Stories to Watch: 12/3/13.
Kind of a slow news day, so bear with me here. As always, hover your cursor above the links to preview the headlines.
This is most definitely not good news; CNN President Jeff Zucker has announced plans to retool the cable news channel to make it less newsy and more entertainy. According to the report, Zucker plans to attract “viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and Nat Geo and A&E” in their prime time slots. So less like the news of the day and more like Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, and Storage Wars, I guess. Cable news is about to get even dumber. I can hardly wait…
Guess which Republicans would rather save: pentioners on Social Security or bloated military spending? Seriously, if you got that one wrong, you really haven’t been paying attention.
The an expert with the nonpartisan Consumer Reports tells MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that the retooled Healthcare.gov website is “terrific” and says they’re urging people to use it. “It’s time,” says CR health care expert Nancy Metcalf.
The House renews the Reagan-era ban on plastic guns — quietly, in hopes that ‘baggers and the gun lobby don’t notice.
Every once in a while, birtherism cranks up to eleven and wingnuts go from being sure that Pres. Obama’s an undocumented secret Muslim terr’ist to speculating that he’s actually the Anti-Christ. This one of those every-once-in-a-whiles.
[cartoon via Truthdig]
What We Know About Sandy Hook.
The official police investigation into the killer behind the Sandy Hook massacre has closed and the final report offer frustratingly few answers. Authorities found no evidence that he’d ever spoken about any plans to commit the crime to anyone else, but that this crime was committed for reasons we’ll never know. He’d had no contact with anyone at the school, so it couldn’t have been some argument or feud. And the “violent video games” theory? Adam Lanza seemed obsessed with only one video game in particular, according to CNN.
But while many of his video games were violent, others were not. For months before the killings at Sandy Hook, he would go to a movie theater on weekends to play the dance game “Dance Dance Revolution” for hours, the report recounts.
Maybe he was playing violent video games at home. But so do plenty of other people. Only one went out and committed an unimaginably horrific crime. If a video game drove him to a murderous state of mind, there’s more evidence that video game was “Dance Dance Revolution” than “Call of Duty.”
However, much of what we do know is damning. Lanza was isolated by his own mental health issues. And those issues could not have been helped by the fact that his mother was a gun-obsessed survivalist. For a young man with mental health issues, having the only person who was really in his day to day life be so far removed in her world view from anything resembling reality can’t possibly have been helpful. And the presence of an arsenal of real guns proved far more deadly than any games involving imaginary ones. CNN again:
On December 14, 2012, the morning after Nancy Lanza had returned from a trip to New Hampshire, her son shot her four times in the head with a .22-caliber rifle. Then it was off to the school where he once had been a relatively happy child, packing four other guns and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition. He fired more than 150 shots from a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle before turning a 10mm Glock pistol on himself once police arrived, according to the report.
That’s what we know. Anything about video games or mental illness or parenting is speculation. The one thing we know about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is that it was carried out by someone with more ammo than any responsible person could possibly need, fired from the barrel of a gun designed to shoot that ammunition into human bodies at the fastest rate possible without being fully automatic. Lanza’s ability to fire bullets into kids and teachers was limited only by the speed at which he could pull the trigger and the capacity of his magazine. Those meager limitations proved to be no impediment.
That’s what we know. When Lanza went from classroom to classroom, gunning down kids, we know he didn’t use a video game. He used a .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle. That’s what we know. That’s pretty much all we know.
You’d think that this knowledge would be enough to do drive us to something. But that would be discounting the bottomless cowardice of people like Lanza’s mother who collect ridiculously dangerous guns under the impression —now tragically proven inaccurate— that each one she owned enhanced her safety. And it would be discounting the tremendous evil of gun manufacturers and lobbyists who, like Big Tobacco before them, are completely comfortable with profit margins being inflated by death tolls. And it would be discounting the mendacity of rightwing media trolls, whose only real argument is “liberals are always wrong,” which forces them to oppose even the most common sense solutions to gun violence — or anything else, for that matter.
That’s what we know. We know Adam Lanza was able to carry out the massacre because he was able to gain access to weapons which by no stretch of even the most inventive spinmeister’s imagination enhanced anyone’s safety that day. And we know that there are people, whether through greed or cowardice or plain stupidity, who are more than willing to leave that as the status quo. And because of them, something like this will happen again.
That’s what we know.
[photo via Wikimedia Commons]
Second Amendment Hero accidentally fires gun in Walmart, pretends nothing happened.
Traverse City Record-Eagle, Iowa: Police said a man whose gun accidentally fired in his pants pocket while at Walmart on Sunday kept on shopping, paying for his items and leaving as though nothing had happened.
Christopher William Strube, 50, was arrested Monday and charged with discharging a weapon within city limits.
Strube was shopping Sunday afternoon with his .45-caliber gun in his pocket, when a bottle he was carrying bumped into the gun and caused it to fire one round, police said. Strube told police that after the gun went off, he paid for his items and left the store.
