Friday, July 20, 2012

The Batman Slayings: First Impressions

What do we know? A man went to a midnight showing of the “The Dark Knight Rises,” left through the front emergency exit door once in the theater, left the door propped open, armed himself with an assault rifle, shotgun, two handguns, and tear gas, and donned a bullet proof vest, gas mask, and riot helmet.

He re-entered, gassed the room, and he shot 12 people dead and wounded many others. Accounts I see say “59 injured,” but there is no indication yet if some of these are only for gas inhalation or other injuries (like trampling). Many are noted to be in critical condition. He also rigged his apartment with what appear to be explosives.

What we know about the man (who I have chosen not to name) is that he was a Ph.D student who had recently dropped out, apparently as a pre-emptive move from being kicked out of the program. We also know his mother didn’t seem too surprised for some reason. Then there’s the typical, “He was an odd guy,” comments from neighbors.

This isn’t really a good time for me to comment. There’s no way of knowing some things yet, and even as I write this, I am Googling and re-Googling the story looking for updates. I tend to write on matters of politics and religion, and I don’t think this attack had much of anything to do with politics or religion (at least, there’s nothing to indicate that yet). However, there’s still speculation, which I’ll address.

Already you have ABC finding a possible link with the shooter to the Denver Tea Party (but emphasis should be put on the fact that this is not confirmed), which was followed by a highly dubious claim at a conservative blog (which I also won’t name… for similar reasons that I won’t name the shooter) claiming that the shooter was a “registered Democrat.” Never mind that Republicans are always asking their people to register as Democrat to mess with primary races, because there’s already emerging evidence showing the shooter was not registered to vote at all (but again, this could change).

The real issue in these crimes is almost always the same: gun control. But don’t even expect a discussion on gun control, since Americans have been bombarded with decades of misinformation regarding guns. Most Americans can’t even avoid having a knee-jerk emotional response to the words “gun control.”

From how they react, you’d think I was recommending universal castration. “Gun control” is immediately interpreted as “banning all guns,” and I would like nothing more than to stab the next person who makes me sit through some bullshit, unoriginal, uninspired lecture about how the second-amendment protects me from the government… you know, the government which is armed with stealth bombers, pilotless killer drones, and nuclear weapons.

So now, we wait. We wait as we learn more about what happened (though this will largely be to satisfy our sick curiosity than to actually “learn” from it). We also wait as our politicians tip-toe around the real issue here, afraid to upset America’s gun fanatics and powerful firearms lobby during an election year. We wait, and more people die, not only in movie theaters, but also in homes, in streets and alleys, behind store counters… we wait, as over 12,000 people per year are gunned down, many of the victims being gun owners themselves who found out owning a gun doesn’t make you a hero.


  1. You've got it pegged. And you make the point I would make: " (though this will largely be to satisfy our sick curiosity than to actually “learn” from it)."

    The problem is that Americans "focus on" events and learn absolutely nothing from them. If there was a learning process, it would be worthwhile. But as you say, no one will even mention that guns are the problem. So lots of attention (check); no learning (check). USA! USA! USA! Ugh.

  2. We need crazy people control, not gun control.

    1. I'm more inclined to let crazy people walk the streets free than allow the same for people who stockpile weapons and are not clinically insane. One is clearly more of a danger than the other.

    2. Right, tell that to the people of Syria who are being decimated by their own government. Right about now, Syrian civilians wish they had as many guns as the average American, and they probably don't give a crap about crazy Joker impersonators.

      Guns are only 'bad' until you need one.

    3. No guns will protect you from the government. That is the weakest against gun control there is.

      Do you honestly expect me to believe even assault rifles will protect you from nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and unmanned drones?

    4. No, of course not. But when Bashar al-Assad's gestapo comes knocking at your door at 3 AM for something you tweeted, at least you have a fighting chance to take a couple of them down with you, giving your wife an kids a chance to run out the back door and jump in the car.

      It's about self-defense; the most basic of all human rights.

    5. For someone who talks about how we need "crazy person control," your grasp of reality seems tenuous, at best.

    6. See, we have a good government here in the US; one that mostly respects human rights. Not with a clean record (we still have the death penalty), but we are better than China. But 40, 60 years from now, what will it be like? We could end up like Somalia or Syria. We can't predict the future. So we have to hold on to our rights. Not just for ourselves, but for future generations as well. Our decisions today will impact our descendants for generations to come.

      Don't be selfish... think of your great grand children.

    7. You do realize people in Syria and Somalia can and do own guns, right...

    8. Yes, and those that do are glad they have them because they live in such shit holes.

      America could very well be on its way to become such a shit hole in the future if the Republicans drive our economy into the ground with their trickle-down bullshit.

    9. Don't you realize even second and third world countries can suppress an armed populace without outside intervention? That's sort have been one of the primary lessons of 20th century geopolitics...

    10. Hmm. Didn't quite work so well for Nicholas II and Louis XVI. Sometimes the peasants get the upper hand.

      Again, the point I am trying to make has nothing to do with revolution. It's about self-defense at the individual level, wether it's against a Gestapo agent, against a Joker impersonator in a crowded theater, against a serial killer home invader, against a coked-up mugger, against a bear, or against a Syrian soldier. People have a right to own effective tools to protect their own lives.

      If you don't believe that, that's fine. Just dial 911 and cross your fingers.

    11. Which guns did they use against Nicholas II and Louis XVI again? And how many tanks, bombers, aircraft carriers and missile silos did those monarchs have?

      The problem is no statistic supports the idea that guns make people safer. The more guns, the more random violence there is.

      It's not enough that I choose not to own a gun. Not being armed myself doesn't protect me from psychotic people being able to own 90 clip assault rifles.

      You're just dead wrong on this one. It's unfortunate you will probably never allow yourself to see that, because yours is an ignorance that is epidemic in America thanks to the gun lobby.

    12. There are arguments for why some people should have certain types of guns, but it's pathetic when I hear elaborate fantasies of fending off the government or intruders in conjunction with stonewalling any attempt to control the flow of military grade weapons into the population.

      It's sheer ignorance, really, an ignorance that goes hand-in-hand with many other American fallacies, because America will believe anything if it reinforces their delusions self-reliance.

    13. If you want to pretend you're arming yourself to overthrow a despotic government, I have only one question: what are you waiting for? We're already living in a country that is taking away more important rights than the ability to own assault rifles, and all you gun owners are just waving your dicks in the air. Honestly, what the fuck are you pussies waiting for? Concentration camps to spring up?

    14. Guns don't cause violence any more than flies cause garbage.

      Don't carry a gun. You don't have to. I am not forcing you to. It's your own life, you are free to protect it as you see fit.

      If you don't feel that you can effectively protect yourself with a weapon or are unfamiliar with their safe handling and operation, then you shouldn't own one anyway, because you are just going to hurt yourself.

      But some people are trained in how to use them in such situations. In the hands of a well trained, confident individual, firearms are an effective self-defense tool, so yes, guns do have a place in the hands of civilians.

    15. Let me say it again... It's not about revolution, it's about self-defense at the individual level.

      I only gave the example of Syria because these people really are in deep shit.

    16. Flies do cause garbage. A major constituent of dust is insect parts. And the point isn't "guns cause violence," it's that "some guns allow a person to shoot 80 people, while other guns or types of weapons don't facilitate such a massacre."

      Telling me I don't have to endanger others by owning a firearm doesn't really do anything. You might as well tell me I don't have to commit murder if I don't want to, but that I shouldn't try to stop you. Sorry, that isn't how it works. You're free to engage in countless activities that won't potentially kill innocent people. Owning military weapons doesn't need to be one of them. There's no real use for it.

    17. Trust me: you should never talk about the government when talking about guns. It makes you look like a crazy person who lives in a buried bus.

      Hint: you look semi-legitimate when you point out that you should be allowed to own typical guns used for hunting or protection. And I know you support gun control, so I don't know why you get upset about this. You know there are limits, so why pretend there aren't?

    18. "Owning military weapons doesn't need to be one of them. There's no real use for it".

      Sure there is. You want weapons just as good if not better than what the criminals already have. Why choose inferior weapons?

    19. Well then you need nuclear weapons, or else it's all pointless. Hence, you should have nothing.

    20. It's sad... two super powers bankrupted themselves learning it and you couldn't bother to internalize the fact that the Cold War taught us that an arm race is counter-productive and dangerous.

    21. I mentioned the SYRIAN government.

      I mentioned the chaotic shit hole that is Somalia.

      Don't paraphrase me out of context and don't put words in my mouth, please, that is what politicians do, and I know you are not one.

      If hypothetically speaking we were invaded in the future by a hypothetical enemy, we hypothetically would have to fight for our freedom and for our country. Then we would hypothetically need arms, and it would be hypothetically be unwise to ban them, in hypothetical preparation for such a hypothetical scenario. Or we hypothetically could have a socio-economic collapse and go back to a feudal system in which case we would need arms to protect ourselves against wild bands of marauders and oppressive feudal lords bent on making us plow their fields. Hypothetically speaking. History can take surprising twists and turns, you can't predict the future.

      Again, I am talking about self-defense. This is the primary purpose of firearms. I enjoy law and order and living in a peaceful community. I believe in democracy and due process of law. I believe in human rights and in the respect for the civil rights of all. I support our form of government and our Constitution. I have even pledged an oath of allegiance to this country, and I sincerely meant every word of it.

      Maybe I took the conversation on a unnecessary tangent by mentioning the Syrian civil war, and I should learn to be more focused in my argumentation. For the record, I think idiots who speak of revolution are just as crazy as the Colorado shooter. This is not how we do things in a democracy. I also think that wars are useless and only cause pain and suffering for innocent civilians.

      We already have a ban on fully automatic firearms, (since 1934, as a matter of fact), and I am OK with that. I don't think fully automatic weapons are needed by anyone other than a military under strict civilian oversight, to be used only for the purpose of national defense against an invasion.

      But I do think semi-automatic firearms have a place in the hands of civilians, though I understand and respect your differing opinion on the matter.

  3. Considering the second amendment is where the reasoning for all of this comes from, what well regulated militia are you in again?

    1. Forget the second amendment. I'm talking about something much more fundamental: a basic human right to self-defense. It applies to anyone, anywhere in the world.

      That is where the reasoning for this comes from: The right to life and the right to protect it.

      Besides, in Heller and then in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court has ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and that membership in a militia is not necessary.


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