Bad craziness

Dateline: Mon 10 Jan 2011

Six dead, 14 wounded,  in the Arizona madness.  At this point, it seems futile to debate the politics that may or may not have motivated the alleged shooter, or fix blame, or haggle about gun laws, or, in general, put any more fuel on the fires of the raging rhetoric.

What struck home, however, is that the 22-year-old man accused of the crimes certainly may be "mentally ill," but (whether or not his actions were an extension of his mental illness), he was also profoundly alienated, a loner, "a lone wolf," as the FBI director called him.  It seems justifiable to suggest that family dynamics may have contributed to his isolation, in the sense that, if one is unbalanced, it is incumbant on family and friends to seek aid -- therapy, medication, treatment. Certainly his college attempted the role of firewall.

This applies not only to this isolated individual, but to all of us...we live in community, and when we are well, we live well in community.

The episode brought to mind a favorite bit of thought from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis for resisting tyranny and madness in his homeland in World War II. Bonhoeffer spent time in prison before he was put to death, and the long hours of loneliness afforded him time to reflect in poetry and essays on the human condition.

His few sentences on "Human Relationships" have always seemed to go to the heart of what fuels a healthy human being. Hence his words are shared today, in an effort to invite more reflection than condemnation and more love than hate:

"There is hardly anything that can make one happier than to feel that one counts for something with other people.

"What matters here is not numbers, but intensity.

"In the long run, HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE; the modern 'efficient' man can do nothing to change this, nor can the demigods and lunatics who know nothign about human relationships.

"God uses us in his dealings with others."

For non-believers, this is an opportunity to question or even scoff at God's apparent absence in this person's life. But it's not over 'till it's over, and we never will have all the answers anyhow....





Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

The gunman, of course, was legally able to buy a gun -- a GLOCK no less.

2011-01-10 14:15:14

ruthholl [Member] said:

I am interested in the retired Army guy who wrestled the gunman down...have not seen much on him.

2011-01-10 14:30:13

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"The gunman, of course, was legally able to buy a gun -- a GLOCK no less"

Yes, he was afforded the same rights guaranteed all Americans who have not been convicted of a felony or found to be legally incompetent. It is lamentable that no one else in the crowd was armed and thus might have prevented more shots being fired.

And so what if it was a GLOCK? Good gravey, Glock is just a brand name. It could have been a COLT or RUGER or SMITH&WESSON. These are just brand names of inanimate objects; they have no innate intelligence or will or intrinsic evil purpose, any more than a CHAINSAW or CORDLESS CARVING KNIFE.
I am mystified at the superstituous nonsense that surrounds firearms by folks with not an iota of understanding of these tools. A Glock just happens to be a very reliable pistol preferred by many law enforcement agencies for myriad reasons.

2011-01-10 14:58:35

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow, Tom. Yo really believe that drivel?

2011-01-10 15:57:49

Jason [unverified] said:

I do.

2011-01-10 16:12:44

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Which part is drivel, T3?

I believe that an armed citizenry is a more civil citizenry. I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I do not believe that firearms have a will of their own. I will admit to believing that some Glock models may be overrated.

Identify the drivel part for me, T.

2011-01-10 16:20:08

hendy [Member] said:

I'm with Tom here. It appears that the weapon was obtained legally. Thousands are, every day. In this case, the alleged shooter-- from reports I've read-- was showing symptoms of craziness. What he allegedly did was.

I'm in favor of stronger enforcement of existing gun laws, and the ability for gun ownership to be put into databases so as to aid law enforcement.

2011-01-10 16:47:05

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Hendy, whenever I purchase a gun from a dealer, I submit paperwork and am subjected to a BATF check. I have to be clean for the purchase, through a licensed firearms dealer, to transpire. There is a database and the govt knows (a) that I own firearms and (b) what kind I have.

The problem is with gunshows and private sales where no database search or paperwork is required.

And of course criminals will always be able to get guns because they steal them or buy them illegally from other miscreants. To those who believe that if all guns were outlawed we would have no crime, I suggest the same reasoning would hold up if we got rid of all automobiles because they are used as getaway cars, not to mention knives because they are sometimes used to punctuate a disagreement.

2011-01-10 17:58:06

hendy [Member] said:

The government cannot keep a database, by law, of guns you have purchased. They can only vet you at the time of purchase. It's been that way since about 1977.

I believe that guns are handy weapons to use in crimes, and that we don't control licensing as we should. It's a lot tougher to shoot someone than beat them over the head with a pan or cut them. Guns are used in many situations because of their instantly lethal nature.

It's often not useful to use various pro or even anti-gun metaphors, because the problem of handy lethal weapons is emotional. Many gun owners are saints. Those few that aren't, have the ability to effect gruesome consequences, as we've just seen.

2011-01-10 18:51:23

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

You do know that semi-automatic handguns such as the Glock were outlawed for a decade...until Congress declined to extend the ban, don't you?

I see no problem with ownership of most guns (and, yes, I have two...or is it my house). But a Glock? I mean, come on!

“The reason he was able to be tackled was he had to pause to reload,” said Dennis Henigan, vice president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The problem is he didn’t have to pause to reload until he’d already expended 30 rounds.”

Loughner’s gun, a 9-millimeter Glock, is extremely easy to fire over and over, and it can carry a 30-bullet clip. It is “not suited for hunting or personal protection,” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign. “What it’s good for is killing and injuring a lot of people quickly.”

2011-01-10 19:00:26

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"You do know that semi-automatic handguns such as the Glock were outlawed for a decade...until Congress declined to extend the ban, don't you?"

The Glock has never been banned, nor has any semiautomatic handgun. Extended bullet clips were banned, however, for a decade. I have no particular view about extended clips, though they arouse passions among people who tend to confuse a semiautomatic rifle with an assault rifle-cum-machine gun.

There's no sense demonizing a Glock. Many semiautomatic pistols can accomodate extended clips, and many customarily contain 14-15 rounds as normal capacity. A Glock is well made, easy to fire and quite reliable, which is why it is favored by law enforcement.

Hendy, you are right about law prohibiting the maintaining of a database of gun ownership, though I wonder if the law is strictly observed, and thus wonder how long it would take for the govt to round up privately owned firearms if ownership became prohibited. (The answer to THAT of course, is that it would take forever because gun owners would never surrender their firearms. Even if the government could identify private gun owners, it would not have the means to seize their guns.) As for a background check at time of purchase, that is done to make sure one has not become a felon in the nonce.

2011-01-10 19:40:51

Jason [unverified] said:

Ms. Cynical, the handgun itself has never been banned. Realistically a semi-automatic handgun is going to have a rate of fire no different than a revolver. There is a higher round capacity, but the fact that it's a glock isn't going to make any more bullets fly out of the gun any faster or further. In fact the firearm the Fort Hood shooter used carries firepower that is infinitely more dangerous than ANY Glock.

When the assault weapons ban was in effect, the only 30-round magazines that were banned were the ones stamped "LE/Government Use Only." You could readily find a pre-ban 30-round magazine for about $60 and it would be legal for anybody. It was a poorly written law.

I'd go on and on but I don't think I could do better than Tom and Hendy.

Look at it this way: With all the guns and free speech in this country, we're talking about this because it just doesn't happen very often. We can do all we want to make sure it doesn't happen again and someday it will.

2011-01-10 19:44:33

whosear [Member] said:

I recall the, "retreat law" in the 70's that required a homeowner to retreat to the furthest reach of his domicile before taking action. The problem with law enforcement is that it normally acts after the fact of a crime. Too late for a murder victim.

It seems to be a conflict of values with gun ownership rights against public safety, as we live in times where there are too many crazies and alienated, angry males.

2011-01-10 20:04:30

hendy [Member] said:

I can think of a few angry females, too, but testosterone does have its problems.

Instead of coming together to mourn this act of violence, I see instead, people putting the blame on each other. It's symptomatic of how the bad guys, the terrorists, are winning.

We're a nation of clearly independent thinkers. We've had rallying issues before, but now fear drives thinking rather than courage. FDR (or was it Churchill?) said it: we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

2011-01-10 21:25:26

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

The drivel is this:

In this nation, whose gun control laws are altered at the altar of the NRA, you must be adjudicated mentally ill, to be denied a gun permit.

You can be observed to be unbalanced. Unhinged. By teachers, social workers, principals, law enforcement officers, heck--even the guy giving you the gun permit.

But unless you have been told by a judge that you're mentally unfit, and that fact is entered into a court record, you can walk in, get a gun and fire at anything.

So...the drivel is: gun permits should be harder to get, not easier. Some baseline tests should be performed. We require more of senior citizens renewing their driver's licenses, than we do form someone getting a gun permit.

And ammo--don't get me started. Almost no limits whatsoever.

The drivel is: we've been sold a bill of goods regarding what our freedoms are, and what rice we need to pay for them.

Our recent history is too fresh: VaTech, Tucson, Ft. Hood, Columbine, et al. It's all so unnecessary.

But heck, as long as Charlton Heston's memory is safe, we're safe, too.

I just don't get it. Mostly, I don't get why the wool has collectively been pulled over our eyes, and we're allowed this definition: ANY attempt to limit access to guns/ammo, is a Constitutional threat.


2011-01-11 06:12:48

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Price. With a "p", obviously.

2011-01-11 06:14:08

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

T3, one cannot own a handgun if one is a felon, or crazy. (This would preclude ownership by some of our electeds.)

I agree that carry standards should be higher, with training a requirement. It is not reasonable to expect someone wishing to have a gun in their home for self protection to have to attend school.

The failure demonstrated in Arizona is not that gun laws are too lax or unenforced, the lesson is that we are doing a bad job of being our brother's keeper. The shooter was clearly bell tower material. This was obvious to many. Yet nought was done to see to his mental or spiritual health. It will turn out the kid is schizophrenic (sp?) and there will be no satisfying justice or answers at his trial. People may already recognize this, which is why they are trying to blame (a) guns, (b) Tea Baggers, (c) Liberals, (d) or flouride. The real blame lies with everyone who came in contact with this guy (and his parents sound like enablers).

People who enjoy firearms shoot a lot of bullets. They practice their skills. Target shooting is an enjoyable hobby. How do you discern the target shooter who buys lots of ammo, from the white supremacist whacko who is stocking up?

2011-01-11 07:36:57

Robert [unverified] said:

This is somewhat off topic, however I believe this merits some discussion.

The President is going to Tuscon tomorrow in the wake of this tragedy, He could not be bothered to go to Fort Hood in the wake of that massacre. Hypocritical?

2011-01-11 08:40:29

whosear [Member] said:

One must conclude that if the rhetoric of the current political climate influences the lone, intelligent, ineffectual loser (usually white male)then the Islamic radicalism influenced (or at least inflamed) the actions of Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood.

The sad truth is that there are these types of personalities in the world. But not all go postal, columbine, or Tucson. Perhaps community cannot heal their deficits, but might influence their psychopathology.

It's time to come up with innovative solutions that allows for involuntary commitments with an eye towards protecting constitutional guarantees and reasonable restrictions on gun procurement.

btw...I own a 9mm and no one knows I bought it except the former owner and myself (and now y'all)

Here is the rub: can a generation in its middle age accomplish what needs to be done? Or should we prepare the next for what we cannot do?

2011-01-13 23:52:55

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