Overcast and quiet this Thursday morning along Caliornia’s northern coast — earlier the sky was clear as a bell, but a thick fog bank could be seen plowing in from the Pacific and soon consumed the heavens above.
Poetic but ridiculous.
Use of firearms in the good-old USA is still shattering the news cycle again — the horrific stand-off in southeast Alabama I wrote about yesterday continued on into this morning. A guy shot and killed a bus driver, kidnapped a special-needs kindergartener and is currently holed up in a bunker.
The lede to CNN‘s post this morning: Somewhere underneath this red Alabama dirt is a 6-year-old boy.
(Illustration found here).
Also yesterday meanwhile, a nasty gun debate took place in the US Senate with a lot of horseshit sprayed around. Gabrielle Giffords, her husband, Mark Kelly, along with the NRA’s chief screw-loose Wayne LaPierre gave testimony, and the result was near dumb-ass crazy.
Via the LA Times:
Gayle Trotter of the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative nonprofit organization focused on women’s rights, defended the wildly popular and widely criticized AR-15 automatic rifle, which was used in the Newtown shooting spree.
â€œAn assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies at home becomes a defense weapon,â€ she said, alleging that the fearsome appearance of the gun grants the wielder a â€œpeace of mind,â€ and an inherent advantage over criminals.
Trotter, who was promoting potent firearms as an equalizer for women outmatched by criminals, was met with laughter and a cry of â€œNot true!â€ when she claimed that her views represented those of millions of women.
Giffords spoke in a halting voice, but laced with conviction:
“This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult. But I need to say something important.
“Too many children are dying,” she said, reading from a short statement.
“Too many children.
We must do something.
It will be hard but the time is now.
You must act.
Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you.”
The NRA assholes were there in force. Dana Milbank at the Washington Post uplifts the gun skirts of insanity:
When he and his colleagues stepped off the elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Wednesday morning and found TV cameras waiting in the hallway, LaPierreâ€™s bodyguards swung into action.
One of them, in blatant violation of congressional rules, bumped and body-checked journalists out of the way so they couldnâ€™t film LaPierre or question him as he walked.
â€œYou donâ€™t have jurisdiction here!â€ a cameraman protested as an NRA goon pushed him against a wall.
After the melee, congressional officials informed the NRA officials that, in the halls of Congress, they had to follow congressional procedures â€” which prohibit manhandling.
This must have come as a surprise to the gun lobbyists, whose swagger seems to suggest that they are, in fact, in control of Congress.
In their world, nothing trumps the Second Amendment â€” not even the First Amendment.
From beginning to end, LaPierreâ€™s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a study in vainglory.
The written testimony he submitted to Congress came with a biography describing him as a â€œRenaissance man,â€ a â€œskilled hunter,â€ and an â€œacclaimed speaker and political force of natureâ€ as he preserved freedom.
â€œThere has been no better leader of this great cause than Wayne LaPierre!â€ the bio boasted.
The NRA chief made all the well-known arguments against gun laws; he reminded senators that the founders didnâ€™t want Americans to â€œlive under tyranny,â€ and he agreed with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) that the proposed ban on assault weapons merely targets â€œcosmetic featuresâ€ of guns.
LaPierre also added the novel idea that people may need guns if they are â€œabandoned by their government if a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits.â€
Most people donâ€™t have such apocalyptic paranoia.
But LaPierreâ€™s job is to stir up the active minority who are frightened and resentful.
â€œIf youâ€™re in the elite, you get bodyguards,â€ he told the senators.
â€œYou get high-cap mags with semiautomatics protecting this whole Capitol. The titans of industry get the bodyguards.â€ He said itâ€™s only â€œthe hardworking, law-abiding, taxpaying American that weâ€™re going to make the least capable of defending themselves.â€
Minutes after that denunciation of the well-protected elites, LaPierre rejoined his bodyguards, who were waiting in a back room.
The word “asshole” doesn’t do the shithead justice.
While all this bullshit was going on, the killing continued — 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who had performed at President Obama’s innauration just last week, shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in Chicago, where 42 folks have been killed by firearms already this year (less than 30 days), the city’s highest month rate in 11 years.
And this morning, Phoenix, Ariz., police are searching for a 70-year-old guy who shot and killed a officer worker and wounded two others: “We believe the two men were the targets. It was not a random shooting,” said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.
A good chance the cops will find the guy dead — suicide.
On Tuesday, Rebecca D. Costa, author of The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse,Â posed inÂ an USAToday op/ed thatÂ a suicide ‘phenomena’ could be fueling the violent uptick in gun use.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Khalid al-Mihdhar and 9/11, or James Eagan Holmes opening fire on movie-goers in Colorado, or more recently, Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old responsible for the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
We now know that in each of these cases, the assailants felt they no longer had a reason to live.
And it is this unnatural state that enabled them to commit unimaginable acts.
Once a person makes a decision to die, the most abhorrent atrocities become permissible.
There are no longer any consequences to fear: no arrest, no jail, no trial, no families of the victims to face, no remorse, no nothing.
Dead is dead.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antidepressants are now the most prescribed drugs in the USA, climbing almost 400 percent from 1988-94 through 2005-08.
Not surprisingly, the biggest jump is among preschoolers and adolescents.
And if that isn’t a clear warning of what lies ahead, then perhaps the fact that an estimated 1 million people in the U. S. report attempting to commit suicide each year â€” and that one succeeds every 14 minutes â€” will trigger an alarm. The number of people who no longer wish to live has been steadily rising in the past two decades, even before the recession.
That suicide rate among military veterans we are so worried about?
It is rising to civilian levels.
And it’s not just the U.S.
Globally, suicides have risen 60 percent in the past 45 years.
We have a widespread affliction on our hands that is affecting the entire human race.
An affliction we understand very little about.
An affliction we continue to sweep under the rug and blame on guns, the economy and every other thing.
An affliction that has become a preamble for mass murder.
It is a problem about people.
The reach of the problem is far deeper.
The CDC reports a million Americans try to kill themselves every year, but twice as many make plans to do it.
While suicide claims a victim four times an hour, one of our friends, family members or neighbors thinks about it every two minutes.
If we have any hope of curbing tragedies such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, we must not allow rhetoric or short-term mitigation overshadow the opportunity to address the real culprit behind mass violence.
Thriving, happy, connected human beings don’t use guns to harm others, no matter how plentiful.
They don’t fashion fertilizer or airplanes into bombs.
And they don’t need the government to regulate these things.
Nature has designed us so that the will to live acts as a deterrent against anything that threatens our continuation â€” including opening fire in a public place.
And so it goes — shit or shoot.