Monday, April 06, 2009

When Unstable People Have Guns

"America ... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable." - Hunter S. Thompson
I didn't want to blog about senseless gun violence again. Last month I said my words about Dannie Roy Baker, Rush Limbaugh and angry white males. I said that the vitriol needed to stop (as if somebody would listen to me, take note, and change course). But then there was another mass shooting, and another, and another:

February 26, Miramar Beach, FL: Dannie Roy Baker shot and killed 2 foreign nationals and injured 3 others. He has been indicted on murder charges.

March 10, Samson, AL: Michael McLendon killed 10 people, including 5 relatives, across two rural Alabama counties. He then killed himself.

March 21, Oakland, CA: Lovelle Mixon shot and killed 4 Oakland police officers after a traffic stop. Mixon was killed in a shootout with SWAT officers.

March 29, Santa Clara, CA: Devan Kalathat shot and killed 5 relatives and critically injured his wife before committing suicide.

March 29, Carthage, NC: Robert Stewart shot and killed 8 people at his estranged wife's place of business, Pinelake Health and Rehab, before being shot by a police officer. Stewart is being held in Central Prison in Raleigh on eight counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony assault on a law enforcement officer. He says he does not remember anything.

April 3, 2009, Binghamton, NY: Jiverly Voong (aka Linh Phat Voong) wore body armor when he launched his attack at the American Civic Association. He killed 13 people before killing himself.

April 4, Pittsburgh, PA: Richard Poplawski opened fire on Pittsburg police officers killing 3 of them. Poplawski is in custody in connection with the shootings.

April 4, Graham, WA: James Harrison fatally shot his 5 children in their mobile home and then took his own life in his car miles away.

That's 50 victims in less than two months. So why is this happening? These massacres were mostly well-planned murder-suicides, and there is evidence that suicides start to go up this time of year...

But I think it's more than a seasonal trend. The pressure of the troubled economy, the intense desire for revenge following rejection and failure, and the escalating rhetoric of right-wingers like Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck plays a large part. Some of these pundits should make it a point to always clarify exactly what kind of revolution they mean -- the type where citizens vote or the type where citizens are armed and dangerous...

Clearly not all of these killers were influenced by the wingnut propaganda claiming that the Obama administration wants to take people's guns away, but it seems Poplawski was driven by that exact fear.

Surprisingly, I don't have a firm position on gun laws. I guess I'm allowed to be undecided because I'm not a politician. However, I'll never understand why people want an arsenal of weapons in their own home. Some people are simply gun enthusiasts, and others seem to take part in a crazy gun cult. But keep these stats in mind: according to the Bureau of Justice, most homicides with known victim/offender relationships involved people who knew each other.

So if you know somebody who's a little unstable and has some guns, you better get them some help.

No comments: