Friday, April 10, 2009

All-American Murder

The "Hello-Kitty AK-47"

When Charles Whitman lugged a duffel bag full of high-powered rifles to the top of the clock tower at the University of Texas and began picking off unlucky bystanders, leaving 14 dead and 32 wounded, the country was brutally shocked and our collective psyche was forever scarred. There had been mass murders before, but nothing like this: a random spree killing of innocents. The killer never discriminated between young or old, man or woman, he just shot everything that moved. The year was 1966, and for years following the disaster, a macabre national obsession with the tragedy produced a best-selling, minute-by-minute novel and a made for TV movie, creating stars out of the Texas Rangers that finally took the sniper down. Everyone knew from the Kinky Friedman country song that Whitman had a brain tumor and was an Eagle Scout, but only insanity could explain his murderous rampage. I recall news footage of the day of horror being repeatedly broadcast with each gruesome detail examined. The name Charles Whitman entered the lexicon as the prototypical mass killer and an avalanche of psychobabble followed concerning how to identify and stop these potential time bombs in the future before they exploded. After 43 years of heated discussion, we are now experiencing a Charles Whitman-like massacre once a week. Rage and spree killings have become as American as Mom, apple pie, and methamphetamine.

3/10/09; Sampson, Ala. "The worst rampage in Alabama history" began when a man described by friends as "a nice, quiet kid," armed himself with two military assault rifles, a handgun, and a shotgun, and began a multi-town slaughter that took 10 lives, including his parents and four relatives. When he opened fire on a True Value Hardware store, the owner said, "we realized what it was and grabbed our guns, but he was gone." A witness said he was wearing earplugs.
3/23/09; Oakland, Cal. A violent felon on parole used a handgun to murder two motorcycle policeman who had pulled him over for a traffic stop. When a SWAT team entered the apartment in which he was hiding, he killed two more before being shot himself.
3/29/09 Santa Clara, Ca. Six are killed and one injured in an upscale townhouse community by a man who shot his two children and three relatives with a .45 semi-automatic weapon, legally purchased two weeks previous.
3/30/09; Carthage, N.C. A nursing home is attacked by an armed man whose wife worked at the facility. An employee and 7 residents are killed and 4 wounded before the spree ends. A policeman is shot subduing the shooter. The victims' ages ranged from 78 to 98.
And that was only March. This month's tally so far:
4/3/09; Binghampton, N.Y. A man blocked a rear exit of the American Civic Association and killed 13 immigrants taking a citizenship test. Four are wounded. The center had tried to help the unemployed immigrant whose two handguns were properly purchased and registered. The killer boasted of his murders in a letter to the newspaper.
4/4/09; Pittsburgh, Pa. A gunman in body armor and "lying in wait" ambushes police responding to a domestic disturbance with an assault rifle and two guns, killing three.
Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? Yet it seems like the debate about restricting gun sales has already been settled. You rarely even hear it discussed anymore. It takes a high profile shooting or a massacre like Columbine to get our attention, and then the NRA moves in and showers money on the Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, and the problem quietly goes away until the next time. Is it a coincidence that after Bush the Merciless allowed the Clinton era ban on assault weapons to expire, the incidences of multiple victims murdered in a short period of time, from Virginia Tech to Northern Illinois University, began to spike? If someone who is mentally disturbed can act right for a couple of minutes, they can buy a gun in America. Or perhaps all these rampage killers went crazy after they purchased their weapons. It's also worth a reminder, before someone goes all racial about it, that with a few notable exceptions, serial and spree murder is almost entirely the province of angry white males. Yet the Obama administration has expressed no desire to bring up further restrictions on assault weapons, or the kind of "street-sweepers" that should only be in the possession of SWAT teams or the military.

The war news continues to report murders, kidnappings, and beheadings, and that's just in Mexico. Aside from Coke and Colonel Sanders, weapons are the US's most popular export, including assault weapons like the AK-47, which is the preferred weapon of Somali pirates, thug gangbangers, and Mexican drug lords as well. The AK-47, or Kalashnikov, was adopted by the Soviet Army after the Second World War for its killing effectiveness. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became accessible to American "collectors." Now, there are more than 70 million in production and they even make them right here in the U.S.A. Some have Chinese wood stocks, but that's globalization for you. Secretary of State Clinton was criticized for admitting that assault weapons enter Mexico from the United States. Where else would they come from? We want the drugs, and guns and drugs go together like peanut butter and jelly. The automatic weapon and the handgun have replaced the automobile as the iconic American image. Our auto industry is on life support but the domestic sale of weapons is soaring, partially because of right-wing media goons spreading a mantra that says, "Obama is coming for your guns."

America is armed like never before and a rash of paranoia is spreading through the populace, the television news spends 50% of their airtime reporting crime, and carry permits have exploded in number. In Memphis, men packing weapons at restaurants are killing over parking spots, and you can't tell me that if someone has a gun in his glove compartment and feels threatened in a road rage incident, his first instinct won't be to reach for the weapon. I still recall the woman who put her purse on the counter of a Baskin-Robbins store, discharging her pistol and killing a high school coach who was buying ice cream for his children. Now there is a measure to allow permit holders to carry a concealed weapon into a bar. Even in old Dodge City, they collected the guns at the saloon door. I understand anyone's desire and right to possess a handgun for protection or a rifle for hunting, but no one needs an infantry weapon to ensure their family's safety. I am not the first to point out that if cars must be registered and drivers licenced, certainly firearms deserve the same serious attention. What sort of hypocrisy allows a nation's weapons manufacturers to churn out guns like Dunkin' makes doughnuts, but the switchblade is illegal? Commerce will triumph, but recent history shows that desperate times produce desperate people. We don't need to resurrect the Tommy Gun to accommodate their twisted revenge fantasies.


Anonymous said...

Randy, while it is important to preserve our rights to bear arms it is crazy not to put a ban on assault rifles.Come on. There's a big difference in being open minded and having a hole in the head.

Bob said...

Whitman and Oswald

Did you see the All-American movie, "Full Metal Jacket", starring yours and mine favorite Marine, GSGT R. Lee Ermey? He was great as the DI. Anyway, what do the two above named have in common? They were both Marines, that is how they received the training to be such good marksmen at long range.
Yeah, the difference in our people's reaction to atrocity is an atrocity itself.

gregg said...

Any gun or rifle that has the capacity to automatically fire multiple bullets should be banned. That would be a good place to start. No use in speaking to the sheer idiocy of any argument against that. There are no arguments against it.
I can't even talk about it any further. Concealed weapons in a war make sense; for undercover police they makes a hospital or bar or in a civilized country, though, it's for the comic books only---this being the only venue in which the flagrant stupidity of it can be laughed at as a joke.

We have an IQ problem with those who think otherwise... and that's either an intellectual IQ problem or an emotional IQ problem or the unfortunate mix of the two that runs the NRA.

One shot at a time to kill the deer. If you can't take it down that way, you're a shitty shot. One shot at a time to practice making holes in a target. If you feel that you need to use a gun to protect yourself, you should read the actual literature on who really gets hurt when a gun is used in a house for protection and it is fired. The overwhelming majority of the injured are the homeowners who are trying to protect themselves.

So.....we have an IQ problem in this country, Tonto. But we knew that.

Smitty Jones, Jr. said...

Why'd you have to go and stir me up this morning? I was going to have a nice peaceful day and then there she was....BAH....and that was the end of that. I think I'll go on out and shoot up the Stop and Shop. Yeah. That'll show em. Some of those (whities) (niggers) (towelheads) (Jewbastards) (rich fucks) (stupid Red Sox fans) (anybody else in the whole world) are gonna see just exactly who the hell they've been dealing with all these God forsaken years. Do they think that I"m just some idiot? Do they think that they can just look at me the way they always do, like they were just so much smarter or richer or more beautiful or more handsome or more anyGoddam thing than me? We will sure see about that. I got myself a piece here that'll show all those assholes just exactly who is who, and who the fuck isn't. And the hell with my mother, my father, my older brother, my first teacher, my boss, my husband, my wife, my coach, or anybody else who ever made me feel small. I'll blow all their asses to smithereens.

Thank you Burt Lancaster. You showed me the way. Come on and get me, Coppers. I'll take your asses out, too. After all, you jerks, this the AMERICA.

Anonymous said...

You can pass all the gun restriction legislation that you want and the crazies will still get their guns. It is a hackneted saying, but it is still is people that kill, not guns. If they couldn't get guns they would use home-made bombs, knives, razors, machetes, molotov cocktails, etc. It is not the proliferation of guns that is making the crime difference, it is the proliferation of mental instability, sociopathology, etc. Go ahead and restrict gun sales if you wish, but the crazies are going to get there guns and continue the slaughter. I prefer to deal with the situation by arming myself and putting a sign in my yard that says, 'This residence is heavily armed. You have been forewarned'. That way the crazies will skip my house and attack some unarmed gunphobic.

Alan said...

I presume from your blog and the comments that have followed, that you all are in favor of banning the sale of alcohol. The number of people killed and seriously injured by assault rifles is tiny in comparison to the damage done by drunken drivers. I would guess that the number of people killed by hand guns, most being domestic crimes have alcohol also in the mix. You can’t be for one measure of public safety and ignore the larger danger. I think that life in a free country carries a certain amount of risk. If you don’t want the risk go to a place where the government controls everything and life is safer, but is it better?

Anonymous said...

Blame it on what you want. We're living in a society of Milk-Livered Chicken Shits....The Big Man really isn't that big after all, he's just another Punk. Hey Bub,put up your Duke's. Anyone for a Good Old Fist Fight? Of course not. In closing let me pass this message to all of you wanna be's, "I'll jump in the air and shit in your hair". The Spirit Live's On!

Anonymous said...

Excellent point Alan. Many people in today's America are only too willing to sacrifice freedom for security. There is a collateral cost when you have freedom, because some folks will misuse their freedom which can be damaging. We used to feel that freedom was worth the cost. And the guy after Alan has a point, too. We have become soft, namby-pamby, chicken shits in this country. You can almost hear the weak and dependent which make up most of America crying, 'Obummer (Obama's new name), come wipe me'. An unintended consequence of the women's liberation movement has been to de-masculate the American male. Many, if not most, men in America have become feminized. This is why there is no discipline in the homes and we have no stomach for what it takes to defend ourselves. Our society is made up of two kinds of women. Those with vaginas and those who have penises. There are very few who will stand up to anything. The barbarians know this, sense our weakness, and are slavering at our gates. I know that this commentary will offend the girlie men on this blog. All I can say to them is, 'So what? I'll jump in the air and shit in your hair!'

Anonymous said...

The criminals and the crazies are all for gun control legislation. They want the populace to be disarmed, because it will make what they do easier and safer for them. Preying on the citizenry would be like taking candy from a baby after they are disarmed. Whenever something is outlawed a black market for the outlawed thing springs up and voile!... the criminals and crazies will have their weapons and will continue to ravage the unarmed citizens. And the girlie men who brought about the disarmament won't be able to figure it out. They will just cry for more repressive legislation which will never phase the criminals and the crazies. Their whole game is to circumvent the law anyway, so pass all the laws you want. It will only diminish the freedom of the innocent. The criminals will just keep on keeping on. And besides, the same girlie men have softened the prison system to where the criminals aren't that concerned about it. They just go to jail for a couple of years, lift weights, play basketball, learn more criminal techniques, and then go back to ravaging the citizens where they get out of prison. And so it goes ad nauseum. Freedom is diminished, but the amount of crime isn't phased. In fact it tends to increase, because the odds of getting caught and convicted are so slim. Crime pays, so why quit?

Father Farken said...

Guns don't kill people...Protestants do! Don Knotts said HIS BODY WAS A WEAPON...should we ban THE GHOST & MR. CHICKEN? People have been using their minds as weapons pitting brain cells against brain cells. Should we ban all grey matter? For years people have been using sex as a weapon...except for Rabbi Lipschitz who claims he has been shooting blanks for years. He is so old he said he & his lovely wife no longer call it sex...they call it drooling from both ends! He says he's a lover not a fighter. When his wife slaps him on the arse he says he turns the other cheek! Go & do like wise! A blessed Passover & a joyful Easter! The peace of the Lord! Fr. Farken

Anonymous said...

Full Metal Jacket is where it is at!

Paul Burns

Anonymous said...

That's not an AK-47, good sir. I was going to try to take your opinion on the matter of guns seriously, but seeing as how you appear to know nothing about them, I will promptly ignore it.

serv said...

First of all the rifle picture is an AR-15 not an AK-47 and is semi-automatic.

AK-47s are not imported, made, or exported in the united states. AK-47s were made in the former soviet union. The chinese don't make AK-47s. They make their own closes called the Noricino type 56. You liberals should learn some facts before you go wildly preaching about what you see on TV or the movies.

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BentleyPC said...

I'd tell you that you need assault rifles to protect you from the government but we'll need EMPs to battle the robots instead! :-P

JesusGoddamnit said...

Well, howdy from across the ocean, good ol´ germany. Looks like some of dem Rednecks didn´t take their meds for some time.

the anonymous crowd is ridin high on their penis replacements.

What bothers me is that your arguments stink like three day old fish, pushed up your assholes.

So high powered guns shouldn´t be prohibited, because there´s criminals out there? Seems to me like the people are lot more dangerous since guns can be bought so easy in the US, but thats you just crazy talk, right?

Johnathan Clayborn said...

As others have pointed out, that's an AR-15, not an AK-47.

Secondly, the idea that we should ban "assault weapons" in the name of "crime fighting" is absurd. Most crimes don't even involve those with weapons, and those that do, the vast majority aren't guns. And even those that involve guns only a small fraction of them involve shootings. And do you know how many shots ARE fired, on average? 2.3 rounds. So, sure, let's go ahead and ban assault rifles (again, even though it didn't do anything last time) when teh average criminal is carrying around a handgun.

Thirdly, a lot of people complain about allowing firearms to be an "unintelligent choice" or some such non-sense. But, let's consider these two facts; If you ban guns, then law-abiding citizens will not have guns (because it's intrinsically in their nature to obey the law) whereas criminals will continue to get guns because they don't care about the law anyway. So, all you are doing is serving to make the population an easier target. But, do you which country has one of the LOWEST crime rates in the world? Switzerland. And did you also know that every household in Switzerland has at least 1 firearm? Coincidence? I think not.