How To Distinguish A ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ From A ‘Bad Guy With a Gun’

Since National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s nationally publicized comments after the tragic circumstances of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders in Connecticut I have been thinking about how any one could distinguish extemporaneously a good guy with a gun from a bad guy with the gun.  I envision 2 guys, each believing fervently to be ‘good’, shooting at the other, of course, believing the other to be bad. Impromptu gunfights have that inherent aura about them, a ready, shoot, aim mentality. The other aspect about them is that they tend to be final, or should I say, fatal.

With over 300 million guns in the hands of Americans, distinguishing good guys from bad guys is admittedly a daunting task.  Perhaps, like the concept of sanity where we assume everyone is sane unless proven otherwise, we should assume everyone with a gun is a ‘good guy’ until proven otherwise. That assumption would have been deadly wrong, of course, for the perpetrators of mass killings at Columbine, Tucson AZ, Aurora CO, Newtown CT and over 60 other mass shootings in the United States since 1982.  We tend to establish ‘bad’ only after the carnage is complete. This also takes no account of approximately 33,000 deaths a year by firearms in the US.

If the murderous rampage in Newtown Connecticut could not ignite a sustained and vigorous demand by Americans for immediate, effective gun control legislation, perhaps nothing ever will. Since that December 14, 2012 catastrophe, gun sales have again skyrocketed, establishing a consistent pattern of spiked sales immediately following mass shootings.  It represents the settled, hopeless expectation of a paralyzed nation embracing the fearful philosophy of be armed or be killed. Sadly, it also represents no end in sight to the ever-increasing loss of life via firearms.  Fueled by the gun nuts that self-righteously spout indignation at any measure of gun control, and cloak themselves in incomprehensible Second Amendment rhetoric, the needless loss of life will predictably continue unabated.

Utah and Indiana already have laws that permit teachers and other school staff to carry firearms into their schools presumably to protect the students.  One of the next bizarre tragedies that we will bear witness to will be perpetrated by some angry student who overpowers an armed teacher and injures or murders innocent students and unlucky bystanders with a gun made available to him or her ostensibly for the purpose of student safety.  These imbecilic laws may not be mainstream legislation presently but incomprehensibly other similar laws are soon on their way.

The New York Times reported this week that 2 Texas legislators have proposed bills that would expand existing gun laws to allow for “deputizing school employees” with special training to carry firearms into the classroom to be used during an attack.  The NRA supports these bills, apparently envisioning the United States as an armed camp of good guys and bad guys.

Yet another problem in this uncontrolled gun-happy environment is the so-called straw purchaser of guns.  William Spengler might have been prevented from purchasing the guns that he used to kill 2 firefighters in Webster New York on Christmas Eve because of his prior conviction for murdering his elderly grandmother. Spengler had bludgeoned the old woman to death with a hammer because she would not provide him with drug money.  But his questionable mental state and prior conviction proved to be easy hurdles to avoid by simply using a straw purchaser.  He used the daughter of former neighbor.

He shopped for the guns with her, pointing out to her the very guns that he “needed”, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle similar to the one that was used in the Newtown massacre, and a 12-gauge shotgun. He then set a fire and waited for the 1st responders from the fire department to show up. Predictably, he killed the first 2 firefighters to attend, and, wounded 2 other firefighters and an off-duty police officer on his way to work. Then he killed himself. The NRA will no doubt recommend that all firefighters now should arrive armed and ready to shoot their way into the blaze! In the badly burned remains of his home investigators found the body of the 67-year-old sister.

Is there anyone alive that can seriously argue that more guns are the answer to these senseless tragedies?  Could the framers of the Second Amendment ever have envisioned this mess? Will sensible politicians finally step up to the need for dramatic changes in gun control?  Stay tuned.

Disgusting Bedfellows: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad

 

The world’s genuine “axis of evil.”

Disgusting Bedfellows: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad

No need to search too long for evidence that Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Sryria’s Bashar al-Assad personify the world’s genuine “axis of evil.” Indicia are everywhere.

Putin

  1. Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, uncovered the largest tax fraud in his country’s history exposing top government officials stealing money from taxpayers and was rewarded by being beaten to death in a Russian jail cell in 2009. Magnitsky was on trial, not the government thieves;
  2. In response to America’s Magnitsky’s Act, imposing US travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia, Putin struck back with an Act of his own effective January 1, 2013.  The new Russian law bans the adoption of Russian children by US families.  Apparently, this despot’s best method of retaliation against the United States for striking out against political murder is to ensure that approximately 1000 Russian children per year, languishing in institutional care, be prevented from adoption by American families yearning for a child to love. You have to admire such proportionate and responsible government retaliation! The new Russian law says, in effect, Americans have called us out once again on our human-rights atrocities—so let us “get them” by perpetrating further abuses on our homeless Russian children;
  3. The omnibus Russian legislation does not stop with the children-it also provides a list of US citizens who will be prohibited from entering Russian, suspends legal ongoing US businesses controlled by the Russian state, and, rescinds Russia’s earlier agreement to provide safeguards to children involved in inter-country adoptions. Apparently, abusing helpless Russian children did not go quite far enough;
  4. Putin’s16 years in the KGB, the world’s hallmark abuse agency, served as the ideal training ground for this dictator’s mafia style governance. Small wonder his government offers asylum to virtually every one of the world’s other despotic human-rights abusers, soon to include Syria’s al-Assad. Assad will, of course, enjoy a spacious country home, KGB style, with the rest of Russia’s politically protected exiles. Assad will, like the others, bask in the glow of Russia’s warm embrace, despite killing 40,000 of his own people with ostensible impunity;

Al-Assad

  1. President of Syria since 2000, Assad has proven himself even more diabolical and depraved than his abhorrent, immoral father who controlled that country for more than a quarter of a century;
  2. Calling the brave and desperate citizens of Syria with the temerity to challenge his tyrannical rule, as representing members of a “foreign plot” Assad has systematically killed thousands of Syria’s citizens. Most of those killed have nothing whatsoever to do with an uprising. Assad says that the remaining citizens, that is, the ones he has not yet killed, “want” him to remain as leader to quell the “foreign uprising.”  Perhaps Assad needs to use his training as an ophthalmologist to look a little closer at his dead victims. They, of course, look very much like every day Syrians, even to the untrained eye. At least half of those killed are women and children.  They have been killed while they waited in bread lines and huddled in makeshift bunkers;
  3. Because America and its allies hold a natural reluctance to engage in yet another deadly, expensive foreign war, and because Assad enjoys Russia’s unbridled support, a support that cradles all miscreants with an ounce of anti-American sentiment, now Assad’s worst-case scenario seems to be an unapologetic retirement in the snowy confines of Russia;
  4. With several recent defections by Assad’s top Generals, one can only hope that the Generals that remain will also turn on him, and then, not let him out of Syria alive.

If Assad makes it to Russia, he will, like the rest of the world’s asylum-seeking tyrants, enjoy the impregnable sanctity offered by Putin, a like-minded totalitarian overlord. As long as Assad does not allege publically that Putin, or any of his political cronies, are stealing taxpayers’ money, he should be safe–free to live out his sorry human existence, without redress or penalty.  His future is likely to be calm and unremarkable despite his murderous carnage. Makes you want to believe in hell doesn’t it?