Should we be afraid of the gun extremists?

zombieThis will be a long read because there is so much going on in the insane gun world that it takes a lot of space to write about it. And write about it is what many are doing. It’s hard to deny that our gun culture is so out of whack and so out of tune with what Americans want that it is becoming a tragic and deadly joke to the rest of the world. The fact that it is not lighting a fire under the pants of our elected leaders is a national shame.

I wrote a recent post about gun free zones in which I took issue with the corporate gun lobby’s specious claim that shooters look for gun free zones when they want to shoot people. It is, of course, a lie. This nonsensical and hypocritical claim has led the gun extremists to pushing for guns everywhere as they have convinced lawmakers that it will only be them- the “good guys” with guns who show up in places where guns are not allowed to save the rest of us from certain death.

I had an exchange with one of my readers on my last post about how he believes his children are not safe in their schools ( gun free zones) which is why he has chosen to carry a gun at his child’s school which he says he has worked out with administrators in the school. It is concealed so others don’t know he is carrying. I countered with the facts. Children are actually more safe in their schools than they are in their homes. This great and extensive report by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “The Truth About Kids and Guns points out that 87% of firearms deaths for children 10 and under happen in their own homes- not considered to be gun free zones, by the way.

Let’s look again at the gun free zones nonsense. I pointed out how police officers are frequently attacked by guys with guns. It’s a fact. So the idea that someone with a gun is looking only for gun free zones for their attacks is disproven by the facts. And another example of this has played out in Dallas, Texas where an armed and angry “good guy” with a gun opened fire at a police station where we can presume those inside are armed:

Mr Brown told a news conference that the shoot-out began at about 12.30am local time, when the suspects parked in front of the building and began firing.

He said at least one suspect fled the scene in a van which rammed a police cruiser before leading officers on a chase that ended in an ongoing stand-off at a car park in the city of Hutchins, where more gunfire was exchanged.

Mr Brown said the suspect driving the van told officers that he blames police for losing custody of his son and “accusing him of being a terrorist”. The gunman also said he had explosives in the van, which appeared to be fitted with gun ports in the sides.

Let’s read this again: “”accusing him of being a terrorist””. Hmmm. An angry armed guy in an armored van with possible explosives. What should we call him? Is this what the Texas legislature had in mind when they just passed the law allowing for open carry of any kind of gun on the streets of their cities?

And did you know you could order a Zombie Apocalypse Assault Vehicle and Troop Transport.” vehicle through Facebook? The now deceased attacker had mental illness and anger issues according to his family and clearly had a fascination with guns. He had had prior problems with the law when he tried to choke his own mother but charges were dropped. Where did he get his guns? I think this statement needs more explanation actually ( from the above linked article):

The police report said he was then reported on the same day to be in Paris,Texas, about 100 miles away, where he grabbed weapons and body armour and talked about “shooting up schools and churches”. Andrew Boulware and his father, Jim, confirmed the incident.

So many red flags here. This is why laws such as the recently passed Gun Violence Restraining Order in California are so important. Family members know if a relative has mental illness and shouldn’t have guns. Laws such as this one in addition to requiring background checks on all gun sales can save lives. In this case, only the suspect died but all were lucky that many others were not injured or killed based on the mental state and bad intentions of the attacker. People with mental illness and anger issues such as this man had should not have access to guns.

And seriously, do people actually believe in zombies? Is there an alternate universe that I don’t know about?

Dear God.

But, according to this article, it’s really easy to become a terrorist like this guy in our own country. We talk a lot about those ISIS and other foreign terrorists attacking us. Let’s talk about our own home grown terrorists. I think that is what the guy in the zombie apocalypse van can be called. Check out this article from the Daily Beast about the ease of getting armored vehicles, clothing and guns, of course, right here in our own communities.

Where is common sense? We will see more of this because we are doing absolutely nothing to stop it. This one was in Dallas. The next one could be in your community. And that is not fear and paranoia. That is real. We are not talking about the zombies so feared by the gun extremists. We are talking about severely mentally ill people without the support they need to keep themselves and others safe from harm. We are talking about people with anger issues with guns. We are talking about the gun extremists themselves.

And almost at the same time that this incident was taking place the Governor of Texas was signing the new Open Carry and Guns on Campus bills into law. He signed the bills at a gun range. You just can’t make this stuff up. I’ve talked about Open Carry a lot so won’t get into that in this post.

Today my home town newspaper ran this editorial piece about guns on college campuses:

There has been no major demand on college campuses from students who want to bring guns to school. Instead, pro-gun laws have been foisted on colleges and universities that don’t want them. Why? Because of the power of the gun lobby.

But students don’t desire firearms. A 2013 poll published in the Journal of American College Health found that 78 percent of students at 15 Midwestern colleges and universities rejected guns on their campuses. Almost 80 percent of students said they would not feel safe if faculty, students and visitors carried concealed weapons on campus, and 66 percent said they did not feel that carrying a gun would make them less likely to be threatened by others. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities and more than 420 colleges and universities in 42 states have joined the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus to fight pro-gun laws.

And they are right. Guns do not belong on campuses any more than they belong at schools or in places of worship or in hospitals. College campuses are supposed to be sites of learning, lively debate, quiet contemplation and study. (…)

We don’t need vigilantes. We have professional law enforcement, which sometimes has problems, but is still accountable to us.

As powerful as the gun lobby is, this year so far has not been a complete triumph for the gun rights movement. It lost a battle to get the Florida Legislature to approve a law allowing guns on campuses. And even though Texas passed its gun law, some pro-gun groups saw the law as a defeat because legislators amended it to permit university presidents to set limits on the buildings into which students can bring guns.

Let’s hope that the defeat in Florida and the amendment to the Texas law are just the beginning of a pushback against the gun lobby’s excesses. The last thing we need is more armed students on college campuses.

Gun lobby excesses is the right wording. There are so many examples in every day America of the excesses of the gun lobby and it’s followers. Why isn’t the message getting to the people we have elected to serve the majority and protect the public health and safety? Oh right- corporate gun lobby.

As just another example of a gun extremist acting out his rights as a “good guy” with a gun, let’s look at this heinous shooting at an Iowa shopping mall:

Iowa mall cop — with a Facebook account loaded with open-carry and right-wing memes and photos of multiple weapons — is under arrest for shooting and killing a fellow mall worker because she filed sexual harassment complaints against him.

According to The Gazette, Alex Kozak was taken into custody after shooting 20-year-old Andrea Farrington three times in the back while she was at work at the Iowa Children’s Museum in the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, Iowa.

Police say that the 22-year-old Kozak left the mall and went to his home and retrieved a 9mm Glock handgun before retuning and shooting Farrington late Friday night..

KCJJ reports that a cousin of Farrington’s said that Kozak had been harassing the victim for at least six weeks and that she had complained to his superiors about unwanted advances he had made toward her. (…) Kozak — who is currently being held on $10 million bail — is married to Kellie Kozak, who recently posted pictures on her Facebook page of a visit to Costco where her husband can be seen carrying a sidearm. According to his father-in-law, Kozak didn’t always carry a weapon, saying, “If circumstances were that it’d be best not to have a weapon present, he didn’t have a problem with that.”

You really ought to check out the Facebook screen captures ( in the article) from the page of the shooter’s wife. Dare to speak out against gun insanity and meet with this in your face behavior. The staff at the Costco store the shooter and his wife visited were perhaps prescient. Even though these 2 tried to force their open carry behavior on the clerks and customers, they didn’t want it. Did they sense this guy could be a killer with that gun he carried so proudly and arrogantly?

The shooter had a legal permit to carry that gun. No comment.

The thing is, the majority of us don’t want openly carried or concealed carried guns in public places. Yes,people have a right to own guns but where is the line drawn between civility and harassment and being in the faces and spaces of others?

New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote this column about the in your face nonsense of open gun carriers. From her column:

We’ve moved from the right to bear arms to the right to flaunt arms.

While the airport setting gives the incident a particular flair, this kind of thing has been happening quite a bit. In Michigan, the City of Grand Rapids has been in a legal battle with a man who took umbrage when police stopped him while he was walking down a residential street on a Sunday morning wearing camouflage, with a pistol strapped to his leg and singing “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King.”

Very few states have flat-out rules against openly carrying guns in public. It’s just something that never came up. “It’s not a practical thing to do,” said Laura Cutilletta of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But it turns out that anyone with the legal right to carry a concealed weapon — which, in some states, doesn’t even require a permit — generally also has the legal right to walk into a McDonald’s with a gun sticking out of his waistband. (…)

The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police. At one point, even the National Rifle Association said the open carry demonstrations were “downright weird.” But the organization quickly backtracked, apologized, blamed the post on an errant staffer, and averred that “our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”

You’d think that lawmakers would move quickly to make it illegal, but with a few exceptions, there’s more enabling going on than anything else. After a Kalamazoo man walked into the public library’s summer reading party for children with a 9-millimeter gun strapped to his waist, worried officials asked the State Legislature to add libraries to a very small list of gun-free zones. The Legislature did nothing.

“Look, I got a gun!” yelled a man who walked into a park where kids were playing baseball in — yes! — Georgia. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” The police, who were summoned, determined he was absolutely right.

There’s nothing we can do about it because our state legislators have enabled the corporate gun lobby and gun extremists and left the rest of us with this kind of uncouth and impolite behavior. They ought to be ashamed or embarrassed. Are they? Not so far but if this kind of public display of bravado with loaded guns continues, they will eventually have to take responsibility for allowing themselves to be duped by the gun lobby and fix the problem. It’s already too late but they could at least try. “Better late than never.”

Some people think this is the answer. It has merit and if the insanity continues, who knows? But for some who have been hiding behind the second amendment for opposition to common sense measures to stop the shootings, these are “fighting” words. More on this another time.

I could go on and on and on. The result of our American gun culture brought to us by the corporate gun lobby is that more people are now dying of gunshot injuries and more are surviving thanks to modern medical techniques. I will list a few more but just know I’ll be back to talk about how we can stop at least some of our nation’s senseless gun deaths.

Can we prevent all shootings? Of course not. But we surely have to practice some common sense and do a much better job of keeping guns away from those who shouldn’t have them. But further, we need a serious national discussion about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Too many people are dying in preventable shootings. More guns everywhere is proving to be deadly to our fellow citizens. The gun extremists are afraid of zombies and certain trouble in every nook and cranny of our communities. We should be afraid of those who are afraid of the zombies.

UPDATE:

Remember the man in the zombie van who shot up a Dallas police department? I wrote about it above and wondered how he got his guns. Well they were “legal” guns which were taken from him but returned after charges were dropped in an incident where he tried to choke his own mother:

Lamar County authorities say the weapons found on James Boulware, the man killed by Dallas police following a weekend attack on police headquarters, match guns and ammo confiscated then returned to Boulware two years ago:

A long range hunting rifle with scope. A 12 gauge shotgun. A Ruger rifle. A 45-revolver. A 9-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol. A camouflage flak jacket and body armor and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

That’s just some of the arsenal of weapons confiscated by Lamar County Sheriff’s deputies in May of 2013 after arresting James Boulware on assault charges out of Dallas.

An arsenal of weapons was confiscated then returned after charges against James Boulware were dropped in a 2013 assault. Brett Shipp investigates.

Seems like a pretty #badidea to me. But when our gun laws are so lax that law enforcement and judges can’t do a thing about removing guns from those who clearly should not have them, this is the result. There are some people who should not have guns. We can do something about this if we make changes to strengthen our laws.

UPDATE#2:

So I want to add another article about that “zombie apocalypse” van used by the attacker of the Dallas police station. There are other folks in our country who feel a need to own one of these vehicles. From the article:

Why does he own it? Mr. Funicello, who runs a mixed martial arts gym called the Spartan Academy, said the question should be: Why not?

“This is America,” he said. “I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could.”

Yup. This is America……