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The Friday 10: Edition #15
Some thoughts on school shootings, plus all sorts of goodies.
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I hate talking about gun control stuff so let's talk about gun control stuff.
I'm a week late on this topic, I suppose, but this was intentional. A relatively frail mental faculty, human rationality does not operate at peak levels whilst in the throes of emotional cataclysms, and I think it goes without saying that the country's collective limbic brain was somewhat schizo last week after the Uvalde shooting. I like to wait for the dust to settle a bit before venturing into the fray.
Let’s first make sure we’re all on the same page here. Our mainstream media luminaries, lovely provocateurs that they are, have been popping off about how there’ve already been 27 school shootings this year, incautiously suggesting all 27 were comparable to Uvalde.
This is a clever way of using recency bias to deliberately mislead. The point, as per usual, is to cause alarm, thereby adding new gun-control/anti-2nd Amendment converts to left-wing ranks who become proselytizers of the prevailing Democratic agenda. To be sure, there have been 27 school shootings, but not a single one was anything like the Uvalde mass shooting, and the difference is rather significant.
“Mass shooting” is a nebulous term that’s often defined in an overbroad way because it allows gun-control advocates to insist that the problem is guns, and only guns, but definitions vary depending on the source. Education Week, which tracks all school shootings, defines a mass shooting as an incident in which a person other than the suspect suffers a bullet wound on school property. Broad, indeed. But the Gun Violence Archive counts incidents in which at least four people are shot, regardless of fatalities, while Scientific American only includes incidents where the shootings resulted in at least four deaths.
Many of the 26 shootings that occurred before Uvalde were parking lot-type disputes between students at athletic events, dances, etc., and all 26 resulted in one or zero deaths. One death is one too many. Absolutely. But perspective is important, as is context, and these deaths are fundamentally different: Based on the criteria used by Scientific American, there have been 13 mass school shootings in the United States since 1966, with 146 fatalities. Zooming out even more: Mass shootings constitute less than 1 percent of all gun deaths, and the vast majority of gun crimes in this country are carried out with handguns.
Skewing the contours of the problem makes progress impossible, as does putting party before country.
On Wednesday of this week, 4 people were killed by a gunman in Tulsa. The media has barely touched that story. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the narrative: The Tulsa shooter was black.
Every mass shooting in the United States must fit into one of two media boxes: gun control or white supremacy. If it does not fit into those boxes, it simply disappears from the national scene. I feel like it should be sort of obvious at this point that the prominence of a given death depends more on the identity (read: skin color) of the shooter than the victim.
Upon hearing word that there's been another school shooting by a white male, Democratic politicians practically run to the nearest camera, pause a moment to get into character, and then morph into either the spleen-venting spittle-spattering exhibitionists we all know so well, launching into diatribes that’ve become painfully grandiose and operatic, or they act like high-minded censorians perched on pedestals, preaching like religious pamphleteers about the odious, permissive American attitude toward guns.
The takeaways are always more or less the same: Republicans are dangerous, gun-loving troglodytes who'd rather see kids get gunned down than hand over their precious firearms, and by God, if you care about America and you love your kids, you better vote Democrat.
Our leaders do a lot more talking and performing than they do leading.
I hardly need point out that, not too long ago, after a bunch of yahoos decided to have a 4-hour mosh-pit-style pushing and shoving match at the Capitol with glorified security guards, Congress, led by the ever-intrepid AOC and her equally-unlikeable friends, demanded that the grounds be secured with more gun-toting individuals and chain-link fencing adorned with concertina wire.
I'm pretty sure the “guns for me but not for thee” thing is a shaky precipice to stand upon as you demand that millions and millions of law-abiding gun owners turn in the firearms they purchased for their own personal protection and security. This, combined with the morally reprehensible habit of suggesting, however indirectly, that those opposed to more gun laws are somehow implicated in what happened at Uvalde or any other mass shooting, is not a recipe for success. It's also hypocritical in the extreme.
We have to collectively stop allowing emotion and passion to pass for reason and factual debate. Pernicious polarization makes good-faith efforts to tackle social problems that effect the entire country all but impossible, and this is especially true when it comes to perennially thorny issues like abortion and gun control.
This is so much bigger than “gun control,” though, and far more complicated. The mass shooting narrative, in which the biggest threat is the ubiquity of the guns themselves, obscures the tangled web of class, cultural and community factors that create these horrific tragedies—as well as the human cost to ordinary people who live every day with the endemic threat of violence. And the Left’s obsessive focus on more unusual forms of gun violence, whether it’s police shootings or rampage killers, misses the ugly truth that people in communities plagued by crime are far more likely to be killed by a handgun than an assault rifle.
Cold pragmatism is needed here. I confess that I don't think there's a way to completely stop what happened at Uvalde from happening again, certainly nothing like the cure-all that a stunning number of people seem to think is feasible if only such and such would come to fruition, and it'd be foolish to think Congress will improve things when they can't even agree on what day of the week it is.
So, I say stop focusing on “solving the problem.” Shift gears and start thinking about near-targets first. What can be done — without Congress’s “leadership” — that will make a difference, and sooner rather than later?
A lot, actually. The WSJ just reported that out of the $122 billion allocated to K-12 schools in the American Rescue Plan, 93% remains unused. That doesn't even consider previous relief allocation. These schools literally have more money than they know what to do with. Put it to good use.
When I was stationed at Fort Benning, outside of which is the city of Columbus, Georgia, there was a Bank of America about a mile down the road from the front gate. Columbus is kind of like a smaller Detroit, if you didn't know, and it had gotten to the point where anyone with the temerity to sally forth from their automobile and step up to the external ATM at this specific Bank of America for some U.S. greenbacks was all but certain to leave without any cash and liberated of all valuables.
By all accounts, in addition to having absolved themselves of all constraining moral and ethical principles, the rotating cast of gentlemen who'd taken to appropriating funds from unsuspecting and naive ATM users had zero reservations about pulling daytime capers during business hours, and so the problem was hard to ignore.
So, though it took Bank of America a bit longer than you'd expect it would, they finally got the message that maybe a deterrent of some kind would be prudent, whereupon a security guard from a contractor service was hired. Thus it was that a very large, heavily-tattooed black chap, equipped with a very visible Glock and wearing an equally visible military grade bulletproof vest, was paid to stand next to the external ATM and exude casual menace.
And the capers ceased.
Now, I'm not a criminal psychologist. But I don't think you or I or anyone else needs a certain qualification to be able to reasonably agree on some key points, beginning with methodology.
If someone wants to indiscriminately kill a lot of people, they don't need an AR-15. The deadliest school shooting ever remains that which occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007, when a student used a Glock 19 pistol and a Walther P22 pistol to kill 32 people.
You don't need a gun at all, though. If someone really wants to kill someone, be it a single person or dozens, they'll figure out a way to do it.
Can't get your hands on a gun? How about a bottle of alcohol, a piece of cloth, and a lighter? Your mom's purple PT Cruiser? Or, Google and YouTube will show you how to make pipe bombs, if you're so inclined.
I don't want to list off a hundred different morbid examples of how one might go about doing such a thing without using a firearm. Suffice it to say that all someone needs is the depraved desire to perpetrate the heinous act and minimal imagination. But more importantly, they need easy targets: Vulnerable, docile, clustered individuals without the means to protect themselves and hindered by choke points. And the target location should be obstacle-free—open access, unsecured, no surveillance, no guns. No deterrents.
Put yourself in the shoes of a psycho looking to kill a bunch of little kids and work backwards from there. Make changes and plan accordingly. Complacency kills.
Lastly, I don't believe this is a gun issue. I genuinely don't. I believe the issue has to do with cultural pathologies unique to America. Space and time do not permit an exhaustive explanation as to why, but if you're looking for “further reading,” I highly recommend the book Columbine.
Crime is up 40% in NYC. The unemployment rate is double that of the nation. There are 220,000 cases in housing court. Taxes are at record highs. The state of New York leads the nation in population loss. But thank goodness Hochul is focusing on priorities.
Super casual, though.
President Biden’s poll numbers continue to plummet.
The Jim Crow 2.0 charade is not getting nearly as much attention as it should be.
And here’s the truth:
“Patsy Reid — 70 years old, Black and retired — said she was surprised she didn’t encounter problems when she voted early this month. Reid cast her ballot for Abrams in the Democratic primary but feared that her vote could be discounted given reports of voter suppression against people of color in Georgia.
‘I had heard that they were going to try to deter us in any way possible…To go in there and vote as easily as I did and to be treated with the respect that I knew I deserved as an American citizen — I was really thrown back.’” — The Washington Post
A reminder that the mainstream media is not your friend and does not seek to inform you.
Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle: “Hunter tried to tell me that he came from a middle-class family. Months later, when I went to his house for the first time, I explained to him: ‘Hunt, a kid from a middle class family does not have a ballroom.’"
Elon Musk on remote work.
In a recent New York Times write up of why gas prices are so high, they start with “Putin's price hike” and then blame Americans for driving too much after being locked down for 2 years.
Just to clarify, this means in San Francisco, homeless transgender women will be given priority for housing. . . while women born women will be secondary?
“Perhaps the time has come to admit, possibly, that Russia’s special operation in Ukraine has finished in the sense that a genuine war has begun. What’s more, it’s WWIII. We’re forced to demilitarize not just Ukraine, but all of NATO.”
Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was arrested for drunk driving on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in Saturday’s New York Times. . .
This has bad news written all over it for the inebriated.
Thank you, Brian! I am enlightened.
Apparently there’s been an exodus of black staffers from the White House over the past year.
“Some of those who remain say it’s no wonder why: They describe a work environment with little support from their superiors and fewer chances for promotion.”
Okay. So the White House’s “Executive Order Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Government,” which flouted a century of Supreme Court decisions forbidding discrimination on the basis of race and required 140 federal agencies to marginalize all white employees never happened, or? How about the second executive order that was signed to amplify the initial executive order even more?