mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“This Callous Arrogance Is Nothing Short Of Staggering”: Carson Eyes Guns In Kindergarten, Boasts Of His Imagined Bravery

In the wake of the latest mass-shooting, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson appears to have been thinking a bit about gun violence, and the often ridiculous candidate has drawn some curious conclusions.

For example, Carson said yesterday that if he had a child in kindergarten, he’d feel better knowing there were loaded firearms in the classroom. “If the teacher was trained in the use of that weapon and had access to it, I would be much more comfortable if they had one than if they didn’t,” the GOP candidate said.

Last night on Facebook, Carson added, “As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies. There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking – but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away. Serious people seek serious solutions.”

To date, the retired right-wing neurosurgeon has offered no solutions, serious or otherwise, to combating gun violence. On the contrary, he’s begun rejecting solutions he used to support.

But Politico flagged Carson’s comments on Fox News this morning, where the GOP candidate was in rare form, first complaining about President Obama traveling to Oregon to meet with grieving families and a recovering community, then indirectly criticizing the victims of the mass murder.

Asked what he would have done had a gunman walked up to him and asked him to state his religion, Carson said he would have been more aggressive.

 “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,’” he told the hosts.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

It’s genuinely shameful how common comments like these are. After the massacre in Charleston, S.C., a Republican state senator complained he wasn’t satisfied with how the victims reacted to the gunman. After the massacre in Aurora, Colo., a Republican U.S. congressman complained that the victims should have been armed so they could shoot back. After the massacre at Virginia Tech, National Review published a piece admonishing the victims. “Where was the spirit of self-defense here?” John Derbyshire wrote, adding, “[W]hy didn’t anyone rush the guy?

And now we see Ben Carson thinking along the same lines. He didn’t directly chastise the victims in Roseburg, Ore., but by explaining how brave he’d be towards the gunman, Carson was effectively complaining that the real-world victims should have displayed the kind of imaginary courage the Republican candidate described.

For a man seeking national office, this isn’t acceptable rhetoric.

It’s so easy – too easy, in fact – for anyone to imagine what they might do when faced with a life-threatening crisis, but until someone is confronted with such a nightmare, he or she should keep their bravado fantasies to themselves.

A madman entered a community-college classroom and began shooting people. Ben Carson, from the comfort of a television studio, wants to tell us about how heroic he’d be under the same circumstances.

But here’s the unfortunate truth that the unhinged candidate fails to understand: he has absolutely no idea how he’d respond to such a crisis. Almost none of us do.

Carson probably didn’t intend to insult the victims, indirectly blaming them for failing to meet his standards for bravery. But imagine being the parent of one of the young people killed in Oregon last week, and seeing a presidential candidate talking about how he graceful he’d be under fire – unlike those who actually faced the nightmare and were shot.

Carson’s callous arrogance is nothing short of staggering.

Who knows, maybe Carson’s rhetoric will resonate with Republican primary voters, who’ll cheer his latest comments. But to my mind, this represents a new low for the GOP candidate, one devoid of compassion and basic human decency.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 6, 2015

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, GOP Voters, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“It’s Not About The Motive, It’s About The Gun. Again”: Enacting Gun Control Dramatically Reduces The Problem

One of the challenges in writing about gun violence in the United States is the repetitive nature of it. Every time one of these preventable massacres occurs, writers of reasonable political intelligence point out some basic obvious and commonsense truths. Then nothing is done. Then the next entirely predictable massacre takes place, and the Right trots out all the usual inane defenses of American gun culture, and we have the same stupid debates as if it all hadn’t happened the previous time, and the time before that and the time before that.

In that vein, I’ve said this before, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to say it again: we need to stop focusing on the motives of the killers, and start focusing on the gun.

After each of these mass killings–I refuse to call them tragedies because tragedies tend to be inevitable and unstoppable, which these killings are not–Americans always want to know why. What was going through the mind of the killer? Can we learn the signs in advance? Who was to blame? (Besides the gun, since everyone knows we won’t do anything about that.)

So in the wake of the Isla Vista shootings by a sexually frustrated and entitled young man, we had a discussion of misogyny and male entitlement. After the Fort Hood shootings conservatives had a field day attacking Islam. After the Charleston shootings liberals had an effective punching bag to talk about race.

