Tag Archive | guns

The appeal to worse problems fallacy, and other unhelpful responses to domestic terrorism

“President Trump, America is scared and we need bold action. It's time to Ban Weapons of War”

Front cover of today’s New York Post.

Another week another mass shooting, or wait, no at least two more mass shootings. And oh, all the usual nonsense from people who are deeply invested in making sure we don’t do anything to cut down on the number of preventable deaths. I’ve written about this too many times already: Why thoughts and prayers are worse than inadequate, for instance. And then this analysis of the most popular arguments from those who claim there’s nothing we can go: They used to insist that drunk driving couldn’t be reduced, either. Not to mention this bit about leaping to conclusions without examining underlying assumptions: Oh, lord, the leaping!

I am slightly heartened that a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, has joined the ever growing chorus calling for a ban on certain categories of guns: The Post urges Trump to take action on assault weapons.

We’re used to all of the usual suspects trotting out their logically fallacious arguments (most of them commit a variation of the Nirvana Fallacy, also known as the Perfect-solution Fallacy: if whatever changes proposed can’t guarantee there will never be a gun death again, well, then we can’t do anything at all! Bull.

This weekend, thanks to Neil deGrasse Tyson being his usual smug self, we got one of the other fallacious arguments, and not for one of the typical rightwing types at all! Tyson had one of the most vapid and tone-deaf hot takes ever, in a tweet where he made the claim that in a typical 48 hours there are far more deaths in the U.S. due to medical errors, and due to the flu, and due to suicide, and due to car accidents, and due to homicide by handgun then these too mass shootings. Therefore, we should, you know, not get upset. Hit the link to see the tweet in question.

In one tweet he managed to pack several logical fallacies, which—if we weren’t talking about people being murdered—would be funny coming from a smug wanker who has made a career out of pretending to be the smartest guy in the room.

The first logical fallacy he is committing is the Appeal to Worse Problems (more formally known as the Fallacy of Relative Privation). All of these other things, he argues, cause more deaths, so we shouldn’t waste any time worrying about mass shootings until we eliminate all of those other causes of death. It’s a specialized kind of false dichotomy or dilemma: implying that we can only choose to worry work on a solution to one of the things in front of us.

Another problem is that several of the things in the list have no relationship whatsoever to the problem at hand. That the couple that could be argued to have a relationship, it’s a very weak one.

Medical errors, by definition, are not intentional acts. One has to be licensed as a medical professional and in most jurisdictions receive regular training and sometimes re-certification in order to practice medicine. Another way they differ from mass shootings is that we have systems in place designed to study such errors in order to find ways to make them less likely to happen. We have systems in place to apply those lessons. We have nothing like this for mass shootings.

Flu is not an intentional act by a human, it is caused by a virus. We have vaccines to reduce the incidence of flu. We have medications to reduce the severity of flu when it happens. We have entire teams of experts constantly studying flu and looking for ways to improve the vaccines and educate people in other ways to reduce their odds of catching flu. We have nothing like this for mass shootings.

Suicide is an act of self-destruction. We have suicide prevention hotlines. We have other forms of medical and psychiatric help available. We have groups of medical experts studying suicide (and proving again and again that there are ways to reduce the incidence of the act—that’s a topic for another day). But, those studies do relate slightly to the mass shootings discussion, as it has been shown that, for instance, banning guns in the residential parts of U.S. military bases (a program first undertaken at bases with a high incidents of service members committing murder-suicide of their families) doesn’t just cut down on the instance of gun deaths, but also reduces the rate of all categories domestic violence.

The vast majority of car crashes are not intentional acts. And again, we have experts in both the private and public sector who study car crashes and car design and relevant laws to find ways to reduce the rate of car fatalities. And we’ve significantly reduced them! Again, nothing like that exists for mass shootings. Also, you are required to have a driver’s license and regularly renew it to be drive. Cars are required to be registered and have their plates renewed periodically. Most jurisdictions require that you carry auto insurance for each car you own. Many jurisdictions require periodic inspection of the car to retain its registration. None of this applies to gun ownership.

The only one of his claimed worse problems to have more than a slight connection to mass shooting is homicide by handgun. And those findings about domestic violence on military bases give us at least some reason to suspect that the easy availability of guns contributes to the incidence of violent crimes in general. There seems to be something about the way that we perceive guns as opposed to knives and other weapons that has far-reaching effects. But, again, we don’t have large systemic ways of studying gun violence in this country.

