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The Gun Cult’s Disconnect from Reality

The mass shooting body count from last night is four dead and several wounded in Dadeville, Alabama, and 2 dead and four wounded in Louisville, Kentucky. The Alabama shooting was at a private “sweet sixteen” birthday party being held in a dance studio, and the Kentucky shooting was in a public park. Police haven’t released any details about any suspected shooter in either case. And I’m going to hazard a guess that neither of these locations was a “gun-free zone.”

As these shootings were happening, the NRA was in convention in Indianapolis. So far, the biggest news out of the convention is that Mike Pence was booed there. Pence is trying to move right of Trump on guns. His solution to mass shootings in schools is a mandatory death sentence, which kind of ignores the fact that school shooters are nearly always killed on the site of the shooting. At least as often as not the shooters ended the carnage by shooting themselves, which has led to speculation that a spectacular suicide was the point. Younger shooters, who are the ones who tend to target schools, are nearly always suicidal, FBI data says. Exactly how the threat of a death penalty will deter that seems unclear.

In fact, the only school mass shooter I can think of who is still alive is Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018. It’s possible there are others, but that’s the only one that turns up in google search. Remarkably, this seems to be the only mass school shooting Pence mentioned in his NRA speech. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison last year. I seriously doubt executing Cruz is going to deter the next school shooter. Or park shooter, or birthday party shooter, or …

Another of Pence’s suggestions was “rebuilding institutional mental health care in America.” Pence continued, “Families with someone who is struggling, a threat to themselves or a threat to others, have to have a place to send that family member other than the county lockup.” Wouldn’t red flag laws be easier, Mike? Seriously, if someone is reported as “struggling” it’s not okay to confiscate their firearms but it is okay to commit them to a mental hospital?

And there’s a big leap between “struggling” and “psychotic,” or some sort of mental disorder severe enough to require hospitalization. And I haven’t heard that police regularly take “struggling” people to county lockup, either. I think you have to be suspected of committing a crime first.

There’s all kinds of data showing that most mass shooters did not have any diagnosis of mental disorder before the shooting.

We often hear after a mass shooting that mental health is to blame.

However, a Columbia University research study found that of the 1,800 mass murders, only 8% of all mass shooters were diagnosed with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder.

The article goes on to say that about 25 percent of mass shooters had anxiety or depression, but that’s true of the general population. And if we keep roughly a quarter of Americans locked up for being depressed or anxious, that still leaves us with a lot of people who might be mass shooters.

A number of other Republican politicians addressed the convention, either in person or by video, and they all said pretty much the same thing. It’s not a gun problem. It’s a crime problem, or a mental health problem, or even a “spiritual” problem.

Basically, they’re all in denial of reality. Too bad we can’t have them locked up in mental hospitals.

Meanwhile, during the convention a number of Indianapolis business owners have posted signs asking that guns not be carried on the premises.

E.J. Dionne:

The GOP’s conversion to gun absolutism is the heart of the problem. But politics doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It often follows from cultural and moral innovations.

For roughly four decades, American conservatism has identified firearms as a marker of a manly rejection of urban cosmopolitanism and gun ownership as a right more important than any other. As DeSantis said in his video, the right to bear arms is “the foundation on which all our other rights rest” and essential to Americans’ “ability to rule themselves.”

“Why do Joe Biden and the liberals want our guns?” asked Gov. Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota, another speaker. “Because it will make it easier for them to violate all our other rights.”

They’re clinging to guns because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They’re falling back on gerrymandering and making it harder to vote because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They are taking power away from urban areas because, deep down, they know they’re losing. They’re banning books because, deep down, they know they’re losing. All their antidemocratic crap in the name of “freedom” is about clinging to power even though they represent a minority of Americans. And they’re dangerous, and getting more so.


30 thoughts on “The Gun Cult’s Disconnect from Reality

  1. The US flag and the christian cross lapel pins have been replaced by the AR15 lapel pin. The flags and crosses were always just tribal markers. A form of public sanctimony about being the right sort of person. The gun is their new status symbol. It is the threat to start killing us if we don't agree to their cultural and social and physical domination of the rest of us. I think for some of them this has always been the end game. I have worked and lived with right wing evangelicals, and they are incensed that we don't respect them. I saw a red flag decades ago ( I'm 73) when they started saying abortion was murder. It was a justification for real murder, as we have seen. And controlling women is the real goal. Now that they are funded by billionaires and encouraged by a fascist media network, it's not clear we can achieve a livable society, let alone deal with problems like the climate. To see this resurgence of fascism in my old age is hard.


    • "It is the threat to start killing us if we don't agree to their cultural and social and physical domination"

      Spot on, this really gained steam during the Obama administration (gee I wonder why), when we had the armed standoff at that bird sanctuary, the GQP'ers argued then that assault rifle where necessary to put down a "tyrannical government" also known as we need to be able to kill cops, military who ever the gubmint sends after us. I saw that as a huge opening for democrats but they gave the usual Dick Durbin type "I'm disappointed" milk toast responses.

      • They don't want to participate in a pluralistic society, they HAVE TO dominate, preferably as a prelude to elimination, because they feel threatened by diversity and difference. To not dominate would threaten the pretense of moral superiority on which their power fantasy is based. Anything less than absolute control is “persecution” of their rightful place.

  2. My guess is that Pence's call for the death penalty for mass shooters would be an incentive, not a disincentive. If you're so far gone that you see shooting up a bunch of people as the answer, Mike's gonna help you go out in glory.

    @anonymous- not only are evangelicals incensed that we don't respect them, they see themselves as being persecuted for their beliefs, much like the early Christians. I had to explain to one of them: it's not your beliefs about Jesus that are at issue, it's your stupid positions about every day reality, the refusal to live in the 21st century (instead of living in the Book of Acts), and the idiots you elect that we all have to live with. Their gaze is permanently oriented either to the distant past OR to Jesus’ 2nd coming (any minute now…)

  3. "As these shootings were happening, the NRA was in convention in Indianapolis"

    Yes the NRA convention where no guns are allowed, not one person in the crowd to hear these GOP cowards speak was allowed to bring their gun into that hall. MTG , Bobert, McCarthy et-al they don't allow guns at their public events either. Gun free zones for me but not for thee. Fucking hypocrites! Saying guns are not the issue is about the easiest thing for democrats to pounce on, it's pretty simple if the guy who pulled the trigger didn't have that gun nobody would be dead, why the fuck can't they just say that?

  4. "Folks!



    Yes, I'm here to tell ya 'The Golden Rule' isn't really a "rule."

    Yes, folks!


    It's…  It's more kinda like a… a…  A suggestion, or somethin' like that – But DON'T…   But don't…  But you can't take that rule  serious or nothin'!

    But you know that.



    Ya all know that…


  5. I am a Democrat who has recently moved to something akin to gun absolutism. When I look around at the political climate now is not the time to disarm. It doesn't feel like they're losing to me.

    • You're a Democrat? Right! I'm the Queen of Sheeba. 

      Here's where you flashed the red hat: the word, "disarm". I don't think any of the regulars on this blog are advocates of disarming. If you bother to read, and there's plenty of history on this blog, the discussions have been about background checks, closing the gun loophole, limiting the capacity of magazines, banning the sale of guns and or rounds that are designed for combat, requiring guns be properly secured in the home (so kids don't shoot each other), gun owner insurance, and mandatory training for people who choose to own.

      There is info about why the AR-15 high-velocity bullet is so lethal. That's one legitimate basis for a ban there. 

      My warmest greetings to you MAGA friends. By "warmest" I mean in Hades, But I'm not a nice person.

      • The AR-15 is manufactured in more than one caliber. If you’re referring to .223/5.56 that isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the 30-06 Springfield Great Grandpa brought back from WWI or the 7.62x51mm Uncle George brought back from Korea. This is the problem with your statement on “banning the sale of guns and or rounds that are designed for combat” because that’s most all of the guns out there. The deer rifles your Grandpa and your Dad used, like the Browning BAR, Remington 7400 Woodsmaster, and Winchester Model 100 are now being effectively banned in my home state of New York, with similar bans in effect or to come in Illinois, Oregon, and Washington state.


        I have no problem with 100% standard background checks for all transfers, closing the gunshow loophole, and requiring proper storage of guns and ammo. But none of those things ever contributed to a school shooting and wont stop them happening in the future. They, like much of what has been done since Buffalo and Uvalde are reactionary and symbolic, not effective. Gun owner’s insurance, and mandatory training also fall in the category of not effective, unless you’re talking about limiting the rights of minorities and low income folks who can’t afford to meet those requirements. Those are the folks you will disarm. First. It has been demonstrated in the past it wont stop there.


        • "I have no problem with 100% standard background checks for all transfers, closing the gunshow loophole, and requiring proper storage of guns and ammo. But none of those things ever contributed to a school shooting and wont stop them happening in the future."

          Tell me the answer is to get rid of guns, while pretending there are no answers.

        • Specious argument. Caliber is not a complete determination of power. The AR-15 fires a round that is only about 1/4 inch. BUT also in the calculation is muzzle velocity. (the "muzzle" is the pointy end of the rifle where the round comes out.) Muzzle velocity of the AR-15 is one kilometer in one second. Using  Newton's Law F=ma (Newton is the British guy who was real smart) the high powered needle that is the round will produce cavitation in a human torso. Look up cavitation yourself. 

          It's all the usual tropes from an ammosexual. I can't go on debunking your other myths.

          Oh, before I go, I am originally from New York State and the BAR has never been used as a hunting rifle. Even Mr. Browning referred to his rifle as an anti-personnel weapon. 

          • I'm sorry, what?


            The browning BAR is a classic hunting rifle. You can get one in 30-06, .308, and a number of full power rifle cartridges that used to be the standards for our military. The 5.56 was developed as an intermediate round because the .308/7.62×51 NATO was logistically too heavy to carry, twice as expensive, and overpowered.

            7.62 retains over 1,700 foot-pounds of energy at 500-yards versus 5.56 which drops to 950 foot-pounds at 500-yards. It's a high powered rifle cartridge, the .223/5.56 is not in the same class. But as the other commenter mentioned, the difference doesn't mean much when it comes to school shootings. Or if some Rightwing militia is running amuck. I'll keep my AR15s as long as they have theirs, thank you.

        • Gotta say I'm always a bit bothered by people who feel their thoughts and opinions on this subject are more meaningful because they can spout weaponry knowledge and expertise; calibers and muzzle velocities, blah blah blah.  The obsessive technical jargon means absolutely shit to the parent of a child whose body has been instantaneously and horribly disassembled by someone's twitch of a finger.

          • There are two major factors that contribute to how many people die in these mass shootings, First is the capacity of the magazine – how many bullets can be fired without reloading. (Reloading is the moment unarmed civilians can rush the shooter.) 

            The second is the velocity/design of the bullet. That may sound all techie but it's the reason the AR-15 kills better than the AK-47. The AK has a much bigger and slower round – it's more likely to leave you wounded while the AR will leave you dead. It makes no difference to a legitimate gun owner for sport or hunting. It's a big difference for the gun buyer who fantasizes about murder. 

            The "technical jargon" is absolutely crucial to the lawmaker threading the needle of allowing some gun ownership while limiting access of the types of weapons that should not be out there and the types of persons who should not possess. 

            As somebody else observed, pretending there are no answers is a standard technique for preserving the status quo.

          • To Doug, there's no "reply" button below your comment; I understand, I don't disagree, and I get your point. 

            I think the point I'm trying to make is that steering such discussions into the weeds of technical jargon is a distraction, and often I believe a deliberate distraction, as in "if you don't know the difference between an AR-15 and an AK-47 you've got no business talking about this!".  A lot of people don't know the difference and don't care, they've just had enough and want it to stop.

            I understand that the technical jargon of mag capacity and lethal-ness of various types of rounds, etc. would necessarily enter into discussion if it reached the weedy floor of Congress.  But I believe a lot of people are ready for the eye of that needle to be greatly enlarged, perhaps open it up with a Barrett M-82.

        • We have a gun issue in this country because people like you have been brainwashed by the NRA. The NRA is not a "2nd amendment: organization. They are a marketing arm for the gun industry. They have pushed and passed laws in this country for decades to guarantee that more guns will be purchased by scared  civilians. The number of guns in the hands of idiots is the problem, and the GOP and the NRA have made sure everybody not only has a gun but that they can open carry it publicly. This is not to ensure safety it is to intimidate non gun owners into buying a gun so they can open carry. The whole fucking thing is to make money, if you can't see what is going on it is because you don't want to.

        • "223/5.56 that isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the 30-06 Springfield"

          Your full of shit. I have a pretty big gun collection including an AR, I was in the Army, I was an Armorer for the 2nd 32nd Field Artillery, I've worked on and repaired thousand of guns from M-16's all the way up to 155mm cannons, so if you want to argue about guns with me you better have your facts. What makes an AR lethal is not the caliber (that's just the size of the round) what makes it lethal is the charge which determines the velocity and the shape of the bullet itself which is designed to tumble once it hits it target. The  223 Remington or 5.56 NATO are both designed as high velocity rounds. They are both designed to tear flesh and cause maximum damage to the human body.

          • That's nice. I was in Echo Battery 1/7 ADA. Did Basic in Fort Sill, home of the field artillery. I'm not going to argue ballistics with anyone who instists that 30-06 isn't a bigger more devistative round balistically than .223/5.56.

        • "

          "Gun owner’s insurance, and mandatory training also fall in the category of not effective, unless you’re talking about limiting the rights of minorities and low income folks who can’t afford to meet those requirements. Those are the folks you will disarm. First. It has been demonstrated in the past it wont stop there."

          Straight out of the NRA handbook, especially the last phrase, troll. Note the first sentence, insurance and mandatory training are "not effective."  According to what study, in what state was it tried and how did it fail? Crickets. on that but the odor of MAGA drifts through. 

          Mandatory training "not effective"????  When I say mandatory, I mean you have to pass a written at the end of the course. And a physical test, firing the gun at the range under they eye of an examiner. If you can't pass, you can't have a gun.

          Knowledge can't guarantee you WILL do the right thing, but millions of idiots own guns who NEVER take them out to the range, have had no experience shooting them, and won't pay the money to secure the gun, even if they have kids in the house. 

          Have prospective gun owners had to consider that they could be arrested at work for an incident involving their gun that they were not part of? You are cuffed because your gun was fired in your house while you were at work. WTF??! How can that be fair?

          A neighbor heard the shot and called the police. Your ten-year-old, back from school, and unattended took the gun and fired a round – into the wall, not his friend. You should be charged because if you are a gun owner, you are responsible. (That's my definition of "responsible gun ownership." If you own a gun and you screw up then you go to jail because you're responsible. If you aren't comfortable you can get it right 100% of the time, maybe you want to reconsider.)

          Ignorance is dangerous, flying a plane, driving a car, operating heavy machinery… In what universe is owning a device designed to kill something that should require no training or regulation?

        • …requiring proper storage of guns and ammo. But none of those things ever contributed to a school shooting

          Where exactly do you think all those teenage school shooters got their weapons, if not from their parents' unsecured gun stash?

          • Like I said, I am all for requiring safe storage laws. I have one myself. The kids who carry out these crimes out put a lot of planning into them.


            Some, like Adam Lanza simply murdered his mother and took the keys to the gunsafe. Did you know you used to be able to order military surplus M-1 carbines out of the back of comic books and magazines back in the 50's? They even changed the National Firearms Act to allow the Army to sell off short barreled rifles. Changed the minimum barrel length after the fact to 16" so they wouldn't have to spend a bunch of money buying them back. 16 year old kids could order military grade rifles with 15 round detachable magazines and a crate of bullets, no questions asked. And there were no mass school shootings with them. What changed? You ever look at a picture of that kid? Mrs. Lanza should have locked up those guns alright. Shoulda threw that kid behind lock and key too. 


  6. "They’re clinging to guns because, deep down, they know they’re losing."

    It's not official yet but the governor of TX is going to pardon a convicted murderer who shot dead a liberal protester who was also armed. The victim's gun had the safety on and no round in the chamber.

    As I read it, it's open season on liberals in TX with no limit. Governor Abbot only intends to extend gun rights to one side. 

    • Abbott can't technically pardon anybody, but he can sign off on the recommendation by the States pardon board. A board made up of Abbott appointed stooges, so yeah it's his pardon, but he has an out for PR purposes!

  7. Idiot wrote
    " I'm not going to argue ballistics with anyone who instists that 30-06 isn't a bigger more devistative round balistically than .223/5.56."

    I never used the word ballistic, I did use the word lethal. You started your shit story claiming that: "30-06 Springfield Great Grandpa had and uncle something or another, blah, blah, blah", Well I'd wager  Great Grandpa's 30-06 wasn't equipped with a two 30 round magazines taped together able to delver it's payload in seconds. You’re a moron and a liar. I wouldn’t belive one word yousay, maybe you shoud run for Presdent. The chances of you being a vet are about the same as you being a democrat and Doug being the queen of sheba. Run along now! Twit filter broke?

    • You're not following. Doug said ban all weapons that were designed for war and I responded Grandpa's 30-06 deer rifle was just one such weapon. But your emotions got the better of you and you had to jump in start calling people names, attributing all my thoughts to the NRA, and shot yourself in the foot, so to speak. A .22lr is lethal. Most common hunting rounds are derived from military purposes. You are trying to stop the scary AR-15 when it’s involved in less than 3% of all murders.

      While semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 are a major flashpoint in the gun control debate and are often the focus of attention following mass shootings, there are only about 20 million assault rifles in the United States, a fraction of the estimated 400 million guns in the country. Instead, according to ABC News contributor and former FBI agent Brad Garrett, handguns account for the most gun murders in the U.S.

      You’re scared and emotional and not using logic. Because you and the rest of the folks on this thread don’t know or understand that which you are trying to control you will never control it, just like the Republicans who don’t understand the complexity of Gender I see making buffoons of themselves in the news every day. You have to do better if you want to make a change. Taking away rights without due process and undemocratically is not making things better.

      • The problem isn't just the AR it's the fact that idiots like you can buy one, run along now troll! I'm finished with your circular shit show!

        • I can't buy an AR-15 in New York State. Recent laws passed in reaction to the Buffalo shooting now require a Semi-automatic Rifle License to purchase one. Because the people who wrote the law were like you and don’t have firm grasp on Law or Firearms they made the Semi-automatic rifle “license” effectively an endorsement on your Pistol permit. I’m 45 an never wanted a pistol but now I’ve applied for one and the process will take 6 months to year. Or at least that’s what it used to take. Now everyone is applying for pistol permits post-Bruen. They’re flooded and backlogged at the Sherriff’s department.  This is what I’m trying to tell you, you don’t understand the unintended consequences of these poorly written blanket bans you’re advocating for.

          P.s. Another example, the law is worded so vaguely as to allow you to build as many AR15s from parts as you want. I’ve built two since November, one for deer hunting and one for varmint hunting. Why wait? Cheers.

  8. In Uvalde a hundred good guys with guns couldn’t stop a single bad kid with a gun.  So no, having more guns doesn’t seem the answer.  And it’s easy to imagine that out of that hundred one of them is going to screw up and another bad kid will get his gun.  Maybe the next hundred will have better luck?

    The entire rest of the civilized world, with its comparative utter lack of random gun violence aimed at children, looks upon the once mighty American nation and sees little more than a cautionary tale.

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