Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Clackamas Slayride

Another shopping day 'til Christmas, another whackadoodle takes his his buddy's rifle to the mall.
We could blog the hell out of this.

But why bother?
We pretty much know already what stories will come out of this. The shooter will turn out to be either the scary loner with the gun collection (He used to scare the kids! We almost never saw him but when we did he was a freakazoid!") or the sweet boy who seemed so normal ("He used to mow our lawn." "He was always so polite...").

The police will conclude that there was nothing that could have been done that wasn't.
The usual suspects will fulminate about how the loon managed to get his hands on an AR-15. The other usual suspects will bloviate about how a sturdy yeoman with a Glock could have put one into his brain housing group and stopped the rampage before it began.

The usual ghoulish fascination will erupt through the daily fire-and-murder-news cycle for a day or so and be off the heavy rotation by the week's end.
And the sad reality is that we know, we simply know, how to make these random nutter shootings more difficult. Firearms, especially autoloading firearms, make it ridiculously easy to kill random strangers. If this zombie had to indulge his bloodlust with an axe, or a scythe, or even a bolt-action rifle it would have been orders of magnitude more difficult for him.

It's really that simple. Really.

But autoloading firearms are also just plain fuckin' fun to shoot, and we love our shooting fun, and we, We the People, are perfectly content to let others die or live with their wounds so that we may have our fun.
We're just too canny to come out and say it that way.

But, hell, y'all know that.

In fact, we discussed the hell out of it back in the spring when another nutter went and shot up a theatre in Colorado.
So. Silent Night Deadly Night. Chopping Mall. Whatever.

What else is new?

Couple of quick observations:

First, we really live in an extraordinarily safe time and place. As little as three hundred, five hundred, a thousand years ago we'd be shocked if most of the people we knew weren't dead of the Plague, or raped, butchered, then raped again in the latest fill-in-the-blank invasion/civil war/pogrom. I think that's why these random mad minutes make the news; they shatter the illusion we live in that our lives and our homes are so perfectly safe. They're a little teensy one-nutter Mongol Horde thundering in over the horizon to rape and pillage.

Then we really need to start accepting that so long as we're going to be okay with widespread private firearms that these occasional nutter-shootings are just going to happen. They are. And nothing short of a violent change in the way American society and public law works will change that.

And the final, simple, reality is that humans kill each other, always have and probably always will. Homo homini lupus; Man is a wolf to Man. This little fracas is just another in the unbroken line that starts back with the first australopithecus that went doolally with a camel thighbone and brained some of the gang around the waterhole and will continue on until the first flare of the solar nova bakes all humanity to a delicate crunch.
Really...what else is there to say?
Only what we say here in Portland; forget it, Jake; it's Clackamas County.

Update 1, 12/12 p.m.: Here's some more detail on the idiot who did the shooting. He apparently lifted the Armalite from a pal, and for the record here's the part that gets me: "...the rifle jammed during the 22-year-old's attack, but he managed to get it working again."

So this numbnuts steals what we'll have to assume is a weapon he's completely unfamiliar with, manages to get it to double feed (or either fail to feed or fail to eject, all fairly typical AR-15-type malfunctions) while he's capping sweet white-haired grannies and grampies, and then manages to do some sort of immediate action and gets it working again.

This is the thing about firearms; they're fucking easy. They're simple to work, especially modern military-style firearms which are designed to be used by deadhead draftees and Somali teenagers. They're quick to debug if they malfunction. And they're easy to use; just point at the nearest toddler and shoot.

It takes some strength, some determination, and some damn deadly difficult-to-learn homicide skills to kill someone with a nunchuck. Or a pickaxe. Or a bread knife.

But an AR-15?

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, as the little ponies say.

Update 2: Charlie Pierce, as usual, has more, and better, to say.

23 comments:

herlanderwalking said...

Yes, the news frothed on and on and on...till the eleven o'clock news STILL calling it a 'developing story' stomped on my last "fucking realllly?" nerve. The d-i-l to be is from Portland, she was shaken up badly; it does seem a cautious person has to fear going anywhere these days....a movie, shopping, to work.

But no, we don't need to consider gun control at all. I am just profoundly grateful there were not more deaths.

FDChief said...

For me the most frustrating thing about these mad minutes, Labrys, is that we HAVE considered gun control; we've "considered" it to death, excuse the bad pun.

But the end result of this consideration is always that we flat-out enjoy our toys too much to want to DO anything that might keep the same toys out of the hands of dangerous nutters.

We sorta-kinda do the same thing with regards to stuff like commercial aviation and highway traffic and public health. We know - flat-out know - that a certain number of us are going to die that wouldn't if, say, we reduced highway speeds to 50mph, or required more aviation safety measures, or paid for more meat inspectors.

But those would drive up the cost and nuisance of driving and flying and hamburgers, so we don't. We accept that a certain number of us are going to die in accidents or from e. coli and concentrate on suing the ass off the individuals or corporations involved in the actual deaths.

Maybe that's the way to handle these damn things; sue the shit out of the dead shooter's family and the outfit that sold him the weapons.

I dunno. But the hypocrisy and wailing and posturing from all sides that surround these shoot-em-ups always bugs me more than the actual shootings themselves...

herlanderwalking said...

Yeah, the highly publicized hand-wringing bit makes me grind enamel off my teeth, too. We seem incapable of taking a sane look at things.

We pay taxes to be used for useless security theater moves like TSA because THAT is about protecting us from crazy brown terrorists; but we can't face the fact that crazy greedy white people are complicit in American deaths daily, for all the reasons you listed and more.

We don't seem to learn.

FDChief said...

Speaking of "useless security theatre", how about the high-speed, low-drag, digital-cammied, ballistic-helmeted Clackamas Sheriff's Deputy Strike Force ambling around in front of Sears like the Prussian Guard? Is that ridiculous, or what?

I'm thinking of doing a post on this idiotic waste of tax dollars and the concomitant stupid it works on the mind of the average copper. Just another drop in the bucket, but, still...

Ael said...

The deep problem is that we have no organized way to improve our society.

Certain parts of society like air transportation, and yes even the army) introspect and try and improve themselves. The pret-ty article before this one is an excellent example.

However, society as a whole only progresses as a result of random walk (and occasional evolutionary truncation)

We could do better, as long as everyone agreed on what "better" means.

Swanditch said...

We need to pull out of Clackastan asap.

Lisa said...

Yes, Ael, "better", if we could have a confab on the definition and the will to implement it. Shy of that, we rely on injunctions like the 10 Commandments, and get confused. Not that the law is that ambiguous, but most of us reside in that netherworld between sacred and profane.

After all -- thou shalt not kill, and yet, thou shalt not commit adultery, for instance. We're not to exact vengeance (God alone may), and yet we are told that a bit of God resides within us. We're told we're sheep (a flock), and yet we are some monumental importance to this god.

We're constantly shocked by violence, but as Chief suggests, it's hardwired; the only question is, who does what to whom, and for what justification?

FDChief said...

Ael: I liked Charlie Pierce's observation; look at drunk driving and smoking.

The way we deal with those issues weren't changed by introspection or self-correction; they were changed by a repeated battery of lawsuits and political beatdowns.

Every time some drunk killed some adorable family the drunk driving laws were tightened up. Every time somebody's eight-pack-a-day grannie croaked with lungs like tar sands R.J. Reynolds got battered about the head with their bullshit lying about the dangers of smoking.

But the bottom line is that we like our guns more than we like other people. We just don't have the balls to turn to the families of the two dead people this nutter killed and tell them "Too fucking bad for you, loser. Besides, I've got to go up to Estacada and bust some caps tomorrow..."

Swanditch: Yes, but if we do then the Republican terrorists win.

Lisa: Fewer dead people? That'd be a good start. I think most people could agree on that.

But the thing is, we've already concluded that we want to keep our guns, the justification is the Second Amendment or whatever, and the inevitable casualties are just somebody else's problem.

Podunk Paul said...

Chief,
No hard feelings, but I think you’re dead wrong about guns. The pleasure principle does not apply to tools for willful killing. Whatever jolt of pleasure of one gets from squeezing off 16 rounds in 8 seconds does not compare with the pain any one of these projectiles inflicts. Automobiles, motorcycles, cigarettes are, as you point out, inherently dangerous. But they are not murder weapons. Semi-automatic firearms are just that – designed, purchased and used to kill.

I happen to live in a country – Mexico – were guns and their ammunition are banned. And where we have an on-going conflict, fueled by North American demand for drugs and facilitated North American sales of military-style firearms, that has killed 50 or 60,000 people during the last six years. Nobody can say with exactitude how many have died.

As for the argument that an armed citizenry maintains civic peace, I would invite the NRA to come to Matamoros or Juarez or Reynosa and make the experiment.

Podunk Paul said...

Chief,
I re-read your post and apologize for the previous comment. I thought you were taking the NRA line, when, instead you are saying that the ready availability of lethal weaponry is only another example of the cost that a minority imposes on the rest of us when exercising the their rights to have “fun.” Sorry about that.

herlanderwalking said...

Chief...yeah, every time the news shot up those pics of the vehicles with armored up sorts clinging like remora fish on sharks, I had a strong need for strong drink.

And there it is, folks, your post-911 Homeland Security grant money at work. Cops who wanna play Rambo...without the risk of getting the shit shot out of them.

FDChief said...

Trust the Onion to get it pretty much right:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/authorities-not-even-going-to-bother-looking-for-m,30708/

"Look, we could do a whole thing where we delve into his personal history and find out what, psychologically, made this particular murderer tick, but screw that, here's our conclusion: He was a complete asshole and a crazy prick, and he shot random, innocent strangers for no reason at all, because he was terrible," Clackamas County Sheriff Cody Arnold told reporters, shrugging his shoulders. "Fuck 'em, you know? Guy was a really shitty person. There's your motive right there." Authorities also confirmed that insane assholes who are allowed to have guns tend to do insane things with them, "How about that?"

Leon said...

In more depressing news, another shooting at a school with 27 dead, 18 kids.

Jesus fuck.

herlanderwalking said...

Yep, and it is STILL too soon to talk about gun control. Or any other rational damned thing, apparently.

I am beyond disgusted. Jesus fuck indeed.

FDChief said...

"They cry "peace, peace" but there is no peace."

There will not be any until an change in the nutter-shooting situation until some advocacy group - "Mothers Against Autoloading Weapons" ("Maaw" or some damn thing) - begins doing what MADD did for drunk driving and jams the 2nd Amendment sideways up the NRA's ass.

Period.

I'm betting you that this will be off the heavy-rotation news cycle by NEXT Friday.

Sigh. Fuckin' people...

Lisa said...

It will be off the news cycle, dislodged by the next 15-min-of-famer. IMHO, it is the culture which is problematic. The nutters which perpetrate these crimes are rarely long-term shooters; instead, they get it in mind that killing people might be a correct thing to do.

Why THAT is happening is the correct question.

FDChief said...

Lisa, human "culture" has always included nutters, whackaloons, and murderous assholes. The reason I linked to that Onion piece is because for all that it's intended to be sarcastic it's correct; some people are just assholes, some assholes are just murderous assholes, and that's really all there is to it.

I doesn't matter, frankly, whether these assholes are "long-term shooters". We the People know, or should know, that it will be a damn sight harder for these assholes to murder people in job lots if they have to do it with knives, or bombs, or singe-shot revolvers.

But we've chosen to privilege the 2nd Amendment rights of the "long-term shooters"...and the autoloading thrill-wankers...and the I-hunt-with-an-assault-rifle idiots over the right of everyone else not to have an asshole nutter lock and load a 30 round magazine and cap their kindergartner.

Lisa said...

I respect your passion deeply, Chief, but I do not think the dichotomy is as facile as you present in your last graph. It implies that either we protect the rights of the sane shooter, or we give the others license to kill. Presented thusly, one seems an idiot to not agree to gun control.

We get all riled up when 2 or 20 are killed in the latest nutter rampage, and are ready to toss away yet more civil rights, acting disingenuously (I believe) when we think we have solved the problem or even mitigated any potential future loss of life.

These grotesquely painful pinpricks remind us that we have a monster in our midst, but I'm not sure that the monster is the tool used.

FDChief said...

"It implies that either we protect the rights of the sane shooter, or we give the others license to kill. Presented thusly, one seems an idiot to not agree to gun control."

But it really IS that simple, Lisa.

And we make this bloody tradeoff all the time.

We choose to have fewer meat inspectors accepting that there will be a statistical increase in the number of people who die from e. coli infections each year.

We accept that our 70-mile-per-hour speed limits will cause a statistical increase in the number of deaths and hideous maimings from high-speed collisions each year.

We accept that our weapons will be made by the lowest bidder knowing that a statistical number more of our soldiers will be killed or die because their weapons will not work or work as they should.

So if we agree that having an AR-15 "Sporter" is my "civil right" - and I don't agree that my government can't refuse to let me own one as opposed to, say, an M1 Garand or a 30-06 Springfield or a flintlock musket, for that matter; the amendment says "keep and bear arms" without specifying number and type - then dead schoolchildren may well be the price we agree that others should pay to maintain that right.

We agree that others' children should die to allow us to zip along the freeways or to buy a $1.98 hamburger, right?

But I'm really, really, really, REALLY fucking sick and tired of hearing people argue in favor of that civil right WITHOUT accepting the price.

Can you believe that the anti-control advocates are now suggesting that the solution is to strap the kindergarten teachers?

Fucking hell. That's insane, and it convinces me that there is no use talking more about this; see the latest post.

Lisa said...

Israel straps the elementary teachers and they don't have this problem. That is not to say they have the solution; they live in a sadly neurotic society by necessity, but they have responded to an identified need.

Have we? We cannot even speak honestly about the problem, nor even defined it.

FDChief said...

Israel?

Israel, Lisa?

Are you seriously suggesting that our model should now by the intensely militarized, hemmed-in, under-siege monoculture of Israel? Where practically EVERYBODY goes armed - I saw more M-16s on the buses in Jerusalem in 1984 than I did during my entire hitch in the Army! Teachers in Israel have to worry not about random nutters but about fanatical Palestinians; THAT's the main reason they go strapped.

And are you really implying that a U.S. schoolteacher - with a bunch of U.S. kids to deal with rather than young Israelis, who practically from the cradle learn that they must fight to survive and grow up, most of them, in homes with reservist parents (a "well-regulated militia") in a society that needs and carries firearms as survival tools - will be able to tote around her Glock without some little fucktard snatching it to play Halo with his playground buddies? And you WERE a teacher!

Sigh.

And you are a brilliant, widely-read, lovely, humane woman.

I dread to think what the thugged-up rednecks' take on this is.

The bottom line really is that

I despair. I really do.

I'm going to take a break from this for a while. When you, my friend, aren't even willing to conceded to DISCUSS some practical measures to disarm our society, there is no sense to be had here.

I'll be back in a couple of days.

Lisa said...

Please know that I do not anticipate nor would I revel in being a nation which must arm its teachers; most definitely not.

Though I live amongst them, I do not agree with those who imagine a "toting society" would have defused the shooter in the Aurora theatre. Such is a fantasy O.K. Corral scenario, good gun owners shooting the bad. No, that will not happen either.

If we were a nation founded in gun control, that would be one matter, but weapons are ubiquitous. People like Jim will argue on principle that if the citizens have a right to bear arms, that right should not be abridged. Of course I see the absurdity of the "preppers" who imagine they might stave off some rogue governmental intrusion into their lives -- an individual, or even a collective, will never be able to match the firepower of their government; to believe otherwise is a pipe dream.

But if we are to abide by our Constitution, our rights cannot be abridged (save by Amendments). Shooting schoolkids is not a new phenomena by far; see --

School Killing in US by K12Academics
__________________

I wrote this today @ WeMeantWell:

Mr. Hodgdon says, “mental illness is not required to murder or make violence.” True. The murderous impulse lies within, and cannot be expurgated; religious dogma and modern laws attempt to curtail the act.

What we are being disingenuous about (in the name of being p.c.) is looking at the ways that our societal degradation and disintegration is affecting humans. We are hardwired to exist within and react to certain situations, and presumably to do so in a fairly well-adjusted or at least self-serving manner. What is coming too fast and furious is the onslaught that is current media, in all its modalities.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” That’s about the size of it.

FDChief said...

"But if we are to abide by our Constitution, our rights cannot be abridged (save by Amendments)"

Sure they can, Lisa!

Does our right to free speech allow us to post WikiLeaks documents? Apparently not - national security, you know!

Does our right to a speedy and public trial allow us to be free from the spectre of Gitmo and Bagram? From the fate of a Bradley Manning? Apparently not - national security, you know!

The past decade has seen an expansion of the national security state to a degree unprecedented since the Second World War. We have uniformed officials that can detain us indefinitely in airports and refuse us permission to travel on aircraft and refuse to tell us why.

We have people who can decide to kill people, including American citizens, for reasons of "national security" and refuse to tell us why.

We have people who can and have tortured prisoners.

Can you point out the National Security Amendment that amends the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments?

Why the hell would we suddenly drag out the Second Amendment, then, and make it some wonderful, perfect, unbreakable pledge?

When we're done with wiretapping, imprisoning whistleblowers, illegal searches, secret prisons, torture, and false confessions...THEN I'll get all precious about the damn firearms.

All those fucking firearms haven't done dick about those OTHER Rights, now, have they?

Screw it; I'm done here.