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
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.
I’m just a kid, 16 ½ years old. The half year matters. I’m getting older. I play b-ball and f-ball at Park View High School and can palm a ball. I like rap, rhyme and rhythm. I’m kind of square. I hang with great kids, no h8ers, and I’m blessed that they seem to like me. My Mom and Dad are fine. My Dad’s white and my Mom’s black. So I’m like President Barack although I’m Caleb and my parents are race-reversed. Like a verse I’d rehearse. I’m a person of color but don’t feel that I’m treated differently.
We live in a nice home. The other homes on Pullman Court are like ours – all nice – very much the same.
My friends joke I’m “black Irish” — so we’re going out tonight – to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s quiet in my house so I’m going to sneak out now, and go out with my friends. I kind of know better. But my parents must have done the same when they were my age. Huck Finn did this kind of thing. Right? Continue reading
On the firing range at Mount Weather
The FEMA facility, Mount Weather in Northern Virginia off Route 601, is where Vice President Cheney sat out 9-11 underground. Above ground, there is a shooting range and I went there to shoot an AK-47 Assault Rifle – now some time ago.
This name, AK47, comes from the second version of an assault weapon designed by Soviet Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947. When fired in full-automatic mode, this AR fires continuously for every trigger pull. There have of course been design improvements and model changes since its origin. The magazine’s capacity is 30 rounds. It can shoot 100 rounds a minute over an effective range of 400 meters.
You no doubt have seen movie stars shoving fully loaded magazines in cinematic fight scenes. But loading the magazine beforehand is something that has to be done carefully. You place a round between the feed lips until it locks inside the magazine, and you repeat this until the magazine is full. Like I said, 30 rounds. At the range, several of us loaded magazines for each other before we shot. Continue reading
Citizen with an M60
“The notion that registering gun purchases somehow violates the Constitution is unmitigated nonsense,”
so said former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. He also said that
“[n]othing outrages me more than the conduct of the National Rifle Association (‘NRA’).”
Former NRA Vice President Neal Knox once said that the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were possibly “part of a conspiracy to enact gun control” and “could have been created for the purpose of disarming the people of the free world.” This past week, the NRA has eclipsed its ordinary standard for bad taste by attacking the President’s children, asking why the federal government provides them Secret Service protection but not other children in our public schools. Anyone want to suggest a distinction that the NRA might understand? Continue reading
KPTV – FOX 12
Two men walked the streets of Portland armed with assault weapons earlier this week because they said they wanted to “educate” residents, who reacted by fleeing and calling police.
Yes, there is a deliberate campaign on the part of gun extremists to normalize the presence of armed private citizens in public. It began in Virginia in 2004.
A stoic Roman Senator once said, “It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity.”
I don’t know that our national dialogue has “slipped” into vulgarity. It has felt to me more like a down-hill flat out run into vulgarity.
Let’s consider one example that covers the waterfront.
Back in March 2012, the Georgetown University President, John J. DeGioia, said that the foul language used to characterize student Sandra Fluke’s sincere objections to HHS regulations affecting contraceptives, especially what Rush Limbaugh had to say, was “misogynistic, vitriolic and a misrepresentation of [her] position.”
Meet James Yeager. Mr. Yeager is the CEO of something called Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that specializes in firearms and tactical training. He is also Exhibit A to educate those unable to conceive of why it might make folks feel unsafe to come across a guy packing a Glock hanging around a store exit (which, let’s face it, is really not normal behavior to begin with). It’s because of guys like this. If you happen to be a decent, responsible gun owner with a similar style or superficial resemblance to this fellow, and you’re being unfairly tarred by this sort of behavior, I’m sorry. It’s not fair. But this is why.
Question: Would Wayne LaPierre, or any of those who feel that he represents them, consider this man to be mentally ill? If so, what would be the appropriate response?
The Loudoun Times-Mirror is reporting that Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro has joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, a bipartisan organization advocating for more (many people would say reasonable) restrictions on firearms. They are advocating, according to the Times-Mirror, “for Congress to pass laws requiring every gun buyer in the U.S. to pass a criminal background check; making gun trafficking a federal crime; and banning military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.”
If one is a legitimate and responsible gun owner, I don’t see how these measures would be a terrible burden. I’m not sure what they mean by “military-style” weapons – that should be clarified – but certainly no legitimate gun owner has a need for high capacity magazines like the ones that made the mass slaughters in Colorado and Connecticut possible. Even if you prefer a semi-automatic for predator control – which I can appreciate – if you can’t hit a coyote without a 30 or 50 round magazine you should probably find a new line of work.
The article has attracted the sort of comments one expects an article like this to attract. However, one commenter makes a very interesting point:
..when Bob Lazaro shifts to a new position, it means that things have somehow changed and the majority is looking at something in a new way.
He was a large man, wearing a combat-style uniform, beret, and heavy boots. He stood outside the door, watching people entering and exiting. One witness, who had summoned the police, said that the man’s presence made him feel intimidated, a feeling echoed by others in the building. When asked by a reporter what he was doing there, the man replied that he didn’t understand why they were trying to make it look like he was doing something wrong. He was just standing there, he said, serving his community.
Now, when considering that these witnesses felt “intimidated” by a man in a combat-style uniform standing outside their workplace and holding a nightstick, one might wonder what sorts of things other people might have going on in their lives to make them stand outside a building watching people like that?