The reason we don’t have systems in place to study gun violence is because Congress, under the influence of the gun lobby (usually in the guise of the NRA) has made it illegal to do so. And if there were no relationship between the availability of guns and the incidence of gun violence, why else would gun manufacturers be willing to spend millions each election cycle to prevent anyone from studying it?

Humans are social animals. Working together and the ability to divide labor is one of our species’ survival traits. We can work (as we already are), on other problems and the scourge of gun violence at the same time. Putting effort into universal background checks, and voluntary gun buy back programs, and studying other ways to reduce the incidents of these crimes. Red flag laws, which at least some Republican Senators have signaled they are willing to pass, would be a nice start.

Figuring out how to unpack toxic masculinity, racism, and how the mega-rich use our prejudices to blame economic uncertainty on marginalized groups instead of the hoarding and exploitation by corporations and billionaires, isn’t going to be easy. But if organizations like the National Institutes for Health could start studying gun violence systematically, we will find at least some ways to combat those contributing factors.

But it isn’t going to happen unless we ignore the excuses and demand action.

Advertisements

Weekend Update 5/26/2018: Bad takes, small steps, and more to some stories

“If you're more angry at children for demanding change than the gun violence taking their lives, they your are the problem.”

(click to embiggen)

Once again I’m going to talk about some stories that either didn’t make it into this week’s Friday Five or that broke after I posted the weekly round up of links, or the add new information to something I’ve posted about before. Some of this stories feel awfully familiar. Because first up we have a few different news about school shootings. A topic that we all wish would stop being relevant, but I refuse to become ho-hum about them, so let’s get into this:

Suspect wounds teacher, fellow student in 23rd school shooting in 2018. So, we’re up to 23 of these for the year, and please note that that isn’t 23 mass shootings, it is specifically 23 school shootings. At least this one didn’t go as horrifically as some of the previous ones, I guess that’s good news? Teacher credited with disarming student in Indiana school shooting.

Moving back in time a mere week, there’s been some developments in the Texas school shooting: Texas school shooting victim family sues attacker’s parents. And I applaud this. Technically, they shouldn’t have to do this, because Texas already has a law on the books making the owner of a gun that’s used in a crime liable if they can’t prove that they adequately secured it. The problem is, that we have this really stupid mindset about parents whose kids get hold of guns. When a small child gets hold of a gun and it goes off, often killing the child, we never charge the parents. We say this stupid, “They’ve been punished enough.” No, no they haven’t. Because we refuse to treat those incidents at the acts of criminal negligence that that are, people think of them as senseless tragedies. As if an unsecured gun were the equivalent of on earthquake or some other natural phenomenon. If we started prosecuting this parents, it would change the perspective.

I’m especially in favor of this since the shooter’s father has been going on news shows and telling people that his son is the real victim here. No, that teen-ager harassed and stalked a girl for four months, then murdered her and nine other people. He isn’t a victim, he is a murderer. Of course it’s not just the father that I think needs punished. A lot of headline writers do, to. It isn’t that his victim refused his advances. The headlines should say, “Shooter Harassed His Victim for Months Before Killing Her.”

Meanwhile: Publix will suspend political donations after protest by Parkland students. Good. Donating to the NRA or to politicians who refuse to enact that laws such as universal background checks including for private sales (supported by 77% of gun owners, and 87% of people who do not own guns) or closing the boyfriend loophole should be a toxic act that gets you shunned from polite society.

“Self-hatred is NOT therapy”

(click to embiggen)

Let’s get away from depressing topics and move to some good news: Hawaii becomes 12th state to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ youth. Hurrah! This so-called therapy is actually torture, and has been proven to lead to suicide and self-destructive behavior. And it never works. State-by-state we’re getting this insanity banned. Which is sort of amazing given the current political climate. We need to keep this fight going!

Finally, an interesting series of developments in the case of the lone man who accused George Takei of sexual assault last year: Exclusive: George Takei’s Accuser Has Changed His Story of Drugging and Assault. And it’s not that he merely was inconsistent with details, he admits that he lied about several things. The story goes into great depth about things such as: the lack of additional accusers, the victim’s story isn’t consistent with medical facts about drugs available at the time, when that is explained to him by two doctors the victim agrees that there probably never was an assault, a prosecutor’s analysis of the victim’s story is that no assault occurred, and more. My favorite thing is that the accuser’s boyfriend at the time (who was also an acquaintance of Takei) said his boyfriend never mentioned it for years. Also, the four people other news sources mentioned (but never named) who “corroborated” some of the accusers story, well, not so much. “He’s been telling it like a joke for years that time the Star Trek actor made a pass at him.”

As the reporter points out, in other cases of accusations of sexual assault, once the first report was made, dozens or more other people came forward to tell similar tales, and even more people came forward to say that they had been warned about the harasser. Not one single person has come forward with a similar tale about Takei. No one. No whispers, no rumors.

And now the only accuser says it was all a misunderstanding…

No one likes a bully

No one likes a bully, they say. But the perception of who is bullying who can go to rather ludicrous points. When Laura Ingraham, long time radio talk show host, past editor, TV talk show host, et cetera, tried to portray one of the Parkland shooting survivors as whining when he mentioned that he’s been rejected by four of the colleges he applied to, she apparently didn’t expect that comment to go viral in a negative way. She certainly didn’t expect advertisers to start pulling out of sponsoring her show. She then issues a pretty ridiculous (half-assed) apology. And then headlines started coming out some places that made the high school students she ridiculed seem like the bullies.

Let’s get something clear. I hope Laura’s advertisers keep pulling out. I’m glad that some people have finally noticed that she’s a bully. But she has been a bully for years: Cyber Bullying is a bit new. But Laura Ingraham was a real bully long before the internet. From February, before this incident: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon on Fox News Host Laura Ingraham: “She Comes off Like a Bigot”. Or two years ago: How Laura Ingraham has attacked Latinos, civil rights groups, and more. Or this gem from 2014: Laura Ingraham Mocks Sick Immigrant Children With Terrible Taco Bell Joke. And this is a good sum up of some of her antics in the 1990s and early aughts: Laura Ingraham: Right-Wing Radio’s High Priestess of Hate.

That’s enough about that hateful person.

In related news: Black Students at Stoneman Douglas High Want Gun-Violence Solutions to Address Police Violence. While at events they had control over, the survivors of the Stonema Douglas shooting had tried to include all of their peers and present a diverse front, the media has tended to focus on a few of the white kids (and one light-skinned Latina). And lots of people have pointed out that these kids aren’t asking for anything more than the Black Lives Matters folks have been asking for all along.

So it is more than fair to ask why the killing of someone like 12-year-old Tamir Rice didn’t get the some attention as the Stoneman Douglas kids are. Part of me would like to hope that we’ve just reached a tipping point. But (particularly seeing both the racist and homophobic attacks made on Emma Gonzales) I suspect that there is more than a bit of racism in play here.

I have to agree with these kids: Black Parkland students worry: What happens to us when schools are over-policed? Putting more police officers into schools won’t help stop mass shootings, and has historically resulted in cops abusing and arresting kids for things that should never have involved a cop, and not surprisingly disproportionately targeting kids of color. The answer isn’t more cops or more guns in school, and anyway paying attention would already know this: CHILDREN OF COLOR ALREADY FACE VIOLENT DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS. ARMING TEACHERS WILL GET THEM KILLED, Why having police in schools is a problem, in 3 charts, and Black Students More Likely to Be Arrested at School.

Things that actually would help:

  1. Raise the minimum age to buy guns to 21
  2. Universal background checks to buy guns (a measure supported by 97% of the general population and by 96% of gun owners!)
  3. Licensing gun owners the way we license drivers, including requiring more rigorous testing and evaluation for different classes of guns (just as commercial driving licenses have more stringent requirements), and including periodic re-certification
  4. Requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance, again just like we do for car owners
  5. Voluntary gun buy back programs

That won’t prevent every shooting, obviously; just like changing drunk driving laws didn’t eliminate all drunk driving. But we’ve been able to bring down the rate of car crashes that result in death or injury in which alcohol played a factor by 35% by enacting some common sense drinking-and-driving laws. If we reduced shootings by even a fraction of that, that will still be thousands of people saved every year.

Veterans for Gun Reform

I’ve been doing housework today. I have a bunch of errands to run while my husband is off doing convention committee stuff. So I wasn’t going to post a Weekend Update. But then I saw this, so I have to share it:

Veterans For Gun Reform PSA – March For Our Lives:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Weekend Update 2/24/2018: Mutually Assured Massacre

“The 2nd Amendment should always be defended and adhered to in the spirit in which it was conceived... everyone has a right to a flintlock musket that takes a skilled shooter about a minute to load and is accurate to about 25 yards.”

Click to embiggen.

Once again stories that didn’t make it into the Friday Five, or new developments in stories that did, have come to my attention. So I’m going to share them with you, along with some commentary and context.

Many new developments related to the Parkland shooting: Sources: Coral Springs police upset at some Broward deputies for not entering school. Turns out, not only didn’t the armed deputy who was on school grounds specifically to guard the students just hunker down and hide for the entire shooting, the other deputies from the same county office all did the same thing when they arrived. Only the city police actually entered the building to confront the shooter.

Just one more reason why arming more people doesn’t lead to children being safe.

In case you’re curious about how the myth that more guns somehow make us safer came to be, read this: Gun Rights, ‘Positive Good’ and the Evolution of Mutually Assured Massacre.

A lot of idiots out there are sharing the conspiracy theory posts that these high school kids who are confronting lawmakers are fake. Given that all the tech companies have pledged to try to root out fake news, we need to ask, Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But The Tech Companies? After multiple tragedies and national security disasters made worse by hoaxes and misinformation, why is this even a question? The article explains.

And while we’re on the subject: The collective outrage over Facebook and its actions might result in a lot of talk, but it won’t really change Facebook, its ethos, and its ethics.

And let’s not forget all the people who are trying to pedantically argue that the AR-15 the shooter used to kill 17 people isn’t an assault weapon: What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns. I’ll let the surgeon explain it himself:

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

It’s also important to note that contrary to popular belief, the issue isn’t the Constitution: Why the Second Amendment does not stymie gun control.

And if you’re one of those people trying to tell me that guns don’t kill, it’s people who kill remember first that yeah, there are a lot of evil people out there plotting: Report: Washington state home to one of the largest cells of notorious white supremacist group. So maybe we should make it less easy for them to get weapons.

Finally, I want to end on some good news: Oregon legislature passes bill strengthening state’s gun laws. In Oregon and many other states it is already illegal for someone with certain types of domestic abuse convictions and such to own guns. The problem in those states that have them is the “boyfriend” loophole. Most people convicted of domestic abuse wind up pleading down to a misdemeanor charge, which doesn’t kick in the federal ban against felons, right? And statistics have shown that the number one predictor of whether someone will go out and attempt (or commit) a mass shooting is past domestic abuse, so many states amended laws over the last few years to include the misdemeanor abuse charges in the gun ban. Except that the misdemeanor only counts if the person who committed the abuse either had shared living quarters for a certain number of months with the victim, or if they are married to the victim. So boyfriends who beat their girlfriends before tricking her into moving in with him or marrying him can still buy guns. No matter how many different girlfriends they abuse over the years.

That is now no longer the case in Oregon. Only 49 states to go…

It can’t be too late for common sense about guns, right?

I’ve written about the most recent incident last week, and laid out how all the usual arguments for why we can’t do anything about mass shootings have been trotted out by other industries and proved incorrect a while ago: They used to insist that drunk driving couldn’t be reduced either. I had some more stuff I was going to follow up with, but almost everything I wanted to say is summed up by Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida: Teen who survived massacre rips Trump to pieces in emotional takedown. I’m just going to quote a bunch of that article:

[S]he responded directly to Trump’s tweet, which blamed students at the school for not reporting on the shooter’s behavior before the event.

“We did,” Gonzalez said, “time and time again, since he was in middle school.”

“We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue,” she continued. “He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife.”

“How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she demanded, and called out those who do deserve to shoulder that blame.

“[The people] who let him buy the guns in the first place. Those at the gun shows. The people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic. The people who didn’t take them away from him when they knew that he expressed homicidal tendencies. And I am not talking about the FBI. I am talking about the people that he lived with, I’m talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.”

The NRA gave $30,000,000 dollars to the Trump Presidential campaign alone, not to mention the tens of millions to various senators and congresspeople. Last year, when Congress passed a law making it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns (and Cadet Bonespur signed it), the NRA sent out a bulletin to all of its members bragging about it.

The NRA routinely pours millions into defeating laws that NRA members themselves claim to support. When gun sales plummeted last year after Cadet Bonespur was inaugurated, they spent a bunch of money producing advertisements that portrayed Black Lives Matters protesters and such as dangerous violent people. The ads were blatant calls for white supremacists to buy more guns and prepare for a race war.

The NRA as an organization is demonstrably not promoting responsible gun ownership and hasn’t been for decades. It’s only goals are to protect and increase gun manufacturer profit; and if any of its leaders aren’t racist (a highly difficult proposition to prove), they are all absolutely fine fanning the flames of racial fear to keep the money rolling in.

So, anyone still supporting them is supporting an organization that sees mass murders of children and racial tension as marketing tools. You aren’t nobly defending a moral principle if you support them.

It’s time to end this bloody charade.

“The common refrain when shootings happen in that if you restrict access to guns, they'll just use knives. This is a switchblade. It's illegal to own in 11 states, illegal to sell in 13, illegal to open carry in 14, and illegal to concealed carry in 17. Itf we can agree that certain knives are so efficient at killing that we shouldn't possess or carry them, why can't we agree the same about guns? Keep in mind, knives meet the legal definition of arms referred to in the 2nd amendment.”

“The common refrain when shootings happen in that if you restrict access to guns, they’ll just use knives. This is a switchblade. It’s illegal to own in 11 states, illegal to sell in 13, illegal to open carry in 14, and illegal to concealed carry in 17. Itf we can agree that certain knives are so efficient at killing that we shouldn’t possess or carry them, why can’t we agree the same about guns? Keep in mind, knives meet the legal definition of arms referred to in the 2nd amendment.”

Great-grandma’s Gun

My sister and I with Great Grandma St, John. I'm 9, my sis is 4, and Great-grandma is 74 in this picture.

My sister and I with Great Grandma St, John. I’m 9, my sis is 4, and Great-grandma is 74 in this picture.

I have often found myself in weird discussions/arguments with people who assume that because I favor many extremely liberal policies, I must be one of those evil anti-gun people. So before I get into this tale, let me begin by saying that I used to be a card-carrying member of the NRA. I have owned guns. I have fired guns. I have almost never fired guns on a gun range, because we didn’t have many in the Rocky Mountain towns where I grew up. I was taught how to shoot a gun by being taken out into the wilderness by my father and grandfather and firing it for a couple of hours at various things we set up as targets. Then after the third of fourth weekend of doing that being told I needed to go shoot a rabbit or two if I wanted to eat that night.

Long before we got to that point there had been many, many gun safety lectures, because there were lots of guns (mostly hunting rifles) in the homes of most of my extended family. I knew how to take apart, clean, and put back together a bolt-action rifle and how to re-load bullet cases (by which I mean, measure out gunpowder, put it into a spent casing, align a new bullet and insert it with a hand operated press, and install a primer cap) years before I was allowed to hold a loaded gun and shoot it.

There were winters when the only reason there was enough food on the table for the whole family was because some of us had gotten a deer or elk during the appropriate season (not to mention rabbits, pheasants, and grouse). I should also mention that I was raised to look down my nose in disdain at people who hunted pheasant and other birds with a shotgun. As my Grandpa said, “If you can’t hit a flying grouse or dove or pheasant with a rifle, you have no business pointing a gun at anything.”

I should also mention, in case it isn’t obvious from the part about learning how to turn spent cartridges back into bullets, missing was considered wasteful. We couldn’t afford to waste a lot of bullets getting the food.

But as the title of this post suggests, today I need to tell you the story of Great-grandma’s Gun… Read More…

It isn’t unfathomable at all!

© 2017 Costa A Comics https://popthirdworld.tumblr.com (Click to embiggen)

I get really tired of how politicians and the press react to mass shootings: “What would drive someone to do this? It’s unfathomable!” And the obligatory quotes from neighbors and family members that they never saw this coming “He was a quiet guy who kept to himself.” They say. Not everyone, of course. In the immediate aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, there were a few stories that quote the workers at the coffee shop the shooter frequented describing the abusive way he talked to his girlfriend. There was one neighbor who was willing to say that the shooter was a sullen angry man. But those few admissions get quickly overwhelmed by the other quotes about what a quiet guy he was.

Yes, occasionally the press will focus on the shooter’s history of domestic abuse, as they are doing with the Texas shooter right now. But even then they keep saying how we will never know why he did it.

It’s right there. The history of abuse tells us plenty.

Not just about the Texas church shooter, but for other mass shooters. Time and again we find a history of domestic abuse. If you go find those interviews of the people who describe the shooters as quiet, you’ll also notice hints in the quotes to other traits of abusive people. They’ll say something like the person had a dark sense of humor when he did speak up. Or they’ll say he had a wicked tongue when someone got his dander up. But they’ll hasten to say how those moments were rare, and he only acted that way when he was provoked.

There are a few things going on here. First, we’ve all been socialized not to speak ill of the dead; the rationale being that this event is so painful for the family of the shooter, you don’t want to make them feel worse by truthfully describing what a sullen, angry, antisocial person their loved one was. That’s why you’ll sometimes see one or two candid interviews early, and then the same people will claim their comments were taken out of context. Seeing what they said in black and white and realizing the shooter’s family have seen it, too causes people to clam up.

Another part happens before this. There is a tendency to decide when someone in your social circle says something angry or hurtful that they are just joking. He didn’t really mean it when he said, “Someday someone’s going to sock you right in the mouth when you say stupid stuff like that.” Or the time he said, “If someone put a bullet between the eyes of every one of those bleeding heart lazy assholes, the world would be a better place.” Or the time he said, “You know none of those perverts have never worked an honest day in their life. If they all died nothing of value would be lost.” He was just teasing, we tell ourselves. He wasn’t actually threatening anyone or seriously wishing anyone dead.

So later, when he actually goes out and puts bullets in people, the folks that knew him talk about the dark sense of humor and so forth. They don’t want to think that the missed warning signs (which they did).

Abusers believe that the people they abuse deserve it. They believe that when anyone does anything that irritates them, or doesn’t conform to their ideas of how people behave that they are doing so with malicious intent toward the abuser. It can’t be that those other people are simply interested in different things, the abuser believes. They must be doing it to annoy him. That’s why abusers yell, “See what you made me do?” at their victims. They blame everything on other people. Everything, including their own unhappiness. If other people seem to be happy when the abuser isn’t, it’s because those other people are laughing at his expense, or irritating him on purpose, or causing other unpleasant things to happen the he has to deal with, and so on.

Tweet that reads, '“mental health” is today a euphemism for “i don't want to say my fellow white folks are BAD or EVIL, so i'll just say they're sick”

‘“mental health” is today a euphemism for “i don’t want to say my fellow white folks are BAD or EVIL, so i’ll just say they’re sick”

This is also one of the reasons why increasing mental health resources (the only thing that Republicans are willing to pretend to be willing to do after a mass shooting) isn’t going to do anything for the problem. The abuser doesn’t think anything is wrong with him. They’re never going to seek treatment for their anger and resentment. The few who do get ordered into anger management type programs (usually as a way to avoid felony charges after an abuse incident that got them arrested—and thereby letting them in most states retain their right to buy firearms) think of the treatment as punishment and a joke. They aren’t going to make a serious effort to change.

Another thing abusers do is target the loved ones of the people they are actually angry at. We see this in domestic abuse all the time. If punishing the spouse doesn’t seem to be making the the changes they want, then they’ll punish the kids or a family pet in order to hurt and motivate the primary victim. It serves the dual purpose of making all the frequent victims hostages to get what he wants, but it also hurts in a different way than a direct attack.

So in a situation like the Texas church shooter: he was angry at his wife and his mother-in-law. His mother-in-law attended that church. His wife also had connections to the church. Everyone there was either someone who his wife and mother-in-law cared for, or had provided mental and spiritual support to the wife and mother-in-law, or they were happy people when he (the abuser) was unhappy. It’s been reported he took his kids to a social event at the church just five days before the shooting. He may have already been planning the shooting. He may not have gotten that specific. The issue is that he was a violent, angry man who had many times before used violence to try to make people in his life do what he wanted, or to punish them for not being what he wanted. Going to the festival was a way to find out more about the mother-in-law who was, in his mind, interfering with his happiness. The more he knew, the more likely he’d be able to force a change.

And even in the case where specific people don’t have a connection to anyone he is angry at right now, remember, the abuser thinks that all of his problems are other people’s fault. He likely had a wide variety of definitions of the kinds of people he blamed for specific things in the world that he didn’t like. Seemingly random people at an event like that are “those kind” of people in his mind.

The motives are easy to fathom, if you take just a few minutes to learn about how abusers think.


Edited to Add:

A couple of things came across my feed after I wrote this. Well worth your time:

Samantha Bee Examines the “Boyfriend Loophole” and the Connection Between Mass Shooters and Domestic Violence

No Matter How You Measure Them, Mass Shooting Deaths Are Up

Thoughts & Prayers, again

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Senators that voted down gun control. My thoughts: do your job. My prayer: you're voted out of office.” —Betty White

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Senators that voted down gun control. My thoughts: do your job. My prayer: you’re voted out of office.” —Betty White

I’m on a mini vacation, so I haven’t been paying as much attention to the news as usual since posting last Friday’s round up of links. So one of the first things I looked at when waking up this morning was my blog site, where I saw a whole bunch of hits on one of my posts from June 2016: Why thoughts and prayers are worse than inadequate which filled me with dread. It did not take long to find comments and news articles about the shooting in Vegas: Las Vegas shooting: At least 58 dead, 515 hurt in Mandalay Bay shooting.

I could rant about the usual suspects saying now is not to time to discuss control, and the usual BS about thoughts and prayers.

Again.

This cartoon by Kristian Nygard (which can be found at Optipess.com) gets shared a lot. (click to embiggen)

This cartoon by Kristian Nygard (which can be found at Optipess.com) gets shared a lot. (click to embiggen)

I’ve already said so much on the topic of gun violence and our society’s refusal to do anything about it: They used to insist that drunk driving couldn’t be reduced, either and Oh, lord, the leaping! and #TwoMenKissing and why the Orlando Pulse shooting was a punch in my gut

I’m angry. I’ll be calling my congresspeople (even though they’re all progressive Democrats). But I’m not going to write about this yet again. I’m feeling a lot like Alvin McEwen of the Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters news blog: “I can’t preach or talk about anything in my usual critical stance, folks. Nor do I feel like putting out news briefs. God, I feel so very bad over the entire thing. It’s a kind of sadness that takes away all of your purpose and makes you ask why. Nothing else. Just why. But I find that when things like this happen, it helps to let the feeling wash over you. Don’t try to keep them inside. And do something light.”

So, I’m going to go do something light before getting back to work

“Thoughts and prayers do nothing! Maybe it's time to actually do something about it”

“Thoughts and prayers do nothing! Maybe it’s time to actually do something about it”

Weekend Update 9/24/2016: Bring the SOB to justice

muppets_news-525x294-copyLast week I very intentionally didn’t do a Weekend Update post to supplement the previous day’s Friday Links post. I was feeling as if I was spending every Saturday morning writing about a few headlines that caught my eye later Friday. When maybe a better use of my time would be working on my fiction, or housework, or other things that actually gets something done that needs doing, y’know?

Then we got out of the movie last night, and one friend who had just turned his phone back on tells us that there was a shooting at a mall in a town about an hour’s drive north of where we were. There was almost no information available last night, and this morning there still isn’t really much: Cascade Mall shooting: Mayor vows to ‘bring the son of a bitch to justice’.

Macy’s Shooting: Police Plead for Help IDing Gunman After 5 Killed at Washington Mall.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-11-26-28-amThey have some really low-res blurry pictures of a generic looking dark haired guy wearing a very generic looking maybe black t-shirt and maybe black cargo shorts. They originally put out the APB for a “hispanic male wearing gray,” but if the pictures are any indication the only part of that which might be accurate is the shooter’s gender presentation.

Seriously, I know Seattle area men who come form a long line of Norwegians who look exactly like that guy. Heck! I used to know a lesbian firefighter (who was sometimes mistaken for a guy) whose ancestors came from Switzerland and England who looked just like that guy.

Some of the news sources are reporting this as the sixth mass shooting in Washington state this year. Another source said seven, and then lists them, but there are only five total in the list. Also of note only to my fellow pedants: one of the shootings they’re counting had only two victims, another had only three. The FBI still doesn’t have an official criteria for a mass shooting, but most people compiling statistics start with the FBI’s definition of mass murder (four people killed in a single incident, not counting the perpetrator), and count anything with four people shot as a mass shooting.

I don’t know what to say.

Except this (which I think needs to be repeated every time a story of some situation like this happens): unless you have the skills, temperament, and wherewithal to be a responsible gun owner (i.e., ensure that guns are always securely stored when not in use; they are kept clean and otherwise maintained; you regularly practice not merely shooting the thing but loading it, unloading it, checking its working parts before using it, working the safety; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera), don’t go buy a gun. Statistically, you will not be safer. Statistically, everyone around you will be less safe. That’s a fact.

%d bloggers like this: