Besides race, which it was not about because nothing is ever about race, the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman was not about guns, either. Specifically, it was not about the propaganda of the gun culture by which we are all one small step away from being devoured as a society by criminal (coughblackcough) hordes and the only thing standing between society and the abyss is an Armed Citizenry. Specifically, it was not about the propaganda of the gun culture that sends a George Zimmerman, a pathetic, trigger-happy wannabe cop, out there in public, free to choose to make sidewalk judgments about who belongs where and why, and to back those judgments up with lethal force if it turns out he made a mistake. Specifically, it is not about the propaganda of the gun culture that trafficks in fear and that presents as its only solution deadly weaponry. No, of course, it was not about that, either.
We live now in a vigilante culture. Our police forces are militarized and increasingly prone to rogue operations in which innocent people get killed. (Radley Balko has written an extremely important book about this phenomenon, which shows no signs of slowing down. Why in hell does the Fargo P.D. need a fking tank, anyway? Are the moose getting bigger these days?) They are being encouraged to employ what can only be called vigilante tactics under the color of official authority. You want to push the definition of the word, and there’s a helluva lot to our foreign policy that edges on vigilantism, too. The national legislature has broken down utterly because of the polite vigilantism of a political minority in the Senate — The debt ceiling was “a hostage worth taking,” said Mitch McConnell, and meant it — and because of the legislative vigilantism of an obdurate House Of Representatives.
On the streets, we are being trained paradoxically to both submit to the authority of the police, and to take the law into our own hands, if necessary, because the police cannot possibly protect us from every danger. Stand Your Ground, though it played no role in the Zimmerman trial per se, is vigilantism hallowed by legislation. That’s all it is. This does nothing but produce a national schizophrenia about crime and fear and weaponry that we inevitably act out. If there really were a national background check for mental stability before you could buy a gun, I’m not sure American Society could pass one.
An employee at a Texas public school was accidentally shot on Wednesday during a district-sponsored handgun safety class, KLTV reports.
According to KLTV, Glenn Geddie was a maintenance worker for the Van Independent School District. The school district voted last month to arm some teachers and other employees in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
At the conclusion of the CHL training on February 27, 2013, one certified person stayed for private instruction with the instructor and had a mechanical malfunction with his weapon. With the assistance of the instructor, the malfunction was addressed, but the gun misfired and the bullet ricocheted coming back to strike the VISD employee in the left leg. The VISD employee was attended to at the scene and transferred to Tyler for further treatment. The injury is not life threatening or disabling. Because of privacy and security issues we cannot make any further statement.
A school board member told The Tyler Morning Telegraph that the shooting would not affect their decision to arm employees on campus.
Believe it or not, what’s missing from the current shout-fest over guns and gun control is the voice of gun owners.
Yes, the National Rifle Association has been screaming its head off since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, but the NRA doesn’t speak for the country’s 100 million gun owners. If it did, it wouldn’t have just four million members. Some “gun guys” (as I like to call them) probably support the NRA without joining, but if only 4% are signing up, it’s safe to say a large majority of them want nothing to do with the NRA’s angry extremism.
As for those on the gun-control side, they often go beyond calling for policy changes, about which reasonable people can disagree, and issue broad-brush insults that aren’t acceptable in other contexts. When sportscaster Bob Costas blames “gun culture” for the murder-suicide of an NFL linebacker, gun owners say, “Wait a minute. I’m gun culture. And my guns haven’t hurt anybody.”
A lot of assumptions are made about gun owners, by the NRA and gun-control proponents alike. What nobody ever seems to do, though, is listen to them.
A good discussion of some of the issues that get left on the table when the two sides are more intent on shouting than on actually making things better. Of course, as a Democrat & Lefty who is also a gun owner like the author, I do have my own biases. However I also believe we will all be better off by all of us listening to each other.
Why Israel Has No Newtowns: It’s the Jewish state’s gun culture, not its laws, that prevents mass shootings
Why? In the days since 27 innocents, most of them children, were murdered in a Sandy Hook school, all have been asking that question, trying to make sense of an ultimately senseless act. Simpler minds insisted that anyone who has ever argued in favor of anything but the absolute abolition of firearms was complicit in the murder of innocent children, while more astute thinkers tried to look past their indignation and heartbreak in search of sensible policy alternatives. Not surprisingly, they often ended up looking to Israel, a nation, went the argument, whose citizens are heavily armed yet rarely use their guns to shoot each other. This, more than one report noted, was due largely to Israel’s surprisingly strict gun-control legislation: assault rifles are banned, registration is necessary, and a whole system of checks and requirements is in place to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. A popular statistic spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter: Only 58 Israelis were killed by guns last year, compared with 10,728 Americans.
It’s a compelling story. It’s also wrong: There’s much that we can learn from Israel when it comes to firearms, but it’s the state’s gun culture, not its gun laws, that keeps its citizens safe.
Let us, for the sake of argument, put aside the fact that nearly all Israelis serve in the army, and that virtually all soldiers are armed with semiautomatic weapons that they carry on their person at all times, even when back home on vacation. Most men continue to enjoy this unfettered access to arsenals for the duration of their service as army reservists (at least a few weeks out of each year until they’re 45). If we disregard the glutton of guns facilitated by the Israel Defense Forces, we are left with strict-sounding laws that require anyone who wants a firearm license to register with the government and meet a list of seemingly stringent conditions.
Rural Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to commit suicide. And while youth suicides have declined across the country in recent years, suicide rates in sparsely populated areas have remained steady. While it is hard to pinpoint the reasons for this disparity — access to mental health treatments is a major contributor — one reason may be tied to gun culture.
According to a recently published survey of Midwestern mental health clinicians, one of the challenges rural therapists face is telling parents of troubled youths to lock up their guns. The Midwestern counselors in the survey “agreed that nearly everyone owned and used guns,” and said that in a lot of their clients’ homes, guns were so commonplace that they became “part of the furniture.”