victims were known and loved; indeed, many watched them killed on tv in real time.

Before the camera, a young popular reporter, Allison Parker, 24, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, were shot dead; the shooter filmed the murders as well, and posted the carnage he created on line.

These deaths by gunfire will shortly be regarded as indifferently as the 20 children who were killed in Newton, Connecticut, those children killed at Columbine in Colorado, and those students killed at Virginia Tech.

Our nation’s sense of morality and of conscience has grown weak to the point of complicity in these murders for our failure to act to stem the flood of weapons that make any one that we care about more at risk every day.

Our elected “leaders” cower before the “new” NRA, a cultish front group for the firearms industry leaders who sit on its Board and who help fund the organization. Politicians fear that they will lose the approaching election without the NRA’s political support if they dare to think to say or do anything that might control gun violence in America. Continue reading

Tywanza!

tywanza“You don’t have to do this,” said Tywanza Sanders, 26.

That’s what Tywanza said in a Charleston, South Carolina Church.

A 21-year-old man, Dylann Roof, holding a gun, didn’t believe that.

Looking at Tywanza, a black man, standing before him in a church at a Bible study meeting, Dylann said, it was a “fact” that “black men are raping our women and taking over the country.”

The rich residue of bigotry and violence, accumulated over the history of our young country, makes for a deathly brew.

It began with rivulets, formed into rivers, a soulless flood, coursing through our nation’s veins, its institutions, and the minds and hearts of America.

Early vestiges of its source occurred when founding fathers failed to condemn slavery in our Declaration of Independence.

When we wrote our Constitution, we embraced slavery, making men chattels and partial persons.

Even now when discrimination is outlawed, it is still widely practiced, with a wink and a nod, and finds ease and comfort in the oleaginous political rhetoric of our most unworthy leaders. Continue reading

Kill Shot

Christian Sierra – killed by the Police

Christian Sierra – killed by the Police

It looks like it’s a big mistake to ask the police for help – when you consider that a Police Officer reportedly pumped four deathly slugs into the chest of a 17-year old Loudoun Valley High School Student, Christian Alberto Sierra, who had threatened to kill himself.

Friends of Christian called the police, dialed “911” for help, trusting that the police would do everything in their power to save Christian.

Instead, the responding police officer killed Christian at or about 2:12 pm on May 24, 2014, claiming afterwards, by official spokespersons, that the shooting was justified because Christian was armed with a knife and lunging toward the officer on a public street.

What in the world did the officer do to prepare to encounter this suicidal young man?

Christian apparently had already cut himself and was in high distress.

Christian’s mother, Sandra, said he had not “lunged” at anyone, he was running that way.

Christian’s father, Eduardo, said, “They got a phone call for a suicide case, and they came to finish the job.”

Civilian suspects are disclosed publicly as “persons of interest” and even their pictures are published.

But a stonewalling standard that refuses to disclose anything is the rule when the “suspect” is an “officer.” Continue reading

The Republican Culture of Death

When is it okay to start talking about the fact that Republican policies actually kill people?

The most obvious example is Republican support for our government killing people, explicitly and in cold blood. That’s what the death penalty is. State sanctioned killing of a citizen in cold blood. Regardless of your position on the morality or constitutionality of the death penalty, it is, quite simply, support for state-sanctioned death. And there is no better example of the bedrock principle for Republicans that the state should be allowed to kill its citizens.

How about Republican’s opposition to reasonable gun safety legislation? To the point of actively repealing gun safety legislation already in place when they take control of a state? Did you know that Missouri repealed background checks for gun purchases recently? And when it did, gun murders went up 25%?
“Hey, this legislation will cause more people to be violently murdered!”
“Great, let’s do it!”

Or the 17,000 women who will die because Republican-controlled states refuse to expand Medicaid?

“We calculated the number and characteristics of people who will remain uninsured as a result of their state’s opting out of the Medicaid expansion, and applied these figures to the known effects of insurance expansion from prior studies,” lead author Samuel Dickman said. “The results were sobering. Political decisions have consequences, some of them lethal.”

(This is particularly relevant and sobering for us here in Virginia.)

So again I ask, when can we start talking about the fact that Republican policy positions seem to revel in a culture of death?

Frank Wolf’s “Science Trap”

You’ve got to have pity for Frank Wolf. He must appeal to the anti-science Christianist TEA-Party right and his overwhelmingly smart, diverse, real-world, evidence-oriented constituency. He’s between a rock (or shall we say LaRock) and a proverbial hard place. For example, Liza Gold* just took him to task for his anti-violent-video game ideology. Here are a few excerpts from her Fairfax Times op-ed.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) has repeatedly stated his belief that violent video games are a major cause of gun violence and mass shootings. As per his website: “Common sense tells us that the level of violence on TV, in the movies and in many video games is a problem. While media violence is not the only factor of mass violence, it is one of the easiest factors to change and it needs to be addressed.” This position would not be objectionable, except for the fact that Rep. Wolf seems uninterested in any other subject relating to sensible firearm regulation reform. Continue reading

Culture of Death

Culture of Death

This letter appeared in today’s Purcellville Gazette (warning 12Mb .pdf file).

“If there were no guns in the house, a drunk 16 year old would have been taken home by the Sheriff’s Department. No one would be DEAD.” So said a friend of the late Caleb A. Gordley in an online comment. No amount of ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ excuse making can change this unassailable fact. If Donald West Wilder hadn’t had a gun, or if he hadn’t made the choice to shoot Caleb, Caleb would be alive today.

Three letter writers last week tried to justify the killing. John Phillips, speaking for Mr. Wilder, said “[P]eople will play politics with this…I did the right thing.” Kevin Fitzpatrick asked “What about the guilt [Wilder] will live with for the rest of his life because of a string of poor decisions made by some teenagers.” Jim Schatz first described the shooting as “accidental,” but then claimed that Mr. Wilder was “required” to use deadly force. Required by whom?

Mr. Schatz also cites something he calls “God-given rights to self-protection.” We understand that it’s fashionable in some circles to claim that whatever one wants to do is a “God-given right,” but this is a fabrication. When Peter cut off the ear of one sent to arrest Jesus, Jesus admonished him, telling the apostles “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” In the story of the “Good Samaritan,” Jesus explicitly told his followers to put first the needs of others, NOT a concern for their own safety. Jesus also did not speculate about a “string of poor decisions” made by the man who was tended to by the Samaritan. We have a responsibility (not a right) to love our neighbors – including especially a teenager so drunk that he has mistakenly climbed in the wrong window. Claiming that the “right” to protect property is more important than the life of another person is worship of the creation, not the Creator. The inevitable result is a culture of death.

David and Jonathan Weintraub, Lovettsville

Blood Lust

If there were no guns in the house, a drunk 16 year old would have been taken home by the Sheriff’s Department. No one would be DEAD.

The quote above, by KathleenVS, is a response to ugly comments on the shooting death of Caleb A. Gordley, a sixteen year old Park View High School junior. Her comment isn’t a debate argument. It is a fact.

The facts of the tragedy are less clear. Donald West Wilder, a Sterling Volunteer Fire Company veteran allegedly fired a warning shot, and when Caleb passed him in the stairwell and walked down the hall, Wilder “discharged his firearm several times,” shooting him in the back. Was Mr. Wilder protecting other members of the household from a youth who was so inebriated that he didn’t notice a stranger shooting at him? Sheriff Chapman confirmed that Gordley had no criminal intent when entering the home.

Continue reading