Now we see each side attempting to use the latest shootings for its own political advantage. Those on the left are pointing to the shooter’s self-described conservative Republican views and his misogynist sexual entitlement syndrome. Those on the right are working themselves into a frenzy over his atheism and his alleged targeting of Christians, going so far as to suggest that Christians start arming themselves in response. And so it goes.

But all of this needs to stop, because it’s pointless. Almost by definition, people who intentionally walk into a public space and indiscriminately kill large numbers of people don’t tend to be sane or have clearly thought out motives. More importantly, other industralized democracies also have angry, lonely, crazy people from all over the political spectrum.

Other countries have mental illness, instant celebrity culture, sexually entitled men, radical theocrats, radical atheists and violent movies/video games. But they don’t have this problem.

Further, we know that no matter what cultural elements may be present, enacting gun control dramatically reduces the problem. We already know this to be true from the experience of Australia, which has libertarian frontier culture and demography quite similar to our own.

Trying to focus on the motives of a mass shooter is a fool’s errand that plays into the hands of those who like the status quo. Focus on the gun, because that’s the common denominator and the ultimate cause of the problem.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly , October 4, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Lobby, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“It’s About Treating Where It Hurts”: ‘All Lives Matter’ — Words Of Moral Cowardice

This is a column about three words of moral cowardice:

“All lives matter.”

Those words have risen as a kind of counter to “Black lives matter,” the movement that coalesced in response to recent killings and woundings of unarmed African-Americans by assailants — usually police officers — who often go unpunished. Mike Huckabee raised that counter-cry last week, telling CNN, “When I hear people scream ‘black lives matter,’ I’m thinking, of course they do. But all lives matter. It’s not that any life matters more than another.”

As if that were not bad enough, the former Arkansas governor and would-be president upped the ante by adding that Martin Luther King would be “appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”

“Elevating some lives.” Lord, have mercy.

Imagine for a moment that you broke your left wrist. In excruciating pain, you rush to the emergency room for treatment only to run into a doctor who insists on examining not just your mangled left wrist, but your uninjured right wrist, rib cage, femur, fibula, sacrum, humerus, phalanges, the whole bag of bones that is you. You say, “Doc, it’s just my left wrist that hurts.” And she says, “Hey, all bones matter.”

If you understand why that remark would be factual, yet also fatuous, silly, patronizing and off point, then you should understand why “All lives matter” is the same. It’s not about “elevating some lives” any more than it would be about elevating some bones. Rather, it’s about treating where it hurts.

And as for Dr. King: I cringe at his name being invoked by yet another conservative who has apparently never heard or read anything King said with the possible exception of the last few minutes of the “I Have A Dream” speech. No one with the slightest comprehension of what King fought for could seriously contend he would be “appalled” at a campaign geared to the suffering of African-American people.

Whose rights did the Montgomery bus boycott seek to vindicate? For whose freedom was King jailed in Birmingham, punched in Selma and stoned in Chicago? In his book Why We Can’t Wait, King answered complaints that we shouldn’t be doing something special for “the Negro” by noting that, “our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years.”

Does that sound like someone who’d be “appalled” by “Black lives matter”?

No, that cry would likely resonate for him for the same reason it resonates for so many others. Namely because, while police abuse is not unknown in other lives, it is disproportionate in black lives. This is what Huckabee and the “All lives matter” crowd quail at recognizing. To treat where it hurts, one must first acknowledge that it still hurts, something conservatives often find hard to do because it gives the lie to their self-congratulatory balloon juice about how this country has overcome its founding sin.

That sort of willful ignorance has unfortunately become ubiquitous.

Which is why, for me, at least, the most inspiring sight to come out of Charleston following the racial massacre there was not the lowering of the Confederate battle flag, welcome as that was. Rather, it was a march through town by a mostly white crowd chanting, “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” To see those white sisters and brothers adopt that cry was a soul-filling reminder that at least some of us still realize we all have access — connection — to each other’s pain and joy by simple virtue of the fact that we all are human.

God love them, they did not slink guiltily from that connection. Instead, they ran bravely to it.

And you know what, Mike Huckabee? Martin Luther King would have been pleased.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, August 24, 2015

August 25, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Mike Huckabee, Racial Justice | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Elected Officials Have Failed To Lead On Gun Regulation”: How Many Must Die In Mass Shootings For Lawmakers To Act?

