Some Responses to Sandy Hook

After the shooting at the Batman premiere in Colorado earlier this year, Brian Doherty, an expert on firearms policy, did a cool-headed analysis for Russia Today on the errors of clamors for gun control that inevitably follow such tragedies. I think it holds up well in light of what just happened in Connecticut.

 

Its important to remember that these bizarre attacks, and gun murders in general, are rare and getting rarer every year. This is despite the fact that all states have liberalized their gun laws in recent years, and many more Americans are carrying weapons. Four million Americans each year apply for gun licenses. Alarmist news headlines notwithstanding, gun violence has in fact plummeted by half over the last 20 years. Sure, we hear a lot about America having a higher rate of gun deaths than virtually any other place. What we don’t hear nearly as often is that many of these incidents on the official statistics are suicides, or committed by gangs unlikely to be affected even if the federal government were to institute a strict firearms ban tomorrow. Lets not forget the tens of thousands of serious crimes prevented every year by gun owners.

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This raises another important policy point. Did the fact that this elementary school was declared a ‘gun-free zone’ make it any safer? What if one of the teachers or staff was armed? After Israel witnessed a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against its schools in the 1970’s, fierce debate ensued about scrapping the harsh firearms regulations instituted under the British Mandate. Eventually, teachers were allowed to carry guns, along with parents and even grandparents who came to help out with security at school buildings and on school trips. The attacks stopped. The soft targets were now not so soft.

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I know this alleged quote from Morgan Freeman may not be genuine. After all, who could possibly be better to add gravitas to crap you want to spread on the internet? However, I believe the argument has a lot of merit. Concerning the causes of school shootings and how to prevent them:

You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations  sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem.

There is significant evidence that excessive talk and media coverage of suicide actually  increases the suicide rate. I would not be surprised if the same pattern appeared in relation to massive gun attacks.

 

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Sure and Begorrah, ‘Tis A Most Moving Tribute

One of the odder things you’ll find on YouTube: a tribute to the late Colonel Qaddaffi with an Irish twist.

Florida, You Must Acquit

The nose knows, or so they say.

This photo was taken by Florida police on the night Trayvon Martin (aka No Limit Nigga) was killed. It was kept from George Zimmerman’s defense team until earlier this week. It proves Zimmerman’s contention that he was hit in the face by Martin before landing on his back.

Will justice prevail in this case, or does America need an evil “white Hispanic” racist to punish? Is George Zimmerman doomed to be found guilty in a show trial, and ultimately stabbed or strangled to death in a racial hothouse of a prison?

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WorldNetDaily provides a useful timeline of events on the fateful night of February 26th, 2012:

6:21 p.m.
Trayvon Martin is seen on the security video through the 7-11 window approaching the store from the direction of the townhome of his father’s girlfriend, Brandy. In major media accounts, the helpful Trayvon ventured out in the rain in a mile-plus round trip to buy some Skittles and Arizona Ice Tea from Brandy’s young son. Not likely.

6:22
Trayvon grabs two items – Skittles and Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. Trayvon, in fact, had become a devotee of the druggy concoction known as “Lean,” also known in Southern hip-hop culture as “Sizzurp” and “Purple Drank.” Lean consists of three basic ingredients – codeine, a soft drink and candy.

6:23
Trayvon pays for his purchases. He then appears to point to an item behind the counter, but the clerk seems to reject that option. Trayvon turns from the counter with a couple of dollar bills still in his hand.

6:24
Trayvon leaves the 7-11. Three squirrelly young men enter the 7-11 seconds later, all of them with their faces concealed in part or in full.

6:27
One of the three appears to be holding the two bills Trayvon walked out with. He buys two cheap cigars from behind the counter and then a third one as an afterthought. Seconds after he exits, Trayvon, can be seen through the window heading back toward Brandy’s house.

7:09
Zimmerman calls police while watching Trayvon near the gated community’s clubhouse. The walk to this point should have taken 10 minutes. It took 40 minutes. It seems likely that Trayvon got a “blunt” – street slang for cannabis rolled in a cigar wrapper –from the dude at the 7-11 and smoked it.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good,” Zimmerman tells the police. “Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Trayvon’s autopsy showed the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in both his blood and his urine.

It is possible, too, that Trayvon was up to no good. Trayvon had a history. Months earlier, a security guard at his school found 12 pieces of jewelry, a watch and a “burglary tool” in his tote bag.

7:10
“He’s coming towards me,” Zimmerman tells the police about Trayvon. “He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands.” Zimmerman sounds a little anxious, “Please, get an officer over here.”

7:11
After Trayvon passes his truck, Zimmerman says, “Sh–, he’s running.” Trayvon is heading toward “the back entrance,” says Zimmerman. That entrance is in the same general direction as Brandy’s townhouse.

7:12
When asked by the dispatcher, Zimmerman agrees not to follow Trayvon, and his heavy breathing ends. “He ran,” says Zimmerman. Even if running slowly, Trayvon could have made it to Brandy’s house in a half a minute.

7:13
“I don’t know where this kid is,” Zimmerman tells the dispatcher and heads back to the truck.

7:14 – 7:16
Trayvon comes back to confront Zimmerman. According to Zimmerman – and the new photo confirms this – Martin landed a sucker punch on Zimmerman’s nose, knocked him down and started banging his head against the pavement.

Israeli Politics: Worrying Developments

The electoral merger of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu bothered me from the beginning. I expected it to dilute liberal elements in Likud and bring in lots of idiotic populists. There should always be a clear distinction between the right-liberal descendants of Jabotinsky and the ugly, unthinking nationalism of Yisrael Beiteinu.

My bad dream has become reality. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t just from the Yisrael Beiteinu people. But with one of them slated for every Likidnik under the merger agreement, its going to make it  a whole lot worse. The Likud primaries have sidelined decent, honest men like Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan. They’re not likely to sit in the next Knesset. Danny Danon and Miri Regev have emerged among the victors.

Its not that I have that visceral hatred, common in Europe, that regards these hawkish types as the devil incarnate. I largely agree with Regev on the matter of African immigrants. I have a notorious fondness for Bibi. Yet now its become clear he has no concept of strategy. Does he really believe he can ask America to continue its support for Israel at the UN and then get up their noses with controversial settlement plans? Are grandstanding gestures a substitute for well-crafted policy?

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Its easy to get stuck in an ideological echo-chamber. I know that, despite the hyperbole, 3000 housing units in E1 isn’t going to cut the Palestinian Territories in half. Honest assessments of the map will tell you that. Nor will it cut eastern Jerusalem from Ramallah. But these plans and arguments in their defense simply don’t resonate abroad.

In the meantime, the Labor Party has welcomed economic ignoramuses like Stav Shaffir, in order to ride the wave of the social protests that have stirred the country.

That leaves Israel with one mob wants to cripple Israel economically, and another that wants to cripple it diplomatically.

My support will certainly be going to Lapids’ party, Yesh Atid.