WASHINGTON – IN THE GAPING MAW of our leadership vacuum stands Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, whose resolve, vulnerability and humility inside the vortex of a man made hell revealed what nobody in Congress or either political party has shown in decades. Leadership without regard to anything but his own duty to the people, which included the cops in the eye of volcanic carnage. Over a thousand miles away, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg used his voice and the power of his office to challenge the two contenders for the presidency, Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney, to do something besides talk. Don’t hold your breath.
“With that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50, 60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic, within one minute,” Chief Oates said. [New York Times]
What foreshadowed the calamity on Friday, in a weird instant of synchronistic scheduling, came in the closing moments of last Sunday’s “The Newsroom” episode, when a childish adult soap opera gave way to the real live drama surrounding the shooting of Gabrille Giffords in 2011. In a split second moment where decisions become destiny, the fictional news anchor Will McAvoy listened to his team and refused to follow all of the other news organizations in pronouncing the fate of Rep. Giffords, because every one of them had followed the leader, NPR, who ended up getting it wrong.
Fast forward, inconvenient facts from the New York Times:
Mr. Holmes was detained by the police soon afterward, standing by his white Hyundai. He was identified by the authorities as a former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado in Denver, and an honors graduate in neuroscience from the University of California, Riverside. He had in the car an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 caliber Glock handgun, said Chief Dan Oates of the Aurora police, and all three were believed to have been used inside the theater. Another Glock .40 caliber handgun was recovered inside the theater. Chief Oates said that “many, many” rounds were fired, but that there was no count so far.
In the last 60 days Mr. Holmes had purchased four guns at local gun shops, Chief Oates said. And through the Internet, he bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition: more than 3,000 rounds for the assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for the two Glocks, and 300 rounds for the 12-gauge shotgun. The guns were all bought legally, a federal law enforcement official said.
N.R.A. groupies are gathering, as gun safety advocates feel the wind beneath them yet again. Think Progress blares this headline in an ode to the vanquished: Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting.
It might have been convincing if they’d used “could” instead of “would,” but even then it’s absolute rubbish.
Assault weapons ban doesn’t ban assault weapons. Banning massive assault clips of tens of bullets won’t really ban them. Both provide a bromide for people ignorant of the gun lobby and firearm industry’s reach and the fact that people can also make a silencer themselves. It’s why people like my husband, a gun expert and someone who has owned some of the most fierce weaponry available, including the most beautiful sniper rifle I’ve ever seen, don’t support this type of legislation. What I’ve learned from him and studying the gun industry is that component parts can always be purchased by those knowing where to get them or just following the gun shows or reading certain newspapers.
That doesn’t mean an effort to confront the N.R.A. isn’t worthy, overdue and important, with the very “banning” efforts worth the energy, if only to send the message, rally ordinary citizens who have a right to live in this country and feel safe without being told they need to be armed. I write this as a gun owner and someone who’s fired an M-16, as well as other weaponry and who has no intention of living without a firearm in my home ever again. As long time readers know, I encouraged my husband to get a conceal carry permit for his own safety; a man who still has part of a .22 caliber bullet in his gut from when two young thugs confronted him and shot him, an assault from which he almost died, as he was walking away from turning on a customer’s gas in what used to be known as “the projects” in a depressed area of Las Vegas. Every time one of these shootings occurs my husband feels what the recovering victims are going through and we have the same conversation. He loathes the N.R.A. and believes they are way too extreme in their politics.
Despite the changes over the past 13 years, Colorado law still prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in several significant ways. Moreover, gun rights organizations have successfully fought other efforts to restrict access to guns, including blocking a University of Colorado rule prohibiting concealed weapons on campus. People in Colorado are allowed to carry firearms in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, as long as the gun is intended for lawful uses like personal protection or protecting property. – Colorado Gun Laws Remain Lax, Despite Some Changes
The N.R.A. operates with political immunity, buying our politicians and rallying the faithful, while citizens who don’t fancy firearms are made to feel sheepish, and act cowardly as a result, while not putting their fury into action by joining one of the groups who combat the N.R.A. every day. Democrats have ducked the assault weapons ban, including Rep. Giffords, for fear of getting voted out of office and not being able to do important other works. People have a choice on whether to amass to stand opposite the N.R.A., offering voter cover for politicians who acknowledge the Second Amendment, but have evolved enough philosophically and politically to understand that in our violently modern world there should be strict enforcement, met by technological advancements like micro-stamping technology, to compel the N.R.A. to be responsible in the new world reality, instead of a chief enabler of societal violence, while marginalizing a silent majority of people who don’t arm themselves out of choice. Who’s representing their rights in Congress or the White House? Why aren’t these Americans demanding representation? Until they do in large numbers nothing will change.
History has also shown that we won’t ever stop the lone gunman determined to kill.
Naming enablers and propagandists of violence matters, like the N.R.A., which continually chooses a path of irresponsibility for capitalism’s sake, with those in the political arena far guiltier than any movie or video game. Anyone saying using the Aurora shooting for “political gains” is shameful is likely in the pocket of the N.R.A. and is employing the plan these advocates always do, which is to shame opponents and make them feel un-American for believing that the Second Amendment wasn’t intended to infringe on their rights to feel safe without being armed.
Sugue to Sean Hannity, who began his radio show on Friday by lecturing everyone not to politicize the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. By the middle of the first hour he was squealing about ABC’s Brian Ross, who made an unvetted, unprofessional snap judgment for which they were forced to apologize, because he coupled the shooter in Aurora with the Tea Party. Hannity immediately attached Ross with “the left,” because in today’s America, everyone chooses their own facts. There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Ross is associated with “the left,” which barely exists today. The second caller on his show went on a bender, railing against Democrats, bringing the Gabrielle Giffords shooting into the mix, with Hitler brought in for dramatic affect. The next caller raised the issue of gun control in New York City.
Everyone’s reacting, while simultaneously shrugging, what can we do? Who knew? How this could ever happen in a movie theater, let alone 13 miles away from where the Columbine slaughter occurred, is just too much to contemplate. So we don’t.
Meanwhile, anyone want to bet the N.R.A. is marshaling it’s offenses, preparing to go into battle in a public campaign that will include making sure politicians know why their campaign coffers stay full and on whose side they need to be?
The Sunday, cable and radio shows ready to book their segments in timely little allotments, making sure all sides are represented, with no one today having the gravitas to actually lead the conversation with a mission of finding answers to questions and let “balance” fall where it might amid the truth. Across the board there are tortured efforts of false equivalency, as if facts and truth have sides, though today that’s the template.
A guy over at the amusingly named “Reason” site, took aim at the Brady campaign’s reaction to the shooting, then went into a defensive crouch over gun laws, which mimics a lot of reactions on the right.
Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, one of Michele Bachmann’s McCarthyite pals, whom the Washington Post called out in an op-ed yesterday, blamed the carnage on the “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs,” then wondered why no one at the midnight premiere of the movie was armed to take down the assassin. David Weigel responded. It’s why arming teachers and students remains an open campaign. Remember Virginia Tech, they say.
Now let me now get down in the gutter with Sean Hannity and his surreal interview with George Zimmerman, who’s out on $1 million bond after being charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, through the right of a concealed carry. It’s no coincidence Hannity was the first to speak to Zimmerman, who called him after the shooting, at a time his own attorneys couldn’t reach him. In the interview, exactly as Hannity did Friday on his show, while preening about the importance of keeping politics out of the conversation, when speaking to George Zimmerman, Hannity couldn’t help but single out Al Sharpton, which not only brought politics into the discussion, but race, too, Hannity’s objective. Whether you like Sharpton or not, he’s been overtly active in racial confrontations his entire life, so anyone thinking his being on MSNBC mattered has not been paying attention. That Sean Hannity uses his show for political purposes every day, but that’s okay, reveals his unethical hypocrisy.
George Zimmerman sat emotionless as he talked, with his attorney beside him, but it was Sean Hannity who did most of the talking, leading Zimmerman in the telling of his story, which included some gobsmacking quotes. He didn’t regret anything the night of the shooting. He didn’t regret getting out of the car that fatal night. He would do nothing differently that night. He put words in Trayvon Martin’s mouth, saying the teen threatened him by saying, “You’re going to die tonight [obscenity deleted].” Alleging that Martin then went for his gun. He apologized to the Martin family, too.
Zimmerman also unloaded this obscenity.
“I feel that it was all God’s plan and for me to second guess it or judge it…” – George Zimmerman
God didn’t have a part in the planning Zimmerman’s actions or his killing of Trayvon Martin that left him alive. George Zimmerman may be found not-guilty of second-degree murder, but he’s sure as hell not innocent.
If God was the puppet George Zimmerman thinks She is, you’d have to apply this obscene correlation to the Holmes massacre in Aurora, Colorado, which is offensive on its face.
You’d have to apply it to the Gabrille Giffords shooting, Virginia Tech, Columbine and on and on.
A killer putting himself on the side of his “God,” enabled by Sean Hannity through his use of his media platforms, while he points at Al Sharpton, with the dead African American teen, the actual victim of a man with a concealed carry and a penchant for neighborhood heroism, who took his life, getting a prime time stage to say “he’s not a racist.” Oh, and he would say he was sorry if he did anything wrong, so the media should say they’re sorry to him, too. The killer turned victim by virtue of concealed carry, stand your ground, “self defense.” Not one question about why a man with a concealed carry was so irresponsible as to create the situation that had him getting out of his car to interact with Trayvon Martin in the first place.
This is what passes for “justice” in this country today, splattered across flat screens from one coast to another, while Fox News rakes in the ratings.
And people wonder why the N.R.A. is fearless?
James Holmes, the shooter identified in the Aurora slaughter, is a guy in the social media age who was called an “online ghost” by Mashable editor Lance Ulanoff. Holmes obviously plotted and planned the massacre, methodically booby-trapping his apartment so thoroughly that SWAT didn’t dare enter the door, while evacuating the surrounding neighborhood. In Aurora, bomb experts have disabled a tripwire and an incendiary device rigged to blow on entry, but they’ve got a long way to go.
God doesn’t plan these things, human beings out for blood do.
If you looked at Memeorandum on Friday, the listing of what was trending was filled with right-wing attacks on ABC News that were earned, as well as finger-pointing at “the left,” but the Tea Party is undeserving of becoming the news or the “victim.” They’re a group who has applauded the actions of open carry at political rallies, so there is photographic proof that they’re one of the enablers of threats and violence in our society, though not all Tea Partiers are to blame. There was one single, solitary article challenging leading politicians on guns. By even lauding Bloomberg’s efforts I’m sure someone will bring up his Wall Street ties and what that evilness means, even if it has nothing to do with his efforts on illegal firearms.
From Sean Hannity inserting himself and methodically manipulating the media coverage in the Trayvon Martin murder case to Michele Bachmann’s McCarthyism to ABC’s Brian Ross’s amateur mistake that wrongly tied the Tea Party to the Aurora shooter, juxtaposed against John Sununu saying he wished Pres. Obama would learn to be an American, which was followed by Mitt Romney reciting the word “foreign” multiple times in a speech in reference to the President’s policies, the picture being painted of this country should embarrass us all.
But it won’t. The same political system that has failed us immeasurably, we count all the ways day after day, will limp along throughout this election year, with partisan pom poms distracting people from the inevitable mind numbing outcome that renders results that are always the same: less representation of the people.
When people try to move outside the corrupt political system to challenge the status quo that’s killing this country, because Democratic and Republican leaders have led us to this fate, they’re vilified and arrogantly lectured that everything will be their fault if –insert your favorite candidate here– is not elected. Few stop to consider or try to understand the message these people are sending to partisan fans. They couldn’t possibly have something to say, a clue to what’s gone wrong. The partisan never stops to think that if the politicians offered actual solutions for the people they wouldn’t be losing voters. Independents, squishy as they are because they can’t see any leadership worth supporting, have been the canary in the American democracy mine for decades. Maybe gun safety advocates will start pressuring politicians to do something, so instead of guns being a third rail, as Eliot Spitzer calls it in the video at the top of this column, it will be an issue on which people hinge their vote, so that more independents are created from disaffected Ds and Rs, so something starts to really shift. Because as much as Republicans are in the bag for the N.R.A., Democrats aren’t any better, with the outcome clear.
Twelve dead in Aurora, Colorado, with at 59 wounded and that’s not counting the damaged hearts and minds.
An unarmed African American teen shot dead by a citizen with a concealed carry craving hero worship, instead of leaving the situation to the police.
A teen opens fire in Chardon, Ohio, killing and wounding students.
A shooting rampage at a California Christian university over a tuition dispute.
A teen in Texas turns a gun on a fellow student, with the police having to “take him out.”
A 9-year-old boy brings a .45-caliber handgun to his elementary school and it discharges from inside his backpack, critically wounding another kid.
Another from the Fox News list: “A 6-year-old boy accidentally fired a gun inside Ross Elementary School in Houston, Texas, injuring himself and two other children.”
A 15 year-old shoots another student Martinsville West Middle School in Martinsville, Ind.
In 2006: Eric Hainstock, 15, took a shotgun from his father’s gun cabinet and a .22-caliber revolver from his father’s bedroom to his school in rural Cazenovia, Wis., and fatally shot the principal.
March 21, 2005: With his own .22-caliber handgun, and his grandfather’s Glock handgun and 12-gauge shotgun, Jeff Weise, 16, shot and killed his grandfather, a policeman and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home, then went to his high school, also on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, and fatally shot eight people, including himself.
April 24, 2003: James Sheets, 14, shot and killed principal Eugene Segro in the crowded cafeteria at the Red Lion Area Junior High School in south-central Pennsylvania before killing himself. Police determined that Sheets used a key to take three guns from his stepfather’s gun safe.
May 26, 2000: Nathaniel Brazill, 13, killed his English teacher at Lake Worth Community High School in Lake Worth, Fla. According to police, Brazill stole the .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his grandfather’s house.
Feb. 29, 2000: A 6-year-old boy from Mount Morris Township, Mich., killed classmate Kayla Rolland, also 6, at Buell Elementary School with a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun left in an open shoebox. The boy and his mother had been staying at the home of his uncle and his uncle’s friend, Jamelle James, 19. James, who kept the gun in the shoebox, spent 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter.
The examples above are from one Fox News link. Suck on that, Second Amendment advocates, of which I’m one, except I draw the line at enabling violence promoters, which includes the N.R.A., politicians who pledge allegiance to that group, and any media personality who does their bidding.
Americans just keep going ’round and ’round in the hamster wheel of recurring events, with our yearly tragedies multiplying and bringing moments of silence, prayers and split second moralizing how it’s not guns or politics or men, and it’s certainly nothing that could be wrong with American policies or that people can do something about this.
In God we trust, so it must be “God’s plan,” which is as good an excuse as any to keep from looking at our society, which just keeps spinning further out of control, in a country that can’t feed it’s poor, employ its people, or solve our nation’s problems.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
We’re addicted all right. Addicted to violence against each other, ourselves, our planet, our “enemies,” our friends, our environment, the very world that sustains us and there’s no evidence anywhere that enough people want to get off the merry-go-round we’ve been on for decades to change the direction in which we’re hurling.
Into this stepped Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates. He reminded everyone of what’s possible in a leader. Watching Gov. John Hickenlooper, whom former Gov. Bill Owens called “the father of Colorado today,” while he worked mightily to frame the words from a mind muddled from lack of sleep, we were seeing a man off script, speaking from the heart and praying the people would translate his message as he barely begins to bring his state back from death’s grip.
The nation watches.
But what will people do about it?
“The gun prohibition people tried to use Gabrielle Giffords and the Trayvon Martin case to get their cause going again, and weren’t particularly successful with that,” he said. At the state level, he added, having fought pitched battles over gun rights since the 1980s, “we’re at a reasonably well settled point,” and “the legislature is not that interested in opening it up again.” Mr. Volokh said the fragmentary information available so far about Mr. Holmes and the attack did not make a strong case for reform. [The New York Times]
Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog www.taylormarsh.com covers national politics, women and power.