Sharing others’ words in response to shooting

I have been away from the blog for a while because of my own work, and then I was at the amazing Between the Worlds conference this past weekend. I’ll write more about that soon. But for now, let me share some of the smart responses to the most recent tragedy.

To the Dead Children

More Guns, More Mass Shooting – No, it is not a coincidence.

How the NRA Dupes Gun Owners for Political and Economic Gain – I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the NRA is not a rights organization. They are an industry lobbying group that fearmongers for profit.

There is something more than self-defense going on here. – The number of guns owned is increasing, but the proportion of ownership is not keeping pace. The same people are buying more and more guns, and I think fearmongering is a direct cause.

Remember, when in doubt, follow the money. Perhaps we should consider treating gun violence like a public health problem.

We also need to talk about mental health access.

With those things in mind, we also need to think very, very carefully about how we’re discussing issues of ability, mental health, and identity in this situation in general. Note, again, that when a white man – and it’s nearly always a white man – shoots people, he’s an individual with individual reasons and problems, rather than a representative of his entire ethnic group. And with whatever mental health issues he may have had, demonizing that group, instead of an ethnic group, is not necessarily going to solve this problem either.

With all of that in mind, focus on what Echidne says on extending empathy.

Hecate raises important questions on raising male children in gun culture that I think extend beyond male children. I know that I’m going to think differently about how I engage with and respond to some of the violent parts of our culture after this, and I’m going to stop being ashamed of saying, “I won’t watch that, it’s too violent.”

My own thoughts:

There are two common responses from gun advocates that I want to respond to in brief. The first is that since they think the best solution is for them to be armed to the teeth, they’re blaming everyone who is not armed to the teeth, or who thinks it’s appropriate to have spaces like schools, state parks, bars, university campuses, and other areas be off-limits to concealed carry of firearms for not “protecting themselves.”

There are many responses to make to this idealization of maximal guns, but for now I just want to point out two: first, in Mother Jones’ excellent historical research, there were no cases of an armed civilian bringing a rampage to an end. There were two smaller cases, not included in their study, where armed civilians tried to intervene and were themselves shot. More recently, at Tucson, an armed bystander did try to intervene and almost shot an innocent. Evidence shows that armed bystanders are not a panacea.

Second, I am going to keep hammering on the issue of large magazines until something gets done about this. Even if you think that more guns is the answer, you should be in favor of banning large-capacity magazines. Sure, a shooter can carry five ten-round clips, but the very act of reloading slows him (and it’s almost always a him) down. That gives whoever is responding a chance to get there before more people are killed. And if you think that you, in your heroic fantasy, are going to need more than a handful of rounds to stop a shooter, then you’re a lousy marksman and shouldn’t be shooting in an area with lots of innocents around anyway.


There’s another response that I find more disgusting and appalling the more I hear it. Earlier this year I suggested that as Pagans we should be especially concerned about soaking our culture in what are essentially toxic weapons. It turns out that another Pagan responded with a long statement about gun culture, rights, and so on, ending on a nearly triumphalist note about being able to protect her own liberty should the government ever decide to persecute her as a Pagan.

Wake the fuck up, people.

I never want to hear that bullshit again. It makes me want to vomit.

I’m old enough to remember Waco. I’m contemporary enough to see people reveling in our military might when applied to other countries. Get real: the government has everything from tear gas and SWAT teams to tanks, aircraft, bombs, hell, they have nukes. No matter what that bastard Scalia says about how he thinks you should be able to own your very own personal rocket launcher (MANPADS is how the cool military kids describe them!), you will never be able to overthrow the government via armed insurrection. That time has passed; technology has changed.

If you were very determined, you could start a civil war. Maybe. You, for any value of “you” smaller than at least a third of the country in a geographically contiguous and politically united coalition, are not defending yourselves against tyranny. You are not preparing for anything, except possibly suicide-by-cop (as happened in Topeka on Sunday night). You are making the world more violent and dangerous for the rest of us by indulging your disgusting and ignorant fantasies. You are not the solution; you are the problem.


With all that said, I follow Hecate’s lead in praying to Demeter for Sandy Hook:

Great Demeter, I call tonight to you.

I pour libations to you Great Mother, and I give alms in your name.

Read the whole thing. Then go do something about it.

A parable: What about a conscience clause for gun sellers?

One of the most weaselly ways that anti-choicers undermine women’s access to reproductive health care, and especially contraception, is so-called “conscience clauses.” These purport to protect the tender religious sensibilities of health care professionals by allowing them to opt out of a particular part of their job that they disagree with. Consider this analogous hypothetical:

I work in a sporting goods store. One day, a man comes in and wants to buy a handgun. He’s had his background check, and his safety training, and has waited the required period.

I refuse to sell him one.

My conscience tells me that handguns are immoral, you see. Maybe I’m a Quaker, maybe I’ve decided this on my own interpretation of my religion, whatever. I insist that handguns are immoral and that I don’t have to participate in that immorality by supplying him with one to go do immoral things – like kill people.

He says: “I’ll only use it for target practice!”

Not good enough, I say. It’s too risky. You might shoot someone.

He says: “I’ll only use it to defend my family!”

I don’t care; maybe I’m a pacifist, maybe I don’t believe him, but I won’t sell it.

He says: “I have Second Amendment rights, and this is the job you were hired to do!”

No, I say. See this? I have an escape clause. My conscience gives me an iron-clad right to refuse to cooperate with evil.

And I get to define what evil is.

Most people think it would be inappropriate for me to have the right to evaluate the man’s justifications before allowing the sale, or for me to be able to refuse to do my job entirely.

But somehow this is presented as a reasonable approach for pharmacists to take towards birth control.

The above situation isn’t a perfect analogy, of course. Perhaps the most salient difference is that no one will die or get sick or get pregnant if I refuse to sell a person a handgun right now. Yet people can and do die or get sick or get pregnant if pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions when they are presented. Emergency contraception has to be taken within a particular number of hours after sex or rape. There aren’t always other pharmacies or other pharmacists available, so a single individual’s “conscience” can be the difference that leads to another unwanted pregnancy.

Another difference is that retail sales isn’t a highly regulated profession. People don’t just show up in the drugstore one day and get assigned to hand out drugs; they have to go to school, pursue licensure, and put a lot of work into becoming pharmacists. That’s why they’re the ones who are allowed to hand out the meds and we can’t just get Sam from the front register to fill in for the guy (and it’s usually a guy) with an objection.

Don’t even get me started on the analogous situations for all the other medicines that I could have a conscientious objection to. (cough, V*agra, cough, C*alis, cough)

So-called conscience clauses are nothing more nor less than stealth anti-choice measures designed to allow some people to continue to control women’s bodies.