Employees and customers said they heard a gunshot and smelled gun powder. Police later found a .45-caliber bullet inside a can of beans.
Strube is a government-certified Responsible Gun Owner, as evidenced by his possession of a concealed carry permit. They don’t hand those out to just anyone, you know. [correction: they hand those out to just anyone]
I’ve noticed that a lot of these stories happen in Walmarts. Why are people so freakin’ terrified to go into Walmart unarmed?
For some things, there are no good answers. But it’s good to know that Strube handled the incident responsibly, continuing to shop and hoping no one noticed. Just walk around like nothing happened and hope someone blames it on someone else. Because a pocket-fire and a fart are both accidental discharges from your pants, so why should the two be treated any differently?
Yup, nothing wrong with that. Just another day in the pro-criminal warzone that we pretend is civilization.
Shutting Down Debate at Gunpoint.
Here’s a fun item from over the weekend. While you were doing whatever it was you were doing yesterday, a fine and not at all cowardly group of Texans who are not at all lunatics were busy doing this:
ThinkProgress: On Saturday, nearly 40 armed men, women, and children waited outside a Dallas, Texas area restaurant to protest a membership meeting for the state chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun safety advocacy group formed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
According to a spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action (MDA), the moms were inside the Blue Mesa Grill when members of Open Carry Texas (OCT) — an open carry advocacy group — “pull[ed] up in the parking lot and start[ed] getting guns out of their trunks.” The group then waited in the parking lot for the four MDA members to come out. The spokeswoman said that the restaurant manager did not want to call 911, for fear of “inciting a riot” and waited for the gun advocates to leave. The group moved to a nearby Hooters after approximately two hours.
MDA later released a statement calling OCT “gun bullies” who “disagree[d] with our goal of changing America’s gun laws and policies to protect our children and families.” The statement added that the members and restaurant customers were “terrified by what appeared to be an armed ambush.” A member of OCT responded by tweeting, “I guess I’m a #gunbullies #Comeandtakeit.”
So, on learning that they’d panicked innocent people, Mr. Second Amendment Hero here thought, “Good!” Clearly, that was the intent. There are two words to describe someone like that — a thug or a prick. One does not rule out the other.
On further thought, there are three words. You’ll need to add “criminal.” “Licensed gun owners are allowed to carry concealed weapons,” the report continues, “but Texas is one of six states that prohibits open carry of firearms.”
Being members of an open carry advocacy group, these people knew they were breaking the law. After all, they exist to change that law. They made a conscious choice to engage in criminal behavior. Just as they made the choice to carry all outward appearances of an angry lynch mob, come to punish some moms for the unforgivable crime of discussing ways to reduce gun violence. The Second Amendment Heroes from OCT weren’t interested in discussing anything. They were interested in shutting down discussion literally at gun point. Because nothing says freedom like an armed goon putting a gun in your face and saying, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
But they won’t succeed in shutting down discussion — mostly because the average American is not so cowardly as they are. When one group of people feels the need to armed constantly and one thinks there are better, less stupid, and less insane solutions to violence, it’s not hard to identify the more courageous of the two.
What’s bothering me though is this, which happened just the day before:
KHOU: A massive house party advertised on Twitter turned violent when two teenagers were shot to death and 19 others were injured late Saturday in northwest Harris County [Texas], deputies said.
According to Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the mass shooting happened just before 11 p.m. at a birthday party for 18-year-old Mariah Boulden in the 7300 block of Enchanted Creek Drive.
Sheriff Adrian Garcia described the scene from Saturday night as a “birthday party gone wild.”
"Two high school students, 18-year-old male and 16-year-old female, were killed, while 19 others were injured during the shooting," the report tells us. Just one of the mass shootings that have become such a daily occurrence in the US that they don’t even make national news. The blood-soaked and bullet hole-ridden wallpaper of our daily lives — so constant and ubiquitous that we don’t even see it anymore.
There were no armed protesters at the scene the next day, demanding that people use their firearms responsibly — no unspoken threat to gun down anyone who didn’t. No, they were too busy getting ready to go harass a handful of unarmed moms who met to talk about the sort of things that Second Amendment Heroes would rather you just ignore. Things that constant repetition makes so easy for the media to ignore. Another day, another senseless mass shooting — *yawn* are you sure there isn’t some celebrity nip-slip out there someplace to report on?
So a group of armed psychopaths went to menace people who wanted to regulate firearms. In other words, the day after a mass shooting, a bunch of gun-toting cowards went to make sure that people like the shooters would always have easy access to plenty of firearms with plenty of ammo, so they could get hammered at a kegger and start using guns the way other people use firecrackers. And, if some kids are shot and some others are trampled? Tough luck.
That’s clearly what the Founders intended. So sleep well, gun fetishists of America. Open Carry Texas is out there making sure your guns are safe.
Your children, not so much. But you’ve got to have your priorities.
[photo distributed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America]