The alleged perpetrator of yet another mass shooting — this one in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater — had been “involuntarily committed” by his family, and reportedly had a history of domestic violence and mental illness. Why was he able to get a handgun? Because elected officials have failed to lead on gun regulation.

At a Thursday night screening of the comedy Trainwreck, the 59-year-old man from Alabama, identified as John Russell Houser, shot and killed 33-year-old Jillian Johnson and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, and injured nine other people, seven of whom remain hospitalized.

The suspected shooter used a .40 caliber handgun and had an additional magazine, which he used to reload, firing one round to kill himself inside the theater, Lafayette police chief Jim Craft told reporters Friday.

Police found 13 shell casings in the theater, Craft said. State police and FBI agents are also investigating the shooting, according to MSNBC.

Houser was denied a pistol permit in 2006 while he was living in Alabama, the New Orleans Advocate reports. According to The Associated Press:

Court documents from 2008 say family members of the theater shooter petitioned the probate court to have him involuntarily committed “because he was a danger to himself and others.”

A judge issued the order, and John Houser was taken to a hospital in Columbus, Georgia.

The wife and other family members of [Houser] … asked for a temporary protective order in 2008 against the man.

Court documents seeking the order said John Houser, “exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements.”

The documents said even though he lived in Phenix City, Alabama, he had come to Carroll County, Georgia, where they lived and “perpetrated various acts of family violence.”

Houser “has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder,” the filing said.

The filing says Houser’s wife, Kellie Maddox Houser, “has become so worried about the defendant’s volatile mental state that she has removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.”

The protection order was at least temporarily granted.

Law enforcement officials have not yet reported how Houser obtained the handgun used in the theater shooting. But based on the earlier court records, it seems clear Houser should not have been in possession of a firearm.

In a BBC interview earlier this week, President Obama said “his failure to pass ‘common-sense gun safety laws’ in the U.S. is the greatest frustration of his presidency.”

“If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it’s in the tens of thousands,” the president said.

So, what will it take for U.S. political leaders to pass common-sense gun regulations?

The killing of two women and wounding of nine others in a Louisiana movie theater?

Perhaps the recent shooting of four Marines at a Chattanooga, Tennessee military recruitment office, or the killing of 12 people and injuring of eight at the Washington Navy Yard in 2013?

Maybe, the racially motivated murder of nine parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church, including a state senator? The South Carolina legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, a symbolic act to honor those killed by a white supremacist, but gun control was never even up for debate.

How about the 2012 killing of 12 people and injuring of 58 in another movie theater, this one in Colorado? The shooter has been convicted and awaits the sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty, but what has been done to limit future mass shootings?

Surely, the gunning down of 20 children and six adults in an elementary school (after the shooter killed his mother at their home) in Connecticut would spur elected officials to action. President Obama even visited the town and gave an emotional speech appealing for stronger gun regulations. But, no, the 24/7 news cycle, the American people, and Congress moved on.

How about shooting a United States congresswoman, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in the head? That shooter killed six people and injured 12 others. Giffords’ congressional colleagues were still not moved to act. She lived and has become a vocal advocate to prevent gun violence, but no longer in office, she won’t achieve reform by herself.

According to Mother Jones, more than three-quarters of the guns possessed by the killers involved in mass shootings in the United States since 1982 were obtained legally. It’s doubtful common-sense restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods would have allowed all these gun sales to go through.

Nearly 600 Americans have been killed and 500 injured in mass shootings in the last three decades, and “active shooter events have become more common in recent years,” according to The Washington Post.

A U.S. president hasn’t been shot since Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt in 1981. Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated while in office in our nation’s history by men with guns.

Even if the commander-in-chief was shot and killed by a person with a gun who shouldn’t have had one — in the 21st century — that would likely still not motivate officials to enact policies that decrease mass shootings by taking guns out of the hands of extremists, those with criminal histories, and those living with mental illness.

The problem is these armed killers may act alone, but they have far too much company when it comes to people with undue access to firearms. If current legislators continue to fail to protect their constituents from the dangers of gun violence, and don’t even pass laws that would limit the potential for mass shootings, then perhaps voters need to find other lawmakers who will.

 

By: Matt Surrusco, The National Memo, July 24, 2015

July 26, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Bobby Jindal, Shameful Hypocrite”: Only Answers For Gun Violence Are Hugs, Shrugs And Prayers

In the days after the deadly June shooting spree in Charleston, S.C., in which nine members of that city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church died, Gov. Bobby Jindal attacked President Barack Obama’s calls for stricter gun control laws as “completely shameful.”

Instead of doing something about the proliferation of guns and gun violence, Jindal offered only prayer and hugs. Anything else, he suggested, was inappropriate and overtly political. “Now is the time for prayer, now is the time for healing. As far as the political spectrum, this isn’t the time,” Jindal told reporters after a speech in Iowa, where he had begun his remarks by praying for the victims and their families.

“I think it was completely shameful,” Jindal said of Obama’s call for a national discussion about gun control. “Within 24 hours we’ve got the president trying to score cheap political points.”

Now that people have died in a mass shooting in his state — three dead and six injured at a movie theater in Lafayette on Thursday (July 23) — it was, again, not the time to talk about the problem of gun violence. On Thursday night, Jindal, who happened to be in Baton Rouge on a rare visit to Louisiana, rushed to Lafayette to offer prayers and hugs.

When it comes to doing something about the gun violence that afflicts Louisiana, Jindal also offers shrugs. In Jindal’s world, it’s never the right time to debate gun violence or talk about how government should address the problem. And with a mass shooting almost every week, it will never be time in Jindal’s estimation to talk about it. Only hugs and shrugs.

Jindal’s press secretary on Thursday night accused me of politicizing the situation. Among other things, I had taken to Twitter to suggest that Jindal’s sympathy for the victims and their families was cold comfort to a state for which he had done nothing to make us safer from gun violence. If anyone was politicizing the situation, it was Jindal and the NRA leaders he has shamelessly courted for so long.

On Thursday night, as many people were also praying for the victims and their families as they tucked their kids into bed, they also prayed that these deaths, for once, might not be in vain. Maybe this time, they prayed, political leaders like Jindal might be scandalized enough to do something. Maybe this time, they prayed, we might get more than hugs and prayers.

Jindal had every right – and maybe an obligation – to visit Lafayette, although rushing into the teeth of an active crime scene seemed more a distraction than a help just hours after the shooting. Perhaps he should have gone to the hospitals, instead, which he eventually did.

Jindal and his staff, however, have no right to tell the rest of us to park our First Amendment rights and remain silent about the scandal of gun violence while they remain free to defend their Second Amendment rights by attacking any suggestion of stronger gun control laws as “shameful” and badly timed.

Today is exactly the day we should talk about how to stop the violence. But the reason Jindal doesn’t want to talk about gun violence today – or any other day – is that his record is nothing but support for the NRA’s blood-soaked political agenda.

Jindal has opposed every sensible restriction on gun purchases. He’s slashed mental health services in Louisiana. He’s paraded around the country, filling his Twitter feed with odd photos of himself fondling various firearms.

Back home, meanwhile, his state leads the country in gun violence. And it took a mass shooting 60 miles from the Governor’s Mansion to finally stir him to talk to some of its victims? Jindal didn’t need to drive all the way to Lafayette to do that. Mere miles from where he rests his head on the rare occasion he’s in Baton Rouge, people are dying from gunshots almost every day.

Does Jindal ever go to the mean streets of north Baton Rouge or into the violent neighborhoods of New Orleans? Does he ever look into the sad eyes of kids who’ve lost fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters to gun violence? Where are their hugs?

For every person who’s died in a Louisiana movie theater this year, there are dozens more who’ve perished in street violence, stoked by all manner of events but made possible in almost every case by all-too-easy access to handguns. And Jindal has done nothing to make it the least bit difficult for anyone to get his or her hands on those guns.

At his press conference following the Charleston shootings, Obama did rightly suggest that we do something more than offer just prayers and hugs. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”

Like you and me, Obama knows that nothing will happen after the shootings in Charleston, Chattanooga and Lafayette. He knows it for the same reason that you and I know it.

In December 2012, after 20 children died at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Conn., Jindal – like so many others in his party – offered nothing but prayer. If the gun deaths of 20 innocent children didn’t change our nation’s attitude about the need for tougher gun laws, nothing will.

The nation’s reaction to Sandy Hook is scandalous evidence that we’ve decided that we can live with thousands of guns each year. Sandy Hook proved that when it comes to gun violence, our leaders can only muster the energy and courage for hugs and shrugs.

 

By: Robert Mann, Manship Chair of Journalism at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication; Salon, July 24, 2015; This story was first published on NOLA.com

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: