Monday, October 05, 2009

Cry me a river

On page A2 of today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, there is a photo of a pro-gun advocate demonstrating outside the Supreme Court carrying a sign that says "GUNS SAVE LIVES."

On page B1, a sidebar story reports there were 130 homicides in Northeast Ohio in 2009 through September, 79 of which were the result of gunshots.

The deaths of eight US soldiers who were killed in a gun battle in Afghanistan topped the headlines this weekend.


Anonymous said...

4 murders a day in September in NE Ohio? Or is that year to date?


Erin O'Brien said...

That's year to date, RJ. I should have worded it more clearly. I might edit it ...

Erin O'Brien said...

Edited for clarity. Sorry if I confused anyone.

Anonymous said...

No problem. It just struck me as high and thinking I had no idea how murderous those Buckeyes were.


sirpoins said...

Do you think people will ever understand that we're in this all together? If everyone really did treat everyone as they would want to be treated, guns would never be wanted or used..

So much selfishness as we talk about the ship going down...

Thanks for pointing out the irony in life...on the front page of the paper.

Erin O'Brien said...

We are all in this together.

Too bad so many of us don't recognize that. I'm so sick of the greed greed greed greed greed greed greed as well.

No one wants to pay a dime in new taxes to cover our horrific national debt and to pay for basic human needs like health care. Why? So we can buy big screen TV's and more guns, then watch life-sized news reports about how we're shooting each other.

Goddamnit all to hell.

dean said...

I don't know what the answer is in the gun thing. One odd thing: in Canada, we have about the same number of firearms per capita - in the same ballpark, I mean - and we have about the same rates of accidental death by firearm and suicide by firearm... but our rate of murder by firearm is far lower, 1/5th yours or something. (Caution, it has been some years since I looked at these figures.)

So it isn't guns. Or it isn't JUST guns. There's another factor involved somewhere.

Still, the guns save lives argument is stupid. One of the ways to attack an argument is reductio ad absurdem (I think that's how it is spelled) in which you take an argument and carry it to its logical conclusion.

If guns save lives, then more guns save more lives, and arming everyone should therefore drop the murder rate to its lowest possible value.

I realize that there are people who ACTUALLY BELIEVE THIS, but to me, this conclusion is so absurd as to disprove the argument that guns save lives.

Kirk Jusko said...

I want to follow up on what Dean was saying. In BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE Michael Moore tried to figure out why there was more gun violence in the US than in Canada. He asked people on a New York street if they could explain it. The answers they came up with was that Canada had less guns, less minorities, less violent movies and TV shows, and less violent video games. But it turned out that none of that stuff was true. As Dean said, Canada has as many guns, and they see the same movies and TV shows, and play the same violent video games. What Canada does have is a much smaller gap between rich and poor, and a bigger safety net. That doesn't explain Columbine itself as those kids, I think, were solidly middle-class. But most gun murders are not because of some suburban kid shooting up a school, in spite of all the media that may get. It's usually very desperate people in the worst part of town doing the shooting.

I know the conservatives who like to comment will vehemently disagree with Michael Moore's conclusion. Fine. So be it. But if you did solve the inequality problem, it might actually be a good thing for the NRA. Maybe that'd be one way to get the gun enthusiasts to vote liberal!

Tag said...

We had 4 more murders this weekend here in Norfolk. Life coninues on just the same. I don't have any answers.

Glass Houses said...

Eddie Izzard said the following in his special "Dress To Kill"...

"...and the NRA says guns don't kill people, people do. But I think the gun HELPS, don't you? Just going around going "BANG!" isn't going to kill too many people is it?"

Erin O'Brien said...

I think you bring up an excellent points, Kirk and Dean.

Sorry to hear about the violence your way, Tag.

Hi Glass--and how about this new contingent of public gun-toters? It has nothing to do with rights and everything to do with intimidation.

Slowly but Surly said...


Ironic post, but your reply to ‘sirpoins’ is… well, kind of bewildering. Guns and gun death then greed, tax aversion and even health care for good measure. What are we arguing about again?

I assume from this & other past posts, that you have a real problem with a) the NRA and b) privately owned firearms in general. Is that correct?

Tony said...

People will fight casinos tooth and nail to preserve their so called values and morality but will not join the battle for effective gun control. Hypocrits!

Erin O'Brien said...

Slowly, yes, my disgust has been a bit scattered these days.

I have no problem with privately owned weapons. I have a problem with mindless deregulation of firearms and their sale/distribution.

I don't believe the NRA gives a damn about rights. Their only interest is money. GREED GREED GREED.

To echo the term Tony used, gun CONTROL is just that. It is not gun ABOLITION.

Glass Houses said...

Erin - I don't know. In my experience it's not so much about intimidation as it is about being "cool". Not that that's any better. But having a CCW license has become the adult version of the Starter jacket (remember those?) or the latest pair of sneakers.

I go back and forth on this issue. Because for the most part, it's not the guy with the registered and licensed weapon anybody has to worry about. On the other hand, putting weapons in the hands of those who are paranoid and fearful isn't any good either.


VideoDude said...

We have to take a test to get a Driver's License. Nut all you have to do to get a gun is buy one.

VideoDude said...

That shold be "but" not "nut".

Erin O'Brien said...

Glass, I guess what really pisses me off is the unfettered manufacture and distribution of high powered assault weapons (and hell if I know if I'm using the right terms). When I was a kid, the gun control debate was over HANDGUNS. Now those seem tame to what's on the market these days. What's next? A grenade launcher in everyone's closet?

Dude: I sort of liked "nut."

Slowly but Surly said...


To us gun nuts, gun control is akin to gun abolition. Why? It's the camels nose under the tent argument. This is the exact same logic used by the ACLU to defend amendments #1, 3-10, and for the same reasons. Most of us 'nuts don't see that such laws are designed to increase public safety, but as a wedge for even more more laws with the eventual goal of making firmware ownership impossible in practice.

Q1 "We'd like to restrict the 1st amendment just a *little* bit & we promise not to do it any more (wink wink)." ACLU: "NO!"

Q2 "We'd like to restrict the 2nd amendment just a *little* but & we promise not to do it any more (wink wink)." NRA: "NO!"

Of course this leads to the terrible state of the 'debate' in the US. See my book recommendation below for a possible way out.

I'd like to hear why you think the NRA isn't interested in my rights; that's quite an absolute statement!

It might be more far to say that the NRA is more interested in power. This is my model on why the Democratic party rolled over on the Patriot Act & company. They where more interested in staying in power with the rationalism of someday being able to put things right. I'm still waiting for the overturning of Patriot Act... but I'm not holding my breath!

Or looking at it another way, the NRA is playing to it's membership in a way very simular to the ACLU. The ACLU toes the line on every amendment excluding the 2nd. The ACLU's stance on the 2nd is something like "we have no official opinion... but we think it has something to do with militias, mumble mumble..." So, why is the ACLU such a weasel on this one amendment? My guess is that it's because they are playing to their membership & base which includes many liberal folks who hate firearms and pay there dues.

Anyhow I'd like to suggest the following book about the gun culture & debate: "Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures" by Abigail A. Kohn.

Ms. Kohn is an anthropologist of the type who lives in the culture one is studying. So to learn about 'shooters' she learned how to shoot. Lots of interviews with women shooters with experences that closly related my wifes'; feeling creepy in many a gun shop/feeling empowered by learning a new skill/surprise on the vast world of competitive shooting sports... In the introduction Kohn points out that while it would end your career to publicly stereotype African Americans or Jews, but it's okay to do so with us 'shooters.'

At the end Kohn makes some proposals to both sides to move the debate forward. If I knew how, I'd send you a copy as a gift.

Thanks for taking the time to reply,

Slowly but Surly
Member of both the NRA & ACLU and distrusted by both!

Al The Retired Army Guy said...


Yes, eight U.S. soldiers died in a firefight (we don't call them "gunbattles" - in that situation, one uses more than guns to win a battle) over the weekend. Some were from the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion based out of NC. They were there trying to help build a better future for the Afghan people (as Civil Affairs, that is their mission).

Wars are fought with weapons. Small arms (guns) are only one instrument available to our armed forces in wartime. Mortars, artillery, mines, grenades, naval gunfire, machine guns, rockets, "smart" bombs, precision guided weapons, etc. are also tools available to our men and women on the ground engaged in combat. To suggest that folks got killed in a war because guns were present is, IMHO overstating the obvious. They were killed using a variety of weapons and tactics, techniques, and procedures by our enemies. We use the the weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures at our disposal to do the same thing to them.

If I follow your logic, these folks wouldn't have been killed had guns not been present. Frankly, this line of reasoning just doesn't cut it IME. There are far too many other ways for an enemy or adversary to kill our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen out there. IEDs are one. VBIEDs are another. Suicide attacks are yet another. And the list goes on.

In the first Gulf War, my company XO was woulded by a 100 mm anti-tank weapon, not a handgun. Others in my company were wounded by artillery/mortars. Small arms were not part of the equation. To equate what goes on in war (with a completely different set of "rules") to what we see in our cities might be convenient, but, it is, IMHO, not accurate at all.


Erin O'Brien said...


I plucked "gun battle" verbatim from the headlines.

"If I follow your logic, these folks ... "

No, you are not following my logic.


You are welcome to come here and comment all you want, but here is what I see: 1) A guy waving his guns around behind a anonymous screen name; 2) Someone who doesn't know how to send me something despite prominent links to my contact info all over the sidebar.

As for rights, what WELL REGULATED MILITIA do you belong to, baby?

Erin O'Brien said...


Did I go on and "mumble" something you gun guys don't like to talk about?

Silly, pesky, mumbling Erin ...

dean said...


Erin didn't draw any comparisons between the three paragraphs she wrote. She created three vignettes, and allowed (well, forced actually) the reader to make their own comparisons.

Which we all did.

How does the absurdity of the argument presented in the first vignette change if the deaths in the third vignette were not caused by small arms fire? Erin's point is not that the military shouldn't have weapons, it is that a sign saying 'GUNS SAVE LIVES' is stupid.

Slowly but Surly said...


"You are welcome to come here and comment all you want, but here is what I see: 1) A guy waving his guns around behind a anonymous screen name;"

Did you really think I was trying to intimidate by my post? If so then I'm frankly astonished.

My attempt was to voice the concerns of the "other side" in an attempt to push forward civil debate. I guess it was a waste of time.

I use "Slowly" to protect my privacy; I don't know who's reading this blog. I'll send you my full contact information off line if that helps.

"2) Someone who doesn't know how to send me something despite prominent links to my contact info all over the sidebar."

Yea, I guess I'm a dumbshit. Thanks so much for taking the time to point that out!

It’s funny, if somebody offered to send me something but didn’t know how I’d start with “Thanks so much you’re your offer, you really shouldn't, but here’s my mailing address…” Offer withdrawn.

"As for rights, what WELL REGULATED MILITIA do you belong to, baby?"

I don't and as far as I can tell, no States currently maintain a militia. But that’s not the point as 2nd amendment does not require membership to own firearms. Anyhow this has been discussed before as you point out.

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks Dean.

Here's a Code Orange News Alert, Slowly: When you step into a forum and anonymously introduce yourself as "surly" and a "gun nut," it's not a good start. But thank you for proving my point about the second amendment. Gun guys sure don't like those first 13 words.

Guess what? I support free speech even when I don't like what someone's saying.

I was not intimidated by your post. I do not like guns. My brother killed himself with a gun. A friend of mine was raped at gunpoint. A few years ago, a woman was kidnapped by a couple of thugs from the same shopping mall where I buy my kid's jeans and they shoved a gun in her vagina and shot and killed her that way while her three kids (one disabled) waited for her to bring the car around and pick them up. Guns fucking suck. The proliferation and casual attitude towards guns sucks.

If you want to have your guns to hunt or sport or whatever, fine; but if you're going to walk around with an assault weapon strapped to your back, I'm going to think you are an asshole.

I am sick of little kids shooting other little kids and those oh-so-sorry 4H/Boy Scout fathers sobbing in front of a TV camera about h-h-how they c-c-can't understand h-h-how this h-h-happened when it would not have happened if the fucking gun had not been in the fucking house.

But none of this matters because gun guys have lots of money to spend on those guns. And it's been deregulation deregulation deregulation all along the way. So don't worry. No one will dare take your guns away from you any time soon.

One day maybe we'll all be packing an assault weapon, not to protect the country (which I believe was the impetus of the 2nd amendment), but to protect ourselves from each other.

Bloody fucking hell. God Bless America.

Erin O'Brien said...

Regarding school one ( if that woman had thought to pack her handgun before schlepping the kids to the mall maybe she'd still be alive) and school two (maybe we should have limits on how many guns are manufactured and pay very close attention to whom we sell them to and stiff penalties for those who let guns slip into dangerous hands), I'm in the itty-bitty minority camp of school two.

Slowly but Surly said...


I'm sorry about your personal tragedy. Really.

Nothing I've said should indicate that I have a problem with the militia clause. You threw it in my face when I was trying to engage in civil discourse. I tried to answer in as a measured and reasonable way as my limited writing abilities allow, but some irritation leaked out.

I use "Gun Nut" in a weak attempt to diffuse this often emotional subject as "Gun Nut" is used as a derogatory description of people like me who like firearms. Perhaps I should have spelled it “Gun Nut ;)?”

“Surly” came about because I’m a functional literate without a spell checker. Years ago I sent some status to my manager saying that the problem I was working on was progressing slowly but surely… but I misspelled and accepted surly without thinking. I use surly everywhere and not just in connection with the current controversial subject.

As for the list of god awful events… ending with “But none of this matters because gun guys have lots of money to spend on those guns.” That is plain wrong, insulting and beneath you.

Once known as The Badger said...

Actually, having a gun saved my life not once but twice while cycling in Wyoming (I lived there at the time). Meth heads like to victimize those they feel are helpless, and a middle aged guy in cycling clothes and a road bike looked like fair game with a baseball bat... until I pointed out that I was armed. The police in Wyoming said that "not only was it legal, it was advisable" to carry while training. Just another perspective.

Erin O'Brien said...

That is the second such story I've heard in my life, Badger. Thanks.

Mostly, I hear stories about how people shoot (or just stop short of shooting) themselves or their friends. I'm not being facetious.

Slowly, As far as my money quote goes, I'm referring to the endless manufacture and subsequent unchecked marketing of highly advanced weapons that are arming people like the Mexican drug lords. I'm talking about the gun shows that armed the Columbine kids and the black market.

I'm no gun expert, but when I see civilians/nonprofessionals owning big powerful weapons designed to kill a whole bunch of people in a few seconds, it's just flat out wrong to me. Some guns should be highly regulated. I'm sick of hearing this argument that any gun control spells the amputation of constitutional rights. Where does it end?

I'm guessing the weapon Badger was wielding that day was a small pistol or handgun designed specifically for defense. Perhaps he'll tell us differently.

As for being surly, I guess I was a bit surly, but if you were sitting where I've been sitting all week, you'd understand. My tolerance for anonymous commenters is at an all time low right now. That's not your fault, Slowly, but you ended up in my "cross hairs" nonetheless. Sorry if I came off brusquely, but you pressed my hot-button issue at a hot-button moment.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...


Please send me an email - the hard drive on my PC went tits up and I lost all my contacts. I wish to respond privately to your response to my post. BTW, I'm typing this on a brand new Mac Book Pro.


Once known as The Badger said...

I was carrying a 9mm semi-auto pistol. I have no problem with regulating gun shows, nor do most gun owners. As for arming Mexican (or otherwise) drug cartels, my opinion is that if the illegality of drug use ended, especially marijuanna, the vast majority of the crime associated with it would go away too. It's the illegality that drives the enormous profits, which drives the violence whose sole purpose is monopolization of distribution, i.e., capitalism in its most vehement form.
My stand on the 2nd amendment comes mostly from the end result of gun registration in the Weimar Republic. When the Nazis took over, they had lists of all the gun owners in Germany. They were promptly arrested at worst, their guns confiscated at best. The Kristallnacht episode was marked by the Nazis going into the neighborhoods where the action was going to take place, and made sure no one had firearms first. It's a scary thing.

Erin O'Brien said...

Yet another terrible gun story.

Erin O'Brien said...

And this one's even worse.