I attended Sunday’s Falcons game at the Georgia Dome. In addition to the usual presentation of our nation’s flag and the singing of The National Anthem, there was a moment of silence. In days gone by, it would have been a public prayer. Instead, we were instructed to be quiet for a moment of reflection on the lives lost last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. It was brief, but lasted long enough to make me wonder if we didn’t need a longer one, not just at football games, but across the whole country.
I became consciously aware of the shooting just after 1:00 pm Friday, not from the breathless news reports, but while reading Twitter and Facebook. I made the decision not to turn on the television right away. Unfortunately, this has become too familiar that I knew what to expect by doing that. There would be pictures and stories of unimaginable tragedy, told with incomplete and often incorrect information for the first few hours. I decided I could actually postpone reality for a bit, though I pieced together enough thoughts to post a request for “prayers for Connecticut” on my blog at Peach Pundit.
Then I checked out for a couple of hours. It was time for a moment of silence.
Facebook and Twitter are now the rapid response sites for citizen-based commentary during all events. When observing initial reactions there is a one general rule of thumb: You will lose faith in humanity reading knee-jerk responses and political solutions from instant experts while first responders are still trying to treat the wounded and remove bodies.
It is a sad trend that after every shooting in this country, there is a group of people who, without fail, rush to use it to make some political point. There’s always the perfunctory debate about gun control, with advocates stating that somehow gun sellers should predict when someone will use the weapon for evil. And when the target is political in any way, one side always uses it to make the case that the other side is “encouraging hate” and thus somehow to blame for the shooter’s actions.
We saw this clearly in the Gabby Giffords shooting, when those on the left tried to tie Jared Loughner’s actions to Tea Party rhetoric and even absurdly to Sarah Palin by posting pictures of a “target map” she had created, clearly referring to taking POLITICAL action against certain incumbents, not violence. Yet this did not stop liberals like Paul Krugman from plainly implying that she and other conservatives were partly to blame for their so-called “incendiary rhetoric”. This is not to say that the language of Palin and Bachmann is not often excessive and overheated, but it is plainly not encouraging violence.
Fast forward to this week, when a gunman decided to take out his disagreement with the Family Research Council by opening fire, wounding a security guard before being wrestled to the ground. Now, it should be known that I vehemently disagree with basically everything the FRC stands for. But never in a million years would I or any other sane person think this warranted violence. It’s clear that the main issue here was a severely imbalanced person who decided that the way to express his feelings was firing a gun at innocent people.
James Holmes is an evil man. Sick? Quite possibly, but evil none the less. The same can be said of Jared Loughner who is responsible for the Tuscon shooting. The two men, and the events they started, also have something else in common. Both sparked the debate regarding high capacity magazines.
First, let’s clarify something for the non-gun folks who may be reading. Most semi-automatic weapons are designed around specific magazines. For an AR-15 or an AK-47, that is a 30 round magazine. For a 9 mm pistol, it’s usually in the neighborhood of 15 rounds. Those are properly considered standard capacity magazines, not high capacity.
Now that the bit of nomenclature is out of the way, I know that opponents of guns don’t see any reason why someone needs so many rounds in their magazine. Well, let me touch on that one. I probably don’t. On that note though, neither do the vast majority of police officers in this country who could legally secure these so-called “hi capacity” magazines during the Assault Weapon Ban. Law enforcement was exempt from the ban, yet how many officers legally discharge their firearms during the course of their career, not counting range time? Very, very few.
Despite what the movies tell us, police officers find themselves needing to discharge their weapons remarkably few times. Most police officers go their entire careers and never fire their weapons. The same is true for most private gun owners as well.
Gun control is in the news again. Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the Tuscon shootings, when alleged gunman Jared Loughner killed six people and injured thirteen — including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from her injuries. The Daily Caller reports that despite lobbying from gun control activists the White House has offered little more than a nod in their direction, perhaps fearing the impact of any new anti-gun legislation on the president’s reelection efforts in key swing states such as North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. But gun control activists aren’t backing off; progressive news program Democracy Now! reports that one survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, Colin Goddard, is pushing for new gun curbs.
A very different story has also been in the headlines. A recently widowed teen mother, alone at her isolated home in Oklahoma with her 3-month-old son, shot and killed an intruder on New Year’s Eve. 18-year-old Sarah McKinley of Blanchard, Okla., said that she had to make a choice between her son and the intruder, 24-year-old Justin Shane Martin when Martin busted down the door to her home. “I chose my son over him,” said McKinley in an interview with CNN, describing her decision to fire the 12-gauge shotgun that killed Martin. No charges will be filed against McKinley and prosecutors have said that an alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Dustin Louis Stewart, may actually be charged with Martin’s murder.
Ever since the tragic shooting in Tucson, anti-gun forces have been wringing their hands. They see it as a golden opportunity to continue to demonize a mere object, a tool that protects far more lives than it harms, and score political points with their base. Many are proposing a new assault weapon ban, under the deluded idea that it would somehow have prevented the Tucson tragedy.
First, it has about as much likelihood of passing as Whoopie Goldberg has of winning Miss America, but let’s take a look at the reality of what a new assault weapon ban would actually have.
Obviously, we have to guess at what it would look like based on the previous assault weapon ban. Any new law could have significant differences that we won’t know until a bill is formally introduced and makes it through committee. However, much of the talk has indicated the bill will be without significant differences save for the lack of a sunset provision.
The focus for the new AWB will be magazine capacity. Previously, any magazine over ten rounds was deemed illegal to manufacture for civilian use. All so-called high capacity magazines were marked “For Law Enforcement Use Only”. It was illegal to have one of these magazines. However, magazines produced prior to the AWB were still legal.
Even under the old AWB, this wouldn’t have prevented anyone who wanted a 30+ round magazine from getting it, the law simply made them more expensive. Gun stores often hand some on hand, and internet websites still offered them for sale to those willing to use the web for their purchase. It wasn’t difficult to find them.
There is no question that the event that occured during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado on Friday was a tragedy. Nearly everyone is familar with the shocking and disturbing details of the story by now. Excited movie-goers were looking forward to seeing the final part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, only to wind up being victims of a senseless shooting by a clearly disturbed young man.
Most of us would have preferred that the weekend be a time to mourn and pray for the families of the 12 people killed and 58 wounded by this madman. Unfortunately, while families of the victims were grieving, policitians and advocacy groups were already railing against guns and calling for more gun control laws. Leftist blogs have already claimed that the AR-15 used in the shooting would have been banned under the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). However, Right Sphere has debunked this thoroughly.
And, sadly, conspiracy theorists were busy concocting insane tales about how this was a “false flag” operation to gain public support for gun control measures, including the pending treaty with the United Nations.
Pamela Geller isn’t exactly a friend of Islam. She’s pretty well known for that. It’s not surprising that her name popped up in Anders Breivik’s manifesto either. Geller, however, isn’t going to sit quietly while some lash out and try and blame her for Breivik’s heinous act.
Conservative blogger and anti-jihadist Pamela Geller told The Daily Caller it’s “outrageous” that she’s been “assign[ed] blame” for Oslo shooter Anders Behring Breivik’s actions.
“It’s like equating Charles Manson, who heard in the lyrics of Helter Skelter a calling for the Manson murders,” Geller said in an exclusive phone interview. “It’s like blaming the Beatles. It’s patently ridiculous.”
In the manifesto, Breivik cites Geller and other anti-Jihadists as sources for his inspiration. The appearance earned Geller and company a lashing at the hands of The New York Times and many other mainstream media outlets. Reporters have scoured Breivik’s writings, in his manifesto and elsewhere, looking for a connection to anti-jihad activists like Geller.
Geller points out that while she and Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer appear in Breivik’s manifesto, so do several influential historical thinkers. For instance, the New Yorker reports that Breivik cites Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith. “Are they responsible too?” Geller asks.
A little over a week after being shot in the head by a deranged person, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is continuing to put up a miraculous fight to recover:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords smiles at her husband and has even given him a back rub, her doctors said today.
The tracheotomy tube in the throat of the badly wounded Arizona congresswoman prevents her from speaking to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, but the doctors said the smiles were important indicators.
“It implies she is recognizing him, and that she’s interacting perhaps with a more familiar way with him,” Dr. Michael Lemole, the neurosurgeon treating Giffords at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., said at a news conference today.
The doctors reported that they performed surgery on Giffords’ eye socket to remove bone fragments Saturday. Within a few hours of surgery, Lemole said, the congresswoman was “waking up and through the weekend came back to the same baseline as before” the procedure.
“At this time, we’re hoping to continue tying up loose ends” to get ready for the third stage of Giffords’ recovery, rehabilitation, Lemole said.
Giffords’ condition was upgraded Sunday from critical to serious, a day after doctors replaced her breathing tube with a tracheotomy tube to allow her to breathe better and free her from the ventilator.
We haven’t covered anything on the shooting until we heard more about Giffords. Frankly, I’ve been incredibly disappointed - though not surprised - with the fingerpointing from both sides of the aisle in the aftermath of the shooting; even one of the victims has sadly resorted to absurd rhetoric and threats.
“[W]e may never know what motivated this clearly unbalanced individual, but we do know that now is not the time to lay blame or politicize this tragedy.” - Stephen Colbert
Here is more sanity from Monday’s primetime shows on Comedy Central. I noted Jon Stewart’s reasoned approach to the tragedy yesterday, but I overlooked Stephen Colbert’s excellent comments at the opening of his show: